Mariposa School of Global Education
Our Mission is to create a learning environment in a public school setting where social-emotional and academic development are equally valued and viewed as integral predictors of our children's success. We will strive to instill in our children the value of a global education including world studies and environmental education in a place where visual and performing arts are basic ingredients. All the while we will preserve the sanctity of childhood and individuality through a developmental, experiential, and standards-based curriculum that fosters creativity in teaching and learning.
From the Principal...
Welcome to the 2014-15 school year. We hope you had a wonderful summer of learning and exploration with your children. I enjoyed learning and spending time with some of the Mariposa teachers at the Public School Institute at Steiner College. What a treat it was to deepen my understanding of Waldorf Education and spend time with our new teachers. They are Mariposa to the core!
If this is your first year, I extend an extra warm welcome. If you have not felt it already, Mariposa is a special place for connection and caring with everyone focused on the well-being of children. In partnership, we create a happy and healthy environment to ensure students are gaining academic knowledge and social-emotional skills. We guide students to be creative thinkers on their pathway to becoming global citizens. And this is a collective we, including parents, teachers, and all Mariposa staff.
I look forward to another great school year. There will be many conversations and celebrations. There will be time to learn from each other and support these beautiful children. Most importantly, there will be opportunities to nurture and grow this dynamic community as we continue to define what makes Mariposa special.
Your Appreciative Principal,
Ms. Nema Pierce
The Las Virgenes Unified School District is widely recognized for excellence. Mariposa School of Global Education was created to expand and enhance what the District offers.
The vision for the educational model of Mariposa is driven by both current and seminal research which purports the need for a variety of instructional strategies and approaches to meet the diverse needs of students and satisfactorily prepare them to participate effectively in the 21st century global market. We integrate a Waldorf-inspired curriculum with themes of world studies and environmental education. Children learn through hands-on projects, arts-integration, regular hikes, and so much more!
Currently, our student population consists of about 370 kindergarten through eighth grade students with room to grow. School tours are held monthly beginning in the Winter and you can also join us for our festivals and most other school-sponsored events.
Mariposa Elementary School offers the following distinguishing components:
- A 3-year and 2-year looping model in which children remain with their classmates and teacher in grades 1-3, 4-5 and 6-8.
- Project-Based teaching methods (hands-on, cross-curricular)
Incorporating Waldorf-inspired teaching methods including oral story telling, use of natural art materials, daily, whole-body movement and song, sculpting, drawing and focus on the process of learning over the product
- Use of Montessori materials to reinforce concepts
Integrated curriculum incorporating world studies, environmental education, science, visual and performing arts, music, poetry and storytelling into the core subjects of reading, writing, and math
- Skill-Streaming through a block schedule to target individual performance levels and meet students where their skills are at
- Council Circle and weekly social skills lessons with teaching teaching, modeling, role playing, and rehearsal
- Relationship-based teaching and looping students with the same teacher for 3 years
- Parent education and participation
- Outdoor/environmental education through monthly hikes, field trips, and classroom lessons taught by naturalists
Creating a School Culture that Supports Whole-Child Education
by Jeff Lough
Download Letter by Clicking Here
Welcome to the 2011-12 school year at Mariposa Elementary School of Global Education. As you may know or soon find, our school is unique from traditional educational approaches in many ways. From educational philosophy to daily curriculum, our primary focus at Mariposa is to educate the "whole child". While this statement may sound like a clichÃ© or some sort of platitude, for us it is a promise that is defined, expected, and recognized as a tangible part of our program. By definition, however, we must accept that educating the whole child is not a process that only occurs at school. Nor is it a process that is crafted by school staff. The mere implication of the word "whole" indicates that we must consider all aspects of the child as an individual and all elements of the environment that affect the child's well-being.
So, what is Whole-Child Education? To understand this term we must first evaluate our understanding of what influences a child's education - for better and for worse. Good Teachers - Check; Engaging, Hands-On Teaching Methods - Check, Check. Addressing Social-Emotional needs in the classroom - Check, Check, Check. We have all of these. So what else are we missing? In short . . . you. As much control as the staff has over what goes on at school, if I were asked to rank these elements in order of priority, "you" would be at the top of the list.
First off, you know your child best. You put them to bed each night at a certain time. You get them to school on time each day. You create a home environment of love and emotional support. You decide what to feed them. You read to them. You decide how much television and video games your child is engaged in. You model ___________ behavior and responsibility ("you" fill in the blank). The list is infinite. It did not start with enrollment in elementary school, nor will it end at culmination from Mariposa. Other than doing all that we can do to provide educational opportunities for our parents, every item on this list is in your hands as parent. As a parent at Mariposa myself, I accept that I am my daughter's first teacher and she is always watching me (often when I think she is not). In order to educate the whole child, the mutual responsibility of home and school in educating our children is paramount.
The second key term in this paper's chosen title is "school culture". We can all sense a school's culture when we walk onto any campus. How are the children dressed? Is the campus clean and beautiful? What is posted on the school's marquee? Are there parents on campus? How do the staff and parents talk to the children? How do the children talk to the parents and staff? What do the classrooms look like? How are you greeted in the office? What are the common topics the children are discussing on the playground? What are some of the values the parents and staff seem to have in common? All of these questions are indicators of a school's culture.
As much as children are learning from classroom lessons, they are learning from what is experienced and modeled in the school's culture. For example, if you were to walk into a classroom during lunch time and the large majority of children were eating a variety of healthy foods from trash-free lunches, you could safely conclude that the school's culture is one that values nutrition and the environment.
At this point, you are hopefully beginning to get a sense of how school culture is a major influence on how the needs of the whole child are met. Now, allow me to get to the specifics. As I continue, it is important to recognize that today there is ample scientific research to support the following four aspects of Mariposa's school culture making them much more than simply personal values. Rather, they are undeniable influences in determining a child's educational success. In no particular order, these four aspects include: 1) Diet, 2) Connection to Nature, 3) Parent Participation and 4) Media and Commercialism.
First, children's educational success is influenced by what and how they eat - hands down. As you know, our teachers stop instruction to eat with their students fifteen minutes early for snack and twenty minutes early for lunch. Aside from the positive connection this creates between the students and teacher, setting aside this time in a child's day gives the message to our children that mealtime is important and should not be in competition with playtime so that children scarf down a bag of chips and rush out to be first in line on the handball court. Meal time at Mariposa is also a time to discuss nutritious foods.
As a parent, I know how difficult it is to get my child to eat the bag of organic carrots when the children around her are eating cookies and chips. When we create a culture where healthy snacks and lunches are commonplace everyday, rest assured your child will not want to be left out and will vicariously learn that healthy eating is important. Research has shown unequivocally that children who eat healthy foods are more alert in the classroom and better able to learn - not to mention the long-term advantages in physical development that come from eating a healthy diet. As such, we ask that you provide your child with a healthy snack each day. If they bring a lunch, we ask that it be low in refined sugars and nutritionally balanced.
Second, valuing the environment and making sustainable living choices is a part of the Mariposa school culture. Living "green" is a current trend in today's society. Too often, however, we overlook the incredible depth of character that environmental consciousness creates within our children. Again, we can learn from scientific research. Children, who have a regular connection to nature and a consciousness of how their own behavior has a direct or indirect impact on the environment, exhibit a more intrinsic sense of happiness and are better able to handle the increasingly stressful and complex world we live in.
Connecting children to the environment both physically and through understanding connections with nature in the everyday choices they make has also been shown to reduce anxiety, improve attention and concentration, promote creative thinking, and strengthen emotional stability. Creating a school culture that values the environment will result in a healthier place to learn and certainly support the needs of the whole child. It goes without saying; this element of our culture begins in your home. To this end, we ask that your child bring as much of a "trash-free" lunch as possible and that you contribute to the school recycling efforts during school year and at home.
The third element in our school culture is parent participation. Again, it is no secret that parents who actively value school have children who value school. When a child sees her parent performing, even the simplest task for the school, either on campus, or at home, the message is very clear - school matters. While parent participation happens at most elementary schools, at Mariposa, you become recognized as part of our community by students and staff.
As you are aware by now, we ask that parents contribute a minimum of 12 hours each month, per family, to the school. Participation comes in many forms, both off campus and on. It even includes activities such as attending bi-monthly round table meetings and parent education nights. We also invite you to share any special talents that you have. This year we have added another volunteer opportunity - read a book from our recommended book list and write up a quick op-ed piece in our school newspaper! Each book and write-up counts as 8 hours of volunteer "work". Our request here is simple . . . don't be a stranger and don't wait for an invitation.
The fourth and final ingredient in developing a school culture that truly meets the needs of the whole child is one that is often the most difficult to abide by. It is dearest to my heart as a child-development specialist and, in my opinion gets far too little attention in mainstream society. I am referring to the influence of media and commercialism.
There is a plethora of literature and research from the scientific community about the impact of screen-time on our children (from infancy to adolescence). The research spans from neurodevelopment to creative and independent thinking to moral development. While this paper cannot even begin to cover this vast topic, it is important to grasp that the impact of media and commercialism potentially undermines every aspect of what Mariposa is all about. From basics such as learning to read, to providing experiential learning, to eating nutritious foods, to developing creative thinkers - creating a "media-smart" environment is a pillar of our school culture.
The research could not be clearer and comes from a broad range of disciplines. Reducing screen time improves attention/concentration, bolsters language development (the basis of reading and writing), promotes creative problem solving ability, balances mood, and strengthens self-image. We invite you this fall to come to the first parent education evening where I will be discussing this topic in greater detail. For now, it is requested that you sit down with your child and make a plan for positively contributing to this final aspect of the Mariposa school culture.
It is recognized that screen time is a daily activity for children within most households. As such, reduction of screen time may be a process that your family will need to embark upon. We strongly encourage you to begin this process as part of your routine in preparing for the new school year. In the end, your conscious efforts will be well worth it. Our collective request at Mariposa is that children not watch television, movies, or play video games on school nights. To promote this aspect of our culture and in the spirit of preserving the uniqueness of each child's own individuality, we ask that school clothing and accessories not display popular television characters (i.e., SpongeBob Square Pants, Simpsons, Disney, etc.). Lastly, toys and electronic media are not permitted on the school campus.
In summary, children are the beauty of both intrinsic ability and the environment in which they grow up in. Your child's potential is not the sum of its parts. Instead, she is an integrated being that is constantly learning from her experience within the environment she is surrounded by. The "whole child" is physical, social, behavioral, emotional, imaginative, and cognitive all at once. With a proper diet, a connection to nature, parent participation, and a media-smart community, our collective goal at Mariposa is to create a culture for our children that address all of these needs to the best of our ability.
By coming to Mariposa, you are making a statement. You are choosing to have a different school experience for your child and for yourself as a parent. Your commitment to making this choice is not only to your child alone, but to all of our children who attend this incredible school. Please check out the new "Resources" tab on our website for a list of books about the topics discussed in this article.
Thank you for your commitment. We look forward to getting to know you and your child better this year.
If your child is absent, you must call the office (818-707-7144) to report his/her absence on the day of the absence or bring an absence note to the teacher on the day your child returns to school. Students are deemed truant (in violation of compulsory attendance law) if they have three or more unexcused absences and/or lates (31 minutes or more in duration) within one school year (Education Code Section 48260).
It is very important that all students arrive to school on time. Please make sure if you drive your child to school, to drop him/her off no later than 8:40 A.M. Your child is considered tardy if he/she is not lined up at 8:45. You must report to the office with your child to get a tardy slip after this time. Aside from school rules, punctuality is a life skill. Children thrive on routines so please instill good habits and an appreciation for being prepared and on-time.
Please remember your child may not come to school before 8:15 am daily. Supervision begins at that time.
LATE PICK UPS
Please remember, you are responsible for your child when dismissed from class. Please do not wait to pick up until an older sibling to gets out. Be sure to pick up your child on time. You have the option of signing your child(ren) up in the Aftercare program.
EARLY PICK UPS
If you will be signing your child out early one day, be sure to write a note to the teacher telling him/her what time to send your child to the office to meet you. You may not call the classrooms during instructional time.
Please provide your child with a snack and lunch daily. Hot Lunch can be purchased from the cafeteria for $4.00. Your child can bring cash or you can set up a lunch account through PayPams. We are a school who educates the whole child with your partnership. As such, nutritious snacks and lunches are a key to building healthy eating habits, improving concentration, and fostering strong physical and neurological development. So, make a conscious effort to pack healthy meals and ask your child if he/she ate lunch today!
Please drive slowly and report anyone who is driving over 5 mph. Drop off zone is located in the "horseshoe" near our entrance. Drivers may not leave their cars in the red "drop off" zone for ANY reason or for ANY length of time as this poses a serious safety problem for our children and creates unnecessary traffic congestion.
Ms. Nema Pierce
6050 N. Calmfield Ave.
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
(818) 707-7144 tel
(818) 707-7624 fax
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