Public Blogs Blog

The “Shakedown” month

At the Wood Acres School, we know that long stretches of time create maximum opportunities for student learning and we build our school calendar to facilitate this belief.  I recently read an article from Susan Kruger, the creator of SOAR, a study skills program, who actually refers to October as the most difficult month of the school year because it is a long stretch of time without a school break. One of her teachers even referred to it as “shakedown” month.

Her feeling was that the days are long and our students are growing and testing their boundaries with us and with their peers. We are stretching our students and they are facing new and higher expectations and learning new material. They are challenging themselves daily.

So…how do we make the most of this “shakedown”? How do we help our students be successful during this time? Here are some tips from Susan Kruger that resonated with my faculty and me.

We recognize that learning can be challenging, is hard work and that is ok. We are not afraid to instill a strong work ethic in our students.

We tell our students who are feeling the stress and pressure of this time that it will not last forever. The lovely holiday season is just around the corner.

We help our students get ready for a day of learning. We help them relax, settle into the day, feel comfortable, and reset any negative emotional thoughts they might be bringing into the classroom.

We move around on our spacious campus to get some exercise before starting a new lesson.

We always emphasize the positive.  We remind students not to give up, but to keep trying and to stay the course. This is of course, the most important indicator of long-term success.

50 Years of Wood Acres

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of The Wood Acres School, it brings me such pride and joy to serve as the Principal of this amazing place.  I am honored to be a part of the front row seat to the learning of these amazing students and to get a 360 degree perspective on what makes Wood Acres the place where I am able to come each day to make a difference for our children, families, and faculty.

I am humbled by that, each day and especially during this milestone year. All of us have been sharing anecdotes about our connections to Wood Acres, the beginnings of Wood Acres, and our feelings about why we love this school. My love for Wood Acres began over ten years ago and together, we all love…

Working on our beautiful outdoor campus that nurtures the learning process with an appreciation and respect for childhood. 

Caring, educated faculty who make decisions with administration and each other on what is good for students. 

Honoring education and a rigorous curriculum and the process of learning while keeping expectations high.

Recognizing children have the potential to be leaders and providing opportunities like peer mentoring, book buddies, and service to our school and community.   

Encouraging students to make mistakes as this is a supportive place and celebrating their successes.

It is essential to know where you have been to know where you are headed.  We know where we have been, and like beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss tells us…..we are certainly going places.

As we look forward to the next fifty years and our bright future, it is clear in this busy, and sometimes unsettling time, more than ever the Wood Acres School is relevant and needed. We are excited that you are part of this story. Our future is all of you and your children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  Together we will continue this legacy and our ideals. We will share the excitement that is a Wood Acres education.  We will deepen connections among ourselves and our community.  We will thoughtfully make decisions for the good of our students in these changing times based on what they need to be successful in their future.

When visitors come onto our campus.  They smile and look with wide eyes.  They instantly see how special it is. They feel part of that excitement that we see everyday.

When alumni proudly visit us, they always share much they miss the beautiful surroundings of Wood Acres and how much they treasure the uniqueness of this experience.

In the words of Dr. Maya Angelou, people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Wood Acres, you have made all of us feel special.

Today we celebrate fifty years of that legacy and look forward to the next fifty years of students, families, and faculty that will undoubtedly feel special too.

Early Literacy

At The Wood Acres School, we instill a love of learning and literacy in our youngest preschool students. Our curriculum is developmentally appropriate, yet challenging for children who are constantly engaging with the wonderful world around them.

Our two year olds are exposed to language through play and stories that are a part of building a solid foundation as they begin their academic journey. In the three year old program, our classrooms are filled with songs and rhymes and more stories as they meet reading “investigators” who become friends as a part of our reading curriculum. Our preschool learners are beginning to make more of a leap to understanding the format of books, learning left to right progression, sequencing, recognizing words on a page and in their world, and that those words carry a message.

We recognize our families play a key role in nurturing their children to be readers and that role is paramount to their children’s success. Taking time to snuggle with children to read or re read a favorite story demonstrates reading is comforting and special. Making time for your own reading encourages children to be just like mom and dad and pick up a book on their own. We invite you to celebrate reading with your families and to fall into a perfect book.

50 years! What an accomplishment! What a legacy! What a success story! What a reason to celebrate!

While not as globally grand as walking on the moon, or musically influential as Woodstock, or eternally entertaining as Sesame Street, The Wood Acres School shares its 50th anniversary with these 1969 trailblazers.  Who would have known that The Wood Acres Country Day School begun in several rented cottages in what would become East Cobb would flourish into the 9+ beautiful acres and over 10 buildings that is the home of The Wood Acres School today. 

Dreams do become reality with hard work, team work and the providence of visionary faculty, staff, and administration.  Over the last 50 years Wood Acres has shared its vision of teaching, learning, and caring with 5 decades of students and their supportive families.  Just do the math- over 10,000 students have matriculated here as well as thousands of summer campers who enjoyed the simple joys of “fun in the sun”.  We have used the tools of learning well- hundreds of thousands of pages in text and library books, crayons and markers, pencils and erasers, as well as 21st century digital footprints- not on the moon- but in the minds and hearts of our wonderful students.  That does not even begin to mention the snacks eaten each day, the lunches devoured at noon, or the celebratory treats that come with birthdays, new siblings, campus wide events, and a classic gumball machine each Friday. 

5 Decades             600 Months           2609 Weeks            18,263 Days            438,312 Hours

26,298,720 Minutes            1,577,923,200 Seconds

It recalls the wonderful anthem from the Broadway musical “Rent”.    525,600 minutes   How do you measure a year?  In LOVE- seasons of LOVE!   We love what we do.  We love that what we do matters.  We love every opportunity when we can be an educational role model for our students.  We love to learn from them.  We love acorns, oak leaves, Ginkgos, compass roses, books, rallying around the flag, and celebrating reading, writing, arithmetic, respect and responsibility.  We are a school for all seasons and all the right reasons!

We celebrate our 200 seasons of love, laughter and learning!

CHEERS TO 50 YEARS!

Judy Thigpen

Today is my favorite day!

  • 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.

Today IS my favorite day!

Summertime

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.

Make sure you enjoy a popsicle, too!


Graduation at Wood Acres

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!

Academic Journeys in East Cobb at the Wood Acres School

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.

Academic “Snapshots”

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!

Marching to a Different Drummer!

Some things just bear repeating!

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.

This Matters At Wood Acres.

  • High Expectations For Teaching And Learning

  • Strong Instructional Leadership

  • Safe Learning Environment For Everyone

  • Positive And Welcoming School Climate

  • Valuing Time On Task For Mastery

  • Close Home School Partnerships