I am grateful to everyone in our community who helped make 2016 a joyful and wondrous year at Evergreen School for our children. From our dedicated teachers and engaged parents to heart-warming festivals, special events and the thrill of learning and discovery each day, we have enjoyed a remarkable year together.
As we look ahead to 2017, we look forward to continuing to providing a safe and loving place for children to grow and learn.
On behalf of our entire faculty and staff, wishing you and Jacob a peaceful and joyful New Year.
You make the world a beautiful place!
Cheers to our Summer Program designer, Lourdes Buenaflor for her amazing work on our 2017 catalog. The document was sent to the printer today and will arrive at school on January 6.
Thanks to Summer Director Stephanie Ugol for planning an amazing summer with programs including cooking, science, swimming, Montessori, art and more!
Registration opens online on January 9. Early Bird Discount 10% Discount for participants who are registered by February 17 and have paid in full. Summer Package Discount 5% Discount for participants who register for a total of 9 weeks.
See more at www.evergreenschool.com/summer today.
Evergreen School celebrated Winter Festival on December 21. The event included musical performances by each class and a whole school performance of This Land is Your Land and Light a Candle for Peace.
See video highlights here. My introductory remarks are below.
We Light This Candle.
Welcome to Winter Festival.
Our theme is Light a Candle for Peace.
As we light it together, we are expressing our hope for peace around the world.
In places like Aleppo and Mosul, Turkey and Berlin, we hope for peace.
We also light this candle for peace in our country.
Evergreen children sing: this land is our land,
From the Statue of Liberty to I Have a Dream,
We are a nation conceived in liberty.
We are dedicated to the idea that all are created equal.
We appreciate the blessings of a diverse society,
And we believe everyone has the right be treated with respect.
We light this candle for our national parks and national heroes,
Those who work to protect our environment, uphold justice and fairness and equality,
And for those who worship in churches like this and for those of us who worship in synagogues, mosques and elsewhere:
We light this candle for our children.
This land is their land.
This future is their future.
May this candle bring light to us all.
Our Elementary Class is taking a leadership role in a school-wide study of buildings and architecture. Primary children will join the Elementary for project-based lessons in construction and design. The program will reinforce the Montessori philosophy of multi-age learning, provide mentoring opportunities and develop stronger school-wide connections.
The program launched today with introductions and a student-led lesson on homes around the world.
For your children, it’s a new school year. For you, its another step closer to when you’ll send your children off into the world. What a scary thought. Right?
But one day, these children, who depend on us for everything, will be independent, self sufficient. Already they are saying “I can do it myself” I can zip a zipper, I can tie, I can draw, dress. And sometimes we let them zip, tie, draw and dress. And sometimes we don’t.
How do we decide when to help? When to allow tv watching? When to allow iPads, cell phones, sugar?
This is such a smart, educated group of adults here in this room. So we ought to have parenting pretty figured out. Some of you have been at it for 9 years. Me, 18 years. Who has mastered parenting?
I am sorry that parenting doesn’t work that way. You will never figure it out. Just the fact that there are so many parenting books on the market is a sign that there are no satisfactory answers on how to do it well. All those books? They are a sign that there is a crisis of confidence in our ability to raise children in this country.
We all have something in common. We all have anxiety about raising our children. It is okay to admit it. And we should be anxious since our children’s health and well-being is completely our responsibility.
And we worry about our abilities as parents. At least I do. I worry that sometimes I am too permissive and sometimes I am too strict. Did I allow too much Halloween candy? Did I encourage my children to take responsibility for their own choices? Did I spend too much time at work? And what about the weird nanny 10 years ago?
There are so many paradoxes in parenting in today’s culture. We want our kids to be morally grounded and ethical, and we want them to be successful in a cut-throat world. We want them to grow up to be self-confident, but we have so little confidence that we know how to do it.
I have daydreamed about my children being accepted to prestigious colleges on full scholarships just so I can brag about my parenting skills. See, I wasn’t too permissive! Parenting has made us all crazy at times. We can admit it.
One thing for sure, it has made us into different people than we were pre-kids. Now we are more loving. More tired. More self-less. And also more selfish. I would put my child’s needs ahead of anyone else.
So, before I go on too long, I am going to tell you how to be a parent.
At some level, we all know that our culture isn’t good for kids. The commercialization, sensationalism and sexualization in the media is really disturbing. The culture of celebrity and egotism is really horrible. The professionalization of childhood, including youth sports, travel teams and tutors isn’t really spot on for kids.
How to parent is simple, but impossible. It’s this: let your children extend their childhood as long as possible. Fourth grade is fourth grade, and your children will be ready for it when the time comes.
Extend childhood. Let them explore with their hands, let them play with younger children and older ones, let them spend as much time as possible in places that respects their innate curiosity. A place with high expectations not high stakes testing. A school where they will be known by loving teachers who believe learning isn’t a competition with winners and losers. Learning is just what people do.
I think you will find that the less you try to make your child into something, (like some idealized version of you), the more they will grow into someone competent, grounded and amazing. The less you try to toughen them up for the real world, the more confidently they will be able to navigate it.
So last words, let your kids see you live your values. Be true to yourself. Step away from your parenting anxiety. Show your children that you have faith in their ability to grow up strong. They’ll watch you and they’ll learn from you. And they will grow into wonderful people.
Bear with my metaphor, but almost all of life’s lessons can be learned from children’s picture books.
In two fitting ways, Evergreen children are the Very Hungry Caterpillars in Eric Carle’s book. First, they are voracious. They are ravenous to learn things, to do things and to figure things out (not just hungry for fruit and junk food). Second, our children have been warmly nestled in cozy classroom cocoons—with caring teachers in a safe, nurturing place to learn.
So what happens when our caterpillars become butterflies? What happens after Evergreen elementary?
In a few months, our third graders will emerge from the Evergreen cocoon as graduates with colorful new wings. After four years or more with us, each is excited and nervous for new schools, new teachers and new friends.
I am proud to share their plans for next year. Our third graders have been accepted at several of the most selective independent schools in the DC region. Among hundreds of applicants, our students stood out for their academic preparation, personal character, intellectual curiosity and maturity. These qualities will serve them well wherever they go.
I am grateful to our Elementary teachers, Mrs. Hatziyannis and Mrs. Hannon, for their hands-on support of each child through the application process. As Evergreen father Joel Klein said at a recent ESPA meeting, the relationship between Elementary teachers and their students is the most powerful part of the Evergreen experience.
Just as our program is individualized to meet the needs of each child, our objective is not to get students into the most selective schools. Therefore, as you will see from the list, Evergreen isn’t a “feeder” for any particular school. Our children will attend a range of schools, each a well-selected match for the personality and learning-style of each child. In addition to these schools, Evergreen graduates have also attended MCPS schools, Sidwell Friends School, Sienna School and Catholic schools in the last two years. We are fortunate to have many excellence independent, religious and public schools in the area for families to choose for fourth grade.
There is tremendous value in staying at Evergreen for the entire Elementary experience. It is a powerful launching pad for newly-winged butterflies!
Avery: Sandy Spring Friends School
Lydia: Barrie School
Alexander: St. Patrick’s Catholic School
Anais: Maret School
Harry: Lowell School
Maddie: Lowell School
Head of School