“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison
 
Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Staff:
 
What is the key to success in school?  Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, a management consultant, turned teacher, turned psychologist, has conducted research on the subject of success in school and suggests that one essential key that seems to cut across all types of students, and that is also evident in success in other arenas outside of school, is grit.     
 
When I hear the word grit one of the first things that comes to mind is a John Wayne film – perhaps you have seen the 68’ classic, True Grit.  John Wayne’s characters generally embodied tough spirits that were unyielding in the face of difficulties or troubles – these included a marshal, a soldier, a frontiersman and so on.  Grit, however, is not something reserved for frontiersmen or soldiers.  It is a virtue that has application in all walks of life and in situations of all kinds.  It, like the related virtue courage, is the form of other virtues at the testing point (to borrow part of a phrase from C.S. Lewis).  For this reason it is included in our student motto. 
 
If you are saying to yourself, “I know the Founders student motto and the word grit is nowhere to be found,” then you are right, sort of…  If you look at our student motto poster (see below) you will see the word “perseverance” at the bottom.  Perseverance and grit refer to the same things, but one word is a little more “classical” than the other…
 
Motto
Perseverance, or grit, has a prominent place in our student motto, at the end.  It is at the bottom of school motto, not because it is least important, and not because is it the most important.  The first part of the motto, honoring the good, the true, and the beautiful, describes universal aspirations; this part of the motto serves as a type of rudder.  Perseverance, displaying courage and sustaining a commitment in light of struggles, serves as a type of anchor in the motto.
 
In the short video clip viewed that follows, Dr. Duckworth explores “grit” as a major key to success in school.  At the end she asks how grit can be formed in people.  I know the answer.  Watch the video and see what you come up with: Angela Lee Duckworth on Grit.  Her talk is a compelling one for parents and educators.
 
 
Reminders and Announcements:
 
Hot Chocolate with the Headmaster:The topic for Wednesday morning, October 29th, is classical literature.  HCWHM will begin at 8:15 a.m. in the grammar school cafeteria (next door to the grammar school office building). Reminder: These meetings are not meant for Q & A on a variety of school questions, nor for questions about a particular child.  Presentation and discussion will pertain to the topic at hand. 
Report Cards: First quarter report cards will be placed in grammar school folders, and handed out to upper school students, at the end of the day on Friday. 
 
PTO: The PTO Soaring with the Eagles Campaign has gone well so far.  As of Friday, $14,196 had been raised (have you seen the thermometer?).  The goal is to raise $15,000.  The final day of the campaign will be this Friday, October 31st.  Please consider writing a check and turning it in at either one of the school offices by Friday afternoon; the attachment describes the campaign.  Stay up-to-date on all PTO events and activities at http://fcapto.com/
 
Carline:  As our school grows, so does our carline. As a result, thepotential for hazards also increases. We have already had two collisions, some near misses this year, and lots of hand waving. Thankfully, no pedestrians have been hit.  In order to decrease risks of accidents, and to be in compliance with the instructions of the RES Campus Safety Coordinator, Tammy Sanders, we are restructuring the carline to have only two drop off points starting Wednesday: one at the upper school entrance, and one by the gym.  Your students can safely walk on our new sidewalk and cross at the cross walk that is near the upper school building. This will decrease the risks involved in pulling off to the side and dropping off students mid-carline, this will also speed up carline.
To recap, if you have both an upper and grammar school student, please drop off both children down by the gym and have the older student walk to the upper school building, or drop them off in front of the upper school building office and have the older student walk the younger one to the gym. Thank you for your cooperation in increasing the safety of all the students and parents on our campus.
 
Attendance and Morning Drop-Off:  In recent weeks, we have had high numbers of grammar school students arriving to school late.  Please be reminded that grammar school begins at 7:45 a.m. in the gymnasium where our students and teachers start the day with pledges of allegiance, a minute of silence, poetry recitations, and important announcements.  With regard to morning drop-offs, do not drop off students near any of the cross walks.  Make sure to let children out of your cars at the loop near the gym.  
Founders Family Fun Fair: Friday’s fair was a great event.  It provided opportunities for faculty and families to share in a positive family experience; the fair was good for school spirit, and allowed visitors to get to know our school a bit.  Thanks to Mr. Gauntt for serving as fair coordinator, and thanks to all the faculty/staff, parents, and students that contributed time and talent leading up to the event, and during the night of the event.  
 
Founders 5K:We are happy to announce our 2nd Annual Founders 5K!  This will be a fun 5K/1 mile walk with games, music, prizes, silent auction, some special surprises, and a whole lot of fun.  We will have a great time as a school family, and raise some money that goes straight back to benefit our amazing students.   Our Founders 5K is scheduled for March 21st, 2015.  You can register at www.ResponsiveEdFunRuns.com.  You can also keep up-to-date by liking our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/responsiveedfunruns.  This is sure to be a great event that you will not want to miss.
 
Yearbook Photos: Please help our yearbook staff with school related photos.  Submitting photos is as easy as one, two, three:
1.Log on to https://community.lifetouch.com and create a new account using the access code XCMVRO,
2.Click on Upload Photos and choose your folder (examples: 2nd Grade-Guy, 7th Grade, Tackle Football, 1st Day of School, etc.)
3. Upload your High Resolution images (see back for tips).
 
Coming UP:  Nov 7-Spirit Day, Nov 11-Veterans Day (classes in session), Nov 12-Hot Chocolate with the Headmaster, 8:15 a.m.
 
Online School Calendar:  Keep up with Founders activities at http://foundersclassical.com/calendar/.     
Kind Regards,
 
Jason Caros
Headmaster, Founders Classical Academy
469-464-3415 (grammar school)
972-219-2370 (upper school)
 
 

“The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry, and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.”Aristotle (Metaphysics)
 
 
Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Staff:
 
Congratulations to our cross country teams on their efforts at the state cross country meeting this past weekend in Austin.  Our high school girls earned the first place title, our high school boys earned the second place title, the middle school boys earned the second place award, and our middle school girls placed third.  Our cross country runners have been training hard since the summer and have been performing well throughout the season.  I commend these scholar athletes for their great commitments and grit (more on grit next week), and their coaches, Miss Frost and Mr. Gnadinger, for leading the teams to success. 
 
Miss Frost and Mr. Gnadinger are also strong mathematics teachers at Founders.  Mathematics happened to be the subject of last week’s Hot Chocolate with the Headmaster.  So here is a summary.  I hope they approve…
 
Last week I was eager to discuss mathematics.  For some reason people have the perception that mathematics is in some way less important at a classical school since classical schools focus on the “humanities.”   Nothing can be further from the truth.   Human formation necessarily involves mathematics. 
 
Classical Education is rooted in an education model that goes back to ancient Greece and Rome; this model developed over a long period of time in the West.  During the Middle Ages, the “Seven Liberal Arts” of classical education were codified.  The first of these arts are probably very familiar to you as classical educators refer to them frequently.  They are Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric (known collectively as the Trivium).  These three make up what are called the “linguistic” or “verbal” arts.  The other four, Arithmetic Geometry, Astronomy, and Music (or Harmony) make up the “mathematical” arts (known as the Quadrivium).  If a student is going to be truly educated in a “liberal” way, that is, in a way suitable to a free human being, both the linguistic and mathematical arts must be taught in rigorous ways.
 
In addition to the liberal arts, one can also discuss what might be called the “practical arts.” Education in the practical arts would involve specific training in the field, so to speak.  In the old days, after completing one’s liberal studies, a young adult might have an apprenticeship where he learned how to work in a particular field.  Mathematics, historically a part of the liberal arts, is today often thought of as a practical art.  Mathematics is indeed practical, but is there more to it than meets the eye?
Mathematics instruction at a classical school:  Over the years I have asked numerous math teachers the perennial question – why do we study math?  Most of the time I have received practical answers.  This is because math is practical and we live in a society that values practical, pragmatic activity.  Because of math we can calculate the cost of our groceries, we can balance our checkbooks, we build bridges, and we can send people into the air in flying machines, and even into space.  Math is important for its usefulness, however, there is more to math than its utility.  The main reason to learn math, from a classical perspective, was described in
Plato’s Republic over 2,000 years ago, it draws the soul towards truth. To this end, a student learning math at a classical school, especially in upper grades, is asked to arrive at answers to math problems using a step-by-step logical approach. Geometry, for instance, is a course that is full of “proofs.” Geometry problems, or those in mathematics in general, should not be solved by simply applying memorized algorithms or formulae, not that eventually memorizing them is wrong, but through logical steps that enable students to think through and prove answers to their teachers and arrive at truths. In this regard, math complements the other areas of learning in a classical curriculum where the goal is to promote the true, the good, and the beautiful, and good thoughtful citizens.
Strong mathematics instruction is at the heart of classical education.
 
Regarding the resources we use to teach mathematics, at Founders Classical Academy we use Singapore Math in grades K-6.  Why do we use Singapore Math?  Singapore Math was developed in the nation of Singapore.  Students in Singapore are at the top, or near the top, in international test scores annually.  Nations like Singapore, China, Finland, and others leave the United States behind when it comes to math scores.  The interesting thing about this is these nations teach math the way older generations of Americans learned math.  There is more to say about this but I don’t want to digress…  Back to Singapore Math, why do we use it, and why are many classical schools and increasingly more public schools using it?  Here are three reasons:  1) Singapore emphasizes thinking and 2) Singapore is more focused – teachers spend more time helping students think through and verbally discuss each component of a math concept.  Singapore Math avoids over-reliance on memorized formulas and algorithms so there is not as much emphasis on repetitive practice exercises.  Instead, Singapore strives to give students an understanding of math concepts by walking students through each component of a problem, and then presenting them with the whole problem to solve. This way, students are trained to think actively as they work through each step of a problem instead of merely plugging the problem into a formula.  3) Singapore requires more teaching – Singapore’s approach requires teachers to:
 
  • spend more time teaching new concepts, breaking the concepts into components to ensure students are understanding,
  • stimulate verbal discussion of the concepts (a classical approach),
  • supplement the material with flash cards, manipulative items, and extra drills (note: learning math facts is very important in Singapore – learning addition facts, times tables, etc., but the overall approach is conceptual),
  • continually assess how well students are grasping concepts then provide additional assistance as needed.
The goal with grammar school math is to build a solid foundation in math facts and to provide students with conceptual understandings of mathematics. If this is done, students will be on a trajectory to finish strong with Calculus in high school.  Most importantly, go back and read what Plato said.
 
The current schedule for students in upper grades consists of the following:
 
6th – Singapore 6a & 6b
7th – Pre-Algebra
8th – Pre-Algebra or Algebra I (high school level) – levels depends on what level students are at when they arrive at FCA
9th – Algebra I or Geometry – level depends on 8th grade math
10th – Geometry or Algebra II – level depends on 9th grade math
11th – Algebra II or Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus
12th – Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus or Calculus (AP)
 
One of the “practical” perks for students receiving an education at Founders is the distinctions students can earn for graduation.  Just by following the prescribed core coursework, students can earn Distinguished Diplomas with three graduation Endorsements.  These include an Arts and Humanities Endorsement, a Multi-Disciplinary Studies Endorsement, and a STEM Endorsement for mathematics or science (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
***Parents of grammar school children – please work diligently with your children at home on math facts (i.e. addition, subtraction, multiplication).  Communicate with your child’s teacher about which facts to work on in each grade level.  Memorizing these facts is essential to success in mathematics. 
 
 
Reminders and Announcements:
 
PTO: This evening’s PTO meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the upper school cafeteria. Also, remember that Box Tops are due on October 28th. Stay up-to-date on all PTO events and activities at http://fcapto.com/
Founders Family Fun Fair: Please make plans to attend this Friday’s Founders Family Fun Fair from 5:00 – 7:30 pm..  To get an extra 5 tickets for free you can pre-purchase tickets in the school office or online at FCAPTO.com.  Tickets are on sale in both school offices.  Come celebrate the fall season with your FCA family.  Please note that parking will be available at Westside Baptist and at the Lillie J. Jackson Early Learning Center, on both sides of our campus, not on the FCA campus itself. 
 
Volleyball:  Our varsity volleyball team is having an excellent season.  They are undefeated and play their final home game this Friday at 7:30 p.m., at the conclusion of our school fair, against International Leadership Academy of Garland.  Seniors will be recognized at this Friday’s game so come out and support the team. 
 
Yearbook Photos: Please help our yearbook staff with school related photos.  Submitting photos is as easy as one, two, three:
1.Log on to https://community.lifetouch.com and create a new account using the access code XCMVRO,
2.Click on Upload Photos and choose your folder (examples: 2nd Grade-Guy, 7th Grade, Tackle Football, 1st Day of School, etc.)
3. Upload your High Resolution images (see back for tips).
Yearbooks will be sold at the Fall Festival for $40 (no cash, only credit card or check).  There will be an added discount for each book purchased after the first one (1st book- $40, 2nd book- $38, 3rd book- $36, etc.).
 
Online School Calendar:  Keep up with Founders activities at http://foundersclassical.com/calendar/  If you have not been to our calendar site, below the electronic signature is a listing of this week’s events as you would see them on the web site.    
Kind Regards,
 
Jason Caros
Headmaster, Founders Classical Academy
469-464-3415 (grammar school)
972-219-2370 (upper school)
 

“The most important thing is a person. A person who incites your curiosity and feeds your curiosity; and machines cannot do that in the same way that people can.”
-Steve Jobs, co-founder/former CEO of Apple on education
 
Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Staff:
 
Next week we will begin school tours for new families inquiring about enrollment for next year.  One of the questions I always field during these tours pertains to computers and other electronic devices in schools.  What should I say about how important technology is to schools? 
A common view that has been expressed by many educators and policy makers around the country is that computer based education is one of the things schools need to turn around public education. We live in a high tech society, after all, and with modern students’ short attention spans, the flashy graphics and sounds on the monitors will capture their interests. Add to this the seemingly endless information available online and you have a recipe for educational success.
 
My response to this is pretty straight-forward.  Computers, and related instructional technology, are not a panacea.  They have not saved and will not save education, nor do they have to serve as distractions – many parents complain about students participating in all kinds of non-academic activities on computers and iPads during school (this is a problem at schools, but not at Founders, of course). 
From a classical perspective, the two most important considerations at the school level are the quality of the teachers and the quality of the curriculum.  Teaching is first of all relational.  A good teacher who cares about his or her students, who connects with them, who serves as a model of virtue for them, and who teaches them strong content knowledge is irreplaceable.  I know excellent teachers that use technology very little during lessons, and I also know excellent teachers that use it more often.  The common denominator is not the tech, but the teacher. 
The other school level factor is the curriculum.  There are two questions for parents to investigate when searching for schools for their children.  The first I have already touched upon: what is the quality of the teachers on campus?  The second is: what type of curriculum does the school have in place?  In previous presentations and in a previous e-mail update, I have discussed the importance of our knowledge-rich curriculum that promotes strong literacy, cultural literacy, and virtue, so I will not repeat what I have already stated on that topic. What I will say, however, is that learning at a classical school does not depend on technology.  Technology is not one of the drivers of our curriculum, but it is one tool out of many that teachers can use to teach essential curriculum. 
On a related note, I recently came across an interesting article about Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of Apple, entitled “Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent.” The article appears below my electronic signature.  I also viewed a short video clip featuring Steve Jobs speaking on technology and the liberal arts.  The clip can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNfaVImybns
 
Tours for parents of prospective students begin on Tuesday, October 21st, and will continue on Tuesdays for several weeks.  If you know families that would appreciate classical education and the virtues we promote at Founders, have them call our school offices for tour information.  The tours will include an overview of classical education, how we do things here at Founders, and a walk through the campus.  Yes, instructional technology will be mentioned…
 
 
Reminders and Announcements:
 
Hot Chocolate with the Headmaster:The topic for Wednesday morning, October 15th, is mathematics instruction at Founders.  HCWHM will begin at 8:15 a.m. in the grammar school cafeteria (next door to the grammar school office building). Reminder: These meetings are not meant for Q & A on a variety of school questions, nor for questions about a particular child.  Presentation and discussion will pertain to the topic at hand. 
PSAT: This Wednesday, October 15th, tenth and eleventh graders will be taking the PSAT/NMSQT examination.  Students taking this exam should sleep and eat well before coming to school.  They should also bring two # 2 pencils to school. 
 
Early Release Day:This Friday, October 17th, is an early release day for students (Noon release for Grammar and 12:15 p.m. release for Upper); teachers will participate in professional development at 12:45 p.m.;  there will be no parent-teacher meetings after school, nor after care on the 17th
Cross Country:  Our cross country teams have had fantastic regular seasons, not only placing but winning some of their meets.  Our middle and high school teams will be competing in the TCSAAL state meet this Saturday in Austin.  The meet will take place at East Metropolitan Park 18701 Blake Manor Road, Manor TX  78653.  The first race begins at 9:30 a.m.  For questions about the meet contact Miss Frost or Mr. Gnadinger.  Congratulations on your accomplishments to this point, and best wishes to all our runners and coaches in Austin. 
Founders Family Fun Fair: Please make plans to attend the upcoming Founders Family Fun Fair on October 24th from 5:00 – 7:30 pm..  To get an extra 5 tickets for free you can pre-purchase tickets in the school office or online at FCAPTO.com.  Come celebrate the fall season with your FCA family.
                
Online School Calendar:  Keep up with Founders activities at http://foundersclassical.com/calendar/  If you have not been to our calendar site, below the electronic signature is a listing of this week’s events as you would see them on the web site.    
Kind Regards,
 
Jason Caros
Headmaster, Founders Classical Academy
469-464-3415 (grammar school)
972-219-2370 (upper school)
 
 
Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent
  • By Nick Bilton 
  • New York Times / September 10, 2014
While some tech parents assign limits based on time, others are much stricter about what their children are allowed to do with screens.
When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong. I was on the receiving end of a few of those calls. But nothing shocked me more than something Mr. Jobs said to me in late 2010 after he had finished chewing me out for something I had written about an iPad shortcoming.
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.
Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.
Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.
I was perplexed by this parenting style. After all, most parents seem to take the opposite approach, letting their children bathe in the glow of tablets, smartphones and computers, day and night.
Yet these tech C.E.O.’s seem to know something that the rest of us don’t.
Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now chief executive of 3D Robotics, a drone maker, has instituted time limits and parental controls on every device in his home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
The dangers he is referring to include exposure to harmful content like pornography, bullying from other kids, and perhaps worse of all, becoming addicted to their devices, just like their parents.
Alex Constantinople, the chief executive of the OutCast Agency, a tech-focused communications and marketing firm, said her youngest son, who is 5, is never allowed to use gadgets during the week, and her older children, 10 to 13, are allowed only 30 minutes a day on school nights.
Evan Williams, a founder of Blogger, Twitter and Medium, and his wife, Sara Williams, said that in lieu of iPads, their two young boys have hundreds of books (yes, physical ones) that they can pick up and read anytime.
So how do tech moms and dads determine the proper boundary for their children? In general, it is set by age.
Children under 10 seem to be most susceptible to becoming addicted, so these parents draw the line at not allowing any gadgets during the week. On weekends, there are limits of 30 minutes to two hours on iPad and smartphone use. And 10- to 14-year-olds are allowed to use computers on school nights, but only for homework.
“We have a strict no screen time during the week rule for our kids,” said Lesley Gold, founder and chief executive of the SutherlandGold Group, a tech media relations and analytics company. “But you have to make allowances as they get older and need a computer for school.”
Some parents also forbid teenagers from using social networks, except for services like Snapchat, which deletes messages after they have been sent. This way they don’t have to worry about saying something online that will haunt them later in life, one executive told me.
Although some non-tech parents I know give smartphones to children as young as 8, many who work in tech wait until their child is 14. While these teenagers can make calls and text, they are not given a data plan until 16. But there is one rule that is universal among the tech parents I polled.
“This is rule No. 1: There are no screens in the bedroom. Period. Ever,” Mr. Anderson said.
While some tech parents assign limits based on time, others are much stricter about what their children are allowed to do with screens.
Ali Partovi, a founder of iLike and adviser to Facebook, Dropbox and Zappos, said there should be a strong distinction between time spent “consuming,” like watching YouTube or playing video games, and time spent “creating” on screens.
“Just as I wouldn’t dream of limiting how much time a kid can spend with her paintbrushes, or playing her piano, or writing, I think it’s absurd to limit her time spent creating computer art, editing video, or computer programming,” he said.
Others said that outright bans could backfire and create a digital monster.
Dick Costolo, chief executive of Twitter, told me he and his wife approved of unlimited gadget use as long as their two teenage children were in the living room. They believe that too many time limits could have adverse effects on their children.
“When I was at the University of Michigan, there was this guy who lived in the dorm next to me and he had cases and cases of Coca-Cola and other sodas in his room,” Mr. Costolo said. “I later found out that it was because his parents had never let him have soda when he was growing up. If you don’t let your kids have some exposure to this stuff, what problems does it cause later?”
I never asked Mr. Jobs what his children did instead of using the gadgets he built, so I reached out to Walter Isaacson, the author of “Steve Jobs,” who spent a lot of time at their home.
“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” he said. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”