With her radiant warmth and grace, Head of PDS Lower School Alesia Klein addressed PreK-Grade 4 parents attending Back to School Night last night. In her welcome, Alesia brought to life the many ways faculty have been facilitating the best in authentic student-led learning across the program. Here are highlights of her remarks:
One of the best parts of my job is to visit classes and watch our outstanding academic program come to life. I get to see your children discover, create, and learn. Just last week, I saw 4th graders observe, question, and discover why a rattleback behaves the way it does when it is spun. I saw our 1st grade students collaborate and design a new, innovative bed for Goldilocks. I saw 3rd graders show grit and resilience as they solved a challenging math problem, and I watched 2nd graders learn about their elastic brains and how their brains grow when they persevere through challenging tasks. Our students were critical problem solvers, creative thinkers, and collaborators, and they were so excited to explain what they were learning to me.
Academic excellence that meets children where they are
When I visit our classrooms, I see our exceptional academic program in action. Our faculty are relentless in driving continuous improvement and innovation in our curriculum, so that we stay at the forefront of educational practices and never accept the status quo in our teaching and learning. We strive to meet your children where they are and help them reach their true potential.
Many of our faculty members studied and collaborated this summer enhancing our curriculum and pedagogy. They developed new Reading and Writing units of study based on the groundbreaking work of Lucy Calkins, Director of the Literacy Specialist Program at Columbia University Teacher's College. They studied renowned Stanford University professor of Mathematics Education Jo Boaler's most recent Mindset Mathematics Research on how to connect concepts and incorporate brain science into mathematics instruction. They enhanced interdisciplinary units, researched global reading partners, and studied new ways to embed technology into all areas of our curriculum, and they participated in conversations about neuroscience, classroom innovations, and what schools could be.
Faculty stretching the students' learning and their own
Not only did our faculty work on developing and enhancing our core academic programs, many of our faculty members also worked throughout the summer on designing a PreK-Grade 8 Innovation and Design Program that would seamlessly align with our Upper School STEAM curriculum. In this program, your children will have opportunities to engage in authentic, purposeful, and interdisciplinary learning experiences that draw on your child's creativity, curiosity, and interests. Whether your children will be programing an Edison Robot to behave like an immigrant who explores a remote island, or designing a boat or shelter that could impact Lewis and Clark's expedition, or creating an innovation that impacts a specific biome, your children will be creating, collaborating, sharing, reflecting, imagining, and creating again. Our faculty are excited to collaborate to connect our Innovation and Design Program with all other areas of our curriculum.
Ongoing collaboration that impacts grades throughout PDS
As we designed our PreK- Grade 8 Innovation and Design Program, we discussed 21st century skills and core competencies that our students need to be successful in school and in life. These competencies include collaboration and leadership, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and communication, risk taking and resilience, integrity and empathy, and grit and a growth mindset. We commit ourselves to designing and implementing learning experiences that will not only teach content and information, but will also facilitate the development of these core competencies to prepare your children to be creative learners, producers, workers, and global citizens that will impact the world and the lives of others.
Children thriving as learners and community citizens, every day
The faculty and I are committed to dreaming big, collaborating, and providing your children with an innovative, challenging, and engaging curriculum that ensures that they develop into strong, confident adults who are ready, no not just ready, eager to take on the challenges of our rapidly changing world.
Thank you all for being here tonight and for entrusting your children to our care and love. Every day, I am heartened by the energy, enthusiasm, and passion of our faculty to learn and innovate, by the enthusiasm and generosity of all of you, and most importantly, by the joy and excitement of our students. I know they are going to thrive, flourish, and accomplish great things!
Photo caption: Parents of PDS Kindergarten students wrote down reflections on their own Kindergarten experiences during Back to School Night. The students will hear them today with their teacher, Sarah Thompson '84.