A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

Tackle Food Waste One Scrap at a Time

Posted by Boyer Sudduth - Westtown School's Environmental Consultants on April 15, 2022

Caring for our environment is one of the three priorities defined in Westtown School’s Strategic Vision. To continue our important work in this area, we have been partnering with sustainability consultants, Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.  This piece was written by Claire DuBois, Sustainability Intern with Boyer Sudduth.  

Lower School Science Teacher Amanda Jeane Strode is passionate about helping Westtown meet its sustainable goals when it comes to waste. She incorporates recycling lessons into her science curriculum with hands-on activities. Fourth graders gather data, collect and sort recyclables, and transport them to the dumpster. 

Read More

Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids, sustainability

Empower Your Child, Empower Yourself

Posted by Maria Alonso on March 24, 2022

As parents, we are hardwired to want the best life experiences for our children. We know that life will present challenges and it is our role to help them thoughtfully respond to and even learn to embrace these situations. Social Emotional Learning (SEL), also known as Emotional Intelligence (EI), is an invaluable skill that, when developed and nurtured, empowers children and adults to respond to life experiences in a healthy and well-adjusted manner. SEL skills contribute not only to your child’s academic success but also to their future work and life happiness.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is made up of five competencies including: self awareness, emotional and behavioral management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible and ethical decision making.  

So how do we translate this to our everyday life?  What do these competencies or skills look like and how do we teach them to our children? Let me provide some real-life examples of SEL skills, how they show up in our adult life, and ways to nurture these skills in our children.  

  • Empathy: When you are able to listen and be compassionate towards your colleague who is upset at work. Empathy is also at the root of amazing customer service. Empathy can be developed and nurtured in your children in an abundance of ways. One of the clearest pathways to nurturing empathy is through service. Whether it is through volunteer work at a homeless shelter, a visit to an elderly neighbor, reading a book together that teaches empathy, or using Design Thinking in the classroom or at home. Remember to follow up with conversations about these experiences with your children. Guide them in articulating their experiences and the feelings that emerged.

Read More

College Decisions: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Posted by Jessica Smith on March 8, 2022

Spring is in the air and college is on the mind of many seniors across the country. Some seniors have made their college choices, some are waiting for more decisions, and many are comparing and awaiting financial aid offers. In the next three weeks or so, seniors should finish receiving college decisions. Then they will need to make their own choices. Here are a few things for seniors and their families to keep in mind. 

Read More

Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids

Healthy Habits for Our Planet

Posted by Ellen Songle on February 3, 2022

As a new member of the Sustainability Committee at Westtown School, I appreciate the conversations we share that have reminded me of simple ways we can all help our planet. It always amazes me how small changes in our everyday practices and behaviors can have such a positive impact on our environment. Below are a few reminders of the little steps we can all take.        


Reduce Food Waste
Aim to waste less food in your home. Did you know your food waste is not only tough on your wallet but also has negative effects on the environment? 

  • Food waste in landfills contributes to the release of methane, a powerful heat-trapping gas 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. 
  • Americans waste a staggering 40% of our food (NDRC, 2017 ) which is 10 times more than our peers in Southeast Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • How can you reduce food waste? 
    • Plan meals in advance.
    • Serve smaller portions and use smaller plates.
    • Review refrigerator contents weekly and watch for items that you consistently waste.
    • Buy produce and perishable items in small quantities so they do not spoil before you use them.  
Read More

Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids, sustainability

That’s a Wrap: Eco-Friendly Tips for the Holidays

Posted by Boyer Sudduth - Westtown School's Environmental Consultants on December 9, 2021

Caring for our environment is one of the three priorities defined in Westtown School’s Strategic Vision. To continue our important work in this area, we have been partnering with sustainability consultants, Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.  We asked them for some easy ways to be more sustainable in our everyday lives, especially in the holiday season.  Below is a piece written by Hannah Riegel of Boyer Sudduth.  

 

Give our planet a gift this holiday season by making an effort to be more intentional with how you wrap your presents. Each year, about 227,000 miles worth of wrapping paper gets thrown away: that is enough to circle the planet nine times! Not only does wrapping gifts create waste, but also consumers end up throwing away about $12.7 billion of wrapping paper, tissue paper, and gift bags

While wrapping paper broadly falls under the category of “paper,” most rolls are not recyclable. Why? The addition of plastic coating, foil paper, cellophane, glitter, and sparkles makes this paper non-recyclable (AF&PA). 

These staggering numbers illustrate the need for sustainable options. Here are five tips to wrap your gifts sustainably to help the planet AND save money!  

  1. Swap Wrapping Paper with Fabric 

Do you have leftover fabric lying around or a fabric store nearby? Use colorful fabric to brighten any present sustainably. The fabric can be reused for future presents or given as an additional gift. Add leaves or flowers for a personal touch. See resources below for hints on how to wrap your gifts in fabric.

Read More

Topics: sustainability

College Counseling for Juniors: The Shoulds and Coulds

Posted by Westtown School on September 29, 2021

The new school year is well underway. It is an exciting time for high school students especially; the new school year brings with it several rites of passage in the school setting. For juniors, that means it’s time to start thinking more deeply about their college plans, though students react differently to this stage. There are juniors who are ready to embrace the college search process while others are not there yet. Here at Westtown School, our College Counseling office is reminding our juniors that “any way you are feeling about college is completely fine.” These experts put together a list of what they think juniors in high school really should do right now and what they could do, but is less pressing.

SHOULD
Work hard in their classes!  Get back into the habit of in-person classes and assessments.

COULD
Go the extra mile in their classes and challenge themselves (within reason) to improve learning and, possibly, their grades.

SHOULD
Continue to do their activities or join some new clubs and expand their extra-curricular experiences if they did not have many last year because of the pandemic.

COULD
Take on leadership positions in chosen activities. Get more involved in existing activities. They could lead a fundraiser, plan an assembly, or sponsor or lead a service project, for example.

SHOULD
Juniors should attend at least one college visit at school this fall. College representatives are back in the practice of visiting high schools, so touch base with the college counseling office to see what colleges are scheduled to come to the school.

COULD
Attend several college visits at their school, and begin to think about colleges they want to visit in person.

SHOULD
Juniors should consider, along with their college counselors, if they need to take the SAT or the ACT this fall or winter. Testing in the fall is a good idea for those who want to be recruited athletes. (See when the PSAT is scheduled at school or locally.) All juniors should take at least one SAT or ACT this school year. Some like to try both.

COULD
Start to plan testing and do test prep (very optional).

Read More

Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids

Back to School Post-Pandemic: Tips to Prepare Your Child

Posted by Maria Alonso & Jessica Morley on June 30, 2021

As we look toward fall and what we all hope will be a “more normal” start of school, there is a sense of excitement as well as a sense of concern. Many children have been home for a full year or more and on top of the normal start-of-school jitters and butterflies, they have the added weight of post-pandemic re-entry fears. We asked our psychology team here at Westtown to share some advice to help children of all ages prepare for school this fall. 

Read More

Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids

Get Prepped for Finals!

Posted by Fran de la Torre-Shu & Corey Young on May 27, 2021

For some students, simply hearing the words “finals” and “week” used in the same sentence is enough to conjure up thoughts of stress, anxiety, and caffeine fueled all-nighters sponsored by Monster Energy drinks. However, in a year that’s been as tumultuous and fraught with never-ending cascades of challenges as 2020-21 has, making it through finals week unscathed can feel like an especially daunting task. With the right set of strategies, students will not only face their finals with confidence but also will create a foundation of effective work and study habits that will benefit them in college and beyond. 

Regardless of whether it is a freshman preparing to take their first high school final, or a senior who is getting ready for their last one, creating a study schedule should be the number one priority when it comes to preparing for exams. Building an effective study schedule helps to identify knowledge gaps, reduce procrastination, and limit the stress and anxiety that comes with trying to cram everything in at the last minute. Because each student has their own learning style, the best way to build an effective study schedule is to create one that fits one’s individual needs. Check out the following tips for creating a customized A+ Study Schedule from Westtown’s Learning Center:

  • Prioritize the weakest subjects first.
  • Have a clear understanding of what will and will not be covered on the exams.
  • Choose a visual format to organize tasks, deadlines, and materials needed.
  • Make the schedule, then stick to it.
Read More

Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids

Get Your Garden Ready...as a Family!

Posted by Westtown School on March 26, 2021

Spring is in the air and that means it is time to get your garden ready!  Whether you are working with a backyard garden, a container garden, raised beds, or just want to know how to start the process, we have some helpful information for you. Recently, our in-house expert Tim Mountz, Sustainable Agriculture Teacher at Westtown School, shared his thoughts on gardening. Farmer Tim, as he is known to our students, reminds us that gardening is a great activity for the whole family AND can get kids excited to eat fruits and vegetables. So step away for the screen, grab your shovel, and let’s get to it!   

If you do not already have a garden or set area, here are some suggestions for choosing a location. 

It is best for your garden or container to be in an area that receives direct sunlight for the majority of the day.  An area close to the kitchen makes it fun and easy for transport. Remember to plant some of our aromatic friends such as lavender, rosemary, and sage. Don’t  worry if you do not have land, containers are great for smaller, portable gardens!   

When should garden prepping begin?

If you are interested in prepping for a vegetable bed, now (March/April) is a great time to start raking and weeding the area. Be sure to dig and rake to loosen all the soil below. Roots like loose soil and will grow better in this environment.  Once you clean out the area, let it soak up the sun and dry out. If you are more interested in perennials, now is the time to  cut them back. You can do the pruning and have your little one help gather the cuttings. The cuttings are a great addition to your compost, too!

Read More

Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids