Why I Love Fayerweather Street School

January 11th 2019

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On this day I was blessed to receive a personalized tour of a most wondrous nearby educational institution the Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge.

Here are things I LOVE about it.

CORE VALUES:

#1: Culture steeped in SOCIAL JUSTICE…

  • which they call “SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.
  • commitment to cultivating RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS.
  • firm belief that Social Responsibility starts with LEARNING.

That means:

  • Learning from PRIMARY SOURCES whenever possible, and
  • Always asking these THREE QUESTIONS: 
  •                          1.  “WHO was at the table when this happened?”
  •                          2. “WHO wrote it?” (eg: white male U.S. land owners in 1776) , and
  •                          3.WHAT did they miss?”  (eg; everyone else)
  • Laying the foundation for PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, to become
  • GOOD CITIZENS with
  • CIVIC AWARENESS

ATMOSPHERE:

  • open WELCOMING SPACE when you walk in
  • open-air OFFICE right near the front door
  • intelligent, happy, calm, engaged, helpful and humourous STAFF
  • gorgeous open-wall LIBRARY at center of school, with invitingly angled stacks and amphibian friend(s)
  • overall clean, calm, carpeted, cozy and uplifting ENVIRONMENT with natural light!
  • the first teacher I meet is already a good FRIEND!
  • wonderful and excellent ART displayed throughout the school
  • lovely and intelligently designed PLAYGROUND that my son already loves
  • MOVEABLE PARTS in the playground – so often missing in American playgrounds
  • proximity and use of local public RAFFERTY PARK
  • clean, bright, colorful, cozy GYM that is not echo-ey
  • This quote which I saw posted in multiple places:

“KINDNESS: 

Do something nice for someone

just because they breathe.” 

CULTURE:

  • PROJECT BASED, COLLABORATIVE LEARNING (eg; students I observed constructing dioramas of entire Wompanoag environments)
  • Student written CLASSROOM CONSTITUTIONS 
  • Vibrantly engaged, happy TURNED ON TEACHERS
  • Classrooms foster CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING
  • Lots of STUDENT LEAD PROJECTS
  • Older students serve as TEACHERS’ ASSISTANTS in younger classrooms
  • ALL SCHOOL MEETINGS are run by students!
  • “TAKE ACTION THURSDAY” MEETINGS are run by 7th & 8th Graders
  • COMMUNITY SERVICE is cultivated right inside their own building
  • 7th&8th Graders actually STUDY IMMIGRATION, including a
  • FANIEUL HALL FIELD TRIP to observe a naturalization ceremony
  • GROWTH ED (including reproductive development) is taught
  • 8TH GRADE GRADUATION includes (extremely) meaningful presentations

CURRICULUM:

SCIENCE:

  • LAB SCIENCE begins in 5th grade(!)
  • GREAT LAB!
  • Students learn that SCIENCE IS A PROCESS not a “body of knowledge”
  • 5th & 6th Grade INDEPENDENT SCIENCE PROJECT, with…
  • live, interactive, digitally assisted PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS
  • lots of FIELD TRIPS to take partake of so many local scientific institutions
  • the upper elementary HOVER CRAFTS they build in the spring and test on kindergartners there!

LANGUAGE & LITERACY: 

  • everyone learns SPANISH
  • the SPANISH TEACHER is reputed to be excellent with all experience levels
  • Literacy includes READING, WRITING, SPEAKING AND LISTENING (imagine!)

MATH:

  • there is SUMMER HOMEWORK but not with a lot of pressure
  • multi-layered approach to fostering MATH FACTS, including recommended software IXL
  • MATHEMATICAL THINKING is learned through writing, drawing & discussion
  • GAMES & PUZZLES are integral to practicing and exploring concepts

HUMANITIES (!):

  • the signs by the door read: “LOVE IS LOVE” and
  • “BLACK LIVES MATTER”
  • the students I observed were preparing to read MACBETH with…
  • an excellently prepared synopsis of characters to help them
  • teacher was EXCITED about her favorite upcoming unit:
  • HOW TO COMMIT A SHAKESPEARIAN MURDER” including a
  • real, live, certified STAGE COMBAT instructor

ART & MUSIC: 

  • JULIE the Music Teacher  is also a fabulous human being and friend
  • wonderful MUSIC ROOM with lots of electric guitars, ukuleles and percussion
  • APPROACH TO MUSIC EDUCATION: to actually play and enjoy music
  • fantastic ART ROOM with options for specialization in disciplines such as oil
  • APRIL PLAY that all 7th & 8th graders put on
  • This quote by Kermit the Frog which I first encountered here years ago:

 How important are the visual arts in our society? I feel strongly that the visual arts are of vast and incalculable importance. Of course I could be prejudiced. I am a visual art.                                                                          ~Kermit the Frog

 

EXTRACURRICULARS:

  • a vibrant AFTERSCHOOL program of many activities and sports including parkour
  • TWO RECESSES per day; brilliant!
  • LONG ENOUGH SCHOOL DAY in which to have them (~8am-3:15pm)
  • LUNCH is a calm affair with the teacher in the classroom (microwave available)
  • Middle schoolers walk to IGGY’S BAKERY once per week
  • Annual Valentine’s Day LOVE WALK from Harvard Square to City Hall (!)
  • OCTOBER FUN FEST includes:
  • UPCYCLED COSTUMES,
  • NURSING HOME VISIT and
  • STUDENT PRODUCED CARNIVAL

INTANGIBLES:

  • I saw EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SUPPORT is codified, from
  • egalitarian TOOLS used (eg; everyone gets the same trapper keeper) to
  • REMINDERS posted in class (eg; did you write down your homework?  did you understand it? etc.)
  • CLASS SIZE is 2 teachers to about 20 kids
  • They are CO-TEACHERS (vs. one lead and one assistant)
  • learning often occurs with HALF the class; one in class one at a special
  • um… FINANCIAL AID is a possiblity… (?!?)

CONS:

  • price well beyond our means
  • not as diverse as preferred
  • no transportation
  • no cafeteria or food provided

HOPES:

  • fulfill/exceed all application expectations
  • achieve acceptance
  • fulfill all financial aid requirements
  • amass enough financial aid to support enrollment
  • GAVIN BECOMES A FAYERWEATHER STUDENT in 2019!

 

 

 

 


♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

About circuskitchen

performing artist, mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece... just a regular extraordinary person
This entry was posted in activism, art, childhood, education, fighting Fascism, global inequity, health, learning, love, mental health, money, music, parenthood, school, social justice and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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