Tours and Info Nights for prospective parents…Check!

Over the last three weeks, our faculty had the opportunity to meet with prospective parents and we were excited at how much interest they showed, and how thoughtful their questions were. I attribute much of the large turnout to the wonderful parents and faculty who engaged our prospective parents during the tours earlier this year.

Making time to guide visitors around McAuliffe isn’t easy. Frankly, time is such a rare commodity that I wish there was a way to fabricate it.  Instead we, as parents and educators, have to manage the precious resource as carefully as possible which means making hard decisions as we prioritize our day.

Tours can also be challenging for guides because standing in front of a group of strangers and sharing something that is important to you and your child(ren) can be a bit scary. Fortunately, for us, the PFG provides lots of support for new and returning tour guides and lots of opportunities to grow and learn.

JK Rowling nailed it when she wrote, “Help will always be given… [at McAuliffe] to those who ask for it.” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).  And the beautiful thing is it’s equally true for adults and children in our community. It’s equally wonderful that help comes in various forms from all of our community members. 

This past Tuesday was our last official Information Night. Both of our evening events for prospective parents were well attended and we look forward to the new class of McAuliffe families joining our community. The faculty and I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of our tour volunteers for their guidance and support and kind heartedness.

Next Friday, February 5, we will have a Learning Day for the staff. Our learning day will focus on Writers Workshop, our math curriculum, and our upcoming community wide meeting with Denise Pope.

In the upcoming newsletters look for more information on our science program, meeting children where they are and the importance of developmentally appropriate learning opportunities, and the value of Conflict Resolution.

Have a great weekend!



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Hello 2016…

Hi Everyone,


Welcome back! This year’s holiday seemed just right for me. Don’t get me wrong, another few weeks to explore the snowy slopes or hike new trails would have been exciting and wonderful, but I was looking forward to kicking off the new year here at McAuliffe and I’m glad to be back.  I hope the break afforded you time with the most important people in your lives and that whatever it was you did, wherever you went, that you learned something new and celebrated the love of family and friends.

I love the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” Many ascribe its origins to Africa but pinpointing the exact origin has proven difficult with some believing that it may have origins in Native American tribes. The debate about it’s actual origin makes sense because many thoughtful, caring communities throughout history have come to this understanding. That we each have strengths and weaknesses and that together, when we acknowledge this and support one another, we are a stronger, more skilled, more caring, more productive place…a better place.


The beautiful thing about our village is that we are all part of it…children, parents, staff, faculty. Each of us has a role to play here at McAuliffe and in life and those roles will change from time to time.


One of the incredible things about this is that our role is somewhat mysterious. We cannot know with absolute certainty the outcome of our actions and yet it is my hope, for those around us and those who come after us, that our actions leave behind an echo of belief in a better world and that all human beings are special, amazing, and important.


The new year is upon us and the question is, “What will you do with it?” This is a question for all of us. How might you make the world a better place? Think small. Think big. The opportunities are all around you. Some may be obscured from view…right now…but they are there waiting for you.


Last month I asked you a few questions. As a follow up to it, here is an opportunity to share the answers to a few of those questions:

  1. What was your favorite thing you did as a family in 2015?
  2. What’s one thing you would like to do or focus on as a family in 2016?
  3. What was the best book you read this year?



Welcome back!



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December Reflections…


This afternoon, I’m taking a few moments to sit back and reflect on where we have come and what the year has brought us so far. A lot has happened this year.

Here at school: we have seen our entire campus changed through modernization, and while we are still fine tuning, the renovations are so exciting because your children, our teachers, and you, deserve to work and learn in a place that is designed to maximize learning experiences and foster a warm and caring environment.

We are also in our third year of Writers’ Workshop. It is so exciting to see our teachers refining their instructional practice and continuing to grow and learn along with our students and parents!

We have added amazing teachers, IA’s, and a librarian to our staff this year as well and they are running at full steam!

Around the world: Facebook analyzed the past year’s conversation on Facebook to reveal the most talked-about global topics:

  1. US Presidential Election
    2. November 13 Attacks in Paris
    3. Syrian Civil War & Refugee Crisis
    4. Nepal Earthquakes
    5. Greek Debt Crisis

Many of these things are beyond our control and yet they are happening in the world around us. It is important that we talk with our children about issues that concern them in ways that are appropriate for the maturity level and comprehension.

Some issues are easier to address than others.  If you are faced with a topic that you are unsure how to address consider checking in first with relatives, friends, and your child’s teacher. They may offer different points of view and have additional resources for you to consider.

As we head into this year’s vacation and the new year, I encourage you to reflect on your experiences and have a conversation with your family about them. Here are a few questions to consider:


  • What was your favorite thing you did as a family this year?
  • What was an unexpected joy this past year?
  • What was an unexpected obstacle?
  • With whom were your most valuable relationships?
  • What’s one thing you would like to do next year as a family?
  • What were the best books you read this year?


And as always, I wish you, your family, and your friends a wonderful and fun-filled time together. I hope that you experience something new and something incredible. That you laugh and play and spend time together and that you also have a bit of time for yourself as we prepare for 2016. We have many great things in store for you and your child(ren) when you return in January and look forward to hearing about your adventures!

Channeling my inner George Lucas (just in time for the grand opening) May the Force Be with You!

Happy New Year!




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Thank you Randall Munroe!

Many of you may have followed Randall Munroe’s xkcd comic strip for some time. I’m new to it and really enjoyed it so I decided to share it with you. If you are interested in his work, you can see more of it and learn more about him at Have fun!

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Why not just skip the beach trips?

In my first year at McAuliffe, I did what I could to attend every class meeting and as many field trips as possible. 

Five years later, there are still a few that I have yet to experience and I look forward to those opportunities. 

This week, I joined Andrew’s and Fran’s class on their beach trip. The overnight trips offer a window into what we do, who we are, and why our philosophy is so vitally important in a society that increasingly quantifies learning and growth through standardized assessments.

Watching our students as they work in teams to determine the ideal camping spot, what tools they need to prepare their campsite is truly a sight to see. Parents and staff resist the urge to jump in and help and offer thought provoking questions to the students instead. Holding back isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds but the end result is so worth it! You see the confidence grow in the student’s eyes and hear the satisfaction in their cheers once camp has been set.

This week I saw and heard that. I also saw children engage in spontaneous play. Several students broke away from the group and gathered the few remaining students so that the entire class was quickly playing a game that had few rules and everyone was a winner. There was laughter and joy and lot of happy faces and it occurred to me that community building rich with empathy and candor was happening right in front of me.

Why do we engage in learning beyond the walls of our classrooms? And outside the gates of our school? In addition to the study of hard sciences such oceanography, astronomy, and some of the softer subjects like culinary arts, project management, and environmental studies, students are engaged in higher order levels of critical thinking and problem solving when they are outside and tasked with making connections to the learning and the world around them.

One of the wonderful things about learning is that we can all learn and grow, and learning happens wherever we are…if we are open to the experience. At McAuliffe we foster this idea and model it throughout the year for our student and adult learning community! We believe that this is critical, particularly if we want students to embrace this notion as opposed to the false idea that learning only exists in isolation…in classrooms…in school buildings…but that is a topic for another day.

Today we are reminded of the importance of community building, collaboration, and developing empathy through important works like Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, Duckworth’s Grit/resilience, or Dweck’s Mindsets. And this is work that we have engaged in for 45 years at McAuliffe. We focus on the whole child because we believe this empowers the child to grow and make decisions and to thrive in the world. This work is essential for our children.

The beach trips cause me to slow down and look at the deeper meaning of why we teach children and how I can better support our faculty and students as the principal of this incredible school. It clarifies the value of learning regardless of location and that learning applies to everyone. These trips are a concrete example of personal growth for our students as they become increasingly independent, and continue to develop their own voice and self-confidence while working interdependently with their classmates.

Have a wonderful weekend!


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Welcome back McAuliffe Community!

Classic Quotes from the week:
Have you ever heard a catchy phrase that just fits with where you are in life?? I’ve had a few zingers and I wanted to share them with you.

“You can’t build a house without swallowing some dust.” – Mike, a district employee, was digging up the parking lot to find a water leak to patch, when he shared that gem. We’ve all had more than our fair share on this project. It’s coming along and it is going to be fantastic! I can’t wait for it to be done!!

“Right tool for the right job…” – Demi. The wrench on my Leatherman snapped in two while I was trying to remove a nail sticking up in the asphalt. So True!! I laughed for a good five minutes on that one…after I found a better tool and yanked out the nail…

Hopes and Dreams:
The first two days have flown by! With the flurry of activity on campus, please take time to breathe and enjoy the sites and sounds as the new year unfolds.

Last night, I attended the 2nd grade class meetings. It was so nice to see old friends and new faces. Al-Husein caught me off guard when he asked, “What are your hopes and dreams?”

Sometimes being asked a question when you’re off guard is really the best time to answer.

I told him…and the rest of the 2nd grade parents, that my hope this year is that, in addition to taking care of the school, the kids, the parents, and our faculty, that I would also take care of myself.

Countless times, I’ve advised people that it is crucial to have balance in your life and like many, I struggle with that same issue.

So for me “taking care of myself” looks like exercising 3-5 times a week, spending time enjoying my daughter’s first year of high school and rooting for her in her activities. It means reading a few sci-fi books and learning to play my ukulele… at least a song or two. It also means making time to write and reflect on all the good that is happening in my life, and so much of that is due to being a father, having great friends and family, and being part of this wonderful community.

Thanks Al-Husein for giving me a chance to share! I look forward to hearing from you about your Hopes and Dreams! And on that note, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to think about your hopes and dreams for the year for yourself, your family, your child, and for McAuliffe. Share them with one or two people who can follow up with you and help make them a reality!

Thank you PFG!
Our staff was treated to a lunch provided by you, the PFG, on the first day of school! Our community is the best!

Welcome back everyone!


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Modernization updates at McAuliffe as of 7/23

VCT and tile

VCT and tile


Restroom tiled!

Restroom tiled!

IMG_2142 IMG_2193

More courtyard!

More courtyard!

Courtyards are coming together!

Courtyards are coming together!

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