New Wednesday Enrichment Program Launches

New Wednesday Enrichment Program Launches

At the beginning of February, Chelsea School launched a new Wednesday enrichment program to bring performing arts and creative experiences to our students for the second semester of the 2021-2022 school year. The purpose behind this project is twofold: to provide our teachers with additional time to plan for their classes, and to provide our students with a social-emotional and creative outlet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning.

To accomplish this, Chelsea School has partnered with local groups to provide enrichment classes in playwriting, improvisational comedy, coding, hip hop dance, drama, spoken word poetry, filmmaking, and step dance. Students will participating in two of these groups each Wednesday for nine weeks, after which they will move to new classes. The response from students has been very positive.

“I’m really enjoying the opportunity to be creative and express myself,” said a Chelsea School sophomore. “I didn’t think that I would like this as much as I do.”

One of the most troubling impacts of the pandemic on students was social isolation and the amount of time spent away from their peers in face-to-face social situations. Chelsea School’s administrators are hoping that this enrichment program will help to foster better socialization for our students.

“Our students need to be able to express themselves,” said Kristal Weems-Bradner, Head of School. “These enrichment classes give them a space to do just that. We are hoping that this will not only allow them to become more comfortable working in a group, but will also help them to build confidence.”

Teacher Feature: Perry Nichols

Teacher Feature: Perry Nichols

For more than 25 years, Perry Nichols has made a positive impact on the health and livelihood of Chelsea School students. He is known as a major jokester amongst the teachers, writing limericks and getting a laugh out of everyone!

You may recognize Mr. Nichols from an NBC4 news segment last year, after Chelsea School had the opportunity to partner with local nonprofit Leveling the Playing Field. This exciting experience gave Chelsea students at-home sports kits, which allowed them to engage in physical education during virtual learning. Students and staff can attest to the fact that Mr. Nichols is constantly looking for new and exciting ways to engage students in their own wellness.

“I like seeing the satisfaction on a child’s face when they learn a new skill, a new game, or a new sport, and when they improve on a skill involved with that sport or activity,” said Mr. Nichols. “I like teaching the whole child. This means giving the child as many parts of a skill needed to accomplish a single task and showing them how and when to use every part of the skill to accomplish that task.”

Chelsea staff and students have nothing but love (and jokes) for our beloved Mr. Nichols:

“Mr. Nichols pushes me as my coach.”

“He has an amazing energy and a laugh that lights up a room!”

“He is super funny and nice!”

“Health class is really fun.”

We are so incredibly grateful to have Mr. Nichols as a teacher, mentor, coach, and friend here at Chelsea School!

P.S – To watch Mr. Nichols featured on NBC4, look HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5d6DP1qYIM

Chelsea Literacy Coordinator Recognized for Outstanding Teaching

Chelsea Literacy Coordinator Recognized for Outstanding Teaching

For the past 12 years, Karen Gallo has overseen all aspects of Chelsea School’s literacy programming. In that time, she and her reading specialists have helped hundreds of dyslexic students to become independent, lifelong readers. This fall, Karen received the Altra Federal Credit Union Cash for Classrooms award after being nominated by a former student’s family. This family shared how Ms. Gallo changed the course of their son’s life for the better, and he is now pursuing a degree and a job that he loves.

In their nomination application, the family wrote, “Teaching reading to students with dyslexia is especially challenging, but doing so with creativity, humor, patience, & enthusiasm warrants special recognition. Chelsea School serves kids with learning differences and most have language-based learning challenges like dyslexia that frustrate them and make them feel stupid. Karen know these challenges for kids and uses evidence-based methods to help them read, and more importantly, believe that they can learn – the foundation for success in school.”

“If you listen to students who have been instructed by Karen, if fills your heart with joy and hope for kids who have felt hopeless in school. Its like a new lease on life for them. Student have the confidence they need to succeed and interact with their peers with that same confidence,” continued the family.

“What especially delights me about Karen is that she rejoices with each victory her students experience and the pride they gain with those victories. Karen leads a small team of reading teachers at Chelsea School with a firm grasp of all the techniques and approaches that make Chelsea students successful and go onto college. I know this because my son had her for a reading teacher and was 4-5 years below his grade level in reading. However, with Karen’s help and encouragement, our son improved his reading to be on par with his peers and he is about to finish college. There simply is no way for a parent, or a student for that matter, to thank a teacher enough for such a life changing gift. And, there are countless students at Chelsea who have benefitted from Karen’s instructions and who would sing her praises. She deserves our every thanks & public recognition of her amazing contributions as a reading teacher.”

Chelsea School’s faculty and administration, and our entire school community, echo these sentiments. Karen has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of our students by giving them the tools to be lifelong, independent readers. She is an inspiration for us all, and we are so grateful to have her as a Chelsea Knight! We love you Ms. Gallo!

Chelsea Alum Battles Forrest Fires Out West

Chelsea Alum Battles Forrest Fires Out West

US Forrest Service Fire Crew, Idaho, Summer 2021

Alex Navari, Chelsea School Class of 2014

This year’s forest fire season has been particularly daunting. Between January and October 2021, there were over 46,000 fires consuming almost 6 million acres of forest. Teams of firefighters from the US Forest Service have been dispatched to contain and extinguish these fires. It is an exhausting, dangerous, and mostly thankless job. One of Chelsea’s own is currently in the middle of all this, fighting these fires in an attempt to save our nation’s forests.

Alex Navari is a 2014 graduate of Chelsea School. After high school, Alex completed a gap year working in Alaska for the Bureau of Land Management. He then went on to earn a degree in Environmental Science and Sustainability from Eastern Mennonite University.

As part of a fire crew this year, Alex has spent 2-3 weeks at a time living in the woods in a tent, cabin, or lean-to. He spends long days working in an extremely challenging environment, battling heat, smoke, and exhaustion.

When asked about the impact that Chelsea School had on his life, Alex’s father commented: “Chelsea School believed in Alexander when other schools did not, or did not have the resources, staff and training to help children with reading-based leaning challenges.  Today Alex applies his Environmental Science skills working for the US Forest Service on a fire crew protecting the nations precious forest including the sacred Sequoias which stand over 300 feet tall.” Chelsea School is incredibly proud of Alex for his service to our country and its natural resources.”

Alex standing in front of one the ancient sequoia trees he is trying to protect

Alex and his parents at graduation, 2014

Open House Thursday, October 28th

Join us!

Chelsea School will be hosting an Open House on Thursday, October 28 from 9:00 am – 11:00 am. There will be student-led tours, a presentation by our Admissions Director, and time for Q&A with Chelsea Leadership. Space is limited and these opportunities are scheduled, so please RSVP and be here at 9:00 am to get the whole Chelsea experience!

COVID-19 Protocols: All visitors are required to undergo health screening (temperature and symptom check) prior to entering the school. All visitors must wear a face mask at all times while on campus. We asked that you limit the number of attendees in your party as much as possible.

Directions

Chelsea School is located at 2970 Belcrest Center Drive, Suite 300 (on the 4th floor) in Hyattsville, MD 20782.

Taking Metro? We’re right outside the PG Plaza Station on the Green Line.

Driving? Follow signs for parking at the Metro Shops. Chelsea can be accessed from the top deck of the garage; parking is free and ample.

Open House RSVP

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The Game-Changing Device for Students with LD

The Game-Changing Device for Students with Learning Differences

Virtual learning was not been easy for Chelsea School’s students, but the experience helped teachers and staff to better understand what type of electronic device could best to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities.

In the fall of 2019, the school began upgrading its first generation 4GB Chromebooks for a new model with a larger screen and keyboard, stronger memory and processing, and a flippable touchscreen. For many reasons, this device has proved to be game-changer for students with learning differences.

In consultation with Chelsea School’s occupational therapists, it was decided that the first generation model Chromebooks that we were using were not appropriate for most of our students. The screens were too small, making small print very difficult to navigate, and the keyboards were cramped, making it very hard for students to type. Also, the computer did not have the memory capacity to run multiple platforms at once, such as Google Classroom, Gmail, Google Meet, and any of our instructional platforms.

Our students have come to rely on features that allow them to access texts and curricular content much easier than they could before. Google Read and Write, a program that provides text-to-speech and speech-to-text functions, is incredibly useful to students who struggle with reading and writing. Having instant audio output for all text gives students a level of confidence that is truly remarkable.

 

Back to School!

Back to School!

Chelsea School will begin its 45th year of education by welcoming students back to its campus on Monday, August 30. This will mark the first time since March of 2020 that all students and staff will be back on campus.

“To say we’re excited is an understatement,” said Head of School Kristal Weems-Bradner. “We know that there will be challenges, but we can’t wait to get our students back in the building.”

Opening the school to 100% capacity for the first time in over a year was not an easy process, and many safeguards were put in place to keep students and staff as safe as possible. In recent months, the school has had HEPA filters installed throughout the building has purchased air purifiers for each classroom and office.

When student arrive at school each day, they will be screened for temperature and COVID-19 symptoms. In addition to this, an independent medical testing company will provide a weekly COVID-19 screening of all staff and students. All students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear masks at all time, and social distancing and room occupancy limits will be enforced. A strict set of policies regarding contact tracing and quarantining will also be enforced this year.

“This is all very new and challenging for our students, staff, and parents,” said Mrs. Weems-Bradner, “But we are a family, and families have to pull together to make sure everyone is safe – and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

 

Chelsea Celebrates Women’s History Month

Chelsea Celebrates Women’s History Month

On Tuesday, March 23rd, Chelsea School’s month-long celebration of Women’s History culminated in a remarkable school-wide event. A virtual panel of women from a diversity of occupations and professional backgrounds were brought together to discuss the importance of women’s history with our students.

The panel included Melissa Boston, educator, school administrator, and college professor; Beth Brittan-Powell, Director of Research Collaboration at the University of Maryland; Michelle Freeman, Senior Economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Makeba Griffin, CEO of Dynasty Styling Studios, LLC; Bernice Harleston, attorney; Phoenix Miranda, artist and vocalist; and Sheri Parks, VP of Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute of College and Art.

The panelists were asked to weigh in on a variety of topics regarding women’s history. The first half of the event was an all-school discussion about the importance of celebrating women’s history. Students learned about disparities and injustices that women have faced historically, and about the pioneers and heroes who fought for change and equity. The second half of the event was specifically geared towards the women and young women of Chelsea, who discussed a variety of topics relating to women’s experiences.

“It is very important for our young ladies to see successful women from a variety of different professions,” said Hawa Turay, Chelsea School’s transition coordinator. “Hearing these women articulate their experiences and sharing gems of advice and experience with our students was so powerful.”

Students Return to Campus for Learning Pod

Students Return to Campus for Learning Pod

On Monday, March 22, 2021, students returned to the Chelsea campus for the first time in over a year to take part in the Learning Pod.

The Learning Pod is designed to meet the needs of students who have been struggling particularly hard during distance learning, and who require in-person adult facilitation to stay on top of their work.

The pod is broken down into two cohorts of students who will come to Chelsea’s campus twice per week. Only 10 students are able to be on campus at any given time, with one adult facilitator. All instruction continues to be provided virtually by teachers working from home.

The school has taken steps to insure the safety of students and staff by providing safeguards such as socially distanced learning spaces, handwashing stations, HEPA filtration, room purifiers, a mandatory mask and shield policy, daily health screenings and temperature checks, and modified access to campus spaces.

“It’s amazing to have students back on campus again,” said Kristal Weems-Bradner, Chelsea’s Head of School. “Even with all of the restrictions in place, it’s great to see their faces and hear their voices again.”

Keeping Students Safe and Focused While Online

Keeping Students Safe and Focused While Online

In December 2020, Chelsea School launched Go Guardian, a digital teaching environment for remote learning designed to filter and monitor content on all student devices, eliminate distractions through classroom management tools, and identify unsafe online behavior. The program also gives teachers, administrators, and parents direct access to student device activity.

The impetus for purchasing this program was an understanding of the realities of virtual learning. Students are home all day working at their computers. They can become easily distracted by the number of entertainment options at their fingertips. They might also venture to places on the internet that are unsafe, or put themselves in unsafe situations by interacting with people who they do not know.

“About a week after the implementation of Go Guardian, the anxiety in the voices of all parents associated with monitoring their kids’ academic progress went away,” said Dean of Students Rueben Jackson. “They literally thanked us for purchasing software to support them as many parents cannot navigate the technology as fast as their children.”

Although safety was the driving force behind the roll-out, classroom management and teaching effectiveness became the true values in implementing the program.

“It saves me a lot of time and helps my class run more efficiently, so I spend more time on teaching reading and less on transitioning from different webpages.  I can zap students to websites, monitor student work, and troubleshoot technical problems from one screen,” said Julia Hays, Chelsea School Reading Specialist.

Upper Division teacher Forrest Malone uses the program to support students with executive function tasks in his English class. “It gives me the ability to help students in real time. By seeing what they’re seeing, I can swiftly give the guidance they need to correct their own mistakes, and build the skills they need to succeed in the classroom.”

Speech language pathologists often provide support to students in their academic classes. In the virtual platform, it can sometimes be difficult to communicate with a student individually while in a virtual class. “As a related service provider working in the classroom, I appreciate being able to privately communicate with a student to check in or provide extra support while they are working on an assignment without other students knowing,” said Rebecca Rhine.

Managing over 100 students and staff all working from their homes on different devices each day is a challenging task for Chelsea School’s tech team. When technology problems occur, they need to be able to troubleshoot problems quickly.

“We can immediately determine whether or not a student is logged into their account properly so they can access important tools such as Google Read and Write,” said Karen Carlson. “We can see that they are navigating tabs to follow our instructions, privately message them and even open up tabs ourselves, which can save several minutes of time and immeasurable frustration because we bypass multi step processes for them.”

“Our goal in all of this is to protect our children while providing them with the best possible virtual education,” said Head of School Kristal Weems-Bradner. “This tool empowers teachers and gives them more control over their learning environment. It also frees our students from distractions and allows them to focus on their academic progress.”