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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

A Love Letter to Toni Morrison

Sewickley Academy Head of School Kolia O'Connor read the following remarks to faculty and staff during the 2019-2020 Opening of School Meeting in August.

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Topics: Head of School

Why Would I Send My Child To Sewickley Academy's Middle School?


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Topics: Head of School

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