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Deenway Montessori and Unicity College

READING, UK – School founder and Headmaster, Munawar Karim, started Deenway Montessori School and Unicity College in 2009 to provide an educational environment that encouraged children to express themselves and contribute positively to the world. The Junior school, serving children ages 3 to 12, follows the Montessori method, while the Senior school, currently serving children ages 13 to 16, follows the Liberal Arts educational model – both working within the tenets of Islam. The schools currently serve 100 students, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and are run as a non-profit so as to be accessible to a broader range of families.
In the 2016-2017 school year, Deenway Montessori School and Unicity College began school-wide Thematic Programs with The Art of Learning Project. Over the summer recess staff were give copies of The Art of Learning and invited to begin their own personal reading of the book. In the spring, they plan to begin each morning reading and discussing a few passages from the book and thinking about how the ideas can be applied to their school community.
The Senior school students have begun an Art of Learning book study and discussion group, which will continue throughout the next two terms. Their teachers also plan to incorporate a selection of the learning principles into the school-wide Shakespeare study. At the same time, Mr. Karim is forming a parent book study group in order to educate the parents as to how they can support their children’s learning development at home. In addition, the Junior school staff will begin to weave the Resilience learning principles into their spring units of study in order to provide the students with repeated exposure to the concepts across disciplines.
When asked about his interest in The Art of Learning Project, Mr. Karim explained, “At our school we wish to prepare our young people for the world which they will be inheriting and that preparation entails much more than simply pushing students toward academic study and excellence in sports. It entails having a mindset, tools and attributes that can enable them to have the highest aspirations and know how to work toward them in whatever field, discipline or pursuit they are inclined to; and to be able to cope with the challenges that life gives us. What makes The Art of Learning special is that it not only agrees with some of the best research out there on self-improvement and learning, it is actually based on the real-life experiences of someone who continues to live by those principles and concepts.“ Regarding the school’s experience with working with the JW Foundation, Mr. Karim said, “The JW Foundation provides clear and structured resources together with one-to-one mentoring to help schools translate these ideas into life-transforming habits for staff, students and parents alike. The help they have given us so far is already beginning to make a difference in some quite unexpected ways…”

As participants in our semester long Thematic Program project, the faculty in both schools receive regular support from the JWF team over the course of their program. This support includes

· Monthly emails that lay out a plan for each phase of the program such as staff exploration of concepts, building personal daily habits, analyzing student needs, planning curricular tie-ins, working with students, and reflections on the program

· Scaffolded support of each participating staff member’s daily journaling on slack to analyze daily practice, note struggles, and plan for improvements.

If your school would like to participate in one of our Thematic Programs, please fill out this brief application.

Comsewogue High School

PORT JEFFERSON STATION, NY – Andrew Harris is a Special Education Resource Room teacher working with students between the ages of 14 and 18. He describes his students as bright and hard working children with minor learning disabilities, who would benefit from special projects in addition to support with their regular schoolwork.
Harris applied to our book donation program with an interest in starting an Art of Learning book discussion group with some of his students. He hopes that the learning experiences and principles outlined in the book will inspire his students as they develop their own learning paths. “I want my students to appreciate and enjoy the process of learning,” Harris explains.
In addition to the book group, Harris plans to incorporate some of the Resilience principles such as Valuing Process Before Results and Investment in Loss, into his math and writing lessons. With multiple avenues of exposure to the concepts, he believes the students will more easily incorporate the ideas into their own lives.

Student Circle

SEATTLE, WA – Theodore Eftimiades is the CEO of Student Circle, a private tutoring organization with the dual goal of educating students as well as their instructors. By providing their tutors with thought provoking and engaging professional development opportunities through monthly discussion seminars and lectures, they believe that the tutors’ excitement for learning will provide a motivating example for their tutees. In addition, they aim to teach their educators life-skills and learning skills which can be used both in their personal lives and passed down to their student population.
Eftimiades applied to The Art of Learning Project’s book donation program while planning an Art of Learning discussion group focused on incorporating the book’s lessons into the lives of both the tutors and the tutees. “This book,” he explained “speaks to the experience of the modern student/academic. The ideas regarding Buddhism, calmness, the zone, high performance – these are all very high interest subjects and for good reason! These are ideas I want my tutors to confront, think about, and hopefully pass on, either in their original form or with their own thoughts mixed in.”

Bettie F Williams Elementary School

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Chad Gangwer, a fourth grade teacher at this school serving 400 fourth and fifth grade students, has developed a faculty book discussion group with a small group of colleagues. Currently, the group is reading the book in segments, responding to a series of discussion questions, and talking about learning theory, the type of feedback teachers give students, and the best ways to introduce activities and interest students. Through an on-line discussion board, Gangwer hopes to continue to expand the book discussion group to eventually include all of the school faculty and potentially develop a school wide thematic program.

Fundacao Universidade Regional de Blumenau

BLUMANU, SANTA CATARINA, BRAZIL – The mission of Fundação Universidade Regional de Blumenau is to promote teaching, research and extension, sustainable socio-economic development, and social well-being. Natan Lotério, a student at the university, along with one teacher and five other students from the Computer Science department, have formed a study group interested in exploring a variety of learning techniques. “For a long time I have wasted opportunities to help others and myself, “ Lotério explains. “Now I want to catch up and have a great plan for helping people. I want to help them better understand how they think, understand, and see the world. I believe in the power of learning. I believe that just teaching ourselves how to think and learn, we will evolve into a more intelligent society.”

Lotério and the other members of his group will read The Art of Learning together and discuss the learning principles. From there, they plan to identify a learning module to explore further as a means of deepening their understanding of the learning process.

University High School of Science and Engineering

HARTFORD, CT – University High School of Science and Engineering, in partnership with the University of Hartford, is a magnet school that focuses on academic excellence and early transition to higher education, while developing responsible citizens who demonstrate healthy integration in a diverse society.

Caryn Baseler, the Instructional Coach, has organized a yearlong Professional Learning Community centered on The Art of Learning. The teachers, counselors, and administrators at the school will meet on a monthly basis to read and discuss the book with a goal of collaboration across grade levels and curricular areas. “Many of our students are very gifted and we are challenged to find ways for them to grow to their full potential within our classrooms. Often, these same bright students are very needy and fear being wrong. We would like to help them develop the understanding that being wrong is okay and can lead to greater understanding,” explains Baseler. “We hope to gain insight from The Art of Learning to help us as we continue to strive to reach every student.”