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Spring Break Eve

So, as happens every year, we have struggled through the shortest, coldest and darkest days of the year, and are about to be set free for two glorious weeks! Counting down the months, weeks, days and hours (18 minutes!) to Spring Break is a ritual that students and teachers all engage in. There is a price for living north of the 45th parallel, and that is such a craving for sun, and green and warmth and life that we must bust out of the routine to seek something resembling any of those qualities. Often, I’ve remained in my own zip code and been very happy to laze around sipping coffee and reading what I want. This year I’m actually going someplace warmer… to visit my son and daughter-in-law in Florida. I’m taking my folding bike, and I can’t wait to walk outside without a jacket, gloves or heavy boots.

I’ve ridden my bike to school most days of the winter. I think riding my bike helps bridge the winter with the warmer times of the year. Although I didn’t get much exposure to sunlight, often riding in the dark both to and from school, I did get to breathe gulps of fresh air. I was keenly aware of the few living things that were making themselves known in the wild winter–the squirrels, the crows, the rabbits darting in front of my tires. But mostly, it was very, VERY quiet.

What rituals do you participate in? Does a Spring Break figure into your calendar? Who wants it more… students or teachers?

NAIS 2018… Hello Atlanta!

I’ve had a wonderful Thursday at the NAIS National Conference. I will disclose that I come here on a mission! You will see that, I’m sure, from the titles of the sessions I have chosen to attend. I’m here wearing many hats, but first and foremost is the work I am doing to develop gender-inclusive health and wellness curriculum in Lower School. I am also a Spanish teacher.

Here’s my synopsis of the day.

Session 1: Dialoguing to Understand

I attended this workshop with great anticipation, knowing that I would be meeting Lydia Maier from Waynflete. I was thrilled to hear from her and colleague Jimmy Manyuru about their New England Youth Identity Summit. Student centered and engaged with the greater community, this event got us all thinking about how we might bring the idea back to our own school communities. One of the points Lydia made in her presentation was the importance of finding financial support. She spoke of John Gulla, of EE Ford Foundation, visiting Waynflete and ultimately helping with some Ford $$ to make the summit feasible for everyone to attend.

(John Gulla is a former HOS at Blake, and I had just spent a few minutes catching up with him prior to the workshop! Small world!)

Next was the plenary session. I was pleasantly surprised to see Katherine Dinh on stage, and realized the connection between her (NAIS board member) and my friend JB Mayo from the University of Minnesota. Again, small world!

Workshop #2: Getting Ready to Get Ready: How to Implement a PK-5 Sexuality Currículum

Fantastic! I’m in the presence of greatness! Deborah Roffman led us masterfully through an excellent rationale around the responsibility we have as independent schools to regard sexuality curriculum with the same pride of excellence with which we teach and guide all other areas of curriculum. I took copious notes and look forward to learning more from her.

I then had lunch and met folks from Colorado, Guatemala and Peru! Fantastic conversations! Stimulating and highly engaging.

Session 3: Policy and Practice: Leading the Way in Supporting Transgender/Nonbinary Students un Independent Schools

This was a panel presentation put on by individuals from different Quaker schools. They began with an overview of Friends school values, and then spoke in detail about different categories of work they have done in support of trans and gender expansive people in their communities. Included were Policies and Practices, Facilities and Staff Development. Their journeys and challenges sounded familiar, and I found myself nodding vigorously throughout their presentation. It was interesting to hear the questions that audience members had, as well.

A great first day for me! Tomorrow, I present! More to come… thanks for reading!