community

Grade 6 Service Learning, Guest Speaker

Last Friday afternoon, the 6th grade welcomed a guest speaker to the steps of the Learning Commons, where for nearly an hour, an inspirational and moving conversation around the topic of mental health and bullying was led. These are areas the 6th Grade is exploring during the investigative phase of their service learning project this year.

Wayne Soares, an actor, author, and inspirational speaker, spoke to the class about the importance of taking the time to help someone who may be in trouble, someone who may be in need of help. He spoke to the value of how a simple action, like smiling at someone, asking how they are doing, etc. can make a monumental difference in their life.

Throughout his presentation, which included motivational, humorous, and loving stories, Mr. Soares told of his own personal experience with bullying and how he was able to “get over the hump” of being teased in his youth. Many of these stories are easy to relate to, as any one of us may have been involved or may have witnessed a similar situation throughout the course of our lives. Mr. Soares provided the class with the message of how we can make a difference in the lives of others through words and actions. At the core of his message: it only takes a few seconds to make a person’s day a little bit better.

Throughout the presentation, the 6th graders were interested and engaged and posed excellent questions.

It was an informational and heart-warming experience for us all (students as well as adults!) and serves as a gentle reminder of our role as global citizens, and in what ways, no matter how small or superficial they may seem, each individual can help to make our world a better place through our words and actions.

Later that afternoon, Mr. Soares delivered a broad anti-bullying presentation to Grades 3-8. Once again, we related to and laughed along with his very human stories.

Please follow the link below to see a short video and more pictures from the 6th Grade visit with Mr. Soares.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/L2XiqojGo8hnVhZ5A

Best,
Mme. Daire

 

 

 

By |2018-12-10T13:30:41-04:00December 10th, 2018|

Reflections from BCD’s newest gems!

Berkshire Country Day School started the 2017-2018 school year on an upswing of positivity. We were delighted to welcome forty-one new students to our already vibrant community. We were equally enthused to welcome new members to our talented and dedicated faculty.

Like the new students and families, the new faculty members had lots to learn with regard to settling into their new home here on campus. Each of them worked diligently in an open-minded and caring manner to get to know the culture, the community and at getting down to the business of planning and delivering their areas of expertise to our children.

Recently, I took some time to connect with the new teachers, to ask them some questions about BCD now that they are one of us. Read their thoughts below:

Julia Kreilkamp, Beginner 2s Teacher

When someone asks you about your job, what do you say?

I say that BCD is an extremely friendly and supportive school community and that the families are a dream to work with. I feel so much more at home among this group of colleagues than I have at any other school where I’ve taught. I am among kindred spirits in terms of values, commitment, and sense of humor!  I also say that working with 2-year-olds is as interesting a challenge as I expected it to be.

What is something that surprised you as you settled in BCD over the past term?

At each of the faculty meetings, the content has been worthwhile, and the attitude of collaboration and respect has been consistently present.  I wouldn’t say this surprised me, but it has made a strong impression on me, as it provides a distinct contrast to my past experiences in public school faculty meetings.

What do you most look forward to when you come to work each day?

The surprises that come with hanging out with two-year-olds. Having the freedom to respond to the mood and interests of the children, to wander outside for long periods of time, or to have a spontaneous singing or dancing session. I also look forward to knowing that I will be greeted warmly by many people and that I am surrounded by many colleagues who seem to be completely happy to be here.

Mary Daire, French Teacher and BCD parent

What are some of your perceptions of the sense of community at BCD?

I’m blown away by the sense of community here at BCD and by the feeling of inclusiveness, support, and kindness. I say this from several vantage points; as a teacher, a colleague, and a parent.

Participating in my first ‘Thanksgiving Soup,” the revered and celebrated tradition at BCD, confirmed the present and enduring level of community at BCD. It was amazing to see so many alumni return and to see parents working hard in the kitchen to pull together a meal for the entire school.

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

The Learning Commons. It is such a refreshing space to be in. The natural light is amazing, and the space just exudes a fresh and bright energy! The Distance Lab, the glass room within the Commons, is a close second. The students love to have class in there.

When someone asks you about your job, what do you say?

I say that I have my dream job: teaching the language that I love and sharing my passion for the language and a culture that I care so much about with students in my home county of the Berkshires!

Ashley Junod, Preschool Assistant Teacher and BCD parent

What are some of your perceptions of the sense of community at BCD?

For the last 2 years, I saw the community from a parent’s point of view. Now seeing it from the teachers’ side as well, it is even better. The involvement level of each and every teacher with each and every individual student is so amazing. I knew it was great when I was a “just” a parent who simply dropped my son off. But now being there each day, even just a few days a week, it’s so apparent how much these teachers appreciate what they do, and their freedom to teach the way they feel is best at this great school.

When someone asks you about your job, what do you say?

Three years ago when my husband and I decided to bring our son to BCD, we knew it was going to be one of the best things we ever did for him. Now that I have had the opportunity to be a part of the internal team of teachers, I know even more certainty that we were right. To be able to see firsthand different elements of my son’s day while I am on campus with him is so awesome.

Lia Russel-Self, Theatre Director and Development Associate

What are some of your perceptions of the sense of community at BCD?

BCD is focused on the wellness of each other. The entire community is focused on uplifting each other and supporting one another. The environment reminds me of a book a read as a child, It Takes a Village. Parents and students are attentive to each other, creating this loving extended family. The community of BCD is one that is open and supportive, both on campus and off.

What do you most look forward to when you come to work each day?

The creativity of my students. Every time I step into my classes, I feel as if they have become the teachers, introducing new concepts and perspectives that keep me on my toes. Whether it’s a new music-composing software or just an inspiring moment, the students are teaching me every single day.

What are you looking forward to in the year ahead?

I am really excited about the collaboration among myself, other arts teachers, and the support of the school administration as we go into production for the winter performance. It’s been an all-school effort, and it’s such a rare commodity to work with such enthusiastic and inspiring educators and students.

Carli Imreh-Allgretta, Beginner 2s Assistant Teacher

What do you most look forward to when you come to work each day?

I look forward to the greetings I give to and receive from my colleagues on a daily basis. BCD has opened my eyes to how a school community should operate. Waves and smiles from across the courtyard and friendly hellos on the playground have begun to make my day.

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus is the playground! This is where children of all ages come to play and explore. Each day on the playground children emerge with excited faces ready for their next encounter. It is nice to witness the familiarity the students of various ages, including the B2s, have with students in others grade. On the playground, children are aware of their older peers who are looking to lend a helping hand and their younger peers who may need that same hand. This is where long-lasting friendships with their fellow Penguins are created.


What a pleasure it is to see these dedicated new community members in action each day. They bring a sense of joy coupled with professionalism to all that they do. We were so delighted to have welcomed them in August and to continue to witness their successful settling in to all things BCD. True gems!

 

 

By |2018-01-22T16:11:44-04:00January 22nd, 2018|

Creating a Community of Two-Year-Olds

What does a veteran elementary and early education teacher do over Winter Break?

  1. Fly to Ireland for the very first time to spend eight days exploring the Emerald Isle
  2. Pack one book: Do Parents Matter? by Robert LeVine and Sarah LeVine

I reveled in Ireland’s beauty and history, and its friendly and gracious people – truly, every shopkeeper and pub waiter, every bus driver and ticket-taker, had a smile and friendly word, and often a story or two to make us laugh.

And I also read the book!

The LeVines, respectively a professor of education and human development and an anthropologist, have spent a lifetime studying child-rearing practices in diverse cultures across our globe. In general, they have found that children can be happy and healthy in a wide range of conditions, and guided by a wide range of parenting practices.

In my new professional challenge as a teacher of two-year-olds, this book was most helpful to me by opening my eyes further to this point: “The behavior of toddlers in highly responsive to their parents’ priorities.” How do we use a Reggio-inspired philosophy to bring cohesion to this diverse group? How do our school priorities influence the behavior of these young children entrusted to our care?

As I traveled around Ireland, I thought about how Irish children observe and hear, from infancy, the adults in their lives engaging with strangers with politeness, humor, and friendliness. They also attend schools financed by the government and managed by the Church, with all of its attendant values. They share a strong and clear historical identity.

Before heading to Ireland, as I reflected on my first months of life with our B2 classroom, I felt truly in awe of how strongly the children had become a community. They announce the arrival of their classmates with gusto, greet each another with a hug or at least a smile, notice when somebody is sad, and offer a truck or an animal to share.

In October, when I first observed a group of them engaged in interactive play, initiated on their own, I was amazed. “This is not typical two-year-old behavior,” I thought. But then I observed it more and more – in pairs and in small groups, the children were “cooking” together, hiding together, driving to the beach together, coordinating their movements as they ran with a hoop, assigning family roles, and on and on.

I thought, “Given the opportunity and the encouragement, two-year-olds are capable of so much!”

I was struck by how quickly the children’s sense of class community developed, even at this young age. I asked myself, “What have we done in this brand new Program for Two-Year-Olds that has promoted this community spirit? How have we conveyed our priority of ‘Community’ to these very young children?”

We arrange the day’s routines and the environment to support opportunities for cooperative play. A round table is regularly covered with communal paper, where the children gather and experiment together with paints and other art materials. A comfy floor cushion is large enough for four children to sit together with books. A dollhouse sits on a table where children can access it from both sides, and play opposite each other. Percussion instruments are usually used on a round rug, which encourages circle movement and communal drumming.

Over the first weeks of school we ventured out on daily walks around our campus. These walks had no purpose other than for everybody to explore their new environment together. The children gradually learned to travel as a group. The quick ones had to wait for the slower ones. The ones who loved to wander learned to come when called. When somebody fell, the others noticed and announced it with concern. When one child discovered something fun or interesting – a pile of leaves, a bench to climb on, a fence with holes – classmates gathered.                                                    

It’s not always easy – to wait, to share, to disagree. But through hours of shared experiences, and with encouragement to be caring, friendly, and inclusive, these two-year-olds have often pushed past the comfortable realm of “parallel play” and into the often messy but rewarding experience of group play and teamwork.

 

Just as the Irish children absorb their cultural heritage of helpful and gracious hospitality, our two-year-old children have made a strong start in absorbing BCD’s priority of a supportive community.

 

By |2018-01-11T13:21:27-04:00January 11th, 2018|

To Puerto Rico with Love…From Puerto Rico with Love

In our vested efforts to grow our commitment to Service Learning at Berkshire Country Day School, as a community, we chose to participate in Make a Difference Day, 2017. One of the largest annual single-days of service national wide, Make a Difference Day seemed like a wonderful way for BCD to come together in action toward a cause.

Initially, we contemplated encouraging our families to collectively volunteer in a local agency/issue. Being that Make a Difference Day is on a Saturday, we even considered the idea of families choosing how to be of service in their own neighborhoods, not necessarily toward one communal cause but toward an effort that they as a family connected with. However, as we began to flesh out our ideas together in a Parents’ Association meeting, our direction for action for Make A Difference Day 2017 was brought to light before our eyes. 

Hurricane Maria had just recently ravaged the island of Puerto Rico and while the island itself may be an ocean away from our physical community, Mayra Rodriguez, parent of Alex in grade 8, had much to share about the impact on many, including her friends and family, since the hurricane hit. Mayra, a Puerto Rican American who trained as a teacher in Puerto Rico, brought Puerto Rico and her plea for their dire need for our service to us in illustrative emotion.

Coincidentally, and simultaneously, our caring and intelligent Upper School Student Council, under the guidance of faculty member Sarah Pitcher, had also been concerned about Puerto Rico and wondered what they could do to help to show that they care and to provide service toward a solution.

So, we rallied! As a community, we decided that rather than go through a large national relief organization we would organize to collect items needed by the people of Puerto Rico. Mayra collated a needs list based on her knowledge of how the people of Puerto Rico live and what they were in the greatest need of.

Items included beans, rice, flashlights, batteries, mosquito repellent, and pillar candles. We created a detailed donation, collected the items, and on Saturday, October 28, 2017, volunteers from our community, which included students, teachers, parents, alumni, neighbors, and administration, came together to create an active and energized assembly line, packing boxes to be sent off to people in Puerto Rico.

Seventy-eight boxes were packed and sent to Puerto Rico from the BCD community! Inside each box, we included lovely cards, letters, drawings, and even tissue paper flowers made by the students of BCD. We also included a self-addressed, stamped envelope with paper inside and a letter inviting the recipients to send us some mail back.

The letters from the people of Puerto Rico have been pouring in! Drawings, poems, photos, letters, videos, and even a handmade doll from our grateful new friends who continue to struggle to live life as they knew it before the hurricane hit. The gratitude, appreciation, and human-to-human connection are palpable from each piece of mail written by children, teenagers, adults and the elderly.

And, our own students have been moved and delighted to read the mail, see the drawings and photos, and feel the full circle of love from the action our community took. Thank you to the BCD community for coming together to show we care.

 

By |2017-12-19T08:55:06-04:00December 12th, 2017|

At Berkshire Country Day School,
we value connection.

Tell us a little more about you and your child so we can connect and learn more about what you are looking for in a school.