by Mariam Abodouma
I don’t believe there is a group of students more academically prepared for university than those who have graduated and will graduate from BASIS Independent Silicon Valley. Our students are quite impressive; they are the hardest working students that I have ever worked with, they enjoy being intellectually stimulated, challenged and driven beyond their academic comfort zone.
In the classroom, they’re brilliant and sharp thinkers, they possess an astonishing range of skills such as critical thinking and analysis, interdisciplinary application, problem-solving techniques, creativity and imagination and most of all, a desire to learn more, achieve more, and ultimately become better at what they do.
When I look at any of our students, I see a great emerging generation, the best of the best, genuine future leaders. However, I also see where there might be a small cavity between who they are in the classroom and who they will be in the real world. Thus, I often incorporate life-skills in my classroom as well as encourage my students to engage in extra-curricular activities, clubs, and social interactions with their peers. As teachers, we continuously make an effort to include the real world into our class discussions. For example, we examine the current political landscape from an economic perspective and tie that to past presidential administration policies. As parents, I am sure we all strive to teach our children about the real world.
Much of our work with students in the classroom is enhanced by our ability to spend time with them one-on-one during dedicated office hours. I establish a very open communication channel with my students from the start which makes it easy for them to view me as one of their go-to people in the school. From there, it's easy to assist and advise them on real life issues.
Here are a few skills that are believed to be beneficial for students to acquire and ones which I (and my colleagues) work toward integrating into our classes.
I encourage real, face to face, give and take with other students. It seems that this generation believes that texting, snapchatting, and tweeting are the only means of communication. We must find ways to combat the ‘silence’ that has befallen our children at social gatherings and look for ways to engage them into conversations that doesn’t entail a screen. In the classroom, we do this through peer-to-peer tutoring, collaborative exercises and projects, and lively in-class debates.
Time and Money Management
I’m sure they all know the price of the new iPhone, but I wonder if they know the price of a gallon of milk or a pound of apples. More importantly, have they ever been given a weekly or a monthly allowance and taught how to manage their own budget? Financial skills are vital and an early start is ideal. Moreover, I know of numerous students who have dropped out of gymnastics and dance classes, speech and debate clubs, swimming and fencing practice because they ‘don’t have the time for it’. However, there are various resources on time management that could aid them in continuing those extra-curricular activities that are not only significant to their well-roundedness but vital to their personal growth and social skills attainment. Books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and mobile applications like Timeful are an example. Furthermore, encouraging our kids to partake in community service opportunities teaches them to look at the world differently and to not take their lifestyle for granted, not to mention becoming more compassionate and empathetic.
Social Awareness and Celebrating Diversity
It is imperative students are able to conduct themselves with enough cultural knowledge to be able to interact seamlessly in various situations. I believe the more they are thrown into different social situations and cultural experiences, the more enriched they will become. Effectively, this means more time hanging out with their friends, going out for meals at restaurants, organizing movie nights and slumber parties, going on school trips and so on. As for cultural awareness, travelling and exploring different spots in the world ideal, but given that might not always be feasible, there are excellent books like One World Many Cultures and The Culture Map that can give them a good real glimpse of the world, in addition to documentaries like ‘Baraka’ (1992) and many others.
One day, our children will venture out of their protected lives and they will need to be ready to adapt to whatever challenges they may face. They will realize that they cannot google how to deal with the real world (or maybe they can, but perhaps not with the best results!). They will need to know how to communicate and how to put forth a substantive argument, they’ll need to be smart with their money, efficient with their time, eloquent with their manners and knowledge of the various cultures of their classmates. They will need to know how to conduct themselves at parties and dances and how to deal with relationships. They will need to cook, and iron and make their own beds. Most significantly, they need to go out there in the real world and learn how to take things in stride, accept failure when it happens, learn from their mistakes, pick themselves up if they fall, embrace success without becoming complacent, embrace every new and foreign situation because it’ll always be a learning experience for them. They need to be prepared for that and we, as teachers, must respond to the call.
Student Perspectives: an on-going series of articles written by BASIS Independent Silicon Valley students
by Krithi Reddy, senior at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley
3 seconds left on the clock, down by 2 points, sweat dripping down our faces, final 3-point shot, cheers and hugs as we win the game. This is how almost every basketball story begins. However, in my story, we lose, and my story really isn’t about basketball.
Fremont, California. Home of my first bike ride, my favorite burger joint (Mission Burger), and my best friend. Yet, what most people do not know is that Fremont is also home to one of the largest deaf populations in the United States. My world, the hearing world, lives in a bubble, a bubble that separates the hearing community from the deaf community. The language barrier is the perfect excuse for the divide. I can’t understand the way your hands move; you can’t understand the way my mouth moves. I once believed there was nothing I could do about it. But when I played against an all-deaf team in an eighth-grade basketball game I decided that there was something I could do about it.
As my teammates lined up and half-heartedly high-fived the sweaty hands of the victorious deaf team, at each hand, I looked up and signed the only sign I knew, “Thank you.” Whether my signing was comprehensible or meant anything to the deaf players, I took my first step to popping my bubble.
During the summer after my sophomore year, I immersed myself into deaf language and culture by enrolling in an American Sign Language (ASL) course in the Deaf Studies Program at Ohlone College. The best way to learn a new language is to be among users of the language, so that is where I went. I started volunteering at the California School for the Deaf. I tutored middle school and high school students, primarily in math, English, and government. Signing an explanation of De Moivre’s Theorem or when to use the article “the” wasn’t easy, but we worked it out. Week after week, tutoring session after tutoring session, teaching became learning and students became friends.
During my junior year, I took a Classical Mythology course (my favorite course) with Mr. Brady. I noticed that many of the videos we watched in class didn’t have closed captioning. It dawned on me that perhaps there was a way to mix my two loves, mythology and ASL. With the support and advice of my teacher, Mr. Brady, I created Sign the Divine. SignTheDivine.com is an online platform to share classical Greek mythology videos signed in American Sign Language. This project allows me to continue contributing to the Deaf community while also having fun writing mythology scripts, designing a website, and working with Deaf people to sign stories about anything from Pandora’s Box to Prometheus’ tale.
In basketball, there is always a winner and a loser, and in the moment, we get wrapped up in it. However, years later, trophies from eighth-grade basketball games end up on dusty shelves in garages. What matters more is the life experience gained from helping other people, bridging differences, and the unexpected gift of a new community, a new team.
If anyone is interested in learning more about Sign the Divine, or you want to help, whether it’s writing mythology scripts, recording stories, or editing videos, visit signthedivine.com.
Part of an on-going series from BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Teacher Mentors
By Bryan Meyerowitz, Teacher Mentor and Subject Expert Teacher
My foremost task as an upper-school teacher at BASIS (and particularly as a teacher in the social sciences) is to help students create webs between their subjects and to their own historical moment, so that they can analyze the ways in which imperial ideologies continue to play a role in our culture wars or recognize how 19th-century white nationalism helped fuel the telephone war between President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Turnbull over the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
Rather than learn exclusively what may be considered resume assets to our students when they apply for the workforce, my quest is to help students understand and analyze the phenomena that constitute the matrix of political, economic, social, and cultural forces surrounding them so that they can both detect the limitations and implications of their present set of circumstances and seek long-term solutions.
When Charles Darwin embarked from Plymouth Sound for his five-year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, he journeyed along many of the same seaways that earlier explorers had set before him. Earlier seafarers, such as Ferdinand Magellan and Francis Drake worked in the employ of emerging empires to discover new lands not only in the name of “God, gold, and glory,” but also in the name of country. As European nationalism became increasingly prominent in the global and domestic conflicts of the 18th century, globetrotting assumed new political as well as cultural importance. The Enlightenment encouraged seafarers, including Captain James Cook, to illuminate the contours of the world through cartography as well as natural and sociological cataloging, in order to elevate the British in the fields of science and commerce. While most of the world’s frontiers had been explored by the time Darwin took to the sea in the 1830s, he was operating in the same vein as his conquering and colonizing forebears—generating knowledge about habitats and organisms as a young adventurer, extending his theories to human nature, bodies, and behaviors, and contributing to the project of British Empire by tracing the lines of descent not only between organisms but also between motherland and colonies.
“Chemistry helps understand the world around us. It empowers middle schoolers when they could read the words on a food label knowing that they could write formulae of some of those ingredients. BASIS Independent 7th graders can tell their parents what that diamond shaped sign with four colors and different numbers at the pool house means. We teach scientific method and critical thinking skills through chemistry and reinforce what the students are learning in physics and biology." ~Dr. Bozidarevic
Last year, BASIS Independent Silicon Valley had its first graduating class. Recently we had the opportunity to interview Saveree Joshipura ’16, about her experiences at University of San Diego and her time at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley. Here’s what she had to say:
Q: What is your major? How did you discover this is what you wanted to study?
SP: My dad is an engineer, and I was pretty fascinated by his office since childhood. I knew from third grade I would end up majoring in a science—it seemed a natural fit for me. My parents introduced me to Java programming in freshmen year of high school and I loved it. I didn't think I would enjoy Computer Science but after taking a few Computer Science course, I was hooked. My best friend, Shweta, from BISV organized a hackathon at Microsoft during our senior year, and it showed me how important it is to have women in Computer Science/Engineering fields.
Q: How did BISV prepare you for college? Can you give some specific examples?
SP: There are many ways BISV prepared us for college. We had a fantastic college counselor from the start of our high school experience. He guided us through every step of the way, yet gave us the independence to make our own choices. Because we had counseling from an early start, the final goal of “college" was always in the back of our heads. I studied diligently for a test, just knowing that I was being led on the right track. The teachers were also extremely supportive and understanding. They would not assign a test the weekend of SAT/ACT. They would not do anything to put us down, but instead encourage us to work harder.
Q: What recommendations do you have for current BISV students?
SP: There are lots of STEM learning opportunities. It’s a well-paying field. BUT, not everyone can be a Computer Scientist/Doctor. There are thousands of majors, but BISV students tend to focus on two of them. I always say it’s the “Bay Area culture,” which is quite narrow-minded. Just because you live in Hollywood doesn’t mean you have to become an actor. Similarly, just because you live in the Silicon Valley doesn’t mean you need to be affiliated with the world of technology. In the long run, will you really enjoy coding for the next 50 years of your life? Will you really enjoy 10 years of schooling to become a doctor? It matters HOW you do, not WHAT you do.
Q: In a brief statement can you explain “What BASIS Independent Silicon Valley means to me?"
SP: To me, BASIS Independent Silicon Valley means quality education, lifetime lasting friendships, and the most supportive environment.
We are excited to announce that registration for our 2017 summer programs is open! Visit the BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Summer page for an overview of our summer experience, download important documents such as Fees & Policies and Quick Course Guide & Fees, and register!
Create your own BASIS Independent Summer experience - choose any individual week for each program, or try them all! We are proud to offer over 30 diverse and unique programs showcasing the many interests our parents have expressed in previous surveys. Sign up for multiple courses by March 3rd, 2017 to receive our Early Registration Discount. Early-bird and Late-bird services will be available.
The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) awarded BISV students Shreya K., Eva P., Shreya S., and Sara S., the 2017 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing.
With the Regular Admissions cycle for the 2017-18 academic school year drawing to a close, we want to take a moment to share some questions that many prospective families have recently posed to the admissions team. Hopefully this post will answer any questions you may have, but if any new ones arise, please call Admissions at (408) 291-0907 or email us.
Q: What are the upcoming deadlines for admissions?
A: The deadline to apply for the 2017-2018 school year is Tuesday, January 31st. Once you have completed an application for your student, you have until Friday March 3rd to:
The BASIS.ed educational philosophy is built upon the idea of creating independently motivated students. At BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, we strive to create an environment where motivated students are able to meet and exceed the high expectations set by our world-class curriculum.
Our approach to student support is holistic. Part of the ethos of BASIS.ed is to enable students to take ownership of their education as well as provide a comprehensive student support eco-system that adapts to students’ needs.
Inspired by the blissful feeling of uncovering connections, our blog Eureka! Silicon Valley is about sharing moments that capture the essence of what it is to be a BASIS Independent student, teacher, administrator, or family.