Public Blogs Blog

Future Forward

… And the beat goes on!

The 2022-2023 academic year is upon us, Wood Acres’ 53rd year of continuous teaching,
learning, and caring! Milestones are important and valued as they cause us to pause, look back, reminisce, and smile. Over 25,000 lucky children have experienced that TLC at the Woods either during the 53 school years or almost 50 years of summer camp experiences! This unique school nestled in its own little valley certainly has made a huge positive impact on children’s lives in Cobb County and neighboring counties as well.

The blessing of 50+ years has Wood Acres woven into the fiber of a geographic area that has
changed and grown as decades of families who once attended Wood Acres now bring their own children here each day. Within these 50+ years we have shared so many joys and some painful sadness. We have laughed until our cheeks hurt and cried along with students and families struggling with life. We have built new structures and repaired the old. We have celebrated more birthdays and life celebrations than we can count. We have savored the joys of the toddler who can now skip, the Grammar School child who now reads confidently, and the middle schooler who can teach his/her own parents the intricacies of advanced math and scientific principles. We have weathered challenges in the field of education and in the health arena of the last few years. We have proudly watched as our graduates soar in high school and seek amazing careers in so many challenging and exciting fields.

But reminiscing is just not enough. “Don’t look back too much. You are not going that way!” is a wise and clever proverb. As long as families yearn for the best for their children and seek a special place for them to learn and thrive in a safe warm environment and will partner with their child through all the formative years, The Wood Acres School will be here! The road less traveled is and always has been and will be the education journey for us. Thank you for joining us as we travel together, as we learn together, and as we revel in the joys of childhood and the dreams of happiness that knows no bounds.

That IS the Wood Acres way!

Whether new or legacy families, we cannot wait to welcome you “home!

Judy Thigpen

A year for health, hope and happiness

If you know me at all, you know how I love quotes, especially ones that capture the moment, the time during which you found it.  This one by “Anonymous” has been with me for decades, having hung in my home office, my school office and even on my washer at home.

“Education is not preparation for life.  Education is life!”

Interpreted many ways, it certainly fits the unprecedented times in which we have been living the last few years.  There has been no rulebook to guide us or conflicting sources to inform us.  Yet in this special enclave called Wood Acres we have adeptly managed to live up to the quote and even soar in our united ability of faculty, staff, and families to stay true to education and continued life for our students.  It has been no small task.  It has been fraught with worry and challenges.  Yet here we are…embracing our students learning each and every day while challenging them to grow and glow in spite of the world around them!  Well done one and all.

Let us to continue to proactively plan for their futures, live for the present moments that make us so proud, and hope fervently for a healthier, happier, safer tomorrow for everyone!

Judy Thigpen

We did it!

Not a creature will be stirring on the Wood Acres campus as we begin our annual two-week winter break.  But we also reached an amazing milestone, too!

With detailed planning and work this past summer, amazing team effort from our dedicated faculty and staff, and the strong partnership with our Wood Acres families we had a full, robust, exciting teaching and learning environment with REAL face time on campus each and every day. 

Wood Acres School safely and proudly began this academic year as was always planned in mid-August and now we look forward to our awesome students returning in the new year!

Very few schools can boast that accomplishment amidst the strain, pain, worry, and challenges of this pandemic.  Wood Acres is so proud of this amazing milestone and we hope you are, too.

With annual legacy family re-enrollment coming up in late January and prospective family enrollment soon after that in February be sure to join us as we continue to put safety, security, and your children FIRST.

Wood Acres is a school for all seasons AND all the right reasons!

#woodacresistheplacetobe in 2021-2022, too!

Distance Learning in Early School

The unprecedented turn of events caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in our community has completely altered the way that spring typically looks on our beautiful campus.  Distance learning has developed quickly into the best way for our teachers to stay in touch and keep their students learning.  

Even before the decision was made to pause in-school lessons, I was meeting with our teachers to begin developing a plan to facilitate distance learning.  You will not be surprised to hear that every teacher embraced this challenge and began exploring and sharing their ideas on how to best facilitate this new model. 

With every new post, the teachers are working to discover what content will be the most helpful for the students while keeping it fun, engaging, and meaningful along with how best to get the material to them.  They are also being mindful of each family’s time and ability to support the lessons and activities. They are aware that many parents are trying to juggle multiple responsibilities throughout the day. With that in mind,  the teachers are seeking a balance between active and independent learning. This balance is also helpful when working with early school learners as their ability to focus on a task depends in large part on their age.

In an article in Parents.com,  Leslie Harris O’Hanlon states, “Child development experts say that, on average, a 4- or 5-year-old child should be able to stay focused on a task for two to five minutes times the year of their age. So, young kids should be able to focus between 4 and 20 minutes, possibly more, depending on the task.”  It is also important to give yourself permission to leave a task undone if it is becoming too arduous.  

We want nothing more than to get back together in our classrooms and on our campus so that we can once again share the laughter,  our love of learning and care for one another.  

What a joyous day when we again meet!

“When this is over, may we never again take for granted…a handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbors, a crowded theater, Friday night out, a routine checkup, the school rush each morning, coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring, each deep breath, a boring Tuesday, and life itself. When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way- better for each other because of the worst.” Laura Kelly Fanucci

May I add…when we return, may we give thanks for our school, our teachers and staff, and the joy of learning together.

May we be ever thankful for supportive families, natural creativity, the ability to adjust, the ability to wait, the ability to know this, too, shall pass.

What a joyous day when we again meet!

Judy Thigpen

Thoughts for February

As this is the month of hearts, flowers, acts of affection, and sweet treats let us remember these special four letter words and take them to heart and into action… not just in February but in the other 11 months of 2020!

LOVE   TIME   READ    KIND    DUTY    GIVE   

GROW    HELP    HEAL    HOPE    WISH    WOW

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift which is why we call it the present!”

“Today is a good day for a good day!”

“Time is the most expensive thing we can give.  Spend it with love.”

What is purposeful play?

As children begin to move through their first early school experiences, it is easy to focus on the tangible skills that we observe in private pre-k.  What is harder to observe are the important skills that are developed through everyday play interactions. Purposeful play is sometimes an afterthought as we tick off the list of academic achievements such as shapes, colors, letters, and numbers that are more easily measured.  

 At Wood Acres private pre-k, we provide numerous purposeful play opportunities.  When children are engaged with their peers, a teacher’s role becomes that of an observer and guide rather than instructor.  Students relish these opportunities and any observer will see that the student’s natural curiosity and energy drives the learning.  Opportunities that organically occur are the best at developing the skills that will allow students to rise up and move through difficult situations, whether they be physical, social, or academic in nature. Purposeful play that is both fun and interesting promotes a love of school and learning that benefits children. 

Providing a balanced approach to academic and play opportunities for students is crucial to developing children that are passionate learners whose curiosity leads them to  seek deeper understanding. Children enrolled in the Wood Acres private pre-k classes learn with their head, heart, and all of their senses.

A New Year…A New Decade

A new year… a new decade… a fresh start for new beginnings!  Ever hopeful, we ring in each new year!  And as with the other December holidays, traditions abound that unite families, cities, and even countries in welcoming another 365 days of possibilities.  I was raised to enjoy pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day for luck and my husband’s family made sure the meal also included black-eyed peas with a sweet relish to top it off.  Here a few more interesting traditions from across the globe!

In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes – one at each stroke of the clock at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Each grape represents good luck for one month of the coming year. In bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, people gather in main squares to eat their grapes together and pass around bottles of Cava.

In hopes of a travel-filled new year, residents of Colombia carry empty suitcases around the block.  That’s one New Year’s tradition we can get behind!

Residents of Denmark greet the New Year by throwing old plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends to banish bad spirits. They also stand on chairs and jump off them together at midnight to “leap” into January in hopes of good luck.

In Finland people predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, then interpreting the shape the metal takes after hardening. A heart or ring means a wedding, while a ship predicts travel and a pig declares there will be plenty of food.

To drive off evil spirits for a fresh New Year’s start, it is tradition to burn effigies (muñecos) of well-known people such as television characters and political figures in Panama. The effigies are meant to represent the old year.

During Scotland’s New Year’s Eve celebration of Hogmanay, “first-footing” is practiced across the country. The first person who crosses a threshold of a home in the New Year should carry a gift for luck. Scots also hold bonfire ceremonies where people parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles, supposedly symbols of the sun, to purify the coming year.

You’ll find round shapes all over the Philippines on New Year’s Eve as representatives of coins to symbolize prosperity in the coming year. Many families display piles of fruit on their dining tables and some eat exactly 12 round fruits (grapes being the most common) at midnight. Many also wear polka dots for luck.

In Brazil, as well as other Central and South America countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, it is thought to be lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve. The most popular colors are red, thought to bring love in the New Year, and yellow, thought to bring money.

An onion is traditionally hung on the front door of homes on New Year’s Eve in Greece as a symbol of rebirth in the New Year. On New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion.

On January 2, the Cape Town Street Parade in South Africa (also known as Tweede Nuwe Jaar or Second New Year) sees thousands of colorfully dressed minstrels take to the streets in celebration.

As Tevye sang in the classic Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof– “and how do we keep our balance?  That I can tell you in one word… TRADITION!”

As you well know, we are deep in tradition @ the Woods, especially with the 2019-2020 academic year being our 50th anniversary for The Wood Acres School.  We embrace our traditions of the ginkgo tree and other school symbols, Constitution Day and special campus celebrations, as well as academic and learning traditions that enhance teaching and create a vibrant cohesive school family.  I am not sure our students will ever embrace my tradition of sauerkraut though!

As each of you have welcomed 2020, embrace your family traditions as well as the children and other family members who are part of the fiber of your lives throughout the new decade.  No one will remember page 50 in a textbook but each will remember the ceremonies and traditions of The Wood Acres School for another 50 years to come!

It’s beginning to look a lot like home, hearth, holidays and a new year! Oh my!

Gleeful anticipation is on the faces of the Wood Acres students as we welcome the month of December!  It is not the more serious anticipation of a math or language arts test, but the anticipation of surprises, school vacation, visitors, yummy treats, later bed times, special snacks, plays and pageants, tasty food, travel…you get the idea!  “Children see the holidays in anticipation.  Adults see them in memories.” 

May the anticipation that your children feel during this month “infect” you with wonder and joy.  And may the memories of holidays past yield new traditions for your families that each generation can enjoy.  May your home and hearth be filled with holiday magic and may the New Year reward you with continued health, hope, and happiness!

High Expectations – Private Kindergarten

I often marvel at our kindergarteners. They are naturally interested in the world around them and full of curious wonder. When I walk into the classroom, children with their wide eyes, smiles, and hugs, eager to show their writing, greet me at the door. What better place to capitalize on the rigor and enthusiasm of literacy learning than in a private kindergarten setting.

When I spend time with our kindergarteners during reading instruction, there is much focus on sight words, vocabulary, reading strategies, initial and final sounds, spelling, blending, and comprehension of text. All of these skills demonstrate a commitment to building a solid foundation of literacy while teaching children to be excellent.

Equally important and unique to these lessons is our focus on handwriting, organizing our belongings, demonstrating pride in our work, taking risks, respecting our friends, and loving the learning of reading.

At Wood Acres, we value purposeful and developmentally appropriate practices in learning to read while trusting in high expectations for all of our students. Even in kindergarten, we foster a climate of high expectations. This is one of the seven correlates of effective schools noted by researcher Larry Lezotte. These correlates drive all learning and success for our kindergarteners and for all of our students ages 2-14. For a five-year-old, talking out the process of forming letters and perhaps carefully erasing if needed to make sure it looks just right, is just one of many ways s/he demonstrates an understanding of high expectations.