Reading in the courtyard on a beautiful spring day!
The Bedrock of Great Teaching
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: April 30, 2021
If you reflect on the teachers at Belmont Day who had the greatest impact on your child or children, there is a very strong possibility that they began their career as a teaching associate, intern, or teaching fellow.
My career in education, like many of my colleagues’, began with an internship after a career change. Today, as a head of school, I carry with me some critically important lessons from those earliest days as a new educator–how to manage a classroom, how to frame curriculum, how to apply an equitable lens to my work, and how to construct (and then deliver) an arc of programming over the course of the year that reaches each of the understanding goals I had set in the fall. Now, at the start of each year, I am honored to welcome and spend time with Belmont Day’s new cohort of associate teachers as they begin a journey that may ultimately lead them to any number of places, including, maybe, being a head of school.
It is with that lens that I look upon our Associate Teacher Program, under the powerful and compelling leadership of Heather Woodcock. Throughout this school year, we have had five associate teachers learning the profession through the ATP. For each of them, their experience–both in the classroom at BDS as instructors and in the classroom at Lesley University from where they will receive their certification as students–has been equally rich and fulfilling for them as it has for Belmont Day. The associates play an incredibly important role in our community as teachers, colleagues, and students. The program which has been a part of Belmont Day for nearly thirty years is engrained in the fabric of our institution.
And it has never been more important, not only here at BDS but across the nation. For those of us who pay attention to such things, on the national scale, there is a teacher shortage on the horizon. According to the National Center for Education, enrollment in major post-graduate and undergraduate programs in education across the country has dropped by 20%, and those are pre-pandemic numbers. That number, to scale, is a significant one, and it highlights the importance of the work that our associates are doing here at BDS. These new teachers aren’t just enrolling in a strong licensure program, they are getting critical experience from mentor teachers here at BDS that will shape their careers and the experience of countless students in the years to come.
This is why the news we received at the start of this month is that much more impressive: alumna Catherine (Cat) DiCara ’12, an associate teacher working with third grade teacher Larissa Rochford ’93—an alumna of both BDS and our ATP program!—has been awarded the prestigious June T. Fox Scholarship Award from Lesley University. It is a testament to her hard work, the hard work of her mentor, and the hard work of all of the associates and their mentors. What’s more? This is the third consecutive year in which an associate teacher has been awarded with this recognition. And that is a direct testament to Heather, the structure she has created to provide an excellent program annually, and the mentors with whom she works most closely.
I know the community joins me in celebrating Cat’s success, the success of the program, and the dedication and commitment of all of our associates to the critical profession of teaching.
Have a great weekend everyone. Happy May and have fun BDS Questing tomorrow!
May 1 to May 15
Saturday, May 1
8:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m., BDS Quest Scavenger Hunt
Monday, May 3
ERBS for Grade 5
8:30–10:00 a.m., Committee on Trustees, Zoom Meeting
6–7:00 p.m., Looking Ahead to Grade 6, Zoom Gathering
Tuesday, May 4
6:30–7:45 p.m., Honoring Differences Seminar Open House, Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, May 5
10:00 a.m., Parent Book Club, Zoom Gathering
6:30–7:45 p.m., Honoring Differences Seminar Open House, Zoom Gathering
7:30 p.m., Grade 2 Spring Parent Social, Zoom Gathering
Thursday, May 6
6–7:00 p.m., Looking Ahead to Grade 7, Zoom Gathering
7:30 p.m., Pre-kindergarten Spring Parent Social, Zoom Gathering
Monday, May 10
ERBS for Grade 6
6–7:00 p.m., Looking Ahead to Grade 8, Zoom Gathering
Tuesday, May 11
ERBS for Grade 6
8–9:30 a.m., Investment Committee, Zoom Meeting
5:30–7:00 p.m., Board Diversity Committee, Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, May 12
ERBS for Grade 6
Thursday, May 13
6:30–8:30 p.m., Annual Corporation Meeting, Zoom Gathering
Friday, May 14
Faculty Appreciation Luncheon
8:50–9:35 a.m., Enrichment Assembly, Zoom Gathering
Saturday, May 15
5:00 p.m., BDS Quest Community Event & Auction, Zoom Gathering
For all Zoom meetings and gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Honoring Differences Seminar Open House for Parents
The facilitators of the Honoring Differences Seminar (HDS) for our middle schoolers invite all parents to an HDS Open House!
This will be an opportunity to gain insight into the seminar—the rationale, goals, lesson plans, and how students have been engaging—from the facilitators, and to ask questions.
The HDS Open House will be held twice: Tuesday, May 4, 6:30-7:45 p.m., and on Wednesday, May 5, 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Please use this form to let us know if you’re planning to attend either (or both) of the sessions, and to provide any questions you’d like to share ahead of time.
The open house is open to all parents, pre-kindergarten through grade 8. The Zoom links for both open house times are available on the Parent Portal.
Celebrate Founders’ Day 2021 This Monday!
On Monday, May 3 we will be celebrating our third annual BDS Founders’ Day! Founders’ Day is an opportunity to remember our school’s founders–a committed group of parents and leaders whose vision established our wonderful school! We will have special announcements to come leading up to May 3. Students and faculty should plan to wear BDS apparel to school to show our school pride and we can all support BDS through our Founders’ Giving Day! More news and excitement to come soon!
Plan Ahead for Middle School ‘Looking Ahead’ Events
All middle school families for the 2021-22 school year are invited to attend the forthcoming “Looking Ahead” events in early May. During these evenings, faculty and administrators will give a valuable look at the curriculum and expectations for your student’s upcoming year. Mark your calendars! Links to these meetings will be shared with families by email and will be available on the Parent Portal. If you have any questions, please contact Liz Gray, middle school head.
- Monday, May 3, 6-7:00 pm – “Looking Ahead to Grade Six”
- Thursday, May 6, 6-7:00 pm – “Looking Ahead to Grade Seven”
- Monday, May 10, 6-7:00 pm – “Looking Ahead to Grade Eight”
Lunch & Snack Menu
May 3 to May 7
Snack: apple slices; pita chips; Goldfish
Lunch: macaroni and cheese; pasta with marinara on the side; broccoli; crusty bread; Romano cheese; butter; garden salad; fresh fruit cup; milk and water
Snack: bananas; granola bars
Lunch: Greek chicken; falafel; roasted potato; naan; olives; Greek salad with feta and olives; sliced peaches; milk and water
Cinco de Mayo
Snack: apples; Cheez-Its
Lunch: beef tacos; vegetarian tacos with quinoa; corn; corn tacos; flour tortillas; guacamole; sour cream; cheese; salsa; black bean salad; fresh fruit cup; milk and water
Snack: clementines; Lay’s BBQ chips
Lunch: cheese pizza; breadsticks and marinara; Caesar salad; apple slices; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: apple sauce; pretzel twists
ASSOCIATE TEACHER PROGRAM
Lesley University Honors Cat DiCara ’12 with the June Fox Award
For the third year in a row, a member of the Belmont Day School Associate Teacher Program has won Lesley University’s Graduate School of Education June T. Fox Scholarship Award. Catherine (Cat) DiCara ’12, not only a member of this year’s associate teacher cohort but also a BDS alum, was selected from a competitive pool of graduate colleagues. The June Fox committee recognizes only one student for that individual’s outstanding work with children, academic scholarship, effective collaboration with peers and colleagues, and their potential for leadership in education. When a BDS associate won the June Fox in 2019 it was remarkable not only for the recipient but for our community as well. To win it again in 2020 was extraordinary, and to win it for a third consecutive year is unheard of!
Third grade teacher Larissa Rochford ’93, also an alum of BDS and the Associate Teacher Program, has served as Cat’s mentor teacher this year. And as if that wasn’t enough of a double-take, Cat was a student in Larissa’s classroom when she attended Belmont Day as a child! In her nomination letter to the June Fox committee about what Cat brings to the classroom, Larissa wrote, “Cat encompasses all aspects of a thoughtful, qualified, and energized teacher who leads with empathy, enthusiasm, and respect for her students and colleagues. As my mentee, Cat has taken on all of her work, along with challenges that have come her way, with poise, confidence, and perseverance. It is clear that she has the skill set, flexibility, calm demeanor, and passion for the profession to succeed and continue to grow in the field.”
Congratulations to Cat for this great honor, and congratulations to all of the associates and associate mentors this year who have shown such dedication to their students and their teaching craft.
– Heather Woodcock, director of the associate teacher program
Please Provide Your Feedback By May 19
The relationship between parents and the school has, since its founding, been critical in establishing the high standard of excellence to which we aspire. Through this satisfaction-based survey, the school is eager to hear from parents to better understand your family’s experience this year and gauge the health of our community. We see this as an important tool to help us realize opportunities to improve the school experience for our students and families in the future.
We hope that many of you will take the time to participate in the survey. You can expect it to take about 35-45 minutes to complete.
Your honest and specific feedback is valuable to the school and will help us to better serve our students and families moving forward. The survey is open until Wednesday, May 19. Thank you!
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly COVID Testing Update
We performed individual tests on returning from April vacation this week. As the community was informed by email, we had one positive test and two inconclusive tests which came back negative on retesting. We will return to weekly pool testing next Wednesday, May 5, and continue through the remainder of the year.
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
Online Math Course for Lower School Parents
- Why does math look and sound so different now?
- How can I provide vital numeracy activities in engaging ways at home?
- What can I do to create the calm and supportive homework time I hope for?
We are pleased to collaborate with Kevin Mahoney, our Singapore Math consultant, to provide an opportunity for parents to learn the philosophy of modern math approaches and ways to create a nurturing math environment at home.
This self-paced virtual course will engage parents in supporting their child’s mathematical development, build background knowledge, and provide effective teaching and learning strategies to help them to develop:
- the ability to solve problems logically
- develop mental flexibility, independence of thought, and self-esteem
- the ability to persevere
What is my attitude toward mathematics?
How can I encourage early math learning in the same way that I support early reading?
How can I support the classroom work of developing the full range of skills and logical thinking, from learning the basic facts and the standard algorithms for computation to developing problem-solving, reasoning, and confident explanations?
What, as a parent, can I do to encourage a positive attitude towards math and support my child’s view of themself as a mathematician?
To get the answers to these questions and more, please reach out to Deborah Brissenden to participate in this complimentary course.
– Deborah Brissenden, assistant head of school and director of curriculum and instruction
Introducing Summer Spark: A New Academic Program At Belmont Day
We hope that you will spread the word to friends, neighbors, and colleagues who may be looking for a summer academic program to bolster their child’s skills and confidence in preparation for the 2021-22 school year.
Our new Summer Spark program is an academic review and summer fun program for rising first through sixth graders who are either incoming BDS students or students at other schools. Many area schools have been in either remote or hybrid learning modes for much of this school year and their students may benefit from a supportive program to review skills.
The program will run from July 12 to August 6.
Click here to learn more about Summer Spark and refer families to the program.
Ten Pay Plan Tuition Payments
The first tuition payment for the 2021-22 school year is due tomorrow for the families who selected the Ten Pay Plan during re-enrollment. Director of Finance Fred Colson noted that while the first due date is May 1, for those who are paying via the Veracross VC Pay Auto Pay feature, no further action is necessary. The autopay payments will be drafted on Monday, May 3. When the first of the month falls on a weekend or holiday, the autopay payments will happen on the first business day after the weekend or holiday.
For families with any outstanding charges for the 2020-21 school year, those payments will continue to be processed through FACTS Management.
Please contact the business office ([email protected]) if you have any questions.
New Echo Magazine Explores “The Edge”
Members of the literary magazine club successfully encouraged, supported, and inspired one another this winter, despite clubs meetings taking place on Zoom, to produce the winter edition of Echo Magazine. At 119 pages, this edition is the biggest yet!
“This semester’s Echo magazine theme—”The Edge”—really inspired our artists and writers, as we received a record number of pieces. In times of COVID, our contributors took the idea of edge in lots of great directions: the edge of a new world, the edge of a cliff, the edge of life and death. We’d like to thank all of our contributors for their wonderful work. We hope you enjoy it!”
– Echo Staff: Ripley Bright ’21, Kendree Chen ’21, Audrey Chuang ’23, Vivian Chuang ’21, Nina Cohen-Perlmutter ’23, Owen Huang ’23, Sue Kelman ’21, Thierrence Mathurin ’21, Quinn McCaffrey ’23, Aviva Pearlmutter-Bearson ’21, Jacob Stephenson ’21, Quincy Treisman ’23, Ezra Wolfson ’23, and Audrey Wu ’21
Click the button below to see a digital version of the magazine.
BDS QUEST & FEST CORNER
The Final BDS Quest is Tomorrow!
Our next Quest, a BDS-themed adventure, will be held tomorrow, Saturday, May 1, starting at 8 a.m. For those participating, the team captains will receive an email and an app alert at 8 a.m. announcing the Quest is live and the mission list is available. The list will include 100 or more missions to complete throughout the day. Each Quest theme will guide the list of clues and missions listed. Please be prepared to explore all things BDS community-related, and brush up on your BDS trivia to complete missions without leaving your home! The BDS-themed Quest will end at 3:30 p.m.
Register for the BDS Fest!
The Fest: Community Event and Auction
We are very excited to host our virtual Fest on Saturday, May 15 at 5 p.m. It will be a community-wide celebration and auction event. It will include music, highlights from our scavenger hunts, and an announcement of our winners. The event will also have a silent auction and paddle-up fundraiser. The proceeds from the event will be to help defray the COVID-19 expenses and the cost of winter/spring pool testing for all students and faculty.
Have you registered for the Fest? Click here to register by May 13 and join us for the fun.
Arts Update: Ok Go Video Features Third Graders’ Artwork
You may remember that in mid-March, every third grader worked on and submitted a page of artwork to the OK Go Sandbox–the educational outreach and collaboration between the music group OK Go and the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas. We had no idea at that time how the students’ coloring sheets would be turned into a music video for the song, “All Together Now.” We’re very happy to report that NOW WE KNOW!! The video, dubbed the “Kids Version,” was released yesterday, Thursday, April 29, via YouTube. Click here to watch the video.
The BDS third graders’ work is spread out throughout the video; watch carefully between 0:40-0:55, and between 2:50-3:05. Enjoy!
– Anne Armstrong, visual arts teacher and arts coordinator
Pre-kindergartners Excited to Welcome New Feathered Friends
There is a new nest in the Schoolhouse courtyard! Our students noticed before vacation that a nest was getting built and now there is a bird sitting in the nest up high under the porch roof. We played a game with a die and drawings of empty nests to think about how many eggs might be in the nest. We rolled a die and drew that number of eggs in the empty nest. We discovered the most number of eggs a nest could hold was 6, and the fewest was one. One student noted that a four looks like a square on the die! When the bird was away we took a photo of what is in the nest–four blue eggs! We learned that the eggs belong to a robin. We will watch to see when the baby birds hatch. In the meantime, we are practicing one of our BDS values–caring. We are helping the mother robin by keeping our voices quiet when we’re playing in the courtyard and moving more slowly when we are near the nest so we don’t startle her.
–Alice Henry, pre-kindergarten teacher
Athletics Update: Volleyball Changes Seasons
With stricter protocols from the winter season lifted, the athletics program has been able to flex some offerings into the spring season. Among those traditional winter sports being offered, volleyball gained a large following of seventh grade athletes during the first session of spring athletics. With nearly 20 athletes, coaches Ellie Brennan, Gretchen Fogelstrom, and Nathalie Pellenq introduced players to the foundational skills and organized some competitive play. Brennan, who was the founding coach of the program, hopes that the interest generated this spring will carry over to what is hopefully a more traditional winter season next year.
– John O’Neill, athletics director
PE Update: Sportsmanship and Shout-Outs
It’s easy to talk the talk regarding sportsmanship. We should all try and play fairly and treat each other as we want to be treated, etc. Yet in the heat of the moment, embodying these foundational ideals can be a challenge. Sure it’s important not to gloat but when you hit the winning shot in an epic game of Tchoukball remaining composed is easier said than done.
That is why in PE we stress celebrations that are mindful of our opponents, and often times incentivize the golden rule with sportsmanship points: if the teacher observes a conscientious act, that can result in a point for your team! This can lead to some games becoming so cordial that being kind becomes even more of an asset than having perfect accuracy (though perfect accuracy is still pretty clutch). Eventually, this kind of behavior becomes part of the way we engage in PE.
The icing on the sportsmanship cake is shout-outs, an opportunity at the end of class to give another classmate some shine. No matter how much time we leave for shout-outs, it isn’t enough. Our athletes have shown us time and time again that making the space for recognition and appreciation is worthwhile.
– The Physical Education Team
Parents’ Association News
Family Fun Event: Seeking Volunteers!
Annually, the PA hosts a family fun event and although we cannot be in person this year, we are continuing the tradition, virtually. And, we need your help!
On Saturday, June 5 we will host a series of virtual workshops for all families to participate in. We will have a number of opportunities for families to join cultural workshops to learn how to cook a dish, create a craft, or play a game from a BDS family’s traditions. We would love to include many families to reflect our diverse and vibrant school community.
Click here if you are interested in volunteering to host a workshop!
Parents’ Independent School Network (PIN) Meeting
The next PIN presentation will be held on Wednesday, May 5 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. The presentation, entitled “Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Caring” will feature several community-service programs taking place in our schools and communities–despite the pandemic!
Featured speakers include community-service leaders from Brimmer and May School. We will also hear about Comfort Zone Camp, a non-profit bereavement organization that transforms the lives of children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver.
Click here to register for this Zoom meeting.
Teacher Appreciation Week 2021
We have been so fortunate to have our children in person this year, let’s show the teachers how much their efforts have meant! With your help, the PA is creating word clouds of appreciation for each classroom. Ask your child/children what has made this school year so great or why their teacher is the best. Responses can be recorded by clicking here and filling out the form. The deadline for submissions is Monday, May 3. Please contact [email protected] with any questions.
Faculty Appreciation Luncheon
On Friday, May 14, the Parents’ Association will be providing faculty and staff with a beautifully catered lunch from East Meets West catering in individualized boxes, which meets our COVID safety requirements.
The PA is looking for donations of beverages or individually packaged desserts. Safe packaging will be provided to those who sign up for desserts. Belmont Day is a nut-free campus, so please keep that in mind when planning your dessert contributions. Please bring beverage and dessert donations at the morning drop-off on Friday, May 14. There will be a table in front of the PAC. Please click on this SignUp Genius link to sign up.
Additionally, we invite your children to make a thank you sign for faculty to be hung in the school during the week. You may give your sign to staff at drop-off during the week of May 10. Please contact Pati Fernandez if you need supplies to make a sign.
The next book club selection is The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré. Please join us for our online gathering on Wednesday, May 5 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss this book. A Zoom link is posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on the Parent Portal. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
We are excited to welcome the next faculty baby this spring! Please help us welcome pre-kindergarten teacher Kate Oznick’s baby, with a donation of your favorite book. Books may be dropped off until Friday, May 21 during drop-off or pick-up. There is a collection bin in the vestibule of the Schoolhouse. The Baby Welcoming committee will assemble the books into a basket for delivery. Thank you!
The Friendraiser committee is hosting a walk every Thursday morning after drop-off. Come discover the trails around BDS, reconnect with friends, and meet new ones. We look forward to seeing you there! Meet in the grass circle in front of the schoolhouse at 8:15 a.m.
Help bring spring into the classrooms! We are looking for volunteers to donate “centerpieces” for the cohort rooms for May and June. This is an easy, low-stress way to contribute to BDS and a nice way to brighten the day for students and faculty. Simply bring in 12-14 small plants or seasonal centerpieces that can be placed in the rooms and will last for two to three weeks. Simple is best. Color is nice, but herbs and green plants also work well. All ideas are welcome. Your children may enjoy participating too! Plants can be brought to the main Schoolhouse entrance at drop-off. Click here to sign up for an available slot.
If you have questions, please contact the chairs of the Classroom Flowers committee by email, phone, or text: Tracy Leng, 781-526-8657; Grace Wang, 857-313-8696.
Massachusetts Education Leader to Speak on LGBTQ+ Issues
Belmont Against Racism will be hosting a community conversation on LGBTQ+ issues with Jeff Perrotti, founding director of the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ+ Students, on Tuesday, May 4 at 7 p.m. The conversation will focus on the questions: What are we currently doing to support LGBTQ+ students and their families in our community? and What can we do to support them better? All are invited to attend. Click here to register for this event.