Wrapping Up the Election Immersion

Written by: Mrs. Mandle – 6th grade teacher

The sixth grade wrapped up their investigation of the Presidential Election. What a privilege it has been to study the Election in our classroom. We were so lucky to be able to spend this time together, learning from the world around us and analyzing the process with a critical eye. I am so proud of the students for their hard work asking questions, researching data, comparing the candidates and looking critically at the media’s role in the process. It all culminated with a student planned and led, Mock Election for the entire school. Our school results turned out to be opposite of the nation’s results with 85 votes for Mitt Romney, 34 for Barack Obama and 2 for Jill Stein. Election Day was one for the books! The kids were professional, kind, patient and informed. They worked hard to make the voting process easy and took on roles as candidates, poll workers and even Exit Pollsters. We received so many compliments from staff and students – it really was a great day for all.

After the results were in from the National Election, we took some time to color in our Electoral College map, talk about what we noticed and even watched the concession and acceptance speeches. I think the children have really been changed by this – they are critical thinkers about the world and the process of getting elected.

Are we saying “Good job” to our kids too much?

Are we saying “good job” a bit too much to our children?  That is the question posed by renowned educator and researcher Alfie Kohn.  He proposes the theory that when we say this too much, our kids aim to do a good job for the sake of the praise and not for the sake of doing quality work and, thus, an excellent product.  Being “praise junkies” as Kohn explains, can cause students to go for praise when people are around but, once they are not (and thus the praise and attention removed), the motivation to do a “good job” is removed as well.

Kohn also states that adults are often times motivated to praise in order to manipulate children to do a certain desired action.  “Good job folding the laundry,” one parent might say or “way to go saying ‘thank you’ to Mr. Smith,” can be examples of manipulating a student into adult-desired outcomes.  While encouragement is something all adults should do, the over-encouragement that adults exhibit towards children can lead to a lack of intrinsic motivation and praise-inspired actions instead of actions that are motivated by good character and integrity.

Below are the five outcomes that Kohn states that can come from “over-praise.”

1. Manipulating children.

2. Creating praise junkies.

3. Stealing a child’s pleasure.

4. Losing interest.

5. Reducing achievement.

To read this article in its entirety, click this link to read more:


Mr. Schnuda, GSCA Principal

Secrets or Surprises?

How many of you have ever had a secret?  Do you like secrets?  Some people like secrets because then they know something other people don’t know.  Do you like it when people whisper to each other in front of you?

What does it mean to keep a secret?  To keep a secret is not to tell anybody what you know, even if they ask you to tell them.  What’s the difference between a secret and a surprise?  Are they the same?  Not exactly.

Secretscan make a child feel sad, unhappy, and scared.  You might be told never to tell and sometimes the person telling you the secret will give you something if you don’t tell, or say they will hurt you if you do tell.  They can make you feel nervous or worried.  Secrets are something that we don’t tell anyone and if you do tell someone they will get angry and upset.  A secret is something that is kept just between two people, or a small group of people.  A secret can make you feel ashamed or afraid.  They are about things that bother you.  Most importantly, a secret involves deception or a lie.  Secrets often break safety rules.  Keeping a secret is a burden.  It makes you feel uncomfortable and it’s not healthy.

Surprises make a child feel warm, excited, and happy.  The child is encouraged to tell surprises when the time is right.  You don’t have to be quiet about the surprise for very long.  A surprise is something that will be shared in the near future; perhaps it is a gift or a surprise party.  A surprise is something which will end up as a happy bit of information to somebody else.  A surprise often involves a larger group or the whole family.  A surprise brings happiness and good feelings.  It’s safe and comfortable.  A surprise will bless someone else, not hurt them.

How is “private” information different from a secret or a surprise?  What does it mean if someone tells you something that is “private” information and not to tell anyone?  Information that is private is only shared with a trusted friend, and is not meant to be shared with others.  When someone tells us something in confidence, something private, it’s because he or she trusts us enough to listen and not tell others.  When we tell, trust is lost.  Children need to respect another’s privacy, use good judgment, and act accordingly.

What’s the difference between tattling and telling?  It’s very important for us as the adults to discern when a child is telling and when they are tattling.  We need to listen to our children; hear them out.

It’s extremely important for children to know the difference between telling an adult that they have a problem that they can’t handle, and tattling on someone else in order to get the person in trouble.

Tattling is used to get attention or to bring negative attention to someone else.  Young people tattle, not as a way to ask for assistance or support, but as a way to get back at someone else or to avoid getting in trouble themselves.  Young people need to feel confident that they can count on adults for support and help in solving their problems, and that’s what telling is all about.  Children should be encouraged to tell adults whenever they feel they are in over their heads or don’t feel confident to handle a problem on their own.  Adults need to listen and discern what the problem is so that they can help the child.

Children need to understand that Jesus knows the thoughts and intents of the heart (Matthew 9:4), the secrets of the heart (Psalm 44:21).  There are many scripture verses that instruct us to be wise in the use of words.  “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).  “The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:21).  Let’s encourage our children to use their words to bless others and to bless God.

Written and Compiled by Mrs. Carten, 5th grade teacher

Holiday Fun

With the holiday season just around the corner, our calendars are already filling up quickly with shopping, family gatherings, holiday parties, and other Thanksgiving or Christmas commitments. Between the turkey, cookies, presents and smooches from Great Aunt Sally, this time can be equally overwhelming for your child. Since this is a time that routines are thrown out the window, children often do not know what to expect and a fun family event can turn into a stressful situation for your little one.

It is important during these chaotic weeks that we do our best to keep to your child’s typical routine and normal bedtime procedures. When there are changes to the schedule, it is important to explain this to your child so they fully understand what is going to take place. Explain to your child when there are no distractions (video games, TV, etc.) the activities that will affect them and give them the opportunity to ask any questions or voice any concerns that they may have. By doing your best to answer their questions they will see that you still have control over the environment and put them at ease.  By prepping your child with these changes, you will reduce their anxiety of the unexpected and help put them at ease.

Another major concern is the extra “spoiling” your child receives during this time period. The presents, treats, and extra attention that your child receives is special to them and will help create special memories of their youth.  However, we do want our children to understand that these are just special treats and are not to be expected. This is another area in which having an open line of communication would be beneficial to your child. Share with your child as often as you can the story of Christ Birth and quiz them to test their understanding.  Explain to your child what makes the season special to you and how they should remain thankful for each day’s blessings.

Most importantly we want to teach our child the value of family during this time. Discuss with your child special traditions that you have as a family. Share with them the origin of the tradition or share stories of your favorite memories.  Perhaps ask for their input in creating new family traditions especially those that would serve others.  Your family could donate food to a local food pantry, pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, visit a local nursing home or pay for the meal of the person behind you while in the drive through. By starting a new tradition like this, you will teach your child it is better to give then receive and that they can be blessings to someone else through a simple act of kindness.

Ms. Danielle~ Little Flock Preschool Director



Ideas for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

Every year our school has the privilege of participating in packing goodies into shoe boxes that will be sent to children around the world who are less fortunate. Last Wednesday all our students watched the journey of these boxes from packing, travelling across the ocean, to children opening a box, in a touching video. Their eyes lit up, they smiled from ear to ear and cheered. For many this will be their only present. The Operation Christmas Child program includes a book that shares the message of Jesus with the children.  As you pack your boxes with your children please pray for the child who will receive it. Include a special note in your box to make it even more personal.

Here is a blog post with a huge number great items to include in your boxes. The post is written by a woman who had the blessing of packing boxes for years then actually going to deliver the boxes and see them opened. Enjoy!


Preventing Children From Slipping Through the Cracks

What comes to your mind when I say fractions?  Decimals?  How about parts of speech?  Perhaps the words trigger frustration because you never really understood one of those concepts when you were in school. Maybe you shrugged it off then, but discover it keeps popping up again and again in life like, say, the Pythagorean Theorem, plaguing you.

I’m confident most know exactly what I’m referring to: concepts you were taught in school, but never fully grasped.  Quite possibly nobody discovered that a key foundational principle was not learned.

The mastery model of learning, now in full swing at GSCA, works to assure students are helped to master each learning unit before proceeding to a more advanced learning assignments.  Research suggests that people need to be exposed to something 7 to 14 times in order to learn or master a concept. We can see this in day-to-day life. If you received some information today, would you be able to remember it next week, next month, and next year? Having opportunities to discuss the information, ask questions about it, maybe meet in a small group about it, dramatically increases the ability to retain the information. We want our students to fully absorb foundational principles and not just to be able to regurgitate information.  This is a process which takes time and repetition.

Our teachers develop student mastery through small groups, re-teaching and re-assessing. What does this look like practically? A teacher may teach a large group lesson, assess the understanding of students, and then invite those who are not feeling confident with the material to join a small group for re-teaching. Her lesson in the small group may have a varied approach based on these particular student’s needs. Re-assessing students can come in many forms. It can be re-writing papers, re-testing, improving projects, until mastered.  Mastery at GSCA is measured at 80% achievement.

This model allows students who have the ability to move faster or deeper, even beyond grade level, to do so.  It allows students to be challenged with higher thinking projects and assignments once they have achieved mastery from the initial lesson. It prevents students from falling through the cracks. Teachers can work to meet students where they most need help and re-teaching with that particular student(s) learning style in mind until they have met mastery. The wonderful thing is, this model truly embraces the reality that God has created each of us uniquely; different approaches work for different children with different learning styles.


The “Gift Card Fit” in Your Financial Planning

There I was standing behind a woman at the customer service line in the department store, waiting for my turn to pay for my merchandise. The store clerk asked the customer “would you like to open a store credit card today and get 15% off on your purchase? It is FREE, VERY easy, and will take just a minute…”

The customer politely said no and asked to pay with the store gift card. After a couple more failed attempts by the store clerk to convince her to sign up for the store credit card the woman was able to pay with her gift card!

I thought to myself: right here is our daily debate between good and bad financial choices, and using gift cards definitely belongs to the first group. How does a gift card make a difference? To me, it is simply cash disguised in a credit card suit! Let’s compare both while we are at it:

Store Gift card Credit card
Money you own Money you owe
Known fixed value Vague unlimited “credit line” – always tempted by the   company to increase it or they do it for you
Prepaid Paid later on
Full control over your store choice Can be used anywhere = tempting to misuse
No interest or late fees mostly very high interest rate
Does not ever lose its value- waits patiently to be used when   needed Payments owed on a deadline or else…
Does not tamper your credit score Hugely affects your credit score if not paid on time
Stable – no fine print undisclosed Its terms are subject to change at the company’s discretion


However, here are some important tips to help you benefit the most using this great planning tool:

  • Gift card amounts should be part of your financial plan in place, not a random addition.
  • Do not purchase a gift card to your favorite store until you need one; otherwise it can go unused and be a waste of money. However, use them freely for gas or other guaranteed recurring shopping needs
  • Have them with you always so that you do not discover they are not there when needed.

I hope you are already making gift cards part of your financial habits.

Click here to learn more about Scrip Gift Cards and click the shop tab to see all the participating stores!

Print an Order Form – return it to GSCA by Tuesday morning and we’ll have your cards ready for you on Friday!

Mrs. Mona Mikhail

GSCA & LFP Director of Finance