The New Century School at 13: A Retrospective in Immersed Posts

It’s time. The New Century School is just completing its 13th fall semester, and we need a reckoning of all this amazing school has accomplished in that relatively short amount of time. Why 13? We chose to memorialize the 2022–2023 school year because it offers a truly remarkable first: a TNCS student who started TNCS at age 2 when the school opened in the fall of 2010 will graduate as an 8th-grader this June—she will have completed the full TNCS experience and is the only student to have this distinction!

TNCS is also rounding out a full Chinese zodiac of years. Established in the Year of the Tiger, TNCS closes 2022 also as a Tiger year and will begin 2023 as a Rabbit.

In this post, you’ll take a walk back through time. You’ll see your babies back when they were (or if they are still) babies. You’ll revisit cherished memories. You’ll smile to see beloved friends, teachers, and faculty who are still a part of TNCS in spirit if not in person. In short, you’ll be amazed . . . and probably moved to tears.

(Another thing you’ll notice is how actually bad phone cameras were a decade ago! Also, a sad note on videos: some no longer display as TNCS’s YouTube channel is now defunct.)

Finally, you’ll get to judge for yourself. As TNCS Co-Director/Co-Executive Founder Roberta Faux said over a decade ago, “school should be where kids discover their passion.” Has TNCS provided opportunities for passion-finding?

Milestones and Firsts

TNCS has accomplished sheer marvels. In its first 5 years alone, the once tiny one-room schoolhouse established by Co-Executive Directors/Co-Founders Ms. Faux and Jennifer Lawner with five students grew into a full-fledged preschool and elementary school. Milestone after milestone was sighted, then met, including launching a greenhouse and school-lunch program, acquiring a gymnasium and auditorium; implementing a robust STEM curriculum; introducing Immersed; earning two coveted STARTALK grants; and creating a wonderfully rich education that integrates the arts, modern world languages, inquiry-based learning, and self-motivated discovery.

Since those incredible feats happened, still more miraculous developments took place: the student body has grown to hundreds, the middle school opened in 2016, the Ozone café debuted, and the international service-learning program began to name just a few (and plenty more are listed below).

Through all of this truly remarkable evolution, TNCS’s original raison d’être has remained true: language immersion in Spanish and Mandarin paired with self-directed exploration. The program has blossomed in beautiful ways around this core idea, but it informs and underpins everything at TNCS.

Although providing an exhaustive accounting of the last 13 years is impossible because of the sheer volume of accomplishments, enjoy these highlights in the form of past Immersed posts about this one-of-a-kind magical place.

To start us off, here is a rough timeline of some pivotal TNCS events:

2006: Patterson Park Montessori (PPM) opens

2010: PPM moves to 724 S. Ann St. in Fell’s Point and becomes TNCS

2012: Immersed, School Lunch, the Elementary Program, and the School Gym make their debuts

2013: Science Fair, Imagination Playground, and Summer Camp debut

Spring 2014: TNCS applies for a Startalk grant, and the Spring Concert debuts

Fall 2014: TNCS expands into Building North, the Playground Gets a Major Upgrade, Parent Volunteers Paint Crosswalks on Campus, and the Winter Concerts, and the TNCS Website debut

2015: Read-a-Thon comes to TNCS and TNCS Goes to China

Spring 2016: TNCS debuts its first Art Exhibition, the first Class President is elected, the first Elementary Graduation happens, and TNCS gets a school van

Fall 2016: Middle School opens, TNCS Core Values are established, the Ozone Snack Bar opens for business, TNCS establishes a Parent Council, and TNCS holds its first Hispanic Heritage Night

2017: Math Kangaroo comes to TNCS

tncs-math-kangaroo-competition

2018: TNCS holds its first Spelling Bee, establishes a scholarship program, and gets a pedestrian crosswalk placed on the corner of Ann and Lancaster Streets

2019: Capstone trip program debuts for middle schoolers, and TNCS Graduates its First 8th-Graders

Spring 2020: TNCS holds its First Black History CelebrationVirtual TNCS debuts, and TNCS becomes an Essential Personnel Childcare Site

Fall 2020: TNCS Students Return to Safe In-Person Learning and establishes a COVID-19 Wellness Team

2021: TNCS Holds Its First-Ever Silent Auction, and the Advisory Board, Student Council, and School Store debut

2022: TNCS embraces the philosophy of One School, One Program, One Community and creates the Portrait of a Graduate, and the parent council becomes the Family Partnership

. . . and whatever wonderful things happen next!

Have we whetted your appetite for more delicious memories? Read on!

What Sets TNCS Apart

We could go on and on (and do, actually). But so many features of this beautiful school have elevated it to truly one of a kind, including multi-language learning, emphasis on the Arts, and all the special moments that take place daily in the classrooms.

Aftercare: Spaceship Camp, Aftercare 1, 2, and 3

Core Values: Kindness Counts!, Giving Back: Heifer International, Peace Day, Student Awards Ceremony, Kindness Buckets, Kindness Rocks, Anti-Bullying, Gratitude

Emphasis on the Whole Child: Physical Activity throughout the Day, Cultural Diversity, Mental Health Awareness, Mindfulness, Restorative Practices, Internet Safety 1 and 2, Unplugging and Connecting, DEI, Spirit Days, Cuddles and Crafts, Positivity, Student Support

Environmental Sustainability: Blown Away with Wind Energy, Viridian, Weeping Willow, Hungry Harvest

Field Trips: Confucius Institute; Math-E-Magic; Columbus Park 1 and 2; Walking Tour with Frederick Douglass; Robinson Nature Center; Milburn Orchards; White House; Cathay Cultural Center; Digital Harbor; Echo Hill 1 and 2; Museum of Industry; AVAM; Irvine Nature Center 1 and 2; Port Discovery; MD Science Center; Frederick Douglass Museum; Washington, D.C.; Chesapeake Shakespeare Company; BARCS; BOP Pizza; Cultivated Creations; Science; Golden Wok

Holidays: Mother’s Day, Holidays

Language Learning: Multilingualism, 5 Cs, International Skype, Mid-Autumn Festival 2018, Preprimary Spanish Immersion, D.C. Chinatown, Youth Chinese Test, Talking the Talk

Miscellaneous: Cursive, International Day of Coding, ChickensPeace Game, Robots, Anti-Racism, Rain-Making

STEM/Science Fairs: 2014, 2015, 20162017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022

Summer Camps: Lego 2014 and 2016; Move It; Startalk 2014 and 2015; Painting Workshop 2014 and 2016; Drama 2013, 2014, and 2016; Camp Invention 2013, 2014, and 2016; Cooking and Gardening; Chinese Immersion 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019; Spanish Immersion 2016, 2017, and 2018 1 and 2; American Music System 20172018, and 2019; Musical Theatre 2018 and 2019, Shakespeare, Virtual Art 2020

The Arts: Art Program 1, 2, and 3; Music Program 1 and 2; Pipa; Square 1; Strings; 2021

Volunteering: Parent VolunteeringHost Families 1 and 2

Concerts/Shows/Performances

One of the most-appreciated aspects of TNCS is its penchant for celebration! TNCS celebrates all of its wonderful diversity as well as takes every opportunity to put on a good show!

Art Exhibitions: 2017, 2020

Black History Month: 2020 1 and 2, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Night: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018

Lunar New Year: Year of the Snake, Year of the Horse, Year of the Sheep, Year of the Rooster, Year of the Pig, Year of the Rat, Year of the Ox, Year of the Tiger

Miscellaneous: Baltimore’s Chinatown Performance, Confucius Day InstituteContinental Bridge, Greek Plays, Primary Drama, Stand-Up Comedy

Music Concerts: Spring 2014Winter 2014, Winter 2019

Special Visitors

TNCS has always welcomed special guests to campus to broaden students’ horizons, to participate in meaningful exchange with the community, and to further the TNCS aim of discovery and enrichment. Parents present their jobs or heritage in classrooms, musicians perform, guest speakers share their wisdom, and experts in their fields teach their crafts in special classes. TNCS even got a visit from the Secretary of State, who was wowed by Ge Laoshi’s kindergartners proficiency in Mandarin!

Artists: Baltimore Love Project and Returning Visit, Dia de Los Muertos, Crankies, RecyQueen 1 and 2, 123 Andrés

Chinese Students: 20132017, 2018 1 and 2, 2019 1 and 2

Chinese Teachers and Interns: 20142016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Guest Speakers: Bonnie Zucker, Deborah Roffman

Family Members: Captain Marc (and Many Others!), BGE, Jazz Saxophonist, Askable Parents, Mindful Parenting

Other Schools: DBFA and the “Big Kids”, Gilman School

Politicians: Councilman Krafts, MD Secretary of State

Workshops/Town Halls/Information and Back-to-School Nights

Informational forums are a great starting point to get to know TNCS and how and why it came to be in addition to what new trails it will blaze. Through the years, these events help tell the story of TNCS.

Back-to-School Nights: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Information Nights: 2014, 2014, 2016, 2017

Preprimary Parent Workshops: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 1 and 2, 2018

Primary Parent Workshops: 2016, 2017 1 and 2

Open Houses: 2013, 2014, 2019

Town Halls: 2014, 2015

Service-Learning

TNCS students start giving back the moment they enter TNCS’s illustrious halls. The cumulative impact they have had over the years is staggering. But TNCS itself also gives back. In one of many such ways, in 2018 TNCS launched a partnership with “sister school” Wolfe St. Academy. Exemplary Wolfe St. students are granted scholarships to TNCS, the TNCS community participates in clothing and food donations for Wolfe St. families in need, and TNCS students visit their sister school friends for the “Reading Buddies” program.

In 2019, TNCS middle schoolers took their first international service-learning trip.

Environmental Sustainability: Hack the Trash August 2013; TNCS Wins Recycling Competition December 2013; Pop the Trash 2014; Healthy Harbor 2014 and 2015; Colorcycling; Earth Day 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2020; Puerto Rico 1 and 2, NexTrex Recycling 1 and 2; Costa Rica

Miscellaneous: Breast Cancer Walk, Grant Writing

Outreach: Giving Back November 2013, Holiday Outreach December 2013, Annual Outreach Initiatives, Thanksgiving 2014, 2015, 2018; Project Linus, Reading Buddies 1 and 2, Soup Making, Season for Service, Valentine’s Day Initiatives 1 and 2, Dean’s Initiatives 2021


And there you have it: 13 years of teaching, learning, singing, creating, discovering, growing, laughing, and becoming . . . The New Century School.

TNCS is making 724 South Ann St. a place to thrive and grow once more

Sierra McNeill Writes a New Chapter for Herself and for TNCS!

Sierra McNeill came to The New Century School fresh from Charlotte, NC to take over the 6th- through 8th-grade homeroom and instruct TNCS students in grades 4–8 in English Language Arts (ELA). She is originally from Fort Bragg, NC, near Fayetteville, and, until now, had lived in North Carolina all her life. Why Baltimore? Ms. McNeill said she was really just looking for “a change of scenery.” Fayetteville had the small-town feel, and Charlotte was an up and coming small city. Baltimore was a good next step up because she wanted to get a little farther north (bit not too far north with colder weather) and because her best friend has lived here for the past 7 years. When Ms McNeill would visit over the years, she developed a fondness for good old Charm City and moved here April 1, 2022! She also appreciates the proximity to Washington, D.C., but feels it’s a little too fast-paced for her.

Even though Baltimore feels “just right,” moving here has still required some adjustments. One of the biggest has been not being as close to her family (see photos), who she is extremely close to. “It was definitely a transition,” she said. “I’m coming from southern roots, and we are all about hospitality—everyone is your neighbor—and it’s not really like that here.” Well, maybe not in Baltimore at large, but TNCS has been a saving grace. “TNCS has been great. I was nervous about coming into this environment as a new teacher, but everyone was very receptive, including the students,” she explained.

Let’s find out more!

Background

Ms. McNeill graduated from Fayetteville State University (FSU) in with a bachelors of arts in English language and literature. She was also a cheerleader there all 4 years—Go Broncos! She had planned to use her degree as a stepping stone: “Teaching wasn’t my first go-to plan. I just knew l going to be a lawyer or a celebrity stylist (I love fashion).

But the way life works is never how you imagine it. So I moved to Charlotte after being administrative assistant in a health care office, and my friends encouraged me to consider teaching there.”

She initially rejected the idea due in part to the enormous responsibility involved in educating children. Quickly realizing that having that very understanding is exactly what we need in teachers, she went for it. “I interviewed and jumped in mid year in a 3rd-grade classroom after their teacher left.” She didn’t feel grade 3 was quite right for her and sought a classroom with older children. She accepted a position as 5th-grade teacher at another school, where she taught for 2 years. And then it happened: she began teaching ELA and reading to 6th-graders, “and the rest is history,” as she puts it. Middle school is her jam! In fact, she taught 7th- and 8th-grade briefly at a Baltimore public school when she first arrived here. “It didn’t quite feel like home,” she explains, “coming from the school in Charlotte, which was very close knit, very family oriented. This school didn’t give me that community aspect. So I started looking again and came across TNCS. I spoke with Ms. Johnson and the previous interim head of school, and I felt really good from the jump.”

Sierra McNeil at TNCS

At Orientation Day for the 2022–2023 school year in late August, it was clear that Ms. McNeill was excited for what was coming. Her enthusiasm for teaching–and teaching ELA—is obvious.

I feel like every teacher has their unique ‘teacher swag’ in the way they approach things. I’m very calm spirited, although I am also energetic and bubbly. Being a younger teacher, I try to be ‘chill’ so I can connect with the kids in what’s happening in their society and their day-to-day. I’m a music and sports person, so I can connect with them on that level, too.

Reading

“I try to make everything relatable and to emphasize that real-life perspective in all subjects but especially in what we’re reading,” explained Ms. McNeill. “I try to make sure they can find things they enjoy reading. So, I take what is necessary for them to learn in the curriculum and somehow tie it into reality so it’s full circle to make it really click for them.”

In Quarter 1, grades 4–6 read Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson, and 7th- and 8th-graders read Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Age-appropriate themes galore in those two novels!

Next up is an 8th-grade “novel study” focusing on Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer and breaking out into small-group discussions about this gem of a book. Also, new this school year, in 8th-grade seminar, 8th-graders will be reading William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and discussing that must-read with Head of School Erika Johnson in depth. This seminar, by the way, will also include high-school prep, what’s expected of them as leaders of the school, and other topics specific to this age group. “It’s nice that they get their own personal time, despite the class being mixed ages, to really hone in on what they need to accomplish before the end of the school year.” said Ms. McNeill. “I think it’s very cool that Ms. Johnson recognized this need and made it happen. I think it’s going to be beneficial this year and hopefully for years to come.”

Writing

Her fondness for teaching reading notwithstanding, Ms. McNeill’s true passion is teaching writing. “I like seeing kids gain confidence once they figure out the formula—how writing is just taking your thoughts and laying them out.” Her students actually just started this writing unit this week, and Ms. McNeill has done all she could to get them excited for it. She is a sworn journal-er, sometimes writing from a script—the goals for the day and which of those were achieved—sometimes just cataloguing her day. “I try to instill that in the students, too. We do ‘Daily Writes,” where I give them a prompt. But I other than asking that they write in complete sentences, we keep it informal.” She explains that these exercises help get her students into the habit of writing paragraphs, so that when it comes time to write actual essays, they are prepared. She also strives to engage them by giving these prompts as hooks that will reel them in, which is great practice for getting them to think through their topics and how they will write about them.

“It’s Very Different—A Good Different!”

Now that Ms McNeill has been at TNCS for a couple of months, she is finding her groove. Mixed-age classrooms are both new and not so new to her. Although she had never taught in one until now, she did attend Montessori school (Cumberland Road Elementary) for a couple of her elementary years. “Although it’s different, it’s a good different,” she said. “It exposes ids to different different aspects, different maturity levels. It has been challenging, but once I sat with Ms. Johnson and talked about expectations, it kind of just started to flow. I had already taught  with differentiation—teaching different ways to different learning styles and diversifying lessons for different learning abilities. So I was able to tie my experience in here at TNCS.”


Despite two huge life changes, relocating to a new city plus accepting a position new to her in many ways, Ms. McNeill is certainly finding her way. She is a vegetarian and a foodie and appreciates the many restaurant options Baltimore offers. She enjoys strolling around downtown, the Inner Harbor, Fell’s Point, and along Howard Row‘s Black-owned businesses in particular. She likes reading and going to the movies. What she would really enjoy, though, is getting to know the TNCS community better. “I’m very family-oriented,” she said emphatically, “if there’s any family-inspired event going on, invite me. I’m looking for different things to engage in in the community, so if your kids play sports outside of school, I’ll show up and support!” She is also very excited for upcoming school events like Hispanic Heritage Nights and the Winter Concert—she can’t wait to join the festivities and immerse herself in and be welcomed by the TNCS community!

TNCS Middle School Capstone Trip: Return to Puerto Rico!

At The New Century School, when the student body aged out of elementary school in the spring of 2016, TNCS added a middle school division the following fall. Just as with all other TNCS divisions, however, middle school at TNCS needed to be something extraordinary.

Adding to all of the characteristics that make TNCS essentially TNCS (like small class sizes, mixed-age classrooms, multilingual curricula, differentiated instruction, learning by discovery, and so on), the administration decided to cap off this critical development period with an international service-learning trip. The first students to complete TNCS middle school would graduate in the spring of 2019, and to commemorate that momentous occasion, they were also the first to head out abroad on what has become known as the aptly named Capstone Trip. That destination was Puerto Rico, followed by Costa Rica in 2020 just before the pandemic halted international travel, no trip in 2021 because of the pandemic-related travel restrictions (but graduates had gone to Costa Rica the prior year as 7th-graders), and now back to Puerto Rico in 2022.

Puerto Rico, Here We Come!

After school and a quick meal of pizza on Monday, April 25th, TNCS 7th- and 8th-graders were BWI bound, accompanied by chaperones Adriana DuPrau (TNCS Dean of Students), Daphnee Hope (TNCS School Counselor), and Lori Gorbey (TNCS Front Desk).

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They landed in San Juan around midnight and went straight to their dormitory-style lodgings at The Inter American University of Puerto Rico/Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico – Recinto Metro in Cupey. Their kind handler Pedro would be with the them for the duration of the trip.

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Tuesday, April 26th: No Rest for the Weary!

Their first day in PR was packed, so they were up an at ’em early that morning. They had breakfast and headed out to  the Centro Ambiental Santa Ana (CASA), located in the Julio Enrique Monagas National Park in Bayamón. The CASA (Santa Ana Environmental Center in Englsh) provides educational programs for the appreciation, study, and conservation of the environment. Perfect for the first day of service learning!

TNCS students toured the park, had lunch, then spent the afternoon cleaning and painting at CASA. This urban forest has great ecological, cultural, recreational, and educational value, as the slideshow below will demonstrate. CASA promotes the reconnection of people with nature through educational programs; research; thematic, organized fun; and relevant interpretative experiences.

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The exhausted but happy kids returned home then met up for dinner and a movie with CeDIn students (more on CeDIn below). From there, things got pretty goofy!

Wednesday, April 27th: CeDIn Day!

This day’s itinerary was all about CeDIn (a laboratory school from preschool to 4th-grade). Its mission is:

to provide a humanistic education, of excellence, sensitive to changes in the world, that prepares for university life, tends to the integral development of the individual, and provides a space for practice and research for students of education and professions related to behavior.

The educational process is framed by universal Christian-ecumenical values; the development of knowledge skills; the integration of fine arts, technology and sports, and the promotion of a Culture of Peace.

TNCS students spent the day with CeDIn middle schoolers, visiting their classrooms, which Mrs. DuPrau described as themed and that teachers had clearly put a lot of work into. They also went into a forest together to get their eco on, then returned to school to make bracelets and play water games. Friendships blossomed! Ms. Gorbey said she particularly enjoyed meeting the students here and spending the day doing what they normally do. “It was really cool to sort of see how the kids were so different and also exactly the same,” she said. Mrs. DuPrau said, “All of the teachers there were so kind and excited to meet our students and had so many fun things for them to do. We were all excited to see what we could offer to their students and what their students could offer us. We became close with some of those kids, and it was really fun to see all of our students jump right into their recess and lunch and feel comfortable just hanging out with them.” Phone numbers and SnapChap info was exchanged!

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Later that afternoon, TNCS students got a much-anticipated trip to the beach!

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Thursday, April 28th: Tutoring!

On Thursday, TNCS students headed out to Academia Interamericana Metro (AIM), a school that emphasizes differentiated learning for preschoolers through 12th-graders. TNCS students tutored kindergartners through 5th-graders, helping them with their daily schoolwork, reading aloud to them, and playing math games. Mrs Hope explained that AIM was passionate about not separating students with disabilities (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, for example) from the traditional student population but instead to find ways to give them any additional support they might need. “The students and the faculty were so warm and loving—you could just feel it when you walked in; you could tell everyone had the same goal,” she said. Ms. Gorbey said she was extremely proud of how TNCS students comported themselves with their AIM friends.

These photos will make their parents so proud as well!

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As a special treat for their generous volunteering at AIM, the gang had a little fun exploring Old San Juan later that day and into the evening.

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Friday, April 29th: Hola El Yunque!

El Yunque National Forest, the groups Friday destination, is the only tropical rainforest in the national forest system! The favorite activity for Mrs. Hope was this trip to El Yunque. “We went on this really beautiful, tranquil hike. Some of the kids decided to swim and others wanted to explore the rocks and climb them upstream. You feel like you’re out in the middle of nowhere and can just breathe” she described.

After exploring that beautiful locale, they headed to Playa Luquillo for a swim.

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Saturday, April 30th: High Altitude!

On their last day, a beach-cleaning activity had been planned, but the weather had other ideas, so after a hearty breakfast . . . they went to a trampoline park instead!

Altitude Bayamón is one of the largest in the world, and there, TNCS students reached new heights!

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After a quick stop at a restaurant to refuel, they returned to Inter American and expended more energy in the gym.

Back Home and Final Thoughts

Once back in Baltimore, the three chaperones had a chance to reflect on the trip and share some takeaways. In the end, beaches and waterfalls aside, the capstone trip is about personal growth—a chance for the students to demonstrate how they’ve matured.

Ms. Gorbey, who described the trip as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said she was impressed by the empathy she saw TNCS students display each and every day. This trip was remarkable for being the most service-learning focused so far. “Their all-around willingness to help was a highlight for me,” she said. “They really threw themselves into the service learning.” At the end of the trip, they circled up and discussed their favorite moments: several students ranked the service learning above the “fun stuff,” another thing that made Ms. Gorbey happy. (As a quick aside, they also held nominations, and one student was named Most Likely To Have an International Romance. So cute! We love that for them!)

A third thing that struck Ms. Gorbey was how game the students were to use their Spanish-speaking skills and how well they did—ordering their food, conversing with their new Puerto Rican friends, and so on.

Mrs. DuPrau witnessed some personal growth in a few students and a dawning realization in one in particular that things were about to change in high school in the fall. Like Ms. Gorbey, she also appreciated all of the students’ willingness to really be there and do what was asked. At the same time, she feels strongly that these trips should be fun and memorable. “In some ways it was a typical middle school trip—everybody was losing their voice and maybe not sleeping as much, because they all couldn’t stop talking and having fun,” she recounted fondly.

For Mrs. Hope, the highlight was the school visits. “It was so amazing to be able to partner with the schools and have our kids meet their kids, to see the differences, and also how they interact. That was really rewarding for our students, too.” Like Mrs. DuPrau, she also saw an individual student find themselves in a new way. This student became a terrific helper and a real asset on the trip.

For Mrs. Hope, this trip was bittersweet in more than one way. Her husband was about to be deployed, and she would be sacrificing that week that she could have spent with him to go. The scales tipped in favor of going when she remembered how well she and Mrs. DuPrau travel together (and imagining what Ms. Gorbey would bring to the mix), plus this: “It was also a nice way to close off my chapter at TNCS, this last thing with them. They have been my students for 3 years . . . it was really good to be able to spend that time with them and see so much growth in individual students.”

Ultimately, this trip caps off an academic career at TNCS for the 8th-grade students and so much more. It’s the end of an era, in a way, but also opens the door for a new era at TNCS to dawn.

Hasta el año que viene!


As always, the TNCS community—families, faculty, and everyone in between—plays a tremendous role in making the capstone trip possible, from hosting fundraisers (shout out to Damien Mosely and Blacksauce Kitchen!) to planning (Mrs. DuPrau worked tirelessly!) to teaching the language (Señora Noletto made sure her students were good and ready!), to seeing to all of the details that go into such an enormous undertaking (literally, everyone!).

And for this particular trip, we have another very special person to thank: Inter American Chancellor Wayland, who generously helped coordinate the trip from inside Puerto Rico and gave TNCS students access to the wonderful Inter American sister schools (CeDIn and AIM) they visited. If that name rings a bell, it’s no accident: Chancellor Wayland (aka, “Tata”) is the grandmother of two TNCS students. Gracias por todo!

March Madness at TNCS: In Like a Tiger, Out in a Blaze of Glory!

At The New Century School, a lot happens all year long . . .  especially in the month of March!

Year of the Tiger Lunar New Year Celebration

March blew in like a “tiger” with a new take on Lunar New Year celebrations. On March 2nd, Mandarin Chinese teacher Li Laoshi gave students and families a visit to “Chinatown,” with actual vendor stalls set up in the TNCS auditorium and hosts to help us navigate the lanes!

Li Laoshi was very proud of her students, who worked very hard on their Lunar New Year projects. “We did an amazing job in presenting Chinese culture of 12 animal zodiacs, Kung fu, traditional clothes, crafts, pandas, and Chinese food in 2 days of celebrations,” she said. The shops and stalls were not only fun to visit and sample the wares, they had a very important purpose: fundraising for the middle schoolers’ fast-approaching capstone trip to Puerto Rico! “Our students also feel very proud that they can support the 7th and 8th-graders’ service trips,” continued Li Laoshi. “It was really exciting and enjoyable!”

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Science Fair 2022

Next up was the annual Science Fair, hosted by TNCS science teacher Mr. Brosius. Presentations were broken out by division, with 4th- through 8th-graders presenting on March 14th and 15th, 2nd- and 3rd-graders presenting March 16th and 17th, and kindergartners and 1st-graders the following week.

For much of Quarter 3, prepped for their projects, assembling materials, creating lists of methods, and collecting data. Projects could either follow the scientific method or veer into engineering and design territory. Mr. B. was on hand to oversee and advise: “A few projects required some amendments in order to increase their testability, but the students enjoyed their work in science class,” he said.

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Although the Science Fair ended, the STEM fun did not! Mr. B first sent a thank you out to families: “Thank you to all who viewed science fair presentations last week. It means a lot to the students. They have worked diligently this past quarter and should be proud of their efforts.”

Then he sent an update that students continued working on improving the quality of their data collection and analysis. “This past week, 4th through 8th graders have engaged in measurement activities that help them to better develop these skills, while younger students have primarily continued working on their individual projects. The 2nd- and 3rd-grade students also briefly used a petri dish computer simulation to further discuss data collection and analysis,” he explained. In the coming week, he said, “we will review all steps of the scientific method and engineering design process when we resume the peer review process.” The peer review process is new this year and replicates how scientists perform their studies in real life.

Firetruck Day!

TNCS preschoolers got in on the March Madness fun, too, with an extra special visit by Baltimore City firefighters on March 25th.

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And with that, March at TNCS ended in a blaze of glory!

TNCS Elementary and Middle School Students Hop To It in 2022!

The New Century School breaks the mold in so many ways that achieving new “firsts” has almost become the norm. Yet here we are with 2022 just having begun, and TNCS is already doing it again—this time with fur!

Out of the Hat and into the Classroom!

On Tuesday, January 18th, the TNCS Student Government headed to the Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Center, better known as BARCS, on a very special mission: to pick up a rabbit to be fostered in TNCS ELA teacher Gab Sussman‘s homeroom.

Seven Reasons To Foster
1. Fostering increases an animal’s chance of getting adopted.
2. Your own pets will learn more social skills.
3. You get to see if you’re ready to own another pet.
4. Fostering is temporary.
5. You can choose how to foster.
6. Fostering keeps animals out of shelters.
7. You are saving a life.

The idea for fostering a pet at TNCS originated with Ms. Sussman, herself a small animal lover. After making the arrangements with BARCS and finding Freckles’ biography on the BARCS website, the rest is TNCS history.

“Whether they have scales, feathers or hopping feet, BARCS is a safe haven for all animals in Baltimore City.”

Among the Student Government members to bring Freckles to her temporary home were Natalie Lawner, TNCS Historian, and Hanako Dillon, TNCS Public Relations. We have these two dedicated 6th-graders to thank for the following photos and interview.

Interview with TNCS Student Council Public Relations

Immersed: What does fostering a pet involve?
PR: Fostering a pet involves wanting animals to live in a loving home while they are still up for adoption. It is also very important to take good care of the animal as expected from the shelter. We are responsible for feeding, keeping her cage clean, and socializing her.
Immersed: How did Freckles get chosen?
PR: Freckles was chosen because she was the only small furry animal at the shelter at the time.
Immersed: Who named Freckles?
PR: We are not sure who named freckles but she came to us with the name.
Immersed: What is Freckle’s backstory—how did she come to BARCS?
PR: There is not a lot of information about how or why she came to BARCS but the came to BARCS on December 15, 2021
Immersed: How will students take care of Freckles?
PR: Students in Ms. Sussman’s class will help feed Freckles and clean her cage every day.
Immersed: What will happen to Freckle when school is not in session, such as over weekends?
PR: As of now Ms. Sussman will be taking Freckles home on the weekends, and will eventually begin to socialize Freckles with her own bunny Bunnicula. We are exploring what it would look like for students/families to take her home too.
Immersed: What would you like readers to know about this TNCS initiative? What is the takeaway message?
PR: We would love to share the importance of rescuing animals from shelters rather than buying animals from a breeder because there are so many animals without a home, and that you don’t have to spend lots of money to get a sweet and loving pet. We would also like to show people that fostering an animal is a great way to bring a pet into your family if you are unsure or unable to take care of an animal long term. By taking care of Freckles as a class we want to encourage kids to be more involved with taking care of pets and caring for them.

Freckles at TNCS

We know! We know! Everybunny wants to see how Freckles is doing! Just see for yourself . . .

Ms. Sussman says: “Freckles has already opened up in just the few days we’ve had her! When I had visited her a few times at BARCS, she always hid in the back of her cage and was not open to being picked up. Now, she is freely moving around her little cage, happily accepting pets from students, and is more tolerant of being held!”

She has delegated the care of Freckles to students, explaining, “there is a special job in my classroom dedicated to managing the foster pet! Two students feed Freckles twice a day, refresh her water, and clean her cage. Cleaning is not so difficult because Freckles has taken well to litter box training (yes, that’s right, rabbits can be trained to use a litter box!).”
But the real magic Freckles has brought to TNCS is this: “It has been such a joy seeing how loving and excited students have been since we took her in on Tuesday,” said Ms. Sussman. “I feel like Freckles is bringing us one more special reason to look forward to coming to school, which I know in these times can feel more stressful and exhausting for some.”

Looking for ways to help care for Freckles? We’ve got you! Check out Freckles’ wish list for items to contribute to her health and well-being.

Ms. Sussman says, “An extra special thank you to all those who have already contributed! We are excited to get her set up with supplies that will help us adequately care for her in the classroom. Even after she moves on to her new, permanent home, these gifts will stay so that we can continue fostering small, furry animals in our classroom from BARCS.”

Want more? Consider adopting Freckles and making yours her forever home! Ms. Sussman says, “Any TNCS family that is interested in adopting Freckles can email me at sussman@thenewcenturyschool.com to set up a little Meet & Greet after school one day (following all of the Wellness Committee’s guidelines, of course!).”