Campus is buzzing with the energy that spring brings. Students, teachers, and staff are ready to complete a school year that has been anything but ordinary. On my agenda this week was to check-in with Amy Kimbrough, Dean of Grades 1-3. In this role, Ms. Kimbrough focuses on our student’s social-emotional development and academic needs. I found our conversation inspiring and would like to share it with you!
Considering our Primary Program? This will give you an insightful snapshot into BASIS Independent McLean. Here, we truly value our partnership with each family, and I have chosen some common questions that continue to be top of mind for many of our prospective families.
BIM challenges students to work with an advanced curriculum. How do you combine rigor and joy?
Ms. Kimbrough: Teachers use a variety of strategies to meet individual student’s learning needs in ways that are engaging and fun! For all students, there are areas of strength and areas of growth. Our teachers spend time getting to know individual student’s needs and developing strategies to stretch and support their thinking. We do this through a variety of engaging activities and modalities of learning. For example, we incorporate projects, art, music, and movement into daily learning experiences. Yes, it makes learning fun, but it also helps with mastery.
That reminds me of one of my visits to grade 2 this year. The students were singing, wiggling, and giggling, but they were actually naming all of the bones in the body. It was funny and impressive!
What about those transitioning to BIM? What kind of support do you provide during this transition?
Ms. Kimbrough: I meet many of our new families during the admissions process, but I reintroduce myself in mid-June. I provide families with summer enrichment packets that can help challenge students. Mostly, I encourage families to find what interests their child and engage through that topic by reading books, listening to music, watching performances, and/or learning how it connects to math and science concepts. If we want students to love learning, we must make it meaningful to them.
I have heard many concerns from new families about the challenges that students faced in a variety of learning situations over the last year, and I am here to help close or reduce gaps.
I recommend Summer at BIM, our summer camp program. This is another great way to get on campus, start making friends, have fun, and learn.
That is great advice! It reminds me how important it is for families to understand that this is a dynamic learning community. How do you focus on helping Primary students develop and grow into good citizens and friends?
Ms. Kimbrough: Social-emotional learning is key to a child’s academic success. We use a variety of opportunities to create a well-rounded learning community. Our social-emotional curriculum provides students with opportunities to engage in conversations about their feelings, develop empathy for others, feel connected to their peers through team-building activities, learn new strategies for managing their emotions, and express themselves fully.
Our two-teacher model is quite unique. Can you share some details about our model?
Ms. Kimbrough: The Learning Expert Teacher (LET) primarily focuses on getting to know the child’s social emotional and learning needs in addition to collaborating with the Subject Expert Teacher (SET) and family. The LET also provides consistency for the child throughout the school day, as they navigate a variety of different subject areas. The LETs strong understanding of childhood development allows them to prioritize the student’s social-emotional growth, so that we’re optimizing their learning experience. They also plan and partner with their SETs, allowing for differentiated instruction through the use of small groups and hands-on learning activities.
The symbiosis between the LET and SET is truly unique. I am always impressed with how the LET helps to focus on the child’s holistic development and ensures that students make meaningful connections across subjects and to the world around them.