As part of our accreditation with the California Association of Independent Schools, CDS was asked to select ten photos that represent the spirit of our community, and to explain why we chose each picture. Parents, students, teachers, and staff voted from a large selection of possible photos and finally narrowed them down to ten.
These photos depict some of the best and most inspiring aspects of our school community, and I would like to share them with you. On this page, you can view the ten images, along with the accompanying text that describes what makes them special. We hope you will enjoy this inside look at CDS!
Two weeks ago, the Children’s Day School team took part in an extraordinary professional development session. After nearly a year of planning, a generous grant from the state of California allowed all of our faculty, staff, and administrators to attend a two-day workshop at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The event, “Tools for Tolerance for Educators,” focused on the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards (a vital component of our curriculum and philosophy), and it provided opportunities for interactions, presentations, and discussions that left a deep impact on us all.
The Museum of Tolerance contains exhibits that condemn bigotry around the world. Its primary focus is the Holocaust, but it also addresses other human rights violations both in the past and the present. We had the opportunity to view a series of interactive exhibits, with one of the most memorable being a tour through 1930s Germany that gave context to the rise of the Nazis and the violence of the Holocaust. It included recorded dialogue, replicas of actual locations, and real-life stories of people caught in the struggle, lending a realistic feeling to the experience. In an even more affecting experience, we attended a speech by a Holocaust survivor, now in his nineties, who discussed his internment in the concentration camps at the age of just 19 and his perseverance through more than a year of horrific cruelty.
Together with CDS Director of Inclusion Anthony Witte, I recently sent this message out to our faculty, staff, and families. We would like to share it with the wider community as well, both in English and in a Spanish translation:
We are saddened by the recent announcement of the Trump Administration’s executive order to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. As an inclusive community, we want to reiterate our firm support of all our families, including “Dreamers.” We recognize that the recent executive order places enormous stress on the children and families affected, which can have both short and long-term effects. Click here for a guide to understanding stress related to immigration status. We hope you will talk about what’s happening with your family. If your children are feeling especially anxious, encourage them to reach out to their teachers or one of our two counselors: Kate Corliss in Lower School (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Wendy Walker in Middle School (email@example.com).
CDS is a values-based community, and we know that the recent events in Charlottesville are deeply disturbing. Along with CDS Director of Inclusion Anthony Witte, I have sent resources to the faculty on how to talk about these issues to our students in developmentally appropriate ways.
We also want to share some resources for you as parents and guardians and remind you that news events and your reactions to them can be deeply upsetting for children. We have attached to this post some links to information about how to talk to children about race, bias, and the constant feed from news and social media. We hope that you will read the following information from Common Sense Media about how to ensure that your kids feel safe.
Ultimately, we hope that this blog post and the included resources can help you sort through news and social media with your children and be better prepared to have difficult conversations in a safe, age-appropriate way.
Not too far away from the newly-opened CDS treehouse (check out the details in our last blog post), the front yard of our 333 Dolores campus has received another new building. The Bower near the preschool bungalows now contains a small hand-constructed hut made of willow branches, where our students can spend some time retreating from the world around them. There’s an especially interesting story behind the hut, and we’d like to share a little more about how it came into being.
The idea for the willow hut originated at another of San Francisco’s top schools. The Bay School, a high school whose students include several CDS alums, requires each of its graduating students to work on an individual community service project of their own design. Drawing on her interests in nature and art, as well as the sense of self-improvement she had derived from meditation, Bay senior Sophia Thompson decided to build a structure that the members of a school community could use as a private space for meditation. “I wanted to create a safe place for students,” she says, “as well as to create a place of nature in the city.”
If you’ve recently been near the preschool bungalows on our 333 Dolores campus, you’ve almost certainly noticed an amazing addition to our yard. The formerly bare tree in the Bower is now the site of an elaborately designed multi-level treehouse!
The story behind CDS’ newest building started several months ago, when our Preschool Starfish were in the middle of a lesson about buildings and construction. Looking at a potted plant inside the classroom, one student said that they should build a treehouse inside it. The rest of his classmates started talking about treehouses, imagining what designs they’d use if they had the chance to build one. As the kids got more and more caught up in their ideas, the Starfish teachers began to wonder: what if they could build a real, full-sized treehouse on the CDS campus?
We unanimously agreed that this was a great idea, especially since we have an expert in the CDS family: Chris, the husband of our ECP director Antonette, is an architect who specializes in school and playground designs. We assembled an all- star team of creators, with the Starfish students to provide ideas, Chris to turn them into blueprints, and our wonderful Facilities team of John, Cristobal, and Milton to handle the construction.
Last month, our eighth graders returned from one of the most important events of their CDS career: a trip to Washington DC, where they brought this year’s theme of Activism into practice. They had drawn up petitions for abortion rights and environmental justice, containing the signatures of thousands of Bay Area citizens, and in the nation’s capital they personally delivered these documents to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The students visited many historical locations, ranging from the Lincoln Memorial to the Library of Congress, but they described their meeting with Rep. Pelosi as their proudest moment.
This week, Rep. Pelosi followed up on our visit by sending a letter to the CDS community in praise of our commitment to activism. She writes to our students that “your generation will play an important role in addressing the challenges we face, and your interest in the world around you gives me great hope for the future.” We’re humbled by her kind words, and we know that our students will live up to her expectations.
“An oasis in the middle of a San Francisco block.” That is what I remember thinking the day we visited Children’s Day School for the first time. It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was shining through the leaves of the palm tree in the center of the yard. I was amazed by this oasis that I didn’t even know existed.
That day we were on a tour. I specifically remember visiting the room of some older kids. They were probably 10 or 11. As we entered, a few students ran up to us and started telling us about the group project they were working on. I was struck by just how different this classroom looked from the ones I grew up in – gone were the rows and rows of desks. And how different the students looked – engaged, enthusiastic…I knew right away that this was where I wanted my daughter to go to school.
Fast-forward to the spring. Our daughter Naomi had been accepted and we were attending Country Fair. I remember just how noticeable the spirit of the community was – how friendly and connected. And I will be honest: I wondered whether I would ever find my place in it, awkward and shy as I was. If you had told me then, “Cheryl, in five years you will chair the board,” I would absolutely not have believed you. The truth is, being a part of this community and finding my place in it has transformed me.
Professional Development is essential for practitioners in every field, and here at CDS it is an important way we ensure program coherence, effective teaching, and a culture of inquiry. These high-quality opportunities to reflect, learn, and connect are also a significant reason why our teachers love to teach here!
Last year’s Fund-a-Need at Fiesta impressively bolstered the funds that we use to support our professional development work, and we are enormously grateful to our parent community for this investment. These additional funds have enabled us to send teachers to a variety of practice-enhancing workshops, bring outside experts and guest speakers to the campus, and plan programming for the two full-professional development days we host during each school year.
We would like to provide some materials that may be useful for anyone concerned about immigrant rights. We have a packet of information from the National Immigration Law Center, available to download directly here or from their website. This includes printable cards that can be used during an encounter with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, a reminder of our basic rights under the U.S. Constitution, and suggested strategies for people detained by ICE. In addition, there is an immigration rights workshop at SF Friends School (250 Valencia Street) this Saturday, March 4, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
In addition, we feel that the recent move to repeal transgender rights for students at the national level sets a dangerous tone, even though protections are still in place in certain states such as California. We want to be clear that, in accordance with the values of our mission and the law stated in California Assembly Bill 1266, we stand with transgender members of our CDS family. Although AB1266 was written specifically for public schools, we feel it should apply to students everywhere. We are still broadening our gender education from our professional development session with Gender Spectrum last October, and we will continue having age-appropriate discussions with students about gender identity. This is one of the many important ways in which we celebrate our diverse CDS community.