The Impact of Meadowbroook

kathrynEven though it has been almost 10 years since I attended Meadowbrook, the impact this school had on me has not faded in the least. Over the past few years, I have come to realize just how important Meadowbrook has been to me. Two years ago, I applied to a job at a non-profit in Philadelphia that awards scholarships to elementary-aged kids for them to attend independent or parochial schools. In this process, I was asked about why I am interested in working in education. “Meadowbrook” was my immediate response.

The unique environment of Meadowbrook is where I learned the meaning of community, leadership, honesty, responsibility, self-confidence, and respect. The 2nd grade post-office taught me to take ownership and that communities relied on the combination of individual duties, the annual art show made me feel proud of myself (even if my project did not in any way resemble the Modigliani piece it was supposed to), and teachers kindly but firmly correcting me behaviorally and academically kept me honest. Special shout out to Mr. Gaines for moving my desk to the very back corner of the room by itself while I was at recess, after a particularly chatty morning. Reading buddies and waiters created a sense of family and gave me role models among my peers, and eventually taught me how to be a leader and role model, too. Mr. S’s annual reading of the book about Ruby Bridges bravely integrating a New Orleans school, as well as his story of the runner who helped his opponent across the finish line instilled in me the values of respect for others, especially those who are different from myself. I really could go on and on about the ways the time-honored traditions of Meadowbrook shaped my values and who I am today. These traditions and daily occurrences are meaningful retrospectively, but to my elementary-aged self, they were just a part of the normal life of a Meadowbrook student. Little by little, small wisdoms were imparted on me, but at the time I was only aware of how much I enjoyed being at school.

My best friend at Meadowbrook, Sara Trost ’08, is my best friend tosaltzman family this day. The way in which Meadowbrook nurtured our friendship is amazing, but I think it speaks even more to the culture of Meadowbrook that both Sara and I are passionate about pursuing careers related to education. Meadowbrook is a special place that fosters each student’s individuality while teaching them how to be good community members, and more than that, good people. I ended up getting that job at the non-profit in Philadelphia. Through my experience there, it became even more clear to me how important elementary-education is, and how lucky I am to have spent my childhood at Meadowbrook. It is rare to find a school that cares as much about its students and families as much as Meadowbrook does, and even more rare to find a school that genuinely cares about its alumni in the same way. I’m thankful that I’ll always be welcomed home at Meadowbrook.

Children helping in the community

Everyone needs to feel needed, and everyone wants to have a place to belong. Because screen time and after-school activities tend to eat up so much of our time in this day and age, the younger generation is less likely to know the satisfaction of a job well done, the thrill of being an active member in a close-knit community, and the joy helping others can bring.

Getting your children involved in their community is a great way to help them feel a sense of importance and belonging, and give them some time away from the screen to experience life and the world around them.
There are many ways to get your kids out of the house and contributing to the community. When deciding what kind of community service projects you would like to see your family participate in, consider the talents and interests of your children. If the work is appealing and engaging to them, they will be much more likely to go in with a good attitude and come out feeling accomplished.

Below are a few ways you and your children can help out in your community.

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

Children who enjoy cooking and serving food might be interested in volunteering at a local soup kitchen. To make the experience more fun, consider allowing each of your children to bring a friend along and remind them to chat it up with the folks who come through the food line. They may even leave with a few new friends.

Volunteer at a Fundraising Event

Every community has a variety of fundraising events each year. The organizers of these events are always in need of volunteers to help keep things running smoothly. By selling snacks or drinks, helping with set-up or break-down, or offering to perform (if music or dance is your thing) you will get to spend the day at a fun event while helping the community around you.

Plant Trees or Flowers

Many community spaces such as parks are in need of more greenery. Grab a shovel and your kids and start planting trees and flowers to make your community a beautiful place to be. Just be sure to get permission before you begin this project!

Pick Up Litter

One quick and easy way to help keep your spot on Earth clean is to pick up litter whenever you see it. By teaching your little ones to do this, you ensure that a new generation of community members will be committed to keeping their world pretty. To make an even bigger impact, set aside an entire day in which you and your family head to a local park to clean up. This can be a great bonding experience, and the reward is a nice, clean park to enjoy.

Visit a Nursing Home

Many people living in nursing homes rarely have visitors. Help cheer up these lonely folks by visiting on a regular basis. Have your children make and bring cards to share, sing carols around the holidays, bring a book to read together, or just sit and chat. Whatever your family decides to do while you are there, your new friends are sure to appreciate the company.

This is just a small selection of ways you could encourage your kids to contribute to their community. Sit down with your kids, consider all the options, pick one, and head out to make the world a better place.

Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Wooler


Wooler-Lindsey-HR (1)Lindsey Wooler:  Music Teacher

1. What is one item on your bucket list?

I want to visit Jerusalem and see the rich historical sites.

2. What book are you currently reading?

Mattimeo by Brian Jacques. It’s a great story about mice, badgers, crazy rabbits, and much more!

3. Who is your mentor? Why?

My voice teacher from college, Dr. Shockey. He is a wonderful musician, teacher, and friend. I have learned so much from him about pursuing musical excellence, teaching well and clearly, and doing everything with consistency and intention.

4. What would your superpower be?

I would love to have super awesome reflexes and strength like Captain America.

5. Where is the best place you have traveled to and why?

That is hard to say because I have traveled a lot. If I have to pick, Venice was my favorite place. I loved the architecture, the food, and the culture! The city is beautiful and exceeded my expectations.

6. If you could do any job for just one day what would it be?

I would like to be a marine archaeologist. I am fascinated by the oceans and would love to study some of our history underwater!

7. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I have had the opportunity to visit five out of the seven continents. I’m still working on Australia and Antarctica!

8. What is your favorite thing about Meadowbrook?

My favorite thing about Meadowbrook is definitely the community. I do not feel like one isolated teacher, but rather that I am part of the bigger fabric of the Meadowbrook school. The teachers, administrators and other staff members have been very kind and helpful to me in my first year at Meadowbrook and the students are wonderful! I wake up each day excited and I truly feel blessed to teach here!

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today!

outdoorplayIf you look on the U.S. government’s “Let’s Move” website, which promotes the importance of physical activity for young people, you will find that it says this:

Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death. Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity. Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.

Sixty minutes sounds like a lot, right? It is — but Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, doesn’t think it’s near enough to combat all of the issues that young people face today in the academic-oriented, competitive school culture. In this post, she explains why, and what should be done about it. Hanscom is the author of a number of popular posts on this blog, including “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today” and “How schools ruined recess.” Hanscom is the founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England. She writes on the TimberNook blog, and her new book, “Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children,” has just been released.

Why so many kids can’t sit in school today.


By Angela Hanscom

Movement equals health is one of those equations as indisputable as the sun equals light. But there are two important variables that rarely factor into this formula: the type of movement and how much. For children, it’s a lot more than you think.

The U.S. government’s recommendation of 60 minutes of vigorous movement a day for children, combined with healthy eating, is great for decreasing the risks of obesity and heart disease, among other chronic diseases. But children today have symptoms of other alarming problems, such as weaker bones and muscles, emotional instability and anxiety, surprising episodes of aggression, the inability to focus and pay attention, and problems “sitting still” compared to children of just two decades ago.

Know what helps with all of these? Movement. And a lot of it! To be healthy, children need several hours (not minutes!) of movement a day — preferably outdoors, where the senses are fully alive and their bodies are free to move in many different ways.

[The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class]

The White House, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are making efforts to combat the obesity epidemic. This is important and I applaud their efforts. But if we don’t step in to address other problems on the rise, we risk setting our kids up for another epidemic: rampant developmental, behavioral and emotional disorders, and even the misdiagnosis of attention-deficit disorder and autism.

I recently got a call from a longtime friend. “My son is in full-day kindergarten now. He is the sweetest little boy in the world,” she gushed. “He desperately wants to please his teacher, but he keeps failing miserably.”

She started crying. She told me that her son comes home almost every day with a note that says he was “wiggly” during math or couldn’t sit still for circle time again. “They don’t know what to do with him,” she said. “They have him carrying heavy books to the office thinking that this hefty load will somehow help to ‘calm him.’ And they encourage him to ‘get his sillies out’ by jumping on a trampoline for a few minutes, but it doesn’t seem to help much.”

She went on to say, “He is starting to think something is wrong with him. He says things like, ‘I can’t do anything right’ or the most heart-breaking of all, ‘I’m stupid.’ He is just starting his academic years and already has a taste for defeat.”

This 5-year-old is being targeted as a “problem child” simply because he needs to move more. According to veteran teachers who have been in the classroom for more than 30 years, maybe one or two children would have trouble paying attention in the past. Now, it is the new norm. Teachers are frequently telling me that on a good day, roughly 4 out of 13 children have trouble attending.

The number of developmental deficits seen in children today is unnerving. More and more kids are quick to become emotional, are fidgeting in the classroom, can’t do a sit-up or a pushup, have inadequate social skills, are clumsy and can’t function in collaborative group activities with peers. They don’t seem to be able to think for themselves or solve problems on their own. Compared to past generations, many children can’t keep up physically, socially, cognitively and emotionally.

But labeling these kids “troublemakers” or as suffering from “attention-deficit disorder” isn’t the answer — diagnosis (clinical or anecdotal) doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Let’s look at the root cause. These could be symptoms of clinical disorders, but based on the sheer quantity of sensory and motor deficits seen in many children today — they are more than likely a result of the child’s environment. Being indoors much of the day, being on screens an average of 7.5 hours a day and having adults curate all of their extracurricular time is harming our children and making them sick.

We can’t expect children to sit for hours on end, interspersed with little movement breaks and not expect consequences to their development. Children need at least three hours of outdoor play on a daily basis in order to foster healthy sensory and motor development. Children need opportunities to go upside down, climb trees, run as fast as they can, use their imagination, test their strength, care for each other’s scraped knees, roll, climb, balance and even spin in circles. All of these activities use their brain, activate their muscles both big and small, and engage the senses. This lays the foundation for being able to pay attention, listen and learn in a classroom setting.

So the next time you pick your children up from school, take them to an open field and let them explore for a while. On the weekends spend the day at the beach, even if it’s not sunny and warm — there are benefits in all kinds of weather. If it is raining outside, let your kids play in it. Force them if you have to! Encourage kids to ride their bikes to friend’s houses. Get to know your neighbors and create a community that watches out for the children so that they can play outdoors whether you live in an urban or a rural setting.

It’s time to rethink the environment our children spend most of their waking hours in to allow for more outdoor play and movement throughout the day. Let’s recall the 5-year-old “problem child” who couldn’t sit still in class. Now place him in a school environment that incorporates lessons outdoors. In order to learn about plants, he spends days with his classmates creating a garden behind the school grounds. To practice writing letters, he writes with a stick in the dirt. His physical education class is shooting hoops outside or mountain biking on nature paths in the woods. After school, he takes off with his sister to go build forts at the rock pit in his neighborhood. Along the way, two other children join them, as they make decisions about when it’s safe to cross the street, whether to climb some boulders on the way, and what type of materials they will use to build their fort with. Imagine the changes we would see in this child.

Studies indicate that when children switch from spending hours primarily indoors and sitting at a desk to one where the child is free to move and play throughout the day, the results can be drastic. Problems of poor attention and extra wiggles all but dissipate, and children become attentive and active learners. Unrestricted time outdoors fosters a joy of learning and confidence in one’s abilities — two critical elements in the classroom and in life. All it takes is some time and a place to play outside.

As a society we’re making great strides toward obesity prevention. While we are working to keep our children at healthy weights, we must also strive to ensure healthy behaviors, attitudes, sensory function, strength and coordination. This is true health, and to get it, our children should be introduced to a lot more outdoor playtime with their peers. Sixty minutes of movement is not enough!

Brussels sprouts!

brussell-s“I never tried them before, but I like them.” “May we have more?” Believe it or not, that is what many students were saying as they sampled roasted Brussels sprouts in the science room last week. First, all of the classes visited the garden for the last time for the season to observe our Brussels sprouts plants. Then they returned to the classroom to try some of the vegetable and learn about their health benefits. Many students (and adults) were pleasantly surprised!


apple-festival-2016nadiaMarketing 101…in Second Grade!!
by Nadia Russell and company

WANTED: Experienced, business-savvy entrepreneurs with an eye for product development and marketing for exceptional opportunity to raise our company to the next level. Requires completion of first grade, familiarity with apples, and a team-focused strategy. Ability to raise more than $400 in two hours is highly desired.

If your child was a second grader at The Meadowbrook School any time in the recent 25+ years, he/she is qualified for this exciting job opportunity. Last week, seventeen 7 and 8 year olds put their minds together to create a new business called the Apple Festival. They did an apple tasting a couple weeks ago and then they did apple pie graphs to graph the results of their apple tasting. In their apple tasting, they found that Honeycrisp was the top scoring apple, with 8 votes. Fuji got 5, Granny Smith got 5, Red Delicious got 2, Golden Delicious got 0, and Gala got 0. Then the group did some research by visiting Styer Orchard, where they learned how apples get picked and that there are many different bins you can use to collect them. They used their marketing research to pick their own apples, choosing the most popular varieties to take home for product development. In a high power business meeting, the students brainstormed product ideas, deciding that past Festivals showed preference for apple cupcakes, candy and caramel apples, and apple cider. Each student worked with an adult to develop an apple product which they planned to sell at the Apple Festival on November 4, 2016. They learned to count money and make change for customers, priced their own products, and enlisted Moms, Dads, Grandmoms, and teachers as sales assistants for their product fair.

Here’s where the marketing came into play. They advertised the Festival by making posters in Computer class and posting them everywhere in the school, making T-shirts and a Festival tablecloth in Art class and performing in Assembly to get students excited about the big event. They learned apple songs in music and even performed an apple song in Spanish and an apple poem in French. It was a highly successful marketing campaign, and even more importantly, it was very fun!

The big day arrived! Products and baskets for money collection were set out on tables, vendors wore their Apple Festival T-shirts and excitedly waited for their first customers. The fourth grade arrived, money in hands to have the opportunity to select apple products and interact with the vendors and their sales associates. In just two hours, the ambitious entrepreneurs processed 104 customers, sending them on their school day full of apple happiness. Customers reported that they “loved all the hard work the second graders put into the Apple Festival”, and nominated apple muffins and mini candy apples as great products. The group raised more than $400 from their efforts, a huge success for their very first start-up company.

The Apple Festival is a striking example of the Meadowbrook focus on problem-based learning that teaches educational basics in math, writing, art, language, science, and technology while providing students with real world experience they will use throughout their lives. Particularly impressive is the cross-curricular collaboration among the Meadowbrook teachers, a commitment and emphasis that provides an integrated learning experience that the students remember forever.

If you’re looking for enthusiastic, hardworking, “commericialling”, creative, fun marketers and business leaders, you only have to make sure your new employees attended the Meadowbrook School!

Click HERE for more pictures!

Fourth Grade Makerspace

fourth graders in the makerspace
Fourth graders in the makerspace

Four years ago, fourth grade started an in-class project that brought our Geography studies to life. During those first three years, we developed Secret Island Maps (SIMs) onto poster board. We utilized geography features that included the map legend, compass rose, map scale, natural and man-made features.

This year, along with the magnificent help of Mrs. Becky Blumenthal and her Makerspace, we are able to create our SIMs projects in a three-dimensional format. We are using recycled materials and different odds & ends that will help the students design their islands.

The students this year are extremely excited and busy creating their islands in groups of two or three. Visit our website to see more pictures.

The Meadowbrook School is proud to have introduced a makerspace to the community this year.  Makerspaces are basically community centers with tools. We plan on growing our makerspace to combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling Meadowbrook students to design, prototype and create works that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to students working alone.  With the right tools and encouragement our students will be on the forefront of this new phenomenon. Check back frequently to see what our students can do!

Meadowbrook Chess Tournament

chess-tournament-imageCongratulations to the students who participated in The Tenth Philadelphia Metropolitan Chess Tournament held at Meadowbrook School last Saturday, November 5th. Hutch Loney, Emily Kent, Nelson Cordon, Seamus Brogan, and Logan Kiefaber  competed against other students from New Jersey, Philadelphia, and surrounding area schools. The 121 players, ranging from Kindergarten through High School, followed the specific regulations of the United States Chess Federation. As each student played 5 games of chess with different opponents, hard work and concentration were key elements of the day. Congratulations Team Meadowbrook!  We were especially proud of  Victor Kasian Class of’16 who won first place for 7th grade!

More pictures can be found HERE!

Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Mercer

britmercerMrs. Brittany Mercer

Fourth Grade Teacher

1. What is one item on your bucket list?

Travel to the Philippines to visit my husband’s family

2. What book are you currently reading?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

3. Who is your mentor? Why?

My mom because she is the strongest person I know and my best friend.

.4. What would your superpower be? 

Being able to fly so I can get to work faster and be able to visit more places in the world

5. Where is the best place you have traveled to and why?

Maui for our honeymoon.

6. If you could do any job for just one day what would it be?

Perform in a Broadway show

7. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I used to sing in a jazz band.

8. What is your favorite thing about Meadowbrook?

The Thanksgiving feast where we truly come together and are thankful for everything we have at our wonderful school and in our individual lives.

Presidential Wax Museum

georgewashingtonIn honor of our national election and all of our country’s presidents, the 5th graders at the Meadowbrook School have beeabrahamlincolnn studying the US presidents. During assembly on Monday, November 7, 2016 from 8:45 to 9:30 am, each 5th grader “became” the president that they have studied for the past month and while the other students, parents and friends, “toured the Wax Museum” the “presidents”  came to life and share with the visitors the knowledge they have learned. Various presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama will explain what made them the men they were and what amazing events took place during their presidencies. At Meadowbrook, our integrated curriculum allows for a hands on experience. The students study the presidents in their social studies class, research in technology and write their presentation in language arts. This year, the students “minted” special coins honoring their presidency in our new maker space. The Wax Museum presents a special opportunity for all our students to participate in the upcoming election and aids in building confidence for our students as they present to others.