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22 03, 2018

Note from Nancy | March 22, 2018

By | March 22nd, 2018|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

This week, I wanted to take a moment to share my gratitude with our community, and the ways in which you have welcomed me into Ancona.  It has been my distinct honor and privilege to lead this school over the past several months, and I am incredibly proud of the work we have been able to accomplish this year. Despite challenges, we are growing, we are thriving, and prospective families are falling in love with who we are.

Ancona is a school with a rich history, and strong mission that is helping reimagine what education can and should look like. This a community replete with the belief that education is a powerful tool for positive change, and we are doing great things as a collective, committed to these ideals. I could not be more proud of our accomplishments this year. This is a special school with an extraordinary team of people who work tirelessly to fundamentally support our students and their families. A school is greater than any one person, and we each play a role in making this a place that truly celebrates, cultivates and enriches our students.

Whatever the outcome of the Head of School search, I want you all to know that it has been my distinct pleasure to serve Ancona, and the larger community in which our beautiful school is situated. My greatest hope for Ancona is that we can all support, and work with, whoever our next Head of School is so that we can continue to grow a school whose future is as rich as its past.

Thank you for your care and for your warmth since my arrival here at Ancona. The future of our school is bright with possibility, and I am humbled to be a part of that story.

Warmly,

Nancy

1 03, 2018

Note from Nancy | March 1, 2018

By | March 1st, 2018|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

The weather is slowly changing, the sun is returning, and here at Ancona, things are humming with the anticipation of spring. Tomorrow at the African American Heritage Assembly, our first and second graders will take the lead in an exploration of the work of African American artists from Chicago. The assembly will take an historical perspective that explores music, performing and visual arts. 

On Saturday, March 10 we will host our 6th annual Diversity Symposium exploring Race and Green Space in Chicago. New this year, the Symposium will offer a parallel kids track so that our children can engage in the learning alongside adults. Please make sure to register and spread the word. Conference sign-ups open tomorrow so be sure to secure your time with teachers. And in two short weeks, our eighth graders will be off to Oaxaca! 

Looking ahead, please keep an eye out for an email from me that will share a detailed explanation of the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) accreditation process, which Ancona goes through every 7 years. This is an important part of our learning and growth as an organization, and it requires a tremendous amount of work on the parts of our staff, teachers, and administrators. Accreditation is essential to our institutional integrity, and the process allows us to reflect on the mission, practices, programs, and governance of our school.

We are currently in year one of the process, and an important part of this year’s work is to engage our stakeholders in a survey which asks them to share their feedback on any number of topics related to Ancona. Everyone in our community—students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators, alumni, and Board—is asked to participate; your feedback is essential to the process, and helps us grow and get better. Be on the lookout for the survey links and more detailed information on the ISACS accreditation process coming soon. 

I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow at our African American Heritage Assembly!

Best, 
Nancy

8 02, 2018

Note from Nancy: Curriculum Night | February 8, 2018

By | February 8th, 2018|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

Yesterday evening we hosted an incredible Curriculum Night! Over 70 people were in attendance and of that number, almost half were prospective families. It was a wonderful evening filled with stimulating conversation and community building. Teachers made the learning visible through wonderful displays of student work and thoughtful presentations of our learning models. Parents shared with me how informative the event was in helping them understand teaching and learning at Ancona. 

Our prospective families were thrilled to meet teachers and parents alike—they engaged in wonderful discussions about the school, and expressed that they hoped to be with us next year. It was a challenge ushering attendants out at the close of the evening as everyone wanted to continue the conversations. 

As I have shared in previous messages and at different forums this year, one of our goals as a school is to continually improve communications with our families, particularly as they relate to learning. The theme continues to be visible learning.  As such, I have been hard at work planning a parent education series that will launch in a few short weeks! One of the primary goals of this initiative is to help parents navigate the different developmental stages of their children, and the respective challenges associated with these milestones. I look forward to sharing more information with you, and hearing from each of you, what else you would like to see as a part of this initiative. 

We have so many wonderful things happening here at Ancona, and I’m excited about all that is to come. Thank you all for your continued partnership.

Warmly, 

Nancy

18 01, 2018

Note from Nancy: The Social Justice Data Fair | January 18, 2018

By | January 18th, 2018|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

We look forward to seeing many of you at our Middle School Social Justice Data Fair this Friday! The Social Justice Data Fair is a great example of how we integrate learning from across the curriculum into one comprehensive project driven by student interest.  

After students select a topic rooted in a social justice issue, they are then prompted to generate a research question that explores the issue. For example, students might explore gender equality, incarceration rates in different countries, healthcare, environmental rights, or any number of other topics that pique a genuine interest for our learners. Students spend a good deal of time researching the topic, crafting a thesis, and then presenting their findings and solutions using mathematical models learned in class.

Initially, students learn to compare and explore numbers using percentages, compare data from different sample sizes, and investigate the relative size of numbers using pie charts. Over the years, this learning grows into a more nuanced understanding of statistical correlations and applications using scatter plots and other more complex visual representations.

The work culminates in a synthesis of the students’ learning when our student researchers prepare and present proposed solutions for tackling the issue. It’s truly an incredible learning experience for our students, combining our commitment to issues that matter with specific, content-area application. It simply should not be missed. Come help us celebrate our students and their learning by joining us this Friday!

Best, 
Nancy

11 01, 2018

Note from Nancy | January 11, 2018

By | January 11th, 2018|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

Welcome back, and Happy New Year! 

We have had a wonderful start to our new year, with students and teachers diving into new learnings. Students in middle school are working fervently on completing their Social Justice Data Fair projects for their upcoming presentations, while third and fourth graders are steadily working on preparing their play for the Peace and Justice Assembly.

This year will also mark the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. For many of us, this will be a time of reflection as we think about the implications of losing one of the greatest social justice activists our country has ever seen. For others, it will be a time of action, or perhaps some combination of both. In either case, I invite you to think about the words of Dr. King when he stated: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” At Ancona, we take a position and we care about the fundamental dignity of every human being. We are an organization that will continue to challenge students academically and educate the whole child in the context of activism and care. 

For those of you thinking about how you might want to spend time with your children on this momentous day of commemoration, take some time to peruse the the options being presented by the National Civil Rights Museum. This link will take you to a wonderful symposium they are hosting called “Where Do We Go From Here”; the symposium is happening in April with tickets still available. 

We are off to a great start, and I look forward to a strong finish.

Warmly, 
Nancy

14 12, 2017

Note from Nancy | December 14, 2017

By | December 14th, 2017|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Dear Parents,

Earlier this week, I got to spend some time in Anne’s 5th and 6th grade social studies class as students prepared to engage in a role play of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, the first-ever women’s rights convention held in the United States. I was able to watch and interact with our students as they took on the identities of different marginalized women’s groups—Cherokee women, Enslaved African-American women, New Mexican women, etc. Students were asked to consider the needs of these groups individually and then prioritize them with the goal of unifying all the groups to present at the convention later that week. 

I was moved by the way this lesson humanized the people often written out of the historical record. Not only were students given the opportunity to learn about these groups, they were then empowered to use that knowledge to champion for the social, cultural, ethnic, and religious rights of women. What an incredible way to live our commitment to social justice in practice. 

It goes without saying that our current cultural and social climate as it relates to women is fraught with challenges. If the #metoo movement is any indication of where we are in terms of gender equity and equality, the world is in need of change and far from where we might want it to be. Each time I walk into a class, I am reminded that our classrooms are the incubators for that change. We are doing the work of both educating our students and helping them engage critically in the world around them.

I can’t believe we are only a week and a day away from winter break! It’s been such a busy year and I hope you enjoy this well-deserved time off. I wish you all a restful weekend with your loved ones.

Warmly, 

Nancy

7 12, 2017

Note from Nancy | December 7, 2017

By | December 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!

Best, 
Nancy

29 11, 2017

Note from Nancy | November 29, 2017

By | November 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.

Warmly,

Nancy

15 11, 2017

Note from Nancy | November 15, 2017

By | November 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.l1534698928oohcs1534698928anocn1534698928a@rss1534698928ann1534698928) 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.

Best, 
Nancy

9 11, 2017

Note from Nancy | November 9, 2017

By | November 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, 
Nancy