Preschool Transportation Day!

unnamed (3)By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Today we hosted one of our most highly anticipated events in the Preschool – Transportation Day! The assembly of vehicles mirrored the internal workings of a city. There were vehicles represented ranging in variation from a motorcycle to a city bus.

The Transportation Day committee would like to extend a BIG thank you to the following businesses and friends of the School who participated in our event: North Oldham County Fire Department, TARC, Kroger, Ernst Construction, Waste Management, Oldham County Police Department, and Pro-Lift. We also want to thank our friends from Keystone Learning Academy for spending the day exploring cars and trucks with us.

We could not have accomplished any of this without our fabulous Preschool PA Co-Chairs, Jacquelyn Stack and Renee Reithel, for the volunteer support and coordinating this event. We would also like to thank former Preschool parents, Lillian Brents and Randall Hood, for their continued dedication to Transportation Day (even after their own children have moved on to the Lower School). Thank you to parent volunteers Shari Broecker, Anthony Celasun, and Deena Neimat. And lastly, we want to thank our very own Preschool teacher, Holly Whitaker, for continuing to keep the event special in the eyes of our tiniest students.

Next week we will have Picture Days on the Goshen Campus. Preschool pictures will be taken on Tuesday, September 19th for the following children: 2 Day Twos and Threes,  5 Day Twos and Threes, and Mr. Paul’s group. Wednesday, September 20th, the 3 Day Twos and Threes and Ms. Kelly’s group will have their pictures taken. If you have a student in the Lower or Middle School and you would like a sibling photo taken, please contact your child’s teacher and Rosanne Conlan.

Associates in Pediatric Therapy screened the Preschoolers on Wednesday. Children who attend on Tues/Thurs will be screened on Tuesday of next week.

Please note: Preschool classes will operate on a regular schedule for Wednesday, October 11th when the rest of the school dismisses at noon for faculty professional development.

Supporting New Teachers and Service Learning Fair!

Mr. Spalindg's 5th Graders_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

I thought I would write this week about how St. Francis School supports our new teachers. This year we have four new faculty members: Leonor “Leo” Provan in LS Spanish, Danny Ruano in 2nd grade Language Arts/Social Studies, Billy Spalding in 5th grade, and Maggie Sun in MS Chinese. First, we hold a New Faculty Orientation prior to school starting, at which Jen Griffith and I explain both our school philosophy and mission (which they are always already familiar with due to interviewing and personal research) and the ins and outs and procedures particular to St. Francis (I call this the “Kitchen Sink Meeting!”). Then they have lunch with their assigned mentor teachers. Veteran faculty members are assigned to new teachers to be their personal guides, helping navigate their way through all the aspects of school life a teacher faces, from the mundane (like email and voicemail) to the more involved (progress reporting and parent-teacher conferences). Having a friendly face nearby to answer your questions goes a long way to helping a new teacher become acclimated to St. Francis.

During the first month of the school year, Jen or I observe each of them teaching a lesson and give them feedback and any advice we may have. This will be followed up with another such observation mid-year, as well as an observation by their respective department chair. Then this week, our new teachers all attended a one-day professional development workshop put on by ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States who is our accrediting institution) called the New Teacher Institute. This features informational sessions and conversation pertinent to Independent school life. All four of our teachers reported a great day at this workshop and found it affirming to talk with other new teachers about what their first month of school has been like. Finally, Jen and I had a follow-up lunch with all of them this week to check in and answer questions they may have to date, such as on our upcoming interim progress reports going out next week.

All four of our new teachers are off to a fantastic start this new school year, and we are confident they are “St. Francis people” who will thrive here!

Service Learning Fair_RG ArticleThis week was also time for our annual Service Learning Fair put together with great care by our Service Learning Coordinator and Librarian, Lindsy Serrano. From Lindsy:

Every year, the Goshen Campus hosts a Service Learning fair, which is an opportunity for students to meet with local community service organizations and hear about ways that kids can help the community.  

Organizations participating this year included Creasey Mahan, Kosair, Paws with Purpose, Water Step, Arrow Fund, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Louisville Nature Center, Dare to Care, Neighborhood House, Volunteers for America, and Louisville Grows.

In the next few weeks, each grade will pick a service learning project and build a partnership with a community organization. It is always wonderful to see students get inspired and dream up ways they can help their community. Many of our visitors commented on how impressed they were with our students at SFS!

The Service Learning Fair is always an inspiring and noisy affair in our Main Amp but at the heart of it lies compassion and a desire to help others while also nurturing our students’ personal growth as people and citizens. Congratulations to Lindsy for making it such a success!


Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon

PS Luncheon_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

It was wonderful seeing everyone at the Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon! We enjoyed sharing our School and our goals for the year with you, along with the good food. Thank you to our fabulous Parent Association for bringing side dishes and assisting with cleanup.

Next Friday is TRANSPORTATION DAY! This is an exciting day that you don’t want your child to miss. If your child attends Preschool on Tuesday/Thursdays, you are welcome to bring your child and attend Transportation Day with him/her. Please send your little one to school prepared to spend the day outside climbing on and in a variety of cars and trucks. We prefer that they wear closed-toed shoes for this event; sneakers are the best for climbing. Children need to be signed into their classrooms by 9:00 a.m., so we can begin promptly at 9:30 a.m.

“Lollipop Moments” and Everyday Leadership!

Coin Drive 2017_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus, and Shelly Jones, Middle School Dean of Students

As you may have heard from your children by now, it’s been a truly positive start to the 2017-18 school year! The overall vibe on both sides of the building is one of joy and happiness at being back in school.

However, juxtaposed with our good fortune is the fate of so many in Texas who are enduring the horrible aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. And true to their Wyvern character, our kids were not content with just asking their parents to donate to the Red Cross. So this week we’ve had a coin drive organized by the We Act Club in which everyone has been asked to scour their houses and cars for loose change to bring to school. The We Act kids are rolling the coins and have a grand goal of raising $2,000 together with the High School We Act group (who are sponsoring Penny Wars there) by the end of the week to make their own mark on this terrible situation. Here’s some more from Middle School Dean of Students and We Act Club Sponsor Shelly Jones:

Last week during advisory time, our Middle School students watched a TED-x talk about “Everyday Leadership.” In it, educator Drew Dudley defines what he calls a “lollipop moment,” or a small moment when an everyday person says or does something that fundamentally makes someone else’s life better. (For a deeper appreciation of the lollipop reference and to facilitate a conversation with your middle schooler, feel free to watch the TED talk here.) The point of the talk is that we don’t have to be leaders with a capital “L,” or some grand, extraordinary individuals, to make a difference in someone’s life. Instead, he says we need to redefine leadership as an opportunity to help individual people, in small moments, in our ordinary daily lives. Dudley explains, “We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments – how many of them we create, how many we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward and how many we say thank you for. Because we’ve made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it.”

Our Middle School We Act Club is hard at work, already, leading through such lollipop moments and creating opportunities for individuals to help individuals. As Reed said, in response to the flooding in Texas, our WE Act Groups on both Campuses sponsored a coin drive to donate to disaster relief efforts. Students cleaned out their family vehicles, closets, sofa cushions, and piggy banks to find spare change to donate. Some students, like 5th graders Caroline and Parker McCurry, even sold lemonade over the Labor Day weekend to raise funds.

Another upcoming opportunity for individuals to get involved in helping others is by participating in the My School Color Run on September 23rd. Early bird registration ends today, so please sign up here. Our Middle School We Act group heard from SFS Parent Stephanie Mutchnik about the opportunity to partner with the Offin Children’s Center, an orphanage and education center, in Offinso, Ghana. All proceeds from the My School Color Run will go to support the OCC, and our students will begin the work of creating a cultural exchange with the students and residents at the Center. More lollipop moments, or opportunities for everyday leadership and change-making, this time made possible by a parent in our School community!

What a wonderfully committed group of kids who have their hearts and minds in the right place! Their energy and drive reminded me to dig through my own change piles on Labor Day weekend to bring in a baggie full of coins. And who knows, with Hurricane Irma now looming off the Eastern seaboard, we may need round two next week, sadly. I’m sure our kids will come through and make us proud!

Create your family’s Smart911 Profile

Smart911 4x6 ImageBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

On Wednesday, you may have heard your child talk about the fire drill that occurred at school. Each month, we will practice safely exiting the building in case of an emergency. I’m happy to report that everyone exited quickly and calmly. In your child’s backpack this week, you should find a flyer with information about the lifesaving program Smart911. We hope that you take the time to create a Smart911 Profile for your family, so emergency responders can quickly assist you in an emergency.

Plan to attend our Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon on Friday, September 8th. This is a great opportunity for you to meet other families in your child’s class, hear about the daily routine, and learn about the goals for the year. The PA contacted you this week with a sign-up for bringing side dishes to the luncheon. Ideally one parent for each child can attend this event. We hope to see you on Friday, September 8th at 10:30 a.m.

Friday, September 15th from 9:30-11:00 a.m. we will host Preschool Transportation Day, one of our favorite events of the year! This tradition began 19 years ago by a few dedicated teachers who wanted to share a hands-on experience of how the city moves with the children in their classes. It is such an exciting day, so please send your child to school dressed to spend the morning outside (think shoes to climb in and comfy clothes). We will be hosting our preschool friends from Keystone Academy, too. If you are free and would like to attend with your child, please let your classroom teacher(s) know.

Please note: Preschool classes will operate on a regular schedule for Wednesday, October 11th when the rest of the school dismisses at noon for faculty professional development.

Student Council Elections and Back-to-School Nights

MS Student CouncilBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

As we look ahead to the Labor Day weekend after the usually hectic start to another school year, our 5th through 7th grade Advisors elected their Student Council representatives over the last week to join our 8th grade officers announced last spring. Every student who wanted to serve had to give a short speech stating why s/he would be a good candidate. We elect our Student Council representatives by advisee groupings so they can easily get ideas during advisory time from their classmates and report back on meeting decisions in the morning, too. Of note, in 6th grade, Brandon Doble’s advisee group elected a student new to St. Francis (Claude Mahan) to lead them! Congratulations to our Middle School Student Council who I look forward to working with and have full confidence will do a great job advocating for their peers and helping the school community in numerous ways:

8th Grade:
President – Josie Cooley
Officers – Stevaun Butler, Lily Gilbert, and Natalie Koch

7th Grade:
Hilberg – Fairleigh Jones
Kirby – Aidan Keegan
Mushkin – Carly Schramko

6th Grade:
Adkins – Mya Stevenson
Doble – Claude Mahan
Holmes – Jackson Wood

5th Grade:
Koth – Molly Waggener
Spalding – Jude Sleadd

And as we get rolling with our new work (assigning jobs to council members to help the school, holding our first meeting, etc.), we are awaiting our Lower School counterparts to join us! Their elections will take place on Thursday, September 14th during lead time. Each candidate will give a short speech prior to votes being cast. Students in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades will elect a boy and a girl to represent their grade. You can see them “in action” each week leading our Lower School Morning Meetings, and they meet weekly with Sarah Dewberry and Emily Campbell to discuss issues of importance to Lower School.

Thanks to all of our Lower and Middle School parents who attended our Back-to-School Nights the past two Tuesdays! We had great turnouts, and parents were able to hear from all of their children’s teachers about the many exciting things they have in store for the year. My favorite moments included our new 5th grade Language Arts teacher Billy Spalding leading parents through “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” (with some deep knee bends thrown in for good measure!).  In Lower School, Kindergarten teachers Heather McGraw and Annette Rudd had their young charges “write” a personal page modeled after The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown, which they read aloud to the parents. Here are two sweet examples:

“The important thing about my family is they love me and I love them. I like to play with them. They take care of me. But the important thing about my family is they love me and I love them.” – Roscoe Plotts

“The important thing about my family is that my mommy tucks me in bed and my daddy always comes in when he is late from work. We have taco Tuesdays where we make tacos and I help them cook. They let me make a tradition. We bring back ornaments for our memories and I started it. But the important thing about my family is that my mommy tucks me in bed and my daddy always comes in when he is late from work.” – Lucy Kate Scantland

Wow! The excitement our teachers exhibit daily in their lessons clearly matches that of the students and is a huge part of our success! Congratulations to all our dedicated faculty for fabulous Back-to-School Nights in both divisions of the school! Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

A Solar Eclipse Party!

PS Solar Eclipse_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

On Monday, time seemed to have stopped as we took a moment to be skywatchers together. We celebrated the moon passing in front of the sun in Preschool with a solar eclipse party for the younger children, munching on treats like Sun Chips and Oreos. The four-year-olds went outside one at a time with safety glasses and a teacher to look for the sun. In their words, this is what a few friends observed: Nathan commented, “I thought the sun was the moon,” and Emerson Von said, “When it gets dark outside like it is now, it looks like rain.” Everyone noticed right away the change in light outside from the classroom and thought it was going to rain. To extended the experience, our budding scientist David Beard demonstrated how the moon passes in front of the sun with a projector. This was a day we will remember for many moons!

Thank you for your patience this week with carpool. At the beginning of the year, it can take a little extra time to ease our friends into their classrooms. Please continue to use carpool drop-off; we can’t stress enough that children generally adjust faster when a consistent drop-off routine is established. I can assure you that if your child is upset when we initially greet him/her at the car, this doesn’t last for more than a moment or two. Preschool carpool drop-off is from 8:45 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

One last note about transitions:  During the first few weeks of school, it may take a little time for your child to adjust to the new schedules, classrooms, teachers, and friends. We are here to support your child and you through this process. Please feel free to reach out to me or your child’s teacher for suggestions on how to ensure a smooth start to the school year.

A Week to “Eclipse” Expectations!

Eclipse Images_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

It’s not often that a total solar eclipse (well, 96%, but we’re not quibbling over that!) rolls around and even less often that it occurs on the fourth day of school! But the stars aligned (ahem) for us this year, and we found ourselves in such a cool position. And it was a really special event on the Goshen Campus, as the whole school dropped what we were doing to put on our solar glasses (courtesy of the Confucius Institute at WKU) and head outside to watch the climactic moments of this celestial show. And while some students may have expected “more,” the  majority appreciated the uniqueness and the circumstances that had to come together to make this rare event happen. We heard crickets chirping as the lights dimmed, our farm animals became quiet, and the temperature noticeably cooled as the sun seemingly disappeared behind the moon.

What I loved most about the event was the whole school experiencing it together, and the trust we imbued in our students to handle the safety precautions necessary to take part in a solar eclipse. They obviously took our precautions to heart, and it went off without a hitch. Special thanks to Brian Kirby and Jason Chlopek for leading the “science charge” with telescopes outside and educational presentations for the students to prep them for the “spectacle.” Brian traveled to Hopkinsville and brought back a “totality” video to share with our kids at our Welcome Back Assembly on Tuesday, too. His excitement while filming was one of the best parts! All I can say is, bring on the next one – 2024!

On a hiring note, Celeste Fuquay, who has headed up our Lower School Enrichment program in remarkable fashion the last two years, couldn’t return this year due to her graduate school schedule. We are sad to see Celeste leave and very appreciative for the job she has done with our kids. However, we are pleased to announce we found the perfect person for the position right here on campus! Parent Keyonda Turner (Kymani is in 4th grade and Keagan is in the Preschool 4s) has accepted the position and already started. Keyonda is a true supporter of St. Francis School and has a passion for working with young children. She is currently finishing up a degree in Early Childhood Education in the spring of 2018 and is happy to get a “headstart” on her future vocation with our Lower School students each day. Welcome, Keyonda!

A Welcome Back that “Eclipses” Most!

Solar Eclipse PracticeBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

The first few days of a new school year are always special, and this week has been no exception! The abundance of pent-up energy, joy at reconnecting with classmates, moving on to new classrooms and teachers, and yes, just a dash of angst for good measure all mix together to create a synergistic recipe that is tantalizingly delicious no matter how long you’ve been in a school setting (not to mention some of these kids have grown like weeds!). We are thrilled to welcome the students back and ready for a fantastic 2017-18 school year!

And, of course, one thing very special about the start of this year is the fact that a full solar eclipse is happening on the fourth day of school, and we are almost in the bullseye of its path! As we’ve already communicated, we will all be going outside to see the climactic moments of this rare event on Monday, but also taking strong safety precautions to ensure the kids’ well being. However, if any parents are uncomfortable with the situation, you may pick your child up early at 2:00 p.m. that day. We will have many teachers with each grade level to make sure the kids use their approved solar glasses at all times while outside. It should be a memorable experience for the whole school, and we are counting down the days until this momentous event.

One other special moment I’d like to share from the start of this year is from our first Middle School Morning Meeting. Before introducing the new teachers to the kids, I asked everyone to join me in welcoming back science teacher Jason Chlopek. The applause grew and soon turned into a crescendo and standing ovation that was goosebump-inducing. Jason came down front and spoke from the heart about his gratitude to the SFS community, and it was just such a heartwarming way to start our year. I think it was an omen of what is to come, and we are all excited for the promise that lies ahead!

Settling in Nicely!

Trailblazers Walking Down the HallBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

The children are settling into their classroom routines and are enjoying some of the amenities our campus has to offer. They have already visited the chicken coop and rabbit areas, taken nature walks around the School, participated in music class with Faith Murphy, and met librarian Lindsy Serrano. Each day presents a field trip opportunity on this campus, as there is always something to see and explore!

Children need time to feel comfortable in new situations. Fortunately, our Preschool faculty are quite adept at helping children transition into the classroom. Sometimes, though, we do see a few tears. This is normal and it often takes children several weeks to fully adjust to a new routine and often the second week is the hardest. Parents can help ease the transition by establishing a morning routine that is relaxed and unhurried. Allow enough time to arrive before 9:00 a.m., and if at all possible use our carpool drop-off system. For most of our families, we have found that the carpool routine makes for the smoothest goodbyes. Before separating, calmly remind your child that you will be back (after lunch, after rest time, etc.). Before too long, the transition from home to school and back again will become natural, and your child will have learned that greetings and goodbyes are a predictable part of their daily routine.

Chef Matt Thomas and his wonderful team from Sage Dining Services provide our preschoolers with two snacks and a nutritious hot lunch each day. Parents can find the snack and lunch menus on our School’s website and we also post a hard copy of the menus each month next to the sign-in table.

We want to thank Jacquelyn Stack and Renee Reithel, our wonderful Preschool PA reps, for providing refreshments, bubbles, and Wyvern tattoos at the Back-to-School Picnic on Saturday.

Have a great weekend!