Dear Laurence Family,
One of my favorite days of the year will soon be upon us... the first day of school! The joy and excitement of that first day is something that I look forward to all summer long. You are all a part of my family, and it feels like one big reunion when everyone comes "home."
We will be kicking off the year with a continuation of our character education program, "Keep Kind in Mind." This school year we will focus on the "7 Kinds of Kindness," looking at ways to be Kind to Ourselves, Kind to Others, and Kind to the Earth, at developmentally-appropriate levels for each grade level. We will take a renewed look at sustainability and ways that we can preserve and protect our planet. We will also focus on the many strands of identity as defined by Teaching Tolerance. Through intentional conversations and exposure to literature and history, our students will be empowered and encouraged to see the world around them from multiple perspectives, to develop a strong sense of empathy and respect for differences, and to develop a greater understanding of who they are. We will continue to delve even deeper with personal presentation skills, focusing on both public speaking and listening skills. You will hear more about our themes for the year during Back to School Night/Morning at the end of September.
Last school year, I was touched when I received a handwritten note from a 3rd grader that read, "You are so good at keeping the campus new." As many of you (and your children) have come to notice, a lot takes place on campus in the few short weeks while you are away. And indeed, this summer is no exception! Greg Kovacs, Jose Castellanos, and our facilities team have been hard at work with some exciting updates, getting the campus ready for your return:
LIBRARY & PAC REFRESH
Bright, beautiful and well-designed spaces promote positive learning and moods, and we are continually ensuring that our campus facilities are well-maintained and refreshed. Our Library and PAC are important gathering spaces for learning, enrichment, and community at Laurence, and both spaces will be repainted this summer, with the floor of the PAC getting refinished, improving aesthetics and safety.
TECH CENTER REMODEL AND EXPANSION
Over the past years, our technology curriculum has shifted from a static, computer-lab model, to a dynamic model of students designing, building, and making products that integrate their understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). After watching our students work, we realized the Tech Center environment needed to evolve. For example, students require more flexible floor space, to construct anything from design prototypes to Lego robots. In order to maximize the space for our programmatic needs, we have re-envisioned this learning environment into an indoor/outdoor flexible classroom and Makerspace, optimized for our ever-evolving STEAM program. New furniture, including tables that will roll and fold, make way for students to let their creativity soar. We have opened up the back wall of the Tech Center to allow access to what will be a re-landscaped outdoor patio and garden for students to use during class time. Following the school's existing campus aesthetic, the new patio and garden space will flow out from the Tech Center and Library, meeting up with our Ecosystems Garden behind the Science Center and 6th Grade classrooms. The Tech Center will be fully equipped with a new laser cutter, 3D printers, and state-of-the-art Apple laptops, to engage students in computer science, coding, robotics, graphic design, movie making, and more. The space will better support the wide variety of learning and projects within our technology curriculum, enabling them to utilize these skills to create their own design thinking projects.
EXPANDED CLASSROOM & LEARNING SPACES
Laurence has recently been afforded a unique opportunity to expand classroom and program space by acquiring an approximately 2,000 square foot prefabricated building. Because of the flexibility of this structure, uses can vary from year to year, meeting our need for enhanced flexible learning, including larger classrooms, more learning labs for reading and math, and STEAM, art, or language space. We are still in the planning phase of this exciting campus addition, and will provide further updates in the future.
We are committed to ensuring that our campus is usable, program-oriented, and inspiring for our students and their families, while maintaining that whimsical, uniquely Laurence feel. A special thank you to our Laurence angels who made these campus improvements, remodels and renovations possible: the Facilities Committee of the Board of Trustees, Jeff Huberts, Kristine Kamenstein, Jenny Koch, Sophia Whang and Bobby Lee, Danny and Ranya Moizel, and Rabbi Amy and Gary Perlin (grandparents of Micah and Goldie).
You will see some friendly new faces around campus this fall. Welcome to Corinne Metling (2nd grade associate teacher) and Katie Fragapane (3rd grade co-lead teacher). We also welcome Samantha Hakim, who will join Samantha Shreder in House KB for the first few months of the school year during Dana Ackerman's maternity leave. One of our Learning Specialists, Schuyler Schwimer, is out on maternity leave until January, and her fellow Learning Specialist, Claudia Cadena, will be here full time until Schuyler returns. To learn more about our new teachers, please read the Get to Know Our New Faculty & Staff newsletter article.
As you begin wrapping up your summer vacation, I hope that you will take time to relax, rejuvenate, and soak up these moments of togetherness with your remarkable children. I look forward to seeing you soon!