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Director's Blog

August 30, 2015
by: Ted Hamm

Creating Space and Time to Establish a School Culture

The first week of school is an opportunity to convey our beliefs and expectations not only through our words, but by what we do. Since the inception of the Étude High School, we have put a great deal of time and thought into how we start the school year - involving students in the processes of creating our school culture and engaging in the intellectual work we expect of them. It is through these actions that we initiate a strong school culture and an in depth intellectual culture.

In preparation for the start of the year, there are a few key components about the start of the school year I would like to share with students and families:

Welcoming Mosaic School Students
It is essential for us to ensure that the students who are new to Mosaic feel comfortable making the transition from elementary other or other middle schools. To do this, we ask our IDEAS Academy students to arrive at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. This provides our Mosaic School students, who will arrive to hours earlier, the opportunity to get acquainted with the building, their advisors, and their classmates in a small environment.

Establishing an Advisory Culture
Secondly, we use the first days to begin building our advisory culture. Students spend much of the first week in their advisory groups getting to know the names and people who will become much like family for the year. Developing a safe environment within advisory is necessary for students to feel comfortable sharing thoughts, engaging in reflection, and eventually moving that comfort to a vocally supportive advisory that offers assistance and advice to each other. This is a remarkable transition to watch and it shapes the community that makes our schools strong.

Establishing a Culture of Thinking and Innovation
Our first week of school is unique in that students spend little time in their actual classes; this is intentional. From the start of the Étude High School we looked for ways to start the school year that engaged kids intellectually. In order to do this, we turned to our partners at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and the engaging exhibits that showcase to our students how professional artists represent ideas and answer big questions about the world. We then ask our students to communicate their ideas through creating a product in a discipline such as the arts, engineering, math or science. Our approach is to take students through a process of responding to essential questions by observing professional models, collaborating in teams to discuss the question posed to them, and presenting ideas to their peers for feedback. Gone were the days of sitting quietly while the teacher read the rules, expectations and syllabus to the class. Now these challenges are met with an eager focus to engage in our intellectual culture.

Establishing a Democratic Culture
The last aspect of our school to be set up is our democratic culture. Each year we write a Declaration of Education. The DoE, as it is referred to, is the foundational document for our school culture. It documents why we are here and what we agree to as a community. If issues occur in our community throughout the year, it is what we refer to in order to guide our decision making as a whole school (including and often led by our student body). The DoE is revisited throughout the school year to ensure its validity. In some respects it is our version of the Constitution. This year we will be turning to our juniors and seniors to lead this process. They will be working with IDEAS 9th and 10th graders, along with Mosaic students to identify our vision for our Professional Culture, as identified by our Habits of Professionalism; our Intellectual Culture, as identified by our Habits of Mind; and our Culture of Decency & Trust. The DoE will be ratified by our student body and posted throughout the school when written.

It is action that we use to show what we value as a school community. A first week of classes and schedule as normal, does not provide us with the time and space to build the intellectual, advisory, and democratic cultures necessary to move forward as an engaged community of learners.

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August 1, 2015

Welcome Back Night

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Summer learning looks different for all of us, and as part of The Étude Group schools it is exciting to see how each experience of observing, playing, wondering, creating, and exploring that happens in the summer will enrich learning this school year. We hope to start sharing these stories and reconnecting at our "Welcome Back Night." 

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March 10, 2015
by: Ted Hamm

Governing Board Meeting, March 2015

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We are always working to increase our communication with you, our families and the larger community we serve. You might have noticed changes in the appearance of our website and in the flow of information from our blogs to social media this year. We have been working with a local design firm, Dynamic, to update our online presence and make it easier to communicate all that happens within our schools. Our approach is to publish information to blogs that will automatically be posted to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Additionally, you can sign up for our blogs to be sent directly to your email inbox. 

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January 23, 2015
by: Ted Hamm

New! Subscribe to get Director's Blog posts by Email

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Thank you for your interest in the The Étude Group schools. This blog features posts from ESAA, Mosaic, and IDEAS, as well as commentary on broader topics in the organization and education.

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December 12, 2014
by: Ted Hamm

What is Gallery Night?

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This Thursday, December 11th, we will be hosting our first Gallery Night. Tad Phippen Wente has already provided an overview of the evening. We are looking...

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December 5, 2014
by: Tad Phippen Wente

Thinking Galleries - Open!

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Student docents and staff will be on hand throughout the galleries at IDEAS Academy and The Mosaic School to talk about the exhibits and describe the...

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October 8, 2014
by: Ted Hamm

The Étude Sessions Part 2

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The central purpose of the sessions is to build community. With that in mind, we want to the funds raised to go towards building a stronger...

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October 4, 2014
by: Ted Hamm

The Étude Sessions Part 1

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Last year we started a concert series, called the Étude Sessions, as a way to raise funds for our schools.

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September 16, 2014
by: Ted Hamm

State Report Card

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Last year the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction implemented a reporting system which gives an annual report card to each public school in the state.

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September 8, 2014
by: Ted Hamm

Parent Connections Night

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One of core values of our schools is to develop a connected, participatory community.

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