The First Chapter - Lower School 

Welcome to The First Chapter by Silvia Davis, Head of Lower School, a blog featuring wonderful stories about our youngest students.  

Mrs. Davis will be posting here regularly. Please be sure to scroll down to read more and check back frequently for updates.

 

What is the Mark You Hope to Leave?

“Ever since I came to school here, I like to come to school now.” 

Recently, I was interviewed by two fifth grade students as a part of their Capstone Program. This year, we made some shifts to the program by working from an essential question. The idea was to allow students to dig deeper and pull together some of their own essential truths based on research. Yet, this year we looked to change the perspective of that research and have the “answers” come from students’ conversations with others. I have had the distinct pleasure of listening to the podcasts that our students have produced in the last few weeks of school.  

The fifth graders have had the courage to interview their parents, faculty here at school and do a good deal of reflecting themselves in an attempt to answer this question. When interviewed myself, I was faced with a really challenging question: “What is the mark you hope to make on this school while you are here?”  In thinking about my answer to this question, I realized that the journey the fifth graders are taking is representative of the mark I hope to leave. In our conversation, Mohisha said, “Ever since I came to school here, I like to come to school now.” This is the mark I hope to leave 

As a daughter of a teacher, and a teacher myself for so many years, I often think about what it is, in truth, I value in education. Why am I doing what I do?

Teaching is hard. While I confidently believe in the importance of the practical is what matters in education, of equal, or even perhaps, slightly more important, is, the emotional. It seems that empathy or the ability to recognize feelings in another person is a major key to reaching all of our students. It is true that not every student comes to school excited to learn. We do not have the classroom ideal of the one-room schoolhouse where all the children sit quietly and do everything the teacher asks of them even in the more fortunate environment of the independent school. Quite frankly, on the whole, I would not want that. (Though, some days it might be nice...) 

Students come to our classrooms with such a variety of experiences, interests, and thoughts, creative and academic talents. And, consciously or subconsciously, they are looking to have someone make the connection with them, that is share something in common with them, as really all humans do. The human condition is predisposed to making connections and finding commonalities. While being unique and valued for it is important, at heart, we all want to feel a sense of belonging.

I don’t really think that the reason I do this is about the math facts I have taught (disclaimer: I love math, teaching math, and doing math) or the books that I have read (I am a voracious reader and miss the days of teaching the novel, Number the Stars) but really I want to impart a love of learning through as many avenues as possible.  Learning itself is the center of all I care about as an educator, and at my core, as a human.  I don’t necessarily mean academic learning, while that is a big piece of it. I mean learning about everything and anything: academic learning, social learning, emotional learning, interpersonal learning...the list goes on and on.  I just want to share my love of learning with everyone and anyone that I can. 

The most enjoyable part of my job as the Head of Lower School is that I can share in the joy of learning with so many more students, teachers, and parents. As I spent the last few weeks listening to the podcasts of the fifth graders and sitting in their panel discussion yesterday about the synthesis of their year-long study of culture, I realized that they can express my thoughts about the value in their work better than I can myself.  I was asked questions that really required me to dig a bit deeper. Here we were in a crossroads where the student became the teacher. 

And thus, I am going to turn it over to them, as linked below are the podcast episodes our fifth graders have produced with the guidance of their incredible teachers, and the expert advice of friends of mine at WXPN 88.5 out of the University of Pennsylvania. In the collaboration of the fifth grade students’ work, they are my blog post this month. 


PopTart Productions

 

Episode 1

 

Episode 2

 

Episode 3

MBS without the B

 

Episode 1

 

Episode 2

 

Episode 3

Breathe with Me 

 

Episode 1

 

Episode 2

 

Episode 3

Who Are You Radio

 

Episode 1

 

Episode 2

 

Episode 3

ARM Radio

 

Episode 1

 

Episode 2

 

Episode 3

Mistake Mania

 

Episode 1

 

Episode 2

 

Episode 3

Life Radio

 

Episode 1

 

Episode 2 

 

Episode 3

Who Are We 101

 

Episode 1

 

Episode 2

 

Episode 3

 

 

I have learned a great deal from them through every single podcast episode. I hope they are proud of their work as we are immensely proud of them. In answer to the question of “What is the mark I hope to leave on the school” it is complex and quite simple as it is about the people our students become in their time at Wardlaw+Hartridge. It can be summed up in a quote from Braelyn, a fifth grader who provided an insightful response to a question at the Capstone Panel Discussion.  

Their teacher posed the question, “What is a way you guys feel you could get involved to help and know different cultures of the world?”  

“You should have conversations with people about their culture, so they feel like they matter,” Braelyn said. 

Teaching children that it is important to make others feel like they matter. This is the mark I hope to leave.  

Posted by Silvia Davis on Thursday May, 23, 2019 at 09:01AM

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1295 Inman Ave,
Edison, NJ 08820
(908) 754-1882
The Wardlaw + Hartridge School is a top private and college prep school in Edison, New Jersey, which provides an independent, pioneering educational experience at the early childhood, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school levels.
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