Thursday Notes – October 23rd, 2014

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“It’s time for us to move from success to significance.” – Robin Hollis, ABS Principal

       Twyla Tharp, the great American choreographer and dancer, recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Kennedy Center Honor, a Tony and an Emmy among other awards, visited Salem College last week. When asked why she went into dance as a profession, she answered “I couldn’t help myself.” She went on to describe a time when she examined her own abilities, considering what she did best. Dance kept coming up, despite her misgivings about the stability of the field as a career choice. Finally she accepted that dance was “it” for her, and said to herself, “Alright, let’s get on with it.” Clearly, she identified both a personal capacity and a passion. She described herself as being “curious about what the human body can do,” and that one essential question has driven a rich lifetime of investigation, risk-taking, and creative accomplishment.

ABS teachers have recently been doing focused work together on development of curriculum rooted in both the state standards and topics or art forms about which they are passionate. Working in small groups, they have been reflecting on what they would most love to share and explore with their students. From clay to cooking, from tapestry to tap dancing, our teachers are fascinated by and accomplished in a broad and delicious variety of topics.

To develop a series of lessons around a particular interest or capacity, the teacher often catches the muse by making a connection. Leigh Cohen, 2nd grade teacher, is an accomplished potter. It occurred to her that she’d like to move her pottery wheel into her classroom. This spark led to a wildfire of ideas for her students: scientific studies of evaporation through the process of making pottery. Cultural studies through clay. Timelines of clay artifacts. Mathematical equations and graphs that would measure and track the shrinkage of the clay as the water evaporates. She floated her ideas to her colleagues, and soon the whole second grade team was on board, ready and willing to learn from her and share with their students. They met to consider which state standards could be powerfully taught through the medium of clay. They consulted with art teacher Betsy Messick and Curriculum Coordinator Liz Green to refine and develop their ideas. The other arts specialists contributed more connections, and a new series of lessons was born and shared.

Ms. Cohen and 4th grade teacher Becky Koza, (who tap dances math, designs stage sets using geometry, and explores angles and reflection with stage lighting to name just a few integrated lessons,) shared their processes with other ABS staff. In a panel discussion setting, they reflected on the varied steps: inspiration followed by a storm of ideas, boldly moving from idea to intention, careful planning to root the ideas in the soil of the required curriculum, occasional adjustments and editing, and adjustment through practice.

This is a year of fertile growth of teacher-generated ideas; all designed to deliver both joy and disciplined learning to students who catch the wave of delight when they see that their teacher is excited to share with them. We are supporting and inspiring one another as never before, with a goal of one day sharing this process with a wider world of educators. It is a leap in what Principal Hollis calls our movement “from success to significance.”


Fall Fest This Saturday, October 25th!

Live music!  Food trucks! Tie-Dyeing T-shirts! Street Soccer!  Art Supplies!  House of Style!  Freeze Dance!  Games, Games, Games!  It’s going to be AWESOME!  Our own Mary Siebert will perform songs from her new CD “Buffalo Gals, Historic Cowboy Songs of America’s Wild West“! (see attached document).  Only $5 admission per child (adults are free!).  Bring extra dough for the food trucks and select goodies (e.g. tie-dye shirts).  Fall Fest is a Parent Council sponsored fund raiser that helps to support the school’s annual operating expenses.  In addition to 100% of admissions, a portion of the profits from the food trucks will also be donated back to the school.  Don’t miss it – come hungry and ready to play!  Need more information or interested in volunteering, please contact your Class Rep or Tommy Priest at


Positive Discipline Workshop, Nov 8th

Ever wonder why your child listens so well at school but you have trouble getting him to even brush his teeth at home?  Frustrated that you raise your voice more than you’d like to?  Adopting some of the same positive discipline practices our teachers use at school may help things run more smoothly at home too!  Join us on Saturday, November 8th from 9am-noon for our Positive Discipline Workshop led by Principal Robin Hollis.  The workshop will be tailored for all ages – your kindergartener or your 8th grader!  Space is limited so sign up now in either front office with Nicole Whitaker or Donna Brown.  The cost is $10/family and child care will be provided.



We need childcare volunteers for our Positive Discipline Workshop on Saturday, November 8th from 8:45am-12:15pm.  You may work part of the time or the entire workshop.  Contact Shannon Wright if you can


Strawbridge Photos

Proofs of your child’s school photos came home last week in Thursday packets.  If you would like to purchase photos, please return your form and payment by next Thursday, October 30th or visit to purchase your photos online.  Picture make-up day will be held on Friday, November 7th.


Assistant Principal Raffle

Don’t forget to purchase your $1 raffle tickets for your child’s chance to be next month’s Assistant Principal!  Tickets are available in both front offices and November’s Assistant Principal will be drawn at our next Friday Sing!


MAP results sent home

Third through Eighth grade students will receive MAP results in their Thursday Packets today.  Please take some time to review these results.   Overall results show that ABS students in each of those grades achieve higher scores than the national norms in all areas tested: math, science, reading, and language arts.   Congratulations to our students and their teachers for a job well done!   If you have any questions regarding MAP results, please contact your child’s teacher.


Yearbook Sales

Yearbook sales start this week! You may order either online at and click on the order button then follow the prompts or with the form that is coming home today in Thursday packets.  We are happy to announce that the price has dropped this year to $20.00. You will still have the option to personalize your child’s yearbook with their name and picture for $5.00.  Reserve your copy today, numbers are limited.  Also, please share all those wonderful pictures that you have taken around the school during performances, classroom units, field trips or just fun candids. Please send your best ones in high resolution to


7th St Morning Drop off

The morning drop off procedure is the same as the afternoon.  All cars are required to drive down Chestnut St and enter the MLK parking lot by Lloyd Presbyterian Church.

Do not enter the 7th St parking lot to drop off students. 

-Do not release students out of your vehicle while on 7th St. 

-7th St parking lot entrance is reserved for faculty or parents that are entering to park and enter the school only.

Thank you for doing our part to keep our students safe.


Dental Screening

When children have dental problems, their overall health and ability to learn can be seriously compromised.  As part of our regular school preventive dental health program, the NC Oral Health Section, Division of Public Health, and Lynn Kelly, RDH, Public Health Dental Hygienist for Forsyth County, will conduct dental screenings for children in grades K, 3rd, 5th on October 28.  She will use gloves, mask, flashlight, and will use a new tongue depressor for each child.  The screening serves as an educational, positive dental experience and also collects information to help improve the Children’s Dental Health programs.  Children who see a dentist regularly will also benefit from the screening for the educational opportunity.  A form letter will be sent home to show your child’s results. If you do not want your child included in this dental screening, please send a note to your child’s teacher.  If you have any questions, please call Lynn Kelly, RDH, at the Forsyth County Health Department.

(336) 703-3375


 Halloween is Coming

Please do not send students to school in costumes.  We all enjoy the fun and excitement of Halloween but find that costumes and accessories make it very difficult to concentrate.  Also we do not want students to bring candy in their lunch bags for snacks.  Although it can be delicious, high sugar snacks should not replace a healthy snack.  Thanks for your help!


Lost and Found

ABS will be donated all lost and found on November 1.  Please stop by before then to claim any personal items.


Donor’s Choose

Ms. Jess is working to get four laptops in her classroom for student to use during centers, individual research, for typing stories, and so much more. If you, or someone you know, is interested in supporting her endeavor, you can access and donate to this cause through her Donor’s Choose page at Technology at Our Fingertips!


Around town…

The UNCSA Community Music School offers lessons and group classes to instrumental and vocal students of all ages with professional artist/educators.  Located in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem in the Stevens Center, the UNCSA Community Music School offers lesson options to fit any schedule.  Our faculty includes specialists in classical, jazz, and pop music, composition, and music theory.  Please visit for more information about our programs and faculty, or just drop by to say hello!


Winston-Salem Festival Ballet presents its annual performance of “Dracula“. Shows are tonight at 7:30, Fri & Sat at 8:00 and Sun at 2:00.