A Trip about Freedom

Last week I had the privilege of traveling to Williamsburg and Washington, D.C. with the eighth grade. After more than two decades in education, going on field trips with students remains one of my favorite things to do. The opportunity to see kids outside the classroom and get to know them more deeply is always a joy.

I have been on this trip many times at ROBS and other schools, and yet I learn something new every time I go. This year the emphasis on freedom struck me. As I was walking through the Holocaust Museum, a difficult and sobering experience no matter how many times I visit, I thought about all of the ways that this trip is about freedom. Continue reading

Turning the Tide Toward Kindness

by Leanne Reynolds, Head of School

Twice a year, Heads of School from all ISAS schools—about 80 of us from all over the Southwest—get together for a business meeting, professional growth, and fellowship. It’s a great opportunity to learn from each other, discuss trends we’re seeing in our schools, and build relationships we count on week in and week out.

We also are fortunate to learn from some of the best educational leaders in the country. This fall, one of our speakers was Dr. Richard Weissbourd from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His topic? How Harvard is joining with other colleges to change the college admission landscape. Dr. Weissbourd presented a recent Harvard research study along with a report called “Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions.” (You can read an Executive Summary here.) Continue reading

When is it smart to give a child a smart phone?

Smart Phoneby Leanne Reynolds, Head of School

Often I am asked when children should be allowed to have a smart phone.  I wish there was a simple answer.  There isn’t.  With Christmas around the corner, and knowing that smart phones will be on Christmas lists, I thought the timing right to share a few thoughts with you.

Smart phones are hand-held computers.  They can do almost anything a computer can do.  They are powerful, media-producing communication devices that can instantly transmit information, videos, or pictures.  Hence the problem with children and smart phones.  Continue reading

To “B” or Not to “B”

Report Cardby Shelby Hammer, Head of Middle School
Last month at the Fifth Grade PA Meeting, a parent asked a seemingly innocuous question: “If my child made a 91 in a class, should we consider a tutor?” That question inspired a productive discussion about the pressures on our children to achieve in today’s hypercompetitive environment. I mentioned that while I wish I could change the world, for now, I am doing what I can to change my corner of it, both as an educator and as a parent. I was asked to share my top three talking points on this topic, which I am including here for you. Continue reading

Top Dog or Bottom Dog?

by Leanne Reynolds, Head of School

FB Leanne with kidsFor the last few years, we’ve been talking at ROBS about the benefits of a preschool to eighth grade environment. For starters, our middle schoolers aren’t in the middle. They are our “top dogs”—the leaders of our entire student body. Children can stay younger a little longer without the accelerated social pressures that come with having high schoolers on campus. Kids benefit from choosing the high school that best matches their interests and talents. And students tell us that after years in the same school, they are eager to get a fresh start and make new friends in ninth grade. (Many parents agree.)

This graphic illustrates many of the reasons we believe a preschool to eighth grade trajectory is ideal for students—and an important part of ROBS’ “secret sauce.”

Top Dog image Continue reading

The First Mile is the Hardest

by Shelby Hammer, Head of Middle School

RunningAbout a year ago I took up running. Thanks to the gift of a FitBit, a little sibling rivalry, and the Couch to 5K app, running is now my main form of exercise. I am not fast, and I don’t go very far. However, I’m happy with what I have accomplished, especially given that before now I couldn’t run more than 10 feet without feeling like I was going to die.

In this year of running, I’ve learned a lot. One of the more surprising lessons is that running is as much psychological as it is physical. If I am not mentally prepared for my run, then things don’t go well. But, even when I am in a good place physically and mentally, I find that the first mile is the hardest. I get to the half mile point, and I think how I am ever going to reach my goal. I’m usually able to push through, and after that first mile is behind me, I’ve found my rhythm and complete my run.

Continue reading

Courageous Parenting

by Leanne Reynolds, Head of School

Courageous parentingCourageous parenting? I think parenting in today’s world is incredibly courageous! I had no idea what I was getting into nineteen years ago when I had my first child. From leaving her crying in preschool, to letting her go on her first date, to handing her the car keys for the first time, to tearfully driving away after moving her into her dorm at the University of Alabama last year—parenting is hard.

What I have learned is that parenting is easier when we parents are willing to share with one another the realities of parenting. When we are “real” with one another. In my experience, when I quit worrying about being a perfect parent, and I opened up to my fellow parent friends about the joys and difficulties I face with my kids, I realized that I am not alone. There are no perfect parents!

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Positive Presidential Election for All!

US Flagby Leanne Reynolds, Head of School

As you know by now, ROBS has joined the +Works movement, which emphasizes creating a positive school culture. This year’s presidential election offers us a unique opportunity to practice what we preach. I’d like to take a few moments to explain how we will be discussing the election at school this year and how you can help us.

ROBS is party-neutral.  I tell parents at Admission tours that at ROBS, we teach ecumenical Christian principles and leave religious doctrine to the parents. We approach politics in the same way. Our view from an instructional perspective will be politically neutral. Promoting party-specific politics is not our intention, nor is it part of our curriculum. I have asked our faculty and staff to be particularly mindful of when, where, and how they have personal conversations with colleagues about the election because young ears may be listening, even when we do not think they are. Continue reading

Choose Kindness

by Leanne Reynolds, Head of School

Choose KindnessIs it just my imagination, or is there a low rumbling sound outside my office? The sky is too clear for thunder, and the demolition work on the former Walgreens property is finished. (Hooray!) So it must be the quiet but insistent revving of a new school year heading our way.

Every year, I start and end the school year with a letter to our parents. Usually, my back-to-school letter is full of information and updates. But I want to start the school year by focusing on one priority: kindness.

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Capping It Off

Capping it offAs teachers, students often ask us, “When are we ever going to need to know this?” This sentiment isn’t unique to children. I saw a meme on Facebook this week that says, “Another day has passed, and I didn’t use Algebra once!” These remarks illustrate why educators are seeking to make learning more relevant to students. Project-based learning, STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) activities, and design thinking are all educational tools with explicit connections to the real world. With the goal of authentic (i.e., real world) learning in mind, the ROBS Middle School curriculum now includes a Capstone Project. For this collaborative project, groups of students in their eighth grade year will complete a design thinking project around an issue in our school community. Continue reading