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An AFTER picture - a student tends to the canteloupe and tomatoes.

Wow!  What a difference a few days make.  Upon return from our long weekend, our organic garden has grown by leaps and bounds.  I took a group of students outside today to help stake up the tomatoes.  I thought I would share a few before and after photos to highlight the growth.

The students were excited to see silk on the corn, flowers on the tomatoes, and our first yellow squash growing.  More importantly, they expressed anticipation of actually eating all of it.

Click to go to our EARLIER POSTS from the garden and see more photos.

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Two students draw upside, using the underside of a table.

HOW DO YOU LIKE TO DRAW?

That simple question turned into a fun activity for students in Ms Katie’s and Ms. Shonda’s Early Preschool class at our school.  Students identified ways they liked to draw and took turns experiencing all the different methods.  They then voted by placing their picture underneath their favorite way to draw.  You can see by the chart (photo below) that they preferred drawing while upside down.

Enjoy the photos below.

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Ms. Tanya's class marches in a musical parade at the "Carnival"

I had the pleasure of observing Ms. Tanya’s music class this week.  While I was in there, she was teaching a group of Early Preschool students music.  They are in the middle of their Carnival unit.  So during the class, they marched in a parade, played a game of ball toss, and “rode” on a merry-go-round.

We are so fortunate to have such a strong strands program for our students.  In addition to music, Ms. Tanya also teaches them art, fine arts, dramatic play, eco-friends (a science curriculum) and healthy fit (health and physical fitness).  Our students attend these strands everyday as part of the school day.

Enjoy the video below.

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One of our parents forwarded me a link to a blog entry titled, “What a 4 Year Old Should Know?” by Alicia Bayer.  (Click on title to read the blog.)

My favorite line is the following: “That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. “

Years ago I started a small campaign in a small community geared toward reading to children.  It was in 1999 and I called it R2K (yes, a knock-off to the Y2K bug hype).  The R2K stood for Read to Kids.  I tried to shared statistics about the cons of television versus the pros of reading to children.  Since you probably have never heard of it, you can infer how successful my initiative was!

I hope you enjoy the blog as much as I and the parent who sent it to me did.

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No, this is not a blog entry about DESSERT FUN, it is about our students’ study of the desert biome.  As part of our summer program, EcoAdventures, students have spent the past two weeks studying about the desert.  Below are some photos of their work.  Enjoy!

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In any organization, company, team, group, etc., the difference between being just good and being GREAT always boils down to people.  In support of this, a CEO of a major company once said when asked to name the top five factors that led to his company’s success, replied with the following (as told in Jim Collins’ book Good to Great):

  1. “One would be people.
  2. Two would be people.
  3. Three would be people.
  4. Four would be people.
  5. And five would be people.”

As you know, our school is growing.  As a result, we are going through the process of looking for the best and the brightest teachers to grow with us.

And it is not an easy task!

Because our standards and expectations are so high and our program is so unique, it takes a very talented and unique teacher for our students and our school.  In the past month, we have received hundreds of resumes to review from all over the country.  We are honored to have so much interest from folks wanting to be a part of our school.  While that is a blessing, it is also a curse.  It does take a lot of our time, both Sarah (our Education Manager) and I, to review the incoming resumes and decide who should go forward in the selection process.

I would estimate that about 20% of the applicants move forward to the next phase which is a screening interview.  While I was doing my doctoral research at the University of Georgia, one of the professors I worked with published a study on hiring the right people.  Unfortunately, he found that even the best predictor of whether an employee would be a good fit for your organization was only correct about 21% of the time.  Starting with 100 applicants and by merging those two numbers, the 20% of applicants that move forward and the best predictor of a good fit being about 21%, that brings us to about 4 applicants out of 100 that are likely to be a good fit.

We cannot and will not settle for mediocre or average.  We must have exceptional talent.  For that reason, we have adopted the approach that Collins outlines in his book: “When in doubt, don’t hire and keep looking.”  As we rapidly grow and the pressure to hire staff to meet the demands of our incoming families increases, this approach can be quite scary!

The corollary to that is that we may need to limit our growth based upon our ability to find enough of the right people.  In a business sense, this corollary is equally scary.  No business would ever want to turn away customers, especially in today’s economy.  Naturally, we want every customer possible.

I am thrilled to report that our efforts and patience are paying off.  We have a lot of talent in our pipeline and are getting ready to bring on board a few more wonderfully talented teachers.  We anticipate our hiring to continue through the fall with our commensurate growth.

The pressure will continue to be on our leadership team to continually attract, hire and retain the right people.   After all, people make all the difference…the right people that is!

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Yes, it can snow in July.  And no, it has nothing to do with global warming or cooling!

But it has everything to do with our EcoAdventures summer program. On Friday, we celebrated the end of our students’ two-week study of the arctic biome.

The students participated in a snowy Rock Penguin rock hop along with sliding down a “rock.”  They also enjoyed a sled dog race with a delicious frozen treat at the end of the race along with snow globe making and other fun activities.

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We are in the middle of our second biome study as part of our summer program, EcoAdventures.  Our students are currently studying about the Arctic biome.  As part of that study this week, our students held a Skype session with their sister class in Plano, TX.  During the skype session, the students introduced themselves and then studied various images on their respective SmartBoards.  The teachers facilitated a discussion between the students.

The photos show a life-size outline of an emperor penguin and also a polar bear cave the students made from recycled materials.  The video below is some raw footage from Ms. Alli’s class in Cary.

This was a fun use of technology to help the students learn more about their arctic adventure.  It was also a nice way for them to make connections with other students somewhere else in the world.

As we are beginning the process of using skype during our instructional day, we are also learning about teaching the children about webcam etiquette.  For instance, several of the children naturally wanted to be right in front of the camera, thus blocking the view for others.  (I don’t know where they get that!)

We will be skyping more with our friends in TX and hope to find other friends as well.

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Our Early Preschool students (age 2) are still studying about water.  Part of that study is about rain and the purpose of rain.  This photo shows an activity the students did to simulate rain and what it does to replenish the earth.

I like several things about this activity.  First, I like that it engages the students in hands-on learning.  I also like that fact that it teaches the importance of rain.  But most of all, I like that fact that this activity is likely to make a mess!  Learning is messy sometimes.  Finally, this activity is fun because it involves water.  Our students have shown a clear love of learning (and playing) when water is involved.

Speaking of rain, I found this site that was wonderful images of rain…http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/09/07/35-brilliant-examples-of-rain-photography/.  I thought you might enjoy it.

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Today students in Ms. Alli’s preschool class made sea foam and bubbles as part of their “Under the Sea” EcoAdventure.  The students stirred up the water to make the foam then used their wet hands to blow bubbles.  Reactions were mixed as some students liked getting their hands “slimy” with the sea foam more than others.

Nonetheless, it was a fun (and wet) activity on a warm Friday afternoon! Enjoy the photos and the video as a way to share the experience with our students.

More summer fun is on the way in next week’s Under the Sea adventures.

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