Dear Superintendent of Schools; Dr. Robert Gilbert,
Welcome to Woodbridge! I look forward to seeing what new leadership can do for Beecher Road School at a time when a fresh perspective and innovation is needed for our children’s success. As a resident, parent of 2 young children and a professional in Education myself, I’m wondering what is your vision for students at Beecher and what innovative efforts can be put into place to guarantee our children’s mental, physical and emotional development and well- being?
What systems are we putting in place to best support our children on their journey of becoming lifelong learners? Are we placing too much emphasis on homework, worksheets, academic rigor, testing and creating children who are good at filling in bubbles and writing a five paragraph essay but less at creative problem solving and independent thinking?
Can we design learning environments that are supportive of all learning styles and promote health such as standing desks, alternative work spaces, movement breaks, daily recess not sacrificed for more time to “get work done”?
Are we prioritizing our children’s social-emotional health and well-being, creating a culture of acceptance, tolerance, patience and inclusivity to help our children combat a world often times plagued with violence, aggression, intolerance and bullying? Are we raising children who are connected with nature, having time to explore and learn from their environment so that they can be stewards of nature in the future?
Are we approaching grading, homework and testing in a way that is reflective of our children’s true learning and giving them feedback on an ongoing basis to help them become better learners and not feel shamed, stressed or guilty by a letter or a score?
We are fortunate to have the resources many other school districts lack- our access makes us privileged in a way other places are not. We should use the resources we have to be a model for education for schools across the country. Let us join ranks of schools like Vallecito Elementary in San Rafael, California that has incorporated standing desks for every student in their school realizing the immediate health benefits for their children. Several schools throughout the country have innovative and well developed outdoor classrooms that become a daily place of learning for various subjects. Schools like Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in West Baltimore incorporate a mindfulness program and use a mindfulness mediation room instead of the principal’s office for children when demonstrating difficult behaviors; teaching them skills of self-regulation and cooperation that will serve them for a lifetime.
Let us use what we know in the research about the way children learn, the innovation others have incorporated to improve their learning environments and allow Beecher Road School to be among those schools in the country with creative systems that inspire learners for life, connect them with nature and the real world, support the whole child so that we may raise ethical, bright leaders for the future.
Carissa M. Vega, M.S. CCC-SLP
Speech- Language Pathologist and Educational Consultant