Happy Chinese Lunar New Year 2019, TNCS Community!

The Chinese Lunar New Year is a favorite annual celebration at The New Century School. In 2019, Chinese New Year officially began on February 5th, 2019, and ends on February 19th. The occasion is subdivided into phases, however, with the so-called “Little Year” having started on January 28th and lasting until February 4th (New Year’s Eve). The “Spring Festival” ran from February 5th through February 15th, and the “Lantern Festival” phase begins February 16th and ends February 19th.

This is The Year of the Pig (猪—zhū)—a most auspicious animal representative, as pigs with their chubby faces and big ears are symbols of wealth in Chinese culture, despite their reputation for bringing up the rear.

Pig Zodiac Sign

According to the website Chinese New Year.net:

The Pig is the twelfth of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Pig was late because he overslept. Another story says that a wolf destroyed his house. He had to rebuild his home before he could set off. When he arrived, he was the last one and could only take twelfth place.

Pigs might not stand out in a crowd. But they are very realistic. Others may be all talk and no action. Pigs are the opposite. Though not wasteful spenders, they will let themselves enjoy life. They love entertainment and will occasionally treat themselves. They are a bit materialistic, but this is motivation for them to work hard. Being able to hold solid objects in their hands gives them security.

They are energetic and are always enthusiastic, even for boring jobs. If given the chance, they will take positions of power and status. They believe that only those people have the right to speak, and that’s what they want.

Celebrations at TNCS

Although every Chinese New Year is special, this year stands out thanks to some very special guests from China. Tiger, Lucy, Tiffany, and Meg and their parents joined the TNCS community for 2 wonderful weeks of fun and cultural exchange (see more about their visit here).

Although Chinese New Year represents “out with the old, in with the new,” so wearing new clothes, often in red, is common practice, February 5th just happened to coincide with Pajama Day as part of TNCS’s Spirit Week.

Red Pockets

TNCS students did observe other Chinese New Year traditions including the always-popular “Red Pockets”! These delightful red envelopes known as hóng bāo (红包) contain “lucky money,” which is to help get the recipient off on the right foot in the new year. At TNCS, Wei Li (“Li Laoshi”) has her older students pass out hóng bāo to the preprimary and primary students (who don’t mind a bit that the yuan inside are counterfeit).

Dumpling Making

If there’s one thing TNCS students absolutely love to do, it’s make—and eat—jiǎozi ( 餃子), dumplings! On the first day of Chinese New Year, they were led by their Chinese friends’ parents, which was an added treat.

The Performance

On the first day of Chinese New Year, TNCS students and their Chinese guests collaborated on a very special performance of singing, dancing, and playing instruments.

These videos are presented to you in the order of the show. Prepare to be seriously wowed.

It was such a wonderful way to start off 2019 . . . or, rather, the year 4716. No matter how you count your years, this Chinese New Year at TNCS will be remembered for a long time to come!


For past years’ celebrations at TNCS, see:

TNCS Hosts Four Elementary Students from China!

As mentioned in last week’s Immersed, The New Century School takes advantage of the 2-week holiday many Chinese have in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year by hosting special programs and inviting various groups to TNCS. For the Year of the Pig, first came a group of six university students, eager to take home innovative education ideas, followed by the topic of this week’s post, four students and their parents.

In the English–Mandarin Classroom

The purpose behind this second visit was some cultural exchange—immersion in an English-speaking classroom for the Chinese students for 2 weeks, and a chance for TNCS students to practice conversation skills in Mandarin with their visiting friends Lucy, Tiger, Tiffany, and Meg. All students took full advantage of this rich opportunity to increase their language proficiency.

The outgoing and adaptable quartet meshed immediately with their new schoolmates. Lucy and Tiger were welcomed into Mrs. Sharma’s 4th- and 5th-grade homeroom, Meg joined Mrs. Biancaniello‘s 2nd- and 3rd-grade class, and Tiffany joined Ms. Shaffer‘s K/1st-grade classroom.

As you’ll readily see in these videos, the model of native-speaking peers teaching learners of a language really works.

Their parents, Meghan (Meg’s mom), Yang (Lucy’s mom), and Zhuo and DeKai (Tiffany and Tiger’s mom and dad) toured TNCS and were often on campus, visited various sites around Baltimore, including a tea date at Teavolve, and made satellite trips to Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

Field Trip to the Maryland Science Center

tncs-hosts-chinese elementary-studentsIt must be said that having the visitors in class for 2 weeks meant that TNCS students got a bit of a holiday as well. In addition to making balloon animals and doing other fun activities that helped cement relationships and increased the number of opportunities for relaxed (and therefore authentic) communication, they got to go on an extra field trip during that time to the Maryland Science Center!

They started on the top floor and made their way down, in general, getting their science on! They visited all of the interactive exhibits with placards in English and in Spanish, including the Bed of Nails—a huge hit, even with the teachers!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Next, they got to do a cycle of experiments in the Science Lab: DNA Extraction, Polymer Properties, and Mystery Mixture.


tncs-hosts-chinese elementary-students

Visiting Friends’ Homes

One big part of any cultural exchange is the experience of what family life is like in the host culture. On one occasion, Lucy and Meg and their mothers spent part of an afternoon with the Horvaths. Over a leisurely luncheon, lots of fascinating conversation took place—even a little vocabulary game of naming Chinese zodiac characters in Mandarin. Lunch was catered by Orient Express, the best Chinese restaurant in Baltimore and conveniently owned by a TNCS parent!

After lunch, all four children disappeared upstairs to play games.

It was a wonderful afternoon—a great time was had by all!

Closing Ceremony

Although this post cannot possibly cover all the amazing experiences that our group of TNCS and Chinese students shared together, the closing ceremony that marked the end of the visit is a must-see. (And, don’t worry, All of the fun had on Chinese New Year will be the topic of next week’s Immersed, coinciding with the final day of the 2-week Lunar New Year celebration.)

TNCS Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director Roberta Faux started things off with a lovely speech.

From there, TNCS students took the stage to pay tribute to their new friends.

Next, it was the guests’ turn to take the stage.

Megan’s tribute speech sums up their visit, including what a wonderful experience it was, how grateful they are to have had it, how she believes that the immersion experience is profoundly valuable and effective . . .  and how badly her daughter Meg did not want to leave! Most importantly, she expressed how happy the children were during the whole visit and how excited to come to school every day. There’s no better compliment!

After Lucy, Tiger, Tiffany, and Meg were presented with Certificates of Participation and TNCS tee shirts, Señora Duncan closed the ceremony with another lovely speech. Guests then mingled, had some snacks, and gave goodbye hugs.

Farewell, Dear Friends

TNCS students were sad to see them go, but plans are in the works for keeping in touch with Lucy, Tiger, Tiffany, and Meg, who will always be remembered by TNCS!

tncs-hosts-four-chinese-elementary-students


(Psst! We also have the very good fortune of welcoming a second group of Chinese students starting February 11th, which an upcoming Immersed will detail, so stay tuned!)

Update 2/15/19: Meghan (Meg’s mom) also wrote a blog about the experience that you can read here. Although it is in Chinese, anyone can appreciate how beautiful it is, and the positive feedback is very evident!

TNCS Hosts Interns from China!

In China, the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year, culminating on February 15th this year, are generally a time off for many Chinese. For the past few years, The New Century School has hosted many visitors from China coinciding with this break, with 2019 seeing the largest overall numbers of visitors yet (see last year’s visit here).

As Guest Teachers at TNCS

The first group comprised six university students, who clearly wanted to have a good time in addition to learning about TNCS’s unique educational approach. They had fun and made sure everyone around them did as well. Yanfei Wang (“Fei Fei”), Xinyu Liu (“Stella”), Leyi Jin (“Xiao Jin”), Jun Zhou (“Abbie”), Ajing Wang (“Janice”), and Shuyin He (“Shu Yin”) all came from Shanghai, being students at Shanghai Normal University, and they made a very lasting impression on TNCS students as well as the families who opened their homes to them.

Their visit started with an orientation presented by their Exchange Coordinator (“handler”), Candace Moore, who, though having only very recently joined TNCS, jumped in with both feet—as well as her extraordinary organizational skills—and made sure their visit went smoothly. She also gave them a presentation on Social_Emotional Education, her specialty. After that, into the classrooms they went!

 

TNCS students fell immediately in love with their six new friends, and the sentiment was very much reciprocated. They played lots of interactive games together, including math games, Go Fish!, and a Chinese New Year character game. The interns lavished attention on the students and shared their wealth of talent, too.

As Guests in a Host’s Home

The Eib family once again generously hosted and played their roles, as always, graciously and with a desire to expose the interns who stayed with them (Fei Fei and Xiao Jin) to as much U.S. culture as they could during their brief visit. They were also kind enough to share their experience (and their photos!) with Immersed. During the school week, the interns joined in, cooking and eating together (mmmmm . . . hot pot . . . ) and experiencing family life.

During any school breaks and on weekends, they explored Baltimore and made satellite trips to neighboring cities. In Baltimore, they toured Penn Station, Federal Hill on a cold and windy day, Hampden, and downtown Baltimore at night. They dined at various restaurants and stopped in at Hampden’s must-have ice cream shop, the Charmery. (“We had ice cream almost every day!,” joked Mr. Eib). They went to Annapolis to see the Maryland State House and the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Philadelphia was next to meet up with a friend and see Reading Terminal Market and City Hall.

They also traveled by train to Washington, D.C. to see Union Station and the National Portrait Gallery and have bubble tea and the famous double patty burgers at Kramerbooks and Afterwords in DuPont Circle. However, it just so happened that this trip took place during the historic government shutdown that lasted 35 days, so the interns got to know American government in an entirely unexpected way.  “We got to experience the government shutdown firsthand,” said Mr. Eib. “Everything was closed, including the National Portrait Gallery—thus the long faces siting outside. Instead we went to the Phillips Collection and saw Xiao Jin’s favorite painting!”

 

Farewell, Dear Friends!

On their last day, January 25th, they gave TNCS students gifts and thank-you cards.

 

Abbie also kindly shared her thoughts on the experience:

It was super great luck for me to have been given the chance as an intern in such a nice school so as to interact with the loveliest students and the greatest teachers. Through my internship at TNCS, my scope of knowledge was expanded as I was able to apply what I acquired at TNCS back to China. Also, I was eager to learn firsthand several advanced and innovative teaching methods in a multilingual school such as:

  • Differentiated Instruction, as I saw every teacher give special tasks to each alternating group.
  • Cross-Age Mentoring, as I attended the class in which 4th- and 5th-grade students came to read stories for those who are at 2nd grade. (I really love this part!!)

Another big thanks to the amazing school headmaster, teachers of all grades, and teachers who gave presentation to us, which led us to a brand new world of how to develop emotional intelligence and how to give authentic praises. Also, putting ourselves in students’ shoes, I think, is probably the best way to be more attached to students.

Thanks to brilliant and truly outstanding students in TNCS, too. It was always a pleasure coming to school with them, so lovely and willing to explore.

Last but not least, I would like to thank aftercare teachers for their patience, staff for preparing healthy and delicious meals, and my five close friends as a group for their cooperation. I remembered the first day when I came to aftercare classes, I happened to meet three 1-year interns and saw how they communicate with kids with love and care.

Less is more. Two weeks for us student-teachers was brief, but the activities which teachers offered were quite full and meaningful. We attended ELA, Art, Math, Science, Chinese, Global Studies, PE, Music, and Spanish. In this independent school, we were glad to help mentors at class and check homework after class. We even had the first overseas teaching experience to share our Chinese culture (especially the Spring Festival) with students all over the world. Thus, more connection is coming.

Not only was it an unforgettable experience to meet kids from 1st to 8th grade, but I was lucky enough to stay with Calvin Eib’s family as well. “Cultural Shock,” which I heard from one of my friends actually didn’t happen at all. Honestly, I enjoyed every minute with my host family and every person at TNCS.

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning. Hopefully we’ll meet next time! Thank you so much! Gracias! 谢谢! By the way—WELCOME TO CHINA!!


TNCS will miss you six wonderful women!
tncs-hosts-chinese-interns

Meet Candace Moore—TNCS’s New Summer Camp Director!

For summer 2019, The New Century School has brought Candace Moore on board just as the second half of the school year started.

Background and Experience

candace-moore-joins-tncs-summer-directorBefore coming to TNCS, Ms. Moore had been a short-term associate kindergarten teacher at McDonogh School, where she was standing in for a teacher on maternity leave, as well as teaching 2- and 3-year-olds at the Goddard School. Prior to that she taught reading literacy and art and did some mentoring at Lindhurst and Cherry Hill Elementary schools. She has taught students from age 2 through 8th grade.

From the breadth of her experience, you might think Ms. Moore has been teaching for years, but, in fact, she’s a recent graduate of the the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She is from Baltimore, born and raised, and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA), graduating in 2012. If you are starting to sense a theme, you would not be off base—the arts are extremely important to Ms. Moore. “I’m an artist first,” she says, “so I always put that out there.”

As for what my medium is, that’s kind of hard to put into one thing. I’ve been dancing since I was 3. So, I am a dancer and I’ve studied dance, but my major in both high school and in college was theatre. BSA’s curriculum was very strict so it was just theatre focused, but my college is a Liberal Arts institution, so I was able to take classes in child psychology, brand and behavior, and cultural dance—Spanish and African—as well. Overall my art expertise is dance, theatre, and painting and other visual arts.

Is there anything this superwoman doesn’t do?! Yes—she confesses to not being a sports person. Despite her technical training in modern and contemporary ballet, she says she does not have the coordination that sports require. (We can overlook this tiny evidence of her humanness.)

But don’t get too comfortable—there’s more. As to how she got involved in education, she says that career focus is a recent shift: :In my senior year of college, I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do, because I do have experience with a lot of different things. From one perspective, it can seem like, ‘oh, wow, that’s great,’ but then from another perspective, it’s like, ‘okay, what do you do with what you know?’ So you have to put it somewhere.”

Art and Education: Tying It All Together

She began reflecting on education. Her first job was camp counselor at McDonogh, and her mother has been an educator for decades.

So I literally have always been around it, and I’ve seen the impact she’s had on people, specifically with special education and just really being a great teacher. She also taught me everything I know. So, my focus changed, and I realized that I wanted to teach the importance of emotional and social well-being through art. That’s kind of where I am now—developing relationships and fundamentals so I can move into incorporating that into a program of my own. That is one of my goals that I’ve set for myself. I don’t know specifically what it will be or what it will be called, but what I have in mind would use art as the resource to build social connections with teachers, students, and parents and would emphasize the need to express through art as a way to learn more about yourself and how to communicate better with others.

Using art in this way, to communicate, to tell a story, is something she personally has always done.

Art came into my life really when I needed an outlet to express. I’ve been doing it my entire life, but I started acting when I was 11, and a lot of people around that age are going through a lot. You don’t really know how to talk about your feelings to your parents or even your friends. All of these changes are happening and you’re growing up. Even now I recognize that it’s starting at an earlier age for middle schoolers and not really knowing how to release what it is that they are feeling. I learned through creating stories, my own stories, and creating characters as a veil to show and express what it is that I’m feeling but not really having to do it as me. Being able to use a character to say how I feel really helped me to see that I’m releasing it, I’m letting it go, and then I’m able to understand a little bit more about how I feel. Even through dance, the physical connects to the mental. A lot of the movement that I’ve learned is about connecting how you feel and releasing that through movement.

Candace Moore at TNCS

Directing summer camp at TNCS will be ideal practice for Ms. Moore’s intriguing approach to art and education. She has already been giving a lot of thought to how she will bring her ideas to bear in summer camp as well. She hopes to build a diverse community of educators who each have different ideas and perspectives that, taken together, will provide something beneficial to every student. Her primary focus right now, though, is learning the administrative ropes and developing best practice standards.

Overall I want the community to know that I’m here to support them, not just the students, but the families in every way possible as well. I want families to be just as comfortable about approaching any issues or changes in their lives or situations for the summer just as much as during the school year. I really want to reinforce the need for communication with everyone within the school as well. I plan to have a few meetings before the summer starts so all of the teachers know the expectations and everyone is on the same page and making sure all of the parents have all of their information as well.

Other Responsibilities

Because she is already employed full time, Ms. Moore has taken on additional roles within the school while she readies for summer. While Monica Li is temporarily back in China, Ms. Moore is assuming some of her billing and office tasks. Another big part of her job currently is being the point person for Chinese exchange students, interns, and families. She is also teaching the students English As a Second Language (ESL).

Although I haven’t worked directly teaching ESL, I know that the purpose of the class is to get students to communicate, and much of theatre is about communication. A lot of the warm-ups and other activities are about group effort—working together and communicating, not just with your voice but with your body as well. Both verbal and physical communication are really important. It’s also really important to understand how to communicate physically because cultures do that differently. So, I think bringing that to them will be beneficial and help them feel more comfortable in the short amount of time that they’re here, especially for their ages. The oldest is 10 and the youngest is 7, and they will probably be a little shy. Let’s make it fun.

Let’s make learning fun. What a great note to end on! And welcome to the TNCS community, Ms. Moore.

candace-moore-joins-tncs-summer-director

Check-In with TNCS Curriculum Coordinator Adriana DuPrau!

The New Century School‘s Curriculum Coordinator Adriana DuPrau has been very busy heading into the third quarter of the school year. That’s due, of course, to the fact that she oversees the curricula of both elementary and middle school divisions, which is no small task, but there’s another aspect making this particular year rather special—in 2019, TNCS will graduate its first 8th-grade class!

So, let’s just get this out of the way. In Baltimore, it’s not where you went to college, it’s where you went to high school. It’s a thing.

High School Readiness

The implications of graduating the first 8th-grade class are huge. First, it’s important to get it right and pay close attention to the process to be able to replicate it seamlessly in subsequent years as well as to avoid pitfalls. Most importantly, however, the students must be ready for high school, and that readiness entails a lot, especially here in Baltimore City, where high schools are not zoned; rather, students choose the school they want to attend and then apply to get in. This is true for both public and private high schools. Many city high schools have unique identities, so students can match up their individual strengths and interests to the particular school that is going to meet their needs. Ultimately, they are embarking on a path that should prepare them for future success, whether that’s in college, career, or whatever else they envision.

This process takes planning: School choice starts by exploring available options to learn what each school offers; where it’s located; and, importantly, what special academic (e.g., results on a standardized assessment) or admissions requirements (e.g., audition or portfolio) must be met to be accepted. Attending school Open Houses and doing Shadow Days are also typically part of the process.

So, Mrs. DuPrau has been supporting this effort in many ways, starting with testing. “We learned that some of our 8th-graders had not taken many tests, and so we need to provide more test-taking opportunities. Next year, practicing for tests will take the place of teacher’s choice time for middle school students. Let’s learn how to take a test. It’s also important to have a test for students coming in to TNCS to see where they’re at,” she explained.

Wait—TNCS doesn’t do standardized testing, does it? Although the TNCS approach is the antithesis to “teaching to the test,” as mentioned above, the results of a standardized assessment are probably going to be necessary for any student bent on getting into the school of choice.

Oh, I See!

That’s where the Independent School Entrance Exam—the ISEE—comes into play. This test comprises Reading Computation, Essay, Quantitative Reasoning, Mathematical Computation, and Analogies. Dean of School Alicia Danyali began implementing test-taking skills instruction as well as practice time during the 2017–2018 school year.

“Most private school students need to take the ISEE, and then their score is what the majority of private schools will look at. That’s the big standardized test,” explained Mrs. DuPrau. She signed up TNCS to be an Education Records Bureau (ERB) member so that the ISEE could be administered on site. (“ERB is a not-for-profit member organization providing admission and achievement assessment as well as instructional services for PreK–Grade 12,” according to the ERB website.)

Said Mrs. DuPrau: “We opened the ISEE up to 6th–8th graders. It was optional for 6th and 7th grade and mandatory for the 8th grade because they need that score.” The 3-hour test took place on November 14th and was proctored by TNCS Language Arts teacher Ilia Madrazo. “It ran all morning,” said Mrs. DuPrau, “and was the first time our students had taken a real test.” (A practice run took place last May.) “To prep the 8th graders for this test, [TNCS Co-Executive Director/Co-Founder Roberta Faux] worked with them weekly, especially in math,” she said. How did the students fare? “They said it was super hard,” said Mrs. Duprau. “The ISEE is hard. Out of all the high school testing they have been doing, they said the ISEE was by far the hardest.” (But they scored highest in math!)

It’s important to note that the ISEE is required for applications to private schools.

And Are They Ready?

For public schools, on the other hand, the i-Ready is a required test, which, unlike the pencil-and-paper ISEE, is administered online and took place a month after the ISEE, on December 14th. “From my understanding,” explained Mrs. DuPrau, “the computerized test will first assess ‘where the student is’ and either build on questions if the student keeps getting everything right, or it will go back. In this way, it’s similar to how SuccessMaker works.” Thus, i-Ready is both intuitive and differentiated.

After students had taken the test, Mrs. DuPrau escorted them to Taco Fiesta for lunch!

tncs-middle-schoolers-take-the-i-ready-test

Having taken both the ISEE and the i-Ready, TNCS 8th graders now have the option of applying to both public and private schools. They also took both tests early enough that they could retake one or both if desired.

Students applying to Institute of Notre Dame additionally had to take the High School Placement Test (HSPT), which was administered at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.

High School Applications

While all this testing fervor was happening, students had to begin completing their high school applications, which were due December 14th for most private schools and approximately a month later for public schools. Some other schools they are applying to include Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women and Western High School—for those of you true Baltimoreans sure to inquire!

Mrs. DuPrau was instrumental here as well. She worked with TNCS scholarship students during the school day as needed to help them navigate the less-than-straightforward application process. She got the students accordion binders so they could organize materials by school—one tab per school. “For each school they applied to, we made checklists, put in our applications, made copies, and made sure we scheduled a shadow day and an interview,” said Mrs DuPrau. With binders in hand, they attended the Baltimore City Schools Choice Fair at the Convention Center on December 9th. Explains Mrs. DuPrau: “All the high schools from Baltimore City go there and have their own booth. A few representatives from the school man the booth and share about the school. There were also a lot of performances—singing and dancing and things like that. The girls would visit the booth and ask questions, and there were also students from the school on hand whom they could talk to.”

“The girls had so much fun with it,” recounts Mrs. DuPrau, “and I also taught them how to research information on their own. They’re binders are still growing, and they keep adding tabs!”

tncs-curriculum -coordinator-adriana-duprau-helps-apply-to-high-school

Mrs. DuPrau also had the good fortune to meet a representative of the i-Ready test whose job is specifically getting 8th graders into high school. She invited Mrs. DuPrau to join a committee on how to prepare 8th graders, follow up with them, make at least two visits throughout each high school year, and later help them apply to colleges.

Other Areas

As busy as she was with the 8th-graders, Mrs. DuPrau still made time for all of the other TNCS students, for tutoring, for setting up programs around campus, for doing dismissals (always with a big smile) as well as for teachers and faculty.

Self-Defense Class

For students in grades 4 through 8, Mrs. DuPrau arranged a self-defense/self-empowerment workshop on December 18th with author and mindfulness guru Jillian Amodio. The class focused more on promoting self-confidence and respect rather than combat techniques and was divided into boys and girls sessions, with slightly different curricula. Tips for online safety and other common-sense habits were also encouraged.

This video gives an idea of what her workshops might cover; however, they are tailored to context and age.

Finally, Ms. Amodio gave the following mantras for the students to reflect on.

Mantra for Respectful Males
I respect myself, my body, my mind, and my emotions.
I respect the bodies, minds, and emotions of others.
I respect that others feel differently and value our differences.
I am allowed to express sadness and hurt without being seen as weak.
I offer to help others when I see they are in need.
I will not place myself above anyone else. We are all equal and worthy.
There is no place for unnecessary aggression in my life.
Gentleness is a something I value.
Sensitivity towards others is something I take pride in.
There is no reason to be rude.

Mantras for Strong Girls
I respect myself, my body, my mind, and my emotions.
I respect the bodies, minds, and emotions of others.
I respect that others feel differently and value our differences.
I am allowed to express sadness and hurt without being seen as weak.
I offer to help others when I see they are in need.
I am in control! I am Strong! I am worthy!
Bold is beautiful!
I will never settle for less than I deserve!
I will not apologize for others! I will not apologize unnecessarily!
Every great woman has encountered fierce battles. Wear your battle scars with pride and rejoice in all you have conquered!

Learn more about Ms. Amodio at jillianamodio.com.

Staff Support

Although her official title is “Curriculum Coordinator,” Mrs. DuPrau’s responsibilities stretch beyond the classroom. She works closely with TNCS Head of School Shara Khon Duncan, for example, and also meets regularly with teachers. “[Señora Duncan and I] work together on how we can help with or improve the curriculum. I also help her observe teachers as well as with applying for federal grants (e.g., Title II and Title IV). We are also trying to figure out how our school can be recognized on school choice applications.”

tncs-curriculum-coordinator-adriana-duprau-and-teachers

She notes that morale among teachers has been especially high this year, which makes her job more fun—as well as trickles down to happier students. Part of this, she reasons, is the wonderful teachers themselves and another part of it is how valued they feel by the administration. In general, a spirit of collaboration and positivity pervades.

Coordinating the International Trip

Another first for TNCS this year is the international service trip middle schoolers will take this spring. They are planning to go to Puerto Rico, where passports are not required. “That is a big project,” said Mrs. DuPrau. “Figuring out all the details and coming up with fundraising ideas has been challenging.”

But, never fear! It will happen, and Immersed will fill you in on all the fun! In the meantime, thanks for all you have done to make the 2018–2019 school year such a huge success, Mrs. DuPrau!

Immersed Hits 300 Posts!

We’ve turned a major corner, folks. Not only is this the first post of 2019 (and, Happy New Year, by the way), but it’s also the 300th.

The three-hundredth. El trescientos. Bǎi fēn zhī sānshí (百分之三十).
300!

300.jpg

Since Hello World! published on October 12, 2012, that’s 300 updates on school happenings on and off campus, meet-the-teachers, check-ins and catch-ups with faculty, and photo collections of adorable students. So, to honor this momentous achievement, let’s review some stats.

  • Number of followers: 95. We need to do something about that! Hello?!
  • Most popular day and time to read Immersed: Fridays at 1:00 am (hmmm).
  • Average words per post: In 2012, it was a succinct 861. By 2017, that number had risen to a loquacious 1,137! Last year, editing skills got a bit better, and we got it down to 1,024. Whew!
  • Best views ever: November 9, 2018. That was the day that Meet the Teacher: Leslie Shaffer Joins TNCS Lower Elementary! published, making it the most popular post of 2018 and of all time! Congratulations to Ms. Shaffer!
  • Most popular post on Facebook: Catch-Ups with Aftercare Stars Ciera Daniels and Nicole Marshall!, so congrats to those two as well!

All in all, 2018 proved a fantastic year for Immersed, which demonstrates that we’re getting better as we go. To prove it, Immersed is getting a makeover. Stay tuned—we’ll be debuting our new look very soon!

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Catch-Ups with Aftercare Stars Ciera Daniels and Nicole Marshall!

Vital to the successful operation of The New Century School are the staff members who work somewhat behind the scenes—including those who provide extended care and assist in the classroom. Students might require care before the school day begins, after it ends, and during school holidays. Though not always directly in the spotlight, the individuals who supervise these extended care opportunities, therefore, have the immense responsibility of keeping the children who participate safe, entertained, and happy. Likewise, those who support teachers in the classroom as assistants are similarly tasked in addition to having other classroom-associated responsibilities. These dedicated people deserve recognition for the care they so generously provide.

This is where Ciera Daniels and Nicole Marshall come in. These two wonderful human beings are long-time TNCS employees and fulfill their duties with obvious pleasure. It’s rare, if not impossible, to encounter either of them not smiling. Immersed sat down with them to find out what makes them so particularly well suited to their work. (Why together? They not only work together, but are now besties and are almost never apart!)

Ms. Daniels began at TNCS in 2012 so has been at the school almost from the beginning. Ms. Daniels joined 5 years ago. Both are from Baltimore, MD, born and raised. They both work in aftercare at TNCS and either are currently serving as a classroom assistant (Ms. Marshall) or have done so in the past (Ms. Daniels), but, as you’ll see, they approach their job(s) as a team—and are all the more effective for this synergistic collaboration.

About Ciera Daniels

tncs-aftercare-instructor-ciear-danielsMs. Daniels recently graduated college with a communications degree from Bowie State University and is currently working two jobs. She says she applied at TNCS as a sophomore in college, just looking for a side job for some extra income. “Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I ever made,” she said.

She next announced the big news that she is going to law school next semester to pursue a dual degree with a Masters in Public Policy at the University of Baltimore. “Since I was in fifth grade I knew I wanted to go to law school,” she said. “Then, 2 years ago, I did an internship with planned parenthood. We did a lot of lobbying and collaborating for gay rights and minorities, so I want to lobby for gay rights and minorities as a lawyer. That’s where I am.”

But that doesn’t mean she will no longer be involved in child care. She’ll continue at TNCS to support herself while she pursues her law degree and even feels that these two fields are not incongruent. “My work at TNCS is awesome,” she says, “and has taught me a lot. I have gained a lot of important skills here that I will use throughout my career.”

She seems to have the nurturing instinct built in. Her first job at the age of 14 years was in a daycare center, she currently works at TNCS in aftercare, and she wants her life’s work to be elevating the lives of others.

And that’s not all. Remember that second job mentioned above? She works mornings at the middle school at Kennedy Krieger Institute, and she says her two jobs complement each other well:

It’s a good shift from there to TNCS. I like the fact that I get to go there and be a bit more hands on, because I work with people with mental and physical disabilities. The kids here at TNCS are a lot more independent. So, I like that I can go there, be hands on and help those students with almost everything, and then come here and help these students do certain things and then step back and watch them go.

About Nicole Marshall

tncs-aftercare-instructor-nicole-marshallMs. Marshall also came to TNCS somewhat serendipitously. She has established a career as a nanny and cares for children up to age 2 years. One year, when her position was reduced to just the morning hours, she applies at TNCS to work here in the afternoons. “I knew I wanted to be in a school setting,” she explained, “but I really didn’t expect to be here so long. It’s hard to leave. You just fall in love with it. It’s beautiful.”

Like Ms. Daniels, Ms. Marshall also started her work life in a daycare and also at age 14. She has now been working in early childhood education for more than half of her life. “I helped out at my godmother’s home daycare until I turned 18, and then I became a nanny. I also got a 90-hour preschool certificate but continued to nanny. And then I came here.”

TNCS’s Dynamic Duo

So what does their TNCS life entail? For one thing, they both express gratitude for what they have learned during their time at the school. Ms. Daniels came to really appreciate the Montessori aspect, which she had not been familiar with before coming to TNCS. “Montessori has opened my eyes a lot. The way it works is amazing,” she said. For her part, Ms. Marshall appreciates the experience: “When you take the 90-hour class, you only learn a little bit. You can’t really know it until you are doing it.”

They primarily work with the preprimary students, currently, which is by choice. “We want to provide structure. Having a routine is much easier for the kids,” said Ms. Daniels. Ms. Marshall says this is also hard in some ways because, once the students move up to primary, that routine gets disrupted, dissolving the bonds they had established: “When they go upstairs, they don’t want to say ‘hi’ anymore.”

Another thing they appreciate is the language aspect. “I took Chinese for 4 years in high school,” said Ms. Daniels, “and when I came here it helped strengthen my Chinese so much, especially working with Yu Lin when she was here. Working here has also helped me learn Spanish. I’ve had teachers give me homework to help me learn.”

Ms. Marshall is amazed by how independent the students are: “It’s been just great to see how well they do. I love being able to see them make their journey.”

Back to their approach, they really prefer handling aftercare as a unit. Ms. Daniels says, “It’s not the same without each other.” Ms Marshall says, “You’ve got to prepare yourself when one is not here.” She explains, “In aftercare, we like to give them a lot of different choices, and we learn what they like and don’t like. So we know what works, and they just love it. They don’t want to leave sometimes when their parents come.”

Some afternoon activities they might do together include listening to music, playing games, or sometimes just “running around.” Their teamwork pays off in that it also models cooperation for the students. Says Ms. Marshall, “they kind of all agree on what we decide to do each day. They all work together. Most of the time they just want to run around. They have so much energy at 5 o’clock.”

“We’re just big kids, too,” joked Ms. Daniels. “And we adore the kids.”

The most important thing they wanted to convey, though, is the value of their partnership with parents. Said Ms. Marshall: “We appreciate the parents. If we go to them and tell them anything about what’s going on with the kids, they fix it, they try, they’re very cooperative. They respect our opinions, even though we’re just aftercare.”

“We’re so appreciative of their cooperation because with potty training, new languages, learning new life skills, all the parents are so cooperative and understanding. It’s just great,” agreed Ms. Daniels.

And, let’s back up a second, “just aftercare”? More like, “just about the best thing that ever happened to aftercare”? Thanks for all you do, ladies!

tncs-aftercare-stars-ciera-and nicole


Ed. Note: Just after this post published, Ms. Daniels and Ms. Marshall announced that they are writing a children’s book together. More great things to come from these two in 2019!