With the inauguration of our 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, there is a wide swath of emotions across the country and within our own community. From joy to fear, anger to relief, excitement to anxiety, they are all in the proverbial air. As adults we understand the emotions we are feeling and what others are experiencing. Our kids do not have anything near that level of understanding...
I APPRECIATE YOUR VISIT TO BRENTWOOD SCHOOL’S WEBSITE AND HOPE YOU WILL ENJOY A GLIMPSE OF WHAT MAKES brentwood SCHOOL SUCH A powerful and VIBRANT LEARNING COMMUNITY.
As you peruse the site, please keep in mind our motto: “Start curious. Stay curious. Go anywhere.” These six words drive Brentwood. From the School’s outstanding faculty that fuels the fire of curiosity in our students, to the daily athletic and artistic risk taking and accomplishments that occur on our playing fields, in our studios, and on our stages, to a service learning program that inspires deeper understanding and appreciation of the greater Los Angeles and global communities, Brentwood provides a myriad of opportunities to engage its students. It is this level of engagement that fosters the inspiration and intellectual passion we witness in our students on a daily basis.
With your first steps on campus you will feel the sense of community and pride that is Brentwood School. Brentwood students are devoted to their school, as are their parents and guardians, who give generously of their time and resources. We are a school that is small enough to build upon individual and collective curiosity, and simultaneously large enough to have breadth and depth of opportunity for all our students.
Two beautiful campuses, outstanding programs, a dedicated faculty and staff, inspired leadership, engaged students, and committed parents add up to a great school. Our website gives you a taste of all this; I hope it makes you curious enough to schedule a visit to learn more.
Michael Riera, Ph.D.
Head of School
Assistant to the Head of School
Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with one of your grandparents while you were growing up. (And if you did not have a grandparent in your life, think of your relationship with another person of that generation—aunt, uncle, neighbor, clergy.) What was the tone of that relationship? Any particular memories stand out?
One of the my favorite things about being in a school is that we have the opportunity to have two "new years", one in August and one in January. With every new year comes the chance for all of us, including the students, to reflect on what we have done in the past and set goals for the future. During our assembly this past Tuesday, we spoke with the students about doing just that. We kicked off the discussion with a short video highlighting the fact that water is extremely hot at 211 degrees while it boils at 212 degrees. That one extra degree makes a huge difference in the results! With this in mind, students were challenged to identify how they were going to turn up the heat during the second semester by developing an academic SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) goal. The Middle School faculty also set goals that included fostering and modeling a culture of learning, striving for academic excellence, and providing the most engaging learning experience possible for our students. As I reflect on the first semester and look ahead to the second, I see multiple ways in which we are working toward these goals.
Several teachers have attended both national and local conferences. They immediately implemented what they learned upon their return to school, including more meaningful ways for students to engage in group work and making learning more powerful through the extensive use of student reflection.
This spring, faculty will also attend workshops to be exposed to new ideas in music, film, and physical education, with a particular interest in looking at new pedagogy. In addition, members of the math team will attend a conference focused on learning the latest in math education techniques and various ways to integrate science, technology, and engineering into our math curriculum. Meanwhile, members of the science department will visit other schools outside of Los Angeles to get a first-hand look at classrooms, labs, and curriculum structured differently than our own.
While attending workshops, conferences, and visiting other schools is one way to foster a culture of learning, our teachers also learn from each other throughout the year. For example, early in the year, science and social studies teachers shared how they teach note taking. In the near future, other teachers will present a variety of ways to structure classroom time to increase opportunities for student problem solving and increase student engagement.
There are also opportunities for teachers to learn with one another. Late in the fall, ten faculty from across disciplines participated in a book study of Research Based Strategies to Ignite Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and a Classroom Teacher. The reading of the book culminated in a discussion about how to apply what we read to positively impact our students in the classroom, such as referencing prior knowledge and experiences to make connections to new learning. Reducing student anxiety was one of the most discussed principles. This conversation was a key factor in the redesign of the semester one assessment schedule to create a less stressful experience for students.
Looking back and looking ahead, I am excited about all of our efforts and conversations around academic excellence. The Middle School faculty has far exceeded my expectations in terms of their commitment to professional growth, both individually and collectively. They model turning up the heat for each other and their students. While the goal of achieving academic excellence is ongoing, our commitment to it can be witnessed in and out of the classroom everyday.
Have a great weekend.
Middle School Director
Mike Riera is the Head of School at Brentwood School, a best-selling author, an award-winning columnist, an educator, a television commentator, and a national speaker on issues of children, adolescents, families, and parenting. Mike is the author of 5 books: Right From Wrong: Instilling a Sense of Integrity in Our Children (2002), Field Guide to the American Teenager (2000), Uncommon Sense For Parents With Teenagers (1995), and Surviving High School (1997). His most recent book, Staying Connected To Your Teenager (2003), was launched with three appearances on Oprah!
For eight years he was the Family Consultant for CBS The Saturday Morning Early Show and also hosted an award winning television show on the Oxygen Network, Life in Progress, as well as his own daily radio show, Family Talk with Dr. Mike. Mike has worked in schools for over twenty years as a head of school, counselor, dean of students, teacher, and consultant.