News & Updates 5/20/22

From Todd:

Character Education?

Hang on everyone. I am going to take a risk this week. 

Through my work at the New School, I am constantly learning about children and the experiences that make them grow. I am particularly interested in watching character development in our kids, and we spend a great deal of time supporting that growth, but we do not always get to see our efforts pay off. I know we help to create really good kids, but it is difficult to assess the impact of our character education programming until an authentic challenge is faced. On the recent 8th grade trip two students faced unusual circumstances and how they responded was a very telling moment of character.

Ultimately, I had an amazing week away with the 8th grade. We started the trip in Boston for a night and then worked our way north until we ended up at my house in Maine. The house is an older home that was moved from Hollis Maine to its current location. It is an old house and it has plumbing that was designed for two bedrooms and not so much for 15 8th graders on a sleepover. 

This is the most time I get to spend with the 8th graders during the year, and it is a privilege to have these days. The 8th graders were perfectly behaved throughout the trip, and every parent should be proud of their children for helping out with meal preps and cleanups.

However, there was an ultimate test of character that I wish I could recreate for future trips. It was just after dinner on Wednesday. The kids were showering and getting ready for smores by the fire. One student asked to use the bathroom upstairs, and the request was quickly granted.

30 minutes later, that same student dejectedly returned to the kitchen, and started to apologize profusely. “I tried everything,” the student said solemnly. “I googled every possibility, and nothing worked. The water just kept rising. I couldn’t stop it.” The student then quietly admitted to clogging the toilet upstairs. He said that when he searched the internet for “how to unclog a toilet without a plunger” that the top results involved baking soda, liquid soap, hot water, and wire hanger. Although he searched high and low for a wire hanger, I was greatly relieved that he did not find one. “It was so stressful,” he concluded.

This event is not unusual in that bathroom, and I tried to reassure the student that no harm was done. It was incredibly clear that this young person was upset by the situation, and I think we can all remember that moment at a friend's house or at your grandparent’s when we watched the water rise. There are choices to be made: should you run and hope the flood subsides,  should you pass blame to the next user, should you attempt to blame the person before you, or does the offender try to fix a potentially very messy problem and take ownership. This is a high stress moment for an 8th grader, and I know many adults who have run from an overflowing toilet. Yet, this NNS student tried to research a solution online, and when that did not work, the student admitted his role in the crisis and asked for help. 

It gets even better.

Over time, a clog like that often resolves itself, and since we did not have any more requests to use the upstairs bathroom, we let it go. However, 20 minutes later, another student appeared in the kitchen and started to apologize for clogging the upstairs toilet. The student said that after 15 minutes of searching, he found a plunger in the attic and resolved the clog on his own. First, we have been looking for that plunger for months. We rented the house in the fall, and we assumed that the tenants had taken it, but this student found the plunger when we couldn’t and resolved the problem without panicking.

The teachers in the kitchen could not hold back their laughter at the perseverance of these two youngsters, but over the next couple hours, as I thought more about that moment, I became more and more impressed with these two brave children. We all know the instant tension that develops as the water level increases, and you start to realize that there is a very limited time frame to fix this. Running becomes a real option. It is the easy option. As I mentioned, it is an option that adults choose, but these two NNS youngsters stayed to help and looked for a solution. Is it disgusting and messy and potentially damaging to a reputation? Absolutely, yes to all of those questions, but even with those swirling concerns, these students tried to help and ultimately, admitted to their perceived mistakes. Honestly, to have one student respond appropriately would have been heartwarming, but to have two students make the right choices under such terrifying pressure was simply overwhelming.

I never really considered the possibility that a clogged toilet could provide a test of character, but it clearly did, and our students responded in a way that was courageous and selfless. 

Thanks to the whole class for such a special week. 

PK and K Vegetable Eating Contest

A huge thanks to Dre Solimeo, Chris Sleeper, and Doug Massey for arranging the first ever Early School Vegetable Eating Contest. Pip and Anchor provided 12 different vegetables for our students to sample and prizes were awarded based on how many items a student tried. The PK and K teachers ushered the students through all the tasting tables and 15 of their students sampled all 12 vegetables including Kale, Ramps, Fiddleheads, Hakurei Turnips, and Broccoli Rabe. Pip and Anchor is also providing gift certificates to those champions who completed the full cycle. It was great to see these youngsters try vegetables that some of them have never seen, and then to celebrate each other for taking a chance and keeping an open mind about trying local foods that are better for all of us.  
Ever Grateful,

May 30 - Memorial Day - No school
June 8 - Field Day/Pizza Day, Last Day of School
June 9 - Graduation 10:00 a.m.
June 10 - Summer Kick-off Party 5:00 p.m.
The Parent's Association needs your help! "Family Recipe" notecards are due back by June 1ST. We'll have books printed and available this fall. Any questions? Email Becky Becker at

Nantucket New School