As noted by Head of School Jon Alden in his October 16 Head of School update, thanks to the vigilance of our community, we continue to see no spread of the coronavirus in our school community. This has prompted us to consider a possible transition from Hybrid to fully On Campus learning for our Elementary students as well as Middle School cohorts resuming some intermingling and Toddler and Primary class enrollment slowly increasing by a few students. There is a lot to consider and as with all things COVID, change occurs weekly if not daily so a decision will not be made until Friday, October 23. In addition to sending thoughts and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org at any time, parents are invited to grab a second cup of coffee and join Jon for a Q&A discussion of our tentative plans at our next Zoom Parent Coffee on Thursday, October 22nd, at 9 a.m.
Thank you to those who completed last week's Pulse Survey! We are happy to hear that 65% of respondents "strongly agree" and another 29% "agree" that their children "feel safe and happy while at school". Several parents commented on their child's confidence, sense of belonging, and love for their teachers. When asked about hopes for what your children will say about their school experience this year, the overall sentiment was a desire for happiness, community, and friendship.
Please note that we have amended our Snack Policy! While we still ask all students to bring their own water bottles, lunches and snacks to campus each day and food will not be served communally, individual servings of pre-packaged, store-bought items may be permitted for birthday celebrations or holiday celebrations. Please check with your child's Teacher for additional guidelines and before sending any items to be shared.
As previously announced, Associate Head of School for Elementary & Middle Learning Nikki Torres has been appointed Springmont's DEI Coordinator. Because work on issues of diversity, equity and inclusivity is a community effort, she will be joined by a committee of faculty and staff including Primary Assistant Sianda Ruiz, Toddler Teacher Toshia Johnson, Primary Teacher Laura Cassell, Elementary Teacher Patricia Jordan, Middle School Teacher Gretchen Stamps, Toddler/Primary Division Head Cara Friedline, and Head of School Jon Alden. They will work together to set goals, gather ideas, questions and concerns, and steer our continued efforts to put issues of diversity, equity and inclusivity at the center of our work with children and families. Parents should mark their calendars for “Talking about Race at Home,” a workshop with iChange Collaborative that will take place virtually on Tuesday, December 1, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
There’s always something interesting happening “on the farm” at Springmont, and late summer was no exception! Our beloved turkey hen, Jenny, had been broody for many months, hoping for some turkey chicks (or poults) of her own. She finally has something to gobble about, but it’s not what you think!
Both hens and turkey hens get broody which means all they want in life is to hatch some chicks. Hormones kick in and the hen retires to a nesting box where she camps out, growling and pecking at anyone who dares approach. She means business! Broodiness can last a few days or several months depending on how committed the hen is. Having a broody hen is ok if you don’t mind having some chicks and if you know some of those eggs will hatch. Having a hen sit on eggs that never hatch is unfair to her, and left to her own devices, a hen will forgo her usual foraging activities resulting in weight loss and a general decline in health.
Unlike chickens, turkey hens will lay an entire clutch of 12+ eggs over a period of time and then incubate them. Jenny laid two clutches over the summer but it seems none were viable. So, when a couple of chickens decided that the turkey barn was the ideal spot to leave a few eggs, Jenny saw her chance to have one more go at it, and she sat on them for three weeks straight. She rarely left her nest and was rewarded when two tiny black chicks hatched. We all watched and waited to see how this would play out. Would she take one look at them and realize they were not hers? Or might the chicks see this enormous bird and shriek “YOU’RE NOT MY MOTHER!”
Well, nature, as always, found a way, and the three of them have become the sweetest little family. Jenny clucks constantly over them, guiding them in the art of scratching and foraging. She keeps them under her feathers on cool evenings and mornings and finds the sunniest spot in the barnyard for them to lounge during the warm part of each day. They follow her diligently into the barn every evening.
Of course, it will be some time before the chicks can manage on their own but it will be interesting to see if and how they separate themselves. Will they end up moving into the coop with the rest of the chickens or will they stay in the turkey barn? Will Jenny become more tolerant of chickens now? We're waiting with bated breath to see what happens next!
We’re so proud of Middle School Math Teacher Marsha Fleming who recently presented at this year’s virtual Southeastern Association for Science Teacher Education conference attended by college professors, graduate students and Ph.D. candidates. As math and science education are often intertwined, Marsha was invited to submit a speaking proposal by one of her graduate school professors. She chose to address a common math (and science) learning problem – how to help students retain what they have learned from previously taught units and how to effectively use these skills in combination to solve problems spanning multiple concepts. Marsha’s graduate work and research focused on combining 2 memory strategies – retrieval practice and interleaving (continuing to regularly practice already learned ideas alongside new concepts). Supported by the discriminative contrast hypothesis and comparative thinking, as well as the distributed practice hypothesis, interleaving retrieval practice teaches students to identify things that look similar but are actually different (e.g. 5x=25 and 5x=25) and to look at problems not in isolation but in connection to all skills previously learned. Springmont’s Middle School students benefit from Marsha’s love for learning and deep engagement in her subject matter!