Conversations in Education

From teacher book groups to conversations in the faculty lounge, Prep faculty and administrators think a lot about how we support students. Each month in 2017-18, we are featuring a piece by a Prep faculty member or administrator that gives a slice of life at Prep. If you would like to share your ideas, feel free to comment on an individual post or contact Dean of Studies Sarah Cooper.

From teacher book groups to conversations in the faculty lounge, Prep faculty read and talk a lot about education. Each month we highlight a few memorable pieces or videos. Our goal is to make the process of parenting, learning and living a little saner, to put things a little more in perspective. These articles will be chosen by Prep teachers and administrators.  If you want to share your ideas, feel free to comment on an individual post or contact Dean of Studies Sarah Cooper.

Common-Sense Advice from Susan Stiffelman

What: "Strengthening Connection and Avoiding Conflict in the Teen Years"
When: April 12, 2016 at 6:45 pm; a cocktail reception will follow in the Chandramohan Library
Where: Prep’s Norris Auditorium

On April 10, Flintridge Prep will present the last of four events in its annual Speaker Series for parents: Strengthening Connection and Avoiding Conflict in the Teen Years by Susan Stiffelman, MFT. 

Susan will discuss how parents can maintain connection with their kids, especially as kids pull away and seek more independence during the teen years. She’ll also discuss methods and strategies to help kids and parents effectively communicate with each other—focusing on the unique challenges that face this generation of teens due to the sea change in technology and societal pressures to succeed. 

Susan is a parent coach for the Huffington Post, a marriage and family therapist, a credentialed teacher and a licensed psychotherapist. For over 30 years, Susan has worked with families to create greater harmony and deeper connections between parents and children. Susan is the author of the bestselling books, Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected and Parenting With Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids.

Take a look at Susan’s compelling Huffington Post columns to hear more about her practical and common-sense parenting philosophy. A few of our favorites include:

There Is No Cure for the 7th Grade

Phoebe was in the 7th grade when her mom brought her to my office to help with issues adjusting after moving to California from the East Coast. 

Parenting in the Digital Age

An email arrives in my inbox almost every day with some version of the following: “I’m losing my kids to their smartphones/video games/internet.” 

My Heart Is Breaking as Daughter Heads Off to College!

I still remember days just before my son Ari went off to college. In my mind, I knew that it was time for him to step into his adult life. I was excited for him to begin having new adventures. And...the whole thing seemed utterly surreal. I couldn’t remember life without my son in it. 

Posted by rfeliciano on Wednesday March 28
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(Social) Justice League Brings Diverse Conversations to Prep

By Heba Hathout Allen and Barrett Jamison

In Anaheim this fall, six students and six faculty from Prep attended a nationwide conference on diversity sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).  To take the conference back to campus, 7th and 9th grade advisors recently led activities created by the students who attended, connecting advisees to each other through discussions of important issues.

Flintridge Prep's philosophy statement on diversity is intentionally broad, stating that "we believe in the essential value of diversity—of people, of talent, of interests, of passions and of engagements." The Student Diversity Leadership Conference focused on the understanding of identity in terms of eight identifiers: ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. According to the conference website, students who attend “develop effective cross-cultural communication skills, better understand the nature and development of effective strategies for social justice, practice expression through the arts and learn networking principles and strategies.”

Prep’s six-member student team named itself the tongue-in-cheek (Social) Justice League, a nod to the theme of this year’s conference: “Voices for Equity and Justice, Now and in Every Generation.” Those who attended—Marissa Habashy ’19, Ryan Huntley ’19, Mia Bella Chavez ’20, Germaine Harvey ’20, Maya Khurana ’20 and Charlie McCormick ’20—commented at length on the impact the conference had on their perspectives, saying that “Everyone has an important story that needs to be heard” and “I learned not to assume anything about a person when I first meet them.” 

The students brought these understandings back to campus by designing advisory group activities on two of the diversity identifiers, socioeconomic status and ability. For the socioeconomic activity, students reflected on how hard it can be to make financial choices, and in the ability activity, students did an empathy exercise to consider the many ways in which people experience mental, physical, emotional and learning challenges. For many groups, this included a conversation about basic daily needs, such as getting enough sleep and incorporating exercise into a packed schedule.

While the students immersed themselves in SDLC, their faculty chaperones—Dean of Student Life Barrett Jamison, 7th Grade Dean Heba Allen and Dean of Studies Sarah Cooper—attended the simultaneously-held People of Color Conference (PoCC), which the conference website describes as “the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching and learning.” Director of College Counseling Gloria Ventura, Associate Director of College Counseling Brooke Yoshino and science teacher David Herman also went to this year’s conference.

For both adults and students, the PoCC and SDLC conferences offered an intense three-day experience filled with speakers, dialogue, role plays, personal reflection and activities. Approximately 1,500 students and 4,500 adults from independent schools across the country gathered to share experiences and learn from each other. They heard from presenters such as author Ta-Nehisi Coates (whose latest book is the current faculty book group choice), civil rights advocate Kimberle Crenshaw and social activist DeRay Mckesson. Two of the many sessions the Prep faculty members attended were “Who Is Us? The Future of American Identity” and “Personal Identity Exploration for Building a More Inclusive Classroom.”

Ultimately, the PoCC and SDLC conferences inspired students, teachers and administrators to discuss how Prep can continue to foster a welcoming environment that values all voices. As one student reflected, “I think my biggest takeaway was not to make any judgments about a specific person or a group of people until you have spoken face-to-face and heard what they have to say. It's incredible how much that will change your mind.” 

Posted by rfeliciano on Monday February 26 at 02:59PM
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STEAM & Service: Stronger Together

By Laura Kaufman and Nick Ponticello

It is the year 2030 and you’ve made contact with an alien species. You can communicate through images alone. Which pictures will you send to these extraterrestrial beings to convey the nature of the human race? 

It is this kind of question that our students try to answer at Prep’s STEAM & Service Fair. As adults, today’s students will be solving problems that aren’t even on our radar. To help our students develop the skills they will need to tackle these unforeseeable questions, we look to provide them with opportunities to think creatively, cooperatively, and interdisciplinarily.

By incorporating aspects of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) into our curriculum, we teach the kind of adaptive thinking and reasoning skills necessary to turn our students into innovators. 

It starts with program and curriculum design. Prep’s faculty STEAM Team meets after school once a month to brainstorm and refine projects that take place inside and outside of our classrooms. Our shared goal is to encourage students to approach problems from new perspectives, through engagement in activities that ignite their passions and showcase their individuality.

For example, 9th grade biology students are asked to bring an understanding of biochemistry to cooking a favorite food item. Art students are asked to apply their knowledge of physics to a bottle of paint swinging on a pendulum. And geometry students are asked to use their knowledge of triangles to balance the perfect mobile.

But development of skills and discovery of passions is just a first step. Scientist and author Carl Sagan once said, “Who are we, if not measured by our impact on others?” Our STEAM & Service Fair reimagines the multiple ways in which our students define themselves through their impact.

Some of the most exemplary examples of how STEAM and service can complement and strengthen one another arise through the 8th grade community impact projects. Every 8th grader spends more than half the school year designing a service activity, putting it into motion, and measuring the impact they’ve had on the community. 

For example, Colin Ng ’22 and John Stetson ’22 are mixing science, technology, design, and service by teaching a student at Club 21 to play basketball. They are filming the experience and editing a video to post on the Club 21 website in order to bring more awareness to Down syndrome.

Colin and John’s project combines the best of STEAM and service, using multiple techniques to educate our community about Down syndrome through videographic displays and scientific measurements. You’ll see the results of projects like this on display at the STEAM & Service Fair, where all the 8th graders will be discussing the broader implications of their work.

Our youngest students also integrate STEAM and/or service into their curricula. At the fair, you will also see animated movies designed by 7th graders that use the programming language Scratch to illustrate lessons they learned in academic classes, such as the order of operations in math and an overview of digestion from start to finish.

Meanwhile, STEAM learning continues in high school. You will see photo boxes inspired by NASA’s Golden Record, each containing its own interpretation of the human condition—a project of the 10th grade photography class in collaboration with English classes. You will see students presenting traditional science fair projects that investigate the most efficient wind turbines and the most effective water purification methods. And you will see the 12th graders’ anatomical design projects.

The STEAM & Service Fair is also a great place to get to know our robotics team and our DIY club. From flower-dyed fabrics to automated machines, these extracurricular clubs show off the very best of design thinking and hands-on making. 

At the STEAM & Service Fair, our students share their passions with the community. By mixing STEAM and community awareness, they start wondering what they can bring to the table and how they can leave their mark on the world.

We hope that you’ll come check out all the amazing projects on display at the upcoming STEAM & Service Fair: Thursday, February 8, from 7-8:30 pm in the gym! 

Posted by rfeliciano on Tuesday January 30 at 03:22PM
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Flintridge Preparatory School
4543 Crown Avenue La Cañada Flintridge CA 91011
Tel: 818-790-1178
Fax: 818-952-6247
Located near Pasadena and Los Angeles in La Cañada, CA, Flintridge Prep is a private independent, coed day school for grades 7-12.
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