An Innovative K-8 Lab School In the Heart of Silicon Valley

Synapse School at NAIS 2017

Mar 04, 2017
Adnan Iftekhar
After an exciting and busy two days for Synapse School, I’m in the air on the way back from the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference in Baltimore. This year’s conference theme was Make Your Mission Matter: From Vision to Values. Synapse school’s mission fundamentally shapes our community, informs our curriculum, and plays a role in everything we do. So it would be logical that NAIS had us presenting five times on Thursday. This is because schools around the country are working to adapt yet remain true to who they are and define why they exist. As a young school looking to redefine education through innovation and iteration, we are uniquely suited to help them in this important work and push the conversation forward. NAIS 2017 was a wonderful affirmation of our mission for our community, and beyond.
I thought I would share information about our presenters, as well as each workshop’s abstract. Speaking for the Synapse team, it was a truly exciting and uplifting two days, professionally, and personally. Cheers, Jim
Thursday, March 2
Title: School as Launch Pad: How Start-Up Schools Are Creating Impact and Change in Education
Thursday 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
This decade has seen the creation of new independent schools that differentiate themselves with a specific focus, like adaptive and personalized instruction, innovation, and social-emotional learning. Yet, the question is the same: What type of education will best prepare children for the future? Come hear how two schools being built in the iPhone era are answering that question and contending with the challenges they face.
PRESENTERS: Jim Eagen, Synapse School (CA); Alex Ragone, AltSchool (NY)
Thursday 11:15 AM -12:15 PM
Following a “speed dating” format, this popular event lets you spend an hour hearing from some of the most innovative independent schools across the country. These intimate, 15-minute mini-sessions focus on the schools’ innovation journeys, why they embarked on their journeys, and some of the lessons learned so far. You’ll also have an opportunity to connect with members of the NAIS Innovation Task Force, a group of forward-thinking leaders in our community.
Participation is first-come, first-served, so please be sure to show up early to snag a seat.
PRESENTERS: Jim Eagen from Synapse School and nine other schools from around the country
Title: Aligning Professional Development with Your School’s Mission
This session tells how to balance the interests of your faculty with the mission of your school while getting the biggest bang for your professional development buck. You will discover ways to leverage the experts in your own building; find sources of outside experts and nontraditional “unconferences;” and take advantage of teacher coaching, action research, professional learning networks, online groups, and more. Throughout, the emphasis will be on prioritizing professional growth plans based on the mission, vision, and goals of your school.
PRESENTERS: Liz Davis, Synapse School (CA); Kimberly Sivick, professional development consultant; Karen Blumberg, The Brearly School (NY)
Title: Building an Innovator Mindset by Blending Social-Emotional Learning with Academics
Thursday 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM
Synapse School’s mission rests on three pillars: social-emotional learning (SEL), academics, and innovation. Our project-based curriculum integrates these pillars to help us develop change makers. We will share how our teaching models help develop interdisciplinary, constructivist curricula. You will learn about practical tools and models that you can use to integrate SEL, innovation, and academics in your school.
PRESENTERS: Stephanie Seto and Noa Mendelevitch, Synapse School (CA)
Title: Building a School Community in Tune with Your Mission
Thursday 1:15 – 2:15 PM
Explore how one school uses the admission process, parent education, a common language, three different social emotional learning (SEL) assessments, and events to ensure that parents and teachers thrive within the school’s social norms and mission. The presenters will show how transparency and intentional culture-building through feedback and education have strengthened the school community. More important, presenters will use design thinking to help you find solutions for building your own community.
PRESENTERS: Liz Davis and Jim Eagen, Synapse School (CA)

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