teacher and 2 students in woodshop using hand drill

Katie Jackson: Design and Woodworking Teacher

May 1, 2023

Katie Jackson is in her second year of teaching at Renbrook. We interviewed her to learn more about her passion for learning and teaching. 

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Science teacher explaining tree growth to student

Scientific Thinking in the Seventh Grade

April 24, 2023

“SCIENCE: Because figuring things out is better than making stuff up.” This quotation from Neil Degrasse Tyson, is emblazoned on one of Howard Wright’s favorite T-shirts, and it sums up the core of scientific thinking. Evidence, tested and tried, is the basis of knowledge, not assumptions, hunches, or opinions. Skepticism, readiness to reconsider, and openness to new evidence are essential to scientific thinking, and our Upper School students live it every day.

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STEM teacher with student at computer

Inquiry Based Learning

April 17, 2023

Olivia Goodrich, Upper School STEAM teacher, is all about inquiry-based learning. The process goes like this: start with a question; observe; gather data; generate more questions to guide further observation; continually revisit the same phenomenon to dig deeper; test your previous conclusions.

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GIFTS AT WORK: Gengras Family Field

April 17, 2023

Athletic Director Peter Reynolds beamed as his familiar, raspy voice rang out at the dedication of the Gengras Family Field. What a difference our beautiful new turf field will make to our students! A reliable playing surface for our teams to practice and compete on, regardless of the weather. A dry outdoor classroom for physical education classes. “Our athletes will have a new, stronger sense of pride as they wear the blue and walk onto this field,” he boasted.

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upper school student on a ski jump element

Renbrook Students Shined on the Slopes this Year

April 10, 2023

Several Renbrook students demonstrated exceptional skills and success in their ski programs this year, and we’re so proud of their commitment, hard work, and accomplishments. It is a pleasure to share the good news about our students and their endeavors! 

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Developing Scientific Thinkers in Lower School: Jessica Wawzyniecki

April 6, 2023

We asked Jessica Wawzyniecki, Lower School STEAM teacher, “How does scientific thinking develop over the course of Grades One through Four?”

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kindergarten student and teacher using tools in STEM class

Scientific Thinking from the Beginning

March 31, 2023

In the Beginning School, children are naturalists. Our 75-acre campus beckons them to explore the outdoors and the creatures, plants, and rocks they find there. They are taught to stop, pause, and look more closely. Our youngest students are not bound by a curriculum; they follow their own discoveries and observations. Their teachers build on the children’s own curiosity to lead them into the process of formal inquiry.

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chess students and teacher with their trophies

Renbrook Chess Team Wins Fifth at State Championships

March 29, 2023
The Renbrook Chess Team has been hard at work this year, refining their skills, and it has clearly paid off.
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Eighth-grader Savanna Singh featured on

March 21, 2023
An eighth-grader at West Hartford’s Renbrook School is holding a jersey drive to benefit children in developing countries and also to help keep textiles out of landfills.
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boy holding a daddy long legs

How Do Scientists Think?

March 21, 2023

For the next several weeks, follow us as we explore the notion of scientific thinking. What do we really mean by scientific thinking, and how does it inform our teaching and learning at Renbrook School?

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boy working with abacus

Building towards Benchmarks in a Play-Based Curriculum: Math

February 21, 2023
Building number sense allows children to think flexibly and fluently about numbers and allows them to generalize numbers across contexts. Developing strong number sense in the younger years is necessary to compute and solve more complex problems in older grades. Helping each child to believe they are a mathematician and develop a love for math begins with children building an understanding of numbers.  
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Executive Functioning – Part 2

February 14, 2023
As a follow-up to last week’s blog, let’s look at how Renbrook Lower School teachers help students further develop executive functioning skills and ideas for parents in the home.
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Renbrook School MATHCOUNTS Team Shines!

February 9, 2023

Twelve Renbrook students in grades six through eight participated in the Hartford Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition on Saturday, February 4, 2023. There were 17 teams and 131 individuals from area public and private schools who competed in the event.

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Executive Functioning

February 7, 2023
I came across a title of a paper from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child that caught my attention. It read, Building the Brain’s Air Traffic Control System: How Early Experiences Shape the Development of Executive Function. Intrigued by the phrase “the brain’s air traffic control system,” I began reading.
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MathCounts Team Photo

Happy Birthday MLK

January 16, 2023
At Renbrook, we believe a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment serves our students’ needs of belonging so they can pursue academic excellence, experience community, and lead with courage and empathy. Throughout the school year, those core beliefs inform our curriculum and programming. Additionally, when significant events such as the MLK Jr. federal holiday occur, we thoughtfully curate learning experiences that are relevant and age-appropriate. This important work is accomplished because of positive and constructive mindsets, belief in the impact of unity, and an understanding of the experiences of others.
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illustration of students sitting on stacks of books

Reading Comprehension

January 10, 2023

As adults, we tend to overlook the complexity of the ability to make meaning from something we read because we have been doing it for a long time and because it happens automatically and instantaneously for so many of us. For children, though, especially during the elementary school years, there is so much involved in processing print.

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Think Outside the Box

December 22, 2022
Recently, several teachers assigned a “Think Outside the Box Thursday” exercise for their students upon arrival to the classroom. When I dropped into the classrooms, hearing what each student created out of two simple lines on a blank piece of paper confirmed that our teachers continue to provide unique ways for our students to develop further problem-solving and creativity skills. Those skills have been identified as having a significant impact on college achievement and future work success.
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We are all beautifully different illustration of thumb prints

How Are We Beautifully Different?  

December 12, 2022
What a treat it is to share the culmination of our first units in Preschool through Kindergarten with our readers. Each grade’s unit strove to answer the essential question, “How are we beautifully different?” This question stems from Renbrook’s Diversity and Belonging Vision Statement “Beautifully different, stronger together, united in purpose for the public good.” At the Beginning School, we are laying the foundation for our students to feel “stronger together and to be united in purpose for the public good” by first supporting them to develop a strong sense of self and embrace others.  
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Dr. Kelly Bird presents at Independent School Management Conference

December 2, 2022
Five Ways to Make Your School Makerspace a Thriving Space of Belonging
Dr. Kelly Bird, Director of Renbrook Beginning School, joined Margaret Powers, founder of Creative Thinking Partners LLC, and ISM Consultant Joshua Nelson, as presenters in a webinar on makerspaces for Independent School Management this week.
Makerspaces are dedicated areas where students use hands-on techniques and tools to design, experiment, build, and invent. These spaces foster learning through inquiry and help develop students’ real-life, critical-thinking skills. But teachers often find it challenging to use their school’s makerspaces effectively and equitably. Dr. Bird and her colleagues discussed the value of makerspaces and how to ensure these specialized areas support student belonging and fruitful learning.
Key Points included:
  • Scheduling tips to promote collaboration and ways to create connections across subjects for interdisciplinary projects.
  • The benefits of designating a makerspace coordinator in each school division.
  • The importance of creating a scope and sequence for specific skills students can choose from.
  • The impact of the environment’s physical design on student interest and sense of belonging.
  • Concrete steps to build a shared commitment to learning through “making.”
Dr. Bird received her Doctorate in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Her dissertation, MAKING Space: Teacher Perceptions of How
Participation and Choice are Mediated in Maker Education in Independent Schools has informed her important work here at Renbrook School and beyond.
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What is the Point of a Makerspace sign

Making: An Iterative Process Presents Opportunities for Learning 

November 22, 2022
“What was a challenge you had today, and how did you solve it?”  
This is how we end our STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) classes in kindergarten. The students circle up, and a few friends volunteer to share what problem they encountered and how they went about solving it. By helping students to see the opportunities for learning that come with mistakes or failures, we are affirming one of our guidelines for STEAM class, “Enjoy the process!” 
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