Our new Associate Director of Admissions Ms. Knapp wants to help prospective families learn more about what it's like to attend BASIS Independent McLean! In this next part of her blog series, Ms. Knapp sat down with some of our primary students in grades 1–4 to learn more about their favorite parts of the school day.
I had the unique opportunity to sit down with four of our primary students, representing grades 1–4, as well as our Dean of Primary, Ms. Crable. Lucky for me, all four students were excited to talk about BASIS Independent McLean with a new staff member like myself! I spoke to Liam D. '29, Brady C. '28, Tahiyah H. '27, and Sofia G. '26.
I started off with a fun and hopefully easy question: "What is your favorite class?" The students really lit up when I asked this question! For a few of them, they had a hard time choosing just one.
Tahiyah loves Engineering with Ms. Dedman. "We were building towers and it can be hard at first. We have to figure out what materials work and what doesn't." Tahiyea went on to explain that popsicle sticks work best for building the strongest towers.
Brady looks forward to the class Math and Science with Mr. Joseph. "I like that Mr. Joseph has games that make learning more fun! Games like 'Heads Up 7 Up' and '4 Corners' help us understand in a better way."
Last but not least, Liam said he loved all his teachers and it's hard to choose one. He settled on PE with Mr. Coquelin. He likes the different games that he plays with his friends and the fact that PE can be a nice "brain break" from a day full of learning!
We are only one question in and I'm already impressed with our primary students. From articulating their favorite classes to describing recent projects, I can't believe all the different and exciting opportunities to learn they are exposed to. There seems to be a good balance of fun, hard work, learning, and brain breaks in each school day!
The students had a lot to share about their favorite classes, but I wanted to hear more about their favorite teachers who work alongside them every day. In our primary grades, we have a two-teacher model, including a Learning Expert Teacher (LET) and a Subject Expert Teacher (SET). The LET is with the class all day and is able to cater to each individual student, the unique ways each one learns, and their emotional well-being. This allows the SET to focus on teaching the curriculum and daily lesson. This two-teacher model provides a greater level of support for every student in our primary grades. Mr. Joseph, as Brady mentioned above, is one of our SETs.
Tahiyah loves Ms. Maffei, one of our English and humanities SETs. "Ms. Maffei really helps us and supports us when we are learning."
Recently, Tahiyea's class was learning about proper nouns, which was a little challenging for her and her classmates. "Learning proper nouns can be hard so Ms. Maffei describes things in different ways to help us learn. She gave us multiple quizzes so we could practice and try again. I also stayed for student hours so I could get extra help."
Brady similar to Liam, loves Dice Roll in PE with Mr. Coquelin. "Mr. Coquelin always makes sure that everyone plays fair and is safe." Dice Roll is an activity where one student chooses a card that has an activity on it. Then, another student rolls the dice that decides how many times you do that activity. For example, one activity the students do when a number is rolled is the inchworm. This incorporates a little bit of math into PE, too!
Sofia likes all her teachers, but Ms. Ataku's humanities class is a personal favorite. Recently, they were learning about adjectives. Sofia said, "On Fridays, I like our presentations that we do on books we have read. "Ms. Ataku is really preparing us for fifth grade." Sofia also added, "I love Ms. Peck! She makes learning fun and gives us chances to be creative." Ms. Ataku is one of our English and humanities SETs and Ms. Peck is the LET for Sofia's class.
The last item I want to highlight about our primary school is the Red-Tailed Hawk in their hallway. Here at school, we have a motto of "Show Respect, Take Responsibility, Make Improvements." This motto has become so intrinsic in our learning community that we even added it into our Honor Code!
What is particularly special about our primary students is how they celebrate and recognize their classmates for embracing the ideas of showing respect, taking responsibility, and making improvements. On the first of each month, grades 1–4 gather in a Community Meeting and discuss a character value of the month. Throughout the month, classes discuss and practice the value, such as courage or gratitude.
We covered a few more questions where the kids tell me about their friends in their classes and what happens in a typical day. But my last question for the students is something I get asked often when working with prospective families.
"What will it be like for my son or daughter who is new to BASIS Independent McLean?" Lucky for us, our primary students gave us some tips to adjusting to a new school. Keep in mind, they have all been new before too.
Liam: "It's going to be OK. You will make friends soon!"
Brady: "It was challenging to leave my friends, but on my first day here, I was struggling on something in class, but then Sebastian helped me."
Tahiyah: "My old school wasn't as challenging as this one. I like what I'm learning. I had to leave my best friend to come to this school, but I made new friends fast!"
Sofia: "I was nervous at first, but it all turned out fine. The teachers support you, like Ms. Crable and Ms. Peck. I love coming to BASIS Independent McLean. My teachers support me, I get to see my friends. If you don't have encouragement, you are not motivated to get out of bed and study. Here, I have support so I like coming to school."
That's great advice for our new families! I know that our primary students will be welcoming and supportive to any new student joining our Red-Tailed Hawk community. The primary students sounded so courageous to me, and that's when I learned that their character value for the month of March is "courage." How fitting!
I loved getting to know these students, especially since I'm new to BASIS Independent McLean myself! I was so impressed with our primary students. It was wonderful to see how important learning and making sure each student is supported inside the classroom is to all of them.
Stay tuned for future posts in this series. Next up: middle school!
I loved getting to know these students, especially since I’m so new to BASIS Independent McLean myself! I was so impressed with our Early Learning students. Everyone is so welcoming and I love the mixture of learning, play and friendship in each classroom. I can't wait to share all the fun stories I've learned from the Early Students with prospective families. Stay tuned for future posts in this series. Next up: visiting our primary students! You can learn more about our Early Learning Program through a private tour on our campus.