CT, Education, real estate, Schools, Stamford, Uncategorized

It’s All About Journey… Magnet Schools: Westover Elementary School

Westover  Magnet is tucked between the beautiful “country” neighborhood of Westover and the exciting Downtown neighborhood known as the West Side, in Stamford.  What makes this school unique as a magnet school?  The focus on Arts and Problem Solving (APS) plus the Mastery Learning program which encompasses flexible grouping based on ability level, combined with “looping”.

Westover’s Showcase, a theatrical production done by grades 4-5, where each grade works together combining  their studies in dance, art, music, gym and drama.

Key Elements of Mastery Learning are:

  • Flexible grouping for instruction in Reading & Math. Students with similar learning needs and skill levels are grouped together.

  • Adjustable class size. Class sizes can be adjusted through the addition of teacher-specialists in reading classes.

  • Good teacher/student ratio. Students who need more individualized instruction and support are in smaller classes for reading and/or math.

  • Looping. (Same teacher, same students for 2 years) in grades 1 & 2 and 3 & 4.

 

Arts & Problem Solving (APS)

At Westover, a basic curriculum is enhanced with rich experiences in cultural arts.  APS Team is comprised of a group of teacher-specialists – Art, Dance, Drama, Music, Physical Education, Problem Solving, and Technology.

Westover students experience 4 kinds of APS activities – Basics, Focus, Culminating Activity and Showcase.

  • Basics APS to learn basic skills. The students cycle through each of the disciplines with their homebase classmates.

  • Focus APS course to explore in an intensified focus course based on their interests.

  • Culminating Activity is the presententation – parents are invited to see what the students have been learning and creating at the conclusion of each focus course.

  • Showcase to perform a full-scale productions (4th & 5th grade). These performances integrate all of the APS classes from scenery designed and executed by the art students to music, dance, gymnastics, and acting. Past productions includes classic children’s stories, like “The Jungle Book” and   “Through the Looking Glass”.

 

Westover also incorporates programs such as “Talents Unlimited” – the thinking skills that people need in order to be successful in the world of work, and “Teaching/Learning Styles” – 4 innate learning and teaching styles based on how a person perceives and organizes the world.

 

 

 

 

There are 13 Elementary Schools in Stamford,  5 of which are Magnet Schools.  The Magnet Schools enroll students from all parts of Stamford by a lottery process.  Each school is centered around a unique, theme-based instruction.

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CT, Education, real estate, Schools, Stamford, Uncategorized

It’s All About Journey… Magnet Schools: Toquam Elementary School

Toquam Magnet Elementary School is located in a residential area of Springdale, tucked behind Dolan Middle School. Toquam just welcomed two new administrators:  Dr Shawn Marinello as Assistant Principal and Jamie Fisco as Administrative Intern.

As one of four magnet elementary schools in the district, their instruction is based on Bank Street Philosophy.  The mission of the Bank Street Program at Toquam is to promote excellence through academic success, positive character development and responsible citizenship for all students.  At Toquam, the key word is RESPECT: respect for yourself; respect for others; respect for your environment. Toquam strives to accomplish this mission through a supportive partnership with the Stamford Public Schools, the home and community.

Social Studies/Science content integration is the core of the Bank Street curriculum.  The study of social studies and science curricula are integrated with literacy and technology throughout the field of study.  Research skills, hands-on activities and educational trips are utilized to enhance our students’ depth of study. Classrooms are child-centered and structured to promote cooperative learning.

BANK STREET PHILOSOPHY

The foundation of Bank Street Program comes from the Bank Street College of Education in New York City. The program has been functioning and expanding in Stamford since 1972.

The Bank Street Program at Toquam School encourages individuality, creativity and critical thinking. Our goals are to develop inquisitive, lifelong learners who have the skills necessary to pursue their questions and work towards possible solutions. Toquam aims to provide the children with basic inquiry and research skills. The program also individualize instruction to meet their varied needs and levels of development when appropriate.

In order to help the students broaden their talents and gain confidence in their special abilities, classroom teachers and specialists offer varied opportunities for the children to express themselves through writing, speaking, art, vocal and instrumental music, creative dramatics and physical education. Children learn to express themselves in classroom communities where group discussions expose them to ideas and different ways of thinking. Class meetings build a sense of community and cooperation. A meeting area in each classroom is designed for this purpose.

 

Some of the extra curricular school-wide programs include an Author & Artists Assembly and the Apex Fun Run Marathon.

Go Toquam Tigers!

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It’s All About Journey … Magnet Schools: Rogers International School

Rogers Internation School (RIS) is located a mile from Long Island Sound and built on an existing urban brownfield site which was formerly an R&D facility for Proctor and Gamble.  RIS is an inter-district magnet school for PreK-8th grade servicing students from Stamford and surrounding towns with a focus on environmental studies.

This urban school has received multiple awards including the LEED Silver Certification, AIA Connecticut Design Award and the CT Green Building Council Most Intriguing Institutional Award.

The green building, which is integrated into the school’s curriculum, also teaches an awareness of the students’ connection to the earth and their responsibility to care for it.

The design creates a vibrant sense of place and demonstrates ecological stewardship through its four prominent environmental demonstration components: a large intensive green roof for educational use; a rain garden demonstrating the natural filtration process; a rain and stormwater collection system; and wind turbine demonstrating ‘free energy’.

RIS is a community with active volunteers – The Green Team and The Green Action Squad, The Community Pantry.  The Green Team is a group of volunteers who are interested in maintaining the unique environmental features of the school.  They work closely with The Green Action Squad which consists mostly of 3rd & 4th graders. The children develop their own projects based on environmental interests. In the past they have developed programs to educate their peers about recycling, tick identification, and birds on our campus. The Community Pantry is set up to support Roger’s families by providing supplemental groceries. Collections are accepted all year long.

RIS is an authorized participant in the world renowned International Baccalaureate World School working with students in Kindergarten through 8th Grade. The school offers the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and IB Middle Years Programme (MYP). In 2007, the International School at Rogers Magnet received the Lone Pine First Annual Fairfield Academic Gain Award.

The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), founded in 1968, is a nonprofit educational organization based in Geneva, Switzerland which provides a broad and challenging education. The programs enable students to acquire important academic skills and to develop an international perspective and a commitment to their communities.

There are three programs:

The Primary Years Program (PYP)  for students aged 3 to 12. Click here for more information.

The Middle Years Program (MYP) for students aged 11 to 16. Click here for more information.

The Diploma Program (DP) for students in the final two years of school before university which we will cover when we take a look at the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering (AITE).

The 2018-19 lottery for this, and other magnet schools, can be accessed through the Stamford Public Schools website after the 2017-18 school year has begun.

 

For a tour of the school, or to answer any questions on Rogers, or any of the Stamford Schools feel free to contact me.

 

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It’s All About Journey… Magnet Schools: Hart Magnet Elementary

Magnet Schools

As we continue looking at the Stamford Public Schools, we are now going to look at the Magnet School programs.  Each magnet school has a unique focus with innovative programs and theme-based instruction. Hart, Toquam, Westover, Rogers and Strawberry Hill are the elementary magnet schools; Scofield is the middle magnet school and AITE is the high school magnet. These schools offer admission through a lottery system, most of which concentrate on Stamford students, with Rogers & AITE being open to a larger population. We’re starting this series with Hart Magnet Elementary School.

 

Hart is one of five magnet elementary schools and their focus is on science and technology offering additional exposure to science and technology above and beyond the standard Stamford Curriculum.

At Hart Magnet School, each grade level reflects a science theme so that…

Kindergarten are Zoologists

Grade 1 are Biologists

Grade 2 are Botanists

Grade 3 are Geologists

Grade 4 are Ecologists

Grade 5 are Engineers

The school has 3 additional teaching positions, two science specialists and a technology teacher, who see every student on a weekly basis.  There are two labs with computers and several wireless links throughout the building providing fast access. There are also three unique mini-courses offered during the year where students choose a one-week long additional class to enrich and further augment the curriculum in science or technology.

The Five E’s and Science Education

The Hart program is building on the inquiry method of teaching science.

The inquiry process is driven by the learner’s curiosity and sustained by his or her sense of ownership of the process and uses the 5 E Approach. This allows learners to build or construct new ideas on top of what they already know.  Each of the 5 E’s describe a phase of learning: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate.

The school is situated in downtown Stamford and takes advantage of its location by sharing the diversity of arts offered within the City. Its location provides opportunities for field trips to UCONN Stamford, Stamford Hospital, the Palace Theater, and Mill River Project, to name a few. Hart Magnet is a member of the Mill River Collaboration and the students participate in outdoor classes and hands-on activities while they study the ecosystems.

 

As part of Stamford Public Schools’ STEMfest, https://www.facebook.com/Stamford-STEMfest-201557736716911/, Hart students celebrated “STEAM” – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math – with activities that include grade-level field trips to the Barlett Arboretum and Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, as well as a visit from the Beardsley Zoo. The school also hosted its third annual STEAM Night where families had the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities such as rocket building, tower building and breath-powered car designing.

The school’s philosphy is stated in their misstion statement:

 In partnership with parents and the Stamford community, Hart Magnet School provides its students with a learning environment that ensures a firm foundation in the basics and fosters respect for our diverse population. Hart focuses on technology and an inquiry-based approach to science. The theme of environmental studies allows our students to find a connection between their own community and the world in which they live, creating productive citizens and resourceful, life-long learners.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s All About The Journey… Your Neighborhood School Profile: Westhill High School

Westhill High School (WHS) started construction with the vision of two separate schools: freshman and sophomores in one building and juniors and seniors in the other. The thought was to separate the four year program into two, more “intimate” settings housed in the Finch and Raynor buildings.  The plan changed and school opened in 1971 as a traditional high school with all students having classes in both buildings. Now the Westhill campus, the city’s largest high schools also features an agricultural science facility, two all-sports artificial turf stadiums, and a 35-classroom building which houses the Freshman Academy. The school colors, purple and gold, and the mascot, the Viking, were borrowed from the Minnesota Vikings, the new NFL team that season.

Four decades later Westhill High School is thriving. A student body of roughly 2,500 students and nearly 200 certified staff work tirelessly to improve the teaching and learning environment for all learners. A multitude of AP course offerings, numerous electives, a JROTC program, an agricultural science program, dozens of clubs and numerous sport offerings have Westhill High School the place to be now  and for decades to come.

There’s so much going on here:

Columbia Press Awards and The Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) which is affiliated with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism recently awarded Westhill High School’s student-run publication, The Westword, a Silver Crown Award during the 93rd annual Scholastic Convention in the category of Hybrid Newspaper. According to CSPA, publications are judged on design, photography, concept, coverage and writing. Crown Awards demonstrate overall excellence in the entire publication.

The Westword has a history of winning CSPA awards, and has earned commendations from the American Scholastic Press Association. Though the majority of the work done on The Westword is completed after school hours, many of the articles are written by students in Westhill’s Journalism and Communications classes. “The Westword’s mission, ‘the test of good journalism is the measure of its public service,’ is something that we truly strive for at all times,” said Lauren Schechter, Editor-in-chief (print). “To be commended for that effort only encourages us to push ourselves further.”

Creative Connections, an International Cultural Education Organization, selected WHS as the “2017 USA Art Partner of the Year.” The artwork of all the WHS AVID students participating in the ArtLink International Exchange Program was recognized by a jury of educators and artists as an outstanding collection of work. According to Creative Connections, the WHS students’ artwork, which reflected the theme “TEAM Up,” was selected based the cultural insightfulness, quality and uniqueness of the work.

 

The WHS theater program, Northstar Playmakers just wrapped up their Spring Musical, Guys and Dolls.  For more information on the theater program, check their website: http://westhilltheater.org/home

Westhill is a diverse high school representing more than thirty-five distinct nationalities within it’s student body. In Westhill’s media center, flags from around the world are hung from the ceiling to representing Westhill’s diversity and welcoming environment.

Westhill is about to come to the end of an era & the begin a new chapter with Michael Rinaldi  taking over as the new Principal on July 1, 2017.  Both a Stamford native and Westhill alum, Mr. Rinaldi has been serving almost 30 years in the Stamford School system.  It was the first time in nearly two decades that the board chose a new principal for WHS. The retiring Principal, Camille Figluizzi has been at WHS since 1998.

Rinaldi decided he wanted to become an educator while still a student at Westhill.  “It changed my life,” he said, “Westhill is where I discovered my passion for this work. I would not be a teacher today if not for the fact that I had the opportunity to work with special-needs students as a teenager.”

The Vikings are set to embark on a new era, continuing to support it’s diverse population and commitment to excellence

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It’s All About The Journey … Your Neighborhood School Profile: Rippowam Middle School

 The school derived its name from the Native American tribe that inhabited Stamford and the surrounding area before European settlement.

Rippowam

Located on High Ridge Rd, at the center of the City of Stamford, Rippowam Middle School has an interesting history.  The school opened in the fall of 1961 as the second high school in the city.-Go Warriors!, (Baseball star Bobby Valentine was a standout football & baseball athlete and I went there too!). The high school remained open until 1983.

It’s building has served different educational age groups over the years. The building has been used for adult education, and was the home for the Magnet Middle School before the school moved to Scofieldtown Rd and was a temporary location for the Hart Elementary School.

The campus became the site of Rippowam Middle School in 2001.
The Academy of Information Technology and Engineering (AITE), a regional magnet high school shared the building with Rippowam Middle School until August 2007, when it moved to its own building behind Rippowam.

IB programRippowam is an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) school.  IB program is founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1968, the IB offers high quality programs of international education to a worldwide community of schools. There are three key concepts of the IB program used to plan the curriculum:

  • Holistic Learning: Teachers work together to design interdisciplinary unit planning, leading students to see learning as interrelated.

  • Intercultural: Students learn about their own culture and society as they learn about others.

  • Community: Rules and Regulations for students are shared with parents and the community. Rippowam supports inquiry, reflection and expression in multiple forms, and promotes community and global awareness.

The Connecticut State Department of Education recentlyCTDE awarded the prestigious 21st Century Community Learning grant s to the Rippowam Middle School.  The grant is intended to help students through the use of science-based practices and extended learning time.  Rippowam is to receive $807,500 over the next five years, the money is intended to serve 110 students per year.

Rippowam has a large, well-equipped auditorium and is home to its own drama group. High School Musical 2 is announced as their 2017 production.   Rippowam also hosted for All School Musical several years, presenting the young talents from every school in the city.

High School Musical 2

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It’s All About The Journey … Your Neighborhood School Profile: Stillmeadow Elementary School

Welcome to Stillmeadow

Roaring With Pride!

color-pencils

Stillmeadow elementary School is nestled in the residential neighborhood of Westover.  Stillmeadow employs Positive Behavioral Instructional Support programs to build a positive school culture.

Mission Statement

“To read, to write,

To think critically, to learn deeply,

To reason, to analyze and evaluate information,

To communicate effectively in a variety of forms

And for a variety of purposes,

To inquire systematically into any important matter.”

classroom

At Stillmeadow, collaboration exists between administrators, teachers, parents, community, and students. This partnership helps to provide all students the ability to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful and lifelong learners.  Stillmeadow is a school where each child is treated with dignity and respect, and children are taught with the future in mind. Staff ensures that each child has the opportunity to be happy and successful every day.

Stillmeadow also participates in instructional data teams (IDT) to analyze and monitor student performance. Through these analyses, teachers identify student strengths and weaknesses, discuss strategies and determine a plan of action to increase student achievement. The IDTs, along with the School Governance Council, focus on district and school goals and initiatives to update the School Improvement Plan annually. In addition, the literacy coach and math liaison provide continuity in the reading and math programs by planning and participating in staff development. Student intervention programs include Leveled Literacy Instruction, Recipe for Reading, Read180, and Read About.

After school programs include tutoring, chess, recycled art, and other recreational programs.

One of the most outstnading features of this school is Twin Meadows, a boundless playground.  Bright colors, wheelchair accessible bridges and ramps, and tube slides make this playground a fun place for any child. When a Stillmeadow family had difficulties finding a playground where their twin daughters could play together – one of their daughters suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy from birth, they decided to build a boundless playground. The idea came to them after reading about another boundless playground in West Hartford. At Twin Meadows, there is something for every child. High back and seatbelt-equipped swings allow children with physical disabilities to swing next to children on typical swings.  This playground opened October 2003 assisting and educating students with special needs, and it’s been the pride and joy of the school since then.

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