The Weather Station

2021

Recent Writings

  • October

    Grade 3/4 Teacher, Nabia, works with her students on various math problems.

    Growth Through Goals

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    Every year the Board of Directors and I go through a process of identifying goals. The board establishes goals for themselves, while I focus on my leadership goals. Similarly, our teachers are in the process of identifying instructional and team goals, while administrative staff are identifying relevant goals for their work. This goal setting keeps us accountable for the commitment we are making to uphold the overall mission, vision, and values of Fayerweather Street School.
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  • September

    Jay Connolly starts of Soccer Skills with a team stretch.

    FSS Extended Day Back in Action!

    Andrew Campion, Director of Marketing and Communications
    Fayerweather’s Extended Day program has been a staple of our programming for many years. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were forced to forgo these experiences for over a year. This year, however, we are thrilled to see the return of many familiar Extended Day offerings, as well as some exciting new additions.
     
    Fayerweather’s curriculum emphasizes a spirit of exploration and creative problem solving by providing opportunities to learn from direct experiences. The Extended Day program emphasizes these principles across all grade and age levels. In the younger grades, students begin their afternoon by sharing thoughts and ideas before starting experiences through exploration and science, art and acting, or social justice and activism.
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  • Our hallways, classrooms, and cubbies are full again!

    Beginnings

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    Welcome to a new school year! We are excited to see our students! I am always taken aback when I see all of the growth – physically, socially, and mentally – that has occurred over the summer months. From my office window and through the glass doors in the front hallway, I watched as parents made their way to stand in line for COVID testing. Although we are still grappling with this pandemic, I felt the positive energy of joy, enthusiasm, and anticipation of a new school year! As the cars pulled up yesterday morning for the first day of school, and your wonderful children jumped onto the sidewalk, I witnessed the exciting chatter, laughter, nervous smiles, and hands clinging to the legs of parents. I was reminded of why school is so important and critical to children’s lives. This is the place where they can be with peers, teachers, and other important adults to learn the lessons of compromise, collaboration, self-reflection, and connection.
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  • August

    Opening Staff Days: Reflecting Back to Advance Forward

    Andrew Campion, Director of Marketing and Communications
    Fayerweather Staff and Administration began the school year with a day of deep discussion and reflection lead by Julie Jungalwala, founder, and executive director of the Institute for the Future of Learning. Staff reflected on what they learned as individuals, as a team, and as a school during the last year of living and teaching in the pandemic. Lessons learned from the last year helped shape some of the planning for the coming year, as well as personal and professional goals for our staff.
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  • June

    Head of School, Kim Ridley, addressing the audience and Class of 2021.

    Dwell in Possibility

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    On behalf of the Class of 2021, teachers, staff, administrators, the Board of Directors, the President of the Board, Courtney Quinn, Parents, and friends of Fayerweather Street School. Welcome to this celebration of learning, growth, and accomplishments of our 8th grade students! I want to share a few words about values. 
     
    Values inform what I call, ways of being or beliefs. How we show up at school, with our friends, teachers, parents, and so on reflects what we value. Often, our values are operating behind the decisions we make, whether we are aware of them or not.
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  • Board President, Courtney Quinn, addressing the Class of 2021.

    End of the Year Reflections

    Courtney Quinn, Board President
    The end of the school year is always a time of reflection: for students, certainly, but also for the Fayerweather Board, as we take a moment to look back over our work this year and consider our work for the next.
    That spirit of reflection was greatly aided by all the folks who participated in our community survey this year. All of us on the Board appreciated so much the opportunity for a deeper understanding of how the strategic and operational decisions of the school’s leadership were experienced by our families. 
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  • Until We Meet Again!

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    Today we bring closure to a remarkable year, or perhaps even a remarkable year and a half. As we transition from the pandemic, and as we continue to grapple with political, racial, and overall, cultural unrest in our country, what is the role of education in providing clarity around what it means to be an American citizen? How can a school, and education, shine a light on how we have far more to gain by connecting with a common purpose, or what I like to think of as the common good? I am drawn to leading and working in educational settings because I believe that shaping hearts and minds is the purpose of school.
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  • May

    Music To Our Ears

    Rewind the clock back to fall 2020 when the whole school was preparing for a hybrid learning model. Teachers were adapting their curriculum for both in-person and remote learning styles. Each subject matter tackling hurdle after hurdle as they reshaped their lessons for the coming year. In preparing for the start of school, music teacher Kate Lee’s primary focus since day one was the hands-on aspect of music education. Trying new instruments and experimenting has always been essential to her experiential curriculum. However, the reality of ever changing COVID protocols made traditional music collaboration a real challenge.
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  • Students at the GAGA pit

    Lessons from the Coronavirus

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    We are back to in-person school, and for the most part, students seem happy to re-engage with the routine of leaving home to enter another community of peers and other caring adults to get down to the business of formal, spontaneous, and organic learning – the kind of learning that happens best when we are present with one another.
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  • April

    Getting to know Fayerweather through Signature Projects

    Michael Bowler, Assistant Head of School
    I found myself in what surely could only be a dream. . . I was in a room with Indira Gandhi (first female prime minister of India), Berta Caceres (environmental and Indigenous rights leader), Jim Hensen (creator of the Muppets), Mineko Iwasaki (famous geisha), Irene Pepperberg (scientist who trained a bird to talk), Selena Quintanilla (Queen of Tejano music), and Napoleon (French military and political leader). Conversation was flowing naturally as each person talked of challenges from their life that they overcame and how they used their voices to impact their worlds in positive ways. What did I do to deserve a front row seat to these discussions across generations and lifetimes? Thankfully, this wasn’t a dream that I had to wake up from, but rather a wonderful perk of joining the Fayerweather Street School community and getting to experience my first ever 5-6 Biographies project. 
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  • The Practice of Learning

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    I love April Fools Day, as I am a prankster at heart. I love the feeling and laughter that follows one of my pranks. I am the middle child between two brothers, who enjoyed nothing more than getting one over on me with a good trick. I was totally out pranked one Halloween when I was about eight years old. My older brother decided that he would use invisible string to thread a small skeleton that glows in the dark and would hang down like a pendant on a necklace. He placed the invisible string between my room and his and waited for me to fall asleep. I jerked awake as I felt something brush against my nose, only to see this glowing and dangling skeleton that appeared to be floating in mid air. I released a loud scream, and I could hear laughter in the next room. The prank was implemented with precision and success! Needless to say, my brother was in trouble with my parents. I share this story because I want to capture the idea of what we choose to practice grows. The very idea of learning should mean that mastery is something that we are always working towards, and it is never a state to be found. Learning is a process of on-going practice.
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  • March

    Standing in Solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Island Communities

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    Once again, we are witness to the socializing forces of white supremacy culture. The most recent headline of Wednesday, March 17 reads, “8 People Killed in Atlanta-Area Massage Parlor Shootings.” “Six of the people murdered were Asian, and two were identified as white (NY Times).” A 21-year-old from Woodstock, Georgia named Robert Aaron Long has been identified as the murderer. I hope I am wrong about my belief that his actions were motivated by hate, as there is not agreed upon confirmation about the reason for these killings, yet the pattern feels all too familiar. The New York Times indicated that there have been “nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents targeting Asian-Americans nationwide since last March, according to Stop AAPI Hate.” We all know that Asians are being unfairly targeted for bringing the coronavirus to the United States. At least, that is the latest reason!
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  • The Four C’s of 21st Century Education Need to Become Six

    Michael Bowler, Assistant Head of School
    Kim wrote beautifully last week about the reasons why parents are attracted to an independent school education, and, in particular, a Fayerweather education. She spoke of the NAIS “Jobs to be Done” framework/study and the “jobs” that parents hire independent schools to do. Rightfully, she noted that Job 3 was one that resonated with what she has heard from parents most (although there is overlap between the jobs). Job 3 is described from a parent’s perspective as “When a school is focused almost solely on test scores and academic curriculum, help me find a school that will focus on my child’s social and emotional well being so that I can make sure that my child is well-rounded and a productive member of society.” Her writing had me reflecting on what the core principles or competencies of that third job looks like here at Fayerweather. 
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  • Why Do Parents Choose Fayerweather?

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    When I started my headship at Fayerweather an important part of my learning tour was to better understand what attracted parents to FSS. During my first year (2018) I hosted focus groups to listen to parent reflections. The groups consisted of parents with children who represented different grade levels. This was the recipe for a rich discussion and exchange of ideas and information. I observed parents asking each other questions about the experience of students in different grades. As you would expect, these conversations and feedback from parents stimulated many ideas and gave me much to consider.
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  • February

    Mindfulness and Movement at FSS

    Jenn Falk, Yoga Instructor
    What do you think it means to be mindful? What do you think yoga is? Can you pay attention to how you breathe for the count of 10 seconds? Which pose helps you feel calm?
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  • The Problem with Technology

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    I was scrolling through the Atlantic magazine online and came across a 2017 article entitled “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation.” I originally wrote these reflections in preparation for our January Parent Association meeting. Farely and Erin designed several breakout rooms, and overall, we had a thoughtful and productive conversation.
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  • January

    Exploring Identity Through Nature

    Andrew Campion, Director of Marketing and Communications
    Exploring identity in our curriculum is nothing new at Fayerweather. Themes of race, gender, sexual orientation, and economic standing have been woven throughout our curriculum and community. Students are taught to not only share their voice, but that their voice matters. The culmination of this important work on identity can be seen in different examples such as the impassioned Graduation speeches from our Unit students, or in the marches/demonstrations for various causes organized by student activists throughout all grade levels. But the foundations of this curriculum are rooted in the teaching and instruction of our early years.
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  • Facing Mountains

    Andrew Campion, Director of Marketing and Communications
    Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a long-honored tradition at Fayerweather, and while we could not all gather together in the same way, our students and staff still gathered virtually to celebrate Dr. King in a very special way.
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  • Building a “Path to Zero” Together

    Michael Bowler, Assistant Head of School
    Greeting students at morning drop-off this week felt extra-special. There was a special kind of energy in the building this week as students were reunited with classmates and teachers after a winter break and a remote week tied to the necessary testing protocols to ensure a healthy and safe return to school. I know for our older students, they are still eagerly awaiting this reunion with teachers and friends next week. These joyful moments of socialization and learning are happening around campus because of the strong infection-control and mitigation efforts the school has put into place.
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  • Confronting Our Long-Standing National Identity Crisis

    Kim Ridley, Head of School
    Our country is finally confronting our long-standing identity crisis! Who are we? Who is American? Who truly has the power in America? Who has been told they have some power, but now feel they have been minoritized? What does it mean to feel minoritized? What does it feel like to be lied to about who you truly are? What are the historical currents that are foundational to this very moment in time?  I had originally written some reflections on technology. The blog was entitled, “The Problem with Technology.”  Instead I want to say, “thank God for technology” because it has nudged some of us out of a deep sleep (or lack of awareness) into a place of looking in the mirror, and for others, raising our awareness, understanding, and curiosity.
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Fayerweather Street School | 765 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 | 617-876-4746
Fayerweather is a private PreK, kindergarten, elementary and middle school. We engage each child’s intellect.