HEADlines

Friday
May262017

We Matter!

Graduation Day for our 8th graders and the Honors Assembly for all students have come and gone and the campus is quickly transforming into a fun, sun filled summer camp for two months.  And while bidding farewell to students, some of whom has been here since they were two years old is bitter sweet, the students’ speeches at graduation about the importance of Wood Acres in their lives brought tears to our eyes and an overwhelming sense of pride for our school.  We matter!  We impact lives! We mold the future!  We model what we preach and walk the talk of teaching, learning, and caring each and every day!  Just listen to the words of our graduates to confirm these amazing feelings!

“I have gotten the best and most well-rounded education I could have received and am so ready for high school classes.”

“Wood Acres has helped change me from the somewhat shy kid I used to be to the outgoing person I am now.”

“Throughout my years at the Woods I have grown as a student, a person, and as a leader.  I have made friendships that will last a lifetime and memories that I’ll never forget.”

 “As well as being successful in my classes, I felt loved and connected with everyone around me.”

“Wood Acres has granted me experiences that I never thought I could have.”

“One thing I love about Wood Acres is how the teachers will go over something if you don’t understand it.”

“I have learned so much here in academics, but also how to be a much better person in these important years.”

“Though the pages of the Wood Acres chapter of my life may fade, its memories never will.”

“The amazing imprint left by Wood Acres will never be lifted no matter the occurrences later in life.”

“One of my favorite quotes is, “As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.” “Wood Acres had given me the tools and confidence to do just that.”  

“One thing that Wood Acres definitely taught me is that you have to be yourself no matter what.”

“I am leaving Wood Acres and taking this next step with not only everything I need to succeed but also memories of the Woods.  As Winnie the Pooh summed it up. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

 “Wood Acres is like home to me.”

 “I am so grateful for every moment, every opportunity, and every experience that Wood Acres and the people in it have given me.”

Our 19 graduates have been accepted to 33 high school programs- public, private, parochial, magnet, school within a school, International Baccalaureate, and charter.  The Class of 2017 is bright, articulate, caring, humorous, and on an amazing journey to becoming… themselves!

 

With pride and pomp and cheers and tears we send them on their travels knowing that Wood Acres mattered in their lives!

Celebrate!

 

Monday
Apr102017

Puddles and Reflections 

There is a spot on the driveway near the school office that fills with water each rainfall and creates a beautiful reflection of our stunning campus at any time of year.  While spring provides many opportunities for the puddle to be full, I love to see what is reflected in it after each rainfall.  This week was no exception.

To see the reflection clearly, one must be still and patient.  The wind, too, must be still and the trees quiet to see this fleeting work of natural art.  Such a grand metaphor for what we do @ the Woods each and every day.  And these last weeks of school are the perfect times to reflect on what our students, staff, and families have accomplished this year.  For all too fleeting is a school year and soon the reflection will be gone.

Our students have grown in inches and pounds, in neurons and brain growth, in caring and sharing.  They have learned so much in such a brief amount of time- a year’s growth in learning in just 180 days on campus!  Oh my!  Our staff has been an engaged and engaging partner in each of those days and with each of those students.  They have grown in curriculum knowledge, teaching strategies, and patience for the actual learning process.  Our Wood Acres families have awakened sleepy heads, packed lunches, monitored homework, and cheered on both students and staff to partner for a successful year.  And all this is reflected in the bright eyes, the keen minds, and the kind hearts of our students.  What a beautiful reflection indeed. 

We just need to remind ourselves to be still and patient and watchful to see this fleeting transformation happen year after year.  For soon the sun will dry the puddle, our eighth graders will graduate and we will be noisily looking forward to summer vacation and “school’s out for summer”!  But the puddle will again quietly fill and invite us to reflect on the Woods and its continuing journey soon.

Here’s to celebration, graduation… and reflection.  Join me at the puddle after the next rainfall.  It’s a date!

 

Judy Thigpen

Tuesday
Mar072017

March Madness, March Winds, March On...

The word “March” just indicates movement, motion, momentum.  That is precisely what the marvelous month of March is @ the Woods.  We have momentum behind our teaching and learning, movement all over campus as gentler weather welcomes us back outdoors on our beautiful campus, and the winds of the month to lift our spirits and sprout wings to fly to Washington DC and Salamanca, Spain for two field trips of a lifetime.  March IS the month!

Field trips take on new meaning for Upper School students

While the Early School students can’t wait until they get to Kindergarten to begin the cherished rite of off campus field trips, third graders also yearn for 4th grade right through 8th to begin the Wood Acres tradition of overnight field trips to some amazing locales! 

Wood Acres 6th graders got their “wings” as they flew to the Marine Lab School in the Florida Keys in late October.  Students prepped with snorkeling lessons as they then enjoyed daily rides on catamarans into the surf to dive and explore the superior plant and mammal life that these waters offer.  Three nights and four days made this trip memorable and meaningful. 

Fourth graders don muck boots and sun screen as they venture into the ecology of Georgia’s beautiful coastal regions at the Burton Center for two grand nights and three days of exploration, water study, and great class fun on Jekyll Island. 

Fifth graders head to the mountains north of Atlanta in later March and cross the state line as they venture to Wesley Woods Nature Conservancy near Gaitlinburg, Tennessee.  Ecological studies, camp fires, and daily adventures make this trip quite awesome for the two nights and three days away from campus. 

Seventh graders head north to visit the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, as they explore the Capitol, the monuments by twilight, the White House, Pentagon, Supreme Court, both sides of Congress, and the offices of multiple Congressmen and Senators.  The trip, The Triumvirate of Democracy, affords students an unparalleled behind the scenes look at our form of government and its three branches. Three nights and four packed days further Wood Acres students’ quest to become informed citizens of our democracy.

¡Olé! Spain is the destination of 8th graders as they anticipate their May graduation with a capstone trip to Salamanca, university study there, and visits to many other world renowned cities in this amazing country.  This 9 night 10 day international journey immerses students and parents who wish to join us in the language and culture of Spain.  Wood Acres gives “capstone” a whole new meaning with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

 

Friday
Dec162016

A New Year...A Fresh Clean Start!

This new year like all others before brings us the most expensive gift of all… time!  525,600 minutes have been unwrapped for us to use to our best advantage or wasted during the coming year.  Remember that we “spend” time and “waste” it - those are our words.  But with this new year, comes wonderful possibilities and opportunities to do good, be good, and think good.  Let us all spend time with a child, a friend, and an elderly person.  Let us spend our time lavishly on reading, writing, and learning more.  As Michelangelo stated, “I am still learning”.  Let us hoard time to be with friends and family.  Let us give our time to worthy projects and thoughtful charities.  Let us bank those minutes we might waste so that we can withdraw them when we desperately need them.  Let’s resurrect wearing an old fashioned watch with a face and look at it often to remind us of how the day ticks away hour by hour.

No more time reading my ramblings!  Everything good has been said in a cartoon…

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!

Judy Thigpen

Tuesday
Nov152016

Who? What? Where? When? Why?

The Nobel Prize and its Relevance to Learning

@ the Woods

Let’s face it.  Most of us know more about the Super Bowl Championship and the Academy Awards than we do about the Nobel Prize.  I was certainly in that category until I had the awesome opportunity to visit the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. Since night comes early in Sweden in late October, my entrance into this beautiful 18th century building was enveloped in an oncoming fog and an unsettling early darkness.  The Square that fronts the Museum was quite deserted and I felt I heard the hooves of horses pulling carriages in a strange mix of IKEA and Dickens!

As my eyes adjusted to the interior lighting of the museum, I realized I was in for a wonderful learning experience and an unexpected personal and professional “aha”!  The Swedes really know how to blend the architecture of divergent centuries as well as the history and relevance of Nobel, the man and the award.  I walked a timeline of the award and met all the Laureates as their bios flowed overhead on an amazing cableway circulating at the roof level throughout the museum.  Modern technology allowed me to “talk” with Laureates and learn about their diverse lives and their own personal “ahas”.  My “quick” visit developed into hours as I visited and re-visited exhibit areas and slowly became a Nobel groupie!  I think the docents were ready to offer me a job or have me arrested as a museum stalker!  And, of course, I completed my visit at the Nobel bookstore purchasing books and literature that are now here for everyone at school to read, learn, and enjoy.  The seeds of an exciting new endeavor for the Woods were planted and I was already dreaming of what could be.

As with sports championships, theater awards, and other social recognitions of achievements existing in all countries, the Nobel Prizes are the only internationally recognized awards in any categories, much less in the areas of academic achievement and research, that improve the lives of the world’s inhabitants!  There is so much to learn at any age from Nobel, the man and the award.  And there is even more to learn as older students learn of the lives, trials, challenges, and successes of the Nobel Laureates.  And there is enough drama, mystery, and media gossip surrounding the annual awards to intrigue everyone, too!

I have spent almost a year researching and collecting materials for Wood Acres’ faculty to integrate into their teaching and student learning to elevate awareness of the Nobel Prizes and its timeless relevance to helping mankind solve problems and improve lives.

The results of this labor of love and learning is that each teacher, in age appropriate ways, will incorporate learning about Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prizes into his/her teaching especially each December.  The annual Nobel Award Concert and Banquet are held each year in Stockholm on December 10.  As you can imagine it is a grand and royal event!   My hope is that in a few years we can incorporate our December WA Band concert into a Nobel concert format and have a most royal reception afterwards surrounded by a suspended poster display of present and past Nobel Laureates (created by our students of course) just like in the Stockholm Museum!  My creative juices are on high alert to all the possibilities!  We can turn this dream into a reality!  Good Morning America, here we come!  What an exquisite way to celebrate the highest levels of learning from an international global perspective.  WOW!!!

From making paper medals and talking about creatively solving problems in the Early School classes to critically assessing the ongoing relevance and politics of who gets nominated and who wins in the Upper School, our students will meet little known folks from unique backgrounds and global places who loved to learn, accepted challenge, met diversity head on and never gave up!

The Noble Prize for me now is much more that the facts, history, and stories that first caught my interest in Stockholm that foggy evening.  My learning has evolved to embrace the process, the people, and character that these men and women displayed that make this award worthy of our study, learning, admiration, and awe.  Noble Nobel for certain!

Judy Thigpen

www.nobelprize.org

 

 

 

 

Friday
Sep302016

It’s here! Can you see it? Can you feel it? Can you hear it?

It is the cadence and rhythm of a school year in place and humming its autumn song as we turn the calendar to October.  Students have found the first acorns on campus, sketched the first fallen leaves, and gazed at the amazing blue sky that arches over our campus.  It feels so good inside and outside of our classrooms. 

And before you know it the perfect trifecta of holidays will soon be upon us occupying the main aisles of stores from Hallmark to Dollar Tree and making October, November, and December filled to the brim with decorations and celebrations.  Woo be the child who has a birthday during these three months as their parties are often overshadowed by the holiday du jour!  While the commercialism of holidays is certainly omnipresent, the intrinsic importance of tradition and ceremony is vital to a child’s development of time, family, and community. 

Dr. Carl Glickman, outstanding Professor Emeritus from the University of Georgia in the field of educational leadership, once spoke on this very topic and made a great impression on me in my developing years as an educational leader.  His writing led me to metacognitively know why I always thought that ceremonies and traditions in the smallest family or the largest school were not “fluff” but critically important to the home and school climate and its ability to embrace its occupants with meaning and memories for a lifetime.

Ceremonies and traditions serve as punctuation marks in our lives.  They make us pause, stop, “be”.  They move us emotionally and spiritually.  They help us tie the past, present, and future together in a way that helps us keep time, reflect, enjoy the moment, and wonder about the future.  These events also help us visually demonstrate values and connections among generations. Ceremonies and traditions bring us together, across miles as well as across periods of absence.  And they open the larder to prepare treats and food, open the boxes to deck the halls and walls with pumpkins, turkeys, menorahs and garland, open the photo albums to visit past ceremonies and make certain the traditions are well preserved.  They make us sing, laugh, smile, cry, look wistfully, and sigh in contentment.  Ceremonies and traditions make the time, energy, effort, planning, and often expense worth it in the long run.  They matter to us.  Remember, where our hearts are, so are our treasures!

So here’s to pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, trick or treating, and candy!  Here’s to turkey and all the trimmings, football, naps, and holiday shopping.  Here’s to stockings hung with care, candlelight services, cookies and milk, dreidels, and gifts from the heart  And here’s to the ceremonies and traditions of the Woods- Meet and Greet, conferences, Rally Round the Flag Constitution Day, Field Day, field trips, book fairs, book buddies, graduation ceremonies, and so much more.  Here’s to our school traditions and ceremonies helping us mark the seasons of the Woods in our hearts and minds.

Judy Thigpen

Thursday
Aug182016

My Favorite Three Little Words

I love you.

What power these three words hold for a child… and an adult for that matter!  At Wood Acres I love you can also be verbalized as I respect you, I see you, I know you, I am proud of you, and I am here for you.  Those words provide the underpinning for students to feel safe, take risks, try hard, and soar with their learning.

I can read.

When those powerful words are uttered by a child, the doors of learning are flung wide open and opportunities abound for meaningful and memorable learning.  At Wood Acres I can read can also be verbalized as I can tie my shoes, I can figure this out, I can try, I can do it, I can reach for the stars. 

We the People…

In this election year the cynics are having a field day and the Eeyores of the world are equally as busy bemoaning the demise of everything from our freedoms to access to parking spaces.  As The Wood Acres School gathers on the morning of September 15 to celebrate again the birthday of the United States Constitution and its signing, we would do well to remember that democracy from its very inception was a messy, raucous, angry, frustrating, slow, and painful process and those traits certainly continue today.  “We the People” at Wood Acres means that we matter, that tradition and ceremony matter, that learning matters, that kindness matters, that our school community matters and that we ALL make a difference!

Happy New Year!

Three last words sum up the start of another outstanding school year @ the Woods!  Thank you for choosing The Wood Acres School for your children’s education.  It is our professional pleasure and honor to provide each child roots to grow and wings to soar.  Let the flight begin!

Judy Thigpen 

 

 

Thursday
May192016

It’s a wrap! Summer is here!

The 2015-2016 school year has come to a close with cheers, good byes, smiles, tears, and of course celebrations galore.  How quickly 180 days pass, learning happens, and children grow.  And what a joy it is to be a part of this very special school!

Our campus will be filled with day campers for seven weeks this summer, landscapers laying sod on the field and tending to the glorious campus, vendors working on projects headed by our multi-talented head custodian and maintenance manager, staff prepping classrooms and curriculum for the 2016-17 academic year, and visitors seeking just the right learning environment for their children.  So while the campus is quieter and less populated, there is still that buzzing all around that is the sound of TLC @ the Woods.

Here’s to a summer of family times, be they simple like a hose sprinkler in the back yard or a family adventure out west.  As a child my fondest summer memories were on Lake Dalhousie in Canada, learning to fish with my Dad and water ski on the lake.  We would drive all night from Pennsylvania crossing into Canada through Gananoque at the Thousand Islands, stopping at a truck stop to drink coffee and eat donuts, a double treat for a young child.  The cabins we stayed in had no AC and no running water for many years, but I thought we were at the Ritz.  I had a freedom there that still resonates with me.  My mom and dad were relaxed and so were their rules as to getting up in the morning and going to bed each night.  And we got to drink soda, which for us was a mega event. 

I hope for each of our families a summer of soda and lemonade, cookouts and crafts, outdoor and indoor happenings that create the precious memories of childhood.  That is what summer is for- recharge, reconnect, rejuvenate and return to the Woods in August, ready to rumble!

Well, what are you waiting for???????????????? 

Judy Thigpen

Wednesday
Mar232016

It’s all about those knees! 

How grand to welcome them back to campus as the weather warms and the layers of winter give way to the lighter clothes of spring and oncoming summer.  (Truth be told, many of our Upper School guys seem to embrace shorts no matter what the temperature is outside!)  The Wood Acres campus is blooming as the hundreds of bulbs students and their book buddies planted in early November are showing their palette of vibrant colors.  Students are blooming, too!  All of a sudden they seem taller, leaner, and more mature.  With three quarters of this academic year under their belts (if kiddos actually wore belts), all eyes are focused on Field Day 2016, 8th grade graduation, and seasonal celebrations of life and learning @ the Woods.  How exciting and wonderful for all. 

Enjoy these longer days of sunlight and warming temperatures outside as much as possible.  The Adventure to Fitness website listed 5 important tips now that spring is here.  They are tried and true recommendations but serve as easy reminders for families to make this delightful time of year safe and happy for our children.  Here’s to all that this new season has to offer on campus and off!

Best,

Judy Thigpen

 

Spring has finally arrived! It’s time to open those windows and get the kids outside!  But you’re not out of the woods just yet.  Below are 5 important tips to helping your kids stay healthy AND safe:

1. Sun Safety - the warm sun feels great after being stuck inside all winter.  But it’s important to keep that sensitive skin safe.  Always wear sunscreen or some other type of cover up, even on cloudy days.  Making a barrier between the skin and sun can help reduce the risk for skin cancer.

2. Road Safety - with kids outside playing and running around, take extra precautions when driving through neighborhoods.  You never know if a child might come running out into the road after a ball or chasing a friend.  And always talk to your kids about being extra cautious at home and at school, too!

3. Allergies - Kids have allergies just as severe as adults.  Up to 40 percent of kids in the US suffer from seasonal allergies and can be developed at anytime. Keep an eye on your kids, especially if they get a runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat or repetitive sneezing.  Many remedies are available to help alleviate allergy discomfort as well as staying indoors just a few more days until the pollen levels subside a little more.  

4. Insect Bites - Many of our tiny friends will be coming out of a long winter’s nap, but unfortunately, some of these insects can sting and bite.  The most concerning types of encounters include spider bites, tick bites, and bee stings.  Just keep a close eye on your child or student in case of an allergic reaction.

5. Storm Safety - Spring weather is always unpredictable due to extreme temperature changes causing thunderstorms which bring lightning and flooding.  Lightning can strike miles away from the actual storm, so just because your weather may seem fair, doesn’t mean you’re not at risk.  And as soon as you hear any rumblings of thunder, head indoors immediately!




Monday
Feb292016

50 Easy Ways to Be a Fantastic Parent

In Praise of Parents

While the Wood Acres School has been blessed with a beautiful campus, wonderful students, engaged teachers, and a climate of teaching, learning and caring- the tipping point for our decades of success rests with the amazing parents of the Woods.  The acorn does not fall from the tree!

Parenting in the 21st century must blend the hands on, original “face time” of raising children with the modern definition of communication- texting, email, Googling, and the like.  Toss in the challenges and demands of careers, finances, family, and social media and parents best have a gifted mind, a stalwart constitution, discerning powers of wisdom, and true grit! 

Wood Acres parents are as diverse as our society and as unique as their children.  That makes us real world, interesting, and global.  Wood Acres parents are as passionate about their children and their education as our teachers are about their learning.  They appreciate Wood Acres as a school but they love a Wood Acres education!  These parents are still human, make mistakes, and fumble at times on how to guide and guard their child on this educational journey.  But they recoup, regroup, listen and take advice to heart, and do so well by their children. 

The following article compiled by Parents magazine in 2008 highlights the very skills set that Wood Acres parents ascribe to and set as goals for themselves as parents.  We honor the parents of the Wood Acres School and give them this long overdue ovation.  With them we team to make teaching, learning, and caring the heartbeat of our school and the heartbeat of her students.  Thank you, Moms, Dads, guardians, grandparents, relatives, coaches, nannies, siblings, neighbors, and all the adults who see the hope of a better tomorrow in the eyes of these superior children!

50 Easy Ways to Be a Fantastic Parent

Throughout the year, our board of advisors — a brain trust of the best pediatric doctors, developmental experts, and educators in the country — shares the latest thinking about raising happy and healthy kids in the pages of Parents. Now we’ve gathered our all-time favorite nuggets of their advice in one outstanding article that will have a profound effect on your whole family.

Set Smart Limits

Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

Don’t clip your child’s wings. Your toddler’s mission in life is to gain independence. So when she’s developmentally capable of putting her toys away, clearing her plate from the table, and dressing herself, let her. Giving a child responsibility is good for her self-esteem (and your sanity!).

Don’t try to fix everything. Give young kids a chance to find their own solutions. When you lovingly acknowledge a child’s minor frustrations without immediately rushing in to save her, you teach her self-reliance and resilience.

Remember that discipline is not punishment. Enforcing limits is really about teaching kids how to behave in the world and helping them to become competent, caring, and in control.

Pick your battles. Kids can’t absorb too many rules without turning off completely. Forget arguing about little stuff like fashion choices and occasional potty language. Focus on the things that really matter — that means no hitting, rude talk, or lying.

Create Your Own Quality Time

Play with your children. Let them choose the activity, and don’t worry about rules. Just go with the flow and have fun. That’s the name of the game.

Read books together every day. Get started when he’s a newborn; babies love listening to the sound of their parents’ voices. Cuddling up with your child and a book is a great bonding experience that will set him up for a lifetime of reading.

Schedule daily special time. Let your child choose an activity where you hang out together for 10 or 15 minutes with no interruptions. There’s no better way for you to show your love.

Encourage daddy time. The greatest untapped resource available for improving the lives of our children is time with Dad — early and often. Kids with engaged fathers do better in school, problem-solve more successfully, and generally cope better with whatever life throws at them.

Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals — like bedtimes and game night — that you do together.

Be a Good Role Model

Be the role model your children deserve. Kids learn by watching their parents. Modeling appropriate, respectful, good behavior works much better than telling them what to do.

Fess up when you blow it. This is the best way to show your child how and when she should apologize.

Live a little greener. Show your kids how easy it is to care for the environment. Waste less, recycle, reuse, and conserve each day. Spend an afternoon picking up trash around the neighborhood.

Always tell the truth. It’s how you want your child to behave, right?

Kiss and hug your spouse in front of the kids. Your marriage is the only example your child has of what an intimate relationship looks, feels, and sounds like. So it’s your job to set a great standard.

Respect parenting differences. Support your spouse’s basic approach to raising kids — unless it’s way out of line. Criticizing or arguing with your partner will do more harm to your marriage and your child’s sense of security than if you accept standards that are different from your own.

Know the Best Ways to Praise

Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, “You’re great,” try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, “Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was hard, and I really liked your patience.”

Cheer the good stuff. When you notice your child doing something helpful or nice, let him know how you feel. It’s a great way to reinforce good behavior so he’s more likely to keep doing it.

Gossip about your kids. Fact: What we overhear is far more potent than what we are told directly. Make praise more effective by letting your child “catch” you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma, Dad, or even his teddy.

Trust Yourself

Give yourself a break. Hitting the drive-through when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad parent.

Trust your mommy gut. No one knows your child better than you. Follow your instincts when it comes to his health and well-being. If you think something’s wrong, chances are you’re right.

Just say “No.” Resist the urge to take on extra obligations at the office or become the Volunteer Queen at your child’s school. You will never, ever regret spending more time with your children.

Don’t accept disrespect from your child. Never allow her to be rude or say hurtful things to you or anyone else. If she does, tell her firmly that you will not tolerate any form of disrespect.

Pass along your plan. Mobilize the other caregivers in your child’s life — your spouse, grandparents, daycare worker, babysitter — to help reinforce the values and the behavior you want to instill. This includes everything from saying thank you and being kind to not whining.

Don’t Forget to Teach Social Skills

Ask your children three “you” questions every day. The art of conversation is an important social skill, but parents often neglect to teach it. Get a kid going with questions like, “Did you have fun at school?”; “What did you do at the party you went to?”; or “Where do you want to go tomorrow afternoon?”

Teach kids this bravery trick. Tell them to always notice the color of a person’s eyes. Making eye contact will help a hesitant child appear more confident and will help any kid to be more assertive and less likely to be picked on.

Acknowledge your kid’s strong emotions. When your child’s meltdown is over, ask him, “How did that feel?” and “What do you think would make it better?” Then listen to him. He’ll recover from a tantrum more easily if you let him talk it out.

Raise Grateful Kids

Show your child how to become a responsible citizen. Find ways to help others all year. Kids gain a sense of self-worth by volunteering in the community.

Don’t raise a spoiled kid. Keep this thought in mind: Every child is a treasure, but no child is the center of the universe. Teach him accordingly.

Talk about what it means to be a good person. Start early: When you read bedtime stories, for example, ask your toddler whether characters are being mean or nice and explore why.

Explain to your kids why values are important. The simple answer: When you’re kind, generous, honest, and respectful, you make the people around you feel good. More important, you feel good about yourself.

Set up a “gratitude circle” every night at dinner. Go around the table and take turns talking about the various people who were generous and kind to each of you that day. It may sound corny, but it makes everyone feel good.

Don’t Stress About Dinner

Serve a food again and again. If your child rejects a new dish, don’t give up hope. You may have to offer it another six, eight, or even 10 times before he eats it and decides he likes it.

Avoid food fights. A healthy child instinctively knows how much to eat. If he refuses to finish whatever food is on his plate, just let it go. He won’t starve.

Eat at least one meal as a family each day. Sitting down at the table together is a relaxed way for everyone to connect — a time to share happy news, talk about the day, or tell a silly joke. It also helps your kids develop healthy eating habits.

Let your kids place an order. Once a week, allow your children to choose what’s for dinner and cook it for them.

Always Say “I Love You”

Love your children equally, but treat them uniquely. They’re individuals.

Say “I love you” whenever you feel it, even if it’s 743 times a day. You simply can not spoil a child with too many mushy words of affection and too many smooches. Not possible.

Keep in mind what grandmoms always say. Children are not yours, they are only lent to you for a time. In those fleeting years, do your best to help them grow up to be good people.

Savor the moments. Yes, parenthood is the most exhausting job on the planet. Yes, your house is a mess, the laundry’s piled up, and the dog needs to be walked. But your kid just laughed. Enjoy it now — it will be over far too fast.

Boost Brainpower & Physical Activity

Teach your baby to sign. Just because a child can’t talk doesn’t mean there isn’t lots that she’d like to say. Simple signs can help you know what she needs and even how she feels well before she has the words to tell you — a great way to reduce frustration.

Keep the tube in the family room. Research has repeatedly shown that children with a TV in their bedroom weigh more, sleep less, and have lower grades and poorer social skills. P.S. Parents with a television in their bedroom have sex less often.

Get kids moving. The latest research shows that brain development in young children may be linked to their activity level. Place your baby on her tummy several times during the day, let your toddler walk instead of ride in her stroller, and create opportunities for your older child to get plenty of exercise.

Originally published in the December 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

Monday
Jan042016

Resolutions

I am a list maker by nature and technology has just fed that fever with the ease of phone, pad, or laptop.  Truth be further told, I do still love the handwritten list on assorted sized paper in pen or pencil.  As I cleaned out my pocketbook and briefcase over break, I found an assortment of lists from the month of December.  Happily most items were accomplished and those not done really could wait until now.  But now is here and it is time to embrace it!

The media has us thinking that the contents of our To Do lists can easily be put into a lovely clear or tinted plastic bin (definitely enticed by the BOGO offers), whisked away by a new broom, mop, or 21st century sweeper with a brain, filed by a mere photo click on your phone to a magical file to hold it forever or until you exceed your memory, or enlist the services of a total stranger to get it all together for you and hide it behind Door #1, #2, or #3!   

Just like diets, exercise, weight loss, habit breaking attempts, and the like- resolving to get organized will always take WORK, EFFORT, TIME, INTENT, and PESEVERANCE!  Where can I find a person, place, or thing to do that for me?

That person is in the mirror each morning and evening.  Post Its and lists aside, resolving yourself to the aforementioned words in caps will do it for you- one hour, one day, one week, month, or year at a time.  It is called learning, teaching, and training- things we practice every day at Wood Acres with our students and ourselves.  The heavy lifting of teaching, learning, and parenting are in those capped words.  And as Nike would attest, all we have to do is “Just do it”!

Easier said than done, especially in a world that is traveling at the speed of technology all around us and usurping our TIME that we INTENDED to commit to WORK on issues that require much more PESERVANCE and EFFORT!

So what to do?  Unplug the machinery.  Plug into face time with your children, spouse and home.  Practice real Face Book- with your face in a good book as you read to your children, they read to you, or you all just read together in the same room.  You get the idea.  Just be resolved to be present in real time, listen in real time with real eye contact, and hug no matter how old you all get!    As for the other items on your lists, do not fret.  They will find their way to the bottom of your pocketbook where they will get done sooner than later! 

Happy New Year!  Happy Healthy Homey New Year!  The possibilities are endless!  Calvin and Hobbes said so!

Judy Thigpen

Here are two interesting posts about the new year I found online… OK- a little cheating on resolutions is permitted!

  •  How To Toast The New Year In 19 Different Countries

 12/28/2015 12:56 pm ET

·         Zoë Triska Senior Editor of Global Content Strategy, The Huffington Post

JAPAN

In Japan, people say, “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!” (Happy New Year!) at midnight. They toast saying, “Kanpai!” (“Cheers!”).  

UK

According to our UK Lifestyle editor Brogan Driscoll, UK-ers say “Happy New Year,” stand in a circle, cross arms and hold hands, and sing “Auld Lang Syne.” They also, of course, say “Cheers!”

CANADA/ U.S.

Both Canada and the U.S’s traditions are fairly similar. Our Canadian Lifestyle editor Rebecca Zamon says, “It’s pretty much universal to count down from 10 and say ‘Happy New Year!’ Then you kiss whoever is closest to you - as long as they’re willing, of course.”

KOREA 

In Korea, people say “새해 복 많이 받으세요 (Saehae bok mani baduseyo),” which means “Have loads of good fortune in the New Year!” They toast saying, “Gunbae!”

BRAZIL

In Brazil, they say “Feliz Ano Novo” (Happy New Year) and “Saúde” (Salud).

Also, according to Diego Iraheta, our HuffPost Brazil editor-in-chief, if Brazilians are waiting for the new year at the beach, they go to the sea and jump into the waves seven times because they believe it will bring them luck during the upcoming year.

FRANCE 

Le Huffington Post editor-in-chief Paul Ackermann says the French say “Bonne année!” (Happy New Year!) with the traditional “bise” (a kiss on each cheek).

CHINA 

In China, people usually celebrate the New Year twice a year: the western New Year and the Chinese New Year. Our China editor John Zhou says it’s a tradition to have a family meal (Nian Ye Fan) during Chinese New Year’s Eve, but many would prefer to go out and watch fireworks/shows on western New Year’s Eve. People say “Xin Nian Hao,” which means “Happy New Year,” when the clock strikes 12.

GREECE 

In Greece, they say the equivalent of Happy New Year (which reads like this in Greek: “Χρόνια Πολλά” and phonetically sounds like “Ηronia Pola”) and then kiss (on both cheeks always!) and hug everyone.

Our HuffPost Greece Lifestyle editor Despina Trivoli notes that also, after midnight, it is considered good luck to smash a pomegranate (a symbol if happiness and prosperity) against the door of the house— the more seeds and mess it makes the luckier the year will be.

Despina says they toast with “yama mas” (γεια μας) which is “our health” (short for “to our health”). They don’t look into each other’s eyes or put the glass on the table. They just clink their glasses together. 

AUSTRALIA 

Australia is pretty similar to the U.S., Canada and the UK. They say “Happy New Year”… or, notes our Australia editor-in-chief Tory Maguire, if too many schooners have been consumed: “I love youse all.”

COLOMBIA

According to Carolina Moreno, our Latino Voices editor, Colombians shout “Feliz Año Nuevo,” and proceed to hug each other. They then consume 12 grapes for the 12 months of the coming year. While they’re eating each grape, they make a wish for the new year (12 wishes total). Some people take a piece of luggage and walk around the block with it; this is meant to bring travel opportunities your way in the new year! Some also burn large effigies to symbolize “Out with the old, in with the new.”

The equivalent of “Cheers” would be either “Salud!” or “Chin Chin.” (“Chin chin” is meant to be the sound of the glasses touching when you toast).

ITALY

Italians say “Buon anno!”, meaning “Happy New Year!” and “Cin cin” (‘Cheers!”). Adele Sarno, our social editor in Italy, told us that in southern Italy, some people throw old dishes and other old things out the window to symbolize “out with the old, in with the new.” 

DENMARK

In Danish, they say “skål,”which means “Cheers! There is also a possibility of singing afterwards, but it depends very much on the situation.

ROMANIA

In Romania, people usually touch glasses and say “Noroc!,” which literally means “Good luck,” or they say “Sănătate” (To your health).

“Happy New Year” is “Un An Nou Fericit!”

SPAIN

In Spain, people usually toast saying “salud” (meaning “health”) or “chin chin” instead of “Cheers!” But New Year’s Eve is a special occasion and Spaniards say, “Feliz Año” or “Feliz Año Nuevo” (“Happy New Year!”) while clinking glasses. Also, they usually put the glass on the table before drinking.

Our Spain Lifestyle editor Margarita Lazaro told us that it’s considered bad luck to toast with water or with a plastic glass. She notes that sometimes people put a gold ring in their glass (with champagne) and they wear red clothes to attract money and love for the next year.

Young people may also say, “Arriba, abajo, al centro y pa’dentro” (“Going up, going down, to the center and inside”).

At midnight, when the clock chimes 12 times, they eat 12 grapes with family or friends. After that, they give two kisses to everyone in the room.

CZECH REPUBLIC

In the Czech Republic, people tend to toast with anything (beer, wine, shots), and say “Na zdraví!” (“To health!”). Most people make eye contact when toasting (though not always). When it comes to beer, people move the glasses so they touch first on top, then on bottom, and then they put them on the table before drinking. Drinking shots is something more “personal,” especially when you drink with somebody for the first time. In such a case, people say “Ahoj!” (“Hi!”) which means something like, “I consider you my good friend.” It can also mean that the person stops using the formal and starts addressing you with a more casual form. When somebody invites you to his/her home and offers you a shot of some home-made drink, don’t refuse, because you would essentially be refusing the person and his/her friendship. 

“Happy New Year” is “Šťastný nový rok!”

GERMANY

Our Germany editor-in-chief Sebastian Matthes told us that Germans count down from 10 and the say “Frohes neues Jahr” (Happy New Year). They hug everybody and after that lots of people put a bit of hot lead into cold water in order to read their fortune for the upcoming year based on the shape that appears in the water. 

When they toast, they say”Prost!” (“Cheers!”) or a little more formal “Zum Wohl!” (to health).

INDIA

According to our HuffPost India Lifestyle editor, Aashmita Nayar, they have the usual countdown 10-9-8 (at some places accompanied by the song, “The Final Countdown”), followed by a kiss and a hug at midnight.

In Hindi, they say “Naya Saal Mubarak” (“Happy New Year”), although it’s more common to say it in English.

LEBANON

Our Lebanese friend Raya Musallam told us that, as soon as it’s past midnight, younger people tend to call all friends and relatives, and whoever says “Happy New Years” first receives money from the other person.

In Arabic, the toast at midnight is “فى صحتك” or just “صحتك”  (pronounced “sahetak” and meaning “To your health”).

  • Life Notes: Parenting resolutions for the new year

posted: Saturday, January 2, 2016 10:30 pm          BY STACY HAWKINS ADAMS Special correspondent

Happy new year, parents.

Three days into 2016 means most of you have likely drafted a list of resolutions or goals to enhance your life in the year to come, and I wish you well.

As we all know, however, resolutions can be hard to keep, no matter how good our intentions.

Experts say it takes a minimum of 21 days for a new routine or practice to become a habit, and reaching that milestone can be daunting, especially for goals you’ve set in regard to your role as mom or dad.

Three weeks of parenting with new boundaries, new routines or a new mindset is bound to be fraught with false starts, setbacks or strain, depending on the age and development of your children, and with everything else going on in the world around you.

But don’t fret; keep going.

Focus on the rewards your dedication will yield, and as often as you can, act as if what you desire has already come to pass.

If you want your toddler to be less aggressive with a younger sibling, for example, set a good example by practicing more patience with the toddler, and praise him as soon as you notice a positive shift in his actions.

If you want your preteen to do a better job of tackling chores, consider placing reminders on a wall calendar that’s visible to all, and plan how you’ll reward her at the end of a successful month, then a successful quarter.

If you want to improve your relationship with your teen, practice listening more intently, then surprise your teen days or weeks later with some tangible evidence that you were paying attention.

If you encounter an issue or need for which you have little to no experience in navigating, find the courage to seek answers. Since parenting doesn’t come with a guidebook, it’s really OK to read a few, or to ask wise and trusted relatives and friends for advice, or seek out the help of trained authorities.

Parenting coaches, guidance or family counselors, books and numerous online resources exist that can help you manage and enjoy the exciting, yet sometimes turbulent, years that come with raising your beloved offspring.

Do whatever will help you stay the course with your goals, and when you’re tempted to question whether it takes all of this, glance across the room or pull out a picture and permit the smiles that greet you to serve as an answer.

Your kids are worth it.

May your 2016 parenting resolutions not only include personally specific goals you’d like to achieve as the leader or co-leader of your family, but also some timeless aspirations that can strengthen the foundation of your family for years — even generations — to come.

May you resolve to be more present in the present, so that each moment and each day spent nurturing your children hold meaning.

May you resolve to appreciate the simple conversations as well as the significant — for the seemingly inconsequential chats can serve as building blocks for the big “life talks” you’ll need or will want to have throughout your parenting journey.

May you resolve to graciously accept occasional interruptions, when your children’s enthusiasm won’t let them wait until your personal phone call has ended or you’ve finished your work-related email. Sometimes stopping midstream is the most treasured gift you can give.

And may all that you seek to achieve this year be wrapped in love — at a level and a depth that only a parent can willingly and tirelessly give. Believe it or not, your kids will notice and will someday be very grateful.

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec102015

Charlie Brown's 50th

It’s official!  The United States Post Office honored him with a holiday stamp.  ABC created a prime time special to commemorate this anniversary.  He has been on Broadway, SNL, and syndicated cartoon strips, and so many events in between.  Everyone from MTV to USA Today has featured him on this 50th anniversary.  And he has not aged a bit… Charlie Brown’s Christmas!

The message of this endearing little boy and his motley crew of friends has remained timeless and pristine for half a century.  He is on almost every child’s book shelf or Kindle and so many of us can hum the theme song and tell us his/her favorite part of this Charlie Brown story.  And its lack of technical wizardry or tech savvy features makes Charlie Brown’s Christmas and his simple messages even more special. 

I have included the USA Today link about this anniversary in hopes that it will make you think of your childhood as well as that of your own children and grand children. 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2015/11/30/good-grief-50-things-charlie-brown-christmas/76433496/

However you and your family celebrate December’s holidays, Charlie Brown has a place in it- as does the wonder of childhood, the anticipation of simple gifts, and the excitement of special times and special people coming together.  May the light in our children’s eyes this month reflect in all we do to make meaningful memories for them to share 50 years from now!

And for all in the world, let there be peace!

See you in the New Year!

 

Judy Thigpen

 

 

Monday
Nov162015

Blessings of the Season

As we approach Thanksgiving may I please share with you the grace that the Thigpens say before our family feast on Thanksgiving Day.  it is simple, sincere, and- as always- focused on the blessings of children in our lives.  I hope your blessings are just like the autumn leaves on our campus… too many to count!

For warm, familiar faces and the welcome smiles they wear,

For all the hopes and history and family ties we share,

For those now gone before us and for children yet to be,

We gather ever-thankful for the gifts of family.


Each of our Wood Acres families is a blessing to us!!!

 


 

Wednesday
Sep022015

First accomplishments…every year!

 One of my evening pleasures is to read updates that our teachers frequently send to parents to keep them in-the-know and in-the-loop of their child’s learning and the rhythm of the school day.  Their missives are a delight to read, not just for the content but for the joy and positive vibes that come with their writing and well crafted thoughts.  So I take poetic license to share with you a snippet of one teacher’s words, so beautifully said and felt.  Here’s to the

“Firsts of the Year”!

“I was thinking tonight that we may have made it through most of our annual “firsts”.  We had our first day of school, our first day of all of our Specials, our first parent meeting, our first letter study, our first literature story, our first math lesson, our first Mystery Reader, our first alphabet bag guesses, our first class mascot trip home, our first spill, our first boo-boo, and on it goes!  The realization helps me to see that we are becoming a cohesive class.  We are learning to love and trust each other.  Each day the children become more able to manage their tasks all on their own.  The children are finding new friendships and rekindling old ones.  All in all, we are making great strides and moving in the right direction!”      

For most of those “firsts” there is no textbook, teacher’s manual, workbook, or paper.  So many of the “firsts” come from a teacher- his/her experience, his/her passion, his/her thoughtfulness, and his/her detailed planning. 

It comes from the knowledge that Wood Acres is so much more than a school.  Wood Acres is about a child’s education, his/her growth as a person in class, in our school community, and as a young citizen in our country. 

It comes from finding and cherishing those teachable moments that happen as students walk by the lantana lushly surrounding the flag pole and see both the grandeur of our American flag waving to them and the delicate butterflies that dance on that same breeze. 

It comes from walking, talking running, playing, exploring, thinking, deciding, laughing, smiling, hugging, and, yes, even crying at times.  Learning can be such challenging work when you are little- be you 2 or 10 years older than that! 

Here’s to the “firsts” that make teaching, learning and living a daily adventure, an exciting journey, and just plain fun!  May I be the “first” to wish you a super September!

Judy Thigpen

 

 

Wednesday
Jul152015

Nostalgia & the Pink Pearl eraser... Thoughts on a new school year

Nostalgia & the Pink Pearl Eraser…

Thoughts on a new school year @ the Woods

I don’t think anybody captured the magic of using a pink eraser better than children’s author Beverly Cleary in one of her defining works, Ramona Quimby, Age 8:

After the family’s rush to brush teeth, Mr. Quimby said to his daughters, “Hold out your hands,” and into each waiting pair he dropped a new pink eraser. “Just for luck,” he said, “not because I expect you to make mistakes.”

“Thank you,” said the girls. Even a small present was appreciated, because presents of any kind had been scarce while the family tried to save money so Mr. Quimby could return to school. Ramona, who liked to draw as much as her father, especially treasured the new eraser, smooth, pearly pink, smelling softly of rubber, and just right for erasing pencil lines.

There is something timeless, classic, childlike and just plain fun about Pink Pearl erasers and the beginning of a year of teaching and learning @ the Woods.  For this article I have borrowed heavily from a delightful column by Maxwell Tielman written three years ago about the art in everyday Pink Pearl erasers and Ephemera Obsession of this iconic tool by 21st century artists.

 “Despite being a mainstay in contemporary pencil cases and art boxes, the Pink Pearl has quite a long history. The eraser was originally produced by the Eberhard Faber Company, a pencil manufacturer with its roots in eighteenth-century Bavaria. The Faber family went into the pencil business in the 1760s when Kaspar Faber began to manufacture lead pencils in the small town of Stein. The company subsequently expanded and was passed down among four generations of Fabers until John Eberhard Faber became the owner in the late nineteenth century. Although John Eberhard (who typically went by his middle name) had aspirations of going into law, he was tasked with the duty of expanding the company abroad. As a result, he moved to New York City and opened America’s first lead pencil factory in 1861. When his East River factory burned to the ground that same year, he picked up and moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The exact date of the Pink Pearl’s origin seems to have evaporated, along with much of the company’s other history. However, it is known that the eraser derived its name from the Pearl Pencil that Eberhard Faber was producing for the F. W. Woolworth company. The erasers featured pumice, a volcanic ash from Italy that gave them their abrasive quality, along with their distinctive color and smell. Because of the eraser’s trademark pink color and surprisingly soft texture, Faber decided to name it the Pink Pearl.Fun fact: In addition to creating the world’s most famous eraser, Eberhard Faber is also responsible for putting the Pink Pearl on the tops of its pencils — the first company ever to do so.

   
Above image: An Eberhard Faber eraser ad from Life Magazine, 1957


Over the course of the twentieth century, the ownership of Eberhard Faber and, subsequently, the Pink Pearl eraser changed hands several times. In 1900, Kaspar Faber’s great great granddaughter married a cadet of the Counts of Castell, and the company was merged with the A. W. Castell enterprise to become Faber-Castell. In 1994, Newell Rubbermaid acquired Faber-Castell, which owned Eberhard Faber at the time. In 2000, Newell Rubbermaid acquired Gillette’s stationery division, which included Paper Mate, the company that now oversees production of the Pink Pearl eraser. In recent years, Paper Mate has produced a number of other “Pearl” erasers including the White Pearl, a colorless alternative to the Pink Pearl, and Black Pearl, a pebble-shaped ergonomic black eraser.

 

There’s something comforting about the Pink Pearl, with its textured yet smooth finish, rubbery smell and happy color. Rubbing one of them against a piece of paper produces not just tiny bits of pink dust, but also strong feelings of childhood nostalgia.

Here’s to the fresh start to a school year for your child and also a nostalgic trip down memory lane for you as you recount your years of formal learning from the 2’s to 8th grade.  Share these memories with your child and frame the importance of teaching and learning for them as they begin another momentous year in their young lives.  The Woods is all about Pink Pearl erasers, STEM classes, and everything else in between!    

Judy Thigpen

Thursday
May282015

Got Books?

 

  

 

The cover story of the June 1st edition of Time is a cautionary question, “Who killed summer vacation?”  Couple that with a recent research piece entitled, “The Lost Art of Reading”, and one could easily get into the doldrums before summer is officially launched!  Luckily I have been humming Phineas and Ferb’s song 104 Days of Summer in preparation for Wood Acres annual Summer Camp- oblivious to the demise of summer fun until I stumbled on these two articles! 

 

So whether you are taking a proper summer vacation, a series of “stay-cations”, or just seeing June July and August through the eyes of your happy kiddos, promise me that you will save time to READ- alone, in the quiet, at the pool, to your children, children reading to you… you get the idea.  Budget tight… there IS still a great summer reading program on line through Scholastic Books or at your local public library (yes, they still have books!)  And enjoy these tongue-in-cheek cartoons as gentle reminders that reading IS important in all seasons and for all the right reasons!  Long live summer vacation!!!!

 

Remember your SPF, too!

Judy Thigpen

 

 

 

Thursday
Apr162015

April showers bring May flowers 

April showers bring not only May’s flowers but also umbrellas, rain boots, soggy fields, puddles to splash, and an anticipation of the completion of a year of academic learning at Wood Acres.  As I sat down to “pen” this edition of HEADlines, I came across the following website that really intrigued me and fit right into the theme of April, including National Poetry Month and Earth Day.  I was privileged to attend the Harvard University’s Educational Leadership School and learned so much that still resonates with me in my approach to teaching and learning.  HGSE sponsors Project Zero efforts and the Family Dinner Project from Project Zero that is linked here

The concept is simple and pure and so focused on the importance of conversation and connections in families - be they natural families, blended, small, large, extended, school or home - it is all within the realm of the definition of “family”.  Their April menu is main course, verse, with a side of earth!   Do visit the site, enjoy a simple al fresco meal with a side of silly poetry from a favorite of mine, Jack Prelutsky.  

Don’t laugh too hard!  Your beverage will come out of your nose - Enjoy!

 Judy Thigpen

 

Monday
Mar022015

ROAD TRIP!!!!

Wood Acres takes the month of March literally and “marches to a different drummer” as we pack our bags and “take flight”!  Upper School field trips are not just trips; they are journeys, adventures, experiences, and lifetime memory makers.

  • Seventh graders head to Washington, DC March 10 for an intensive and exhilarating four days of experiencing our nation’s branches of government “up close and personal”.  Behind the scenes visits to the floors of both the House and Senate, docent-guided tours of the Supreme Court, the Pentagon, and the White House, plus one-on-one visits with Senator Johnny Isakson, Dr. Tom Price, and Congressman John Lewis make this trip unique.  Added to the already full itinerary are meals on the Hill, moonlight private coach tour of the monuments, and miles of city walking to soak in the power and mystique of national politics.  Recess on the Mall and in Garfield and Congressional Parks lets travelers enjoy the city even more.
  • Eighth graders not only require suitcases for their upcoming field trip; they need passports!  With a joyous schoolwide bon voyage on March 16, these travelers hop into limos for the ride to Hartsfield Jackson International Terminal to begin the experience of a lifetime.  An overnight flight places us in Madrid early the next morning with our very own Rick Steve’s guide for two days exploring Madrid from the Prado Museum to Real Madrid’s world class soccer stadium.  Our final destination is reached the next day as students begin their homestays with wonderful families in Salamanca as well as their studies at the Universidad Pontificia in this ancient and magical city.  Language classes are interspersed with private city and monument tours as well as breathtaking climbs up ancient bell towers and in Gothic cathedrals.  Daily sampling of the city’s cuisine and shopping help round out each day.  Day trips to the breathtaking city of Segovia, walled cities of Avila and Cuidad Rodrigo, and the unchanged village of Alberca remind us of Spain’s long and rich history and culture.  As if that were not enough, Wood Acres students also attend classes at a partner private school, Colegio Amor de Dios.  New found friendships blossom as do “selfies” and conversation when the two groups meet socially at the Plaza Mayor.  And did I forget to mention   cooking school and sketching?  Nine days will fly by but the memories made will last forever! 

Wood Acres IS a school for all seasons and ALL THE RIGHT REASONS!

Tray tables up and seats in the upright position for take off!

Monday
Feb022015

Remembrance of Presidents Day

With the rest of the world focused on February’s Valentine’s Day, a favorite across the US, I thought I would just advance a few days to February 16 and the less celebrated, quieter remembrance of Presidents Day, established initially to honor George Washington, our first President.  Take a step back in history with me as we remember that America was a fledgling, an experiment with no data, a work under construction without a blueprint.  For Washington to heed the call to help our country launch was no small sacrifice.  He was tired.  He was aging.  He was battle weary.  He was spent.  Yet to his countrymen and the citizens he was the only one.  
Now join me at his inauguration.  America could not hear his voice or see his face.  They could only read his words and hope that he could-one more time- step forward and lead these new states, statesmen, and citizens to the light of a brighter tomorrow of “these United States of America”.  And that he did!
 
 

Mr. Washington, you so deserve to be celebrated around Valentines Day!  Americans love and honor you today.  You were all heart for us, for our country, and for our continuing pursuit of liberty and freedom for all.   Happy Hearts Day, Mr. President! 

 

 

Tuesday
Dec092014

It’s a magical world… 2015. Let’s go!

January 1, a fresh new year, is so full of potential and possibilities!  January was named after Janus, the Roman god of doors and beginnings. Janus had one interesting peculiarity; he had two faces. With one face he looked back into the past year to discover his own mistakes and his own successes. Then through the other face he looked into the future to make plans for the new year and to put great new ideas into action.  

 So, too, should we!  Can we sustain the impish magic of Halloween, the deep gratitude of Thanksgiving, and the warmth of family and friends from December holidays into the cold, bleak months of winter that greet us each new year?  The heavy lifting of goals and dreams often has us parking these “Janus” ideas early in the new year replaced by old habits and a litany of reasons why action is delayed.

Children have a much shorter approach to the concept of a new year.  For them, each new day has possibility and potential- each day is a new one!

 

Again, out of the mouths of babes… Perhaps if we tackle the new year as day by day possibilities to grow and soar, we would reach more of our goals and enjoy doing it.  

Teaching and learning @ the Woods is definitely guided by the daily fresh start, brand-new experiences, and the magical “Ah Ha” that comes with skill mastery, conceptual confidence, and academic successes.  Janus would be proud of Wood Acres’ dual faces as we celebrate the past, learn from experiences, and embrace the future as our new best friend.  Here’s to 2015!