Welcome to Our New High Meadows Families

We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new High Meadows families! Joining us for the 2018-19 school year are a group of curious, engaged, kind, and creative learners who will benefit from and contribute to our school community in innumerable ways. We are so excited for you to begin your journey with us at a particularly exciting time in the school's history!
Tadpoles, Flying Seeds, and Earth Day: Environmental Sustainability Program Collaborates with Classroom Studies
A key Connections class at High Meadows is the Environmental Sustainability (ES) program for Kindergarten - 5th graders. ES teacher Kara Saiz hosts stand-alone classes and collaborates with classroom teachers to help students develop a connection to the natural world through hands-on field experiences across the school's 42-acre campus using scientific tools and concepts. Students love to explore the ES classroom's natural science museum, engage in outdoor discovery activities, and participate in small-group projects. The classroom incorporates children's literature, art, and technology utilizing a grow lab, wet area for ongoing experiments, and covered deck that serves as a bird and butterfly reserve.
ES teacher Kara Saiz holds a tortoise that her former students loved to care for and watch.

"I connect what I'm doing with the teachers' unit of study," Saiz said. "In the fall, the 2/3 classes found 18 tadpoles in a rain barrel on campus during the exploration portion of their Where We Are in Time and Place unit of study. We set up an aquarium for them and researched what kind of frogs they would become. Then, the students  designed the habitat as the tadpoles became froglets. We released the frogs into the pond - a few escaped, but one made it!"   Check out the frog release here. 
When 4/5 classes were studying sustainable communities in the How the World Works unit, students designed a sustainable community for humans in ES class.
4/5 students made posters about their sustainable community designs.
"We studied the architecture and engineering research of other communities and considered five categories: energy, food, waste, nature preservation, and transportation," Saiz said. "The kids really got into it and made posters of their design to showcase their information. It was a good transition to their next unit of study which was government."

To piggyback on this year's Emphasis topic of Flight, K/1 students studied seed disbursal in ES. They collected, sorted, and identified the seeds, then chose one to plant. They learned what seeds need to grow and why they travel. 

"I encourage kids to see the design side of nature and to try different approaches as they learn," she said. "I teach them to not be afraid of failures, but learn from them. K/1 students worked on those skills as they engineered a sunflower seed to fly using straws, paper, cotton balls, and a fan. They measured the distance the seed traveled and observed its flight path. Kids love the engineering aspect of nature."

Earth Day Celebration
A highlight of the ES program is the Earth Day celebration the whole school takes part in each year.
Earth Day activities are fun at High Meadows!
"Earth Day at High Meadows highlights our connection to the natural world," Saiz said. "We emphasize our ongoing commitment to being good stewards of the planet by taking community action towards sustainability and the well-being of the environment."

The High Meadows band led the parade. 
The celebration includes a parade through campus led by the school band. Preschool - Middle Years students follow, proudly displaying the Earth Day flags and posters they have made. Students present their flags, then take action around campus. This year, they planted in class gardens, weeded MeeMaw's Garden, created nature mandalas, wove colorful fabric designs on the playground fence, mulched/planted plants in the
Students created nature mandalas like this one depicting the campus tire swing.
pollinator garden, cleaned the campus stream, and repainted and reset stones in the Labyrinth. 

Afterwards, the y gathered as a school community for a Zero Waste lunch and the presentation of the Bluebird Awards which honor students, classes, and teachers who have shown positive  actions toward the environment. Parents and grandparents joined in all the activities, making the day even more special.
Students made flags as part of the Earth Day celebration.

Middle Years students gardened with their 2/3 buddies.   

The Ianzito/Wynn 2/3 class worked in their garden. 

2018 Bluebird Award Winners Made Many Positive Impacts on Environment This Year

The High Meadows Bluebird Awards are given out on Earth Day to students, teachers, and classes that have shown positive actions toward the environment. The 2018 Bluebird Award winners are:
  • A. Miller (Pre-K): Always shows sensitivity to the world around her and acts as a teacher, sharing knowledge about nature with others.
  • O. Bobbitt (K): Makes an effort to be environmentally responsible by composting and sharing concerns with others.
  • W. Brown (K): Always willing to go the extra step to care for our campus by picking up trash, gardening, and taking care of animals. A true nature lover!
  • M. Mercy, C. Tapasak, J. Kellum, S. Babiar (3rd grade): Took action to protect pollinators and their environments by making bee feeders, signs, relocating species to safety, and sharing during class meetings.
  • The Farmer Family (Claire-2nd, Ella-4th, and parents): Added beehives to their home garden to help the bee population grow and survive and sharing their hard work with others.
  • S.Feinberg, A. Peterson, K. Herr (4th grade): Worked to reduce litter on campus and encouraging others to help.
  • V. Lowry and G. Wright (4th grade): Worked to teach others about animals in captivity.
  • Middle Years Outdoor Learning Skills Classes: Demonstrated best outdoor practices, such as "leave no trace".
  • Ms. Rosa's Middle Years Emphasis Group: Worked on revitalizing planters in front of MY by researching and developing a pollinator garden in that area. 
  • Ms. Hunter's Emphasis Group: Cleaned out the wildlife area near Middle Years to develop a better habitat for birds.
  • Andrea Ianzito (K/1 teacher): Maintains the butterfly garden and volunteers her time on the weekend to help care for animals on campus.
  • Rebecca Drage and Shannon Hostetler (K/1 teachers): For all of their work with gardening and developing "Forest Fridays" with their students.
  • Sarah Bobbitt (Pre-K teacher): She walks the walk and talks the talk. She helps others around her feel more connected to the environment.

1979 - A Year of Firsts at High Meadows and Beyond

Jean Hunter began at HM in 1979 as a preschool teacher and now teaches English to 6th and 7th graders.

There were many ' firsts ' in 1979 - Margaret Thatcher was elected the first female Prime Minister in the United Kingdom, the Sony Walkman was released, and Trivial Pursuit was launched. That ' s also the year Jean Hunter joined High Meadows! She started as a preschool teacher and has since taught in almost every grade level at the school. She currently teaches 6th /7 th grade English.
Hunter has seen the school grow while continuing the educational philosophy the founders advocated. She noted that High Meadows has always had team teachers and placed an important emphasis on exploration and reflection.
" Jody Holden, one of the founders, was an inspiration to me, " Hunter said. " She pushed us to observe and reflect about what each day held for our students. She valued the process of exploration and play followed by reflection and thought for children and teachers alike. This helped us evaluate what we had learned and determine what we needed to continue to grow ."
Hunter has used that foundation throughout her career, including the four years she worked at a different school. Upon returning to High Meadows in 2017, she was pleased to learn that all teachers are asked to read " Cultures of Thinking " by Ron Ritchhart.  
" The book explores the cultural forces in learning and how teachers can create a culture of thinking in the classroom, " she said. " It really describes the importance of a learning environment and the education methods High Meadows has always promoted: providing time to think, making the classroom a place for thinking, and developing a language of thinking. Learning takes place here indoors and outdoors, and that was an intentional learning choice from the beginning. Being in nature every day helps create a healthy, productive learning environment.'
Studnets sharing their learning is also important.

" High Meadows has always encouraged children to share what they are learning, " Hunter  continued. " It ' s embedded in all we do and is notably seen in Emphasis learning. It ' s a powerful process that helps create brave, smart kids. "

Hunter Engages Students in Creative Writing Projects
In her 6 th /7 th grade English classes, Hunter engages students in creative ways. Early in the school year, her classes participated in The Global Read Aloud, a project with a simple goal to have one book connect the world. Each year, participants read a chosen book aloud during a set six-week period. Hunter ' s classes read picture books by Mem Fox to High Meadows Kindergarten/1st grade classes. They also partnered with a middle school class at Cheyenne River Eagle Butte Junior High on the Lakota Reservation that read the same books to kindergarteners in their area. As part of the partnership, Hunter's students learned about life on the Lakota reservation and the issues people face there.
" The Global Read Aloud is a wonderful project that helps students know more about the world and helps build empathy, " she shared.
Another thought-provoking assignment Hunter gave students was to enter the  Letters About Literature   contest hosted by the Library of Congress. Students chose a book that changed how they looked at the world and wrote a letter to the author explaining how the book affected them. Letters are judged on state and national levels. In addition to entering the contest, the students sent a copy of their letters to their book ' s author if they were still living.
Several 6/7 students received notes back from authors they wrote to describing how their book affected them.
" The letters reflected some deep thinking and courageous,  thoughtful writing, " Hunter shared.   " Students had to think about how a bo ok h ad changed their sense of self or understanding of the world which required some sensitive self-reflection. "

The assignment required correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling and provided the opportunity for lessons about those as well as audience clarity.
" An important lesson in learning to be a writer is to always consider your audience, " Hunter said. " The specificity of this letter-writing project helped drive home that point. You could not get way with forgetting who your audience was and telling them all about the plot of the book. "
Writing the letters also offered another real-life lesson: planning towards a deadline.
" Many students wrote and rewrote their letters numerous times, " she said. " The earlier they were able to get their work to me, the more we could do with revisions and editing. Students who waited until the last day had to send off what they had even if not all errors had been caught. Thou gh some students let the time slip away from them, some set the bar so high for themselves that they struggled with finding their own writing acceptable enough to turn in. "
Authors of significant standing in the literary community wrote back to some of the students, including Sharon Creech, J.K. Rowling, Ann Martin, Chris Grabenstein, and Kate DiCamillo. 
(l to r): Aviv Newman, Ella Schultz, and Kate Hurd will be honored in May for their entries in the Letters About Literature contest. 
Hunter and her students recently learned that three High Meadows letters won awards at the state level! Aviv.  received first place in Level II, Ella. received first place in Level I, and Kate. (from Dr. Robert Stalker's English class) received second place for Level I. These writers will be honored with the other Georgia winners at a ceremony on May 5 at the Decatur Library. The first place winners will proceed to competition at the national level.
Hunter is looking forward to more creative assignments like these next school year knowing her rising seventh students and their writing styles.

Planes, Rockets, Hot Air Balloons, Amelia Earhart, and Mythical Creatures: Students Share What They Learned Through Emphasis Study

For three weeks last month, High Meadows students explored the topic of Flight as part of the school-wide unit of study and experience called Emphasis. Each classroom interpreted Flight in its own way, based on the skills, inquiries, and interests of students. Check out what students shared about what they learned.

Early Years
  • Leina  (Preschool-3): We learned about bees.They get pollen on their bodies and bring nectar back to the hive and make it into honey.
  • Alana (K): I learned about Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman. They were famous women pilots. I also learned that 
    Many students enjoyed learning about rockets.
    tarlings fly in groups in patterns. They do that to be safe from predators. I learned to make paper airplanes. If you make them pointier, they fly farther. I really liked making the paper airplanes. I like figuring out ways to fold them. And I made an airport at home.
  • Iona  (Pre-K): We did a project to see which birds came outside our class window. We counted them and what kinds they were. 
  • Kennedy (1st): I studied Amelia Earhart. She was an important woman pilot. It was her dream to fly an airplane. She wanted to fly the whole world by herself. But they think she crashed. I made her plane with cardboard and painted it yellow because her plane was yellow like a canary. Bessie Coleman wanted to fly just like Amelia Earhart. She flew in air shows and did tricks. I really liked learning about Amelia Earhart because she is a strong person and didn't give up!
    Learning about Amelia Earhart was inspiring to students across grade levels. 
  • Jayden (3rd): I studied Shenron, a dragon, because our class studied fictional flying characters. I researched a bunch of websites to find information like his history and what's in his show Dragon Ball Z. There's loft-which lifts the object up, drag-which drags it back, thrust that makes it move forward, and weight-which pulls it down. I enjoyed learning this!
  • Kevin (1st): I studied different types of airplanes. I made a model of a double decker plane. I made a model of a hot air balloon and used it to lift up different things. I learned that two or three balloons would lift more things. I didn't know that Amelia Earhart or Bessie Coleman even existed. They were some of the first women to have the strength to fly airplanes. I enjoyed building my project because I like building things. I used cardboard and masking tape. I drew it out on cardboard and
    Pre-K classes studied 'what lifts you' and art by Kelsey Montague.
     then had to tape it together. Now I'm making a life size model of a one-man jet!
  • Hayden (3rd): My main topic was the 350 Challenger - a type of plane. I learned that flight is the fastest growing and improving technology that we have.
  • Hannah  (Pre-K): We had hot air balloons on the ceiling. We learned about birds and how to draw them. Both planes and birds have wings. We looked at big art about wings.
  • Jack (2nd): I studied three things: an SR 71 Blackbird, Nighthawks, and Spirits. Those are all planes. My favorite thing that I learned is that once a Blackbird flew from New York to Lo
    Students enjoyed creating and testing out how well many kinds of objects could fly.
    ndon in one hour and 55 minutes.
  Elementary Years
  • Noah  (5th): I worked with Frank on bottle rockets, and we learned a lot. We had a good presentation  and partnered well.
  • Sophia  (5th): This was one of the most exciting Emphasis topics I have had in my five years at High Meadows. I loved the hands-on challenge. We couldn't use PowerPoints or tri-folds. I studied paper airplanes. It was fun to join with a group for the project. It was tough at first, then it got easier.
  • Harlan  (5th): Emphasis is a time when, if you see something you want to learn more about, you can dig deeper. The goa
    Hot air balloons were a 'hot' topic of study.
    l is to learn and show your learning. I worked on my own and with Ms. Irwin and a Middle Years group. We built a hot air balloon and tested it three ways. The pants dry cleaning bag was the best because it lifted up with the candle's heat. It was very fun. 
  • Gavri  (4th): I worked with two others. We studied the flight of rockets and made our own. We found the average of three throws. It's cool to do hands-on stuff and experiments and our own exploration.
  • Sadie (4th): It was my first Emphasis, and I loved it! We had a classroom challenge to present information without computers. I loved getting to make stuff with my hands. I studied rockets with Sophia and Geneva . We used fishing line, poked a hole in Dixie cup and used a straw in the hole. Then, we blew up a balloon, kept the string tight, and moved the rocket. (Watch their experiment.)
  • Jack (4th): I studied rocketry. I looked at how Newton's third law of motion works and different parts of a rocket and what they do. Emphasis is a great time of the year to get ahead. You're supposed to think out of the box, be open-minded and try new things. You do your own research, take that in and create a project. You are not sitting in a room with a textbook. There are few limits to what you can do.
Middle Years
  • Keela  (6th): I studied balloon rockets and learned about the different forces of flight. I enjoyed flying them and working with friends.
  • Jasper  (8th): I enjoyed Emphasis and had a really good group. I learned a lot and got better at design and craftsmanship. It was fun to learn about military planes and aviation.
    Some Middle Years students studied mythical creatures and made their own creature. 
  • Niamh  (6th): I studied passenger aircraft and enjoyed learning about them.
  • Ella  (7th): I studied blimps and air ships. I liked how they looked and wanted to learn about them. The Flight topic had fun things to study.
  • Thomas (7th): My group studied gliding animals, and I made  a structure of a flying squirrel. That was cool.
  • Emily  (7th): I studied mythical creatures and learned that for a creature to be mythological, it had to have been believed that it actually existed. I worked with my group to create a mythical creature after studying mythical creatures versus those in fantasy. Each person created a portion of their creature that was then put together and created their own drawing.

Amanda Ray Touched Many Lives at High Meadows

Amanda Card Ray, a beloved, longtime member of the High Meadows community, pass
Amanda Ray was a beloved member of the High Meadows community.
ed away on April 23 after an illness.  She was a member of the High Meadows community for most of her life as a student, teacher, parent, and camp counselor. She attended High Meadows in preschool and shared her legacy as a High Meadows student with her three daughters.  She taught Pre-K and Kindergarten at our school for 18 years and served as a camp counselor from 1995 to 1997.

Amanda touched many lives at High Meadows, including dozens of children who were fortunate to have her as a teacher. She made dozens of friends, who are deeply grateful for having known her. We all mourn the tragic loss of such a kind, warm-hearted spirit.
Thank you to those who supported Amanda and her family, both emotionally and financially, through the  Go Fund Me page that was established to support them.
Thank you, Amanda, for all of the gifts you gave to High Meadows and our community over the years. We will miss you dearly.
Upcoming Events
Teachers: Register Today for Summer Learning Opportunities Offered by High Meadows Center for Progressive Learning

Summer is a great time for teachers to take a step away from the day-to-day and focus on growth, both personally and professionally. Summer Teacher Workshops from the High Meadows Center for Progressive Learning allow for personal reflection, pedagogical skill development and professional collaborations. Whether it's creating a classroom culture to increase student thinking, improving learning with inquiry and innovation, providing teachers with skills to navigate social justice learning, or fine-tuning writing workshop to increase student voice and choice, the Center is offering valuable progressive education professional development. There is discounted pricing for each workshop when registering four or more attendees. The workshops are highlighted below. Get more information or register on the Center's website. We hope you will join us or share these opportunities with educator friends. 

Tools for Transformation: Creating Classroom Cultures of Thinking
Date: June 4-5, 2018
Time: 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
Cost: $150 (lunch provided)

Learning with Inquiry and Innovation
Date: June 7-8, 2018 
Time: 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
Cost: $150 (lunch provided)

Teaching for Civic Responsibility and Social Justice
Date: June 7-8, 2018 
Time: 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
Cost: $150 (lunch provided)

Lifting the Level of Student Writing
Date: June 4-7, 2018  
Time: 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
Cost: $400 (lunch provided)
High School a nd College Students Invited to Free Leadership Workshop With Andrew McPeak
Andrew McPeak will share Primary Colors of a Leader.

Do you know a  high school or college student who is lookin g for new 
expe riences, interested in making new connections, or wanting to know wh a t makes for a healthy, effective leader? Invite them to gather with other young people to explore the subject of leadership at a free workshop on May 12 from 1 - 4 p.m. offered by the High Meadows Center for Progressive Learning and High Meadows Camp. At the workshop,  Growing Leaders  facilitator Andrew McPeak will share Primary  Colors of a Leader, a globally recognized form ula for leadership. Students will have fun learning  about the four fun damentals that everyone and anyone can develop in their  lives: character, perspective, courage, and favor. A ndrew is a millennial speaker and content developer with  Growing Leaders . In his role as Program Excellence Manager, he works closely with schools, universities, companies, and sports teams on implementing "Habitudes" as a tool to teach life and leadership skills. Primary Colors of a Leader is a globally recognized formula for leadership.  RSVP for this exciting FREE event.

The High Meadows community celebrates and perpetuates each individual's quest for knowledge and skill, sense of wonder, and connection to the natural environment. We empower each to be a compassionate, responsible, and active global citizen.

(770) 993-2940 | www.highmeadows.org
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