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Unlocking Futures: The Power of The Sycamore School’s College and Career Team

At The Sycamore School (TSS), our mission is to prepare students for life beyond high school, equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in any path...
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The New Face of Autism

I’ve worked with individuals who have autism (ASD) for over 30 years. In that time, there has been a shift in our understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of autism. No two...
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Empowering Lifelong Learners: The Self-Directed Approach at The Sycamore School

The Sycamore School’s vision is to cultivate curious, independent, lifelong learners. Supporting self-directed learning is foundational to this goal.   Traditional learning often involves a teacher lecturing the class and students receiving...
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School Fit: A Teacher’s Reflection

Can a school really make a dramatic difference to a student? I began my classroom teaching career at another independent private school in the region, which was in many ways...
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College and Career Readiness

As the new College & Career Readiness counselor, I’ve had the unique opportunity to help our Juniors and Seniors establish clarity and progress on their goals in preparation for high...
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Field Trip to the National Museum of the American Indian

One of the world’s great museum centers is minutes away from The Sycamore School in the Smithsonian network that sprawls across a dozen blocks on the Mall and offers students...
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A New Year. A New Space.

A new year in a new space for The Sycamore School! After months of planning, veteran students and staff joined newcomers in our expanded middle and high school space at...
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Six Tips to Start the New School Year Strong

A new school year is always full of excitement and possibility, but it can also bring with it some fear and anxiety. Whether you are a student, parent, or teacher,...
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Six Ways to Support LGBTQ+ Youth in Virginia

Every student should feel safe and free to be their authentic selves. This founding principle has guided TSS since our inception. Recent legislation has questioned this basic human right for...
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Summer. A New Beginning.

I’ve always thought of time in the context of school: that the beginning of the year starts in September and ends in August.  I’m often puzzled when people speak about...
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From Struggling Student to Successful Teacher: My Journey with Executive Functioning Challenges

I was a backpack stuffer.  All the papers I received during the day were crumpled and stuffed at the bottom of my backpack, crushed by the weight of objects I...
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Social Media as Creative Writing Curriculum

The Sycamore School’s Journalism & Yearbook Class is a daily elective where students actively contribute to our school’s social media. This class empowers them to contribute to the narrative and...
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A Parent Guide for Helping Your Child Beat the Winter Blues

The short days and less favorable weather of winter often have an adverse impact on our general mood. It is not uncommon for individuals — including children — to find...
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The Sycamore School is Moving to Rosslyn

The Sycamore School is moving to Rosslyn! After six years in Ballston, TSS has decided that we are ready to take the next step in our journey and move into...
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Redefining the Purpose of Education

What Has Been the Purpose of Education? Our education system is outdated and has been running on autopilot for quite some time. While we have amazing teachers throughout our community,...
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TSS Celebrates Coming Out Day

The Sycamore School celebrated National Coming Out Day 2022 on Tuesday, October 11. Dr. Rachel’s Journalism class kicked off the idea when they decided they wanted to commemorate the 34th...
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Exploring Executive Functioning Skills & Parent Tips

Executive functioning skills are all the skills needed to engage in goal-directed behavior, such as planning a vacation or organizing a birthday party. We use them every day, throughout the...
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Parent Blog: How Being Able to Trust The Sycamore School Is The Best Thing

This blog is a part of a series where parents of The Sycamore School’s students share their experiences on what it’s like to be a part of the TSS community...
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Parent Blog: How TSS Changed My Life (and My Daughter’s)

This blog is a part of a series where parents of The Sycamore School’s students share their experiences on what it’s like to be a part of the TSS community...
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Parent Blog: How The Sycamore School Helped to Transform My Daughter

This blog is a part of a series where parents of The Sycamore School’s students share their experiences on what it’s like to be a part of the TSS community...
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A Love Letter to Teachers

Teachers and healthcare workers are the unsung heroes of this pandemic. We keep dumping more and more on them and then expect them to keep going, undaunted. Perhaps it’s time...
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Parent Blog: How The Sycamore School is Helping us Navigate the Middle School Years

This blog is a part of a series where parents of The Sycamore School’s students share their experiences on what it’s like to be a part of the TSS community...
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Pandemic Learning Loss

Educators across the country are noticing that students have lost many of the skills they acquired before the pandemic. In some cases, our younger students never developed the skills we...
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5 Signs Your Kid’s School Isn’t A Good Fit: Pandemic Edition

*This is an updated version of 5 Signs Your Kid’s School Isn’t A Good Fit, originally published in August 2018. As we continue to navigate education in the wake of...
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Communities in Crisis: The Pandemic, School Refusal, and Mental Health Struggles – What We’re Not Talking About

We are in a mental health crisis.  The pandemic is once again disrupting our daily lives, and we have a significant number of children, tweens, and teens who are not...
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What Do We Want Our Children to Get Out of School?

What do parents want their children to learn in school?  To learn specific academic content?  To be an independent learner?  To be compliant (e.g., follow directions and rules)?  To successfully...
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TSS Teacher Credentialing and Skills

The Sycamore School (TSS) has a unique approach to learning. We utilize a mastery-based approach to meet students where they are, address any gaps in skills, and move them forward...
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High School Psych Experience

At The Sycamore School, each cohort has a different experience class. This transdisciplinary class weaves together language arts, science, history, and math under a common theme. This year, our high...
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Return to In-Person Learning: How You Can Help Your Child

This fall, parents around the country took a deep breath and cautiously, worriedly, and maybe even gleefully sent their children back to school for a return to in-person learning. As...
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Why Your Student Needs a Progressive No Grades High School

What if a high school has no grades? No Advanced Placement (AP) classes. No International Baccalaureate (IB) program. To most parents in Northern Virginia, this is profoundly unsettling information. They...
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TSS Earns Cognia Accreditation

“Is your school accredited?” Since opening The Sycamore School, that has been one of the most common questions. Answering that seemingly simple question was not easy and required some explanation....
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Summer Break Update

Summer: a time for barbecues, swimming pools, and some much-needed R&R. The weather outside may be slowing everyone down, but here at The Sycamore School (TSS), we’ve hit the ground...
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Let’s Take A Walk Experience

How do I fit into my community? How does my community affect my identity? What about my environment shapes my point of view? These are the questions we pondered this...
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Tips to Avoid Summer Brain Drain

I recently was asked to give a talk for the FAA on School’s Out: Tips on How to Avoid Summer Brain Drain. Parents wanted to know how they should be...
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The New Normal

Are you excited about the prospect of a more relaxed and carefree summer? Or does the thought of parenting and navigating this new world fill you with anxiety? Maybe it’s...
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A Unique Approach to Math

At The Sycamore School, we take a different approach to math instruction.  As an independent private school, we are unencumbered by arbitrary year-end standardized tests. Students are free to follow...
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Why Grading Erodes our Students’ Love of Learning

Our education system is getting derailed, and as parents, we are unwittingly becoming part of the problem. Somehow, we have lost what education and school are all about: learning.  We...
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Ecosystems Experience

Ecosystems Experience Blog - by Jon McKenney  At The Sycamore School, instead of separate core classes, students engage in transdisciplinary experiences each semester that weave together content from english, science,...
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Remote Learning Part II

Over the summer, we created a comprehensive COVID reopening plan which offered our students the choice of full time in-person or remote instruction. The vast majority of our students chose...
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A Beginner’s Mind

At The Sycamore School, we regularly participate in professional development training. They cover a wide range of topics over the course of a year from familiarizing staff with our on-line...
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First Week of In-Person and Remote Learning

Back to School 2020 has necessitated months of creativity and planning.  The hard work paid off when our in-person learners walked through the door Monday for their first day of...
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Opening Day In-Person Countdown!

It’s one week before we open our doors (literally) for the new school year at The Sycamore School!  It’s been a wild ride since we had to switch to a...
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Capstone Project

The Sycamore School was founded on the fundamental belief that learning can be engaging, enjoyable and personal.  We encourage students to be active participants in their education through our student-driven...
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COVID-19 Update

TSS plans to resume in-person learning 5 days a week this fall. As part of our return to school plan, no visitors (to include parents) will be allowed into the...
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Fall School Planning

Public schools in our area are asking parents to make a choice for fall: keep your child/ren home for 100% virtual, or choose a hybrid model where they are in...
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Remote Learning – Tips and Lessons Learned

Shifting to distance learning has been an adjustment for students, staff, and parents. At The Sycamore School, we offer individualized instruction, so our unique challenge was determining how to offer...
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