Monday, December 7, 2009
I smiled hardest as the presentation began. There stood a group of five bright, talented, thoughtful students who could have been our own all grown up. They had been thoughtful in their inquiry, had considered all the important angles, had synthesized the information to form excellent conclusions and presented it in an inviting and inclusive manner. Each had his or her own special skill to contribute to the team, each had a role in the work that was vibrant and important. They were so excited about what they had experienced at SK, too. The team noted, each of them, that they wished they'd had the chance to learn in such a cool, creative, and engaging environment as the one they had seen at SK. Which, in my mind, is the biggest compliment there is.
Sitting there, taking it all in, I couldn't help but smile thinking of our 2/3 classroom students (who spend so much time on teamwork) and imaging any one of our wonderful students doing the same presentation, some time in the future. In that moment, I imagined Erin and Lea and Lukas leading the discussion, Atty and Ian throwing in the color commentary, Trent and Freya pointing out some interesting detail, Selden and Stanley giving the data to support the findings, Noah and Melissa making the audience crack a smile and Toussaint coming up with a story to connect it to the organization. Any combination of those children working together, doing what they loved and felt passionate about, helping an organization like SK that provides a place of learning that resonated with their adult selves as much as it did when they were children. It gave me goosebumps, frankly. It was incredibly cool.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
JIT for your holiday shopping! Summers-Knoll gets a cut of every purchase that runs through GoodShop. All you do is put the name "Summers Knoll" in the "who do you goodshop for" box and the site pops up a number of great stores. You are then sent to the stores' websites and can place your order. And the...they are really good stores that you all frequent...and good donation amounts!
It really adds up.
Even easier, you can add the GoodShop toolbar to your browser (I use Firefox) and every time you go to a site to purchase something, you will see how much of that purchase will go to Summers-Knoll. Which is really sweet if you are the type of person, like myself, that only remembers to go to the GoodShop site after she's clicked the button.
Friday, December 4, 2009
One such thing is happening this weekend, the Shadow Art Fair, which is produced by a group called the Michigan Design Militia (hmmm, know anyone in that picture?), sponsored by another fabulous creative group called VGKids (ooh, who is that guy in the last picture at the bottom?), featuring such cool organizations as FLY Childrens Art Center (hey, we know the fly mama who runs that!) and demonstrating the craft of ultra-cool zine artists like Linette Lao (yeah, that Linette).
Legend has it that its the coolest art experience around, about 40 amazingly creative local artists whose work is on display for purchase. So go, if you can, and if you need any enticing, check out the fantastic Flickr feed.
It's at the Corner Brewery, too. That's a serious bonus. Saturday, December 5th, 12p-12a. See you there.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Just a quick note to let you know about a recall of the popular McLaren stroller:
It is reported that all Maclaren strollers from 1999 to present day will be involved in the recall, but we are still waiting to learn what those model numbers are.
The reason for the recall is due to children's fingertips getting amputated by the hinge on the affected strollers.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The Magic Carpet concerts, Nordic Weave, at 10 AM and 12 AM on Saturday, are for children, featuring Scandinavian classical music. The audience get to draw on big papers on the walls in response to the music. Everybody should bring their own magic carpets to sit on! (Blankets, pillows etc. The seating will be on the floor). IKEA has donated cookies and drinks that will be served after the concert.
Ticket price $15 per family, at Kerrytown Concert House.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I looked over and whose fantastic smile and wave did I see but Pare Gerou's, in her own car and heading to the same spot I was...and stuck in the same traffic! Now, I drive a car that many, many people drive and I, for one, never know what kind of cars other people drive. Kids, yes, cars, no. But when she edged forward in her lane, I caught sight of her S-K magnet on the back of her car. "That's it!" I thought, "I bet she recognized me from the magnet!"
Sure enough when we caught up with each other at school and I asked her how she knew it was me, Pare said that she'd seen the S-K sign that I was sporting with pride on the back of my otherwise typical car.
I have been reading a lot lately about "tribes", communities who share a sense of connection through commonalities, ideas, purpose and the like, and I am really drawn to the idea of identity, community and support. Seeing Pare today brightened my dreary drive not only because of her friendly wave and cheerful smile, but also because it was someone familiar to me in a sea of unknown faces. I love that about our school. We are a tribe, we are a group of people drawn together because of our desire to educate our children in an open, thoughtful and compelling way. Our size as a school means that we are tight-knit. When something happy or sad happens to one of our tribe, we all feel it in some form or fashion. It's a true community, a family in many ways, a touchstone and a sense of belonging that is important to children and adults alike.
Wow, all of this from a magnet sighting on the back of a car? Yes. That experience really gave me pause and made me think of how happy I am to know you, each of you. I am happy to be able to wave at you on the road and have my kids smile when they see your S-K sticker in an unusual place (like at my daughter's daycare or in a parking lot downtown--two sightings in one week!).
So, please consider showing your tribe identity and make a space for that magnet on the back of your car (and, wash off the metal first, they stick better!). We have so much to be proud of at this school. We are passionate, creative, curious and thoughtful people who have made choices and sacrifices for our children (and, by default, ourselves) to be part of this special community. We have fantastic faculty and amazing staff and caring supporters and alumni who are all part of the S-K tribe. And our children are learning every day to create their own sense of community by recognizing diversity and similarity, of tribe by understanding and supporting what they have and tending it. I am glad I am here, thank you for being here too.
See you this weekend at Curious Epicures. And ask the wonderful Susan Carpenter about how she uses tribes in her classroom. Amazing stuff, worth exploring!
Friday, October 9, 2009
"Bring in your treasures and discover ours! Experts join us from the fields of paleontology, anthropology, archaeology, botany, zoology, and geology. Please bring your: shells; rocks and minerals; invertebrate fossils;Arrow heads; Shards of pottery; Vertebrate bones; Insects; Skulls; Seeds, leaves, twigs; Fish. Sorry, no appraisals."
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
"Thought that there might be a few other kids (and/or parents) at SK, who might be interested in the proposed double impacts of spacecraft on the Moon on Friday, October 9 on a lunar-water-finding mission! Sadly there is no local observatory in MI where the public can see the show. Regardless, more info is available at http://science.nasa.gov/
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
My friend Linh Song works with the Mam Non Organization and they are putting on a most fantastic sounding Mid-Autumn Moon Festival on Friday, October 2nd. It's a wonderful way to welcome Fall, eat the most wonderful Moon Cakes and enjoy a breathtaking lantern parade (200 Vietnamese lanterns at night!) You can find out more about it here: http://www.mamnon.org/ Enjoy!
Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Friday October 2, 2009
6:45PM (Teen and Pre-Teen Meetup)
Three Cedars Farm
7897 Six Mile Rd.
Northville, MI 48167
- Lantern Parade
- Corn Maze
- Storytelling by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
- Pair of Bananas
Monday, September 14, 2009
I just came across this cool site today. Many of you may have already
seen this, but I thought it was pretty neat. Basically you go to
www.freerice.com and you can take a number of quizzes (spelling, math,
etc) and for every answer you get right, they donate rice to those in
need (they are partnered with the World Food Programme)....the more you
know, the more they FEED.
I can see this being a great way to 'do good' and have fun with your
kids....and educate them about the world around them too!!!
Sounds like a cool project and a great way to get kids excited about using their brains for good. I love that idea: use your brain to help others. What a great idea!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
For students new and old, this is a tremendous time of discovery. Reading Renata's blog gives me chills when I think of the diversity of things students in her classroom took to explore last week.Walking through the lunchroom and seeing Ruth's diagrams of geometric patters found in North African art demonstrates the synergy in learning here. It's not just math or art or writing or science, each in their own separate silos. It is the weaving of learning across all of these disciplines, the warp and woof of a student's learning and the creativity and joy of discovery. (I suggest subscribing to all of the blogs, even if it's not your child's classroom--it's so exciting to see what everyone is doing!)
Leaving the picnic in the park today, I was struck by the faces I love seeing and the many friendships we have forged over the past year. But, I have a confession to make. When we were considering where to send David to school, I was anxious about not choosing our neighborhood school. "Will he still have friends in the neighborhood? Will he miss being able to walk to school every day? How will it be with him having friends all over?"...all of these thoughts would work their way into my mind on a daily basis. I was most worried that he would have to choose between a community at school and another in our neighborhood. Today as I watched my little guy race down the soccer field with teammates from our neighborhood team and then, not much later, defend "Water World" with buddies from school, I realized that my concerns were for naught as he truly has the best of both and, for that, we feel incredibly lucky.
So, thank you, again, for being part of this community of ours, special as it can be. Here's to an auspicious start to a really fabulous year!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
We need a volunteer to research grant opportunities to fund programs and scholarships at Summers-Knoll. You can either do an online search through the Foundation Center or go to the NEW Center (where there is a librarian to help). If you are also interested in grant writing (or learning to write grants), that would be a huge plus too.
The time commitment would likely be 8-10 hours, but can be spread out over days.
If you have time to help with this important initiative, please email Fran Loosen at fran.loosen(at)gmail.com. Thanks for getting involved!
Sunday, September 6, 2009
My name is Fran Loosen and I am mother to David, a 1st grader in Ms. Anita's class and a member of the Board of Directors. I also dabble a little bit here on the parent blog as a way to keep the parent community engaged from a "parent's" perspective.
It's hard to believe that Tuesday is the first day of school. I am sure for many of you it's hard to believe that your child is embarking on a new experience in a new learning environment. As filled with intrepidation as these first days can be, our community of teachers, staff, parents and students is here to welcome you!
If you are new to the school or have been at S-K for years, you may notice some excitement in the air this year. We have opened a new (second) K/1 classroom, we are blending new faculty with our fabulous core team of talented teachers, we have gained even more visibility in our local community for what an incredibly special and amazing place S-K is for children and parents alike.
My son David came here for his first year last year. In Elaine's capable hands, he had one of the most important years in his personal development. He literally ran into school every day, smile on his face, eager to learn and explore. He met amazing and wonderful friends and grew so much in a year that we could barely keep up with him. His experience was an amazing amalgamation of great teaching, a warm and thoughtful community, progressive pedagogy and a spirit of discovery that has kept his mind and person engaged and excited. His experience brings a strange yearning to me, making me wish that I had had this same opportunity when I was small...to love learning and feel challenged, to be appreciated for talents, to learn to work as a community and support each other's gifts and strengths. This is a truly special spot at a very important time in a child's life and I am thankful, every day, that David has this school to call his learning home.
So welcome to S-K. In the coming weeks, I hope to meet and connect with every new family and reunite with all returning ones. In the meantime, if you have any parent-related questions, do *not* hesitate to email me at fran.loosen(at)gmail.com. And, please sign up to follow the blog so you can keep up with what is going on in the parent community. Welcome!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
One of the topics that came up at the recruitment/marketing meeting last night was how to define "progressive education". For those of you interested in learning more about the meaning of the term and how it is the basis for the curriculum and culture of our community at S-K, there is a great article by Alfie Kohn that talks about the value and values of progressive education from the magazine Independent School.
Progressive Education: Why It’s Hard to Beat, But Also Hard to Find
There is another good entry about progressive education on wikipedia (although obviously the editors feel like it came from another source). I particularly like the bullets that describe the qualities of progressive ed...you can really see how this takes root and becomes manifest in our classrooms.
When I've tried to describe the magic of S-K in the past, I usually wander around in words until I finally say "you really have to see it in action to believe it!" I hope that these articles help others as much as they have helped me to be able to make the culture of the school concrete and real for others.
If you have any other great articles on progressive ed, brigh/creative/gifted children and learning, please pass them on. Thanks!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
It's incredible to me that the end of the year is upon us. The whole school came to the lunchroom today for a demonstration on Tunisian cooking (hand-rolled couscous in olive oil, gorgeous sauce made with olives, preserved lemons and harissa facilitated by Ari Weinzweig (Zingerman's) and Majid and Onsa Mahjoub) and as I looked out across all of the beautiful faces, my throat caught a bit. What incredible children make up this community. Smart, interesting, sweet, loving, spunky, articulate, gentle, generous, courageous. All of these things and more. It's a pretty inspiring group of kiddos who will make a tremendous impact on the world in the near and far term. That's why our family is part of this community and that's what makes it hard to say goodbye until next year. I hope to see many of you at summer camp and we should try to have a gathering at some point just for fun to reconnect and tell stories of what our lives are like in the lazy days of summer.
Recruitment: But before everyone packs up their assessments and idea books and heads off for a summer of fun, I wanted to say that if you have any fantastic ideas for recruiting highly-qualified and spectacular kids for our (2nd) K/1 and our 4/5 classrooms this summer, please do not hesitate to either give me a call or email me at fran.loosen (at) gmail.com. Your ideas have been *fantastic* so far and we are hitting the ground running pursuing many of them. No idea is too out of the box, keep the creative juices flowing. We will have to prioritize our activities, but your input and insight is great. For those of you coming to the recruitment meeting tonight, thank you! Your energy is much appreciated.
Free Money: I am a real Sally-come-lately but somewhere in there I missed that Summers-Knoll is a beneficiary of the Take Charge for Education program at Target and figured others might be too, so I'm going to mention it here on the off-chance that others are reading this. It's pretty cool. You use Target's credit card and they contribute 1% on all your Target purchases or 1/2% on all other purchases back to the school. For years I've played the airline miles game and have always paid annual fees for miles I rarely use. This year maybe I'll see how this works to support S-K without even really thinking about it.
If you have found opportunities for the school to benefit from this somewhat passive fundraising, please let us all know. Remember that goodsearch and goodshop are still great options. Every little bit counts.
Finally: To our teachers, staff and volunteers...you are simply amazing. Thank you. You make such an important impression on the lives of these children. They are uplifted by your intelligence and warmed by your kindness. There's just not enough time or data storage space to say to thank you for all that you do and for the many instances of care and compassion that go unrecognized. You are a true gift.
Safe travels and happy summer to you all. I will keep putting things up here during the summer just as a way to stay in practice, but I hope to get other parents involved in this blog and *really* hope to get a PTO of sorts up and running. If you are interested in helping out (or, I could just find you) please let me know. It's a great way to socialize with families and to help the school grow.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
But it also demonstrated to me that parents are more than willing and able to help make things work for the school, especially if they are given an important role. One of the Board members was mentioning at the last meeting that S-K used to have a very vibrant PTO and maybe it's time for that PTO to come back. Parents are a critical element to the success of the school...could there be a great way to organize efforts so that parents can be involved in activities that engage their interests and skills in the best way possible? But creating something like a PTO has to come from the parent community. What would be the best way to think about it/make it happen? How about this being a topic at an upcoming parent coffee?
Finally, we have a fantastic group of parents coming in to the school next year (as well as some we hope will be recruited in the following months--keep your recruiting caps on!). I know one of the biggest draws for our family was the parent community at S-K. What are some ideas for bringing new parents and kids into our community in ways that make them feel welcome, engaged and appreciated? If you have a good idea, please share it here or talk about it at the parent coffee.
Thanks again to all of you who either came to Eudaimonia or helped in some form or fashion. If you have feedback on how the event went, please feel free to email me at fran.loosen (at) gmail.com and I will pass it on to the development committee, or (of course) reach out to Joanna or the staff.
Enjoy the weather, have a wonderful week.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Saturday, April 25th from 8 - 11p.m. at Downtown Home and Garden. Here is more info: http://www.ecocenter.org/
(Psst...as a side note, Susan was one of the people who worked on a very cool quilt that is part of a silent auction and we hear reports that it actually turned out GORGEOUS...)
Sunday, March 29, 2009
From the website: Powwows are gatherings that Native American people use as a place to meet, dance, sing and otherwise renew and strengthen our rich culture. These gatherings are held year–round and many Native people travel great distances to attend them. The Ann Arbor Powwow is one of the largest student–run powwows in the country, with more than 1,000 of North America’s greatest singers, dancers, artists and craftspeople.
If you've never been to a powwow, it's breathtaking. The dancers and their regalia (not costumes!) are beautiful and intricate and made with incredible skill, the tradition of Native American dance is amazing and the feeling of community is palpable. More information on the dancing, drumming and outfits are at http://www.umich.edu/~powwow/visitors/regalia.html.
Hope to see you there. Thanks, Miina, for the idea!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
ROBOT INVASION: I just saw this on the 826Michigan site through friend Myra Klarman...anyone interested in going to the robot creating party together? (in italics from the 826Michigan site)
Robot-Costume-Building Workshop & FestiFools invasion!
Sunday, April 5, 2009, 1pm.
First off, if you are unfamiliar with FestiFools, please check out their website here.
FestiFools is, basically, one of our favorite Ann Arbor events. Imagine ten-foot-tall papier mache puppets taking over Main Street in their very own parade. Imagine drummers, and dancers, and a huge crowd gathered to watch the festivities. Now you’ve got the general IDEA, but honestly, it is one of those “have to see it to believe it” kind of events.
This year, we’re staging a (parade-sanctioned) Robot Invasion of the FestiFools parade.
Join us at 826michigan on Sunday, April 5, at 1pm. Robot builder/collector/artist Elaine Reed will guide you (and your family and friends!) as you make your very own, one-of-a-kind robot costume(s). Then, shortly before the parade starts at 4pm, we’ll walk up the block and join the fun as honorary Festifoolians.
This family friendly event is open to the public and completely free! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot(s) in the workshop.
But this is the cool thing about the raffle. First, the chance is to win 50% of the incoming cash. So that's $20,000 in someone's pocket if we sell all 200 tickets. Second...that's $20,000 in S-K's coffers to offset costs for next year that aren't made up by tuition (think scholarships, think salaries, think electricity and think field trips...). As we all know, the tuition doesn't cover all of our expenses, no matter how lean we are. So, if you know 5 people who you can ask to buy a ticket (and, you'd be surprised at how many people are interested...one family is has sold 12 and counting), get them engaged while the getting is good. If we don't sell all 200, we still split the proceeds 50/50 with the winner either way.
Forms will be coming out in your mail box to order tickets, but you can also have interested folks send checks to Summers-Knoll and Kim will send out the tickets for you. Thanks!
Being a small school, we are not as well known in the community as other private schools, so the more you can talk up the school to friends, colleagues and anyone who will listen, the more we will become known. Word of mouth recommending goes farther than any other form of marketing.
One of the best ways to get people to know S-K is to invite them to our summer camps. As our summer camps are open to the general public, they offer the community a chance to get to know the school without having to enroll. And, summer camp provides S-K with critical revenues that help supplement our ongoing fundraising needs. So helping to recruit for summer camp is like helping to fund the school year 'round. We want to fill every slot in the camp this year, so spread the word far and wide.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Brick Bash is Saturday, March 21, 11am-5pm, and it's still free! The
location is the Courthouse Square Apartments at 100 South Fourth, as Huron.
This is the same building Performance Network and was once the Ann Arbor
Brick Bash (www.BrickBash.com) is a public LEGO building exhibition produced
annually by Bricks for Brains (www.BricksForBrains.org). There will be LEGO
models built by both adults and kids, trains, free robotic lessons, and
piles of LEGO, Duplo and Bionicle to play with.
Volunteers are needed, and I believe high schoolers can meet their community
service requirements because Bricks for Brains is a 501c3 nonprofit
[P.S. The coordinator, Duane, also said that if people want to display their LEGO creations at the event they can contact him at duane (at) collicott.com. Since it's a month away, perhaps there is a group from S-K that would want to create something to submit?]
Monday, February 9, 2009
How often do you get to understand how a pipe organ works as explained by an engineer? Thanks, Sunny, for this heads up! Please be sure to send things to share with the parent community our way and we will post it to the blog!
Detroit engineer and organist Stephen Warner will demonstrate how the pipe organ works in a special presentation for children between 8 and 12 years of age. Elementary and middle schools in the Ypsilanti, Willow Run, and Ann Arbor areas have been notified about this unique extra-curricular event. All kids are invited to register for this rare opportunity! Register online at ypsipipes.org/register.php .
The location is First Presbyterian church of Ypsilanti at 300 North Washington Street, Ypsilanti. The time of event is 10 am on Saturday, Feb 21.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Priority registration runs until Feb 5th. If there is anyone who is interested in taking on investigating this as an option, I am sure that would be welcome from many parents. Any takers?
If you are interested in learning more, you can also visit www.aareced.com for more info.
On a side note, David (my son-K) and Toussaint (1) are both playing basketball at the Y. They are on different teams, but have really been excited to be doing this "together". I know for David, having a buddy who is also into basketball has made him super-excited about participating, which is something he wasn't particularly into even last year. I hope we can create opportunities for our kids to play team sports with each other and make this an exciting and enjoyable part of their time at S-K.
Please email me at fran.loosen (at) gmail.com if you are willing to help research options for these kinds of student sports opportunities.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Our teachers and staff give 100% of their effort to our kids. You can see it in the way they manage and redirect children in the classroom, the high fives kids get when the group does something spectacular, the smile that comes across their faces when the lightbulb goes on. I can't begin to imagine how hard the work of challenging the minds and diverse personalities of our fantastic kids must be. Days must be tiring and sometimes challenges must outweigh the gains. But each in her or his own way keeps things moving forward, building a wonderful learning experience for a group of creative and excited children who will carry this love of learning and their memories of this special place far in life. It's beyond a job, and that's the 100% effort that is so evident.
So I was incredibly touched and overwhelmed this year when 100% of the staff and teachers gave of their own personal funds to support the school. To me, this message said "We believe in your children, we believe in this school and what it offers to kids, we believe that this is not only worth the investment of our time and emotion, but of our money as well." Wow. It's pretty amazing to realize that people are willing to support your children in such a meaningful way.
So thank you, staff and teachers, for all you do and for all the value you bring to the lives of our children. And thank you for giving 100% across the board. Your commitment helps to make this school ever more strong and vibrant. There is nothing we can't achieve if we work together and we are so happy to take this journey with you.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
If you are thinking of going, please leave a note in the comments and I can contact UM to see if we can get a spot together or you can buddy up with another person in the comments. Here's a note from the event coordinators on groups participating:
If your child is planning to come with, or meet up with, a friend we can place them in the same classroom, as long as the request is indicated clearly on the registration form. Buddies are limited to two per registered name. Large groups of names will be split randomly to even out the same age-group size. We try to keep group sizes under 15. Assigned rooms will NOT be switched the day of the event.