Monday, September 24, 2012

Staff Spotlight: Mighty Kim

Fresh from her student teaching abroad, Kim joined The Little School early last year. She began as a teacher in the Little Star's toddler room, but she took the helm as Team Leader of the Mighty Me's this month. With her she brings a wealth of early childhood experience from all over the world. A native of Cary NC, Kim has a B.S. in Child Development from Appalachian State University. She is a world traveler with invaluable experience working in schools in Costa Rica and Chile. A true partner in children's education, Kim loves watching the kids develop and grown into who they are. Likewise, we love watching Kim grow and expand into her new position of Team Leader. She is grace under pressure, and an awesome rock. We are so glad to have her, and to share this little bit of her with you.

* How did you find your way to TLS?
I found TLS after returning to North Carolina from interning in Chile. I had some experience with the same philosophies as TLS and knew I wanted to work at a school that followed these. I saw the website for The Little School and, after visiting, knew that I wanted to be a part of the TLS community.

* What is your educational approach? How do you find children learn best?
I feel that children learn best through play and exploration. I think we can focus too much on academics and that we often forget that children are still children. I think we often take their play for granted and sometimes don't realize how much it helps them learn and develop.

* What was the most interesting trip you have taken?
My favorite trip was my student teaching experience in Costa Rica. I had the opportunity to live with a host-family, work in a kindergarten classroom, help construct an orphanage, and travel throughout the country. It was a great way to experience the culture and see the country, and it provided me with numerous adventures and memories.

* If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
If I could have superpowers I would love to teleport and time travel. I love traveling, so being able to do so whenever I choose would be amazing. I also think it would be interesting to go back in time and experience how life was different back then.

* What did you want to be when you were 12 years old?

When I was 12, I was really interested in interior design. I watched every episode of Trading Spaces on television and my dream was to work on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition!

* What words do you live by?
Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Who's in charge around here anyway? Our goal at TLS is to make the children active partners in their own learning. This is child-led learning at it's best! From sea creatures to rainbows, our teachers have been riding right along your child, letting them develop a lesson plan that moves and inspires them. Take a look at what your little ones have been diving into this week!

In The Curious Caterpillars, the kids have been interested in animals. In particular, the teachers noticed they were gravitating towards dolphins and whales. Launching from this interest, the class began a study about the sea. They created an ocean painting that the kids really *ahem* got into. The curious ones used every part of themselves to put paint to paper. Some skipped the paper altogether and preferred themselves. These blueman group wannabe's then headed straight to water-play where they could further investigate water while hopefully de-bluing themselves.

The Diving Dolphins have been more interested in alligators and crocodiles then dolphins. The kids  have been fascinated by these scaly critters, so the team has been finding ways to explore them further. They created a large cardboard and canvas alligator that the kids named "Star Wars". Deciding that Star Wars needed a home, they investigated his habitat and made him a swamp. The kids hiked down to the retention pond and collected cat-tails to attach to his swamp. The kids are reading books and creating their own facts about Star Wars: "My name is Star Wars. I live in a swamp. I eat fish and snakes. I make chomp chomp sounds. My family is all of us (classroom friends). I like to play volleyball with my family". One student has decided that if there is going to be another classroom alligator, his name will be named "Vol-tron". Obviously.

The Grizzly bears have been looking to the sky for inspiration. Their interest in the sky led them to rainbows where they conducted several science experiments. The class decided to paint their own unique rainbow. As such, they were very clear they did not want to use brushes. They went to the art studio to explore their options. The class lit up when they saw the corks, and proceeded to use them to paint their mural. They took one one color of the rainbow at a time... including indigo. Is that purple you see? Umm, no, it's VIOLET, thank you very much!

The Mighty Mes are a group of movers and shakers. Their love of construction led them into a study of builders. They discussed all they know about builders ("They have tape measures" Parker informs the class. "I have tape measures too, just like buildings" adds Sebastian"). The class even created raucous and action packed art by painting with hammers!

And lastly, one that made me laugh each time I saw it last week: A parent in in the Space Invaders Class has a broken ankle. This is of course an amazing thing for a kid to wrap their brain around. It is fascinating yes, but did you know it was also a Space Invader fashion phenomenon? Kids have begun requesting a paper cast for THEIR broken ankles. The trend is spreading (as trends do) and this is suddenly a group of very accident prone kids. Get well soon guys, or don't and keep learning all you can about broken bones!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Welcome TLS @ Duke!

Tuesday September 4th marks a new chapter in the story of The Little School. On Tuesday morning, we will welcome children and families to The Little School at Duke. Recognizing a need for quality schooling for their youngest population, Duke partnered with The Little School to serve the children of their staff and faculty.

Dreams and visions of beautiful new schools are all fine and well, but once we wake up, there is work to be done. TLS parent Coby Linton renovated and re-imagined the former site of The Duke School. Admissions guru Mary gave tour after tour to prospective families (as well as juggled enough paperwork to wipe out a small forest). Our owners, HR, and Program Director carefully curated an amazing staff, and in turn the teachers spent the past month receiving Reggio training, CPR & First Aid training (Thanks Sara Houston), and Conscious Discipline training under the guidance of skilled childcare professionals. If their head wasn’t spinning enough, the teachers then lovingly stocked their rooms in preparation for the big day.  

It was all so worth it.

Last Thursday Duke University president Richard H. Brodhead arrived to officially open the school. With comically large scissors in hand, he cut the ribbon to our finished dream, our newest baby. It was all very official, or as official as novelty sized scissors get. He reminded us all that it is here that a child’s education begins, here that the foundation is laid for the leaders of tomorrow. He fondly reminisced that off all his experiences with his own children’s education, their preschool remains closest to his heart. President Broadhead quipped that if we are “The Little School”, then perhaps he should change Duke’s name to “The Big School”. I think our leaders of tomorrow should hold him to that.

Little School today, Big School tomorrow. Amazing job team. YOU DID IT!