Looking Ahead with Trepidation
Despite the Covid Crisis upon us, we will uphold some of those traditions in ceremonial graduation visits to each graduate next Thursday and Friday. The visits to each house will include the graduate giving a speech, head of school, a faculty/staff speaker, a videographer, and the family of the graduate (all will social distance, all will wear masks except when speaking).
May 31, 2020
You are not alone. You are doing a great job. Your children are superb beings.
This week I will embellish my list, which, as I mentioned last week is my preferred mode of expression these days. Since last writing, I have been keeping a list of images, thoughts, and topics for you. Now, a la Sam Sifton of the NY Times Cooking Section (who is a lifeline by the way), I plan to create a little digest of the things I’ve stored up, for what it’s worth.
April 9, 2020
The List from a COVID-19 day
Dear Friends, When will I be in the headspace to write even slightly eloquently, joyfully, expansively? When will my sense of humor come back? My brain can only think in lists today. Do you find yourself writing a lot more lists lately? My kids run a mile when they see me writing one, that’s for sure. I hope you won’t, because I’m writing one for you. Today’s list is comprised of things our teachers have said or written this week, to their students, colleagues, parents, to me. Pretend it is on a page of my favorite, stolen hotel notepad:
April 1, 2020
I Ask My Mother to Sing
This poem captured so much of what I needed today. It made me think about my mom (she's safely tucked in a valley in western North Carolina instead of her apartment in New York City these days). How music and singing soothe us both. It made me think about the sanctuary kitchens offer us right now; my own is home to new inventions, like adding fish sauce to my stir-fry and indulging the sticky rice with a thick lump of Vermont butter (my new version of Asian Fusion).
March 25, 2020
COVID-19 Community Update
Dear Center School Community, “Difficult times often bring out the best in people.” ~Bernie SandersI could not agree more with the Bern on this one. What I have seen from this community in the last week has almost kept the tears and the worry away-- at bay, for sure. So many offers of help and words of appreciation from parents, board members, grandparents, and many others have been just pouring in.
March 17, 2020
COVID-19 Parent Update
March 15, 2020 Dear Center School Community, So much has happened in the 48 hours since I last wrote to you. Even in the last hour or so, things have drastically changed. How are you all holding up? I am with you, and sending you all strength and love.
March 15, 2020
Happy Birthday, Dr. King!
When we lit the peace candle today at "Happy Birthday, Dr King" All School assembly we introduced three videos that tell the story of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. "For the peace candle today we will watch the single most famous and most celebrated recorded speech in American history. The man who spoke it, who created it, is celebrated every year with his own national holiday to honor his birthday.
January 17, 2020
Dear Friends, Parent/guardian involvement is a subject on many minds at this time of year. Often parents worry that they can't fit in time to answer some of our requests for volunteering. The teachers and I all feel strongly that being involved in your kids' school can take many different forms. We want to assure you that we realize not everyone can drive for field trips or come in for All School. We want you to know that it's okay. Parent/Guardian involvement can be helping your child pack lunches and snacks, driving them to school, helping with homework.
October 7, 2019
A beautiful Rosh Hashana to all. The invitation this day can offer regardless of religious identity, is to consider what it means to be renewed and revived. With that spirit, I give you this wonderful, though not for the faint of heart, poem that so powerfully expresses one way a person might celebrate.
September 30, 2019
First Week of School
Dear Friends, This has been a lovely first week here at your school. All School on Friday was just perfect. Kids were so keenly attentive to one another's sharings, the singing was hearty, and the new students, teachers, and parents in attendance looked/felt like old friends. The bookends, our new 8th grade class, which seems poised to lead the school as the role models to their schoolmates, and the new kindergartners, who were sitting nicely being their best audience, had a balanced and joyful effect on us all.
September 13, 2019
Center School Museum
Dear Friends, This Thursday you are in for a treat. Our wonderful teachers lovingly install a huge museum display, which includes work from each of our students from ages 2-15 years old. The students and teachers select pieces that represent effort, skill, passion. The work includes the children’s own reflections. Memories of an 'aha moment,' or a hard slog through a new skill that paid off, or the pleasure of working on a piece that just clicked for a student are all represented here.
April 30, 2019
Parent Appreciation Week
Dear Friends, It's Parent Appreciation Week at the Center School! Each day we're thanking Center School parents and caregivers for all they do to get their kids here each and every day. Packing lunches, driving carpools, helping with projects, supporting the Parent Union and Annual Fund, our parents deserve a treat!
March 4, 2019
A Few Stories
I've heard a few stories at school recently that I think are worth sharing here. The first one is from skiing yesterday. As you know at this time of year, the whole school skis together each Monday. Teachers, volunteers, and kids alike are all at different levels of skill and confidence. We have the experts, the daredevils, the cautious but talented, the totally terrified, the messy speed-demons, and so on.
February 15, 2019
Keep the Faith
After watching the testimony of Dr. Blasey Ford on Friday, I spent the weekend in a kind of stupor. The kind that cannot last because it won't get you anywhere. So instead of wallowing in my fear that the world is turning into a nightmare fraternity of creepy dudes, I decided to take some comfort in the fact that our work at the Center School will make a difference because we will send humans out into the world as whole people who will not sexually assault women at parties, who will stand up for people who are being harmed or manipulated or lied about, who will stand up to bad dudes.
October 1, 2018
Social Justice Curriculum Framework
Over the summer the Justice, Equity and Diversity's curriculum committee (Cecelela Tomi, Oliver Brown, Kim Hake, Mo Sauvain, Faraday Borg, and Charlie Spence) met in retreat to devise a pilot Social Justice Framework for teachers. The idea was that if we are going to have social justice as a tenet of our mission, we need to give teachers resources and support in finding material, updating projects, vetting literature, and doing research on what's considered up to the minute best practice in an ever unfolding landscape of change and growth. The team put together a first draft of the framework, which we see as a sort of filter through which all current and developing curriculum could be explored. Then, teachers each took a piece of their own curriculum (such as the 6ht grade Design Your Own Park Project and the Middles' Colonial America study) and took a closer look with the tool we had designed.
September 17, 2018
You are in for a treat! Every week for the whole school year, you will receive a Weekly Bulletin. Some weeks these will have themes, some weeks kids will write the articles. This week, the articles focus on the first days of school rituals, our curricular themes for the year (Primes-Uppers), and our Essential Questions. For more on what Essential Questions are for and how they work you can read this piece. Essentially, we believe our students benefit greatly from having access to the big picture of their learning, as they grapple in the day to day investigations we co-create with them. Essential Questions help us all with our metacognition and connect us to our learning on a deeper level.
September 10, 2018
Final Week of School
The Building Committee and the Capital Campaign Committee have been hard at work. We have been looking at property, interviewing architects, connecting with donors, and planning events. No property has been found yet, however, we continue to look for the perfect spot for our campus. We have established contact with some local land trusts so that we can make sure we are following our mission carefully in terms of respectful and environmentally conscious land acquisition. In the fall, we will have lots more news to report. We will hold a Gala for the community and generally celebrate our progress with the Loving School, Lasting Change capital initiative we began last winter.
June 4, 2018
Hang onto Your Hats
Dear Friends, Let's remember to breathe and to listen carefully to our kids as we transition to summer. Children (and adults!) can have big feelings and unexpected anxiety or stress when schedules change, friends leave, teachers change, and all the other things that naturally occur as part of this end of year process. If you notice your child seeming anxious or emotional, make sure to take some time to help them unpack and strategize good self-care. Making cards for friends and teachers, having playdates, early bedtimes, getting plenty of exercise, and making a visual schedule for the summer that they can look forward to, are all options for how to address what comes up for them (and you).
May 22, 2018
What Makes the Center School the Center School
"Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you." ~Langston Hughes
April 23, 2018
Author Nicola Yoon
Last week, the Center School hosted YA author Nicola Yoon, in conversation with former Center School parent, Dr. Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor, Associate Professor of History at Smith. Our students and teachers are huge fans of Ms. Yoon's work, and have read her books as part of our Humanities curriculum. Our supreme goal with all curriculum is to challenge assumptions of power and stereotype.
April 17, 2018
A Consortium of Independent Schools of Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont
As the country reels from the recent tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (one of 18 school shootings in 2018) we, Heads of Schools at independent schools throughout....
February 27, 2018
Opening Address for 2017
On this unique evening that brings together our adult Center School community each year, I like to take a moment to share something I’m thinking about, relating to the work of educating and raising our children.
January 17, 2018
Looking for the helpers (AGAIN)
Yes, ‘n’ how many times must a man look up | Before he can see the sky
October 2, 2017
Amusing Ourselves to Death?
Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes I want to pull the covers up over my head and avoid the daily grind. Sometimes I wish I could just watch Netflix or look at Facebook and leave the dishes in the sink.
May 1, 2017
Visiting an AISNE member school
Next Monday-Wednesday I will be away visiting an AISNE member school as the chair of their reaccreditation committee. The School is Cambridge Friends, which is a a little bigger than we are, but same grade span.
March 29, 2017
Thoughts on Immigration
Back in the 90’s when my wife Becky and I began our committed relationship I was living in New York City and she was still living in London where we first met.
March 13, 2017
The question you have got to ask yourself
I hope you had a glorious break with your kids. There were certainly some gorgeous spring days to revel in!
February 27, 2017
A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration
First may I say, if you didn’t get to read the message we sent out on Martin Luther King Jr Day celebrating his legacy, please do have a look. It includes a video of our children’s march, which took place on Friday.
January 17, 2017
You may not want to read this.
You may not want to read this. I know you are done. Finished. Over. But in case you are wondering and haven’t found a good answer to the problem, I don’t want to leave you hanging.
October 17, 2016
A “political” stance
We just got more Black Lives Matter signs today. The one we had went missing over the summer. A group of willing students helped decide where the new ones would be placed.
October 3, 2016
Brimming with passion
The school is brimming with passion and fervor about the election! But not the Trump and Clinton one… they’re jazzed about the Shellizabeth Warren and Jill Swine one!
September 27, 2016
Can you hear that?
Peepers? Woodpeckers? Children giggling?…all of it music of a kind. When I was 8 we moved to Philadelphia and I went to a new school.
March 21, 2016
The Parent-Child Discussion That So Many Dread: Donald Trump
In all areas of the Center School at all times we actively, directly, powerfully live in opposition to Donald Trump’s hateful transgressions.
March 15, 2016
Thinking of Sandy Hook
Thinking about Sandy Hook today, three years on… And sending love their way.
December 14, 2015
Holidays at Center School
The darkest days are upon us, so we create light. Some of us will light candles for Chanukah this week, some will decorate Christmas trees with lights, some will bring light by doing kind things for others who need more light in their lives.
December 8, 2015
Sleep for kids
I want to be a nag this week. So get ready. It comes from a place of love and respect. You know the deal…
October 13, 2015
Fall days with thoughts toward others
I am afraid that despite the beautiful fall days we are experiencing, I am finding it hard to get past the terrible news of last week’s shooting at the school in Oregon....
October 5, 2015
For those of you new to the school the 8th grade Ambitious Projects are not looming large in your minds yet. I am going to try to bring them into focus for you in this letter.
March 16, 2015
Those Wesleyan students. How absolutely awful.
Those Wesleyan students. How absolutely awful. I’m of an age (mid-forties) where I can put myself in everyone’s shoes in that story. Except the dealer.
February 24, 2015
Yes…Je suis Charlie. Literally, figuratively.
On our way home tonight Jude and I were talking about free speech and hate speech and the way that satire can work in art and pop culture. He initiated this conversation.
January 13, 2015
Poetry at Center School
Last Monday, I left school in a whirlwind for New York City, to fete my mom, who was having a birthday. I left you with a poem in my stead.
November 17, 2014
What a school!
I took a wander around school today. Everyone was on fire with their learning. Primes Blue were writing stories and illustrating them beautifully.
May 19, 2014
Watching some of the Olympics
I hope you managed to get some cozy time with your kids over the prolonged break– the two snow days at the beginning made the vacation seem particularly long. And I know I heard from MANY families and kids that they really, truly missed school. I felt so lucky hearing that.
February 24, 2014
Mama, Ella Has A Penis!
This is essential reading for our school community. Please take a moment to educate yourself, if like many of us, you find yourself tongue-tied when talking with kids about Gender Identity.
January 27, 2014
Had my life increased, or merely added to itself?
“Had my life increased, or merely added to itself? There had been addition and subtraction in my life, but how much multiplication?” This quote is from the novel I’m reading, The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes. The book is unsettling me.
December 1, 2013