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September 23, 2015

Helping Kids Make Healthy Choices

Last year, Oak Hill had the honor of hosting the accomplished author and speaker, Catherine Steiner–Adair.  One of her missions was to inform Sarah Mathiesen, LMFT, OHS Guidance Counselorthe faculty and staff, as well as parents, of the importance of social and emotional learning (or “SEL” for short).  As a faculty member and parent, I listened closely to what she shared regarding the impact of technology on our modern culture and on our children.  Given the potential negative impact technology can have on our children and families, what can we then do to cultivate health in our children?  How can we, as parents and educators encourage our children to make healthy choices, no matter what the child’s age?  Here are three ideas on where to start:

  1. Try to find the balance.  As a parent, we want to instill creativity, freedom, openness and flexibility.  We certainly don’t want to come across as “helicopter parents.”  However, it can be challenging to find the balance as a parent between enough direction and freedom.   It is essential that we continue to strive for this balance, keeping in mind the child’s developmental stage as well as other important factors including stressors in life and family dynamics such as co-parenting.

  2. Help your child consider the options, without answering or choosing for them.  When your child is weighing a decision, consider helping your child think through the different options and possible outcomes.  This “thinking out loud” process... » read more

July 13, 2015

Beat the Heat with Summer Reading

Are your children relaxing with some good books this summer? Summer reading provides a great opportunity for young readers to choose a variety of books that appeal to individual preferences, continue developing reading habits and improving reading skills.  In fact, research indicates that the more students read, the more their reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension improve. The strongest predictor of a child’s reading achievement is the amount of reading in which he or she engages. On the other hand, students who do not read over the summer lose on average between one to three months of instruction, and that effect is cumulative over school years. 

With the dog days of summer now upon us, here are a few successful strategies to encourage children to continue reading the remainder of summer:  Provide access to plenty of books, and let your child choose books of interest.  Set an example by reading your own book for pleasure, or share a book with your child by reading aloud.  Always pack books wherever you go, and try listening to audiobooks as a family while on trips—making reading a shared experience fosters lasting reading habits and a love of reading!  

» read more
June 03, 2015

Positive Returns on Professional Development

I have only been at Oak Hill 11 months, yet I already realize that I have the BEST job on the planet! Why? Because I work with the BEST faculty on the planet, of course. Caring, passionate and enthusiastic are just a few words to describe them.

Oak Hill School teachers professional development

But perhaps the best two words would be lifelong learners. Wait, you may be thinking, teachers are the ones who are doing the teaching, not the learning, right? Well, maybe at other schools, but at Oak Hill School, we know the best teachers are those who are always eager to keep learning best practices. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s visit some classrooms, so you can see for yourself…

Let’s start by joining morning meeting time in Kindergarten. As students greet each other politely and read the morning message together, you will recognize that you are in a Responsive Classroom. Of course, you could visit any classroom or advisory throughout our school, and you would quickly realize all of our teachers have been trained in the Responsive Classroom philosophy and structure.

Don’t be late for your first class … it is time for the literacy block! Stop into a first- or second-grade classroom during Word Study time, and you will see teachers who received professional development from Vanderbilt University professor Kathy Ganske, author of Word Journeys. Or perhaps you would rather visit a third- through sixth-grade classroom during Reading and Writing Workshop. You will be quickly engaged during a mini-lesson presented by teachers who have been trained by the leading literacy experts in the country at Teachers... » read more

April 30, 2015

The Role of Technology in the Classroom

Educators are often thought of as lifelong learners. That lifetime of learning will certainly see trends in education come and go. The advances in technology that have happened in the classroom over the last 15 years have created new journeys, challenges and ideas for the future of education. That leads us to the question, “What is the role of technology in the classroom?”

Schools must prepare students for future grades and ultimately, living independently as working adults. The necessary skills to accomplish these goals cannot all be taught in secondary and postsecondary institutions. Therefore, we must consider this challenge as a modern day teacher might, with a backwards design. When this happens in the classroom, the teacher determines the end goals for the students, develops tasks that will teach the necessary skills to reach those goals and moves forward with the end goals in mind. In this same manner, we must help students develop 21st-century skills, beginning in elementary school.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization established with the help of the National Education Association, is trying to influence educators to expand from the traditional three Rs approach to a more dynamic approach that includes technology. In addition to the core subjects that have always been taught, this organization advocates for 21st-century readiness by encouraging schools to incorporate the four Cs: communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. These progressive skills are areas that have been reported as lacking in the workplace.

The integration of technology includes the use of websites, apps, television, phones, gaming devices, cameras and more. The position statement published by The Fred Rogers Center and the National Association for the Education of Young... » read more

March 10, 2015

The Importance of Play

As I write this during our recent snow break, I am getting restless. The sights and sounds of parents and children laughing and sledding have awakened memories of snow days with my children. I have taken walks in the snow and ice, but it is not the same. My soul yearns for the days to play in the snow with my family and our friends. After several years, I even miss the wet clothes and boots and the endless cups of hot chocolate that I prepared.

When my husband and I were young parents, my in-laws gave us one piece of advice: play with your children.  Play is the time when children develop socially and emotionally. It is a time to take in the day, relax and chat and interact with other people. Children learn how to share the sled with others and wait for a turn. They learn how to assess a hill and navigate carefully down. Children develop coordination and physical strength through outside play. They learn how to deal with the frustrations of a snowman crumbling, a sled crashing, a snowball to the face and often must rethink a plan and start over again. Children learn how to win and lose at a game graciously.

Family can be a safe place to be yourself, at times your most unflattering self. Family is a group of people who genuinely excite in your successes. It is a place where you learn lessons about love, life, and relationships. It is a place to learn about consequences and receive forgiveness. Family is a place to learn about loyalty and protection.

Now that my children are adults, we still play together. The activities have changed, but the sense of play has not. Now, don’t misunderstand me. We have our share of disagreements and individual wants to negotiate. But, at the end of the day, through good times and bad, we know that we... » read more

February 12, 2015

Reflections from Jamaica Mission Trip

Four colleagues from Oak Hill School traveled to Jamaica to participate in a mission trip in partnership with First Presbyterian Church, January 31 – February 7. Below are thoughts written by OHS Head of School Jennifer Hinote during the mission trip:

Jennifer Hinote, OHS head of school, with students in Jamaica

I am in Jamaica in the middle of the school year. It is not spring break just yet, and I’m not here to get a tan. Frankly, at this point in my life, I am more worried about age spots than I am getting a tan. I am actually on a week-long mission trip. Let me go ahead and state the obvious; I am not a camper. Yet, I find myself on a mission trip to Jamaica. Mission trips such as this are designed to take you away from your creature comforts of home. Jamaica in February sounds heavenly, and yes, the warmer weather calls my name; but,  the creature comforts I mentioned have become familiar and important to me. And did I mention that I snore? It is a bit embarrassing to sleep in bunks with your colleagues, knowing that you are keeping them from a night of good rest. 

Me and three colleagues from Oak Hill School are here to work in two schools. We brought with us computers and soccer balls (or I should say footballs?) to donate to the schools. During our trip, we are conducting a professional development session with the teachers and even carrying out a field day for the students. The school’s partnership is a relatively new one in Jamaica, but we are honored  to join the First Presbyterian Church mission team, which has been traveling here for nearly two decades. The crew representing the church is working on building projects for... » read more

January 12, 2015

The Need for Youth to Disconnect

According to Buzzfeed’s highly scientific analysis of me, the following describes my personality:

  • Of all the Disney princesses, I am most like Mulan.
  • According to my wardrobe and coffee brand of choice, I am NOT a hipster.
  • The Emoji that best describes me is the one of the dancing twins. 
  • I identify most with the characteristics of American cheese.

I am not sure what to think about these results. Part of me thinks, “Yep, most of that is correct, but really, of all the wonderful cheeses out there, American?!” Remember when we used to take those Tiger Beat quizzes as youngsters? And as young adults, we could always rely on the sound data obtained through the quizzes found in Cosmo. Media psychologist Robert Simmermon told Huffington Post that when we engage in these quizzes, we are looking to simplify the world around us. We are looking to be categorized and reaffirm who we are as interesting people. In other words, we are looking for a sense of ourselves. This got me thinking. How do today’s youth assess themselves? How does technology influence their sense of self? And, how is technology exacerbating or alleviating the perils of growing up?

While pondering these questions, I discovered two fantastic sources of information that help bring some answers to light. The first source is an in-depth study provided by Common Sense Media.  Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization that provides education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children. Their published study followed a first generation of teens who went through their entire teen years with Facebook and other social networking... » read more

December 22, 2014

Why An OHS Blog?

Finally! Oak Hill School is jumping into the land of blogging.

Why now, you ask? Each day, countless digital conversations take place all around us. As lifelong learners, our faculty and staff possess a great deal of knowledge to share, and the capacity to learn more is even greater. By blogging, we hope to connect with other innovative thinkers and become active participants in these meaningful exchanges of information, expanding our learning circle and better understanding the issues related to education and parenting that unite us all.

This blog will cover a range of topics intended to inform, educate and maybe even entertain our readers from time to time.  It will be a collection of the creative thoughts, research and opinions of the diverse minds and varying personalities that make up our respected school administrators, faculty and staff, all of whom will make regular blog entries.

Through the OHS blog, we also hope to further support our commitment to the Common Trust, the agreement we share with families that is characterized by open lines of communication, mutual respect and a positive spirit of cooperation, by providing content that is insightful, supportive and reflects our mission of building character and integrity for a lifetime of learning and service. We invite commentary and welcome feedback to foster an atmosphere of community and involvement with our readers. We expect each comment writer to remember that we serve a diverse community with many different views and opinions. While we will not change the core meaning of a comment, we do reserve the right to edit comments as needed to ensure the sentiments of all readers are respected.

We hope you will add the OHS blog to your list of... » read more

More recent posts

July 13, 2015

Beat the Heat with Summer Reading

Are your children relaxing with some good books this summer? Summer reading provides a great opportunity for young readers to choose a variety of books that appeal to individual preferences, continue developing reading habits and improving reading skills.  In fact, research indicates... » read more
Oak Hill School teachers professional development June 03, 2015

Positive Returns on Professional Development

I have only been at Oak Hill 11 months, yet I already realize that I have the BEST job on the planet! Why? Because I work with the BEST faculty on the planet, of course. Caring, passionate and enthusiastic are just a few words to describe them. But perhaps the best two words would be lifelong... » read more
April 30, 2015

The Role of Technology in the Classroom

Educators are often thought of as lifelong learners. That lifetime of learning will certainly see trends in education come and go. The advances in technology that have happened in the classroom over the last 15 years have created new journeys, challenges and ideas for the future of education.... » read more
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