09 Feb

Third Graders Making a Difference: Giving of ourselves to the Bergen Family Center and St. Joseph’s School for the Blind

Contributed by Michelle Sussmann and Roni Kanter

“Last night I dreamed about helping someone,” reported one third grader on the morning of our Third Graders Making a Difference trip.  Each month third graders work on a project that is carefully chosen to help different groups of people both near and far.  Equally important, the work is done by the children so that the amount of effort they put in is a direct correlation to the amount of difference they make.  January’s project was unique in that it provided an opportunity for third graders to truly participate in every part of the process – from start to finish.

As we do each month, we kicked off this project by gathering as a grade.  Together we listened to Ben Harper’s “With My Own Two Hands.”  The song begins with “I can change the world – with my own two hands.  Make it a better place – with my own two hands.  Make a kinder place – with my own two hands.”  Students immediately got the message that they would be working with their hands.  Students then learned that this month they would be helping The Bergen Family Center, a wonderful place right here in Englewood, that helps infants through senior citizens in so many ways.

With the support of the families, students spent two weeks “working” at home, doing certain extra chores and helping their families.  The more they worked, the more they got paid.  At the end of the two weeks, they were paid their wages, then they had a week to shop for specific items that the BFC needs.  Students were encouraged to shop with their parents, giving them a sense of the cost of the items and how much their money could buy.  Next the items were brought to school.  When they arrived, one student remarked that she was surprised by how they much they had collected.  Finally, on January 29th, students loaded the bus with their items and personally delivered them to the Bergen Family Center.

Bergen Family Center is a not-for-profit center in Englewood that serves families in need by working with people ranging in age from four months old to senior citizens. Once at the Center, third graders toured the facility so they could see first-hand where their hard-earned items would be going and exactly who they would be helping.  After completing the tour, one student said, “I thought it was amazing that they were able to grow this whole place with most people not even paying to go.”  Another student remarked, “I felt proud because we had so much to bring.”

So often when we make a donation or help a charity, our money is sent off, and we never truly get to see where it is going.  It is a rare and special opportunity when we can see, first hand, where our donation goes.  Third graders are lucky to have this opportunity twice this year.  During the month of February, not only did we take a trip to the Bergen Family Center, we also took a trip to St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Our students were able to tour the school and meet the amazing students of St. Joseph’s School.  They were also able to see some of the purchases that the school has been able to make thanks to our year-round “Box Tops for Education” collection.  Each experience seemed to have great impact on the students.   Several students said they want to continue to help these wonderful organizations in the future. This is precisely our goal, which is to foster a lifelong love of giving back and making a difference.

09 Feb

“Thanks for Coming Author Sarah Weeks!”

Contributed by Rachel Brainin

On Friday, February 2, 2018, author Sarah Weeks captivated the students of the D-E Lower School with presentations about her writing process, her inspirations, a writer’s life, and readings of her books.

Through stories about her childhood and her own children, pictures of her dog and observations about people and their habits, Ms. Weeks was able to reach children and adults of all ages. She tailored her presentations to each group of students, preschool through 5th grades, always with humor and wisdom from her many years as a writer. She held the children’s attention with stories of what inspires her.

She also shared the numerous revisions her work goes through, emphasizing the importance of the editing process. The children, who prepared by reading many of her books ahead of time, were excited and ready with many questions for Ms. Weeks, ranging from where she gets her ideas to whether she has goals for the future.

“Everyone related to her,” shared a second grader.

A fourth grader shared, “I liked how she told us what she heard when she was spying at Starbucks.”

A fifth-grade student remarked, “I enjoyed how she told us the process of how she writes her books and how she does the editing process. I like how she gets inspiration from the things around her…her sons, the clothes on the roof, and her pets.”

The impact of this  visit has been great. Since her visit, children have been referencing her during Writing Workshop.  Some first-grade children were overheard saying, “I am going to edit my work, just like Sarah Weeks.”

Ms. Weeks certainly left a strong impression on all of us in the Lower School, and we are so grateful to the Parents’ Association for sponsoring her visit.

09 Feb

The Lower School Celebrates Lunar New Year!

Although the actual date of Lunar New Year is on Friday, February 16, the Lower School students ushered in the “Year of the Dog” with important elders, wonderful music, and a special Lion Dance!

The Lower School students and faculty would like to thank the parents from the Asian-American Affinity group, the Chinese Affinity group, and the Korean Affinity group, for working together to plan an assembly that highlighted special traditions important during this special time of the year!