Book of the Month for November 2017
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
The Cambridge English dictionary defines Tolerance as the willingness to accept behavior and beliefs that are different from your own, even if you disagree with or disapprove of them. In the scheme of things and certainly for the world today, what could be more important than having the ability to “tolerate” that which one does not like? This is not always easy for adults, and more often than not, it is not easy for children.
So we are very fortunate that Dr. Seuss created “The Sneetches.” This book, which appears to be a typical, adorably illustrated, rhyming Dr. Seuss book, is one of the most recommended artifacts of children’s literature for the teaching of tolerance. It also provides access to this topic for even young students.
This book introduces its readers to a race of odd yellow birds who live on a beach. Some have stars on their bellies. They are the popular Sneetches, while those without stars on their bellies are deemed less fortunate, neglected and are treated poorly. The plain-bellied Sneetches then have opportunity to get stars on their bellies, but soon after, the star-bellied Sneetches have their stars removed. This goes back and forth for a bit until all of the Sneetches realize that they are equal, with none better than another, and the stars do not matter at all.
While the book experience feels familiar Seuss, it gives us the opportunity to discuss a serious topic in a safe way. It can address race, equity, diversity and discrimination, and it can also more simply address how one can act when they don’t like something about someone else, or just someone who is different.
Some good discussion may be yielded from the following:
- Were the Sneetches with stars better than the Sneetches without stars? What made the star-bellied sneetches think so? What made the plain-bellied sneetches think so?
- Have you ever felt like a star-bellied Sneetch? What made you feel that way?
- Have you ever felt like a plain-bellied Sneetch? What made you feel that way?
- What kinds of things make people feel different from one another?
- Is it better to be different or the same?
- What if everyone looked the same?
- What if everyone acted the same?
- Is it sometimes ok to pick or not pick someone based on certain characteristics? Why? Or why not?
Seuss intended the Sneetches” as a satire of discrimination between races and cultures, specifically inspired by his opposition to antisemitism.
Some very exciting news: Thanks to nominations from the school community (parents, students, faculty & staff, alums, etc)—Lower Lab School has been selected as a school of excellence to receive a 2017 Blackboard Award!
Your very proud Principal
Dear Lower Lab Families,
Just wanted to share a few highlights of my day, which included two wonderful publishing parties in the first grade classes, well attended by parents and even a few grandparents. The writing was amazing!
Early morning, made lovely by some third graders who could not wait to play music on their recorders.
Afterschool coding class with Mr. Goodman engaged a large group of our younger students.
It is with great pride and regret that I announce that Ms. Lindsey Kubera, our awesome Special Education Teacher is leaving Lower Lab. After eight years, at our school, she has accepted the position of Assistant Principal on the upper west side. Our students and the entire Lower Lab community have benefitted tremendously from her hard work, empathetic nature and excellent skills as an educator. I know she will be sorely missed as a colleague and a friend.
At this time, please join me in welcoming Ms. Hanna Richman to the special education position. Ms. Richman has been working at Lower Lab as a teacher assistant, demonstrating her abilities in the third grade last year and currently in the fifth grade. She is smart, thoughtful and extremely dedicated. Her exceptional organizational skills will also serve her well in her new position.
Hanna will be completing her Master’s Degree from Hunter College with dual certification in Childhood Education and Special Education this spring. She comes from a family of educators, one of her favorite places to visit is the Strand bookstore and she plans to train for a marathon in the near future.
I want to assure you that there will be a smooth transition as Lindsey will have opportunity to work with Hanna prior to her departure. Please join me in congratulating both Lindsey and Hanna in their new positions. Here’s to continued success for all!
letter from Ms. Miller 10:2:2017
Book of the Month for September 2017
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Last year, we launched Lower Lab Values with Respect, and we will launch this year’s Lower Lab Values with Respect – again! This is a value that we want to continue to keep at the forefront in our school community, and this year’s first Book of the Month, The Giving Tree, will remind every one of the importance of having respect for each other, for ourselves and for the world around us.
The Giving Tree, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, was first published over 50 years ago. It has been translated into many languages, and is considered a true classic. Readers of any age can discuss the simple sketches and simply written text that offer complex interpretations.
The Giving Tree tells the story of a boy who visits a tree, and the tree loves the boy. As the boy gets older, the relationship changes from one that is equally pleasing to both, to a relationship that benefits one at the expense of the other. The story speaks of friendship, relationships, love, happiness and generosity. It also shapes understanding of how respect is “a two-way street.”
Sharing The Giving Tree with children of all ages provides a wonderful opportunity to engage in thoughtful conversations. Some good discussion may be yielded from the following:
- Do you think the boy is selfish? Why or why not?
- Do you think the tree is happy? Why or why not?
- Can you think of a time when you gave something away when you really didn’t want to? Why did you do that?
- It is important to think about respect as it relates to friendships. In this story, was the friendship between the tree and the boy respectful? What makes a friendship respectful?
- Why did the author call his character “the boy,” even when he became a man?
- The tree could be a symbol for something bigger than just a tree. Something that must be respected. What could that be? What would the “boy” symbolize?
- Julius Irving, a famous basketball player, said, “I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important than popularity.” Is it better to be liked or respected?
I am very happy to announce that we will be having a round of coffee talks in the next two weeks. Check for the invite in your child’s backpack tomorrow.
Save the dates:
- September 28th – Grades 4/5
- October 2nd – Grades K-2
- October 4th – Grade 3
I look forward to seeing many of you there!
This past Sunday, it was my pleasure to see the Lower Lab Chess Club host a Fall Tournament at the school. Forty Lower Lab students participated, as well as dozens of other students from all over New York City. The weather was fantastic and the setting perfect. The more experienced participants played chess under a tent in the inner courtyard, some up to two hours, while others enjoyed playing their matches on the brand new tables in the cafeteria. It was a wonderful event!
Any Lower Lab student, who has an interest in playing chess, is invited to join. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Wow, we are off to a great start! Children in every classroom were happy, engaged, getting reacquainted with old friends and making new ones. Tonight, I hope you will hear lots about your child’s first day of the school year. Thank you to the awesome teachers and teachers’ assistants for all of their preparations.
Please take note that due to the primary elections which will take place in the cafeteria next Tuesday, all students will have lunch in their classrooms on this day. So children who get school lunch will have sandwich options, or you may like to send in lunch on that day.
I look forward to seeing everyone next week at Back to School Night.
In case you are away and don’t have access to the letters we mailed out this week, here is a copy of what was sent:
Enjoy the rest of summer!!
Sandra G. Miller
The Lower Lab School
I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.
While you are waiting for our summer letter, which will be mailed to you the week of August 21st, please take a little time to peruse the Lower Lab website, especially the For Parents tab, which has recently been revised. Here you will find great resources, protocol and policy refreshers and PTA opportunities. You can also check out the calendar, which indicates lots of important dates for the fall.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the Barnes and Noble event on August 30th, but in the meantime, please give your child a special hug from me!!
Sandra G. Miller