Monday Notes, Message from Head of School 10/23

"The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice." - Brian Herbert

Dear Palm Valley Families,

I am just returning from a wonderful conference in Boston, MA where a group of us learned more about the testing processes that we do through the ERB organization. A few changes to look forward to for our students who take either the CTP4 or the wRap testing in First through Eighth grades. This year, the Middle School students will be adding the wRap (essay writing) testing to their slate. Our Lower School students who took it last year scored well above the national averages - beating out even our Independent School peers. The information that we learned at this conference last year helped us to focus aspects of our curriculum on Vocabulary and Numeracy in Lower School as well, and I am pleased that we saw an increase overall in both Mathematics and Reading Comprehension scores. While we do not believe in "teaching to the test" we are aligning our curriculum more effectively with the core concepts that are tested on the CTP4 and we are looking towards the changes that ERB is making for the introduction of the CTP5 next fall. We also hope to host a Family Night for unpacking the test scores so that all our families can have a better understanding of their child's specific scores, but also in comparing year over year and tracking student progress and growth.

As many of you know, we were fortunate to have had Mr. Brooks at Palm Valley School for the last two years, and his wife, Mrs. Brooks the previous year. Last year, they welcomed son Miles, who is growing leaps and bounds! At the start of the year, Mr. Brooks informed me that although it was a difficult decision for them, they would be leaving to return overseas at the end of this school year. We are so grateful for the time we have had with both Brooks at Palm Valley School and we will miss them both in the coming years. We wish them the best in their job search and subsequent move. A formal search is already underway for candidates, at the local/internal, state, and national levels through both CAIS and NAIS. As part of our hiring process for Administrators, I would like to have an opportunity for faculty, parents, and even students to meet final candidates and give impressions/feedback once they have been selected and can visit our campus. Please look for more information on that in the coming months. Until then, Mr. Brooks will be finishing the year here with us at Palm Valley and is looking forward to the many fun events and milestones with students.

On Saturday, we have one of my favorite Annual Events - the Fall Festival! Our Parent Association works very hard each year to put this on for students of all ages and this year will be no different. The Fall Festival will be held on the Football Field from 12 pm to 4 pm and offers free Admission! There is an additional cost for some games and food, but no cover charge and many activities are free. There is something enjoyable for all ages, so bring your whole family. This event is open to the public, so invite your neighbors and friends to join you as well. Special thanks to Mary Jensen and Kelly Levy, parent volunteers who coordinate this and other events that we have for our families. If you are so inclined, you can also come a bit early for the Fall Fun Run put on by our Middle School Cross Country Team. You can register here for the Fun Run or to let us know you plan to attend the Festival. Come one, come all!

Make it a great week, Firebirds!

Susan Rice
Head of School