In Full Bloom

May 11, 2017

Just as the longer days, sunnier skies, and warmer spring air awakens the greenery of San Francisco, these final months also bring the learning that has been germinating throughout the school year to full bloom.  

This is expressed most vividly during the soirees, art shows, and assemblies that are a wonderful part of life at San Francisco Day School.  Our recent 3rd and 4th-grade soiree left me in awe of the beauty and intricacy of our solar system as a result of the remarkably integrated display of science and music.  The soiree exemplified what can happen when teachers from seemingly different disciplines of learning co-create masterpieces of integrated curriculum. Not only did the students make scaled models of the planets, but through dance and song, they showcased the inter-relatedness of the solar system.  I also have a deeper understanding of lunar cycles after watching our students demonstrate the interaction between light and shadow with hand drums, a spotlight, and song. 

A similarly magnificent exhibition of light and shadow illuminating student learning was the 8th-grade light box project. Another example of the integration of art and science, our students leveraged their new knowledge about protons and neutrons, used tools in the Science and Innovation Labs, and put to work the skills they acquired in their art classes to make silhouettes that showed limitless student imagination.

A few days later, I witnessed the inventiveness of the 4th graders blossoming with expressions of ingenuity in their circuit projects.  Integrating art and science, the students created electrical currents using switches and motors to cool, race, wag, spin, light, lift, and transport their handmade machines and games.  Batteries supplied the power for their projects, but the energy of the students was fueled by their imagination and curiosity.

The 8th graders’ Celebr8 projects felt like the harvest of a thoughtful approach to learning that our soon-to-graduate students have cultivated through their years at SF Day.  Using design thinking to pursue a deeper understanding of a passion of their choosing, the students used their inquisitiveness and academic skills to advance a cause, raise awareness of social issues, create artistic expressions, or address institutional needs. The ability of our students to stand in front of an audience of their peers and adults and express a complex idea with such poise, skill, and knowledge is a distinguishing outcome of an SF Day education. 

Our job as a school is to send forth young people who have the conviction, confidence, and skills to not only contribute to their communities - but to change the world. As I watched our 8th graders share their Celebr8 projects, I knew that these future engineers, activists, artists, policy makers, and entrepreneurs were ready for more than just the next step in their education. The manner in which they combined their academic knowledge and skills with their creative inclinations to find imaginative solutions to issues of importance to them and others fills me, as does the spring sun, with the warm glow of optimism.