Summer Professional Development

As our students head off on their summer adventures, our teachers prepare for a few weeks of relaxation, travel, quality time spent with friends and family, and continued learning!

Every year, Meridian staff and faculty members participate in a myriad of professional development workshops.  We know that providing our teachers with opportunities to further explore educational best practices is one of the most important and lasting gifts we can give our students. Furthermore, we know that the quality of our students’ educational experience is reflected by the depth of our teachers’ knowledge.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of our donor community, we raised over $125,000 (to be expended over three years) to support these professional development opportunities.

2016 & 2017 summer learning opportunities include:

Columbia Teachers College Writers Workshop (summer 2016, all teaching faculty)

Columbia Teachers College Readers Workshop (summer 2017, all teaching faculty)

Social Thinking Workshops (summer 2016)

Responsive Classroom Workshops (summer 2017)

Coaching workshop facilitated by nationally renowned educational coach and consultant, Elena Aguilar (summer 2017, Customized Learning Team)

Various workshops related to design thinking, critical thinking, place-based education and other S.T.E.A.M initiatives

Each year, Faculty and Associate Faculty members are also given the opportunity to apply for an Ellen Toole grant to support special professional development opportunities. The Ellen Toole Endowment Fund was established in honor of our founding Head of School, and has been granted to faculty members on an annual basis.

This summer, two of our teachers will be traveling to Peru and Ecuador for a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience! Science Program Coordinator, Kelsey Vollmer, and Kindergarten Faculty member, Libby Bode, received The Meridian School’s Ellen Toole grant, as well as a national grant from the organization Fund For Teachers to make this adventure possible.

Their fellowship consists of three learning opportunities. The first is the Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest, which is a 10-day workshop at four different rainforest lodges, designed to immerse educators in inquiry and place-based approaches to instruction. Each day they will actively participate in two learning sessions about a variety of topics, including developing a sense of place, habitat and ecosystem study, biodiversity, interconnectedness, field research, inquiry and investigation, and cultural and community connections. At the end of each day, time is given for participants to discuss their learning and ideas with one another.

The second part of the fellowship involves a five-day journey through the mountains and Urubamba Valley to interact with the Quechua people and explore the Machu Picchu region, which will allow for a deeper cultural experience and contribute to The Meridian School’s work around global competency.

Lastly, the grant will allow Libby and Kelsey to experience one final destination. Following their learning in Peru, they will head to the Galapagos Islands to learn about and experience the unique, island ecosystems . They will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station as well as several of the islands to practice their field study techniques.

Throughout their month-long travels, both Libby and Kelsey will be strengthening their understanding of place-based and inquiry-based education and developing skills to promote questioning, curiosity, and connection-making in students. One of their major goals when returning to Meridian  is to implement a more cohesive and integrated scope and sequence for our science and social studies programs, with a focus on place-based education, global competency, inquiry-based projects, and STEAM. They are extremely excited for these adventures and will be eager to share their learning with our community throughout the 2017–2018 school year!

NatureBridge Overnight Trip

By Meridian 5th Graders

NatureBridge is a field trip that all of the fifth graders go on at the end of the year. It’s an environmental science camp, and we were there for a whole school week! We went on lots of hikes and we went kayaking on Lake Crescent. We learned  about  forests, watersheds, tidepools, the Elwha River, and water tables in general. There were fun activities with water to cool us off! We played games and stayed up really late (which made getting up in the morning harder). Another school was there there too so we had opportunities to make new friends. This was definitely the longest overnight trip we’ve had, and it was even more fun than we expected!

This trip helped us feel really connected to nature. It’s a science field trip so it is educational, as well as a time to be together as a group one last time before graduation. It makes sense that we would end the year with it because it’s a really big part of our place-based education! Some of our favorite parts of the trip were just being in nature together and talking into the night in our cabins. Everyone was kind of sad because we  are all leaving Meridian soon, and some of us are going to different schools, but it’s also happy and exciting that we’re moving on to a new part of our lives. It’s bittersweet.

For incoming fifth graders, we want to make sure you know that this trip is amazing and so much fun!

Don’t be surprised if everyone starts crying at the last campfire. It’s a little bit emotional. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t one of our favorite experiences at Meridian!

Spotlight on Service Learning

What is Service Learning?  Service Learning is an approach to teaching and learning that integrates community service with classroom learning. It results in meaningful projects where students’ efforts benefit their community while they gain experience in civic responsibility and teamwork, and deepen their knowledge of core curricular themes.

Each year, grade levels partner with a different , local organization and engage in service learning projects. Last week, students presented their learning to the entire school community.

Kindergarteners worked with Tara, the Good Shepherd Center gardener, to maintain and care for a garden on campus. In connection with Global Studies, students explored ocean pollution and learned how we can protect the planet by reducing, reusing and recycling!

First Graders partnered with local nonprofit organization, City Fruit, to care for the fruit trees in Meridian Park’s orchard.

Second Graders partnered with Mary’s Place, and learned what they can do to raise awareness and support those who are homeless in Seattle. Second graders and their fifth grade buddies also continued their work with Washington Green Schools.

Third Graders coordinated and ran a school-wide community needs project with the Asian Counseling and Referral Service. ACRS is a local organization that promotes social justice and the well-being and empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities.

Fourth Graders raised salmon, and learned how environmental factors impact the salmon life cycle and population. They released the salmon in Piper’s Creek, and supported habitat renewal with the Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

Fifth Graders completed a project with Washington Green Schools and their second grade buddies, and maintained a year-long partnership with FamilyWorks, volunteering at the local Wallingford food bank each month.

By Meridian K-5th Graders

Service learning is a big project that we do here at Meridian, across all the grades. We learn about people, animals, and places in need and about causes, nonprofits and charities that support them. We learned that some nonprofits help people get the things they need to survive so they can have a better life, not just live from day to day. Service learning is important because we’re actually doing things, not just talking about it.

This year in particular many of our projects tied into Global Studies, so it’s educational and helpful! We as a school like to give back. Our school motto is Meridian Cares–I care for myself, I care for others, I care for my place. Service learning does all three! It improves our place by keeping the environment clean and safe, it helps others when we volunteer with nonprofits that give people safe places to live and things that they need, and it helps ourselves because you feel good when you are learning what you can do to help. Service learning is great because you’re taking care of places and other people, which isn’t something that happens a lot, especially since we’re kids.

We always talk about how where you live affects how you live, and it’s really easy to see that when we are doing service learning. We are looking forward to continuing it at Meridian, but also just in general in our lives. This type of learning helps us be prepared for the future, and not everybody gets those experiences so it’s important to learn how we can help so we can teach others later!