Friday, November 17, 2017

Why don't we have a day off for Veterans Day?

Many people know that I did not grow up here in Texas.  I grew up, went to school, and began my teaching career in the great state of California.  One of the first things I noticed when first moving to Texas and putting my own children in public school is how many fewer school holidays there are than in California.  There are many explanations for this here in Texas but after last week’s Veterans Day program put on by the Grade 3, I now have my own reflections.

Our school is close to six years old and we are still building traditions.  That’s what happens when people start new endeavors (like schools):   little to no expectations, sometimes fear of the unknown, and a lot of changes to get things “just right”.  And so, in the spirit of starting a new endeavor, our Grade 3 students and teachers collaborated 2 years ago to create a musical program to honor veterans.  It was a learning experience about the significance of everyday heroes.  My daughter was in third grade at the time.  The program was very homegrown and inspiring, with patriotic songs, dancing, and pictures of veterans from our families.  

This year, I was able to participate as a third grade teacher.  Our program was a great springboard to our Day of Service, where Grade 3 chose to support local veterans in need, while also spending time with local veterans to build empathy and knowledge about what it is like to serve in the military.  Our little veterans program was the third annual, and our schoolwide Day of Service is our sixth annual.  I think it is safe to say two strong traditions have been born and cultivated to include not only our school community but our local community.


So, why don’t we have a day off in honor of Veterans day?  Well, the military doesn’t take the day off, so why should we?  They take action, often risking injury or death, so why shouldn’t we take action in some small way?  Veterans Day is the ultimate celebration of courage, action, and duty.  The more we make a tradition of action, the more our families and children will courageously volunteer their time and talents with no expectation of payment or reward.  Yes, joining the military is a great way for men and women to educate themselves and take care of their families, but we all know these special people have a deep sense of duty.  This is what I want for my own children, and for my students.  

And what holiday comes next?  Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving is yet another celebration of action taken by everyday people.  I am thankful for our veterans, their families, and this wonderful school community that has inspired appreciation and action in my own family.  We often call the holiday season a “season of giving”.  Let’s call it a season of action!

Jessica Contreras
PYP Teacher

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dragons in DC

Earlier in October, a small group of students and adults engaged in the school's first trip to Washington, DC. There, they visited the United States Capitol, the United States Supreme Court, and the White House. They took in the monuments along the mall, explored museums, and visited sites of civic and historical significance. Traveling by both the DC metro and a chartered bus, the Dragons and the tour guide started their days early and made the most of the time by returning to the hotel well after sunset. A show at the Kennedy Center, a stop at Jamestown, and a tour of Williamsburg rounded out a wonderful journey.

Some thoughts on the trip from the travelers highlight the most important takeaway: making new friends and memories.

Mrs. Hinterscher, MYP Coordinator:
"We developed friendships and made memories together as we learned about our country. This trip was more of an appetizer than a meal; we left still wanting more, the ideal inquiry trip. An excellent tour guide is a quintessential must-have on this kind of adventure - and we had the best in Timothy."

Amelia Kimball, Grade 9:
"DC allowed me to bond with amazing people I had never met before in the most interesting of settings! As we boarded the plane there, I didn’t know anyone…by the time we were leaving, we were just a big bunch of friends. This was both a learning experience and an opportunity for me to create new bonds with the people I go to school with.”

Victoria Hinnant, Grade 8:
"I had a ton of fun in Washington DC! It was a great learning experience and I enjoyed the adventure. Personally, I think the best part was making new friends."

Samer Osmani, Grade 8:
"I liked the DC trip because we got to see a lot of monuments and museums. My favorite part of the trip was going to the Holocaust Museum and seeing the Lincoln Memorial. Overall it was a fun trip and an amazing experience."

















Thursday, October 5, 2017

Living My Dream

Five years ago, I was one of the first teachers hired to teach at the brand new school of Imagine International Academy of North Texas. At our first teacher meeting, the principal of the school gave us an envelope and paper and asked us to write about our goals, expectations, thoughts of this new school. I remember clearly what I wrote. I was tired of being looked down by my European friends about how low and uncompetitive our American education was. I was discouraged that material was being covered here a couple of years later than students of the same age in other countries. I was frustrated by seeing how kids were made to believe they are doing fine academically, when they actually were not. I felt kids and parents were cheated by schools who were more concerned about looking good instead of being honest with their students and helping them truly succeed. This was especially true when it would have been in the students' best interest to first fail and then repeating a course in order to acquire the skills necessary to succeed. So, I wrote on my paper how I was hoping Imagine would be different.

Reflecting on my initial expectations of the school, I have to say that I am actually living my dream. When my son, now a sixth grader, came with his first failing grade in science, I felt thankful! Thankful to this teacher who was brave enough to stand against our culture of everybody is a winner, identify the areas of growth for my son, talk to us about a plan for improvement, and hold him accountable for it. Sugar coating does not help anybody.  It hurts our children in the long run. I am blessed to be in a school, where students are graded according to international standards, where the bar is set where it is supposed to be, and everybody who wants to work is being supported.

As a European, I am thankful to Imagine for making me proud for the education, that thanks to IB, is provided in our classrooms. I am thankful for the education that my son is getting. I am thankful for the honesty in my son's evaluation so that we as a family know where he is and where he needs to be. America has given so much to my family, but one thing that was missing, was what IIANT provided- quality and honest education. 


Thank you, Imagine!

Viara Levterova
DP Faculty

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Grade 5 Inquiry Excursion

Grade 5 Inquiry Excursion

Inquiry is in the air! On Saturday, September 9, many of our Grade 5 families met at Ladonia Fossil Park in Ladonia, Texas to investigate earth sciences.

In our first unit this school year, we explored the concept of movement. We discussed why humans migrate, how the movement of the solar system was used by early travelers to track their movement, and how movement of earth can impact human migration.

Students and their families brought buckets, spades, shovels, gloves and boots, climbed down to the North Sulphur River to dig for fossils, observe the sedimentary rock layers, and to witness weathering, erosion and deposition in action. We braved “dangerous bugs”, slippery rocks and vegetation that might have been “poison ivy” (It wasn’t).

After a couple of hours of intense digging, the families met for a picnic lunch and showed off their rock treasures. Several families involved shared that “this was the best field trip ever.”


Stay tuned for our next inquiry adventure!

Grade 5
PYP












Wednesday, September 27, 2017

PYP Tradition: Creativity Café

Grade 2 students recently performed folk songs at the annual PYP tradition: Creativity Café. They changed the verses of a Virginia Folk song to match their “How We Express Ourselves” unit showing how colors go with emotions. The new verses were fun and creative! Each class wrote a new 5 verse song.
Students were accompanied by Mrs. Lauderdale playing on a new school instrument – a mountain lap dulcimer. The following week Asher Lauderdale, a Grade 9 MYP band student, came to the classroom to play folk songs for the Grade 2 Dragons on the dulcimer.
Past Grade 2 students and teachers and parents enjoy their memories made at the Creativity Café - and future Grade 2 Dragons have it to look forward to!



Valeska Lauderdale
PYP Music