Ayesha Flaherty, Head of Enrollment and Communications and Langley Parent
It’s hard to sum up a school’s curriculum in just 65 seconds, but this is a great start. Take a listen…
Ayesha Flaherty, Head of Enrollment and Communications and Langley Parent
It’s hard to sum up a school’s curriculum in just 65 seconds, but this is a great start. Take a listen…
By Brent Locke, Dean of Students
As our 75th school year begins, our hallways are once again filled with the laughter of children, the gifts of friendship, and the comfort in knowing we have a joyous place to learn and grow each and every day. Of course, these happy emotions can be hard to reconcile with the helplessness we may feel in our inability to act and in the guilt we may feel in our abundance as we watch so many in our country and around the world battle the destructive and unrelenting forces of Mother Nature. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the earthquake in Mexico have wrought untold devastation in the Caribbean, Mexico, Texas, Florida, and much of the south. The needs are many and urgent as families, businesses, and schools are trying to survive, regroup, and rebuild. It is in these times that Langley shines brightest as we come together to help those who most need our support.
by Phil Petru, Assistant Head of School
I am sure you have thought to yourself, maybe more than once, “I wish I had more hours in the day.” I know I have. While balancing both personal and professional responsibilities, many times I find myself wondering, “Where has this day gone?”
I can tell you from personal experience that teachers are always trying to find new and innovative ways to maximize the instructional minutes during the school day. Excellent schools, like The Langley School, look for ways to balance the academic program (math, language arts, social studies, science, and specials) with our students’ well-being (structured and unstructured times for student interactions such as lunch, breaks, and recess). Though school schedules might look simple, they are really complex road maps that truly impact teachers’ decisions about their instruction. The length of the class period, the time of the class during the day (morning or afternoon), and the sequence of classes (does it come before or after lunch or recess?) during the day are just some of the considerations that teachers think about when planning lessons.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Ayesha Flaherty, Director of Enrollment Management
You’ve likely read about the “summer slide” – the research that says academic skills can decline significantly during the summer months when children are out of school. And, at the same time, we’ve all read about the importance of play and fun in creating curious, happy, and connected children.
If you’re like me, fully aware of the importance of both sides of this coin, how exactly do you strike the right balance? And, if our reality includes kids with full schedules, is there a way to give our children the gift of more free time without sacrificing advancement, progression, and learning?
As an administrator of The Langley School, I’m lucky to witness how our teachers find this balance every day. Langley teachers successfully and intentionally intertwine learning and structure with fun and independence. Students are joyful, challenging their thinking and expressing their choice all at the same time. For example, students are dancing, while also learning about musical composers. They are designing jewelry on a 3-D printer to raise funds for students in Kenya. They are enjoying an outdoor scavenger hunt adventure while solving math problems.
How can we recreate this at home? Join The Langley School for a 30-minute webinar on Thursday, May 19 from 12:00-12:30 p.m. titled “A Balanced Summer: Combining Fun & Learning Into One.” Participants will learn how to strike a healthy balance between continued educational enrichment and well-deserved summer fun.
by Ayesha Flaherty, Parent and Administrator at The Langley School
Focusing our children’s attention on academic success is critically important to us as parents. And while we seek, encourage, and reward academic activities and accomplishments, we also want our children to retain the joy of being children.
We know that no single model or methodology can universally achieve this perfect balance. However, at The Langley School, the essence of who we are and what drives our curricular decisions is guided by our mission to seek this important, and necessary, balance.
What “vital academics” means at Langley
The word “vital” is defined as “absolutely necessary or important; essential.” When it comes to educating our children, making the trade-offs on how they spend their time and what skills and values are prioritized makes all the difference. That’s why The Langley School stays agile enough to respond to the most vital 21st-century skills. We invest heavily in professional development for our teachers and regularly review our teaching instruction and curriculum, building our students’ schedule and experiences with their futures in mind.
For example, we practice collaboration starting at a young age through our Big Buddy program. We teach empathy through our formal service learning program. We enforce digital citizenship to embed safe habits. We approach lessons with essential questions to spur innovation.
The secondary definition of vital is “full of energy; lively.” If you’ve ever set foot on Langley’s campus, you have witnessed the palpable sense of joy on every corner of campus. As one 2015 Langley graduate stated, “Langley was a place I could come and be assured that I would be safe, comfortable, and most importantly, happy. I feel blessed to have grown up at such a school.”
Guided by a deep respect for childhood
At The Langley School, we believe that childhood isn’t just a stage to pass through – but it is a period of crucial, foundational learning. From age 3 to early adolescence, there is steep cognitive and interpersonal growth. Our teachers are experts in this critical period of development and celebrate childhood while giving their students a solid foundation on which to build.
This phrase captures our identity as a school. At Langley, you don’t have to choose; you can have both. Another 2015 Langley graduate summed it up best: “Of course I learned a lot academically at Langley, but I’ve also learned life lessons like how to work with other people, how to make lasting friendships, and how to be kind and tolerant.”
by Langley’s World Language Department
Each year, Langley hosts a group of middle school boys from the Rosario Jockey Club of Argentina with the goal of assisting our students in forming meaningful connections with native Spanish speakers. The exchange of ideas, language, culture, and sport with peers from across the globe prepares our children for an active role as global citizens.
Additionally, each year, we enjoy exchanging unique experiences and reflecting upon our impressions of each others’ cultures. Here are a few of the highlights:
Jockey Club de Rosario’s coach, Jose Perez Bustamante, summed up their visit to Langley in these words: “We believe the visit to Langley is one of the best things we do in our journey. The boys are back happy and at our meeting on our last day in the USA, several highlighted the visit to the school and to Great Falls. We take this visit as FUNDAMENTAL!!! It is part of American culture, and is part of our “story” here in Argentina. Every time we visit Langley, you all show friendship and love for your institution. Students, administrators, and coaches are always proud of the institution and make us feel welcome. You all proudly wear the Langley jersey!! The affection with which you treat us, the lunch, the facilities tour, and your friendship is for all of us a great joy! We want this to continue for many more years…”
A special thank you goes to our very own Spanish teacher and director of web and social media, Señora Meschieri, who established this program.
Interested to learn more?
by Caroline Bosc, French Teacher & Origami Elective Teacher
Origami is the ancient Japanese art of turning a flat piece of paper into a three-dimensional shape. When you think of origami, you probably imagine colorful birds or flowers made out of paper. But did you know this creative pursuit is also the perfect educational tool to prepare the minds of tomorrow?
When folding origami, the whole brain is engaged, helping with concentration, sequencing, spatial reasoning, fine motor skills, and creativity. It also develops memory and fosters confidence.
Personally, I find origami both a calming and an exhilarating experience. It stimulates my creativity, but also helps me channel my energy. It gives me focus and peace. It teaches me spatial reasoning as well as patience. Even though it is challenging, it is relaxing at the same time. Origami is an art, a science, and a therapy.
As the teacher of Langley’s weekly origami elective class for Middle Schoolers, I am able to see many of the skills that students need develop right before my eyes. As they attempt to fold a challenging new piece of origami, I see them work through their frustrations; solve problems independently and together; learn the importance of discipline and precision; and delay gratification. I also witness their intense satisfaction and feelings of empowerment when they finish their model.
Who knew a little piece of paper could have such a big effect on the development of young minds?
To learn more about the many benefits of origami, visit:
Want to learn some origami tips and tricks?
By Beth Morris, Math Resource Teacher
Our world has been transformed dramatically over the last few years, and so has the way in which we teach math. No one really knows what the lives of the next generation will look like. So how can we best prepare our children for a future that is largely unknown? We need to teach them how to think. Thinking is universal and will transcend any amount of innovation to come. If children know how to think and reason logically, then they will be able to adapt in a world that is rapidly changing.
Recent mathematics reforms call for a much different approach to teaching math in order to meet the needs of the 21st century learner. Students are exploring the math that they are learning, testing their beliefs, grappling with tough questions, and reflecting on their thought processes. They are collaborating and communicating with each other and exchanging ideas. Teachers are guiding their students to refine their thinking and to make connections between concepts and ideas. The goal is for children to build a deeper understanding of the math that they are learning that is useful for them now, but also in the future.
Conceptual understanding is now a major focus in math. Students are not just learning procedures. In fact, research shows that when procedures are introduced too early, children lose their curiosity about numbers and their enthusiasm for learning math. Instead, students are digging deeper and investigating why and how procedures work before those procedures are formally taught. They are being exposed to various strategies for solving a problem and discussing which of those strategies is most efficient and effective. They are modeling problems and using other tools to see those strategies in action. When math is taught like this, children are given the opportunity to make sense of the math that surrounds them. They are thinking like mathematicians.
Mathematicians use estimation, look for patterns, and utilize mental math strategies when solving problems. This is exactly how we teach our students here at Langley to think. For example, we encourage our students to look for number relationships. Children often learn their doubles addition facts first, and they should recognize 7+7 and 6+8 as related facts. Using manipulatives, our students learn that by taking one away from the first addend and giving it to the other that the sum remains the same.
Our students are also thinking about “friendly numbers.” Multiples of 10 and 100 are easier to work with. When subtracting 98 from 276, our students might start by subtracting 100 and then adjust their thinking accordingly. We urge our students to think about numbers in a variety of ways. For instance, 564 can be 560+4, which is helpful when adding 126. Or 564 can be 400+120+44, which is helpful when dividing by 4. This sort of flexibility with numbers leads to learning procedures with authentic understanding, makes computation much simpler, and lays the foundation for future success in algebra and beyond.
For more information about math instruction at Langley, current parents may view the presentation from the September 30 Math Curriculum Coffee by clicking here and logging in to our CampusNet site. As always, parents are also welcome to approach their child’s teacher or division head with any questions or concerns.