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Fiveash Flashback - September 2023

Dear SVS Parents,

Welcome to our new "Fiveash Flashback" blog series, where we'll be recapping the latest happenings at SVS!

This summer, our dedicated 12-month staff oversaw the remarkable transformation of the new reading intervention cottage, thanks to the generosity of Lowe's on Lakeshore, the Glups family, the Foster family, and Sherrod Construction. The community spirit was alive as volunteers from the Church of the Highlands, over 100 strong, came together with SVS families and faculty for the July Serve Day to enhance our playground, grounds, trail, and outdoor classroom. We are immensely grateful for these acts of kindness.

Personally, I took some time this summer to reflect and recharge for the upcoming school year. I delved into books like Wisdom of The Bullfrog by Admiral McRaven and revisited Brene Brown's Atlas of the Heart. These readings inspired our 2023-24 word of the year: Dare. To dare means to do something with courage, to take calculated risks with boldness. It's about stepping out of our comfort zones and seizing opportunities that might seem risky but are worth pursuing. This year, I encourage all of us to embrace opportunities with courage and bravery.

Speaking of courage, our faculty and staff engaged in dynamic professional development in August, starting with a two-day Brene Brown Dare to Lead Workshop led by Dr. Lisa Graham and Dr. Julie McDonald. We explored the fundamental skills of courageous leadership, including rumbling with vulnerability, living into our values, braving trust, and learning to rise. These sessions were enriching. We built on this training. In our annual individual meetings, each member identified their core values. It was eye-opening to recognize the diverse core values among us, with "family," "kindness," "grace," and "learning" emerging as prevalent themes. In the coming months, we will collectively work to define Spring Valley's core values.

We also had an informative overview of the MindUp program, which will be a part of our advisory research program, helping students manage stress, regulate emotions, and foster optimism. Additionally, Blair Payne, doctoral student at the University of Texas, shared insights into the Promoting Adolescents' Comprehension of Text (PACT) program and strategies for teaching content vocabulary.

Jeff Brown provided essential Be Aware training, focusing on situational awareness, while Dr. Sandra Foster taught CPR and First Aid training to our faculty and staff.

Let's shift our attention to the new SVS House System. The Sorting Ceremony was a thrilling experience, with special thanks to Tony Foster for the impressive sorting wheel. Kudos to Liz Smith and Sam Hastings for making this vision a reality!

I'm honored to serve in the 2024 Leadership Birmingham class, exploring issues facing our city with 55 other leaders from diverse backgrounds. We will engage in insightful program days covering topics like education, justice, government, and the arts in our magical city.

A quick reminder of upcoming events: The Annual Town Hall meeting will be held on October 3, starting at 5:30 with a potluck dinner, followed by the meeting at 6:15, with childcare provided.

In closing, I want to express our gratitude to our adept faculty for their dedication in navigating the challenges related to COVID. They seamlessly transitioned between in-person and virtual learning, enabling us to control further spread. Please understand that this platform will be reserved for extended absences and positive cases due to the complexities of teaching in both formats. Thank you for remaining vigilant with all illnesses.

Here's to a great 2023-2024 school year!

Dr. Laura Fiveash


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