Principal's Blog
My intention for the blog is to share insights into our school’s vision and philosophy for what is best for kids. I also share personal insights into parenting, education, and the culture our kids are growing up in. Thanks for checking it out!
principal and second grader kindness photo

Recent Posts
It is with pride and warmth that I welcome you to Adams Elementary. With the support of our amazing community, our stellar teachers provide an enriching and stimulating academic place for all children to thrive. Our school’s nurturing environment helps students SHINE with success, while building resiliency and compassion for others. Adams Elementary truly believes in the notion of the whole child, and with your participation we can ensure that each student is engaged, inspired, supported and challenged. Our SHINE values define who we are as a school and a community: We Show respect, We Help our community, We Include others, We Never give up, We strive for Excellence. My intention for the blog is to share insights into our school’s vision and philosophy for what is best for kids, as well as my own personal insights into parenting, education, and the complex culture our kids are growing up in. The blog previously existed on an external website and I will be re-posting some of the content from that blog on occasion. I hope that you and your family will enjoy your experience at Adams Elementary, become involved, and capture the spirit of our community.
Posted by  On Aug 04, 2019 at 10:31 AM
Well-known psychologist Carl Rogers wrote "For a person to grow, they need an environment that provides them with genuineness, acceptance, and empathy. Without these, relationships and healthy personalities will not develop as they should, much like a tree will not grow without sunlight and water." We as a community are responsible for the state of that environment. When our kids feel safe, truly seen, when they feel that they belong, and when we communicate to them that we enjoy their presence, they thrive. Kids are meant to learn from us, from people. While devices are well-designed to attract attention, our minds are biologically predisposed to learn from a parent and the extension of that parent in other adults. When a child or student has the appropriate environment in place, their ability to learn is often visible! You might say it SHINES through! :) And when the environment is not right (unsafe emotionally or physically), the child becomes closed off and focuses only on survival- they are not ready for any new information or opportunities for maturation and development. That is when we need to pay attention and take stock of the learning environment- Do kids feel safe? Are they free to make mistakes? Do they feel valued and seen by the adults around them? Our teachers are well-equipped with high quality, research-based strategies for teaching and challenging your children. I am really proud of how innovative and qualified our staff is. But more important than that, they are also experts in putting relationship first, so that when it's time for kids to build skill, the environment is just right. Thanks for reading!
Posted by  On Aug 04, 2019 at 10:28 AM
Back To School Madness is upon us! It is a fun time of the year, but don't forget to give your kids and yourselves some time for... nothing. As I wrote last year and want to reemphasize as school starts, sometimes doing nothing is in fact good for us. Our kids (as well as us) have only a certain amount of bandwidth our minds can handle and school is about to take up a big chunk of it. As parents we need to compensate, and turn the levels of distraction and busyness down in other categories. While it can seem tempting to let our kids vegetate in front of the TV or a device, this doesn't actually help reset their brains for balance. Daydreaming, reading a book, drawing, crafting, playing with simple toys, playing outside, visiting with family, playing board games with family... These things help recenter and charge kids' batteries in a way that gets them ready for added mental and physical demands. Doing nothing has been shown to be good for our brains and our relationships. How do your kids do nothing? Do they even know how? Are they ever bored enough to settle into that space, or do they (and we) bombard them with yet another distraction, often screen-related? Last year our 8 year-old started disappearing into her room at the beginning of the school year. When we would go check on her she would sometimes be playing with legos, sometimes reading, and a few times she would be asleep. We took it as her method of recalibrating in order to compensate for the amount of bandwidth her school day was demanding of her. Other kids might choose to play with a sibling or do something outside, but she needed time for herself. This summer she and her brother had a lot of exposure to the outdoors, and she cultivated another way to experience solitude. I don't want that to go away for her once school starts, but my wife and I need to be intentional about it. Taking the kids on an easy walk on the greenbelt or a dinner picnic in a park could be revitalizing. We need to try to give both our kids (our son starts Kindergarten) the space to reset, to decompress, to explore the outdoors, or to do... (gasp!) nothing. If your kids aren't capable of doing nothing (or short of that, being driven by boredom to seek a non-screen outlet for decompressing their mind), then it might be time to cultivate that skill. On the other hand, you might be saying "But they've done 'nothing' all summer!" That of course will change when school starts, and they will be dealing with a new drain on their limited energy reserves. It all boils down to seeking balance without relying too much on peers and screens. We can use balance as adults too. Here is a quote from an article I sourced last year from Manfred F.R. Kets Devries, but it is worth repeating: "... Doing nothing has never really been acceptable. We associate it with irresponsibility, wasting our life. Most of us feel guilty if we don’t have something to do. On the other hand we get a buzz when we feel really busy. Distraction-inducing behaviors like constantly checking email stimulate the brain to shoot dopamine into the bloodstream giving us a rush that can make stopping so much harder. The danger is we may lose our connections, not just with one another but with ourselves. If we don’t allow ourselves periods of uninterrupted, freely associated thought then personal growth, insight and creativity are less likely to emerge."  In order to process, develop and grow, our minds need a lot of time to reflect, slow down, sit with our thoughts. For some of you who are old enough- remember when friends had to call your house and hope to get through? The line might be busy or no one would answer, and that was it. You just had to see them tomorrow. You were home. It was just you and your family, and frequently, this would feel boring. Contrary to popular opinion, boredom should not be shunned at home. It is an essential developmental part of mental health for kids, and when it is followed by a "reset" activity like daydreaming, drawing, playing quietly, it can help give them the balance they need for the next day. For our pre-teen and teenage kids today, peers frequently have constant access to each other, and though they respond to that stimulation (as we all do) with excitement, under the surface they are in a state of agitation as they navigate peer challenges 24 hours a day. The insulated reset time that home used to provide is becoming a thing of the past. It is so easy to lose the valuable time their brains need for introspection: to process information, thoughts, feelings and imagination. Let's try and restore that for them. Thanks for reading!
Posted by  On Aug 04, 2019 at 10:27 AM
Our kids are unfinished people. We have to remember that they are not miniature adults. They are going to stumble in all categories at one time or another. Strong moral character, resolve, independence- these are things we want our kids to have, but we have to be patient as they stumble through hard life lessons and difficult situations. They need to experience hardship, and they will learn from it if they feel they have supportive adults and a somewhat stress-free environment to process and reflect, sometimes internally, sometimes with a trusted adult. It can be the best gift to give a child when you don't jump in and fix a situation, but you hand the problem back to the child along with empathy, support, and unconditional positive regard. They might not get it right, but they will start to own their actions more and more, and they will grow. I do want to take this somewhat radical stance: Kids don't get much from their peers at this age. The growth they are going to experience as a person will be the result of "trickle-down" maturity. Maturity doesn't move horizontally from one child to another. They have to see how older people (parents, relatives, teachers, coaches) handle situations. If they are leaning too hard on their peers or peer culture for things like acceptance, nurturing, support, then they might be missing those things from an adult. Don't let peers replace you. Friendship is a wonderful thing for kids, but it should be about fun and joy. It is the sweetest thing to watch kids be kind to each other and build friendship. That is good for kids. But when a child is dealing with tough life circumstances, we don't want them seeking out friends in lieu of trusted adults, for the simple reason that children are not ready to support each other on that level. We want to coach them to empathize and show kindness of course, and build their skill in supporting one another, but a parent or trusted adult should be holding the reigns while the ability for kids to support each other grows.  Reach out if you want to talk more on this or any other topic. Thanks for reading!
Posted by  On Jul 12, 2019 at 2:20 PM