In classes throughout the Early Education Center (EEC), tiny feet twitch and eager eyes watch with anticipation for a very special moment: the revealing of the week’s mystery reader! This year, parents were invited to record themselves reading a favorite book to share with their child’s class. The resulting videos have become a main attraction and a meaningful way for families to become involved.
“We have a different mystery reader each week,” said EEC faculty member Rachael Carter. “The children light up when they see their parent or a friend’s parent. It’s been a phenomenal way to build connections between home and school.” Part of the fun is the guessing game of who will virtually appear in the classroom. Parents enjoy choosing books that fit with a special class investigation or help celebrate a holiday. Attention to detail is key; dressing the part for Halloween, Laura Barnhart read Room On the Broom to her son William’s pre-primary class.
Hearing a familiar voice is deeply reassuring to children, as is continuing the EEC tradition of parents taking the time out of their day to read a special book to the class. “Such a fun, creative, and unique way for us to be a part of our child’s day,” said Kate Daughtry, who read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to her daughter Eliza’s pre-primary class. For Ashley Hall faculty members, it is one more way to reinforce the vital partnership between home and school. “The children’s surprise is always the best!” enthused EEC Director Betsy Quirin. “They have been loving it!” With such a supportive learning environment, the reason why is certainly no mystery.
In the Early Education Center (EEC), play is paramount to learning, and students now have several new ways to pique their curiosity and captivate their attention. “As part of our Reggio-inspired curriculum, we strongly believe that our students learn best through hands-on, experiential learning,” said EEC Director Betsy Quirin. “We recognize the importance of creating a relationship-driven atmosphere where our students can connect with each other, materials in the classroom, and their environment.” Thanks to the efforts of a generous donor, two new STEAM-focused centers have debuted, to the thrill of students and teachers alike.
First encountering the EEC’s new wind tunnel, Jack Bischoff ’36 exclaimed to his teacher, “This. is. Amazing. Mrs. Carter!” and his classmates enthusiastically agreed! “The wind tunnel is a truly unique experience where our students can explore the movement and pressure of air, object weight, and force,” noted Quirin. “It can transition to different angles to allow for even more experimentation, and the children love exploring the cause and effect relationship of placing different objects inside of the tunnel to see the exciting results!” All kinds of appropriate objects have safely been launched airborne, inspiring numerous investigations in the classroom.
The addition of light laboratories for each EEC grade level has also encouraged new understandings of color, with students leading their own color mixing explorations. “The children are fascinated with experimenting with not just color mixing but also object translucency and manipulation,” Quirin pointed out. “We love how this hands-on, exploratory tool allows our students to transform and create.”
Key in fostering experiential play, the wind tunnel and light laboratories will offer students hours of enrichment and learning. Just as importantly, these centers are sparking new ways for young minds to understand the scientific and creative underpinnings of life. What an amazing gift, indeed.
Early Education Center (EEC) and younger Lower School students have a new way to highlight their adventures and achievements this year! An online learning platform that documents learning experiences in dynamic ways, Seesaw gives both teachers and students options to showcase important lessons, explorations, and milestones. “The EEC has been looking for a new platform to easily capture and share students’ work with their families, and we are thrilled to introduce Seesaw, which has already proven to be a wonderful addition to our classes,” said EEC faculty member Batey Self. “Teachers are able to easily upload photos and student work, and families can instantly respond and give feedback. Recently, I captured a student writing his name for the first time at school and was able to quickly share that moment with his family. They responded with such joy that it warmed my heart that we were all connected in this milestone. We love sharing what their children are doing throughout the day and how happy they are to be at school.”
For students in kindergarten through second grade, Seesaw is proving to be an effective tool for both expression and self-direction. Logging into the platform, students take the initiative to complete assignments and document their own discoveries to share with their homeroom and connection teachers as well as their fellow classmates. “Seesaw creates a digital portfolio of each student’s work, which allows us to understand strengths and target areas for growth,” noted Lower School faculty member Lee Tamblyn. “Our girls have been doing a variety of activities, including recording their voice as they read a part of a book to us, reading sight words, counting coins, filling in missing numbers on number lines, and drawing their favorite reading spot in their homes. Most of our lessons have included an opportunity for them to explore the tools they can use—drawing, text boxes, highlighting, and more.” By encouraging both critical thinking and class engagement, Seesaw is helping students find the perfect balance for a new school year.