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.

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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!

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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!”

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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!

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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!