Message from Kathy Christoph


Learning changes dramatically when students have opportunities to produce work that matters to them. We know this from our own lives—I only need think about the past few days in my life to know this is true. It’s easy for me to recall that moment this past weekend when I dragged my feet completing a task, and the other moment when I rushed through a report that was required and imposed upon me. Yet, I readily skipped my lunch and stayed up way later than usual when I was working on a project that felt especially meaningful to me.

Here in our Middle School, our aim is to create an abundance of opportunities for students to connect with content and produce work that they feel they own. Rather than submit something that’s an exercise in going through the motions, students should have opportunities to create work that allows them to investigate issues that feel meaningful to them. It’s not that project criteria should be forgotten, but rather that we should design learning that provides students with opportunities and possibilities.


Good news! Every Middle School student will be receiving his or her FitnessGram Reports this upcoming week. Students were previously evaluated utilizing five different wellness assessments to determine their different levels of fitness. They will be asked to reflect on their scores, consider their everyday lifestyle and decide how they are staying physically active. We will also discuss how they can make changes to improve their scores when we retest them later this school year.

The MS is also getting ready for the annual “Health and Wellness Week” in which healthy food, lifestyles, and fitness activities will be presented to our students. Events such as the “Tarzan Run”, the “Robin Hood Challenge”, special Teacher vs. Student competitions during recess, and Smoothie lunches, are some of the fun things that everyone will be experiencing. The Thursday Assembly during that week will have each grade level participate in activities in fitness areas of Zumba, Yoga, and Meditation!!

The LAG (Lead Advisory Group) Committee continues to meet throughout the school year to discuss the various lessons the faculty have implemented this year.  With the information gathered through teacher surveys, they reflect on the lessons created and look to see what worked well and what can be further developed. Overall, wonderful things are happening in HomeBase and students have been utilizing the lessons in all aspects of life at D-E!

Our Annual Faculty-Student Basketball game was held last week. And what a game it was! Bursts of scoring, furious play making, blocked shots, 3-pointers, and many lead changes provided lots of moments for everyone to cheer. And the final result was–faculty won by 3 points!

We continue to explore a variety of lessons in our HomeBase groups.  Students have had the opportunity to investigate Motivation and how they can be both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated in all aspects of their life.  After watching a video, they spent time discussing the activities they enjoy and why, as well as those activities that they find more challenging.  Conversations also focused on adjusting their mindsets to help tackle those challenging projects by finding aspects that are motivating and interesting. Often times, students discovered they can have both internal and external motivators surrounding the same interest or task.

Our Assembly last week was a powerful moment in the life of D-E. The Upper School members of the Black Affinity Club put together a presentation that was raw, emotional, and educational. Although some parts of it were difficult to hear in that their experiences have not always been positive, the overall tone was one of love and of hope. The students bravely shared their personal experiences in an effort to help us all better understand each other and to live the words of our Mission, “embrace diversity.”


A brief reminder about the Project Cicero Book Drive – a great community service opportunity for all ages:  Project Cicero is an annual book drive designed to create or supplement classroom libraries in under resourced New Jersey public schools. Each year Project Cicero collects approximately 35,000 books from 40 local schools. After the books are sorted, teachers come and load up their suitcases with books all for free!  This year the Project Cicero Book Drive runs now through Friday, March 3. We encourage your child to bring in new or gently used books to donate. There are marked donation boxes all throughout campus, including in the Umpleby Hall lobby. Volunteers of also ages are also needed for Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4 when the books will be sorted and distributed.  This is the first time that book sorting and distribution will take place at D-E, in Silberfein Gym!  Click here for information about Project Cicero and all volunteer sign-up information.

And lastly a bit of bragging…  I am pleased to report that Royce M. has earned a chair in the Regional Orchestra.  Auditions were held yesterday at Clifton High School.  There were 106 candidates auditioning on violin and Royce’s combined scores on scales, sight reading and solo performance placed him in the First Violin Section of the Regional Orchestra.  He may now be eligible to audition in the next level of competition, for the All-State String Orchestra.  This is one of the most competitive regions in the country.  His success here is no small feat.


The Chapter (Hudson-Bergen Counties) competition for MathCounts occurred this past Saturday. I’m pleased to share that Viren B. came in 8th overall and participated in the countdown round!

Hug your child, and Go Bulldogs!

Kathy Christoph, MS Principal