ABS Thursday Notes- Sept 13, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                September 13, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     School Cancelled-Sept 13,14 due to Hurricane Florence.   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “What sitting will not solve, travel will resolve.” – Fa-Digi Sisòkò from The Epic of Son-Jara: A West African Tradition   African storytelling includes a rich oral tradition. When these stories appear in American children’s literature they have been translated, not only from another language, but from another form. The American psyche expects our ubiquitous narrative fiction form: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. Beginning, middle, and end. For several years our 2nd graders performed a re-telling of the Legend of King Sundiata of Mali. There was always something missing, though the narrative structure was present. One summer, I came across a transcription of the original saga as told by a great Malian griot, (or jeli – the keeper of history through story, dance and music in African oral tradition,) Fa-Digi Sisòkò. It was full of humor, strange and wild imagery, adult content, and was completely lacking in the familiar western narrative form. Based on facts, it was also packed with fantastic exaggeration. In a column to the right of the page was on-going commentary: “Indeed. This is true. Yes, truly.”  It seemed the response of a listening crowd. This did not resemble the westernized picture books we had been using. The story was clearly one for adults. But many of the available African folk tales for children were “Americanized” and inauthentic, adapted by authors with no African heritage. A notable exception was Tololwa Mollel, a native Tanzanian children’s book author with a background in story-telling and children’s theater. I found Mr. Mollel, who was happy to share his heritage and stories. He had learned story telling from his Maasai grandfather. Listening, he said, is as important as telling in his tradition, and the commentary I had seen on the griot’s page was indeed that of active listeners, as “there is no story without them.” (This beautiful tradition of calling out response, encouragement, or agreement to a leader or performer is mirrored in many African-American events today.) Mr. Mollel said the richest value of a story is the lesson it teaches, not its entertainment punch or historical accuracy. Tololwa visited us several years ago, when we used several of his own books as the basis for our plays. He approved of and contributed to our process of adapting traditional stories for re-telling by our 2nd graders. Sitting is not the most effective way to discover African cultures; instead we get active. Our second graders are just beginning the process of making the move...

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ABS Thursday Notes- Sept 6, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                         September 6, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   All the ills of mankind, all the tragic misfortunes that fill the history books, all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill at dancing.” – Moliére In a 5th grade Dancing Classrooms lesson, the instructor coaches couples through the tango for the first time. “Great scorpion shape with those arms!” she calls out. “Demonstrate for us how you did that! Can you see these arms? No broken scorpion arms, only strong, powerful ones!” As one partner twirls another into the center of the circle, then back out, the instructor calls out “On to the pizza! Out to the crust!” …this kind of language, humorously appealing to the varied interests of kids while encouraging excellence, is typical of this beautifully crafted curriculum. Couples rotated, trading partners seamlessly as the dance repeated. (Read that last sentence again…we are talking about ten and eleven-year-olds here!) As always, I was taken completely by surprise when I saw which of the students seemed to float on air, excelling in this particular art form. Sometimes a child who tends to be disruptive or disinterested in other subjects will unexpectedly display intense focus in ballroom dance, asking pertinent questions and executing complex combinations with graceful ease and apparent delight. Dancing Classrooms is a program of twenty lessons taught at the 5th grade level at ABS, by visiting artist Ann Guill and her assistants. It’s underway, now. ABS piloted the program with Ms. Guill eight years ago. The Dancing Classrooms mission: “To build social awareness, confidence and self-esteem in children through the practice of social dance. Through standards-based, in-school residencies, we use the vocabulary of ballroom dance to cultivate the positive feelings that are inherent in every child. The maturity necessary to dance together fosters respect, teamwork, confidence and a sense of joy and accomplishment, which we hope to bring to every child. Ballroom dance is the medium we use to nurture these qualities.” Students learn the fox trot, waltz, swing, tango, merengue, and other dances while also learning how to treat one another with respect and social grace. This is a perfect match for us, particularly because Ann and her assistants are teaching the child, not the subject. The instructors, (assisted by the fearless Jordan Brown, our new drama teacher,) are all expert ballroom dancers, but the priority is the social progress of the individual child. It’s challenging at first to 5th graders, because of...

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ABS Thursday Notes- August 30, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                    August 30, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com   No School- Monday, Sept 3   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Music changes, and I’m gonna change right along with it.” – Aretha Franklin   Art Clubs and Music Ensembles for 5,6,7, 8 Grades The new art clubs and music ensembles begin next Tuesday, September 4 and Wednesday, September 5. Students may participate from 2:45-3:35 in their choice of band, strings, choir, and art club. Fill in the Permission Form, to enroll your student. (Students will not be admitted without a completed parent permission form.) Here’s what’s happening!   Intermediate Band – 6th Grade: Tuesday and Thursday Advanced Band – 7/8 Grades: Wednesday and Friday With Mrs. Boudreault in the 7th Street Band Room:  mboudreault@artsbasedschool.com  Instrumentalists:What to Bring In band, students will continue to grow as musicians and learn to play challenging and fun music of different styles, that fits our development. We’ll grow like crazy and have fun together. Auditions to move from Intermediate to Advanced band will take place after several classes, during band time, for students who feel ready to move up. If Advanced kids feel they’d be more comfortable in Intermediate, that may also be allowed after we’ve given it a try.   Beginning Strings – 6/7/8 Grades: Tuesday and Thursday Strings Chamber Group – Experienced Players and 6/7/8 Grades: Wednesday and Friday With Ms. Allen in the 7th Street Dance/Drama Studio:  aallen@artsbasedschool.com   Instrumentalists: What to Bring In Beginning Strings, students will learn how to play violin, viola, cello, or bass!  We will learn different styles of music, make great progress, and have lots of fun. In the Strings Chamber Group, students will be able to perform with other experienced violin, viola, cello, or bass players, including Ms. Allen.  We will perform different styles of music based on your interest, grow together musically, and also have lots of fun!   Choir – 5/6/7/8 Grade Combined: Tuesday and Thursday With Ms. Siebert and Mr. Brown in the MLK Music Room:   jbrown@artsbasedschool.com  In choir, we will try out several styles of music, from glee to a capella to traditional chorus, and find out what works best for our group, and what we like best! We’ll learn how to sound better, strengthen our voices, and support each other. If we want to, we’ll add some simple choreography.   Art Clubs – 5/6 Tuesday or Wednesday (choose one.) Art Clubs – 7/8 Thursday or Friday (choose one.) With Mrs. Gledhill in the 7th Street Art Studio   egledhill@artsbasedschool.com Art Club will be a student project driven club, allowing students to gain a deeper understanding of their personal artwork by creating an opportunity for them to receive guided instruction outside of their class curriculum. Students will problem-solve and grow their art artistic abilities.   Guidelines:...

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ABS Thursday Notes- August 23, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                        August 23, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” – Phil Collins   In our first year of operations, The Arts Based School served 65 students, Kindergarten through third grade. This year, we expect 530 students, and we are managing space creatively until our new 5th grade classrooms are constructed. We have regularly had over 400 families on our waiting list at the start of each year, but these new rooms will finally allow us to operate at full capacity. Two weeks before school started seventeen years ago, we were temporarily lodged in a vacant wing of a middle school near Old Walkertown Road. Our classrooms were entirely empty, awaiting delivery of used tables and chairs. We were crossing fingers that they would arrive before the students did. We had no supplies, no arts specialists, no bus, and no playground equipment. It might have appeared that the board and staff were lacking commitment or organization, since the accustomed model of a school is one of regimented organization with a broad support system. But a charter school is similar to a start-up business. All hands are on deck, day and night, until the customer is served with the highest possible quality. There is no “central office” and the corporate center might look more like young Bill Gates’ cluttered dorm room. But when the students arrived, we had our chairs and tables, borrowed art supplies from Sawtooth, a few jump ropes and a soccer ball, a guitar and a powerful philosophy, and we were ready to fly. And a year later, that same board of directors helped us lift those tables and chairs into borrowed trucks, then carried that furniture into our current building, piece by piece. That’s commitment. You could have seen the same spirit if you visited last week, with the amazing fifth grade team setting up welcoming classrooms in dance and theater spaces, our principal and assistant principal preparing to teach fifth grade as we support the healing of a beloved colleague, and teachers hauling furniture up and down the hill and in and out of the basement, sometimes with the help of their own parents. We are still always learning, and there’s never a moment when we feel we’ve “arrived.” For our new staff this year is a first, with many opportunities for learning. It’s nothing like a start-up, but we still expect surprises. We’ve enjoyed many years of those. Some favorites:...

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ABS Thursday Notes- August 16, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                             August 16, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     First Day of School –Wed, August 22nd   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “It is better to be safe than sorry.” – Proverb   Encouraging positive energy, hope and goal-setting are important tasks for educators and parents. Joyful leaps forward and unexpected emergencies are managed with cautious preparation balanced with confidence and attention to possibility. We venture together as a school, a community, a nation, a world; through complex and unsettling times. The staff at ABS contributes, as we all do, at our microcosmic level. We train regularly for emergencies of all kinds. We train regularly to inspire learners toward rich engagement and self-confidence. We are shaken when we hear news of great tragedy, and we stop for an extra breath when we hear the injured communities say, “We didn’t think it could happen here.” We read the data to calm fear of disaster: you are more likely to be struck by lightning. You are more likely to be struck by a car. Struck by a car. For our little school, this is the tragedy that we never thought could happen here. It did. In May of 2006, our beloved little first grader, Joshua Palomares-Beckles, was at home riding his bicycle, helmet on, in a safe area, when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. It still brings pain and tears, to write it. We were shattered. The weeks that followed required super-human strength from all of us, and we will never forget him and his beautiful family. Every day, we watch with great anxiety as a few families choose to park on the other side of Martin Luther King Drive, then cross that unpredictable, busy state road to reach our doors. If a shoe breaks or a flip-flop slides off, if a child falls or refuses to run, if you trip, misjudge the speed of an oncoming car, or simply don’t see it, our greatest fear could easily become reality again. The city recently announced that MLK Drive will soon be widened, to accommodate the great increase of traffic past our doors, when Business 40 closes. This means more cars and faster cars on this road. Very soon. We know that parking can be frustrating at ABS. The school board, parent council, and staff have all discussed this frequently. We are constantly looking for creative ways to resolve it. We have attempted to purchase neighboring property. We have negotiated with neighbors. We have staggered events to allow for...

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ABS Thursday Notes- August 9, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                   August 9, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     First Day of School –Wed, August 22nd   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” – Plato   This week the ABS faculty and administration is attending a two-day training seminar, where fresh ideas for effective arts integration will be shared, developed, and honed. ABS is beginning our seventeenth year of operations and our fifteenth year as a member of “A+ Schools of North Carolina,” a network association under the umbrella of the NC State Department of Public Instruction. A+ originated in Winston-Salem as an experimental project supported by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts. The A+ organization defines itself as “a whole-school reform model that views the arts as fundamental to teaching and learning in all subjects. A+ Schools combine interdisciplinary teaching and daily arts instruction, offering children opportunities to develop creative, innovative ways of thinking, learning and showing what they know. In A+ Schools, teaching the state’s mandated curriculum involves a collaborative, many-disciplined approach, with the arts continuously woven into every aspect of a child’s learning.” Our school developed independently and unaware of the A+ network, until we discovered their parallel values and goals, and joined them in the summer of our third year of operations. Now, we have built friendships and relationships that buoy and inspire us, and we benefit from our membership via staff development, visits from A+ Fellows, (our dance teacher Jan Adams is among them,) meetings, and on-line connections with like-minded educators. With those teachers, we sing and dance and draw and improvise. We examine state standards in other subjects such as math, science, language arts, and social studies, and we investigate new ways to help kids discover the connections between and among them all. Reporting live from the first workshop, we are energized and excited to start the new year.   To learn more about the A+ Schools organization, visit https://aplus-schools.ncdcr.gov/about   Back to School Night-Save the Date! ABS Back to School Night is scheduled for Monday, August 20.  To ease parking, we have scheduled three sessions- Grades K,3,and 5 will attend 5-6pm. Grades 1,2,and 6 will attend 6-7pm. Grades 4,7,and 8 will attend  7-8pm. All sessions will occur in your child’s classroom.   Parking Lot Safety Please drive slowly and cautiously through school parking lot at all times. Do not use cell phones while in our parking lot. Watch for children and adults in parking lot, especially...

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