Learning Report Blog

  • Parent Forum: Drug Trends and How to Talk with Your Children About Substance Use

    Posted by Stephanie Bender on 1/10/2019
    January 15th, 7-8 pm Stanley Library: A prevention specialist from Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) will present a parent workshop to offer support and guidance in helping children enjoy a drug-free adolescence. Some of the topics to be addressed include:
    • Effective ways to communicate with your child about drugs and drug use
    • Up-to-date facts about current drug use and trends
    • What to say about your own experiences with alcohol and/or drug experimentation
    • How to spot early warning signs of use and effective ways to respond.
    This program presents a perfect opportunity for discussing alcohol and other drug-related issues with your children. Parental involvement is crucial to our efforts to reduce the risks teenagers face. We want our students to hear from both school and home that we are concerned about alcohol, nicotine, and other drug use by adolescents, and that we are committed to keeping our children safe.

    On a related note, Wednesday, Jan. 30., Dr. Mark Ebadi will be coming to speak with our 8th grade students about the epidemic of vaping during advisory in afternoon. Middle school parents are invited to join as Dr. Mark Ebadi meets with the 8th grade class to discuss the effects of vaping and how the increase in adolescent vaping is affecting his work with adolescents. Dr. Mark Ehadi is one of the top immunologist/allergists in Denver. "Vaping: A top doctor shares how the increase in adolescent vaping is showing up in his practice". Wednesday, January 30 2:10-3:00 pm in David Marais’s classroom (building 2, second floor)

    Thank you for your support, as always.
    *Founded in 1976 and now a part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, FCD is a non-profit organization that provides substance abuse prevention education for schools and communities world-wide.  
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  • Art installations around Hambidge Commons

    Posted by Stacey Toevs on 12/13/2018

    When you're on campus, take in some of the installations of student work from Chris and Jairo's art classes! Snowflakes and garland adorn the lobby. Line and building projects from the 3-4-5s can be found flanking the cafeteria ramp. And you can still admire the products of a graphic, middle-school skateboard marketing skills-class in the community gathering space. 




    Line project

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  • From Stephanie: A visit with Jeremy Vasquez

    Posted by Stacey Toevs on 12/6/2018

    On Friday, our 3-4-5 students had the unique opportunity to meet and engage with Jeremy Vasquez, an Artivist from the Bay Area. Jeremy uses art, passion, and activism to fight for justice and equality. He is a spoken word artist and shares his gifts to inspire youth across the United States. Sarah Davison-Tracey (Stanley parent and founder of Seeds of Exchange) graciously connected us to create an inspiring experience for the 3-4-5 children.


    Jeremy Vasquez Jeremy began the morning sharing his story. He grew up with a stutter, did not have strong teachers in his life and his father was incarcerated. While he could have given up, he decided to be the change he wanted to see. He told the children, “I make gold out of my pain. I am a magician, and so are you.” He encouraged the children to dream big and never give up. Jeremy showed a short film and performed one of his inspiring poems. Below is a small snapshot of the children’s thinking after they listened to Jeremy’s art and passion:

    • Be yourself 
    • Honor and be proud of your difference 
    • We are all unique 
    • Everyone’s culture is important 
    • People should follow their passions 
    • Everyone is important 
    • You always belong 


    Jeremy then asked the children, “If you had one superpower, what would it be?” The children took turns sharing their superpower with the class, cheering for one another and giving each other high fives. The energy and passion Jeremy created in the classroom was palpable. I wish I could have captured each child’s superpower but below is a small sampling:

    • I will have eternal growth so I can grow and overcome my obstacles. 
    • I will speak all the languages of the world so that I can help people understand each other better.
    • I will dance to bring joy and peace to others. 
    • I will be a peacemaker by giving someone a hug so they can pass it on. 
    • I will turn everybody’s disability into a superpower. 


    I was struck by the children’s ability to think deeply, compassionately and creatively. I know that these seeds are sewn starting when our children are in Kindergarten and continue each day they are at Stanley. Our teachers and families work to uncover each child’s superpower so that they can share their gifts with the world.


    As our vision says: We envision a community of joyful, lifelong learners prepared to make a positive difference in the world. As I listened and observed the children, I was gently reminded by how integral this is to our students’ experience at Stanley. Jeremy has toured around the United States and interacted with an endless number of children. He told me several times that he was blown away by our children and teachers. He was incredibly impressed by our community of thinkers, problems solvers, activists, and generally kind and inspirational human beings.


    I am grateful to be a part of this community, and I look forward to watching your children embrace their superpowers to make a positive difference in our world. 


    In learning,



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  • From Joanna: How teachers see each child

    Posted by Joanna Hambidge on 11/15/2018

    During your recent parent/teacher conference, I hope that you found that your teacher knew your child. In class each day, on the playground, on field trips, your teacher observes and listens to your child. This simple action takes time, patience and a willingness to become students ourselves, allowing the learners to teach us who they are.


    Creating with buddies As teachers, we not only listen to what a learner says, we watch the smiles, the stillness, the energy, and the expressions. We observe the learner alone, and with people. We observe the learner with materials, and in the environment. We observe the social, the emotional, the creative, the physical, as well as the academic. We watch the whole child.


    As teachers, we listen with open eyes and ears, as well as an open mind and an open heart. We work hard to understand the learner’s interests, joys, culture, way of being and seeing. We give plenty of wait time for a learner to respond before interjecting with our own questions or interpretations. We realize that the learner’s way of seeing and being may be different than our own.


    As teachers, we observe the process and the product. We recognize the learning is what happens in the experience and to the students, not just the end resulting project, paper, or score. During learning, we conference with learners asking them questions about their thinking and feelings. At times we utilize anecdotal records, rubrics and checklists to keep track of learning.


    We look at student work – writing samples, math samples, visual representations - their creations. We look at demonstrations of understanding in open-ended contextual projects. At times, we layer in nationally normed benchmark assessments and when necessary progress monitoring; however, we view the assessments in light of the child’s work and interactions in the classroom as a whole. We believe that nationally normed assessments may capture progress on the basics of reading, writing, and math, but these assessments should never take too much time from learning that fosters cooperation, compassion, curiosity, and creative thinking.


    When we listen, when we observe, when we look at test scores, or checklists, we are mindful to distinguish between observations and judgments, making sure that we do not jump too quickly to conclusions. We understand that it takes time and focus to listen. We continually gather evidence of each learner’s style, strengths and challenges, and where learners are in their development. We look for patterns and figure out how a learner learns best and where the learner is in his or her development, in all aspects of development. As teachers, we trust the individuals to bring their own unique qualities to a situation for the good, the magic of trusting them to show how they learn, who they are and who they are becoming.


    We are grateful to get to get to know and to teach your unique child.


    With love and appreciation,



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  • Each of our family structures is perfect

    Posted by Stephanie Bender on 11/1/2018

    Two weeks ago, 25 Stanley middle school students attended the STAMP conference at the History Colorado Center. STAMP (Students Taking Action and Making Progress) is a daylong diversity and inclusiveness conference for middle school students. High school students from across the Denver Metro area create and facilitate workshops to equip students with tools to build more inclusive communities in their home schools. (For more information visit circlestamp.org.)


    STAMPers 2018 One workshop let students examine the concept of the “perfect family.” Students looked at a variety of different family structures and stereotypes to break down the myth of “normal.” This process gave students the opportunity to talk more openly about their own families. As our students contemplate how they want to share their learning with the middle school community, they’ve had an opportunity to think about the growth that comes when we seeing difference as an advantage, and use differences as a way to deepen our connections with each other. 


    I am grateful to be able to participate in a program like STAMP; it’s an incredibly enlightening and motivating experience for everyone involved. And I’m grateful that the experiences of our students, both at the STAMP conference and in the Stanley community, directly oppose ideas of separation, segregation, exclusion and a fear of difference. Yet I’m concerned, that in direct opposition to the day’s activities, we receive messages to the contrary from many quarters, and most recently from the federal government, which announced it may attempt to erase the rights and privileges of the transgender community by insisting on a binary definition of gender.


    In honor of LGBTQ Awareness month, and to spread the STAMP students’ message that each of our family structures is perfect, I’d like to share a resource from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In “Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students,” Teaching Tolerance provides book recommendations with strong LBGTQ characters for students in elementary, middle and high school. The guide also provides a list of influential LGBTQ historical figures, and a glossary of terms if you wonder what it means to be cisgender or the importance of using correct pronouns.


    And lastly, Allan Cutler curated a beautiful display in the front lobby with children's books that celebrate diverse family structures -- don’t miss it!




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  • Reaching all students including those with diverse needs

    Posted by Erin Rupe on 10/25/2018

    The Learning Resource team at Stanley roots itself in a strengths-based, whole-child philosophy that all children have gifts and different ways of learning making it our privilege to identify how to best support a child’s learning in all domains.


    working together Given our school’s values of honoring individuality, diversity, positivity, and community, our role may incorporate offering specific interventions to build concepts and strategies, working within the classroom to support teachers and learners, and collaborating with families to establish a team-based, whole child plan.  In addition to following the learning principles of Stanley’s mission, our teachers follow a Universal Design for Learning approach. 


    As defined in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, “UDL provides a blueprint for designing goals, methods, materials, and assessments to reach all students including those with diverse needs. Grounded in research of learner differences and effective instructional settings, UDL principles call for varied and flexible ways to:

    • Present or access information, concepts, and ideas (the "what" of learning),
    • Plan and execute learning tasks (the "how" of learning), and
    • Get engaged—and stay engaged—in learning (the "why" of learning)


    The UDL framework is grounded in three principles:

    • Multiple means of representation – using a variety of methods to present information, provide a range of means to support
    • Multiple means of action and expression – providing learners with alternative ways to act skillfully and demonstrate what they know
    • Multiple means of engagement – tapping into learners’ interests by offering choices of content and tools; motivating learners by offering adjustable levels of challenge.”



    At Stanley, we consider the true nature of each child in every moment and how we may best serve as his/her learning guide on the path to true potential.  Our focus always comes back to the varied and unique ways to tackle the “what”, the “how”, and the “why” of learning.  Thank you for sharing your child’s learning journey with us. 


    Erin Rupe
    345 Learning Resource Teacher
    Juniper and Alder Classrooms

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  • Can emotional intelligence be taught? Family Groups lead the way

    Posted by Stacey Toevs on 10/18/2018

    At Stanley, we say yes: social-emotional aptitude can be learned, and we’ve been teaching these important skills since our founding more than 45 years ago.


    One of the largest gestures Stanley makes regarding building social-emotional skills happens in Family Groups, introduced by then 3-4-5 teacher Steve deBeer about 12 years ago. Run by a team including Allison Neckers, David Marais, Katie Russell and Tim, Family Groups is an intentional learning experience in which all members of the community including faculty, administrators and students gather periodically in teams to explore a variety of concepts in a social context. Curriculum for this program typically includes our annual social-emotional theme (this year “community”) or a deep dive into what it means to be an upstander, or how to invite others into an inclusive circle.


    Family Groups This week all students, faculty and staff participated in the second Family Groups gathering of the year, where we saw a live re-enactment of the book “The Big Umbrella” by Amy June Bates. Founding Head Carolyn played the leading role, Tim and Librarian Allan narrated, and several other staff members played a part. This simple book about welcoming and including everyone was the perfect springboard for discussion after the assembly in multi-age, K-8 family groups pods.


    Stanley is distinct in that our educational focus is to ensure each child reaches his/her full potential not only by reaching academic proficiency but also by gaining the social emotional skills that will effectively prepare them for the future. We have long believed that when you embrace the whole child — all aspects of who they are as people — a student is better able to learn and to flourish.


    Our commitment to teaching students these crucial skills is reflected in the fact we have three full time faculty positions solely dedicated to social emotional instruction: a middle school counselor and a social emotional teacher each for K-1-2 and 3-4-5. Additionally, a major aspect of our teacher preparation is ensuring all of our faculty are familiar and practiced in implementing social emotional instruction methods.


    The outcome of fostering social and emotional development over a continuum of nine years is the creation of well adjusted, confident, and amazing individuals who are truly prepared to make a positive difference in the world.


    Stay tuned for another posting that outlines the particulars of our social-emotional program in the middle school and how these skills are highlighted in multi-age learning environments.

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  • New Look, Updated Structure, Same Core Values

    Posted by Brittany McKenna on 10/4/2018

    How all the little pieces come together to create a prepared learning in the middle school.

    -By Brittany McKenna, Susan Cleveland, and Angelina Nicol - the Middle School Learning Resource Team

    Perhaps you have been down to the Jane Levy Learning Center lately and have seen the improvements to our space. The Learning Resource Team has revamped, redesigned, and renormed the spaces in the Learning Center in order to better fit our vision and mission for serving all learners within the middle school.


    Workspace We are excited to have a dedicated space for small group work and instruction, a calming room to take a break or decompress, and a testing/independent work area.


    These updates have allowed us to better accomplish what we hold dear to our hearts about educating children- that they need meaningful opportunities to develop self-awareness and self-advocacy for themselves as learners, and curriculum that allows for deep learning and transfer of this learning across disciplines.


    Quiet study Along with our crisp new look, we have redesigned the classroom experience for the students who utilize the space on a regular basis. Learning Center classes begin with a smaller, grade level group of students through a mini-lesson.

    Mini-lessons are geared toward:

    • acquisition of skills and strategies aligned with the learning in the classrooms
    • the needs of the learners in that moment, or needs based on teacher data and observation
    • pre-teaching material that may feel challenging
    • reteaching to avoid confusion
    • repeated practice
    • all while layering in strategies that will support the learner in any area of their academics


    Group work After a group mini-lesson, the students in the Learning Center set goals for independent work. “Yesterday this took me fifteen minutes, so today I should plan for it to take about the same time,” said a student in the Learning Center as he looked back at previous data in order to set his goal for the day.


    Within the structure of class time, we are able to reinforce the development of executive function skills in a space safe enough to experiment and take risks. We utilize a daily planning sheet (linked here, in case you would like to use at home) that supports the planning process, material, and time management.


    During independent work, Learning Center teachers can:

    • tailor their work to each student one on one
    • name strategies students are utilizing
    • support acquisition of new strategies
    • encourage self-advocacy- The Learning Center can provide a safe space verbalizing one’s learning needs before taking the risk to advocate with a classroom teacher.  


    White board Thoughtful, intentional practice in The Learning Center takes the pieces apart (planning, teaching models, scaffolding, and strategy building) within a lesson before putting those pieces back together to send a more prepared middle schooler into other learning environments.


    So, if you haven’t been down to the Learning Center, stop by! Everyone is welcome and we love to share what we do (and get real geeky about learning!).

    And, stay tuned for our next blog post about the use of intentional planning with teachers to reach all of the learners in the middle school.

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  • K-8 Dance at Stanley

    Posted by Angela Martyn on 9/27/2018

    Dance is part of the exquisite confluence of expression, movement and cognition in Stanley's British Primary tradition. Arts teacher (and deejay!) Angie Martyn tells how...


    Who's going next?  Do you know the similarities and differences between a jump, a hop, and a leap? Your K-1-2 child does! In dance class we work on a multitude of skills and techniques. Recently, skipping, galloping, jumping, hopping and leaping are the favorites. We have already begun choreography for our first dance. Weekly K-1-2 dance is full of fun movement games that invoke spatial awareness, creative thinking, coordination, and musicality through play.


    Practicing hops Deejay Angie songs for dance picks for K-1-2: "Brand New Eyes" by Bea Miller, "Muy Tranquilo" by Gramatik, "Wa Winjigo Ero" by Ayub Ogada, "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman, and "Circlesong Six" by Bobby McFerrin.


    Your 3-4-5 student is currently learning about Folk Music and Folk Dance in 3-4-5 music/dance class. Did you know that music and movement are combined in 3-4-5 at SBPS? Sarah Billerbeck and I plan thoughtful weekly lessons that bring music and movement together in new and traditional ways. 


    In addition to this, a small group of 3-4-5s have jazz/hip hop dance class on Thursday afternoons and are working on highly technical movement combinations in those styles. Look for them performing in the upcoming Grandpeople Day assembly!


    Deejay Angie songs for dance picks for 3-4-5: "Oh Susannah" by 2nd South Carolina String Band "Skidoo" by Wild Asparagus ...and "Carry You Home" by Aloe Blacc/Tiesto, "No Roots" by Alice Merton, and "How You Like Me Now" by The Heavy.


    In 8th-grade Arts we have a very fresh, fly hip hop dance class! This is an extremely motivated and astute group of teens who really inspire me as they create dance combinations and choreography. Look for them performing in the upcoming Cave shows and the 8th grade Arts Showcase.


    Deejay Angie songs for dance picks for 8th grade: "In the House" and "What's Golden" by Jurassic 5, "Finesse" by Bruno Mars/Cardi B, "Be" by Common, and "Catch Me" by Yellow Claw & Flux Pavilion featuring Naaz.

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  • British Primary teachers live and teach positive habits of the head, heart and hands

    Posted by Joanna Hambidge on 9/13/2018

    As British Primary teachers, we think about learners as writers, and as human beings who are developing resiliency. We think of learners as mathematicians, and as human beings developing initiative. We think of learners as readers, and as human beings developing resourcefulness. We think of learners as community members, and as human beings developing empathy. As British Primary teachers, the development of positive habits of the heart, head and hands are integrated with everything we do.


    Hearts and hands As British Primary teachers, we model positive habits of the head, heart, and hands; and we explicitly teach them to learners. We focus on how we treat others - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage - and dispositions that are fundamental to success in learning and in life - taking healthy risks; resiliency, perseverance, setting high standards and having initiative; managing complexity; flexibility, adaptability, resourcefulness, positivity and learning from mistakes.


    We read stories about characters who demonstrate these attributes. We ask what does perseverance look like? What is empathy? What does honesty look like? What does flexibility sound like? When writing? In the art room? On the recess yard? We watch video clips, role play and then discuss what the character did and put language to it. We also point out these habits of the heart, head and hands when we notice them in each other. How the head and heart are cultivated, ultimately decides how the hands act, and what the voice says.


    Habits of the heart, mind and hands are important in thinking, in managing emotions, and in the ability to identify with and care for others. In order to synthesize, problem solve, create, and imagine, in order to have healthy relationships, and make a positive difference in the world, we need positive dispositions of the heart, head and hands.


    The values and character that learners develop guide their moral compass as they go out into the world. We will not always be with learners; and so, we want to educate for our students to make wise decisions and to take responsibility for their actions when we are not with them, to become autonomous human beings.

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