Doesn't it feel great when other people recognize and validate what we know to be true? As a parent and school photographer with the honor of seeing our amazing teachers in action frequently, I know with certainty St. Stephen's and St. Agnes has award-winning teachers. So when two of our teachers are recognized as such, I am ecstatic to share the news!We are so excited to congratulate and celebrate Middle School Librarian Alicia Blowers and Lower School Science Teacher Mackie Berro whom each won a 2018 Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) Innovation in Education Award! The award recognizes teachers who build connection, cohesion, and community in their schools. Mackie and Alicia were recently recognized at the VAIS Leading Learning Conference in Richmond. Only three teachers were chosen in Virginia for the award, one from each division (Lower, Middle, and Upper).
Lower School Award: Mackie received the Lower School award for an innovative idea involving our fifth graders. She replaced a physics-themed science fair with a “Toy Fair.” Not only did our students design original toys; they built them and then gave them to others to enjoy. Students used recycled materials, found objects, and were waste-conscious and earth friendly. Piece by piece, their creations took form as their imaginations took flight. “This toy project transformed my science lab in a way I could not have imagined,” said Mackie. “The children’s industry exceeded my expectations; they demonstrated determination and resilience as they worked in small groups and partnerships.”
The ‘Toy Factory Exposition’ was a joyous celebration of a semester of work and discovery. Our gym was transformed into a toy showcase, and original toys and games packed the tables. Our entire lower school attended. After the fair, our Director of Service Learning picked up the toys, and her class coordinated with a preschool and took them over to the Child and Family Network Preschool. There, the Upper School service learning students brought joy and laughter to a room of young children and showed them how they could use their own imagination and creativity to create their own toys just like other children a little older than they had done.
“Throughout the semester, I watched my students grow as a community while they made something for someone they would never meet,” Mackie said. “The children did better than merely think outside the box. They took apart the box and created something incredibly wonderful with it—not only for themselves but for others.”
Middle School Award: Alicia received the Middle School award for the creation of Saints Mission Day in April of 2018 where students, faculty, and staff of our Saints community came together for a day of exploring and enacting our commitment to service as described in our school’s mission statement. The vision was simple: get to know Saints from different campuses through games and activities, create a communal art installation, and share a meal.
Students and teachers worked in mixed-age groups to explore more of what it means to be of service to others as members of a school community, as neighbors in the city of Alexandria, and as global citizens in the world. As a culminating activity, each member of our community made a prayer flag to represent our hopes and dreams for our community and for the whole human family. The prayer flags are a visual representation of our commitment to service and our commitment to community. The flags are also a representation of every member of our community--made by 1,300 people!
These two dedicated educators and their innovative teaching practices exemplify the learning experience in which my children and their friends are engaged each school year. Learn more about our amazing faculty or visit campus to see for yourself!