30 May

LS RETIREES TRIBUTE

Mary Jean Alleva

LSNotes5-30-15MaryJeanAllevaRetireeMary Jean Alleva began her career at Dwight-Englewood as a first-grade teacher, bringing her love of children and teaching, as well as the calm, nurturing and unflappable demeanor for which she is known. After teaching first grade for twelve years, she became our reading specialist and has spent the past nine years sitting alongside children helping them unlock the mysteries of print and build reading lives for themselves.  Mary Jean has also worked closely with teachers, generously sharing knowledge about young children and how they learn and thrive.  Mary Jean embodies the Dwight-Englewood ideal of a life-long learner, and her office houses not only beautiful children’s books, but also a professional library she happily shares with colleagues. From classic texts about teaching reading to more current publications on what the latest research reveals about spelling, Mary Jean’s collection shows she has embraced both the art and science of teaching.

A born teacher, she demonstrates her love for children all year long: in the winter she brings in home-baked cookies, and in spring she gathers lavender from her garden and lets the children use a mortar and pestle to grind it until the whole office smell like Provence. She has been a steady and joyful presence at recess and whether swinging one end of a jump rope or organizing teams for soccer, she is fully engaged in this part of the day, knowing that recess is when children learn some of the most important lessons.

A friend, teacher, and source of wisdom and support: Mary Jean has been all of these for Lower School children, families and colleagues. Her humor, intelligence, kindness and presence have been deeply felt in the Lower School.  We hope you will join us as we thank her for all she has done for Dwight-Englewood Lower School and wish her all the best as she enters the next chapter.

Lorna Milbauer

LLSNotes5-30-15LornaRetireeower School music teacher, Lorna Milbauer, has spent the  past nine years reminding us all, from our youngest children in the threes’ classrooms to our fifth-graders composing and performing music for their original opera, that music is more than a hobby or an extra, but rather is an essential component of a child’s education.

With her steadfast belief in the integrity of a music curriculum for all ages, Lorna uses puppets such as Freddie the Frog and Beethoven Bear, stories and lots and lots of movement to provide children with a strong foundation for a life of music education.  Not only that, but through music she helps them develop coordination, listening, memory and language skills. Providing children with time and space to move, laugh, dance and sing together, she has given them a joyful start to their musical lives.

If you were lucky enough to hear and see the fifth-grade opera this year, the remarkable music was composed and performed by students working under her guidance. The annual Valentine’s Day Concert gives children a chance to say “I love you” to their families in English as well as another language they speak at home, which this year consisted of 13 languages besides English! And the final chorus performance brought tears to our eyes as children sang Earth, Wind and Fire’s 50’s classics while dressed in full costume, as well as traditional folk songs from around the world.

As Lorna explained her decision to retire she spoke of the other loves and interests she would like to pursue including interior decorating, yoga, and her brand new, beautiful granddaughter, Emma.

Lorna’s commitment to music education, energy and humor, and of course the sounds of singing voices will linger in our classrooms and hallways.   One of the last songs she taught our chorus was the great Earth, Wind and Fire classic, “Sing a Song” which goes,

Sing a song it will make a way

Give yourself what you need

Sing a song, it will make your day.

Through your love of music and children, you have given so many what they need, and we hope your retirement is filled with the things you need and love. Thank you for singing and sharing your song, and congratulations.

Herbie McKoy

CLSNotes5-30-15HerbieRetireealm, cool, collected: that’s Herbie, a cherished member of the Dwight-Englewood facilities staff for thirty-five years.  He moves cooly through our hallways and classrooms keeping our spaces clean, safe and beautiful for all. With his quiet dignity and warm, genuine smile, when you are with Herbie you know that you are in the presence of a very special human being.

Herbie is in our building after children and most teachers have left, and he is here until quite late at night. Sometimes when our faculty our also here late,  Herbie checks in and when asked how he is doing, responds with a big smile and in his beautiful lilt, “everything’s cool, everything’s alright,” and he radiates such positive energy that it’s easy to believe him. When Herbie passes by an office or classroom late at night he lets us know he is in the building if we need anything. And in the winter when it’s dark, he offers to walk or drive us to our cars, making us all feel safe and knowing that we are in good hands when Herbie is around.

Head of maintenance and facilities, Bruce Devlin, speaks of Herbie with great warmth and appreciation, describing his incredible work ethic, pride in a job well done and attention to detail. If something needs to be done, Herbie gets it done with no fuss and does it well. He goes above and beyond with a great attitude, and he notices everything, showing pride in not just his own work but in our whole school.

Herbie speaks with great pride of his wife of 54 years and his children.  Deeply spiritual, he recently spontaneously serenaded our faculty with a beautiful, slow and profoundly moving version of Oh Come All Ye Faithful right in our hallways.  If you find Herbie in a quiet moment, he will share his observations about not just the day or our school, but also the world and all the beauty and mysteries it contains. Wisdom, experience, knowledge and commitment: in his quiet way Herbie has modeled these for all of us, and we are very blessed to have had him in our presence.

Retiring now to spend time with his wife and children, Herbie has given so much to Dwight-Englewood School.  In your own words, “ life is on brother!” It certainly is and always has been for you, Herbie, and we thank you for all you have done for the Dwight-Englewood School.  Congratulations.

15 May

Mindfulness

This year the Dwight-Englewood community has been focusing on various pathways to well-being. There have been a variety of student assemblies, evening programs for families, and professional development opportunities for faculty that have focused on topics such as happiness, nutrition, and listening in a time of technology.

Mindfulness is another pathway to well-being that has been explored this year across the school. According to Psychology Today, “mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present”. Please take a look at how some Lower School teachers incorporate mindfulness in their work with the children each day.

4th Grade Science: Beth Lemire

When studying the Hudson River this year fourth graders were asked to consider many aspects of the river. They were to look not only from a scientific-environmental viewpoint but also through cultural and personal lenses as well. Albert Einstein once said “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Using mindful practices to do just that brought new depth and understanding to the children’s thinking that I would not have been able to witness in any other way.

After learning how to focus on relaxing their bodies and breathing, the children were able to visualize being on top of Mount Marcy where the Hudson River begins. Some beautifully vivid guided imagery stories were born from this activity about the journey of this great river from the top of Mount Marcy all the way to the North Atlantic including descriptions of sights and sounds along the way.

Art: Elisa Garcia
Our Mindfulness Journey in the Studio and Experiencing a Glimpse of Enlightenment

“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.”

~ Swami Vivekananda

After developing a dedicated practice of yoga, tai chi, meditation and mindfulness in my personal life as well as immersing myself in nature, I have a deep appreciation for stillness.  With a silent mind, it is easy to observe, recognize and let go of resistance in all forms.  This practice that has also informed my artwork, relationships with individuals, and with animals has allowed me to gain deeper insight into the meaning of life.

Children naturally vibrate at higher frequencies than most as they generally know no burdens to weigh their perfect minds down.  While contemplating deepening our practice in visual art as a community of learners for the approaching school year, I signed up for an in-house mindfulness workshop organized by our own Dr. Sherronda Brown in the fall of 2014.  I can truly say it was one of the most profound educational workshops that I have attended.  It was carefully crafted for the exposure of mindfulness in a learning community and provided ample participation as to lend itself to true future practice for myself & the other attendees.  My Dwight-Englewood colleagues and I left the workshop exhilarated with the anticipation of using what we had learned that day.

During the workshop, the instructor shared multiple techniques for introducing mindfulness to children of all ages.  Each technique had a different point of interest.  The one that struck me the most and that I chose to incorporate was teaching children to focus on their breath in order to improve attention.  Each day classes ranging from kindergarten through fourth grade would come to art and use the first few minutes to focus their attention on their breathing, allowing their minds to be still and create a deep quiet space, in which they could center themselves.  Naturally, some children struggled with this initially, but there were others who quickly gave themselves over to the concept of stillness.  In time, they each began to experience the benefits of creating a quiet mind and space.

Over the course of several weeks, I witnessed children coming into the studio requesting to lead or guide our focused sessions.  The students would keep track of who was next to lead, thus fostering independence.  Each child initiated his or her own style of mindfulness while verbally guiding the other children in relaxing the mind and focusing attention on breathing from their core.  I began to notice that dedicating a few minutes at the beginning of each session gave meaning to our entire class.  Children were more focused, intentional, and confident.

This soon grew to, “Ms. Garcia, today I really need it, I need at least four minutes, I need five minutes!” Ms.  Garcia, “I can’t wait! Can I lead our mindfulness right away?”  Children began negotiating with me and with one another to demonstrate what mindfulness looks like and sounds like in a learning community.  The children began sharing their own personal stories about how mindfulness has improved their quality of life.  Children started reporting that they felt more tranquil, more peaceful inside; they no longer worried.  At night when one student used to have trouble falling asleep, he practiced his deep breathing and found that he could experience deeper rest.  There has been a flood of appreciation for our practice and journey together.   Children looked forward to exchanging their experiences on a daily basis.

5th Grade: Submitted by Erik Swanson

As part of our school-wide health and wellness initiative, the fifth grade team attended a mindfulness workshop led by Bonnie Levine in October. Several years ago, Mrs. Levine decided to incorporate mindfulness practices into her classes. During the October workshop, she shared some of her personal recollections of those experiences. She also taught us various mindfulness practices that we could include in our daily routines with our students.

One of the main ideas that we learned about mindfulness is not about clearing the mind, but about being present. Too many times throughout the day, we are distracted by thinking about what happened in the past or what we are going to do in the future. If our brains are emotionally overwhelmed or stressed, it is difficult to make clear decisions and act thoughtfully. Practicing mindfulness and having the awareness of being in the moment strengthens concentration, attention and supports “readiness to learn”. The advantage of mindfulness is that it can be practiced by anyone at any time and is a great aid to the educational process.

As a grade, we have been practicing mindfulness by taking part in several activities in the morning and periodically throughout the day. Mindful breathing, listening, eating and walking are several of the practices we have focused on. These activities take only a few minutes; however, they have become an integral part of our day.

I asked my students how they felt about our mindfulness practices and these were some of their responses:

“I learned that I never really listened. Also, I learned I always thought about the past or future, never the present.”

“The mindfulness practice makes me feel positive and peaceful.”

“I like the mindfulness practices because you get some time to reflect. I learned that in such a high-tech world it is sometimes hard to connect or reflect.”

“Mindfulness helps with calmness and relaxation.”

“Mindfulness helps me connect with myself.”

Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, boost working memory and increase self-reflection. These mindfulness practices are methods or tools our students can use and benefit from each day.

 

 


 

 

15 May

2nd Grade STEM Center Tour

On a sunny day in early May, the second-grade students donned their hard hats and toured the new Hajjar STEM Center. In honor of National Safety Week, Gilbane Construction Company invited both second-grade classes to see the progress of the newest D-E community building. Mr. Mike, (Project Manager) Mr. Shane (Project Engineer) and Mr. Fred (Safety Supervisor) brought the students goodie bags (hard hats, t-shirts, writing pads and first aid kits) and then spoke to the students regarding their jobs and the importance of safety on a construction site. They then led the students to the site and toured them throughout the building. Mrs. Stadulis, D-E’s Chief Financial Officer, also joined the tour and gave insightful information as to the construction process.

The second-grade social studies curriculum focuses on community, and the students have spent the year learning about the D-E community, different types of communities, economics, volunteering and also map skills. The construction of the new STEM Center touches upon all of these areas, so it was a natural fit for the second graders to have this special and unique touring opportunity. To prepare for the trip, the students looked at well-known buildings as well as the specifications and blueprints of the STEM Center. Of course, looking closely at this amazing project generated many questions from the students. One student asked the Gilbane workers, “What is the perimeter and area of the building?” and another student asked, “How many classrooms will be in the building?” The students were amazed to learn that there will be a robotics area and also a 16-screen projection area!

The tour ended with an incredible luncheon where the students enjoyed a delicious meal while chatting with all the construction workers on the project.

A huge thank you to Gilbane Construction Company for inviting the students and for sharing the important and safe work they do.

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