Thursday, March 14, 2019

March 14 = 3/14 = 3.14 = Pi Day!

New Vistas proudly recognizes and celebrates the 31th anniversary of Pi Day today!

Across the country today, students of math, teachers, and mathematicians will be celebrating Pi with contests: competitions to recite the most digits of Pi, pie eating contests, listing known equations including Pi, and more!

Why is Pi so fascinating to mathematicians and scientists?  Pi appears as though it is random and without sequence going on with infinity…  However, in the words of Steven Strogatz, professor of mathematics at Cornell, “The digits of Pi can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi!” 

What is Pi ( π )?  Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference (the distance around the circle, represented by the letter C) to its diameter (the distance across the circle at its widest point, represented by the letter d). That ratio, which is about 3.14, also appears in the formula for the area inside the circle, A = πr2, where π is the Greek letter “pi” and r is the circle’s radius (the distance from center to rim). With modern computers, Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond the decimal.

We’ve used computers to calculate pi to more than 22 trillion digits.

In 2016, a Swiss scientist, Peter Trueb, used a computer with 24 hard drives and a program called y-cruncher to calculate pi to more than 22 trillion digits — the current world record for the enumeration of pi. If you read one digit every second, it would take you just under 700,000 years to recite all those digits.

Even rocket scientists only need a bit more than a dozen decimal places.

Though we know trillions of digits of pi, we don’t really need them. Even the engineers at NASA round pi off to 15 decimal places when calculating interplanetary trajectories. In fact, if you were trying to calculate the size of the observable universe, using 39 digits of pi would give you an answer off by no more than the width of a hydrogen atom.

Pi is part of nature’s equation: such as in the cycle of nature, rotation of planets, solar systems, and galaxies. It also posits relationships to repeat patterns such as rhythms and cyclical heart beats! This further indicates that Pi is mathematical component of everything around us and essential to past and future mathematics and engineering. 

To learn more about all things Pi, take a look at 

Reference: Retrieved March 11



Friday, February 8, 2019



Before there was Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin.


Most people think of Rosa Parks as the first person to refuse to give up their seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. There were actually several women who came before her; one of whom was Claudette Colvin.

It was March 2, 1955, when the fifteen-year-old schoolgirl refused to move to the back of the bus, nine months before Rosa Parks’ stand that launched the Montgomery bus boycott. Claudette had been studying Black leaders like Harriet Tubman in her segregated school, those conversations had led to discussions around the current day Jim Crow laws they were all experiencing. When the bus driver ordered Claudette to get up, she refused, “It felt like Sojourner Truth was on one side pushing me down, and Harriet Tubman was on the other side of me pushing me down. I couldn't get up."

Claudette Colvin’s stand didn’t stop there. Arrested and thrown in jail, she was one of four women who challenged the segregation law in court. If Browder v. Gayle became the court case that successfully overturned bus segregation laws in both Montgomery and Alabama, why has Claudette’s story been largely forgotten? At the time, the NAACP and other Black organizations felt Rosa Parks made a better icon for the movement than a teenager. As an adult with the right look, Rosa Parks was also the secretary of the NAACP, and was both well-known and respected – people would associate her with the middle class and that would attract support for the cause. But the struggle to end segregation was often fought by young people, more than half of which were women. 

Image: Claudette Colvin by Phillip Hoose


Monday, February 4, 2019



2/4: HAPPY BIRTHDAY Rosa Parks!

Who was Rosa Parks?

Full name: Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
Born: 4 February 1913
Hometown: Tuskegee, Alabama, USA
Occupation: Civil rights activist
Died: 24 October 2005
Best known for: The Montgomery Bus Boycott



Friday, February 1, 2019




The students at NVS put together a bulletin board to honor the great Martin Luther King, Jr and his inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech. The students were asked to consider issues with which the United States continues to struggle and to voice new dreams of their generation. They then placed their dreams on clouds to share. 



Thursday, January 3, 2019



Happy New Year and Welcome Back!!


Even though winter itself has only really just begun, the days are already starting to lengthen.  Faculty/staff and students have returned to school and are jumping into the second semester.  While the calendar year is just beginning, the school year is at its mid-point.  This juxtaposition of beginning and middle offers a prime opportunity for reflection and refocus.


For students, it is a chance to reflect on the personal goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the year to see how they are progressing and to readjust and/or refocus on achieving those goals.  It is also a time for students to renew their relationships with both peers and their teachers to set a positive tone for the new semester.  The beginning of the new semester also provides students with the opportunity to reflect more fully on the strategies and knowledge they learned in the first semester and apply what they found most helpful to them to the new content and tasks they will encounter as their classes resume.  At home, students and parents/guardians can reflect on what routines for homework, study, and time management for balancing out-of-school activities, school responsibilities, their family/home responsibilities, and their hobbies and personal interests.  If their first semester went well, then they can refocus to build on their strong start; if it did not, now is an ideal opportunity to make changes to finish the school year strong.


For teachers, it is also a chance to reflect on their instructional goals to determine if their plans and methods are assisting each of their students in reaching their potential.  It is also provides an opportunity for teachers to refocus on their professional connections with their colleagues through collaborative and supportive activities.  The second semester also gives teachers the opportunity to assess how they manage their time both in and out of the classroom to maintain balance in both their personal and professional lives.


Reflect and refocus and have a very happy and productive new year!


Monday, November 5, 2018



A Personal Reflection of Thanks

This year marks my third year at New Vistas School. So, during this season of thanksgiving, it is only appropriate for me to reflect on my time here thus far.

From the moment I walked through the doors of New Vistas School, I could sense a different kind of learning atmosphere from those to which I had grown accustomed. There was calm. There was peace. There was positivity. The age and charm of the building gave me a warmth and a feeling of belonging. The faces that I saw were happy ones. The teachers were happy. The students were happy. Ok, so there was ONE unhappy student that day, but that problem was solved, and that student, with the help of seasoned faculty, returned to class where engaged learning was taking place. The students’ art work hung on the walls. A former student was going through the Reading Lab books and sorting them. There was a feeling of community! I was particularly impressed by the aroma of chocolate on that particular day, as some genius teacher was using the making of brownies to teach a lesson. I knew I was home!

This place has not ceased to amaze me every day. I get to come to work every day to a place where lives are changed. There is intentionality in the purpose and mission of NVS to serve students who need what we offer. I have had the pleasure of teaching many of the bright minds whose families have lovingly placed them in our care. Through projects, activities, writing assignments, books, field trips, conversations, and simple hellos in the hallway, I have gotten to know students. I don’t mean just know their names. I have gotten to know what makes them laugh, what lights the fire of learning within them, what challenges them to dig deeper, and even what triggers them into negativity. And I look forward to many, many more opportunities to serve these students and learn along with them in the years to come.

And so, I thank YOU—YOU, who are taking the time to read my thoughts. YOU, who teach and lead alongside me every day, filling in the gaps when I fall short; YOU, who wave as you drop your children off to walk through these doors; YOU, who support this school by whatever means you do; YOU, who make the decisions that impact this school; YOU, who stop by my office to say, “Good morning, Ms. Harrison!”; YOU, who moan and groan at my homework assignments and my insistence on following the rules of the school: for all of YOU—I give thanks!


With a grateful heart!

Nancy K. Harrison

Assistant Head of School



Monday, October 15, 2018


October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Bullying is a topic many of us wish we did not have to talk about with our children and would like to think does not happen in our schools or to our children.  The unfortunate truth, however, is that bullying does occur, and not just in schools, but in cyberspace, workplaces, and sometimes even houses of worship.  In order to help our children overcome bullying and its effects and to make a positive impact in their lives and the lives of those around them, it is important to help our children understand what is and is not bullying.

By definition, bullying is behavior that is intentional, hurtful, repeated, and that involves an abuse of power.  Types of bullying include physical, verbal, social cyber, and sexual harassment.

These types of bullying can manifest as physical acts, such as hitting, pushing, poking, or throwing things; verbal acts, such as name-calling, insults, or threats; social acts, such as isolating or ignoring; cyber acts, such as using devices (cellphones, computers, etc.) to harass or send hurtful messages, including sexual messages. All of these types of bullying can have very real damaging and painful effects to all those involved.  Some of these effects include low self-esteem, physical complaints (headaches, stomachaches), anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and loss of appetite, poor grades, and school avoidance.  If your child is the target of bullying, encourage him or her to stay calm and remove himself or herself from the situation as quickly as possible and report it to an adult right away.  If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, save the evidence (texts, emails, or social media posts), block the sender, and report the incident to school administration and/or local law enforcement.


While it is important for our children to recognize bullying when it occurs, either to them or those around them, it is equally important for us to help our children understand behaviors that, though they may be unpleasant, do not necessarily constitute bullying.  With each of the following behaviors, it is critical to remember the definition of bullying as intentional and repeated.  As social beings, we want other people to like us; however, there are some people who we just do not like and who will not like us.  Though that may make us feel sad or uncomfortable, not liking someone is not bullying.  Another behavior that, though unpleasant, may not always be bullying is being excluded.  Not everyone is going to be friends or have the same interests, so someone may be excluded from an activity or event.  Again, it becomes bullying when the exclusion is repeated or when a group is required to work together, such as for a classroom project, and a member is intentionally excluded.  Disagreeing with someone is not bullying. None of us have exactly the same likes or dislikes, so it is natural that we may disagree with one another from time to time.  Disagreements, which may turn into arguments, become bullying when one person attempts to exert power over the other in an attempt to win the argument. Because these are behaviors that we all experience at some point, unpleasant as they are, it is essential to help our children understand that they are a natural part of navigating social interactions with others

Bullying, in all its forms, is a serious issue.  Our children depend on us to listen when they come to us with concerns about bullying and to help them understand what is happening and how to deal with it.  Two resources that may be helpful in talking with your child about bullying and  Being informed and working together, we can help our children have a more positive school experience.



Friday, October 5, 2018































Tuesday, September 4, 2018


“You need accurate information about your current abilities in order to learn effectively.”—Carol Dweck, Ph.D. in Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success



The new school year is fully underway. In fact, it’s difficult to believe we are already four weeks in to this year—just about halfway through the first grading period.  Soon, students will be bringing home their first report cards of the year.  While many students want to bring home a report card full of high grades (and many parents want to see this type of report card!), it is important to help students remember that the process (developing, growing, and learning) is just as important, if not more so, than the end product (grades).  Encouraging your child to develop a growth mindset can go a long way to reinforce this message.


Having a growth mindset simply means that one can improve abilities and qualities through effort, using failures and mistakes as valuable learning tools, and seeing challenges and obstacles as opportunities for growth and improvement.  At school, we work with the students in the following ways to develop a growth mindset:

·         Praising students for process, not just product (“I like the way you used your vocabulary cards to study for your quiz.”)

·         Reassuring students when they make a mistake by providing constructive criticism (“I know you’re disappointed you didn’t do as well as you wanted to on this assignment.  Let’s check to make sure you have all of your notes and materials in the right section of your binder so you can correct your errors.”)

·         Emphasizing the power of yet: (“It’s okay if this concept seems a little overwhelming right now, you haven’t learned it yet.”)

At home, you can reinforce and support your child’s growth mindset by doing these things:

·         Redirecting fixed mindset thinking (“I am no good in math.”  “You may not understand this yet, so let’s practice some more.”)

·         Praising the process (“I like how you picked a really challenging topic for your project.  I know it will be difficult for you but I also know you will learn a lot.”)

·         Managing failure and mistakes (“Can you describe the best mistake you made today?  How can it help you improve your work?  What’s a different strategy you can try?”)

By supporting growth mindset at home and at school, we can help our students persist and prevail to fulfill their potential, as well as set up positive habits for lifelong learning.



Tuesday, July 24, 2018



“So we have say goodbye for the summer…”—Jason Donovan


While there is still some summer left, and some summer vacation, the start of a new school year is right around the corner.  Stores are already heralding their back-to-school sales and shelves are stocked with paper, pencils, binders, highlighters, pencil pouches, and backpacks, as well as the latest and greatest devices (cellphones, tablets, laptops, etc.). Getting that slick new device, a cool new pair of sneakers, and organizing all of those fresh, clean supplies can be exciting. In the midst of that excitement, however, it is important to think about ways to support students as they transition from those lazy, hazy days of summer vacation back to the school day and year routine.

Research has consistently shown that young people need their sleep (at least eight hours), and it is consistently showing that they are not getting nearly enough.  Adequate sleep promotes growth of all types:  physical, emotional, and social.  Ensure your child is getting the proper amount of sleep by setting regular bedtimes and wake-up times.  To provide the most restful sleep environment, all devices should be turned off and as far away from the bed as possible.  If your child uses the alarm on his/her phone, invest in an alarm clock.  The soft glow from screens disrupts sleep patterns and does not allow for complete rest and leads to the temptation of late night texting and game playing, also not conducive to adequate sleep.

Homework is coming.  Make a plan now with your child for completing homework. Set aside a space just for homework and a schedule for getting it finished.  Every child is different, so no one schedule works for all students.  What does work is getting in a routine and building in breaks, so that your child gets his/her work completed but also has some downtime to engage in activities s/he enjoys.  Take advantage of homework resources the school has to offer.  For some students, staying a little later in the afternoon at school to complete, or at least get a jump on, homework takes off the pressure of having to get it all finished at home before going to bed and to the exclusion of other activities, as well as family time.

Transitions can be difficult for many students, particularly if a child is moving from elementary to middle school or middle school to upper school.  Take some time, maybe while running those back-to-school errands, to stop by the school and walk through the building with your child.  Seeing what’s changed and what is the same can help ease any back-to-school jitters your student may be feeling. If your child is feeling anxious about the first day, make a plan with your child and the administrators and teachers for creating a first day that is smooth and worry free.

A little planning and preparation before the school year begins can make the rest of the school year, and the remainder of summer vacation, that much more enjoyable, for you and for your child.

See you in August!