14 Feb

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

In the last two issues of MS Messages, I shared with you six tips to help you work with your young adolescent on organization skills. I hope you found this information helpful and interesting. In this issue of I’d like to remind us all about the uneven growth and the common characteristics that young adolescents are experiencing. Taken from Chip Wood and the Center for Responsive Schools, Inc. here are the common characteristics of 11-, 12-, 13-, and 14-year-olds:

“Elevens are going through huge changes in their bodies, minds, and social behavior as they begin adolescence. The easy friendliness of ten often gives way to awkward, sometimes rude behavior at eleven. With their growing capacity for higher thinking, children this age like to try work that feels grown up, such as researching and interviewing.”

“Twelves are often unpredictable and hard to read as they swing between childhood and adulthood. Their greatest need is to be with peers as they sort through their physical, social, and emotional challenges and the all-important identity questions, “Who am I?”

“Thirteen is typically an age of rapid growth in mind and body, an age of contrasts and confusion. Thirteen-year-olds are both pushing away from adults and seeking them. They’re excited about new teenage opportunities but hesitate to take risks. Adding to the confusion, physical and emotional development is happening much faster in girls than in boys.”

“First on the agenda for fourteens is distancing themselves from adults. They need to do this to allow their own adult personalities to emerge. Fourteen-year-olds often have many challenging behaviors, but they can also have great creativity, a keen interest in solving problems in the larger world, more willingness to admit errors and try again, and a striking sense of humor.”

I hope you recognized your son or daughter in these descriptions; and remember: Each age is unique. Each is a wonder.

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph

MS Principal

31 Jan

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

In my last issue of MS Messages, I shared with you three tips to help you work with your young adolescent on organization skills. Getting organized can make life easier for middle school kids, especially as they learn to cope with more school and home demands. As we start our second semester of school, these tips (based on the work by Lexi Walters Wright) may prove to be timely!

Tip 1: Establish a weekly ‘Clean out your Backpack and Levenger’ time! Middle schoolers can accumulate an unbelievable amount of clutter. Some children have a hard time figuring out what’s important, so they keep everything. Other youngsters don’t follow a regular organization system for papers and handouts. If your child sounds like one of these, you can help by setting a regular time each week and helping your child learn a system that will work for him.

Tip 2: Create an organized study space. Where does your middle school child do her work? It helps set the right tone if there is a dedicated space at home where your child can work without interruption. It might work best if this is somewhere near you for times when she needs your assistance. Keep school supplies and technology such as calculators or iPads handy and fully charged.

Tip 3: Help your child think ahead. Before bedtime, review plans for the next day with your child. This can make your middle school youngster feel more secure and in control. Together you can plan how to handle things if a change comes up in the schedule.

I have included in this issue some photos from a recent visit by the wonderful author An Na, when she met recently with both Ms. Winters’ and Mr. Akula’s Grade 7 English classes. Ms. Na’s book A Step From Heaven won the annual Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association recognizing the year’s “best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit”.  A Step From Heaven was also a finalist for the National Book Award, Young People’s Literature.

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph

MS Principal

 

17 Jan

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

Getting organized can make life easier for middle school kids, especially as they learn to cope with more school and home demands. At home, you can help them practice and learn and while it might take some effort in the beginning, it’s worth it in the long run. Here are three tips to help your child improve organization skills at home, at school and beyond (based on the work by Lexi Walters Wright).

Break tasks into chunks.  Help your child household chores into smaller, more manageable steps, and help your child realize that the vast majority of our D-E projects are already broken down into chunks.  This will help reinforce to your child each project has a beginning, middle, and end, which can make the chore or project feel less overwhelming.

Make checklists and to-do lists. Include regular chores and homework on the lists. Encourage her to keep it in a place where she’ll see it often and can check off her accomplishments. Think about using a smart-phone app, a white board, or a notebook.

Teach calendar and time-management skills. Encourage your child to write down important tasks in a digital calendar like My DE or on a paper one. Then help him estimate how time each task will take. After he completes the task, ask whether his estimate was accurate.

On Thursday, January 18, Mr. Schade will host the 2018 Dwight-Englewood Geography Bee during activity period. This bee is a part of the National Geographic Geography Bee competition. The winner of the school bee will take a qualifying test the following week to see if he or she will qualify for the state bee. If qualified, the school champion will have a chance to compete in the state bee and qualify for the national bee in Washington D.C.

Special Shout-Out to our MS Girls’ Basketball Team which won 2nd place in the South Hackensack Basketball Tournament! Go Bulldogs!

Finally, two (2) quick reminders on behalf of the D-E Parents’ Association (PA):

  • Tonight, Wednesday, January 17 at 7:00 PM, the Parents’ Association (PA) is hosting a “Mindfulness for Parents” workshop featuring educational consultant Nancy Siegel. The workshop is offered for free admission and will be held in Hulst House in Leggett Hall (please note this is a new location for this event). Guests of D-E parents/guardians are welcome to attend. Click here for an informational flyer (PDF) or visit d-e.org. To learn more about Nancy Siegel click here.
  • Yum! Next Tuesday, January 23, Middle School students will be able to enjoy the PA’s “Bulldog FOODraiser 2018” event which benefits student activities. During lunch students will have the option to purchase specialty food items, including empanadas, cupcake cones, sushi, and more. Regular lunch offerings will still be available from the School’s Flik Dining Services. Click here for an informational flyer (PDF) or visit d-e.org.

Questions regarding PA events? Email to: pa@d-e.org.

Hug your child(ren) and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph

MS Principal

15 Dec

Kathy’s Message

Happy Holidays! As we head into our Winter Break, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season, whatever your beliefs or traditions are. I hope you are able to spend some quality time with your loved ones, engage in your favorite past-times, and renew your sense of joy and wonder. Your children, and their teachers, have worked very hard right up to the last minute and the time off will help us all rejuvenate. January 2 rolls around fast enough, and I know we’ll hit the ground running for the remainder of the year. Peace and Joy to All.

Hug your child and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph
MS Principal

04 Dec

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

I always enjoy our Winter Arts Festival, and I hope you had the opportunity to attend last Thursday’s night performance and display of artwork. From the look of pride on their faces, your youngsters enjoy making a beautiful piece of artwork to hang on the wall, acting and singing on stage, or playing a musical instrument in concert with other members of the group. Besides the sheer joy of it all, the arts also help youngsters develop some of our Student as Learner (SaL) traits. For example, while it may seem like a no-brainer, the arts allow students to express themselves in creative ways. During the course of the year, your child may recite a monologue in 4 or 5 different ways, create a piece of artwork that represents a favorite memory, or compose a new rhythm or piece of music; I need only recall the African Drumming performance to know this to be true.  Additionally, there is something special about getting up on stage and singing or playing an instrument.  Our Grades 7 and 8 African Drumming Ensembles provided the opportunity for the audience, too, to “get up on stage” – click here to enjoy a video clip of their performance.

Stepping out of one’s comfort zone like this gives our students valuable experiences in risk-taking and self-confidence. And of course, perseverance, a favorite trait of mine, comes into play with the hours of practice that go into that beautiful drawing, song or musical piece. Well done, all around! 

As a reminder, we are heading into the busy month of December. It is wise to remember that many teachers often like to bring closure to their classwork prior to the upcoming Winter Break. Your children may be putting the finishing touches on final projects and assignments and studying for unit-tests. Here at school, the Deans and I monitor the number and frequency of major assignments and tests in our on-going efforts to maintain healthy home-school balance. However, given the busy time here at school and often at home as well, you may want to engage your child in a conversation about time management and stress-management. It can’t hurt!

And please remember: Parent-Teacher Conferences are this upcoming Thursday (Dec. 7) and Friday (Dec. 8)!

06 Nov

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

Today as I write this, your children are home (off from a typical day of classes), and my teachers are immersed in composing and writing their Fall Interim Comments for each student. The comments are written to help students see more clearly their own approach to their work and to allow students an opportunity to step back from the daily details and reflect on the bigger picture. Teacher comments are released to students next Thursday, November 9, during an Extended HomeBase, and the HomeBase advisors guide the students in reading and analyzing the comments. Comments are released to you on Friday, November 10, beginning at 12 noon. For more details on this process please see the Dean’s Message section.

Catching Kids Doing the Right Thing: At a recent Middle School Cross Country Meet, after both races, the boys and girls were eating the snacks a parent had so generously sent along with us.  A boy from the Elizabeth Morrow team (we bus with them to and from meets) exclaimed in envy, “lucky!” when he saw the popcorn and granola bars we had been supplied with.  Our D-E coach asked if everyone had gotten one, preparing to tell our runners to share their extra snacks, when multiple runners–before the coach could say anything–held out our bins of popcorn and boxes of granola bars to the other team.  The other team APPLAUDED us on the way off the bus and one student said, “can’t wait to see you guys next week!”

Using Math: As part of our fall and Halloween celebrations, we ran a “Guess the Candy Corn” contest. Every child was invited to submit three guesses, and it was wonderful seeing the children try to measure the circumference, estimate the depth and try to figure out mathematically the number of candy corns inside the glass pumpkin. Our winner, Serena D., came within 1 of the correct number of 741!

 

20 Oct

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

It’s been a whirlwind two weeks here at school, with all students getting plenty of traction in their classes. As you may have heard, our AC was down for a few days and we were uncomfortably hot. However, in true D-E fashion, everyone’s good humor and patience kept us cool until the real AC got back on. Now, of course, we head into milder weather and the beautiful colors of fall.

Just a reminder that students do not have school on Monday, October 23 while the faculty is involved in professional development activities. And on Friday, November 2, school will not be in session as the teachers compose their thoughtful comments about your children.

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

– Kathy Christoph
Middle School (MS) Principal

06 Oct

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

It’s October already, and the month of September has flown by, filled with a wide array of activities, trips, and experiences. We are all settling into the rhythm of school. Each MS grade has its own exciting update (see below for details).

And an important safety reminder:  Do NOT DropOff your child(dren) in the middle of our campus driveway(s) and/or onto E. Palisade Ave. or N. Woodland Street. Our students’ safety remains our top priority; risky DropOff places our students at risk. Campus driveway DropOff also greatly impedes morning traffic flow. Please be attentive to and respectful of traffic flow directions given by D-E Facilites/Security team members.

Sixth grade is off to a wonderful start! The students are working diligently in all of their classes, and everyone is looking forward to some traction in October. Last week, the grade ventured off on our overnight field trip. Students enjoyed team building activities at the Sono Field Club, IMAX movies, behind-the-scenes tours, crafts at the aquarium, and an afternoon of bowling together the next day. In social studies, students have begun their study of early Hominids and have taken both their first quiz and written their first paragraph. They will continue to develop their understanding of early humans as they gear up both for the trip on Friday, October 20 to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and their Hominid Projects. (Please note, a separate Email about the AMNH field trip will be coming to parents/guardians soon, from Grade 6 Dean Tasha Urbanowski.)

In science, Grade 6 students reviewed the scientific method and were introduced to theories and ideas of Evolution. Students will be doing research for their Evolution Revolution iMovie and completing a lab at AMNH, which ties in with what they are learning in social studies. In English, students have read two short stories — “Raymond’s Run” and “Through the Tunnel” — and they are working through the writing process for their first analytical paragraph about “Raymond’s Run.” Students practiced brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revising, and peer editing this piece. Math 6 started the year with a review of estimation with decimals using all 4 operations. Students then solved actual problems without estimation. They have since started a unit on ratio and proportion. Advanced Math 6 started the year with a review of pre-algebra concepts. The students have already started presenting problems to the class, having discussions, and sharing alternate ways to solve. Advanced Math 6 is presently working on changing ratio concepts. Lastly, Hyper Math 6 is working on solving equations and solving problems related to sequences. They are also getting to know their calculators, so they can use them intelligently. We hope your son or daughter continues to share about all of the exciting things happening at school!

 Grade 7 has had a great start to the year.  At the end of September, students and teachers traveled out to Shelter Island for their overnight trip.  On Shelter Island, students engaged in various experiences such as participating in team building and low ropes activities, visiting the Cornell Institute, encountering birds of prey up close, and kayaking.  Back at school, classes also started to dive into their curriculums.  In English classes, students had the opportunity to place a character on trial, from the S.E. Hinton novel the Outsiders.  They have also been further developing their grammar skills and using the writing process to compose their first essay of the year.  In social studies, students are completing their geography game design projects.  In this project students were tasked with creating a game that would help teach students basic geography in a fun and engaging way.   They will also begin their first current events assignment this week, as they begin to explore the happenings in the world around them.  CP Math is finishing a unit on ordering fractions and decimals and next they will move onto adding and subtracting them.  Science completed their measurement unit and is moving on to their water quality unit.  In this unit, students are preparing to visit local water sources to test various indicators such as the pH, nitrate, phosphate, and salinity levels.  With this information, students will perform an analysis on the water quality issues affecting our local water sources and move on to coming up with some creative solutions.

The eighth grade has already had an eventful fall. In addition to going on the SEEK trips last week which focused on leadership skills, students have been busy in the classrooms. In history class, students learned about the impact of the Guttenberg printing press and explored the importance of the written word. Students discovered that the Information Revolution propelled the Renaissance, Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution. This knowledge has prepared them for their upcoming PBL which will task the grade with creating a History of Science textbook. Working in tandem with the history teachers, the science teachers have created an Astronomy unit which discusses the accomplishments of Aristotle, Newton, and Galileo. Using StarLab, an inflatable planetarium, students will experience how the great thinkers of the Scientific Revolution used observation to understand how motion is governed in our world and in our universe. The theme of careful observation has also been stressed in Math class. Students have been discovering patterns and constant rate of change by collecting data on how shadows are affected by the height of objects as well as how volume is affected by pouring water into different shaped vases and cups.  Finally, English students are recovering from the devastating ending to Of Mice and Men. Throughout the reading of this novel, students took a closer look at disenfranchised characters which helped them prepare for a literary essay on characters’ traits, choices, motivations, and changes.

14 Sep

Message from Kathy Christoph

Folks,

What a great start we have had to this school year! I love greeting the children in the morning, seeing their smiles and chatting with them about their days. And it’s quite a sight to see many of them happily running into Umpleby! My hope is that this level of excitement and enthusiasm continues through to June, and each child finishes the school year loving school and learning even more than ever.

During the opening days, our division works on creating strong relationships among students and adults and creating a safe climate whereby every person is valued, respected, and known.  This critical work takes several forms, ranging from informal activities to formal ones, from one-on-one interactions to large groups and everything in between.

And we’re always refining and trying new activities. For example, this year we are initiating a focus on personal stories through two new initiatives: “Humans of D-E” and “This is my School.” By taking the time to share personal stories, our community members—both students and adults–better understand one another. Kindness and empathy emanate outward when we connect with one another.

To view our first clip of a student responding to “This is My School” please see below.

Back to School Night Reminder & Details

I look forward to seeing you next Tuesday, September 19 for MS Back to School Night.

  • Refreshments will be available in Schenck Lobby from 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM. * Please see note below about a brief information session at 6:00 PM for the Grade 8 Peru Spring Break 2018 D-E International trip.
  • At 6:30, the formal presentations begin for all three grades in Schenck Auditorium.
  • Seating will be by grade level, with the 6th grade parents on the left section as you enter, 7th grade parents in the right section, 8th grade parents in the center section.
  • After the group presentations, each grade will have a staggered “travel” time to get to your HomeBase room in Umpleby.
  • Knowing your child’s HomeBase teacher and assigned meeting room in Umpleby for the evening will help tremendously. Schedules for the latter part of the evening will be distributed in HomeBase.
  • You will receive an electronic message from your child on Tuesday, reminding you about Back to School Night.
  • Please arrive between 6:00-6:15 in Schenck.

Hug your child and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph

*Note: Grade 8 parents/guardians interested in the Peru Spring Break 2018 trip with D-E International are invited to a 15 minute info. session at 6:00 PM, prior to MS Back to School Night, in Hajjar Auditorium.  For more trip details in the interim, please click here!

08 Jun

Message from Kathy Christoph, MS Principal

Folks,

With the school year drawing to a close, we have turned our attention to the importance of closure in the lives of our young adolescents. Soon your child’s schedules and routines will change. Summer break is coming, and with it comes change. Change can be hard, especially for youngsters. Your child may be experiencing a range of emotions: sadness, joy, irritability, happiness, a sense of dread, a sense of excitement. These are all normal. Take time with your child to talk about the school year, the successes, the challenges, and the growth. Help them navigate this transition; it helps to build confidence and resiliency. Enjoy the summer months with the different routines and rhythms!

Summer is a perfect time for our students to catch up on their reading.  The English Department, with help from Chair Fred Daly, has issued its “Community of Readers” books list for this Summer 2017.

  • For the Grade 6 Community of Readers list click here.
  • For the Grade 7 Community of Readers list click here.
  • For the Grade 8 Community of Readers list click here.

bye2

And from all of us here in the Middle School Office: It’s a bittersweet time for us all!  THANK YOU for choosing D-E as the school for your children. It has been a wonderful year. We hope your summers are filled with laughter, fun, and family. See you in September!