Friends School’s first 8th grade class will be graduating in May. As they look towards high school, we’ve taken the opportunity to interview each of them to find out about their time at Friends School, whether they are “lifers” (here since Preschool) or brand new to Friends School. Please enjoy this interview of Charlotte Commons, one of Friends School’s lifers.
Name: Charlotte Commons
What grade are you in?
How old are you?
14. I started here when I was 3.
What do you remember from preschool?
My first preschool teachers were Sherri and Christie. They were really nice. I had Christie for both years in preschool. One vivid memory that comes to mind is of Sheri collecting all of the hoodies that we had left around and stacking them on her head. In the spring when it was warm we would take the hose in the back yard and make a beach in the sand and play with beach toys there. We would also play inside the “spiderweb” and the teachers would rescue us. We also liked to play on the bikes – Allison (Hoeffler) and I would play a game called the dirty Olympics.
Share a memory from a ceremony or trip. Tell me about the experience and what it meant to you.
Two come to mind. After Silver and Gold in 4th grade we all ran off the stage, went into our classroom and changed all of the 4’s, where they referred to grade, to 5’s. After 5th grade we all went to a party at Allison’s house and there were food trucks and all kinds of things. It was probably the biggest party many of us had ever been to and it was so much fun to be there altogether. My favorite trip was to Crow Canyon in fifth grade. Instead of just relaxing, our entire class spent our free time filming this movie. It was really fun even though it was never finished because, well, the kid who was making it…his camera got run over by a car.
What is a life lesson that you learned here?
Probably to always be yourself and accept other people for being themselves. That is really cliché, but to not be afraid of being you. I think at Friends the community is so accepting and you learn that everything is truly better when people are themselves.
Tell me about a project or class that stands out and/or inspired you.
Middle school science has really inspired me. I liked science from the time I was really little, but we did not do as much of it as we do in Middle School. Now we do so many cool experiments and labs, and Kevin is such an inspiring teacher. I am interested in so many more branches of science now, not just space. For example, in 7th grade we studied biology and I had never done anything with that before. In sixth grade we did a project called “the inhabitable planet” where we had to take a planet and figure out how you could make it into a place where people could live. We had unlimited resources and had to figure out how to solve problems in new ways.
Tell me about a person from Friends that stands out and/or inspired you.
A teacher that I had that really stands out is Diane. I had her for second and third grade, and again for middle school. She is so kind and the most generous person. She was always just a wonderful person to be around. Her joy and positivity radiates onto everyone else.
What’s a question I should ask another interviewee?
How has being at Friends School changed your view of the world?
What are 3 words that describes your whole Friends School experience?
Inspiring, life-changing, supportive
Do you have advice for future Friends students?
Always be kind and treat others well. Then they will treat you well, too!
Do you have any advice for me, things to change/things not to change?
Continue to make it fun, challenging and good for everyone!
Do you know where you will go to High School? 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice
I sort of have four that I am thinking about: Monarch, Boulder High, Dawson or Peak to Peak.
What are your passions? What makes you, you?
Music, playing instruments like piano tuba, euphonium and violin). I don’t have a favorite, but I have been playing piano since I was 5. Another passion I have is sports – biking, skiing and softball.
What was it like to be part of the first middle school class?
I thought it was really cool to be the first ones. We got to see what the school was going to be like and help shape it to be reflective of the students interests.
If you could wave a wand……
If I could wave a wand, I would make it so that we could have our buildings on one campus. It would be fun to see people more often! I might also make the middle school a little bit bigger.Read More
Volunteer Profile: Amy & Thom Teten
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Personal: Children: 2; Cash (8, 3rd grade at Friends) and Woodrow (5, Kindergarten at Friends) Pets: 1 dog; a pure bred Standard Poodle, Heddy
Education/current or previous employment: B.A., History, University of Texas at Austin, M.B.A., University of Texas at San Antonio
Career:Currently I’m the Vice President of Customer Experience & People Ops at TeamSnap, headquartered in Boulder, Colorado
Hobbies/passions/talents:Alpine skiing, bouldering, hiking, camping, smoking anything on my Green Egg, watching history documentaries, attending outdoor concerts, spending time outdoors with my family and friends … the list goes on! I’m also interested in learning how to fly-fish, dabbling in organic soap-making, and am excited to begin trying to make kombucha from scratch.
Volunteer activities at Friends: 2nd grades sleepover (I’m still recovering) (2017), Annual fund classroom chair (2017 & 2018), Parent participation: grounds clean-up day (2017 & 2018), Advancement Committee member (2018), 3rd grade room parent (2018), Colorado Gives Day donation coordinator/aide (2018)
Q: How did find Friends School & why did you choose it for your children? When we made the strategic decision to move from Texas to Colorado, we knew we wanted to land in the greater Boulder area. Finding the perfect education haven for our children was our chief priority. In speaking with a regional education consultant, we were introduced to Steve de Beer at Friends School, performed research on the school, met with a few Friends parents, interviewed, and quickly became enamored with the school’s culture, philosophy and overall approach to whole-child learning. We have happy, engaged, well-adjusted, and thriving kiddos, and we attribute much of that to the match we found in Friends.
Q: What motivates you to volunteer? When I get involved in something, I give it my all. I am deliberate about where I focus my time outside of work and my family. Getting involved as a volunteer for my kids’ school was an easy decision because:
- It affords me the opportunity to give back to something that serves such a key purpose in my children’s molding.
- I get exposed to a variety of people whom I might not have regularly met, giving credence to the ethos of community that Friends offers.
- Hopefully my kids see the importance of the spirit of volunteerism, and that it inspires them to volunteer, too.
Q: What books are you reading right now? (Alternate question: If you could have one super power what would it be?)
- “Powerful” by Patty McCord
- “Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larson
- “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery & the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward E. Baptist
Q: How do you recharge?
- Head to the bouldering gym
- Get a massage
- Turn off the notifications on my phone and put it away for a few hours
Q: If we were to open your fridge, what would we find? (consider taking a photo of the inside of your fridge!)
Hearty homemade soups, eggs, meats, fruits & veggies, lots of condiments
Hometown: I grew up in the military, but was moved to San Antonio, Texas in the middle of high school and I ended up sticking around for 21 years, so I consider it home. ¡Puro San Anto!
Education:BA in Political Science, with a Minor in Philosophy @ University of Texas, San Antonio
Career: Prior career: Tech. Current career: Trophy Husband
Hobbies/passions/talents:Being outside: especially hiking & snow sports. Art: I have a background in printmaking and wood sculpture, and am currently vocal training for a foray into performance art. Learning: I spend more hours than I can count falling down rabbit holes to learn (at a minimum) a little about everything.
Volunteer activities at Friends: Parent Volunteer Days, Chaperoning Field Trips, Helped build playground stage, Art teacher hiring committee, whatever task Bryn, Rebecca, or Caroline need help with (like swapping art displays or sweeping, etc.)
Q: What motivates you to volunteer?Because my kids still think it’s totally cool to see me hanging at their school. Because it truly takes a village, and I also want my kids to learn how to be good villagers, by example. Because educators are the hardest working folks who should get ALL the support they need, (and also I selfishly always learn new skills around them that boost my parenting toolkit.)
Q: What books are you reading right now?
Last: “My Beloved World,” by Sonia Sotomayor
Current: rereading “A Different Kind if Intimacy,” by Karen Finley
Next: “When They Call You a Terrorist, A Black Lives Matter Memoir,” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
Q: How do you recharge? Blast music waaaaay too loud, hike, play with our dog, cook, and if I’ve really lost my mind, I just rearrange all the furniture in the house.Read More
Friends School’s first 8th grade class will be graduating in May. As they look towards high school, we’ve taken the opportunity to interview each of them to find out about their time at Friends School, whether they are “lifers” (here since Preschool) or brand new to Friends School. Please enjoy this interview of Allison Hoeffler, one of Friends School’s lifers.
Q: What grade are you in?
Q: How old are you?
14. I started at Friends in preschool when I was 3 years old. That makes me a Friends School “lifer”.
Q: What do you remember from preschool? I remember playing with gak, and the sensory table. I remember a lot from second grade – I really loved being with my buddy. Then when I was older I got to be the older buddy, and now my buddy is in fifth grade and it is so cool to see her when I’m at the elementary school.
Q: Share a memory from a ceremony or trip. Tell me about the experience and what it meant to you.
The beading and naming ceremonies – I love those. I’ve collected all of the beads since I’ve been here and was given names like Joyous Jumper and Colorful Shoes. I didn’t know people noticed or appreciated those things. It’s really surprising. I also really enjoyed going to Cure Farm. I remember it being really fun to plant things and walk around and see all of the animals.
Q: What is a life lesson that you learned here?
Friends School introduced me to theater. My very first play was here. Now I’m very involved with a local theatre company. I love playing characters and being on stage.
Q: Tell me about a project or class that stands out and/or inspired you.
In middle school, science is definitely my favorite class. Kevin (Nugent) is such an amazing teacher and I love going to his class. Learning about cells, for example has been amazing. I can tell that he genuinely loves what he’s doing and that there is nothing he’d rather be doing than teaching middle school.
Q: Tell me about a person from Friends that stands out and/or inspired you.
Liz Richards who was my teacher in 4th and 5th grade. She was so much fun! I never realized that learning could be so fun.
Q: What’s a question I should ask another interviewee?
What is one word that describes your whole Friends School experience?
Q: Do you have advice for future Friends students?
I would want them to understand that we don’t just say that it’s a welcoming environment, it really is. At Friends, teachers get you genuinely interested in learning. It’s not just for the test – it’s real life. They teach academics, but it’s done hand-in-hand with learning to be a kind person.
Q: Do you know where you will go to High School? 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice
Monarch, New Vista, or Boulder High. I’m hoping to find a good theatre program. I’m nervous and excited to go to a large, new school.
Q: What are your passions? What makes you, you?
I’ve done a lot of musical theater, dance and gymnastics.
Q: What was it like to be part of Friends first middle school class?
It was amazing and crazy because there were SO many possibilities! I like it a lot. I’m trying to live in the moment and not focus on leaving. I love having all of the grades here and it was really special to be a part of starting the middle school.
Q: If you could wave a wand……
I wish that we had a student council in middle school. It would be great to have a say in how things are done.Read More
Our families gathered together at our North Campus this afternoon for an amazing feast prepared by our students in celebration of the fall Harvest. The food was delicious and the conversation and company were awesome.Read More
Math at Friends School and a cool new resource from Stanford University
By Erika Norman, Friends School math teacher
At Friends School, we help students become capable and efficient mathematicians with a growth mindset about math learning. Our students are curious about the patterns and intricacies of math, and yes, even see the beauty in the subject. At Friends, math is much more than just computation. As we learn more about the brain science behind how children and adults learn math, we as teachers and parents can better support our young mathematicians.
Last spring, I attended Dr. Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindset workshop at Stanford University and returned with a wealth of knowledge and practical applications for our classrooms. Dr. Boaler is one of the leading researchers in math education, an award-winning author and educator, professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University, and the faculty director of youcubed. She was recently named by BBC as one of the eight educators who “are challenging the future of education”, and helping teachers, parents, and students relate to mathematics. Not only have we been fortunate enough to apply many of Dr. Boaler’s strategies to our existing math curriculum, many of our classrooms also utilize Stanford’s website www.youcubed.org which supplies numerous math resources for parents and teachers alike. Please check it out when you have a minute.
What does a growth mindset around math look like at Friends and how is Stanford’s youcubed influencing how we teach math? It means being open to the curiosity of math rather than seeing it just as computation. Through lessons on youcubed during the first few weeks of this school year, students in our upper grades have created charts that help them to remember that mistakes are important, see the benefit of using visual models, understand that speed is not their focus but deep thinking is, and constantly remind themselves that brains grow and change with effort and quality experiences.
Two TedTalks by Dr. Boaler outline the brain science which shows the many ways our brains process math, the importance of visual learning, and the importance of self-belief to our learning experiences. We hope you will view these presentations and join us in demystifying the myth that there are “math people” and “not math people”.
If you are interested in learning more about Friends math program, we invite you to attend our math nights, reach out to your classroom teacher or to me or Michelle in our middle school, and . . . continue to create a growth mindset around math for yourself and your children.
Volunteer Profile: Diane Hullet
Hometown: Okemos, Michigan
Husband: Russ, from Westport, Connecticut
Children: Anna, 9th grade at Dawson, dances at Kinesis; Jessica, 5th grade at Friends, practices karate at Wolchek Academy of Martial Arts
Pets: Kaya, lab/shepherd; Mokie, cockapoo; Skidder the turtle; various fish
Education/current or previous employment:
BA from CU, MA in Education from Stanford, taught middle school and high school English, including at September School in Boulder in the early 90s; taught creative painting workshops with Michelle Cassou, using paint as a tool for self-discovery and mindfulness; currently employed as chauffeur, chef and personal assistant.
Hobbies & passions & talents: skiing, painting, sewing (mostly making quilts), hosting house concerts with singer/songwriters.
Q: Tell us about volunteering at Friends School.
I got started volunteering at Friends by helping in the classroom with writing when my oldest daughter was in Kindergarten. Pretty soon, I got involved in the grade-level art projects for the auction each year, then joined the development committee. I’ve now been on the board for 6 years, and I am the chair of the advancement committee. For me, volunteering here means making the best decisions possible with other enthusiastic, smart people, helping to jump-start creative projects, and following through on long-term strategic goals.
Q: How did you find Friends School & why did you choose it for your children?
I first saw Friends when I was finished with undergrad at CU and was working at a preschool called Make a Mess. I think the elementary school must have just been finished. I remember thinking “That looks like a perfect size and a creative place.” Later, when we felt Anna would thrive in a smaller school, I showed her the school one day as we drove by. From then on, she referred to it whenever we drove by – “That’s my school!” I had never seen her attach to something like that and thought it was a good sign. I delivered her preschool application on my bike one day, with her in a Burley, and she was very pleased that soon she would be going to “her school”. We chose it for the small classes, creative spaces, and the warmth and expertise of the teachers. We believed that our child would be known and seen there, and it was true. When Jessica was adopted a couple of years later at age 3 1/2 and we brought her home from China, the community embraced her and came to know her deeply as well.
Q: What motivates you to volunteer?
The world feels like a very big place to me, so being connected in a small sphere where I actually feel like I can have an impact matters to me. I want to improve everything all the time — so working to make a positive difference in very concrete ways at a place where I can see things change and grow and improve is rewarding. I see the teachers and the program at Friends doing two critical things: 1) opening and challenging the minds and hearts of young students 2) creating new teachers though the Teacher Prep Program. Both of these layers of learners will go on to make the world a better place – so I want to support the infrastructure and the program that help to make that happen.
Q: What books are you reading right now?
I’m reading “A History of the World in Six Glasses” and “Untangled.” I just finished “Little Princes” and “How to Raise an Adult.” Usually I only like fiction, but I seem to be on a nonfiction jag. This summer I read “Modoc,” “Commonwealth” and “The Hunger Games.”
Q: If we were to open your fridge, what would we find?
Well, you are catching me on a remarkably good day, because I cleaned it out yesterday. What we have here is: a couple take out boxes from a snack at Pica’s, two kinds of soup made yesterday (beef chili plus what we Midwesterners call “hamburger soup” aka beef vegetable soup), fruit, lots of eggs, lots of veggies. What my kids like best for breakfast currently is quesadillas with ham and cheese made on my all-time favorite kitchen purchase – the Breville Sandwich Press, recommended to me by Oprah.
Q: How do you recharge?
I go and be alone, pretty much anywhere, but often in my sewing studio where I play around with color and patterns. I give most of my quilts away, and my favorite donation each year is to a tiny history museum in McCarthy, Alaska. You can ask me about that sometime.Read More
Art is everywhere at Friends School! These beautiful wings are a collaborative project by Kindergarten through 3rd grade (in the coming months, look for permanent wings on the playground). Meanwhile, 4th grade is “tagging” the playground with positive messages using chalk spray paint and homemade stencils. Look on the 5th grade windows to see their “hopes and dreams” outlines/portraits. Want your own wing photo? Go to the Art & Music room!Read More
Food, fun and friends were the theme of the night before school as our new elementary families got together for a picnic on our playground on a warm summer night. We are thrilled to welcome so many new families into our community.Read More