09 Sep

The School Year Begins! – September 9, 2014

Last Wednesday, Sept. 3rd, our first Lower School assembly of the school year was filled with song!

I loved greeting the students and families on our opening day!

Students in grades 1-5 processed into the gym as a second-grade student played a beautiful rendition of “Rondo” by Muzio Clemente and “Little Man in the Woods” by Englebert Humperdink on keyboard.  Following her performance, students from Ms. Sowa’s Grade 4 class led us in the song “America” written by Katherine Lee Bates. Music teacher, Mary Heveran, accompanied on keyboard by music teacher, Lorna Milbauer, led us in a song called “JAMBO”.  As we recessed from the gym, a third-grade student courageously sang and performed “Cups (When I’m Gone)” by Anna Kendrick.  What an eclectic selection of tunes!

As students and families get to know me, all will discover that I love music of all kinds, and I enjoy singing.  As I reflect upon the first week of school, I am compelled to make a connection to this theme of “music and song.”   I remember reading a quote, “Music is one of the greatest creations of humankind.  It is creativity in pure and undiluted form and format.” Surprisingly, I was not as familiar with the song “JAMBO” as I was with the other songs showcased in this assembly.  As I did some research about the song and spoke with Mary further, I wanted to share a bit about what I discovered. 

“JAMBO” was written and recorded in 1974 by Ella Jenkins.  Ella Jenkins is an African-American folk singer, recording artist, and educator.  Her body of work is all about creating music specifically for children and spans over the course of 50 years.  Her primary focus is to create music, sounds, and rhythmic patterns that introduce children to musical traditions from all over the world– “creativity in pure and undiluted form and format”.  Ms. Jenkins has received multiple awards for her musical contributions, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2004.

Mary shared the following:
“The song JAMBO was written by Ella Jenkins and is an example of a ‘Call and Response’ song that gets everyone involved.  It is a song that teaches ways to say hello in different languages such as Swahili, Spanish, Japanese, and English.  While teaching the song I also ask the children if they know ways of greeting each other in other languages.  Some of the examples that the children contribute are Korean, Chinese, Russian, French, Hebrew, Greek and Italian.  I selected the song as a nice way of welcoming everyone back to school… because it is a way in which students and faculty can see and hear that no matter what language you speak, a friendly hello will make you feel welcomed.  It is compelling to me because the fact that it is a call and response song, one is not required to know the lyrics in advance.  All you have to do is listen and sing back what you hear!

The faculty and students in the Lower School are just beginning to “make music” in a broader sense as we welcome each other to the start of the 2014-15 school year.  The students will undoubtedly demonstrate evidence of creativity, not only through music, this school year.  I look forward to being a part of their journey and sharing a glimpse of what is happening each week in the Lower School with you. “Jambo! Jambo sana Jambo!”  Welcome Back!

Kim Lewis

JAMBO – by Ella Jenkins

Jambo! Jambo sana jambo! (Swahili)

Hola!  Hola mis amigos! (Spanish)

Ohaiyou! Ohaiyou konnichiwa! (Japanese)

Hello! Hello everybody hello! (English)

Let’s begin!

Welcome New Lower School Faculty

Mary Cushman is the new teaching assistant in the preschool 3 class.  Mary has earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Swarthmore College. She has also earned a Masters of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education. Mary has taught kindergarten at First Presbyterian preschool and kindergarten in Englewood and has experience in New York City schools as well. She also has a keen interest in the theater and attended the Circle in the Square Theatre School.  Her daughter, Julia, ’20 is in 7th grade at D-E and husband, Fred Daly, is an US Department Chair, advisor, teacher and coach.  Welcome to the Lower School, Mary!

Rachel DiGiovanni is the new teaching assistant in the first grade and is also helping out in the Explorers program in the afternoon. Rachel has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Special Education from Rutgers University.  She has also earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Montclair State University.  Rachel has had a breadth of experience working with students in preschool through third grade in various schools in New Jersey.  She looks forward to sharing her knowledge about innovative means of integrating technology into the curriculum.  Rachel has a daughter, Savannah, ’16 who is a junior at D-E, and she’s also the proud parent of D-E Alumna, Bianca, Class of 2011.  Welcome to the Lower School, Rachel!

Julie Pugkhem is the new teaching assistant in the preschool 4 class.  Julie has earned a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and Human Biology from Emory University.  She has also earned a Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education.  Julie has a strong interest in promoting students’ interest in the sciences.  Julie has a beautiful chihuahua named Machi that she loves dearly.  Welcome to the Lower School, Julie!

Thank you for your cooperation and patience!

As routines begin to take shape regarding arrival and dismissal patterns for families, the morning and afternoon car lines and bus routes will become much more predictable.  Thank you for your cooperation and patience during this transition time. 

Please be sure to refer to the Just the Facts document that was sent home on Friday Sept. 5th.  Just the Facts outlines a few additional points, such as the arrival and dismissal times, that will likely make for a more successful week.

Below are a few additional reminders that will help with the flow of traffic in the morning and the afternoon:

Please do not exit your car while in the carline. The sidewalk helpers will do all that they can to get your child, backpacks, lunch pails and other goodies out of or into the car safely along the sidewalk. 

Please be mindful of parents and caregivers behind you in the carline. We want parents and caregivers to send the children off with a kiss and proper goodbye and to greet them with the same excitement at the close of the day; however, we do ask that you move along to the exit gate as soon as the conditions are clear and safe.  Let’s work together as a community to shorten the carline from both the Lincoln Street entrance and the Palisades Ave. entrance.

Please do not make a left turn onto Palisades Avenue once you have reached the exit gate.  It is against the law to do so.  Additionally, although it may be inconvenient to turn right, the increased wait time has an impact on the remaining drivers in the carline.

If you would like to walk your child into the building this week, parking is permissible on Lincoln Street until Friday, Sept. 12, 2014.  If we receive permission to continue to park on Lincoln Street for the following week, that information will be posted in Just the Facts. 

Grand Opening – Lower School Book Room

by Susan Abramson, Assistant Principal


You may have noticed the room next to the Lower School library has a new look!

Our math specialist, Cecily Gottling, has moved the math office down the hall across from Mr. Rodenbush’s 4th grade classsroom, and thanks to the initiative and hard work of a group of teachers, the former math office is now a space for a Lower School bookroom.

After the close of school on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, we had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the creation and opening of our new Lower School bookroom.

The purpose of a bookroom is to offer all learners, teachers and students, a collection of texts to support children’s literacy development. What distinguishes the bookroom from the library and the classroom collections is that it contains sets of books that are intended to be connected to the reading and writing units at each grade level. The books in the bookroom are also categorized by the level of complexity, thus giving teachers a valuable tool for focusing their instruction to the needs of learners.  The bookroom is also significant because it allows us to share one of our most valuable resources – BOOKS – across the entire school!

The Lower School bookroom is an exciting addition to our school and a reflection of the collaborative efforts our faculty engage in to support our work with all of our Lower School children.