News, Commentary, and Insights from your Principal of the Captain Samuel Douglas Academy in beautiful Brookline, New Hampshire.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

SAU-41 21st Century Teaching & Learning Initiative Presented at October 28 Brookline School Board Meeting

Please consider attending a very important presentation given by the SAU-41 21st Century Teaching and Learning Committee during the beginning of the upcoming Brookline School Board Meeting, to be held on Tuesday evening, October 28th, close to 6:00pm.  The presentation team will inform the audience about what ‘21st Century Learning’ is, and why it is so important for your child(ren).  The team will discuss how ‘The 4-Cs’ (Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving) will be taught and assessed in the Hollis and Brookline School Districts.  Learn how we anticipate our school will evolve into a ‘21st Century Learning Community’ (not a significant change for CSDA), and what you can do to help make certain that your child’s learning experience is all that it can be in Brookline.  Join us if you can!!

CSDA Community Connections Initiative Continues to Roll!

We have been working hard over recent months to reach out to our parent community and the Greater Brookline Community, involve you in efforts, and partner with you to further improve your child’s experience in our school.  I have been impressed and inspired every day since joining your school at CSDA.  The students, teachers, parents, and township are absolutely amazing, and it is a true privilege to be on your team.  To continue our ongoing school improvement efforts (as great as we are, we can always get better!), we want you to be informed about what we are doing, and why.  We need your input, collaboration, and partnership to reach our goal of maximizing learning outcomes for every student at the Captain Samuel Douglass Academy.  To share important information about our school, its activities, and its initiatives, we have established the following communication channels:  telephone, email, available staff, PowerAnnouncement, an updated website, weekly newsletters, classroom and department webpages, principal’s blog, and a new podcast channel.  In the very near future, look for our new CSDA Student News Blog to be posted on our school website.  Also, we will have a school video channel and produce programming for our local cable television channel (student participation with parent permission only!).  Let’s stay in touch, and let’s work together to exceed our common, ambitious expectations for student learning at CSDA.  Together, we will make CSDA truly spectacular!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Student Recognition Assembly, October 10th

This past Friday afternoon, the CSDA learning community came together to celebrate its own during our first student recognition assembly of the new school year.

The event started in the long hallway of our school with our 5th and 6th Graders lined up on either wall.  Our school community's newest members, our Fantastic Fourth Graders, marched down the center of the hallway to the cheers, well-wishes, and 'high-fives' extended by their senior school-mates.  By the time our fourth graders got to our gymnasium to begin the afternoon program, they were on cloud-9 after such a warm and enthusiastic welcome by our school's 'big kids'.

After everyone settled in for the assembly, I had the privilege of welcoming our fourth graders, and informing them of the significance of their new role as CSDA community members -- the roles, responsibilities, opportunities, and high bar of expectation and performance established by those who went before them within the walls of the Captain Samuel Douglass Academy.

Students then heard a brief speech on the role of leadership in our school and in life, on the opportunity for greatness that we can achieve at CSDA, and on the many anticipated opportunities for CSDA students in the time ahead.

A highlight of the assembly program was the introduction and unveiling of our school's newly developed mission statement.  Every great institution has a strong focusing theme or statement that is at the core of the organization's beliefs and culture.  It is a statement of the organization's reason for being, its purpose, its mission.  After a few words about what a missions statement is and why it is important, and after a few more explaining the process of developing our school's mission statement, a couple of student volunteers unveiled a banner depicting our school mission statement:  Create, Share, Dream, Achieve.

Next, I had an opportunity to describe the mission statement, and the significance of each element to our work at CSDA in the time ahead.  Our students then enjoyed a short video of CSDA students explaining one theme of the mission statement, and why it is central to our work at the Captain Samuel Douglass academy.  The students who participated in this production did an amazing job, especially given the complexity and novelty of the task, as well as the short time allotted to prepare their presentations.  Wrapping up this part of the program, I told the kids that 'We ARE CSDA, and We WILL CSDA." -- turning our school acronym into a verb ("We WILL Create, Share, Dream, and Achieve!").

Mrs. Brockway and Mrs. Shaw then came to the front of the gymnasium to oversee the conveying of awards and recognition for students who were exemplars last month for their great citizenship in the area of 'friendship'.

Mrs. Shaw then introduced the citizenship theme for the month of October:  Courage.  To punctuate her message, she then read a book entitled New York's Bravest.  This story focuses on the bravery and courage of a figure that was believed to have served on the New York City Fire Department at about the turn of the 20th Century.  Mrs. Shaw advanced slides that depicted the pages of the book so that students could follow along as Mrs. Shaw read, and enjoy the beauty of the book's illustrations at the same time.  This story connected to our community, as our students recently created a banner to recognize our local heroes on September 11th, 2014, and they hosted Brookline Firefighter, Scott Knowles, for presentations the previous day on Fire Safety & Prevention.

Our student recognition assembly then closed with some words by School Counselor, Mrs. Brockway, and a sing-along with Mr. Paul McQuilkin, who led the group in a song about friendship.

It was a splendid afternoon at CSDA, featuring our wonderful students and the community that we have created at the Captain Samuel Douglass Academy.  I can't imagine a better way to close another wonderful week at CSDA!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 3rd Teacher Professional Development Day: Cultivating Talent From Within

Our third teacher professional development day of the new school year was held on Friday, October 3rd (the first two PD days were held before school opening on August 25th & 26th).

Modeled after our new 'WIN Time' ('What I Need') for students, a daily period during which students receive (very specifically) what they need in terms of academic support or extension, teachers at CSDA enjoyed their inservice day receiving 'WIN' professional development.

A staff survey had been conducted to determine the training needs and interests of our staff, and then two planning meetings were held to develop the schedule and program for the day.  CSDA staff trainers volunteered for service, and provided instruction to their colleagues in educational technology (Google Apps, SmartBoard software, and LearnZillion), as well as Readers Workshop.  Along with the more formal training, staff members got to enjoy extra 'applied practice' coaching sessions with the trainers, during which they were able to engage with the new material, and produce work that could be used with students in the time ahead.

The day was very successful, with strong reviews from program participants.  Way to go, CSDA!  THIS is how we get to the next level!

Grade 6 Student Leaders Show the Way, Celebrate Excellence

From the beginning of this school year, we have been acknowledging the important role that our 6th Grade students have in setting the tone of our school, and serving as role models for our younger students -- they are at the 'top of the (CSDA) food chain', after all!  We have stressed that this is their opportunity to lead, and make a statement about who they are as students and citizens at CSDA.  We have spoken to them and recognized them for their effort and success in this area.  This group is really doing a fantastic job setting a high standard for others at CSDA.

On the afternoon of Friday, September 19th, we held a 'Celebration of 6th Grade Excellence', and took a little time to play together, enjoy the fine weather, and appreciate the wonderful start that our 6th Grade leaders have given us this year.  We played games that afternoon that emphasized communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.  The students did so well, then and since, that we are motivated to hold another Celebration of 6th Grade Excellence very soon!

Grade 4 Garden Club: Educational and Purposeful

Thanks to the good intentions of CSDA staff members, the Brookline Garden Club, and local businesses, our students now have an opportunity to learn about plant science, create and maintain a garden of their very own, and care for our other school gardens during this extremely popular after school enrichment program.

Every Thursday afternoon this fall, and into the winter, our 4th, 5th, & 6th Grade Garden Club students spend quality time with Fourth Grade Classroom Teacher Debbie Caulkin, CSDA Facility Manager James Beach, and Brookline Before and After School Program Coordinator Sylvia Mansfield.

During their meetings, our students receive academic instruction in plant science, as well as coaching in proper techniques for preparing earth, planting seeds and plants, and properly caring for plants to keep them healthy.  Our students have also had experiences in weeding gardens, and cleaning out gardens.  Pruning shrubs will likely be on the Garden Club agenda once the proper season has arrived.

Thank you, Mrs. Caulkin, Mrs. Mansfield, Mr. Beach, and our community partners for offering this fantastic program for our students!