A Fine, Fine School...
As a teacher I always thought carefully about the books I would read aloud in the first few weeks of school. Since research tells us again and again that reading aloud to children is one of the most important things we as adults (parents and educators alike) can do to build strong readers, who choose and love to read, it is a must! And as principal, it is one of my favorite things to do for sure!
One of my favorite books to read to first and second graders at the beginning of the year, and one I already started reading aloud to the students at Winans Elementary, is called, "A Fine, Fine School", by Sharon Creech, pictures by Harry Bliss. It's a book about a principal who is so proud of his students and teachers that he decides to have school on Saturdays, then all weekend, then on holidays, and of course it continues even into summer. It takes a brave little girl named Tillie to stand up to her principal and tell him that even though this fine, fine school is a wonderful place, it isn't so great to be there all the time. You see Tillie's dog needed to learn how to fetch, her little brother needed to learn how to swing and skip, and she needed to learn how to climb a tree and sit in it for an hour. Balance! It is a great book about balance and also reminds us that learning doesn't just happen at school, learning is truly everywhere.
One thing I have loved so far about moving to Livingston, Montana, is that we live in such a beautiful place that it almost forces us to find balance. With the mountains surrounding us and the river literally running through our town, it is easy to go outside and join in all the Big Sky Country has to offer. Especially at the beginning of the school year we can get caught up in all the rush, the newness, along with all our regular duties, and forget to just go out and enjoy these beautiful moments with the people who matter most.
My own son and daughter reminded me of the importance of these moments this weekend as they encouraged me to get outside and "play" on the Yellowstone River. And as always they taught me once again that peeking under rocks to see the wonders beneath, is what provides the balance in life. These are the precious moments that matter the most to our kids and actually end up mattering most to us I believe.
We have a fine, fine school here at Winans. I am already so proud of our teachers and students for an amazing start to the year. We are truly looking at how we can support the growth of our children physically, emotionally and academically. Helping nourish physically healthy bodies to grow curious and creative minds is crucial and our new Healthy Snack and Celebration Initiative will help us do just this! Empowering our students with tools to regulate, solve conflict, and problem solve in an emotionally safe environment is another goal we have this year. We are creating an even more safe, trauma informed, mindful, and joyful school culture, through teaching research based social and emotional skills using the Four Zones of Regulation, Kelso's Choices, Mindfulness, and the 3 R's on how to be Ready, Responsible, and Respectful. And of course, the academic piece where we have already begun to have incredible conversations around research based best practices, alignment, instruction, and assessment to support each and every child to achieve so that every child's story can be a success story.
It's a lot. We have much to do. It might be easy to say it will only get finished if we go to school on the weekend, on holidays, and in the summer... However, like I tell the students when they ask me, "Will you make us go to school like that Dr. Brooke?" My response is always of course, "No way! We need to play, too! We need to spend time with our pets, our family, our most important people learning all we can outside of school, too." And I truly believe this.
We are a fine, fine school. We are doing great things. We have so many things ahead to learn and achieve. With your support at home finding those important moments with your child, and partnering with us at school, together we can create a wonderful story for YOUR child and all the students at Winans. Together we can create that balance... the balance where we find learning is truly everywhere, in everything we do.