President Obama Reflects on His 5th Grade Teacher

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

My Fifth Grade Teacher

I credit my education to Ms. Mabel Hefty just as much as I would any institution of higher learning.

By President Barack Obama

When I entered Ms. Hefty’s fifth-grade class at Punahou School in the fall of 1971, I was just a kid with a funny name in a new school, feeling a little out of place, hoping to fit in like anyone else.

The first time she called on me, I wished she hadn’t. In fact, I wished I were just about anywhere else but at that desk, in that room of children staring at me.

But over the course of that year, Ms. Hefty taught me that I had something to say — not in spite of my differences, but because of them. She made every single student in that class feel special.

And she reinforced that essential value of empathy that my mother and my…

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The Moral Bucket List

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

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CreditRachel Levit. Photography by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

ABOUT once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.

When I meet such a person it brightens my whole day. But I confess I often have a sadder thought: It occurs to me that I’ve achieved a decent level of career success, but I have not achieved that. I have not achieved that generosity of spirit, or that depth of…

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Extra-curricular Activities Are Important For Students

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Extracurricular activities? Extracurricular activities? (Photo credit: ksevik)

26/8/13

Many parents and students do not understand the importance of extra-curricular activities.  Over the years I have had to persuade a number of parents to allow their children to continue participating in extra-curricular activities, because they felt that these activities distracted their offspring from their academic work.  This scenario tended to unfold either when a student was struggling academically or when the student wanted to focus totally on academics, to the exclusion of everything else.  They felt that extra-curricular involvement was a waste of precious time and that it caused their children to get home too late in the evening.

Nothing could be further from the truth than this notion of wasting time.  Academic subjects and extra-curricular activities complement each other and develop a well-rounded, socially skilled, and healthier student.  There are so many possible extra-curricular activities that each student can choose one that appeals to…

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Learning Through Tinkering

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

SAN FRANCISCO — My 9-year-old daughter is in the midst of a “pioneer” unit in her third grade class. It’s a great example of a project-based curriculum: The kids are developing math skills by determining what and how much they can pack without overloading wagons for a cross-country trek. They roll a “twist of fate” die that presents (virtual) obstacles they might have faced in the late 19th century — bad weather, loss of livestock, etc. — and then have to problem-solve to get their trek back on track. They’re reading a variety of historical perspectives, such as Louise Erdrich’s “The Birchbark House” and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little…

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At New York Private Schools, Challenging White Privilege From the Inside

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

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An art project by Ana Maroto and Sage Adams, seniors at Elisabeth Irwin High School in Greenwich Village. The project hangs at the school entrance.CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times

On a recent morning, 20 or so high school students, most of them white, milled about the meetinghouse at Friends Seminary, a private school in Manhattan. They were trying to unload on their classmates slips of paper on which they had jotted down words related to the topic “Things I don’t want to be called.”

Several girls tried get to rid of “ditsy.” A sophomore in jeans and a gray hoodie who identifies as Asian-American was seeking to unload “minority.” And several white students, including a long-limbed girl in a checkered lumberjack shirt, wanted to get rid of “privileged.” Under the rules of the exercise…

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