Enter Episcopal French teacher Julien Prevost’s classroom and you’ll find what you might expect in a French language classroom – flags, photos from visits to France and French mementos. Prevost earned a master’s degree in teaching French from the University of Lorraine in France and completed additional training in London earning a post-graduate certificate in education in French and German from the University of Cumbria. As you might expect, Prevost speaks with a French flair and has a passion for his culture. What you might not expect is his passion and commitment to music.
Prevost has had a passion for music since he was seven years old and first picked up the cello. He has cultivated his cello talent over the years and even earned a bachelor’s degree in teaching the instrument. Prevost has performed in amateur orchestras in France, London and the United States. He even enjoyed a five year stint in a rock band called “The Spangles.” At Episcopal, Prevost has performed with Knight Train and played cello for the productions of Les Misérables and Evangeline. Once a month he also performs for Upper School students in Chapel.
Music is about so much more than playing notes for Prevost. “It’s like playing a sport or learning a language,” he says. “It requires practice every day, hard work and discipline.” Prevost says numerous life skills can be acquired through the musical experience including patience, perseverance and time management. He says musicians also develop the confidence needed to perform and a sense of commitment to being part of an ensemble. Prevost began his teaching career as a cello teacher in France and he enjoyed the opportunity to impart these lessons to his students. However, he eventually felt the need for a new adventure and thus began his French language teaching career.
As a French teacher Prevost thought he would have more opportunities for travel. He gained the opportunity to travel and so much more. While in London Prevost met Allison, an American originally from the Lafayette area. Louisiana’s French influence made it easy for Prevost to relocate to the Bayou State to join her. Now years later, Prevost and Allison have made a life together and are raising their son, Charles, in a bilingual home. Prevost says young Charles already loves music and he enjoys sharing it with him.
What music does Prevost listen to in his own car? “Classical,” he says. After pausing he adds that he also listens to rock, rap and a variety of French and American artists. He is even familiar with Louisiana’s Cajun music. Prevost says he doesn’t like to put barriers on the music he enjoys and is open to a range of genres. This classical performer says he’s also open to playing a variety of music from jazz to rock.
Being open to new adventures and new experiences has helped Prevost create a life he couldn’t imagine when he first began playing cello all those years ago in Nancy, France. He has followed his passion and continues to make beautiful music in the process.
While the fall means “Back to School” for many families, some of you are also beginning to think about the next school year as you prepare to take the next step of enrolling your young child in a preschool program. While a child’s age and birthdate are important factors to consider, these are not absolute benchmarks in determining a child’s readiness to begin school. Being prepared for preschool has more to do with where your child is developmentally. Is he/she socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively ready to participate in a daily, structured, educational program with a group of other children? Ask yourself these questions as you consider if your child is fully equipped with the set of skills they need to have a successful preschool experience.
Is your child fairly independent?
Preschool requires children to have certain basic skills. Most schools will require your child to be fully potty-trained when they start school. Also, begin practicing tasks that require fine motor strength, such as zipping and buttoning pants, zipping up backpacks and hanging them on a hook, rolling up a nap mat, pulling a sweater on an off, hand washing, and eating independently using napkins and utensils. Practicing these skills at home will make your child’s start to school less frustrating and help them build fine motor skills that will help them later as they learn to cut and write.
Can your child participate in group activities?
Many activities in preschool require students to sit in a group setting for a period of time. Is your child able to sit and listen to a story? Do they take turns and listen when others are speaking? If your child isn't used to group activities, you can start introducing them yourself. Take him/her to story time at your local library, or sign them up for a recreational activity such as dance or soccer to help your child get used to playing with other children.
Does your child have good communication skills?
In preschool, it is important for your child to be able to communicate their needs to their teachers and peers. At home, you may find it easy to step in and give your child what he/she needs before they even ask. At school, your child will be around adults who may not know your child as well as you do. It is important to have your child practice these critical communication skills before they start school. For example, if your child hands you a milk carton, have them practice asking, “Could you please help me open my milk?” Role play with your child and give them scenarios that they might encounter at school. How would your child handle a situation where another child wasn’t sharing? Often, children with poor communication skills will revert to hitting or grabbing toys from other students. By practicing these conflicts ahead of time, students will be armed with the skills and language necessary to problem-solve with their peers.
Is your child used to keeping a regular schedule?
Preschool programs follow a predictable schedule. There are times set aside for play, eating, and even resting. There's a good reason for this. Children tend to feel most comfortable and in control when the same things happen at the same time each day. Students who do not follow a schedule at home will often have trouble during transitional times between activities at school. Help your child prepare for their school routine by adhering to a schedule at home. Plan meals at determined times and have predictable activities throughout the day. Set a bedtime routine (bath, brush teeth, story time, lights out). Giving your child structure at home will help them adjust to a school schedule.
The best way to decide if your child is ready to begin preschool is to spend time thinking about your child and to talk to other people who know him/her well, such as your partner, your pediatrician, or others who spend a lot of time with your child. While there is no checklist to give a quantitative score of readiness, there are many ways you can work with your child at home to make their transition into school as smooth as possible.
Are you ready to apply?
If you have considered the above questions and determined that your child is prepared to begin the next phase in their educational journey, we are ready to help you navigate the school admissions process. Visit https://www.episcopalbr.org/admission.html to schedule a tour of our campus, view the 2020-2021 application, or get in contact with a member of our Admissions team.
Julie Mendes, a 2001 graduate of Episcopal, returned to teach Pre-K4 at her alma mater in 2012. She received both her undergraduate degree and MEd in elementary education at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. After teaching second grade in a Dual Language program in Texas public schools for three years, Julie moved abroad to teach first grade at a bilingual school in Gracias, Lempira Honduras. Julie enjoys teaching alongside some of her former teachers and seeing what life is like on the other side of the desk.
In a corner classroom of the Academic Commons, students are learning lessons taken straight from the headlines. Recently, a group of juniors and seniors analyzed fabric fibers found at a makeshift crime scene to determine who committed the crime. Students entered a hall roped off by crime scene tape and collected fibers from within a “chalk” outline. They were then tasked with looking at the fibers with a dissecting microscope or a digital camera to identify the type of fiber present. Prior to studying fibers, students spent several class periods learning the details of fingerprinting. They used inks and brushes that you might expect to find in a crime lab. There were balloons taped up in the lab areas with dusty print marks appearing faintly on them. Both lessons were engaging and hands-on.
This is Upper School Forensic Science
In speaking with Upper School science department chair Sarah Pulliam, it’s easy to feel her enthusiasm for the class. “Episcopal is a school that is open to letting people teach their expertise and provide students with a variety of exciting learning opportunities,” she says. Forensic science is back by popular demand this year because students expressed interest in additional science electives. Pulliam says with many students using eighth grade physical science for Upper School credit, a large number of students are not required to take additional science courses once they reach their senior year. This opens up the possibility for students to take science courses simply because they are curious. With popular television shows depicting forensic science, Pulliam says this new course definitely has a “cool factor” and attracted more students than expected to enroll.
Pen and Paper Provide Insights into Personality
“Look at how you cross your t’s and dot your i’s,” said Pulliam in a recent class discussion. Students were learning the intricacies of handwriting analysis and how handwriting can be used in a criminal case. Pulliam showed students a news story regarding the ransom note in the Jon Benet Ramsey case. The students’ interest was sparked with one student even asking if the class could solve the case. After a discussion on what to look for when analyzing writing, students practiced analyzing their own handwriting as well as their classmates’ handwriting. To add excitement to the exercise, Pulliam had one student write a fake ransom note in which he tried to mask his writing traits. Students later had to try and guess who wrote it.
Senior Alexander Harlan says he enrolled in the course because criminal justice has always been a field of interest for him and he hopes the course will shed light on whether it’s an appropriate career choice. Already, he says he’s learned a lot. “There’s a lot more to investigating than I knew of,” he says.
Over the course of the semester, students will put their investigation skills to the test. They will study decomposition, bullet signatures, blood splatter and DNA analysis. The group will also take a trip to the state police crime lab where they will have the opportunity to see the science in action. For students who are particularly passionate about the field or who need additional science credits, the spring semester should prove to be equally as engaging. Beginning next semester, Upper School teacher Jennifer Purnell will teach a biotechnology course. With an increased interest among students in this topic, it should be a popular second act to forensics.
One of the strengths of the Episcopal experience is the opportunity for students to experience personalized learning. Students learn at their own pace and based on their own interests, while parents remain confident in the academic rigor of the course content. Teachers enjoy the opportunity to provide engaging lessons based on student feedback and requests. Forensic science in Upper School provides more evidence of what makes the Episcopal experience so special.
Congratulations to our eleven National Merit Semifinalists and three Commended Scholars!
According to the National Merit Scholarship Program, close to two million students compete each year, with approximately 16,000 making it to the semifinal round. Semifinalists are top scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT test in their state.
National Merit finalists will be announced in February with winners named in the spring. The selection committee reviews student grades, activities and leadership, as well as school information to determine the winners. Scholarships are then awarded from the National Merit Scholarship Program, corporations and colleges and universities.
This is a tremendous accomplishment for our students and we wish them luck in the finalist round.
Between chemistry classes, a campus job, football and four hours of research a week, Episcopal graduate Scott Wicker, Jr. ’18 has a full schedule. Wicker is in his sophomore year at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN where he is majoring in chemistry with a minor in math. He plans to pursue advanced degrees on his path to becoming a chemical engineer.
At Episcopal, Wicker was known for his ESTAAR research entitled Non-Traditional Heating Methods for Petrochemical Manufacturing. However, Episcopal Dean of Academics Dr. Sara Fenske says Wicker’s interest in research began well in advance of his ESTAAR journey. “Before ever taking any of my classes, Scott would drop by my classroom to ask questions,” says Dr. Fenske. “I soon learned that these ‘out of the blue’ questions came from his deep curiosity about the world around him. This curiosity led Scott to pursue ambitious research projects both in my class, where he studied the effects of antioxidants on quantum dots, to his ESTAAR project focused on the synthesis of iron oxide nanoparticles.” Dr. Fenske says that Wicker was never afraid to push himself to do more. “Fortunately, he also has the talent and creativity to succeed in these ambitions,” she says. After spending countless hours in the lab, Wicker was one of only 230 high school students to qualify to present at the 56th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
Admission into the ACCESS program is based on a student’s essay, an online application and letters of recommendation from professors regarding their work. As a result of his ESTAAR experience, Wicker had an opportunity to work closely with Dr. Fenske and LSU’s Dr. James Dorman. Both were able to write letters supporting his research and application. “When Scott told me that he was applying to the MIT ACCESS Program and asked if I would write a letter of recommendation for him, I was thrilled to do so,” says Dr. Fenske. “This program targets talented young researchers and helps to prepare them for graduate programs in chemistry, chemical engineering, and material science. Like attending the National Junior Science and Humanities program, I knew that this opportunity would open doors for him and help him see the different paths available to him. Programs like these are meant for rising stars like Scott, and I am sure that his future in research will be bright.”
At Rhodes, Wicker continues his commitment to research. Over the summer, when he wasn’t working on his ACCESS program application, he was in the lab. In fact, he spent eight hours a day assisting inorganic chemistry professor Dr. William Eckenhoff. According to the research group’s website, Dr. Eckenhoff’s lab currently has three research projects underway including Proton Reduction Catalysts for Artificial Photosynthesis, Solvatochromic Molybdenum Complexes and Zinc Complexes to Mimic the Enzyme in Binding Anti-Microbial Compounds. You can read more about the projects here. As part of the research team, Wicker runs experiments and gathers data. He also works closely with Dr. Eckenhoff to analyze the information and the results. Wicker hopes to publish an article from his summer research by the end of this year.
Even with everything else on his schedule, Wicker finds time for football. He spends 20 hours a week practicing and working out with the Linx as a defensive lineman. He says playing for a Division III team means that football is not his entire life, which is something for which he is grateful. As a result, he is able to manage college life, athletics and academics successfully.
Wicker is no stranger to juggling multiple interests. While at Episcopal, he was involved in athletics, research and numerous academic endeavors. One hallmark of an Episcopal education is the opportunity students are provided to explore their own interests and learn at their own pace. Whether students are passionate about research and the arts or athletics and spirituality, there are a range of experiences from which students can choose. While Wicker says it’s not always easy juggling a packed schedule, it is certainly worth it. Like he did during his time at Episcopal, he is making the most of his college experience and enjoying it along the way.
Good luck in your journey, Scott! Episcopal is cheering you on in the classroom, the lab and on the field.
During the hectic first weeks of school, Episcopal Lower School families generously donated school supplies for partner school Melrose Elementary. It’s a tradition that’s been ongoing for at least seven years. It goes hand-in-hand with what the fifth graders are learning in Religion class.
The students are learning about how and why we serve others. By reading Scripture and discussing the parable of the Good Samaritan, they made the connection that by serving others, in this case, donating school supplies to students who need them, they’re loving others - and that’s the greatest lesson of all.
On Friday, August 30, the twelve students in my first-quarter fifth grade Religion class loaded all of the boxes of donated supplies onto a school bus for a special in-person delivery.
“We loaded so many boxes of paper, markers, notebooks, binders, glue, scissors, pencils, backpacks, crayons, markers, and more!” exclaimed fifth grader Natalie Reimann. “We realized that our school families had donated tons of school supplies. It almost filled up half of the bus!”
Once they arrived at Melrose, the students met with Principal Olga Pack, ELA Content Leader Bianca Plummer, Counselor Seana Mercer, Math Content Leader Florence Bonton, Instructional Specialist Shanika Griffin, and Assistant Principal Brandi Brister. After delivering supplies to the auditorium of the school, the fifth graders were excited to go on a tour of Melrose.
The students were also excited to learn that Melrose has a theme every year just like Episcopal. The theme this year is “Every student glows!” Fifth grader Lilliana Latour reflected upon the experience: “As we got back on the bus to go back to Episcopal, we felt a glowing happiness that we did something wonderful. We were so glad to be part of the experience.”
“This experience warmed our hearts because we did something good for the community,” said fifth grader Tripp Veillon.
Jenny Heroman Koenig
Jenny Heroman Koenig is a proud 2001 graduate of Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. She returned to her alma mater as a Lower School Religion Teacher. Jenny earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communication with a minor in sociology from Louisiana State University. She has eleven years of experience as a television journalist in Baton Rouge and Gonzales. Jenny always had a desire to teach and eventually followed that calling by earning a teacher certification from the Teach Ascension Academy Certification Program. Jenny began her teaching career as a second grade teacher at Donaldsonville Primary School. Jenny is also active in the community as a member of the Louisiana Association of Educators, the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, Baton Rouge Women in Media and the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association. She has received numerous honors including the 2014 Individual of the Year Award from the Ascension Chamber of Commerce and the opportunity to be the Honorary Ascension Parish President on “Jenny Heroman Day”. When she’s not teaching, Jenny enjoys theatre and music and is the lead singer of the Something Blue Band.
After an exciting weekend of fall sports here are the results.
The Episcopal cross country team is ready for competition. The group has been working out since June in preparation for the upcoming season which gets underway Saturday, September 7th at 7 am with the West Feliciana Relays. The Knights are coming off of another big year after they brought home state titles in both the boys and girls division last year. Head Coach Claney Duplechin says after several seniors graduated in May, other athletes will have an opportunity to shine. So far that is exactly what they are doing as Coach Dupe says the students are making the most of the opportunity and practices have been quite productive. “Now is their time,” says Coach Dupe. “If practices are any indication, I’ll be very pleased this season,” he says.
As the team works toward another state title, Coach Dupe is as enthusiastic as ever. “My first year in cross country I fell in love with the kids,” he says. “It’s rewarding. I maybe making a difference in their lives, but they’re making a difference in mine. They keep me young and healthy.”
This year’s distance runners are led by seniors James Christian and Ella Kimbrough. Coach Dupe is joined by assistant coaches Amy Claire Whitehurst, Clayton Counts, John Harris and Alison Seals. As he looks to the future, Coach Dupe says the program is positioned well with several talented Middle School runners. He says there is even a chance that members of the Middle School boys and girls teams may run with the varsity squad this season. To see upcoming cross country dates click here.
Knights fans have five opportunities to catch the football team in action at home this year. That first opportunity is set for tonight versus St. Michael. In addition to the home field contests, Head Coach Travis Bourgeois hopes Knights fans will travel with the team and take in a few away games. “This is the biggest senior/junior class combination in a long time,” says Bourgeois. He says the team’s experience will give them some depth that will no doubt be a factor in games down the road. “Competition will bring out the best in the team,” he says.
When the Knights take the field, they will be led by senior captains Ethan Amedee, Kolin Bilbrew, Lane Grisby and Griff Strain. Fans can also expect senior leaders Jamieson Bell and Alex Wilson to be factors in the game.
Bourgeois says the Knights are in a good position going forward with 22 eighth grade players who are playing well and having a positive Middle School football experience. This bodes well for the program’s future. Bourgeois says his coaching staff including Bill Jones, Charlie O’Brien, Wally Stevens and Jimmy Williams are another key to the program’s success. “We have different strengths and philosophies,” he says. “We feed off of each other.”
The Knights certainly feed off of crowd support, so don’t miss your opportunity to cheer them on this season. Mark your calendar for the following important contests:
Friday, September 6th St. Michael
Friday, September 13th St. Thomas Aquinas
Friday, October 4th Catholic Pointe Coupee Homecoming Game
Thursday, October 17th at Dunham
Friday, October 25th Northeast
Friday, November 8th Port Allen Senior Knight
Episcopal begins the swimming season with a new head coach. Kate Cramer returns to the Knights after previously coaching the swim team from 2007 to 2010. Kate describes herself as high energy. She can often be found on the deck whistling and coaching the students on their strokes. She says as a coach she uses a lot of speed training and interval and aerobics training to help swimmers build their endurance and boost their speed. Her goal is simple. “We want to qualify as many swimmers as we can and the rest will take care of itself,” she says.
This year’s team hopes to build on their third place finish in last year’s state championship meet. The group will be led by seniors Maia Adams, Sara Be, Valerie Beggs, Nick Johannessen and Megan Nguyen.
Don’t miss your opportunity to catch the Episcopal swimmers in action this season. Click here for upcoming swimming dates. The team enters the pool for competition for the first time on Saturday, September 7th at the LHSCA All Star Swim Meet in Lutcher. All lanes will lead to the varsity swimming city championship finals on Sunday, November 3rd at Crawfish Aquatics. City championship preliminaries will take place Saturday, November 2nd. Athletes will cap off the year at the varsity swimming state championship meet on Thursday, November 21st in Sulphur.
There is excitement in Head Coach Madeline Gugich’s voice as she discusses the upcoming volleyball season. “We’re a young team,” she says of her squad that includes four seniors. “Our bench is engaged and our kids have found a love of the game.” That love of the game is evident from the support that team members provide each other as they enter or exit the court. “We have nothing to fear,” says Gugich. She expects the team to have a few good losses in which they gain experience and learn to respond to the tempo of the game. She also expects the team to give area competitors a run for their money.
This year’s team is led by seniors Grace Cullens, Makenzie Daughtery, Celia Kiesel and Halle Roman. The group will serve up their first game during the annual Episcopal Invitational on Saturday, September 7th. Don’t miss your opportunity to catch the team in action. Click here to see upcoming volleyball dates. September home contests include games against McKinley, Woodlawn, Walker and Denham Springs. In October, Port Allen, Dunham, Capital and Northeast come to Woodland Ridge for district games.
Lower and Middle School
In addition to the Upper School action underway, Knights fans don’t want to miss the Lower and Middle School excitement. Members of the fifth/sixth grade flag football and seventh/eighth grade football teams are preparing for the season with regular practice. The sixth grade and seventh/eighth grade softball teams and sixth through eighth grade swimming teams are also gearing up. Click here to view the Middle School sports calendar.
All fall sports participants, including cross country, swimming, Middle School softball, football and flag football, will be recognized at this Friday’s football home opener. We hope to see you there. Go Knights!
Service Learning in Ninth Grade
Episcopal’s mission is to prepare graduates for college and for purposeful lives. The recent ninth grade retreat highlights the commitment to making this mission a reality. Each August members of the freshman class spend a Friday volunteering with local organizations. “It’s important for us to have students realize that service to others is one of the things that we view as important,” says Father Skully.
Students begin retreat day at one of five locations throughout Baton Rouge. This year students volunteered at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Melrose Elementary School, the Knock Knock Children’s Museum, Front Yard Bikes and the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. Students assisted with everything from sorting food and cleaning up, to setting up for an event and painting.
“I want our students to be exposed to people who saw opportunities and made things happen,” says Father Skully. At each volunteer site, Father Skully ensures that an organization representative speaks with students about the organization’s mission and purpose. At the food bank students learned about the reality of Baton Rouge food shortages, the need for volunteers and the importance of food donations. At Front Yard Bikes students learned how the organization began because the founder saw a need and addressed it. Interaction with the representatives helps make the volunteer experience much more meaningful for students. The hope is that students feel empowered to serve others and to address the needs of their community.
The need to act and make a difference is a key component of the Episcopal experience. The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) believes that one of the principal qualities of an Episcopal school, is that the institutions work for social justice through community service and service learning. Through service learning, students connect what they learn in class to real world issues, then explore and work toward solutions, all while reflecting meaningfully on their experiences and efforts.
Focus on Friendship in Sixth Grade
Problem solving and building new friendships outside of the classroom are hallmarks of the annual sixth grade retreat. “Friendship Retreat gives 6th graders an opportunity to begin forging an identity as a group,” says English teacher Martha Guarisco. Guarisco and her fellow teachers will make the day even more exciting this year by setting everything to a Harry Potter theme. (It’s hard to say who loves the book series more, the students or the teachers.) The excitement of the day helps students make friendships and develop the peer support system that will be there for them during the Middle School transition years. “Sixth grade retreat is a chance for students to get to know each other,” says math teacher Nancy Callaway. “They get to enjoy each other’s company in a very relaxed atmosphere.” Such an experience is also good for the teachers. “I think the retreat gives teachers a chance early in the year to see the students in a relaxed, non-academic setting, which is usually fun and enlightening,” says science teacher Stacy Hill. “This is a fun day away from campus that allows us to come together as a sixth grade community,” says social studies teacher Virginia Day.
This year’s sixth grade retreat is slated for Friday, September 13th.
Learning about Leadership in Fifth Grade
“I call on you to imagine what it looks like to be a leader of Lower School.” Bridget Henderson
Episcopal fifth graders recently participated in a retreat day of their own. Lower School Division Head Bridget Henderson advised students that the day would focus on their new role as Lower School leaders. Students self-organized and led group activities. The ten year olds also discussed meaningful topics such as altruism, supporting each other and serving as a role model for their younger Lower School counterparts. “The fifth grade year at Episcopal is special because fifth graders are the leaders of the Lower School,” says Henderson. “We wanted to provide a chance for the students to bond as a class and to prepare themselves for the leadership opportunities ahead.”
The retreat culminated with the traditional fifth grade sweatshirt ceremony in the Chapel. Together, students sang songs reflecting a commitment to servant leadership and gratitude. Amid the Louisiana heat and humidity, students then donned Class of 2027 sweatshirts. By design, the sleeves were too long and the hems fell well below the waist so that they can be worn for multiple years. Father Skully advised the students that the sweatshirts represent their unity as one class working together toward the common goal of completing their education. While the shirts appear large now, the students will quickly grow and one day those sleeves that fell below the hand will barely reach the wrist. As this transformation accelerates, hopefully the students will remember the lessons on leadership and compassion that were imparted to them on fifth grade retreat day.
Episcopal offers numerous retreat opportunities to help students develop a sense of community. The bonds created as a result of these experiences can last a lifetime and will be remembered long after they leave Woodland Ridge Boulevard.
Do you have a favorite retreat memory? Share it in the comments below.
Fourth Grade Learning Unit Includes Fishing, Rowing and Aiming
Louisiana is a sportsman’s paradise and Episcopal fourth graders are learning to appreciate it. Even though the school year is barely underway, students have already jumped right into their first project-based learning unit. As part of the annual National Parks lesson, students learn outdoor skills that might be used when visiting a National Park.
Students learn fly fishing techniques from Orvis manager Alex Beane. Beane, who is originally from the northeast, says there are plenty of opportunities here in Louisiana to deploy this style of fishing. Students also jump right into the Episcopal pool in inflatable kayaks. With much enthusiasm they practice single and double strokes across the water. In addition, students learn archery skills near the back of the football field. Classes spend three weeks learning each skill before rotating to the next.
This type of learning would not be possible without collaboration among the fourth grade and physical education teachers. You can learn more on how the PE teachers integrate classroom lessons into physical education by reading PE teacher and head softball coach Heidi Hebert’s blog here.
After the casting, splashing and aiming are over, fourth graders will continue their National Park journey. Students will learn about landforms and erosion. They will conduct online research and learn about mapping. The lesson will cross all subjects including science, social studies and language arts. Students will also work on art projects related to the topic and learn more about the topic in the library. The lesson will culminate with a National Parks Day where students will present what they have learned to their classmates and families. We look forward to hearing from these new outdoor experts!
Growing and Learning in PreK-4
PreK-4 students recently enjoyed their own outdoor adventure during the annual PreK garden party. The little Knights and their families prepared the garden for another year of growing and learning. PreK-4 teacher Lindsay Smith says each family brings something to plant together during this special day. She says caring for the little plants is something the students take pride in as they personally water and weed the little sprouts throughout the school year.
Smith says the PreK garden is a tremendous resource for math and science learning. While the students may appear to be simply enjoying themselves, there is a purpose to their play. As the school year progresses, students will watch as caterpillars munch on the crop and they will follow the transformation as the monarchs appear. This transformation will be similar to their own as they develop new skills and prepare for the next step in their educational journey.
At Episcopal, learning isn’t confined to an indoor classroom. Teachers work together to find creative ways to enhance learning and engage students. It’s just one more way to make learning fun!
Picture it. The year was 2012. The scene: a frigid March morning in Buffalo where the snow stood five feet deep on the sides of nearly every road in Western New York. Now three and a half months into a relentless gray winter broken only by the rhythmic cycle of lake effect snowstorms dropping 8-20 inches of the white flakes every week or so, a younger, slimmer version of me dragged himself out of bed to drive twenty minutes away to the University at Buffalo History Department to wait in a nondescript office for the next two hours. The ride in was cold. My car didn’t actually fully get toasty until I had entered the university parking lot. But I had an obligation to fulfill every Thursday between 8:30 and 10:30: office hours. Every week without fail, I showed up on my “off” day (which was usually also devoted to reading one entire book and writing a response paper for one of my three graduate courses) to make myself available to students who might have questions about how to succeed in their World Civilizations or U.S. History course.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of students did not even bother to do that: show up.
When I was hired at Episcopal, I decided to highlight the importance of showing up to office hours to all of my students. I argue that it is the single most underutilized aspect of their high school and college careers. Showing up to office hours even once a month for each class leads to a whole list of benefits for students. These include but are not limited to:
If our students leave Episcopal and are comfortable approaching their college professors, managers, and bosses, they are more likely to succeed. In addition to getting higher grades, they turn their classroom experiences into early-career-defining moments. Last year, for example, an alum came back to campus and mentioned how stunned she was that so many of her college classmates did not take lectures and office hours seriously. She said that she sat in the front row for each class meeting, made sure to ask at least one meaningful content-related question per lecture, and went to office hours to meet with her professor for at least 10-15 minutes each week to clarify her own reading notes. Not only was the student regarded by the faculty in her department as a rock star by the end of her first semester of Freshman year, but she was also offered a paid summer internship by one of her professors because they recognized her potential. She is not the only one. I’ve lost count of how many students have gone on to serve on Capitol Hill, work for large non-profit organizations, and intern for large, impressive corporations during the summer.
The one thing most of them have in common? They went to office hours. Intentionally. Consistently. Doing so gave them a leg up on the students who had not. Professors would love to point serious students in the direction of opportunities that would turn their majors and minors into a career by the time they leave with a Bachelor’s degree in hand. While everyone else is avoiding office hours, I’m proud to hear that a good number of Episcopal alums who developed the habit of going to office hours to meet with instructors continue to show up.
Dr. Billy Pritchard
Dr. Billy Pritchard is a native of Winn Parish, Louisiana. He and his wife, Lisa, came to Episcopal in 2015 after spending the previous decade in Buffalo, New York. Dr. Pritchard is a 1999 graduate of the Louisiana School of Math, Science, and the Arts. In addition, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Centenary College of Louisiana, a master’s degree from Ole Miss and doctorate from SUNY-Buffalo. Dr. Pritchard teaches U.S. History, Honors AP U.S. History, American Presidency and the Civil Rights Movement.