Newsletter Header Panther Cubs 2020

Lower School Newsletter for May 10, 2020

It is hard to believe that we have completed seven weeks of remote learning since our March break. I continue to be so impressed with the ingenuity of our teachers, the resiliency of our students, and the support of our families. In this newsletter, you will see a few examples of what students are doing in their remote classrooms and the fun activities sprinkled into our weeks. Though this is not at all what we had envisioned for this spring, life and school go on, and we are continuing to find the bright side and to make the most of every day. Without a doubt, it will be a year to remember! There are only four weeks left in our school year, and this will be the final Panther Cubs before we head off for the summer. We have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with your children throughout this year, both in the classroom and in Zoom meetings this spring, and love learning together with them. There are few things in life as full of joy and wonder as looking at the world through the eyes of a child. It has been an honor to teach your children and experience this wonder with them. We wish you all a safe, happy, and enjoyable summer and look forward to seeing you again in the new school year!

Marissa Markonish
Head of Lower and Middle Schools


While so much is different about the remote learning process, the overarching goals remain the same – students actively engaged in learning, applying knowledge, and mastering skills. Teachers are continuing with planned activities, sometimes with a new twist, while also incorporating some entirely new lessons and projects.

Mrs. Gagne’s fourth grade class undertook a big animal research project and presented their finding through remote presentations utilizing PowerPoint and showing off their dioramas. Mrs. Mecham even delivered art supplies to students’ homes to help them complete this project! (Mrs. Gallagher has made a couple of deliveries to her students, bringing books, supplies, and lots of smiles!)

Mr. Hopkins’s class had some fun with a nature photo competition. Last week, one student made his own newspaper starring students in the class. Mr. Hopkins anticipates other students will join in with their own editions in the weeks ahead.

As literacy is such an important part of learning in the Lower School, the teachers incorporate read alouds into the schedule every day. Check out some stories from Miss Jen, Miss Kassi, Miss Molly, Miss Morgan, Miss Cindy, and Mrs. Gallagher or visit our NYA Lower School Storytime page.

The specials teachers also get into the act and share weekly videos in Music, Movement, Art, PE, Spanish, and Science. For one art project, Mrs. Mecham had the students create Laundry Landscapes. Their task was to create a landscape work of art focusing on natural scenery such as mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, cliffs, trees, valleys, meadows, fields, gardens, deserts, tropical rain forests, etc. The landscapes could also include animals, houses, and people, as long as the main focus was a natural area of land. The twist to this assignment was that the artists were creating their landscapes utilizing only laundry! The students were incredibly creative and came up with some unique and impactful designs.


Miss Karen shared how the toddler classroom took part in a special science project during their remote learning time this spring. “Together, though remotely, we started seeds and sprouted beans, and some families sprouted vegetable kitchen scraps from tops of carrots and the like. The children observed changes in the plants as they cared for their seedlings at home. Every week or so, I would share a video of the progress and growth of the seedlings I had started for the project. The children watched as the small seeds grew. They observed compost become soil for transplanting, and then watched as the seedlings grew bigger under cover outside in the garden beds. Along the way, the children continued to observe the growth of their own bean sprouts and developed a curiosity with their gardens at home. During our Friday live Zoom meetings, Miss Jen would update the children on the growth of her bean sprout and gardens, and the children were eager to share the progress of how their plants were growing too. This project helped the children to foster enthusiasm, appreciation, and curiosity for the natural world around them. A few of the other skills the children practiced through this interactive work were observation skills, loco-motor skills, fine motor skills, sensory stimulation, and literacy skills as they learned new vocabulary throughout this process. These skills are all fantastic, but more importantly for the children, they were just having good fun!”

Miss Kathi and Miss Kassi also brought the joy of planting to their Toddler students this spring. Last week, they delivered personalized planting kits to each child’s home. The children eagerly accepted their gifts and then set to work doing their own planting. They also did a paper flower making work as one of their weekly activities.

Continuing in the garden theme, Miss KB shared that her kindergarten class read the book Garden Friends throughout the week, each day focusing on a new reading strategy to use while studying non-fiction books. “During our final lesson, children took turns reading the book on Zoom. As a culminating project, I normally would have had the children work together to make a large mural on butcher paper. However, to modify and adapt to our distance learning, during a live Zoom session the children created their own mini-murals inspired by the creatures we learned about in our Garden Friends text. It was fun to hear the children discuss what insects they were drawing, share experiences of encounters with such creatures, and praise each other’s work. To help demonstrate that although we are separated by space, our classroom continues to learn, grow, and come together as one, I put all of our mini-murals into one collage.”


May 15 is the deadline for several forms required for the 2020-2021 school year, including health forms and off-campus travel and athletic participation release forms. All forms and instructions can be found at Family Forms on our website. You can also reach this page from the drop-down menu under the ‘Parents’ tab on NYA’s homepage. Thank you for completing these forms by the due dates. It is a tremendous help to our faculty and staff!


While June 3 is our last day of classes, our school year concludes on Thursday, June 4. Typically, this day includes a celebration with a cookout lunch and activities such as a bounce house, slip ‘n slide, music, assorted games, and fun with friends. Unfortunately, this event is not possible for us this year, but we still hope to provide a spirited send-off for the students. Beginning at 12:00 p.m., we will have a Pick-Up Brigade scheduled in the Middle School parking lot turnaround. Families will drive up during their assigned time slot, pop their trunks, and let volunteers know the student’s name and classroom. Families should bring with them any NYA books, instruments, and supplies that they need to return, and volunteers will retrieve these from your trunk. The volunteers will then deliver to you all items remaining from your child’s locker or cubby, changes of clothes, something from the classroom teacher, and a small treat! You may also see some familiar faces on site to wish you warm summer greetings.


Families will receive year-end reports from teachers in mid-June. These reports will look a little different than past year-end reports as they will not contain skills checklists. It is more challenging to gauge individual skill development remotely, and the teachers want to provide as accurate and authentic assessment of student progress as possible. Instead, the reports will focus on narrative comments highlighting the progress and continued goals for each student, as well as summarizing content covered and skills taught throughout the spring. The teachers look forward to sharing with you the many ways in which your child has grown and learned throughout the year!


NYA’s Bicentennial Learning Commons is looking terrific! The furniture has been put into place, the offices and work rooms are ready, and the volumes are currently being positioned on the shelves in preparation for our students’ return. It will surely be a wonderful new space for our entire community to enjoy and will make a lasting impact on our beautiful campus. Take a tour here.


For the second consecutive year, NYA has received a gift of $100,000 for student financial aid. The gift will be used to support both current-use financial aid ($25,000) and the North Yarmouth Academy Endowed Fund for Scholarship Assistance ($75,000), which provides need-based aid to deserving students. Read full details here.

NYA Soiree 2020NYA SOIRÉE 

The Academy will commit all proceeds from the Soirée to meet current and incoming families’ need for financial aid and to ensure faculty have the resources they need to be successful today and into the coming academic year. The 36th Annual Soirée will take place virtually on Friday, May 15. Please join us!


Think to yourself, when was the last time that you had your annual physical exam? Then think about the last time you had your dental exam. Now think about the last time was that you had a mental health check-up…or a relationship check-up. We routinely take care of our bodies and teeth without giving it a second thought. When it comes to our own mental health and relationships, it is not typically part of our health routine. Yet, more frequently than not, people identify valuing their family above anything else. What would be more valuable than making sure that we are healthy, positive members of our family? Our society has done a better job of reducing the stigma of seeking mental health treatment, but it has not been abolished. Seasonal wellness check-ups would offer all of us a quarterly opportunity to maintain balance, grounding, and introspection. This could be individual, couple, or family therapy. You can find a local therapist here, or try a support group such as NAMIThe Maine Crisis Hotline (1-888-568-1112) is another service to seek support and referrals 24/7.  ~ Cindy Hould, NYA Counselor


As one of the ways to keep the community connected, students are collaborating on a weekly production of NYA News. The show, anchored by Executive Council President Mason Parks, incorporates many features, updates, and talents within our community. These include Cooking with Camille, Movie Reviews, the Faculty Favorite Song Challenge, Acts of Kindness, Weekly Wellness Tips, Riddle of the Week, and much more. It is a thoughtful and enjoyable weekly recap of the many things going on around “campus.” Check out episodes #1, #2, and #3.


We are delighted to welcome Leslie Pike, who will be joining Cindy Rideout in the Primary B classroom next fall. Leslie holds her BA in Classical Studies from Dickinson College, her MS in Education from USM, and her Montessori 0-3 and 3-6 credentials. Leslie brings with her more than seventeen years of experience teaching in Montessori and public early childhood classrooms. To introduce herself to the NYA community, Leslie shared, “I love working with young children and their families. I found my passion about eighteen years ago when I started working in a special education preschool. Since then, I have worked with a range of ages from birth to six, mainly as a Montessori teacher. Some of my teacher interests include art, science, peace education, and yoga. I am also an avid children’s book collector! I am the mom of two amazing girls, and some of our family interests include reading, baking, and everything outdoors, especially long days at Popham beach.”  Welcome to NYA, Leslie!


Margery Condon, our Literacy Specialist this year, has announced her plans to retire in June. Although only with us for a short time, Margery has made a great impact on literacy in the Lower School, working closely with small groups of students and offering enrichment and instruction in the K-4 classrooms. We wish Margery well as she looks forward to spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren!


Families of students entering fifth grade should check their summer reading assignments for English class. The book lists will be posted on the NYA website after June 1.


On Friday, August 28, we will host our annual Lower School Family Picnic to gather everyone together before the start of the school year. NYA will provide a picnic lunch, and you will have the opportunity to mingle with new and returning families and all the teachers from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. This year, we will hold the parent information sessions during the first week of school. Rising fifth grade students and families will be invited to the New Middle and Upper School Student Orientation on Wednesday, September 2. More information on both events will be forthcoming in July.


Registration for Experience Summer at NYA is open. NYA offers a host of summer programs for ages 2 to 15. Camps include a variety of sports (tennis and soccer), art, dance, circus, magic, and more! Camps are filling up, so sign up soon to secure your spot. If camps are closed due to COVID-19, NYA will offer a 100% refund.


The NYA Parents’ Association is looking for a few people to round out our board for the 2020-2021 school year. We need a parent representative for Primary/Kindergarten in the Lower School as well as for grade 5 and grade 6 in the Middle School. This position does not require attendance at the monthly meetings and can be done on your own time. The position primarily entails pushing out email communications provided by the school rep. These communications come 1-2 times/month and revolve around school activities, fundraisers, sporting events, etc. Everything can be done from the comfort of your own home and when it is convenient for you. If you have additional questions or are interested, please contact Patrick Cannon (Noah ’22).


 5/15Returning Family Forms Due
5/25Memorial DayNO CLASSES
6/1Summer Reading Assignments PostedGrades 5-12
6/3Last Day of Classes
6/4Pick-Up Brigade12:00-1:00 p.m.
8/28Lower School Family Picnic11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
9/2New Middle & Upper School Student Orientation9:30-11:30 a.m.
9/8First Day of School!



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