ABS Thursday Notes- September 7, 2017

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                  September 7, 2017


How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“If you are human, you are biased.”

– Howard Ross, Everyday Bias


Before students arrive at the start of each school year, the ABS staff meets for training. We review procedures for everything from ordering supplies to medical emergencies. We provide philosophical introductions for new teachers, and we examine our in-house culture, working to improve our communication and to awaken fresh creative energy.

This year, Principal Hollis invited the staff into an important conversation about bias. She and Assistant Principal Raper had attended an inspirational presentation by Howard Ross, a diversity consultant who helps organizations identify and shrink workplace bias. That experience provided a platform for Ms. Hollis to invite us all to confront our individual internal biases. She began by stating that she is not an expert at leading this conversation, nor am I an expert at writing about it. But we agree that we must talk, respectfully and openly, about anything so critical to the well-being of our students and their families. We are listening, and we are talking together, with the hope and expectation that we will be schooled.

According to Ross, “Bias is nothing new. It can show up in the way we perceive someone’s race, gender, age, disability, dress, accent, speech patterns, mannerisms and so on. For the most part, we tend to view bias as a result of people’s intention to hurt others. However, neurocognitive research confirms that bias may very well be as normal to humans as breathing. Studies have confirmed that people have biases about almost every dimension of human identity. Virtually everyone has them, and overwhelmingly they are unconscious.”

Our mission to meet the needs of every child at ABS requires that we adults open our minds and learn about culture, upbringing, or life’s experiences that differ from our own. We might believe ourselves to be free of judgment regarding race, gender, age, disability, and so on, but our brains are not as deeply trained as we imagine them to be. We don’t have the answers. This is just the beginning of a safe and supportive conversation among our diverse community. We want to learn all we can, about how to respect one another, speak to one another, support one another.

Over the years, we have tackled this in various ways. We required every staff member to attend a three-day “Dismantling Racism” workshop, with the Institute for Dismantling Racism. With students, we introduce the concept of “stereotypes” at Kindergarten, with the recognition that we all assume wolves are cruel predators that will attack humans, based their representation on children’s literature. But when we research real wolves, we find that they are shy, familial, often endangered animals that very rarely hurt humans. In 5th grade, we learn from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that the practice of leaping to judgment against any group of people is a fatal flaw that blinds us to other’s value and may end in tragedy. We tell our students that, as humans, they, too will find themselves passing automatic judgment on others. “All boys are ________. Girls are no good at _______. Fill in the blank. It’s not only inaccurate, it’s hurtful. Catch yourself, we coach them. Slow down. Re-think that. And plan to keep catching yourself, all your life. There is always more to learn, but not only for our students.

We are fortunate that our staff and parents are willing to talk, willing to share concerns, and willing to trust that we want to grow in diversity and cultural inclusiveness.

At the next Parent Council Meeting, Friday, September 15, at 8:15 a.m in the MLK building café, Principal Hollis will be sharing the introductory session that our staff received, so parents will have an idea how we are starting this conversation, and can choose to become a part of it. We hope you will.


Parent Council Meeting – Friday, September 15
Please join us for the first Parent Council meeting of the school year on Friday, September 15 at 8:15 in the MLK Cafe.  All ABS parents, families, and caregivers are part of Parent Council and are welcome to attend!   If you would like to submit a topic for the agenda, please send an e-mail to Parent Council Co-Chairs, Joy Blaser (joy.blaser@gmail.com) and Julee Nunley (julee@thenunleys.net) by Friday, September 8.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Fall Festival- Save the Date: September 30th
Mark your calendars for family fun at the ABS Fall Fest on Saturday, September 30th from 12:00 to 3:00 held at the 7th Street building and courtyard! Shannon Shearburn, Fall Fest Coordinator, is working on planning a great event.  Class Reps, please contact Shannon at shannon621w@aol.com if you still need to claim the game that your grade level will sponsor.


ABS Scholastic Bookfair

ABS Annual Scholastic Book Fair is coming the last week in September! The theme this year is THE WILD WEST. Students always get very excited about the book fair, it is a great time to stock up on books and support our school. This year, we will have more titles than ever before! There are lots of fun volunteer opportunities during the book fair, we have 2 separate websites: 1 for the MLK fair(k-4) and 1 for the 7th St(5-8) fair. Find more information and volunteer sign-up links at:

http://www.scholastic.com/bf/artsbasedschoolk4  &  http://www.scholastic.com/bf/artsbasedschool58


Don’t Miss Bookmarks Festival!

Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors takes place September 7-10, with free family friendly events all day Saturday, September 9th (9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

The day kicks off with a Celebration of Summer Reading from 9:30-10.

Congratulations to ABS students who won Summer Reading awards-

Sydney Stevens for Visual grades K-2

Harper Webb for Written grades K-2


All children attending the Festival may earn a free book by visiting Children’s Exhibitors and attending the children’s sessions.

These events take place at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts and the surrounding areas on Spruce, Poplar, and Holly Streets in downtown Winston-Salem.


Activity Fee

Each family is asked to pay $30.00 per year per child to help cover the costs of our extensive curriculum enhancement activities, including field trips and art trips.  Fees are payable at the start of the year and may be paid for the full year or in smaller increments, if needed.  Financial assistance is available to those families with demonstrated need per the approval of the principal.  Checks should be made out to The Arts Based School and turned into your classroom teacher or front office.


Beginning of Grade Test

The State Board of Education requires a standardized reading test  for all third graders in North Carolina.  Third grade students will take the Beginning of Grade (BOG) test in reading.  A student’s BOG score will be used as baseline data to measure growth as well as a screening tool to identify those students who will need remediation to pass the End of Grade test.  The NC Read to Achieve initiative which requires retention for students who do not pass the Reading EOG at third grade.  The test has 42 questions and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.  It will be administered on September 12.    Testing accommodations will be provided for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP).  Make-up tests will be required for any student that is absent from the regular administration of the test.


Changes in Thursday Notes

We will soon be redesigning our Thursday Notes.  If you have some ideas or changes you would like to see, please send suggestions to Principal Hollis at rhollis@artsbasedschool.com


Around town

National Folk Festival, September 8-10 in Greensboro. FREE. https://nationalfolkfestival.com/​

Upcoming Events

1st, 2nd, 3rd, Bookmarks Author Javaka Steptoe

Fri, September 8, 9am – 10am


7th, 8th, Bookmarks Author Martha Brockenbrough

Fri, September 8, 12pm – 1pm

BOG Reading Test for Third Grade

Tue, September 12, 8am – 12pm

ABS Board Meeting

Tue, September 12, 5:45pm – 6:45pm

1st – Reynolda House & Gardens

Tue, September 19, 9:00am – 11:30am

1st – Old Salem

Wed, September 20, 10:45am – 1:30pm

Kinder – Triad Farmers Market

Thu, September 21, 10am – 2pm

4th – Piedmont Environmental Center

Fri, September 22, 8:45am – 12:30pm