The Logic Behind Our Parent Seminars

Earlier this week I emailed all of our families about our upcoming Parent Seminar series. I shared the line-up of topics and speakers and encouraged our parents to sign up (so we can plan appropriately) and many of those forms have started coming back in. Today I want to take some time to explain the logic behind why we offer this special night, and why we are strongly encouraging you to take advantage of this parent resource. 

I readily admit that there are often times that when I arrive home, the last thing in the world that I want to do is get back out to attend an event. We all work hard and life moves quickly. Sometimes I just want to fall into my favorite chair and relax after a long day. I know this is a common battle that we face when scheduling something like Parent Seminars. The reason we do this is because we want to be a valuable resource to our families. You invest a lot of time and money in your child's education - obviously, it is important to you. It is also important for us to be a resource that helps parents as they navigate walking with their child through elementary school. There are things that we do that I like to call "value-added" pieces of being a part of the Brainerd Baptist School community, and this is certainly one of those.  I think we can all admit that the expectations of students have changed in the last twenty years. Our students are challenged to manage their school work, which looks different, as well as an ever increasing demand of extra curricular activities. It seems as though (and research would support) that we have accelerated so many experiences in life that our students face things quicker than they did years ago. 

When we created the Parent Seminars, the goal was simple - help our parents navigate some of the academic things that are happening in schools today that they did not necessarily experience when they were students. We have selected people who are experts in their areas to share some practical ideas with you that will help you as your navigate through the elementary years with your child. The topics vary from early elementary to helping you prepare for the middle school process and all things in between. (Click here to view a complete list of offerings

I know it is not easy to necessarily come back out to such an event, but I hope you will take advantage of this time. We have provided childcare for school aged children and are also offering volunteer hours for parents who attend. Each year there are parents who say, "We are so glad we came. We learned so much!" If you have never attended before, will you make plans now to join us? 

Sean CorcoranComment
Experiential Learning

For those who have been around Brainerd Baptist School any length of time, you know that we are really big on offering many different ways for our students to learn. Gardening, STEM, Coding, Cooking and many other classes we offer proves this point.  We know that children can learn in many different ways, and we beleive that there is often a high value to offering multiple ways for students to learn.

Recently, Rachel Adams, our school nurse, decided to offer a different way of learning to our students. Below she talks about a unique opportunity students were given to show their knowledge on a recent topic covered in our STEM class. 

Hand Washing Video Competition

I recently spent time with each grade talking about the importance of handwashing. We did a STEM activity in which I used a black light and glo-germ to simulate the amount of germs on their hands. To help us better understand the importance of handwashing, we encouraged the students to make a video with some targeted information that was geared to helping us remember some important guidelines when we wash our hands. The competition has come to an end and I am so proud of each student that participated. We had a total of 9 videos submitted from students ranging from 1st to 5th grades. We also had one submission from our faculty and staff. Over the next few weeks we will watch the other videos in chapel. 

The CDC states, "regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is on the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. It's quick, it's simple, and it can keep us all from getting sick. handwashing is a win for everyone, except the germs." Even knowing this, we often neglect to wash our hands. My hope is that this competition, combined with our STEM lab handwashing experiment, will remind all of us of the importantance of washing our hands to stay healthy.

The video below was selected as the winning video.  It was created by three 5th grade students - Creed Warren, Sam Wiggins, and Graham Stubblefield. Our hope is that it both reminds and encourages you to WASH YOUR HANDS

Sean Corcoran
Spartan Fundraiser!

Our Parent Support Organization came up with a fun, innovative way to help raise funds for our 2017-2018 school year.  The Spartan Warrior Race (our Fall Fundraiser) was exciting for our students and proved to be a very successful event for our school.  Because of the additional money raised, thanks to our supportive families, we are going to be able to purchase some additional items for our school.
 
At our Open House, Director of Development, Ellen Baggenstoss, explained the significance of our three different fundraisers (Fall Fundraiser, the Annual Fund, and our Auction) and the purpose they serve for our school.They all have a very specific focus, with the end goal always being to provide programming, brick and mortar projects, or capital improvements that directly benefit our students. 

Originally, we were hoping to raise enough money to make some program enhancements to our STEM lab by adding a few 3D printers. We didn't really know what to expect as far as how much money the fundraiser would raise. Because of this, we were being very conservative in what we were telling our students. I didn't want to put myself in a position where we promised our students something amazing to later have to come back and say, "Sorry kids, we didn't raise enough money to do those cool things I promised you."  I am very happy to report to you that we FAR exceeded our original goal!  We are in the process of ordering the printers for the STEM lab and can't wait to see all the outstanding things our students will be able to create.  

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When we embarked upon our playground renovation a couple of years ago, we spent considerable time and resources saving three large trees on the playground. There are 2 large pines in the K3/K4 area, and a large oak tree on the other end of our playground in between the athletic field and the swings. In addition to their natural beauty, these trees provide a significant amount of shade. The landscape architect told us that there was a 50% chance the trees may not survive because of the amount of dirt we had to move around the base of the trees. Over the last two years,  the oak tree has shown signs that it was not doing well. On two different occasions we had a tree company come out and work on it in an attempt to save it. Sadly, this summer, the tree began to look like it was almost completely dead. This created a safety issue for us. The last thing we would ever want is for a child to be injured by a falling branch. Over fall break we had a company come in and take the tree down. This means that side of the playground no longer has shade! This is where the Spartan Warrior comes in! Because our families so eagerly supported this event, we are now going to purchase a shade structure (like in the picture), as well as a large picnic table! Students and teachers will have a place to rest when things get too hot. The bench that is now in this area will be moved near the tree that STUCO purchased in honor of Todd Wood.  
This is possible because of YOU! Thank you so much for supporting our school and students. They will benefit from your generosity.  

Sean Corcoran
When Pride Is A Good Thing
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I began typing this post while sitting in the family room at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis. I was watching two Brainerd Baptist School teachers work with one of our students who has been fighting cancer the last 2+ years. Hayden is what I have affectionately termed a "grandstudent". She is one of a growing number of students who have either a mom or a dad that also attended BBS (and in what has to be a sign of old age - I actually had the privilege of teaching many of these parents!). When parents can look back over their years at BBS so fondly that they want their own children to also have that same experience, we are doing something right! I am convinced that our school does an incredible job at the academic piece. We spend much time and resources refining our pedagogy and developing an academic program that is as strong as any program in our region. Our parents and the community at large are cognizant of the strong reputation that Brainerd Baptist School has maintained for many decades. However, I believe there is another piece of educational process that is just as important, and that is the personal relationship between the school and the family. Relationships are routinely stressed in independent schools. As a faith-based school, it goes even further. We are commanded to be the "hands and feet" of Jesus in our approach to children.  Today's post is with this mindset.

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As I sat in the room at St. Jude, I was the proverbial  "fly on the wall" watching these ladies work through various learning activities such as: patterns, Core 5, days the of the week, months, phonics, math and several other items. They are masters at what they do. I have believed for years that teaching is truly an art and both of our teachers exhibited this. They did what teachers all across the world do each and every day - unlocking skills and concepts and presenting them in a way that children understand. It is also important to remember that both of these ladies (like most teachers) have small children, and hectic lives of their own to help manage, but set that aside to come work with one of their students. Although many may notice the various social media posts about the trip to Memphis, what is more impressive to me (and probably not as widely known) is the fact that both of these teachers spend time going to Hayden's house. Each week they help Hayden learn and to invest in her as individual. 

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This comes back to the title of the post. I am very much aware that word "pride" is often talked about in a negative connotation. I certainly understand the logic behind this and know what the Bible teaches us on the word pride. That said, I have an incredible sense of pride when I think about what the teachers, faculty and staff do here at Brainerd Baptist School EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Maybe there is another word that I should use instead of "pride", but I do not know if another can clearly illustrate how I feel about this.   I am proud to be associated with such talented, caring, and professional teachers and staff. I am 100% sincere when I say we have the best faculty in the area. I speak from experience when I say, my children benefited from these teachers, and I am forever grateful for their investment. 

Sean Corcoran
All About That App!

We were excited to announce the new Brainerd Baptist School App at Open House last night.  You can now visit either the Google or Apple App stores and search for "Brainerd Baptist School" and download our new app. 

I want to especially thank Bradley Chambers for his hard work on this project. 

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A little over two months ago, I watched a funny video by a principal in Kentucky named Gerry Brooks. (On a side note, I find this guy hilarious and always look forward to his videos. If you're looking for a good laugh, check him out) Gerry was promoting a new app for his school and I was immediately interested. I downloaded the app and played with it some to see if it was something I could see being beneficial to our school families. I found the app to be very helpful, so I reached out to the developers and set up a meeting to see about getting their help for creating an app for our families. As we talked with them, we hit some road blocks that made working with them very difficult. Bradley began to explore other options and found the company that was able to address the concerns we had and helped make this happen.

What this means for you is that we now have another avenue of communication.  We work very hard to get information to our parents in many different ways. You will be able to instantly see Notes Home and Class Overviews as well as accessing a quick view of the school calendar to see what is happening at BBS on a particular day. This blog is also featured there, and as needed, we will add our "live cast" feature to the app allowing anyone to watch our programs that we live cast. 

Sean Corcoran
Introduction to Swift
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We have a guest writer for the second consecutive blog post. You may remember that earlier this summer, I announced a new innovative approach to teaching some new subjects at BBS entitled “The 4 C’s”. The first "C" is coding. BBS students had their first coding class with Mr. Chambers yesterday. I have asked him to briefly talk about how our students are learning this critical new skill at Brainerd Baptist School. Although Taylor Swift has been all over the news this last week, our "swift" is different than what you might be thinking! 

We just kicked off our first coding class this week and the students were really excited. The programming language we are exposing the students to is Swift. This is the new language for Mac, iOS, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

The curriculum we are using is Swift Playgrounds that was developed by Apple for the express purposes of schools helping to expose students to entry level coding.

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In our first class, we looked at the differences between "commands and functions", and then worked through exercises on implementing them into code form. To finish up, the students were given a block of code, and they had to “fix it”. We discussed the difficulty in troubleshooting your own code vs someone else’s code.

Next we will be looking at the coding terms of "functions and loops".

I am excited that we are offering this class to our students. I've already received a number of emails inquiring about the student continuing to develop coding skills at home as well. I will be providing some additional resources for those students that want to continue learning coding more in-depth at the end of the quarter. If you have questions, or would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me

Bradley Chambers
Kinderlime Comes To BBS
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From time to time asked various members of our faculty to write guest posts here on the Bobcat Blog. Today's post is by Director of I.T. Bradley Chambers, who discusses why we have begun using this new software. Bradley has worked very hard to establish BBS as a leader in educational technology instruction not only in our area, but in our region. He is always available to answer technology related questions for our parents as well.  We first heard of this software at the NAIS annual conference this past spring. As we explored it, it just seemed to make a lot sense and be a good fit for our school. In the post, Mr. Chambers explains how this new software works. 


We are very excited about the launch of Kinderlime’s Sign In-Out program at BBS for After School Care. 

In keeping with our commitment to continual growth and improvement, we are making changes to the pick up process that will feel will not only be easier for parents, but will also increase our safety procedures. This new program will allow parents to sign in-out their children using an app that captures and organizes ASC data. 

Your entire interaction with the Sign In-Out app  only takes seconds! We know it can be frustrating walking through our hallways from the gym to the library to the playground trying to find your child. Another feature of this software is that you will be able to see (via the app) where your child is in our building. One of the main changes is that all parents now enter through the Kindergarten hallway to check your children out of ASC.  We will have a dedicated staff member just inside the doors and each caregiver will be given a unique 4-digit pin that will be entered into an iPad there.

All parents were emailed PIN and app registration codes. If you'd like to add more people, we can do that as well. Please email me at bchambers@brainerdbaptist.org to request additional PIN codes, or if you have trouble signing into the apps.

So far we've heard extremely positive feedback from our parents after the first few days of school. We hope your are enjoying the new software as much as we are!

 

Sean Corcoran
New Faculty for 2017-2018

I have often said that hiring teachers is the most important aspect of my job as Head of School. I am convinced that teachers have the single greatest impact on the over-all quality of a school. To that end, I am excited to announce the following new faculty for the 2017-18 school year. We are confident that these teachers and assistants will have a positive impact on our students and school.

From Left to right: Linley Baugh, teacher assistant; Suzanne Breedlove, music; Chad Owen, Bible/Chaplain; Becca Merrion, teacher assistant; Darla Walker, teacher assistant; and Susie Haddock, 1st grade. 

From Left to right: Linley Baugh, teacher assistant; Suzanne Breedlove, music; Chad Owen, Bible/Chaplain; Becca Merrion, teacher assistant; Darla Walker, teacher assistant; and Susie Haddock, 1st grade. 

 

 

Sean Corcoran
The 4 "C's"
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For those of you who have been around our school any length of time at all, you have probably heard me talk about the fact that when it comes to our academic approach, we are driven by two questions - what is best for our students; and is it supported by research? These questions are the filter we always use when we consider making changes to our curriculum, teaching strategies or pedagogy, or  even our something as simple as our schedule. Our desire is to regularly take a critical look at our program and to always be looking for opportunities to improve the experience our students have at school each day.  

It is with this mindset that I am excited to share with you some changes for our 4th and 5th grade students. In education, the battle of the ages is time! Everyone wants more of it, but we are limited in the amount of time we have with our students each day. Over the years, we have crammed more activity into this space (all with good intentions). The result is that often classroom teachers do not feel like they have enough time to adequatly cover the basics and to offer the "extras" that all good teachers like to do. Conversely,  fine arts teachers can also feel the same way about their subjects since students do not have as much time in their classes as they do with their classroom teachers. There is plenty of researchthat shows that a robust fine arts offerings are also very important to the overall development of children. Balancing time between the core academic classes and the fine arts can become a difficult obstacle when a school is considering offering something new. We have spent the last few weeks working through these issues. 

Through the years, I have had the opportunity to lead many SAIS accreditation visits to some really good schools across the southeast.  One of my favorite things about this work is the opportunity to see and learn from other the schools that I get to work with.  I find the entire process rewarding because it often affirms what our teachers are doing every day here at BBS.  It also provides me the opportunity to see different instructional strategies in action. Back in April, I was conducting a visit for SAIS to an excellent school in Atlanta. I was excited to see their appoach to some unusual (and really cool!) fine arts classes at the elementary level.  This visit led me to begin envisioning doing our own version of these classes at BBS. So the question is, what am I talking about, and how does it affect our students? In August, we are introducing what we are calling "The Four C's" to our 4th and 5th grade students fine arts rotation.  They will still have art, music, library, P.E., Bible, Spanish class, and spend time in our amazing STEM lab each week, but now will also have  coding, cooking, chessand carpentry! There is research(see below) that specifically supports the critical thinking development of students as they experience each of these classes. Students will begin the first quarter with coding, then will have cooking/culinary in the 2nd 9 weeks. They will begin the second semester with chess, and will finish the year with carpentry. More details will be coming soon, but we are extremely excited to be able to provide these unique learning opportunties to our students.  

Want to learn more about what research says about each of these topics?
Coding 
Cooking  
Chess 
Carpentry

Sean Corcoran