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by Chris Teale January 26, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

Arlington County’s only nonprofit secondary school is set to expand and add three new grade levels for the 2018-2019 school year.

The Sycamore School will add 4,225 square feet of space at its current location at The Arlington Center (4600 Fairfax Drive, Suite 300) in Ballston, the school said in a press release. That extra space will include a math and science suite, black box theater, an engineering room and an additional electives room.

In addition, the school will expand to include students from fifth to 10th grade next school year. It opened in September 2017 with an inaugural class of students from sixth to eighth grade.

School officials said that despite the growth in grades, enrollment will be capped at 60 students for 2018-2019 “to maintain the very low teacher to student ratio.” The school plans to grow to be grades 5-12 school in the next three years.

“We hear overwhelmingly from prospective and current parents that fifth grade was immensely stressful for their children. Our educational priorities are skewed when too much importance is placed on test scores and grades versus teaching children how to think, how to learn and the value of a productive struggle,” said Dr. Karyn Ewart, TSS founder and head of school, in a statement. “We’re seeing more and more students who are overly perfectionistic and risk averse, which leads to higher instances of anxiety and depression.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 25, 2017 at 5:15 pm 0

Curious Students. Expert Teachers. Endless Potential.  

At BASIS Independent McLean, a PreK-12 private school in Tysons Corner, students are inspired daily to discover their passions and learn at the highest international levels. Passionate expert teachers, a curriculum built from global best practices and an array of engaging extracurriculars, all unite to foster a joyful learning culture where all students can excel.

Join BASIS Independent McLean on November 4 for the first Open House of the school year, and experience our engaging teachers, dynamic classrooms and acclaimed program inaction!

Saturday, November 4 | 10 a.m.
8000 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, VA 22102

Register here.

by ARLnow.com September 22, 2017 at 8:45 am 0

‘Hate Group’ Holding Conference in ArlingtonACT for America, which describes itself as the “nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots national security organization” — but which is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group — is holding its annual conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City next weekend. Marriott is refusing calls to cancel the event, saying: “We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space. Acceptance of business does not indicate support or endorsement of any group or individual.” [Slate]

Private Middle School Opens in Arlington — A ribbon cutting was held earlier this week for the grand opening celebration of The Sycamore School, a new, private middle school in Arlington. “More than 80 percent of our inaugural students are coming from public school,  which tells me that our community is aching for smaller class options and more individualized learning,” said the school’s founder. [InsideNova]

Another Arcing Insulator Outside of Rosslyn — A track issue caused problems yet again between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom Metro stations this morning. The initial call for a possible arcing insulator went out around 5 a.m. Normal service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was restored around 7 a.m. [WJLA]

First Day of Fall — Grab your maple lattes, today is the autumnal equinox and the first day of astrological autumn. The equinox will happen just after 4 p.m. Eastern time. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 6, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

By Karyn Ewart, PhD.

Stressed out, overwhelmed, anxious. Sound familiar?

I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about your kids!

As families prepare to take a much needed spring break next week, now is a good time to talk about why our kids are more burnt out than some corporate executives, and how parents can help their kids chill out on spring break, and even when they return to school.

Middle and high school students are under pressure:

  • Social pressure is high and social acceptance can now be measured by social media stats. Worse yet, kids never get a break from the social pressure, even after their school day is over. The Sycamore School is addressing social issues by giving students a place to talk about socialization as well as adolescent development and explicitly teaching students skills to increase self-awareness, self-regulation and effective communication skills.
  • Extracurricular pressure is mounting. Particularly in our highly competitive region, our kids are pushed to do more, do better and distinguish themselves. Kids are expected to not only be on teams, in clubs, service organizations, or enrichment, but if they want to get into a good college, they need to demonstrate leadership now.
  • Academic pressure is intense. Northern Virginia and the greater D.C. region are home to amazing schools — but with them comes expectations of high performance. From a very young age, our kids are grouped, labeled and tracked; if our students aren’t on the accelerated learning track, we feel they are falling behind. Our middle schoolers are pushed to start preparing for college starting in sixth grade; by eighth grade our kids are getting high school credit; by 10th grade they are earning college credits. For many kids, earning average grades triggers tutoring or supplemental instruction (god forbid a C!) while with others, they fall through the cracks, get lost in large classes and are unable to get the help they need to reach their potential. As a community, we don’t accept average, and that creates incredible stress for our children. The Sycamore School’s small classes coupled with experiential learning and student choice of assignments and assessments will support students at all levels of their academic journey, and allow students to recognize how they learn best. By providing a supportive environment, students can advance at their own pace, without the pressure of a standardized system.

Our culture of more-better-faster has created an academic environment that is unhealthy for children’s development; kids are not able to be kids. The impact of stress on adolescents can be seen in the rise of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug use and abuse.

So what is the alternative? Parents have choices, but first they have to own that it is a choice to perpetuate the culture of pressure that is suffocating our kids.

  1. Let kids make their own choices — it’s ok if they don’t want to take 4 AP classes, or to take accelerated English, or join the science team. Let your kids develop their own interests: that is what will spark a love of learning.
  2. Lay off the “if you don’t do this now you’ll be shutting doors for later” language. That is your own anxiety talking and it’s not fair to put that pressure on your kids.
  3. Explore alternative education options. I founded The Sycamore School for the purpose of flipping education priorities upside down to let kids be kids, and develop learners who are problem solvers, independent thinkers and team players.
  4. Say “no” to our culture of acceleration. If you let your kid be the age they are and the developmental level they are, they will experience NOW instead of living for a maybe-one-day future.
  5. Be present for your kids. Slow down your own frenetic drive and take time to listen, observe and enjoy the moments you have with your children now.
  6. Play for the sake of playing. It’s OK if the game is silly and doesn’t reinforce a skill or developmental milestone. Laugh.

You can learn more about how The Sycamore School is turning education upside down in Arlington by attending an interactive open house, or subscribe to our newsletter for more insights into education and adolescent development.

Karyn Ewart, PhD. is Founder and Head of School at The Sycamore School in Arlington and is a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked in public and private schools for over 15 years. Dr. Ewart has a doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. She has extensive experience working with adolescents in schools, including students with learning differences. She believes that engaging students to be active members of a community, within a school setting, serves as a catalyst for developing positive relationships, facilitating growth and effecting change.

The preceding was sponsored by The Sycamore School.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 25, 2017 at 6:00 pm 0

Looking for a small, affordable, private, Christian day school with a small town community feel? Can you appreciate a school which begins each day with the students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing My Country ‘Tis of Thee?

Then please come visit the winter open house at Our Savior Lutheran School, which will be held Saturday, January 28 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Come see a hidden gem of a school which has been in the heart of Arlington providing education and service since 1952. The school is conveniently located close to the Pentagon and Route 50 in Arlington.

Grades Pre-K (age 4 by September 30) through 8th grade are offered with very small class sizes (only 20 students per class). The elementary school grades have self-contained classrooms, while the middle school is departmentalized. The school also has one of the lowest tuition rates in Northern Virginia. The dedicated, caring teachers work hand-in-hand with an active community of families which make this school thrive.

Students are encouraged to start a life of service through various opportunities:

  • Weekly chapel offerings are designated to various groups in need for our neighbors in Arlington and around the world.
  • Walk for the Homeless and preparing bag meals for A-SPAN.
  • Letters to penpals (elderly members of the church congregation).
  • Stop Hunger Now — the entire school helped prepare dry meals to send overseas.
  • Pairing middle schoolers and kindergarteners as chapel buddies.
  • Sixth graders begin and start the day by raising the American flag and assisting with the kiss-n-ride line.

In addition to the school’s trading skill building curriculum which includes a foreign language program for middle school students, art and many extracurricular activities including a music and a choral program; Our Savior offers various after school clubs that include foreign language (Spanish and French), baking club, dance and chess.

If you are interested in what Our Savior has to offer and why this school shines, please come by the winter open house on Saturday, January 28 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. or call to schedule a tour any other day. The school is located at 825 S. Taylor St., Arlington, VA 22204. Our phone number is (703) 892-4846 and our web address is osva.org.

The preceding was written and sponsored by Our Savior Lutheran School.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 23, 2016 at 6:00 am 0

Fusion Academy is a private middle and high school, but don’t be quick to envision uniforms and lecture halls. At Fusion, classes are one-to-one: just one student and one teacher per classroom. This allows for the personalization of curriculum for each individual student’s strengths, interests, and learning style.

This education model was born of frustration with the status quo, and out of a passionate belief in the power of positive relationships to unlock academic potential. This unique, relationships-based school began when founder, Michelle Rose Gilman, began tutoring and mentoring students out of her home in Solana Beach, CA.

After demand outgrew their space, Gilman and her teachers moved into a building and expanded their offerings to be the private, accredited, one-to-one school Fusion is today. In 2010 the first campus replication opened in Los Angeles, CA, and the model has grown exponentially since to 39 campuses across the country in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington D.C., and Virginia. The Washington D.C. campus opened in June, and locations in Alexandria and Tysons will be opening soon.

The educational experience at Fusion is completely customized to ignite a student’s passion for learning. Classes are self-paced, and course material is presented in ways that suit students’ individual interests, strengths, and challenges. It was modeled around the needs of students who weren’t finding their place in more traditional school environments – whether they struggled with mild learning differences, social issues, the rigid scheduling of more traditional schools, or the boredom of a classroom not geared to accelerated learners.

Along with personalized curriculum, Fusion’s one-to-one teaching model also allows for the customization of scheduling. Students may enroll at any time of the year, and take classes at a time of day that works best for them, which appeals to students who have demanding schedules outside of school because of sports or artistic involvement.

Each campus includes a state-of-the-art recording studio and mixed-media art studio for students to express their creativity, and two Homework Café® spaces, one silent and one social, where students complete their homework before leaving for the day.

Some students enroll full time, while others utilize Fusion’s tutoring and mentoring services. Families also turn to Fusion to support their homeschooling efforts by taking classes for credit like world languages and lab sciences. Beyond academics, Fusion partners with outside therapeutic professionals to support students’ emotional health and help foster a balanced life.

From algebra to yoga and everything in between, Fusion offers over 250 middle and high school courses, all of which meet state standards. Creative expression is at the core of Fusion, as they understand the pivotal role it plays in students’ well being. They offer a robust roster of elective classes like DJ Performing Arts, Graphic Design, Music Theory, Vocal Fundamentals, Recording Arts, Digital Photography, Film Studies, and more.

The Alexandria campus will be opening soon at 333 John Carlyle St., and are enrolling students now. Connect with them at FusionAlexandria.com or by calling 866.350.4678.

The preceding was written and sponsored by Fusion Academy.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 26, 2016 at 7:30 am 0

Looking for a small, affordable, private, Christian day school with a small town community feel? Can you appreciate a school which begins each day with the students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing My Country ‘Tis of Thee? Then please come visit the open house at Our Savior Lutheran School, which will be held Thursday, April 28th from 9:00-11:00 a.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Come see a hidden gem of a school which has been in the heart of Arlington providing education and service since 1952. The school is conveniently located close to the Pentagon and Route 50 in Arlington.

Grades Pre-K (age 4 by September 30) through 8th grade are offered with very small class sizes (only 20 students per class). The elementary school grades have self-contained classrooms, while the middle school is departmentalized. The school also has one of the lowest tuition rates in Northern Virginia. The dedicated, caring teachers work hand-in-hand with an active community of families which make this school thrive.

Students are encouraged to start a life of service through various opportunities:

  • Weekly Chapel offerings are designated to various groups in need for our neighbors in Arlington and around the world
  • Walk for the Homeless and preparing bag meals for ASPAN
  • Letters to pen pals (elderly members of the church congregation)
  • Stop Hunger Now — the entire school helped prepare dry meals to send overseas
  • Pairing middle schoolers and kindergarteners as chapel buddies
  • Sixth graders begin and start the day by raising the American flag and assisting with the Kiss-N-Ride line
  • Our Savior also offers many extracurricular activities including a music and a choral program, After school clubs that include foreign language (Spanish and French), and a baking club.

If you are interested in what Our Savior has to offer and why this school shines, please come by the Open House on Thursday, April 28th from 9:00-11:00 a.m. and  6:00-8:00 p.m. or call to schedule a tour any other day.

The school is located at 825 S. Taylor St., Arlington, VA 22204 Phone: (703) 892-4846, osva.org.

The preceding post was written and sponsored by Our Savior Lutheran School.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 1, 2016 at 8:00 am 0

The following article was written and sponsored by Sean Aiken of BASIS Independent McLean.

As the father of a young child and the founding Head of School at BASIS Independent McLean in Tysons, Va., I know firsthand how often parents ask themselves, “Is my child set up for success?” The key to laying the foundation for academic success is to ensure that preschoolers’ young, active minds are soaking up as much as possible. We want our kids to possess a joyful love of learning, and the best place to start is to expose their natural curiosity to as many kinds of thinking as possible.

Any good preschool will inspire and challenge your young learner, but there are many different ways to enhance their capacity to think critically and harness their creativity at home. I recently talked with Kate Briscoe, director of the Early Learning Program at our sister school, BASIS Independent Brooklyn, who shared five creative, easy activities for parents to do at home with preschoolers to keep the learning juices flowing:

MAKE CHECKING THE WEATHER A FAMILY RITUAL

When checking the weather becomes a regular routine with your child, you begin establishing any number of critical thinking skills: Categorization, cause and effect, variable conditions – the list goes on. “Keep a colorful chart to track and recognize days when the temperature gets colder and warmer and discuss why that might be happening. Is there a connection between clouds and weather? Are there clouds on sunny days? What about when it is raining?” Kate says. Take these observations and ask your child how they apply to specific actions. What clothes do we need today if it is snowing? What activities can we safely play outside?

PRACTICE WRITING IN DIFFERENT MEDIUMS

Let’s be honest, 4-year-olds like getting messy. “Put out a bowl of sugar and encourage them to practice writing numbers and letters, then have them try in shaving cream and rice. This helps students develop fine motor skills and is, of course, a ton of fun,” says Kate. “How does your finger feel when you move it through the sugar rather than the shaving cream or rice? What do you notice about the texture of the different materials (smooth and cool shaving cream versus bumpy rice versus grainy sugar)? Why does the shaving cream keep its shape?” Remember your compare and contrast essays in college? Same thing, but much gooier.

TURN BATH TIME INTO A SINK OR FLOAT EXPERIMENT

Kate shares, “At bath time, talk about which toys sink or float. How many objects can you put onto a floating toy before it sinks? Bonus points to the parents who use terms like buoyancy and gravity!” And I know some of us remember the old Letterman skit “Will It Float?,” so more adventurous parents may want to extend the game to other household items. Old veggies sitting in your crisper? Dad’s sandals? (Fair warning, if you play this game frequently, keep track of your cell phone!)

COOK WITH YOUR CHILD

There are so many learning experiences to be had through cooking: Measuring accurately with utensils of different sizes, working on numeracy and literacy, taste testing different foods for salty and sweet flavors and hypothesizing what happens when cookies are left in the oven too long (and why). Not only can you foster healthy food choices, but you plant images into your child’s memory that will help them quickly grasp states of matter, energy conversions and algebra later on. “If the recipe says we need three eggs, and we only have one, how many do we need to buy at the store?”

TURN HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS INTO PHYSICS EXPERIMENTS

You’d be surprised at how many different physics properties can be demonstrated with a yard stick and a few different balls. Show your preschooler how tilting the yardstick creates different slopes and affects how far balls will roll. What happens when you roll a marble versus a ping-pong ball? What happens when you roll the ball on a rug versus a smooth surface? Speed, acceleration, friction, inertia – these concepts aren’t scary the way they seem in most high schools, and your preschooler can prove it to you!

Sean Aiken is the founding Head of School of BASIS Independent McLean, a new preschool-grade 12 independent school located at 8000 Jones Branch Drive in Tysons Corner, VA. BASIS Independent Schools, located in New York City, Silicon Valley and now Northern VA offer a world-acclaimed, liberal arts, STEM-focused course of study. Learn more at mclean.basisindependent.com.

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