By: Melissa Carroll, Director of Beginning and Lower Schools
One of the highlights of working in a school is that every year begins anew in September. A fresh start, that affords opportunity, new ideas, and a harvest of summer renewal and growth. This year is no exception.
We opened our doors welcoming 65 new students to Swain, 49 of whom started in the Beginning and Lower School. Additionally, we welcomed 5 new classmates from Legend of Allentown, a local retirement community. These “classmates” visited Swain for the first time in October, spending time in Preschool, Prekindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms. Students engaged by sharing their musical talents in Town Meeting and then taught their new friends all about what they were learning in the classroom. Next time they visit, the residents plan to show off their stuff by sharing their musical talents. Throughout the year, we will visit Legend to see where our classmates live and spend time singing and doing activities together. This wonderful intergenerational exchange is mutually beneficial and allows us to learn from each other.
In an effort to expose students to engineering and design strategies, we introduced a new tool called the “Rigamajig”. This tool helps students exercise a variety of muscles, literally and figuratively. Similar to a giant erector set, components of the “Rigamajig” include boards, nuts, bolts, pulleys, levers, and gears, all housed in a movable cart. Students must work together to physically construct and connect parts.They must also utilize communication and problem solving skills as they creatively engineer their ideas. The positive energy from students has been palpable and we can’t wait to see all of the ways this new tool is used.
In September we also continued our partnership with Lehigh University’s Child Development Research Group. Since 2017, we have engaged in research on reading comprehension, human behavior, and child development. The research findings contribute to data on best practices and provide a framework for better understanding the growth and development of children. Recently, faculty were presented with the findings on reading comprehension conducted by doctoral candidate, Caitlin Lindley. The research informed us about literal and inferential comprehension strategies and deepened our understanding of the metacognitive behaviors of beginning readers. What an incredible gift this partnership is to our faculty!
As you are well aware, we have the best and brightest students in the Lehigh Valley. This September, we started something new. We are highlighting their many gifts and talents at weekly Beginning and Lower School Town Meetings. We are celebrating their outside-of-school achievements in the Arts, on the playing field, and in areas of service. So far, we’ve recognized such accomplishments as the earning of a next-level Karate belt, participation in a cheerleading competition, transition to a new level in Boy Scouts, and a performance with a local theater group. This has been a welcome addition to our Town Meetings and is giving all students an opportunity to shine.
There is incredible energy in school, as we welcome new members and embrace the delightful innovation of the school year. Join us, if you will, as we begin the harvest and harness the hope. The best is yet to come.