Mesrobian School is buzzing with activity. On Saturday, April 27, 2013, the school, established in 1965, will be opening its doors to the entire Greater San Gabriel Valley Armenian Community and beyond for an Open House from 12:00 noon to 4 p.m. The event is sponsored by Club Mesrobian Alumni Organization.
As Mesrobian, with grade levels ranging from Nursery School (2 year olds) through 12th Grade, prepares for the 2013-2014 Academic Year and beyond, the school would like the community to get a glimpse of some plans and initiatives that are in various stages of development, some almost complete, some in preliminary stages as of this writing.
Mesrobian School remains committed to its dual purpose of offering students a quality education, which helps prepare them for higher education and life after high school, and to help instill in them a full sense of their Armenian heritage. The school strives to instill in its students the value of community and the vital importance of being good and productive citizens of both the Armenian community and the community at large, to embrace their Armenian-American identity.
The school is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Schools; the high school curriculum is certified to the University of California.
Under the leadership of David Ghoogasian, a proud alumnus of the school, who began serving as principal again just last month, the school is committed to establishing Armenian Mesrobian School as a leader in Education. The school is moving toward an educational approach and philosophy based on the principles and findings of Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Psychology, Education, Communication and a number of other relevant fields in order to provide students with a first-rate, effective learning environment. The infusion of the new Common Core State Standards with embedded 21st Century Skills will help guide curricular and instructional decisions.
At Mesrobian School, Armenian studies are not limited to the classroom. In addition to studying Armenian language, literature, religion, history, and Armenian affairs, students are encouraged to take active roles in the life of the Armenian community. Mesrobian alumni continue to distinguish themselves as leaders in the community.
Mesrobian School has a dedicated laboratory facility for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. The lab is equipped with natural gas, a fume hood, and various apparatus. The school is emphasizing and promoting the appropriate, regular, and relevant use of the lab and is now acquiring new equipment, supplies, and apparatus, some of which will be in place before the end of the current academic year. The faculty is being trained and coached in the protocols and approaches espoused by the National Academies of Sciences.
The annual Science Fair helps students to learn and to apply the scientific method from a very young age.
Over one weekend, a small group of volunteer parents and students updated the school’s internet capabilities. The entire school now has wireless internet access.
In addition to the traditional uses of technology, the school will be implementing the use of computer software that is designed taking into account principles of cognitive neuroscience to improve students’ cognitive capacities and achievement.
The school is also exploring STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – programs, resources, and opportunities for the upcoming school year as well as other online learning opportunities.
The Common Core State Standards bring with them a significantly different set of expectations for the teaching of mathematics as well. In order to stay on the cutting edge, Mesrobian faculty will be receiving specialized training and coaching in effective and authentic math instruction.
English and Social Studies
The English program at Mesrobian, as is the case with other programs, has conformed to the California State Standards and, along with the other subject areas, will be transitioning to the Common Core State Standards. When possible, the reading material in the upper grades is historical fiction and nonfiction that is related to the material being covered in history classes. Students in 11th and 12th grades who qualify have the option of taking honors English classes, which provide them with a more challenging curriculum and prepares them for the A.P. Literature and Composition Exam.
The social studies program currently has the additional requirement of a two year course in World History and the option of a geography elective. Qualified students have the option of taking honors U.S. History, which, like the honors English classes, provides a more challenging curriculum and prepares them for the A.P. U.S. History Exam.
A well-rounded education should include the Visual and Performing Arts. Mesrobian has a comprehensive art program, beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through high school. The program includes art appreciation and education with regard to various world artists, genres, and styles, which are integrated with drawing, painting, and design. Armenian artists and styles, including ancient Armenian illuminations/manuscripts, are also highlighted and integrated into the program. “My elementary-age children are learning things in art that I learned at the university level as an Art Major,” said Olga Josephbek, an alumna of the school as well as a mother of three students.
The use of ceramics is a unique aspect of Mesrobian’s Visual Arts program through which students create pottery and sculptures. Because the school is equipped with a kiln, students go through the entire process of designing and creating the form, painting, glazing, and firing their creations.
Mesrobian students participate in various community events, displaying their singing and dramatic talents. Students participating in choir sing, among other things, classic, popular, patriotic and liturgical songs. A number of innovations and programs in the arts are also being planned and prepared for the upcoming school year.
Mesrobian School strives to educate the whole child: mind, body, and spirit. The school values the building of character through active service to causes greater than the individuals themselves. The Armenian Apostolic Church has an active role in the life of the school, with the pastor of Holy Cross Cathedral visiting the school especially on religious holidays to conduct services, pray with and speak to students, and to administer Holy Communion.
Professionals in any field require regular updates and improvements in knowledge and methodology. Mesrobian has a comprehensive program of professional development. Among the areas/topics/approaches in which teachers will likely receive professional development include:
* Classroom Applications of Brain Research/How the Brain Learns
* Differentiated Instruction
* How to Deal with Difficult Non-Compliant Student Behavior
* Response to Intervention – RTI
* Common Core State Standards
* National Academy of Sciences Teaching Protocols
* Effective Language Development
* Teaching Mathematics Effectively
* Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support – PBIS
* Effective Use of Technology
* Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
Professional Development is provided by recognized authorities in their respective field.
A learning community is sustained and improved in part through its ties with other professionals and professional organizations. As such, Mesrobian School is gaining membership into the following professional organizations in order to remain on the leading edge.
* NCTM – National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
* NCTE – National Council of Teachers of English
* NCSS – National Council for the Social Studies
* NSTA – National Science Teachers Association
* CUE – Computer Using Educators, Inc.
Students thrive when they, their teachers, and their parents work together for the common good. At the same time, parenting children and adolescence in this rapidly changing world is challenging. Mesrobian School is committed to providing, in addition to comprehensive teacher preparation, educational workshops and classes for parents. Topics will include:
Learning and Your Child’s Brain: Multiple Intelligences
Technology and the Brain: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the (as yet) Unknown
Mindset and the Mind/Brain Behind the Scenes: Helping our Children Thrive
Dedicated Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Parents, and Board
Members of Mesrobian’s Faculty and Staff have shown their dedication and professionalism in many ways. Their devotion to students and the school often reach beyond the classroom walls, as they take on activities and events that enrich the lives of those entrusted to their care.
Mesrobian School Alumni are very active in the life of the school. Their moral and financial support is palpable on a daily basis. Club Mesrobian Alumni Organization has taken on and funded many projects which benefit the school and its students. Many students at the school are children of alumni. Mesrobian alumni have distinguished themselves in various professions including Medicine, Law, Education, Engineering, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Chiropractic, Pharmacy, Nursing, Music, Business, the Culinary Arts, and many others.
A Mesrobian Alumni Professional Directory will soon be available for members of the community.
Mesrobian parents have a very active role in the life of the school and are an ever-present support system. The PFC (Parent Faculty Club) also provides moral and financial support for the school, helping to organize fundraisers and activities for students. Parents can be seen on campus daily always lending a much-needed helping hand and ensuring that the needs of the school and its students are met.
The Mesrobian School Board has been instrumental in working toward the improvement of the school. Made up of people- parents, alumni, community members- who are devoted to the school and its mission, they work closely with the school and other community organizations for the betterment of the school.
In addition to their regular PE classes, Mesrobian students in the younger grades participate in the Homenetmen KAHAM games.
In high school, Mesrobian Varsity teams have been recognized for their athletic prominence. Mesrobian is a member of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and plays in the International League of the CIF Southern Section. Mesrobian has won league championships in boys and girls basketball, girls volleyball, and boys soccer. Mesrobian has won dozens of academic and sportsmanship accolades since its opening in 1965.
The school is currently in the process of partnering with the local YMCA to use their swimming, circuit training, and exercise facilities. In addition, the school is taking into account important research on exercise and its effects on cognition and learning.
Learning and Fun Continue Outside the Classroom
Mesrobian students participate in many out-of-school activities, visiting art galleries and museums, attending cultural performances and events, and taking part in community activities. Some of the major trips taken by students include the annual middle school trip to Washington DC and the high school trip to Armenia and Artsakh, where students have the opportunity to connect with their roots. This is often a transformational experience as students see, touch, smell, and experience the places that they have learned about during their upbringing at Mesrobian School.
What Happens When a Community Comes Together
The Montebello Armenian Community is working together. The Armenian Center, the Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Cathedral, the Armenian Relief Society, and their affiliated bodies and organizations have come together with Mesrobian School to help build a better and healthier community. “We believe that we are like an ecosystem, where something that happens in one part of the ecosystem affects everything else. Toxins and/or vital nutrients that are introduced into the ecosystem have effects that are far reaching, whether positive or negative,” said Principal Ghoogasian. “We need to sustain a symbiotic relationship, where we all benefit from one another.” And this has been happening. The community has put together some joint events, that have the potential of helping to create a renewed and improved sense of community and help bring in resources. The Executive Body of the Armenian Center is working to revitalize community organizations such as the Montebello Homenetmen and Hamazkayin. Homenetmen has already begun holding practices at Mesrobian School. The Armenian Center and the Holy Cross Church are establishing scholarships for new Mesrobian students.
The Mesrobian School community encourages all to attend the Open House on April 27 to get a brief glimpse into the workings of the school and to spend a nice afternoon getting acquainted with the people and facility. Especially encouraged are parents whose children have not had the opportunity to attend Mesrobian School and those who are interested in returning. There has been an outstanding positive outpouring of support and encouragement from the community. All at Mesrobian School look forward to greeting old and new friends and to inviting new students and their families into the Mesrobian Family.