27 Jan

The 4th Graders Take the Lead – Lower School’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly

Submitted by Mary Heveran and Grade 4 Students

“Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired non-violent protest for civil rights.  What does it mean to be non-violent? Why was this approach important then and now?”

This prompt was given to the 4th grade students as a way of generating ideas for the MLK Assembly. What I got back from them was quite amazing.  They quickly began working on ways of translating their written responses into formats that could be shared with the full Lower School during the assembly.

Their responses ranged from essays, posters, skits, and dance routines and even a rewrite of the song It’s Quiet Uptown from the Broadway play Hamilton, which a student changed the title to It’s a Riot Uptown.

4th grader Alan shared, “Cooperation was key to correct positioning of the skits.”

Below are some excerpts from the skits and presentations:

“To be non-violent means to not harm or kill.  It means to be peaceful and comes from the belief that hurting people or the environment is unnecessary to achieve a result. This approach was important then and now because it is about holding love for everyone, even those who disagree with us.”

“ I believe that you can show your support or disapproval of something without being violent and you can use methods like speeches, marching, art, and peaceful protests.”

“Race should not matter.  The only things that should matter are your beliefs.  Dr. King understood that violence only leads to fear and hatred.  Engaging in non-violent protest is extremely difficult when the other side’s response is to hurt you.  However, when non-violent protests are successful they can bring a nation together in wanting to do the right thing.”

“We still are struggling with racism and prejudice.  Non-violent protest should continue against injustice now.  Violent protest does not solve problems.  It will start conflicts and eventually erupt into a war that will move the human race further away from peace on planet earth.”

The assembly ended with the entire 4th grade singing and dancing to the song We Stood Up, a rap song about Rosa Parks and the Greensboro 4.  They reminded us all to stand up for what we believe: liberty, peace, justice, creativity, love, acceptance, fairness, equality, humanity, and kindness.

In the words of 4th grader Guy, “It was a powerful assembly.  I think the final song really blew the audience away.”

4th Grader Nikka shared, “What I really liked about the Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly is that it put our minds together to work as a team.  It also let us learn a lot more about his life.  We learned about his deepest thoughts and the inspiration that he has given to others.”

27 Jan

Preschool Update

Early childhood experts Dr. Allison Gopnik and Erika Chistakis, drawing upon decades of cognitive science, urge us to view young children as powerful learning machines. Preschoolers learn, they say, by making meaning of all they encounter in the world around them. In our preschool 3 classroom, that is exactly what teachers see — children continuously engaged in efforts to grasp what they have witnessed. By creating, questioning, and planning with one another, they comprehend bits of their world.

One day on Mr. Rocky’s Field these boys saw a couple of mounds of snow, and the shapes reminded them of a sled or snowmobile. So, they climbed on! Can you feel them zooming down the road?

We witness meaning-making in early self portraits, when children grab a crayon, draw circles and lines, and then declare, “This is me!”

At one point we introduced the children to lines and curves, using the wooden “Handwriting Without Tears” materials. Now we see children choosing those and other materials to represent themselves physically. One child’s idea for hair is enthusiastically picked up by the others.

We observe, too, those initial moments when a child figures out how to make “my letter!”

In January we started an attendance chart. The children quickly pick up clues (short name? long name? three Ns?) to help them choose which is theirs. They also note that the first letter in each name is red.

We subsequently created a name-matching game. It is a real challenge to play (three J names and three K names!), but our curious learners are drawn to recognizing the names of their peers. Playing the game also plants the idea that letters stand for sounds.

Superheroes are now more popular than ever in our culture, and our preschoolers are fascinated by them. This Batman book has grown quite worn with use. By pretending to be superheroes, the children transform themselves from beings who often need help (to zip their jackets, tie their shoes) to beings who create order and safety.

This child is drawing “a monster” — being creative while also perhaps taking control of something fearful.

By imitating adults at work, children feel powerful. Our dramatic play area has turned into a doctor’s office. The patients are usually teachers or dolls. The children are inspired by the various medical instruments we have, and also may be remembering what they’ve experienced at their own visits to the doctor.

Pretending to have a job feels important, and so does having a job in the classroom. We started our job chart this month.

The children have myriad opportunities to attempt simple, specific tasks that a teacher has demonstrated. They watch the process, try to follow it themselves, and simultaneously are honing their pre-writing skills. The reward is a feeling of mastery.

Other skills are more open-ended. For us, scissors are an ordinary tool that we use without thinking. For a 3-year-old, it is incredibly exciting to “get” how scissors work, and a child can spend many minutes fringing the side of a piece of paper or snipping paper into little pieces. What has been cut is not important; it is the cutting itself that matters.

The growth we observe in our preschoolers from September to June is enormous. To behold them discovering their abilities is a privilege, and to share in their consequent delight is a joy.

Lorraine Yamin, Mary Cushman and Marisa Teply
Preschool 3 Teachers


13 Jan

Join Us: Parent Focus Group RE: Dir. of Institutional Equity

Please join us!
D-E Parent Focus Group:

Thursday, January 19, 2017; 7:30-8:30 PM

There are times in the life of a school when it is important for the full community to come together to collectively envision and share thoughts about the future.  Gathering a variety of perspectives, hopes and dreams, and questions helps to strengthen us.

On Thursday, January 19th and Friday, January 20th, the Dwight-Englewood School will be undertaking a process of envisioning and listening as we prepare to hire a Director of Institutional Equity and Social Justice.  Please see below for the first draft of the position job description.

Head of School Dr. De Jarnett has invited two Senior Consultants from Carney Sandoe and Associates to support our national search.  The consultants, Sherry and Jennifer,  will be engaging members of the full D-E community by conducting many focus groups over the course of those two days.  A special time has been planned for D-E parents to meet with the consultants on Thursday, Jan. 19th at 7:30 PM. 

For our planning purposes, please RSVP to Mrs. Rullo at rullol@d-e.org if you are able to attend.  If you are unable to attend this evening session, Mrs. Rullo will be able to provide more information about ways in which you can share your thoughts, hopes, dreams, and wonderings with the consultants.

This is an exciting opportunity for the community to continue to grow in understanding.

Director of Institutional Equity and Social Justice (First Draft Job Description) 

Dwight-Englewood School, a Pre-K-12 School in Englewood, New Jersey located in the greater New York City area, seeks to hire a Director of Institutional Equity and Social Justice to commence July 2017.  This is a senior administrative position and will report directly to the Head of School. This exciting position calls for a collaborative and visionary educational leader to oversee equity and social justice initiatives and work with students, faculty, parents, administrators and trustees.  The Director will facilitate, promote, and supervise the work school wide.  It is essential that the Director have an in-depth knowledge of and deeply held commitment to equity, inclusion and social justice as demonstrated through practice and experience.


13 Jan

Lower School Book of the Month Program

When Mrs. Sheila Sienicki became the Lower School librarian one of her first initiatives was the Lower School Book of the Month. As part of the Lower School Book of the Month, Mrs. Sienicki, with input from teachers, selects a book to be read in each classroom. We strive to select a book that speaks to Lower School children – not an easy task considering our school ranges from three to ten year olds! Given the audience, we rely heavily on picture books that explore themes in a manner than can be accessed by all our students. Themes explored in the book of the month include friendship, acceptance, persistence and kindness.  The shared experience of hearing these together spark conversations and hopefully impart messages that teachers and students will come back to again and again.

This month our students read What Do You Do With A Problem? by Kobi Yamada, the author and illustrator of last years best-selling What Do You Do With An Idea?, and in February we read one of Ms. Lewis’s favorite stories, What Does It Mean To Be Kind. Later on in the spring, students will hear the Charlotte Zolotow classic, William’s Doll, and to celebrate the birthday month of Dr. Seuss in April, we read Horton Hears A Who, which lends itself very nicely to a conversation about patience and persistence.

Each classroom has a copy of the book of the month, and of course, copies can be found in the LS library. Next time you are in the Lower School, visit Mrs. Sienicki to check out one of our books of the month! And don’t forget to ask your children about the new book each month. Hopefully reading and discussing these books with your family will bring delight and joy at home, just as they do for us here at school.

13 Jan

SPOTLIGHT: Lindsay Carter

For the next few issues of LS Notes we will be shining a spotlight on our many talented instructors and their D-E 360• (ACE) courses. Learn more about all the Winter 2017 D-E 360• AfterCare & Enrichment (ACE) offerings: click here or go to http://de360.d-e.org/ls-aftercare-and-enrichment-ace/

“I like the yoga class.  Ms. Carter is fun.  She taught me turtle pose.  Crow pose is hard, but I am trying.  I think my friend, Layla, should come.”
– From Natalie, kindergarten student

Faculty Profile:

Lindsay Carter teaches Creative Arts Yoga for D-E 360° ACE and is faculty for the Lower School 5th Opera rotation.  She earned her BA from Penn State University and Musical Theater Certification from Circle in the Square in 2009.  With her ten years of experience practicing yoga and her lifelong passion for the performing arts, Lindsay combines her love of working with children, with yoga and the dramatic arts, to teach individuals how to express their unique selves through the exploration of yoga, mindfulness and creative play. Lindsay holds her 200 Hour Teacher Certification through the National Yoga Alliance. She completed her Vinyasa Yoga training at Home Yoga, completed her Children’s Yoga Certification through Karma Kids Yoga, and her Radiant Child Certification. She is currently pursuing a K-6 Teacher Certification in New Jersey.

Creative Arts Yoga Class
Taught by Lindsay Carter, Creative Arts Yoga is a D-E 360° ACE Enrichment offering that combines yoga, story telling, puppets, and music to encourage children to find their true inner spark and build confidence. Through breathing, movement, and creative exercises, children will tap into their creativity and unleash their inner confidence so they can shine on the outside! This class is focused on the whole child – physical, mental, and emotional.  Children in Kindergarten-Grade 3 are encouraged to join. Click here to learn more and to register online. 

  • Grades: Kindergarten – 3rd
  • When: Tuesday
  • Time: 4-5 PM