Proud Preview of 2015-2016

August 04, 2015

The arrival of NFL training camps and corn and chiles in the local markets are sure signs that the start of the school year is fast approaching. Like anyone with a true passion for what they do, the faculty and staff at CSS have enjoyed summer but we are excited to get back to our work with students. This fall, there is much to be excited about. Throughout the course of the 2014-2015 school year, the faculty and administration engaged in a series of inter and intra divisional conversations that examined the programs that make CSS unique. As a team, we made some exciting plans to embrace three things:

1. student-centered learning,
2. the core values of our mission and
3. the teaching of 21st century skills,

all of which will help our students find success in an increasingly interconnected, fast-paced, and dynamic world. We are proud to implement and showcase these new programs that honor both tradition and innovation at The Colorado Springs School.

 
The School Calendar
The 2015-2016 school calendar allows us to:
  • Add 7 approximately days of classroom instruction to the school year supporting our superior academic program
  • Expand and more appropriately place our seminar programs in Upper School and Middle School kicking off the year with Seminar I in Middle School and MCS in Upper School
  • Add a bit more “breathing room” to the timing of Colorado Expeditions in the Children’s School and to the many events at the end of the school year

The RULER program
Faculy attended RULER training at Yale University
This fall we will begin the first phase of our school-wide implementation of the RULER Program. CSS has always sought to create and nurture a healthy and safe emotional environment for students. Recent educational research shows that:

  • Emotions influence teaching and learning
  • Emotions influence decision making
  • Emotions influence physical and mental health (well-being)
  • Emotions influence the quality of our relationships
  • Emotions influence creativity

This summer six teachers and administrators traveled to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence for training on the RULER program. The acronym RULER stands for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions. This fall, we will partner with CSS students, teachers and parents to introduce new vocabulary and frameworks as well as harmonize existing programs that support social and emotional learning (these include 21st Friends Groups in Children’s School, MS and US advisory programs, and a wellness class, among others). We look forward to sharing more about the RULER Program with a Parent Education Night on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.  

 
BYOD
Our new Upper School bring your own device (BYOD) program, several years in the planning and implementation, mimics the IT expectations of colleges and universities. Students are expected to use the approved device of their choice to create, collaborate, edit, curate, and publish their digital work and documents. Under this program, students and parents are allowed to follow their preferences for operating systems and devices, and teachers know they can lead the class in a “connected” lesson plan or activity without the need to be restricted to a computer lab. 
 
MCS
Upper School Mission-Centered Seminars (MCSs) are the much younger and shorter sibling of the Experience Centered Seminar. This new initiative began as a series of conversations among some of our most expert faculty about how we could open the school year with a deep dive into seminar style learning environments that would emphasize the CSS way of teaching-through inquiry. Students will be grouped with their class (by graduation year) and led by a faculty member through a sequence of four, one-day activities and experiences – each day of the MCS is guided by one of the core values of our mission statement
  • Leadership
  • Ingenuity
  • Service to a Dynamic World
  • Integrity (Ethics)

Logistical notes for MCSs 

  • Operating August 17-20 during normal school hours, MCSs are perfectly compatible with sports and after school activities
  • Students need to pack lunches and snacks and have water bottles with them as the seminars will be operating throughout the city
  • Due the highly experiential nature of the programs and the short time frames, traditional letter grades will not be assessed during MCSs. Student attendance is, however, mandatory and reflection with be measured through the student Digital Portfolios
  • On August 21st (the day after the conclusion of the MCS) CSS Upper School faculty will run a full-day orientation that will allow students to connect with their advisor and complete all the logistical details needed to start regular classes on Monday, August 24th

Every Child a Writer
Last spring the Children’s School faculty completed a very through overview of our Fall Adventures and Colorado Expedition programs and will forge ahead with these excellent learning tools. Additionally, the Children’s School faculty decided to implement a new standards-based writing program, Every Child a Writer. This program helps our teachers map and measure both the complexity and genre of student writing assignments. It is a series of standards to measure written expression (grammar and rhetorical structure). An added benefit is that it will allow us to retain our project-based techniques and theme-based curricula while more accurately mapping student skills and achievement.   

 
These value-added programs for the 2015-2016 academic year are made possible by the investment of our generous philanthropic donors and parents. Thank you for sending your kids to CSS and supporting the school in the many ways you do. I look forward to seeing you at the Ice Cream Social, August 14th.

All the best,

Aaron Schubach
Head of School

 
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