Turning Point School Blog
“Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.” ― Teresa Tsalaky, Journalist
Dear Turning Point Community,
As we approach September, I envision the light that Teresa Tsalaky speaks of. I see it peering through a crack in the classroom door, heralding a new beginning. With this light comes the joy of learning and the various ways that takes form at Turning Point School – a plethora of ideas, unleashed curiosity, and meaningful opportunities to acquire wisdom. These rays of light slowly join together to shape the very foundation of the world our students inhabit, inspiring and encouraging them along the way.
This light shines on students eager to learn; creative, optimistic, enterprising, caring, and respectful of themselves and of others. It inspires dedicated, highly knowledgeable teachers who are eager to facilitate and nurture our confident young learners. This light will shine brightly upon all of our students as they fill the hallways with their laughter and excitement once again. It is in that light that I welcome our new and returning families back to campus, for what will undoubtedly be another notable school year.
The enduring partnership between home and school continues to serve as an invaluable bond, one that nourishes the growth of our students and of our school community. As I venture into my final year as your Head of School, it is with a herald of light that I eagerly welcome you and your families back to campus for the 2015-2016 school year. I look forward to sharing this journey with you as we unite in the anticipation of many new bright beginnings.
Head of School
PS – Please enjoy this fun video of some of the activities that have been taking place around campus in preparation for the start of the 2015-16 school year!
In Back-to-School Summer Camp, students are engaged in joyful learning! On Wednesday, the Cougars (Levels 4 and 5) and Penguins (Levels K and 1) worked with the Turning Point and Trash 4 Teaching staff to reimagine possible uses for discarded manufactured goods.
While these inventors were hard at work, some of the Dolphins (Levels 2 and 3) participated in Dirt to Dish with Chef Samir Mohajer of Cabbage Patch to serve Kashkeh Bademjoon (eggplant dip) with toasted pita and grilled zucchini for snack to all of camp.
Other exciting Back-to-School Camp activities include Pine Car Derby Day, Turning Point Olympics, and Mediterranean Mega Fun Day.
Our Glass Classrooms feature has been updated with a new "Community" theme! Visit our Glass Classrooms webpage to view four new videos showing Turning Point students engaged in joyful learning, creating, sharing, and mentoring.
Glass Classrooms was originally created as a professional development tool that allowed Faculty and Staff to observe and celebrate the great work being done throughout the Turning Point campus. It created a venue for sharing best practices, applauding the infusion of core values, increasing programmatic knowledge, and demonstrating creative pedagogical approaches.
As it has evolved, Glass Classrooms now provides an opportunity to broadly showcase the unique qualities that distinguish Turning Point as an exceptional community that instills a joy of lifelong learning in all students. We hope you enjoy this lens into Turning Point life.
To view our entire library of videos, please visit our Glass Classrooms channel on YouTube. Please also visit our Glossary of Terms page to learn more about some of the key terms and phrases you see in the video descriptions. These elements are integral to the Turning Point program.
On June 22, 2015 Turning Point School was officially awarded International Certification through the Council of International Schools (CIS). The pursuit of this certification has been an exciting priority and goal for the entire school community over the past two years, and Turning Point is proud to be only the third school school in the United States to earn this honor.
The achievement of International Certification is a school-wide accomplishment that has fostered collaboration and whole-school discussion of values related to global citizenship. As a CIS Member school, the further awarding of CIS International Certification validates and recognizes Turning Point's commitment toward developing students as global citizens. It has been a catalyst for the entire school, helping the community reflect, take action, and move forward, with a focus on preparing students to be stewards of the world.
CIS's International Certification was first introduced in 2013 as a pilot program. Since its inception, nine schools in five countries - including Turning Point - have participated in the pilot to expand their work and learn from each other. Pilot schools worked in partnership with CIS and provided valuable feedback about the service. This feedback resulted in the design of the process that is now available to all CIS Member Schools.
This June, Mr. Philip Isles (SmartLab Facilitator and Levels K-3 Technology Integration Specialist) traveled to Denver, Colorado for the Advanced Facilitator Development Conference, where he explored ways to make Turning Point's SmartLab an even more incredible place for students to extend their knowledge of STEAM.
In addition to many subject-specific seminars, he embarked on a number of sample projects, learning about various microchips controlled by Arduino Technologies that will help our students understand electrical engineering concepts. He also dove into special effects work with Adobe After Effects. Check out his superhuman skills below!
Members of the Class of 2015 gathered in the Theatre on Monday, June 8, to celebrate the culmination of their journey at Turning Point School. Prior to receiving their diplomas, graduates were honored for their specific contributions to the Turning Point community, and then each student presented a reflection that described their personal journey through Middle School.
Family, friends, Faculty, and Administrators were on hand to share in the excitement and accomplishments of our Level 8 graduates as they made their official transition to high school students. Of the 29 graduates, nine were “Lifers” who have been at Turning Point since their preschool years.
Very special gratitude is extended to all the parents, grandparents, and friends of the school who made gifts in support of the 2015 Legacy Circle, as well the Class of 2015 Legacy Circle Co-Chairs for their inspiring Campaign leadership. This year’s class gift of over $78,000 is dedicated to enhancing MakerSpace resources as well as professional Development related to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). A portion will also be matched toward the Turning Point School Endowment for Tuition Assistance.
Congratulations, Class of 2015!
To commemorate their passage from Elementary School to Middle School, Level 5 students participated in an annual Candle Lighting Ceremony. During this year's event, Teachers and Administrators shared memories of the year and imparted words of encouragement, and each student narrated their own poems then joined as a group to celebrate with song. After each student's candle was lit, they were escorted in a Recessional by their Level 8 Mentors.
Families, Teachers, and Administrators loved watching these students standing proud and poised, filled with anticipation and enthusiasm for all that Middle School will bring. Congratulations, Level 5!
It seems like just yesterday when I welcomed everyone to the start of an exciting new school year. Yet here I am looking out on an empty campus that still feels alive with the energy of Level 8 Graduation, Level 5 Candle Lighting, and the happy rush of the last day of school. Today as I walked the hallways and bid our families a wonderful summer, I was reminded of how much growth has taken place over the course of the past nine months – in our students, our programs, and our culture.
We have shared many successes this year, from record-breaking fundraising at our annual Hoop-A-Thon and Spring Benefit, to the growth of our video and social media initiatives, to the addition of successful Music Conservatory, and much more. I am thrilled to report that one of our most important goals for the 2014-15 school year, receiving our International Certification from the Council of Independent Schools, is nearly complete. Earning this honor will provide us with the framework to further position global citizenship as an integral part of our curriculum and our identity, encouraging students to see themselves as members of an international community.
These accomplishments are a result of the dedication and inspiration of an incredibly talented group of Faculty, Staff, and Administrators with whom I am lucky to serve. We also could not have met and surpassed these goals without the partnership we enjoy with our wonderful parents, supporters, and friends. Thank you all for being part of our community.
I wish all of our families a wonderful Summer Break, and I look forward to seeing many of you at one of our exciting summer camps in the weeks ahead! I look forward to seeing all both new and returning faces in the fall for what will surely be another exciting and rewarding year along our Turning Point path.
Head of School
Pictured Above:Deborah Richman with the Class of 2015
A Level 2 parent, Mr. Michael Addabbo, graciously donated his time to give students a taste of advanced technology that helps pilots learn to fly! The Occulus Rift is a type of 3-dimensional virtual reality that allows the user to feel as if they are in the cockpit. Students enjoyed taking on the role of pilot, being in control of a flight, and enjoying the view from up high! Many thanks to Mr. Addabbo for providing our students with such a wonderful opportunity for hands-on learning.
All year in Ms. Cockerham's class, a war has been waged over which animal is better: wolves or cows. Today students learned how to participate in a real debate in an effort to prove that their animal is superior.
Students learned rules of debate, such as how to craft logical arguments and listen respectfully to both sides. They then received a graphic organizer to help them structure their arguments and used the computer lab to conduct research.
During the lively debate, students received positive points for delivering valid arguments supported by evidence and negative points for any unsportsmanlike behavior. Both sides presented wonderful arguments for their animal and were respectful of their peers.
Cows are better because they provide healthy milk and also dairy products help the economy. Wolves are better because they have allowed trees to repopulate by keeping the elk and deer population at bay and they have brought tourism money to Yellowstone National Park. Which side are you on?
As we continue our pursuit of International Certification through the Council of International Schools, Turning Point was thrilled to welcome CIS representatives John Heard and Ann Straub back to our campus last week. John and Ann spent two days observing the various ways that global citizenship is integrated into the interactive learning that takes place both inside and outside of our classrooms.
The CIS community includes more than 660 schools and 490 colleges and universities representing 104 countries. Along with eight other schools around the world, Turning Point is part of a pilot program to grant International Certification to schools that consistently place value on global education and developing intercultural understanding. We are honored to have been invited to pursue this program with schools from Australia, Argentina, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the United States, and China.
We anticipate that Turning Point School will receive CIS International Certification in the months to come, and we look forward to celebrating this accomplishment with you!
Pictured from left: John Heard (CIS), Gaby Akana (Assistant Head of School and Middle School Division Head), Deborah Richman (Head of School), and Ann Straub (CIS).
As the end of the school year approaches, much appreciation is extended to the students and parents who helped us work towards waste-free lunches this year.
Across all grade levels, students have been learning about sustainability of resources and how to be "green" in their everyday lives. By packing lunches in reusable containers, bringing cloth napkins from home, and composting leftovers, students have greatly reduced the school's waste footprint. We hope these are practices that will be easy and fun for students to continue over the summer months as well!
Students in Level 5 studied the work of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, whose work greatly influenced the art of design and structure in Barcelona. Students were challenged to reinterpret Gaudi's designs by creating three-dimensional structures of their own, and the results were outstanding!
Why is composting important? Just ask Turning Point students!
As part of the Dirt-to-Dish and Garden program, all students compost their food waste except for meat and cheese. The compost is then used in the school garden as healthy fertilizer, with the goal of practicing dry farming - where soil moisture is preserved and excess watering becomes unnecessary.
Giving students the opportunity to observe and participate in initiatives such as gardening and composting not only reduces waste and water usage, but helps them recognize and honor the importance of environmental sustainability, both at school and in the wider community.
Students in Level K have been studying the five food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy. They discussed which types of food fall into each group, and used the SmartBoard to practice sorting foods into their proper groups. They also created "My Plate" projects where each student colored and labeled a paper plate into the five categories, and then glued food clippings from grocery store newspaper ads into the correct food groups.
Students continued the food group discussion in Core Literature, where they read Little Pea by Amy Rosenthal. In the story, the little pea LOVES to eat vegetables, and is told if he doesn't eat all his sweets for dinner, he won’t get to eat his veggies for dessert. As a class, they discussed the importance of eating nutritious food and shared different types of healthy foods. For their final project, they created mini-posters of Little Pea, Mama Pea, and Papa Pea in a pea pod, and finished the prompt “healthy eating is important because...”
Great job, Level K!