Posted on December 16, 2012
One of the most wonderful holiday traditions in the preschool is the children's tea with President and Mrs. Rice. This past Wednesday, the entire preschool, their parents and teachers gathered at the President's home, a wonderland of holiday ambiance from floor to ceiling, and nearly 40 Santa decorations artfully placed in areas of their home. I have heard President Rice read the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at least seven times, and each rendering is different from the last. This classic illustrated story, written in 1939 by Robert L. May, still stirs the children's imagination. I think the part that really dates the story is the list of names of boys and girls Santa is to deliver the toys in his sleigh -- George, Betty, Fred, Hugh, Nancy, John, etc. President Rice read each name, hoping one of the children would exclaim, "That's my name!" -- to no avail. The children made reindeer toast while parents socialized, then it was another thank you to President and Mrs. Rice, and off the children returned to their classrooms, chatting busily about their new memories of Christmas Tea at the President's home.
This Monday and Tuesday, parents will be on campus for semester conferences. The students have prepared well, and their teachers, with patience and a strong image of the child, have helped their students work towards achieving their learning goals. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade will take center stage as they lead the conference, and preschoolers (though not in attendance at the conference) will star as the protagonists of their learning stories. Parents will note that the writing continua has been "recalibrated," meaning the descriptors for levels of performance have been revised for a more appropriate placement of student writing along a rigorous continuum
A key feature of the conference is the electronic progress portfolios containing student work and performance audio/video using Evernote. While we admit it was a steep learning curve for the faculty to manipulate Evernote, students were more flexible in manipulating the app. We hope all parents sit beside their children when reviewing the portfolio and engage in supportive dialogue with their children. The conference is a time to formally celebrate learning, and who best to celebrate together than student, parent, and teachers?
The inexplicable happened. The news about the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy comes in brief, factual statements followed by interviews that are becoming increasingly difficult to listen to. In a few days the puzzle pieces will form a gruesome, very tragic narrative. This particular incident hits hard and weighs heavily on our hearts because of the violence done to so many young, innocent children. Although the victims have not yet been named, we shudder at the thought that those who died were another parents' child or grandchild, and in our minds' eye we see our own children and grandchildren. The connections are too close, too painful. You may have already given your child extra hugs this weekend or held them closer to you than usual. It's ok. Do so in memory of those first graders. Our thoughts and prayers are with their parents and families.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey