Monday, December 12, 2011

follow-up thought on creativity: how do you test it?

This is always a fascinating topic. I was moved to muse on it further today, coming across this quote:

"The McNamara Fallacy:

The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is okay as far as it goes.

The second step is to disregard that which can't be measured or give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading.

The third step is to presume that what can't be measured easily really isn't very important. This is blindness.

The fourth step is to say that that which can't be easily measured really doesn't exist. This is suicide."

Daniel Yankelovich, quoted by Adam Smith in Supermoney.

What level has standardized testing reached on this scale? Has creativity become devalued because it is hard to test? How can we do better?

creativity and conformity

Here's something interesting to think about. We are all about nurturing creativity in (and out of) the classroom. We want to enhance the learning experience for each individual child, allowing each one to develop their abilities and potential in the way that's right for them.

And we want to do this in the context of the group, with respect for others, promoting responsibility, collaboration, and good citizenship.

THe first is apparently all about individuality, the second all about conformity. Intensely creative children tend to relish individuality, and tend to resist conformity. How do we do that dance where we support the individuality with understanding of the traits that highly creative children bring to the process, without sacrificing the needs of the community of which they are a part?

Read an interesting blog on the subject here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

technology: the raging debate

Technology has always been a bit of a thorny problem for an educator. At Summers-Knoll we share the point of view expressed by Jane Healey in her book, "Failure to Connect". (You can find an excerpt here for an example of her reasoning.) Her statement, "The best multimedia, interactive environment is still the real world," resonates with us and informs our approach, especially with the younger children.

Does that mean there is no place for technology? Clearly, students are excited by the extensive opportunities offered by computers and interactive software. There's a huge and understandable desire on the part of their teachers to harness that excitement. There's also a huge pressure on parents to feed their children with technological entertainment. ("But Mom! It promotes hand-eye coordination!") And just as the world of technology is enormous and complex, so are the arguments that surround it. Essential tool or poisonous creator of ADHD? Thought-promoter or thought-destroyer? Social promoter or the end of human connection? There's a lot of attraction and a lot of anxiety to navigate.

It has to be all in the choices and the applications: educational technology comes in many forms. Some are useful and some are emphatically not. Some can be used creatively and with original thinking; some cannot. It doesn't help that this is a powerful, multi-billion dollar industry with a lot at stake, and the research is conflicting and flawed by self-interest. Here's an insightful New York Times article that describes some of the vagaries of educational software research.

At Summers-Knoll we'll continue to be wary. We'll avoid technology with the younger children. We'll choose software with the older students that demands independent thought, analysis and creativity. And we'll continue to watch and question.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wild Swan Theatre

This morning I stopped by the WIld Swan rehearsal space and watched the actors brushing up on their current play, "Once Upon a Time". I was struck all over again by the magic, not just of these high-energy, charismatic actors, but also of the mirror-acting done by the sign language interpreter. She acts alongside the regular actors, using body, face and movement as well as hand signs to express the words and characters of the play, so that children who have hearing problems can engage with the action of the plot without having to look to the side of the stage for the sign interpretation. It's fascinating to watch. It's also a great message of inclusiveness for hearing kids.

Here's information about "Once Upon a TIme":

Once Upon a Time
Family friendly, for Pre-K and up!
Thursday, October 20, 10:00am
Friday, October 21, 10:00am and 1:00pm
Saturday, October 22, 11:00am

Wild Swan Theater opens its 32nd Anniversary Season of bringing the finest theater to Michigan's families with Once Upon A Time, an engaging collection of classic stories and songs!

Once Upon a Time offers three familiar and friendly tales, imaginatively staged, and is the perfect introduction to theater for young children, ages 3-9. In true Wild Swan style, three performers (Sandy Ryder, Jeremy Salvatori, and Michelle Trame Lanzi) and musician David Mosher create all the magic inherent in these timeless stories, making this first time theater experience unforgettable. Jamie Fidler, an American Sign Language Performer, rounds out our cast.

This lively and fast paced production begins with a sweet and funny version of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” Children will delight in the telling of "The Billy Goats Gruff" where the silly but very hungry troll is outwitted by three clever mountain goats.

“Reynard the Fox,” the second story in this collection, provides ample opportunity for audience participation. The children become Reynard’s shadow and echo, giving him all he needs to trick his animal friends. This delightful story ends with the audience getting a chance to trick Reynard!

Our final story is the classic tale of “The Three Little Pigs.” These are some spunky pigs that enjoy riling up the wolf. The three houses that each pig builds are beautifully and magically created, helping to make this story fun and funny at the same time.

Live music arranged and performed by David Mosher heightens the beauty, suspense, and humor inherent in these timeless tales. Besides playing throughout the stories, he also plays several songs which tell wonderful stories on their own. We are honored to have David who has been named “Outstanding Acoustic Instrumentalist” several years running by Detroit Metro Times.

Jamie Fidler’s signing is seamlessly woven into the action, adding another layer of clarity and depth to the stories while bringing the beauty of sign language to our stage. Backstage '"touch tours" and audio-description are available for blind audience members. Please call (734) 995-0530 for reservations for these services.

This production is part of Wild Swan Theater’s “Kid’s Classic Series” for ages 3-9. Our Classic Series introduces young theater goers to the joys of live theater. Gently told tales in a story-theater style provide first time audiences with the thrill of seeing favorite stories come to life with easy to follow plots, lively staging and physical humor, imaginative costumes and props, and many opportunities for audience participation.

Tickets $12 for adults, $8 for children and seniors
Discounts available for groups of 10 or more; $3 lap passes available for patrons under 2 years of age.
Purchase and Information: (734) 995-0530 or
Accessibility reservations: (734) 995-0530
Wheel chair seating
American Sign Language Interpreting
Audio-Description and Backstage Touch Tours
All performances at Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E. Huron River Drive.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

the value of play

When I was a child, I spent hours and hours building houses out of branches and leaves and "living" in them. I dressed up continually, trying on different personalities from different times and places, many of them not real to anyone but me. I made potions out of flower petals and rainwater, and whole worlds out of moss and twigs and tiny plants. I spent a huge amount of time outdoors, alone and with friends, with no play set but the trees and grass of the common area that backed my family's yard.

Watching our children at Summers-Knoll when they play in our playground or in the woods of County Farm Park takes me right back there. The games that the older children have been playing over at their temporary digs at the Good Shepherd are endlessly fascinating. They have no slide, no swing set, just a rather intriguing space with grass, paths and a wildish area of native plants and marshy ground. The children -all of them- have turned it into a complex system of real estate which they buy and sell, rent and share in nuanced and ever-changing ways. The lack of a formal play structure is as nothing in the face of their blazing imagination.

Here's an article from The Atlantic, giving yet another reminder of the importance of play to developing minds. Enjoy.

Exploration Block Class Descriptions: Fall 2011

Please note that, for this EB session only, the younger children and the older children will have separate EBs at different times. Next time (in the new building) we will have more flexibility to offer wider choices where appropriate. Horse riding will be offered again in the spring for the younger children specifically.

Grades K-2
Wednesdays 9 a.m.-10 a..m.

Pasta, Fried Rice and Matzoh Balls
Food, Culture and Traditions of Immigrants in America
(Mrs. Carpenter)
Cooking! Based on the book of the same title, this EB will focus on the traditional food of various groups who came to this country between 1565 and 1921. This will be a combination of a history class and cooking class. Each week will focus on one immigrant group: reasons they chose America to be their home, the challenges they faced, and the special gifts they brought with them from their home country. We will cook and sample one dish each week. Please note that this EB is NOT suitable for children with gluten or dairy allergies.

Robotics (Dr. George)
LEGO! We’ll be sampling activities from The LEGO® Education WeDo™ Robotics Construction Set. This is an easy-to-use set that introduces young students to robotics when combined with the LEGO Education WeDo Robotics Software v.1.2 and Activity Pack (900097). We’ll be trying out building LEGO models featuring working motors and sensors; programming their models; and exploring a series of theme-based activities.. Exactly what we do will depend on the children and the ideas we choose to follow.

Silkscreening with Andy Warhol
We’ll be taking a look at some of Andy Warhol’s art and his use of silk screening techniques. We will study color, layering, patterning in design and we’ll produce a piece of finished work. This may be a group project or individual, depending on the interests and aptitudes of the children, and our work may be used for a fundraiser or as decor for our new building! A visit to a silk screening company will be scheduled.

Pen Pals in Korea
Students will dive into the Korean classroom by learning basic greetings, culture, and customs. We will learn what it is like to be a student in Korea. The final project will be to write letters to Korean students who are learning English at schools in the Republic of Korea. Students will build relationships with people from around the world, and also practice communication skills at student-appropriate levels. (Kids who are not yet writing will be given scribe support from another student or the teacher.)

Grades 3-6
Wednesdays 12:30 p.m.-1:15 p.m.

Horsing Around!
Get out your boots, we are headed out to the farm. Join me as we take our weekly trip to Corner Stone Too Acres... We will be learning all about horses: anatomy, cleaning the stalls, cleaning the saddles, feeding, grooming, as well as riding. The goal of this class is to give your child the knowledge and skill set to do well with horses. Horse riding helps develop self-confidence, empathy, a sense of pride and accomplishment. Please see attached guidelines. Please note that there is a $45 fee for this class.

Hip Hop Lives
In this EB class, we will be studying hip hop music and culture. Students will learn the origins of the culture and explore the key elements, including MCing, DJing, Breaking, and Graffiti. Students will practice listening and collaboration skills as they compose original rhymes and beats. Movement will be incorporated into the class as students learn traditional hip hop dance routines. Fine motor skills will be honed as students examine different graffiti styles and work on crafting a style of their own.

Fine Art/Fabrication Workshop (Mr. B)
Students will be introduced to a variety of fine art techniques including book making/binding, balsa wood India ink drawing, and flute making. Students should have some experience using common art materials and have well developed fine motor skills for handling small & sharp objects.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

the right to study math

I stopped by Chris's classroom at the start of the day, just in time to see him become the least popular teacher in the school for about ten hair-raising seconds. Kids stared at him in horror.

"No math?"
"Why can't we have math?"
"OK, but we still want math."
"But I love math!"

No matter that the reason for the loss of math was that Nate Ayers, who is leading the class in an amazing exploration of permaculture, was coming in to work with them. No matter that they are truly riveted and inspired by that work. Math is math. You just can't deprive a girl (or boy) of her sacred right to do multiplication.

That's one of the reasons I love SK kids. Just sayin'.

Monday, September 26, 2011

overcoming adversity

One of the toughest things parents struggle with is allowing their children to exist in situations which are uncomfortable for them. It's hugely anxiety-producing, and the natural desire of a loving mother or father is to dash in and resolve the difficulty, save the child and create a happy experience where there was distress. We want to protect our babies. We also don't really trust that they have the strength of resilience to cope. One of the hardest lessons we, as parents, have to learn is when to allow the child to work their own way through a difficult time and come through it on their own terms. It can be agonizing.
This article is the story of one parent's agony in this kind of circumstance. It's a great read. I hope you enjoy it and take comfort from it. Our children are strong and brave and resourceful. The future is bright.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Talking with children about sex

Today I sent out a message to the parents of our oldest students concerning the natural and normal talk about sexuality that children this age need to explore. This reminded me that it's a subject all parents need to consider. There is an on-going conversation that happens between you and your child, from the very early questions right the way through to adulthood. I want to encourage all of you to listen to, discuss with and guide your children as they grow.

This web site may be a good resource for you. It has a tab that goes through appropriate subject matter at different developmental stages, as well as other tabs for useful resources. (It is simply a suggestion, one of a host of web sites online.) Please remember that children develop in different ways and not everyone has reached the same stage at the same time. Be sensitive to whatever stage your own child has reached.

Even if your child is very young and you feel that this is way too early to begin to talk about such things, I encourage you to consider it. It is much, much easier to have the more intense conversations later if you've already established an open communication and a foundation with your child from an early age. It's also worth remembering that there is no way to prevent peer to peer talk from happening, or the spread of information (correct, partially correct, or totally misunderstood). It's a natural and normal part of the growing up process. What is important is that you should be part of the conversation. While I know that those of you with older children have probably been doing this at an age-appropriate level for some time, I want to encourage you to talk with your child and make sure that his or her thinking on this subject is approached in a way that you are comfortable with. It's important that you listen to your child, and help him or her to a healthy, positive, respectful start to thinking about this sensitive subject. Again, the web site has a suggested list of appropriate subject matter for different ages.

This can be a fascinating and joyful process with your child. Enjoy it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome to the New School Year!

Here we are at the beginning of September already! This is going to be a year of adventures - we have new faculty and many new families joining us (WELCOME, everyone!!), we will be moving to a gorgeous new building, and we are kicking off our new, shiny middle school programs under the expert leadership of 5th/6th grade teacher Mark Benglian (Mr. B.).

Just to remind us all what it is that makes us special, we were recently awarded a Bezonki Award by the Ann Arbor Chronicle. What is a Bezonki Award, you may ask? Read here to find out more. It was awarded to SK "in recognition of their willingness to embrace and explore the unknown with creativity and good humor. When confronted with something that can seem baffling – like the inscrutable Bezonki! – they approach it with curiosity and see its potential. This is a skill and attitude that, when applied to civic affairs, serves our community well."

What a charming encapsulation of SK students and teachers, and their attitude and approach!

See you all on Tuesday!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Goodbyes and Hellos

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to some of the much-loved, much-admired and hugely appreciated teachers who have worked with us in recent years. Renata McAdams, I can't tell you how much we will miss you. I can't even bear to think about it. Jan Biliti, Ruth Marks, Jesse Metcalf-Burton, your talent and warmth has enriched us so much. You will always have a special place in our hearts. All of us at Summers-Knoll wish you all an absolutely wonderful future, whether it holds retirement, a move to a different state or a different focus of career. Stay in touch.

And simultaneously it's very exciting to be able to welcome new faculty. Again, we have been amazingly fortunate in the people who have chosen to come and work with us at our school. Mark Benglian, Chris Swinko, Val Tibbs-Wynne, George Albercook, Cara Talaska, Tracy Gallup - I feel indescribably lucky and honored to have teachers of your caliber and commitment joining our team. You are an inspiring bunch!

It's hard to say goodbye to wonderful friends and colleagues. The consolation is that next year is looking amazing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Poems for the Graduates

Today we marked the passage from elementary to middle school for our 4th and 5th graders (our new middle school starts at 5th grade this coming fall). As always, I wrote each student a poem to mark this transition in their lives. Here they are!


Listens to a fairy tale
And hears a story of social justice,
Human rights,
A call to action.

Writes a fairy tale
With words she found one day
At the end of a rainbow.

Has a heart that catches fire
And a spirit that snatches words
Out of the wind.


To Alec
The world is an endless place of discovery.
He wants to see it,
Be there, explore,
Taste it.
New flavors bursting on the tongue.
Capture it, keep the recipe,
Recreate it.
Share it with friends.

For Alec,
A book is an endless place of discovery,
He enters it,
Explores it, lives it,
Tastes it like a sunburst on the tongue
Of his imagination.

My wish for Alec:
May you meet all your adventures
With this same curiosity and joy.
May the flavors be exciting
And different
In ways that explode in ideas
In your amazing brain.
And then, may you write it all into a book
So that other Alecs
Can share the endless discovery
That is your path through life.


Trent is an old style warrior.

He can be a knight in shining armor
Upon a noble steed.
Tell him the tale of the unfortunate child
Lost in the woods
Harassed by wolves
And Trent rides over there in a heartbeat.
The wolves run for cover.
The child is saved.
Trent rides on to the next adventure.

Sometimes he is a Jedi.
He solves problems from afar,
Sending the Force of his personality
To end conflict,
Calm strife.

And sometimes he’s a Visigoth,
A Vandal or a Hun,
Joining a barbarian horde
To overrun civilization
And laugh in the face of his enemies.

He is practicing for the day
When he becomes
The champion of the world
The peacemaker of the ages
The standard-bearer of justice.


The world is an electrical circuit board
And the power source is
Atticus’s brain.

The world is a gigantic robot.
Atty holds the
Remote control.

The world is a computer
Busy calculating
The reasons for
And Wrong.
Atticus programs the computer
And manages the data.

When Atty talks
Lights light up,
Beepers go beep
Gears whirr
And ideas connect to ideas that lead to ideas
And the electric circuitry of the world
Hums to life.


Saul is precise.
He explores the jungle of the world
Carefully, on paths he has
Laid out
With thought
And clarity.

Step by step
He overcomes the jungle,
Laying the next length of path
Pushing further into
The tangled bewilderment of vines.

Saul comes to a thicket
He cannot see within.
But he knows there is a tiger,
He is sure there is a tiger
And maybe it’s the kind
Of tiger that
Breathes fire.

That’s pretty scary stuff. Even the tiger is scared.

Saul points out the path to the tiger.
He points out the path to the thicket.
He points out the path to the jungle.

This is the path
Of order and clarity.
This is the path
Of knowledge and understanding.
On this path
Are justice and peace.

One day Saul will make a map
Of the paths he makes,
He will step into the jungle
With his map in his pocket
Off the track
Off the trail
Into the wild places.
Knowing where the paths are, knowing where the stars are,
He will find his way
With the tiger by his side.


Lydia draws a horse
And it takes off at a gallop.
It has a wild mane and tail
That tangle with the wind.
Grace and power swirl from her pencil point.

Lydia holds grace and power
In her heart.
The horse that leaps from her pencil
Runs in her bloodstream
And races across the open spaces
Of her imagination.

Run with the horse, Lydia.
You are as swift.
Go where the horse goes.
She will be your guide.
Let your wildness tangle in the wind:
The horse will show you how.


Lives in an origami maze
Of his own making
More complex than ordinary mortals
Could ever comprehend,
Cunning beyond belief.

It is folded in patterns
Based on mathematical principles
That have yet to be discovered
By the world at large.

Only in Jesse’s class are these concepts known.

There is
An entire city folded
Within the paper labyrinth.
A paper White House holds
The quarters of the President.
The Defense Secretary (Max)
Has luxurious accommodations
As do the Chief of Police (Max)
The Supreme Professor of Shakespeare (Max)
And the CEO of the Humane Society for the Protection of Skeletal Devils
(also Max).

These multiple Maxes are also a result
Of mathematical discoveries
In Jesse’s class.

Sometimes they all get together
And go over to Danny’s house
For a pillow fight.

And sometimes they stop and listen
To the sound of paper folding
As the origami maze
And grows
And grows
In its quest to take over the world.


If the world were made of pillows
Danny would be free
To go swimming in the billows
Of a pillow-crested sea.

He’d have a house built snugly
Of pillow walls and floors
He’d welcome friends in smugly
Through the soft, inviting doors.

Each one would have a weapon,
An instrument of doom
Made out of silk and feathers.
They’d gather in a room

And a challenge would be given
And they’d smite with cushy blows
And their pillows would be driven
Like marshmallows at their foes.

And when they were exhausted
With laughter and with war
They’d collapse upon their pillows
And they’d all begin to snore.

And outside the pillow cloudlets
High in the gentle sky
Would tear open their covers
And feather snow would fly.


Lukas plays the violin.
Music comes out of his fingers like ribbons
that wind and float and weave
they get inside children’s heads and make patterns
and the children start to work.

Ink factory. Get leaves, get berries, water.
Smush. Mix. Add more berries.
Sunlight slants through the trees like the high pure sound
of a violin.

Lukas plays. Running like the rippling notes
of an arpeggio,
Calling to friends with melodic rise and fall,
organizing funerals,
all in black,
or playing wedding marches
on his violin.

Lukas plays the violin,
like he was born to do it.
His soul comes out to play
and makes magic happen.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Special Exception accepted for our new building

The City Planning Commission meeting where the Special Exception permit was approved for our new school building on Platt Road has been written up by the Ann Arbor Chronicle. If you are intrigued by the behind-the-scenes details, you can read the article here.

RIght now, the building is undergoing inspections (including environmental) and we are in the process of planning the phasing of the renovations with our architects, Brad and Theresa Angelini. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Fran!

Today is Fran Loosen's birthday. Fran is our Board President, and has played a hugely significant role in moving the school forward both in terms of its actual physical growth and move to a new building and in her support for the Summers-Knoll culture and philosophy. It's hard to imagine a more perfect person in this role at this time. Today, on her birthday, I want to celebrate Fran's presence and involvement in the school and the amazing gift that her energy and intelligence has been to us.

Thank you, Fran. May your birthday bring you blessings you have not even dared to imagine.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happiness and Kindness: what is important?

I'd love you to read this article (link at the end of the post), written on a subject that is very close to my heart. Loving a child is a difficult process, being caught between that fierce sense of protectiveness and the desire to have the small person grow up into a compassionate, useful, loving member of a healthy society.

It can be particularly hard for new parents, or parents of only children, because when the child is very young they are still in the developmental phase of seeing the world as revolving completely around them. As they move out of that phase and start to empathize and understand the concept of other people being equally valid as human beings, they run into problems of perspective. What is fair? What is kind? It's crucial that as the child emerges into the new developmental phase we allow them to learn. If we continue to insist that nothing interferes with their sense of primary entitlement and importance, we stunt their development. Of course it's not an either/or situation. All of us try to encourage empathy as well as try to give our child affirming, joyful experiences. But where does joy really come from? Getting that trophy whether you deserve it or not? Or finding a way to relieve another person's suffering? Let's find the deeper, richer ways to find and affirm our children's sense of presence in the world. What do you think?

Click here for the New York Times article.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Our thoughts are with Japan

At this time of anxiety for the Japanese families and friends of our school community, I know you will join me in sending love, sympathy, hope and energy to everyone who has been touched by the disaster. Our own Penny Corbett, the SK business manager, has family and friends in Tokyo, and I'm including a link to her personal blog here as she has shared some stories of experiences from Japan that are moving and hopeful. The Japanese people are behaving with such dignity and mutual support, it's humbling. See Penny's blog here. Thank you for sharing, Penny.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

middle school program planning

On Monday the faculty had an amazing planning day, thanks to the generosity and talent of Anne Leo, who organized a fantastic day of learning on the theme of Mardi Gras for our students, and freed up the teachers to spend the day working and developing programs together.

We met at the beautiful Common House at Sunward Co-Housing, a space that was provided by George Albercook, who lives in the co-housing community. (More about George in a minute.) The common house is a lovely space, buttery yellow inside with a sense of sunshine everywhere. We spent the morning refreshing and revitalizing our collective understanding of what project-based learning looks like; how it works, what it does, how students engage with it, what our goals are, and how it develops from kindergarten up to the programs we are building at middle school level. The afternoon was spent designing sample interdisciplinary projects. In between we talked excitedly over lunch and returned to find the amazing Jesse, not content with being a brilliant math teacher, dancer and singer, playing the piano in a side room. So a few minutes there just to listen and enjoy the sweetness.

The whole process of designing the middle school curriculum (and consequently revisiting the elementary curriculum and ensuring that the two truly enrich each other) has been an exercise in inspiration for me. I have been having more fun than I can describe. The experience with the faculty on Monday was pure joy. I went home at the end of the day just melty with gratitude that I am able to work with these brilliant, dedicated, adventurous people. The energy and wisdom they brought to the process was phenomenal. Listening to Ruth, Jan and Elaine throwing ideas around for an approach to Reflections Night that takes it to a whole new level of student involvement and ownership, watching Renata, Shan and Imogen synthesizing the beauty and history of language with a scientific approach to physical activity, hearing George Albercook and guest Monique Sluymers expound with passion on the subject of progressive education and the constructive, powerful ways we can implement and assess it, engaging the students actively at every level - all these experiences left me amazed at the good fortune that brought all these people together.

It was an enormously productive day. I want to thank everyone who was a part of it: the fabulous team led by Anne Leo that made it possible by providing a great day of activities for the students; the brilliant faculty who poured their ideas and energy into it; and all the network of people (from EMU faculty to other heads of school to parents to students to alumni to professional consultants) who have been helping me envision, design, think through, develop and probe the details of our new middle school programs. I am grateful to all of you for the gifts you bring.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


From time to time tiny moments stop me in my tracks. Even after all these years of working with children, the 'awww' moments are as powerful as ever. This morning it was Laurea in morning care. She had found a book and was standing leaning up against a countertop reading. People talked to her and she simply didn't notice. It's not unusual - children do get completely absorbed in books. But it gave me one of those heart-rushes all over again.

A few weeks ago it was Renata with her class on the bus. I was driving them back from a field trip (Carolina Chocolate Drops - amazing!) and Renata started explaining something from the Mahabharata to one of the students. One thing led to another, and very quickly all the kids were hushed and rapt, listening to her tell the story of the prince who saved a woman from an unhappy marriage and how that led to her implacable hatred of him. I was rapt too. But what stayed with me was the breathless attention of the children listening to a Hindu epic on a bus.

Andrew put me completely beside myself yesterday as he asked Susan if he was allowed to go out for recess. With this one it's hard to explain, but I came over all weak at the combination of his bundled-up-winter-gear adorability, his little face with the hat on and his soft-spoken politeness as he asked permission. I think maybe you had to be there.

And then there was the rush of excitement as children checked the EB lists and we heard 'Yes! I'm in Calligraphy!", or "Yes! First choice! Winter Sports!" or "I'm writing the book!" again and again. It makes me teary when they show so exuberantly how much they love what they're doing.

OK, enough with the display of emotion. But I do want to say again, thank you for sharing your children with us. We all love them very much.