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Renbrook School Woodworking teacher and students on a magazine cover

Renbrook School Featured in West Hartford Lifestyle Magazine

November 7, 2022

Renbrook School was recently featured in the November edition of West Hartford Lifestyle Magazine and Glastonbury Lifestyle Magazine. Head of School Matt Sigrist talks about our mission and the Renbrook difference. Our own Katie Jackson graces the cover with her woodworking students. Enjoy the full article here.

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Academics

Did the Pandemic Interrupt Your Child’s Social, Speech, and Motor Development? 

November 7, 2022

We recently had the pleasure of hearing from a panel of therapists with whom we work closely to support the language and social and emotional development of our students here at Renbrook. We partner with these professionals to develop a child’s toolbox of strategies for success and to educate our teachers to incorporate these strategies into the classroom. We know that children thrive when we function as a team.

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Joy in Teaching Logo

Why I Teach by Nancy Reynolds

October 31, 2022
I always felt lucky, that at an early age I knew what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I was extremely shy in elementary school, I remember clinging to my mother’s legs and running after her back then, as if it was the end of the world. But low and behold, I felt the caring of teachers around me, who were kind and attentive, and made me see school as a happy place – a place that felt safe and comfortable, almost like home.
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Maggie Doyne speaking at Renbrook School

Maggie Doyne, Author and Philanthropist Visits Renbrook School

October 26, 2022
Last week, Renbrook welcomed humanitarian and author, Maggie Doyne. Maggie is the founder and CEO of the BlinkNow Foundation that funds a children’s home, health clinic, women’s center, and K-12 school in Surkhet, Nepal. Maggie met with our Lower and Upper School students for a spirited and inspiring conversation about her life’s work. She also joined us for an evening parent event to discuss her new book, Between the Mountain and the Sky: A Mother’s Story of Love, Loss, Healing, and Hope.
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Alarm Clock on Bed

Sleep

October 24, 2022
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine note, “Elementary school-age children who get less than nine hours of sleep per night have significant differences in certain brain regions responsible for memory, intelligence, and well-being compared to those who get the recommended nine to 12 hours of sleep per night.” There were over 8,300 children who participated in their study. The researchers used MRIs, medical records, and surveys over a two-year period. They were particularly concerned to see that children who slept, on average, less than nine hours a night not only had less gray matter than their peers who slept nine or more hours but that the volume of gray matter remained low at the two years mark. Essentially, gray matter should increase during the elementary years until it peaks around 13 years of age.
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Academics

Friend Wanted

October 17, 2022
At Lower School Assembly, third-grade students recently shared excerpts from their “Friend Wanted” ads, a beginning of the school year writing activity. I enjoyed reading through all the ads and learning more about what each student desires in a friend. Some of my favorite excerpts are:
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News

Columbus Day

October 10, 2022

As you know, school is closed on Monday due to Columbus Day, a federal holiday in the United States which celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. As a child in America, I sat in my elementary classrooms around Columbus Day and learned about the Niῆa, Pinta, and Santa María. In music class, I learned songs about those ships, and my teacher read picture books that taught me about an adventurous and brave explorer who “discovered” America.

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Social-Emotional

Building your Child’s Social-Emotional Muscles

October 7, 2022
As parents, we often want to protect our child from feelings like frustration and sadness. However, we need them to experience a large range of emotions, because it isn’t until they have experienced them that they learn how to regulate them. 
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x-rays of children's hands

Play is the Work of Children

October 3, 2022
As parents, we often worry. Will my child ever stop crying at drop-off? Will they learn their letters? Will they write their name? Will they learn to read? The answer is yes. They will do all of these things. If we can remember this, it will allow us to take a deep breath, model calmness for our children, and allow them to enjoy where they are developmentally. 
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News

Eighth Grader Excels at Track & Field

June 8, 2022
We are excited to celebrate eighth grader Chidi Moemeka for his amazing accomplishments in track recently, In the Spring of 2022, Chidi, along with his team at Capital City Track Club, competed in the USA Track & Field (USATF) Indoor Nationals.  Individually, Chidi won the National Championship in the 55 meter hurdles. Additionally, his relay team earned All American honors  by placing fourth in the 4X200m.
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Academics and belonging

The Pandemic Within the Pandemic: COVID-19 and Anti-Asian Racism

May 26, 2022
During the month of May, we have celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in a variety of ways at Renbrook School. Students have read numerous books, presented at assemblies about AAPI influencers, shared personal stories, and completed projects.
 
Seventh grader Alana McDonough focused a recent “Key Convictions” project on hate and hate crimes directed at Asian Americans. Alana was inspired by the uptick in events due to COVID and its origins in China. Alana has written a thoughtful, important, and passionate paper, and her own Asian American heritage surely fueled that passion.

Enjoy Alana’s paper here.

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Academics

Building Number Sense

May 4, 2022
Math happens everywhere in the Early Learning Center! Students are counting, estimating, and computing in the context of authentic daily tasks and experiences. Confident mathematicians need to develop a strong number sense in order to be successful long-term. While memorization of math facts is also important at this pivotal time, students relying solely on rote memorization can hit a wall, and number sense and more creative applications play an outsized role in student success.   
  
 
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Talking to Young Children About Death

March 30, 2022
“We have to move the worm out of the road even though it’s dead. If a car smushes it, it can’t become food for a bird!” – Junior Kindergarten student  
 
The time our ELC students spend outdoors introduces them to all kinds of nature’s beautiful creatures. It also brings them face to face with the fact that all living things are born, and, also, must die. This reflection by one of Ed Donahue’s students last year reminds us how students’ intimacy with the outdoors serves to normalize this stage of life. Of course, when facing the death of an individual the conversation feels more complicated. One must balance the reality of death and the emotions that accompany it.  
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Alumni presenting

Shelley Grant ’21 gives moving chapel talk

March 11, 2022

Last month, Shelley Grant ’21, a Renbrook alumna and current student at Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts, delivered a chapel talk.

A chapel talk is a brief speech written by a student and delivered to their fellow students and faculty. Chapel talks focus on themes that are personally meaningful to the speaker; they are reflective and range from the moving to humorous to motivational.

In her moving chapel talk, Shelley tells her story as a Ghanaian American. She shares her love for poetry as both a bridge and an outlet and recites three of her original poems. You can watch Shelley’s talk here.

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illustration of books, brain, pens, pencils

Rigor

March 2, 2022

Recently I read an article from U.S. News & World Report on how students can better manage an academically rigorous course load while maintaining a strong GPA. As those connected with education, kindergarten through higher ed, rigor is a term used often. Independent schools frequently use it in their mission statements and marketing materials. Programs, teachers, and/or curricula regularly are described as either rigorous or lacking thereof. There are countless studies and research articles touting the relevance and significance of rigor in 21st Century teaching and learning.  

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Renbrook Student is Making His Mark in Caring for the Environment

February 22, 2022
CJ Glooch is an eighth grader at Renbrook School and a budding environmentalist. CJ is part of the Trustee Scholar program at Renbrook and chose to make a difference in his community and in the world by doing something good for the planet. The Trustee Scholar Program is student-initiated service learning designed to fulfill an identified need within the school or the community while fostering personal growth and leadership for the student. Students in the Trustee Scholar Program must choose a project, make a proposal to the Board of Trustees, volunteer a minimum of 15 hours with the organization, and deliver a final presentation about what they learned from the project to their peers and the Board of Trustees.
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News

Black History: Beyond the Month of February

February 22, 2022

Black History Month was created to ensure due attention was given to the numerous and important contributions of people of African descent. The goal was not for discussions, research, and projects to start and end in February; Black history is American history and should be woven into conversations with children throughout the year.

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Self-Advocacy Shows Up in Several Ways for Young Children

January 6, 2022
Having complicated conversations with children can feel challenging because we aren’t sure what they are ready for and because our own feelings often permeate the conversation.  As educators we respond to the questions that children bring us and we do our best to answer only what they have asked. As children are ready for more, they will ask more. We, too, have moments of uncertainty about how to answer their questions as we balance the needs of everyone in the room. It is perfectly ok to say, “That is a great question. I’d like to think about it more and come back to you.” Likewise, if you don’t feel you answered something well, you can always say, “You asked me something yesterday and I’d like to talk about it some more.” Silence is the least healthy alternative because it leaves children to answer their own questions without enough context. 
 
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child in mask working on project

Making Spaces

December 23, 2021

When a child is presented with materials and given support with how to use new tools, there is no limit to what they might create. Last week Junior Kindergarten teachers, Mrs. DeConti and Miss Blenman, offered a new making tray at one of their table centers as morning work. Mrs. DeConti presented a hole puncher and showed the students how to use it. There was no model of what their work should look like, just room and space for open-ended exploration and construction. On hand were mini clipboards and paper for those friends that wanted to sketch out their ideas before executing them!

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Academics

Facilitating Play, Assessing Learning, and Planning for Future Instruction

December 16, 2021

Renbrook’s commitment to play-based learning is based on the research that learning happens best when students are engaged in what they are doing; choice and the opportunity to direct their learning fuels this engagement.

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