Thursday, February 11 – Faculty Retreat (All School)
Friday, February 12 – Faculty Retreat (All School)
Monday, February 15 – Presidents Day (All School except AYM)
Each year, in collaboration with the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA), Ancona Librarian, Marsha Stewart, holds weekly assemblies introducing K-4th graders to Monarch Award nominated books. At the conclusion of these assemblies, students vote on their favorite book and Ancona’s most voted title is submitted to the ISLMA committee to be counted toward the final vote.
Tomorrow, Friday, January 29, students in room 110 will be presenting poetry book, If it Rains Pancakes in the Ancona gym at 8:30 a.m. Please join us for this Ancona tradition.
by Tony Gleason, MA LCPC
The Ancona School
As the school counselor I have the opportunity to visit and work with all of the classrooms here at Ancona. Recently, when walking through a primary school classroom, I saw this script written at the top of one of the chalkboards:
We all know that both children and adults will experience the ups and downs of learning and life. Through my relationships with teachers and students I get to be involved in the social realm of our children across the board. The successes are often easy to recognize and encouraged, but conversely it’s harder to see mistakes as an opportunity for change. It is the opportunity to safely navigate these mistakes that allow us to truly grow.
One of the many awesome aspects of an Ancona education is the freedom our students have to take risks and challenge themselves during the school day. Now this may seem easier to understand when talking about how students engage with curriculum, as we commonly celebrate making mistakes in the academic world. Teachers encourage students to find creative, challenging outlets for their ideas, and students sometimes fail. Here at Ancona, this same idea is applied to the development of social skills and the building of friendships and relationships. We teach children that there is a general understanding that all people make mistakes and that they don’t have to define you.
We have all had the joy of watching our children experience their first social interactions. Watching them navigate the world as 5 year olds, hogging all the toys in the sand box, cutting in line at the slide, and occasionally shoving to express displeasure. As parents we might look on in horror, apologize on behalf of our children, and in some cases we pack all of our things and call it day. We worry about our children, we find people to confide in, spouses, friends, family, or sometime we just keep it to ourselves. Some people feel that we experience this reaction because we are concerned that our child’s behavior is somehow the reflection of us as parents. However, it is safe to say that all parents experience these feelings often throughout our lives. So how does this relate to what is happening at Ancona?
The social and emotional development of our students is the primary focus of my work. This varies for students at different grade levels and ages. Ancona classrooms and structure respond directly to what is developmentally appropriate. For example, 3rd grade students are expected to share classroom materials, stand in line appropriately, and not respond with physical aggression when expressing displeasure. However, it is expected that 3rd and 4th grade students would be working on the skills of navigating multiple close friendships and group play. Students have a reasonable expectation of exploring peer groups of more than just 1 or 2 close friends. When students begin engaging in these more complex group situations mistakes and struggles will be expected. Students will disagree about the rules of the game, sometimes students will quit the activity, and almost definitely feelings will get hurt, and that’s okay. It isn’t assumed that students will have these skills fully developed or figured out, the adults are nearby and know when to intervene. Many life skills, like the example above, are part of a long process of learning and development.
From a social standpoint, it’s expected that 3rd and 4th graders are developing their skills of self-advocation. Students are encouraged to seek the assistance of a teacher, adult, or school counselor when conflict arises, however situations may come up when the appropriate response may be for the teacher or counselor to talk over the issue with the student separately and practice how they can safely navigate the conflict without the teacher being directly involved or directly mediating. This is an example of an invisible intervention, where the teacher or staff member is interacting in manner that is not impinging directly on the situation and it may not appear obvious to everyone that the teacher is involved. Other ways that this happens is proactively in group practice.
Currently, I run a number of pro-social groups for students in every grade level. Some groups are by sign-up only about specific topics, such as friendships, families, or coping with stress, and other groups are put together with teacher input with the purpose of cultivating social interactions. These teacher input pro-social groups are designed for students to complete a project that will be for the betterment of their entire grade, such as a playground safety video. The process of this group is equally as important as the final product, as during the creation the students are able to explore a variety of social skills, like leading, following, creating, all within the structure of rigid deadline, with the final product ultimately being up to them to present and not guaranteed to be flawless.
“Ancona is a safe place.” I’ve heard this quoted many times, I’ve taken to adding a bit, as “Ancona is a safe place to fall”. Cultivating an environment where our children feel that they can take risks and grow in all areas of their life is vital. It is both my belief and the belief of Ancona that all children deserve to be a part of such a place. As we observe and support our children through the ups and downs of life find comfort in the fact that your child has a safe place to fall and to rise.
Did you know that 33% of Ancona families currently receive tuition assistance? Next year we are making a huge investment in economic diversity by raising our tuition assistance budget 45%. Ancona families who want to be considered for the preliminary award are encouraged to apply by the February 1 deadline. Please direct all tuition assistance questions to Keya Graves at ext. 227.
Tuition Assistance Application Deadline (SSS -formerly financial aid) – Monday, February 1, 2016
Updated tax forms – Tuesday, March 15. 2016
Prospective parents are invited to experience the wonder of our remarkable school! Second Look takes place Wednesday, February 17 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Enjoy a casual self-guided classroom crawl and ask anything booths featuring our students with Head of School Ari Frede.
Most importantly, prospective families get to speak with Ancona’s amazing team of educators. Whether you attended the open house or not, Second Look connects you to the fabric of our learning community. Please register below.
Register for Second Look for Prospective Parents (2016)
Ancona students have many opportunities to engage with issues of social justice. They explore recognize, discuss, and even propose and present solutions to topics ranging from discrimination (preprimary), water rights and civil rights (primary), and a broad range of self-selected topics in their own communities in the Social Justice Data Fair (middle school). But social justice is not taught as a separate subject at Ancona; it is integrated into every subject area and throughout our students’ school experience until it becomes part of who they are, part of how they think about and relate to the world around them.
As part of this year’s cultural unit on South America, Ancona middle school students are exploring the life and work of Brazilian Paolo Freire, as well as that of Brazilian director and social justice activist Augusto Boal, whose Theatre of the Oppressed worked to empower and inspire others to improve their living conditions. On a recent FLEX Day, our 7th and 8th graders participated in a workshop offered by Northlight Theater. Inspired by Boal’s work, Northlight Theater uses theater for social change to address contemporary social justice issues. The theater’s education program, Speak Up! “is a theatre for social change residency and asks students to address issues impacting their community. Speak Up! is a long-term active personal, artistic, and academic investigation that brings current events into the classroom and fosters social responsibility. Through the process of creating an original performance addressing topical issues, students use their voices to engage their peers in building positive change in their community.”
Guided by three professional actors from the organization, Ancona students addressed the topic of “microaggressions.” Students first reviewed the tools of the actor: voice, mind, and imagination and built community through games designed by Augusto Boal, after which they moved on to an examination of the labels we give ourselves and that others give us–in the different communities we belong to–through a poetry writing exercise. In groups, they then came up with a shared list of types and traits of communities and shared physical statues about what they wanted to celebrate about community and problems that exist in our communities. These groups then received an article about microaggressions from The New York Times with which they created blackout poetry to highlight the words, phrases and points in the article that they felt expressed their own points of view. Finally, they created culminating performances to share with the whole level. They could use all the material generated throughout the day as inspiration for the text and images they incorporated into their performances.
The team from Northlight Theater was very impressed with our 7th and 8th graders. They found the Ancona students “to be very open, intelligent, vulnerable and mindful.” They felt the students really learned a great deal by “creating performances about bullying, acts of microaggression that they previously felt were normal behaviors but thought more deeply about the consequences of, and gave examples of how to be upstanders when they would hear or see a microaggression happening.” And this transformative experience was just an introduction to theater as a tool for social activism for our students, as one of the teaching artists from Northlight is sticking around to offer an elective for 7th and 8th graders for the next six weeks, and we will certainly have them back again to collaborate with Ancona teachers in offering more opportunities for our students to engage with issues of social justice through the performing arts.
Divided into four, two-week sessions, each Journey engages students in real-life experiences in a fun and fast paced approach to the material. You may register your child for one or all four of the Journeys.
Journeys runs from Monday June 27 to August 19 and is for students entering P3 through 8th grade in September 2016.
SPANISH (June 27 to July 8)
THEATER (July 11 to July 22)
MAKERS (July 25 to August 5)
ECOLOGY AND SUSTAINABILITY ( August 8 to August 19)
To date, 113 families have participated in our Annual Fund so far this year! Thank you for your commitment and generosity. Our overall parent participation rate is currently 66%, an increase of 9% over last year. In fact, for the first time, we have exceeded the national average for parent participation in independent schools of our size. Go Aviators!
And the winner is…
Myriam and Jane’s class along with Christina’s advisory tied for the win of the Annual Fund Participation Challenge! 86% of the parents in both classes supported the annual fund – absolutely amazing. Myriam and Jane’s and Christina’s students will enjoy a pizza lunch to celebrate this awesome accomplishment.
We are so grateful to have a community of such committed and generous parents. And it’s never too late to make your annual fund gift if you haven’t yet. Please give today.
Race and Class Privilege
Please join us for the next Honest Conversations meeting in Hyde Park at the home of an Ancona family:
Sunday, Jan. 10, 2-4PM
Our discussion will focus on socio-economic and race-based privilege, and the intersection of the two. Borrowing a concept developed by law professor and social theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, we can see that power structures based on wealth or social class and those based on institutional racism interact in complex ways. Crenshaw calls this Intersectionality. Please feel free to pick up our reading materials at the Ancona main office.
Children are welcome for a fee of $10! There will be space for them to play while the adults talk. Please RSVP by Saturday, January 9 to Jana French ten.l1490778156abolg1490778156cbs@f1490778156anaj1490778156. Feel free (not obliged) to bring a snack for sharing.