Ms. Leavitt, Head of Lower School
Greetings Lower School Families,
It is a pleasure to be writing at the start of our 2023-24 school year. We are into our second week now, and working diligently on building new classroom communities and understanding new routines and expectations. I am excited to share some of our Lower School priorities for this school year and ways our eager educators continue to elevate their practice.
We are thrilled to be running two Enrichment Cluster sessions during this academic year. As you may remember from last year’s pilot session, Enrichment Clusters are small groups of mixed-aged students who work together based on a common, self-selected interest. Clusters are designed to play to students' inherent strengths and interests and use this built-in motivation to extend, stretch, and maximize student learning. The idea of Enrichment Clusters was developed by the Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut, as part of their Schoolwide Enrichment Model. After a successful spring trial, we are dedicated to providing two additional sessions this year. Our teachers/cluster leaders underwent professional development during Inservice this August, and we are thrilled to be working with Nicole Waicumas from the University of Connecticut, who will present to our cluster leaders in September. Nicole has an impressive educator/author resume dedicated to nurturing children’s strengths, and even learned from and presented alongside Dr. Renzulli. We are lucky to welcome her expertise and passion to BZ.
Our math teachers engaged in critical collaboration and exploration during Inservice as we learned alongside math expert, Deena Goldstein. Excellent daily math instruction includes building thinking classrooms, and offering students opportunities to extend their flexibility and practice tasks that promote reasoning and problem-solving. In addition, teachers are charged with meeting students where they are, which means having a firm command of how to run a differentiated classroom. Deena shared practical strategies, resources, and techniques for effective content differentiation.
Doing Hard Things
This year, I hope you will hear the phrase, “We can do hard things!” Our school’s theme this year is Kindness and Courage, Chesed v’Ometz. In keeping with the notion of courage or bravery, we are acknowledging that learning new things (academic or social/emotional) comes along with normal feelings of frustration and challenge. We are helping kids feel competent and capable by naming and working through big emotions, kindly praising kids’ efforts with specificity, helping students understand the powerful concept of “yet” (You don’t know how to play that game, YET.), and cheerleading all the steps of progress and growth. We get better at what we practice, and we are eager to help our students practice doing hard things.
We are full of anticipation for a great school year ahead and genuinely appreciate your partnership and collaboration along the way.
Head of Lower School