Learning Report Blog

  • Meet Sydney, our MS Teaching Fellow

    Posted by Greg Chalfin on 12/10/2020

    8th grader Miles Burtchaell sat down with our Middle School Teaching Fellow Sydney Oswald. Sydney teaches 6th grade social studies with Greg this year with cohorts in the revamped gym space, which might prove useful for Sydney if she should decide to break out her fencing and boxing skills. Read Miles’ interview and Sam’s answers in this edition of 8th-graders interview...


    Sydney What would you like to tell us about your life/work before joining Stanley?
    Sydney studied Political Science and Russian in college, and after that she moved to Russia and taught English to Russian students. However due to Covid-19 she had to come back to Denver where she grew up. When she was younger she spent multiple summers going to the Stanley Hogwarts camp.


    What are the first words you’d use to describe Stanley? Why are these important to you?
    Joyful, magical, and adaptable. Everyone was warm and welcoming as a community when she arrived on campus, and she says it’s nice to feel connected even during a pandemic.


    What do you like to do when you're not at Stanley?
    When not at Stanley during Covid-19, Sydney likes to play board games and make puzzles. Before the pandemic, she liked to do fencing and dancing, practicing languages (Spanish, French, Russian and English)


    What's one thing people are surprised to know about you? 
    People are surprised when they earn that I fenced and boxed in Russia.


    Tell me about a favorite childhood game to play – or a favorite memory from your own school?
    Playing kickball was a favorite because when you play it, no one is a pro at it. Everyone is good so they can all have fun on an equal playing ground.


    Comments (-1)
  • Back from PoCC: Update from our MAC teams

    Posted by Donna Meallet on 12/9/2020

    From all of us, wishing all of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Along with some faculty and staff members, the Multicultural Affairs Committee team had the great opportunity to attend the annual National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference this month.


    The NAIS People of Color Conference is The People of Color Conference is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching and learning. The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. PoCC equips educators at every level, from teachers to trustees, with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike.


    The Parent Multicultural Affairs Committee and the Stanley Parent Association want to remind you of the first of its two workshops on Anti-Racism Parenting on January 26!


    Appreciation or Appropriation 345 & 678 SOCA Students: SOCA students participated in our Social Justice unit Appreciation or Appropriation. In a fun and interactive lessons, SOCA students were able to have an open conversation while bringing awareness that we must learn more about the cultural element you are engaging with. Take the time to determine if the cultural element is sacred, religious, ceremonial, or must be earned, and to understand the history of whether the originating culture has faced discrimination or unfair practices because of this part of their culture.


    Parents of Students of Color Affinity group (POSOCA) are strategically drafting the group's goals, mission statement, and vision for creating a more diverse, inclusive, equitable & community


    Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) continue their book club reading and discussion of the book; The Stonewall Riots.  The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.


    White Anti-Racist Allies (WARA) has moved into discussions about how we can support anti-racist perspectives and systems on campus. We read the article “Avoiding Racial Equity Detours” by Paul Gorski who presented at NART (National Anti-Racist Teach In) this August. We looked at three areas in education: policy, curricula, discipline and talked about ways that we need to incorporate more anti-racist perspectives in these structures. We are continuing these conversations at our December meeting and creating more action plans on anti-racist work.

    Comments (-1)
  • A Marvel of Marble for 3-4-5s

    Posted by Allan Cutler on 12/3/2020

    Stanley’s learning resource teachers and other specialists are dipping into student cohorts and classroom spaces in a regular rotation. Classroom teachers are treated to extended periods of partnership from teachers they otherwise don’t spend a lot of time with in the classroom. The pandemic has introduced more dedicated time and relationships with students and staff. Students don’t leave the classroom now for art or library or science; instead, art teachers, music, library, etc., all spend about four weeks dedicated to one or two classrooms at a time.


    Marble Allan, Stanley’s school librarian, reports on his focus on a study of Colorado history with the 3-4-5 students recently. In his words:


    “We discovered that Yule Marble is our state rock! This very white type of marble, found only in Colorado, that makes up the exterior of such important national landmarks as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here in Denver, you can see this rock on display in Cheeseman Park; the Pavilion Building is made of Yule Marble. While learning about Colorado history and Yule Marble with the Aspen class, the kids and I put in a call to the Colorado Stone Quarries in Delta, the company that runs the Yule Marble quarry. I asked if it might be possible to get some small chips of marble for the students and our unit of study. Colorado Stone Quarries went above and beyond and sent us a free 256-pound crate of marble! I had to break a few pieces to get them into smaller chunks to give out. We all were thrilled to get a piece of Colorado thanks to the generosity of the folks at Colorado Stone Quarries. YOLO COLO!”


    One of the additional benefits of turning to our community for projects like this – a lot of heavy lifting! – is the touch of joy an otherwise insulated workaday operation gets from partnering with our students. “Seeing kids so happy for our marble,” said quarry owner Pezzica Marco, “pays our quarrying efforts more than any awards!”

    Comments (-1)
  • From MAC: Moments engaging the people in our community

    Posted by Donna Meallet and the MAC team on 11/19/2020

    Hello from the MAC Team! We would like to take a moment and wish you all a very happy and festive holiday, and update the community on the most recent activities of our Multicultural Affairs Committee teams. First: Our Students of Color Affinity Group (SOCA) students have enjoyed connecting with one another and playing games and working on social justice projects. They recently started exploring a celebration activity packet that highlights and celebrates different holidays around the world.


    Collage or recent Zooms

    3-4-5 & 6-7-8 SOCA Students Teaching Tolerance curriculum:

    I for Identity: Introductions and family backgrounds

    D for Diversity: We celebrated all the beautiful colors and cultures in the zoom room

    J for Justice: What is a problem you see, that you want to help create change

    A for Action: Make a poster showing what problem you see and the action you want to inspire people to take to fix it


    Parents of our student of color also came together this week for a second time, to dialogue, share stories and resources, and show support of one another. POSOCA (for “Parents of SOCA”) are working toward solidifying their mission statement and setting larger goals of helping to co-create an inclusive community.


    Stanley’s staff and teachers of color group (STOCA) created a first-time affinity space where teachers and staff members share stories, ideas, lived experiences and resource – all while encouraging, empowering and uplifting one another.


    Stanley’s White Anti-Racist Allies group (WARA) has also connected several times via Zoom. In their last meeting, the group focused on our individual identities within the context of classrooms and day-to-day responsibilities. WARA members asked questions about what aspects of our identity show up the most for us and how these identities reveal themselves in the classroom. 


    Diversity `Equity `Inclusivity: Teaching Tolerance

    Stanley Teachers participated in a Social Justice Education 101 Professional Development booster training workshop this week. This interactive program took the big-picture work of anti-bias education and offered a set of critical practices to help teachers effectively implement culturally responsive components in their practice.


    Teachers explored Social Justice Standards from The Teaching Tolerance Anti-bias Framework® Social Justice Standards: The Teaching Tolerance Anti-bias Framework is a set of 20 anchor standards and 80 grade-level outcomes organized into four domains – Identity, Diversity, Justice and Action – that reflect the desired impact of successful anti-bias and multicultural education on student personal and social development.  We are all working together to create the conditions that reflect diversity, equity and justice as part of larger individual, school and community action. Our current areas of focus: Understanding the similarities and differences within dimensions of equity in education.


    Comments (-1)
  • From Avery: Meet Stanley's Director of Development Samantha

    Posted by Greg Chalfin on 11/5/2020

    8th grader Avery Krambeck got to know a little bit about our new Director of Development Samantha Boggs. Sam grew up in the East Coast time zone, can wield the powers of a lacrosse stick and makes a mean smoothie. She’s loving getting to know so many truly happy and inclusive families and parents in her new role.

    Samantha Boggs Stanley families are eager to get to know our new faculty and staff. What would you like to tell us about your life/work before joining Stanley?

    I’ve lived in Denver for five years, and worked at Evergreen Country Day School before coming to Stanley. I worked at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver when we first moved to Denver. I grew up in New Jersey as the youngest of three and went to high school at Taft (a Connecticut boarding school). I attended Bowdoin for college where I played lacrosse. Before Denver, I lived in California’s Bay Area for five years, which is probably one of my favorite places in the country. I have worked in education for over 10 years, but when I was first out of college I worked in sports marketing, specifically in the professional golf space which was really fun! 


    What are the first words you’d use to describe Stanley? Why are these important to you?

    Joyful, inclusive and supportive. The joy is palpable when you walk through the doors here – even during a pandemic! To be honest, I even felt it this summer when I met with the faculty and staff and we worked to get ready for the school year, and I have felt it from every parent I have met this fall – I can’t think of a better word to describe a school. Joyful is what all schools should be, but none have embodied it as much as Stanley in my experience. I have always valued and want my kids to have. I have also been struck by how inclusive Stanley is, of course there is always work to be done to improve on this front, but I believe that Stanley is very intentional about this and the community is always working to be more inclusive. Lastly, I would say supportive. Starting a new job during the pandemic has been interesting, but from day-one I have felt so welcomed and supported by faculty, staff and families. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone better.


    What do you like to do when you're not at Stanley?

    I have 3 boys 4 and under so when I am not at Stanley I pretty much spend any free time I have with them as much as I can. I also love to go on runs and hikes with my husband, especially in and around Boulder, although we don’t get as much time for that as I would like.


    What's one thing people are surprised to know about you? 

    People are surprised that I used to be in an Improv group (in high school!) and that I lived in France and ran a smoothie business there before moving to Colorado. My husband went to France’s INSEAD Business School so we moved there for a year. I couldn’t officially work there because of Visa restrictions and decided to bring a little California to France and make and sell smoothies. I sold them mostly to students and faculty at the business school but it was a fun endeavor. I also got to audit a few classes on entrepreneurship while at the school and was able to use the smoothie business, “Locker 38,” as a case study.


    Tell me about a favorite childhood game to play – or a favorite memory from your own school?

    It would have to be kick the can or capture the flag, which we played at my elementary school. A favorite memory from school would probably be planning and hosting the school’s first talent show my 8th-grade year. I have always loved being part of a team or ensemble and used to love performing (although I haven’t in years).

    Comments (-1)
  • From Preston: Meet our New Head of K-1-2 Simone

    Posted by Greg Chalfin on 10/29/2020

    8th grader Preston Curtis got to know a little bit about our newest division heads in a quick Q&A with our new head of K-1-2 Simone Brackett. Simone talks about the importance of joy and constructing your learning, being a Stanley student herself "way back when," and the ranked order of teaching, dancing and being a back-up singer. Preston and Simone shares it all with you in this week's Learning Report blog.


    Simone What would you like to tell us about your life and work before joining Stanley?
    Most immediately, I was a vice principal at a 900-student middle school in Durham, North Carolina. Before that, I was an administrator for a K-8 school, and before that, I was a classroom teacher for 13 years; I taught Kindergarten through 6th grade during that time. And of course, I went to Stanley as a student, so I am happy to be back!


    What are the first words you’d use to describe Stanley? Why are these important to you?
    “Constructivism” because it’s the foundation of our philosophy – that by taking part in their own education and being given opportunities to explore and ask questions, students construct their own knowledge and enjoy the process of learning. “Joyful” because it is the basis for all of the teaching and learning as a student at Stanley. If you don’t have fun in learning, you don’t want to do it again.


    What do you like to do when you're not at Stanley?
    I love to sleep, hang out with friends, write, dance, sing and see family from a distance – and cook! 


    What's one thing people are surprised to know about you? 
    That I used to sing professionally as a backup for funk and rap groups, but I liked teaching more than doing that.


    Tell me about a favorite childhood game to play – or a favorite memory from your own school?
    When I was at Stanley, my teacher's name was Anne Breckenridge and she lived close to the school – the old red brick building. She would take us on field trips to have treasure hunts at her house. 



    Comments (-1)
  • From Miles: Meet our new K-8 Coordinator Brittany

    Posted by Greg Chalfin on 10/22/2020

    Special to The Weekly Bulldog: Stanley’s 8th graders interview our newest staff members, Q&A style. This week: 8th grader Miles Burtchaell sits down with our new K-8 Coordinator Brittany Wright, and brings some insights into her background, a typical day and her first impressions  of Stanley. Also, just what is it like to be drowning in bread, and how can you get in on it? Miles finds out in this first of a series…


    Brittany Wright Where was Brittany before Stanley? 

    Brittany has lived mostly in the south until a year ago when she moved to Colorado. Before joining Stanley, she has always worked in education as a teacher and as a technology camp teacher for ten years. She studied math in college and has a master’s degree in it as well, but she always knew she wanted to work with students. She’s excited to bring that energy  into the K-8 administrative coordinator position.


    What does Brittany do in her role at Stanley? 

    As the K-8 administrative coordinator, she gets to do a lot of different things. She takes data from student assessments and uses them to figure out what to do for the school. She also helps coordinate schedules for the school and other Covid and safety-related tasks like keeping cohorts separate, but she also finds the time to help students in classes such as the 8th-grade math and science class with coding.


    What are the first words that come to mind when she thinks of Stanley?

    “The first word that comes to mind is ‘joyful’ because you feel that when you come on campus because everyone is glad to be here and people enjoy learning. The other word was ‘community’ because of how the community is so close and is always willing to lend a helping hand.”


    What might people not know about Brittany outside of school? 

    When she isn’t at school, Brittany is interested in making bread. She has made sourdough bread, bagels, and pita bread, as well as others. (Note from Brittany: if anyone wants bread I am drowning in bread, so if you see me PLEASE ask for some!)  People are also surprised when she tells them she’s from the South because she doesn’t have a stereotypical southern accent. She loves board games. Most people find it really surprising when she tells people her full-time job was at a camp for 10 years. School-wide events were always her favorite because they are always the ones that stand out the most. And from an academic standpoint, her favorite class in school was math, although she didn’t realize it until she left school. She is very grateful to have found Stanley in the current world events, feels very welcome, and is ready to see what she can learn and contribute. Brittany also got married over the summer!

    Comments (-1)
  • From Simone: Awakening a love for learning outside of a world of self

    Posted by Simone Brackett, Head of K-1-2 on 10/15/2020

    “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. –Audre Lorde 


    Celebrating Diversity in our Classrooms 

    A beautiful thing happens in K-1-2 at the beginning of the year: Each classroom begins talking with their students about who they are, traits that make them unique, their families, the things that they love, and important things that they want others to know about them. This is the celebration of diversity and identity. Students begin to see themselves as individuals – with different eye colors, an array of skin-tones, varying heights and hair-colors and textures. Students tell about their families, traditions and activities that they love doing together, and about family members that bring them joy.  


    Similarities  Students see how they are similar to and different from one another, they voice what they love about being the same, and what they love about being different. They celebrate their classroom family and everything each person celebrates about themselves. These take place as such simple conversations; starting from observations about self, and then others, and ending in the conclusion that our unique traits and backgrounds make us who we are and that our whole, unique selves, make our classroom families the wonderful places that we love coming to everyday. These are simple conversations and they create the building blocks for positive relationships to self and others, positive upstanding, and a love for learning outside of a world of self.  


    Celebrating Diversity in Our World 

    We have already seen our K-1-2 students begin asking big questions of the world around them: 

    What do I notice? What do I want to know more about? How can I explore what I can’t readily see? What is important to know at the beginning of my exploration and how do I explore more? These questions build positive skills of inquisition, and undergird Stanley’s goals for all learners: self-awareness, respect, and curiosity. Our students are learning to readily engage these skills in thoughtfully learning about the world around them and the people who are in it. It has been amazing to see how well students converse around diversity and identity when they are able to see and hear one another’s stories. They welcome opportunities to learn about other cultures as it becomes second nature to celebrate each other, the same way that they celebrate themselves.  


    Discovering similarities Since school began, I have seen a room of K-1-2 students thoughtfully talk through the uniqueness of Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait and the choices that she made to show herself exactly as she wanted to be seen; celebrating her culture through her art. I have gotten to sit in as classrooms created their community compacts and statements of beliefs around being good community members- returning always to loving and respecting everyone for exactly who they are. And daily, I watch as students build bonds of friendship and “school family” not in spite of difference, but because of the more in-depth ways they have learned to care about others and themselves. This is the celebration of diversity and identity, and these young scholars have used it to open their world.


    What are some ways that you can share more information about your family's heritage at home? Are there stories and pictures that your student hasn't yet been told about? Are there family recipes or traditions that are special to you that can be shared from your own childhood? How can your student bring important parts of their heritage to share with their school community?

    Comments (-1)
  • Building Blocks in the Stanley middle years

    Posted by Stacey Toevs & Amy Wasserman on 10/8/2020

    In the middle 3-4-5 years at Stanley, students still rely on their imaginations to build with blocks, developing engineering skills and progressing to building complex structures like this nearly 6-ft tower standing with three Ponderosa Pine builders (pictured at right). "I had to brag a bit about these amazing kids," says teacher Amy Wasserman, who sent photos after a donation of 1,000 Kapla blocks arrived last week and kids set to work trying to build as high as possible with the lot of them. 

    Building in 345 4th grader Sophie, who built the tower with cohort-mates Carolina and Charlotte, says they got the idea for this structure from a smaller version she remembered building as a first grader. Parents and teachers have been cheerleaders for many a student drawn to the blocks area during choice time in K-1-2 because blocks teach early math and engineering in a way that feels like free play.

    It’s important students don’t leave the fundamentals of building behind. As they grow, spatial awareness, balance and concentration develop quickly in 3-D, outside of the abstract, with hands on. Stacking blocks lets students bring to life what they imagine while developing an innate sense of balance and structure, principles of architecture, sculpture and mechanics.

    “Learning opportunities like this also foster an opportunity for connection, collaboration, communication and problem solving,” says Amy. “Plus, you can’t beat the sparkle in their eyes as they placed the 1,000th block on their complex structure. That 45-minute choice time captured much of what we believe about what lies at the heart of British Primary philosophy. All the adults need to do is slow down to notice and appreciate what these brilliant kids do so naturally.”

    Comments (-1)
  • From Stephanie: Knowing ourselves as learners

    Posted by Stephanie Collins, Head of 3-4-5 on 10/1/2020

    At Stanley, our seven goals for learners and our mission and vision are paramount in our minds as we plan curriculum, interact with students and think about who we want our children to be in our ever-changing world. We believe fully in helping children understand who they are as learners and how to advocate for their needs. 


    learning ourselves We know that learning happens on a continuum and everyone needs to know themselves as a learner. We start this work in K-1-2, continue the conversations in 3-4-5 and hope to consolidate their thinking in 6-7-8. We routinely get feedback from high schools that our students know themselves as learners and advocate for what they need to be successful.


    As teachers plan curriculum and daily plans, they keep a lens on how to support students as learners. Questions they ask themselves include:

    • What strategies and tools might work the best work for each individual?
    • What supports or extensions might students need to be engaged in their learning?
    • When might they need more repetition, or when might there be a need to dig deeper?
    • Does a student learn best in a quiet space or with ambient noise?
    • Do they learn best by listening, seeing or moving?
    • Who might the student check in with to get support or extra challenge?


    Each of our seven goals for learners lends itself to supporting our students in understanding who they are as learners; below is a snapshot of how each goal does that:


    Self Awareness: We want children to be self aware of their own needs as learners. How do I learn best? What tools and strategies might help me be successful?


    Collaboration: We want children to collaborate with one another and bring their unique set of gifts to a group. What might I bring to a group setting? What might I offer to the team to deepen understanding, think creatively and work together?


    Respect: We want children to respect their own learning styles and needs as well as those of their peers. How is each learner in our classroom unique? How can I learn more about other learning styles?


    Curiosity: We want children to be curious about the ways they learn best. We want them to continually question what works for them as learners. How do certain tools help me as a learner? Do some tools distract me as a learner? I wonder how that strategy might help me learn?


    Perseverance: We want children to persist when learning is hard. We want them to advocate for their learning needs and continually push to be the best learners possible. How can I acknowledge when something is difficult and ask for help when needed? How can I notice and then celebrate when I am able to persevere through difficult tasks? 


    Academic Resourcefulness: We want children to try new strategies and new tools. We want children to discover strategies and tools that work for them, and then find ways to implement them on a daily basis. How did that tool work for me? That didn’t work for me, what else could I try?


    Joyful, Lifelong Learning: We want children to love learning. We believe that when children know how they learn best, they are more likely to be joyful, lifelong learners. When am I joyful in my learning? What brings me joy and how can I bring that into my own learning?


    We look forward to continuing to support your child as they grapple with learning styles, preferences and needs. 


    In learning,
    Stephanie Collins

    Comments (-1)