Wakefield’s Dr. Daryanani to present at mindfulness symposium

Amrit DaryananiWakefield School’s Director of Learning Support Dr. Amrit Kasten-Daryanani will present at the Mind & Life Institute’s International Symposium for Contemplative Studies on Friday, Oct. 31.

Her presentation is titled “Mindfulness as Mortar for the Schoolhouse: Using Mindfulness Meditation to Increase Student Well-Being, Awareness, and Sense of Self-Agency.”

Dr. Daryanani’s work explores whether mindfulness meditation and directed self-compassion help students coping with a learning disability in an intensely academic independent school, and asks if these practices reduce stress, increase task persistence, and provide students with the ability to ‘push back’ against their diagnosis.” Her poster explores “how a six-week mindfulness meditation program is influencing a group of twice-exceptional students at Wakefield. It explains how mindfulness programming supports a key mission of the learning support program, which is to help students accept, understand, and challenge their learning disabilities and differences. Efficacy measures include pre- and post-testing, structured interviews, and teacher feedback.”

The symposium, held in Boston from Oct. 30-Nov. 2, brings together scientists, scholars, artists, and contemplatives to explore clinical science, philosophy, humanities, education, economics, the arts, and other domains. The event seeks to encourage and help shape a cohesive interdisciplinary field of contemplative studies in which basic and applied science, scholarship, education, the arts, and contemplative traditions collaboratively develop an integrated way of knowing.

The program will include keynote addresses by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama; Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita of Wellesley College; Richard Davidson, director of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Amishi Jha, director of contemplative neuroscience, the Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative, at the University of Miami; David Germano, director of the Contemplative Sciences Center, University of Virginia; Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group; and Tania Singer, director of the department of social neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute.

The program will also include master lectures by several distinguished scientists, scholars, artists, and contemplative teachers as well as individuals and groups presenting individual papers, panels, or poster presentations, reflecting the most current contributions to the ever-growing field of contemplative studies. Also featured will be contemplative art performances and exhibits, as well as continuous contemplative practice opportunities.

Wakefield Head David Colón to visit China, establish school partnership

Wakefield School Head David Colón will travel to China in late October 2014 to cement a partnership with a Chinese school and attend a forum focused on international school partnership projects.

Wakefield’s new sister school, the Xuzhou #1 Middle School, is located in Xuzhou in Jiangsu Province. The school is for high school grades 10-12 and can trace its origins back to 1721. It has a focus on international exchanges and cooperation.

Colón will travel to Zhenjiang in the Jiangsu Province and attend the 10th Annual Jiangsu International Forum for School Principals, which is hosted by the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education and the Zhenjiang Municipal Government.

The forum,“School Partnerships: Sharing the Dream,” will feature internationally renowned keynote speakers and workshops focused on school partnership projects, as well as opportunities to interact with Chinese principals and shadow at all different levels of schools. Principals will be attending from a variety of countries all with the objective of sharing experience and forging relationships with Jiangsu schools and each other.

Colón will also visit Beijing to explore partnership possibilities with the Harrow School’s Beijing campus.

In Colón’s previous work in global education, he worked with several Chinese schools and found them to be “willing and eager participants” in school partnerships; in addition, he remarked, students who have visited China have always been impressed with people’s hospitality and friendliness and eagerness to host students.

With this new partnership, Wakefield will be able to accomplish several goals, Colón said.

“One of the most obvious is to create student exchanges, both short and long-term. Not only will our students be able to visit China, but we will be able to host students from China here. This allows us to essentially bring China to Wakefield,” Colón said.

In addition, the partnership brings benefits beyond student exchanges such as collaboration on joint projects in math, science, English, or other subjects through Skype and Google Hangouts. There is the opportunity for joint global travel opportunities as well.

The partnership with the Xuzhou school will serve Wakefield’s students and provide them with the global experience they need to be successful in today’s world.

“It’s clichéd at this point, but nonetheless true: students need to be aware of the world around them. This goes well beyond textbook knowledge. Knowing about the Mughal Empire or the Kingdom of Songhai is important, but with an increasingly globalized economy, there is also a more immediate need for people who are good at cross-cultural communications,” Colón said. “Employers are placing increased importance on young women and men who can interact and work with people from around the world.  While global travel most certainly broadens the mind, one of the main benefits of developing school partnerships is that students interact with one another in sustained and meaningful ways on a personal basis.”

Wakefield junior Evy Edens accepted into National Gallery of Art High School Seminar

EdensWakefield School junior Evy Edens was recently accepted into the prestigious National Gallery of Art High School Seminar, an intense 10-week program that introduces upper-level high school students to the skills necessary to study art history and art-making techniques.

Edens, the daughter of Ed and Natalie Edens of Middleburg, is Wakefield’s sixth student accepted into this program.

According to the program’s website, the seminar draws on the rich collections of the National Gallery of Art as a resource. Creating a community of like-minded students, the program aims to teach the students how to interpret works of art through close observation, in-gallery group discussions, and personal reflection.

“Through art-making activities, they will discover connections between art and life. Students will learn about art and the museum by discussing and responding creatively to original works in the galleries, and by researching themes of their choice. Behind-the-scenes visits with museum professionals introduce career possibilities. The program culminates with both a group project and individual gallery talks by the participants on their chosen themes,” the NGA’s website says.

At Wakefield School, the Visual Arts curriculum introduces students to a wide variety of experiences and encourages students to freely explore media, ideas, and styles. Beginning in Studio Art, the students learn and expand the skills they have learned in the five main disciplines of studio art (drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture/3-D design). Students can take Studio Art up to the demanding AP level.

Students also have the options to take Black and White Photography, Digital Imaging Applications and Film Analysis, and Technical Drawing (drafting), all in dedicated art studio space and with a small teacher-student ratio. The Arts Department also offers music and theatre classes.

The Sandwich Challenge: Learning Team Roles

This month, Middle and Upper School Head Brian Oliver led the “Sandwich Challenge” in Ms. Prahlad’s Composition classes for 6th and 7th grade.

He writes: The objective of the activity was to get students to experience, appreciate, and reflect upon the value of the different roles on any team. Through an interactive and playful activity we designed and activity that would allow them to “fail forward.” The rules for each group pushed them towards failure — one had to agree universally before they could write anything down; one had to work independently and guess what his/her peers were predicting; and the third had fixed roles assigned randomly and therefore with no focus on the strengths of the individuals comprising the team.
Once the procedure was completed and the sandwiches were crafted by “guest stars,” the students gathered as a whole and each student shared his/her experience: the restrictions of their team, how it impacted their productivity and most importantly how it made them feel.
We then introduced and examined Belbin’s team roles which explain the different roles and focus on each roles’ strength and weakness. The “guest stars” were asked to share their self-evaluation with the group and the students were then asked to reflect on the roles and to order them from most authentic fit to least authentic fit. These self-evaluations will then be used as they shape their team and launch their project.
This was a great example of our Plan-Do-Reflect learning model and it was an amazing experience to be a part of – to watch the kids work so hard to play by the rules, even as their project careened towards failure, to observe them trying to find creative solutions to work around the rules that restricted them, to laugh hysterically when the guest stars followed their procedures literally and to reflect so thoughtfully when the project was completed. I am confident they walked away energized by the activity and emboldened that the knowledge they gained will help them work more collaboratively on their anti-bullying PSA.
The great part about the new Middle School classroom design (desks on wheels, whiteboard walls, and standing desks) is that I could group, regroup, and re-order the students throughout the exercise. The flexibility allowed us to use grouping and physical positioning as a tool to aid instruction. One of the groups was forced to be in an outward facing circle, one in a collaborative cluster and the third was a blend of the two.This arrangement reinforced the lesson and students were quickly able to return to the half-moon for the group observation and reflection.The absence of transition issues with this new furniture is incredibly valuable.

Wakefield senior James Wroe named National Merit Semifinalist

WroeWakefield School senior James Wroe has been named a Semifinalist in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program based on his results from the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Qualifying Test.

Wroe is one of only 16,000 students nationwide who have qualified as Semifinalists.

About 1.4 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2015 scholarship competition by taking the 2013 PSAT; semifinalists represent less than one percent of those high school seniors.

As a semifinalist, Wroe has the opportunity to advance to Finalist standing in the competition by providing a detailed scholarship application that shows an excellent academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and honors and awards received. About 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth around $33 million will be awarded in the spring.

James is the son of Gerard and Sandra Wroe of Ashburn.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955.

Anti-Bullying Advocate Jim Mayer, Bass Player for Jimmy Buffett, Visits Campus

Anti-bullying advocate Jim Mayer, known for decades as the famous bass player for Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, visited Wakefield School on Friday to speak to the entire Middle School.

Uncle Jim, as he calls himself, is also an award winning children’s musician and performer who is leading the movement to change the impact of child bullying through his IM4U Campaign. This movement “exists to support teachers, parents, and the kids they love and teach, as they bring joy to our children and end our society’s bullying epidemic,” according to his website.

He sang several songs to the Middle Schoolers, including IM4U, I’m So Happy, and Zip My Lip.

Middle School students are working on projects about anti-bullying in each of their grade’s innovation periods this trimester. Groups from each grade are producing anti-bullying public service announcements that Jim Mayer has asked to see!

Constitution Day 2014: A Lower School Tradition


Each year on Constitution Day, September 17, the fourth grade class leads part of the Lower School Assembly.

They use this time to gather the entire Lower School around the school’s flagpole and read the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

The fourth graders then explain the meaning of different pieces of the Preamble in their own words to the other students.

Wakefield website design recognized by Finalsite

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 8.51.35 AMWakefield School’s new website was recognized by Finalsite this month as one of the company’s six featured recent launches.

Here’s what they had to say about our new home page:

“We love the color scheme, the interactive design treatments, and all the multimedia on this site! And, since they have one of the most creative mega-navigations we’ve ever seen, you’ll enjoy searching for information on lower site pages.

Here’s what we love most: their ability to engage.

With recent news events docked in their homepage photo slideshow, an interactive “Explore Wakefield” section, call-to-action buttons, video content, and social media links, Wakefield School knows how to engage its multiple audiences.”