Friday, September 23, 2016

LoMA Cares
 


September 26, 2016

Dear LoMA Family,

Last year the New York Times published a survey of suggestions from college upperclassmen for new students about how to be successful and happy in college. Reviewing the list last week, I was struck by how similar their list was to letters of advice that my advisory last year had wrote for this year’s freshmen class. I guess whether we are talking about college or high school, the same general rules of success apply. Here’s the list; do you agree?

  1. Extend Yourself: School should not simply be about taking the required classes and doing what is the minimum. I made this mistake in high school and hated it. When I was at college I joined student government, wrote for the newspaper, took part in political protests and became an athlete. None of this was easy for me as I was shy (really) and thought I was too cool for extracurriculars. I was wrong which is why we don’t give our students a choice about participating. The extracurricular activities carousel is tomorrow and activities start Wednesday. Try something new to extend yourself!
  2. Do the work: Every one of my former students wrote about the importance of completing homework. I remember that a bunch of them learned this the hard way. They all started off strong in September, but as the work load got heavier, they began missing assignments which led to failure. It’s even worse in college where teachers assume that students should complete two hours of homework for every hour of class time. This is the biggest reason why about half of all freshmen never graduate college. LoMA’s students, on the other hand, have a high rate of college success because they have learned the importance of completing homework thoroughly and on time.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Teachers can’t always tell when students need help, but our entire staff is ready to do what they can when students come to them for support. The most obvious examples are tutoring and Credit Plus. Remember, you can just walk in the art room and work on your schoolwork while getting fed during lunch. Beyond this, our counselors are here to lend an ear when anyone is upset, the clinic offers confidential services and our clubs are designed to help you nurture healthy friendships. On Tuesday, you will also hear about the opportunity to work with a mentor.
4.     Be yourself: As one student wrote, “Don’t compare yourself to other students. It is easy to feel lost [but] remember that everyone has unique talents, and you have four years to cultivate yours.” Too many students feel pressure to be someone they are not to fit in. A very common theme in the letters was about making friends that you can trust. Friends who relentlessly gossip, rarely do anything productive or act mean towards other can bring you down. To a large degree, we adopt the values of our friends. Therefore, you need to consider whether your friends represent who you want to be in life.
I think this is a pretty good list. Is it the one you would come up with? High school and college offer so many opportunities, but it is easy to miss them if we don’t put in the effort and make wise decisions.

Work hard,

John Wenk
September 27              1:40                 Extracurricular Activities carrousel
September 28                                      Extracurricular Activities begin
October 3 and 4                                  Rosh Hashanah
October 21                                          End of first marking period
 
 




Friday, September 16, 2016

LoMA Cares

                        Anthony J. D'Angelo

 
 




September 19, 2016

Dear LoMA Family,

I got the idea of our school motto – LoMA Cares – from a book called Subtractive Schooling and the Politics of Caring by Angela Valenzuela. The main argument of this book is that “caring” means something very different for students than for teachers. When students think about whether or not their teachers care, they mean, "Do they care about me - my life outside of school? Do they care whether or not I learn in class?" When teachers think about caring, however, they usually think only in terms of their schoolwork "Are my students completing their homework and behaving in class?" Neither viewpoint is right or wrong. The question is can we create a school where our students care for their schoolwork as much as the teachers care for their students?

From what I see, the teachers at LoMA really do care a great deal about their students. They have told me how much they enjoy advisory because it gives them a chance to get to know their students. Our teachers give up their free time to tutor students and work late trying to come up with interesting ways to teach that will make learning fun. Also LoMA's faculty has lunch together nearly every day to discuss how to help individual students. At these “kid talk” meetings each teacher brings up the names of students and we all discuss ways to help that student succeed. Caring isn’t always what it seems. For instance, sometimes the best way a teacher (or principal) shows caring is by disciplining students for actions that can hurt their learning or the school community. That’s why we consider it a big deal when students come in late or unprepared, miss a homework assignment or lose focus in class. I’ve been in schools where teachers did not care about these things and too few students were successful.

At the same time, I've been impressed to see that most of the students at LoMA do seem to care about their school work based on how many come in for tutoring, complete their homework every night and put their all into their arts classes and PE. The results seem to be good for the most part, as students have learned that the more they study, the more thoughtful they are in answering questions, the more they pay attention in class, and the higher they will score. Unfortunately, some students take too long to learn just how much independent work high school requires in the form of homework and regular study. Because we care, LoMA holds our students to a higher standard, which makes it necessary to take school more seriously, especially since colleges will see everything our students do.

It is very rare in the city for the founders of a school to still be with it twelve years later, but nearly all of the people who wrote LoMA’s mission statement twelve years ago are still with the school today. Since then, a commitment to caring has been the most important factor in every hiring decision we have made. But a school is more than its founders and staff. It includes our entire family. Our students, parents and community partners are all vital to our mission. Our school is most successful when we are all unified in our caring for each other and our work. This year, let’s remember to be together in this.

Be Caring,

John Wenk
September 27              1:40                 Extracurricular Activities Carrousel
September 28                                      Extracurricular Activities begin
October 3 and 4                                  Rosh Hashanah
October 21                                          End of first marking period
 
 



Our Mission

LoMA is a school that cares.
It cares about the academic, social and artistic development of its family of learners.

LoMA’s staff cares that our students become life-long learners and responsible citizens of the world.

LoMA’s students care about academic success, creativity, community involvement and college success. Because they care, they work hard, support each other and will find success in life.