Newsletter Jan. 2020



Term 2019-2020 | Issue 4 | January 2020

Steve says…
Steve Roushakes 

It’s our 30th year – wow! – and I thought I would take a moment to reflect on our first-principles as a school.

The New School was founded in 1989 by John Potter, an English-born educator and school leader, on the principle of what he called “ownership.” Ownership is an approach to learning and self-awareness that invites students to be active participants in their education and school community. We give our students considerable choice in the direction of their work, and a voice within our community, because we know individuals are more invested, more self-motivated and happier, and grow more when they feel their work belongs to them and they are valued members of their community.

The second ideal in John’s vision was teacher-student dialogue. New School teachers and students are on a first-name basis and approach one another with mutual respect. There is no us-them; rather, we seek to be a single, collegial school community.

The foundation of The New School, then, is a people-centered spirit that inspires us all – students, teachers, administrators, and parents – to be our best, most authentic selves. It’s a unique and powerful spirit, inspired by John, and still central to our present and future vision of ourselves as a school.

February Events

2/12 Arts Fest, 6pm

2/17 NO SCHOOL (Federal Holiday)

2/21 Portfolio Essential Skill Mapping

2/26 Parent Coffee with Steve, 9am

See More Calendar

30th Anniversary Celebration

Remember to save the date for The New School’s 30th Anniversary Celebration!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Tickets on sale in March.

We hope to see you there!

Thank You
Noelle Andreano

Because of our amazing donors, the end of year New School Fund STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) campaign raised $6,200!

All of us here at the New School greatly appreciate you for helping create an even better learning community.

Your support will directly impact creativity and passion in the classroom, stirring new ideas and an excitement for learning.

We can’t thank you enough for your support; it is truly life changing.

-Amy (Class of 2020), Julia (Class of 2020), and Jamie (Class of 2023)

P.S. Come see the STEAM program in action at The New School ScienceFest on Wednesday, March 25th! While you’re here, you can visit The John Potter Gallery and see alumni and student artwork.

In Exciting College News…
Joan Goodman

At this point, our seniors have submitted the vast majority of their college applications and acceptances have been trickling in. So far, they’ve been accepted at:

George Mason University
Juniata College
Goucher College
Penn State University
University of Kentucky
Pace University
Longwood University
Evergreen State College
Appalachian State University
Sewanee: University of the South
Old Dominion University
Monmouth University
University of Mary Washington
University of Maine
Colorado State University
University of Georgia
Michigan State University
Arcadia University
Marymount University

Congratulations, seniors! We can’t wait to see what comes in over the next few months.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Lunar New Year is Asia’s most important festival and holiday time. To mark a new year has begun, the Year of the Rat, The New School celebrated the festival on Friday, January 24. The Student Government put up decorations and ordered many Asian dishes for everyone to enjoy. We were treated to some special traditional music thanks to the zither performance by our new international student, Jimmy, and the flute performance by Mike. Ultimately, the party was a success because the purpose of Lunar New Year is to have meals together like a family and share your stories from the previous year.

Thoughts on Diversity
Travis Cooper

Much has been written in recent years about “diversity,” a term that is applied to many aspects of the human experience. In schools the term often refers to having a student body that includes different races, genders and nationalities. But students are diverse in many other ways, including the ways they think, learn and interact within the school community.

At its heart, the principle of diversity seems obvious: People are different. People have different strengths, weaknesses, and interests. We are all a patchwork of individual qualities. The challenge of understanding diversity is not in accepting the premise, but in fully realizing its implications for individuals and, in our case, schools.

How can the concept of diversity influence how we approach learning? What is the role of the teacher, the student, the parent when cultivating student growth?  For me, there are two guiding principles our entire community should adopt.

First, it’s important for us to recognize how much we don’t know. Adults and students can often define themselves and their approach to learning more strictly than research suggests is wise. Everyone has some kind of limitation or preference when it comes to learning. However, we should be careful to view these aspects of ourselves in the proper context and never believe they prevent us from trying new strategies, even if those strategies are uncomfortable at first. Research does not support strict orthodoxy around learning strategies. In fact, what we do know about the brain suggests the opposite.

Second, the best learning communities stress experimentation and reflection. Personally, I favor the “First Principles” approach to learning – an approach that stresses the clear understanding of a challenge’s unique components and the creation of tailored solutions. This approach, and others like it, help learners more completely understand their limitations and preferences and to design solutions that are unique to them. It requires students to do more than follow instructions. They must find solutions, through experimentations and with support from teachers and parents, to the unique learning challenges they face.

Difference is good. It keeps life (and school) interesting. The more we learn about the brain, the more we understand just how complex learning can be. At The New School we value students as individuals and help them develop into the people they want to be. For us, this means helping students approach challenges in unique ways and championing diversity as a strength.

Alumni Check In
Joanna Cole

This month we checked in with Ali Alhaj, class of 2003. Ali was a student from 8th grade to 12th grade.

Juma Alhaj (class of 2007), Alanoud Alhaj (class of 2000), and Ali Alhaj (class of 2003)

What are you doing now? 

I am a career diplomat at the United Arab Emerites Ministry for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation in Abu Dhabi – UAE. Foreign postings. London, UK (2010-2015) Brussels, Belgium (2019-present)

How do you feel NSNVA prepared you for where you are now? 

The New School taught me how to be independent and geared me with the capability to question my surroundings constructively. The Exhibitions enabled me to be ahead in public speaking and debates.

Are there any special memories of NSNVA that stand out for you, now that you’ve been away for a while? 

The European and New York trips with Peter Werres [retired German language and social studies teacher], as there was a social aspect to them.

Are there any messages you’d like to send to our current students?

Never give up, the true failure is only when you stop trying.

Do you have any thoughts to share about your experience as an international student at The New School?

As an international student, the New School felt like my second home, the close-knit community made me feel extremely welcome when I first started with my two siblings Alanoud Alhaj (class of 2000) and Juma Alhaj (class of 2007).

Click HERE to view a video of Ali speaking at the European Parliament.

January Slideshow

It was a busy month back at school after the holidays–everyone pulled together their Q2 Essays and gave great feedback on Exhibition Days. Q3 classes are off to a great start! So far in 2020 we have celebrated the Lunar New Year, enjoyed basketball games, and laughed at the brilliant Junior High production of The Brothers Grimm.

Info and Contact

Why are we sending you this newsletter?

One of the distinguishing features of our school is our sense of community. This newsletter is one more way to build and maintain that community among our current students, parents, faculty, and alumni. We hope you like it!

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