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April 23, 2017

To Test or Not to Test, What is the Answer? Plus - 4 Tips for a Successful Testing Week!

There is much debate surrounding state assessments in both Virginia (the Standards of Learning assessments, commonly known as SOL’s) and Tennessee (The TN Ready assessments). Some of your friends in public schools in either state and many others may be sharing their concerns about stressed out kiddos, anxious teachers, weeks spent studying review guides and completing released tests as homework, after school programs to ensure readiness for the test or even letters coming home advising that students may have to repeat a grade or subject if the state benchmark is not met on these tests.

At Sullins these things sound foreign - and for good reason. Our school sets high standards for academic excellence for students and uses authentic assessments to measure understanding of the curriculum. We choose to take the ERB (Educational Records Bureau) to gain insight into how our students are doing compared to students in other independent schools around the country. The data we receive helps support curriculum and guide instruction. It gives our school a clear picture of both our areas of strength and areas for improvement.  This test is not one you can “teach to”- it is a snapshot of a students’ progress that is taken into account with many others to give the school a wealth of information that helps shape the teaching and learning your student receives.  But the ERB is not the focal point of our teaching nor does it guide or direct our curriculum and instruction.

Hopefully one of the reasons you chose an independent school as a parent was because you wanted a more personalized learning experience for your child where teachers and administrators are not tied to a state mandated test. So while schools around the country countdown the days to the test and hold testing pep rallies, your kiddo was preparing for a... » read more

April 29, 2016

Why Sullins

The Benefits Of Sullins Academy   

When I found out that I was going to attend Sullins Academy this year it was the most bittersweet feeling I have ever felt in my life. I have been in Washington County Public Schools all my life, so I knew it was definitely going to be a different experience. But on the other hand I would be leaving behind all of my friends. Even though I was leaving them behind I knew that I would create new friendships and have an amazing academic experience. Because of Sullins Academy, I have had some of the most unique opportunities, greatest teachers, and fantastic friendships I will ever have.  

As a former student in Public Schools, I can say with insight that I have had unlimited opportunities and unique experiences this year. I am looking forward to the field trip at Tybee Island. I really enjoyed watching the women’s ultimate frisbee team from Harvard. For a sports enthusiast like me, that was once in a lifetime opportunity.  Also, we as students have the capability to take high school level classes like geometry in 7th grade. And I have been able to help the community with projects such as going to the soup kitchen.

These experiences and opportunities would not be possible without our wonderful teachers. We have teachers in this school who will not rest until every question of ours is answered. I would like to name some of the teachers here that changed my academic life. Mrs. Ruble was my first preschool teacher at Abingdon Christian Academy. Mrs. Morris, you have gone above and beyond with English terms with me. Mrs. Mac, you have told me many stories and have taught me the most interesting facts in history and for that I thank you. Mr. Weber, you have shown me a new way of studying that brings the best grades and knowledge from me. Coach Paul, you have shown me a clear path to peak my physical fitness. Mrs. Hampton, you have shown... » read more

February 14, 2016

Internet Safety for your Family

In the wake of the recent news, I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts and best practices about Internet safety. I’m sure that many Sullins parents have some online rules already established. So, the information I am sharing with you is intended to reassure you that what you are doing is good and to, perhaps, inform you of additional strategies that you may not have considered.

First, all studies and organizations agree that the number one thing you can do is talk to your children, let them know your expectations and concerns. Naturally, this communication will evolve as your children get older, so talking about online behavior and dangers should be an ongoing conversation. OnGuardOnline is a website, produced by Homeland Security, designed to help parents facilitate discussions regarding Internet safety.

Next, one of the most recommended safety precautions is placing the computer in a central location. However, as we all know, fewer children are on computers. Instead they are on tablets or phones, which makes over the shoulder monitoring more difficult, but not impossible. There are a variety of apps that you can install on your tablet to help monitor and/or limit access. Below is a link to a few applications recommended by FamilyEducation.com.

Lastly, there are many wonderfully built edutainment websites that help children learn about different safety issues through games and videos. Some, we explore and discuss during class. If you would like to do some of these activities with your child(ren), below are links to a couple of... » read more

February 06, 2016

Why the K-8 model works

At the recent community meetings, I had the opportunity to share why I love the academic and social model of a K-8 education.  Modern research also confirmed my sentiments.  A study from Columbia University cited in this Wall Street Journal article discusses their findings that math and reading scores in K-8 schools are significantly above scores found in an separate elementary and middle school models.  A separate study out of Harvard found here discusses both the the leadership opportunities and marked improvement in future high school scores from students attending a K-8 model school.

Personally, I love the K-8 school design because it provides tangible role models for younger students while providing leadership opportunities for the Middle Schooler to realize the difference they make in the lives of those around them.  It shields our students from exposure to some of the high school dynamics which are hard enough sometimes to face in high school, let alone in younger grades.  I think the K-8 model best caters to the learning continuum that exists in our children without segmenting their education in a false way.  In essence, it’s the ability of the older students and the younger students to interact and collectively (although often without knowing it) shape their learning experiences.  This is why I love the Book Buddies Program when middle schoolers read to students in the primary division, morning assemblies when 8th graders sit with Kindergarteners, and our community learning initiatives that occur throughout the year when every grade level presents to other grade levels what... » read more

December 09, 2015

10 Ways Your Sullins Fund Gift Helps!

With only 10 days left in our #49Kin49Days Sullins Fund Drive we want to share with you 10 ways you help our school when you make a gift:

10- Guided Reading program for Lower School students to challenge each child individually

9- First Aid supplies to fix boo-boos

8- Security system fees to keep our students safe

7- Paints, paper, and brushes for our students to create masterpieces

6- Owl pellets, worms, frogs, and other cool supplies for science experiments

5- Diplomas, cords, pins, and trophies to honor our students’ hard work

4- Internet, iPads, and classroom technology to bring the world to our fingertips

3-  Green Team recycling that teaches our children sustainability

2- Financial Aid so a Sullins education is not out of reach for anyone

1- Salaries and benefits so our students have the best teachers

Be a part of making our school a better place.  Give to The Sullins Fund at www.sullinsacademy.org/give-online

» read more
December 09, 2015

8 Junior Kindergarteners Share Their Favorite Things About School

We love Sullins!

Besides our favorite teacher, Ms. Shankel, here are our favorite things about school:

Alice - “Doing art, Spanish, rhyming, learning about counting, and book center”

Kate - “Being the weather watcher, learning about patterns, and ice cream Fridays”

Maddie - “Spending the day with my friends, P.E., and drawing on the board”

Baxley - “George, drawing on the board, and seeing my friends”

Drew - “Painting and P.E.”

Sophia - “Making spiders, measuring with pumpkins and gummy worms, painting, and playing on

the playground”

Rylan - “Cupcakes, the playground, blocks, and race cars”

George- “Playing outside with my friends, going to computer class and gym”

» read more
August 26, 2015

Get in the Sullins Mindset

Transcript from the First Day Assembly on August 26, 2015.

Does anyone remember my opening speech from last year?

Lego’s - right!  At Sullins we are providing you with the Lego bricks (different educational subjects) you need to be master builders.  Great job!  

This year, I want to talk to you about something that is even more important than all of the subject lessons you will learn at Sullins… I want to talk to you about attitude.  Particularly about having a positive attitude.

Did you know that ….

  1. Positive People Live Longer

  2. Positive work environments outperform negative work environments. (Daniel Goleman)

  3. Positive, optimistic sales people sell more than pessimistic sales people. (Martin Seligman)

  4. Positive leaders are able to make better decisions under pressure. (Heartmath.org)

  5. Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions whereas when the ratio approaches 1 to 1, marriages are more likely to end in divorce. (John Gottman)

  6. Positive thoughts and emotions counter the negative effects of stress. For example, you can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time. (Several Studies)

  7. Positive emotions such as gratitude and appreciation help athletes perform at a higher level. (Heartmath.org)

  8. Positive people have more friends. (Robert D. Putnam)

taken from:... » read more

May 01, 2015

My Love of Field Trips

Overall, I am a major proponent of field trips as tools in the arsenal of educators to best teach children.  Personally, I have experience leading school based trips in the mid atlantic as an educational tour guide and throughout Europe as a teacher and coach.  Among other destinations, I have led students to Rome, Budapest, Florence, Venice, Salzburg, London, Washington DC, Williamsburg and Gettysburg.


While working in the heart of Europe at The American School in Switzerland, my wife and I had the opportunity to create powerful learning environments through cross-curricular planning and experiential education through travel.  One of many experiences I remember fondly was when I was able to plan and lead a trip to Rome for 9th graders through our school’s mandatory travel program.  Prior to the trip in the spring, students studied this history of the Roman empire in their Ancient Civilizations history course while simultaneously reading Shakespeare’s ... » read more

January 23, 2015

1st Semester Highlights from the Head of School

Happy New Year! Who can believe that we have a full semester behind us already at Sullins Academy. My family and I are THRILLED to be a part of the Sullins community, and we are thankful for so many aspects of this special school. Here are some highlights from Fall 2014 from the Rehm Team’s perspective.

1.) Rigorous Academics: We see our children thriving in the classroom as they are challenged by the reading program and offered differentiated curriculum through Accelerated Math. Our children are gaining confidence as they are led by their nurturing teachers. We see our daughter eagerly raising her hand and participating more than ever before, and we see our son motivated by his challenging math lessons and reading group.  

2.) Strong Sense of Community: Our children ran and giggled with their new-found friends as they romped around the Bounce Houses on the front lawn of the school during the Fall Picnic. We enjoyed coaching a Sullins soccer team and seeing the players learn to work together over the course of the season. Our children already look up to their eighth grade babysitters as they watch these “big kids” give speeches at Assembly, lead the cheerleading team on the sidelines of a middle school basketball game, and co-teach their ballet classes. We are so thankful that the Sullins community extends far beyond the classroom walls.

3.) Great Parental Involvement: We are so grateful to all of the parents who tirelessly give time/resources to the school. As my wife serves as a Homeroom Mom, she has been amazed at how willing Sullins parents are to assist with a Holiday Party, help meet a classroom need, or drive a group of students to a Field Trip. Sullins parents plan great events, bake delicious food, create beautiful holiday baskets, and most importantly, support the teachers everyday.

4.) Spirit of... » read more

January 23, 2015

7 Myths About Independent Schools

We know why families choose independent schools. They value what Tony Jarvis, past-head of Roxbury Latin School, called environments where students “are known and loved,” and they believe what the research documents, that independent schools’ intimacy, manageable size, and universally high expectations for behavior and achievement produce graduates who succeed in college and life.

We know as well why families who can afford independent schools don’t choose them (aside from the “confirmation bias” we all have of preferring what we have chosen to other alternatives). Families who reject independent schools tend to believe in one or more myths about independent schools.

Myth #1: Independent schools are only for the rich.

Fact: While it’s true that independent schools are chosen more often by families from higher income brackets, it’s also true that a significant proportion of independent schools’ population is comprised of the three lowest socioeconomic quintiles (students who often receive financial aid) and the fourth quintile, the middle to upper middle class families who find a way (including grandparent contributions) to afford a quality education for their children, seeing it as the best investment they can make in their children’s future, whatever the cost and sacrifice.

More about
Independent Schools

More recent posts

April 29, 2016

Why Sullins

The Benefits Of Sullins Academy    When I found out that I was going to attend Sullins Academy this year it was the most bittersweet feeling I have ever felt in my life. I have been in Washington County Public Schools all my life, so I knew it was definitely going to be a different... » read more
February 14, 2016

Internet Safety for your Family

In the wake of the recent news, I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts and best practices about Internet safety. I’m sure that many Sullins parents have some online rules already established. So, the information I am sharing with you is intended to reassure you that what you... » read more
February 06, 2016

Why the K-8 model works

At the recent community meetings, I had the opportunity to share why I love the academic and social model of a K-8 education.  Modern research also confirmed my sentiments.  A study from Columbia University cited in this Wall Street Journal article discusses their findings that math and... » read more
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