BASIS Independent Manhattan has a mission of creating rigor in a joyful environment. The only way for that to be successful is to have complete student support in both academics and social-emotional learning. We believe in the importance of fostering an academic journey encompassing the whole student, one that prepares them for a future in our ever-changing world. How do we do this? With the world-renowned BASIS Curriculum, stellar teachers, and structured student support.
This year, we have a robust Student Affairs team comprised of a Director of Student Affairs and three Deans of Students. Meet the team:
- Dave Heighington (Director of Student Affairs): While overseeing the Student Affairs Team, Mr. Heighington guides the school in achieving a positive learning culture. He meets weekly with all teachers by grade team and constantly evaluates trends across the school to implement new initiatives that align with our mission.
- Becky Hodges (Dean of Students PreK–K): Specifically supporting our Early Learning Program, Ms. Hodges partners with teachers and parents to support students’ academic and behavioral growth.
- Robin Thomas (Dean of Students Gr. 1–8): Having a specific focus on academics, Ms. Thomas works to support students, families, and teachers with interventions in the classroom arena.
- Jamie Farris (Dean of Students Gr. 1–8): In charge of our social-emotional curriculum across the school, Ms. Farris develops and implements these lessons through all grade levels. She also specifically helps to support students, families, and teachers with behavioral and social needs.
Although our three Deans of Students do similar work with different grades, they each have professional experience that brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their specific role. Together, they collaborate to support our entire learning community. On a daily basis, you will find them in classrooms and the hallways restoring conflicts, listening to concerns, and providing a safe space to talk.
Strategic Planning & 2019–20 Goals
With a fully staffed Student Affairs team, there was a clear vision for the school year in order to support our PreK–8 students academically, socially, and behaviorally.
To accomplish this, Mr. Heighington and his team outlined their ideal school culture as a place where all teachers and staff perform with excellence and develop productive relationships with students, parents, and each other to create a joyful, loving, respectful, safe, and supportive learning environment where all students can achieve their best.
They honed in on BASIS Independent Manhattan's 5Cs of Creativity, Citizenship, Confidence, Courage, and Compassion. Utilizing these pillars, the Student Affairs team dove deeper into their goal where students, by the end of their academic journey, have mastered the following five social-emotional competencies:
- Relationship Skills
- Work Ethic
- Executive Functioning
Further, within each of the above competencies, they identified several soft skills that must be taught in our social-emotional learning curriculum throughout the school year.
In order to accomplish these goals amidst a rigorous curriculum that challenges our students in a variety of ways, we must balance academics with wellness. Having a social-emotional emphasis is part of that puzzle, and we approach it with care and compassion.
Maintaining and instilling a growth mindset is inherent in our beliefs. We aim to ensure that students understand and embrace the idea that it is okay to make mistakes, and even failure, because that is where learning happens. Our Student Affairs team steps in for guidance when a student faces difficulty and feels like giving up. If a student says, "I can't," our team's role is to shift the focus to a positive mentality that instead says, "How can I?" or "Not yet."
Our Current Support Plan
In the 2019–20 school year, our fully staffed Student Affairs team aims to offer 360 support.
Ms. Farris's school psychology background brings a fresh pair of eyes to situations and a deep listening background to help coach students. She also has a network of experts (psychologists, counselors, therapists, etc.) that have provided helpful resources for our community.
Ms. Hodges has created a series of parent workshops for our PreK–K families, the first of which she conducted on how to instill and support growing independence in your child. Her extensive experience also brings a voice to and advocacy for our Early Learning Program within the administrative team as we grow.
Mr. Heighington and his team thoroughly planned over the summer and he shared with us the initiatives that he is most excited for and to continue in the year ahead:
- Our school-wide social-emotional curriculum and its further development.
- The new social-emotional reports included in our five grading period report cards that provide our families with insight into the world beyond just their child's academics.
- The two Spirit Weeks (one in the fall and one in the spring) will bring out the best in our school community.
- Arming our parent community with supportive tools, knowledge, and strategies through various workshops.
- Continuing to expand and incorporate mindfulness into the daily lives of our students.
Our ultimate goal is to empower students when they come to school each day. The Student Affairs team is always available for our students in their day-to-day, and also for our families who have questions, concerns, or other goals they would like to discuss.