Dear Skokie Families,
One of the things I have always loved about my job as principal at The Skokie School is that it is not unusual for our 5th and 6th graders to approach me with ideas or pitches for projects that they would like to pursue. Having taught in California, Alabama, and several suburbs on the North Shore, I can tell you that this is not the norm in other corners of the education world. I believe this is due to a combination of two things: 1.) Our students are naturally inquisitive, curious and reflective, with a genuine interest in exploration, and 2.) Our school community fosters learning that encourages risk-taking, creative thought and problem solving. Having said that, I thought I'd share a few examples of recent "student pitches" as I think they embody the best of the natural inquiry we so hope to see all of our students embrace.
A few weeks ago, several students from Ms. Goldberg's math class came to me with the idea to pose a challenging math problem to anyone interested in solving it. They came to me, not only with the problem itself, but their reasons for why it was a valuable exercise and worthwhile to promote mathematical thinking amongst their peers (they even included the lure of a Hershey bar as the grand prize). Without fail, these students wrote a dynamic and challenging problem, which was attempted by a respectable number of 5th and 6th graders. In the end, three winners were selected. While this may seem simple, the reward here was not only in the planning and preparation that led to the selected winners in the end, but the excitement and nerves that traveled with these students as they made their way to the office on the final day of the challenge to read the finalists' names over the intercom. We rehearsed together, and then the moment came to be heard throughout the building. That's the moment that mattered. Every student hopes for moments when their work, their contribution is recognized, when for one moment they can shine. The beauty here is that these students made that happen for themselves because our school community seeks to make sure that happens.
Similarly, our school's Girl Scout Troop meets in the cafeteria once a week. In the interest of pursuing a patch that addresses realistic challenges for students their age, the girls wanted to put together a bulletin board that focused on peer pressure. Being the thoughtful young ladies that they are, they made an appointment to meet with me and very maturely presented their plans for the bulletin board. We took a tour of the school together to find just the right spot to construct it, and within that week it went up, better than planned. They planned, they prepared, they made it happen.
I share these two simple, but special stories as I am reminded during this very busy time of the school year how incredibly fortunate we all are to be a part of this community. Each of us, even our children, play an important role within it. There are few places in the world that do that so well as Winnetka.
As you head into the weekend, ask your 5th or 6th grader about a time when they felt celebrated, special or proud at The Skokie School. These adolescent years make it easy to focus on the challenges at times, which makes it that much more important for us to find the moments to celebrate.
Stay warm on this very chilly weekend, and enjoy the time with your families.
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