On Thursday, Sept. 21, the Kingswood Oxford faculty hosted families at this year’s annual Curriculum Night. With new leadership from Head of the Upper School Lisa Loeb, the event upheld many of its memorable qualities, while also updating with reviews from past years.
One of the most notable alterations was the change of the event’s name from “Parent’s Night” to “Curriculum Night.” After hearing concerns over the limitations of the title based on students being raised in unique situations, it was clear that it would be respectful to include guardians of all kinds. The most prominent incentive for this change was to be more inclusive of the community.
KO’s community has many diverse living conditions, whether the student is living with family members or attending KO as an international student. These guardians and host families are meant to feel just as welcome at this event.
The night commenced with the distribution of the student’s schedules to their guardians. They then went to 10-minute classes to partake in activities organized by their child’s teachers in order to get a taste of what a full class may be like.
Mrs. Loeb wanted to prioritize an engaging atmosphere for the parents rather than simply having the teachers present their syllabi and explain what the year would entail. Many classrooms showcased participatory hands-on activities in order to convey the experience of the curriculum.
The operative word here is “partnership.” Mrs. Loeb likes to picture the relationships as a specific shape. “KO as a triangle,” she said. “The student is at the top and the adults involved are at the bottom to support the student.”
This goal is achieved when parents get a taste of how experiential and active the KO classrooms are. It is just as important to emphasize the care that teachers have for their students. AP Art History teacher Heidi Hojnicki shared a unique experience because she is a teacher as well as a mother of two young children. She hopes to see care and acceptance from her children’s teachers when she attends their parent conferences.
“I can communicate to the parents that I like their kid for who they are,” Ms. Hojnicki said. Along with using a personable nature, she organized an activity for the parents to do so that she could show, rather than tell, them about what the students were doing in class.
Mrs. Hojnicki put a picture on the board of a beaker with ibex motifs. It is a piece of prehistoric art found in Iran, assumed to be from around 4200 – 3500 B.C.E. The parents were tasked with sketching a simple drawing of the beaker, just as their child had done at the beginning of the semester.
The goal of the exercise was to think in the mindset of an art historian, recognizing the drawings the creator chose and the materials used. Overall, this type of hands-on activity is exactly what the faculty leaders at KO wanted to see on Curriculum Night.
As students become more independent throughout high school, they become less inclined to share details about their studies with their parents. Curriculum Night is a great way to reinforce the idea of the ‘triangle’ and strengthen the support system of adults present in the students’ development.