ABS Thursday Notes- April 11, 2019

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                            April 11, 2019




Spring Break-No School April 15-19


How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“…if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.” – Neil Gaiman


The culture of our school is so positive that visiting artists, who travel from school-to-school around the community and the state, report being struck immediately by the elevating atmosphere. Students and staff are noticeably relaxed, high-spirited, cheerful, and full of creative ideas. When the visitor asks students for ideas, many hands shoot up and children are excited to share. Teachers have built this culture by requesting student input for everything from social problem-solving in the classroom to problems that our world leaders struggle to solve. Our students appear confident that their opinions will be respected and heard, and they offer many solutions, understanding that failure is the road to discovery. These are the skills that create successful entrepreneurs, artists, and citizens.

In making art, you will make mistakes. They might lead to new, better ideas. If you examine your mistake with curiosity instead of harsh judgment, that slip-up may lead to a lateral slide, instead of a fall. When we make an unexpected mark in a drawing, it might lead to a new, more exciting shape. When we rehearse attentively and playfully, we become supple and responsive, not rigid. Improvisation is a key to both success and delight.

Even parents on the other side of the world seek this kind of learning environment for their children. Eighty percent of EB-5 Visas, which grant permanent U.S. residency to foreigners who invest half a million dollars in U.S. based development projects, are given to Chinese citizens who wait up to ten years for acceptance. When NPR reporter Ari Shapiro investigated who these citizens were, he met applicants who are middle-class families, cobbling together the investment to give their children educational opportunities in the U.S. He quoted a mother who said of her son’s education: “He is in a good local school, but all they do is study for tests. The Chinese education system turns everyone into the same type of person.” She said that she and other EB-5 applicants want their children to think more creatively and analytically. This parent can see that her child will have the best chances for a rich, rewarding life, both emotionally and financially, if he is both well-trained and innovative.

We are beginning a run of tests this month that will crescendo into the state-required end-of-grade tests. It’s true that we want our students to think creatively, but we also take testing very seriously at ABS. We are intentional about the mood we create for our students. We make it clear that there may be absolutely no departure from the rules. We strike a positive tone, reminding staff that the students will respond to the can-do attitude that we exhibit. We coach our teachers to avoid negative or fear-inducing comments about testing. We reassure our students that they are capable and well-prepared. We also encourage you, the parents, to be positive about testing. It’s great for students to have opportunities to challenge themselves in every way, especially in our safe environment. They can only leap buildings in a singl

e bound if they have had a little practice. Take it seriously! Take it on! The grown-up world will provide all kinds of tests, and we want our students to boldly take them all on.

We also adhere stringently to every federal and state expectation. A detailed testing plan is reviewed at staff meetings. Documents are carefully counted and locked away, appropriately. Signs appear all about the building, reminding children and adults to maintain quiet. Staff are trained to administer and proctor tests.   While students are testing, no loud singing, drama games, or dance classes take place. No children play in the playground adjacent to the building, and K-2 teachers schedule field trips, giving their children a chance to learn out in the community, while providing silent spaces at school.

Our students thrive with a balance of creativity and measured assessment of skills. Like a performance or an art show, tests reveal one slice of what we do and what we know. They can be exciting, inspiring, and a bit intimidating. We learn to breathe, stay present, be courageous, and tackle each challenge with gusto. The more resiliency and self-confidence we develop, the better the outcome. Afterward, we review the experience and consider how to grow and build even more success next time. We believe education should include experimentation, self-expression, practice, assessment and mastery, just as art-making does.


Community Creates Featured Artist: Tom Hollis

Dr. Tom Hollis is a master woodworker and Biochemistry professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine with research interests in DNA, Phosphoproteins, and X-Ray Crystallography. Every year, Tom generously creates a piece of exquisitely crafted heirloom furniture for our Community Creates auction.


This year, Tom has constructed a truly unique table in maple and walnut that was made predominately with hand tools and traditional joinery techniques (dovetails and mortise and tenon). “My intent was to marry traditional and modern/rustic designs,” Tom says. “The alternating stacked drawers along with the spalted maple wood provide the modern aesthetic, but the traditional tapered walnut legs and dovetail construction of the drawers and drawer boxes give it a traditional or formal design.”

When asked why supporting Community Creates is important to him, Tom (whose children both attended ABS, and whose wife, Robin Hollis, is a familiar face at our school) replied: “Because I believe that it stimulates creativity and imaginative thinking in children. The curriculum and atmosphere of the school provide a richness and depth to education that inspires learning and creates well rounded people. ABS provides the proper educational foundation for students who will be looking for 21st century jobs.” We are extremely grateful to Tom for sharing his artistry with us year after year!



Community Creates is Saturday, May 4, from 7-11pm in our 7th street building. Please join us! Tickets are available for purchase now: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-creates-2019-tickets-57046355184?aff=erelexpmlt


Educators Rally in Raleigh           

The March for Students and Rally for Respect, hosted by the North Carolina Association of Educators and its local chapters, is set for May 1.  The day-long event will focus on such issues as teacher pay, per pupil spending, classroom resources, school safety and more.  Scheduled teacher absences for the day have led all major school systems to cancel classes, including Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.  We will follow the district’s lead and also cancel classes for Wednesday, May 1.    Students will not have to make up the missed day.



Classroom Placement Survey

Your child’s current classroom teacher will meet with the grade level team to create the class rosters for the next year. They use all that they know about your child’s academic, social, emotional, and behavioral qualities to determine which classroom is the best match. Parent requests will be considered but must be received by the classroom teacher in writing before May 1.



Third Grade Art at the Piedmont Earth Fair

All Third Graders will have a painting displayed at the Piedmont Earth Day Fair this Saturday at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds.  The event is free.  The forecast calls for a rainy day, so the fair will be held inside the education building at the fairgrounds annex. It runs from 10am to 4pm, and promises many earth-related activities for kids of all ages.


Clubs and Ensembles Ending May 3.

Art club, band, strings, and choir will come to an end the week of May 3. Individual group instructors for the performing arts will be emailing information about culminating mini-concert dates.


Snow Days Decision

Update on 2018-2019 calendar:

Our student calendar is created with 180 days. When we close for inclement weather, we forgive the first three days missed and this year we had three make-up days built into the calendar.


This year we missed 3 days for hurricanes/tropical storms and five days for snow. We also had five 2-hour delays and 4 early dismissals. Counting the three days we forgive and the three we will make up (Feb 18th, June 6th and June 7th are marked as make-up days on our published calendar), we will still be two days short.


The state allows us to count hours instead of school days and sets a minimum of 1025 hours. Taking all of the information above into consideration, we are left with a calendar that has 1066.5 hours. The ABS Board of Directors approved these changes in the calendar at Tuesday night’s board meeting.


Last day of school for students: June 7 (Half day)

Last day of school for teachers: June 12


Book Club Discussion

This year we invited ABS parents, staff, and board members to read Waking Up White by Debby Irving. Her book has been called one of the “most important books on race in recent memory” partly because her story provides a context that allows white people to quickly grasp modern racism’s inner workings and enter into conversations with new awareness and skill.

 We’ve set a date to discuss for Monday, April 29th at 6pm at the Arts Based School.  Please consider reading the book and joining the conversation….


Don’t have time for a book?  Check out Debby Irving’s website http://www.debbyirving.com/


or listen to her TED talk



April Parent Council Meeting

Please join us for the Parent Council on Friday, April 12 at 8:15 in the MLK Cafe.  All ABS parents, families, and caregivers are part of Parent Council and are welcome to attend!  Don’t forget that attendance at Parent Council meetings counts toward volunteer hours.  If you have requests for future agenda items, please send them to Parent Council Co-Chairs, Joy Blaser (joy.blaser@gmail.com) and Becky Dickson (rebeccapdickson@gmail.com).  This month’s agenda is attached to the Thursday Notes email.


ABS  Summer Camp

Join us for a week of suspenseful fun! Camp registration is currently open to ABS students only and filling up quickly.   See more information and registration at ABS Summer Camps



Extended Day Program

ABS will offer an extended day program from 2:00-5:30 PM for parents who need care beyond the summer camp hours of 9-2. The cost is an additional $15 per day. Space is limited! Those who are interested should contact slefever@artsbasedschool.com


Lost and Found

Please check lost and found for items you may have forgotten.   All items not claimed by April 12 will be donated.