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Head's Corner, April 9, 2013
Greetings CMS Families,
I hope that you are enjoying this beautiful weather. It certainly puts a smile on my face and hopefully yours as well. Last Wednesday and Thursday evening the Sixth Years (Sixth Graders) presented their Senior Projects in the Elementary gym to a standing-room-only of parents, guardians, faculty, staff, extended families, and friends. The Senior Projects are a culminating event for the Sixth Years. The Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, and 6) teachers prepare students for this rigorous yet fun project. Mary Velasquez has been leading this project for the past twelve years. She, Bethany Holcombe, Sue Sullivan, and Katie Tremblay are a dynamic teaching team that help guide the students through the process from start to finish. Senior projects are common amongst Montessori schools. It is a part of their research-laden curriculum that helps prepare them for life after Montessori.
According to Mary V, the goal of the project is for students to investigate, in-depth, a topic of their choosing while applying and extending the skills that they have developed throughout their Elementary years. Students are encouraged to give serious consideration to the topic of their choice at the end of fifth grade so that when they return from summer break as Sixth Years, they are ready to immerse themselves in the process. I have observed my share of student presentations over the past two decades and I have to say, the students blew me away. Their presentations included the following topics: Grace Kelly, Aircraft Carriers, The Story of Chocolate, Banned and Challenged Books, US Women’s Soccer, Taylor Swift, Walt Disney, Early Ice Cream, Michelle Obama, Nefertiti, and The History of Hip Hop. The audience was completely engaged both nights. They “dropped knowledge” like stocks in 2008. They were confident and prepared and had enough swagger to give Jay Z and JT (Justin Timberlake) a run for their money and that’s a lot of loot! They connected with everyone in the room, from grandparent to infant!
I was so proud of both the teachers and the students. They have worked so diligently since September. Recently, I was asked, "How do you measure student success?" Sometimes I like that question and sometimes I don’t. It depends on who is asking. I always think, "What are you really asking???? Is that code for, 'Are your students really learning?'" The intellectual yet snarky side of me wanted to say, “By the results of the multiple assessments that we offer daily; by the secondary schools where our students are accepted; by the grades that our students earn when they leave here; by their ability to read, write, solve challenging mathematical equations; and by their ability to transition and navigate a complex world that wants to define them according to a set of standards that are artificially inseminated into our subconscious. Don’t get me wrong. Standards absolutely matter. What matters more, however, is that we help define what those standards are and that we take into account multiple intelligences. I am reminded daily that our students are academically challenged. They are also confident, civic-minded community members who care so much about each other and the world in which they live. They gain these skills early. You could go into any classroom from Toddler through Middle School and see common themes. Confidence. Compassion. Courage.
There are so many examples of “successful students” here at CMS. They are in every classroom! Maya in the Orange Room will rule the world one day. No really, she will. She has the charisma and style of Grace Kelly, and the intellect and ambition of Michelle Obama. Robert in the Green Room will either own or design multiple aircraft carriers, putting Boeing out of business! Ceci in the Amber Room will be the next Walt Disney. She tells amazing stories and is uber creative. Kaden in the Rose Room will have read every book in the world and will inspire libraries, towns, organizations, and countries to give everyone freedom and access to read whatever they want and increase the literacy rate globally! CMS reminds me of a commercial that made such an impact on the world. When Tiger Woods came on the scene many years ago, he inspired so many young African American children who never considered golf as a sports option. There was a commercial that showed quite a bunch of young brown faces whose words would resonate with me forever. Each child would say, “I am Tiger Woods.” “I am Tiger Woods.” “I am Tiger Woods.” It was the beginning of an increased awareness in the game of golf and the possibilities of achieving greatness within the sport.
When I look at what each of our students is doing daily, the words, "I am Isabel. I am Martin. I am Maya. I am Naima. I am Sage. I am Sloane. I am Lily. I am Max. I am Nia. I am Olivia. I am Kobe. And we are CMS," resonate with me and remind me that they are, in fact, the measure of our success, both qualitatively and quantitatively. They shared their presentations in front of a large audience with the skills they have acquired over time, confidently and with courage. Now how’s that for a group of smart and creative future leaders? WE ARE CMS! I hope that you have a wonderful April break!