October 3, 2016


Dear Parents of Kent School Students,

Friday's All School Assembly with our new international friends at Greenhill School in Tenby, Wales was a JOY to experience on so many levels. Our students as well as theirs were so excited to take part in the live opening of the time capsule on The Osprey.  We were delighted to participate and we all look forward to continued communication with Greenhill School. Thanks also to the Welsh Government for the Friendship Badges!

I have spent the past few weeks visiting classrooms for lunch conversations, presentations, speeches, Fun Friday joke telling, dancing, and I may or may not have "stolen" some chocolate chip cookies from the First Grade, but what brings me the most JOY is reading to your sons and daughters. Stephen King, noted author of horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy wrote in his memoir: Books are a uniquely portable magic. What a wonderful description! I have seen this magic reflected on our Kindergarteners faces as I read P.D. Eastman's Are You My Mother ? I have seen it in Middle School as I walked by the 6 th grade homeroom when they were reading the Middle School community book Wonder. And there is no better place to witness magic than at Circle Time in Little School! Books transform, transport and teach us - often all at the same time.

I grew up the daughter of a first grade teacher who always told me: Books are your friends. I took that to heart and could often be found reading under a shade tree in my front yard.  One of the things that attracted me to Kent School was that DEARS - Drop Everything and Read Silently - is a component of the academic day for all Kent School students. I admire and will continue to promote our unwavering commitment to reading.

Becoming a lifelong reader begins with developing a love of reading. Studies show the importance of reading for pleasure for both educational as well as personal development. Reading for pleasure is positively linked to: reading comprehension, writing ability, and knowledge of grammar and vocabulary.

At Kent School we greatly value and place high emphasis upon reading and writing.  This year for the first time in Middle School both 7th and 8th Graders will have the opportunity to attend Writing Workshops to help with essay writing. Our students across all divisions will study different forms of the written word and it is especially wonderful when we can expose our students to the art of writing. The endowed Kudner Leyon Visiting Writer's Program brings an acclaimed author and/or illustrator to our campus annually for a day of workshops and presentations that engage our students in the literary arts across all grade levels. This year it will be held on October 5. We are delighted to welcome local author and illustrator husband and wife team Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson to Kent School. They are creative and collaborative and will share with our students in three separate workshops how they imagine, write and draw together. I am deeply grateful to the Kudner and Leyon families and their friends for the establishment of this endowment to provide a significant learning opportunity for our students and I am looking forward to being inspired by our writer/illustrator team.

Novels, short stories and poems as well as text and reference books need to hold a relevance in our students' lives and they must be current. Last year a decision was made to change math textbooks and resources across the Kindergarten - Grade 8 program. All of the new materials were ordered and most are already in use. In addition, this summer across all of the grade levels, textbooks and resources were reviewed to be certain that they reflect the latest information and knowledge in the sciences, American and World history, and geography. Our reference materials in the Library were also reviewed. Many changes have been put in place already although some orders are still on the way. I want to assure you that we will continue to evaluate our students' resources on an ongoing basis.

I am looking forward to the upcoming professional day on October 7. All Kent School employees will be reading Schools for All Kinds of Minds (Barringer) this academic year to prepare for a workshop in the summer of 2017 and we will begin with a DEARS of our own on Oct. 7. The book will guide reflection, discussion, and planning to bring the science of neurodevelopment into our classrooms in a meaningful and dynamic way. Aligned with our School's mission, its student-centered approach to understanding individual learners will help us identify passions and affinities to help promote scholarship.

I also believe it is critical to our student-centered mission that our Learning Specialist be trained in Orton Gillingham instruction and I am pleased to share that Jess Thompson will become certified in this unique approach to the teaching of reading later this month. Orton-Gillingham was the first, and is the most widely used, reading program designed to help struggling readers by teaching the connections between letters and sounds. The highly structured program uses a multisensory approach to teaching reading. Instructors use sight, hearing, touch and movement to help students connect language with letters and words. This certification will undoubtedly allow us to enhance our learning resource services for our students.

I hope you agree with me that our first month has gone by smoothly and a bit too swiftly. I am really enJOYing getting to know your children. Here's to a JOYful autumn!

With kind regards,
Nancy Mugele
Head of School


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