Thursday, March 29, 2012

Prep School Negro

An interesting NYT article about why we need more characters of color in young adult books - part of a larger interesting collection on young adult fiction and the Hunger Games... resonant of our Books As Bridges Program and our upcoming event  The Prep School Negro

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More Vacation Destinations

Also... for pictures!

1 Maine Camp adjoing Richard Wagner Petit Manan Wildlife Preserve
One (1) week in June @ a Maine Camp/ Cabin located on Pigeon Hill adjoining Petit Manan Wildlife Preserve in Steuben, ME. Gas stove, refrigerator & hot water. Gas lamps!
2 Week on Pleasant Lake Ken Spirer
Pleasant Lake is one of Maine's finest spring-fed lakes. Its crystal clear waters and gentle breezes make the 5 mile long lake a joy to be on and home to some of the best fishing in Maine. Sleeps 6 to 8 (two double beds, two twin beds, and a futon)
3 Week on Thomas Pond Liz & Jim Maier
Nathaniel Hawthorne spent some off his boyhood only a stones throw from Thomas Pond. In the summertime you can visit Hawthorne’s home on nearby Raymond Cape Road in South Casco.3 bedrooms, each w/ double bed. [before June 23rd]
4 Tidewater Motel Tidewater Motel
Two nights at the Tidewater Motel, Vinalhaven, ME
5 Camp on the Bagaduce David & Elise Wilson River
Camp sits on 10 wooded acres along the Bagaduce Rivers 4 miles from the village of Castine. Living room is centered around a stone fireplace. Dining room, spacious kitchen w/ dishwasher.4 bedrooms and 21⁄2 baths.One (1) Week in July or
6 Weekend at the James Grumbach Greenhouse,
Vinalhaven, ME

Former potting cottage for a saltwater farm greenhouse converted to a 4 bedroom home. Views of Penobscot Bay and Ilse au Haut. 1 mile from center of town.After Labor Day. Call owner for mutually convenient dates.
7 Weekend at The Villa Dana & Noel Webster
Enjoy a September Weekend stay at the Villa on Vinalhaven Island, ME
8 Grand Summit Hotel Ed Hinshaw @ Sunday River
Enjoy a week of early skiing or quiet and calm from November 23rd thru 30th at the Grand Summit Hotel @ Sunday River. Unit sleeps 4, has kitchen/ dining area. Access to heated outdoor pool, sauna rooms, exercise room and library.
9 Week Vacationon MeghanScribner Cushing Island
One week is available in the old Army Hospital, sleeps 18 comfortably, on Cushing's Island from July 27th thru August 3rd. Must be Friday to Friday check out @ Noon.
10 Maine Huts & Trails Maine Huts & Trails
One supporting family membership includes one free overnight stay for two people with dinner & breakfast

Ocean Cliff House Bahamas

Auction-goers... get ready to plan your next vacation! Up for bidding (1 week vacation, up to 6 people, date to be negotiated)


FSP is #13 in the Clynk Contest for smaller schools (under 400 which still seems pretty big but the contest seems to be bags-per-student). . . if we somehow rallied for a bottle drive in our neighborhoods and workplaces, the grand prize is $2000! FWIW, you can also transfer money from your own Clynk Account to the school, online... not sure if that counts toward grand totals or not... We have until April 29th to get our Clynk Bags in!

So far, we've earned $53.90 -- get up to date stats here

FSP Outing Club earned an additional $112.35!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


The Bully Project has been getting a lot of press - There are not options for seeing it in Maine yet but it is opening in Boston in April... Perhaps we'll get to bring it to Portland as a P4P event in the future.  In the mean time, the web site has a lot of info - some heartbreaking stories and a clear call to action (see BDN's story on Maine's new anti-bullying law)

Carey also shared the link to NPR's review :  New Film Takes An Intimate Look At School Bullying

And from Facing History and Ourselves :

Out this month! Facing History Releases Official Guide for BULLYGet the Guide
Facing History and Ourselves' official guide to the powerful film, BULLYwas released this week. The facilitator's guide helps students and adults confront the stories in this film and explore the meaning for their schools and communities.Download the guide here.

In the meantime, we are bringing Michael Thompson to Portland on May 2nd! 

Thompson has his own movie about bullying (here) but the emphasis of Best Friends / Worst Enemies is conflict that does not occur in a hostile or hateful way but that is part of normal relationships and development.  Thompson encourages us to give kids some space to recognize their own resilience, solve their own problems (with TLC at home but not hovering) and to allow relationships space to change and grow. 

 Kate and I are currently reading A Crooked Kind Of Perfect and I was reminded of Thompson's idea... the main character, Zoe, breaks up with her best friend.  Her parents are clueless about her social problems but her home is a loving one... over time she makes friends with unlikely characters and although we're only in the middle of the book I suspect it will be a good lesson about how it is ok to suffer bit through hard changes and come out the other side. 

I hope FSP parents will come hear Thompson on May 2nd and then have our own conversations, following up on the inclusion / exclusion discussion because it is in all our interests to reflect on our parenting, our teaching and our kids ability to engage and develop healthy relationships that will cary them into adulthood! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Auction Delights - Pleasant Lake

The "Getting-Away" section of the auction is always one of the biggest draws... summer camps & summer vacations await!

I will post more of a full list later - with the recent 80degree spree, I thought these pictures of Pleasant Lake might tempt some into coming to bid on A WEEK AT A CAMP ON PLEASANT LAKE... Jen McNally has won it in the past (her kids on the dock) and might want it again... so get ready for some bidding fun (but also ask her about how great it is!)

(Bid High, Bid Often)!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Visual Treat From Terry Davies

Class Gifts for the Auction

We have a sweet tradition of kids offering items and services to the auction.  Along with individual contributions, each classroom donates a group item... here's the 2012 list!

Preschool - Book Basket of wonderful picture books

K - Photographed portraits of the K-children... get proxy bids for grandparents, aunties and the like and start those bidding contests!

1/2 - Homemade pasta

3/4 - A Maple Themed Basket (thanks, Audra, for the update and YUM!)

5/6 -- Also pretty sure it has a gardening theme  (will someone let me know & I'll update)

7/8 -- Book basket of favorite books ... bringing us full circle!

(Check out this NYT piece on how reading fiction is just like interacting with humans in terms of brain development, except you can do it alone in your bathtub)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hunger Games

The Hunger Games movie comes out today, and my daughter who used to totally balk at violent movies wants to see it...

Common Sense Media rated the books for "12 year olds" but we know kids much younger than that are reading them... their full movie review comes out on March 23rd.

The NYT has created a teaching & learning page for the books/film:
Here's an interesting NYT piece about the marketing of the movie (thx Four) :

Since I'm having climate change nightmares these days, I'm not sure I can handle this dystopia but I'm curious what draws our kids to exploring the possibilities of so much darkness- and resistance.  On the other hand, I hear the main character is a tad feminist and "a slayer" ...

What are others thoughts about the movie?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Look What Rob Did!

1)      $50 Gift certificate to Ribolita (restaurant)
2)      $100 in gift certificates to Collucci’s (corner store)
3)      $25 Gift certificate to East Ender (restaurant)
4)      Pair of sunglasses from Optical Expressions
5)      $25 Gift certificate to Two Fat Cats (bakery)
6)      Hand-sewn quilt from Christine Fletcher (Portland Friends Meeting)
7)      Goodie basket from Muriel Allen (Portland Friends Meeting)
8)      $25 Gift certificate to Nomads (outdoor gear/clothing store)
9)      16-item sampler from Dean’s Sweets
10)   Dinner for Two at Blue Spoon
11)   Three hours of babysitting from FSP Alumna Quinn Lavigne
12)   Declutter session from professional organizer
13)   Harvest sampler of canned goods from Sarah Cushman
14)   How to get around by bike family consultation from Cushman Transportation Consulting, LLC
15)   Myers-Briggs Personal Consultation by Chris Beach (Portland Friends Meeting)

Kim's Auction Items

I'd love to post other people's lists!  Send them to me via email or use comments! 

The board was challenged to solicit 10 items... here are mine :

1) 1 week at the Ocean Cliff House  in Stella Maris Bahamas!
2) A late-spring adult improv class with David LeGraffe
3) 2 tickets to the Maine Women's Lobby Fall Gala on 9/22
4) 2 tickets to see Keigwin & Company at the Bates Dance Festival
5) FSP Lunch for a week -- perfect gift for a teacher or student! Ask Lee C. or Jamien for reviews!
6) 1 membership to Portland Ultimate Summer League & 2 Redtide Pint Glasses
7) $25.00 gift certificate to Couleur Collection in Falmouth
8) $20.00 gift certificate to 1 Longfellow Square and a CD by Ellie and Oliver
9) 1 ticket to a Hardy Girls Healthy Women Webinar 
10) COOKIES FOR JAMES - celebrate all James has given to FSP by by commissioning 3 months of "Cookies by Grace" for him!
11) $20 gift certificate to Maine Squeeze Juice Cafe 
12) Feminist Maine Gift Basket

I have a few more ideas in the works - hopefully will get them in under the deadline wire!

How 'bout you?

For Auction Information see or our Facebook page!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ross Greene & Collaborative Problem Solving

We were lucky to have Ross Greene at school today and I was impressed to see all our teachers in attendance!

I also left the talk feeling so lucky that FSP is as it is and that the essence of collaborative problem solving is intrinsic in the school community and educational system.  To that end, the essence as  I understood it is to see kids as whole people who seek to do well in their worlds and relationships, especially ones that are important to them (parents and teachers - he said less about peers).  Greene's central point is that when kids don't have the skills to do well in a particular situation, challenging behaviors are exhibited.  It is not, in this view, that kids are bad or have bad behaviors that need controlling or modifying but that "challenging behaviors" are symptoms of underlying "unsolved problems."  (To better understand where kids developmental skills might lag, use his Assessment)  In many places, Greene's talk echoed Alfie Kohn's spring 2011 Parenting for Peace lecture against rewards and punishments.

In his collaborative problem solving method, Greene introduces techniques for adults and children to solve problems together -- this part reminded me of Adelle Faber's How To Talk So Kids Will Listen.  

1. Greene suggests we bring kids to the problem solving table through a neutral observation of the problem -- the more specific the better.  (i.e.  Kim, I notice you are stressed out, what's up with that is ok but pretty general; Kim, I notice you have dark circles, your shoes aren't matching and you forgot lunches again would be more specific, what's up with that would be more specific.)  The trick in the invitation is remaining judgement-free and kind and truly curious while also offering some  insight through the naming of the problem.

2. Once we start the conversation, we try to really hear the child's point of view -- Greene says this can require "drilling" for info and insight and has techniques for deep questioning/listening on the web site.
Once we really understand the problem and child's point of view we can also share our own - how the problem is effecting others.  Ultimately empathy, perspective-taking, etc. requires that we can reflect both on our own feelings and the imagined feelings of those we're in relationship with and this process builds that skill by making the information direct and clear.

3) Finally, all are invited to suggest and explore solutions to the underlying problem - again Faber style the idea is that kids know a lot about what they need and our job is to learn from them, but Greene also suggests that kids might not have enough info to generate full or realistic solutions (he also says adults often live in fantasy land about potential solutions and realism is a skill to develop!) Greene encourages some patience with the process, and trying new solutions if initial ones don't quite cut it.

The talk was a bit short on really practical bits (for me)  and I always wish for more interaction and to learn from the wisom of the FSP community, but it was pointed out to me that people attend full conferences to truly develop implementation skills - Greene also generously shares resources on his web site.  I find all this can resonate with me in theory but that my own lack of skill coupled with those lacks in my particular family members can block us from being able to pull this kind of relational problem solving off all the time...

I also am reminded that the Quaker practice of finding the light in everyone and believing that everyone has "that of God" within themselves uniquely frames relationships in terms of equality and mutual respect - building blocks for collaboration that isn't secretly coercion because of underlying established power relations.   An NPR story on corporal punishment in schools sickened me but what I heard from Greene's efforts to convince us of what many in this audience came in believing (children are inherently good, children are people worthy of respect, children have important voices, etc. etc. ) reminds me that out in the world some of these ideas are hard sells.

I still struggle with my own skill building in relationship to parenting and my own intuition about what exactly constitutes a problem.  I try to both work toward accepting my children just as they are - honoring their unique selves and temperaments rather than trying to have them always have to fit, or "look good" as Greene puts it and sometimes trying to change the culture and structures which might be some of the source of their stress AND seeing the development of emotional and social skills as important as academic ones for their happiness and well being in the world.  I like the idea that these skills can be used as regular business for the mundane problem solving of our lives rather than scrutinizing kids for potential problems.

I'd LOVE to hear what others are thinking, applying, extrapolating, connecting, criticizing, etc!

The Prep School Negro - April 2nd!

(from 2/15) We were recently asked, "Why would I want to come to Prep School Negro?" and our thinking about the answer generated some queries:

1) What are the implications of economic segregation for ourselves and our children, and how does school shape our likelihood of integration or segregation in terms of race and class?

2) What does it mean to encourage "diversity" and "inclusion" in our schools?  Are there ways we could become more fully inclusive?

3) What role does education play in creating access to the middle and upper middle class?  What role do we, as citizens, play in shaping education policy that best serves democracy?

4) How do we maintain curiosity about experiences that are different from our own?  What might we learn about ourselves or our children through listening to Andre's story?  In what ways does his story reflect a more universal experience and in what way is it specific to him, to race, to class?

What other queries do people bring to this program?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn from Daily Good

Curious what others think of this list and if this is what our kids are learning?

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9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn

--by Leo Babauta, Original Story, Mar 10, 2012
Kids in today’s school system are not being prepared well for tomorrow’s world.
As someone who went from the corporate world and then the government world to the ever-changing online world, I know how the world of yesterday is rapidly becoming irrelevant. I was trained in the newspaper industry, where we all believed we would be relevant forever — and I now believe will go the way of the horse and buggy.
Unfortunately, I was educated in a school system that believed the world in which it existed would remain essentially the same, with minor changes in fashion. We were trained with a skill set that was based on what jobs were most in demand in the 1980s, not what might happen in the 2000s.
And that kinda makes sense, given that no one could really know what life would be like 20 years from now. Imagine the 1980s, when personal computers were still fairly young, when faxes were the cutting-edge communication technology, when the Internet as we now know it was only the dream of sci-fi writers like William Gibson.
We had no idea what the world had in store for us.
And here’s the thing: we still don’t. We never do. We have never been good at predicting the future, and so raising and educating our kids as if we have any idea what the future will hold is not the smartest notion.
How then to prepare our kids for a world that is unpredictable, unknown? By teaching them to adapt, to deal with change, to be prepared for anything by not preparing them for anything specific.
This requires an entirely different approach to child-rearing and education. It means leaving our old ideas at the door, and reinventing everything.
My drop-dead gorgeous wife Eva (yes, I’m a very lucky man) and I are among those already doing this. We homeschool our kids — more accurately, we unschool them. We are teaching them to learn on their own, without us handing knowledge down to them and testing them on that knowledge.
It is, admittedly, a wild frontier, and most of us who are experimenting with unschooling will admit that we don’t have all the answers, that there is no set of “best practices”. But we also know that we are learning along with our kids, and that not knowing can be a good thing — an opportunity to find out, without relying on established methods that might not be optimal.
I won’t go too far into methods here, as I find them to be less important than ideas. Once you have some interesting ideas to test, you can figure out an unlimited amount of methods, and so my dictating methods would be too restrictive.
Instead, let’s look at a good set of essential skills that I believe children should learn, that will best prepare them for any world of the future. I base these on what I have learned in three different industries, especially the world of online entreprenurship, online publishing, online living … and more importantly, what I have learned about learning and working and living in a world that will never stop changing.
1. Asking questions. What we want most for our kids, as learners, is to be able to learn on their own. To teach themselves anything. Because if they can, then we don’t need to teach them everything — whatever they need to learn in the future, they can do on their own. The first step in learning to teach yourself anything is learning to ask questions. Luckily, kids do this naturally — our hope is to simply encourage it. A great way to do this is by modeling it. When you and your child encounter something new, ask questions, and explore the possible answers with your child. When he does ask questions, reward the child instead of punishing him (you might be surprised how many adults discourage questioning).
2. Solving problems. If a child can solve problems, she can do any job. A new job might be intimidating to any of us, but really it’s just another problem to be solved. A new skill, a new environment, a new need … they’re all simply problems to be solved. Teach your child to solve problems by modeling simple problem solving, then allowing her to do some very easy ones on her own. Don’t immediately solve all your child’s problems — let her fiddle with them and try various possible solutions, and reward such efforts. Eventually, your child will develop confidence in her problem-solving abilities, and then there is nothing she can’t do.
3. Tackling projects. As an online entrepreneur, I know that my work is a series of projects, sometimes related, sometimes small and sometimes large (which are usually a group of smaller projects). I also know that there isn’t a project I can’t tackle, because I’ve done so many of them. This post is a project. Writing a book is a project. Selling the book is another project. Work on projects with your kid, letting him see how it’s done by working with you, then letting him do more and more by himself. As he gains confidence, let him tackle more on his own. Soon, his learning will just be a series of projects that he’s excited about.
4. Finding passion. What drives me is not goals, not discipline, not external motivation, not reward … but passion. When I’m so excited that I can’t stop thinking about something, I will inevitably dive into it fully committed, and most times I’ll complete the project and love doing it. Help your kid find things she’s passionate about — it’s a matter of trying a bunch of things, finding ones that excite her the most, helping her really enjoy them. Don’t discourage any interest — encourage them. Don’t suck the fun out of them either — make them rewarding.
5. Independence. Kids should be taught to increasingly stand on their own. A little at a time, of course. Slowly encourage them to do things on their own. Teach them how to do it, model it, help them do it, help less, then let them make their own mistakes. Give them confidence in themselves by letting them have a bunch of successes, and letting them solve the failures. Once they learn to be independent, they learn that they don’t need a teacher, a parent, or a boss to tell them what to do. They can manage themselves, and be free, and figure out the direction they need to take on their own.
6. Being happy on their own. Too many of us parents coddle our kids, keeping them on a leash, making them rely on our presence for happiness. When the kid grows up, he doesn’t know how to be happy. He must immediately attach to a girlfriend or friends. Failing that, they find happiness in other external things — shopping, food, video games, the Internet. But if a child learns from an early age that he can be happy by himself, playing and reading and imagining, he has one of the most valuable skills there is. Allow your kids to be alone from an early age. Give them privacy, have times (such as the evening) when parents and kids have alone time.
7. Compassion. One of the most essential skills ever. We need this to work well with others, to care for people other than ourselves, to be happy by making others happy. Modeling compassion is the key. Be compassionate to your child at all times, and to others. Show them empathy by asking how they think others might feel, and thinking aloud about how you think others might feel. Demonstrate at every opportunity how to ease the suffering of others when you’re able, how to make others happier with small kindnesses, how that can make you happier in return.
8. Tolerance. Too often we grow up in an insulated area, where people are mostly alike (at least in appearance), and when we come into contact with people who are different, it can be uncomfortable, shocking, fear-inducing. Expose your kids to people of all kinds, from different races to different sexuality to different mental conditions. Show them that not only is it OK to be different, but that differences should be celebrated, and that variety is what makes life so beautiful.
9. Dealing with change. I believe this will be one of the most essential skills as our kids grow up, as the world is always changing and being able to accept the change, to deal with the change, to navigate the flow of change, will be a competitive advantage. This is a skill I’m still learning myself, but I find that it helps me tremendously, especially compared to those who resist and fear change, who set goals and plans and try to rigidly adhere to them as I adapt to the changing landscape. Rigidity is less helpful in a changing environment than flexibility, fluidity, flow. Again, modeling this skill for your child at every opportunity is important, and showing them that changes are OK, that you can adapt, that you can embrace new opportunities that weren’t there before, should be a priority. Life is an adventure, and things will go wrong, turn out differently than you expected, and break whatever plans you made — and that’s part of the excitement of it all.
We can’t give our children a set of data to learn, a career to prepare for, when we don’t know what the future will bring. But we can prepare them to adapt to anything, to learn anything, to solve anything, and in about 20 years, to thank us for it.

Leo Babauta is the founder of the popular Zen Habits Blog. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Auction Get-Aways

The Friends School Auction historically provides a mix of fun items and service items and cool trips.  Here are two recommended get-aways!

This year, Maine Huts and Trails have generously donated a night (or two?) at their magnificent huts!  The Outing Club just returned and highly recommends this incredible item -- check out the FlagstaffMonster!

Another get-away is offered by Kripalu - yoga renewal paradise. I accidentally "won" this item last year and was pretty tentative about using it, but upon return I am a Kripalu convert!  The food was incredible, the spot was beautiful and the message that health and wellness are deeply connected to relaxation was well-taken.   Kripalu offers "yoga-breaks" mp3s and videos but there is a magic in leaving home and having others cook!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


March can be a tough month but FSP has some fabulous events & field trips that help keep the blues at bay.  I'll post some Outing Club trips soon - our own fabulous Nicole managed to procure a 2-night gift certificate from Maine Huts & Trails for the auction, so if you can't wait to return or now need to experience it for yourself, an overnight at Flagstaff Lake kickstarted the month in a great way.

TODAY is the last day to reenroll at a discounted tuition - get that paperwork in!

Tomorrow, the 7/8 graders are headed to lunch with Haley at Tu Casa.  Their challenge is to make a whole meal on $10 per person and only speak Spanish.

Over the weekend (and no-school day on Friday) check out the Portland Flower Show and find Naomi's winning poem on the essay-contest board!

The 1/2 class heads to Southworth Planetarium and the Osher Map Museum next week - hoping I get to come along for that day!

On March 13th FSP has the unique opportunity to bring teachers and parents together for a workshop with Ross Greene - here are a few web sites to become more familiar with his work:  and

On March 16th the 7/8 take to the stage -- the dessert only potluck provides simplicity and their show is sure to provide some laughs!

March 23rd is Lasagna Day - order yours now - pick up at FSP

March 25th is Maine Maple Sunday

March 31st is our very own auction... truly fun and full of amazing treats and temptations for getting through April!  

(If you can find someone to wait in the check-out line for you, consider attending the Girls Rock event in Portland at 2pm on 3/31) - also that weekend is Maine Festival for the Book!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Afternoon Skating

Apparently Family Ice will not be open for too much longer, but the web site says open-today (we're hoping it is true) and so there is some energy for after-school skating...

Raising Sexually Healthy Children - in Cumberland

Raising Sexually Healthy Children: Birth to 10 yearsTuesday March 13, 2012
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
290 Tuttle Road at Cumberland Town Hall
City State Zip: CumberlandMaine 04021
Phone: Call Susan FMI: 756-4278

The Cumberland/North Yarmouth Family Network Care Committee presents:

Raising Sexually Healthy Children

Anyone not know where to begin? Let's talk before we have to. Come for a fun and interactive evening and discuss raising sexually healthy children. This talk will focus on birth to age 10 years but parents of older children can benefit.

Sandy Lovell, independent sexuality consultant and Jennifer Wiessner, LCSW, Sex Therapist, will be providing a relaxed environment for parents to consider how to navigate those moments.

Come to 
Cumberland Town Hall on Tuesday, March 13. Program begins at 7PM. Reserving a seat is recommended. Seats can be reserved by emailing Susan at

Town Hall is located at 290 Tuttle Road, Cumberland Center

Sandy Lovell is an independent consultant with more than 20 years experience advocating, consulting and training on issues related to sexuality. From her initial work as a trainer for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to her most recent leadership role as Director of Education for the Family Planning Association of Maine, Sandy puts educators, decision makers and parents at ease, injecting intelligence and humor into an often-sensitive subject.

Jennifer Wiessner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker whose North Yarmouth, Maine-based private practice focuses on achieving healthy sexuality for her clients. Jennifer's goal is to assist those with sexual dissatisfaction to experience the joys of healthy intimacy and sexual health. Jennifer currently works with couples and individuals and provides consultation sessions for parents wishing to encourage developmentally healthy sexuality in their children. In addition, Jennifer has participated in many advanced trainings including being a member and only therapist of the inaugural class of the Sexual Health Scholars Program for medical students conducted by the American Medical Students Association. This six month intensive program focused on sex