Associate Head of School BCD Admin
Associate Head of School
August 29th, 2016
I wanted to share the letter below (which was sent to all BCD families back in early August) here on the BCD website as my first official blog post.
Tomorrow, we welcome back the BCD teachers for our annual, pre-school orientation days. I am so excited to have them all back here as we intentionally prepare for the year ahead, offering your children an incredible education among our vibrant community. With their impending arrival and the arrival of you and your children next week, there has literally been a shift in the energy here on campus. The excitement is palpable!
Some important dates to note: (details on all events will be forthcoming)
September 6th, First Day of School!
September 14th, Middle School and Upper School Back to School Night
September 16th, High Spirits: Welcome Back to School evening (adults only)
September 21st, PreSchool and Lower School Back to School Night
See you all very soon! Looking forward to a fantastic year ahead. Delighted to be here and to be a part of all things BCD!
Here I am! After months of waiting for this day, I have finally landed in my new role as Associate Head of School here at Berkshire Country Day School. I have been spending my summer learning, asking questions, reading documents and curriculum overviews, meeting with teachers and generally getting acclimated to all parts of the school. My brain is lit up with enthusiasm regarding all that is ahead as I slowly but surely become part of all that is BCD!
It is so great to be here, steeped in the pieces and parts that make up BCD; however, a school is nothing but a skeleton without the flesh and blood (literally) that make it what it is, and is the reason why we are all here.
I am so looking forward to the return of the teachers, parents and…mostly, the students!
Currently, as usual, there are the various camps in session here on the campus. I have loved hearing the children’s voices on the playground and have had the pleasure to overhear some wonderful conversations from 5-year olds sitting beneath my window, unaware of my vantage point for innocent eavesdropping. I arrive each morning to hear music pouring out from inside our campus buildings as the BUTI young adults practice their instruments with passion and commitment. This is all fabulous, and welcoming and heart-warming but…I don’t know these students, which only enhances my longing for the start of the new school year and to welcoming all of the Berkshire Country Day students, Pre-Kindergarten through 9th grade, back to the campus to make it come alive. The people are the heart and soul of any institution and like a fated fairytale, I am longing to meet the main characters.
I also look forward to forging relationships with you, the parents and families of the BCD students, as we partner to ensure that your child(ren) is seen and heard as him/herself and as we continue to be a powerful recipe in supporting each unique student into continuing to grow to be his/her best self.
As some of you may know, I have the Berkshires in my roots. As a child, I lived with my family in Sheffield, first as a second home owner, and then swept up in the magic of life here in the Berkshires, we became full-time residents for my high school years. Coming back to the area is familiar and wonderful, and also a new beginning, full of lots to learn, to explore, and to become accustomed to after many years as a city girl. I am delighted to wear the hypothetical BCD-badge as I make new local connections and navigate my new beginning here in the Berkshires.
I welcome you to contact me to set up a time to meet and to begin our connection. Or, if you prefer to enjoy the rest of your summer, and to settle into the new school year and then meet with me in due time, my invitation has no “sell by” date; it is an ongoing and sincere one that will remain open to you throughout the year ahead.
Next week, Monday through Friday, we will be testing students in grades 3-8. Like many leading independent schools, BCD uses the CTP4 (Comprehensive Testing Program, version 4) distributed by the Educational Research Bureau (ERB). You are likely to hear students and teachers refer to these simply as “the ERB’s.”
While we value the information these tests provide us about our students and our school, it’s important that we remember any standardized test is merely a snapshot – where a child is on one particular day at one particular time – and not an indication of his/her overall intelligence or chances for success.
Parents often have questions about standardizing testing. What are they? What do they measure? What kind of questions do they ask? How much time do they take? I’ve created the presentation below to try to address some of these questions and to provide general information about the CTP4 tests. Whether your child will be taking the “ERB’s” this year or not, it may be helpful for you to gain more information about this one small piece of the school’s comprehensive assessment and evaluation processes.
click the image to access presentation in Google Slides
There is no way to study for the ERB’s nor do you and your child need to prepare in any way. The most important thing you can do for your children next week is see that they get a good night’s sleep each night, have a good breakfast each morning, and arrive at school by 8:00 AM. Encourage them to do their best but DO NOT indicate to them that this is REALLY important. We hope students will put forth their best effort, but we do not want to put undo pressure on the children regarding these tests.
ERB will make the test results available to us in about 4-6 weeks. At that time, I’ll be arranging for another parent information session to explain the scoring process, the score reports, and how we can read and use the information they provide. Of course, you are welcome to come in and talk to me about the ERB CTP4 any time between now and then as well!
Before the holidays, I posted the photo of the pile of presents collected during our annual gift drive. Then as now, I was overwhelmed with the engagement of our kids and the generosity of our families during this service project. We made quite a community impact as you will see from this letter I received in the mail today.
Thanks again to the Parents’ Association, the Student Council, Sarah Pitcher-Hoffman, the gift-givers, and everyone else who helped make some children’s holidays a little brighter!
If the above quote is to be believed, over the past few weeks our incredible BCD community created a LOT of love!
Students, parents, faculty, and friends selected one of 130 tags from the adorable gingerbread house boards specially created by our own Student Council.(Kudos here to Sarah Pitcher-Hoffman, our faculty sponsor extraordinaire.) Each tag presented the name of an unmet friend from the greater Berkshire community (facilitated by the Department of Children and Family Services) who was in need of help to make a holiday dream come true. Most items on the kids’ wish lists looked familiar (Frozen Dolls or Minecraft paraphernalia), but some tag-selectors were surprised to see more practical wishes (snow pants or a warm jacket or a pair of jeans). This made for many teachable moments about service and giving and wants and needs.
Flash forward a week and a half, and I am overwhelmed by the “kindness in giving” demonstrated by our community. As they proudly carried their gifts onto campus, students told me how they had shopped carefully to select just the right item. Joy of service was palpable as the pile of presents rose higher and higher and higher. (Big thanks here to PA co-chairs, Elizabeth Powell and Terri Sash for receiving and recording the gifts and to Melissa Kruse for coordinating all those that found their way into the main office.)
Representatives from DCF needed to make two separate trips to get all the gifts transported up to the main Pittsfield office where social workers will get them and then distribute them to the children in the families with whom they work. In a message meant to be shared with our entire school community, Lindsay LeClair, one of our DCF liaisons, said, “Thank you all so much for all the gifts. We cannot thank you enough for you generosity. We appreciate everything you have done and we look forward to working with you all next year!!! Happy Holidays!!”
I am thrilled and thankful to have been able to have been part of this special school-wide project. As I prepare for the winter break, the image to the left is one I will carry home with me. It should remind each of us about the things that matter and how it is up to each of us to “create love.”
I wish you all the most joyous of holidays (whatever, whenever, and wherever you celebrate) filled with all the things you love most. See you in 2016!
piles of Pampers, heaps of Huggies, lotsa Luvs, and plenty of Pull-Ups!
Due to the generous contributions of BCD families and faculty, the Berkshire Community Diaper Project now has 3,000+ more diapers to distribute!
It was heartwarming to see how our community rallied around this important collection, as students arrived each morning with arms filled equally with backpacks and diapers. While the entire school was part of this endeavor, there are some folks especially worthy of extra thanks.
The BCD Student Council whose members took charge of the drive! From planning and promoting to making posters to sharing information with the younger students to standing outside at car line each morning (and exuberantly exhorting everyone who arrived to “BRING US SOME DIAPERS!”), to counting the mountain of donated boxes and packages, our Student Council members served as service role models for us all. Thanks Student Council members!
Sarah Pitcher-Hoffman, Student Council faculty sponsor, for working with the Student Council to organize and follow-through with the Diaper Drive project. Not only did Sarah lend her room and several lunch hours to Student Council and this service project, her gentle encouragement and troop-rallying are much appreciated by all. Thanks, Sarah!
Mara Goodman Davies who first brought the Diaper Drive to our attention. Her enthusiasm for and dedication to community service projects are nothing short of remarkable! Mara also served as our delivery person extraordinare. Thanks, Mara!
To the parents who purchased the diapers, to the students who brought them to BCD for collection, and to all the drivers who delivered the plethora from here to there…. THANKS!