Diplomat for a Day
Congratulations to junior Alex Nelson! Alex was one of four Louisiana students selected to be a French Diplomat for the Day through the French Consulate in New Orleans. Alex and her fellow student diplomats had the opportunity to shadow the Consul General of France Vincent Sciama. You can learn more about the day by clicking here.
Tops in Math
Congratulations to fifth grader Nate McLean! Nate won first place in the Louisiana Elementary Math Olympiad at Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School. Congratulations also to Meg Kantrow who placed in the top 25 and Episcopal participants, Tripp Veillon and Diya Kankar. Way to go Lower School Knights!
Red Stick Bowl Selection
Senior center Griff Strain has been selected to play in the Red Stick Bowl. The game features top senior players from East Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes. The action gets underway Saturday, December 21st at 2 pm at Zachary High School.
Congratulations to Leland, Lucy and Molly Cramer! The Cramers will compete in the 2019 Amateur Athletic Union Cross Country National Championship in Knoxville, TN on December 7th! Lucy (5th) and Molly (4th) will run the 3K and Leland (1st) will compete in the 2K. The Cramers qualified for the national competition after competing in the Southern District Championships in Hammond. Molly had the fastest time among nine and 10 year olds, Lucy was second and Leland was second among 7 and 8 year olds.
Episcopal Yearbook Editor Earns Recognition
Congratulations to Mason LaFerney ’19! Mason won the top individual award in the Graphics/Artwork category for the 2018-2019 Episcopal "Accolade" yearbook design. Honorees were announced at the Fall 2019 JEA/Tom Bell Silver Scribe Yearbook Contest held at the Loyola University New Orleans School of Communication and Design. The contest was sponsored by the Press Club of New Orleans, the Journalism Education Association and Loyola University New Orleans. Mason is currently studying at Boston College.
From Knights to Tigers
Episcopal graduates are making an impact in college sports. As members of the LSU cross country team, Adele Broussard ’19 and Alicia Stamey ’17 were both named to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association 2019 All-Louisiana Cross Country women’s team. Adele was also named the Freshman of the Year after scoring in five of the seven meets she entered. Stamey scored in all six of the races she ran, including a second place finish at the Nicholls Invitational and a sixth place finish at the LSU Invitational.
All-America Team Honors
Welcome back! Members of the Class of 1994 and the Class of 2009 recently held reunions.
Mark your calendar for the next opportunity to reminisce at the upcoming Alumni Christmas party.
December 27 at 6 pm: Beau Soleil
Lights, Camera, Action!
Episcopal’s campus serves as the backdrop for a Bounce TV original Christmas movie. Crews were on campus recently filming “Greyson Family Christmas.” The film premieres Sunday, December 8th at 9 pm. Click here for additional air times.
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Share it with us by emailing it to email@example.com.
What are you thankful for this season?
We asked Episcopal PreK-3 students the same question and answers ranged from airplanes and puzzles to bikes and Barbie cars. Happy Thanksgiving!
“I’m thankful for airplanes because they fly in the sky and land at the airport. I’m thankful for Dad and grandpa because we are going to Ohio. I’m thankful for Spiderman birthday. I’m thankful for Mom because she plays dominos with me.”
“I’m thankful for pumpkin patches. I’m thankful for my pink bunny because I like my stuffed animals. I’m thankful for watermelon. I love to eat it! I’m thankful for my mommy because she makes me laugh.”
“I’m thankful for playing games because it’s fun. I’m thankful for blocks. I’m thankful for Lily because I like being silly with my sister.”
“I’m thankful for Cindyrella because she drops her glass slipper. I am thankful for Daddy because he makes me apples.”
“I’m thankful for flowers because I like to hold them. I’m thankful for Mommy because she picks me up. I’m thankful for my puppy because he makes me laugh.”
PreK-3 and PreK-4 students love Thanksgiving!
Episcopal’s presentation of “The Little Mermaid Junior” was anything but junior. Lower and Middle School students wowed audiences with impressive vocals and fun choreography – there were even a few flips! The set, lighting and costumes transported audiences under the sea with vibrant color and movement. It was another successful production that truly showcased the talents of these young artists and the arts department staff who support them.
This was the best day ever!
Such an exclamation is frequently heard in the kindergarten classrooms in Frazer Hall. Kindergarten students still have the enthusiasm and willingness to get messy and explore the world through play, while also reaching critical academic milestones. In many ways kindergarten is the sweet spot of Lower School. Here, students are developing skills that will forever change the way they interact with the world, such as reading, writing and adding. At the same time, Episcopal kindergarteners still have the opportunity to play and have fun while learning.
Recently, students in Sara Henderson’s classroom began putting books in their book box. The excitement for such an occasion is obvious in the wide grins on students’ faces. Students, teachers and parents have every reason to be excited about what is happening in Frazer Hall. Students may begin the school year only knowing letter sounds or recognizing the letters of their name, but by May they are reading. Kindergarten provides a tremendous transformation for these little Knights and it’s something Henderson is delighted to be a part of even after 17 years of teaching.
Kindergarten students are five or six years old. They are still filled with the wonder of exploration and discovery. They are eager to learn and eager to share what they have learned. Henderson and her fellow teachers, Maria Campbell and Erin Dufour, recognize this and intentionally make learning fun. “We try hard to balance between academics and play,” says Henderson. A sight word hunt, learning stations or pumpkin game day are examples of that balance. Students are having a great time on these adventures while also learning new skills.
"Let them be little."
Henderson says it’s important to remember that kindergarten students are still trying to make sense of their world. They may become overwhelmed with busy schedules and “big kid” expectations that are placed upon them. Allowing kindergarteners to be little and learn in age-appropriate ways helps them develop a love of learning that will serve as a solid foundation for their educational journey. For example, playing something as simple as Uno can be a great learning opportunity for kindergarten students. The classic card game helps them think strategically while also helping them with color recognition and fine motor skills. The same thing happens when they play with Legos, paint or make up performances in the puppet center.
Kindergarten is also a time when students are learning how to work with each other. Henderson says social/emotional learning is a big component of kindergarten learning. One example of this is the All About Me project in which students participate at the beginning of each year. Students share information about themselves and truly get to know each other. This helps them build a community and develop friendships with their classmates. Henderson says they use the responsive classroom approach to boost that sense of community throughout the year. Episcopal kindergarteners also have the opportunity to be a part of the larger school community. Each year, students are partnered with a senior as part of the senior buddies program. Senior students participate in special events with the kindergarteners, such as a Halloween party or the annual kite fly. The senior buddies program is one of Episcopal’s most beloved traditions with alumni remembering their buddy even after graduation.
Fundations, project-based learning, responsive classroom.
The kindergarten team is using best practices to help these little Knights reach their academic goals. The best part is that the teachers are staying true to the students’ age and tailoring the lessons in a way that resonates with five and six year olds. Whether students are making sets of ten using pumpkin seeds or visiting the band room to learn about sound, they are developing a true love for learning. Ultimately, the kindergarten adventures set the students up for continued success as they transition to first grade and beyond. They will be well prepared for adventures such as the first grade triathlon, the third grade vocabulary parade and the fifth grade global marketplace. These little adventurers are tomorrow’s leaders and we look forward to seeing where they go.
Are you looking for the right early childhood learning opportunity for your little adventurer? Episcopal is now enrolling for the 2020/2021 school year. Join us for a Lower School mini open house event on November 19th or December 3rd from 8:30 am to 10:30 am to learn more about the Episcopal experience. You can also contact our admission office at 755-2684, firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.episcopalbr.org/admission.html for more information or to set up a campus tour.
Enter first grade teacher Mary Kathryn Vey’s classroom and you may find students working in groups or seated together on the rug. Each group encourages each other and there is an enthusiasm for learning as a team. This cooperative approach to learning is called Kagan Learning Structures. Learning is organized into structures including mix-n-match, quiz-quiz trade, stand up-hand up-pair up and I have-who has. Vey shares more on how the approach works and the benefits of this type of learning.
The Kagan approach to learning creates active classroom engagement. Teachers engage students to boost achievements and lower discipline problems. In a traditional learning structure, the teacher leads a whole-class discussion and asks for responses. The Kagan approach creates a less intimidating environment. With Kagan Structures the teacher uses one of several approaches that create and boost the classroom environment. Students use the learned structures to quiz each other or answer the questions collaboratively. Cooperative learning is a positive alternative and creates student interaction.
The Kagan structures promote collaboration and student communication. They use the learned structures to help guide pair and group work; which increases student participation. Kagan is a positive, hands-on approach to help students use team building and positive classroom language. The students learn to praise their partners and work collaboratively together. Students feel empowered and ready to share collaboratively with their peers. The Kagan approach promotes a positive learning environment where all students want to actively participate.
With Kagan, the teacher forgoes the traditional “whole class discussion” or the “one answer at a time” approach and instead has students use one of the structures that involves everyone and encourages student participation. Kagan promotes powerful and positive teacher language that in return creates positive student interaction. It helps create cooperation and self confidence. It’s a non-threatening way for all students to feel actively engaged within their classroom. The Kagan approach helps increase student communication skills and aids in positive student growth. The students will practice several Kagan strategies that they will use throughout the year to check for content knowledge.
Mary-Kathryn Vey joined the Episcopal faculty in 2015 as a first grade teacher. Before joining Episcopal, she taught first grade for six years in Mississippi and received the Teacher of the Year Award in 2013. Mary-Kathryn graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in child development. She continued her education and obtained a second degree in the area of elementary education. Mary-Kathryn is passionate about creating lifelong learners and enjoys instilling the love of reading in each of her students.
It was a fun-filled week on Episcopal’s campus as students celebrated Homecoming. All three divisions displayed school spirit with theme dress days, pep rallies and campus decorating. Everything culminated with the Knights' Homecoming victory over Catholic Pointe Coupee. Congratulations to the 2019 Episcopal Homecoming King and Queen - Griff Strain and Sarah Collier!
Alumni also got in on the celebration with a Cochon De Lait in the alumni tent. We hope the classes of 1979 and 1989 enjoyed their time back on campus.
“I hope to dance ballet and trick-or-treat.”
“I hope to learn about cars and trucks, how things work, and letters and numbers.”
Ask a PreK-3 student what they hope to do this school year and you’ll get a range of answers like the ones above. Students are also interested in playing with babies, eating healthy and even learning about taxes. Ask the parent of a PreK-3 student what they hope their child will achieve and you will also get a variety of answers, from growing socially and academically to expressing themselves appropriately and learning to take turns. So, what do students in PreK-3 actually learn and why does it matter?
The Building Blocks of Learning: Social/Emotional Skills
PreK-3 teachers Kristen Cascio and Emily Richard say the majority of learning for the littlest Knights revolves around developing social/emotional skills. Social/emotional skills, such as waiting, sharing and learning to sit quietly on the carpet, are important for a student’s future learning capabilities. So important that the PreK-3 team spends considerable time helping students develop these building blocks of learning. Additional highlights of what PreK-3 students learn include:
The PreK-3 team uses the responsive classroom approach to teaching in much the same way that other teachers use it. Cascio says the team begins the year with the hopes and dreams component as they identify and understand the student’s and parent’s goals for preschool. Beginning the year with this understanding helps the teaching team personalize each student/family’s PreK-3 experience. The teachers also use the responsive classroom approach to classroom management. “We coach children through difficult situations and use everything as a teaching/learning opportunity,” says Cascio. Those teaching moments can come in the form of asking for additional food in the cafeteria, walking in a line with friends or learning to be aware of others. The little Knights even have their own Morning Meeting. Cascio says they start each day with a greeting, reading aloud and a group activity, which allows for collaboration, community building and life skill development. “During the greeting, students are instructed to make eye contact, greet friends by name with a happy, loud voice,” says Cascio. “We talk about how a happy voice makes our friends feel happy.”
At the same time that the three year old students are developing social/emotional skills, they are also developing academically. As they listen to stories and interact with friends, they expand their vocabulary. Students also learn to identify the letters in their name and the letters in the alphabet, which are the pre-reading skills needed to begin reading from a page. The lessons are flexible, adaptable and specifically designed to provide age-appropriate academic experiences.
Play = Learning
Cascio and Richard say play is a key to learning for three year olds. While adults may simply see a student picking up small objects with tongs or playing with Play Doh, the teachers say there is purpose to their play. For example, Cascio and Richard say that manipulating small objects and playing with clay helps students fine tune their fine motor skills in preparation for gripping a pencil for writing in later grades. Research backs up the importance of play.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “play is not frivolous: it enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function (i.e., the process of learning, rather than the content), which allow us to pursue goals and ignore distractions.” In a 2018 AAP report on The Power of Play, the authors conclude that “play is intrinsically motivated and leads to active engagement and joyful discovery,” and that “with our understanding of early brain development, we suggest that learning is better fueled by facilitating the child’s intrinsic motivation through play rather than extrinsic motivations, such as test scores.” The authors also suggest that “play provides a singular opportunity to build the executive functioning that underlies adaptive behaviors at home; improve language and math skills in school; build the safe, stable, and nurturing relationships that buffer against toxic stress; and build social–emotional resilience.”
The Episcopal PreK-3 classroom is designed to encourage student play and learning. The teachers say there is a focus on natural lighting and a comfortable feel so that students feel at ease and are not overstimulated. Centers are thoughtfully arranged so that noisy areas are not near the quieter locations. There are a variety of toys, games and activities to engage students. Because three year olds still benefit from a nap, there is designated quiet time during which students unfurl little mats and snuggle up for a rest after several hours of learning. Cascio and Richard also try to keep students to an expected routine so that they know what to expect and don’t experience too many interruptions.
Lessons for Life
Episcopal’s PreK-3 program ensures that students establish a strong foundation for the learning that comes as they progress through Lower School and transition to Middle and Upper School. The emphasis on social/emotional learning will continue as they progress. While the skills are different at each grade level, faculty and staff across all divisions are making these life lessons a focus for students. “We’re lucky to be in a school where we focus on this at every level,” says Cascio.
While Cascio and Richard focus considerable time on helping students learn school procedures and social/emotional skills, they are also helping the students begin their academic journey. The teachers hope that the well-rounded, age-appropriate experience helps students develop a true love of learning and school. “We want them to wake up loving to come here,” says Cascio. Fostering a love of learning and the social/emotional skills needed to be part of a community are a key component of the Episcopal experience. It’s how we are preparing tomorrow’s leaders every day.
Need help determining whether your child is ready for preschool? Click here to read tips from PreK-4 teacher Julie Mendes.
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.
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.
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.