We are consistently committed to excellence.

by Rodney Berthold

First off, let me express my humble acknowledgement for all of you, parents, for trusting the staff at our school to guide the academic and social development of your children.  We never let that go unnoticed.  Secondly, I am very confident that this year has begun in the best way possible.  The students are engaged and focused.  They are kind and forgiving of one another.  Yet, they never want to leave the premises at the end of each day.  Of course your child’s teacher has, by now, briefed you on the language, math, social studies, and science assignments and lessons, but I wanted to shed more light on other learning experiences at Berthold Academy; those aspects that separate us from other public and private schools.  

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The 5 Montessori “Great Lessons”

Ms. Jaya and Ms. Ainsley have been alternating presenting the “5 Great Lessons: the Creation of the Universe, the Coming of Life, the Coming of Human Beings, the Story of Language, and the Story of Numbers.”  These impressionistic stories are designed to provide an interdisciplinary framework for all subsequent lessons in each core-curricular area.  We staff members are very careful to use the Socratic Method so that students will develop their own questions when experiencing these lessons.  It is then that the students find value in their own work, as they discover answers to their own questions, not only in their academic studies, but life in general.

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Everyone is engaged in breathing...finding one’s anchor, and relaxing.  We have discussed the importance in creating space between our emotions and our reactions, so that we can take a moment to breathe and respond appropriately.  We have sent heartfulness (good intentions) to those we know and love.  We have practiced mindful listening for two minutes. (in complete silence!)  Students have shared that they have been practicing mindfulness throughout their school day and also at home.  They keep a “Mindfulness Journal” where they reflect on their practice in words.  It is impressive how quickly Berthold Academy students have embraced and see value in this curriculum.

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Whole foods has been the focus thus far, and many students are now conscious of what they eat.  (e.g. whole foods v.  processed foods)  Students have made different green smoothie varieties.  They have learned through experimentation, which fruits add natural sweetness and which ingredients affect consistency.  Students have learned cutting, chopping, and dicing techniques, as well.

Ms. Jaya’s class has been categorizing foods into the major food groups.  Upper elementary and middle school students have been tracking what they’ve been eating, learning about chemical compounds found in all foods, and how the body digests them.

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Lower elementary students are familiarizing themselves with the Microbit: a tiny little circuit board that allows the students to control it through coding. After 2 weeks, students are already able to control the onboard LEDs to show different text and pictures.

Upper elementary students are making designs in Virtual Reality (VR).  They use a program called Google Blocks to design their models in an immersive 3D world. The result is then sent to a 3D printer. This end-to-end flow allows students to express their creativity in a whole new way.

Middle school students are choosing two coding languages (from a list of 6: Java, Javascript, Python, Ruby, PHP and Swift) and exploring basic coding techniques such as variables, user input, arithmetics, and loops. The goal of this project is not to teach coding, but to allow the students to discover that they can learn to code on their own. Developing the same program in two different languages encourages students to extrapolate core concepts in programming.

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Creative Expression

Design Elective:  Students have broken up into teams that are planning an architectural design.  The groups have researched examples of revolutionary architecture and were inspired to create their own designs that will address an identified problem.  Each team has been asked to begin exploring how and why its project will make a positive social impact.

Music Elective: We looked at revolutionary changes in songwriting techniques.  We analyzed the Beatles “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”  The band’s arrangements and song structure changed the way pop songs were written.  We can even see the residual impacts on today’s music.  The students are currently composing their own songs by designing the chord progressions and writing verses and chorus to accompany the melody.

Art Elective:  Students have chosen to learn how to draw and paint realistically.  Lessons will be designed to support and scaffold their interest.  They are looking for inspiration about the relationship between art and revolution through studying one artist’s Ted Talk, Titus Kaphar’s Can Art Amend History.

In lower elementary art, the children are developing skills in the use of different media. They have worked on coloring using colored pencils and water colors. They have also experimented with the two types of lines, curved and straight, and are beginning to realise that these types of lines are found in all art forms.  In music, the students are learning rhythmic notation in 4/4 time signature.  They have drawn and performed whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes.



Lower elementary students have been working on basic coordination, balance, and core strength building.  Students are also engaging in activities to increase proprioception (i.e. knowing where the body is in space without seeing it.)

Upper elementary and middle school students are working to increase lower body strength and coordination.  Each student has selected a year-long goal such as stamina, commitment, perseverance, etc. that students will apply first to themselves and others, and then create benchmarks to self-evaluate progress towards achieving their year-long goals.  Yoga journals have been decorated to ensure personalization.

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Foreign Languages

Everyone is full-throttled on Duolingo!  I can’t believe how many different languages and classes we have!  Turkish, Russian, German, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Italian.  We staff members are learning from the students as they share what they’ve learned individually and at their own pace.

Lower elementary Spanish lessons have focused on counting through 29, months of the year, and favorite fruits and vegetables.  Additionally, upper elementary have begun conjugating regular -ar ending verbs.  Middle School are conjugating -ar and -er ending verbs.  There has been much excitement observed in Ms. Ainsley’s lessons.

Upcoming Events

Monday, October 9:  Columbus Day (School Closed)

Tuesday, October 10-Monday, October 23: Parent/Teacher Conferences

Wednesday, October 25: Upper Elementary/Middle School Kennedy Center Field Trip

Saturday, October 28, 10am-1pm: Cox Farm Berthold Academy Community Event

Berthold Academy

11480 Sunset Hills Rd, Ste 10-E

Reston, Va 20190

(H) 571-313-1709

(M) 703-201-0676