Right before our schools opened we welcomed our new teachers, administrators, teaching assistants, monitors, and interns to the Viking Nation. We spent two days learning and exploring the principles that guide our schools, the District Shared Valued Outcomes, and the nuts and bolts of who, what, where, when, why and how things work the way that they do. While invaluable, it is also an overwhelming experience.
I have always appreciated how sophisticated messages are often communicated in simple ways through the genre of children's literature- elegance in simplicity. When I met with our new faculty and administration, I read them a children's book called, All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee. It is a book that I have enjoyed with my own children. It presents the reader with a message of life's ups and downs, unity, and perspective. A recipient of the 2010 Caldecott Honor, the illustrations are simply stunning to look at.
After we read the book, I asked them in teams to reflect upon their work with children and to finish the sentence, All the world is...
Their responses were jaw-dropping. Messages brimming with hope, optimism, and thought. I created a wordle and have included here for you to have look at. I smile each time I read it, and hope you will as well.
Teach Your Children Well:
Last week, we welcomed back our professional staff to the District. On September 6th, we welcomed our students back. The first day is one of the best days of the year. You may or may not know that our District's motto is "Discovering Your Dreams." One of the things that makes North Shore so unique is that we're focused on encouraging kids to dream. Whether large or small, dreams are important, and they help us to imagine and innovate. I quoted Oscar Wilde's 1891 essay, The Critic As Artist when he states, "Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." I took time to address our district staff on reinforcing a message of enabling children to dream while balancing the demands placed upon us with regard to specific and required course content.
Teaching is hard work. It is a marriage of art and science that can ignite endless passion, wonder, and knowledge in children. We are fortunate to live and work in such a special place, and look forward to an amazing year of teaching and learning.
Back in Action:
It has been a week since we welcomed back our students to North Shore, and the place is now truly electric! Schools absolutely come to life once they are filled with students. New school years are opportunities for us to extend our learning and relationships, renew and grow our interests, and/or engage in new opportunities. In my travels to each school, I met an amazing number of new people. I built robots with kindergarteners, chatted with many students about all things including the marshmallow challenge at Glen Head. I even asked for some advice on how to be a successful superintendent in North Shore from our current fifth graders across all three schools. Among other things they told me to work hard, listen carefully to students, communicate well, solve problems, and to be creative. I also heard a thing or two about eliminating homework, closing school early, extending recess, air conditioning, and playgrounds.
I love that our students are back. They give us purpose and a reason to reflect upon ways to strengthen our great Viking Nation!
I'm looking forward to seeing many of you at Homecoming this weekend. The K-12 Fan Fest will begin at 10:30 AM and the football game will begin at 2 PM. For regular updates on all things North Shore, follow me on Twitter at @PeterGiarrizzo.
Til neste gang (until next time),