Author Archive for jessica – Page 2

A Message from the Executive Director

As we close this year, I want to thank you for making the 2018-2019 academic year such a memorable year at Five Oaks Academy. Your commitment to excellence and to the partnership between parent and school/student has brought forth continued growth.

In May we earned our STEAM accreditation and received the following comments from SCISA’s Dr. Spencer Jordan. “Five Oaks Academy is an excellent example of a school taking advantage of SCISA Professional Development to meet desired outcomes. The faculty and students were very good ambassadors for the school and expressed notable enthusiasm and engagement. The STEAM program developed by the administration and staff is exemplary and more than meets the SCISA requirements of STEAM Certification.

SCISA’s committee acknowledges the following Powerful Practices:
1. Vertical Alignment throughout the school for the STEAM
program is impressive
2. Practical life applications were integrated into the initiative
3. Complete buy-in by faculty
4. Adequate funding for the program was evident
5. Built-in staff meetings and collaborative design were impressive as they relate to the STEAM initiative

SCISA commends the outstanding work of the Five Oaks staff in developing the STEAM curriculum. SCISA Executive Director, Dr. Spencer Jordan, and former SCISA Executive Director, Mr. Larry Watt, gave a glowing evaluation of their on-site accreditation visit of Five Oaks Academy. They said they were “speechless” because this was the best on-site visit for STEAM accreditation that they have had in the entire state. They went on to say that by adding empathy to our design process, it sets us apart from other programs. This empathy connects students to real-world applications and makes the design process more meaningful. Some of our students and lead teachers were interviewed for the evaluation and there was an extensive review of all classroom practices for STEAM.

Five Oaks Academy’s S.T.E.A.M. Model

Thank you to the students who participated in our Raise Craze fundraiser. Funds raised for their acts of kindness allow each classroom to purchase STEAM materials that furthered the cause!

Please enjoy your summer and if you are returning, we will be looking forward to seeing you in August! If this is your final year at FOA, please know you will always be a part of our community.

With much gratitude and Happy Summer!  

Ms. Kathleen

Italian Honey Bees Find a Home at FOA

We are excited to announce that we now have a honey bee hive that houses Italian honey bees! We have cultural diversity everywhere here at FOA even in our honey bees!  Our hive of Italian honeybees (Apis mellifera) includes approximately 10,000 bees, including nurse bees, forager bees, guard bees, drone bees, and a newly mated queen bee. Our hive is located on the nature trail next to the stream and will be available for observation to our students. Bees are so fascinating and essential for our existence. We know this will spur a lot of new research and interest among our students. 

Once the bees establish themselves and draw out new honeycomb, the queen will start laying eggs. The first bees will hatch in 21 days. Up to 2,000 bees per day could hatch during peak foraging. New supers will be added as the colony size grows. The hive may have as many as 60,000 bees by midsummer. If the current hive is growing well, it can be split to start a new hive.

We also have a blog dedicated to our Italian honeybees where you can read about the exciting developments in our hive and also subscribe to it if you’d like. We are so grateful for our beekeeper/ FOA parent, Dan Magner, for overseeing this amazing project and being a mentor to our students. Several of the Upper Elementary students have taken a special interest in learning about these extraordinary creatures and how to care for them. These junior beekeepers got to experience a hive check and even taste a tiny bit of the sweet honey our bees have made. To keep up with what is happening in our hive, go to

Interesting facts and safety information to share with your child: 

  • This species produces more honey than it consumes and this will allow us to collect honey from them. An established hive will produce up to 60 lbs (5 gallons) of honey per year. Generally, not as much or sometimes no honey is collected during the first year because the bees are using much of it to build new wax honeycombs. Bees must consume 6-8 pounds of honey to produce 1 pound of wax.
    • Will honeybees sting? Honeybees are very gentle creatures! You could stand at the front entrance of their hive all day and they wouldn’t bother you. Honeybees really don’t want to sting you. That being said, they will sting if they feel you are threatening their eggs or their honey, and you don’t back off after ample warning. In other words, you are most likely to be stung when the hive is open.
    • How can I tell if the bees are feeling threatened? They will give you plenty of warning that is pretty easy to figure out. Some bees will come out of the hive and bump into you repeatedly as a way to say, “back off a little bit.” If
    the person is being bumped naturally takes a few steps back, it’s usually enough to satisfy the bees. If that doesn’t work, they give off an alarm pheromone that smells just like bananas! It’s really quite amazing!
  • Why do you need a bee suit and smoke when opening the hives for inspection or to collect honey? Bees feel threatened when their hive is opened. Smoke is used primarily for two reasons: it masks their alarm pheromone so they can’t signal other bees; and it simulates a nearby fire, which encourages the bees to start eating honey in lieu of all else in case they need to depart in a hurry. Since the bees are so busy doing other things, smoke makes it easy to check the hives. The bee suit is an extra precaution, but really all that is needed is a veil.

STEM in the Montessori Environment

Dr. Maria Montessori developed a STEM curriculum over 100 years ago knowing that the best way for students to retain information is through a hands-on inquiry approach to learning.

Dr. Montessori went against traditional education norms by insisting that, even at age 3, students needed to focus their attention on the natural world of sciences. Today if you visit a Montessori Primary classroom consisting of 3, 4 and 5-year-olds, you will see real-life photographs and maps pertaining to continent studies and biomes. What you won’t see are photos of fantasy and make-believe cartoon characters on the walls or on the shelves.

Entrenched in the Montessori philosophy is a scientific method that corresponds to the modern design process touted by the STEM Curriculum. These two educational ideas work hand in hand to support student driven inquiry and reflection.

Rosetta Stone Names FOA’s Lead Spanish Teacher Their “Teacher of the Month”

We are so proud of our Lead Spanish Program Directress, Ms. Lety, for being named Rosetta Stone’s Teacher of the Month for February 2019! Ms. Lety joined Five Oaks Academy in 2006. She teaches Spanish in the Lower Elementary and Middle School programs. In addition to teaching Spanish twice a week to the students in these programs, Lety oversees Rosetta Stone in the Middle School and Upper Elementary programs. Lety is originally from Mexico and is a beloved teacher in the FOA community!

The image includes the article/interview that Rosetta Stone published about this honor.
We are so proud of Sra. Lety!

Mindful Parenting for the ADHD FAmily

Families with an ADHD child understand that it is ever-present in their daily lives as they attempt to prepare their child for their future. Many times ADHD affects the whole family. Parents grapple with how to handle their ADHD child and the persistent and, often, difficult behaviors displayed by their child such as a lack of impulse control, the inability to read social cues, weak organizational skills, and problems with executive functioning skills.

Understanding ADHD and how it affects your child is the first step in helping an ADHD child. Please join us for “Mindful Parenting for the ADHD Family” parent workshops featuring Dr. Caitlin McLear, Ph.D., of Synergy Psych, on February 4 and February 11. These workshops will define ADHD, explore treatment options, and discuss ways to establish consistent boundaries, rewards, and consequences. 

This event is open to the public so invite any of your friends, neighbors, and/or family members who would benefit from this workshop. We kindly ask that you RSVP if you would like to attend this event by going to

FOA’s Afterschool Teachers Raise Money for A Child’s Haven

Five Oaks Academy is extremely proud of our Afterschool Teachers, Kate Black and Kirstyn Turner, who are this year’s student body Co-Presidents for Mauldin High School! They are leading the school’s Spirit Week events and fundraisers that will benefit A Child’s Haven.

Check out the MHS Spirit Week 2019 page to see all of the great work they are doing to raise money for A Child’s Haven this year.

Great Job Kate and Kirstyn!

“How to Raise an Adult” Montessori Parents in Action (MPIA) Parent Workshop

In this seemingly competitive world that at times may feel like an achievement arms race, it is tempting to do everything in your power to make sure your child succeeds. Many parents jump in to solve problems for their children, schedule every waking hour of the day,  over supervise daily activities and academic work, and offer an abundance of praise all along the way.  But is that really what will make your child become a successful adult? How will the real world feel to a young adult who has grown up having their problems solved for them, having all obstacles moved out of their way, and accustomed to praise at every turn?

Join us on January 18 at 8:30 am for a Montessori Parents in Action (MPIA) group discussion on Julie Lythcott-Haims book, How to Raise an Adult.

We hope you will join in on this important discussion. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the book. This event is open to the public but we do ask that you call the main office to RSVP. We will have great information to take with you!  To find out more about the author, visit her website at

Life After Montessori: An Alumni Parent Workshop

Please join us on Thursday, January 17 at 6:00 pm for one of our favorite events of the year! We are thrilled to welcome back Five Oaks Academy Alumni and invite them to participate in a panel discussion about their transition to high school and beyond.

If you would like to attend, kindly respond by clicking on this Eventbrite link to register –

We are always excited to have our alumni back “home” on campus! We can’t wait for you to meet them, listen to their life stories, and hear how they feel prepared for their future thanks to their experience at Five Oaks Academy!

Discover and Develop Your Child’s Unique Strengths

We all want our children to be successful but what exactly does that mean and how do we guide our children towards success? Humans generally feel successful when they know they excel at something. Certified Gallup Strengths Coaches Chandra White and Renee Anderson from WellSmart Solutions recently spoke to the FOA community on the topic of “Strengths”. They provided us with insight on how parents can start on the journey to guiding their children in discovering and developing their unique strengths while focusing on their own as well.  

Chandra and Renee began their session with the definition of talent and the relationship between talent and strengths. They explained that talents are naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior. Strengths are simply talents that are developed and can be productively applied. It is our job as parents to help our children “lean into” and develop their natural talents so they become strengths, thus leading them towards excellence or success. They stressed that while guiding your child toward success you want to look at what is right, not wrong, with them. This starts with recognizing your child’s unique talents and simultaneously letting go of pushing them to be who they are not. Begin by noticing what they are naturally good at doing as well as what they gravitate towards automatically. Another indicator of a strength is when an activity leaves a child energized.

Furthermore, Chandra and Renee explained that when parents focus on using their child’s natural talents and develop them into strengths, they can use the child’s strengths to manage their weakness much better. One example given was if a child hates math facts but is “competitive”, a parent can use their child’s competitive strength to create a math game to practice their math facts, thus making it about winning the game and not about the math facts. Another example was if a child struggles in reading and has “determination” as a strength, a parent could emphasize the child’s determination to push through difficult work. Shifting the focus makes it no longer about reading, but about the child’s determined spirit. It is important to note that the research indicates that a weakness will never become a talent or strength so it is best to point your child towards the management of their weakness versus expecting excellence.

Renee walked us through what it means to be mindful versus “mind full”. She emphasized how adding a mindful practice of only 8-10 minutes a day can help the mind by improving the working memory, focus, concentration as well as reducing anxiety and depression and the body by increasing energy, improved stamina, and reducing pain and inflammation. Yoga and meditation are two types of formal mindful practices that are beneficial. She also encouraged informal practices such as self-awarenesses where you are deliberately paying attention while driving, showering, or washing the dog.

As parents seek to develop talents into strengths, it is important to notice the natural talents, encourage them to develop in their child and then help the child share them with the world. It is then that the child will feel truly successful. Pairing a child’s strengths with a mindful practice will enable them to not only feel successful but live a healthy and purposeful life.

We look forward to having Chandra and Renee back for future parenting workshops! They have amazing knowledge and a passion for helping people discover their strengths so they can live the best life possible!

Thandi Tutu-Gxashe Shares Her Story With FOA Students

Five Oaks Academy was honored to welcome Thandi Tutu-Gxashe, CEO of Desmond Tutu Tutudesk Campaign “Tutudesk Campaign 2020”, on Monday, November 26. Ms. Tutu-Gxashe is the daughter of Desmond Tutu, a highly influential leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. She has lived, worked and been educated in the UK, Swaziland, Botswana and the USA. Ms. Tutu-Gxashe echoes her parent’s vision of equality and the importance of education. Her sincere, warm, and gentle nature instantly captivated her audience of FOA elementary and middle school students.  She shared her passion for education and her drive to address the issue of the vast shortage of desks in sub-Saharan Africa. Our students were stunned to learn there are over 90 million students who had no hard surface to write on and who are literally working on the floor of a classroom or under a tree.

The “Tutudesk Campaign 2020” aims to address the shortage of 90 million desks in sub-Saharan Africa, by providing 20 million Tutudesks to 20 million children by 2020. The Tutudesk is an environmentally friendly, light, portable desk that children can use at school or at home, in regular classrooms or under a tree. The organization’s goal is to improve the lives of African children, their communities and countries, and to make Africa a more globally competitive continent by impacting education and literacy. Ms. Tutu-Gxashe gifted FOA with 3 Tutudesks for our Five Oaks students to use. For more information and to make a donation, please visit In addition to education, Ms. Tutu-Gxashe is passionate about many public health issues, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

We are so appreciative of the time Thandi Tutu-Gxashe extended to our students. Her dedication and drive are such an inspiration to us all!  A special thank you to Upper Elementary student, Charles A., for contacting Ms. Tutu-Gxashe and coordinating her to visit FOA.