Author: Stephen Bennhoff

imagesKindergarten Innovation Hour – Plan, Build, Revise, and Share!

Marshmallows and gumdrops were the materials at the center of Ms. Jessica Boyle’s first Innovation Hour with her Kindergarten students this week. Each child was challenged to imagine and build a structure with the same amount of these tasty treats. The students moved step by step through such stages as:

1. Make a Plan

2. Build

3. Revise

4. Present / Share your structure with other students.




On a sunny Thursday, November 13, our Middle School students helped their Early Childhood buddies plant bulbs for the spring. Our students planted 1639 bulbs to commemorate the year the City of Newport was founded. This is the second year that St. Michael’s Country Day School students have participated in the Daffodillion Campaign for Newport. The Campaign began as a way to recognize Newport’s 375th Anniversary. Our Student Leadership Board raised the money to join at the Founders Member level last year.  We are grateful to the Wellness Committee for supporting our effort at the Founders Member level this year.  The blooms will be visible this spring throughout our campus. You’ll also see them along the stone wall on Rhode Island Avenue and on the corner of Gibbs and Memorial Blvd.


On Thursday, October 30th, SMCDS’s fifth grade hosted two special visitors from the other side of the globe! Fifth grade teacher Claire Stieff  invited Jafari and Indira, a woman and her daughter, both from Afghanistan, to come and talk to the fifth grade. Mary Goodman, a retired teacher and Claire’s friend, is involved with a women’s group and thus knew about Jafair and Indira, who were visiting family and friends in the U.S., and quickly offered to invite them to visit the students at SMCDS. Jafari and Indira arrived on campus dressed in their native Afghani dress, and they spent an hour talking with the fifth grade students about life in their homeland. It was an amazing cross-cultural connection.



Bryant University Men’s Head Basketball Coach Tim O’Shea spoke with SMDCS 8th grade students on Tuesday, October 28, field questions and sharing advice about the challenges and rewards of leadership. Coach O’Shea brought along a Bryant University student, who also shared advice on how to persevere and accomplish your goals.

Enjoy the gallery of images from the wonderful morning conversation.

Ms. Shivani Bhalla, a leader in animal conservation, visited our campus on Tuesday, October 14, as the second speaker in our 8th grade Leadership Speaker Series. She is the founder and executive director of Ewaso Lions, an organization that conserves lions and other large carnivores in northern Kenya by promoting coexistence between people and wildlife through science and education. National Geographic recently named Ms. Bhalla to its 2014 class of “Emerging Explorers, a group of 14 visionary, young trailblazers from around the globe whose innovative ideas and accomplishments are making a significant difference in the world.” Following her remarks to our students in grades 4-8, Ms. Bhalla met with our 7th and 8th grade girls to discuss the particular challenges of being a woman in a leadership position, the value of networking and relationship building, and the importance of finding your passion and pursuing your interests. We are incredibly proud to have hosted Shivani, and wish her well in her important work!


The campus was awash with sun and smiles on Friday, October 10 for the 2014 Grandparents and Special Friends Day. Over 200 guests were on hand to enjoy classes, companionship, and community. The day began with a welcome from our Head of School, John Zurn. After visiting classes and partaking in our exciting curriculum, the day ended with multiple performances in Hill House, including the “A” Band, the Recess Singers, and the School Chorus. enjoy the attached photo gallery and see if you can find YOUR family!

Join your SMDCS friends in the computer lab, along with technology teacher Mr. Foehr, and explore the magnificent world of Minecraft. Minecraft is a on-line activity which involves creating your own virtual world. What fun!

If you are interested in the world of Minecraft and would like to share what you know, learn more about how to create your own virtual world, or would just like to try something new, then Minecraft Club might be just what you need!

Join us in the SMS computer lab with Mr. Foehr where the conversation and activities will focus on Minecraft, including playing tips and help building your own environment. The classes will run from October 15th – January 16th

There will be two sections offered:

Wednesday 3-4:30 Grades 5-8

Oct. 15, 22, 29 ~ Nov. 5, 12, 19 ~ Dec. 3, 10, ~ Jan. 7, 14

Friday 3-4:30 Grades 3&4

Oct. 17, 24, 31 ~ Nov. 7, 14, 21 ~ Dec. 5, 12 ~ Jan. 9, 16

****Each section will be limited to 20 students on a first come first serve basis. ****

Classes will be a combination of instruction and play time.

*PLEASE NOTE – If you are involved in an SMCDS play or sport, those must be your first priority. Please do not ask to skip a practice, rehearsal, or game to join us. You do not have to come to every session to participate. You can start when your play or sports season is over.

On October 4 and 5 SMCDS hosted over 1,000 children and their parents in the Children’s Arts and Crafts tent at the Norman Bird Sanctuary’s Harvest Fair. Parents, teachers, students, and even several alumni were on hand to help the children with the arts, and to spread the good word about St. Michael’s Country Day School. It was truly a weekend of great community, crafts, and companionship!


This past Monday, October 6, SMCDS teachers Jessica Boyle, Lauren Hutchinson, and Kate Joubert led a series of workshops for their New England peers at the autumn AISNE regional conference. AISNE (Association of Independent Schools of New England) teachers heard nuggets of practical wisdom and advice from our three faculty, who focused on topics including STEAM programming, which centers on the integration of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. We are proud of our teacher-leaders being at the head of the class. Enjoy the attached gallery of these fine educators in action!


Often times parents ask “how can I be involved in the life of my child when I enroll at SMCDS?” This past week, parents across the Early Childhood and Lower School grades showcased a diverse range of history and heritage as they met with students and shared great memories. Enjoy the gallery below to see what they did!