Grade 5 boys, including Douglas A. (center) spill out of Gillispie’s main entrance on their way to the annual fifth grade overnight trip. Students report for 24 hours of sailor duty and social studies lessons aboard San Diego’s historical replica ship The Californian. Mr. Bunyak greeted fifth grader Ian S. this morning by saying, “Good morning, camper. I hope you don’t get the midnight watch duty tonight.” Ian’s quick response: “I hope I do!”
Monthly Archives: March 2012
Head of School Alison Fleming was spotted this week reading Stuart Little to Room 6 prekindergarten students. Ms. Fleming is always ready with a supportive word on the play yard, an insightful question in the classroom, and a dynamic story during assemblies.
The Book Club Project: Students in Preschool Room 4 recently have shown an interest in writing their own picture books and retelling their stories to the class. As teachers, we have made time, space, and materials available so that the children can do what writers and illustrators do–make books that interest them. We encourage our young writers with support that matches the seriousness of their intent–being four years old and being a writer are not mutually exclusive ways. Above, Alex W. shares the book he authored during circle time. Our students have been sitting attentively for almost 30 minutes at a time to listen to the books as presented by their peers, and we are inspired by the power of the writing and ideas.
Mr. Royer and Ms. Starzyk
Rm. 4 Preschool
Thanks to all the wonderful parent volunteers (formal thank you list to follow) and to tireless coordinator Mrs. Epperson for making International Day such a dynamic, memorable day of learning.
Both Grade 3 classes recently walked to the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla. Focusing on two current, ongoing units of study, the tour highlighted maps of Asia and San Diego. At the conclusion of the tour, the students enjoyed walking around the museum independently with magnifying glasses as they participated in a fun and reflective scavenger hunt.
Speaking of maps, Grade 2 teachers Ms. Blake and Ms. Swaney got physical with their students this week all across a gigantic map of North America (26′ x 35′). Students were asked to respond to verbal prompts, both individually and in groups, to have them locate and discuss a variety of physical and political features of their home continent.
Last Friday, all Gillispie students (toddler through Grade 6) gathered in the gym to enjoy The Malone Academy of Irish Dance as a pre-festivity to this week’s International Day. Four of the Academy’s middle school students, three from Muirlands Middle School, demonstrated Irish dances in soft and hard shoes on our stage. The colorful costumes worn by the girls cannot be simply purchased–they had been earned through years of practice and competition wins.
As The Gillispie School prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary as an incorporated school next year, the buzz around campus is building. Administration is beginning to revisit the school archives and happily shares this gem from 1995–an end-of-year celebration t-shirt featuring the self-portrait of every student on campus (front) and a charming line-drawing of the school’s main play structure at the time (back). Seventeen years later, Gillispie continues its devotion to child-centered educational excellence in a small, nurturing community.
March 29, 2012
During recent early childhood and Grades 3-6 assemblies, students reviewed three important strategies they can use for working through socially challenging situations. (Grades K-2 students will get the review at their next assembly.) Gillispie shorthand for the three approaches is the “okay” hand symbol, with one strategy for each finger.
The first way children can work through a challenging time–to “make it okay”–is to use their voices:
“Stop. I don’t like that.”
“I’m done playing this game; I’m going to take a break.”
“Hey, you know the rules!”
Using your voice to take a stand, claim your space, and insist on fairness and respect takes practice but is an important life skill for emotional health and safety. It’s the most direct and often most effective way to resolve a social issue.
A second way to work through a social situation is to take action. We discussed during the Grades 3-6 assemby how “bystanders” can become “allies” of bullying “targets” by doing something to help their friends. Taking action can include using one’s voice, but also can mean intervening as a third party (standing up for someone), changing the tone of the “conversation,” and even physically moving a friend away from a tense situation.
Third, children shouldn’t be shy to get an adult involved. This includes reporting to adults behaviors that are “not okay.” It’s another life skill to know when to get help from others–adults do it all the time (for example, adults will consult legal, medical, or financial experts when needed). On Gillispie playgrounds, it’s often a wise move to involve the adult on duty–especially when the two other strategies have not worked.
These three empowering strategies, which can be used in combination, help Gillispie children navigate social interactions, preparing them to positively assert themselves as they head out into the world.
Head of School
Assistant Head of School
March 22, 2012
Dear Families and Friends of Gillispie,
The Gillispie School has recently been exploring an opportunity that would change the configuration of our campus and benefit students for years to come.
Gillispie’s Board of Trustees and administration are investigating the possibility of purchasing property a few doors down on Girard Avenue, next to My Art Shed. The vision is that successful purchase of the land would allow us to move the north faculty parking lot on Girard to the new site and turn the existing parking lot into a turf-based sports field. The chance to purchase land so close to Gillispie is a rare occurrence–the last time was in 1999, a purchase that enabled the 2003 completion of the main elementary school building.
Such an expanded campus would thereby include what we envision as our “field of dreams”–an outdoor playing field to enable our teachers to nurture great minds and strong bodies. The wonderful addition of a green space would complement our gym and sport court, richly enhance our physical education program, and broaden options for school-day recess space and after school enrichment offerings. Beyond the physical exercise benefits for each child, the turfed open space would support the social and emotional development that is one cornerstone of a whole-child Gillispie education, including aspects such as self-esteem, cooperation, sportsmanship, and team-based friendships.
The proposed project is in keeping with the Board of Trustees’ 2011 Strategic Plan to “oversee the development and completion of a campus master plan that will maximize flexible and creative use of space that supports the Early Childhood and the Elementary School programs in a safe and secure environment within an environmentally sensitive setting.” With vision and intent, the Board is currently conducting due diligence procedures to determine the viability of the property purchase. If we proceed, a fundraising campaign will be part of our next steps.
This is an opportunity to build for the future. Our “field of dreams” would continue the School’s history of providing educational excellence in a nurturing environment toward developing forward-thinking minds and able bodies.
We will update you as more definitive developments occur!
Head of School
Board of Trustees President
March 15, 2012
Gillispie assemblies are a great opportunity to present programming that speaks to school values like global awareness, sustainability, and collective action. Today, K-6 students enjoyed an all-elementary assembly to hear about the annual Project Concern International Walk for Water from one of its student organizers, a Francis Parker senior. Here are the details:
5K Walk For Water to:
• Raise awareness of the global shortage of access to clean water.
• Understand the importance of water conservation in the San Diego community.
• Develop funding to support PCI’s water & sanitation programs and efforts to fight disease and to end poverty worldwide.
Sunday, March 18, 2012, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Tecolote Shores at Mission Bay Park
Students and their families along with the San Diego community at large
For more information go to: www.pciglobal.org/WWD-2012
March 8, 2012
Mrs. Pirtle has made an important decision that she would like to share with our community–she will be retiring from the classroom at the end of this year. Mrs. Pirtle has devoted her life to education for the last 38 years, 15 of which have been at The Gillispie School. She is looking forward to the next adventures in her life, which may include writing, traveling, remaining connected to students through tutoring, and her volunteering at the La Jolla Playhouse.
In addition, Cathy Blake has decided to return to her role as a lower elementary school assistant teacher at Gillispie. And we have learned that Deirdre Negrini, Mrs. Pirtle’s kindergarten teaching assistant, will be moving to Yuma, Arizona, at the close of the school year. We wish Mrs. Pirtle and Ms. Negrini all the best for their new endeavors.
Based on these changes, administration is in the process of interviewing teachers for kindergarten and Grade 2 openings. We’ve received more than 300 applications and have enjoyed round 1 interviews with several teachers who promise to live up to the standards of the Gilispie Endowment for Excellence in Teaching.
Head of School