That’s me on the right with the Upper School after the Faculty-Student Soccer Game
It seems that at this time of year, the theme of gratitude is everywhere, and I couldn’t be more thankful to be part of the warm, welcoming community at Berkshire Country Day School! I am lucky enough to have the perfect blend of working with an awesome faculty, getting to see our students grow and learn, meeting prospective families and helping them through the admission process, and connecting with the local community.
What’s happening in admissions? In the fall trimester, we hosted an incredibly successful Little Penguins toddler playgroup and three Open Houses, and welcomed more than 20 families to our campus for visits and tours. When I watch our 7th Grade’s “Colonial Fair,” where they present what they’ve learned in History, hear our Middle Schooler’s Poetry Assembly, or catch our 9th graders leading break-out groups in an all-school Kindness Assembly, I am excited to consider what will be happening when our next visitors stop in.
5th Grade at the Middle School Poetry Assembly
Admissions: it’s a process… One of the most important things I tell families who are getting to know Berkshire Country Day School is that the admission process is just that: a process. Once upon a time, applying to an independent school had fewer steps, and they were more clearly defined. Now, each of those basic steps—inquiry, parent visit, student visit, application review and acceptance, and enrolling—can have many, many smaller sub-steps. One parent told me that it was these baby steps (as she called them) that gave her, her husband, and their daughter the space they needed to ask questions as they became familiar with Berkshire Country Day and then thrilled with their choice to enroll. Sometimes the process starts with a referral from a family already connected with the school. That call can lead to a coffee date where I learn more about the student. This is followed by the first visit by a parent, then another visit, and one, two, three or even more visits by the student. Every day, I get calls and emails from families asking “just one more question!” I am so grateful for the way our whole school responds: teachers are happy to share more about the learning that happens in their classes; current parents are happy to share their perspectives and stories. We understand that finding the right educational fit for your child is a significant decision, and all of your questions are important. What do you want to know about Berkshire Country Day School?
9th Graders hearing a about a colonial-era artifact and authentic document at the 7th Grade Colonial Fair, that included research, a project, a written paper, and an oral presentation
In the coming weeks, there are several opportunities to join us at events or to come in for a visit toe discover our school. If any of these sound interesting and you’d like more information, please give me a call at 413-637-0755 x116, or send me an email at email@example.com. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to get to know BCD and how we are intentional, independent, and inspired in our approach to education.
Happy Thanksgiving! Alex
Thursday, December 1, 3:00-5:30 pm “Arts Night”—a showcase of work from K-9 visual and performing arts classes, as well as poetry readings. Albright Library
Wednesday, December 7, 3:00-5:00 pm, Thursday, December 8, 3:00-6:00 pm, & Friday, December 9, 3:00-5:00 pm Book Fair—in partnership with The Bookstore in Lenox. Lots of great titles and authors! Albright Library (accepting cash or checks)
Friday, December 9, 1:30-3:00 pm Winter Concert—A selection of choral and instrumental performances from all grade levels. Fitzpatrick Hall
Thursday, January 12, 9:00-11:00am Open House! Come discover more about Berkshire Country Day School. Tour our 27-acre campus, observe classes, talk with teachers and current parents, and learn what BCD has to offer your child. Registration appreciated. Albright Library
Late January/Early February (to be scheduled) Little Penguins Toddler Playgroup, 3-week session with activities based on the Reggio Emilia early childhood education approach. Registration required. Preschool room
My position as Director of Admission takes many forms. As the face of Berkshire Country Day School, I am out and about in the community, meeting families and prospective students and sharing the news about the incredible education offered here. I’m also here on campus, welcoming guests, getting to know what parents are looking for in a school for their child, and showing families our program in person. (I also help with photography, some of which you can see on our Flickr page, assist with various events, and even cover recess duty occasionally. I love those days!)
This fall my schedule is packed with events both on and off campus. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to visit us here or stop by one of our booths at area festivals, and please spread the word to friends who are looking for intentional approach to education that you know gets students excited about and engaged in learning.
We have scheduled three Open Houses for the fall. Information sessions for parents and caregivers will be held on Thursday, September 29 and Thursday, October 27. There will also be a special Open House for both adults and children on Tuesday, November 8, when many public schools are closed for Election Day. All sessions are from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. Details and registration, which is encouraged, are available at www.berkshirecountryday.org/events.
We are also offering Toddler Playgroups, named “Little Penguins” after the School’s mascot. These are three-week sessions for children aged two to three with a caregiver, and are held on consecutive Tuesdays, October 18, October 25, and November 1, from 9:00 am to 10:30 am. Learn more about this free play and discovery series at www.berkshirecountryday.org/penguins. Siblings are welcome, and registration is required.
Finally, I hope you’ll stop by and say hi to me and other members of our community at the Lenox Apple Squeeze, September 24 & 25 or at the Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival on October 8 & 9. We’ll have an activity at our booth, and there’s plenty of food, music, crafts, and other fun at both events.
Music is a rewarding and lifelong journey that can begin at any time and place. Oftentimes the joys of music-making can be lost (for some!) by the dread of regular practicing.
I know our returning musicians are probably thinking about their private lessons for the year and (potentially) cramming in some last hours of practice time before Wednesday, September 14!
Please see below for a few simple practice tips for aspiring musicians of any age:
Drink water and take care of bodily health. It’s good to stay active, but also make sure you feel relaxed and centered before beginning practice time. This is important to make sure no injuries occur, as well as to ensure a productive session!
Warm up before practicing scales or repertoire. This could mean playing/singing long tones, taking deep breaths, or another warm-up technique given by your private instructor.
Slow down! It is common for musicians to practice tricky sections of music at an inappropriately fast tempo. When learning or practicing a new/challenging section, make sure to take the tempo down to a crawl. Then work your way up to the faster tempo.
Quality over Quantity. There are a lot of varying opinions about practice time. For an adult, 1 hour of great practicing is worth 4 hours of mindless practicing. Or for a younger student, 15-30 minutes of daily practicing could do the trick. If you have more questions about developmental appropriateness and practice time, feel free to reach out.
Be mindful of repetition. From an outside perspective, great practicing probably sounds like lots of repetition of various musical snippets of a piece. What the musician’s brain does, however, is practice getting one thing right (i.e. hand position or a tricky accidental note) and building on another element, in order to bring the piece closer to concert-ready.
JOY. What a great privilege and opportunity to have the chance to play beautiful music! Even when playing a scale, we can bring expression and joy to that by thinking about how much we love what we do.
Take time off. One mantra could be: Practice 6 days straight, and then give yourself a break on 1. Private instructors can give more specific advice on how to best take breaks and avoid burnout.
Thanks for reading, and happy practicing to our BCD performers!
Here’s a fun photo of me in soundcheck, preparing for a 2014 performance in Beijing, China.