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.
As I write this blog post, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is set to rule on the legality of the Trump ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. This nation was built by immigration and I thought it would be nice to share the story of one of our teachers who immigrated to the United States.
Ms. Ngoc Tran is one of our most experienced faculty members. She joined the CDS family in 2000 and has been with us ever since, serving as a teacher in the Preschool Leaping Lizards classroom. She came to America as an adult after spending her early years in Vietnam and China, and we’d like to share her story of immigration and life in a new country.
Ms. Ngoc was born in Vietnam, but, like many ethnically Chinese people, she faced systemic discrimination and left the country in the late 1970s. After arriving in China by train, she lived in a refugee camp in a rural area, having to work on a small farm in an environment which she describes as like a jail. Rice farming was the hardest job she'd ever experienced, especially because she had been born and raised in the very different world of a big city. In 1984, she relocated to the United States to join her parents, who had recently immigrated there.
At Children’s Day School, we celebrate diversity, work for justice and fairness, and cultivate respect for all people. We share these values with Dr. Martin Luther King, whose work we honored on January 20 at our annual Martin Luther King assembly. The Second Grade Octopuses shared affirming words from Dr. King, and the Seventh Grade Blue class informed us about organizations that continue the important social justice work to which Dr. King was committed.
Thinking about the new year, and the year that just ended, I was reminded of a talk that Tal Ben-Shahar gave to independent school parents here in San Francisco a couple of years ago. His book Being Happy: You Don’t Have to be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life had just come out, and he was a featured lecturer at our SPEAK series.
Ben-Shahar, who is known for teaching two of the most popular classes at Harvard University (Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership), began by talking about the level of stress faced by students today. 45% of American college students experience depression to the point of not being able to function, and 94% feel overwhelmed by pressure. I worry about our eighth-graders and the stressors involved in the high school placement process in San Francisco, along with the amount of time they spend on social media.
His research shows that, when people leave their email on while trying to complete other tasks, the effect on their mental state is equivalent to losing ten IQ points or being awake for 36 hours straight. People who focus on one thing at a time are much more productive.
“Food has always been a really important part of my life,” says Third Grade Pelicans Teacher Taryn Colonnese, whose lifelong interest in the study of nutrition has led her to take an active role in community gardens and the food justice movement. When she joined CDS last year, she expanded our nutrition unit beyond abstract scientific concepts, applying a social justice lens to the study of food. Her teaching framework is based around five essential questions:
1. What is food? Why is food so important to us?
2. Where does the energy in food come from?
3. How do our bodies get and use nutrients from foods?
4. Why do people eat the food they eat? Are people always able to eat the foods they want to or know they should eat?
a. What is food justice? What is food access?
5. What can a nutritious, balanced meal look like?
Did you know that children between the ages of 2 and 18 must consume less than six teaspoons of added sugars each day to maintain a healthy heart, but that a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains nearly ten teaspoons of sugar? Once it all adds up, the average teen consumes 28 teaspoons of added sugar per day. And did you know that the average American eats close to 90 pounds of added sugar in a year? The CDS Food and Agricultural Sciences program focuses on healthy eating, and this week we welcomed Wolfram Alderson from the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, which educates children about fructose, glucose, and the hidden sugars in our diet.
Our eighth-grade students in the Innovation Lab are working on their own designs for a prosthetic hand for children. After gaining inspiration from a visit to the preschool classrooms (where they observed the most popular activities among three- and four-year-old children), they brainstormed ideas for task-specific prosthetic devices. Over the last few weeks they have brought these ideas into reality. Once they had finalized their concepts, they created digital models in a CAD program called Tinkercad and then printed out their designs using the 3D printer.
Dear CDS Families,
The principles of diversity and inclusion play a central role in CDS’ educational mission. We know that our families support us in our goal of providing a welcoming environment for our students (in our recent parent survey, more than 95% of respondents said that they appreciated our efforts towards cultural diversity and the elimination of gender stereotypes), and we always strive to do better in this area. Therefore, I’d like to share some recent developments in our ongoing discussion of inclusivity at CDS.
In the 3D Modeling after school enrichments, students are encouraged to work on projects of their own design. One student decided that he needed a device that his cell phone could sit on while it was charging instead of it being set on the floor. He designed a charging shelf that would sit on top on his phone charger plug and allow the cell phone to be placed on the shelf.