Stories from the Classroom

Academic Dean Dr. Dawn Ruff
Academic Dean Dr. Dawn Ruff ventures inside the classroom to highlight faculty innovation and moments of discovery.
Pre-K lead teacher Haley Frye and assistant Sarah Johnson - classroom culture 
Morning meetings in Haley Frye’s classroom are upbeat and whimsical. Music calls the students to the carpet after they cheerfully put up their coloring supplies. Students take turns pulling out a stick with a classmate’s name, and they exchange “Good Morning!” to that classmate. After everyone has had a turn, Frye switches to a numbers game. Each student has a card with two numbers. They take turns saying, “I have (the first number), who has (the second number)?” Then the student with the second number says the same thing with his/her number. Frye masterfully keeps her students engaged with the call and repeat: “Give me an Elvis!” Students respond “Thank you very much!”
Frye makes sure that her students know what their resources are for every activity, and thus empowers them to be successful problem solvers. She specifically asks her students, “What can you do if you’re not sure?” before she engages them in a new activity, pointing out the resources that are available to them. When students get stuck mid-assignment, she gently reminds them of questions they might ask, and waits for their response. There is not a shred of embarrassment or anxiety in the group, but rather the feeling of community, positivity, and support for one another.
Patrick Jordan, MS Technology Integrationist - Medal of Honor Patch Project
Just prior to their trip to Washington, DC, eighth graders were put into groups and assigned to do research on a specific division of the army. Specifically, the research looked at the division’s history and the symbolism of the patch that represents the division. Students then put what they learned into a short movie. Jordan talked about the overarching goals of the project:

“This project helps our students connect with service people. We connect our story to theirs. It helps to bring it all home for the students prior to the trip to D.C. And perhaps most importantly, it increases our gratitude for our men and women in the armed forces.”
Empathy and gratitude are key life skills in the middle school at CPA.

Katie Decker, Instructor of Upper School Chemistry - Final AP Chemistry Lab
In Katie Decker’s AP Chemistry class, the final lab is a culminating lab that takes two weeks. On day seven, students performed experiments to determine the empirical formula of their complex ion salt crystals, which they had previously made from potassium, iron, and oxalate. They synthesized the complex salt, purified it by recrystallization, and performed gravimetric analysis to determine the percent of water present.

Decker sets up the experiment clearly laying out the objectives, proposing key questions, and letting the students take the lead. She creates a culture of wonder and curiosity, empowering students in the scientific process while also giving enough guidance to ensure safety.

Christ Presbyterian Academy

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