Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

September 2015

Nobles Parents' Newsletter September 2015

Foster Gallery Opens New Season with 'Product Placement' Exhibit



Foster Gallery Calendar of Events
Fall 2015

"Product Placement"

The work of Sam Kaplan '03 (photographer)
Sept. 14-Oct. 8
Opening Reception: September 17, 5:00-7:00 p.m.


Artist-in-Residence:  Allison Luce (ceramicist)
Oct. 27-Nov. 24
Opening Reception: October 29, 2:00-6:30 p.m.


"The Visualization of Data"   
Dec. 2-10
An examination of recent presentation methods of statistical data



For more upcoming exhibitions, please visit fostergallery.org.

Parents and Teachers in Partnership by Head of School Bob Henderson



One of my most disconcerting parenting moments occurred when I attended a parent-teacher conference day when my oldest son was in kindergarten. It had nothing to do with any news that was delivered. Rather, it had everything to do with the seating arrangements. I entered the classroom somehow expecting that I would be having an adult interchange while perhaps seated on the opposite side of the teacher’s desk. Instead, I was directed to one of the tiny round tables where the kindergartners gathered. I sat down awkwardly in one of the little chairs that they used. The teacher, however, had a larger chair, although I suppose in retrospect that was fair enough given that the teacher had to be in that spot all day long. The psychological effect on me, however, was immediate and powerful; there I was in a diminutive setting, the teacher towering over me. The terms of our relationship, at least in my mind, were made clear. In reflective hindsight, there was absolutely nothing in that conference that was remotely difficult or confrontational, yet I could not help but feel like a supplicant.

As a school person, that was an important educational moment for me. Thereafter I have had keener insight into the complex relationships that parents have with schools and teachers. Everyone arrives with their own personality and baggage, and parents can feel uniquely vulnerable when interacting with teachers, advisors and coaches who have powerful perspectives on and significant influence upon their children. Psychologist and best-selling author Michael Thompson wrote a tremendously well-attuned article on this topic almost two decades ago. In it he said, “Speaking as a parent, it is my observation that children give you a tour of your inner weaknesses – all of your hot buttons – for which you never asked and which you really do not want. Nevertheless, once you have a child, you get the tour. And when you sit down with your child’s teacher you are nervously aware of your amateur status.”

Teachers, similarly, have their own anxieties about parent interactions. For experienced teachers, I can guarantee that during their careers they have had at least one scarring interaction with an out-of-control or misinformed parent that thereafter remains a source of anxiety. More commonly, teachers struggle with the fact that our general culture does not accord them appropriate respect, and sometimes the perceived status or attitude of some parents makes interactions strained or uncomfortable.

Difficult interactions between parents and teachers are far, far from the norm in the Nobles community. Indeed, the contrary is the truth, and most Nobles parents over time develop deeply important and positive relationships with one or more of their children’s teachers, coaches or advisors here. But there have been unfortunate moments, and they almost invariably stem from misunderstanding. I want to assert four precepts that should guide all parent interactions with members of the Nobles faculty and staff. First, always assume good intentions and not ill intent on the part of members of the faculty or the school. Second, approach teachers with the respect that you would want to be granted yourself, even when you are upset or deeply concerned. Third, if a conversation or interaction seems to be taking an unfortunate turn, reach out to the appropriate administrator to help you navigate the situation effectively and in the right tone. Finally, remain open to the possibility that the teacher may know something about your child or the circumstances that you do not, or that the way your child related something to you might not be entirely accurate or might have an emotional, hyperbolic or manipulated component that needs to be deconstructed. Do not expect that if you approach the school with demands or accusations you will find satisfaction by virtue of your ire, persistence or volume.

In the annual enrollment contract that parents sign, one of the explicit stipulations is that, “Noble and Greenough School reserves the right to terminate this contract if the actions of the student’s parents or guardians impede a constructive relationship with the school or otherwise interfere with its educational purpose.” I have never had to invoke this clause in dealing with a family, and I would be immensely reluctant to do so. Unfortunately, however, it is necessary to make the assertion so that the boundary is understood. Nobles is absolutely delighted to have your children here, and this is a community that works well and serves young people superbly. The faculty sincerely hopes to forge effective partnerships with parents on behalf of students, they correctly assume that parents want that same outcome, and they deeply value and enjoy the perspectives of parents on their children’s experiences in the school. To be effective, however, this partnership requires genuine and sustained commitments to integrity, civility, trust and respect from everyone involved. 

Last Summer's Family Reunion by Upper School Head Michael Denning



I have a great deal for which to be thankful, and this past summer’s family vacation provided new additions to my long list of good fortunes. After years of saving, Emily, Patrick and I traveled to Central Europe. I have been teaching European history for most of my career and had the privilege to study at two German universities during my undergraduate and graduate school days. Nevertheless, I had not returned to the countries about which I teach for many years, and I was excited to share this part of my life with my family.

I suspect that Emily and Patrick could expound eloquently on the pros and cons of exploring Europe with a history teacher. In spite of my unbridled enthusiasm for Europe’s histories, my family remained patient throughout and often seemed appreciative of what I could offer. And they became very good at prefacing questions with the following: “Dad/Michael, could you give us a brief explanation of…” I tried to honor their requests; you’ll have to ask them about whether or not I succeeded. We had a wonderful time.

We planned our itinerary together, but there were a couple of stops I felt we needed to make, in particular the remnants of  Nazi Germany’s first and longest-running concentration camp at Dachau. There, we learned a lot and struggled emotionally, and I am grateful that we had this opportunity.

While firming up our destinations, I made one final request—a visit to a farm in Lower Austria. Bordered by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Lower Austria is the northern-most state in the Republic of Austria; its name—Lower Austria—has nothing to do with its location vis-à-vis other Austrian states, but rather refers to its valleys and river beds which host and support the Danube and its tributaries. This is beautiful country whose topography might remind you of Vermont’s Green Mountains, Iowa’s bountiful fields and Wyoming’s lush forests. Home to a large portion of Austria’s farmers, foresters and wine producers, it is rich in history and natural resources. However, Lower Austria is probably not a destination I would choose to travel a quarter of the way around the world to visit or put on the itinerary of my family’s “vacation of a lifetime.” No, we were headed there so that I could fulfill a promise I had made to myself years ago to return to thank, in person, the Stanzls, a family of farmers and innkeepers who, in 1984, invited then-17-year-old me to come to work with them for the summer.

At the risk of sounding like that annoying older guy who insists on talking about how much harder it was “in my day," I am going to say it: my summer in Austria was not your child’s 21st-century study-abroad program. As far as I could tell, the opportunity came about in a pretty simple and straightforward way: I was part of the American Field Service club at my high school, wanted to go abroad and had three years of high-school German under my belt. The Stanzls were interested in an adventure with an American teenager and figured they could use another worker for their farm and bed and breakfast. The match was made.

To be honest,  there is a part of me that still can’t believe my parents allowed me to go. I think they tried to call the Stanzls beforehand, but the language barrier prevented any meaningful communication. The internet did not yet exist, and there were no cellphones, ATMs or CORI and SORI databases. On a morning in early June, they dropped me at Logan Airport, and I was on my way, the first member of my family to visit Europe since World War I.

I arrived in Austria with a dozen or so other Americans. We became fast friends and I thought this adventure was going to be a blast—something akin to a roving summer camp. But the party was not to last. After a brief orientation, we were back in Vienna where Austria’s AFS volunteers wished us luck while sending us off in search of the various trains and buses that would transport us to our host families. I was on my own.

After hours on a bus—during which I kept my face pinned to the glass window in fear that I would miss my stop—I arrived in Rappottenstein, a place that looked like a cross between Mayberry RFD and Disney/Epcot Center’s German Pavilion. At one end of the town, there was a cluster of houses right out of a Grimm fairy tale; on the other end was a church square filled with tractors and hay wagons. I don’t remember what I had expected, but I certainly remember wondering why there was nobody there to greet me. I had, after all, come  a third of the way around the world. But there I was—alone—wondering what I had gotten myself into.

As panic began to set in, I was startled by the sound of screeching tires. A Volkswagen Golf came to a dramatic stop in front of me and out popped a tall, young, red-headed guy with a huge smile, an extended hand and the question I had been hoping he would ask, “Are you Mike the American?” That was practically the extent of my host brother Hermann’s English, but at that moment, that was just what I needed to hear.

I suppose it would be nice if I could report that the time I spent with the Stanzls was one fun experience after another. But, thankfully, that is not how things went. Certainly, there was plenty of fun and lots of laughs. But there was a ton of work, too, and farmwork is hard and my learning curve was steep. In elementary school, I had heard how farmers rise at dawn to a rooster’s crow to milk cows and clean stalls. But with the Stanzls, I learned that not only was this true, but also that the stalls needed to be cleaned at the end of each day, too. In fact, poop needed to be shoveled before both breakfast and dinner or there would be no meal.

After a breakfast of bread, meat, butter and coffee—yes, this is where I began my love affair with coffee— the work continued, this time weeding rows of potato, clearing forests and maintaining trails. And as autumn approached, we began to harvest the hay. Of course, there was always work to be done in the bed and breakfast, and if you have an extra five minutes in your life that you’re willing to give up, ask me about the day we slaughtered pigs and filled the smokehouse.

The Stanzls were immensely kind and generous. They were patient while teaching me how to speak German, farm and run a B & B. They took me everywhere with them and made me feel a part of their family. And when I experienced moments of illness and homesickness (and I did), they cared for me as if I was one of their own. Indeed, the Stanzls not only taught me about how they lived, but they taught me a lot about how to live, and through their many acts of kindness, I became a more empathetic, resilient and confident person. They were great teachers.

Hardly a week has gone by over the past three decades when I have not reflected on the privileged education I have received in and out of schools. I fell in love with studying European history and cultures that summer, and this passion has never waned. However, in recent years, I have found myself thinking about education—and my education that summer, in particular—in more holistic and nuanced ways. I now know that I was privileged to learn far more that summer than I could have ever thought possible, lessons that have made a huge difference in my life. Unknowingly, I returned from this experience with a stronger, more mature sense-of-self, confident that I could:

  • live away from home
  • work hard and add value to business enterprises
  • learn a foreign language and develop an appreciation for, and relationships with, people from backgrounds very different from my own
  • travel on my own and get to where I needed to be
  • problem solve and improve from mistakes
  • work through and overcome feelings of insecurity and homesickness
  • take appropriate risks
  • make my own way in the world

I also learned a little bit about reflection and perspective, and, for the first time, began to take some stock of who I was, where I lived, what my family valued and what I might do with my life.

I desperately wanted to travel back to the Stanzls to thank them for all that they offered and taught me, and I am so lucky to have had that opportunity. It was an emotional reunion. Hermann greeted me with the same warmth, but this time with a big hug, too. And I took some time to walk back to that spot in the town square where we had first met. Most remarkable of all were my visits with Frau Maria, my host mother. Widowed and a bit less mobile these days, Frau Maria still possesses the sense of humor, wisdom and desire to care for all those around her that she had three decades ago. Although she never had a chance to complete her formal education, she remains one of the smartest, most intuitive and capable individuals I have had the privilege to know. We talked for a long time, and as I considered all that she had taught me about family, friends, joy, love and resilience—and how she had been there for me when I really needed someone—I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

While talking with my son about my relationship with this great family, I was struck by the realization that inasmuch as Emily and I are Patrick’s first and most important teachers, there are very real limits to what we can offer him. As he gets older, we will have to place greater and greater responsibility for his education on him and on the many teachers and mentors he will encounter away from us. When we arrived home, I took some time to  thank my parents for having had the courage, prescience and wisdom then, and in years that followed, to encourage me to embrace risks and experiences where they would not be able to support me directly. Now, as the parent of a teenager, I have a better sense of how hard this must have been for them to do. I also told them, again, how lucky I have been, expressing my hope that Patrick would be as fortunate in finding great teachers as I have been.

Risk-taking is embedded in our academic and co-curricular programs, and it is at the foundation of our EXCEL initiatives. But while we encourage appropriate risk-taking in our students, so too do we ask parents to embrace it in their parenting. Most of us know that in order for our children to develop the confidence and resilience they will need as adults, they must learn to solve problems and seek support away from home and within larger, more diverse and complex communities. The challenge is finding the courage to create opportunities for our children to learn to thrive and, at times, cope without us. How lucky Emily and I feel, knowing that many of the new risks and challenges that Patrick will confront and embrace this year away from us will be supported by a community of adults we know and trust so well. 
 

Save the Date: Grandparents Day



Grandparents Day will be on Friday, Sept. 25 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:10 p.m.

For further information, contact Special Events Coordinator Katherine Minevitz at 781-320-7009 or katherine_minevitz@nobles.edu.

Deciphering the Path by Dean of Students Marcela Maldonado



Even as we enjoy the waning days of summer, the impending arrival of our students is the chief source of excitement around here, with all the energy and hope they bring with them for the coming school year. Students inevitably return from the summer months refreshed, ready and resolved to get back in the game and exercise their new roles and positions in various clubs and organizations, on the playing fields and in the classroom.

Every student’s path through Nobles will be unique, and each will encounter some challenges and setbacks along the way. Much of what goes awry for teenagers is often based on their perceptions of what may or may not be going on around them. The quest for identity is at the heart of their journey, and most teenagers desperately want to belong, be a part of a pack, and not be considered different or “on the outside.” Social standing is their primary currency, and the need to find their place among their peers can lead to behaviors that might otherwise be unrecognizable to the people who love them most.

But according to new research based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, teenagers are, simply put, overestimating the bad and underestimating the good.  According to Professor Sarah W. Helms,“(They) think they know how much their peers engage in a variety of potentially risky behaviors such as substance use, sex.... They also think they know how much their peers engage in healthier behaviors, such as studying and exercising. The only problem is, they’re wrong. And…the more wrong they are, the more likely they’ll be to increase their own substance use over the next few years.”

At Nobles, our most effective weapon to push against these misperceptions has always been, and will continue to be, our own connections with students.  But the larger culture has taught us that this is an increasingly harder battle to fight without finding clear and direct ways to penetrate the misinformation out there.  Even as we remain institutionally committed to tackling these issues, we must do so from different angles. So to that end, Nobles will be engaging this year in its own study of adolescent behavior around the topics of alcohol, drugs and peer pressure. 

The Freedom from Chemical Dependency organization (FCD) will be partnering with us this fall by providing their quantitative “Student Attitudes and Behavior Survey” to the entire student body on October 14. FCD provides prevention education services in the area of alcohol and drugs. Our association with them has a long history: it was actually started 38 years ago by a graduate in a classroom in the Shattuck Schoolhouse! The FCD survey has been administered in over 300 school communities, including many of our peer schools in New England. It is a 50-question instrument built to scientifically measure our present students’ actual attitudes and behavior with regard to alcohol and other drugs, as well as their perceptions of the behavior and attitudes of their schoolmates. The end result will be a comprehensive analysis of student use and attitudes within our own community.

Findings in other schools via this survey have consistently proven that students are abusing in far fewer numbers than we think, yet normative behaviors derive from an “impression” of what is going on around them. The results of these surveys have effectively communicated perception vs. reality. And the reason why tackling misperceptions matters, according to the UNC findings, is because the rate of increase in risky behavior is much steeper among those who misperceived the social norms the most. 

FCD will meet with various administrators early in the second semester to help us decipher the data, as well as to provide support in communicating this information to students and the wider community.  In that vein, student leaders in our Peer Help Program will be instrumental in assisting with this conversation among their peers.

Our hope and intention is that this survey will serve as the catalyst for honest dialogue with our students about their choices and responsibilities, allowing us to engage in a conversation with them that is dynamic, data-driven and, to a great degree, peer-led. What FCD is offering us is a collaborative and engaging learning process, and a real opportunity to see transformative work at play. 

Save the Date: Nobles Night



Nobles Night*

A festive evening to celebrate Nobles
Beer, wine and hearty hors d’oeuvres
Thursday, November 12, 2015
6:30 p.m.

*Please note: This is NOT a student event.

For further information, contact Katherine Minevitz at 781 320 7009 or minevitz@nobles.edu

What is EXCEL, anyway? And why is it important? by Director of the Anderson/Cabot Center for EXCEL Ben Snyder



Learning—in middle and high school, as well as in life—takes many forms. More than a century ago, learning in school was seen as being exclusive to the realm of the classroom in traditionally siloed disciplines (math, English etc.). The early 20th century saw secondary schools and colleges realizing the benefits of interscholastic athletics and the performing arts in teaching teamwork, sacrifice and commitment. In recent decades the best schools have recognized that their students need new kinds of experiences to teach skills and attitudes that that are critical to success (educational, personal and professional) in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

In recent years, Nobles has intentionally built programs that engage students in their local, national and global communities in productive and meaningful ways both in the classroom and off campus—and always in close collaboration with Nobles faculty. As part of the school’s most recent strategic plan and resulting capital campaign, Nobles recognized the need to formalize this broad commitment under the umbrella of EXCEL—Experiential and Community Engaged Learning.  EXCEL programs fall into four areas:

1. Service learning:  Long a hallmark of Nobles there is now a clear “culture of service” that commits all students to significant and meaningful service. Nobles students are known throughout Greater Boston (and in many places outside of Massachusetts) as selflessly giving of themselves (click here for a recent article that commends Nobles’ service commitment in New Orleans). Through this program we hope to educate students around issues of social import and help them find places and causes where - throughout their lives - they can make a positive difference. In any given school year students give over 20,000 hours of service, over 75 percent of seniors exceed their service requirement, over 50 service events are hosted and close to $100,000 is raised by students to be given directly to nonprofit partners where our students have been working.

2. Travel/cross cultural immersion: Each year between 125 and 150 Nobles students and 30 Nobles faculty and staff venture out to places as far afield as New Orleans, South Africa, Guatemala, China, India and more. We have ongoing partnerships with more than two dozen schools and nonprofits where our students engage in service, participate in homestays, improve their language skills, develop new perspectives on their own lives (and their school and country) and make new friends. Each year ten to fifteen students spend a semester or year studying away from Nobles (usually in the junior year) and by graduation roughly 75 percent of seniors have traveled with Nobles or studied away from campus. With the world (in the words of Thomas Friedman) becoming “flatter” by the minute it is vital for Nobles students to have these experiences prior to graduation, and we have found that sharing those experiences with classmates and teachers enhances the educational impact.

3. Applied learning: With the increasing ease of access to information, mastery of specific content (names, dates, facts etc.) has become less important—and having the ability to apply acquired information to solve real and substantive problems has become critical. Across the Nobles curriculum, students are working collaboratively on projects and in courses designed to create challenges for which there are no readily apparent solutions. This process of facing legitimate (and often complex) hurdles, testing ideas and hypotheses and positively working through inevitable setbacks is critical to the development of resilience, patience and problem solving skills.

4. Institutional community engagement: Achieve and Upward Bound. Each summer (and on Saturday mornings during the school year) Nobles hosts two programs that provide high quality education for 140 low income/first generation middle and high school students from Boston and Lawrence to put them on the path to college. Nobles students, alumni, and faculty tutor, mentor, teach, support, and administer these programs and reflect the broader commitment of Nobles to engage productively with students who would not otherwise have access to all Nobles has to offer.

In all of EXCEL’s endeavors Nobles works to develop long term partnerships that generations of Nobles students and faculty can contribute to and benefit from—and collectively EXCEL programs are unique among its cohort of independent schools in New England and across the country.

The variety of opportunities for Nobles students is exciting and represents a compelling array of options. In returning from sabbatical and assuming a new role as Director of the Anderson/Cabot Center for Experiential and Community Engaged Learning, I’m eager to build upon what we have created and help students forge their own paths to engaging positively and productively in the world around them.

Moments of Gratitude by Jen Hamilton Licensed Educational Psychologist



For students and faculty alike, summer is a natural time for renewal, a time to recharge and reflect upon areas of growth over the past year and to think about goals for the coming year. 

There are many changes one can make, both big and small, to enhance happiness, relationships and psychological and physical health. But when you consider the effort-to-outcome ratio, there is nothing that packs a greater punch than incorporating gratitude into your life. 

Research over the past several years has shown that cultivating a stance of gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve resilience, interpersonal relationships and life satisfaction. We tend to have a natural inclination, at the end of the day, to reflect on what we wish had gone better and what we wished we could have achieved.  While thinking along these lines can certainly motivate us to work harder, it can also sap us of confidence and energy, leaving us less likely to actually reach our goals. 

In my exploration of gratitude this summer, I stumbled upon the work of Shawn Achor, a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology and author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work. Achor beautifully addresses the topic of gratitude (and much more) in his TED Talk.

The essence of Achor's research is that in our society, we often believe that success is what brings us happiness. In his talk, he asserts that "ninety percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by your external world, but by the way your brain processes the world" and that "75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat" (Estrada, Isen & Young 1997.) This compelling research shows that "if we can raise someone's level of positivity in the present, then the brain performs better than when negative or stressed. Intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy level rises. Your brain, when positive, is 31% more productive than your brain when negative, neutral, or stressed (Lyubomirsky, 2005)."

How, then, can we unlearn our years of conditioning that tell us that we will be happy when we get the grades we want, get into the school we want, get the house or the car or the job we want? How can we train our brains to change the way we think about the world? Of the seven steps that Achor writes about in his book, a great place to start is to develop an outlook of gratitude. 

If, at the end of each day, we deliberately think of three new things in the past 24 hours that we are grateful for, we begin to retrain our brains to scan the world for the positive instead of the negative (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). Taking two minutes a day to do this can meaningfully change your perspective in just a few weeks.

Perhaps in the coming weeks, as we all get into our new schedules and patterns, we can all try to incorporate this idea into our lives. As your kids hop into your car after school, instead of asking "How was your day?" (which usually gets only a one-word answer or maybe a grunt) try asking your kids to name three new things that they are grateful for.  Make it a new habit to finish your day by jotting your moments of gratitude in a journal before bed.  Talk about it over dinner.  See how you and your family feel a few weeks from now. From my end, I will be incorporating a few moments of gratitude into middle school Personal Development classes each week so that students will have some exposure to the idea at school.  Perhaps they will bring the idea home to you!  If we can make this one small change to improve well-being, I say let's give it a try!

If you would like to discuss more ideas to bring a more positive outlook to your family's life, please feel free to contact me at JHamilton0f@nobles.edu, or another member of the counseling team:  Mark Spence at MSpence0f@nobles.edu, or Mary Batty at MBatty0f@nobles.edu.  As always, we welcome your thoughts and ideas.

Volunteer Opportunity in the Putnam Library



Would you like to volunteer in the Putnam Library at Nobles? We'd love your help with shelving books, staffing the circulation desk or with special projects. No special knowledge is needed--we'll provide training.

If interested, please contact Emily Tragert at emily_tragert@nobles.edu or 781-320-7231. 

Welcome Back from PA Co-Chairs Barbara Ito and Polly Maroni



Welcome, parents, to the 2015-2016 school year!

As this year’s co-chairs of the Nobles Parents’ Association, we are excited for the new school year, and would like to extend a warm welcome to you and your family. We hope your summer was restful and restorative.

All Nobles parents and guardians are automatically members of the Nobles Parents’ Association (PA). Although the PA has many different roles at Nobles, it is our goal to help all families feel welcome and integral to the everyday functions of our school. One of the best ways you can become connected to the Nobles community is to volunteer your time. No matter the amount, your support of the activities and events going on make the Nobles experience a rewarding one.

We hope you’ll join us as we kick off the school year on Saturday, September 12, at the Nobles Parents’ Association Fall Social, from 6:30-9:00pm in the Castle. This annual tradition is a casual and fun way for new and returning parents to meet one another as well as a great way to reacquaint with old friends after the summer months. Please RSVP by September 8 using the link in the weekly emails. See you there!

The fall at Nobles is bustling with activity. To find out more, please read your respective Parent Class Representatives’ letters in the Class Notes section of this monthly e-newsletter. Also, each week, Upper School parents receive a Friday email from Judith Merritt and Middle School parents receive a Wednesday email from Maryanne MacDonald with news and reminders for the week.

Please take a moment to log onto the “Parents” portion of the “Nobles Community” tab on the right side of the Nobles Website. Select the “Volunteer at Nobles” link in the left navigation pane. On the “Volunteer at Nobles” page, you can browse through numerous opportunities that include class-specific as well as school-wide events. Once you have selected the function you would like to volunteer for, the committee chairs will be in touch with further details.

The Nobles website is the center of all news in the busy Nobles community. Please make it a habit to check it for afternoon program announcements, athletic schedules and calendar updates. If you have any problems, please contact ISS via email at HELP@nobles.edu.

Please look out for our new “Green” signs that will be posted at the pickup and drop off areas around the school. We hope to encourage people to be environmentally aware and to make an effort to stop engine idling. Thank you for your help!

Finally, as you plan your fall schedule, please save these dates on your calendar:

Parents’ Association Meeting – Thursday, Sept. 17 at 8 a.m.
Please join us for our first PA meeting of the year. Have a cup of coffee and listen to Bob Henderson speak about the upcoming year. As well, we will have our faculty and staff “Green Team” leaders speak about the Nobles’ Green initiatives. Come learn about the PA’s many planned activities for this year and meet the Class Reps and Committee Chairs that make up our dedicated PA board.

Back to School Night – Monday, Sept. 21
This night gives you the opportunity to meet teachers and experience your child’s day in an abbreviated form.

Grandparents Day – Friday, September 25
This is a wonderful day that connects all ages and generations. Many volunteers are needed, so please consider joining the ranks to host our special guests. Sign up using the “Volunteer at Nobles” link on the website.

Nobles Yard Sale – October 3
We are excited to be having the Yard Sale back this year. A great way to reuse and recycle, please donate any and all used clothing, sporting goods, books and home goods this fall. And plan to come and shop as well; there are many treasures to be had. This event requires a large number of volunteers, so please come for a two hour slot for fun and camaraderie. All the proceeds from the Yard Sale will benefit Achieve (a tuition-free educational enrichment program serving low-income middle school-age children).

We appreciate the dedicated and wonderful community that makes up the Nobles parents. Thank you in advance for your help and participation, we look forward to seeing you on campus throughout the coming months!

With warmest regards,

Parents’ Association Co-Chairs,

Barbara Ito and Polly Maroni

Middle School Parent Reps



Welcome to the 2015-2016 academic year! We would like to extend a warm welcome to all new and returning families to the Nobles community. You will receive a weekly e-mail from Maryanne MacDonald, which will be a great reminder of the happenings solely at the Middle School.

As your Class VI and Class V representatives, we will keep you informed of the important events happening in the Middle School, as well as schoolwide events, through the Nobles Parents' Association newsletter, which you will receive via e-mail at the start of each month. This can also be accessed on the school website.

Volunteering at Nobles is a wonderful way to get involved, meet other parents, teachers and your child’s classmates. Log on to the Nobles website and please take a moment to look at available volunteer opportunities. We will also highlight key events each month. There is a Middle School page as well as a schoolwide page.

Middle School Events – highlights for September and October 2015

Tuesday and Wednesday, September 8 and 9: Class VI and V Retreat Days (dismissal at 3:30 Pratt Middle School) Dress is casual, students should bring their textbooks to school on September 9.

Thursday, September 10: Middle School classes begin, Afternoon Program begins, dress code will be in effect.

Saturday September 12: Parent Association All-School Fall Social, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Castle

Thursday, September 17: The first Parents Association meeting, 8:00 a.m. in the main Castle Dining Room. This is a great way to get involved and learn more about volunteer opportunities at Nobles.

Monday September 21: Back to School Night 6:00-9:30 p.m. 

Wednesday September 23: No School – Yom Kippur

Friday September 25: Grandparents Day

Wednesday October 7, 8:00 a.m. Middle School Parent Coffee. Please join us for a conversation with Middle School Dean, Colette Finley. Ms. Finley will talk about life in the Middle School and will be available to answer some of your questions.

Thursday October 15: Middle School (Class VI and Class V only) Parent Social, please RSVP online. You will need to be logged into the Nobles website to respond.

Please feel free to contact any of us with any questions you may have regarding anything Nobles.

Thank you,

Class V Reps
Carla Higgins, carla.j@higginsfamily.org
Grace W. Slosberg, gslosberg@comcast.net

Class VI Reps
Sarah Gomez, sarah.gomez@comcast.net
Cindy Jaczko, cindy@jaczko.com

Class I Dean's Report



Welcome back!

As usual, the summer months have flown by quickly, and we’re very excited to begin the new school year. Senior year promises to be a memorable one.

Both of us had fulfilling summers. When Meg was not at Nobles working on the college front, she spent as much time as possible with her two young boys and husband, taking vacations to Cape Cod and Maine. Mike participated in a variety of professional development workshops, including a one-week writing conference at Bard College and a Critical Friends Group seminar through the School Reform Initiative. We came back from our summers reinvigorated, and we look forward to helping the senior class establish a positive tone for the school. The seniors play a vital role as we all work to  develop an inclusive school culture at Nobles.

Earlier this week, we helped students kick off their senior year at the annual retreat held at Camp Bournedale. Every year the goal of the retreat is to give students time to reconnect with their classmates after the summer, enjoy time with each other and help them think about their goals for the upcoming school year. Students engaged in a successful program that focused around the theme of “Telling Our Stories.” By sharing their stories, we believe that students learn more about one another and, as a result, build stronger relationships and become even better leaders. In addition to the stories, we provided students with information about Senior Projects, a fantastic opportunity for students to pursue their own interests through an independent project in the spring guided by a faculty mentor. The college office also gave a presentation of the “Nuts and Bolts of the College Application Process.” While students were certainly wiped out by the end of the day, we were pleased with their preparation and commitment to the expectations that we set forth over the summer, a good sign of things to come!

The beginning of every school year is a time of excitement, change, and inevitably some anxiety.  In just a few short days, students will have a fresh schedule, a line up of different teachers with higher expectations, an altered assembly seat, and new leadership roles to assume. We anticipate that the fall season especially can be a stressful time, and we want to reiterate to you that we’ll support your student to the best of our abilities. As one way to support the senior class,  we’ve planned a few senior transitions evenings that will help equip students with information and advice about making the most of their transition from Nobles to their respective college or university. You’ll hear more about these evenings over the next couple of months. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your son or daughter, please contact us, the college counseling office, or the student life team and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

We would like to express our immense gratitude to the Class I Representatives: Sylvia Crawford, Anne London, and Pam Notman, who have already been extremely helpful in our efforts to make the 2015-16 school year a successful one. They will be in touch with you soon about upcoming senior events.
 
Finally, we hope to see you at Back to School Night on Monday, September 21 at 6:00 p.m. Thank you in advance for entrusting us with your son or daughter. It will be a genuine pleasure to work with such a hard-working, talented, and friendly group of young men and women!

Sincerely,

Meghan Hamilton and Mike Kalin
 

Class III Parent Reps



Dear Class III Parents and Friends,

We hope everyone has had a fun and relaxing summer and that you are getting to enjoy these last precious weeks of August with your kids. We know it is hard to believe but the return to Nobles and the new school year is just around the corner as September beckons!

We are writing to introduce ourselves as your Class III Parent Representatives, and we look forward to working with all of you this year. Sophomore year is an exciting year for our students and also a year where expectations are raised as the routines of Nobles are assumed to have been mastered. Our role is to hopefully be a conduit of information from the school to your home regarding important dates and announcements. We’ll also try to continue to build our class community by scheduling a number of parent social opportunities throughout the year. 

To kick things off, we’ve listed at the bottom of this email some important all school and Class III dates for the first couple months of the coming year. Several of these events rely on parent volunteers to make them successful, and we enthusiastically encourage you to get involved. Any amount of your time, input, help is truly appreciated!  We will have sign-up sheets at our Class III parent coffee in the Castle on September 28th (8-9:30 a.m.)

You will soon also be able to sign up on the Nobles website, by logging in at www.nobles.edu and accessing the volunteer forms, which can be found under the Class III Parent Section after clicking on Nobles Community.  

As we all know, September is a very busy time at Nobles. If you haven’t already done so, we also encourage you to bookmark the Nobles website and check the calendar often.  Be sure to keep an eye out for the Friday weekly email updates from Judith Merritt, which are a great way to keep current on school happenings, announcements and schedule changes.
We hope to meet all you personally this fall at our various school wide and class events, but in the meantime please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about back to school and the upcoming year.

All our best for these last couple weeks of summer vacation. We are looking forward to a great year together!

Isabelle Loring (mom of Nick Loring)
Izzyloring@yahoo.com

Allison Horne (mom of Bella Riehl)
Allison@justloveme.com

As you plan your fall schedule, please be sure to put these important dates on your calendar:

September

First Day of School - Class III Retreat
Tuesday, Sept. 8 with 9:00-9:15 a.m. arrival (Shattuck Schoolhouse)

Class bonding event is a Blue Hills Reservation hike – bag lunch is provided but must bring a snack and a backpack; pickup 3:45-4:15 p.m. at Shattuck Schoolhouse; see the summer mailer for other important details!

Parents' Association Fall Social, Saturday, Sept. 12, 6:30-9:00 p.m. (Castle)
Entire Nobles parent community social event; rsvp via the calendar on the Nobles website by Wed 9/3.

Parents Association Meeting, Thursday, Sept. 17, 8:00 a.m. (Castle)
First PA meeting of the year with Bob Henderson as a speaker

Back-to-School Night, Monday, Sept. 21, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Preview your student's classes while also meeting their teachers and advisor – a “can’t miss” Nobles event!

Yom Kippur, Wednesday, Sept. 23
School is closed.

Grandparents and Special Friends Day, Friday, Sept. 25
More information in the Nobles summer mailer from a few weeks back.

Fall Class III Parent Coffee, Monday, Sept. 28, 8:00-9:30 a.m. (Castle)

October

Columbus Day, Monday Oct. 12
School is closed.

Comment writing day, Monday Oct. 26
No school for all students

Fall Class III Parent Social, Thursday, Oct. 22, 6:30-9:00 p.m. (Castle)
This is a great opportunity to meet new Class III parents and catch up with old friends. 

Class IV Parent Reps



Dear Class IV Parents and Guardians,

Welcome to Class IV (freshman year, ninth grade) at Nobles! We would like to extend a warm welcome to all of the new families joining this wonderful community, and to say welcome back to all of the returning families. This year, the move to the Upper School and the start of high school represents a new experience for all of our children.

We hope to meet you personally this fall, however please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. The first few weeks can be overwhelming, especially for new Nobles parents and students, with many events and things to remember.

We are very excited about our roles as Class IV Representatives, and are looking forward to getting to know you and to working with you throughout the year. Here is a snapshot of Class IV:

  • 133 students
  • 65 boys, 68 girls
  • Class comes from 43 cities and towns; 9% from Boston
  • 6 boarders

Part of our job as Class Reps is to ensure that parents get to know one another.  This can be accomplished in a number of ways: attending Parents' Association (PA) meetings; parent coffees and socials; volunteering for a number of different activities and attending any of the numerous school events (art openings, theatrical performances, musical concerts, athletic games, etc.).

We highly recommend attending the first (and only) all-school Parent Social, September 12.  It is a wonderful party and a terrific way to meet other parents. Volunteer opportunities can be found on the Nobles website, under the Parent portal, on the left side. Please feel free to contact us any time during the year with ideas, suggestions and questions—or just to chat.

A few dates/events to remember:

Thursday, Sept. 3: Orientation meeting for Class IV students at Nobles, 6-7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 8: First day of school, Orientation for Class IV

Wednesday, Sept. 9: First day of classes.  Students should have their books. 

Saturday, Sept. 12: Nobles All-School Parent Social (6:30-9:00 p.m.). This fun event is complimentary and dress is casual. RSVP online. This is a great opportunity to meet new parents and catch up with old friends.

Thursday, Sept. 17, 8:00-9:30 a.m. First Parents Association Meeting. Headmaster Bob Henderson will be the speaker.  This is always an informative meeting.

Monday, Sept. 21: Back-to-School Night:  This is your big chance to sit in on all of your student's classes and to meet the teachers as well as his/her advisor.  BTS night is a great way to learn your way around campus, to put faces to the names of your child's teachers, and to visit with other parents. No homework will be assigned to you, we promise!

Wednesday, Sept. 23: Yom Kippur. School is closed.

Friday, Sept. 25: Grandparents Day: Additional information will be forthcoming.

Thursday, Oct. 8: Class IV Fall Parent Social. Come join other Class IV parents as we mingle and get to know each other in an informal setting in the Castle.  An invitation will be emailed to you soon.  

Monday, Oct. 19, Class IV Fall Coffee: A wonderful way to make connections within the class. Class coffees meet in the Castle, after morning drop-off (7:45-9:30 a.m.).

Thank you in advance for your support and participation; we look forward to meeting you in the next few weeks. 

Lauren Kinghorn (mother of Caroline), lkkinghorn@comcast.net
Cindy Trull (mother of Julia), cdtrull@att.net

Class I Parent Reps



Class I...

As we savor the last days of summer and prepare for the school year ahead, we wanted to welcome everyone to Senior Year!  As your Class I PA Reps, we'd love to see everyone get involved and volunteer for all the exciting senior year events ahead and we truly look forward to working together. We'll be using SignUpGenius links in subsequent weekly emails to let you know about upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Here are the Class I Events for your calendars:

Tuesday, September 8, 7:30-8:00 a.m. Grab-and-Go Breakfast for Seniors (located at the front doors) as they board the retreat bus. We've got food, they bring water bottles.

Thursday, September 10, 7-8:30 p.m. Towles Auditorium College Process Nuts and Bolts for Class I Parents/Guardians

Saturday, September 12, 6:30-9:00 p.m. Parent Association Fall Social

Monday, September 21 Back to School Night

Friday, September 25 Grandparents Day

Friday, September 30, 8:00 a.m. Castle Library - Class I Parent Fall Coffee (As special guests, we've invited our Class I Deans, Meg Hamilton and Mike Kalin to stop in and say hello; also, you can save a trip--pack the car with your yard sale items--yard sale is Oct 3--and drop them before or after the coffee!

Friday, October 30 Halloween Surprise Lunch

Friday, November 20 Class I Parent Social
TBD Senior Transitions Program (Snacks)

Friday, January 22, 8:00 a.m. Castle Library, Class I Parent Winter Coffee

Friday, February 12 Valentine’s Day Surprise Desserts

Tuesday, May 3 Spring Surprise Lunch

Friday, May 20 Class I Parent Spring Social

Tuesday, May 31 Class I Celebration “The Way We Were”

Tuesday, May 31 Class I Project Night

Wednesday, June 1 Class I Night

Thursday, June 2 Awards Night

Friday, June 3 Graduation

Friday, June 3 Graduation Party (parent sponsored)

If you have any questions or suggestions now or along the way, please let us know. We are looking forward to a great year, and to seeing all of you. Until we see you on campus--enjoy!

Sylvia Crawford (skkuzman@aol.com)
Anne London (annelondon@icloud.com)
Pam Notman (pgbn61@yahoo.com)

Class II Parent Reps



Dear Class II Parents,

It’s hard to believe it is almost back to school time!  We hope you have had a fun and relaxing summer break. Junior year is a busy and sometimes stressful year for both students and parents. As your Class Reps, we will do our best to keep you informed of all the important events that take place.  As you plan for the fall, please put the following dates on your calendar:

Class II Parent Social: Friday, October 2nd, 7-10 p.m. (Castle)
Join fellow Class II parents for an evening of cocktails, dinner and conversation.  Look for an invitation and more details in September.

Class II Parent Coffee: Thursday, October 15th, 8:15 a.m. (Castle) 
Please join us to reconnect with fellow parents and hear about our plans for the year.   We will have sign-up sheets for some Class II volunteer opportunities. 

We look forward to seeing many of you back on campus in the upcoming weeks.  If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions please feel free to e-mail either of us.

Your Class II Parent Reps,

Anna Abate
annaabate@verizon.net

Nicola DiFelice
nicoladifelice@comcast.net
 

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If you have questions, comments or suggestions for this newsletter, email Kim Neal at kim_neal@nobles.edu.