A Week of Welcomes: Back to School Chats and Meet-and-Greets!

The Dining Hall was host to not one, not two, but three parent gatherings this week, all in the efforts to welcome parents back to school – and to welcome our new head of Lower School.

First up was Head of School Dr. Barbara Tischler with her annual “Back-to-School Chat” on Tuesday morning. This year, Dr. Tischler touched on some of the challenges educators of accelerated learners face and how our faculty here at Speyer are constantly striving to meet them. She outlined the important work our fearless educators do to help our students to develop cross-divisional habits of mind. For example, she went in-depth with how they encourage our students to practice intentional listening versus just hearing and hone their visual acuity so they look and observe details rather than just “see things.” She noted that developing this intentionality in listening, seeing, reading, and writing takes time and practice and helps our students have more precision of thought. All of this supports the process of strengthening the critical thinking skills they need to meet their potential. 

Before taking questions, Dr. Tischler informed the crowd about two upcoming visits. First, from October 21-24, the eight-member committee from NYSAIS will be on campus. This peer review group is charged with reading the self study Speyer’s faculty completed during the last year and evaluating how the self study reflects the mission and the extent to which what we here at Speyer say and do reflects what’s included in the study. To enhance our diversity initiatives here at Speyer, folks from Diversity Directions will be visiting Speyer November 12-14. They will work with faculty, staff, and parents as they perform an inclusion and diversity audit, looking at the culture of our school to help us better understand who we are as a community. 

Thursday, Speyer parents had two opportunities to “meet and greet” the new Head of Lower School Ms. Shiva Behradnia. She shared her journey of how she came to Speyer, tracing the path of how she became an educator, which was a life-long dream. Calling this her “year of learning” about Speyer, she highlighted what she observed from her one-on-one summer chats with all of the members of the Lower School faculty. She asked each of them what was the number one thing they love about Speyer. Each and every one answered, “The kids.”  

Ms. Behradnia told parents how thrilled she is to be working with Speyer’s faculty, which she called “collaborative, dedicated, and spirited,” and expanded on how they have already become a unified and solid team. She reiterated the message from her summer letter – about the power of relationships. “School is all about relationships,” she said, “Learning is ignited when there is a true partnership” between students and teachers, as well as between teachers and parents. 

Next up for parents: Curriculum Night! Be sure to mark your calendars: Lower School Curriculum Night is Wednesday, September 26 from 5:30 PM ― 7:00 PM, and Middle School Curriculum Night is Thursday, October 4 from 5:30 PM ― 7:30 PM!