We had such a wonderful time welcoming Uganda and Japan into Unity today as part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools Global Dimensions Pathway. All ages from kindergarten through grade eight started preparing a few weeks ahead with the help of their families and art teacher by creating their National Hand Print, featuring one country from their heritage. The wall of hands was displayed at the entrance of the World Culture Day Plaza and heralded the students in where they posed for their passport photo taken by our 8th grade photographer and then headed onto the customs bureau to receive their personalized passports and get stamped for Uganda and Japan.
When I started to organize the first “CommUnity Coffee” of the school year, I didn’t want to pick a serious topic to discuss. I really wanted the first coffee to be friendly and welcoming to the many new families who have joined our school, and a time to reconnect with old friends for our returning families. I would start the “CommUnity Coffee” with a welcome and introductions, and of course, “Compliments and Acknowledgements” (this is an important and unique feature of Unity, and how our students start the Morning Meeting and Class Meetings every day, but more about this on a later blog!).
Unity Charter School’s mission: to teach “the importance of protecting and improving the environment by educating our students on the principles of sustainability, ecology, and diversity in a way that celebrates and honors this planet and all its inhabitants.” At Unity Charter School, the mission is embedded in our charter. Principals of sustainability are intertwined into everyday lessons. While Unity focuses on the environment, I thought this definition of a sustainable community, from Scientific American, was worth sharing. Do you look forward to Unity Charter School’s annual science fair? In the midwest, one teenager went beyond the school science fair and designed a device to reduce fuel consumption by school buses. The GreenShields Project has received a lot of media attention in its local area. It’s never too early to be an innovator.
Educational standards are changing in many ways. Whether it’s the new core curriculum standards NJ schools will have to implement, or the use of technology in classrooms, multiple changes are coming down the pike for Unity Charter School as well as public schools in general. This was driven home to me by an exchange with my child. The other day, I urged her to write one of her summer journal entries longhand. You know, the old fashioned way with pencil and paper. She resisted: she wanted to use the word processing software on the computer. In the end, she wrote the entry the old fashioned way, just this once. Will students even use a pencil and paper 50 years from now?
Teresa LaSala’s Positive Discipline class has started us on the path to a more harmonious family life. Parenting six year old boys (or any child at all) can often be a lesson in patience and a test of our sanity. Our boys are generally very easy going and get along well with each other. However, like all children, at times they test limits, fight and do things we have specifically asked them not to do. Before attending the positive discipline class with Teresa, our main methods of discipline were yelling, time out and negative consequences. This only led to angry children and more yelling, so we were ready to learn a new method of discipline, because no one likes to be yelled at and we all needed a more peaceful home.