The Baker News – Thursday, May 5

by | May 5, 2022 | News

The Baker News is a peek inside our classrooms. Each edition of the Baker News features articles about our Early Childhood, Primary, Intermediate and Middle School divisions, as well as news from the Baker community. We hope you enjoy our stories! 


Preschoolers Read “Yes! No!”

Preschool teachers Kim Johns and Nichola Roberts-Jones can find lessons in many places — even in a student’s comment! 

The preschool class recently read “Yes! No!: A First Conversation About Consent,” which introduces preschool-aged children to the concept of consent in a clear, concrete way.

“Many of us love to hug in preschool, however a friend shared that they did not like to be hugged,” Mrs. Roberts-Jones said. “This book gave Kim and I the opportunity to begin this important conversation with our preschool children in an informed, safe and supported way.”

“Yes! No!” is designed to normalize and celebrate asking for and being asked for permission, as well as respect for bodily autonomy. “We all practiced saying and showing no in lots of other ways,” Mrs. Roberts-Jones said.

PRIMARY School News

School of Ornithology is Training First-grade Ornithologists!

First-graders were recently inducted into the School of Ornithology, a unit that dives deep into the study of birds!  

First-grade teacher Melissa Makagon teaches the unit every year, which kicks off with a ceremony where students are given their uniforms and tools (binoculars and their field book) to conduct field work. 

“Our Baker School of Ornithology is linked to a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned first grade unit on Life Sciences: Structure, Function, and Information Processing,” Makagon said. “The underlying question that is guiding our investigation is: How do birds meet their needs to survive?” 

So far, students have created window decals for their classroom to prevent birds from flying into the windows. They have also studied the specific adaptations different birds have in order to survive. The study begins with students examining the external parts of birds, such as beaks, feet and feathers. Students begin to observe how while all birds have these features, they’re unique to each species. 

“By the middle of the unit, the students will be able to describe what it means to meet needs for survival (finding food, using external parts, and adapting to changes in habitat or environment),” Makagon said. “The students will then focus on defining problems that we have at school, and design a product mimicking an external part of a bird (biomimicry). The last section of our inquiry focuses on how adult birds help their offspring survive.” 

At the end of the unit, students will apply the skills they learned in the School of Ornithology in the field. Students will become ornithologists and study birds in the North Shore Channel. During their field study, students will make notes and report their findings. 

“Embedded throughout the inquiry is vocabulary, nonfiction reading, writing, observation and speaking skills, art and literature, design and engineering, and math,” Makagon said. “The unit is progressive education in action!”


Fourth- and Fifth-graders Visit State Capitol

In mid-April, fourth- and fifth-graders traveled to Springfield as part of their in-depth study of the Civil War. Students visited several sites around the state capitol, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential museum.

“Students had an opportunity to see life-size reproductions of important moments in Lincoln’s early life, including the log cabin in which he was raised and moments from his family life, law career, and early political career,” fifth-grade teacher Kerah Sandler said. “Another exhibit depicted Lincoln’s years in the White House through his death at Ford’s Theater.”

The group enjoyed lunch in a park followed by a guided tour of Lincoln’s neighborhood. They also visited the former state capitol to learn about the history of Illinois state government and Lincoln’s early experiences as an attorney.  

“Our final stop was a visit to Lincoln’s Tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery,” Sandler said. “Students were interested to see where all the action from Lincoln’s Grave Robbers actually occurred and were also deeply moved by the war memorials we visited.”

Fifth-grade Destination Imagination Team to Travel to Globals

After months of hard work and planning, the fifth-grade Destination Imagination (DI) team has advanced to the global finals. The team will compete in Kansas City, Missouri, May 21-24. 

Destination Imagination is an international competition for students in kindergarten through college. Students form teams and tackle a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) design problem in a creative way. Teams compete locally with the opportunity to move onto globals. 

Baker’s team was led by fifth-grade parent Emily Paris, who also runs Destination Imagination for Wilmette Public Schools. The team, called Your Majesties, included Paris’ daughter, Samantha, and her fellow fifth-graders Emily, Vivian, Amelia and James. Paris said the work done in DI is completely student-driven, and she is there to facilitate.

“This is their world where they get to chart their own course,” she said. “I was really proud of them. I thought they did an awesome job.”

Your Majesties created an eight-minute skit about microscopy and visiting a world that can’t be seen with the human eye. The team not only researched and wrote the skit, they had to plan a budget, design a set and create costumes. Students worked for several months, beginning in fall 2021.

Paris said she enjoyed watching the growth of the team and seeing how students applied and developed their executive functioning skills. Some of the skills students needed for DI included brainstorming and planning, communication and collaboration, and learning from failure. 

“I think DI is the best way for kids to practice business skills at an age appropriate level,” Paris said. “It was neat to see how everybody had something to contribute.”

Even though they are working hard, students are enjoying the experience. The team got to know each other better and each member stretched their creative muscles. 

“It never feels like work,” Paris said. “For the most part, it feels like play.” 

Paris said she is looking for parents to volunteer and serve as DI leaders in the 2022-23 school year. Parent volunteers would lead teams of five and make the schedules for practices. For interested parents, Paris will host virtual info sessions on May 12 and 26, and June 1.

More information and registration can be found here. 

Good luck to Your Majesties at globals!

MIDDLE  School News

Middle School Hosts Storyteller 

The Middle School recently participated in a special assembly featuring Chicagoan Nestor Gomez. Gomez is the founder of the storytelling show, “Immigration Stories,” which features immigrants sharing their personal stories. 

Gomez and other storytellers discussed their experiences in the United States. Gomez shared a heartfelt story about purchasing a hard-to-find meal for his mother and the experience of eating it for the first time in a long time. 

Andrew Marikis, drama teacher and member of Baker’s storytelling committee, said the committee invited Gomez to speak because “we wanted our middle schoolers to think about a life experience they may not have had themselves in an authentic, entertaining way.”

“Storytelling is kind of like stand-up that can get serious or a book reading that is really active and engaging,” he said. “It’s a great way to connect on a personal level with an audience. It’s a vibrant way to make abstract ideas like ‘the immigrant experience’ or ‘acculturation’ and make concrete, personal connections to them.” 

Gomez’s visit was funded by Baker’s storytelling grant, which brings storytellers from the community to speak to students of all ages. The grant allows Baker to bring in storytellers from all backgrounds to give presentations and lead workshops that give students a new view of the world.

“We have brought in traditional storytellers to connect us to folktales and oral traditions from around the world. We bring in folks to lead writing and performing workshops that connect to the skills we want our students to learn,” Marikis said. “We bring in speakers to talk about themes that connect to social justice learning around things like race, LGBTQ+ identity and immigration that are being discussed in the classroom.” 

The committee chooses storytellers by surveying classroom teachers to see what themes they are sharing in their classrooms. They bring in former guest speakers, as well as new ones, and the speakers may be traditional storytellers, authors, performers or singers. 

“We bring in presenters to sing traditional songs with PreK, make puppets with Kindergarten, talk about families in Primary, challenge preconceptions with Intermediate, and teach valuable writing skills with Middle School,” Marikis said. “The storytelling committee works hard to make sure every age group gets attention.”


Baker Participates in Stand Against Racism

The Baker community took part in the YWCA’s annual Stand Against Racism on April 29. Students of all ages created signs for the short, peaceful rally, which included student voices reading Baker’s Land Acknowledgement, a call and response pledge and a walk to Ridge Avenue, where students held their signs high and stood against racism.

Baker Physical Education Teacher Acknowledged with Teaching Award

Rachael Ross

Congratulations to Rachael Ross, our Middle School physical education teacher, on being selected as 2022 Young Professional Physical Education Teacher of the Year, awarded by the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (IAHPERD)! According to IAHPERD, the award is given to teachers who have less than five years of teaching experience in their field. Ross will be honored at an Awards Reception and Ceremony on Dec. 1.

Baker Welcomes Alumni Back to Campus

We love our alumni, and it was wonderful to welcome them back to campus on April 27! About 80 alumni RSVP’d to the Baker Alumni Event, which was held in the school parking lot. Students caught up with each other and their former teachers, and enjoyed food from the Fat Shallot Food Truck. We enjoyed catching up with our Baker alums!

Baker loves our alumni! We are connecting with alumni and sharing their stories in the Baker News.

Alumni Profile: Averylin ’18 and Grace Cummins ’21

Recent Baker graduates Averylin and Grace Cummins are sharing their talents with a new community and are continuing to thrive!

Now finishing her senior year at Evanston Township High School (ETHS), Averylin is a member of the high school’s club water polo team and she had an opportunity to travel to Florida with the team for nationals. She is also an activist and talented creative writer, having submitted her work to poetry competitions. Following her graduation from ETHS, she has committed to Occidental College in California.

Grace, a freshman at ETHS, also plays water polo. She is a member of the Asian American Alliance Club, the ETHS swim team and teaches swimming with the Wildkit Swimming Organization (WSO). 

“I’ve been doing some work with younger kids ages 4-10 teaching them swimming at the high school through WSO,” she said.

Both Averylin and Grace have many fond memories of their time at Baker. Grace remembers how during the sixth-grade Indiana Dunes camping trip, she had to share a cabin with five other girls and two teachers. 

For Averylin, the eighth-grade boat races were a highlight. Averylin remembers not only participating in the hands-on activity, but also watching them when she was in the lower grades. 

“I remember as a kid watching the boat races,” she said. 

Grace said there were so many amazing and cool projects she participated in at Baker, including the field trip to the Dunes, creating games in math and reading lots of great books in English.

“All the projects we did were so creative and engaging,” Grace said.

The work they did at Baker prepared them for more challenging projects in high school. Averylin said her time at Baker built her confidence in interpersonal connections and her growth. She graduated with a strong sense of self-confidence and solid critical thinking skills. 

“Baker really builds individuality. My sense of self coming out of Baker was so strong and well-cultivated,” she said.

Grace noted her transition to ETHS was smoother thanks to her time here. 

“I feel like Baker really prepared us really well for high school and the academic level,” Grace said.

For soon-to-be Baker alumni, Averylin and Grace advise to take advantage of their time at the school.  “Enjoy the time you have at Baker,” Grace said.  “It’s an amazing school and there’s amazing opportunities. I’m grateful for the opportunities Baker provided.”

Averylin added, “You have so many resources. Take advantage of your resources.”