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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

Lighting One's Passion

Recently I attended a presentation by Technical Theater Director Nate Bell’s Advanced Technical Theater class. Students were presenting their lighting design projects, controlling the intensity, fade, direction, and color of the lights in conjunction with a piece of music they had chosen. The “Sound and Light” show that resulted was the outcome of hours of creative experimentation, trial and error, collaboration, manual labor, setting and focusing the lights, and programming the many cues so that the lights performed as intended in choreographed harmony with the chosen music.

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Topics: Head of School

A Lesson on Education through Clay

Have you ever been annoyed by the jargon of education, especially when it seems that the writer or speaker assumes you understand what he is talking about? What about terms like “constructivist,” “collaborative,” “problem-based,” or “student-centered?" A recent visit to David LaLomia’s ceramics studio provided evidence of each of these terms in practice, so perhaps we might define these terms by seeing students and their teacher in action.

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Topics: Head of School

Tape of the Day

 

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Topics: Head of School

Learning at Sewickley Academy

I recently visited a Grade 4 class to hear students make presentations about their work on machines they had designed for their Technology Lab class. Using concepts of universal design, students had to design and then build machines that could answer yes or no questions. I had the privilege of being able to speak with the students about their work, and I discovered that our students had a good understanding of universal design, a design that will be readily accessible and comprehensible to as wide an audience as possible. Thus, for these projects, the students designed machines that could signal “yes” or “no” both visually and audibly. Most students chose a harsh-sounding buzzer and a red light for “no” because, as one student explained to me, this is what they use on many game shows, so many people are conditioned to that sound and that color for a negative response; for the same reason, happy, jingling bells and green lights were used to signify “yes.” 

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Topics: Head of School

International Dinner

What a wonderful event the Student Diversity Leadership Committee (SDLC) sponsored on Saturday evening! The International Dinner, which has been an annual event at Sewickley Academy for nearly two decades, provides an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and parents to come together to celebrate the many and varied contributions of all members of our community. Beginning with an amazing dinner, served by student volunteers in the Middle and Senior School Cafeteria, this year’s meal boasted dishes from India and Ireland, from Greece and China, and from the American South. Nearly 270 guests arrived hungry to sample tastes from around the world, and they were not disappointed. Everything was delicious and in abundant supply!

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Topics: Head of School

Create the best Trove of memories you can

Dear Fellow Parents,

First Day. This morning, I saw a ritual play out that I have now been privileged to witness for 30 years: drop off on the first day of school. Pictures, hugs, and excited smiles (no tears this year that I could detect!). I, too, had a moment like many of you when last week Susan and I dropped our sons off at their colleges. We got them moved in, helped to unpack, took pictures in front of their dorms and with their new roommates, and then had to get into the car and leave them behind.  

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Topics: Parenting, Head of School

Sewickley Academy Science Superstars

Inspiring! That is the best word to describe both the accomplishments and the remarks of our first three Sewickley Academy Science and Technology Hall of Fame inductees. On October 2, 2015, Reunion Weekend kicked off with the induction of Mark E. Shafer, Ph.D. ’75, Carolee T. Bull, Ph.D. ’81, and Beth Willman, Ph.D. ’94 into the Hall of Fame in Rea Auditorium, with Middle and Senior School students in attendance. Mark, an inventor, engineer, and entrepreneur speaking about his work, shared one of his favorite quotes: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried,” highlighting the fact that if one is truly stretching boundaries and venturing into uncharted territory, one will not get things right every time; one will fail. The key is to keep trying and to learn from failure.

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Topics: Alumni, Head of School

What Is Blended Learning?

As we move to adopt a 1-to-1 framework in Grades 6 through 12 at Sewickley Academy, we remain mindful of the importance of the teacher in inspiring students and of the centrality student-teacher relationship in achieving the best outcomes.  Adopting a 1-to-1 program assures that teachers have a consistent and predictable set of tools they can use in their work with students.  Just as the talented carpenter will benefit from having a range of wood-working tools, so too do teachers benefit from having a range of tools that increase the number of ways to engage a range of learners.

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Topics: Technology, Education, Head of School

What Is an Independent School?

What is an independent school, and why don’t you just call yourselves private schools? An independent school is an independently organized non-profit school governed by a board of trustees. Unlike private schools, which might be profit or non-profit and which could be beholden to some over-arching organizational framework that could dictate how it is to operate, Independent Schools are free from external control. They represent the ultimate in school-based management, which has been shown to produce excellent outcomes for students, even in the public sector where experiments in school-based autonomy have been undertaken.  Independent schools are also financed independently, most often through a combination of tuition revenue and philanthropic support.  This means that independent schools are unencumbered by most state mandates, including the burdens of standardized testing, which has not been shown to improve outcomes for students.  

So independent schools can do whatever they want?

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Topics: Head of School

A Challenge to the Class of 2015

The following were the closing remarks at Graduation 2015.

Thank you, Mike, for your thoughtful remarks.  Your personal story is inspirational to all of us, and I know that our graduates appreciate the food for thought you have shared with them this afternoon.

Thank you, too, to our Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff, and the administration of the school for all you have contributed to the growth and education of our students, particularly this afternoon’s graduates.

And congratulations and thank you to the parents of the Class of 2015, who have committed themselves to providing each of their daughters and sons with extraordinary opportunities to learn and grow and become who they are.  Thanks are due to them, as well, for choosing Sewickley Academy and for their extraordinary support of the school over the years.

And now for some final thoughts:

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Topics: Head of School

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