Archives for category: School Environment

shyla picWhen Ralphie turned in his masterpiece, “What I Want for Christmas” theme essay in the 1983 film, A Christmas Story, he envisioned his teacher, Miss Shields, clutching his essay to her chest and exclaiming “

Oh! The theme I’ve been waiting for all my life. Listen to this sentence: ‘A Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time.’ Poetry! Sheer poetry, Ralph! An A+! He daydreamed of his classmates carrying him around on their shoulders, celebrating his enormous accomplishment.

Ralphie was seeking, as all students do, validation for his personal vision, hard work, and desires from his teacher.  Unfortunately, Raphie’s vision was met with both a C+ and a discouraging postscript from Miss Shields, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” The angelic Miss Shields suddenly became the Wicked Witch of the West in his mind, and he went home feeling dejected.

On the first day of school this year, I held back tears as each student was given a flower upon entering City Neighbors Hamilton–a tradition at all three City Neighbors schools–that was added to a vase in each classroom, becoming part of a large class bouquet. This moment was the inaugural moment of the new school year as well as the culmination of a summer’s worth of preparation and planning.

Just a week prior, teachers sat in a circle engaged in a critical discussion of the value and possible danger of the typical question, “What did you do this this summer?”  Just as Ralphie felt rejected for his honest desires and experiences in his essay, teachers worried about the student who looked forward to school marking the end of a difficult summer or the student who experienced personal traumas that couldn’t be penned in an essay. Instead, teachers brainstormed alternative back-to-school questions such as “What do you look forward to this year?” or “What did you do to take care of yourself over the summer?” Our teachers recognize that each bouquet is made up of individual flowers, some may need tending and some may need to be left alone—but all add unique beauty to the bunch.

~Shyla Rao, Principal, City Neighbors Hamilton~

farrah howard

Hello, City Neighbors students and parents! As we journey into this upcoming school year, let’s make an effort to come back together! We all have busy lives with work, chores, kids, shopping, social events, and all the other daily activities that consume our time.  However, let’s take time to regroup with one another. Try putting in place a “communication time” where we, as parents, get an update on our child’s day and let our kids know how we’re doing, as well.

It’s never too late and your child is never too old–especially high schoolers–to ask them about homework, school activities, and friendships. Our tasks sometimes take over and we don’t find the time to know what’s going on in school.  But if we set up a system of knowing when, where, who, and what, then we can help our kids succeed and have a great school year!

We all chose to send our kids to a City Neighbors school because of the type of learning environment we want our kids to be in, but teachers can’t do it alone.  Ask yourself if you know a parent of three of your child’s friends.  Perhaps create a parent buddy system when, if you’re working late, your child could get a ride and maybe stay with them until you get home. Then return the favor when and if you can.

None of us want to relive elementary, middle, or high school. But if we all walk through the doors on September 4–hand in hand–then I know we’ll have a prosperous school year, full of knowledge and caring.  Like a family.

Farrah Howard, Board President, City Neighbors High School

 

Guest blogger:  Kayisha Edwards, Special Educator shares her Thoughts from the Field.

Eyes affixed upon the throngs of books that align the shelves, I can’t help but wonder if the dreamy eyed student is paying attention to the lesson at hand. Is the student processing?  Taking a much needed break from the discussion?  Or perhaps just thinking about life.

In the Middle School Current News Intensive, (Intensive is a time of enrichment and support)  students were encouraged to spend time to ruminate about their dreams. After reading an article about Malala Yousafzai and two Langston Hughes poems, students were eager to connect who they aspire to be to the likes of a resilient young woman and a renowned poet.

In their writing, some students made comments about who they are as dreamers:

“What type of dream am I doing? A lucid dream because I want to be aware and have control over where I go in life.”

“Langston Hughes said something that made me think about my dream, and Malala made me think about how hard she worked to let girls know what she went through in order to rally for education. My dream is to be a beautician and never let that go.”

Other students personally connected with Langston Hughes’s poems:

“What stood out to me is when Hughes says ‘For if dreams die, Life is like a broken winged bird that cannot fly’. What I get from this is if you diminish your dreams then you will lose a big factor of your life. I say that because a big factor of a bird’s life is flying and with a broken wing it can’t do that. So with a dream, if you defer it, then you will lose a big element of your life.”

And others made a connection to Malala Yousafzai:

“Malala’s story is an inspiration to people, including me. Having a dream is not worth anything unless it’s spread to the world. Some say that your dreams have limits, but there is always a way to overcome those limits.”

“Though, it’s easy to have dreams, it’s more difficult to fulfill them. If you really want to become what you seek, you have to work very hard to achieve it. Many people, like Malala Yousafzai, worked extremely hard to do this, and I want to do this, too.”

In these quotes I see the power of giving students time to think. Time for students to sit and stare wherever their eyes become affixed: on a picture, in a book, an article or a poem – and to think about those who have dreamed in the past and whose dreams are making headlines today in an effort to foster robust thoughts and conversations about dreams of their own.

-Kayisha Edwards is a Special Educator at City Neighbors Charter School

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