Monday, June 3, 2013

LAES Students Learn Every Little Bit Counts!

Lipscomb Academy Elementary School students learned that every little bit counts when everyone is involved and were able to make a huge impact on children they have never even met.

“Coins for a Cause” is a service learning project developed by Lipscomb Academy Elementary faculty and staff in conjunction with the Directors of Spiritual Formation.  The program asked the elementary school students to collect coins and donate them to Mission Lazarus to be used to help children in Honduras.

Mission Lazarus is a Nashville based organization that offers educational, medical, agricultural and spiritual outreach in Honduras and Haiti.  HYPERLINK ""

Each of the Lipscomb Academy elementary school students were given their own water bottle to collect coins in and they brought what they collected to add to a large jug that was placed in each of the classrooms.  The students were given one month to go and serve their families and neighbors and ask for a donation towards ‘Coins for a Cause'.  At the end of the collection period all of the coins from the individual classrooms were combined.

“What you guys do is important, it is very important. The children in Honduras, by the time they are eight years old, they are milking cows and working in the fields.  You guys have collected change and maybe you thought it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was.  You have made it possible for other kids to get a good education,” said Jarrod Brown, President and Founder of Mission Lazarus, when he spoke to Lipscomb Academy Elementary School students about their efforts.

At an assembly held during elementary school chapel, the total amount, $4,387.84 was revealed to the students. A check was presented to Brown by Elementary Principal Jonathan Sheahen, who took the funds to Mission Lazarus to be used in Honduras.

Through this service-learning project, the Lipscomb Academy students were able to learn about another country and learned to band together to make a difference.  Regina Lankford, a second grade teacher at Lipscomb Academy who has been working with Mission Lazarus for years, was able to travel to Honduras over spring break to do mission work along with Lipscomb Academy high school students.

Before she left, she filmed the elementary school students singing “We Love You with the Love of the Lord” in both English and Spanish.  She played the video for the children in Honduras. When she returned, she had a video of the Honduran children singing the song back to the Lipscomb Academy students.  The connection became real for the students who were able to see the faces of the children they had helped half a world away.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spring Explorations is Right Around the Corner

For most of the twentieth century, school was organized around an industrial model that operated on the assumption that information was at a premium, and those who mastered the most information were the most educated, and therefore the most successful.  In the Information Age, however, much of the content in any school’s curriculum is available to everyone at the push of a button.  Those who’ve memorized the most content for any particular test don’t stand out in today’s world; instead, what’s valued most are the skills associated with doing work that the World Wide Web still can’t do.

At Lipscomb Academy we’re committed to developing what we call the six C’s: character, critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, and cosmopolitanism.  These are the skills and values that the 21st century will demand and reward, and these are the skills that we seek to nurture in our students, K-12.  Through our commitment to individual learning, relational learning, and learning for the greater good we seek to encourage students to build upon their natural curiosity, hone their inquisitiveness, and apply what they are learning to the world beyond themselves and our school.  It’s essential that they learn how to think for themselves, how to convey a convincing argument on paper and in person, how to make something that comes from within rather than is imposed from without, how to work effectively with others, and how to connect with the wider world.

As a former math teacher, I’ve grappled with these challenges for years.  I remember first-hand as a student how quickly I forgot what I’d just memorized for a test several days before.  Charged with the responsibility of leading students through what I wanted to be a provocative and interesting journey of numbers and patterns, I worried as a young teacher that many students struggled to understand why a certain fact mattered.  I came to understand that “because I said so” wasn’t a very good answer.

My teaching and their learning became significantly better when instead of focusing on practice, I allowed students to explore and look for patterns.  As a result, their understanding quotient went up considerably.  It’s like starting at the roots of a tree and working up as opposed to trying to memorize something unique about the leaves.  Not only is this a much more effective way to learn, it is more fun.

That is the premise of Lipscomb Academy’s Explorations Program.  We want students to experience the world first-hand.  This Spring students will have the opportunity to try new things; things that they may have never done before or are outside of the normal classroom routine.  For instance, Niki Ganick will help students learn about the art of movement and Becky Collins will tap into a child’s naturalist side.  I encourage you to check out our upcoming offerings from March 25-May 2. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Service-Learning: Making Service Meaningful

Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction to enrich the learning experience and teach civic responsibility.  Through service-learning, young people—from kindergarteners to college students—use what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems. They not only learn the practical applications of their studies, they become actively contributing citizens through the service they perform.

What Service-Learning Looks Like?
If school students collect trash out of an urban streambed, they are providing a valued service to the community as volunteers. If school students collect trash from an urban streambed, analyze their findings to determine the possible sources of pollution, and share the results with residents of the neighborhood, they are engaging in service-learning.

In the service-learning example, in addition to providing an important service to the community, students are learning about water quality and laboratory analysis, developing an understanding of pollution issues, and practicing communications skills. They may also reflect on their personal and career interests in science, the environment, public policy or other related areas. Both the students and the community have been involved in a transformative experience.

Coins for a Cause
Beginning February 28 Lipscomb Academy Elementary School will embark on its own school wide service-learning project called Coins for a Cause.   Over the next month we have asked students to “earn” money through serving others to give to Mission Lazarus.   Students will also engage in several different learning experiences at school to connect their service to Honduras.  For instance, second grade has mapped out the foundation size of a Honduran adobe brick house.  You might see it by the flagpole during carpool.  In PE students are walking or running the distance it would take for a typical Honduran student to walk to school.  In Science students will be investigating and experimenting with water purification.

Each of these examples above shows how service-learning is integrating meaningful community service with instruction and reflection in order to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and serve those who are in need.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

10 Commandments of Parenting - a snapshot

10 Commandments of Parenting Jim Schleicher, M.Div., spoke to Lipscomb Academy on January 17, at the elementary school. The talk was titled the “10 commandments of Parenting”. Mr. Schleicher is a licensed marital and family therapist and licensed professional counselor, who has been practicing in the Nashville community for more than 40 years. In addition to his counseling practice, Mr. Schleicher is also a consultant and an engaging presenter who makes frequent guest appearances with various organizations and school groups. He and his wife Olivia have six children and nine grandchildren. The following article was compiled from notes taken at the lecture. Mr. Schleicher opened his presentation by saying that children have not changed over time, but that parenting has. Parenting has become increasingly less clear. He said that each home has a culture and energy of it’s own and it is the parents that establish this. He also added that successful, happy children are often a product of a healthy happy home. Studies show that a family that eats meals together, does community service together and has a spiritual emphasis are more likely to produce healthy, unspoiled, “unentitled” children. The 10 points below are suggestions Jim made about how to make your home culture operate more effectively and efficiently.

1) SLOW DOWN AND BE PRESENT In our culture we are prone to busyness and over scheduling. We have made multitasking an attribute and consequently we are seldom fully present. Due to these circumstances there is an increase in the diagnosis of chronic anxiety. Our children lack our full presence and therefore they are lacking security and focus. Make time to be present. Take some time to turn off your cell phone, your computer, television, etc..

2) LET YOUR CHILD GO TO SCHOOL Let your children have the experience and responsibility of school. You have already been to school. They need to get their work done on their own and be responsible for gathering the information from the teacher. The teachers want to teach your child and parents often have the attitude that the teacher must be doing a poor job if their child has not gotten the complete assignment or has made a bad grade. Parents need to guide their children but not do the work for them or fix their situations. On another note, the choice of schools is up to the parents, not the child.

3) LET YOUR CHILD HAVE A BAD TEACHER In life we will have many people we do not “jell” with. Parents today have a tendency to try to make everything “right” for their children. There is an increase of a form of depression called “learned helplessness” because of this parental over involvement in the resolution of unpleasant situations. They will hear from their child, “my teacher never covered that in class” and will jump on the bandwagon. The parents response should be, “It is your responsibility to learn the information and to learn from this.”

4) TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO LOSE Hopefully we will have many natural opportunities to teach to lose. Our children realistically cannot be first in everything. When children cannot accept their losses they will not be able to rejoice in the successes of others. Our culture has put up a very high standard, where a “C” used to be average, now we are considering it to be a failure. We should train our children to do their best, to be content with their successes and compliant with their losses. Ability to lose correlates with capacity for empathy.

 5) STAY CURIOUS In our task oriented society we tend to be more about getting it done rather than what are we doing and why are we doing it. Ask your child, “what are you learning” and “what is your homework”, rather than focusing on the completion of the task and the grade

6) MODEL RESPECT AND INSIST ON IT Statistics show that 93% of our communication is non-verbal, what we show with our expressions and body. Our job as parents is to model respect in our homes. We give the best example of this by the way we treat our spouses and each other. We must hold our children to a high standard of respect in the way they treat parents and siblings.

7) STAY IN THE ADULT WORLD Our marriages often get the crumbs of our energy. We spend so much time and energy on our children’s scheduling and functions that we neglect the greatest security we can give them by having a healthy, happy marriage. Who are the parents best friends? We need to have best friends who are adults and spend time in that world.

8) OWN YOUR OWN HOME A child’s bedroom is not “his room”. His room is a room in your house. It is important for us to teach our children to keep up the space that we have allotted to them (their room) and to make a contribution to the upkeep of the household. Your child should keep his room tidy and have some duties around the home. Statistics show that kids who keep their rooms neat are again less spoiled.

 9) GIVE LESS Children are lacking enthusiasm about getting out into the world and on their own because they see no excitement about becoming an adult. Much of this is due to the fact that parents have indulged them. By the time they graduate from high school they have been to more fancy restaurants, gone more exotic places, been in more stretch limos and have more material possessions than should be available in a lifetime. They have done it all and have little to look forward to or to aim for. Even if you are able to provide extravagance for them, leave things to look forward to.

10) LIVE LIKE A BLESSED PERSON We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine and a joyful heart is good medicine. Gratitude greatly displaces anxiety. We need to practice and to teach our children thankfulness and gratitude. Work to find three things you are thankful for.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Free Parent Education Series - You're Invited!

10 Commandments of Parenting
January 4, 2013

Dear Parents,

Think of your children. Bring their faces to your mind. Then ask yourself, “What do I really want for them in their lives?”

Don’t assume you know. Before you spend another day as a parent (or as a teacher or a coach or anyone else involved with children), try to answer this deceptively simple question: What do I really want for my children?

Is it trophies and prizes and stardom? Do you want them all to grow up and become president of the United States? Is it riches and financial security? Is it true love? Or is it just a better life than the one you have now?

On some days you might quickly reply, “I just want them to clean up their rooms, do their homework, and obey me when I speak.” On other days, when you are caught up in the pressures your children are feeling at school, you might desperately reply, “I just want my children to get high SAT scores and be admitted to Prestige College.”

But if you linger over the question, your reply will almost certainly include one particular word: the simple, even silly-seeming word happy. Most of us parents just want our children to be happy, now and forever. Of course, we also want them to contribute to the world; we want them to care for others and lead responsible lives. But deep down, most of us, want our children to lead a balanced, happy life.
If we take certain steps, we can actually make it happen. Ned Hallowell wrote in his book Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness that parents and teachers can greatly increase the chances that their children and students will grow up to be happy, responsible adults by instilling certain qualities that might not seem of paramount importance but in fact are—inner qualities such as optimism, playfulness, a can-do attitude, and connectedness (the feeling of being a part of something larger than yourself). While traditional advice urges parents to instill discipline and a strong work ethic in their children, that advice can backļ¬re when put into practice. The child may resist or do precisely the opposite of what is asked or even comply, but joylessly. That joylessness can last a whole life long.

We need a more reliable route to lifelong joy than can be provided by lectures on discipline or rewards for high grades and hard work. Of course, discipline and hard work matter, as do grades and behavior. But how we reach those goals is key. With this in mind, I want to invite you to Jim Schleicher’s compelling presentation titled, “The Ten Commandments of Parenting” on January 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the Lipscomb Academy Elementary School library. I have personally heard him address this topic on two different occasions and I’m looking forward to a third. Space is filling up fast. You can RSVP by calling 615-966-1783 or emailing Keri Sweeney at