Archive for January, 2014

Parenting in the digital age

January 24th, 2014


Come gather ‘round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You’ll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you

Is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’

Or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’.

The Essential Bob Dylan is playing in my office. In fact, I’m playing it off my iPad and listening to it via my minijambox, which is of course connected wirelessly via Bluetooth. BTW (that’s “by the way” for the non-texters out there) you just read through four hyperlinks, each will take you to a webpage affiliated with the respective key word, and either nearer to or further from the end of this post.

If you are anything like me (parent and life-long learner that graduated high school in the 80s, that’s the 1980s for any 20 year-olds reading this) then you share my excitement and my trepidation of adjusting to a hyperconnected world. As an individual, I have a very high-risk tolerance when it comes to technology. As an educator, I maintain that sense of exploration because I have seen the rewards that technology has to offer – and I’ve seen educational institutions emerge stronger from many tech blunders. As a parent, I realize that my boys are exposed to resources, tools, games, and information that I didn’t know about until I was in college or beyond. This post is for that last role, the parent.

The Center on Media and Human Development out of Northwestern University published a report in June of 2013 titled Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology. There’s a nice summary of the findings on Mind/Shift by Alexis Lauricella. Yep, I read both, though admittedly I started with the summary. Spoiler alert for those who wish to read the report and/or the summary themselves… parenting is different today and with each new generation parents have to adapt to the environment their children are living in. This resonates strongly with the parent in me – I am the same guy that proclaimed, “My child will not have any screen time until he’s three.” Don’t get me wrong, Max goes days without using our tv, iPad, Netflix, and iPhone. But there are days when he and his one-year old brother borrow the iPhone to take pics and watch family videos. In fact, Max figured out how to take a picture without unlocking my iPhone long before I realized that was possible!

As I deal with parenting in a world that is very different from the one I grew up in, the other voices in my head offer the following tips to my parenting self:

1. Be brave.

2. Learn from and with your kids.

3. Take appropriate chances.

4. Make it fun, don’t just wait to have fun.

5. Downloading an app or purchasing a device is not a life-sentence. If its not working for you, move on.

6. Its okay to be afraid, just don’t let the fear stunt your growth.

7. Its not about you, its about your kid.

Below are a few tech resources for parents that I’ve found to be extremely helpful. If you’ve got a favorite resource that’s not on this list, please send it my way.


Common Sense Media – Offers a wealth of information, tools, and resources for families and schools. They are the primary resource for teaching digital literacy and digital citizenship at HIS. Start with their Family Tip Sheets and their making sense blog for parenting, media and everything in between.

Edutopia: Their mission is to identify and share evidence-based strategies that improve education. Their Media and Digital Literacy: Resources for Parents page is chock-full of great resources for parenting in the digital age.

PBS offers a variety of videos and resources through their Digital Workshops: Online Resources for Parents and Educators.



Chris Bezsylko, Middle School Principal

Why a PS-8 School?

January 17th, 2014

Numerous national studies demonstrate the advantages of three-year old to eighth grade schools; they enhance academic, social, and emotional development while bringing about improved self-esteem and confidence (Rand Study and National Middle School Association Study). A two-year study by American College Testing (ACT) found that eighth grade achievement in appropriate eighth grade curriculum was more significant in determining future success in high school and college than in any high school academic experience.

In a PS-8 school, there is a continuity of community that has a positive impact on social and emotional development. Additionally, students and teachers can see the scope and sequence of learning patterns in each subject. Here at HIS, we are committed to honoring the sanctity of childhood while providing the most appropriate preparation for success upon graduation:

  • Programs such as Morning Meeting and Circle of Power & Respect help us build community and provide a consistent approach to social-emotional development throughout the critical middle years.
  • Our youngest and our oldest students benefit from working with one another as reading and science buddies, and from other cross-division experiences.
  • Active engagement in community service initiatives, service-learning projects, and programs like Touchpoints helps our students develop the understanding and skills they need to be meaningfully engaged in high school and beyond.
  • Our educational program combines rigorous academics and enrichment in the arts.
  • Our teachers and administration are engaged in ongoing, meaningful professional development to continually improve our programs based upon developmental psychology, neuroscience, and best practices in education.

noid35As a parent of a preschooler, I cannot imagine what high school education will be like when Max is a freshman. It certainly will not be the same experience I had in the 1980s. As an educator, I know that educators share that sentiment across the globe as the advent of technology and our increased understanding of neuroscience compels us to continually reflect upon and improve our approach to teaching and learning. What I can predict with reasonable certainty is that child development will remain essentially the same, as it has for centuries. Regardless of what high school looks like or what high school Max attends, he will be best prepared for success having been in a nurturing environment that emphasizes critical-thinking, creativity, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and compassion. These are the skills that have served humanity since the beginning, and they are the skills that we strive to build through our educational programs and experiences here at HIS.

Chris Bezsylko, Middle School Principal

A Little Discovery

January 17th, 2014

photo 2Henderson International School prides itself on its ability to provide students with interactive and real life learning experiences. Our cultured teachers enjoy sharing the things they discover while traveling, and one of our pre-kindergarten teachers, Lizette Fiumara, recently traveled home for the holidays to Puerto Rico, where she came in contact with a popular island frog — the coqui.

“The coqui is a unique little frog that is native to the island of Puerto Rico. They are very small, mostly clear, and nocturnal,” said Ms. Fiumara. “I brought back a little fake coqui to show my class and the other Spanish classes.”

Ms. Fiumara created a lesson for students, using the frog as inspiration, to teach about Puerto Rico’s culture and geography, as well as several characteristics of the frog. Students even came away with an understanding of the term ‘nocturnal’ and a healthy dose of information about amphibians in general.

Using the coqui as a jumping-off point, Ms. Fiumara’s students learned how the people of Puerto Rico speak and live, with a portion of the lesson discussing the personal experiences she had while growing up in that corner of the world.

The students took what they learned from the lesson and wrote sentences about the frog in Spanish, giving them a chance to practice their ongoing second-language learning. They also drew pictures of the frog to enhance the engaging learning experience.

The students learned that there is so much of the world to discover. Whether it’s a frog that can be found in Puerto Rico, a language that is shared between many nations, or the meaning of different cultural practices, learning is endless. Ms. Fiumara not only shared an engaging lesson, but also taught the importance of discovery and healthy curiosity, which are part of the HIS learning experience.

Click here to watch a video and hear a coqui sing, and take a look at a few of the projects students completed as part of this lesson.

Thank you to Ms. Fiumara for sharing your experience and knowledge about the coqui with everyone!

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Morning Meetings at HIS

January 10th, 2014

At the Henderson International School, we believe that it is our responsibility to attend to our students’ academic, social and emotional needs.  Our lower school starts every day with a Morning Meeting, a community-building experience that teaches students to be knowledgeable, responsible and caring.  It teaches kids the social and emotional skills, attitudes and values that we want them to have in order for them to grow into productive, thoughtful and compassionate individuals.  For a glimpse into what Morning Meeting looks like in our school, PreK3 – 4th grade, click on this link to view a video of our students and teachers conducting the four components of Morning Meeting.  Enjoy!

Video by: John Heffron, LowerSchool Principal


“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill


HIS students are part of the innovative Meritas Touchpoints program, which gives students the opportunity to study global environmental, social and economic issues with a Meritas sister school. This year, while working with Instituto San Roberto in Mexico, our fifth graders were tasked with dealing with the important issue of global poverty, and decided that to make the biggest impact they must start with action here at home.

In December, the fifth grade HIS students came together to raise and donate non-perishable food items to the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, a local nonprofit that provides meals, shelter and clothing to homeless and displaced individuals throughout the Valley. The food drive was spearheaded by teacher Heather Berg, and in total students raised 3,500 non-perishable food items.

The donation took place on Friday, December 13 at the school. TV news stations were on-site to highlight the donation, and the students who worked so hard to raise so much food even took part in loading the food items on the Las Vegas Rescue Mission’s truck.

Check out what John Fogal, Executive Director of Las Vegas Rescue Mission, has to say about the great work that these students did in the video below.

You can learn more about the donation by clicking here to visit 8 News Now.

Thanks to everyone that participated in this great event!