Life Around Here

The past few weeks here at Parker have been busy ones! Students returned from February break energized and ready to tuck into some hefty work. This midwinter period is always a thoughtful and deliberate time in all of our classrooms. The sharp novelty of winter has tempered, and students are ready to settle into deep investigations that will busy their minds and bodies until spring. This work can take many forms, from sweeping, long term projects like the 8th grade theses to more organic, but nonetheless intense investigations like PreK-1st grade block play. Here is just a small sampling of what has been happening in our classrooms:
Our industrious PreK 4 students have spent the last month immersed in a mail study. Inspired by an emerging interest in letters and literacy amongst her students, Leigh Augustine has facilitated a study that rivals the US Postal Service in its scope and organization. Students have been deeply engaged in designing notecards and composing notes to friends and family, and they delight in bringing them to the front desk to post and mail themselves. The class also collaborated to build their own mailbox where they can receive mail! Writing notes and letters is a wonderful way for our preschoolers to practice their writing abilities, and GETTING letters is a great motivator as well! If you have family members near or far (and especially far) who would be willing to send our class a letter in the mail, they would LOVE to receive it! Letters can be sent to:Robert C. Parker SchoolPreK 4 Class4254 NY-43Wynantskill, NY 12198
Last week, Parker parent and CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman visited our 7th grade class to help them embark on an adventure to change the world. Now in its third year here at Parker, the Butterfly Effect Project is named after the idea that small causes can create large effects. Steve was inspired by Chris Rosati , a man diagnosed with ALS, who wanted to spread kindness by giving people $50 with only one rule: do something kind. Last week, each 7th grader received their $50 mini-grants for Parker’s Butterfly Effect Project. This funding and trust in their abilities is a true show of confidence in our students. Stay tuned to learn how our 7th graders spread kindness in our community this year.
The 7th grade was not the only class to receive a visit from Steve this year. Several weeks ago, Steve also visited Nellie’s 4-5 class to talk about the concept of “truth”. Steve shared some examples of his “Everybody Has a Story” news segments, and he spoke with the kids about reliable sourcing, multiple perspectives, and how we chose to share our stories. He also brought an inflatable globe that went into space with NASA, and shared his experiences traveling around the world report stories about everyday people. Following Steve’s visit, the 4-5’s continued their investigation of “truth” in social studies, examining the idea that history can be presented from multiple perspectives. Be sure to check out the 4-5’s amazing “Hidden Truth” bulletin board in our middle school hallway!
Continuing with our spate of visits from Steves, Parker was thrilled to welcome grandparent Steve Hessler (Helen’s grandpa). Steve brought in two, functional antique Western Electric phones that belonged to his father, a former employee of Western Electric, and shared them in age appropriate ways with every class in the school. Steve showed students the inner mechanisms of the phone, and explained how it could be repaired with only a screwdriver and a pliers. He also explained the ring mechanism, the function of an operator, and the concept of party lines — “It’s just like a group chat!” one of our sixth graders exclaimed. With older students, Steve taught them how to connect the electrical wiring. Middle school students wired one phone up in the gym and another in the science center, and they spent the afternoon making silly “old-time” phone calls to each other. As our science teacher, John Sherry, reflected affectionately, this project today means that memories of this technology will go forward another 80-90 years into the future, and that is a pretty awesome accomplishment.”
This is what “school is like for Parker kids. It’s not what most would envision when a child says “I went to school today.” The learning is multi-dimensional, enlivening, challenging, and most of all engaging and fun. Self-efficiency is required and nurtured. Confidence in one’s own ability to solve problems is the ultimate result. Is there any better preparation for whatever comes next in life? 
A Note About the Future…
Amidst our joyful celebrations of student life here at Parker, we are also mindful of the fact that the ever-evolving news of COVID-19 is not far from anyone’s mind. Today at Parker, students prepared with their teachers for what online and remote learning might look like should we need to move online in the weeks ahead. At this point we are looking forward to seeing everyone next Tuesday! Rest assured that our Parker students are preparing for the possibility of learning in a new way with curiosity, resilience, and grit. We are incredibly grateful for our Parker community, and we are committed to bringing you community-building communications like the Friday Snapshot for the foreseeable future.