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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy: Resource Blog for Parents

Asking Hard Questions about White Privilege

On Thursday, December 4, the Sewickley Series presented a documentary film American Promise that traces the educational journey of two black boys, from Kindergarten through their matriculation to college.  In exploring the sometimes wrenching path these boys followed at an independent school in New York City, the filmmakers (whose eldest son is one of the two boys who are the subject of the film) open their home and their lives to the scrutiny of the outside world and by doing so raise a series of important questions, questions that are important not just for independent schools like Sewickley Academy but questions that are important for us as a nation.  In the aftermath of Ferguson, MO, the Eric Garner case in New York City, and the recent conclusions of a federal investigation into the wrongful death of a 12-year-old child at the hands of police in Cleveland, OH, there is an urgency to our thinking about race and how our various points of view inform the way we see and experience the world.

During the post-film question-and-answer session, an audience member commented that she had on occasion received communications from her sons’ school about boisterous and inappropriate behavior of the kind the boys in the film were also accused of engaging in.  The mom asked, “…wasn’t it possible that, instead of the determining factor being race, it could be that the report of behavior issues was really a function of gender?”  The filmmaker, Michele Stephenson, replied that the research is very clear:  black boys are much more likely to be singled out for behavioral issues than other children and, in fact, that black boys are far more likely to be suspended from Kindergarten than other children.  These comments were affirmed by another panelist, Dr. Todd Allen, professor of communication studies and visual arts at Grove City College, who also serves on his local public school district board.

The parent in the audience, who was white, continued to press her point, to which Stephenson answered, “[sic] you have the privilege of being white, of not having to wonder whether your children are being singled out for their race.”

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Topics: Head of School

Travel Through Literature with our Summer Reading Recommendations

School's out! Summer reading is all about creating that intrinsic love for reading, which is why at its root, it's about   choice. Children get to choose what they read simply for the joy of it, no matter the format, genre, reading level, or subject. The curated titles are suggestions for our Lower School students, ranging from recently published titles to classics, and varying by grade level, format, genre, setting, and topic. We hope all of you and your children enjoy exploring and "traveling" through literature this summer. Happy summer reading!
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Our SA Community Sings in Spanish about Resilience, Courage, Growth, and Solidarity during COVID-19

Embedded at the heart of our Lower School Spanish program are life skills such as resilience, courage, growth, and solidarity, to name just a few. During this worldwide COVID-19 quarantine we have all been tested to practice these skills.

During this time, over forty of our community members including students, teachers, staff, administrators, and parents, came together virtually to model these values and skills by learning and singing a Spanish song about resilience and perseverance. They were inspired by the millions of people in Spain who, from March to May, gathered in song every day at 8:00 p.m. while standing on their balconies, to give a two-minute long applause to first responders and to all medical professionals, and to sing this very song. In the process, as most of our SA participants do not normally sing for an audience nor speak Spanish, they modeled getting out of their comfort zones, another essential skill our students are invited to practice regularly at Sewickley Academy.

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It's the Little Things

Sewickley Academy Class of 2020, you have been dealt a rough hand; there are no two ways about it. I know that many of you are finding silver linings by looking forward to college and letting go of your preconceived notions of a traditional senior year. Yet, we are all aware of what you have lost and sacrificed as your final year comes to a close. And, let's face it —despite your acknowledgement and appreciation of our creative efforts — virtual events and socially distanced celebrations are not really cutting it. Ultimately, you are a class who, collectively, expresses gratitude and seeks to make lemonade out of lemons. I could not be more proud of your journeys over the last four years and of how you have leaned into what is no longer an “unprecedented” time but one which is now a defining historical moment.

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Tips, Tricks, and Tools: Helpful Resources from Two Librarians and a Tech Coordinator

Since Sewickley Academy (SA) started doing school virtually in March, my colleagues, Hansen Librarian Lindsay Downs, and Middle School Technology Coordinator Erin Whitaker and I came up with an idea to keep our students engaged by sharing resources in the daily Virtual School updates. Our Tips, Tricks, and Tools section is designed to offer just the right amount of timely, interesting resources without overwhelming students and families. With resources flying around left and right as everyone transitioned into Virtual School, we thought it might be more useful and digestible to offer just one vetted resource each day. Whether it’s something to help relax and pass the time or improve researching skills, librarians (and our tech allies!) are here and ready to help.

Here is a list of the Top 5 of our favorite resources we have shared with the SA community that you can check out with your families.




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Science Experiments Your Children Can Do at Home

Virtual School has challenged the way we teach and learn. This is especially true in science where experiential, inquiry-based learning is at the heart of the learning process. To be successful our community must be willing to persevere and adapt. Simulations and thought-experiments have become increasingly important, but we must not forsake physical experimentation that produces empirical evidence.  

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Topics: Education, diy, VirtualSchool

Counselor's Corner: Stumbling Into Semi-Solid Ground During Covid-19

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Create un-be-weavable Artwork For Kids

Parents, weaving is a creative way to engage your child's heart, mind, and hands during Virtual School. Encourage your child to gather paper – wrapping, old newspapers, and magazines, or even mail and envelopes – and let the artist come alive through weaving. Please note, some supervision may be required for younger children while handling scissors. Check out this short tutorial I created below and have fun using paper of various textures, prints, and colors found within your home. When the artwork is complete, place it in a frame to display or package it to send to a loved one with a handwritten note from your child to help brighten their day. The art will be un-be-weavable!

SA paper weaving
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Be a Budding Artist at Home – Learn to Draw a Simple Landscape

One of my favorite things in the whole world is to walk outside and spend lots of time looking at the flowering trees. REALLY LOOKING.

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Become a Backyard Naturalist

As Mr. Spicer, Sewickley Academy Science and Robotics Teacher, stated in a previous post, making observations and asking questions are at the heart of science. These essential skills have played a role in many major discoveries in life science. You too can be a naturalist and be part of a scientific community! Simply step out into nature and look around. Of course, technology has made this endeavor even easier with apps that help us identify what we see.  

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