Four Educational Engagement Tips

March 28, 2020 by Bill Ivey

Inspired by a document to support homeschoolers created several years ago by Apple Gifford, Director of the Learning Center and shared with the faculty, here are some quick tips on supporting educational engagement.

  1. Flexibility and Patience. This is a learning process for all of us. As carefully as we teachers are planning, we are well aware we will need to make adjustments en route. Similarly, each student will be adjusting to this new learning environment at different rates and in different ways. Flexibility and patience on the part of all of us – students, teachers, and families – will help us focus on working positively through the inevitable bumps both major and minor, be these technological, academic, and/or emotional.
  2. Organization. Each student will need to come up with a space for remote classes that is conducive to learning, and will need and/or seek different levels of support from parents depending on age and other factors. Getting this space organized will involve different devices depending on your location and quality of service, and may involve additional materials such as books, pens, paper, art supplies, and so on. Check to see what is in the background when your student is online as this will also be visible to others in the class. This remote learning space may or may not be able to double as a study space, but any study space you and/or your student design would have similar needs. Minimizing distractions is extremely important. Phones may help if students are forming study groups and genuinely focusing on their work; at the same time, some families may prefer/need to monitor or restrict phone usage.
  3. Comfort – both physical and emotional. Remote learning and study spaces should be as comfortable as possible. We will be working to integrate chances for exercise and active movement into the day, and this too can contribute to emotional health. Students will probably need frequent breaks. While teachers and advisors are always conscious of the need for emotional support, families obviously play the primary and most critical role here. The more students can relax and focus on their work, the more they will learn. At the same time, learning may periodically need to take a back seat to emotional needs or family responsibilities.
  4. Communication. If your student needs additional support in any way, especially academic and/or emotional, encourage them to reach out to their teachers or advisor. If you see stress building over a few days, or if you have other questions and thoughts, please feel free to reach out on your own to your student’s advisor.

We are working hard to ensure students’ academic, social, and emotional needs are being met to the best of our ability. We have a strong and close community, and look forward to partnering with you all to make this period of remote learning a success.

Filed Under: Self-Care, pedagogy, Remote Learning

International Women's Day 2020

March 05, 2020 by Bill Ivey

100 Nights has come and gone and we are now in the final stretch to graduation. Tears have dried, laughter has faded, but the memories of both remain along with the vision of happy and proud seniors celebrating their connections to each other and to the entire SBS community.

Filed Under: International Women's Day, Class of 2020, 100 Nights

World Day of Social Justice 2020

February 20, 2020 by Bill Ivey

In a combined middle school advisory yesterday, Sam Torres ‘08, the faculty advisor to Community Alliance, led the students in watching and discussing “I Am Not Your Asian Stereotype,” a TEDx talk by Canwen Xu.

Filed Under: Middle School, anti-racism, social justice, Middle Level Education, World Day of Social Justice

Black History Month at SBS

February 12, 2020 by Maeve Ryan

Students in SBS' Students of Color (SOC) Affinity Group have been highlighting prominent black females in honor of Black History Month. Below is some of the research they've done and shared with the school. Some of these important activists include the founders of Black Lives Matter, and change makers like Ruby Bridges and Septima Pionsette Clark who fought for desegregation in schools and the right to vote for women of color. Read below to learn more about these powerful females.

Opal Tometi 

Opal is a globally recognized human rights advocate, strategist and writer of Nigerian-American descent. She has been active in social movements for over 15 years, and is widely known for her role as a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and for her years of service as the Executive Director of the United States first national immigrant rights organization for people of African descent – the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI).

A millennial trailblazer and immigration policy expert, Opal is respected for her creativity and bold leadership. Her contributions as a leading public figure are grounded in service, and include being a member of the international coordinating council for Africans Rising for Peace and Dignity , serving on the board of the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity and Steering Committee of the Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights. Through these types of efforts and more, Opal strengthens the power of Black communities throughout the world to combat structural racism and all forms of injustice. 

Tometi holds a Masters degree in Communications and is a racial justice communications consultant. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she came of age in the deserts of Arizona. Although often traveling around the globe to support human rights initiatives she currently resides in New York where she loves riding her single speed bike and collecting African art.

Patrisse Cullors 

Cullors was born in Los Angeles, California. She grew up in Pacoima, a low-income neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. She became an activist early in life, joining the Bus Riders Union as a teenager. She later earned a degree in religion and philosophy from UCLA. She teaches at Otis College of Art and Design in the Public Practice Program. She also teaches in the Master's of Arts in Social Justice and Community Organizing at Prescott College.

Along with community organizers and friends Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, Cullors founded Black Lives Matter. The three started the movement because of frustration over George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Cullors wrote the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to corroborate Garza's use of the phrase in making a Facebook post about the Martin case. Cullors further described her motivation for pushing for African-American rights as stemming from her 19-year-old brother being brutalized during imprisonment Los Angeles County jails.

Cullors credits social media as instrumental in revealing violence against African Americans, saying: "On a daily basis, every moment, black folks are being bombarded with images of our death ... It's literally saying, 'Black people, you might be next. You will be next, but in hindsight it will be better for our nation, the less of our kind, the safer it will be.

Alicia Garza

Alicia Garza was born on January 4, 1981 and is an American civil rights activist. She is from Oakland, California and grew up in Oakland in a mixed-race household with a white Jewish father and a black mother. She organized the issues of health, student services and rights, rights for domestic workers, ending police brutality, anti-racism, and violence against trans and gender non-conforming people of color. Her most notable moment is for co-founding the Black lives matter movement along with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. 




Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges was born on September 8, 1954 in Mississippi. After Brown vs. Board, the school district made entrance exams for African American students to see whether they could compete academically at white schools. Ruby and five other students passed the exam. Her father didn’t want her to go to the all-white William Frantz Elementary School, a few blocks from their home because of fear for her life but her mother realized that Ruby needed the same education as white people to be successful. Ruby and her mother were escorted by four federal marshals to the school every day that year. She walked past people screaming slurs at her but she later said she only was afraid when she saw a woman holding a black doll in a coffin. She spent her first day in the principal’s office due to the chaos created as angry white parents took their children out of school. Barbara Henry was the only teacher willing to accept Ruby, and all year, she was in a class alone. Ruby ate lunch alone everyday but she never missed a day of school that year. Ruby graduated from a desegregated high school, became a travel agent, married and had four sons. In 1999, Ruby established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote and create change through education. In 2000, she was made an honorary deputy marshal in a ceremony in Washington, DC.





Elizabeth Eckford

Born: October 4, 1941 (age 78 years), Little Rock, AR

Full name: Elizabeth Ann Eckford

Education: Central State University, Little Rock Central High School, Knox College.

Elizabeth Ann Eckford is one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who, in 1957, were the first black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in which the integration of schools at that time came as a result of Brown v. Board of Education. 

On September 4, 1957, Eckford and eight other African American students (known as the Little Rock Nine) made an unsuccessful attempt to enter Little Rock Central High School, which had been segregated. The day after the desegregation due to the lack of telephone and communication Eckford set out to school alone as she didn’t get any information about the change in location (where the students first get together before heading to school). An angry mob surrounded the school that day. Fifteen-year-old Eckford tried to enter the school, while soldiers of the National Guard, under orders from Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, stepped in her way to prevent her from entering. The white teenagers chanted "Two, four, six, eight, we ain't gonna integrate." Elizabeth attempted to go into the school through the mob but was denied entrance. Eckford ran to a bus bench at the end of the block. 

Eckford described her experience: I stood looking at the school— it looked so big! Just then the guards let some white students through. The crowd was quiet. I guess they were waiting to see what was going to happen. When I was able to steady my knees, I walked up to the guard who had let the white students in. He didn't move. When I tried to squeeze past him, he raised his bayonet and then the other guards moved in and they raised their bayonets. They glared at me with a mean look and I was very frightened and didn't know what to do. I turned around and the crowd came toward me. They moved closer and closer. Eventually, she gave up and tried to flee to a bus stop through the mob of segregationists who surrounded and threatened to lynch her. Once Eckford got to the bus stop, she couldn't stop crying but the black glasses she was wearing that day hide her tears and fear from others.  A reporter, Benjamin Fine, having in mind his own 15-year-old daughter, sat down next to Eckford. He tried to comfort her and told her, "Don't let them see you cry." Soon, she was also protected by a white woman named Grace Lorch who escorted her onto a city bus.

Septima Pionsette Clark

Born on May 3, 1898, in Charleston, South Carolina

Died: December 15,1987 in. South Carolina's Johns Island.

Septima Poinsette Clark branched out into social action with the NAACP while working as a teacher. As part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, she set up citizenship schools that helped many African Americans register to vote. In 1919, Clark also joined with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in trying to get the city to hire African-American teachers. By gathering signatures in favor of the change, Clark helped ensure that the effort was successful. Clark soon was directing Highlander's Citizenship School program. These schools helped regular people learn how to instruct others in their communities in basic literacy and math skills. One particular benefit of this teaching was that more people were then able to register to vote (at the time, many states used literacy tests to disenfranchise African Americans). Clark soon was directing Highlander's Citizenship School program. These schools helped regular people learn how to instruct others in their communities in basic literacy and math skills. One particular benefit of this teaching was that more people were then able to register to vote. At the time, many states used literacy tests to disenfranchise African Americans. In 1961, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference(SCLC) took over this education project. Clark then joined the SCLC as its director of education and teaching. Under her leadership, more than 800 citizenship schools were created.

Filed Under: Black Lives Matter, black history month

United Nations Project 2020

February 04, 2020 by Bill Ivey

Filed Under: Middle School, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Middle Level Education, humanities, United Nations, interdisciplinary

Knowledge is Power

January 20, 2020 by Guest Student Author

Filed Under: Martin Luther King Jr, anti-racism, Martin Luther King Day, civil rights

Intersections: What Our Students Need In Tense Times

January 08, 2020 by Bill Ivey

When the United States launched airstrikes that killed General Qasem Soleimani and others shortly before we returned to classes from winter break, I was pretty sure the students in my seventh grade Humanities class would want to talk about it. As I sifted through posts and articles, verifying facts, weighing opinions, I kept in mind these important precepts:

  • My kids would want clarity. What were the facts of what had happened?
  • My kids would want to feel safe. I can’t control world events, but I can help create a classroom atmosphere where my students could honestly say what they were thinking and feeling, knowing there would be things on which they’d all agree and other areas where they would have a range of opinions. 
  • My kids would want hope. Here, I often turn to Mr. Rogers’s famous dictum to “look to the helpers.” I’m also well aware that any concrete action kids can take can also be helpful.
  • My kids would need the comfort of familiar routines.

Filed Under: Middle School, Stress, Intersections

Intersections: Conversations on Social Media

December 17, 2019 by Bill Ivey

In a recent meeting, the Middle School Team discussed how technology in general and social media in particular affects middle schoolers, kicking off what we envision will be a series of deep dive discussions. As always, we will rely on a mix of what experts and the research tell us, and how our day-to-day experience with the students - and conversations with families - further shapes our practice.

Filed Under: Middle School, Technology, Rachel Simmons, Middle Level Education, social media, Rosalind Wiseman, Ana Homayoun, Conversation

Hot Chocolate Run 2019

December 10, 2019 by Bill Ivey

There are typically thousands of people who participate in the annual Hot Chocolate Run in Northampton, Massachusetts. The event raises money for Safe Passage, which serves survivors of domestic violence; this year, the run raised $632,000. Each year, our Community Service Club organizes a group of supporters to volunteer to cheer people on.

Filed Under: community, Community Service, Hot Chocolate Run, Safe Passage

Intersections: Giving Thanks 2019

November 28, 2019 by Bill Ivey

Last night on Twitter, Sara Truebridge (author of Resilience Begins with Beliefs: Building on Student Strengths for Success in School) hosted a #ResilienceChat focused on giving thanks. As always, her questions are well thought-out, and I want to share them here in case y’all would enjoy thinking through your own answers:

Filed Under: Gratitude, Intersections, Thanksgiving