25 May

Message from Kathy Christoph, MS Principal

Folks,

It’s hard to believe the last few weeks of the 2017-2018 school year are here, evidenced by annual Middle School (MS) programs and activities such as our Experimental Design Fair (in which our 6th grade scientists test chocolate, basketballs, sponges, glue, and disinfecting wipes, just to name a few); our 8th graders’ SciTube presentations; and a special 8th Grade visit to Collins House, with Head of School Dr. De Jarnett. For photos from these and other Middle School happenings, see above.

As you plan for the end of the school year, please remember that all MS students will be dismissed after lunch at 12:00 noon on Thursday, June 7. If your child needs to remain at school until later, please inform us so we can provide adequate supervision. School buses will depart D-E at their normal time of 3:45.

Friday, June 1 is a 3-Star Dress Day for all MS students because we attend the Academic Awards Assembly and our own MS Awards Assembly. 3-Star Dress is simply a collared shirt of some kind for males, collared shirt or dressy shirt for females, dress shorts, pants, or skirts. Tennis shoes are permitted. No jeans and no athletic wear. Please help your youngster dress accordingly. Thanks!

I also have a brief reminder of two upcoming events that may be of interest:

This Memorial Day weekend, on Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26, our Upper School Spring Theatre Production 2018 presents “Dogfight”. While this is a musical with some mature themes and profanity (parental guidance is suggested) this will be a compelling live production featuring an entirely student-directed cast and crew. For details visit www.d-e.org/arts. All show proceeds benefit the Jericho Project for veterans in NYC.

“Vaping: What’s in the Mist” will be  presented by the D-E Parents’ Association (PA) parent education committee on Thursday, May 31, 7:00 PM in Hajjar Auditorium. Middle and Upper School parents/guardians are invited to attend to learn about this timely topic affecting tweens and teens.  “Vaping” features Timothy Shoemaker, former DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance) Officer. Guests of D-E parents and guardians are welcome to attend. Click here to register or for more information.

Hug Your Child, and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy

18 May

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

With less than a month of school left, students and adults alike all can see the end in sight. Of course, in order to get there, the traditional “May Dance” has begun; we are all jitterbugging, twisting and shouting, and cha-cha-cha-ing our way to finish up projects, squeeze in one more lesson or unit, figure out stuff for next year, and preparing to say good-byes. For some, it is a goodbye to the Middle School as they move to the Upper School or to other school communities. For others, it is saying goodbye to familiar teachers and HomeBase groupings. Closures can bring up many conflicting emotions in your children. Routines, schedules and faces will change. Author Lisa Wells (Wonder of Children, 2013) offers some sound suggestions that parents can do to help:

Look back – Literally, look back at photos, documentation, class books and journals. Notice what things looked like and sounded like earlier in the year. Children often notice the physical growth they see in pictures or how the arrangement of the rooms have changed. Dig deeper as you inquire about what they remember, how they felt, how they might tackle the same project or question now.

Make notes – At home, make a list of your family’s top 10 events or accomplishments of the year. Make a poster, a list or a video to share and plan a small celebration!

Keep it consistent – Change will come soon enough. Keep the same home routines and expectations. There will be plenty of days to be “slushy” about routines and sticking to what provided the structure and boundaries all year. Consistency will stabilize things if they are starting to unravel.

Celebrate – Most importantly, at home, set aside small blocks of time to celebrate accomplishments by sharing work, making a special meal, or having a family party that recognizes the hard work over the year and looks ahead to a summer of reading, adventure and fun!

Speaking of that first tip (“looking back”) — Bravissimo! to all our students who participated in both The Lion King, Jr. earlier this month, and, the Middle School Spring Arts Festival just last night. The photos included here do not quite do these events justice, but they will hopefully help to capture a sense of the energy and inspiration present in our Schenck Auditorium and Klein Campus Center.

With an historical and inspired performance theme of “NY, NY: City of Revolution” by our Show Choir and Middle School Choral ensembles,  and a superb showcase of 2-D and 3-D visual artwork (see below), the MS Spring Arts Fest was a feast for the eyes and ears. And to say that I was so touched by the grand finale, which included MS Show Choir alumni from the past 10 years, is an understatement. I am humbled to have been honored in this way, and thank you for this wonderful memory.

Make the most of the last few days of school – it has been a busy, productive and positive year. The work we’ve done every day—at home and at school– will provide the foundation for a smooth change that will benefit children as they move to the next chapter of life!

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy

27 Apr

Kathy’ s Message

Folks,

The pace here at school continues to be a steady upward push as we head into May. With the end of the school year in sight, teachers and students alike are beginning to think about closures, transitions, and new beginnings.  Here in the MS Office, we are hard at work, pulling together ways to bring closure to our various groupings:  HomeBase advisories, classes, grade-levels and the Division as a whole. To that end:  Thursday, June 7 will consist of several closure activities, one of which is our MS Field Day. The 8th grade Move Up Ceremony is at 7:00 pm that evening. All Middle School students will be dismissed at noon on Thursday, June 7. The school buses will make their normal afternoon runs at 3:45. If your child needs to stay on campus in the afternoon, we will provide supervised activities.

In March, HomeBase (HB) advisors had the opportunity to once again reflect with their advisees about their Spring Comments and then their Interim Grades (for grades 7 and 8). Students take time identifying and reflecting on their areas of strength and areas on which to focus, both academically and in regard to their student skills. This time between advisor and advisee truly allows the students to celebrate their growth over the course of the year and then to set goals for the remainder of the year.  As students begin to look towards the end of the school year and beyond, advisors are getting ready to share course recommendations and placements in HomeBase in the coming weeks. Advisors will be guiding them on what electives are available and what offerings will help them to create a course load for a successful school year.

Our Student As Learner (SaL) Conversations will take place in mid-May.  The focus of these conversations revolves around our SaL traits and the goal is for them to be student-led.  For further details on the SaL traits please click here. While our 8th grade students take on more of this lead role than our 6th graders, we have found in the past that the students are comfortable sharing which traits they excel at and which ones they wish to continue working on. Having an awareness of how they participate, collaborate, engage, prepare and organize themselves, in addition to the other traits, allows our students to be the best learners they can be. HB advisors are able to discuss various projects, HB activities, participation in all of their classes and their comments in order to guide the conversations as needed. Be sure to ask your child to share with you what they enjoyed about these conversations!

This weekend brings to our beautiful D-E campus the annual All-School Spring Carnival and STEM Festival, on Sunday April 29 from 1-3 PM. Free admission, this event is co-sponsored by our Upper School student clubs and the D-E Parents’ Association and will be held rain or shine. Complimentary BBQ lunch, 20+ booths and activities areas, and fun for all ages. For details visit www.d-e.org/news.

Parents and guardians are also invited and encouraged to attend a special presentation on vaping, a very timely topic, on Thursday, May 31, at 7:00 PM in Hajjar Auditorium.  This “VAPING: What’s in the Mist” event is sponsored by the D-E PA’s Parent Education Committee, and will be led by Timothy Shoemaker, a former DARE officer. D-E parents may bring guests with them. To learn more about the May 31 Vaping presentation and to RSVP please click here or go to pa.d-e.org. Questions may be directed by Email to pa@d-e.org.

Finally we eagerly anticipate the MS production of The Lion King, Jr.! Performing May 3 – May 5, the incredible staging and costuming work done by students, parents, and teachers/staff thus far (see photos above of a recent collaborative working weekend)  – not to mention the hard work underway by all our cast and crew in rehearsals and lighting and set design preparation  – is a testament to our mission of being a “community of learners.”

Hug your child(ren), and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph

MS Principal

16 Apr

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

The period of time from April ‘til the end of the year represents a major growth period for your young adolescents and their schooling. The curriculum in every subject and in every grade ramps up a notch, taking advantage of the developmental growth that is occurring in our students. Our 6’s are gaining more confidence in their skill sets and are attacking challenging assignments, such as the book study of Lions of Little Rock, with vigor and enthusiasm. Our 7’s are deeply engrossed in the work that they see as purposeful, which fits nicely with the UN Sustainable Initiative PBL. And our 8’s respond well to challenge and choice as evidenced by their enthusiasm with our new Robotics unit. And of course, they are beginning to outgrow us—just when they should!

In this issue you’ll hear from our Deans on cultivating leadership in the middle years, and the MS/US Nurse (about allergies) as well as learn about grade level updates and community happenings. I encourage you to “Save the Date” for the annual D-E Spring Carnival and STEM Festival on Sunday, April 29 on Leggett Field, co-hosted by our Upper School (US) student clubs and the Parents’ Association, which is a free event open to D-E families of all ages. And in the meantime enjoy the photos above, of our Middle School String and Wind Ensembles, which performed together with the Upper School Symphony in a fantastic “Orchestra Extravanganza”here last Friday evening in Schenck Auditorium. For more on the arts at D-E, visit http://www.d-e.org/arts. And don’t forget to catch up with all our Middle School athletics teams which are now full ‘swing’ into the Spring 2018 season, at http://www.d-e.org/athletics!

Go Bulldogs,

Kathy Christoph

MS Principal

16 Mar

Kathy’s Message

Folks,

Starting today at 12:00 PM, you have access to your child’s interim comments report for the spring semester. These comments summarize months of hard work and productivity, and I hope your child feels accomplished with his/her progress. You may access the comments through the D-E website. Please see the instructions noted at the end of my note here, on how to access this report.

 

The Middle School teachers have taken great care in writing your child’s comments! The comments are written with your child as the intended audience. As you read your child’s comments, I urge you to think along several concurrent lines. First, look for overall strengths and challenges. Secondly, look for academic growth and performance. And third, look for mention of the SaL (Student as Learner) traits. (For more about the SaL traits click here or visit www.d-e.org/values.

 

You should find evidence of at least one SaL trait in every comment. Engage your child in a conversation about his/her perspective. Help your child set reasonable goals and develop an action plan. There is much to be gained in this process, and it will reinforce the reflection your child does here at school with his/her HomeBase advisor. Working together, we can help our children learn the skills of self-reflection, mid-point adjusting, and goal setting.

 

We are truly enjoying the children’s enthusiasm and their love of learning. We look forward to their continued progress this year!

 

In the ‘slider’ photos at the top of this issue of MS Messages, you’ll find photos of our Grade 8 students performing spoken word and poetry in the annual CoffeeHouse, always a fun MS tradition.  Also you’ll enjoy photos from our  ‘WalkAThon’ around Leggett Field  (find details in the Health & Wellness update).

 

I also hope your family finds time to enjoy each other, create new memories, and try something new over Spring Break.

 

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph
MS Principal
Instructions to Access Your Child’s Spring Interim Comments Report 
By following the directions below, you will find your way to both the grades and comments for all classes.
  • Go to the MyD-E area of the Dwight-Englewood School website by visiting www.d-e.org and clicking on My DE at the top-right of the page.
  • Log-in to MyD-E using your assigned password or the password you established for yourself. If you need help with your password, please call Computer Services at 201-227-3177.
  • Click on your child’s name near the top of the page.
  • Click on Progress (if not already selected), then click on the current grade for your child immediately below that.
  • After selecting the grade, click on the Report Cards link in the Performance area.
You will see a link for Middle School Semester 2 Comment Form. When you click on the link, a pdf that contains your child’s progress information will open in a new window. This file can be saved to your computer or printed directly from the screen. These reports will remain viewable while your child is enrolled in the school.
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)!