I’ve been rereading one of my favorite books, The Students are Watching: Schools and the Moral Contract, by Ted and Nancy Sizer. So much of the literature on education revolves around programs and best practices, as well it should; by education, after all, we typically mean book and classroom learning, students’ academic growth and knowledge, and teacher practices.
I’m so fond of the Sizers’ book because they take a foundational perspective, emphasizing the importance of school culture to student learning and overall happiness; and a school’s culture, they wisely argue, is the sum of the direct and indirect messages students receive from, well, everything – their teachers, policies and procedures, administrators… The list goes on and on.
It’s a central question for every school. In that collective mix of rules, body language, words, events, and programs, what’s the message we are sending to our students? Many schools, I think, tend to focus on order, which is often necessary given the increasingly large size of schools, especially in our area. But what then is the message to the students?
I’m not sure about the answer, but I do know that most students, when I ask them in interviews about their favorite teachers, will typically name the teacher who simply expressed an interest in them, making them feel heard and appreciated. It makes me worry about a creeping depersonalization in our country’s schools.
My great wish is that The New School’s message to the students – in our daily meeting, small-seminar classes, culture of teacher-student dialogue, student-led events and clubs, everything we do – is you matter and you enrich our classes and community by your input and presence.
In Exciting College News…
College season at The New School is off to a great start! I met with the seniors and some of their parents the second week of school to explain the nuts and bolts of applying to college, and several students have already come by with questions as well as requests to send transcripts and letters of recommendation. Over the past few years there’s been a shift toward applying earlier, with many students opting for Early Action or Early Decision plans, with deadlines as early as November 1.
Admission counselors from a number of colleges are already scheduled to visit us this fall, and more are likely to reach out. So far, juniors and seniors have met with representatives from Washington College, University of Mary Washington and Binghamton University. Still to come:
St. John’s College
I’ve been so impressed with how our seniors, in particular, conduct themselves at these meetings. The visiting counselors are generally the first to read applications from this area, and they remember students that make an impression. As I tell the seniors every year, take the opportunity to interview at colleges, even if it’s not required, because they spend a lot of time learning to communicate effectively, and it shows.
College season is a busy time for seniors, teachers and administrators, but it’s always exciting. I can’t wait to start announcing college acceptances!
Upcoming College Fairs
Arlington County Schools College Fair
Tuesday, October 15
TJ Community Center
Fairfax County Public Schools
Sunday, October 20
Fair Oaks Mall
Fairfax County Public Schools
Monday, October 21
Hayfield in Alexandria
National College Fair
Sunday, October 27
D.C. Convention Center
Performing and Visual Arts
Sunday, Nov 3
Duke Ellington School
The New School hit the ground running this September! We enjoyed a great first month back to school, which included starting new classes, the club fair, a wonderful Back to School event, our first volleyball and soccer games, and more. Take a look!
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!
A big thank you to all New School Fund donors! Your support last school year made a difference and created the opportunity for us to make exciting improvements and additions. Your generosity helped fund a brand new lighting system in the Black Box theater and new, professional quality jerseys for all of the sports teams. These are just two examples of the impact you had, and we can’t thank you enough! Thank you for supporting New School students and their passions.
Please join us for the school play in March to see the new lighting system in action and support our amazing student actors and technical team. Come cheer on our sports teams at any home game and see them representing the New School with pride. You can find the theater and sports schedules on the school’s calendar on our website.
Check out the volleyball team in their new jerseys!
I’ve been thinking about what started this Wellness Initiative at The New School. But first, you may be wondering, what is the Wellness Initiative?
The New School is a wonderful, safe space for all people. And I do mean all people. When I started at the school two years ago, I felt at home. I knew that The New School was a place where I wanted to be. Talking to the students, I could tell there was something different about the school. I knew that I could just be myself and have a conversation with these students, not as children, but as young people.
As I’m sure you know, the well-being of our students is of the utmost importance to us. Teachers and staff are always here to talk when students need an ear. But could we be doing more? I began talking to as many students as I could, asking what more we could be doing for them. The feedback I received was tremendous, and discussions ensued on what action we could take.
As the Wellness Advisor, it is my mission to ensure that we are putting out a common message as a school: A sound mind and body connection is pivotal to overall health, and without both, we often find it difficult to feel complete. It is my goal to make sure that our mission is carried out, that we put into motion ways to provide the support that our students expect. My door is always open to this New School community we have built together, and I look forward to hearing more wonderful ideas from the student body as we continue to grow in our mission.
So what really started the Wellness Initiative was our students. They are a driving force of change, both at our school and beyond. Without them, none of this would be possible. I am grateful every day that I am able to be here with our students to help make a difference. I, along with my New School colleagues, hope to be able to give back to the students as much as they give us every day–just by being themselves.
Student Government Update
Student Government is excited to be starting the new year, and we cannot wait for all of the events that we have planned.
The biggest event of this quarter will be the Halloween party. We want to start the year with a bang, so we’re amping up the Halloween celebration by adding a haunted house. Student government also plans on starting a year-long initiative to raise money for the John Potter Scholarship Fund. There are also discussions to expand the food options at the school store to promote healthier eating.
There are plenty of projects in the works, and we encourage students to bring their ideas and get involved.
Alumni Check In
This month we interviewed alumna Marianne Carroll-Doherty, class of 2005. Marianne started at The New School in 1997, when she was in 5th grade. She also happens to be friends with our library media specialist, Joanna.
What are you doing now?
I’m currently working for the newest German invasion, Lidl, in Richmond, Virginia.
How do you feel NSNVA prepared you for where you are now?
I think NSNVA prepared me to think outside the box and not to hold myself to a rigid structure. The school also encouraged different forms of communication.
Are there any special memories of NSNVA that stand out for you, now that you’ve been away for a while?
There are an abundance of memories I have of The New School. I loved our Haunted Houses and Halloween party every year. My favorite all school meeting was when the school was divided about how to handle a bee invasion in the recycling bin outside. Should we rinse the soda cans in the recycling bins to keep the bees away or leave the soda cans not rinsed so the bees would have food? I don’t remember if we came to a consensus about what to do.
Are there any messages you’d like to send to our current students?
Don’t compare your goals to other people. Define your own personal success. Also, I wouldn’t trade my experiences at the New School for anything. There’s truly nothing like it.
Information went home this month about our 2020 international trips. Over spring break, students have the opportunity to travel to France or Thailand. See Paris landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre (among others), and then escape the city for the picturesque Loire Valley and the memorable beaches of Normandy.
Or, explore the “Land of a Thousand Smiles”, where you will find majestic elephants, delicious curries, tropical islands, ancient temples, and more! You will even earn community service hours on this trip.
Deposits are due by October 11th. For more information on France, contact Selma; for Thailand, Travis or Janis.
Painting by Surya Punjabi
Sculpture by Benjamin Soulliere
Artwork by Emily Ocasio
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!