A Great Fall Season of After School Adventures!

Liza Jones Hards
Director of Auxiliary Programs

This fall the After School Adventures program filled The Elisabeth Morrow School with many interesting sights, sounds and smells during our eight weeks of classes.  Students were happy, engaged, creative and challenged. Beginning Chess students enjoyed learning the basics of chess while our Intermediate Chess class challenged their classmates in class tournaments.  Students were thrilled to participate in hands-on experiments and observations in Mad Science classes while Mrs. Milne’s “Science Alive” class also helped students learn more about our beautiful EMS Campus and lively animals in the Little School Science room.  Recipes from the “Simply Delicious” cookbook were mixed together and sampled in our Little School cooking class and fabulous t-shirt fashions were created in the “Fashion Design Stars” class. Sports in Little School and Intramurals in Morrow House kept our students active and moving and our Creative Dance class in Little School even got parents up and moving as part of an end of the session class share.  Students also had the opportunity to learn about the Chinese culture and language in our two Chinese language classes.  Other classes included “ Magical Mysteries”, “Friday Fun” and “Epic Adventures”.   The next session of After School Adventures will begin on February 4, 2013.  Class booklets and registration information will be available January 16.  We have many new and exciting offerings for our next session. For more information, please contact the Office of Auxiliary Programs at ext. 7150.  Thank you to our students and teachers for a great session of After School Adventures! 

The Value of Conversation

Beth Anne Brennan
Lower School Head

This Thanksgiving, after a vivacious and delicious meal, my friend Steve pulled me aside in the kitchen.  He smiled and said how reminiscent this holiday had been to his own childhood.  He delighted in hearing my father tell the family stories of past holiday celebrations, including the details of the “cast of characters” sitting around the table and the shows we put on as children for our very proud parents and relatives. 

“Hmm?” I thought. Nice to hear, of course, but I never really saw it this way.  For Steve, our lively discussion around the Thanksgiving table was a treasure. For me, time spent talking was a typical occurrence in our household.  As a family we have grown used to joining my father in the living room, sitting on the couches, engaging in conversation.  And my father is a pro:  he instinctively knows the right questions to ask and listens with genuine concern to all of the details and topics of interest in our lives.  He offers advice, shares a story from his life experience that adds substance and meaning to the conversation, and makes positive observations that encourages us all to want to stay engaged. 

Now, not everyone’s like my father, I realize.  He’s had years of practice.  Yet, given the time to reflect upon the festivities of this past weekend, the heartwarming union of family and friends, I think Steve has the right perspective.  Conversation is a treasure.  In this regard I consider myself lucky.  I grew up in a household that valued conversation and made it a priority.  Now, today, it is easy for me to see the gains of having parents who wanted to talk with me as a child.

You may be thinking “that was then,” right?  After all, these days it seems it’s tough to find the time.  Most of us have very scheduled and hectic lives, along with family-wide access to the various media channels that draw our attention.  It is a facet of the era in which we live, but we have to keep in mind that the time we spend disconnected or disengaged with the members of our family, with our children in particular, we not only miss those moments that enrich our lives and allow us to bond with our kids, we also lose the opportunities to develop their character through conversation.

Engaging your children in conversation not only expresses your love by showing interest in who they are and what they have to say, it also provides them with a model for listening, speaking, and asking.  Among other things, conversations also teach children to absorb or form opinions, frame perspectives, and develop empathy.  Although it may not be easy to initially connect with your children, perhaps provide them with a topic of mutual interest and encourage them to carry on lively discussions by sharing their ideas or asking questions.  And stick with it; try not to give in to any initial grumblings or indifference.  Try not to succumb to the “easy way” by handing/allowing them a device when they jump in the car or sit down for dinner. As an educator and as a mom, I can’t stress this enough: conversation is a critical social skill and part of child’s development that requires adult patience, modeling and practice.  So the next time you sit down for a holiday meal, or any meal in fact, seek to find this treasure.  I assure you, it’s worth it.

Cooking in the Curriculum @EMS: 7 Good Reasons

Cooking? Are you serious?  Yep!  Here's why:

A child putting the steps to make "The Besto Pesto"
 in sequential order. (later followed up as an
independent activity to make a mini "recipe book."
1.  Sequencing - Cooking helps children in understanding procedure and ordering events to reach desired outcomes.

2.  Leadership - Cooking is a simple/low-stress means for children to direct their peers through assigning duties (as part of the recipe) to other children and overseeing the production of the final product.

3. Followership: Cooking allows children to understand the responsibility of teamwork, of being an effective part of a group working toward a specific goal.  Also, once given a "job," a student then must follow both spoken and written direction to fulfill their assigned task.

4. Math:  calibrating required ingredients introduces units of measure (amounts and temperatures) and an understanding of proportion.

5.  Gross/Fine Motor Skills:  chopping, measuring, stirring, peeling (under careful supervision) all works on the large and small muscle groups along arm, as well as developing hand dexterity.  

Middle School Cooking Club:  often featuring guest chefs
and the exploration of culture through cuisine.
6.  Tangible Results:  completion of a recipe offers a tangible and real result for the children.  Engagement is usually there as well, as the children get to eat the tasty results.

7.  Eating Right:  learning to cook introduces children to healthier food options.  Plus, at EMS, we often cook with our own vegetables (grown on campus), and children are more likely to try new foods if they've participated in growing them.

The Story Of Our New Sleeping Mats

by Beth Brennan, Lower School Head and Tricia Eickelberg, Director of Early Childhood

The Elisabeth Morrow School is a community of students, administrators, staff, parents, students and alumni, all of whom value an excellent education as fundamental in the lives of children and the adults they will become. The “4 C’s” Cooperation, Consideration, Compassion and Courtesy form the foundation of the school’s character education. This year an amazing example of how we, as a community, brought these values to life is worth sharing with all of you.

In the fall of 2011, I shared an idea with EMS parent Karen Toback, who at the time was the Little School PA representative for the year. We scheduled a time to chat and she eagerly came to my office ready to help. I told her a story about how a parent, some twenty years ago, volunteered to create resting mats for the youngest students here at EMS. They were still in use but they were all very worn. The children, however, still loved resting on them. She took one look at the old (but loved) sample and committed to help the children in Chilton House acquire new mats.  Thus, a yearlong joint partnership between “home” and “school” began.

A completion deadline for this fall had Mrs. Toback quickly out shopping for prints of fabrics that would work for both girls and boys. After sharing samples, we all agreed upon a bright and interesting print. Next, a flyer inviting all interested quilters to help with this project was sent out to our community. The call was answered and group met regularly throughout the spring. They cut and packaged fabrics and borders to distribute to all of the volunteer quilters. Much like an old fashioned quilting bee, they worked during the summer to complete all 100 mats for all six classrooms in Chilton House.

Our caring community is our strength; deeds such as this, and the people who work steadfastly to bring them to fruition, are what brings vitality and integrity to our school’s mission. To acknowledge this gift, the children in Chilton House designed their own quilt patches, which were hung together in our lobby as a symbolic way to pass along our thanks to all of our quilting volunteers. As well, at a recent sing-a-long, the children sang a thank you song (below). We hope the joining of children’s voices and words of thanks are inspirational for all of you to hear and enjoy.

Thank you… Karen Toback (head seamstress),  Georgia Silverman (Ella and Kara’s Grandmother),  Laura Cohen, Donna LoBue, Kim Kachakian, J. Grace Kim, Lily Reidel, Adela Skinner, Maria Staphos, Lily Lou, Tricia Eickelberg, Jen Cordover Family.

Thank You EMS Book Fair Chairs and Volunteers

2012 Book Fair Chairs – Adrienne Anderson and Karen Toback
What a week this has been!  I want to thank you and express my admiration for your work in making the Book Fair a great success.  Your hours of volunteered time, your good cheer, your donations of cafĂ© food and gift books, and your participation in the event – often despite not having power or with the snow pelting down outside – have played an enormous role in reminding us all of the power and depth of the Elisabeth Morrow community.  

I would like to extend special thanks to Adrienne Anderson and Karen Toback, who planned and executed a wonderful event despite the extenuating circumstances.  From setting up in the cold and dark the Thursday before the Fair to being among the last to leave the night of the snow storm, their leadership and perseverance serve as an excellent example to us all – and to our children.

Aaron Cooper
Head of School

A Visit from Gabriel Bol Deng

Gabriel Bol Deng, Hope for Ariang
The Elisabeth Morrow School welcomed Gabriel Bol Deng, executive director and founder of Hope for Ariang.  Gabriel shared his harrowing story about his flight from the Sudanese civil war in 1987, the life-threatening challenges he faced along the way, and his steadfast determination to hang on to hope.  In two assemblies, Gabriel spoke to both the Middle and Lower School, telling them that few things are more important than hope and education; he and Hope for Ariang have made it their mission "to make education accessible for all children and adults in Southern Sudan by removing cultural and socio-economic barriers with a special focus on girls' education–one village at a time."  Currently, Hope for Ariang is working toward the sustainability of the Ariang school.  To read about Gabriel's incredible exodus from Sudan to Ethiopia , follow this LINK.  

Aaron Cooper - Reflections upon the recent NJAIS Keynote Speakers

"Hearing these three speakers made me think, made me feel, that EMS, all the way back to its mission statement, is on the right track in terms of what's best for children." 
     ~ Aaron Cooper, Head of School 

AC-10-26 Speak by EMScommunications

On Friday, October 26, Aaron Cooper started off his first Head of School Coffee with his reflection upon three recent speakers at the NJAIS conference and how their presentations detailed much of what EMS already embraces.  (15 minutes)

Top 5 Tips To Plan Successful Play Dates

by Beth Anne Brennan
Lower School Head

I was in my office the other day, well beyond the hour I had intended on staying, when I got a call from my younger sister.  A nice surprise, for sure, but when we moved beyond casual conversation, she got to the heart of why she was calling.  She wanted to get my thoughts on a play date that went badly.  No need to go into the details, but being a parent of four children myself, the host of many play dates in my time (some successful, some not so much), along with having a career where I am surrounded by children, I did have a few thoughts on the matter.

Although in the moment, after a not-so-great play date, every parent’s first response is likely, “I will never have that child over again!”  An experienced parent, however, knows that probably won’t be the case.  Children love the idea of having play dates and honestly, as parents, we generally want to see our children having fun and enjoying the company of their peers, but sometimes tempers, impulses, and demeanors can get the best of any child during play.   Although there is no magic formula to make a play date great, there are steps you can take to help insure they go well.

At the recent NJAIS conference, I ran into Dr. David Lowry, former EMS Head and respected colleague; he reminded me in a conversation that parents love lists.  Here, then, is a quick list of play date tips; may your meetings with fellow friends be happy and successful experiences for all.

    Let your child have a say as to whom he/she wishes to play with. When they were younger we made our children play with our friends' kids.  As they grow, however, encourage them to choose their own friends, perhaps ones that have similar likes, interests or hobbies.

    Invite the other parent in.  Many parents want to get to know you better before leaving their child in your care.  Invite them to your home and talk to them about your expectations.  Get any contact information and special care information and ask them if they have any suggestions that may be helpful in setting the tone for successful play date.

    Set rules. Tell the children what the "do's" and "dont's" are for your home.  Keep the list short.  Suggest to your child, ahead of time, to put away any toys he/she is not willing to share.

    Prepare for the meltdown. Keep play dates short and be ready for the worst.  Some children will test limits, so be prepared as to how you will handle any and all situations. 

    End on a happy note.  Try to help the children achieve success in their play date by ending on a positive note. Should anything have happened during the visit, be open and honest with other parents.  

      Remember, we as parents host play dates so that our children can practice socializing with their peers.  Do not expect reciprocity and remember that you can say “no” if a day or situation does not work for your family.

For more detailed information planning great play dates read:
Jennifer Rodecki, M.Ed. and Deb Leach, Ed.D., BCBA:  http://bringingaba.blogspot.com/2012/05/5-tips-for-successful-play-dates.html

NJAIS Conference Features EMS Faculty Participants

Yesterday (October 15) the EMS faculty attended the annual New Jersey Association of Independent Schools Conference at the Ranney School in Tinton Falls.  The conference goal is professional development and networking: providing "speakers, workshops, seminars and sessions" focusing on all facets of independent school trends and activities.  Once again, this year featured EMS faculty (two current and one former) with active rolls in the conference.
Carol Toth

EMS Director of Auxilary programs Liza Jones Hards and Math teacher Carol Toth were asked to lead "affinity tables" in their area of expertise.  As Ms. Toth expains, "the idea (with hosting affinity tables) is that in an informal setting we could get together and talk about the issues that face us and hopefully help each other find solutions to common problems."  Ms. Toth planned to direct the table toward issues regarding groupings, acceleration, working with challenged math learners, and how much (if any) of the state's Common Core Curriculum Standards math departments could incorporate into their own programs.  

Liza Jones Hards presents at NJAIS Conference at the Ranney School 
Along with guiding a table on school auxiliary programs (camps, before-school and after-school programming), Mrs. Jones Hards, along with her colleague Cindy Wyatt from Gill St. Bernard's School, also presented a full session at the conference.  Titled Let The Sunshine In, Mrs. Jones Hards' and Mrs. Wyatt's presentation focused on "their success stories for building and maintaining summer activities that keep learning going, while at the same time adding marketing and financial value" to their respective schools.

Also presenting at this year's conference, former EMS Head of School, Dr. David Lowry spoke on the topic of administration and leadership – sharing "humor and truth" from his thirty years in independent schools.

Recent Accolades for EMS Director of Technology Sarah Rolle

In September, at the invitation of George Magdich, President of the New Jersey Educational Computing Cooperative (njecc.org), EMS Technology Director Sarah Rolle was appointed as an advisor to this state-wide organization, joining a select group with eight other educators.

The NJECC is a not for profit organization that provides member school districts with a wide range of services and professional development to meet many of their educational technology needs.  In his invitation to Ms. Rolle, Mr. Magdich said, "you have the experience and are in the forefront of Ed Tech.  I think you would be a great addition to the group."  In addition to regular monthly meetings the NJECC advisor group also helps organize the annual conference in March.

In addition to this, Ms. Rolle was appointed as a team leader for a recent Google Teacher Academy, held in New York City on October 3, 2012.

The Google Teacher Academy is a free professional development experience designed to help K-12 educational leaders get the most from innovative technologies. Each Academy is an intensive, one-day event where participants get hands-on experience with Google's products, learn about visionary instructional strategies, and receive resources to share with colleagues. Upon completion, Academy participants become Google Certified Teachers who share what they learn with other K-12 educators in their local regions and beyond.

Educators become Google Certified Teachers by attending Google Teacher Academies.  Ms. Rolle originally attended the GTA in 2007.

Ginny Smith Presents "Brain Exercises" at State Conference

EMS Physical Education Teacher Ginny Smith recently presented at the NJAHPERD* Lake Conference in Hardwick, New Jersey.  Entitled Brain Exercises, Mrs. Smith discussed how and why aerobic exercise and "cross-lateral movement challenges" stimulate brain function.  Neuroscience is revealing that exercise can elevate neurotransmitter levels in the brain, which in turn, may optimize focus and retention in children.  For this reason, Mrs. Smith advocates a regular "diet" of movement in the academic day. Her presentation also featured the demonstration of activities and exercises teachers may utilize in either a gym or classroom setting. 

* NJAHPERD: New Jersey Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance

"As I think about our children...two things come to mind."

Head of School Aaron Cooper's opening remarks for Back To School Night - 9/27/2012.

   Mr. Cooper notes two significant priorities for The Elisabeth Morrow School:
   1.  Care for and understanding of each student.
   2.  A program that supports the individual development of each student.

CooperAtLSnight by EMScommunications

Marianne Malmstrom Featured Guest On "It Takes A Guild: A Guild Of Educators

Most of what we get at school is consumption and spoon fed – "here's the information" and "master this information," then "take the test," "now we can move on" – but, the reality is that we live in a world that is changing so quickly that the best skill you can have, possibly, is your ability to adapt and to learn new things on the fly. ...With Minecraft, you have to figure it out, you have to read about it yourself, you have to ask a friend, you have to experiment until you learn. ...So the best we can do is to prepare students to be really successful learners and problem solvers, to be creative and learn to collaborate, and that is what I think these games do the best.
  ~Marianne Malmstrom

EMS Technology Teacher Marianne Malmstrom was recently the featured speaker on It Takes A Guild: A Guild of Educators, an "educator centric webinar series offered" by Gamers Advancing Meaningful Education or G.A.M.E.  In the webinar interview, Ms. Malmstrom talks about how " the EMS Tech team successfully guided the integration of the popular game Minecraft into the activities and curriculum of most of the grades at The Elisabeth Morrow School" (webinar synopsis of episode 2).

You can also check out an abridged reprise of her Appletree Magazine article Game to Learn on the recently launched A Platform For Good, "a project of the Family Online Safety Institute designed to help parents, teachers and teens to connect, share and do good online."  A featured blogger for this site, this article will be the start of many other articles to follow for Ms. Malmstrom.

Young Alumni Luncheon 2012

by Evan Brown
Director of Communications and Alumni

Once upon a time, I was a high school teacher.  When my former students graduated and left school at 17 or 18, usually they returned for reunions as older versions of themselves–filled out more, a bit grayer perhaps, but the faces for the most part were recognizable.  This is not the case for Elisabeth Morrow teachers, as I witnessed yesterday at our first Young Alumni Luncheon.  For them, their former students usually leave as children and return as, well, big people!  Yesterday, it seemed many former students were almost unrecognizable without name tags.

If there is one thing all teachers share it is the incredible take-away we get from such events.  For the Alums who attend, these events are a great time as you reconnect with old friends.  For teachers, hearing your stories, hearing about how you're making your way in the world, pursuing your great adventure–let's just say there are few greater validations in our profession than learning that you have grown into happy and healthy people, walking a path or your choosing.  For many of us who have made education our career, seeing you "achieve" really is thanks enough.

As for yesterday's event, we had a great turnout and, Young Alums, it was our privilege to have hosted you.  I enjoyed watching you connect with former classmates and teachers.  Thanks again for coming and we hope to see you again next year when we do this again.  Best of luck to you all.

PS:  we are collecting Alumni News for Appletree Magazine (print version) to be published this fall--if you have anything you'd like to share or update, please email it to me.

EMS Students Ace National Language Exams

EMS Le Grand Concours winners pose with their certificates 
by Evan Brown
Director of Communications and Alumni

The Elisabeth Morrow School takes great pride in announcing that several 7th and 8th grade students attained national awards for their scores on national French, Spanish and Latin Exams.

This year, over 146,000 students participated in six levels and three categories of the National Spanish Examination. Twenty-one 7th and 8th grade EMS students attained national recognition in levels “01” and “1” (the highest and second-highest achievement levels ascribed to the test) in Regular and Bilingual categories.  National Gold Medals were awarded to 7th-graders Annika Kim and Pantelis Paliouras and to 8th-grader Justin DeRose.

In the National French Exam, nineteen 7th and 8th graders achieved levels “01” or “1” including 4 state winners, Casey McConville, Abigail Rivoir, Peter Shamamian and Justin Trout, attaining top-ten scores in New Jersey. Two National Gold Medals were awarded to 7th-grader Melissa Sweetwood and 8th-grader Casey McConville.

The National Latin Exam saw five Elisabeth Morrow students achieve the highest national standard, "Summa Cum Laude" (with the highest of praise): Joseph DeRose, Peter Shamamian, David Yang, Justin Trout, Sang Uk Park.

The National Spanish and Latin Examinations are standardized assessment tools forGrades 6 -12, given voluntarily by over 3,800 teachers throughout the United States in order to assess the proficiency and achievement of students who are studying these languages.  While the National French Examination (Le Grand Concours) is an annual exam and competition for grades 1-12 in all 50 states and abroad.  All of the language exams are certified by their respective teacher associations.

Congratulations Class of 2012

Dear Graduates:  we here at The Elisabeth Morrow School are very proud of you and wish you luck as you move forward in your lives. Be well, be careful and stay in touch.

Beginnings and Endings - The All School Gathering

by Patricia Eickelberg
Early Childhood Teacher

What better venue than the All School Gathering to congratulate all of the 8th graders and wish them well.   All of their school peers, from C-1 three-year-olds to the soon to be moving up 7th graders were there to cheer them on as they leave EMS to begin their high school years.

We also said goodbye to the faculty and administrators who will be leaving us.   We acknowledged those leaving by sharing with the students the length of time each of those faculty members has been with us.  Mrs. Phyllis Grossman, who has been a teacher here since 1980, was the last to sit down.  It was a great feeling to hear the whole student body express their gratitude for her devotion of 32 years as they clapped and cheered!

Once again, the focus of the Gathering was to show everyone how connected we are, in spite of our separate divisions, buildings and responsibilities at EMS.   One of the highlights of our “Connection Circle” was a demonstration of how just one teacher, Mrs. Susan Labita, has touched the lives of 95 current students who started at EMS in the three-year-old class.   Even Mrs. Labita was amazed at how many students stood up as we called their names!  Most impressive of all is that two of our graduating 8th graders were fortunate enough to have started with her in the Three’s.  Casey McConville and Abby Rivior have experienced every tradition in each grade, from the Englewood Boat Basin trip when they were 3 to their recent 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C.

The All School Gathering, as an event at EMS, is still in its infancy.   Its purpose, simply, is to bring the entire student body, faculty, and administrators and staff together. Coming together allows us to see siblings and friends, faculty and staff, as well as all of the other people behind the scenes at EMS.   Our plan for the All School Gathering is to have them more frequently–we feel that coming together more often will strengthen our community and build stronger bonds between the divisions.

New Parent Dinner 2012 - Welcome New Families

by Blair Talcott Orloff
Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

On Thursday, May 31, The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid hosted its second annual New Parent Dinner in the Morrow House Music Room.  The evening began with a cocktail reception on the patio outside the Science Wing followed by dinner in the Music Room.  The weather was perfect and the event helped our new families to make connections with members of the community, including the Parents Association, Faculty and Staff.  A thank you to everyone who helped make the evening such a success!

A Circus Isn’t A Circus Without A Big Parade

by Beth Brennan
Director of Early Childhood Programs

Thirty years ago, two teachers came across an old box of costumes in the attic of the Little School and decided it would be fun to perform a circus.  Since then, the Kindergarten Circus has become one of the most cherished traditions at The Elisabeth Morrow School. 

This year, one of the largest Kindergarten classes in school history delighted and amazed the audience with their dazzling acts.  As always, the students selected the types of performers they wanted to be.  They then developed their characters, polished their acts and added dashes of individual charm to entertain the parent and faculty spectators.

As the EMS Kindergarten Circus takes place at the end of the year, the performance reflects the students’ emerging independence and is generally considered a rite of passage for the school’s Early Childhood students who are moving up to the elementary grades, 1 through 4.

“Watching the Circus is pure joy”, says Amelia Gold, Head the Music Department at the School, “You see the innocence and sense of play at this age is something that cannot be captured at any other time in their lives!”  As well, many of the school’s alumni still hold fond and vivid memories of their participation in the circus.  Says alumna, Amanda Blumenstein, “I remember all of the words from when I did it sixteen years ago.” 

Enjoy the slide show of images from today's performance (shown below).  You can also catch the video of the Kindergarten Circus' traditional opening number by clicking here.

EMS Gala Raises Over 210K For Faculty Endowment Fund

By Jennifer Shaia, Judy Couri , Courtney Miglietta
Spring Gala 2012 Co-Chairs

The Spring Gala 2012 was held at the Alpine Country Club and a wonderful time was had by all who attended! This year, our annual benefit honored retiring Head of School, David Lowry, as well as Aril Lowry, affectionately known as our “Garden Lady.” On Saturday, May 5, more than 320 people came together to say “Thank you!” to Dr. and Mrs. Lowry.

Dr. Lowry believes that “the teachers are the heart and soul of Elisabeth Morrow” and requested that all proceeds from this event be directed to the Endowment for our Faculty. This year, more than $210,000 was raised at the event!

We sincerely thank all the volunteers, underwriters, faculty, staff, and administrators who made this event such a success.

Photographs by Shelley Kusnetz

Elisabeth Morrow Students Take First Place Team Trophies in Every Grade Level at Inaugural Math Contest.

4th Grade Winning Team:
Reha, Cameron, Oren and Sangmin

by Evan Brown
Director of Communications and Alumni

On Monday April 30, The Elisabeth Morrow School hosted the first-ever, elementary Math League Contest to take place in Northern New Jersey.  The contest, organized by EMS Math Chair Carol Toth for students in grades 3 through 6, was administered by Mathleague.org and are modeled upon the larger MathCounts National Competitions. 

The Elisabeth Morrow Math scholars faired exceptionally well, garnering first-place, all-around trophies in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade, making a clean sweep of all divisions. In addition, the EMS team registered two 1st place individual winners: Peter Staphos (in grade 3) and Dylan Rhee (in grade 5).  As well, Dylan was the highest individual scorer for the entire competition.  Elisabeth Morrow also had the highest overall team score from its all-girl, sixth-grade team:  Stephanie Li, Emily Yu, Kira Trout and Chrissie Anagnos. The team was coached by EMS Math teacher, Sarah Ehatamm.

MathLeague.org competitions consist of several challenges that require a variety of math skills and abilities.  Students are tested through mental-math problems, group problem solving, sprint rounds featuring multiple choice, and targeted rounds that allow for the use of approved calculators.  The competition fielded teams from a number of prominent regional independent schools, including: Princeton Academy, Solomon Schechter, The Wilson School, The Peck School, Far Hills Country Day, Rumson Country Day and The Red Oaks School.  In all Elisabeth Morrow hosted 175 students for the afternoon competition.

The Experience of Research in Kindergarten

by Beth Brennan
Director of Early Childhood Programs

This spring, our EMS Kindergarten classes have been using their acquired literacy skills to begin their first, school research projects.  As with all projects of this nature at EMS, the teachers are merely guides while the students are encouraged to take ownership of their research and presentations.

Initially, the children are instructed to select an animal.  Next, they are guided through the research phase.  The teachers assist in selecting a variety of books (non-fiction), provide video clips and apps to use with iPads, and help with fact-finding during library visits.  Students are also provided with a list of general questions as a framework for their research; this also helps them process their findings through notes or images they sketch.  Experience is also important, so very soon, the children will be visiting the local zoo to study their animals in person. 

Projects such as this one are multi-faceted, engaging a range of methods for gathering and processing information.  From a farther perspective, "research" gives young children a sense of purposeful study–it  forms a body of skills and pattern of thinking as children move through school and are confronted with problems or topics they must break down and understand.

Engineering Cars in Prekindergarten

by Beth Brennan
Director of Early Childhood Programs

Wood was cut and holes were drilled, all in preparation for a very special design project last week in our Pre-K class.  The children were challenged by their teachers to come up with designs for wooden vehicles that move.  Once the designs were in place, the students set out to sand, stack, build and glue pieces of wood together to make their cars.  Vocabulary like axles, wheels, and hub caps were incorporated in the building portion of the lesson. In projects like these, the process is as important as the end results; the children start with imagination, followed by the development of a plan, then trial and error. Once assembled, as you will see in this video, they had the opportunity to talk about their ideas and, best of all, test their vehicles. 

The Elisabeth Morrow School Community Raises $6,000 for The Caroline Fund

Left to right:  Linda Stanton (Administrative Director Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital), Fran Jones (Manager of Operations Hackensack UMC Foundation), Steve Sakovits, Mitchell Lynn, Anna Lynn, Nancy Lynn, Dr. Michael B. Harris (Director of Tomorrows Children's Institute) , Barbara Sakovits, Caroline Sakovits, Jane Phend (Principal of Elisabeth Morrow), Gael Barile (Second Grade teacher), Kimberly Caesar (Director of Development for Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital) 

Courtesy of Angela Thomas, Prana Marketing

Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 23, 2012 

Seven-year old Anna Lynn, a second-grader at The Elisabeth Morrow School in Englewood, New Jersey, wanted to honor her classmate, Caroline Sakovits, a patient at The Tomorrows Children’s Institute (TCI) for Cancer and Blood Disorders at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center.  Anna had heard Caroline talk about The Caroline Fund and how it helps children who are very sick.  Moved by her story, Anna and her mother Nancy Lynn, Executive Vice President of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, mobilized a team of EMS second-grade Moms to help organize a bake sale. 

Second Grade Bake Sale - March 22, 2012 - Grace Muller Courtyard
Dozens of EMS families volunteered to bake over 800 scrumptious treats, which were eagerly snapped up by students, families and staff at an event held on March 22nd, as Anna, Caroline and some of their classmates proudly worked the tables. Unsold items were brought to the hospital, where they were enjoyed by patients and their families. 

As well, in a show of community solidarity, the EMS fourth graders dedicated their third annual talent show to The Caroline Fund.  Young singers, dancers, musicians, and comedians entertained their classmates and family members, while the proceeds from admission were then added to the bake sale fundraising.

The Little School's efforts certainly help in supporting a worthy cause.  Established in July 2006 by Steve and Barbara Sakovits, in honor of their daughter, The Caroline Fund provides much needed morale for children struggling with serious illness.   TCI’s team of specialists believe that children are not simply small adults, that they have unique psychological and developmental needs that require as much attention as their medical issues. To this end, The Caroline Fund helps the Institute provide special programs, such as Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy.  By incorporating arts & crafts, music, video games and many more activities, TCI seeks to reduce stress, bring joy, promote recovery and provide some of the aspects of normalcy that are vital to the overall well-being of their young patients. 

The support from The Elisabeth Morrow Community was truly generous.  On April 12, the EMS community presented a check for $6000, dedicated for The Caroline Fund, to The Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation.  

If you would like to learn more about The Caroline Fund, please visit www.thecarolinefund.org.

Large Motor Development at the Art Table in the Three’s Classroom

by Tricia Eickelberg
Early Childhood Teacher

The three-year-olds of C-1 recently painted marble pictures using daffodil colors. In order to move the marbles around they needed to tip the box from side to side and back and forth. On another day, they also helped paint our pond by using rollers to spread the paint over the paper. They then used texture tools to make the waves in the water. 

Children generally enjoy active projects like these–they're fun, they're making art–but the overarching goal here is to strengthen muscles in their upper arms. Later, when they begin writing, these stronger muscles will help with both proper pencil grip and with the ability to move the pencil across the paper.

EMS 7th Grader Wins National Gold Medal

Into The Light - Sarah Abrahamsen, EMS '13

by Evan Brown
Director of Communications and Alumni

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have "an impressive legacy dating back to 1923 and a noteworthy roster of past winners including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Robert Redford and Joyce Carol Oates," according to its website.  The Elisabeth Morrow School is proud to add another name to this Award's storied history.  EMS seventh grader Sarah Abrahamsen (Hackensack, NJ) earned a 2012 National Gold Medal and the distinguished honor of Best In Grade (only 4 recipients receive this honor per grade level), with her photograph, Into The Light.  

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards fielded submissions from 200,000 students nationally, in 28 categories, from grades 7 to 12.  Only 1500 received Gold or Silver Medals.  In order to attain this high honor, students needed to achieve "Gold Key" recognition at the regional level. This year, The Elisabeth Morrow School had 6 artists and 1 writer receive Gold Keys:  along with Sarah; Erika Herman (7-Teaneck, NJ), Josh Lerner (7-Englewood, NJ), So Young Jang (8-Fort Lee, NJ), Annakatrina Zeidwig (8-Tenafly, NJ), Rene Spiewak (7-Englewood, NJ), and Annika Kim (7-Englewood Cliffs, NJ) sent work to the national competition.

Considering the number of applicants, attaining this level of success does not come easy.  Elisabeth Morrow's first Scholastic gold medalist Evan Goldstein '06 (now attending Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT) remembers the challenge of getting his poem ready for the competition:  "I rewrote the poem seven times, all with the help of Ms. Nicolaou.  Without her, and the support of the EMS Writing Club, I would never have known about the competition, let alone had an opportunity to win.  Ms. N taught me how to write well, but also showed me the value and beauty in writing, which goes beyond any one competition."
Elisabeth Morrow students have done particularly well at Scholastic. Just last year, Caroline Myers (Cresskill, NJ - now attending Linden Hall in Lititz, PA) and Lauren Park (Englewood Cliffs, NJ) received National Gold Medals.  In all, our school currently boasts 14 National Gold Medals over the past 6 years.  

Regarding this accomplishment, EMS teacher Lisa Nicolaou noted:  "Our success at EMS with Scholastic is a combination of many factors--A talented group of students, a supportive administration, the time we dedicate to writing here, and our (teachers) ability to motivate and nurture."  She also felt that the school's approach toward encouraging originality and imagination played a vital role:  "With our students, we want them to find a way in, to find their creativity.  We want them to be inspired and lead without being pushed.  We especially want this in middle school, at a time when they are trying to figure out who they are and what they believe in."  

Sarah Abrahamsen will join this select group of middle and high school students on June 1 for the National Medal Ceremony at Carnegie Hall.  As well, Ms. Abrahamsen's work will be on display with 500 other works of art and writing at the Art.Write.Now NYC Exhibition at Parsons The New School for Design.