Hope, Beauty, and Exploration in Northwest Village School’s Classrooms
The 2020 and 2021 school years at Northwest Village School were measurably different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students continue to be actively engaged in learning from home, as well as in the classroom, and our teachers and members of our multidisciplinary teams continue to forge connections and foster engagement.
The stories below highlight how our team makes vital links with students, reinforcing their capacity as functional learners in their communities, in school, and at home, and expanding on the strong foundation they acquired in the traditional classroom. Using Microsoft® Teams and other tools, our teachers, paraprofessionals, clinicians, and others are working collaboratively to deliver high-quality, innovative online and in-person instruction in the areas of creative writing, technology, science, art, history, career readiness, and more.
We’ll update this page as new projects continue to emerge. Be sure to visit again soon!
Spring 2021 Highlights
Find our Spring 2021 newsletter here.
Celebrating the World in a Day
Students participated in an in-person Multicultural Celebration event, sharing insights, projects, and learnings with staff from across Wheeler. From delving into the lives of remarkable leaders such as Nelson Mandela, to an exploration of gardens, food, and cultures from around the world, the day was rich in discussion and discovery.
Lessons in Gardening
A Facebook fundraiser initiated by Brian Dowgiewicz, senior teacher, provided fertile ground for school gardening efforts this year. With private funds raised on Facebook, Brian launched an interdisciplinary “gardening from around the world” project for our learners on Team C. Funds supported the purchase of seeds, planting trays, soil, mulch, tools, and more. Brian’s geometry students are optimizing planting areas and drawing their ideas to scale of moveable structures to optimize sunlight. Other students have plans for a meditation garden and are researching shade-tolerant perennials and prices for mulch and stone, while still others are focused on building workout stations, with visions of being the next “American Ninja.”
Chalk the Walk With Positive Messages
Visitors will find positive messages lining our sidewalks. Room 15 teacher Diane Drapeau-Foyer brought the national "Chalk the Walk" program to our school, and since March, students have created dozens of messages that reflect joy, optimism, and hope.
The Power of Gratitude
Room 8 students worked on a community service cards project for health care staff, police departments, and other members of the community, expressing gratitude for their service, especially during this challenging time.
Reaching Goals Through Persistence
Teodoro Anderson Diaz, LCSW, LADC, vice president of Wheeler’s Family Health and Wellness Center Outpatient Services, spoke recently with students about the transformative nature of life experiences and the power of persistence in reaching goals. His story inspired our youth to consider how they will use their own experiences to chart their futures.
A Place to Grow, Too
We put the finishing touches on our new greenhouse, and this amazing structure will provide a place for our school community to learn and hone their gardening and other skills, this season and beyond!
Winter 2021 Highlights
The Dream, Then and Now
In January, our teams studied the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the impact of his contributions, then and now. Students in all grades engaged in thoughtful discussions and activities focused on the values of kindness, diversity, approaches to stemming racial injustice, as well as the unique role that they each can play in promoting equality in their communities.
Saluting and Kahooting: Celebrating American Heroes
Our teachers are creatively delivering lessons about Black History Month. For example, one of our speech pathologists is using the Kahoot platform to lead students and staff through “Flocabulary” rap videos that celebrate great American heroes such as Malcolm X, Jackie Robinson, Maya Angelou, and more! In addition, our teams are infusing a rich, diverse array of literature and related activities into lessons as part of this observance.
Ms. Paula and the Penguin Project
First and second grade students in Room 1 learned about animals in winter and arctic animal patterns through online and in-person research, with a special focus on penguins. These studies culminated in an outdoor penguin exhibit made from “upcycled” items, materials which otherwise would have been thrown away, as well as other weather-resistant items. To generate interest in the exhibit, students dressed up as penguins and distributed flyers. The NVS community is especially grateful to Ms. Paula (pictured), one of our paraprofessionals, for the penguin exhibit idea and penguin costume designs. Plans are in the works for more displays this spring!
Fall 2020 Highlights
An Environment of Kindness
Students were welcomed back to the classroom in late August 2020 with positive messages in classrooms and hallways that promoted kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. These colorful expressions were underscored during the school’s celebration of Unity Day on October 21, a day in which our school community wore orange in recognition of the values of this observance, including bullying prevention. Virtual podcasts, student artwork, and special presentations were all part of the celebration!
A Worldly Approach
Students in Room 3 continued to find ways to expand their understanding of cultures around the world. In September, youth celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month from inside the classroom, learning about Hispanic heroes, culture, and places of significance. Youth listened to Spanish music, read bilingual books, and celebrated the heritage proudly held by so many of our students and staff. In early October, this class moved on to study China’s Mid-Autumn Festival, a celebration of harvest and the moon. The group wrote moon poetry, ate moon cakes, made lanterns, and explored various phases of the moon. In November, students continued with bilingual education, moving south to Mexico for el Dia de los Muertos, with a focus on the cycle of life and nature and the comfort of memories.
The Magic of Math
Our teachers + (The Tango Interactive Board) = (Fun Learning). This fall, our team strove to make math fun and accessible for students, with lessons ranging from simple division, to more complex statistical analysis and calculation, and much more!
Summer 2020 - Extended School Year Program
Back to Business, Literally
In late July, as part of our ESY program's "Back to Business" theme, middle school students presented "Shark Tank"-like business proposals to a tough panel of NVS staff and other Wheeler leaders. Teachers and other members from across Wheeler heard ideas about robotic dogs, 3D foam sculptures for coffee, fishing charters, security system drones, cordless TVs, and more.
Ice Cream Inspiration
Inspired by the myriad of ice cream stands on the Connecticut Ice Cream Trail, students in our School Store created their own ice cream stands. They researched the history of each town along the trail, as well as some interesting facts about each stand, and they even created their own specialty ice cream! Similarly, students in Room 13 imagined and created their own businesses, starting first with an idea, then business plan and store front development. [Photo: by Lukas from Pexels]
We are Grateful
NVS is especially grateful for our community partnerships that help students to bolster their vocational training and pursue their passions. One farm this summer allowed some of our students to move from online learning to an enriching, hands-on agricultural experience.
Celebrating America’s Business Giants
Room 10 English students embarked on a project that combined improvement in reading for information, with an appreciation for business and business leaders. The class read biographies on Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andrew Carnegie, JD Rockefeller, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and Milton Hershey and researched the companies they started, as well as the resources and innate qualities needed to start a business. Students examined how these leaders and their companies changed over time, right up to and including the COVID-19 crisis, and considered how these companies might change in the future. The exercises were full of discoveries both for students and teachers. [Photo by: Juhasz Imre from Pexels]
Bees, Mars, and More!
Team B students learned about the decline of the bee population and its short- and long-term impact on the business of agriculture, while Room 13 students were introduced to topics that will be covered in environmental science in the upcoming school year. As part of this introduction, students created PowerPoint presentations on either a relevant environmental issue, or plans for a community on Mars and the technology needed to get there.
Counting Our Chickens (After They Hatched)
This past spring, students in 2nd, 3rd, and 6th grade tracked the incubation and birth of nine baby chicks and named each one. These furry friends, including "Chicky," pictured on the right, reside in a cozy coop at the home of one of our NVS teachers.
Our Garden’s Promise
Thanks to the dedication of our staff, and the active, ongoing interest of our students, there will be a garden to return to and enjoy during the fall. From seedlings, to vegetables, and towering sunflowers, our garden is a symbol of resilience and a powerful reminder to our students of their innate ability and resourcefulness to weather life’s challenges, especially now.
Finding Hope in Spring 2020
In late spring, the NVS middle school science team delivered instruction on severe weather patterns, including tornadoes. The class made tornadoes in a bottle while learning about tornado anatomy, classification, the Enhanced Fujita scale, and more.
Write What You Know (and Care About)
Room 15 students embarked on an end-of-year writing project, following the full process of pre-writing, writing, revising, editing, and publishing. Youth chose a range of subjects that they cared about, from caring for their pet, to video games. Teacher Julia Knectel notes, “When students care what they write about, they try harder.”
How Does Our Garden Grow?
Students rounded out the school year by monitoring the progress of the Wheeler Garden, and some students will continue to watch the garden during the school's Extended School Year (ESY) school learning program in July. Throughout the spring, youth participated in virtual lessons, contributing, along with their teachers, to the progress of the garden. The NVS team will soon purchase a new greenhouse to expand learning during the winter.
The Magic of New Beginnings
Through a series of online lessons, students in 2nd, 3rd, and 6th grade are exploring the natural world, and recently tracked the incubation and birth of nine baby chicks! A naming contest is under way. These furry friends will soon reside in a brand new coop at the home of one of our NVS teachers. Students will continue to monitor their progress online.
Artful Approaches to Beauty
Ann Montgomery, art teacher at Northwest Village School (NVS), is leading an adventurous exploration of various artists, while helping students to tap their own creative potential in service to others.
In mid-April, Ms. Montgomery introduced students to the chaotic brilliance of the late 1970s Manhattan graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who became well known as rap, punk, and street art came together to form early hip-hop music culture. His artwork offered social commentary, especially on the injustices in the world. [Photo above, right: TOKEN by Jean-Michel Basquiat]
“During this chaotic time especially, it’s important to help students find beauty in the world of color, image, style, and sound,” said Ms. Montgomery. “These discoveries will keep us grounded as we move forward.”
Appreciation for Essential Workers
In late April, Room 15 students created hearts for essential workers with the materials they had at home and displayed these hearts in windows of their houses and other places in their communities. Some students even hand-delivered their creations to parents, siblings, and loved ones living at home.
“Our online discussions focus on the need to think about others during this pandemic,” said Ms. Montgomery, who also led this exercise. “Our service to each other keeps us focused on the external world and can prevent us from turning inward.”
The Virtual Wonders of Science
NVS teacher Karli Searle and the science teaching team are using interactive technology and simple objects to teach Earth Science. Recently, Ms. Searle used a half-dyed egg, a “moon egg,” to simulate the phases of the moon by rotating the object around the computer camera so that students could see how it would appear from Earth at different phases. The students found the demo to be "EGG-cellent!"
America, the Beautiful, Online
Our teachers are guiding students through various aspects of US History, World War II, and the inner workings of American government through interactive online activities and virtual mock cabinet meetings. Room 12 students are focused on contemporary issues and recently completed a unit on conspiracy theories, including flat earth theory, and chemtrails. Room 10 students are learning about the executive branch and the national election process.