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A Letter from Tim
Actively involving you in your child's educationPosted by Tim Barrier on 9/12/2019
I enjoyed seeing such a great turnout for last week’s middle school back-to-school night, and look forward to the same this evening. We appreciate the opportunity to share your child’s classroom experience with you. I hope the evening offers insights into the richness of activity and learning that’s already taken place over the first month of school. I also hope your time in our classrooms demonstrates a critical part of the “why” of Stanley – the way we think about carefully blending academic and social-emotional learning – a combination that is a defining trait of British Primary philosophy and an essential element of our program’s success.
Our back-to-school events are the beginning of a rich program of parent education opportunities throughout the school year. Some, like our grade-level coffees and Parent Association pop-up socials, are held first thing in the morning after dropoff, and others, such as a number of our committee meetings and occasional guest speaker presentations, are held in the evenings. You’ll find parent events listed on the all-school calendar.
We are mindful of how we schedule events to encourage and allow as much attendance as we can. Given the frequency and quantity, it’s unrealistic to try to attend all, and we invite you to join us as you’re able. In our values statements that accompany our vision and mission, we write, “We actively include parents in their child’s education and view partnership with parents as a critical means to recognize our mission.” We know that when children see their parents interested and engaged with their lives at school, learning is enhanced.
We often say that parents know their own children better than anyone possibly can – with unique and valuable insights to share – and teachers know children in general better than any of us as individual parents can. The combination of the two in partnership provides a powerful platform to support our children.
Starting with WhyPosted by Tim Barrier on 9/5/2019
Each summer, our faculty engages in a wide variety of professional development endeavors, and our summer reading is one experience we share as a full staff. This year, we read Simon Sinek’s book "Start with Why." He’s an organizational management consultant, author and speaker, and his Ted Talkis one of the most viewed ever. Like many thinkers and writers of his kind, he posits a simple, but powerful, idea that has a great deal of significance in the way we think about our lives and our work.
His basic premise is that the most compelling organizations start with a clear understanding of why they exist – what they believe, what they stand for, why they matter. In his book, he uses examples ranging from MLK to Apple to show that the most effective companies, or people, are rooted in a strong sense of why they’re doing what they’re doing.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was passionately able to convey what he believed, and people wanted to follow. Sinek notes that MLK had a “dream,” not a “12-point plan” – big difference. Apple sets out to challenge to status quo – that’s their why – and their products follow from that. In a model he calls the “Golden Circle,” Sinek shows that once the center, the why, is established, the “how” and “what” of the organization can flow outward.
At our retreat in August, we used Sinek’s notion of starting with the why to first think about our own personal “whys,” and then worked in groups to reflect upon Stanley’s why (see the full display in the Hambidge Commons community space). Here’s what we came up with:
Stanley British Primary School exists:
- to create a community that fosters joyful, lifelong learning
- to help children become engaged citizens of the world
- because children educated in a safe, joyful community make a difference in the world
- to make the world a better place for all
Some ambitious whys indeed, yet I know that we’re deeply committed to doing our part to make the world a better place. We’re dedicated to a promising vision of the world to come, and we’re honored to help our students find their place in it.
All the best,
PS read about one of our newest staff member's whys below in this newsletter and in our Learning Report blog.
Student safety and well-being, on and off campusPosted by Tim Barrier on 8/29/2019
As we begin our school year together, I wanted you to know we are committed to student safety and well-being, on an off campus. Students flourish only when they know their community is a safe one, and we take a broad view of safety towards that end. Our educational program intentionally fosters social-emotional as well as physical safety, though for the purposes of this communication I’d like to focus on the latter and share some key elements of school safety and security. Like all aspects of student well-being, our approach to physical security invests in the active participation of all community members.
Our faculty and staff engage in regular trainings and embrace the responsibility we all share in addressing any unsafe situation and in responding to any emergency that may happen. We prepare students to respond to a range of crises and design trainings that help them understand real versus perceived risks. We also work to create safe spaces for our students to discuss their worries and we acknowledge the prevalence of student anxiety around the issue of school security. Here are specific ways Stanley addresses school safety and security:
Oversight and Management
Last year, we initiated a Risk Management and Child Well-Being Committee of our board of trustees. This group, comprised of board members, senior administrative staff, and school community members with relevant expertise, meets throughout the year to review and advise school policies and practices.
Stanley’s Emergency Response Team, comprised of senior administrative and facilities staff, meets monthly to continually plan, review, and revise the school’s safety and security measures. We plan and implement regular trainings for students and staff, and we engage in regular “tabletop” scenarios to preview practices and communication strategies in the event of a school crisis.
We draw heavily from outside expertise and resources to inform our work, in particular the Colorado School Safety Resource Center. (Colorado.gov/CSSRC) We use the organization for on-site staff trainings, consultation on campus physical security, and off-site safety workshops.
We provide a locked school perimeter during the school day. After drop-off times, all parents and guests enter Stanley through the front door after being granted entrance by our front desk staff, and all sign-in and receive a visitor’s lanyard. On campus, we provide limited access to each of our campus classroom buildings, with one unlocked door into each.
All entrances to the main building are covered by video surveillance cameras, as is most of the rest of campus, and we’re currently exploring the most optimal locations for additional cameras.
We employ the firm Securitas to conduct several patrols each night. They ensure buildings are secure and monitor the campus for any unwanted visitors.
Our purpose in conducting campus emergency drills- evacuation, lockout, lockdown, and shelter in place- is to give students tools and agency to respond in an emergency. We use age-appropriate language with our students to ensure that we are not contributing to the anxiety many may feel. We want them to understand that these drills are simply a part of our overall plan to keep the Stanley community a safe place for them and for all of us. These drills also enable us to pre-brief and de-brief as a faculty and staff at grade levels to ensure everyone is familiar with safety procedures for different situations.
More details, including answers to FAQs, can be found on our website at stanleybps.org/parents.
Creating an environment in which students want to learnPosted by Tim Barrier on 8/22/2019 12:00:00 PM
Welcome to our year at school and our first edition of the 2019-20 Weekly Bulldog! After a busy summer session and weeks of campus preparations, we’re thrilled to have students back in our classrooms. Thank you for your assistance in all that you do, from online forms to class setups, to help get our year smoothly underway.
Along with the joyfulness of students on the first day of school, I’m energized by the passion and enthusiasm of our teachers ready to engage once again in the lives of our children and families. I marvel at what our teachers do, in and out of the classroom, to support our kids. By choice, teachers make a fundamental commitment to make a lasting and positive impact on the lives of children, and Stanley teachers are uncommon in the depth of their dedication.
The role of “teacher” continues to be transformed, or at least it should be. Teachers were once seen as the ones with all the knowledge who were tasked with transferring some of that knowledge to students. Of course, whatever body of knowledge teachers once had is dramatically obsolete – any information imaginable, and plenty that’s not, is readily available and accessible. We don’t need teachers to provide factual content, even to help students find it.
What we do need teachers to do is show why information matters and help students realize the power of information in their grasps. What might they want to do with it? Build a persuasive argument? Solve a problem? Gain an insight into how something works?
Teachers help children understand what kind of information matters. Some of it matters for its own sake and is needed for participation in society – like why our government is structured the way it is, or how everything in an ecosystem is interdependent. Other information matters because it means something to a teacher – and they convey that interest – or it resonates somehow with the curiosity of a young mind. Either way, teachers first demonstrate that knowing all you can about something is worthwhile – whether that something is politics, literature, planetary science or the Broncos.
Teachers also help children with things that they otherwise may avoid, and they do it by creating an environment in which children want to learn, not because they’re coerced. Writing a coherent, compelling essay is hard work. It takes lots of practice, and to learn to write well takes a patient teacher who can reveal the magic of expressing oneself through written language. It certainly doesn’t come by completing worksheets on sentence construction.
Mostly, it seems to me that teachers like the ones we have at Stanley teach children to care. They don’t tell students what to care about, but they model that caring about something is important. It’s a critical step in the process of learning what interests you, what you want to know more about, what’s worth spending time and energy on. Ultimately, that capacity to care gives life meaning.
It’s a great privilege to work every day alongside teachers who live our mission, “to engage, challenge and inspire children to reach their potential and develop their own voices…” We look forward to a tremendous year ahead with your children and you.
All the best,
Staffing Update for School Year to ComePosted by Tim Barrier on 5/30/2019
Looking ahead to the school year to come, we’re excited to welcome the following teachers and administrative staff to the Stanley community:
In K-1-2, two of our wonderful residents from this school year, Andy Haith and Luanne Feldmann, will stay with us as associate teachers. Kate Mott, who has been our positive, flexible long-term sub, will move into a classroom resource teacher role. We’ll also welcome Alex Meallet (Stanley Class of ’08) in the role of teaching intern.
At 3-4-5, we welcome Katie Boston back to the faculty. She will join Nicky Arja in the Blue Spruce classroom. After a few years in Chicago, Katie and her family returned to Denver with their two children, and we’re glad to have her back at Stanley. Allegra Uva will continue at Stanley next year as a math teacher in three of our 3-4-5 classrooms.
In Middle School, we’ll welcome the following teachers into our community next year:
- Rebecca Bouslog will be our new 6th grade Learning Specialist and will join Susan and Brittany in the Learning Center. Rebecca joins us from the Bayside School in Daphne, Alabama where she has been a Learning Specialist and a 5th and 6th grade teacher.
- Andrew Nusbaum will be joining us next year as our new 6th grade math teacher and will be joining Kathy and Jairo in homeroom next year. Andrew comes to us from the Charles Armstrong School outside of San Francisco where he has been teaching middle school math and Language Arts.
- Acelynn Perkins will be joining us next year as a Middle School Teaching Fellow, a new one-year position that provides the opportunity to learn the craft of being a teacher and advisor. The role also offers the chance to engage with British Primary Philosophy with a mentor teacher and by teaching classes over the course of the year. Acelynn will also be handling some administrative responsibilities. She is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Denver.
- Koffi Toudji, who has led grade-level and elective music classes for several years at Stanley, will join the Middle School team formally as music teacher and homeroom partner with Ted and Molly.
In our admission program, we’re excited to welcome Joanne Venable (parent of Cece and Margot) to the team as a part-time admissions officer. Alumna Emma Goldner-de Beer (Stanley Class of ’11) in a one-year position as an Advancement Fellow, working to support both our Admission and Community Engagement programs.
We have searches underway for three positions, Front Desk/Administrative Coordinator, Middle School Counselor, and after-school choir teacher for the Middle School. All of our active searches are listed on the stanleybps.org/jobs page. We’ll look forward to introducing these folks to you in the fall!
The difference between happiness and joyPosted by Tim Barrier on 5/23/2019
In my last letter of the school year, I’d like to say simply thank you for the privilege of walking alongside you during another year of helping children become the best selves they can.
I’ve quoted columnist David Brooks before, and no doubt I’ll do so again. For me, he captures some essential truths about the human experience, with direct relevance to our lives as parents and teachers. A couple weeks ago he wrote a column called, “The Difference Between Happiness and Joy.” Happiness is certainly fine and good, and it comes from things like accomplishments, yet joy is transcendent and “comes when your heart is in another.” He talks about the essence of friendships in our lives as one clear avenue to joy. “They say that love is blind, but the affection friends have for each other is the opposite of blind. It is ferociously attentive. You are vulnerable, and your friend holds your vulnerability. He pauses, and you wait for him. You err, and she forgives.”
It strikes me that we live in a time when vulnerability is hardly a valued commodity. We promote strength over weakness, winning at any cost, image over substance, and we’re encouraged to project unrealistic illusions of our lives over social media. It seems we are often too concerned with protecting our status to simply be genuine and risk letting the world see us as we really are.
But we get these moments in our lives, don’t we, when we get to cut through all the nonsense and experience joy in its purest sense. Graduation exercises are those for me – certainly those of my own children, and also those of our students each year. There’s just an overwhelming sense of contentment watching our children reach these critical milestones in their lives. In a moment, these rituals capture all our memories of what has gotten our children to this point, and they hold the promise and hopes of their futures.
My hope for all of us is that we celebrate another year passing for our children, and ourselves, in a manner that has meaning individually. I’ll see many of you at upcoming continuation and graduation exercises, and for all, I wish you a peaceful and joyful summer season.
May's month of activities - here and afarPosted by Tim Barrier on 5/9/2019
In the midst of yet more school violence this week, I couldn’t help but be reminded, wistfully, of a southern Africa concept, “Ubuntu,” which translates roughly to “I am, because of us.” We continue to get jarring notices that the fabric of our society, and the human bonds that hold us together, are fraying and fragile. I hope that in moments like these that we all remember that the care we have for one another, and therefore ourselves, matters more than anything else in the end. It’s yet another reason why I value and love our school community so much.
On behalf our entire staff, I’d like to thank you for the incredible luncheon last Friday. We feel well appreciated! As always, the food was outstanding and bountiful. Your kindness is a blessing, especially at the start of the mania of May. A meal together as a staff is good for the soul.
Each year, we pair the lunch with a recognition ceremony for our 10- and 20-year teachers. The longevity of these educators truly symbolizes the care and dedication that all our teachers and staff put into their lives at school. This year, we were happy to honor our “10-year leaf” recipients Stephanie Bender, Stacey Levy, and Katie Boston. You can see their leaves along with all other past recipients on the beautiful tree sculpture in the community space created by middle school teacher Nat Oliver.
We recognize our twenty-year teachers with a beautifully designed wooden Stanley chair. This year’s cohort included our indomitable school registrar, Barb Lesnoski, the incomparably imaginative and creative Jane Hile, and the faculty member that many kids call simply “the kindness teacher,” Allison Neckers. It’s an honor to work alongside these kinds of people who have spent a good part of their lives serving Stanley children and families.
We are well into a May full of activity, here and afar. It’s the time of year when we send Stanley students to various parts of the state, country and even world to make the outdoors our classroom.
Our middle school Constitutional Law team, comprised of 7th and 8th graders, got back from the national competition in Washington, D.C., this week. The trip is a culmination of a year’s worth of study of the meaning and application of the Constitution, led by middle school teachers Susan Cleveland and Mike Waysylenky. Our scholars placed fourth out of the twelve teams participating – congratulations!
Tomorrow, our 8th graders travel to England. Now in its twenty-first year, this Stanley tradition is the culmination of curriculum, of 8th-grade community, and of the relationships that have meant so much to our students over many years. It’s not uncommon parents remark that their children seem changed after this trip – through some combination of growing independence and heightened interest in exploring all the world has to offer. Among the many expected outcomes of the England trip, perhaps the most important is its impact on students’ confidence as they prepare for the next phase of their education and lives.
Auction was a great success thanks to youPosted by Tim Barrier on 5/2/2019
I’m still coming off the high from last weekend’s Stanley Shindig. If you enjoyed the night half as much as I did, I know you had a great evening. After years of being in the gym, a tent or off campus, I loved being back in the Officer’s Club. It felt like coming home. For those who were able to attend, thank you for coming, and if you weren’t able to make it this year, I know you contributed through your donations, sponsorships and bids. A huge thank you to the auction committee who worked tirelessly alongside our Community Engagement team to create a truly unforgettable Stanley event.
The total raised is still being calculated, but it’s clear that we were able to far exceed our goal for the night, and we far outpaced any previous auction. Thanks to you, we reached the realm of “beyond all hopes and dreams” – raising somewhere north of $200,000. The focal point of the night was of course our paddle raise for Stanley’s new playground. One of the things I love about our community is that it never fails to respond to a call for support, particularly with anything related to the experience of Stanley children. Boy was that in evidence Saturday night. We had set a goal of providing the first $50,000 of what will be a $250,000 project. Thanks to the overwhelming response – both in levels of commitment and overall number of paddles lifted – we raised over $106,000 in support of new outdoor playspace. This total includes an incredibly generous $25,000 match through the Wege Family Foundation, courtesy of Andrew and Catherine Goodwillie.
It’s going to be one heck of a playground.We’re still in the design phase of the project, and the firm we’re working with, Urban Play, has no shortage of ideas to work with, thanks to Stanley students. A couple weeks ago, we dedicated our family group session to collecting data on what students wanted most out of their new playground. We asked them to “vote” on eight different priorities – everything from playhouse concepts to sports opportunities to quiet, reflective zones. Faculty at various age groups are also providing input into how they see children in their divisions using outdoor play space, and how that space could further meet development needs. As I would expect, individual students have hardly been shy about giving their ideas directly to me. Among the suggestions that have appeared on my desk just in the last week include a treehouse, a trampoline, a Stanley Lake, and a “peting” zoo.
Stay tuned the rest of the school year as our plans for the playground continue to take shape. And, on behalf of our school community and especially our students, please accept my greatest expression of gratitude and appreciation for what you do for our school – at the auction for sure, and always. Your support makes Stanley what it is.
Supporting all our studentsPosted by Tim Barrier on 4/25/2019
I can’t wait to see you this weekend at The Stanley Shindig. After years of holding the event in our gym, in a tent, and even off campus, I am delighted we’re moving the evening’s festivities back into the Officer’s Club, where we held many an auction back in the day. This facility was designed, after all, to be the entertainment center for top Lowry Air Force personnel. It will be exciting to put the Pub Room back in service as it was intended!
A highlight of the proceedings will be a community-wide paddle raise to support a new Stanley playground for all our K-8 students. We’ve begun working with a design firm, Urban Play, to capture the ideas, hopes, and aspirations from our community about what a refreshed playground can mean for us. Why is this project so full of opportunity? We know that play, broadly defined, is the foundation of learning, and not just for our youngest children. Play is the way children of all ages make meaning of the world around them, experiment with their strength and physical abilities, and practice essential skills for navigating their social lives.
Unstructured yet inspired play is needed for optimum brain development -- creating the neural pathways that promote the capacity for lifelong learning we promote. A playground is also just a lot of fun. The inherent imaginative realm that exists in every child comes to life in ways we as adults can only marvel at. I truly hope you’ll join me, when the time comes Saturday night, to raise your paddle generously in support of this new Stanley venture.
The State of our SchoolPosted by Tim Barrier on 4/11/2019
I hope you may be able to attend Monday night’s rescheduled State of the School address. (A childcare hook-up might boost your likelihood?) I had intended the following as a summary, though with the new date, you may consider it a preview…
The “state of the school” sounds like a fairly auspicious thing to describe. Schools are wonderfully complex, ours certainly no exception. It is important, however, to take stock now and then, to reflect on how we’re meeting our mission, and to think about where we’re going.
On many objective measures, the state of the school is strong. Our financial position and forecasting remain solid, with the school carrying no debt on the campus and holding over seven million dollars in endowment funds. Our market demand has also remained consistently high, and enrollment is of course the lifeblood of our school. Parent engagement as measured by percentage of families participating in our annual giving opportunities also remains very strong relative to many peer schools.
While finances are essential, and as they say, “no money, no mission,” the heart of what we care about lies in each child’s experience at Stanley. How do we measure the outcome of that experience? It’s a great question. While we have quantitative data like test scores, and high school and college placement that provide one indicator of “success,” we value the humanistic outcomes more. What kind of people do our student become? What choices do they make for themselves and the lives they lead?
We started a program four years ago, called “Stan Talks,” to provide answers to those very questions. Each year, three alumni are invited to share 10-minute Ted-talk-like presentations on what they’re up to, and how Stanley shaped their life paths. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. We’ve had architects, entrepreneurs, engineers, artists – alumni – following all kinds of career and personal paths. The diversity of outcomes is exactly what we’d expect from an educational grounding in the power of choice, personal agency, and the opportunity to learn about one’s passions.
The State of the School presentation provides an opportunity to reflect on the broader purpose of a Stanley education. Our mission guides our program, which allows children to explore both their own identities and potential and also their role in a greater community (a mixed-age classroom, a school). It’s an essential preparation for life, and a balance our society desperately needs. How do I find personal fulfillment and also engage actively in the welfare of others? Of course, at Stanley we believe the two are interrelated. When students confidently pursue what interests and motivates them, the resulting contributions are inevitably good for society.
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