Head of School Malcolm Lester Builds with 2nd Grade at NPS STEAM Day 2019

“I think NPS should have a delayed opening for parents on the day after the Oscars.”

A parent said that to me, laughing, as I was greeting Monday morning following the 2019 Academy Awards. I loved the comment and chuckled in response.

The exchange was an allusion to a recent blog in which I discussed the 2019-2020 NPS calendar and asked parents to share thoughts on the possibilities of delayed openings the day after Halloween and the Super Bowl, which some schools have. While some might say “be careful what you wish for,” I am grateful for the responses I received and appreciated the candor and multiple viewpoints conveyed.

Many expressed enthusiasm for delayed openings on one or both of those days. Others pointed out that in a school with nine grades, the needs—and waking hours—of students from ages 3 to 12 vary quite a bit. For example, while some of our oldest students may stay up for the Super Bowl (which starts and—with its lengthy halftime show and numerous commercials—ends too late, in my humble opinion), many of our younger students are not even aware of the game’s existence. Therefore, a delayed opening may please and appease students in a few grades—along with their parents! —but would have less relevance for many other students.

I value the feedback and took it all to heart. For now, a 2019-2020 NPS calendar with a full week off at Thanksgiving may be enough change for one year. We will see what next year brings, and perhaps if we have a winter with few or no weather-related delays, everyone will welcome a delay day for a special occasion—for which I would plan to give plenty of advance notice. Thank you for the many responses you shared with me!

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Today, an NPS alumnus, who is a teacher at an elementary school out of the area, visited NPS for the first time in a while. When she walked down the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten hallway and saw the new designs on the floor, she exclaimed, “I love this – I want to get these at my school!”

In late February, five members of the NPS Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten teaching teams met at NPS on a Saturday morning to install a sensory hallway, with our Lower Division Director also on hand. I stopped by for a few minutes at the end of a run to lend moral support and see our teachers in action.

As soon as I walked into the building, I heard loud, fast-paced, and uplifting music, along with laughter from the teachers. They were hard at work on a project that required precision as they measured, affixed, and tested the hallway designs—and they also were having great fun.

You may have seen this news post about the sensory design hallway on the NPS website, and I wanted to draw your attention to it to make you aware of the thinking and intentionality behind the initiative.

Meanwhile, my vignette above is intended to give a glimpse of the collegiality, joyfulness, and dedication of the NPS faculty—though I suspect you already know that! A shout-out to Mrs. Griffenhagen for turning thought into action with this professional goal that has yielded benefits for the students at NPS. Adults are welcome to give it a try as well! 

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In early March, we held STEAM Day, which we called a STEAM Carnival. And what an engaging and enriching Carnival it was!

For the past three years, NPS held a STEAM (or Science) Night, an interactive evening for NPS students and their parents to learn about and participate in various science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematical activities. This year, our faculty and staff proposed holding a similar event during the school day, in order to allow all NPS students to take part, as not everyone was able to attend in the evening.

Based on all that we saw and heard during and after the STEAM Carnival, it was a hit! I enjoyed walking from room to room, seeing the many creative projects throughout the building. There was toil, and there was also teamwork and laughter.

If you haven’t seen the STEAM Carnival video and write-up, please take a look! Thank you to STEAM Carnival co-chairs Justine Mittelman and Kate Baschuk, the STEAM committee (or “STEAM Team”!) and the NPS faculty and staff for its “all-in” involvement with the 2019 STEAM Carnival. The result was a terrific morning that enriched our students, sparked their sense of curiosity and wonder, provided challenge, and brought smiles and joy.

Have a great spring break and see you on April 1…which will be a Free Dress Day! 

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