Nothing Short of Extraordinary

By Noelle Mendez-Villamil, Langley Parent and Chair of the Parent Association of The Langley School (PALS)

As we approached the beginning of this academic year at The Langley School, parents, students, staff, and faculty felt a wide range of emotions. We were excited about the possibility of reopening the school or having access to a robust distance learning program. We were anxious about our children’s ability to keep a mask on during the entire school day. We were happy about the flexibility that Langley offered us to choose what would be the best learning medium for our family. And more importantly, we made a commitment to everyone in our community to do our very best to keep each other safe. Some of us thought the school reopening would last just a couple of weeks. I think all of us hoped that our kids would be able to stay in school at least through the Thanksgiving break. Well, thanks to all of you, we have made it to Thanksgiving! Continue reading

What Even Goes On in Preschool?

By AnnMarie Rudd, Preschool Teacher at The Langley School

“What even goes on in preschool?” It’s a question I often get, not only from prospective families, but also from my closest friends and family members. It’s a question I’ve heard too many times within the past eight years of teaching preschool. And no matter how many times I hear this particular question, it always makes me stop and think, “Well, what doesn’t happen in preschool each day?” Believe it or not, our days are filled with endless possibilities as our students lead their learning in experimenting and discovering new wonders during their first year at The Langley School.

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A Day in the Life of Three Langley Teachers During Distance Learning

A Special Thank You During Teacher Appreciation Week

During this time of distance learning, The Langley School’s students, parents, and teachers are balancing new ways of working, learning, and interacting as they partner to bring the Langley experience to life from home. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we salute our amazing faculty for their flexibility, creativity, and dedication as they adjust to this new method of teaching while providing our students with meaningful, engaging lessons. Continue reading

Truly Thankful for the Langley Community

By Ayesha Flaherty, Head of Enrollment and Communication at The Langley School and Langley Parent

Picture this. A fifth-grader greets you with, “Good morning. I hope you’re having a good day,” as you enter the auditorium for an 8:05 a.m. assembly. A fellow parent texts you knowing that you have a busy week and offers to pick up your child from after-school chorus. A colleague puts a note in your mailbox expressing their appreciation for your working relationship. A newly admitted parent stops by your office to thank you for the positive experiences his children are having at Langley. And, it’s only 9:00 a.m.!

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Seeing Through the Eyes of a Child: Confidence Isn’t Given. It’s Attained Through Accomplishment

By Peggy Laurent, Head of The Langley School’s Lower School

When you take the time to look, you see amazing things! In my experience, when you are lucky enough to view something through the eyes of a child, you get to see it with “fresh eyes” as we like to say at The Langley School.

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“Put Her Yardstick on My Tab”

By Dr. Elinor Scully, Head of The Langley School

On Saturday, I was in an ACE Hardware store purchasing an old-fashioned yardstick. I decided that I needed this yardstick because I was preparing to hang some curtains (rods, brackets, rings, panels, etc.) completely on my own. My drill was charged, my supplies marshaled, my spirits high. At the checkout line, the guy ahead of me said to the cashier, “Put her yardstick on my tab.” I protested that his gesture was unnecessary and far too generous, but he looked me in the eye and said, “I try to do one random act of kindness every single day. Today, you’re it.”  Continue reading

Thank You to a Remarkable Community with a History of Giving

by Jennifer Graham, Co-Chair of Langley’s Day of Giving and Parent of Langley Students in Grades 6 and 8

There are several phrases that are often used to describe The Langley School: great community, motivated and poised students, commitment to service learning. As I have worked on the planning and execution of Langley’s first-ever Week of Giving and Day of Giving, I have had the privilege of seeing all these phrases come to life, and this has served as a great reminder of the special place Langley is.

Almost one year ago, Langley’s 75th Anniversary Committee began brainstorming how to best celebrate this milestone birthday year. As the conversation unfolded, the committee began reflecting on the rich tradition of service that has been woven throughout Langley’s history. This led to the decision that a celebratory event focused on service had to be on the calendar. And so, the Week of Giving, culminating in a Day of Giving, was born. We had big dreams for creating a way for our community to serve together, and at every turn, every sector of our community has far exceeded those expectations. Continue reading

Third-Graders Discover the “Real” America by Mail

by Shari Bozorgzad, Grade 3 Teacher

In February, we asked our third-grade students, “How can we research the unique qualities of each state in our nation?” We got the typical responses such as, “We could check out books from the library or look up information on the Internet.” I love that our students know where to find information, but I was looking for something a little more unusual.

Before coming to Langley, I had witnessed a project that I thought would be perfect for our third-graders. I explained to our students that the best way to learn about a city, town, or state is to get firsthand information from the residents. In order to solicit this firsthand feedback, our third-graders sent letters to several small-town newspapers in each state, asking residents to help them learn more about their state by sending postcards, maps, photos, souvenirs, and other useful information.

 Just one week later, I returned to my classroom after lunch to find my chair full of packages.

We received various items from across the country, including an original painting from an 83-year-old Mississippi man that depicted the Natchez Trace Parkway and a sample of cotton from a Mississippi woman’s family farm with a note telling of the fond memories she had of picking cotton as a little girl.

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An Expression of Gratitude from Langley’s Head of School

by Dr. Elinor Scully, Head of School

One of the great privileges of being the head of The Langley School is the opportunity to meet with a small group of elected student advisors on a monthly basis. This group, my “advisors to the head,” keeps me focused on the real work of school leadership: the quality of student lunch, the number of minutes spent at recess, and the spirited debate over 4 Square rules. Last week, however, after the obligatory conversation about food and fun, I asked the students what they were looking forward to most as Thanksgiving approached. While food was certainly mentioned, more of the discussion centered on spending time with family, cherished holiday traditions, and seeing grandparents and special friends. The group reminded me that the purpose of the holiday is to be thankful for our families and friends and to be grateful for all the blessings in our lives.

These wise students reminded me what should be obvious, that gratitude is at the heart of the holiday season. And this year in particular, I definitely feel a strong sense of gratitude for the compassion and strength of our school family. For a number of members of this school community, 2016 has brought significant health challenges and untimely loss. In just the last few months, I have attended memorial services for parents taken from their families too young and I have sat with community members battling life-threatening illnesses. I have also watched our community step up with arms wide open and offer the kind of support that makes a real difference in times of sadness and struggle.

The Langley School Community

At a recent service I attended, one of the speakers offered the following advice to the group gathered to mourn the loss of a friend, father, and colleague: “Invest tirelessly, relentlessly, and fearlessly in your relationships.” I watch this happen every day at The Langley School. I watch colleagues step up and cover classes so that someone can tend to a seriously ill family member. I am in awe of the candor, tenacity, and humility of one of our parents who is battling cancer, all while being fully present in every moment of her life. I’m moved when I hear this same person offering to help another community member who is just beginning her chemotherapy. Publicly and privately, in large and small ways, members of our school are doing everything they can to lighten the load for those whose burdens are heavy.

When you live in a community as large and multigenerational as ours, illness, loss, and struggle are expected. This fall, however, it’s felt like we’ve had more than our share. In the midst of this, my young advisors brought me back to what matters most – gratitude, compassion, and hopefulness. Investing tirelessly, relentlessly, and fearlessly in our relationships gives us the strength to weather tough times, connects us to a community that is here when we need them, and reminds us not to take any moment for granted. So as we head into a season that can be eclipsed by “to-do lists” and frantic work to get everything right, slow down, be present for those you love, and savor those relationships you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.

I give thanks this holiday season for Langley, our community, and all of the inspiration and hopefulness it has brought into my life.

 

 

Why World Languages Learning Is So Essential to 21st Century Education

By Glenda De Hoyos, Spanish Teacher

We are educating students to develop skills that can help them work in future professions that might not even exist right now. The world is rapidly changing and the needs of a globalized society are difficult to predict with certainty. However, with total conviction we know that our students will need some important skills in the future.

To start the list: thinking creatively to solve problems, being flexible and adapting to changes, collaborating and communicating effectively with others, and having technology proficiency. Further, empathy, compassion, and open-mindedness are important capabilities that can be developed and that grow through academic and social experiences. Other skills that are also important to add to that list include the ability to be resilient and recover quickly and positively from the many challenges that are faced every day.

The Langley School - World Language

At The Langley School, we have a comprehensive curriculum that integrates the many areas that will lead students to develop those skills and many others. I’m so proud to be working in a school that understands the importance of learning a world language from a very young age, and how learning languages is a key element in the development of all the previously mentioned skills, among some others. Our students are given the opportunity through our World Languages Department to learn Spanish from Primary School, and later on, given the choice to learn French or Chinese. This program gives our students an incredible chance to be bilingual and, in many cases, multilingual. This solid foundation can be continued in their future studies in high school and college, opening doors to studies abroad and exchange programs and boosting their careers no matter the area.

As Dr. Scully mentioned in her recent “State of the School” address, the World Languages Department has spent the past academic year reflecting, researching, and planning ways to strengthen our program for our students. For the latter part of this year and into next, the department has begun redesigning its curriculum to be more meaningful and relevant to student learning through the use of a variety of new resources. In addition, the department has aligned new courses to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ (ACTFL) “Can-Do” statements, which help define higher proficiency levels for our students. And our program encourages teachers to speak in the target language for approximately 90 percent of the class time.

The ACTFL provides research studies that support the benefits of language learning in three major areas: academic achievement, cognitive development and abilities, and a positive effect in the attitudes and beliefs about language learning and about other cultures.

Research proves that language learning correlates with higher academic achievements, positive impact on reading abilities, increments in linguistic awareness, and higher scores on standardized tests like the SAT and the ACT, among many others. There is also evidence that cognitive skills, like memory, attention, motor, verbal, and spatial abilities, are impacted positively by learning more than one language. The global awareness provided by the cultural integration of the world language curriculum provides the space to develop empathy and a positive attitude toward others. Interesting articles and research publications that support these statements can be found on the ACTFL website.

Without any doubt, learning foreign languages and discovering the similarities and differences among other cultures has countless benefits in the academic and social-emotional development of all our students. When you combine the strong academic foundation in language arts, STEAM, fine arts, and world languages with a carefully organized social-emotional base, you have the opportunity to enhance and multiply the learning foundation of our students. That is what our students live at The Langley School. I feel very proud to have joined this outstanding learning community as well as to be part of a highly qualified group of world language teachers.
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