Today we welcomed our Kindergarten through 8th grade students as we began our exciting 50th year of serving the educational needs of students and their families. No small feat for an independent school!
Today we returned to a campus that is lovingly cared for and tended by an amazing team of faculty and staff.
Today we embraced our strong traditions of teaching, learning, and caring that permeate all we know, see, say, and do.
Today we honor our past, begin this new school year NOW, and anticipate the WOW that the future holds for The Wood Acres School.
SUMMERTIME… and the livin’ is easy… hopefully for YOU!
At the Woods we are like ducks in the water each summer, calmly paddling along on the surface, yet working diligently beneath the water to have a productive summer that contributes to a great start to the 2019-2020 school year, our 50th!
The “Honey Do” list is always detailed- including deep campus cleaning, repairs, classroom moves, curriculum orders, curriculum review, team meetings, annual inspections, grounds upkeep, inventory, supply replenishing, planning and prep for WA staff kick off and family Meet and Greet to name just a few. Layer over that the ongoing planning and coordination of all aspects of a robust summer camp 2019 (over 800 campers will have participated throughout the summer) and you can readily understand our “ducky” analogy! We are also well along with our exciting plans for a grand, family oriented 50th anniversary celebration! You are cordially invited. Details will be posted on the website soon.
We still find time to enjoy a popsicle with campers, squirt each other with water, walk around this beautiful campus, and “kid watch” as the summertime for them is certainly easy, fun, joyous and the reason we exist! Enjoy your summer-if not actually on the beach- through the lens of your child splashing in a puddle pool, digging in the sandbox, and enjoying an easy summer day.
Graduation of The Wood Acres School’s current eighth graders followed the next day by an on campus Honors Assembly for all students annually wrap up each academic year @ the Woods. Each event is steeped in tradition and celebration as we bid our graduates a fond farewell and honor achievement in grades fourth through eighth.
While caps and gowns are left to high school and university graduations, Wood Acres mixes a bit of British history with our own twist. Graduates don a “sub fusc” which is a black open short robe with arm length epaulets. This garb originated in the United Kingdom for university undergraduates and that is where we purchase them. Graduates also wear two cords around their necks, symbolic of green for the Woods and gold and green to represent their stellar accomplishment in graduating from our outstanding school. Graduates get to keep one cord as a memento and the other is then passed to the rising eighth graders to wear at their ceremony the following year. A prelude of light classical music welcomes the procession of our graduates to the ceremony led by the Head of School and followed by the Upper School faculty led by the Principal. Faculty wear academic hoods over their shoulders in the colors of their last attended university.
Graduates at the Wood Acres ceremony are seen and heard as they have an opportunity to speak to the gathered family and friends as to their time @ the Woods, their next educational steps, and what the school has meant to them. This year’s class 2019, the largest ever, will speak in groups based on the length of time they have matriculated at Wood Acres. Many have been here for over 5 years- some since they were two years old! The Head of School and Principal share their thoughts as well to send them on their way with pride and accomplishment for a job well done.
Students are awarded their diplomas as well as the US Presidential Academic Excellence Award, International Spanish Academy diplomas given through the Embassy of Spain, and a Certificado de Asistencia from the Universidad de Pontificia if they participated in the study abroad trip to Spain.
The ceremony ends with a much more 21st century vibe as students and faculty recess to pop music the students selected to the cheers and tears of proud family and friends. After group photos, this special day culminates with a catered lunch for all, gifts for the grads, and some fond hugs and farewells.
Three Cheers for the Wood Acres Graduating Class of 2019!
Springtime at Wood Acres brings the exciting news of where our eighth graders will attend high school for the 2019-2020 school year. The teachers and I always feel like proud parents as we learn about where our beloved students will take their next steps in their educational journey especially since so many of them have been learning with us throughout their childhood.
We begin sharing information with students and their families in sixth grade as an overview of sorts with the entire class. Families who are interested in continuing private education will need to make sure children have an outstanding start to their middle school experience as these records will become part of their transcript. When students reach the middle of seventh grade, the counselor and I meet individually with each family to help guide them through what has become a rather arduous process. Families living in Cobb and Fulton county look to apply to different magnet and or academy options within their school system. These require a rigorous application process as well and similar to one for a private school. These magnets and academies will look at grades and test scores from students’ seventh grade and first half of eighth grade years.
At the beginning of eighth grade, families and students meet to fine tune each student’s process. We invite counselors and admissions officers of all of these schools so that students can get a feel for where they would like to continue their learning.
Looking across our nine graduating classes in the history of Wood Acres, students have enrolled at many private schools including The Walker School, Woodward Academy, The Galloway School, Blessed Trinity, Mt. Paran Christian Academy, and Holy Innocents Episcopal School, among others.
We also happily have had students accepted and attending the Cobb’s Wheeler Math and Science Magnet, The IB (International Baccalaureate) Program at Campbell high School, the North Cobb School of International Studies as well as Fulton counties Riverwood IB program. Academy programs within Cobb county high schools are also popular especially if housed in a student’s home high school. Walton’s STEM academy, Pope’s Globalization Academy are also interesting to our students. Walton’s ISA (International Spanish Academy) program draws WA students with a love of Spanish language and a rigor and interest in the humanities.
Students choosing to remain in their home school take rigorous classes similar to what they have encountered at Wood Acres. Our relationships with the various guidance departments and admissions offices help our students with the transition to high school.
It gives all of us a great sense of pride to watch our students takes these next steps. After nine years of graduating eighth graders, we are excited to see them fly and make their mark in their next academic home. They are always excited for their graduation, and always ready to come back to visit. In fact, when they return, they not only share news on high school pursuits, but many on college acceptances too. In fact, we are proud to have students at UGA, Georgia Tech, NYU, Loyola Marymount, Tulane, Notre Dame, West Point, Auburn, and University of South Carolina, among others.
Wood Acres is proud of our students and our joint commitment to their successful journeys.
It’s rating sweeps time @ the Woods with #2 wooden Ticonderoga pencils sharpened to perfection and filled with natural lead and all the answers for our students to soar as they complete annual standardized assessments in 1st through 8th grade! Wood Acres administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT 10) and the Otis Lennon Ability Test each year to provide us with a nationally normed assessment that both informs our planning and teaching and lets us know how well Wood Acres students fare in comparison to students throughout the United States. Our students really enjoy these two weeks as homework is light, snacks are yummier, pencils are new, and parents give children extra hugs and high fives as they leave carpool each morning. While Wood Acres never brags on student achievement- we just expect it- I do think it is the perfect time to demonstrate a little Wood Acres “pride” in our students’ academic achievement while they are here and future successes as they graduate. Please enjoy these proud academic “snapshots” of our students as they learn, grow, and SOAR!
Wood Acres students historically score on the average in the 84th to 90th percentile in reading and mathematics as well as in the 85th to 95th percentile in the applied fields of social studies and science. (assessed in grades 3rd through 8th grades on the SAT 10)
Wood Acres treats all students as gifted learners and results on the Otis Lennon Ability Test demonstrate that, while many Wood Acres students do score in the gifted range of ability, many are wonderfully average students, too. They ALL achieve in the highest ranges because that is how they are taught.
Wood Acres is one of only 100 International Spanish Academies in the United States and Canada and frequently receives commendation for programming and student progress in second language acquisition. 8th grade students also enjoy the opportunity of a lifetime to study and travel abroad in Spain each spring.
Wood Acres curriculum is nationally aligned with experts in each academic field and we adopt textbooks, technology, and materials that correlate well with our curriculum maps, scope and sequencing of teaching, and inter-grade collaboration of content and teaching approaches. We embrace no band wagon, flighty trends, or state-mandated core programs. The core of our school has always been, and will always be, our students and their overall successes as eager, bright, compassionate, and caring young men and women. They are the collective heartbeat of this uniquely wonderful school.
We are proud to announce that Wood Acres soon-to-be graduates in the Class of 2019 have been accepted at the following high schools and specialty programs in Georgia (to date of posting): Blessed Trinity High School, Mt. Vernon Presbyterian High School, Kings Academy, The Galloway School, Wheeler High School STEM Academy, The ISA Academy at Walton High School, International Baccalaureate Program at Campbell High School, and area public high schools and charter academies such as Pope, Pope STEM and Globalization programs, Lassiter, Kell, Roswell, Mt. Bethel, West Forsyth, Sprayberry STEM and ISLA programs, and Kennesaw Mountain magnet program. We are thrilled with all of their accomplishments and are so excited to watch them SOAR forward in their new high schools!
Here’s to some amazing weeks to come celebrating our students, their successes, the families who support them, and The Wood Acres School!
The March HEADline from 2018 is one of those! Many wonderful and unique things make Wood
Acres a one-of-a-kind school, but the following HEADline highlights the very
best of experiential learning that is offered to students anywhere!
In the world of sports, March Madness signifies the march to
the final four and collegiate basketball glory.
Wood Acres March Madness is the march off campus for annual experiential
overnight field trips involving planes, trains, boats and buses as our 4th
through 8th graders embark on true field trip adventures that create
once-in-a-lifetime memories for students, proving that what they study and the
“real” world are truly one and the same!
Fourth graders’ destination is the sand, surf, flora, and
fauna of Jekyll Island Environmental Center for three days and two nights of looking
at the ocean and its living creatures in a whole new way. Fifth graders head to Tennessee and Camp
Widjiwagan Outdoor Center for three days and two nights of hands-on learning
about the environment and themselves. Sixth graders traveled earlier this year
to the Marine Lab in Key Largo, Florida to further their ecological studies of
ocean, lagoon, and snorkeling during this wondrous adventure. Seventh graders look at Washington, DC
through the eyes of the Triumvirate of Democracy, as they experience first had
the three branches of government- executive, judicial, and legislative. It is a trip that is all about “We the
People”! Eighth graders celebrate their
impending graduation with a capstone trip to Spain to learn how much they have
learned in speaking another language and experiencing its culture. Students live with host families, study at a
renowned university and visit World Heritage Sites on their day trips during
this two week sojourn there.
March YES! By plane,
boat, train, and bus we take students to the learning. With pre-trip study and superb planning, we
take students to new heights of metacognition- knowing that they know what they
know- on each and every trip. Through
passion for experiential learning with a faculty that generously gives of their
time and talents on these adventures, Wood Acres students experience a one-of-a-kind
education that is consistently “out of the box” and firmly tucked away in their
minds and hearts.
Embedded in the month of hearts, flowers, and chocolate is a lesser celebrated national holiday recognizing our United States Presidents. While just the mention of the presidency can spark discussion, discourse, and debate, it should also remind us that we live in a country where we can do just that- at the top of our lungs if desired! While the original day was a recognition of our Founding Father, George Washington and the Emancipator himself, Abraham Lincoln- both with February birthdays-it has become more about the acknowledgement of the importance of leadership in all we do. Leadership is the bellwether in the success of everything from team sports victories to détente on the highest international level. Indulge me a few moments as you reflect on aspects of leadership by past presidents. Let us take time this month to honor democracy and how best we can help “perpetuate democracy by educating an informed citizenry” T. Jefferson
Here’s to hearts and the Red White & Blue, too!
George Washington: “99% of failures come from people who make excuses.” John Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”
Thomas Jefferson: “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”
John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Andrew Jackson: “Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.”
Martin Van Buren: “It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.”
Abraham Lincoln: “Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.” Theodore Roosevelt: “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today”
Harry S. Truman: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower: “By leadership we mean the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it, not because your position of power can compel him to do it.”
John F. Kennedy: “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
Gerald R. Ford: “Never be satisfied with less than your very best effort. If you strive for the top and miss, you’ll still ‘beat the pack.'”
William J. Clinton: “If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.”
Barack Obama: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time.”
Donald Trump: “Leaders, true leaders, take responsibility for the success of the team, and understand that they must also take responsibility for the failure.”
eldest son Josh loved Calvin and Hobbes cartoons and he shared that love of
their sincere kind humor with me. This
cartoon in particular is a favorite and the newspaper version of it was on my
file cabinet so long it yellowed! It
speaks to the season and the freshness of each new year and so I happily share
it with you!
is magic in exploring possibilities, large and small, especially with
children. Children encourage us to look
at the world from their vantage points if we just “get on their level” and look
and listen. Lay flat on the floor and
look around and up. Sit on that same
floor and look around again. Then on
your knees and upright. The views change
and we have the magical opportunity to see the world anew through their
is just as relevant with our children as they become older, “wiser”, and more
independent. The magic of exploring possibilities becomes more focused and can
change daily, even moment by moment.
They see and hear more with not quite understanding it all, but still
delve into the “whys” of their lives.
Sit in their desk at home and at school, plop into their favorite chair
or pillow. See what they see and also
attempt to feel what they feel. Active
listening is key.
all too soon the new years fly by and you are sending these amazing young men
and women off to their own magical possibilities in college, service, careers,
and life. Make sure they take the magic
with them and remind them of it often, even if they say, “Oh, Mom!” “Dad. Come on. I am not a kid anymore.” We fervently hope we all remain a kid deep
to 2019, a year of wonderful magical possibilities for Wood Acres School as we
celebrate our 50th anniversary- a golden time for sure! Here’s to your new year. May it be filled with wonder, magic, possibilities,
and the vision to see it every day in some way.
Peter Pan. Crow about your children and
never grow up. That is pure magic!
One of the many unique qualities about Wood Acres is our approach of looking what our eldest students should know, see, say, and do and then backward map it to our youngest students. It is a strong belief of our Head of School, Judy Thigpen, and one that has resonated with me throughout my tenure at WA.
Before I fully transitioned into a leadership role, I knew there was something I needed to accomplish first. I needed to teach in our Upper School. All of my prior teaching experience was with children in grades K-5, and my daughter at the time was in our Early School. I felt confident about what Early and Grammar School students should know, say, and do, but that understanding wasn’t there for me when thinking about an older student. How could I possibly lead without an understanding of our oldest students and program?
Like all other ages and stages of a child’s development, it was easy for me to fall in love with our tweens and teens! They were independent, respectful, kind, intelligent, motivated, and capable students. All of their years at Wood Acres among passionate and caring teachers, involved parents, and a supportive yet rigorous school environment prepared them for this pivotal moment. They fully applied their learning and enjoyed it, developed a strong sense of self, and added to our community in so many meaningful ways. It was a joy to be in their company and I can say even in my current role, it still is. They are comfortable to share a thought, an opinion, an idea, and I couldn’t be more honored to be that person. They keep me grounded and focused on what is important.
With this clarity, I look at our younger students in new and different ways. I see the twinkle in their eyes and wonder in their play and can picture their more grownup self. I see interests and strengths and how that will help grow a solid foundation both academically and emotionally. I work with teachers and parents about how to encourage developmentally appropriate high expectations no matter the age of a student. I am better equipped to instill confidence to our families, teachers, and our students that through this thoughtful journey with a stay the course approach, our students will indeed soar when it comes time to graduate.
May this simple wish touch all our hearts and move us to action in our homes, school, communities, state, and nation. May the joys of childhood touch our adult hearts that we, too, can feel the anticipation of the season.
May we create traditions, memories, and reasons to celebrate together. May God bless each of you, those you love, and our country. Each and every day in the coming year, too! GOD BLESS US EVERYONE!