MAESA Matters November 2021


Greetings from MAESA!

MAESA was busy working with schools in October to mark Episcopal schools' celebrations in our region. You can read more about that below. In November we turn our attention to the early childhood years. We've been hard at work planning the MAESA Early Childhood Educators' Conference with our hosts, Washington Episcopal School. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response from our schools to attend this year, and a real sense of excitement in being together again on November 5th with colleagues and friends.

Turning to this edition of the newsletter, we feature preschool teacher, Fanta Kamara, from St. Columba's Nursery School in Washington, D.C. Read about her connection with Episcopal schools first as a parent and now as a preschool teacher in her reflection Why I Teach in An Episcopal School.

This week we celebrate The Feast of All Saints in the Church. We remember well-known saints and all those whom we love that have entered the Kingdom of Heaven especially in the past year. The pandemic took many lives in ways we were not expecting. It has also created circumstances for every day humans to strive to be saints, or at least to do extraordinary things in the name of love and compassion. When I think about honoring saints, I am always reminded of the hymn I Sing A Song of the Saints of God. It is a hymn that some remember learning in Sunday school or even in an Episcopal school. What I love most about the hymn is that it teaches that saints are humans just like us who loved God and love God today. The final verse encapsulates it perfectly.

3 They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.

The world IS bright with the joy of saints, so we must keep our eyes open to see them!
MAESA Episcopal Schools Celebrations
MAESA celebrated Episcopal schools in two October events

Washington D.C. Area Celebration: On October 6th hundreds of students streamed our worship service from Washington National Cathedral hosted by Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School. Pictured above, the service was officiated by The Rev. Dr. Lisa Barrowclough, Beauvoir School Chaplain and our preacher was The Rev. Dr. Mark Jefferson, Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Virginia Theological Seminary. Drawing from the Gospel of Matthew 5:13-16, Reverend Jefferson challenged young students to "be salty" for the sake of the gospel and to be light bearers for Jesus Christ! The service also featured prerecorded readings and hymns from our partner schools including Beauvoir School, Bishop John T. Walker School, National Cathedral School, St. Albans School, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, St. James' Episcopal School and St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School. You can view the recorded service at this link.

Richmond Area Celebration: On October 20th on Zoom MAESA hosted a collection of middle school students from our Richmond area schools: Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School, St. Andrew's School, St. Catherine's School and St. Christopher's School. St. Catherine's School Chaplain, The Rev. Becky McDaniel, St Christopher's Middle School Chaplain The Rev. Michael Sweeney and Anna Julia Cooper School Chaplain The Rev. Dr. Dorothy White helped facilitate our dialogue. Students in grades 5th-8th gathered and shared with peers from other schools what their experience in an Episcopal school was like for them, what made their school special, what their chapel services were like and what they loved most about their own school. This format was adopted because we were not able to gather for a larger worship service. But those who attended agreed, the experiences students shared made this something to replicate when we come together next year for our Episcopal schools' celebrations!

Why I Teach In An Episcopal School
Fanta Kamara
Preschool Teacher
St. Columba's Nursery School, Washington, D. C.

 For as long as I can remember, religion has played an important role in my life. I have always enjoyed learning about religions from all over the world and deepening my own relationship with God. Prayer especially has helped me develop my own unique relationship with God and my belief in a higher power has enabled me to overcome all sorts of obstacles in my life, leading me to my purpose and calling, which I consider teaching to be. My religion and spirituality have taught me to be open-minded, accepting, and kind, all qualities that serve me well in my role as a preschool teacher at St. Columba’s Nursery School in Washington DC. 
This is my second year teaching at an Episcopal school, however, my relationship with Episcopal schools first began as a parent. My husband and I have always encouraged our children to think openly about and develop their own personal relationships with God. When looking for schools for our children, my husband and I wanted to send them to a school where religion and God were at the forefront. That search led us to Episcopal schools. From the opening service on the first day of school, to weekly chapel services, and reciting the school prayer at school assemblies, faith has been an integral part of our children’s education and development. This holistic education that incorporated faith and spirituality has helped them grow into conscientious young adults. 
I previously taught at preschools where religion and God were not discussed. We didn’t say Grace before lunch, and if a child were to ask me questions about God, I would have to redirect the conversation. I found those teaching environments to be somewhat limiting, as I believe that the spiritual well-being and development of a child is just as important as any other developmental area, and that focus on the development of the whole child is what led me to St. Columba’s. I am blessed to teach at St. Columba’s and I enjoy everyday with my students and fellow teachers! 

MAESA Early Childhood Educators' Conference
Erica Thompson
Assistant Head of School for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School

Keynote: "Helping Students Celebrate Self and Others"

This Friday, November 5th sixteen MAESA schools will gather at Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda, MD for education and enrichment!

The complete listing of workshops offered by teachers from eight MAESA schools includes:

  • Using Art to Strengthen Your Classroom Community of Young Learners
  • Teaching Page-By-Page: How Children's Literature Can Be Used To Teach Children Valuable Lessons
  • Exercising our Attitudes of Gratitude: A Firm Foundation for Service Learning
  • Building Foundations for Positive Identity Development during the Foundational Years
  • Early Childhood Outdoor Education & Sustainability
  • Chapel Every Day: Integrating children's spirituality into the classroom
  • Stick Play: A Tool for Hands on Learning
  • Art in the Art Room and Beyond: Cross-Curricular Connections 
  • How Do We Prepare Students for their Future? STEM Education
  • Minding Social and Emotional Well-being
  • “Tech Time”: Balancing Technology in the Early Childhood Classroom and Beyond
  • You Can’t Add When You’re Sad or Mad: Supporting the Mental Health of Students and Teachers
  • Laying a Strong Foundation for Young Mathematicians
  • Fun Activities and Games for Building Confidence and Character

The conference will also feature a collaborative dialogue session, The Educators' Café, with teachers from different schools in groupings of 5-6 who will exchange ideas in support of the questions: how do we know where children are in their learning and what do we do with this information?

Mark Your Calendar
2021-2022 MAESA Event Dates
Upcoming Events:

MAESA Early Childhood Educators Conference, Friday, November 5, 2021 hosted by Washington Episcopal School. Registration is open and all of the details are on the conference registration page on our website.

MAESA Choral Evensong Sunday, February 6, 2022 at Washington National Cathedral at 4:00 p.m. MAESA chorister rehearsals will begin at 1:00 p.m. The opportunity to sing with the MAESA combined choir is open to all upper school choirs who are members of MAESA.

2022 MAESA Scholars Fair Friday, April 29th at St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School. This event is open to students in 4th-8th grade in MAESA member schools. Please mark your calendar and contact maeasschools@gmail.com with any questions. Scholars Fair event guidelines and registration information will be shared in fall 2021.
Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director