Bruce Winkelstein

    Dear Parents,

    So begins another exciting year here Brookside School. As with every year, we strive to continue our tradition of attentiveness to students and excellence in learning. At the same time, we look to improve and grow. This year, our focus revisits some prior goals and also embarks on some new initiatives.

    Over the last couple of years, our curricular focus has moved into the area of STEM.  In particular, we are looking to develop a program that exposes students to multiple and diverse areas of science, technology, engineering and math, and within that exposure, teach and reinforce the character trait of empathy.  Our STEM cycle (which is focused mostly on traditional fields of engineering) addresses this goal. From a global sense, students will learn and engage in more sophisticated design projects starting as young as fourth grade, and will also learn to document and communicate their journey with a design notebook.  Individual middle school projects explicitly address different areas of engineering, from transportation engineering in 6th grade, to biomedical engineering in 7th grade, to mechanical in 8th grade.  In all of the projects, students are challenged to create something that addresses a problem real people experience.  In the field of computer science, our curriculum more effectively teaches our students how to use tools (such as documents, presentation programs, spreadsheets, and websites), and computational thinking.  Computational thinking, which is the process by which coders create programs, starts with basic block coding in our elementary robotics program and moves all the way up to using scratch to program more complicated robots in 7th grade.  An 8th grade elective also opens the door to app design, with a focus on creating an app that solves a problem identified by the creators.   

    Our continued character education focuses on resiliency.  Children are inundated with an unceasing barrage of headlines related to suicide, social media, bullying, and general intolerance.  It is important for educated young citizens to not only learn how to interact positively and constructively with other people, but also how to deal with conflict, disappointment and bad decisions.  By working with the students on resiliency as a subset of our general character education program, and coupled with our focus on empathy, we hope to help children learn how to overcome challenges and take leadership roles within their own world.  

    As always if you have any questions or concerns please contact me by phone at 201-327-2020, or by e-mail at bwinkelstein@allendalek8.com.

    Bruce Winkelstein