Category archive

Winter 2022-23

Head’s Lines: Good Choices, Good Learning, Good Growth

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When I visit Park classrooms, or talk with my colleagues, I see and hear the greatest excitement in moments when our students are driving their own learning. They have gone beyond just absorbing knowledge or skills and they are running with it – each in the way they have chosen to take it. Choice itself is fundamental to this – when students have the opportunity to choose, they make learning their own. They make it meaningful, and personal, and it lasts.  

I reflected on this idea in this newsletter in my first year at Park, in March 2019, which compared the “teacher-centered” classroom to a “student-centered” model of instruction, noting that in the latter, “the table is turned and the student leads the inquiry, chooses the application, designs the outcome, and participates in the evaluation of the result.” As I’ve become all the more deeply rooted in the values that make Park “Park,” I know that this learner-centered approach, one in which each student is known and seen, and comes to know themselves well, is at the heart of our educational identity.

…I know that this learner-centered approach, one in which each student is known and seen, and comes to know themselves well, is at the heart of our educational identity.

Choice not only gives students the freedom to define paths of inquiry that excite them most, but it allows them to find the ways to expand and manifest their learning that best suit their learning style. The concept of “differentiated learning” sometimes feels like jargon, but when you consider that the choices students make set each of them on a path of growth and discovery, supported by their teachers, peers and mentors, it’s easy to appreciate the very individuated nature of learning at its best.

Opportunities for learner choice happen every day, at every grade level. Our PreK students, for example, explore inquiry in the PreK Learning Centers, moving from one rich area of discovery to another as their curiosity and attention compels. In Kindergarten and Grade 1, students can begin working on something that draws them, continue that work, or start something new at points throughout their day. In making the choice to begin something, or to walk away from it for now, they are giving their imagination and spirit of discovery so many opportunities to engage, consider, play off the ideas of their peers, and refresh their engagement – naturally.  

By Grade 2, students have choices in deciding the topics they want to pursue through research. What do they find most interesting? Who do they aspire to learn more about? These projects reinforce the skills they are learning, build confidence, and engender a very personalized commitment to the knowledge they pursue and acquire. To be able to say, “THIS is my research, the person I chose” and to present it – that’s a moment of tremendous, individual pride.  In Grades 3 and 4, students are making their own choices on how to present and demonstrate the learning and knowledge they gain through their studies of Indigenous Peoples and of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, and Heroines.

Tina Fox frequently highlights the ways in which choices inspire and develop self advocacy, personal accountability, engagement, ownership, and navigating skills. She notes that “Our youngest learners have fewer opportunities for choice, in general, so the choices they have at school are scaffolded so they can practice decision making,  learn from their decisions, and appreciate the associated positive and negative consequences of those choices.”

Making good choices, however, requires practice. It requires empowerment. Our students need to feel confident in evaluating their options, and have the strength to choose their own paths – intellectually, as well as socially.

By Upper Division, there is so much choice.  Shall I study French, Spanish, Mandarin, or Latin? Do I want to play soccer, join the play, or compete in Robotics? What about Elective classes? Will I join a club? Are affinity and/or alliance spaces an opportunity for me? All these choices, layered on top of the choices made every day in what to read or research or present in class, allow students to individuate all the more fully. As Ken Rogers observes, “Developmentally, choice is critical to crafting and developing identity — who they are and who they want to be.” He notes that “Choice allows students exposure — the ability to experiment and try, to polish, as well as the opportunity to commit and refine. All of these are essential along the path of lifelong learning.”

Making good choices, however, requires practice. It requires empowerment. Our students need to feel confident in evaluating their options, and have the strength to choose their own paths – intellectually, as well as socially. While students choose the world language they wish to study as they approach Grade 6 and stick with it through Grade 8, other choices are revisited again and again, providing multiple opportunities for experimentation and self definition. At an age when so much of one’s self image is often defined through peer relationships, it takes courage to decide to skip a season of basketball and try out for the winter musical, especially in the face of expectation from peers. But taking these risks by making these choices makes room for broader experience and new discoveries. That’s exciting, and it’s a joy to watch.  

As author Heather Wolpert-Gowron shares, “We have, in our very classrooms, the brains that will solve the problems of tomorrow, but to give them training means we have to give their neurons a chance to solve the problems of today.” This is what our students get to practice, every day, with every opportunity to choose.  

What choices did your child have the chance to make today?


The Culture of Care

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The elementary and middle school context puts a very powerful and distinctive lens on the idea of “discipline.” Children of all ages make mistakes. They break things, hurt feelings, step on people’s toes, and in so many other ways cross lines in terms of community expectations – sometimes in small ways, sometimes in bigger ways. Based on what we know about brain development for this age group, it’s important to keep in mind that often, the answer to the question “What WERE you thinking??” is exactly this: they weren’t thinking. Or, more precisely, they don’t know how to think about this particular aspect of human relations – yet.

…it seems important to recognize that while there may also be a place for consequences, the most important aspect of discipline needs to be the teaching that helps children not only understand why a certain action or behavior is unacceptable, but how to grow beyond the mistake, recognizing and restoring the damage they have caused and re-enter the community with confidence.

The word “discipline” is often linked with the idea of punishment. The word, however, draws from the Latin discipulus, which means “student.” The mission of discipline, therefore, is really to teach. The notion of punishment seems to enter in, however, because that teaching often seeks to encourage people to adhere to codes of behavior, or habits of mind – expectations aligning with the way we expect people to treat others. With this in mind, it seems important to recognize that while there may also be a place for consequences, the most important aspect of discipline needs to be the teaching that helps children not only understand why a certain action or behavior is unacceptable, but how to grow beyond the mistake, recognizing and restoring the damage they have caused and re-enter the community with confidence.

In recent years, Park’s Upper Division disciplinary program has focused on restorative practices. “Restoration” needs to happen on several levels.  First, how might the child come to understand why or how their actions created harm? Second, how might the child approach thinking about what they will do the next time they come to a similar intersection? What choices would they make?  Finally, how might they gain the sense of agency to repair the relationship or trust that was broken so that they can feel successful returning to their community.  The big difference between traditional discipline and restorative practices is in making amends and repairing harm–working to attend to the needs of the person harmed AND the one who caused harm.  

At the root of all this is a culture built on care. The student comes to care about the harm they have caused, and to accept the consequences along with the agency to make the necessary repair – and then to move forward. Restorative practices emphasize the importance of care, reflection, and agency at every stage along the way.

Students who enter into the restoration process with a Day of Reflection, for example, begin with a day on campus where they can engage in thoughtful reflection on their own and in conversation with others.  Over the course of the day, division leaders, teachers, advisors, and the head of school stop in for a discussion geared to help students consider their actions, the damage they have caused, how they might repair the harm caused, and how to return to their normal schedule. The conversations are candid, yet supportive, guided by Park’s care for each student’s growth and learning. Depending on the circumstances, there may be other decisions and consequences discussed, yet the intended outcome is the same: giving the student the tools, the agency, and the understanding to move beyond their mistakes in community with others.

A child’s ability to accept consequences is a skill right up there with self-advocacy.

We seek to be very transparent about this – our policies and expectations are clear. We are, however, private about the actual disciplinary process, what is said, done, and what the consequences are. We do this so that there can be room for repair, and for learning – learning that would be short-circuited if the situation devolves immediately into labeling, public shame, and rejection. That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.  A child’s ability to accept consequences is a skill right up there with self-advocacy. It’s learning to see oneself within the social context, understanding both what we need for ourselves and what we owe to others. 

I am always impressed with how students respond to the process, conversations, and most importantly, ownership of their behavior and its impact. When given the opportunity to think and consider, the children realize the importance of pausing “for their brains to catch up with their feelings” and to realize that if there is a next time, they they have the power and control to make better choices.  

The artist of this piece is Oliver G., 23

Miranda Featherstone: Talking to Kids about Sex

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Author and social worker Miranda Featherstone joined us on February 1 to dive into how to talk to kids about bodies, sexuality, reproduction, and gender at every age. Miranda said that while you can’t possibly script and prepare for every conversation, you can use some basic guidelines to prepare for any current and future discussions.

She said, “As with most big issues that come up in parenting, conversations with your kids will be easier if you already have articulated–to yourself, to your co-parent, to those with whom you talk about important parenting decisions–your own values. If you’re not sure, start paying attention to the media and communities around you, and think about your journey of gender, sexual orientation, sexuality, and your relationship to your body. What values do you see reflected in your family’s world? Where do you experience conflict?”

Miranda encouraged parents to consider what information their child needs in their current and future developmental stages. She then encouraged the audience to think about how these things come together in their world. What do you need to add to the messages your children are receiving? Are there messages that you want to qualify or try to interrupt?

She shared some tips for answering questions and having these conversations as they come up:

● Use words like “mostly,” “usually,” and “a lot of the time.”

● Use kid-friendly language, and when possible, avoid introducing new vocabulary AND new ideas together: look to books for examples.

● Answer kids’ questions with as much comfort and frankness as you can muster! Be honest if you need more time or don’t know. Revisit if you have second thoughts about an earlier answer.

● It doesn’t have to be that deep! Answer questions or address things briefly as they arise–in front of your mother-in-law! At the dinner table. You don’t need a quiet, tender moment 🙂

● If your kids don’t ask on their own, you’re not off the hook! Offer digestible information after reading a related book or watching a show or movie where someone has a baby… or a relationship!

● It’s always a good idea to find out what a kid already knows before offering any information.

Miranda shared the books and resources below to consult as you navigate these topics, below.

Resources for Kids & Caregivers

➛ Books for kids & teens (and for caregivers):

Preschool-Elementary: Tyler Federer’s Bodies Are Cool, and Lizzie DeYoung Charbonneau’s Your Whole Body Book

Elementary: Rachel Brian’s Consent (for Kids!)— Also recommended: the author’s book on worries!

Ages 4-10: Robie Harris’s less inclusive but more concrete trilogy (It’s Not The Stork, It’s So Amazing, and It’s Perfectly Normal)

Ages 8-10: Cory Silverberg’s trilogy (What Makes A Baby, Sex Is A Funny Word, and You Know, Sex)

Ages 8-12: Sonya Renee Taylor’s Celebrate Your Body (And Its Changes, Too!) and Rachel Simon’s The Every Body Book

➛ Resource (for caregivers): National Sex Education Standards (2nd Edition):

➛ Podcasts (for caregivers): The Puberty Podcast

➛ Instagram (for caregivers): @sexpositive_families @givingthetalk @kristinbhodson @talkyounevergot

➛ Websites (for teens and caregivers) and

By Sarah Muncey

A Little Love for Park

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 Park Perspectives has collected some tiny love stories (inspired by the Modern Love column in the NY Times) about Park to share with our community on Valentine’s Day. In Friday Notes, we asked community members to share in 100 words or less,  about a moment, a faculty or staff member, a Park experience, or an aspect of the community that warms their heart. Thank you to everyone who participated, and we hope their stories warm yours!

To: Kung-Yi Chang

Our son loves to come home and try to repeat the jokes you tell in your Math class, sometimes he can’t stop laughing to get out the punchlines – thanks for making learning so happy! – An Upper Division Parent

An Ode to Park

On weekends, we drove past you so many times, your serene lush fields beckoning quietly. A decade later, destiny brought us together as our daughter embarks on the middle school experience. As we start our first year together, we love you for the tight, luminescent community forged from your diverse families. We love you for your teachers, who mold our children into capable achievers and fuel their curiosity. We love you for always going above and beyond: with enthusiasm, wit and compassion, you have won our child’s heart—and for that, we will always be grateful. – Jana Minn

A love letter to Mr. T and Park ice hockey

We have two extremely inexperienced ice hockey players. Let’s just say our girls can barely skate. They expressed interest in joining Park’s hockey team two days after practice started. Mr. T caught wind of this, found them at lunch, instructed them to meet him at the supply closet, and got them suited up with extra equipment in no time. He made two newbies feel extremely welcome. (Parents may be less grateful given the 6:30 a.m. ice time!) – Tracy Richmond

To: David Perry

Is there anything better than a Social Studies teacher who plays the guitar and keeps school fun (in the midst of dreary winter rainy days?) – An Upper Division Parent

To: Every educator

As new parents to Park this year, have deeply appreciated the strong SEL and DEIB education. We talk excitedly about the true history of Indigenous People’s Day, listen to compositions by African American composer Florence Prince…all as new ways of seeing the world gathered from lessons garnered at Park.  It is obvious that my son is exposed to so much care at school and that that in turn is cultivating his empathy and inquiry skills and his appreciation for the art crafting spaces for belonging.  Thank you to every educator who models the possibility of connection and reflection each day. – Helen Wang

To: Lila Austin

Your patience, thoughtfulness, advocacy, and expertise have redefined what we thought was possible for our child at school, both academically and emotionally. You have done what we could not, and it matters more than one million words could express. – A Park Family

To: Jay Tebbens

You saw our son through a pretty rough day when he lost his cool, helped him recover his balance, and welcomed him back to the group – you are a kind and compassionate person, thank you! – An Upper Division Parent

To: Elena Pereira

Books! So many books! Thank you for always knowing what to recommend next to keep our kids reading, reading, reading. Before we joined Park our kids would get “stuck” a lot in one or two series of books because it was easy just to keep reading what they knew. Now they read so many different things, and no offense to Geronimo Stilton, but it’s been an absolute joy to see their worlds expand. When we ask what they’re reading these days, they often finish with “Ms. Pereira recommended it to me!” – An Upper Division Family

To: Kyra Fries

Thank you for bringing laughter, play, and creativity into our kids’ days and showing them what they can create when they work together and lift each other up. You make magic! – An Upper Division Parent

To: Park

Park, what struck me the very first time we visited you is that every teacher — in fact everyone that works at Park, from admin to the dining room team — is genuinely excited to be there. Your teachers’ eyes sparkle when they talk about their students and what they’re currently doing in the classroom. It’s an unabashed passion for learning that passes down to your students. Your staff and faculty are magical, Park! I’m grateful every day for their hard work and commitment.  — A Park Parent

Rosetta Lee: Parenting with Identity in Mind

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On January 18, nationally renowned diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioner Rosetta Lee spent an afternoon talking with Park faculty and staff, and then led a workshop with parents and guardians. While the afternoon session focused on how to engage in Courageous Conversations, and the evening session centered on “Parenting with Identity in Mind,” the common thread through both sessions was the importance of listening, of seeing through the eyes of others, for making space for uncertainty, growth, and appreciation, and for modeling and coaching humility. Her visit was made possible by the generosity of the Park community in funding the SPARK Campaign’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, and was organized by Park’s DEI office. Filled with candor, humanity, and no small amount of humor, both events provided the audiences with knowledge, strategies, and support for how we can best deliver Park’s mission together.

Park’s DEI Office treated parents and guardians to a captivating workshop with Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee, renowned consultant, educator, and activist, on the topic of identity development and the ways in which caregivers can support children in this journey. The evening workshop followed an afternoon session held with Park faculty and staff, creating a thread of continuity from classroom to home about a topic that is unique to every one of us and yet entirely universal to all. 

Rosetta Lee was a pervasively warm, frequently hilarious presenter, sharing insights into the ways in which identity develops over time — from innocence and self-esteem in the very young child through a discovery process of internal, external, and institutional identity markers that are privileged or marginalized by society. Identity is complex, multilayered, and ever-evolving, with Lee noting that no one holds a 100 percent privileged nor marginalized identity.

Rosetta urged parents and guardians to initiate conversations about identity and difference with children as soon as possible, approaching them openly and age-appropriately. For caregivers of younger children, that might look like:

  • modeling curiosity and delight around new experiences, such as food, music, places
  • pausing while reading picture books to discuss bias in plot or character portrayal
  • being intensely proud without chauvinism —  “don’t yuck someone else’s yum”

For middle schoolers, parents and guardians more effectively support identity development as a coach — rather than teacher — by:

  • sharing own experiences and struggles
  • challenging ideas about identity
  • remaining steady through a tumultuous self-discovery phase 

Older children need adults in a consultant role, experts at holding space for conversations about specific aspects of identity development, such as:

  • gender and sexuality stereotypes
  • personal/familial values and boundaries (acknowledging that older children may push against these as they define their own)
  • the role of social media in privileging or marginalizing dimensions of identity

Rosetta recognized the common fears that keep us from engaging in candid, often difficult conversations, but encouraged parents and guardians to find a way forward. 

This workshop, held in conjunction with a similarly valuable workshop for faculty and staff earlier in the day, was the first time in quite a while that Park was able to organize parallel speaker experiences for both employees and parents and guardians. The evening’s discussion with a nationally renowned, engaging presenter was such a gift to all who were able to attend that I feel sad that more parents and guardians were not able to participate. I understand the complexity of competing commitments and schedules, and honestly, I require a rousing pep talk to leave the house again when it’s cold and dark … AND I know that intentional conversation about identity within our entire school community is as important as any academic support I can give my kiddos. 

Inclusivity will be a determining success factor for our children as they move into the world beyond Park, with colleges and workplaces insisting on proficient cultural competency and a demonstrated understanding of diversity, equity, and social justice issues. It’s an effort worth making to engage in as many DEI discussion and education opportunities as possible, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because community-wide parent and guardian involvement is fundamental to delivering our school’s DEI philosophy for the success of all students.

By Nerissa Fry, Park Perspectives PA co-editor

In her work with faculty and staff, Rosetta humanized the common fears that keep us from engaging in the difficult, courageous conversations that encourage us to recognize and articulate challenges and find ways to move forward. With personal anecdotes and the sharing of her own learning, she helped frame ways in which we can all lean into accountability and care – accountability, because we need to be willing to step into learning and growth, but also care, so that we feel safe doing so.

She talked, for example, about how, as a Korean-American woman, she might lean into the discomfort engendered by a friend who always jokes that “of course Rosetta is good at math.” She might say, “When you say that, I feel sad, because I worked very hard studying for that test. I’d rather you didn’t joke about it.” She talked about her own dawning understanding of ableism when learning from a deaf friend of real obstacles he faced that she’d never considered. Rosetta highlights “vulnerability” as the starting place for all courageous growth, yet also reminds us to be “safe” and “smart.” She reminded us that people come from different places in their learning, leading with facts vs. emotion, moral conviction vs. socially-motivated action, and they can be in different places in their ability to engage with difference. We will find that some friends and colleagues are very receptive to learning and engaging – they are valuable “the 2.0 people in your life,” while others are the 1.0 people you encounter; you recognize that difference and choose where to invest your trust accordingly. She notes, “We have been socialized in the fairytale of happy endings,” and sometimes it doesn’t work like that. 

Yet she also highlights the importance of moving beyond “binary thinking” to embrace “polarity” – the state of having two opposite, even contradictory opinions or aspects. We can believe in both free speech and inclusive speech. We can believe in both diversity and unity, safety and bravery, change and tradition – if we are willing to “sit in the gray areas,” listen and trust. Rosetta’s energy, positive spirit, warmth, and humor engaged everyone in constructive thinking about how we can best step into this important growth.

By Suzy Akin, Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications


Find Rosetta Lee’s suggested identity resources here.

Rosetta Lee is a teacher, trainer, speaker, facilitator, educator, and activist. Since 2004, she has been a diversity speaker and trainer on a variety of topics, including cross cultural communication, identity development,implicit and unconscious bias, gender and sexuality diversity, facilitation skills, and bullying in schools. Rosetta has presented at numerous conferences and nonprofit organizations such as the White Privilege Conference, Junior League, and City Year. She has also worked with over 200 K–12 public and independent schools throughout the country, as well as a number of colleges and universities. She has served several years on the faculty of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Diversity Leadership Institute, as well as NAIS’ diversity think-tank cadre, Call to Action.

Learn more about Rosetta Lee here.

What it Means to Have Impact: A Journey of Discovery in Grade 8 Social Studies

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One of the gifts of being back on campus “in person” is the opportunities this provides for chance conversations  – in the hallways, in the dining hall – about what’s happening in the classroom. In the early weeks of school, once such conversation opened up wonderful insight into not only WHAT was happening in Grade 8 social studies…but WHY.  

Grade 8 teacher Nick Young teaches both English and Social Studies, and the threads running between the two disciplines often intertwine, bringing storytelling and writing together within the process of considering our place in society, within history, and in the world. Now in his second year at Park, he opens up the academic year with a Time Capsule project. It’s an engaging, hands-on, fun project that gets students thinking about Park, about their middle school experience, and most importantly, begins challenging them to articulate how they see themselves.

Each member of the class was invited to contribute a letter to their later Grade 8 selves. While this year’s time capsules are made of non-perishable materials, last year’s, constructed of wood and buried on the edge of the Main Field, held up to New England’s elements less well than hoped. “They rotted,” Nick says, and so some of the reflections, when revisited in May, were a tad soggy. Nick observes that this was a compelling lesson in and of itself, noting that “sometimes, history speaks clearly…and sometimes it does not.” The perishable nature of first person experience – not just now, but in ages past – reminds us that we can only know and only interpret so much from the evidence left behind.

Grade 8 is a tremendous year of growth, as young people evolve from eager middle schoolers to students truly ready for high school. Upon re-reading their earlier thoughts, many students said “I can’t believe I wrote that.” 

Even so, the exercise of sitting down to reflect on what each Grade 8 student aspires for themselves over the course of this formative year is, in and of itself, significant, and luckily, Nick kept copies of what they wrote. Grade 8 is a tremendous year of growth, as young people evolve from eager middle schoolers to students truly ready for high school. Upon re-reading their earlier thoughts, many students said “I can’t believe I wrote that.” 

“I feel very caught up in the 8th grade jump,” Nick says, “and the project is very tied into the work of self-discovery.” The class then moved on into their “Moth” unit, inspired by the Moth Story Hour, which takes this notion of discovery to another level as it challenges students to consider “the things we carry” that shape how we see and interact with the world.  Each student began by creating a map that focused on some kind of change at the center of a story. That story could be deeply personal – the change brought on by a diagnosis of cancer in the family – or seemingly trivial – the accidental killing of a goldfish – but the process of performing their stories challenged students to focus inward, and to do the work of understanding how they were changed by an experience.

While the thoughtful probing this work required seems relevant to a writing exercise an English class might require, how does it align with the goals of social studies? Nick explains that the Grade 8 social studies curriculum delves into American government, and topics like civil rights, and these early projects help students cultivate a lens with which to understand how we see and think about the world as changemakers, and as scholars who want to make an impact. 

The class has now launched into the study of “civics,” building a useful understanding of how the American government works because, as Nick observes, “to change things you need to understand how things work.” Students come to understand our country’s founding ideals and what constitutes the framing ideas of democracy.  They began by engaging in very open ended discussions of what they think an ideal democracy should look like and what it should provide.  “Free food and free housing for everyone!” “Free healthcare!” Our students’ aspirations are grand. Further discussions, however, raise questions that move them from how you might ideally structure society to larger questions about how the Constitution works, how the Electoral College functions, the role played by gerrymandering, and ultimately to “Does democracy as America practices it live up to our founding ideals?”

In the classroom, Nick explains, they debate which ideas are good, and which aren’t. He tries to color the information as little as possible – noting that they bring so much of that to the conversation themselves.

When many of us were in school, the structure of American democracy was lionized. These days, it’s very mainstream to ask, “Is that democracy?” Nick says, “Our students have more of a blank canvas to work with.”  In the classroom, Nick explains, they debate which ideas are good, and which aren’t. He tries to color the information as little as possible – noting that they bring so much of that to the conversation themselves. For example, when presented with how the Electoral College functions in practice, students have visceral reactions ranging from “I don’t see what the fuss is about; it’s been in place for over 200 years” to “This is definitely not democratic.” Nick notes, “All I need to do is present the Declaration of Independence and they do the rest.” As students contemplate the idea that we “are endowed..with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” it inspires them to think deeply about what a truly civic society might look like. 

This line of thinking builds toward the culminating Grade 8 “Advocate” project, a capstone research project on a social justice issue.  Social Studies department chair Chris Beeson says the Advocate project was designed to provide students a chance to take what they’ve learned about how change happens in society, and apply it to a cause or an issue they care about. Students spend the spring term exploring case studies on social change – through the court system, through protest, through organizing that leads to new laws, through education, and other ways in which people engage to make change happen. Then, students choose an issue that is personally meaningful to them. Food insecurity. Animal rights. Climate justice…their choices range widely. Chris explains, “Students research their chosen issue to understand its roots, as well as what efforts people have made in the past to address the issue. Then, they try to design their own project to take on the challenge.”

Student efforts to enact social change have taken many forms over the years – from poster campaigns to letter writing campaigns, fundraisers, environmental clean up events, activist art projects, educational websites, social media campaigns, and more. Helping students build their “media literacy” is also important, as their research takes them beyond the carefully curated materials provided by Park teachers or librarians, so they need to develop skills in evaluating sources, considering the implicit biases sources may carry, as well as the accuracy and value of the information they provide.

What’s exciting, Chris says, is that students really take ownership of their own learning. 

What’s exciting, Chris says, is that students really take ownership of their own learning. As an educator who sees “social studies” as “a place where we develop citizens,” he notes, “it’s exciting to see students practicing what it means to be an active citizen, engaging with the world to make it a better place.”

The project also aligns with the values highlighted in The Park Portrait, particularly when we think about what it means to be a “practiced advocate” and a “mindful leader.” What does it mean to advocate for civil rights? What does it mean to lead, mindful of the fact that we are part of something larger than ourselves? The Grade 8 curriculum certainly helps students acquire knowledge, and they acquire it in a way that makes it meaningful, useful, and lasting.

Asked what he aspires to accomplish with his Grade 8 students, Nick first notes that “Middle School is so tumultuous, and any day that a student can learn and have fun in Middle School feels like a big win,” especially when they are living with the pressures of social media and of secondary school applications. He hopes his students will both feel good about themselves and feel confident in their skills. With the strength of their experience in history and civics, students can be ready to be analytical thinkers and thoughtful leaders, armed with the knowledge and understanding of the systems that frame our society. “We have the next generation of leaders here in these classrooms,” he says, “and they need to be well equipped for the task!”  

“On our best days,” Nick reflects, “the students in class are pulling apart ideas of democracy, and they are excited and motivated to make the world a better place.”

From Project REASON to Merrowvista: How Park Students Experience the Great Outdoors

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For over 40 years, students arrived at Park in the wee hours of an autumn morning to board a bus with classmates and chaperones for a sleepaway trip: Project REASON. REASON stood for Resource and Environmental Awareness through the Study Of Nature. It was a trip that introduced Park students to life in the great outdoors, away from their families, and most importantly, out of their comfort zone. There was little to no indoor space and no showers. Students and staff cooked together in a small kitchen for a group of over 50 people. It was a labor of love from faculty and staff, who prepared for the trip months in advance.

In the late 80s and early 90s, “Project Adventure” and other similar collaboration games were all the rage. Project REASON was born from the push to introduce the outdoor education movement in schools and help young learners to explore. Linda Knight, a physical education teacher and PE department head at Park in the 80s, had a connection to Southern New Hampshire and decided to look in that area for a location to host the group. Linda found the perfect location at Camp Marienfeld in Chesham, NH. Students arrived with a variety of comfort levels for the trip: some had never spent much time outside of a city, while others shared that they camped every summer with their families. Many members of Park’s staff still refer to the trip as their “favorite week of the year” and feel they gained more insight into their students and coworkers.

“I had never been away from my parents like that before and some of my classmates hadn’t either. I helped my friend face his fears of being away from home after dark when we went to sleep in our cabin. We played games and told stories. Helping him overcome his fears made me realize that I could do it too.”

Harrison L, Grade 6

As much as Park faculty loved the experience, they also came to recognize that it was a tremendous challenge to put the trip together on top of the rest of their Park responsibilities. With this in mind, Project REASON eventually transitioned to a new program at Merrowvista Campgrounds in Tuftonboro, NH, as Park sought to release staff from sole ownership of the trip planning. Merrowvista offers a full-time knowledgeable team onsite with more activities for students to choose from. With indoor and outdoor facilities, the options are limitless: rain or the rare snowflake have no chance of stopping the fun-filled trip. The program has a summer camp atmosphere, and creates an intentional experience for all students to experience nature, make discoveries and overcome fears. While there are many camps targeted at elementary and high school-aged kids, Merrowvista’s staff understand sixth graders at their core.


Upon arrival, the Merrowvista team whisks the students away for the immediate launch of collaborative, community-building games. Without exception, the sixth graders are captivated, fully locked on to the new faces, as they dive into the tasks. Park faculty are observers, taking note of student engagement. From the very first moment, Park teachers are there to support, and Merrowvista staff (with infinite patience) take the reins. They wait for quiet, even if it takes more time than they hoped. They don’t mind confusion but ensure that it always leads to clarification. They encourage questions. They redirect as necessary and celebrate regularly. They inspire respect and require kindness. Park students and teachers alike benefit from their modeling.

The bulk of the time at Merrowvista is spent in structured activity blocks – high and low ropes courses, group challenge activities, and a spectacular hike. For chaperones, watching the students face these challenges and then find their way to success is one of the many rewarding reasons to go on this trip. It’s a chance to connect one on one with students and get to know them as individuals, outside of Park. Fall foliage is stunning from the peak above the camp, and on a clear day, voices can echo from the mountain back to students in their other activities. The first evening includes a night walk and a campfire. What can they see when it’s dark?  How do Lifesavers spark? What is the best way to toast a marshmallow and how might you optimize melted chocolate?

“My favorite experience was our night walk. We didn’t bring any lights and relied on our eyes as they adjusted to the darkness. Our group leader showed us if we rubbed two quartz rocks together we would make them glow. Did you know that pirates wore eye patches so that one eye would be adjusted to the darkness when they went below deck?”

Asher B, Grade 6

A highlight for many students is the dishwashing experience, and we swear it’s a highlight for teachers as well. While there may be some groans at the beginning, once the music starts, the fun begins. Those on the outside observe with envy as students sing and laugh with their arms up to elbows in bubbles. One lucky participant gets to use the massive sprayer – neighbors beware! And the dishes get clean!  

In the afternoons, the Merrowvista staff takes a well-deserved break, and Park teachers are on duty for low-key games. Students can play cards or board games, read quietly, or take to the soccer field or basketball court. Though their age shows, many teachers jump into the games, much to the students’ delight. This downtime feels as important as all of the structured activities. Students find themselves in games with new friends or trying a new sport. It can be hard to peel them away when it’s time to start setting up for dinner.

The final fire is steeped in tradition, one that becomes automatically inclusive for the students experiencing it for the first time. They enter quietly into a round amphitheater space with a roaring bonfire. They have been asked to prepare reflections based on the Park mission and motto. The first two groups reflect on simplicity and sincerity. Others talk about curiosity, creativity, hard work, and joy, connecting their themes to experiences they’ve had at Merrowvista. The speakers are thoughtful and at times profound, illustrating the growth they’ve shown over two short days.  The energy then shifts for the song contest! The groups have prepared a variety of songs ranging from sing-alongs to silly call-and-response songs to top 10 pop hits. This year, not one but TWO groups managed to Rick Roll the crowd. Joy illuminates individual faces, glowing in the firelight. Giggles echo through the space as many voices become one.

“They told us that we are going to do a new thing called PQ.

One person would come up to the front of the cafeteria (they would be chosen to Come up),

Say someone’s name and say things that they did really well

And something that they liked that they did. 

It. Feels. Great. 

To get your name called in front of everyone in the 6th grade.”

Nico G, Grade 6

Merrowvista embodies the next chapter for Project REASON’s goal: to help students connect with nature, their peers, and faculty, to create a community they would bring back to Park. The Grade 6 trip to Merrowvista lays the groundwork for upcoming trips to Washington D.C. in Grade 7, and an international trip in their final year at Park in Grade 8. These trips are the ultimate applied-learning experience and result in a deeper understanding of the world and one’s role in it. Grade 7 students will travel to Washington D.C. in March 2023 and Grade 8 students will explore France, Italy, and Spain in May 2023.

By Liz McColloch, Grade 6 Grade Level Coordinator & French Teacher, and Emma Hobart-Sheran, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications.

Grade 4 Math Students Learn to Seize the Data

in Winter 2022-23 by

Have you ever wondered what a Grade 4 math unit looks like? Are you curious about how we intertwine the critical concepts in the Investigations workbook with project-based learning so that students build and master measurable skills? The Grade 4 math curriculum covers many lessons, including factors and multiples, generating and representing data, Geometry, decimals, and fractions. Every unit includes at least one project, which allows students to demonstrate mastery of the content in a non-traditional way.

Math is taught differently today than how many of the adults in our community may remember. There is less focus during class time on drilling and practicing new skills, and students are encouraged to be flexible in their mathematical thinking. Although the ways in which parents and students arrive at an answer can differ as we teach new ways of problem solving, the core principals are the same. Park students’ mathematical thinking is stretched in math class under the guidance of their experienced teachers. Teachers intentionally assign homework that students can complete independently and that they know will provide additional practice on essential skills and math facts. 

For example, a recent unit in the curriculum covers data. Through carefully chosen problems, Grade 4 students investigate different types of graphs, and are pushed to analyze them with questions that include straightforward challenges (e.g. graph the data, and find the range and mode) and problems that encourage a deeper understanding of the content. In one such problem, for example, students were asked to analyze a line plot to determine what a typical number of houses on a street is, if there is an outlier in the data, and what that could mean. One Grade 4 student hypothesized that the one street with an outlier of only 6 houses, “…might have bigger and more expensive houses than the other streets.” Students’ mathematical thinking and reasoning skills are deepened and stretched as they complete problems from their workbooks.

The Investigations curriculum teaches students how to create a meaningful data question, which needs to be measurable and clearly understood. This leads them to consider how to collect data: what variables may affect the outcome?

The Investigations curriculum teaches students how to create a meaningful data question, which needs to be measurable and clearly understood. This leads them to consider how to collect data: what variables may affect the outcome? How can the extraneous variables be reduced? This fall, students had the opportunity to partner with another grade level to collect data. One class measured how far both Grade 4 and Pre-K students were able to jump, and analyzed who jumped further and by how much. The students then graphed their data and answered questions about what they learned, and whether the results were surprising.

The data unit is supplemented with two enrichment projects and both are designed to show real-life applications of data. In the first project, students were asked to think like the owner of a WNBA team. They analyzed scoring data from two WNBA superstars for a season and created line plots by looking at minimums, maximums, clusters, ranges, and outliers. The students then provided mathematical reasons for why they would pick one player over another. Here is a sample of what students wrote: 

Student 1: “I think you should pick A’ja Wilson because she more consistently gets points above 20. Her lowest [scoring game] is 11 while Lloyd’s is 3! And even though her highest [number of points in one game] is lower than Lloyd’s, her cluster is 19 to 24 while Loyd’s is 9 to 14. That’s 10 less! That is why I think you should pick A’ja Wilson.”

Student 2:  “I think you should pick Lloyd because if you add [the points for the season] all up, Jewell Lloyd gets 340 points and A’ja Wilson got 320 and the average for Jewell Lloyd is 15.454545. A’ja Wilson’s average is 15.23895, so Jewell Lloyd is better when totaled up.” 

The second STEAM enrichment project was completed using the Makerspace. Students dropped weighted stuffed animals using bungees of different lengths to see how far the stuffed animal fell. They used slow-motion cameras on their iPads to determine precisely how low it dropped. The data was graphed and analyzed to see if the information collected matched the students’ initial hypotheses. Rich discussions ensued around what variables may have contributed to the large range of the data that was collected. 

Park students leave Grade 4 with a deep understanding of the complexities of data. As they finish their final year in the Lower Division, students are ready to enter the Upper Division with a solid foundation in all Common Core standards and an extensive problem solving toolbox.

By the end of the data unit, the Grade 4 students felt confident collecting data, making the data as accurate as possible by minimizing variables, representing the data using a variety of different graphs, drawing conclusions from the data, and identifying how and why graphs may be misleading. All of these skills are essential for developing critical thinkers. The ability to be able to analyze a graph with a mindful lens of how data can be presented to highlight one point of view is a complex, yet vital skill. For students, a growth mindset paired with confidence in their own ability to struggle through hard topics are essential for future success with mathematics. Park students leave Grade 4 with a deep understanding of the complexities of data. As they finish their final year in the Lower Division, students are ready to enter the Upper Division with a solid foundation in all Common Core standards and an extensive problem solving toolbox.

Season’s Readings!

in Winter 2022-23 by

Just in time for holiday wish lists, Park’s Library Department shares recommendations for books they can’t stop thinking about. Whether you have a reluctant reader who needs inspiration and adventure or a reader who loves to laugh, you’ll find a just-right book within this hand-picked list of must-haves. 

If you plan to purchase books, we encourage you to support local, independent booksellers, like Park family-owned Hummingbird Books or Black-owned Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury. You can also support independent bookstores nationwide by ordering online through

Lower Division recommendations from Carly Ellis

  • Me Gusta by Angela Dominguez

This is a beautifully illustrated book that highlights a Latine family. It can be a wonderful beginning for those learning Spanish, but also packs a punch about the message of connection, security, love and family. 

  • The More you Give by Marcy Campbell & Francesca Sanna

This book will tug at your heart strings. Not all gifts given are bought in a store, gifts can be given in the form of an acorn, a hug or Sunday pancakes.  It’s also about the love that can be passed through generations and family connections and learning how love can continue to grow.

  • Anni Dreams of Biryani by Namita Moolani Mehra & Chaaya Prabhat

I love this book about an Indian family and the search for the secret ingredient in the child’s favorite dish of her family’s restaurant.  Novice and beginner chefs will appreciate the recipe at the end of the book and for those who love to cook together with a loved one or for others- this is a book for you!

  • This Story is Not About a Kitten by Randall de Sève & Carson Ellis

Honestly, it’s not about a kitten (but kinda). This story is about community/neighborhoods, kindness, offering help and asking for help. The illustrator does an excellent job of forcing the reader to look at the whole pages for clues and details.

  • Patchwork by Matt De Peña & Corinna Luyken

This is written by one of my favorite authors with beautiful pictures and the message- oh swoon- the endless possibilities of children and how their stories are still being written. Peña touches on ideas that can become conversation starting points, or children and families can enjoy the simplicity of the illustrations and poetic rhyming words. It is inspiring!

Upper Division recommendations from Elena Pereira

Books that capture my heart bring to life stories of boldness, joy, and excellence! Not only do these books highlight talented authors and artists, but they center the stories of characters and people who are, or are learning to be, unapologetically themselves. While addressing important topics and themes, these books are a pleasure to read! 

  • Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas.

Reminiscent of Jerry Craft’s New Kid, a heartwarming story about a Black girl finding her place in a new school, navigating friendships, and persevering on her school’s swim team! 

  • Lotus Bloom & The Afro-Revolution by Sherri Winston 

A violin prodigy with an opportunity to attend the new prestigious school in the neighborhood with a notable music program must find her voice. 

  • Holler of the Fireflies by David Barclay Moore 

Javari is about to have that life-changing summer. This kid from Brooklyn finds himself at a STEM camp in Appalachia. Written as a series of vignettes, we get to experience through humor and an unflinching look at race, environmental issues, and friendship all that a new environment and new people can offer.

The young reader’s adaptation of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s 2015 bestseller, Braiding Sweetgrass is a guide to living in relationship with the natural world and reframing our thinking about sustainability. 

  • Star Child by Ibi Zoboi 

A tribute to her own inspiration, Zoboi crafts a stunning combination of poetry and images that paint a picture of Octavia Butler’s writing career, life, and influences.

Non-Fiction recommendations from Tory Lane

We live in a glorious age for children’s non-fiction books. When I think about giving books to children in my life, I look for books that will encourage multiple visits. This year I am particularly excited about titles that make our world both bigger and smaller. First up, consider these three big picture looks at our world:

  • The World Book: Explore the Facts, Stats and Flags of Every Country by Joe Fullman & Rose Blake

Jam packed with introductory facts about all the countries of the world.

  • Children of the World by Nicola Edwards

A young person’s introduction to the life of children around the world, exploring everything from family to food. The double page spread about how you say hello in a variety of languages created a frenzy of interest in a recent book talk to 4th grade.

  • Bug Atlas: Amazing facts, fold-out maps and life-size surprises by Joe Fullman

This award-winning atlas from Lonely Planet explores the tiny inhabitants of each continent with large picture and interactive flaps featuring more intriguing creepy crawly information.

Once you’ve explored the big view, consider the teeny one. Perennial favorite Jason Chen has done it again with a deep dive into the miniscule with: 

  • The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey 

A companion to Your Place in the Universe, this is an exquisitely illustrated guide to the wonders inside your body.

Maybe your taste runs to very, very large furry animals! If so David Macaulay is here to make you laugh while getting up to speed with your calculation skills in:

  • Mammoth Math: Everything You Need to Know About Numbers. 

Explore mathematical ideas and principles the way they were meant to be with hilarious and informative furry Mammoths!

Perhaps all this exhausts you and what would be really helpful is:

  • Nature and Me: A guide to the joys and excitements of the outdoors by The School of Life.

This inspirational book can help your family move from the abstract “nature is good for you” to actually experiencing it being enjoyable for your family.

Last but not least, I want to make a plug for Don Brown’s newest book:

  • We the People (Big Ideas that Changed the World)

It’s the story of American democracy told in, wait for it, a graphic novel format. This is a book that might sway you to the joys of visual storytelling, if you need swaying, and might spark an interest in a foundational component of our country if you need sparking.

Exploring Identity as Transracial Adoptees

in Winter 2022-23 by

by Carly Ellis, Lower Division Librarian, Elena Pereira, Upper Division Librarian, and Tina Fox, Lower Division Head  

At Park, we seek to elevate, understand, and celebrate the differences that make each member of our community unique and special. “Difference” comes in many forms – some visible, others less so. Adoption is a topic that touches families worldwide, and yet it remains an often hidden, less talked about identifier, even as many in the United States have a personal connection of some form to adoption. 

November is National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM), established in 1995 by President Clinton to build awareness on issues of adoption nationwide. In recent years, the focus has shifted from celebration to trying to understand the nuances and complexities of adoption. 

As more research is done about the adoption experience, we now know that it is important to center adoptee experiences, listen, and seek to understand from their viewpoint, if they choose to share.

Adoptees are not a monolith.  Each person’s story is different. Adoption is a complex experience because while there is joy and celebration, there is also loss. For Transracial Adoptees (TRAs)– adoptees whose race is different from their adoptive parent(s)– there are added layers of complexity. TRAs are at greater risk of identity confusion, more likely than other adoptees to feel a sense of exclusion in their communities and to experience “imposter syndrome”–the deep-rooted sense that they are a fraud, unable to accept and embrace their own accomplishments. 

Park’s core values rest on the belief that academic excellence, social-emotional learning, and diversity, equity, and inclusion are inextricably connected and mutually supportive, yet how might we support students who begin from this place of exclusion and doubt? This topic is very personal for the three of us, as we are all Transracial Adoptees. We are sharing our stories with the hope that the experience and perspective gained on their own journeys can help expand our understanding.

Separation from a child’s birth parent is a traumatic event

 “A child begins feeling and learning in the womb.  Stress factors experienced by the mother can make babies also stressed.”

–Jennifer Elise Teer @pieceielove 

My journey began in an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia. I was born Maria Elena Quintero in Cali, Colombia, and was adopted at the age of one by white college professors who renamed me Christina Maria Ormrod. I was raised in Colorado in a family of three children. While my family was open about my adoption and the adoption of one of my siblings, it wasn’t until college that I began exploring my own identity about being a transracial adoptee.  In 2018, I contributed to an article for NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) around Transracial adoption in partnership with educators who also identify as Transracial Adoptees, colleagues whom I had the pleasure of getting to know through my work in independent schools and through annual attendance at the People of Color Conference (PoCC). Each year we would come together at PoCC, where we have three days in affinity to share our stories, affirm each other in our highs, and offer support and understanding in our lows. As an educator, I am passionate about ensuring that all students have experiences that affirm all aspects of their identity, including students and families who identify with the uniqueness that comes with the transracial adoptee experience.  

– Tina Fox

Medical research backs this up. “We find that in-utero exposure to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol negatively affects offspring cognition, health and educational attainment.”

–National Library of Medicine

I was born Maria Andrea Valiente and adopted from Guatemala City, Guatemala at age one by two white parents, who gave me a new name. My adoptive brother was adopted shortly afterwards from Venezuela, leaving us only four months apart in age. We were raised on a farm in a small Vermont town with loving parents who gave us everything they possibly could, from a loving home to education and extracurricular activities. There was very little education and support for adoptive parents of transracial adoptees at the time, and families commonly adopted a “colorblind” approach, not “seeing” race. This created behavior and academic challenges for me both at school and at home. As a teenager, I had no sense of my racial identity and how it shaped my experiences growing up. When I came to Boston for college, however, I connected with an adoptee community and adoption-competent therapists. I began understanding my different identities and passionately learning about the adoption experience through first person narrative and research.  The research is developing and still lacking.  

In the past year, I embarked on a search for my biological family – and found them. For those who choose to search, each reunion is unique, different, and unpredictable. In finding my family, I learned that my story is integrally connected to some of the darkest parts of Guatemalan history.  While this is a shock to the system, there are many others out there like me whose adoption was the unjust consequence of a war in Latin America.

While I continue to process my new reality, I am deeply passionate about my work as a teacher-librarian and supporting students in understanding facets of their unique identities through books. In my personal time, I work with a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Guatemalan adoptees and their families in our unique, shared experience.

– Elena Pereira

“While genetics plays a significant role, scientific research has made clear that the quality of a child’s experience in the first few years of life- positive or negative helps shape how the brain develops. Connections needed for many important, higher-level abilities like motivation, self-regulation, problem solving and communication are formed (or not formed)  in early years, 0-3.  It is much harder for these essential brain connections to be formed later in life.”

– (early childhood agency)

I was born in Medellín, Colombia without a name, and was adopted by a family living in Rockport, MA when I was 14 months old. I have been told I cried a lot my first year in the United States. I didn’t begin speaking until I was two years old, and did so with difficulty. While I struggled academically throughout my school years, neuropsych testing at the age of ten resulted in no official diagnosis. My learning challenges were attributed to anxiety, fear of risk-taking, fear of failure, and low self-esteem. I firmly believe that this is a result of adoption, my delay of brain development from being separated from my biological mother, and my upbringing. It was only after college that, on my own, I discovered various organizational tools – using pictures, colors, and timers, minimizing distractions – that helped me complete my graduate work in education at the top of my class.

I have come to understand that growing up in an all white family community for over 30 years, has negatively impacted my sense of identity and self-worth. Even today, I am often mistaken for not being a part of my family.  Once I was mistaken for an employee in my parents house. I have experienced racism and microaggressions throughout my life, even from friends and family members. There were zero cultural connections for me – Colombia in the 1990’s was equated with drug lords and the Medellín cartel.  This was the only lens of my culture that was presented to me. Walking in urban settings like New York City or Boston, people would automatically talk to me in Spanish. I felt imposter syndrome – not only could I not communicate with them in Spanish, but I wasn’t who they thought I was.  I still struggle with this.

When I was in my 30’s, I moved to Colombia for two years to teach 1st grade and to learn about my culture, and then, in 2013, joined the faculty at Park. It was with Park that I went to my first People of Color Conference (PoCC) in 2014. It wasn’t until I saw a sea of brown and black people at PoCC that I realized that I was a person of color too.  I never felt like I belonged anywhere, not with my family, and not when I lived in Colombia as an adult.  At PoCC, I  heard the term “Transracial Adoptee” for the first time, and joined an affinity space where I met other people just like me, including Tina Fox. PoCC  allowed me to find that space for myself so that I can be a better educator, and now a mother.  As I continue on my journey to understand my identity, I am also driven to help educate others. Adoption begins with loss, and that never goes away. Even the most aware, educated, well-intentioned parent/guardian can’t take that away.  As my own experience reveals, the journey sheds important insight into how many adoptees learn and value themselves in school. 

 – Carly Ellis

“We teach who we are.”

In speaking openly about our own journeys, we hope to help create space for the openness and understanding that benefits us all. All three of us feel grateful and privileged to work in the Park community alongside other TRAs, and to work in an environment where we can express ourselves freely. We teach who we are.

The 2022 PoCC conference takes place on November 30-December 3, in San Antonio, TX, with the theme Reunited in Purpose: Elevating Our Worth, Our Agency, and Our Excellence. Nine members of Park’s faculty and staff, including Tina, Carly, and Elena, are attending.


  • Boston Post Adoption Resources (BPAR) in Brookline is a local organization with useful resources.
  • Park’s librarians have put together a number of books for those touched by adoption:


U.S Department of Health & Services: Children’s Bureau 

Palmer’s Transracial Adoptee Identity Model

Volunteering at Park is Not a Thankless Job

in Winter 2022-23 by

As we enter a week where many of us will participate in the tradition of expressing thanks, we thought it would be a great opportunity to stealthily recruit additional volunteers for the school under the guise of an article about gratitude. With this mission in mind, we set up a table at the most recent Park PA meeting to recruit anecdotes about why our fellow volunteers are glad they volunteer. We’re going to share their words below, and in all seriousness, we do welcome more volunteers!

The Park PA has volunteers with all different types of availability and things they offer. You can be an event planner for a day with the Faculty and Staff appreciation breakfasts. Learn your way around the school by becoming an Admissions Tour Guide and check the “secret” lost and founds in various stairwells on your way out. Volunteer from home by writing an article for this publication and perhaps get a chance to interview a faculty or staff member who has impacted your child’s life. Join the Community Speakers committee and get a chance to bring in experts on a topic where you maybe-sort-of could use some advice.

It might be easier to commit than you think! There are library volunteers who share their time slot with other guardians so it’s a manageable commitment. One-time opportunities like the pumpkin bread drive and extra hours in the library or at an event also exist. Check out the PA section of the Park Portal; you’ll be thankful you’ve joined us!

In their own words…

“One of my favorite PA memories is pivoting Springfest during Covid. PA members spent the day outside on my deck packing more than 500 “Springfest at Home” kits for every student. We were up to our ears in Park green tie dye t-shirts!” -Angela Smith (PA Advisor, Faculty & Staff Appreciation Luncheon)

“Volunteering with other parents builds connection to our school community. Touring prospective parents is both an opportunity to highlight and faster that connection with incoming families and an amazing window into the learning and work our children are doing in school.” -Cyd Jeyes (Affinity Group Chair, Parent Tour Guide, Faculty Grants)

“I had my three kids (ages 6, 3, and 3) lined up in the kitchen to help prepare twelve loaves of pumpkin bread. It was so much fun with the opportunity to talk about why we were doing it and what’s behind the giving spirit. Then Lily (Grade 1) got to help deliver them at school.” -Dahlia Cop (Pumpkin Bread Drive) 

“This has been a great way to meet some new people and learn more about all that goes into building this incredible community!” –Sarah Munchey (Park Speakers Committee)

“There’s nothing quite like arriving to the school at 6:30 a.m. – in your sweats and cup of coffee in hand – and teaming up with fellow volunteers to set up for an appreciation breakfast. It’s fun and casual – being not quite awake adds a certain amount of flavor! But then to see the appreciation on the faces of staff and faculty as they treat themselves to a piece of quiche, or a smoked salmon sandwich, is everything. Park’s staff and faculty are amazing and they deserve every bite!” -Julie Deland (Faculty and Staff Appreciation Breakfasts)

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