Saturday, January 9, 2010

Looking Back...a semester in review.

Welcome Back!! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday break. My holiday break included LOTS of driving, WAY too much eating, quality time spend with family in Pennsylvania and New Bern, repeated viewings of Dora the Explorer and Curious George, and, most importantly, lots of time just hanging out with my wife Samantha, and children (Zachary-11, Michael-5, and Rylee-2). This picture is my favorite of the 200+ we took over the holidays. Samantha captured the quintessential holiday moment-the excitement of one our children opening a gift that they really wanted. In this case, Michael was elated that Santa had brought him the Nintendo DS game on his Christmas list.

I decided to include this picture because it reminded me of the scene on this past Monday morning where the 6th grade students have their lockers. Coming from Upper School, I was accustomed to the morning following the holiday break to be a fairly low-key affair. Many of the students turn nocturnal over holiday break, staying up late to play video games and watch TV and not waking up until well into the afternoon. Consequently, the alarm on Monday morning hits them like a ton of bricks and hours before lunch are spent in a semi-sleepy state.

The scene amongst the 6th graders was exhilarating. Students were excited to see each, they were excited to see their teachers, and they were excited to be back at school. In short, it was a microcosm of what makes middle school at PDS a special place. Our faculty has the special ability to channel all of that excitement to the classroom, and the result is extraordinary.

In spending (almost) a semester with middle schoolers, I've been amazed at what middle schoolers are capable of doing. Here are a few of my observations:

-I've seen them engage in high level discussions about hot button political issues.
-I've seen them give countless hours to JH Gunn Elementary, and, in the process, forge lasting relationships with their students and staff (not to mention the tangible contributions: bulletin boards, non-perishable foods, books, holiday gifts, etc.)
-I've seen the personal connection that they have to our teachers, and how the adults in our community serve as role models.
-They have a comfort level with technology that I will never have.
-Many of them LOVE reading, (maybe not always what's required for school:)) and books still are cool.
-They dream big, and possess much more optimism than most adults.
-Birthdays are still important, and they go to great lengths to honor each other (and their teachers)...and that people with a birthday over the summer will sometimes celebrate a 1/2 birthday instead.
-They eat large quantities of the foods that I can only eat in moderation (french fries, pizza, desserts, chips, etc.)
-They are genuinely disappointed when their hero does something bad (Tiger Woods was a name that came up numerous times after Thanksgiving).
-The list, quite frankly, could go on for pages. I'd love to hear your observations about our middle school students here at PDS. Thanks again for reading,

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