Author Archives: lgraceffa

Eighth Grade Moves Up, thanks to John Dewey

The Class of 2021 has finished its middle school years and is getting ready for high school. On June 12, we celebrated this rite of passage at our Middle School Moving Up event. Here are my opening remarks, sending them … Continue reading

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Farewell to the Seniors: 2017

Our last All School Activity for this year carried on the tradition of bidding farewell to the seniors. The task for groups was to make a magic wand and write a special spell. One of the favorite “Caffeinator” to make … Continue reading

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Not Exactly Scary, but Takes Courage

At PDS, we’ve had student-led conferences since 2004, when my predecessor, George Swain, introduced them to our middle school. We started with a pilot for just grade 8, but quickly included seventh graders. The sixth grade followed suit a few … Continue reading

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The Food Truck Emerges

Sixth graders completed their structure of a food truck, built of Goya cans, at the Poughkeepsie Galleria mall! The truck is striking for several reasons: it has a lighted sign, reading How CAN I help you? It has brightly lit headlights. … Continue reading

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Reading to Build a Bridge

This month I’ve invited parents of grade 5 students to visit with me, tour the Holford Learning Commons and hear about the middle school program. Of special interest are parts of the program that work to build a bridge between … Continue reading

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Are We Running Out of Juice?

Early in the faculty meetings planning for this year, Jake Lahey, our 7-8 history teacher, wondered if we might create an interdisciplinary study that asked students to consider the history and processes that humans use to get energy from the earth. … Continue reading

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True Service Learning Couples Awareness and Agency

A student walked into my office today, with great excitement. She and her mom had taken time after school to deliver a play kitchen to the downtown Poughkeepsie daycare where some of our students volunteered during this year’s service learning … Continue reading

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Before the Colonists

One of the key concepts for seventh grade history is to help students realize that the Americas were full of people before the colonists arrived. My own image from childhood– a handful of Native Americans eating dinner with pilgrims– is simply … Continue reading

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Build a Machine to Get to Know You

Because we prize community at PDS, we deliberately set aside time to gather in multi-age groups for an activity about once a month. We end our small group activity with a whole school gathering. Septembers have “firsts” with great frequency, … Continue reading

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The Artist Barbara Beisinghoff Visits PDS

PDS, and the middle school in particular, were fortunate to have the internationally known artist Barbara Beisinghoff spend a day on campus. Barbara was brought to Poughkeepsie by Vassar College through their Creative Arts Across Disciplines grants program. Silke von der … Continue reading

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