ABS Thursday Notes- May 17, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                  May 17, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     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 for input, 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 take testing very seriously at ABS, and we are intentional about...

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ABS Thursday Notes- May 10, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                               May 10, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     School Cancelled-May 16   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin   “How we do it?” We do it with the financial support of our taxpayers, as distributed by the state legislature. Charter schools like ABS do NOT receive any funds from school bonds. We do NOT receive any funding from the “Education Lottery.” We take on multiple jobs, wear multiple hats, and add to this the time and energy we contribute to mount fundraisers like “Community Creates” or capital campaigns like the one that helped build our middle school building. Most importantly, we do it with dedicated, creative, passionate teachers. And those teachers are paid by state allocated funding.   Thousands of North Carolina teachers are taking a personal day on May 16th to be in Raleigh at the opening of the North Carolina General Assembly, to deliver messages of concern to our leaders. Because the pool of substitute teachers is insufficient to safely cover the many absences, school systems state-wide, including The Arts Based School, are canceling classes for the day.   Here are some of the points educators will emphasize, when they greet the return of the lawmakers:   Despite an economic recovery since the crash of 2008, NC state lawmakers have not increased investment in public schools. North Carolina is 43rd in the nation for per pupil spending. We are 37th in the nation for teacher pay. Nearly 7,500NC teacher assistants have been lost since 2008. Thousands of North Carolina teachers work second jobs and many public-school workers qualify for public assistance.   North Carolina public educators have been expected to “do more with less” for a decade, and this has impacted the ability of educators to successfully meet the needs of students and families. With nearly a quarter of North Carolina’s children living in poverty, underfunded schools are faced with students who are exhausted by insufficient food, sleep, or emotional security. The need for counselors increases even as counselor’s jobs are eliminated. And, of course, most schools make deep cuts in the arts, when funding is lacking.   Some teachers are abandoning their beloved professions for more secure options or are moving to other states where education is more robustly financed. Qualified math and science teachers are increasingly scarce in our state. Parents want veteran teachers in these important roles, but the legislature has not approved raises for veterans.   Like all other public schools, ABS is funded by “per pupil spending” as approved...

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ABS Thursday Notes- May 3, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                 May 3, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Film is incredibly democratic and accessible, it’s probably the best option if you actually want to change the world, and not just re-decorate it.” – Banksy   For six years, ABS 6th graders have tackled state-required world history social studies goals through film making and art. Some of the phrases from the Standard Course of Study that suggest the grand scope of film making as an appropriate art form at this grade level are:  -Understand the emergence, expansion and decline of civilizations and societies from the beginning of human existence to the Age of Exploration. -Understand the political, economic and/or social significance of historical events, issues, individuals and cultural groups. -Explain how innovation and/or technology transformed civilizations, societies and regions over time (e.g., agricultural technology, weaponry, transportation and communication).” -Explain how invasions, conquests and migrations affected various civilizations, societies and regions (e.g., Mongol invasion, The Crusades, … and Alexander the Great).   This is a dramatically broad swath of time and events for 10-11-year-olds to digest in a few short months, but the prospect of writing and performing in their own short films is a great motivator for research. A student interviewed for a 2016 “Nations Report Card” video said that this project was one of his favorites over his nine years at ABS, because it inspired and transformed the way he approached research; an influence that has stuck with him.   This year’s two short films, a sci-fi-documentary of Genghis Khan, and a music-theater style overview of the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, were scripted over the course of the year, with the first glimpse of the final product shared with students yesterday.   To develop the project, Nick Zayas helps students develop the script using on line collaborative tools used by Hollywood film makers. He introduces students to the basics of filming and film acting, and directs and films the segments. Classroom teachers dig deeply into research of a select group of historic individuals, timelines, and demanding writing projects, and students use flip cameras to create mini-films as classroom presentations. Art teacher Elizabeth Gledhill, inspired by research from the classroom, helps students create portraits, clothing studies, maps, felting projects, and other works of art representative of all continents during the time period addressed. Students are introduced to several genres of film over the course of the year, and all of them learn lyrics about Eleanor of Aquitaine set to a “Singing in the Rain” sound track. Becky Koza choreographs...

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ABS Thursday Notes- April 26, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                           April 26, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     Join Us for Community Creates!   Saturday, May 5th from 7-11pm Please join us for an evening of amazing art, cool people and funky festivities!  Our annual Community Creates art auction supports our school’s artists-in-residence program – think Mr. Bill, Diana Greene, Thao Nguyen and all the other amazing artists in the community that work with our kids! Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door and include hors d’oeuvres and dinner from our friends at The Porch & Alma Mexicana as well as some tasty adult beverages (yes, this party is adults only!).  Go to  http://www.communitycreates.com for more information and to purchase your tickets now!   Thank you to our Community Creates Sponsors! Many thanks to our wonderful sponsors and event partners that are helping to make our Community Creates fundraiser spectacular! A very special thank you goes out to: Community Supporter – Teresa Blackburn with The Ginther Group/Keller Williams Realty Friends of ABS – Andy Scott with State Farm Insurance Walt Rouse with Mountcastle Insurance Abby Umlauf with The Umlauf Group/Keller Williams Realty Ellen Heck with MejMej Johanna Elsner with Perch & Nest Nikki Byers with Imprints Cares Event Partners – Jon Stewart with Hauser Rental Beth Spieler with The Porch & Alma Mexicana   Don’t miss this great event on Saturday, May 5th from 7-11pm.  All proceeds support the ABS Artist-in-Residence program.  Buy your tickets today at http://www.communitycreates.com!   Farewell It’s always hard to say good bye.   We have some staff changes to announce.  Although change is part of life it’s always challenging to imagine our school without these special people.  We thank each of them for their service and commitment to ABS in helping us develop in to the school that we are.   Mr. Peter Wilbur will be moving to Asheville this summer (after music camp).  We know that he will enjoy being near his family, especially his grandson.   Ms. Leigh Cohen has been teaching at ABS her whole career and is now ready to pursue opportunities outside of the field of education.  I’m sure she will be a great success at whatever she does!   Mrs. Angela Hunt will be taking a break from teaching Spanish at ABS to stay home with her own children to homeschool.   Mrs. Jaclyn Purdy will be leaving ABS to pursue her next adventure in teaching.   We wish them all the best and appreciate their time at ABS!   Welcome Back!   We’re excited to announce Ms. Jess Broughton will be returning to teach at...

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ABS Thursday Notes- April 19, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                            April 19, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Appalachian storytelling isn’t a theatrical performance with sets and costumes and lighting and accents, though a good storyteller can conjure all those things in the mind of the listener.” – Dave Tabler   The 4th grade “Like a Family” event is not a formal performance, but a shared experience focused on the art of story-telling, arts and crafts of Appalachia, and the history of the textile industry in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. It recalls the days before radio when we all participated: telling stories, dancing, singing, playing instruments, adapting household objects to produce percussion and melody, creating art from whatever we found around us. Students explore the history of these regions of the state, learning about the vibrant cultural mix of native people, immigrants, slaves, and invaders who all contributed to create a powerful and unique culture in our state. We explore this culture through reading, research, maps, visiting artists, and the arts. We share it with our families in a culminating event that includes dancing to the live old-time music of the Reel Shady Band, student art and sewing exhibitions, music, and storytelling. Preparation for the storytelling involves extra time with “Mr. Bob” Moyer and Heidi McIver, who help students focus on the lifeblood lines of acting: simply telling the story, and truly listening. Students learn traditional tales from Mr. Bob, but they also learn about child labor in the textile mills, and unionizing efforts that followed changes in lifestyle from farming to millwork. Through the famous period photos of Lewis Hine and written memoires of folks who were there, students imagine themselves into the mills and act out a scene using quotes from the letters of textile workers. Meanwhile, they have been learning to weave and sew, beginning with small, personalized projects. Along with the stories, students will perform some traditional songs from the region, and invite parents and siblings to join in the delightful reels and square dances accompanied by the live Old Timey band, Reel Shady. The event takes place at the MLK building and on Wednesday, April 25, at 6:00 p.m. 4th graders and their families should arrive at 5:45, dressed in their “country” clothes (no bare feet please!) Ya’ll come! New Position at ABS          The ABS Board of Directors approved a new staff position for a Development Director.  The Development Director would be responsible for generating donations to the school from individuals, business/corporations, and grant-making entities.   This involves communication...

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ABS Thursday Notes- April 12, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                             April 12, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why by Mary Siebert   “Misbehavior and punishment are not opposites that cancel each other – on the contrary they breed and reinforce each other.”  ― Haim G. Ginott Anyone who volunteers during a school day can see that, even with our wonderful kids, managing a large group of children can be challenging. At ABS, we teach self-discipline as a basic skill.  At ABS, we teach self-discipline as a basic skill. To help our students grow into productive citizens, we avoid rigid tools of punishment and reward. Our teachers are experts at Positive Discipline, which recognizes behavioral mistakes as opportunities for learning. The word “Positive” in this title does not mean that we wink at disruptive behavior. We strive to be clear, firm, and nurture growth. Rewards are intrinsic to accomplishment, and do not appear in the shape of little candies or toys. We recognize that self-management must be taught with the same individualized instruction that we apply to math or reading. Corporal punishment is legal in North Carolina but is rapidly disappearing. (It has never been used at ABS.) In lieu of paddling, schools try a variety of other techniques. In many traditional classrooms, there is a “card” system, providing each student with four colored cards, or perhaps a little boat on a little ocean. The cards or boats are placed in a wall display, labeled with each child’s name. A child who makes a behavioral mistake is directed to walk reluctantly before uncomfortable classmates, to flip the card from green to yellow, regressing through the colors, if the objectionable behavior continues. (The boat might progressively sink.) The card or submerged vessel is a constant reminder of an earlier error, permanently discoloring the day. Most students never flip a card, but can predict who will, day after day. Often no progress is made – the same student is still card-flipping at the end of the year, and the only thing everyone (including the card-flipper) has learned is: that student is “bad.” There are many reasons why a child misbehaves, including (but not limited to) immaturity, lack of food, lack of sleep, trouble at home, allergies, hormones, habit, illness or boredom. It is never because the child is “bad.” There’s no such animal. But if a child is taught that she is bad, she might very well attempt to grow into that expectation. Regardless of the cause, each student must learn how to function productively and positively in a classroom setting, and must allow others to learn, unobstructed. Positive...

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