Many people around the world, particularly in Asia, are ringing in the the start of the Year of the Pig. The Lunar New Year started on February 5 this year and is one of my favorite holidays. During the new year, families get together, big feasts are prepared, kids get red envelopes filled with money, lion and dragon dances bring people good luck, and firecrackers ward off evil spirits. I enjoy celebrating this holiday with my family and friends, but also with students.
The second graders are currently “traveling” around the world and learning about the seven continents in Social Studies. During their “stop” in Asia, I was honored to come in as a guest expert and share some of the beliefs and traditions of celebrating the Lunar New Year. These students then became the experts and shared information about the Lunar New Year, and also put on a wonderful dragon dance performance, complete with music and singing at a recent Morning Meeting.
While I love teaching fourth grade science, I also try to find ways to connect with our students beyond the curriculum. Whether it’s a conversation about basketball, doing a special handshake, or wearing a Halloween costume, building relationships with my students helps create a positive learning environment. Sharing about the Lunar New Year is one way I can educate children about the world they live in, but they can also learn more about me and see me as more than just a teacher.
In December, the fourth graders participated in a “Who am I?” identity activity in which they shared traits about themselves and also learned more about each other, including myself. We wrote down descriptions about ourselves that people can’t see when they look at us, such as “I am a brother.” or “I love to cook.” In a related activity, we went over 20 character traits to see how we were similar to or different from our classmates. For example, some of us have siblings and play a musical instrument. We discussed that if we learn more about the people around us, we find out that we have many things in common. Similarly, when students learned about the Lunar New Year, they made connections to the popping of fireworks on New Year’s Eve and how Mardi Gras is on a different date each year like the Lunar New Year.
The identity activity and dragon dance performance are just two examples of how lower school students learn more about each other and the world around them. Our lower school theme this year is “Love Your Neighbor”. I believe when we get to know one another, we are better able to love each other and our neighbors. As we love each other we build a caring community where we can be ourselves and respect everyone around us.
I share about myself so my students not only see me as a teacher, but as a human being too. In addition to being a teacher, I am also a mother, sister, wife, traveler, foodie, and someone who loves celebrating the Lunar New Year. So in this new Year of the Pig, I encourage all of us to get to know our neighbors better and to love our neighbors. In the words of Mister Rogers:
“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please, won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?”
I want to wish all of my neighbors a happy, healthy, and prosperous Year of the Pig.
Rosalyn is in her eighteenth year of teaching. Prior to coming to Episcopal six years ago, she taught at independent schools in New York City and Los Angeles. She is in her fourth year of teaching fourth grade science and taught second grade for two years. Rosalyn earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Whitman College and her Master’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at New York University. She loves teaching science and finding ways to integrate technology and other subjects into the curriculum.
“A man of strong character with great passion for good teaching and deep learning.”
These are just a few ways in which Mark Engstrom has been described by his colleagues. After a nationwide search, Mark was selected to be the new Episcopal Middle School Division Head. Lucy Smith, the longtime Middle School Head will pass the baton to Mark when she steps away from the Middle School Head position after more than 25 years of outstanding leadership and service to Episcopal students. Mark will build on the Middle School foundation with the support and confidence of the Episcopal community. Parents of fifth, sixth and seventh graders are invited to join in Monday, February 18th between 1:30 and 3:00 PM in the Alumni House Parlor for the opportunity to meet Mark and his wife, Nicole.
Mark will join the Episcopal community over the summer of 2019 after most recently leading both the Middle and Upper School divisions at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. Similar to Episcopal, Allen Academy serves students from PreK-3 through twelfth grade. As the oldest accredited, non-sectarian preparatory school in the state of Texas, Allen Academy also seeks to offer students a whole child experience with an abundance of academic, athletic, artist and cultural opportunities. “We are fortunate to have attracted Mark and his family to Episcopal. His energy, goodwill and depth of experience combine with his appreciation of middle schoolers to foreshadow a smooth transition and long term success,” says Head of School Hugh McIntosh. In addition to more than two decades of experience as an educator, Mark also has experience teaching internationally. He earned a Fulbright Fellowship which allowed him to teach in South Korea for a year. He has also taught in Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil.
The role of Episcopal Middle School Division Head allows Mark to return home. He is a Louisiana native. Mark was born in New Orleans and is a graduate of Ben Franklin High School. After graduating from Ben Franklin, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and master’s degrees from the University of New Orleans and Framingham State College in Massachusetts. He has extensive experience in blended learning and has led multiple professional development opportunities regarding blended learning. He has also published articles on personalizing student education. After reading a sample of these articles, it is clear that Mark has an enthusiasm for authentic, personalized learning and a collaborative spirit which makes these opportunities possible in his classroom and the classrooms of fellow teachers.
The process of selecting the appropriate Middle School leader for Episcopal was thorough and thoughtful. A committee, which included Middle School faculty, reviewed resumes and interviewed numerous candidates. Eighth grade science teacher Shyamala Alapati and seventh grade history teacher Julie Weaver served on the search committee and the two look forward to welcoming Mark to campus. “Mark is a dedicated educator who has the best interest of the students at heart,” say Alapati and Weaver. The two point to his years of experience in the classroom and in school leadership as a valuable asset for the Middle School community. “His focus on deep learning and individual growth of the student will contribute to a smooth transition for students between middle and upper school.”
Mark will join Lower School Division Head Bridget Henderson and Upper School Division Head Tom Forti next school year. Both current Episcopal leaders anticipate that Mark will have a seamless transition to his new role.
“The transition from middle to upper school is a pivotal point in the life of a student and I am confident that Mark will provide the necessary guidance, support, and leadership to both his students and his faculty,” says Forti. “He understands the importance of academic rigor while providing for the social/emotional needs of adolescents. An experienced educator with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm, Mark will doubtless be a wonderful addition to the Episcopal community.”
“Mark’s enthusiasm about middle school and about the opportunity at Episcopal was evident from the start,” says Henderson. “Because he has administrative experience in a Pre K-3 through 12th grade school, Mark already knows the importance of cross-divisional collaboration and smooth transitions. We will work closely with Mark and the Middle School team to assure that our students are poised for success.”
Mark and his wife Nicole will relocate to Baton Rouge this summer. They have two children – Emma, a current seventh grader and Alex, a current freshman. Please join us in welcoming the Engstroms to the Episcopal family.
Stay tuned, too, for news about honoring and celebrating Lucy Smith’s storied career at Episcopal!
Whether you met on campus, were high school sweethearts or reunited later in life, Episcopal loves to celebrate the love in our community. Each year, faculty and staff send special Valentine’s Day cards to the Episcopal cupid couples. There are 69 couples ranging from matches made among members of the class of 1971 to recent sweethearts from the class of 2011. It seems that sometimes the Episcopal experience forges a bond that lasts a lifetime. One such example of lasting love is that of Mollie and John Hill.
October 18, 1980
Episcopal classmates and longtime friends Mollie Poche and John Hill went on their first official date in the Episcopal “cafetorium” in the fall of 1980. The mood was set with an 80’s laser light show. No doubt, hits such as Michael Jackson’s Rock with You and Blondie’s Call Me reverberated through the night. It is an evening Mollie and John remember fondly to this day.
Mollie and John met in the fifth grade right here at Episcopal. While it wasn’t love at first sight, there was a friendship and connection that drew them together, and kept them close. Mollie remembers the feeling of family that permeated across the Episcopal campus at the time. She says members of the class of 1984 were always very close and remain in weekly contact even today. As Mollie and John grew up together in this tight-knit community, their friendship remained steady. They worked on school assignments and class projects and Middle School came and went. In high school, the two spent time together with their large group of friends on the tennis courts at the center of an Episcopal campus that had not yet expanded to the size it is today. And during that time, their friendship grew until that fall evening when everything changed.
After that first dance, Mollie and John’s friendship turned into something more and the two would go on to attend every Episcopal dance together for the remainder of high school. A typical teenage date for Mollie and John back then included a hamburger at George’s under the overpass. Even though it’s dimly lit, you just might be able to find a Mollie/John dollar adorning the ceiling even today. After a quick bite at this Baton Rouge institution, the two would enjoy a movie. Movie night proved to be a good choice with 80’s classics such as Gremlins, Ghostbusters and Sixteen Candles hitting the big screen their senior year. After each outing, with a price tag of only $10 for the burger and the movie, the two sweethearts had to be home for an 11 pm curfew.
As the 1984 Episcopal Accolade chronicles, Mollie and John dated throughout high school. The young couple shared all of the adventures of these important years, including working on the yearbook staff together and Mollie being named the 1983 Episcopal Homecoming Queen. Once the pomp and circumstance of high school graduation was over, the Hill’s romance continued as the two began studying at LSU. They pledged a sorority and a fraternity. They dealt with the demands of college, with Mollie earning a degree in interior design and architecture and John earning an MBA. And still the two remained together.
March 14, 1992
Mollie Poche and John Hill entered a new decade by saying “I do.” The two were only in their mid-twenties and had already been dating for twelve years when they married. As newlyweds they relocated to Houston and their careers flourished. Mollie worked for a large architecture company and later opened her own firm where she designed medical office interiors and spaces for Fortune 500 companies. John joined a Texas-based real estate company as a lease negotiator. Even with demanding, successful careers their relationship remained solid. “We had a lot of fun together working and traveling,” says Mollie. The Hills would often take beach trips or travel to London for fun. Eventually after 14 years of marriage, it was time for their relationship to move into a new chapter. They started a family of their own and returned to Baton Rouge.
Mollie and John have two daughters – Glynes and Meredith. In keeping with family tradition, both are Episcopal Knights. Glynes and Meredith are joined on campus by a host of cousins as Mollie and John’s siblings also chose Episcopal for their children. Mollie and her sister Glynes now own and manage multiple children’s clothing companies and John works as one of only two professionals in his line of work in the country. Glynes, Mollie’s sister, was in the second grade when she first met John. “I don’t even remember life without them together. John is like a brother to me,” she says. Glynes says Mollie and John are great together and that “individually they are both fabulous people.”
After all these years, Mollie and John are still together and they have made a life that they love.
2019 and Beyond
How have Mollie and John made their love last after all these years? “Be kind. Work together. Support one another,” says Mollie. This year, the Hills will celebrate 27 years of marriage. While some may be surprised to see high school sweethearts still together, Mollie says it was always natural to be with John. “I just always knew he was the one for me,” she says. “When you fall in love in ninth grade it’s different. He was a best friend. He’s a good guy. He is always there.”
In the case of Mollie and John Hill, the romance didn’t end with commencement and there is no “one that got away.” There is simply two people who knew long ago that they had found the one.
Happy Valentine’s Day from Episcopal, Mollie and John! And Happy Valentine’s Day to all of the Episcopal cupid couples!
The Episcopal cupid couples will grow by one more on Friday. Mollie’s niece, Hanley Poche ’11 will marry fellow Knight Carson Bourgeois ’08. Hanley is the daughter of Mollie’s brother Jim Poche, who is a class of 1983 graduate. Congratulations!
Happy Valentine's Day to the Episcopal cupid couples!
We are excited to celebrate members of the Class of 2019 as they make their college enrollment decisions. Congratulations!
Episcopal began the new year with its first full-time, certified School Resource Officer – Corporal Kristopher Daniels. Corporal Daniels, or Deputy Daniels as our littlest Knights know him, comes to Episcopal with an extensive background in law enforcement. Daniels served on the Baker City Police force for seven years and has been a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Department since 2010. He has worked in a variety of law enforcement divisions including detective, narcotics, SCAT or special community anti-crime team and uniform patrol. Prior to his law enforcement career, Daniels was in the United States Air Force for six years and the Air National Guard for two years.
Ensuring school safety
Episcopal is one of the first schools in Baton Rouge to have a full-time School Resource Officer. The SRO program has been working very successfully in the Central School District for the past several years. Deputy Daniels will be on Episcopal’s campus daily from 7 am to 3:30 pm. A second Deputy arrives at 2:00 pm to assist with carpool traffic and then remains on campus until Extended Care and after school activities are finished.
Since January, Daniels has been learning the faces of everyone on campus, from the Knights in Frazer to the families who visit. He has been introduced to each division of students and makes a point to speak to everyone he passes on his daily rounds. His primary focus is to ensure that the school is as secure and as safe as possible. Such familiarity with members of the school community is a major asset as it will allow Deputy Daniels to be quickly aware of anything or anyone out of the ordinary. He says in an emergency situation minutes truly do matter and a timely response to a crisis, combined with the ability to effectively and efficiently communicate with other law enforcement officials can make all the difference.
Episcopal administrators established a security committee comprised of board members and parents in early 2018. Identifying and hiring a school resource officer was one of the first major changes the committee has implemented. Committee members are evaluating current safety procedures and determining ways to strengthen faculty and staff training, identify areas where security can be upgraded and make recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding ways to make our campus even more secure . As the school resource officer, Corporal Daniels is also assisting school officials with staff safety training. He is reviewing safety drills and procedures and determining ways in which they may be improved. Deputy Daniels remains an employee of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and will continue to receive training and updates on the latest safety and security protocols. Episcopal is pleased to be in the vanguard of private schools utilizing a school resource officer.
Serving as a positive role model
When you ask this longtime law enforcement officer why he chose to work in a school setting, the answer comes with ease and enthusiasm. Daniels’ face lights up as he talks about the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children. This husband and father says everything changed for him eight years ago when his daughter was born. It was then that he realized that he loves being around young people and that he wants to serve as a positive example of a law enforcement officer. When his supervisor approached him about the position at Episcopal, his response was immediate and positive. Through his work as a deputy, he has enjoyed the opportunity to speak at schools and to get to know area students. In his partnership with our school he hopes to develop a strong example of how the Sheriff’s Office can integrate their knowledge and experience into the lives of our children and make our community a safer place. We look forward to having him on campus.
Please join us in welcoming Deputy Daniels to our campus and to the Episcopal community!
When third grade teacher Amy Arceneaux assigned her students the task of writing a nonfiction book, Lowell Lambert knew just what to write about. Lowell has one love – Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. After discussing his topic of choice with Mrs. Arceneaux, he began writing his book based on everything he already knew as a huge fan of the restaurant. The only research Lowell actually had to do was to learn more about the company’s origins. The finished assignment is a ten page, illustrated book highlighting the food served, the company’s history, and founder and fellow Episcopal Knight Todd Graves ’90. Of course, the book also includes a mention of the restaurant’s namesake Raising Cane, the dog. “Most restaurants don’t have a mascot,” writes Lowell.
Lowell recently had an exciting opportunity to celebrate the completion of his book and the research he conducted into Graves’ entrepreneurial journey. Graves invited the young writer and his family to tour the Raising Cane’s Baton Rouge headquarters. “Raising Cane’s is my favorite restaurant ever,” says Lowell. “My favorite part of our visit was getting a gigantic basket of goodies from the team at Raising Cane’s. I also enjoyed reading my book to Mr. Graves.”
Arceneaux says writing is an important component of the third grade curriculum. In fact, this is actually the second book the students have been assigned to create and they have now moved on to their third. “My students love to write and we write everyday,” says Arceneaux. “Already this year, they have written many stories and they are always excited to choose their best ones to publish.”
The recent opportunity to bring the topic of a story to life certainly added to this year’s excitement. Episcopal teachers are always in search of such creative and meaningful ways to inspire students to practice writing. In the summer of 2017, Arceneaux was selected to attend the Teacher’s College of Columbia University Writing Workshop. “Spending time at Teacher’s College in New York motivated me to continue making writing a focus of our day,” she says. “Students are excited when I send them off to write in their Writer’s Notebooks and I am pleased to see their skills develop over the course of the school year.”
Writing is a key component of an Episcopal education. Students in PreK-4 practice their writing skills as they learn to properly use a pencil and write simple words. Before Lower School students begin a project-based learning unit, they are tasked with writing about what they know and what they hope to learn regarding their new topic. In Middle School, the focus on writing continues as the outstanding Middle School English student in each grade is honored as a recipient of the annual Penniman Awards. Upper School students write reflections regarding service projects and students with a passion for writing serve as Writing Center Fellows. Such a consistent focus on writing will serve Episcopal students well as they move on to a university setting and ultimately begin their careers.
Learn more about how Lower School grows great writers in this blog post by first grade teacher Corey Lemoine.
For additional examples of writing opportunities in Lower School, check out the following blog posts.
Dinosaurs, Writing and an Award-Winning Author - Just Another Day at Episcopal
Fun with Words: Literacy Skills and the 3rd Grade Vocabulary Parade
To read more about the Writing Center click here.
Now is your chance to get face to face with Middle School art. The Middle School art show Face Time is on display in the VPAC lobby through February 18th. The show features a wide variety of subjects and media, including self-portraits created as students explored more about their own interests and identity.
Middle School art teacher and Arts Department Chair Russell Roper says students learned a lot about themselves leading up to the current showcase. In one assignment, Roper requires students to fill a gallon-size bag with mementos that represent the most important aspects of their lives. Roper says these “portraits in a Ziploc” are then used to inspire students to create art based on their contents. The Face Time show features decorated boxes safeguarding these keepsakes. In another assignment, students are asked to reflect on the products and services they use in their daily lives. Afterwards, they create digital art pieces using the logos of these companies.
Visual art has long been embraced by the Episcopal community. The VPAC space, with its paint-splattered classrooms and lobby adaptable for student displays, is a testament to a commitment to art education. Students have the opportunity to take art classes in every division with topics ranging from drawing and painting to photography and digital art. As an artist, Roper is pleased that students have the opportunity to try it all. He hopes such early and consistent exposure to art will encourage a lifelong appreciation for art among his students.
We invite you to explore the Middle School art show. You will certainly see some familiar faces on display. In addition to the self-portraits, the exhibition also features relief sculptures inspired by nature, handmade clay masks and furniture models based on animal studies.
Can’t make it to the VPAC? The Episcopal Middle School art show will be on display at the Jones Creek library during the month of March in celebration of National Youth Art Month.
Below is a sample of the work now on display. Stop by the VPAC lobby to enjoy the full show.
Episcopal’s annual Battle of the Books competition has expanded. This year the winning Middle School team had the opportunity to compete against students from Central Middle School and Denham Springs Junior High School in a regional event. After three exciting rounds of competition, the Knights won! Congratulations to Team Weaver, comprised of Carter McLean, Suzie Heneghan, Akshay Basireddy, Katherine Fivgas, Michael Wang, Shreya Kamath, Claire Kiesel, Tori Pierce, Sarah Theriot and Amelia Pleasant. To learn more about Battle of the Books and this new regional twist, read the article below from Library Director Tiffany Whitehead.
I’ve been hosting a Battle of the Books competition with my Middle School students for the past five years. The first two years at Central Middle (where their amazing current librarian continues the tradition) and for the past three years at Episcopal. This year, the competition finally expanded and we hosted three school-level competitions at area schools, with the winner from each moving on to a regional competition.
In October, I announced this year’s competition and invited students to form their teams, comprised of ten students and one teacher sponsor. This year, six teams participated. Also this year, two other area librarians were hosting at their schools and collaborated with me every step of the way. For our book list, we pulled heavily from our Louisiana Young Reader’s Choice Award List to select the ten titles that were used in the battle. We try to round out the list with a variety in genre, character, and themes. Each team received a set of ten books and students had eight to ten weeks to read as much as they could. Students take responsibility for dividing up the reading as they see fit, and dig into the books.
In December, we held our school-level competition. The competition consisted of five rounds: three rounds of multiple choice questions using Kahoot, a written response round, and some type of puzzle/challenge round (that varies from year to year). Each of the three Kahoot rounds has a total of 20 questions — two from each book. Each team has one iPad that they use to answer the questions, earning points based on speed and accuracy. After four rounds of competition, the top three teams compete in a final Kahoot round in front of the entire Middle School division. Having the last round in front of their peers is a blast — it gets the teams hyped up and it helps students who did not participate learn more about Battle of the Books so they may want to join a team next year.
Our winning team was a team of eighth grade students, many of them have been together as a team since they were sixth graders, which made it extra special! That team went on to participate in the first ever regional competition.
Red Stick READgional Competition
My dream of having a regional Battle of the Books competition finally became a reality this year! Sara Gomez, librarian at Central Middle, and Laura Foy, librarian at Denham Springs Junior High, also held their school-level competitions and we all brought our winning teams to compete.
We were able to host the READgional at the Main Public Library in the teen gaming room. Before kicking off the competition, students participated in a variety of icebreaker activities designed to help them get to know each other. For this READgional competition, we had three rounds: two Kahoots and a game. We chose the Saran Wrap Game to add excitement to the competition. Students were lined up alternating by school and were asked trivia questions. While a student answered questions, the student next to them in line worked to unwrap the ball of wrap (while wearing oven mits) until the student answering questions got one correct — then the ball and mits were passed on. Tickets worth 100 points each were hidden within the Saran Wrap, so there was certainly incentive to unwrap the ball as quickly as possible.
The competition was very close overall. At the end of the event, the Episcopal team pulled off the win!
Battle of the Books is honestly one of my favorite events every year — it’s a great way to celebrate our readers and get more students hyped up about books!
Episcopal Library Director Tiffany Whitehead partnered with the librarians at Denham Springs Junior High and Central Middle School to organize the first READgional Battle of the Books. Here the group celebrates success. Laura Foy, DSJHS; Sara Gomez, CMS; Whitehead; Jessica Houvinen, CMS and Jason Fountain, Central Community School System Superintendent.
Looking for great books for your Middle School student? Below is the list of books read by this year’s Battle of the Books teams.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz
Fuzzy by Paul Dellinger and Tom Angleberger
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Restart by Gordon Korman
The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks
Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba
Visit Tiffany Whitehead’s Mighty Little Librarian online blog by clicking here.
What are you reading? Leave Tiffany a comment below regarding your favorite book of the moment.
Tiffany has been an educator for eleven years and serves as the Director of Library at Episcopal. A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and her Masters in Educational Technology Leadership from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. She has served as the President for ISTE’s Librarians Network and was recognized as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders. Tiffany is National Board Certified in Library Media and was named one of the 2014 Library Journal Movers & Shakers. She was the 2016 recipient of the Louisiana Library Media Specialist Award and is currently the President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians. Tiffany speaks regularly at state, national, and international conferences on school library and technology topics.
Why is the sky blue? What makes the wind blow? Where does the rain come from? Any parent of young children is familiar with the daily onslaught of “the 5 W’s.” Researchers, led by child psychologist Dr. Sam Wass, surveyed 1,500 parents and concluded that children ask an average of 73 questions each day – almost four questions every waking hour. The analysis also revealed children’s inquisitive nature peaks at the age of four years old for both boys and girls.
Additional studies show that most children have formed an opinion (either positive or negative) about science by the time they reach the age of seven. Early childhood educators have a tremendous impact and influence on a child’s potential to seek out a career in science or engineering later in life. It is imperative for teachers to harness children’s innate sense of curiosity in their early years of formal education in order to foster a lifelong love of science.
Starting in their first years at Episcopal, students are provided rich and meaningful opportunities that encourage discovery through play to manipulate, explore, make predictions, ask questions, and use creativity to solve simple problems. Recently, the PreK-4 class was tasked with finding the best material to protect Humpty Dumpty when he fell off the wall. Classes joined forces to make predictions about how various materials would stand up in a fall, ranging from cotton to bubble wrap. Students then tested their hypotheses with an egg drop experiment. The children recorded their responses and shared the results with their families in their Seesaw journal.
Each year, students build on prior knowledge to expand their learning. Our youngest PreK-3 Knights explored their five senses by cooking a Thanksgiving feast. Over in Frazer Hall, PreK-4 investigated the sense of sight by mixing colors and exploring prisms and rainbows to learn about colors and light. Across the hall in Kindergarten, classes spent several weeks learning about each of the five senses. They did a taste test with Chef Pat, smelled various spices and studied the inner workings of the ear, bringing in guest experts to talk about sound and how our ears interpret vibrations.
Coding provides another avenue for Episcopal’s young learners to train their brains for the future. In the early childhood program, students begin to use Beebot and Ozobot. The children program simple commands to navigate the robot to its desired location. This year Beebot has navigated neighborhoods during PreK’s study of communities and helped Kindergarten learn about the number line in math. Ozobot “delivered” Christmas presents to different friends as the children programmed his path.
In addition to these formal science experiences, students are also given ample free time to explore and process what they have learned. Whether it is sticking their hands into a slimy pumpkin at Halloween, balancing blocks to build a tall tower through trial and error, observing their shadows on a sunny day, or discovering a butterfly chrysalis in the garden, these organic and natural experiences provide the foundation for children to become critical thinkers and problem solvers.
With the appropriate guidance, this natural curiosity and need to make sense of the world lay the groundwork for the skills that students will need to succeed throughout their years at Episcopal and beyond. With careers in Science and Technology continually on the rise, our youngest learners are gaining the competence, readiness, and confidence to be the future scientists and computer programmers of the world.
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.