At STEM K-8 we are in high gear, with teachers and classrooms working on overdrive to pack learning in before winter break. Last week classrooms visited the Mercer Slough, Zoo, and Children’s Theatre. Next week we have students headed to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Microsoft, and Bainbridge Island. Girl’s basketball tryouts were last week, and boy’s tryouts are Tuesday, December 10. Make sure athletic registrations and updated physicals are turned into Ms. Noble or the office. Middle school girls will practice on Monday and Thursday afternoons, boys on Tuesdays and Fridays. Practices are from 3:40-5:00. STEM’s Amelia’s Aerospace and Robotic’s teams had their first competitions last week.
Thanks to volunteers and attendees for our first Multicultural Literacy night last Thursday, December 4. There were storytellers and stories in a variety of languages, and Ms. Paulson’s middle school poets were compelling, passionate, and articulate in their readings.
Don’t overlook an immunization notification if you received on. Under new WA State guidelines, on January 8 students not compliant with immunization requirements will be excluded from school. The main culprit for missing vaccinations is the Tdap, required for 6th grade entry. Some children (like my daughter!) who had chicken pox or varicella as a child need to have it noted on their immunization record. Make a plan for your child to get any necessary vaccination updates and provide the school nurse with your updated records as soon as possible. Your child must be fully vaccinated, in process of getting vaccinated, or have a lab report recording immunity. If you choose not to have your child vaccinated due to a religious, personal or medical reason, you must turn in a Certificate of Exemption form that is signed by you and a health care provider. For more information, click on student_vaccination_requirements or contact school nurse M.C. Nachtigal at 206-252-8457 or email@example.com.
]I’ve also included the STEM Holiday Policy in this week’s Owl Post. It’s meant to serve as a guide for staff and families as they consider how holiday activities are incorporated into the life of our school. Critically thinking about teaching and celebrating holidays helps us more effectively meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. The goal of the STEM Holiday Policy is to support inclusivity and validate students’ home cultures.
STEM K-8 Holiday Policy
Why we teach and think critically about holidays at STEM K-8
- To make all children feel accepted and to validate the cultures and experiences of their homes
- To teach about time and cycles of life
- To teach diversity and tolerance by learning about other cultures, traditions and religions
- To teach the virtues associated with particular holidays- peace, friendship, love, etc.
- To create a sense of family or community within classrooms and within our school
- To have fun
Guidelines for Holiday Activities and Celebrations at STEM K-8
- To promote the academic environment of the school and decrease disruptions and emphasis on sweets, Louisa Boren STEM K-8 has instituted a “treat-free” practice for birthdays. If you would like to send something to school with your child to commemorate their birthday, please donate your child’s favorite book to the classroom in lieu of food items.
- In a similar vein, STEM K-8 is “Treat free” for Halloween, Valentines Day, or other celebrations that may occur.
- We are inclusive and strive to validate all of our students. We pay attention to the balance and the importance we put on particular cultures.
- In addition to not over-focusing on particular cultures, we do not over-focus on a particular holiday within one culture. In this way, we are not defining an entire culture or faith through one holiday.
- We are careful to avoid stereotypes when presenting holiday information, putting up decorations and implementing activities.
- We do not teach the religious aspect of only one holiday. We can explain religious aspects of multiple holidays in a matter-of-fact simple manner.
- We involve families as much as possible and as is age-appropriate in the implementation of holiday activities. We will keep families informed of upcoming holiday activities and events. For students whose home culture prohibits a particular celebration or recognition, we will find alternative activities that promote their inclusion in the classroom.
- There are no hard and fast rules about the time that should be spent because the amount of time will vary according to the age, interests and needs of the children.
- As we decide on holidays to teach about, we think about our students and teachers reflect on holidays that have importance to them as individuals. For example, if a teacher has a passion for American history, her class can only benefit from experiencing that passion around Patriots Day. Teachers may also want to consider including holidays that are important to our larger community and city. Teachers are encouraged to discuss with their grade-level partner the list of holidays they are considering.
The policy above is meant to serve as a guide for staff and families as they consider how holiday activities are incorporated into the life of our school. It is our hope that by critically thinking about teaching and celebrating holidays we will more effectively meet the needs of our increasingly diverse student population regarding cultural holiday practices that have so much meaning for children.
This policy was developed through reviewing other school policies throughout the country and in conjunction with careful thought about the needs of the STEM K-8 community (staff, students, families).
Some of the language and format was borrowed from a K-8 school in Boston, which reflected some work from the book Celebrate! An Anti-Bias Guide to Enjoying Holidays by Julie Bisson.
This is an evolving document open to feedback and suggestions from the Louisa Boren STEM K-8 community.