The Greatest Measurements of Success

Our 7th graders on their recent trip to Williamsburg, VA

"You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi Berra had it right. And my follow-up to that wisdom is "you can learn a lot just by observing."

I visit lots of schools. There are certain questions I ask myself to help me get the measure of a place. Are students engaged with the material, the teacher, and each other, or are they doing seat work alone? Are the desks arranged in a circle or small groups, or are they in neat rows facing the front of the room? Or are there even desks at all?

But the answer to one question tells me more about a school than anything else: Are the students happy? Happy children learn. They are not distracted by anxiety. They are not isolated.

When I take visitors on a tour of High Meadows, I never know quite what to expect. What I do know is that I will see engagement, collaboration, and a bustle of activity. I will also see and hear the signs of happy students: smiling, laughing, skipping, playing.

High Meadows is not a difficult place to experience joy. We have acres of woods and meadows, climbing trees, and whimsical spaces. And, of course, friendly farm animals. But there are places of joy beyond the obvious: the way that learning experiences are structured to elicit deep thinking and creativity; the way our teachers treat children with respect; the way children discover the magic of learning on their own. These are true markers of a healthy, thriving school.

I am proud that our students love coming to High Meadows to learn and grow. To me, there is no greater measurement of our school's success.

Take care,
Jay's signature
Jay Underwood
Head of School
What Is the International Baccalaureate Program?

You probably know that High Meadows School is a certified International Baccalaureate (IB) World School offering its Primary Years Programme (PYP) focusing on students aged three - 12, or pre-K through 5th grade. But, do you know what that really means?

A little IB background: The International Baccalaureate is a non-profit foundation that aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. For 45 years, the IB has delivered programs designed to engage students in educational learning that equips them for life in the 21st century. There are 4,200 IB schools throughout the world with more than 75,000 teachers and 1.2 million students.

What is an IB education?
What is an IB education?

Focus on Learners
An IB education focuses on learners, develops effective approaches to teaching and learning, works within global contexts, and explores significant content. IB students embrace their own cultures and are open and responsive to other cultures and views.
There are six areas in the IB Programme of Inquiry: Who We Are, Where We Are in Time and Place, How the World Works, How We Express Ourselves, How We Organize Ourselves, and Sharing the Planet. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.  Each includes a Central Idea, Key Concepts, Lines of Inquiry, and a focus on  Learner Profiles and Attitudes that we consider in developing curriculum. 

IB at High Meadows
At High Meadows, the cross-disciplinary curricular framework of the IB model allows students to learn about the interconnectedness across traditional subject areas while encouraging them to take action with their knowledge through projects, advocacy, and service. The PYP places a powerful emphasis on inquiry which makes it a perfect companion to our progressive education model.  To learn more about IB at High Meadows, visit our website and keep reading below .  
IB in Action or 'What Does Mr. Underwood Do at School?'
As part of the Kindergarten/1st grade level's recent  "Who We Are" International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme of Inquiry unit, students in the Ianzito/Wynn class wondered what Head of School Jay Underwood does in the school community. They brainstormed some possibilities and sent him a letter explaining with their thoughts. 

After reading the letter, Mr. Underwood visited the students to discuss their ideas and share what he does for the school. And no, he doesn't cut the grass at school, but he does at home!

Jay's Job

Connections Courses Tie Closely to IB

At High M eadows, the curriculum for Connections classes is closely tied to the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) units of inquiry for each Early and Elementary grade level. O ur Connections classes provide exactly what their name implies: learning experiences that enable students to make connections among different academic disciplines in meaningful ways.

Our Information and Technology Literacy (ITL) Connections teachers recently shared how they incorporate IB units, Learner Profiles, and Attitudes into their teaching.  Librarians  Lisa Backalenick and Kim Platnick  and Technology Integration Specialist  Amanda Korell  reference the IB units of inquiry for each grade level as they develop their curriculum for the year. They also incorporate standards from the International Society for Technology in Education, the American Library Association, and the American Association of School Librarians. 

Information and Technology Literacy teachers Amanda Korell, Lisa Backalenick, and Kim Platnick  reference IB programmes of inquiry as they develop their curriculum

Platnick explained that the IB framework creates a common language among these standards and guidelines.  The team uses the concepts in the PYP units  as a guide when selecting books, technology, and apps for each grade level. They also reference the Attitudes and Learner Profiles for each unit through modeling and book selections. 
Backalenick shared an example of this planning. The first unit of inquiry this year for the Kindergarten/1st grade classes was 'How We Express Ourselves', and the Central Idea was that people express universal values through stories. During their classes with those students, the ITL teachers read stories that reinforced that idea, such as Aesop's Fables.
Korell provided another example. This year, the 4th/5th grade classes are beginning to use the Office 365 program. The ITL team is helping these students learn how to use the program and is teaching good digital citizenship habits that tie into the IB Attitude of "Respect." 

These examples are just a few ways that Connections c lasses incorporate the IB units of study into their curriculum to provide learning experiences that enable students to make connections among different academic disciplines in meaningful ways.   
New Middle Years Counselor Hits the Ground Running

High Meadows welcomes  Yori Scott as its first full-time Middle Years Counselor to guide students through middl e school and help them transition to high school.
She brings enthusiasm to this role as well as eight years of counseling experience with students in grades six through 12 in public and private schools.
Middle Years Counselor Yori Scott
"I am excited to join the High Meadows community," she shared. "My goal is to continue promote the rich academics, personal, and social development of Middle Years students and offer support to staff, families, and the school community," she shared.  

Scott hit the ground running, meeting with students and parents, conducting classroom lessons, collaborating with teachers and staff, and consulting with community organizations to help address the needs of Middle Years families.

"I teach goal setting and leadership skills as part of the 6 th/7 th grade Wellness and Study Skills mini-course," she said. "I also enjoy helping students when they come to me with questions."

She has been helping 8th graders and their families, holding individual transition conferences for high school placement.

"I surveyed 8th grade parents to see what assistance they might need for high school transition,"  she said. "I then began attending high school open houses and meeting admissions counselors so I could provide first-hand knowledge and impressions as families make important decisions."

Scott also participated in the two-day 8 th grade retreat in September. "I witnessed how the students became a more unified group and set goals for themselves and their class," she said. "That was a highlight for me."

Quick Facts About Yori Scott:
  • Married with two boys, ages 5 and 2
  • Worked most recently at Ivy Preparatory Academy in Gwinnett
  • Holds a bachelor of arts degree in communications from Georgia State University and a master of counseling degree from Clark Atlanta University
Students' Views About Learning with Elders and Youngers: "I Like Having S omeone Who Knows How to Do Things" 

In High Meadows' multiage classrooms, students benefit from the academic challenges of an integrated curriculum and the growth that comes with developing new skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, collaboration, empathy, and leadership. Students are 'youngers' and 'elders' based on their grade level and enjoy helping each other learn. Recently, some students in the Huffner/Nesbitt 2nd/3rd grade class shared what they like about learning together in the same classroom.  
Maya, an elder, and Kyra, a younger, help each other solve a STEAM challenge in the Huffner/Nesbitt 2nd/3rd grade class

  • Amy: I like staying in a class for a second year because I can have the same teachers I like for another year.
  • John Elliott: I like having the elders help you when you make a mistake.
  • Kyra: I like having someone who knows how to do things. They help me settle into a classroom and know what to do.
  • Sara: Each year we have new people in class and get to be a role model.
  • Jackson: You get to help kids who are a year younger. It makes me feel good to help other people.
  • Jamie: You can experience a lot and make mistakes and keep trying. You can make new friends and try new things.
  • Hayden: I like working with youngers, and the classroom and teachers are familiar the second year.
  • Maya: I like to be with the youngers and show them stuff.

TinyDoorsAtlanta Visit Sparks Imagination

The Central Idea in the 4th/5th grade's recent IB unit of study on "How We Express Ourselves" was that imagination is the outward expression of our inner journey and is a powerful tool for extending our ability to think, create, and express ourselves.  

As part of this unit, students were treated to a visit from Karen Anderson, principal artist and director of TinyDoorsAtlanta. She shared how she uses her imagination and knowledge of different communities within Atlanta to create whimsical art projects that consist of six-inch tall doors placed in strategic locations.  The doors represent the uniqueness of th eir area of the city and become an interactive part of their community. 
Karen Anderson uses imagination to create 'tiny doors' that represent Atlanta

"We felt that the doors demonstrate many of the Lines of Inquiry in the 'How We Express Ourselves' unit, including how people can use imagination to make meaningful connections and think beyond their own experiences," s aid 
Melissa Casorio , a 4th/5th grade teacher. 

The doors can be found at various places throughout Atlanta, including the Center for the Puppetry Arts, the Krog Street tunnel, and the Atlanta Beltline. Learn more at 
Annual Meadow Mile Race Encourages Family Fun 

Each Fall, the High Meadows Cross Country Team hosts the Meadow Mile race throughout the campus' Lower Meadow. Students of all ages, along with parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, and staff members, enjoy this time-honored tradition which includes a fun age-group competition.
Check Out the New High Meadows Website!

Check out the revamped website which better reflects the beauty and benefits of the High Meadows experience. 

Upcoming Events
Apply Now for 2018-2019 Admission to High Meadows

Our online application for the next school year is now available for Pre-K through 8th grade. Learn more about the application process, upcoming events, and to set up your account with Ravenna Solutions - our online admission system. Mark your calendar for our Open House on  Sunday, Nov. 12 from 2 - 4 p.m. Have questions about the admission process? Contact Director of Admission Laura Nicholson at  or 678-507-1170. 

RSVP for Nov. 2 Sandy Springs/Buckhead Reception

Join us for a casual evening of food, drink, and conversation at the home of High Meadows parents David and Dana Meyer. This neighborhood reception is the perfect venue to ask questions of current High Meadows parents, the Director of Admission, and the Head of School while enjoying happy hour snacks and drinks. If you live in the Sandy Springs/Buckhead area, this is also a great time to find out about the drive to High Meadows and make carpool connections! The get together will be held on
Thursday, Nov. 2 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at 280 Lake Forrest Lane, Atlanta, GA 30342. RSVP to or through your Ravenna account online. We hope to see you there!
Learn How to Create Powerful Thinkers and Learners at Free E vent on Nov. 30

"Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be." - Ron Ritchhart,  Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools  

RSVP to join us on Thursday, Nov. 30 from 7 - 8:30 p.m. to hear Ron Ritchhart, a researcher at Harvard's Project Zero, speak about how to combine the key ideas of what it means to be a culture of thinking, how to create this culture by emphasizing parent and teacher roles, and how families can support their child's development. This free event is sponsored by the High Meadows Center for Progressive Learning.

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.

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