We are pleased to announce the appointment of Narissa Bajjo as our second Kindergarten teacher. Narissa Bajjo is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University, where she majored in Spanish and minored in history. After two years at Westtown School as a teaching fellow, she taught another year there as a lower school assistant teacher, a dorm parent, an advisor, and a Senior Project leader. As a Kindergarten teacher, she taught Singapore Math, Handwriting without Tears, lessons using the Lucy Caulkins Reading Workshop, and Spanish, and incorporated technology including iPad applications and international Skype collaborations. Since then, she has been a lower school assistant teacher at Wilmington Friends School where she planned and implemented word study lessons using the Wilson Fundations curriculum.
She also brings a strong understanding of Friends education, having the four years of experience at Westtown and Wilmington Friends. In her demonstration lesson, she was able to frame the lesson around the testimony of simplicity. She also brings strengths of enriching the diversity of our teaching staff and curriculum. While at Westtown, she assumed the leadership of the school's observation of Martin Luther King Day, and she led a group of 17 students on a service trip to Heritage Academy in Ghana, West Africa. There at Heritage, she created and implemented a course focused on the connections between the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the Civil Rights Movement in the US and Apartheid in South Africa.
Most importantly, we are impressed with her ability to connect with our present Kindergarteners, to make each of them feel welcome, respected and heard.
Amy Keilbaugh, Art Teacher
We are also pleased to announce the appointment of Amy Keilbaugh as our new art teacher. Amy has strong qualifications, great experience, and very enthusiastic references. She is a graduate of Guilford College in Fine Arts, majoring in printmaking and minoring in art history. She continued her education at Temple's Tyler School of Art, and completed the art education Post-Baccalaureate Program at the Moore College of Art and Design.
Her teaching experience includes LaSalle Academy, the Henry C. Lea School, the Belmont Charter School in Philadelphia and most recently Springfield School District.
From our own experience on the day she visited, we were impressed with Amy's demonstration lesson called Cloudscape for our students, which began with a discussion of N.C. Wyeth's The Giant and the possible stories contained therein. The lesson had as its objective for students to create peace of artwork based on clouds and their imaginations. The class was very engaged and we noted in particular her ability to help students succeed and discover through art.
Misha graduated from Stony Brook University where she majored in sociology, and where she started all four years on its Division I Women's Basketball team. She is studying for her masters in Multicultural Education from Eastern University, which she expects to complete in December. She has been a successful coach and physical education teacher in many settings, most recently at Germantown Friends School, where she taught PE in all three divisions, and coached soccer, basketball and lacrosse. She has been part of the Black Women in Sports Foundation where she worked closely with school aged children in urban communities developing lesson plans for fitness and team sports.
The president and executive director of the Black Women in Sports Foundation praised her as an outstanding coach and teacher of students 3-years old up through high school. She noted her excellent relationship with children, and also the fact that she is an elite basketball player. Other references for her have praised her initiative and conscientiousness, her athletic prowess and her strong rapport with children and young people. For example, at Cheltenham, a community in which she grew up, she arranged for many basketball players to play in the community league to raise money for charity.
The Annual Spring Concert will be held on Thursday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m., and Friday, April 25, at 9:00 a.m. Every class at LFS will perform at least two pieces. The spirit will dance among us as our students let their inner light shine!
The LFS Lasers compete in the First Lego League regional qualifier this Saturday at the University of Pennsylvania. Please enjoy their presentation for the competition! They'd love to hear your ideas and questions about their project. Please post your ideas on the LFS FB page!
Each year we welcome grand friends to Lansdowne Friends School on the day before Thanksgiving. Our meeting for worship was followed by a chance for our grand friends to visit classes. We ended the day with a wonderful time in the meetinghouse, where our students shared their voices in song under the direction of Tr. Brenda Rose.
Third and fourth graders at Lansdowne Friends School experienced the natural world in one of their units of study while learning to canoe on one of the many streams in the Delaware Valley. Teacher Alison Levie's students learned canoe safety and techniques launching their canoes in Crum Creek in Swarthmore and paddling upstream as part of their water study.
Water is one of the key science units in Levie's class. Students learn about the physical properties of water, the importance of water for life, the interconnectedness of life and how water aids in those connections, human dependence on water, and about the life cycles of aquatic organisms. As part of their work, her students have done stream studies in the creeks near Lansdowne Friends School.
This week, Levie, a lifelong canoer, teamed up with Tim and Terri James, who directed a comprehensive canoeing program in the middle school at Westtown School before they retired last year. From their canoes, students experienced the physics of water--seeing, for example, why paddling on the left side of a canoe will make the canoe go right, and how ruddering steers a boat. They observed aquatic life in and along the stream. They also tested the pH of the water and gauged the health of the stream by the presence of macroinvertebrates.
Most importantly, they had an experience in nature. Author Richard Luov argues in his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder that there is a great disconnect between children today and the outdoors. He further argues that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.
"These canoe trips are part of Lansdowne Friends School's answer to nature deficit disorder," said Head of School John McKinstry. "At the same time, students are learning a life-long skill."
The canoeing program also connects students to their own watersheds. The Jameses have had a long connection to Chester/Ridley/Crum Watersheds association, having been part of stream clean-ups and streambank restoration projects for CRC for dozens of years. "It seems like a natural extension for Terri and Tim to teach students how to canoe in the CRC," McKinstry said.
This week's short trip was also part of the prepration for a much longer canoe trip in the spring.