Friday, November 3, 2017

How do we learn to be leaders?

Prospective parents frequently have asked, “ How do we at Breck foster leadership in the Lower School?”  They ask about our Student Council and how children get elected to serve. I share about how the students deliver written speeches to their teacher(s) who in turn share the ideas to their classes anonymously. The hope is that students vote on the best ideas, without simply picking a friend. Along with answering these questions, I always like to add that leadership is so much more than serving as an elected council official. In thinking carefully about this question, I realize that our young student council representatives, work hard to be the voice of their classmates and model leadership. I also emphasize that leadership comes in many forms at Breck. It is fostered each day within the classroom, at chapel, at lunch, on field trips etc. It is practiced and demonstrated often and in ways you’d never expect.
Student Council Representatives (Grades 1-4)

We at Breck want to think deeper about leadership: What is a leader? What do leaders look like and sound like? Is a leader always in front of the group? Are the leaders always the voice of the group? Through these questions, we have found there is much more to leadership than first thought of:  leaders inspire, leaders like to organize, leaders share ideas openly, and leaders listen to other’s ideas. Along with all of these thoughts, we’ve added that leaders are collaborators. Leaders serve the community. Positive leaders are seen as role models to others.
  Reading With Senior Citizens

Sharing Math Strategies

                 Sharing A Favorite Book/Reading To Others        

 Young children can lead! Even in preschool and kindergarten you can see leaders in the community. The teachers foster leadership by giving their students classroom jobs. They may lead the line or have a special job as the caboose, also known as line ender. They help a friend at recess learn how to climb the monkey bars, or organize a group to rake leaves, or …One student led a whole construction group in the sandbox on a weekly basis. They sifted sand and moved it across the playground in toy trucks. The other children liked the way this friend came up with the idea, created new jobs, and included anyone who wanted to join. First and second graders learn to form teams at recess. They take turns choosing the team, delegating positions, and bringing their friends to victory or humble defeat, ready to take on new positions the next day. These students also have a job as table captains at lunch. They watch for when it is time for seconds, encourage eating a more colorful plate of food by adding vegetables, and delegating table helpers to clean up afterwards. Third graders have reading buddies and begin to serve as lunchroom helpers, called Biddies, with kindergarten and preschool students. Teachers appreciate their service as they set the tables, help younger students make healthy food choices, and model appropriate dining behavior. 

There are many opportunities at Breck to develop strong leadership traits and practice positive leadership. Our fourth graders, as the oldest in Lower School are seen as leaders and role models simply by being in the position of the oldest in the group. Teachers have realized that the responsibility of being an active leader and role model needs even more opportunity to practice and not solely a right of passage. Fourth grade has built into the curriculum a leadership program. A kick-off day gets the students aware and motivated for the greater responsibilities that come with leadership and serving the Lower School. Special color groups meet on a regular basis to search for ways to demonstrate leadership, serve the community, and grow as individuals. Fourth graders also work on committees each week. There is the Sustainability Committee, which focuses on the school environment, the Service Committee, which organizes food and clothing drives, and the Chapel Committee, which helps to plan chapel services.

Individuals on all grade levels are welcome to lead and serve whenever the right opportunity presents itself. Felix, a second grader organized a community collection for hurricane relief. His goal was to gather $1,000 dollars in loose change. His classmates helped to count all the coins, which was a good math lesson as well! Mason, a third grader, lives close to Breck. He holds an annual Halloween Haunted House. Entry to the Halloween adventure is food for the food shelf.
Hurricane Relief

Grade Level Counting Coins For Felix's Project

Thumbs Up For A Great Halloween Event, Mason!

There are so many ways to develop the skills for true leadership. It doesn’t develop over night. It is thoughtfully honed and nurtured. We at Breck take pride in developing the leaders of tomorrow.
Admissions Ambassadors

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring Awakens!

April 2017

Spring has arrived and as usual I wonder where the year has gone. The students are busy working on special research reports, practicing songs for closing exercises, and getting into shape for field day. Whew! We don’t wind down at Breck…we buckle down and accomplish a great deal!

Parents need a clean calendar to record all the special events that are happening in May and early June. It will be important to know that your child is working hard and will need some down time, or rest during these busy weeks. The overlap of community events, music recitals, and family festivities only adds to a hectic feeling. Let’s have the mindset to spend a few hours a week outside in nature, observing and enjoying the changes of the season. It is such a short and precious time, especially in Minnesota.

Our parent Moving UP events have begun. Although we still have a lot of important time in the present grade, these events will give you parents a little peek or preview of next year. The teachers presenting have worked hard to share the excitement and possibilities in a new grade and will be able to answer your questions. Look at the Breck calendar to see when your grade level meets.
Here is what I have:
April 5th was the kindergarten meeting (Moving Up to First Grade)
April 20th was the second grade meeting (Moving Up to Third Grade)
April 27th will be the preschool meeting (Moving Up to Kindergarten)
May 4th will be the third grade meeting (Moving Up to Fourth Grade)
May 11th will be the first grade one meeting (Moving Up to Second Grade)
May 16th will be the fourth grade meeting (Moving Up to Middle School)

Teachers are also putting together some suggested activities for the summer. These are geared to keep learning present during the summer, in a fun and interactive way. All items are optional. Parents have appreciated ideas for those days that seem to need a boost. We all want to work as a team to keep children sharp in their skills and motivated to make learning connections on many levels.  Even when it is summer, children can play games to practice math skills, read and read some more, think like a scientist, and explore the world around them. Enjoy this time together as a family! It does go by much too quickly!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January 2017!

Happy New Year!  There is so much to share! The new initiatives for 2016-17 are going well. Our students are eating more healthily at lunchtime. Discussions in classrooms when planning ahead seem to be the best arena for thinking about the good choices of food we are given at Breck School. Students are trying foods from all the food groups. More salad choices have been given and students are taking advantage of trying new foods. The preschool/kindergarten salad table is a hit. Even the students in grades 1-4 like to see what new foods are being offered and willing to try kale, beets, and couscous.


The STEAM initiative has also taken off. Students have shared that STEAM is one of their favorite parts of the day. Today I walked by the STEAM room and saw students building with wood, hammers, and nails. Of course they were wearing their safety goggles and earplugs!  (Photos of this activity to come.)

Coding continues to be popular among students Preschool-Fourth and beyond. The Hour of Code or our own Breck Code-In was a hit. The fact that it was also pajama day was a double reward. (The whole school had Pajama Day, which was from earning points for all the food collected back in October during the Breck Scares Hunger. ) Way to go Breck!


We have a lot to share with prospective parents and students during our admission season. Thankfully we have the help of fourth grade leaders. This group of fourth graders has proven to be very passionate and articulate when sharing their own Breck experiences.