Opening-of-School Information and Forms
August 2, 2012
Dear Pingree families,
My warmest welcome to all new families along with my wishes for thrilling summer adventures to all! I cherish the rare space that summer's slowed tempo provides for family time, for making unexpected connections, and for wild lightning strikes of inspiration. Paradoxically, I also find the change of pace necessary for getting work done. As Tim Kreider reminds us in his recent New York Times article entitled “The Busy Trap,” "Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”
Summer at the Groeber/Johnson household is a bit like the opening number at a fall middle school jazz concert. Soon after our little musicians crawl out of their pajamas, the improvisation begins. The plan to create shadow boxes turns into a wrestling match for glue and a conversation about sharing. The plan to play water games in the backyard requires an abrupt shift to Plan B as the twins remove their clothes and head into the woods in search of “anaconda reptiles and butterflies.” Dinner plans are adapted after we find the empty bag of pita chips that was consumed under the kitchen table a few minutes before meal time. The types of stories change with age, of course, but our planning and improvisation as parents remain constant.
I thought about your children and the balance of planning and improvisation last week when attending a conference on the future of building learning communities. What I found lacking in many of the well-prepared presentations was the essential conversation about the learner; more specifically, the personal understanding of how and when to adapt plans to the lives and needs of students to enhance their engagement, drive, understanding, and critical thinking.
What often goes unsaid, and what is usually left out of the online education discussion, is how highly adept teachers read their audiences. In intimate settings such as Pingree’s, teachers may use body language, adjust tone of voice, survey students for understanding, and vary assessments to reach all learners. But they also deploy something tantamount to artistry. They are superb at sensing mood. They have a sort of pedagogical sixth sense. They feel when the class is engaged and when it slips off. And they do something about it. Their every question, gesture, or joke is a sounding - a way of discerning who is out there on a given day. I have come to appreciate these soundings as a core element of the Pingree experience. Such moments are only possible when students are known well and when passion and preparation for teaching are deep. Summer provides the essential space for the latter to be honed before we shift back to reading students in the fall.
After finishing The Other Wes Moore earlier this summer, I have been thinking about how we know your children and how they define themselves. How are we planning and improvising together? What themes remain constant as circumstances force variations? Why did Cadet Hill or Colonel Batt improvise for Wes Moore at Valley Forge Military Academy? These questions and decisions ultimately influence the courses of lives. Understanding this incredible charge, we at Pingree are preparing for a new academic year of meaningful connection and guidance.
Please take time with your child to review all opening -of-school information. Important letters, forms, schedules, and the parent/student handbook are now available.
The following forms require immediate attention:
(1) Health Forms (required to attend pre-season)
(2) Permission Slips for Opening Week Trips, grades 10 and 12
Due August 30:
(1) Bus Form
(2) Transportation Form
(3) Parents Association Volunteer Form
Later this month, all returning students will be notified by Kristin Brown, Academic Dean, when their schedules are available to be accessed in the student portal. New students will receive their schedules at orientation on Wednesday, August 29.
Our student directory is now available via P3, the Pingree Parent Portal. Throughout the year, grades, comments, and additional protected information will also be available via P3. Next week, Tammy Conrad, Director of Technology, will send you an email about accessing and using this recently upgraded resource, as well as how to review and update your profile and contact information. Please direct any questions about the parent portal to Tammy at email@example.com.
Weekly e-newsletters, our website, and email will continue to be our primary methods for staying in touch, and I hope you find our summer website upgrades user-friendly and easy to navigate. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to sharing much more about our strategic plan; Proudly Pingree: The Campaign for Arts, Athletics, and Access; and our program initiatives for the year. Please contact me directly if you do not have access to the internet at home, and we will provide printed copies of school forms and information.
As always, please call the front office with any questions and know that you always have a direct line to me throughout the year at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through Joy Foley, Executive Assistant to the Head of School, at email@example.com. Care for and communication about your children is always my top priority.
In closing, I am grateful for the opportunity to know your children, and I am looking forward to collaborative efforts with you, faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni who share a passion for education and the life of the mind; who care deeply about others; and who value the promise borne out of focused effort. I look forward to seeing everyone together again soon. This is going to be an incredible year!
Please enjoy the remaining weeks of summer. For now, I am off to a little more idle improvisation.
Head of School