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7 12, 2017

Note from Nancy | December 7, 2017

By |2018-12-17T11:32:08-06:00December 7th, 2017|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

In our ever-changing world, one of the challenges we face as educators is making sure we design learning experiences that will help anticipate the challenges and problems of the world our young people will be ushered into. One of the ways the workforce is changing is that employers have started to identify a need to hire emotionally intelligent employees. In fact, conversations in the world of education have shifted quite dramatically over the last forty years from an emphasis on a child’s IQ (intelligence quotient) to a focus on their EQ (emotional quotient)

If a student has a high degree of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management they are more likely to graduate and excel in life. Researchers have also found a strong correlation between great leaders and individuals who exhibit the aforementioned qualities. 

One of the ways we work with our students at Ancona is by cultivating a sense of self-awareness early on. We support that work in a number of ways, including through our use of restorative practices. The goal of restorative practices is to empower children and adults alike with the agency to contribute positively or change situations and relationships that aren’t quite “right.” The power of restorative practices is rooted in the idea of community and that we are all capable of positive change. 

I share this as a way of highlighting just one of the robust ways we support the emotional growth of our children at Ancona. Helping students take ownership over their actions, even when they are negative, provides students with opportunities to reflect on the “why” of their choices. An important part of any child’s development is how they come to learn who they are, and why they make the choices they do. The more time we commit to metacognitive practices with our students, the greater degree of growth and development we will see in their emotional intelligence and maturity—a characteristic that will serve them well, long after they have left us. 

Stay warm and cozy!


7 12, 2017

Winter 2018 After School Programming

By |2018-12-17T11:32:08-06:00December 7th, 2017|Parent News|0 Comments

We are excited to announce our After School offerings for Winter, 2018!

The majority of our student-centered, experiential programming is included with your After School registration. Two of our partner organizations—Sticky Fingers Cooking and Renaissance Knights Chess— require registration and fees separate from After School. You are not required to sign your child(ren) up for After School if they would like to participate in either of these two programs. If students remain in After School beyond the duration of the partner class, the After School daily drop-in rate will apply.

In addition to our new offerings, we are happy to continue providing Homework Help and the Middle School Lounge and Cafe as part of our After School program. 

Click here to register for After School!

Monday: Voici Francais, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. / NO ADDITIONAL COST for 15 sessions

Margaret Patterson will engage students of all ages in a fun and no pressure introduction to French each Monday afternoon here at Ancona. Students will have the opportunity to learn basic vocabulary, play games, and speak a variety of French phrases over the course of this fifteen session offering. On the final class students will make a trip to a local French bakery to enjoy a delicious pastry or baguette and try out some of their new linguistic skills!

Monday: Play Go! and Othello with Keom, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. / NO ADDITIONAL COST for 15 sessions

Our resident tabletop master Keom Granger will battle students 3rd grade and older in the timeless strategic games of Go! And Othello every Monday in the Commons. No skill level is required as Keom takes meaningful time to instruct each player in basic strategy and gameplay from the first session to the last session. The focus of the course is to ensure students are engaging their minds while having a great time playing classic strategy games.

Tuesday: Theater Games and Even More Improv!, 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. / NO ADDITIONAL COST for 15 sessions

Rose Gottlieb will instruct the students in a variety of improvisation activities, games, and skits all the while creating an environment of acceptance, freedom, and fun! Children will be encouraged and assisted in crafting their very own performances that will range from stand up comedy routines to short theatrical performances and improv skits.

Wednesday: 3-D Printing and Design, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. / NO ADDITIONAL COST for 12 sessions

Our very own Rodney Williams will be teaching students how to use the online program TinkerCad to create their very own three dimensional objects! Children will have the opportunity to learn the program, create their own designs, and print them out using our 3D Printer. This class is limited to fifteen students, so please be sure to reach out to Jerome Shannon and let him know that your child wants to start designing their very own 3D objects!

Thursday: Sticky Fingers Cooking, 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. and 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. / $216 for 12 sessions

In every delicious Sticky Fingers class, students will get hands-on experience preparing nutritious food that they’ll love. Yes, even the pickiest eaters will eat their own creations with gusto! All recipes are always nut-free and all allergy and food sensitivities can be accommodated in this hands-on class. Ancona is excited to be offering two classes every Thursday this winter: a pre-primary and kindergarten class from 3:30 to 4:15 and a 4:30 to 5:30 class for elementary and middle school students. Space is limited so don’t hesitate, follow the link below to register your child today!

Click Here to Register for ages 3 to 6!           Click Here to Register for ages 7 and up!

Thursday: Dance with T-Kay from Hyde Park School of Dance, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. / NO ADDITIONAL COST for 6 sessions

Dancers of all ages will have the opportunity to get in the groove each week with T-Kay Buchanan of the Hyde Park School of Dance. Students will learn the basics of movement and rhythm in a fun and accepting environment. No experience or skill level is required, just a positive attitude and the need to bust a move!

Friday: Chess by Renaissance Knights Chess Club, 3:30 – 4:30 / $105 for 10 sessions ($115 if registering after January 5, 2018)

Renaissance Knights program is specifically designed to cultivate progressive learning for 21st century students and the skills the students acquire are imperative for them to succeed in school and for their future success in the global information society. Players will be instructed in advanced chess concepts, compete against one another to develop their own personal abilities, and have the opportunity to participate in local tournaments. 

If you would like your child to participate click here to register now!

Friday: Gym Games with Stan, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. (preprimary – 2nd grade) and 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. (3rd grade and up) / NO ADDITIONAL COST for 15 sessions

Stan Coleman brings his high energy and enthusiasm into the gymnasium to end each week with some good ol’ competition filled with sportsmanship, teamwork, and fun. Children will attend their age appropriate class on Fridays and engage in a multitude of classic gym games and indoor sports. A large emphasis is placed on participation, respect, and learning to not take yourself too seriously!

29 11, 2017

Note from Nancy | November 29, 2017

By |2018-12-17T11:32:09-06:00November 29th, 2017|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

Welcome back from what I hope was a splendid week with your families and loved ones. We could not be more thrilled to have our students back with us. Thank you to all of the families who shared pictures of their Thanksgiving Day tables with me. I’ve included some of these lovely photos at the end of this note. Take a moment to enjoy the ways we define family, and celebrate our customs and cultures through food.

As a reminder we are currently in the midst of our annual fund. We cannot do the amazing work of educating our young people without your support. Please consider donating to the annual fund if you haven’t already. Any dollar amount counts!

Believe it or not, we only have about three weeks before our winter holiday break. Our school year is flying! As you prepare for a family vacation or just some quiet time at home, continue to engage your children in learning experiences. Keep your children’s minds “warm” over break by having them read to themselves or to you. Have them tackle a project that requires the use of multiple skill sets as a way to extend their learning from school. Think back to earlier notes where I described the importance of different types of materials in a child’s learning, and how you can utilize those things at home.



15 11, 2017

Note from Nancy | November 15, 2017

By |2018-12-17T11:32:09-06:00November 15th, 2017|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

Despite the rainy weather, we welcomed many families at an Open House today where we shared how Montessori principles, social justice, experiential learning, and community underlie our progressive approach to teaching and learning. Every time I walk prospective parents through our school, I am struck anew by our incredibly rich, holistic learning environments. Consider having your friends whose children do not attend Ancona visit one of our open houses. You are all essential conduits for sharing the richness of our school with others, and as such, our most powerful recruiters! Your voice matters. 

In other school news, we are looking forward to parent-teacher and student-led conferences next week. Conferences are a great opportunity to hear about how your child is learning and growing. Look for progress reports to be sent home at the end of this week. 

Looking ahead to the upcoming holidays, I invite you to share with me what you and your family are thankful for. For those of you observing Thanksgiving, consider sending me a photo (gro.l1561435527oohcs1561435527anocn1561435527a@rss1561435527ann1561435527) of your dinner table to share with the larger community. I find that one of the things that truly makes our school so unique is how hard-pressed you’d be to define what family looks like here at Ancona. Food is a unique and powerful way to explore intersectionality and, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, a great way to see how that intersectionality plays out on our dinner tables. What are your special sides? 

I wish you all a wonderful weekend with your loved ones.


9 11, 2017

Note from Nancy | November 9, 2017

By |2018-12-17T11:32:10-06:00November 9th, 2017|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

Joy. It’s a word I use often, and a central theme of this school year. As you have no doubt heard me share with our community, happiness is central to our work with students. Though it may seem obvious, we can sometimes lose sight of happiness in our day-to-day activities. Today at the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) conference, I had the opportunity to hear from Amy Blankson, a neuroscience researcher and author in the field of positive psychology who reaffirmed the idea that happiness is a critical lever for productivity, satisfaction, and success. 

I share this because in our work with children and adults, the attitude we bring matters. Our brain is constantly bombarded with information, and how we choose to process that information also matters. If we actively seek to understand information through the lens of positivity, we can actually rewire our default settings that oftentimes direct us to things we find stressful, rather than joyful. Helping our children reframe information positively can lead to much greater outcomes for them in the future. In fact, there is a growing body of research that shows that happiness actually leads to healthier and longer lives in individuals. 

Our work together is enriched when we build meaningful connections between one another, rooted in positivity. I encourage you to think about how you can work with your children at home to build what Amy Blankson describes as, “constellations of positive habits”— i.e. chances to reinforce the good and positive in each of our days. Think about incorporating journaling as part of your nightly routine with your children to give you and your family a chance to reflect on the things for which you are grateful; encourage your children to think of something different each night. Come up with “conscious acts of kindness,” where you and your family do something thoughtful for another person each day.

Community, and caring about others, is one of the hallmarks of our school. However, community is not something that sustains itself. Rather, it has to be nurtured and cultivated through conscious behaviors that seek to include everyone. As I visited our fifth and sixth grade students at Nature’s Classroom yesterday, and saw the beautiful way in which they played together as a community, I was reminded how fundamental it is to create spaces for that kind of learning. 

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend, 

2 11, 2017

Note from Nancy | November 2, 2017

By |2018-12-17T11:32:11-06:00November 2nd, 2017|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

With a wonderful Halloween assembly, a visit to the opera, and the launch of our updated My Classrooms pages, this has been an incredible—and busy—week for us at Ancona!

As I travel in and out of classrooms and confer with teachers, I am excited about the ways students are being encouraged to explore a wide range of ideas and topics. Last Friday, I watched as Katrina and Liz facilitated an inquiry-based discussion with 7th and 8th graders using a simple slinky! Students were quite literally sitting on the edge of their seats as their teachers demonstrated an experiment that forced them to conjecture as to what might be happening and why. Check out the video below to see if you can figure it out! 


In one of our Creative Expression Lab (CEL) classes, also for 7th and 8th grade, Rodney, our Technology Integration Coordinator, is working with students to explore and define the concept of diversity through photography and digital storytelling. 

Elsewhere around the school, we are getting ready to send the 5th and 6th graders off to camp at Nature’s Classroom, where they will build community and explore the natural world around them. These kinds of opportunities we create for students to experience learning with all their senses are central to what we do everyday at school. 

Parent-teacher conferences are coming up soon, so do make sure you sign-up. During your conference, I encourage you to talk with teachers about how to extend learning at home. We are, after all, partners in the work. Learning at home, like learning in school, is best when the child is rooted in a context, an experience, or a story. Think about guiding your children to important pearls of wisdom by using your environment, your routines, or your practices as the frame. 

Wishing you all a joyful and warm weekend,


11 10, 2017

Why We Camp

By |2018-12-17T11:32:12-06:00October 11th, 2017|Curriculum Connection, Experiential Learning|0 Comments

By Janet Gray-McKennis, 3rd and 4th Grade Head Teacher

There are many reasons we take our third and fourth graders to Camp Edwards. Each of the four trips they experience is different from the others, and they have different objectives. The academic focus this fall has included immersing ourselves in a year-long study of ecosystems, and we will soon launch our social studies unit on American Indians. In addition, we had three primary goals for this trip that had nothing to do with our academic agenda.

One purpose very close to my heart is to provide our students with an opportunity to begin or continue to develop a deep relationship with nature. We began the trip with making shelters from found natural materials. While this activity will connect to future work examining characteristic shelters made by various Indian nations, students primarily experienced building their shelter as an act of making in the context of the group. On the way to each activity, the children soaked it all up. They noticed flowers, trees, frogs, fungi, animal homes and trails, and more. Many of us were repeatedly struck by the beauty of the place. At night, the familiar trails became spooky and mysterious, and students had encounters with wild creatures, both real and imaginary. Under the open sky, we found the moon and a few stars from familiar constellations. In the morning there was Mars. While in the forest, students had the opportunity to feel intimately connected to the small things of nature.

Another important aim was to give children the chance to enhance their social development. The classrooms always come back from the fall camping trip more cohesive. There is a team-building aspect that is inherent in many of the everyday activities. Children work with a variety of other students as they set tables and clean up after meals, figure out how to construct a shelter together, practice their cabin skit, and cheer one another at the climbing wall. Our classroom community is enhanced by the challenges that we have overcome together.

Finally, our intention was to offer the students an opportunity to overcome difficulties.  Persistence is a trait that we believe will help our students to be successful in life as well as in school. At school, children might stop just at the moment they need to push themselves to try a little harder. Recognizing that a child is about to make a breakthrough, teachers can encourage students to resist the temptation to give up. But it’s much more effective for children to experience the rewards of perseverance themselves. How valuable for children to understand through experience, rather than being told, what will help them to overcome adversity. As they practiced aiming for the target in archery, found their way when they missed a turn on the path, or attempted to climb the wall, our students experienced some of life’s powerful metaphors. I wish for each of our students that they will aim carefully for their heart’s desire, find their path whenever they are lost, and climb dizzying heights to reach the summits for which they long. Experiencing the power of persistence is a key part of our curriculum.

I want to take this opportunity to recommend helping out as a parent chaperone, and to thank all of the parents who have helped us, both this fall, and over the years to help make this experience available to our students. Chaperones serve the entire community by ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students. They make sure that students get to their activities, monitor hydration, remind them to wash, help friends work out problems, and take amazing photos for the folks back home.

4 10, 2017

Join Us For Ancona Day 2017!

By |2018-12-17T11:32:13-06:00October 4th, 2017|Parent News, Public News|0 Comments

Students, families, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, and friends of Ancona are all cordially invited to our fourth annual Ancona Day!
Join us for an afternoon of food, fun, fellowship, daffodil planting, and the dedication of the Larry Ware Memorial Courtyard. Barbecue will be provided by Chucks Southern Comfort Cafe
28 09, 2017

Car Line Dismissal Process for Parents

By |2018-12-17T11:32:13-06:00September 28th, 2017|Parent News|0 Comments

At the end of a work day, many of us want to quickly get to our cars and take a moment to exhale. Ancona students are the same: at the end of their school day, they want to reunite with their adults and take a moment to exhale. 

This car line process has been designed to give each student that moment. It will also improve safety, mitigate cars getting stuck in the alley, and help us be good neighbors.

Please contact Ayanna Savage at gro.l1561435527oohcs1561435527anocn1561435527a@ega1561435527vasa1561435527 if you have any questions about the updated car line process. 
Preprimary Families — Pick Up Time: 3:00 PM
Preprimary families will be given color coded placards to place in their car windows. You will receive this placard from your child’s teacher, and the color will indicate the classroom and teacher. It should be placed on the passenger side dashboard during pick-up. 

When you arrive at the school, please stay with your car. Your child will be brought to you by a member of the Ancona staff. You may also choose to stand just outside your car so your child will see you.
Elementary School Families (Grades 1-4) — Pick Up Time: 3:10 PM
Elementary school families will be given a color coded placard for the appropriate pick up time. You will receive this placard from your child’s teacher, and it should be placed on the passenger side dashboard. Please do not arrive earlier than the time indicated on the placards; early arrivals will be asked to return at their designated pick up time.

When you arrive at the school, please stay with your car. Your child will be brought to you by a member of the Ancona staff.
Middle School Families (Grades 5-8) — Pick Up Time: 3:20pm
All Middle School families should arrive for pick-up at 3:20 PM. Parents arriving before this time will be asked to return at their designated pick up time.
Families with Children in Multiple Grades
Please place the placard in your car for the youngest child being picked up.

5 09, 2017

Welcome Back from Interim Head of School Nancy Nassr

By |2018-12-17T11:32:14-06:00September 5th, 2017|Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Ancona Community,

Welcome back for the start of another fantastic year! I am so honored and excited to be serving as Ancona’s new Interim Head of School. I want to take this opportunity to share with you a little bit more about myself and share my enthusiasm for the amazing things to come this year.

Becoming an educator was a choice I made long before I was consciously aware of it. As an immigrant, and the child of immigrants, I was made to feel different—even invisible—by some of my own teachers. I resolved early on that I would never make anyone else feel that way, especially if I could do something about it. As I grew older, I found myself falling in love with teaching. That love, coupled with my fundamental desire to challenge injustice, made me realize that the classroom was the perfect place to ignite the minds and passions of young people.

When I was an English Literature teacher, I encouraged my students to question ideas and notions of right and wrong, and I expected them to ask instead of accept. I created a space where students were empowered to use their voices, and collectively we built powerful classroom communities that allowed every student a seat at the proverbial table. The classroom was my passion, but as I grew in my career I was challenged to accept leadership positions that helped me grow in different ways. While at first I missed working directly with students, over time I realized that instructional leadership afforded me the unique opportunity to cultivate learning in my colleagues, and build inclusive communities beyond the walls of my classroom.

Coming to Ancona has been a natural extension of the work I have done over my nearly 20 years as an educator. I have always prided myself on my commitment to progressive education and social justice; Ancona, simply put, feels like home. I believe that children are inherently curious, and that school should nurture those curiosities and provide space for exploration. Ancona is a beacon for what is possible when you believe in the power of children, and support them with an extraordinary curriculum and an outstanding faculty. It is a school filled with beautiful traditions and  wonderful people who all share a desire to do good in the world. As we embark on this journey together, I pledge to live our mission in a manner that embraces each and every child who enters our doors.

I invite you to join me in the coming days and weeks so we can get to know each other! I will be hosting four morning coffees on the following dates, culminating in a Community Meeting at the end of the month.

Coffee with the Head, Wednesday, September 6, 8:30-9:30 AM

Coffee with the Head, Thursday, September 7, 8:30-9:30 AM

Coffee with the Head, Monday, September 11,  8:30-9:30 AM

Coffee with the Head, Thursday, September 14, 8:30-9:30 AM

Community Meeting, Thursday, September 28, 6:30 PM (invitation forthcoming)

It is a pleasure and a privilege to have the opportunity to lead such a special place, and I am thrilled about what’s to come. Here’s to a great school year!


Nancy Nassr, Interim Head of School