Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Also Starring....!

Maria LoCicero, the talented and glamorous celebrity of our 4-6 class, is also acting in the Ypsilanti Youth Theater's production of 'East of the Sun, West of the Moon', along with Eli, who I mentioned in my last post. Maria will be playing Garth, the strong elder brother, AND a troll, demonstrating great versatility in her acting skills. Maria, my apologies for omitting you! I did not realize! Congratulations, and break a leg!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Alumnus in the Limelight

We have been blessed over the years with many amazing and talented students, who are now out there being amazing and talented in different arenas. One such is our much-loved Eli Tell, who is starring as Justin, the prince who has been turned into a bear by the trolls, in the Ypsilanti Youth Theater's production of 'East of the Sun, West of the Moon'. Look on our community notice board for the flyer. The play will be performed November 14, 15 and 16.

Eli discovered theatre - or it discovered him - here at SK when he played Banquo in our production of Macbeth two years ago. He has never looked back. Last year he played Arlecchino in the Commedia del'Arte production the kids devised and performed for our Graduation ceremony. It was about the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life. It makes me very proud that he is continuing to act - he has a great talent! Congratulations, Eli. I look forward to seeing you on stage!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And on the subject of recess...

You might want to check this out. Liz Goodenough is the wife of Gil Leaf, who was Head of School here at Summers-Knoll when I first came on board as a teacher six years ago. Her film has become something of an icon, and is well worth watching.



Thursday, November 6, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Leslie Science and Nature Center
1831 Traver Rd, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and WDCP?

Come see the Emmy award-winning documentary that has sparked an international discussion on the importance of open-ended outdoor play and the relationship children and the natural world must have in order to thrive and be sustained. A talk with Originator/Outreach Director Elizabeth Goodenough and NWF Regional Education Manager Rebecca Nielsen will follow the film. Refreshments will be provided. For more information on the film please visit:

DVD/Book Prizes will be given to first 20 people to RSVP to:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Energy Consumption at SK

Trying to model good ecological practices for our students is an on-going process - we are constantly trying to do better, to re-evaluate and ensure that we are managing our environment as mindfully as possible. There are things about this building that it's hard to combat - it was not built with lightness of footprint in mind. But there are definitely things we can do, things we are doing, and things we can learn to do more effectively.

One thing we are doing that is working really well is managing our electricity consumption. We have reduced our use of electricity by almost 20% since we consciously decided to 'become' green. We are enthusiastically turning off lights, we've changed over to fluorescent bulbs, we've reduced the length of time that parking lot lights are used in the evenings - and all that adds up to a significant amount. Dave Alber (Mike's father) is looking into installing motion-sensor light switches in the children's bathrooms. (Thank you, Dave!) This helps reduce our environmental impact; it also helps reduce our costs. The savings allow us to focus more on programs and teaching, and less on utilities and bills.

Our gas bill savings are not as dramatic (although we are going the right direction): we're brainstorming right now for ways to reduce our heating and cooling consumption. We're looking into replacing the thermostats in each room to give us more control; that will help. We're also investing in some draft-stoppers for the outside doors, to reduce cold air coming in (perhaps the children will make them in aftercare...). If you have ideas to contribute, please let me know! Get your child involved in the conversation - it makes a great over-dinner discussion: how can we all become more energy-efficient? What gets left on that could be turned off? How can we keep heat from escaping? The children are often the ones to come up with the best, most creative solutions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Recess Thoughts - and conference

Recess is important to all our children in so many ways. It gives them a time to let their thoughts wander and flow. It develops creativity. It refocuses brains and recharges attention spans. It allows social relationships and physical health to develop effectively. It enables those magical moments we all remember from childhood when our time was our own and we reinvented the world. At Summers-Knoll we have watched with delight year by year as the children have played together (kindergarteners, third graders, sixth graders all muddled in together), created forts from leaves or snow, swung and slid, made mazes in the woodchips, climbed trees, made landscapes from leaves and twigs, dug holes through the sand to the center of the earth, collected bugs, and so much more. Recess is a time for rejuvenation and joy. Without it, learning is harder, concentration is fragmented, and quality of life suffers.

There is a one-day conference on October 25th called 'Rethinking Recess', co-sponsored by the Rudolf Steiner School and a local not-for-profit organization called Generations to Come. You can find details here: It is open to families, teachers, anyone who has an interest in the benefits to our children of play and connecting with nature.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Presentation TONIGHT: Life with the Gifted Child

There's an event coming up TODAY which I only just heard about, but want to get the word out just in case you have time and interest:

Monday, October 13, 2008—PORTAGE, MICHIGAN
EVENT SPONSORED BY PLUS of Southwest Michigan, Region 4 Affiliate of MI Alliance for Gifted Education
TOPIC: Life with the Gifted Child: Practical Solutions for the Home and Classroom”
WHEN: Monday, October 13; 6:30 – 8:00 pm
LOCATION: Kalamazoo RESA Building; 1819 E. Milham Rd., Portage
Does your accelerated student deal with issues associated with his or her advanced abilities? Do traits common to the gifted create difficulties in their life – and yours?
Characteristics of gifted children that can be difficult to live with, both at home and at school, might include:
· Perfectionism
· Intensity
· Heightened Sensitivity
· Introversion, and
· Questioning of Authority
To aid parents and teachers of advanced and accelerated children who could use coping strategies to make life easier for them - and you - Partners in Learning for Unlimited Success of Southwest Michigan is proud to host Dr. Michele Kane of Northeastern Illinois University.
Dr. Kane will discuss effective strategies and techniques for dealing with these personality traits, as well as ways to help kids to deal with the unique stresses of giftedness.
This FREE presentation is open to the public.
We hope that all of you will be able to attend - and tell a friend!
Nan Janecke, President, PLUS, 269-353-3757

Over coffee the other day, various of our parents and I were discussing common perceptions of giftedness: how the word is interpreted and what it actually means. Why would these children - who are ahead of the curve already, with brains and talents exceeding most others - need special care and attention? Don't they have more going for them than other children already? Why give more to those who are already privileged? We who live and work with these children know that their abilities are matched by needs, and that if their needs are not met the children become miserable, blocked, frustrated, self-doubting, stressed, and often angry. Their 'gifts' don't mean that everything comes easily to them. On the contrary, often issues of perfectionism, uneven development, processing, extreme sensitivity and others can make their journey intensely difficult for them. Our goal - parents and teachers alike - is to give our children the resources, attention, and environment to develop happily, deeply, effectively, responsibly, confidently. We want them to become the amazing adults that they deserve to be, for their own sake and the sake of the world they inhabit. To do that, they must be given a learning environment that supports their unique needs. If you have the chance to attend Dr. Kane's presentation tonight, I'm sure it will be worthwhile. If not, please know that I and the teachers are here to discuss your child's needs with you at any time. Don't hesitate to ask.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Annual Fund Kick-Off

Today the Summers-Knoll Annual Fund hit the ground running with a very generous donation from Steve and Sunny Chapel. Donations to the Annual Fund support programs and services, and have a direct impact on the experience of your child.

Summers-Knoll is what it is because of the quality of our teachers, the size of our classes, our commitment to support and nurture the individual gifts and spirit of each child, our dedication to educational opportunities such as languages, art, music and PE for all, and because of the richness of the exploratory, multi-faceted learning experience to which we are all committed. The Annual Fund helps us provide all these things and take them to new levels each year.

The Annual Fund is open from now until December 31st. Our goal is $30,000. Your donation is crucial, deeply appreciated, and 100% tax-deductible. No matter at what level you are able to give, whether $25 or $2,500, you are directly affecting the lives of our students.

Summers-Knoll exists because of the strength and generosity of our community. I am truly grateful to all of you for being a part of our school experience this year.

Thank you again to Steve and Sunny Chapel for making the launching gift to this year's Annual Fund drive. You are wonderful!