Archives for October 2017

Photo Gallery for Week of October 16 – October 20

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A Visit from a Special Wyvern!

Wyvern_4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

We had a visit this week from our Founding Head, Tom Pike, and his daughter Lisa Pike Bailey (who, interestingly, teaches at the Kingswood-Oxford School in Connecticut, which like St. Francis is one of the very few schools in the United States that has the Wyvern as a mascot!). Tom helped found the Goshen Campus in the 1960s with St. Francis School’s first Head, Frank Cayce and then, in the 1970s, worked with parents and founding Board members to create the High School downtown. He retired in 2003, after 25 years as Head and after a two-year mentorship with Alexandra. It is almost unheard of in Independent school circles to have had only two Heads in 40+ years of existence! Tom continues to come to Graduation each year, where he presents the Thomas H. Pike Award, given to the student who best exemplifies values especially important to the St. Francis community: a compassionate and respectful nature, a willingness to ask constructive questions, determination to make one’s very best effort, and self-confidence as an independent young adult. We introduced him in Morning Meeting, and I hope the students were able to understand for a moment that everything we do here, every day, relates back to the vision and energy of this now-elderly man (still with a twinkle in his eye) who dedicated his life to education and to teenagers. 

Speaking of the Wyvern, our mascot and the story of why it was chosen, back in the day, were featured in an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader last week. Current students were shocked to learn that they were *this* close to being the River City Rats (and grateful for the Dungeons and Dragons crowd for saving the day). If you haven’t seen the article, check it out here.

A Trip to the SFS Pumpkin Patch

Zach Folley Face PaintingBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

The children spent Tuesday morning outside, celebrating fall and participating in a few special activities for our in-house field trip! The Adventurers and Trailblazers ventured to the school’s garden to “pick” the perfect pumpkins while the Pandas class, much to their surprise, found their pumpkins hidden on the Preschool playground. Faith Murphy led us in a festive sing-along of songs about leaves and Halloween, and each class delighted in playing a few games, having faces painted, and eating a special snack for our fall celebration. Thank you to Preschool parent and SFS teacher Jason Chlopek for helping set up our pumpkin patch and SFS teacher Joanne Brock for helping with face painting.

It is that time of the year when the change in the season is visible everywhere we look. The children have noticed the cooler temperature in the mornings; they may need larger clothing; they are making friends outside of the family; they may have learned to tie their shoes!  Internal changes are also occurring as children are settling into a rhythm, learning the names of new friends, engaging with new materials, and accomplishing tasks independently. All of these things add to a profound sense of self and confidence, an invisible transformation that begins in early childhood.

Upcoming Dates

Thursday, October 26th is a professional development day for our Preschool teachers. The Preschool will be closed and no childcare will be offered.

Friday, October 27th is Parent-Teacher Conferences. You can sign-up for a 15-minute conference with your child’s teachers using the link emailed to you Thursday. The Preschool will be closed and no childcare will be offered.

Tuesday, October 31st brings our Halloween Parade and Parties. This is a low-key event with a parade in costume around the front drive of the School and then a party in the classrooms. Your teacher will send home more information as we get closer to the big day. The Parade will follow 9:00 a.m. carpool drop-off and parents can line up on the circle in front of the Main Entrance.

Ms. Mushkin Goes to Maine

JM Visit and Baby WyvernBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

Recently, 7th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher Julie Mushkin had the incredible experience of becoming an intern at noted educator Nancie Atwell’s Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb, Maine. Nancie Atwell is a guru in Language Arts instruction and was the winner of the first $1 million dollar Global Teacher Prize (like the Nobel Prize in teaching), so this was a prestigious coup for Julie. You can color me not surprised that someone as dedicated to her craft as Julie was one of a handful of teachers nationwide who were selected for this program!

And since I have been in the woods at Big South Fork Wednesday through Friday of this week, I sent Julie an early “interview” to hear about her experience in Maine! Enjoy her report and we’ll share our stories about the 8th grade trip next week!

What was it like to be the student, as opposed to the teacher, again?
Since I just finished a master’s program last year, I still remember quite well how it feels to be a student. That said, I haven’t sat through an 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. school day as a student in over 20 years, and it was really exhausting! Honestly, by the end of the first day of solid notetaking and listening, I had a renewed appreciation for our students. Being a student is a very difficult job!

What single lesson or technique you observed made the biggest impression on you?
I was blown away by the daily poetry lesson and the students’ ability to analyze the poetry at such a mature level. They not only engaged with the poems emotionally, but impressively dissected the pieces using advanced poetic terms and literary vocabulary.

Have you been able to incorporate any of your experience into your own classroom yet?
Actually, we began “Poetry Monday” this week! The first poem we discussed was “I Look at the World,” by Langston Hughes, which speaks of oppression and leads nicely into our new unit on dystopian fiction. The students were both able to identify the obvious theme of racial oppression and tie the piece to the concepts of dystopia, totalitarian control, and lack of individualism. They also learned how to correctly apply poetic terms such as anaphora and caesura, which was fun. This format of poetry analysis is just one of many things I am incorporating into my teaching, and I am excited to share the dozens of new resources I am creating with my students and their parents over the coming weeks. Believe me, this is just the beginning!

What was your reaction to being chosen when you found out?
I was thrilled and, honestly, a bit surprised. Approximately 25 teachers from all over the world get chosen each year to participate in this internship, 15 of whom are middle school teachers, so it was a tremendous honor to receive the invitation. I have no doubt I was accepted because St. Francis School has an incredible reputation in the national academic community. They only invite teachers who they know will be supported by their administrations in implementing this curriculum. I obviously have the full support of the SFS administration and my colleagues!

How was Maine and did you get to do any sightseeing?
Maine was absolutely beautiful, but very rural. Edgecomb is about an hour north of Portland, and it was similar in size to Anchorage, Kentucky. I drove to some nearby towns after school, but most are just a small strip of locally-owned boutiques. I did drive about 45 minutes to see the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, but it gets really dark in Maine by 6:00 p.m., so after a quick walk along the rocky coast, I headed straight back to my B&B. There were no hotels!

Can you summarize your time in Maine in three words or less?
Inspiring and intense.

It’s clear Julie had an incredible professional development experience in Maine, and one from which she and our our students will surely benefit!

Admissions Open House!

Open House Feature ImageCome to our Admissions Open House to meet current parents, students, teachers, and staff, so you can see why they wouldn’t think of going anywhere else! For questions and to RSVP contact Kelli Carter at 502.795.3464 or KCarter@StFrancisSchool.org, Preschool (2s – 4s) – 8th grade, or Kisha Watts at 502.736.1007 or KWatts@StFrancisSchool.org, 9th – 12th grade.

Downtown Campus
Tuesday, November 7
th at 6:30 p.m.
9th – 12th Grade

Goshen Campus
Tuesday, November 14th at 9:00 a.m. 

Preschool (2s – 4s) – 8
th Grade

Downtown and Goshen Campuses Have a “Field Day”!

Two-Campus Field DayBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus and Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

This Tuesday brought one of our most fun events of the year – our Two-Campus Field Day, held at Goshen. With our two campuses 20 miles apart, our students don’t get to interact together nearly as much as we wish they could, and this event brings them together in a fun-filled (and wacky!) way. After a delicious picnic cookout of hamburgers, brats, and hot dogs courtesy of Chef Matt and his incredible crew, and an opportunity for our 4th and 9th grade penpals to meet one another, our JK – 12th grade students banded together in groups with various grade levels mixed together. Each group had an animal name with a tall sign to match to keep them together. Thus, Goats, Turkeys, Bees, Hedgehogs, Pandas, Zebras, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, and more parade around the campus (many in costume or make-up!) doing fun activities and games together. A group of teachers designed the activities this year, and we decided to branch out and include more activities than team-building games. Our kids rotated every 20 minutes and moved from stations inside (“Just Dance!”), to the play shelter (creating a Mandala art mural together), to team-building games on the soccer field, and finally to the track for field games. This was where we were both stationed and got to watch all ages work together in tug-of-war, sack races (their different techniques were fascinating!), and everyone’s favorite – a water balloon toss! The little ones were particularly adorable during the water balloon toss – they would approach us and say “My balloon broke so I need a new one” and it was difficult to have the heart to explain to them that the balloon breaking is when the game ends! Admittedly, we handed out more than a few “second-chance” balloons.

Article Image Field Day_1What we noticed this year was a heightened sense of camaraderie among the kids. As we’ve now done this three times, it gets better every year, and everyone knows what to expect. It was touching to see the kids during the unstructured times hanging out together. Many Middle School and High School kids played basketball together on the sport court and had a ball (literally and figuratively!). More than one Lower Schooler managed to hitch a piggyback ride from a High Schooler in their group. The students clearly enjoy seeing each other and there is a palpable nostalgia as the older students look back in fondness at their “youth,” while the littler ones are in awe of the “big kids.” It helps us to be one school – and Wyverns (as opposed to cockroaches!).

We also wanted to share with you what we did on our Professional Development afternoon on Wednesday. After students dismissed, the Downtown faculty traveled to Goshen for discussion around three articles selected by our Director of Diversity, Kisha Watts (who is also our Downtown Campus Admissions Director). Related to the book all faculty and staff read this summer, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, the articles were “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh, “What White Children Need to Know About Race” by Ali Michael, and “What Happens When Minority Kids Are Taught Not to Talk About Race” by Jesse Singal. We had small-group discussion about the articles, talking about the importance of open communication, recognizing privilege, and working with students on issues that are really complex. Our commitment as a school is to having these hard conversations, to not shying away from the difficult moments, because we believe that within the St. Francis community, we have a real (and perhaps rare) opportunity to talk openly and honestly with one another, living out a few of our core values in particular: inclusivity, community, thought, openness, and expression. Our Professional Development day in January (right before students come back) will continue this work, as we are led in sessions with Crissy Caceres, Assistant Head of School and head of the Office of Diversity and Equity at Georgetown Day School.  

Photo Gallery for Week of October 9 – October 13

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Learning to Follow Directions

Hank WasherBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

One thing we work on every day is following directions and taking care of one’s own needs. Being able to listen and then follow instructions is important not only in Preschool, but throughout life. With our younger children, we use age-appropriate choices and expectations. Our goal is to then increase each child’s independence as s/he approaches Kindergarten. We want to share with you how this looks during snack time with our Trailblazers class. 

During snack time, Kelly Pfeiffer or Paul Harshaw might ask the children what they need for the snack they are having. As they think about it, they may answer that they need a napkin, cup, and a spoon. Then, as snack begins, it is their responsibility to pick up these items and take them to the table. We try to give short, concise directions and illustrate by holding up the items they will need. If they get to the table without a necessary item, it is their responsibility to go back and get it. They are responsible for opening any snack packages with scissors and they help clean up after snack is over. Their competence in these skills is increasing each day. Soon they will begin pouring their own cups of milk or water at snack times.

At home you can help refine these skills by playing a game where you give directions – one to two steps for our younger children and three or four for the older. Also, you could give your child jobs to carry out, such as putting napkins at each place setting or wiping off the table after a meal. Remember, the focus is on learning to follow directions. Your child’s competency at placing napkins and wiping off the table comes in time.

Upcoming Dates

Tuesday, October 17th is our in-house Pumpkin Patch Fall Fun Morning. Our older children will find pumpkins in the garden and our younger children will find their pumpkins on the playground. We will have a face-painting station and Faith Murphy will delight us with a fall sing-along. We will spend most of the morning outdoors.

Thursday, October 26th is a professional development day for our Preschool teachers. The Preschool will be closed and no childcare will be offered.

Friday, October 27th is Parent-Teacher Conferences. You can sign-up for a 15-minute conference with your child’s teachers using the link emailed to you Thursday. The Preschool will be closed and no childcare will be offered.

Tuesday, October 31st brings our Halloween Parade and Parties. This is a low-key event with a parade in costume around the front drive of the School and then a party in the classrooms. Your teacher will send home more information as we get closer to the big day. The Parade will follow 9:00 a.m. carpool drop-off and parents can line up on the circle in front of the Main Entrance.

Diversity Week!

Diversity Week_Main ImageBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

As the photos included in this newsletter show, we had an amazing Diversity Week! This annual tradition showcases students’ heritage through a Diversity Fair, a Diversity Potluck, flag-making, and more. The Diversity Fair on Tuesday showcased tables staffed by students and from organizations in the community. Our students from Spain, Germany, and China had tables; there was African storytelling and Norwegian fortune-telling; and Mexican and Somali heritage were represented (to name a few), along with community partners such as the Adelante Hispanic Achievers organization. The Diversity Potluck fed dozens from dishes brought in by both students and adults in the community, featuring some favorite recipes. Friday afternoon after Community Service brought the finale of Diversity Week activities. The week was enjoyed by all! Terri White spearheaded the Diversity Week events, assisted by Angela Katz and a fantastic student Diversity Committee. A huge thanks to all of them!

The We Act Group is excited to report that the Color Run raised over $2,000 and the final tally on the Penny Wars (together with the Goshen Campus’s Coin Drive) for hurricane relief is also over $2,000! The Color Run funds will support the Offin Children’s Center in Ghana, and the Penny/Coin funds will be divided into fourths, with an equal allotment supporting relief efforts in Texas, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. On behalf of the We Act students and of the nonprofits we are helping, thank you so much for your support!

Just a reminder that next week brings our Two-Campus Field Day at the Goshen Campus on Tuesday and a half day for the PSAT on Wednesday. The quarter ends next Friday, and grades and comments will be out the following Friday, October 20th.

St. Francis Day, Uniquely St. Francis, and “Honest Abe!”

Jayden and ElizaBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

It’s been an active week on the Goshen Campus! Tuesday, of course, brought one of everyone’s favorite events – St. Francis Day! And this year the weather cooperated gloriously, as did the menagerie of animals (for the most part!). I think we may have had our most varied “turnout” this year. Along with the many handsome dogs and cats, I saw a hedgehog, a snake, a miniature bull (a zebu, according to expert Devyn Hebel), rabbits, a lizard, miniature horses, a turtle, a ferret, and even a pineapple (don’t ask). All were blessed under a glorious sun, and as I said at the next day’s Morning Meeting, I think St. Francis himself would have been proud of the event and atmosphere on our campus. Look for many awesome pictures in the gallery this week.

Wednesday we had a full-school Morning Meeting to showcase our teachers’ offerings in Uniquely St. Francis, a component of the Our Good Earth Gala next Saturday night. As part of the fun, Eliza and Jayden Frazier were “Mr. Gabhart for the Day,” which they won at last year’s auction. They kicked off the assembly with IU garb, bad jokes, and pink slips to show off! But what was most impressive was that 22 of our teachers were onstage to describe all the wonderful activities and services they were willing to offer to our students. That’s pretty phenomenal when you think about it, such a high percentage of faculty willing to share weekend time with kids in the school to help support this critically vital fundraiser. And just as noteworthy is the fact that students at all age levels want to spend time with their teachers outside of class! I think this speaks volumes about the ethos of our school.

And lastly, while we looked forward to a visit from Kentucky’s Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton Friday, we were surprised with a presentation from “Honest Abe” himself earlier this week! Arranged by 5th grade teacher Billy Spalding to complement the class’s unit on the Civil War, Mr. Lincoln was quite the public speaker (upholding his vaunted reputation!). Here is a comment from Billy:

Abe Lincoln“5th grade had a surprise visit this morning from President Abraham Lincoln. The Great Emancipator was there to teach the students about his life, from his humble log cabin days to his time in the White House during the Civil War. His visit coincides with our study of the Civil war and our abolitionists projects.  

5th grade really enjoyed the visit from Abe and had the following to say:

Nola Melhuish: “He was really good. He had the voice of Abraham Lincoln and he had a bunch of real things to show us. Like, he had a fake family Bible that he learned to read and he had a model of the cabin he grew up in.”

Zoe Petiprin: “I liked him, but he didn’t mention any of the negatives about Lincoln, like how he imprisoned people at the beginning of the war without trial.​​”

Molly Waggener: “He was amazing! I really liked it because it wasn’t the basic stuff that you already know, he went much deeper into the story.”

Abby Hairgrove: “I learned a lot! He was really fun and energetic. You should definitely bring him back next year.”

Eden Bess Farmer: “I liked that he didn’t only talk about the Civil War. He gave a bunch of information about his life growing up as well.”

History coming to life! Next week brings our annual Two-Campus Field Day with our High School students visiting Goshen to connect with their Lower and Middle School counterparts, and, of course, the Our Good Earth Gala next Saturday! Buckle up and stay tuned for more wonderful stories!