6-7s Building Study: Progressive Education

Teachers and Staff Take Curriculum and Best Practices Beyond MCS

Teachers and Staff Take Curriculum and Best Practices Beyond MCS

Friday, April 21, 2017
Nassim Zerriffi, MCS history teacher
Source: LREI

Manhattan Country School is known for its innovative, progressive curriculum and leadership in diversity and social justice. This year, many MCS teachers and staff members have given presentations or led workshops based on the work they are doing at variety of conferences.

In January, Nassim Zerriffi, seventh and eighth grade history teacher and activism coordinator, presented “Impact of Islam on Western Civ and America from the Renaissance to the Blues” 
at the NYSAIS Diversity Education and Justice in Curriculum conference. This workshop showed how the Golden Age of Islam transformed mathematics, science, medicine, music, art, cuisine and fashion in Europe and contributed significantly to the Renaissance.

This month, Nassim continued his discussion of Islam at the NYSAIS Diversity Conference with a workshop titled “Islamophia 101.” With this presentation, Nassim sought to provide teachers and youth workers with tools and knowledge to address Islamophobia and affirm Islam within a positive framework of religious diversity and equality.

Upper School Director Maiya Jackson and Flannery Denny, MCS’ Upper School math teacher, also presented at the NYSAIS Diversity Conference. Their workshop, titled “Beyond Service Learning: Student Activism Realized,” explored ways to engage youth in activism and advocacy and offered strategies for integrating activism into curriculum and building a stand-alone activism program.

Flannery, who is also MCS’ sustainability curriculum project coordinator, participated in “Sustainability: Connecting, Learning, Acting,” a Parents Community Service Network event in March as well. She was one of three panelists who discussed how to grow as an environmental advocate.  

Flannery Denny, MCS math teacher and sustainability coordinator
Source: Parents Community Service Network

Also in March, Cathy Cammer gave a presentation at the Roxbury Library about the MCS Farm. She shared a slideshow that featured MCS seventh-graders’ reflections on their experiences at the Farm and explained the many components of the Farm, including the farmhouse, textile studio, nature lab, greenhouse, barn and chicken houses.

At the National Art Education Association National Convention in March, Fifth Grade Teacher Shani Brignolle and Upper School Resource Teacher Lo Kartzman led a hands-on stop-motion animation workshop that advocated for the use of arts-integrated, project-based curricula as a means to engage, support and assess a class of students with different learning styles. Shani also partnered with Sixth-Grade Teacher Karen Zaidberg to present “Investigating Equity and Justice in Peter Brown's The Wild Robot" at the NYSAIS Diversity Education and Justice in Curriculum conference. Shani and Karen discussed how our fifth- and sixth-graders read the book together and investigated themes of nature and change as part of their study of systems. In the course of their collaboration, the students discovered that the story is a tale about equity and justice in a diverse society.

Music is a central part of an MCS education. On Friday, Lower School Music Teacher Susan Harris joined Bank Street teacher Betsy Blachly in presenting “The Power of Sing in Kindergarten” at the Teaching Social Justice and Civil Rights through Singing and Movement workshop. In this interactive session, participants explored how to engage young children in important issues around social justice and civil rights in age-appropriate ways using songs, books and movement activities.

And on Monday, Maria Tere Tapias-Avery, Lower School Spanish teacher, and Carolina Drake, Upper School Spanish teacher, will lead a workshop titled “¡Sí, se puede! Progressive Approaches to Curriculum and Lesson Planning.” Attendees will join Maria Tere and Carolina in discussing the role of world language programs in progressive education, how to develop programs that help students connect with and develop an appreciation for people from different cultures, and other issues.

Teachers aren't the only ones sharing details about transformative work that's taking place at MCS. Nancy Hsu, parent fundraising and special events coordinator, led a breakout session at the NYSAIS Institutional Advancement Conference titled “Introducing New Parents to Your Fundraising Culture.” Presenting with a representative from Friends Seminary, Nancy shared how MCS successfully engages new families in philanthropic efforts.