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Finishing Strong: Being Your Best At The End of The School Semester

As Christmas break quickly approaches, and we prepare to wrap up the first semester of the 2017-2018 school year, it can be hectic with various holiday activities, school assignments, exams, presentations, performances, and more. While all of the flurry can be fun with the anticipation of this special time, it can be helpful to have some tips to help you through when the days seem full and you aren’t quite sure from where you’ll pull the time or energy to make it through the next thing on the calendar. We are encouraging our students (and teachers) to finish strong this semester, and put their very best self forward at the end of 2017.

Some tips we offered them in the classroom might help you too, so keep these things in mind as you prepare for the upcoming holidays:

Be Intentional with Your Time

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you look at a to-do list, or a weekly calendar, and see a variety of due dates and activities facing you. If you just start running from one thing to the next with no forethought or a plan, you might end up wasting valuable time. Have a loose “game plan” for each day, with the highest priorities at the top of the list, and things that could wait at the bottom. If items could be grouped together (such as, studying for a final exam on the bus ride to your basketball game) it will save time and effort, and could leave you with more checked off your list each day than you expected! Also, have a planner or calendar where all activities, homework assignments, exams, games, etc. are listed with times and specific notes. This gives you a “master plan” to work from each day, so nothing important gets overlooked. This intentional planning of your time will guarantee that you end the semester with everything checked off and ready to enjoy the holidays!

We Succeed Together, NOT Solo

Teamwork is important in education, and not just in collaborative projects or on the football field. At ASA we encourage students to think of their teachers, mentors, advisors, and other school faculty as part of their team, and to use them as a support system when trying to finish the semester strong. We want our students to succeed, so extra help is ready and waiting for those who ask. Don’t struggle along by yourself! Pull resources from those around you so we can all enjoy a successful end to the semester.

Take Care of YOU

Don’t forget about yourself in the hustle and bustle. Taking time out for health and wellness is most important at this time of year, since no one wants to be under the weather over break! Engaging in regular physical activity through exercise such as yoga, running, sports, or other fun choices is a great way to relieve stress, improve circulation and cardiovascular function, and give you a clear head to keep working hard. Be mindful of what you eat as well, since holiday treats are lurking at every corner and the excess sugar can actually decrease energy and make you feel worse instead of better. We aren’t saying you can’t enjoy a Christmas cookie or a party treat, but make sure you’re fitting in all your healthy choices too! Finally, get enough SLEEP. Lack of sleep is a common issue at the end of the school year, but failing to get your 8 hours each night could have consequences far greater than dozing off in class. Lack of adequate sleep means you’ll have a harder time studying and paying attention to lectures, might struggle on exams, and have overall poor performance which is not how you want to finish out 2017.

As we prepare for the next couple of busy weeks here at All Saints Academy, we hope you feel encouraged to finish strong. Whether you presented at the Innovation Studios NuVu exhibition this week, performing in the Upper or Lower school holiday concert, or gearing up for exams, know we are here for you and ready to help you accomplish your goals and be your very best in the coming New Year.

The “Nu” Way to Collaborate: How ASA Is Building Creative Leaders

Creative problem solving, ​innovation, ​and collaboration ar​e​ important parts of the curriculum at All Saints Academy. ​Our students ​are challenged ​to carefully consider all angles of a problem and brainstorm multiple solutions both in and out of the classroom, and we ​encourage them to work with ​their peers to get a well-rounded perspective and diverse opinions when ​exploring these solutions. Few things embody this more though than our partnership with NuVu​​ ​and our Innovation Studio coursework for high school students.

NuVu​​, based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is by their own definition, a “full-time innovation school” for students of middle and high school age. They teach their students how to understand and participate in the full creative process, from the very beginning when an idea is sparked, to completion of the prototypes​, through the final presentation of their product. ​They do this through collaboration with other students, and offering “studios” rather than courses, where students work with coaches on solving open-ended questions. They give students large chunks of time to work through their ideas, rather than breaking the work into short, one-hour segments like ​a​ ​traditional class ​model. Throughout the process, NuVu students are creating a digital portfolio, which will serve them well as part of a college resume.

​Last year, ​All Saints Academy unveiled our own ​dedicated ​space for our NuVu partnership, in ​creating ​the Baldwin Center for Innovation and Collaboration. Our “Maker Space” was even featured in a write-up by the Winter Haven Chamber, and ​gives our students a place to take their ideas from a simple concept to a fully-developed, tangible product that is able to be used by its intended audience. Named after our Head of School, Carolyn Baldwin, ​whose vision established the partnership with NuVu, the space offers access to multiple 3D printers, high-end Mac computers equipped with CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, and a laser-cutting machine. There is also common space for students to meet and participate in discussion while collaborating on their topic’s potential solutions, and a variety of studio workspace and materials at the students’ disposal.

If all of this creativity interests you, we’d love to invite you ​join us at the upcoming Innovation Studio Exhibition, on December 5, 2017 at 5:30 PM​, beginning in the Pou Chapel​. The exhibition will showcase the work our 9-12th grade students completed in our Innovation Studio this ​semester, and will give you an opportunity to see how ​transformational the NuVu partnership has been for our school. We can’t wait to see how​ our students use​ the skills ​mastered in ​their Innovation Studio as they graduate and head out into the world.

Integrated Education: How Our Youngest Students Learn Through Play

Here at All Saints Academy, the phrase “no pencils required” is often used to describe our educational philosophy. This means we strive to provide learning through a variety of experiences, hands-on activities, rich literature and reading materials, and discussion among educators and students. For our youngest students in our Lower School​,​ a lot of this learning comes through play.

Play is something that comes naturally for children, yet gives them a wide array of educational opportunities​, and we endeavor to create an environment where “learning” and “fun” are one and the same for our young students. ​ Walk into one of our Pre-K or Kindergarten classrooms here at ASA and you’ll find days filled with music, dancing, imaginative play, visits to our hydroponic and vegetable gardens and pond habitat, and of course, plenty of time in our “Discovery Zone.”

What is this Discovery Zone? Essentially, this area is where students in Pre-K through Grade 1 are introduced to math, science, technology, and design concepts through ​the ​exploration that comes naturally to children of this age. Activities like the magnetic wall, the light table, engineering blocks, sensory table, artistic tinker lab, and even robot exploration are available for children to enjoy through play, all the while building the foundation that will make up their education throughout their time at All Saints Academy, all the way up to our Upper School Innovation in the Baldwin Center for Innovation and Collaboration.

Collaboration is another important part of our Lower School (Pre-K to Grade 5) at ASA, and we incorporate it through programs ​like our ​Learning Buddies, pairing students across grade levels,, and through various clubs and extracurricular activities available for various age groups. These clubs and activities also bridge subjects like performing and fine arts, leadership opportunities, technology, and more. Nothing is one-dimensional in the curriculum at ASA. Our goal is for each activity, and each learning opportunity, to engage many parts of our students’ minds, and give them the highest quality, well-rounded education possible.

If you are interested in learning more about how we approach education from the earliest age at All Saints, we have plenty of information here, and with a simple click or two you can learn more about our learning opportunities and curriculum for middle school and Upper School students as well. The spark of a love for learning begins early, and our goal is to fan that flame and turn it into a blaze that motivates our oldest students far beyond their days at ASA.

All Saints Academy: Preparing Students for College and Beyond

As we wrap up our fall semester at ASA, the talk of college begins to play a big part in conversations around campus and within the families of our current juniors and seniors. We are a College Preparatory school here at All Saints Academy, as we know that investing in a higher education gives our students a much wider variety of bigger and better opportunities as they start out in life. We take pride in our legacy of 100% college acceptance, and our students know that our College Advising Program is dedicated to making sure they don’t just go to college, but that they find the institution that is the right fit for them and their future! Just this past year, our 2017 graduating class had all 54 students enroll in 4-year college or university. Those are numbers we can be proud of!

All Saints students are accepted into an array of quality, prestigious schools all over the southeast and east, and we currently have alumni attending Harvard, Northwestern, Washington University, Samford, University of Florida, and many more. Elizabeth Martin here on our ASA campus says the big decisions for our seniors will be coming up during second semester, which means we will likely hear exciting announcements of All Saints being represented at a whole new wave of universities for the 2018-2019 academic year. All Saints offers plentiful support during the process of researching and choosing colleges, since we know this is a big decision for our students (and their parents!) and isn’t to be taken lightly.

Nancy Korman, our Director of College Advising, is your go-to person to talk about your student’s upcoming preparation for higher education, and she can let you know about upcoming events right here on campus that can give your child a glimpse into various college choices. ASA frequently has college representatives on campus to visit with our students and discuss their school. The list over recent years has included, but is not limited to, UF, FSU, University of Miami, UC Davis (California), Boston University, Vanderbilt, University of Chicago, University of Alabama, Auburn, Southern Methodist College, Washington and Lee, Davidson, and many more. These opportunities can help students make a short list of schools they are most interested in, and can then focus on researching intently during their senior year.

Another way we prepare our students for the college search process is with our annual college class trip. Each year, our juniors take a trip to visit multiple college campuses including Flagler, Clemson University, Wofford College, Erskine, Mercer University, Oglethorpe, and Georgia Tech. Seeing campuses firsthand gives our students a better idea of what to look for when choosing a university, and some key things they may want to look for and/or avoid when selecting a school. As our juniors are just beginning this journey, many of our seniors are currently working out details of their final selection, and Auburn, FSU, Berry College, University of Tampa, and Furman University are already on the list of chosen colleges for the 2018 graduating class.

Want to learn more about how we handle college advising here at All Saints Academy? Our College Advising Program page has plenty of valuable information (find it here) and can give you an idea of what to expect for your junior or senior student here at ASA. Congratulations to our 2018 graduates who have already chosen their next step, and to those who are still researching and deciding, know we are here for you this school year!

Swing Into The Swamp 2017

The countdown is on for All Saints Academy’s biennial “Swing Into The Swamp” event, and we can’t wait! This casual, adults only, evening of dining, dancing, and (friendly) rivalry surrounding an auction benefitting our school is always a great time for all who attend, and we hope to see YOU in the crowd! The auction is an opportunity for those in our school, and in the Polk County community, to come together for fun and support a great cause at the same time.

Our Swing Into The Swamp event isn’t your ordinary school auction. Items included in the bidding for past events have ranged from deluxe vacation packages to a variety of enticing locations, to sporting event tickets for the whole family. Local restaurants and businesses also generously support the event, and we always have a wonderful array of gift cards and service packages on the table. There is sure to be something for everyone at the auction, and competition is always interesting as bidders try their best to walk away with the prize. Swing into The Swamp 2017’s list of items up for grabs is better than ever before, including:

  • a long-distance getaway to Denmark! Enjoy a 10,000 Danish Krone gift card to smalldanishhotels.com and book your dream trip!
  • 6 2-park passes to Universal Studios AND a stay at any of the 5 Universal resorts. This package, valued at $1,300, could be a fun trip for the whole family, or an adults only trip with friends.
  • Dinner for two at The Chef’s Table at the Terrace Hotel. Enjoy an evening out with a relaxing atmosphere and delicious food. What a perfect date night!
  • Full-day pontoon boat rental on the Chain of Lakes. There is no better way to enjoy the very best of Central Florida than from the water. Grab your favorite drink, and relax with a day of sunshine and fresh air.
  • and SO MUCH MORE…

This year’s event is happening on Friday, November 10th at the Lone Palm Golf Club in Lakeland. The Lone Palm is a premier, private golf club and it serves as a beautiful and relaxing backdrop for a casual evening spent with friends while enjoying “Swing Into The Swamp.” Casual attire is appropriate, but if you really want to get into the “team spirit”, team wear of your choice is encouraged. You don’t want to miss this evening of camaraderie with fellow ASA parents and community supporters. Information about purchasing tickets will be released soon, so watch out for the dates and locations of sale so you don’t miss out on this event. After all, you won’t get another chance for 2 more years!

Let’s get ready to “Swing Into The Swamp”.. See you there!

Reason to Give: How the Halo Fund Helps ASA Serve Our Community

All Saints Academy is well known throughout Central Florida for offering the very best in independent education for students in and around the Polk County area. Our goal is to give children the brightest future possible in their chosen field, and we are fortunate that our tuition assistance funds make it possible for All Saints Academy to open our doors to students of all backgrounds. As an independent school, we do not receive government funding but instead rely upon tuition fees and the generous donations from our community who believe in our mission to inspire independent thinkers, principled leaders, and humbler learners.

That generosity is evident each year through the Halo Fund at ASA. The Halo Fund is the philanthropic embodiment of community at All Saints Academy. Board members, staff, parents, alumni, and even parents of alumni come together to meet the needs of the school with their willing hands and giving hearts. This fund helps us offer the creative, challenging, and community-oriented education our families know and love. This sense of community is why many families at ASA choose to give to the Halo Fund each year. They appreciate that their children are seeing the benefits of giving back being reaped in their own education each day. In other words, it’s a hands-on lesson of the benefits of generosity, and a great opportunity for those who are currently part of All Saints Academy, or have been in the past, to give back to the school. Read stories from our own families and ASA community members on our Facebook feed where we have been sharing about giving for the last several weeks.

We are proud to announce that we have 100% participation from our Trustees, Staff, and Teachers this year and are close to several classes reaching 90%. If you are interested in contributing to this year’s Halo Fund campaign, you can make a gift directly to the school here. We appreciate the generous spirit of all those who support All Saints Academy each year, and we look forward to continuing to serve the Polk County community for years to come. Let’s be #AllinforAllSaints!

Politically Correct: The Benefit of Civics in Education

As young people grow up hearing terms like “representatives”, “electoral votes” or “legislation” thrown around in casual conversation around them, they likely will not fully understand what’s being talked about until adulthood; when hopefully they choose to engage in more of our political process. It is important for us at All Saints Academy to help change the preparedness of our young people at an earlier age to more effectively understand and engage in their civic duty by exercising his or her right to vote, understand how, or why, they should participate in government and politics and how it affects no only them, but generations to come.

All Saints Academy is proud to be part of the “Civic Education Project”, a collaboration between Dr. Anne Kerr (President of Florida Southern College), Barney Barnett (Publix Super Markets, Inc.), Bill Vass (ASA Trustee), Rick Jeffries (Head of the collegiate program at Polk State College), Carolyn Baldwin (Head of School for All Saints Academy), Ryan Walsh (Associate Head of School for All Saints Academy, and other ASA team members. These professionals have brainstormed a curriculum that will incorporate civic education back into mainstream teaching, and therefore, bring about a better understanding of politics and how government works.

This project has several main goals (read more about the project here) designed to build better citizens who understand why they get to participate in democratic process and how to work alongside fellow citizens to create win-win initiatives that better the country as a whole. The program features a weekly speaker and discussion around the presented topic — a simple, yet effective approach — that provides students the opportunity to hear various perspectives from peers. The discussion requires that points be based on facts and evidence and will use a foundation of government documents (like the Constitution) instead of textbooks or interpretations. The goal of this course is to ignite a spark of respect for our country’s foundation and foster an understanding of the real political process and its importance.

We are proud to collaborate with our fellow educators at Florida Southern College and Polk State College; we anticipate great things to come!

Meet the New Staff at ASA: Getting to Know Ms. Nadine Maxwell-Henry

This year at ASA, we have started using our blog space to introduce you to our wonderful educators and campus staff. This month’s focus is on Ms. Nadine Maxwell-Henry. Ms. Max (as she is fondly referred to by our students and parents) is the school counselor at All Saints Academy, and her talents are used in many different ways within our staff and student body. She brings with her an extensive background full of experience and education in order to serve our ASA community.

Ms. Max has always enjoyed helping her peers with problem solving. Even as a young child, she discovered that she was the one her friends turned to when they needed someone to listen — someone with whom they could discuss problems or concerns. This experience led her to pursue a degree in Social Sciences and Spanish at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, and propelled her to complete graduate studies in Counseling Psychology at Howard University in Washington, D.C. A variety of practical opportunities were incorporated into her counseling educational journey. She worked at a Women’s Crisis Center in Jamaica, followed by a mental health facility where she continued to work for several more years. Here, she worked with a wide range of mental health issues spanning all age groups from children to the elderly. She also completed graduate studies in Mental Health Counseling at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, before finally finding her true passion in school counseling. Working in mental health counseling prepared her for the variety of issues that she encounters as a school counselor. Ms. Max believes in practicing a holistic manner of counseling in the school environment; she believes in including parents/family, educators, and other adults involved in the child or adolescent’s life during assessments and interventions. By evaluating and offering support to all of these individuals — not just the single student — she believes counselors are better able to help the child. This holistic approach is how she has practiced counseling from ages Pre-K to grade 12 for the last 22 years, and it’s one of the many reasons we are so thankful to have her as part of the ASA family. She also is a champion of diversity and feels this helps her better assist students, families, and teachers regardless of background or circumstances.

Ms. Max’s daily work here on campus is multi-faceted, but her main areas of work at ASA include:

Individual Counseling. Students come to her for “in the moment” issues, either as walk-ins, or through teacher, parent, or Administration referrals. Crisis management is a big part Ms. Max’s day-to-day work in this area of counseling.

Group Counseling.  Ms. Max uses her expertise to group like-minded students (dealing with the same issue) to emphasize they are not alone in their struggles and can overcome any challenge by working alongside one another. Occasionally, Advisors are included in these sessions, which are less clinical in nature and focus more on problem solving, guidance, and life skills related to social and emotional issues. Parental permission is required for this type of counseling.

Peer Mediation. This leadership opportunity is an area of counseling that is near to Ms. Max’s heart. In peer mediation, she selects 8th grade students and Seniors who receive training on how to work with peers and help serve the student body (with supervision). They also have the opportunity to use their acquired training and skills to assist in the Lower School. Ms. Max looks forward to seeing how this growing program will train our ASA students to do extraordinary work on our campus and beyond.

Teacher and Administrative Consulting. This portion of Ms. Max’s job includes working alongside our ASA faculty to create intervention plans for classrooms and for individual students. Ms. Max along with teachers and Administration have regular “Student Success Meetings” where the group brainstorms techniques and ideas to help with current challenges to better serve the students.

As you can see, Ms. Max is a huge asset to our staff, and she provides a wide array of services to our students, faculty, and parents at All Saints. While she is obviously very busy with her job, she also has quite a busy life outside of campus as well! So what does Ms. Max do when she’s not busy on campus?

  • She has two sons, Jazz a Junior and Kobi in the 8th grade, who keep her busy with club sports. Weekends are spent traveling throughout Florida and the Southeast to various athletic games. If you ask her about free time, she’ll tell you she has none (but she loves spending time with her sons).
  • She enjoys going for a run (especially around Lake Hollingsworth!) or participating in Zumba classes.
  • She enjoys being outdoors and attending Festivals.
  • She loves Latin and Caribbean dancing, and hopes to pick it back up one day when she is less busy driving to sports games and practices. For now, she is devoted to being there for her boys at home and on the field.

Ms. Max really enjoys the work she does. If you ask her where she sees herself in 10 years, she says: “I am genuinely a support-service person, so I would say continuing on this track. This type of work is one where you go home and feel good about how you spent your day, and I want to continue feeling like that.”

We are so glad to have Mrs. Max as part of All Saints Academy. We all appreciate her service to our school and our ASA families!

 

ASA Presents Our 2017 National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalists!

unnamed-4All Saints Academy is proud to offer excellence in education, and as an independent school in Florida, we strive to provide the very best in the educational experience, from extracurricular activities to curriculum choices. It’s encouraging to us as a school to see our students graduate and enter the world as successful young adults, many of whom receive high-level scholarships, internships, and recognition at various universities and companies around the world. Perhaps one of the most exciting events though is when we have a student selected as a National Merit Scholar.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) provides scholarships to students each year at universities across the U.S. The competition is rigorous, and being selected as a finalist is considered a mark of educational prestige and is a huge honor. The NMSC was established in 1955, and chooses its winners each year based on abilities, skills, accomplishments both in and out of the classroom, and their potential for success in college and beyond. Everything from grades to extracurricular activities are taken into account, and they seek out only the most well-rounded, knowledgeable students to participate in the various stages of the competition.

There is no government assistance with the NMSC. It is an independently supported program, with over 400 loyal sponsors committed to recognizing students for their hard work and outstanding achievements in the academic world. While over 1,000,000 students take the tests and enter each year, only 16,000 of these students will be selected to move on to the semifinalist round, with only 7,500 of those semifinalist becoming National Merit Scholar finalists. Approximately half of these finalists will end up being awarded scholarships of various types, from one-time payments to go toward their higher education to annual scholarships provided each year for the selected student.

As a finalist, a student still has many steps to go through before finding out if he or she will be awarded a scholarship. Academic records will be examined, the high school’s curriculum and grading practices will be reviewed, two sets of test scores will be required, and the student’s high school must provide a written recommendation. Additionally, the student’s activities and leadership roles will be looked at, along with an essay written and provided by the finalist. All of these factors will be used to determine whether or not a particular finalist qualifies to earn the status of National Merit Scholar.

All Saints Academy is thrilled to announce that we have not one, but TWO National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalists in our Upper School this year. James Eschrich and William Skipper have worked hard and accomplished much in their time here at ASA, and we couldn’t be more proud of them for making it to this point in their journey to becoming National Merit Scholars! If you see them around campus, make sure to congratulate them, and stay tuned for news of their status in the competition in the coming months!

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