Alexandria Country Day School on the Move

Alexandria Country Day School on the Move

Summer workshops and special visitor keep students busy.

Alexandria Country Day School students received a special visitor last month, when Alexandria Mayor William Euille visited their school and swore in the student council officers for 2004–2005 during an all-school assembly. They are: Mary Kemp Thornberry (president), Wilson Miller (vice-president), Charlotte Simmons (secretary), Kelly McGrath (treasurer), Christine McCoy (8th grade representative), Parker Smith (8th grade representative), Montana Hyde (7th grade representative), Parker Davis (7th grade representative), Elthson Torres (6th grade representative), and Hana Wuerker (6th grade representative).

Students and faculty were busy throughout the summer as well. Three members of the class of 2004: Lauren Frantz (“The Silmarillion and Tales of the Alhambra: A Comparison”), Pat Kane (“Bacon”), and John Luce (“Midnight Magic at Oriole Park”) had their works published in the Summer 2004 volume of "Falling for the Story," an anthology of writing published by the Northern Virginia Writing Project. The anthology is the result of a cooperative effort of George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, and the public and private schools of northern Virginia.

As part of the “Explore!” theme that the school has adopted for this school year, faculty spent the summer enhancing their experiences by participating in workshops throughout the world.

Whitney Caldwell, middle school science teacher, traveled to both Iceland and the Caribbean during the summer. Her experiences on Barbados and Carriacou, in the Grenadine Islands, were part of an Earthwatch Institute volunteer program. She received a fellowship from the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund and participated in a research project led by Dr. Suzanne Dorsey of Salem College, titled "Damselfish of Barbados and Carriacou." Caldwell can now enhance her ecology/conservation unit of study, using the Keystone species and its effects on the reefs. Photos of her travels in Iceland earlier in the summer have already added visuals to her earth science unit, with examples of earth formations and processes affected by glaciers.

Dawn Williamson, sixth grade science teacher, attended the Stars Adventure on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, home of the largest collection of major observatories in the world. Williamson will use her experience with the W.M. Keck Observatory telescope to enrich her teaching of refraction, reflection, and the telescope.

MARGI WAYNE, FIFTH grade teacher, attended NASA’s Living with a Star summer conference in Anchorage, Alaska. Science teachers from all over the country attend this conference featuring the sun-earth connection with lectures by scientists and specialists in astronomy and space science.

Dianne Bartalot, resource teacher, and Chree Perkins, first grade teacher, attended the Children’s Literature Conference at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. This weeklong conference explored the array of literature available to teachers across subject areas. Among the workshops attended were “Reading and Understanding Word Problems” and “Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum.” Teachers had a chance to meet with published authors of children’s books and discuss their works with them. Dianne and Chree return to their classes with anecdotes from the authors and new ideas for connecting literature to the lives of their students.

Perkins also received a summer grant in support of her training in Spanish through the Berlitz Language Center in Rockville, Md. She participated for three weeks in Immerse & Converse to prepare herself to integrate Spanish more fully into her classroom activities. ACDS begins instruction in Spanish in kindergarten. The course included speaking and utilizing Spanish in a natural manner. The total immersion was followed by individual sessions in subsequent weeks. Perkins’ after-school Spanish club for first grade students will feature songs and games enhanced by her immersion program.

Bodo Heiliger, fourth grade teacher, attended the Northeast Foundation for Children’s Responsive Classroom: Teaching Children to Care, held in Yardley, Pennsylvania. This weeklong course explored ways to implement a social curriculum of sensitivity, respect, and caring within the academic curriculum. Heiliger brings the principles and strategies of the Responsive Classroom to his students through morning meetings, rules and logical consequences, guided discovery, classroom organization, and family communication.

In addition to these workshops, students, staff and faculty will continue to devote their energies to exploring both within and outside of the classroom by way of field trips, Learning Alive! — their experiential outdoor learning curriculum — and community service projects. In addition, visitors to the school will contribute to the annual, yearlong Festival of Learning, the focus of which this year is Mexico. They have already been serenaded by a mariachi band.