Logging summer communications

It has come to my attention that our new families did not receive this summer’s communications, so I am posting the summer notes here. If you received the summer communications, please skip right over this post. I will continue to post broad communications on the blog in case you miss an email.

August 2017

Welcome back, Saint Thomas’ families!

We are looking forward to an incredible school year full of learning and growth! I am excited to see your students bright and early tomorrow morning.

I will continue to be in touch via email, share pictures via Instagram (@stelowerschool, #stefirstday), and see you at Parents Night on August 29, but first I want to draw your attention to dismissal procedures before we kick into gear tomorrow.

Alley pick-up
Alley pick-up for 1st-3rd grade begins at 3:15 p.m. rather than the 3:05 p.m. time listed in the Back to School checklist. If you are in line for the alley along Indigo St. or Endicott Ln., please turn on your hazard lights to signal to other community members that you are waiting in a carpool line.

Beginning on Monday, Kindergarten and Bridge parents will be in line at 3:00 p.m. for alley pick-up. If you are in line with Kindergarten and Bridge parents before 3:15 p.m., you will be asked to circle around again. Please help us by sharing this information with grandparents, babysitters, and any other caregivers that may be picking up children this year.

If you need additional carpool or hallway cards, please notify your homeroom teacher, and he or she will place the request.

Hallway pick-up
Hallway pick-up will begin as soon as students in after-school programming have been dismissed. We will have staff members in the walkway to the bell tower to help direct you; please line up in this area to pick up your student.  A teacher will come to you for your dismissal card (handed out when your arrive tomorrow morning) and will call for your student.

Please keep the entrance to the A/B (1st-3rd grade) hallway clear for our middle and upper school students to exit the campus.

Both the carpool and hallway lines are likely to take a little longer as we ease into the school year. Our target time for the end of dismissal is 3:30pm.

I know everyone will be eager to hear about their student’s first day, but please abide by the established procedures so as to move the process along as efficiently as possible. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Welcome back!
Elizabeth Bentrup

July 2017

Dear Lower School families,

Road trips can be a time to share music, have good conversation, imagine characters in the clouds, play classic games like bingo and license plate scavenger hunt, and for those who don’t struggle with motion sickness, catch up on summer reading. Screens can also be a tempting way to help the hours fly by, but I’d like to suggest an alternative.

Did you know there are podcasts specifically designed with kids and teens in mind? On our recent road trip to South Carolina and back, podcasts were one of our favorite ways to break up the 4,224 times we sang along to the Moana soundtrack.

Our boys love Wow In the World, which has a science bent and a couple of silly co-hosts, and Brains On!, also a science podcast. Listening to podcasts helps the boys generate questions about the world, encourages vocabulary development, and builds sustained attention.

Interested in finding some podcasts the whole family will enjoy? Common Sense Media put out this list of recommended podcasts for kids sorted by categories, and here’s another list from Fatherly.com.

As we go into the last month or so of summer, however you spend your road trips, traveling mercies to all our Saint Thomas’ families!

Warm regards,
Elizabeth Bentrup

June 2017

Summer is heating up!

Looking for things to do this summer? Has the infamous “I’m boooo-ooored!” echoed down your hallway? Why not give the kids some homework?

But let’s flip homework to the “work of the home” that applies the knowledge and skills our students learn at school; and summer is the perfect time to exercise these muscles:
– Cooking (the science of chemistry and the reading and math required to properly execute a recipe) Bonus points if our students plan the meal, shop with a budget, and then tackle the cooking!
– Helping plan routes or budgets for family trips
– Exploring or participating in a different culture while traveling
– Participating in age-appropriate chores (Check out this chart for suggestions.)
– Looking on while parents pay family bills – supports maturing children’s understanding of how money is spent (This will vary from one home to the next because it requires a willingness to share information about our home operations with our children.)

A quick note: Make the most of this homework by doing it as a family. If you missed this video that circulated social media around Christmastime, give it a look. It’s a sweet reminder that our children love and are motivated by time with their parents. You are your child’s first and favorite teacher.

Enjoy your summer!
Elizabeth Bentrup

June 2017

Good morning,

I am thankful that I am now able to share our teaching assignments in Lower School for the 2017-2018 school year. Please see the list and additional information below. I am working with other staff and faculty members this summer to shape other elements of next year, and as I have information ready to share, I will send it out via email.

Lower School Teaching Assignments:

KBridge – Kelli Freeman, Paige Whitson
Kindergarten – Lucy Halsell, Shirley Winkler
1B – Emily Cox
1G – Allison Czach
2B – Lali Lane
2G – Jean Boisaubin
3B – Ryan Maw
3G – Peggy McGough
4th grade – Pam Copeland (boys homeroom) and Emma Berno (girls homeroom)
5th grade – Amberly Hall (boys homeroom) and Cherie Tomlinson (girls homeroom)

Mrs. Smith, Head of Middle School, and I have spent some time brainstorming ways to develop a purposeful gradual progression from Lower to Middle School. As such, our fourth grade will look a bit different this year. While in 3rd grade, our students receive all core instruction from one self-contained teacher, and now our 4th graders will receive instruction from two core teachers. Our 4th graders will remain in their homeroom classroom limiting transitions, and the teachers will switch between classrooms. Fifth grade will look similar to its format last year: Students will have two core teachers and will transition between classrooms. Additionally our fifth grade students will change classes for science, seeing Mrs. Corso in the middle school hallway. This additional task of changing classes and managing class-specific materials helps prepare our students for the multiple transitions between classes in middle school.

As you likely noticed, there is an unfamiliar name on the above list. I am pleased to introduce our new 4th grade teacher, Ms. Emma Berno. Berno, a Houston native and graduate of St. Agnes Academy, comes to us straight out of Baylor University with a degree in Elementary Education. At Baylor, Ms. Berno was recognized on the Dean’s Academic Honor List and was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the Education Honor Society. In her student teaching, Ms. Berno had the opportunity to design and implement lessons based on pre-assessment of students, to assess students for growth and mastery, to differentiate instruction based on those assessments, and to work with a team to plan instruction. She is certified in Early Childhood through 6th grade as well as English as a Second Language (training which develops targeted teaching methods that benefit all students). Ms. Berno’s experience in private and public education yields a well-blended understanding of ways our students learn and student need. She comes to us well-versed in the most recent research in education and grounded in the Christian faith. Please welcome her to the Saint Thomas’ community when you see her!

If you have any questions, please email me. I am LOVING the postcards. Please keep them coming! I’m excited to share these with students in the fall.

With prayers for safe travels and a healthy summer,
Elizabeth Bentrup

May 2017

Summer greetings!

I hope this email finds you enjoying the beginning of summer. Periodically I will be sending out updates on our planning for next school year, but in the meantime here is some fodder for these long summer days ahead.

At Saint Thomas’ we seek to form “honorable men and women through a classical education grounded in a Christ-centered worldview.” Let’s focus on the word “classical” and what that could mean at home this summer. Classical education emphasizes how to think, and there is opportunity for that in practicing scholéScholé is the Greek word for leisure and the origin for Latin schola, English school.

Education blog Simply Convivial offers a helpful unpacking of the term: “Scholé means seeking Truth, Goodness, and Beauty first and foremost, laying aside personal agendas, prideful goals, and desires to control so that we can be open and able to embrace Truth, Goodness, and Beauty when we see it. And we should be seeing it all over the place. God is True, Good, and Beautiful, and we are reflections of Him, called to increase our reflection of Him more and more as we mature and grow all our lives.”

Some possible ways to explore scholé at home would include taking a walk and considering the beautiful things around you, adding some music to your day, creating and enjoying art (at home or out and about), or sitting and talking without an agenda. I encourage these activities not just for our students but for you as well, as you are able. Modeling what we want to see in our children shows them that these activities are valuable.

Wishing you the discovery of delight in restful learning,
Elizabeth Bentrup


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