Turning Point School Blog

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Dr. Laura Konigsberg - Posted Monday, Sep 25, 2017 5:19:00 PM

Some of you may have seen The New York Times article, “Can Prep Schools Fight the Class War?” which covers a group of independent schools in New York City that are challenging the ways we define success in education. They assert that the traditional model of focusing exclusively on individual success and achievement is limited in scope, and limiting for our children.

The article draws particular attention to a back to school letter written by John Allen, Head of School at Manhattan’s Trinity School, which laments the “elements of disconnection” pervasive among students, who report feeling “isolated, alienated from their peers.” Allen asks, “How ought we go about the work of attending to our collective as well as individual well-being? And how ought we to educate our students so that they leave us with a commitment not just to advance their own educational interests, but also serve the common good and to give generously to others for the rest of their lives?”

When we focus narrowly on what we perceive to be our child’s singular interests, we also create disconnection, not only with schools that want to help our children to grow more broadly by emphasizing the common good, but within our children themselves, naturally drawn to help, to lead, and to give of their time and talents.

Allen’s letter was meant to serve as a wake-up call to both educators and parents, and parts of it are unapologetically candid, to be sure. But, at the same time, the sentiment is optimistic—focusing on enhancing student well-being, building transformational opportunities to engage the larger world, and ensuring that schools have a coherent curriculum aligned with mission goals and commitments.

As I read his letter, I was heartened to note that Turning Point School has already evolved in these directions. Our focus on social-emotional development and on intellectual and bodily well-being is rooted in our multi-age Montessori classrooms where young children are leaders who look out for others; it evolves every day in our elementary program as children learn to look beyond themselves and their classmates to consider the wider community; and culminates in our uniquely comprehensive middle school advisory program, where our students become leaders, problem-solvers, and change-agents in the lives of others—within the Turning Point School community and, perhaps more importantly, beyond.

From academics in the classroom to service learning in the community, the Turning Point School experience is constructed in a way that enables students to gradually and whole-heartedly understand their place in the world and then use that anchor of self-awareness to connect with others spanning a rich diversity of experience, background, and narrative. In other words, we thoughtfully and deliberately connect our students’ passions and knowledge with the needs of others, and those of a larger society.

Allen’s letter also makes the assertion that a school’s curriculum must align with the goals of its mission. Great schools always strive to be better, and as such, they are always reviewing curricular programs and best practices of teaching and learning. At Turning Point, we are currently examining our curricula and pedagogy to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of students and adheres to our mission as a community of learners.

While we understand that it is our responsibility to prepare students to get good grades and to be admitted to a selective secondary school that will help them to gain access to a top choice college or university, we also know that when this goal is the sole driver of an education, so much is lost: students’ love of learning, a sense of higher purpose, robust mental health. But too often, out of love for our children and anxiety about the future, we push them on this trajectory, kicking the can of their vibrancy and purpose down the road. The unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and purposeless reported among high school and college students should give us pause and direct us to ask, what is the definition of a well-lived life?

Addressing this question was at the heart of my decision to introduce the community-wide book read, How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims. We want our children to believe in their abilities to face challenges, solve problems, and develop independence in thoughts and actions. We want to support their growth into the best versions of themselves that they can be.

How to Raise an Adult is a hopeful book, one that challenges the model of scarcity and instead encourages us to create space and time for our children to achieve fuller, richer lives, connected to meaningful engagement with self, community, and the world. It is my intention that this book inspires a renewed commitment to serving the community and putting students’ critical thinking, creativity, and empathy to good use. 

I invite our parents to participate in creating a shared vision for our children’s development by joining other Turning Point parents and educators on Wednesday, October 11 at 6:00 pm, as we explore the themes of this book, openly discuss what resonated (and maybe what did not resonate) with us as parents and educators, and continue our important work together raising thoughtful, curious, empathetic, and strong children.

Warmly,
Laura

Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School

Turning Point School - Posted Friday, Sep 22, 2017 1:32:00 PM

This week, Grade 8 students led a “Teach-In” workshop for middle school students, focusing on the summer’s events in Charlottesville and the context surrounding these events. The goal of the activity was to provide a space for students to share perspectives and discuss the impact that words and actions have on others based on individual and collective experiences.

The presentation included a summary of the events of, and the context for, the protests and violence in Charlottesville. Grade 8 students shared their research on bias and the difference between free speech and hate speech, as well as the role of bystanders. They then led a follow up discussion and activity with their Grade 6 and 7 peers. These small groups allowed a space for students to write and talk about the role of dialogue, acceptance, and empathy in combating hate and creating peace in our communities.

These important conversations help students focus on the importance of considering others’ perspectives and experiences and the impact of words and actions on others, and they encourage students to speak up in situations when they see that it is necessary.

Below are a few six-word sentences that were written by students as a reflection:

Dear Stranger,
Speak up for what you believe.

Dear World,
Can we come to love difference?

Dear Stranger,
How can I know you better?

Dear World,
Learn to accept, love conquers hate.

Through these types of exercises, experiential learning, literature selections, advisory meetings, and guest speakers, students will continue to examine these ideas as they carve out their place in the world they are preparing to inherit.

  

Turning Point School - Posted Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017 2:26:05 PM

Open September 28 – November 21

Turning Point School is pleased to announce the installation of our first artist collection of the year, Cuba Si by Melissa Roldan, from September 28 – November 21, 2017. This will be the first of three exhibits displayed over the course of the year in the Building 2 Art Gallery.

With an eye pressed to a viewfinder since age 14, LA-based travel photographer Melissa Roldan has captured images reflecting cultures, landscapes, and the people who inspire them. Her work brings you into a shared experience of the senses. Recently, her sojourns have taken her to Cuba at a time when the country was in a state of anticipation. Her lens fell upon the eyes and lines of Cuban faces and the colors and patterns of the Cuban streets. The images in this exhibition capture the positive essence of the country and the spirit of “Cuba Sí” – a prevailing chant of people living on an island frozen in time.

Her prior work as a respected print producer and photo editor at various global stock agencies completed her holistic vision of the business. Her work has been featured in the US and worldwide at such esteemed shows as: The Art of Photography Show, PHOTOLA, MOPLA asmpLA, and Women In Photography International. She is represented by Aurora Photos and her fine art images can be found at Saatchi Gallery.

The gallery is located on the second floor of Building 2, next to the Board Room, and will be open from September 28 – November 21. Turning Point parents are welcome to stop by after drop-off or pick-up, or during other campus events. Visitors from outside the Turning Point community must arrange visits in advance by contacting Rory Sloan at rsloan@turningpointschool.org.   

You may learn more about Ms. Roldan and view her work at http://melissaroldan.com.

Turning Point School - Posted Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017 10:42:16 AM

The Turning Point Family Program provides a multi-age environment that builds a sense of community among faculty, staff, and students. Faculty and staff “elders” facilitate monthly Family meetings that help younger students benefit from interaction with older students, encourage older students to practice responsible modeling, and inspire all members of the Turning Point community to learn, share, and grow together.

During our first Family Event of the year, new preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders were welcomed by middle school students, who will serve as role models and mentors for the year to come.

Dr. Laura Konigsberg - Posted Monday, Sep 18, 2017 4:16:05 PM

Making big news this week was Apple’s release of the new iPhone X, featuring Face ID that works with Apple Pay so you can “check out with just a glance.” The phrase “just a glance” implies eye contact, but it’s with your phone, which I fear will exacerbate a significant issue that our children and teens are experiencing: relational fluency has been keenly disrupted by technology. Advancements in technology certainly benefit us in many ways; however, the social aspects of living with devices can be detrimental, particularly to teens and young adults as they navigate societal norms and gain maturity.

You don’t have to look far to find experts who caution us about how kids in the tech-reliant era have difficulty making eye contact and reading body language, lack confidence in negotiating the here-and-now, and fear doorbells. More than ever, young people rely on technology to mediate their social interactions, an isolating strategy that can set the stage for anxiety, depression, and a limited ability to communicate directly about one’s own needs.

Dr. Jean Twenge has studied generational differences for 25 years, and has found significant shifts in behavior in this generation, which she calls iGen. In her article, Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?, Twenge notes that many teens spend more time in virtual spaces than they do physically with friends, and often feel left out and marginalized as a result of exposure to others’ highly-curated lives online. Teens reported that even when they are physically proximate, they have conversations while looking at their phones, which feels alienating. Overall, Twenge found that screen activities are linked to “unhappiness” and non-screen activities are linked to “happiness” – a conclusion that seems logical in theory, but difficult even for us adults to accept in practice.   

Listening closely and paying attention have become radical acts of connection. You can imagine the ways in which technology has the power to undermine what we most want for the children in our care. Yet, at the same time, we want to encourage students to embrace technology as a useful tool for broadening their scope and understanding of the world around them. At Turning Point School, we hope to strike a balance between providing opportunities to develop tech fluency, while also allowing students to grow interpersonally and to understand the broader systems that underlie and affect our relationships. 

Recently, I spoke on a panel at a conference for women entrepreneurs who are also mothers. The subject was raising socially aware children, an area in which I think Turning Point School excels. The advice I offered participants reflects what we do each day with our students:

  • Talk about differences respectfully;
  • Expose children to stories from varying perspectives and embrace the multifaceted nature of each human being, and of people who share a particular background or feature;
  • Teach students to think critically, to use evidence to support their claims;
  • Foster active, nonjudgmental listening;
  • Value creative expression;
  • Help students to know their own values, and to serve others;
  • Expect students to be “upstanders,” to support others even if it is not a popular stance;
  • Teach them that no means no, and that boundaries—theirs and others’—need to be respected.

At Turning Point School, we have created formalized programs that help students to learn compassion, limits, respect, and connection—from service learning and mentoring at Weemes Elementary, to Family Events, and multi-age mentoring and buddies program. But more influential and compelling are the ways we weave these skills into the learning that unfolds in our classrooms. As I spend time with our students and teachers, I am so impressed and inspired by the myriad opportunities for growth and connection that I observe:

  • Setting expectations and providing a scaffold for students to safely explore boundaries and test limits;
  • Asking students to share their thinking in mathematics with peers;
  • Helping students elucidate an argument, and develop a nuanced point of view;
  • Working out conflicts on the playground;
  • Collaborating on a science project with peers who have different strengths and talents;
  • Supporting middle school students as they prepare “teach-ins” for younger charges;
  • Helping students understand bias in the websites they encounter when they are doing research;
  • Defending a friend’s unpopular viewpoint;
  • Insisting on students’ speaking from the “I” perspective;
  • Fostering listening to others in morning meetings and book discussions;
  • Encouraging care for others who are vulnerable (which is all of us at one time or another).

As both parents and educators, it is our joy and our responsibility to provide students with valuable opportunities to develop independence, bravery, connection, and the conviction that they can affect positive change for the common good. We want our students to go to the thresholds of communities, ring the doorbells, and engage with a firm handshake and meaningful eye contact—confident in their ability to meet, manage, and adapt to whatever greets them on the other side.


Warmly,
Laura

Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School

Turning Point School - Posted Wednesday, Sep 13, 2017 8:23:00 AM

Congratulations to Emma Sainsbury-Carter (Turning Point Class of '15) who was recently named to Team USA for the United States Life Saving Association Under 19 division (USLA U19). Emma, who is currently a junior at Marymount High School and serves as a Venice Beach Junior Lifeguard, is credited with starting Turning Point School's swim team, which continues to serve as a source of great opportunity and pride among the Turning Point community.

Emma will compete with 14 other athletes on the USLA team from November 30 - December 4 in New Zealand's International Surf Rescue Challenge, alongside competitors from Australia, Great Britain, South Africa, Canada, France and Japan. This honor follows her recent achievements as a silver medal athlete in the rescue relay at the USLA Nationals in Daytona Beach, and a gold medal and silver medal in rescue relay race and board rescue at the California state surf lifesaving championships in Coronado. Emma also currently swims for Marymount High School’s Varsity Team and is part of the United States Lifesaving Association--High Performance Squad representing the county of Los Angeles.

In an article published by Swim Swam Magazine, Emma is quoted: “I am humbled by this opportunity and so grateful to my coaches. I get to compete against the best of the best in the ocean and pool; I am proud to count myself among this select group to represent the United States. I am even more proud to bring attention to a sport that focuses on lifesaving and whose athletes are among some of the strongest, bravest, and selfless people I have ever met.”

We wish Emma the best of luck as she continues her adventures and accomplishments, both in the water and out. Go, Tornadoes!

Dr. Laura Konigsberg - Posted Monday, Sep 11, 2017 2:38:00 PM

Community and communication share the same root: common. At Turning Point School, we have in common the desire to serve each student and to honor the common good. There is a public spirit and sharing at the heart of community, and I feel lucky to be among a group of generous families and educators.

Both on campus and off, we have prepared and planned the year’s opening with community at the center, setting the tone for a collaborative school year ahead. Reuniting with returning families and meeting new families has been a keen source of pleasure for me, as creating these relationships fosters a safe and inclusive environment where all children flourish.

Turning Point employs various methods to promote and cultivate connections between home and school. We have introduced our new Family Ambassador Network (FAN) to offer accessible and exciting opportunities for you to share your Turning Point experience with prospective families. Additionally, thanks to the dedication of Parent Association President Laura Cohen and her team, the Parent Association has made it more accessible for new families to participate in volunteer opportunities that benefit the school and enhance the connections that make community engagement meaningful. Our new parents and students have brought new energy and vibrancy to our community, and we are eager to incorporate their ideas, energy, and talents.

One valuable connection I share with many of you is that I am also navigating my role as a parent. I appreciate the ongoing thoughtful discussions that the school has with families regarding best practices raising confident, capable young adults. These powerful interactions lead to more knowledge and direction at home and at school.

It has been a pleasure to see many of you on the first day of school, at the Parent Association meeting, at the New Family Welcome, and at the annual Back-to-School Picnic. Greeting and chatting with you and your families in many different contexts helps us to know you better and, thus, to build stronger partnerships.

You have spent so much time with Turning Point that we want to show our appreciation by encouraging Family Night this evening. Turning Point has enjoyed a long tradition of Family Nights: monthly “no homework” Mondays. We have designed these homework breaks to encourage family time. These evenings allow you to spend time together as a family doing a fun, non-electronic activity, such as:

  • Cook and eat a family meal together
  • Look at photo albums together
  • Play board games
  • Shoot hoops at a local park
  • Walk on the beach
  • Go out for ice cream

Please send a photo of your family time to cbaker@turningpointschool.org by noon tomorrow, Tuesday, September 12. We will publish these on our Facebook page and feature a few in next week’s Wednesday Weekly.

As always I am reminded of how lucky we are to be part of an extraordinary  group of teachers, parents, administrators, and students who look out for each other, work together, and are always willing to lend a helping hand. The recent tragic natural disasters in Houston, India, Mexico, and Florida, and the anniversary of September 11 today, remind us that when we get to the essence of what matters, it is people—their stories, their spirit, the commonalities that bind us together. I am blessed to be bound to all of you in this shared journey.


Warmly,
Laura

Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School

Please visit our Facebook page to see more photos from the Back-to-School Picnic!

Dr. Laura Konigsberg - Posted Tuesday, Aug 29, 2017 5:42:04 PM

The first day of school provides a clean slate, a new beginning, and a chance to reflect and reevaluate. The energy today was electric, with smiling children and teachers thrilled to embark on a new year of deep and meaningful learning. Even on the first day students invest time in worthwhile foundations that anchor them for the year ahead. 

Students today set goals, learned routines, created classroom norms, reconnected with friends and reached out to new students, and acquired the role of student in a new, unfamiliar grade and setting. They are both whom they were a few short months ago and no longer whom they were. They are in the process of becoming—as they always are, but the first day of school highlights and punctuates this undertaking. While students remember routines of the previous year, they are pointed firmly ahead, ready to embrace the adventures that will make meaning for them and will shape them into the people they are meant to become. 

So many transitions proliferate upon our return. Our new Primary Division friends are in the process of meeting their teachers and visiting their classrooms. Parents new to Grades 6-8 learned about the various facets of middle school, from research sources to Advisory. Middle school students will spend this week team building, both here on campus and away at WOLF Camp. 

All our students embrace the opportunity to learn routines and develop habits. They are thrilled to be back, creating restaurants with kindergarten friends; playing foursquare and soccer; sharing summer adventures; building community in advisories; and just hanging out on the big field together. They feel their teachers’ delight upon welcoming them back, and they beam with their own pleasure, having been seen, appreciated, and valued in our inclusive community. 

James Wright’s beautiful poem, “A Blessing,” ends with the startling image of “break[ing] into blossom.” This is how I see the students upon their return to school, bursting into their new selves, as they passed under the green and gold balloon arch into the new year.

Warmly,
Laura

Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School

Please visit our Facebook page to see more photos from the first day of school!


Turning Point School - Posted Friday, Aug 18, 2017 9:54:43 AM

Rube Goldberg machines provide complicated solutions to simple problems. They are useful in education because their design and analysis requires critical thinking and innovation. This week, T4T made their semi-annual trip to Turning Point Summer Camp to use discarded materials to create something new. Students in Primary through Grade 5 designed, built, and redesigned their way to some magical creations. Here students made recycling a plastic bottle a lot more complicated, and a lot more fun, then it had to be.


Ms. Tessa Short, Grade 1 Head Teacher - Posted Tuesday, Aug 8, 2017 3:36:00 PM

The post below was written by Grade 1 Head Teacher, Ms. Tessa Short. We are looking forward to working with Tessa to incorporate her new skills and ideas into our programs this school year.

In July, I was lucky enough to be one of seven teachers selected nationwide to be a part of a Design Camp with the Buck Institute of Education (BIE) to create a project based learning unit (PBL) for the next Students Rebuild Challenge. I attended a two-day Design Camp, along with the other elected teachers, BIE staff and their national faculty. Our task was to generate ideas for the PBL unit based around the Challenge theme of peace, creating curriculum that is appropriate for students of all ages.

During the camp, we delved into the different elements of BIE’s Gold Standard PBL, and then began to focus on the goals of the Students Rebuild Challenge. We discussed elements of conflict and peace, and the ways in which we could introduce and research these concepts in age-appropriate ways.

This year, the Students Rebuild Challenge has a focus on three global conflicts, in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and the Southern Caucasus. Students, particularly those in upper elementary and middle school, will be able to look at these conflicts and assess why peace is important and how they can play a part in being peace makers. For the first time, Students Rebuild are partnering with a number of organizations to support this year’s Challenge, including Search for Common Ground, Care, and Global Nomads Group. 

Our PBL unit is called Proactive Partners for Peace, aiming to answer the essential question: How can we as student leaders advocate for peace? At the end of the two days, we had laid down the framework for two curricula, one for elementary and one for high school students. We are still working together to build this unit, ready to be implemented at the beginning of the school year.

The Students Rebuild Challenge allows for different grades to focus on age-appropriate objectives. For example, Lower Elementary students can become peace builders by being examples of good citizens and members of their community. Upper Elementary students are able to focus more on conflict and peace throughout history, and the key figures that have emerged from peace-building efforts. As for our Middle School students, they will be able to dive deeper into the reasons for conflict and the peace-building efforts of the past and present.

Overall, this Students Rebuild Challenge in collaboration with BIE aligns perfectly with our Turning Point values of respect, responsibility, and global awareness. I am looking forward to implementing the PBL unit this year and to facilitating additional high-quality learning experiences for our global citizens at Turning Point. 

Ms. Tessa Short
Grade 1 Head Teacher | Grades K-2 Community Service Coordinator

 

Turning Point School - Posted Tuesday, Jul 25, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Did you know that Spring Trips for grades 4-8 are included in Turning Point's tuition? Our seventh grade service learning trip to the Dominican Republic is a middle school favorite! Learn more in this student produced video.


Turning Point provides students with real-world experiences as a foundation for a lifetime of “learning through doing.” Each trip is designed to provide opportunities for students to expand their knowledge, deepen their friendships, interact with a broader community, and develop their independence. By experiencing unique places and cultures domestically and abroad, students will become increasingly culturally competent and adaptable; they will be well-prepared for an ever-changing globally connected world. All the while, life-long memories will be made.

Turning Point School - Posted Tuesday, Jul 18, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Get a peek into a day in the life of a fifth grade student at Turning Point School! 


Turning Point’s Elementary Division offers students the highest standard of education in an engaging and fulfilling environment. The academic, emotional, social, and physical needs of students are all addressed in a balanced and creative curriculum taught by an experienced and dedicated faculty.

Want to learn more about our premiere elementary school program? Request more information.

Turning Point School - Posted Monday, Jul 17, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Our preschool students love their Spanish instruction! Beginning in the youngest grade levels, Turning Point students learn to become global citizens - mindful of the opinions and talents of others, with a thoughtful sense of curiosity that inspires them to look beyond themselves.


Peter Boylan, Middle School Dean of Students - Posted Friday, Jul 14, 2017 1:58:48 PM

The reflection below was written by Middle School Dean of Students, Mr. Peter Boylan. We are so grateful for the contributions of all of our student travelers and chaperones as they engaged in such meaningful work and discovery!

On June 16, 2017, a group of Turning Point Middle School students returned from a nine-day service excursion to Peru. Weary, sore, a bit dirty, and filled with a new perspective and appreciation for the world abroad, they fell into the waiting arms of their parents and loved ones. At the beginning of our journey we were a little less worldly, a touch more assumptive, and far less accomplished.

Nine days earlier, we took the nine hour flight to Lima, the nation’s capital, where we arrived at 1:00 am. We had a few short hours of sleep before we boarded the 8:00 am flight to Cuzco. Called the gateway to the Sacred Valley, Cuzco is the last major city we reached before heading up the valley by two-hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo. There, we finally rested for the night in a hotel situated next to a tributary to the Urubamba River. The sounds of falling water echoed through the halls of the rustic and well-appointed accommodations. We ate well that night at a local spot, dined on local Peruvian fare, and admired the architecture of the buildings and engineering of the aqueducts that lined almost every street with running water.

The whirlwind of activity continued the next morning with a panoramic train ride up the Sacred Valley, through the indescribable verticality of the Andes Mountains, along the rushing Urubamba, to the quaint, automobile-less town of Aquas Calientes—a town steeped in Incan tradition, cuisine, and the buzzing anticipation of experiencing one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. From there we caught a bus, the only automobiles allowed, to Machu Picchu. The bus ride, an experience in switch backs and every increasing panoramic sensory popping views, dropped us off at the entrance to the temple.

Upon entering, we were treated to some of the most breathtaking vistas and feats of ancient engineering that can be seen on earth. Mortar-less carved granite constructions of mind boggling structure and scope cascaded down the dizzying inclines of the mountains in both daring and logical ways. The students marveled at the beauty and impossibility of the temple as well as its practicality, intentionality, and well thought out urban planning. The Incan fascination with the seasonal solstices, and the incorporation of the natural landscape and directional wizardry that it took to pay tribute to the natural wonders, clearly took shape and inspired and humbled us all. Leaving the temple left a space in each of us for awe, understanding, and appreciation.

We left Aguas Calientes after a reflective lunch and bussed back down to Cuzco, where we were introduced to Jane and Selvy, the founders of Peru’s Challenge—the group we would be working with for the next four days. We dropped our bags off at a very nice lodge, complete with a dining area, foosball, ping pong, and a great room with a fireplace. We then toured a complete and working adobe greenhouse, one very similar to the one we would be constructing. Jane was excellent at creating the motivation to build a greenhouse by letting students know that the family we would be helping was surviving on five dollars a month, had medical bills to be paid, and that the greenhouse would provide year-round income of up to 90 dollars a week, potentially for generations to come. This income would pay the bills, create a healthcare plan, and pay for education for the daughters. In addition, ten percent of the proceeds from the greenhouse would be dedicated to starting the next greenhouse for a family in need. It was all the motivation that our students needed.

In the morning we began what we had come for— service to the international community, bonding, and a sense of contribution and accomplishment. Before us lay only a cement foundation carved into the side of a hill on the outskirts of Cuzco. An interior of the foundation that clearly had to be leveled, and over 5,000 30-pound adobe bricks to be laid. With no hesitation, we began. There was no language barrier, as the instructions were simple: “Mas adobe,” or “barro, barro” (mud) were the only things need be said. The students worked more than impressively, they worked hard. Assembly lines were formed to move bricks, pick axes began to sound, and the appertaining adolescent gossip and chatter ceased.


For the next three days, eight hours each day, we worked. The elevation was 11,000 feet, it was hot, and it was uphill. This was not easy, it was not scaffolded, and it was real work that had a timeline. We communicated, combined, grunted, and dirtied ourselves to exhaustion each day. Students alternated between knee deep mud and dusty bricks in their efforts to complete a task to benefit others. It was, in fact, beautiful. Students asked, “What can I do now?” and “When is my turn with the bricks?” They would often be heard saying, “We can do this!” or “No way we don’t finish!” It was an unintentional testimony to the reveal of deep character and embedded work ethic in our students. It was marvelous, motivating, and, at the end of three days of grueling high altitude work, beautifully rewarding.

Each night ended with a meal of on-site vegetables and meats prepared with great care and presented in Peruvian farm style cuisine. It was delicious, and we were ravenous. We would then retire to the great room for a fire, and to reflect both in writing and in story our experiences of the day.

The Greenhouse was complete. It included thirty Eucalyptus poles that we cut and carried from the surrounding forest. There was a presentation; the students were covered in confetti and ribbons from the family and the multitude of locals that had come to help us finish the greenhouse. Clear in the voice of the father of the house was his gratitude and the emotion that he felt as his family stood on the precipice of financial stability, societal contribution, and good health. We hugged, cheered, commemorated a large and particularly stubborn rock, and took lots of pictures. We even built the celebratory Huatia ovens, used to cook potatoes, to serve our lunch a little later. As the students marveled at their accomplishments there was a tangible mood of something deeper happening.

The students later expressed in a variety of ways their understanding of sustainable service, of hard work, and the clear appreciation for what they can do. A platform was established from which the students can never go back. That platform is one of character, extending limits, and the satisfaction of a job well done. They accomplished something that cannot be taken away, something they themselves can count on, and something they did, solely for the benefit of others.

So, when we retuned, sore, work weary, and with Peruvian mud still clinging to our shoes, there was a deep satisfaction in overhearing students regal their experiences to their parents by saying that it was the trip of a lifetime, it was so hard, it was so much fun, and that they would definitely go back. 

Satisfaction and the broadening of understandings and horizons never felt so good... or required more Advil.  

Peter Boylan
Middle School Dean of Students

Turning Point School - Posted Wednesday, Jun 28, 2017 11:41:24 AM

Rising Level 8 student Fauve B. is participating in the Young Center California Youth Think Tank at USC this summer, and has earned a leadership award for her contributions to the program. She also served as the captain of a debate team, successfully defending the use of the term "multiculturalism" versus "assimilation" in a peer debate.

The California Youth Think Tank is an award-winning youth leadership training program that identifies and brings together bright and motivated youth from diverse backgrounds and communities, trains and inspires them to become future leaders, and empowers them with knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and beyond.

Fantastic job, Fauve, for being selected for this prestigious program, and for being recognized as a leader among your peers!

TURNING POINT SCHOOL
8780 National Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

 

Turning Point School is an independent, coeducational school providing a premiere education to students in the greater Los Angeles area. For over 45 years, we have educated confident, curious, and globally-aware preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school students.

Located in the heart of Culver City, we enroll students from the west side of Los Angeles including Beverly Hills, Venice, Pacific Palisades, Marina del Rey, Hancock Park, Cheviot Hills, and Playa del Rey.

       

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