student at whiteboard


EMS Opens in Hybrid Mode

News Type:  EMS Date:  Thursday, September 17, 2020

The 2020–2021 school year kicked off at the Elementary•Middle School (EMS) on August 31 in hybrid mode, with each class divided into two pods, A and B. One pod is on campus each week, while the other learns remotely. Students spent the first week in orientation, meeting new classmates and teachers, getting reacquainted with teachers and friends they hadn't seen in person since March, and learning how to navigate the new model. 

Students returned to find countless COVID-related changes to buildings, the grounds, classrooms, and the covered faces of peers, teachers, and staff. What hasn't changed is the spirit, optimism, and flexibility of the school community.


"Hearing students laughing in the courtyard, seeing them sitting in classrooms, and watching them successfully navigate the arrow-laden hallways continues to buoy us and makes all of the preparations and the carefully-weighed decisions worth the time and effort," said Claire Sullivan, head of EMS. "We can now rely on our community, whether to share innovative lesson plans with one another, cover newly assigned duties, or take on additional responsibilities both in person and virtually, to forge a path together through the different-looking school year that lies ahead of us." 

Amy Conant, an EMS faculty member, shares Claire sense of optimism and collaboration.

"It's wonderful to be back with the students. I'm excited to build two communities, in person and remote. The dynamic is certainly different in the two formats," she said. "We are focussing on gratitude, with students reflecting on what they appreciate about learning in person and remotely. They have been respectful and considerate of each other in both settings."

She sees the benefits of both models. "There's a lot to be said about connecting with students in person, but many students are showing strong executive function skills and independence. It's building their self-esteem."

Students Embrace Both Models

Students are also enthusiastic to be back on campus, learning, interacting, and playing. At a recent milkbreak, several students gushed about how refreshing it feels to see friends and teachers in person and also cited positive aspects of remote learning.

"It's so nice to see my friends and teachers—it feels like real school again, even if it's a little weird to be social distancing and wearing masks," said Somers K. '29. "But I also like to learn at home, in my room."

Riley H. '28 shares Somers's zeal for returning to campus. "It feels nice to see my friends and teachers and have more interaction with them," she said. "I like seeing them on campus rather than on a computer."

Aaron O. '26 much prefers being in person. "I'd rather be six feet apart from my friends in person than see them on a screen," he said. "The environment at Landmark puts me in a good mood and helps me learn."

landmark elementary•middle school reopening

Ocean Floor Models Displayed Remotely

News Type:  EMS Date:  Friday, June 12, 2020

In mid-March, when Landmark School had to close its doors temporarily due to the COVID-19 health pandemic, we could not have imagined that three months later we would be offering five days of remote one-to-one tutorial, academic classes, electives, social groups—even a virtual Elementary Key and Middle School Transition Ceremony. 

In a typical year, May would have been the month when Parents' Days would have been held on our Elementary•Middle School campus with parent, teacher, and advisor conferences, workshops, and presentations. Each spring Sophie Wilson, head of the EMS Science Department, works with her teachers and over 100 middle school students to present three-dimensional presentations of the unit they are working on—and this year was no exception. 

Ms. Wilson said, "Our year-end unit was on Marine Science and I tasked our students with creating models of the ocean floor. This was something that they could work on at home and submit a photo of their project to their science teacher. I was so impressed with the high caliber of these projects and the time and attention that our students dedicated to their models. While I wish we could have displayed these in person during Parents' Days, it's been fun to watch this virtual presentation take shape."

Here's a taste of the presentation

Here's the full presentation with all student work included.


Ocean floor model

2020 Elementary•Middle School Awards

News Type:  EMS Date:  Thursday, June 11, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the setting of the annual awards ceremony at Landmark Elementary•Middle School, but it didn't dampen the spirit of students, faculty, and presenters. In fact, given the situation, the awards took on larger meaning. Six awards were presented to deserving students on June 9, 2020. 

Christopher Langston Award for Citizenship: Rose werner '24

The Chris Langston Citizenship Award is awarded in memory of Chris Langston. Chris was a pleasant, caring, helpful young man in our community. He was always there to pitch in when needed, always had a smile on his face, and was ready to help. The award is given to the student who has displayed excellent citizenship throughout his or her eighth grade year, contributed to activities, and exhibited great concern for his or her fellow students and the community. 

Max Clayman Compassion Award: McKenzie Burke '24 and Ella Hayward '24

The Max Clayman Compassion Award honors a student who displays an unusual ability to connect to other students—a connection that reflects a natural ability to listen well, to support others, and to display genuine compassion for those from all walks of life. The recipient is a student who naturally incorporates regular acts of kindness and compassion and as a result has made their school a better, more positive place.

Charles Drake Award: Felim Meade '24

The Charles Drake Award honors a student who personifies the strengths Dr. Drake saw in our students when he founded Landmark School. A dyslexic himself, Dr. Drake began Landmark nearly 50 years ago to help students overcome their language-based learning disabilities. Much has changed since then, but his beliefs and methods still form the central core of our teaching at Landmark. When Dr. Drake passed away, the EMS campus decided to maintain the memory of his spirit and his vision by awarding a yearly prize to a student who personifies the innate and characteristic strengths that Dr. Drake envisioned.

Director's Award: Carter Lamb '24

The Director’s Award is presented each year to a student who has enriched the Landmark community by personality and example, someone whose Landmark journey and experience are particularly notable and worthy of celebration.

Overall Student-of-the-Year Award: Sam Sirois '24

The Overall Student of the Year Award is awarded to a middle school student who has consistently met expectations in every subject area: tutorial, language arts, math, science, social students, oral expression/literature, and electives. Teachers nominate students in relation to consistent effort in class, support of peers and role modeling for peers, contributions to discussions and activities, exemplary classwork and homework, acceptance and use of constructive feedback, and demonstration of Respect, Routine, and Responsibility.

After receiving the Student-of-the-Year Award, Sam graciously thanked the faculty in an email. "I am so grateful for how this community has helped me and for everything it has given to me!," he said. "I truly do really appreciate this all and I would like for you to know that!"

landmark elementary school awards


EMS Winter Photo Contest Winner

News Type:  EMS Date:  Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Winter of 2020 did not deliver the usual drama of our region with mounds of white, fluffy snow, the excitement of an oncoming blizzard, or even a snow day. It was grey, dry, and frankly a little dull. But the more than 135 photos submitted by 27 Elementary•Middle School students for this year's Winter Photo Contest were anything but boring. 

This year's EMS winner is Cameron Minster who has submitted photos to the contest for the past four years. Lauri Johnson, EMS faculty member who is the Winter Photo Contest liaison says, "Cameron was very intentional about learning to take photos. He had lots of questions, did some research on perspective and other photography techniques, and was eager to experiment within the medium. I'm so excited for him!"

Photos were reviewed by a jury of faculty and staff representing the EMS, High School, and Administration and were judged on composition, technical skill, and originality. Landmark's Winter Photo Contest has been running for the past seven years and is sponsored by the School's Marketing and Communication Department. 

Coming Together Like Never Before

News Type:  EMS Date:  Thursday, March 19, 2020

Much has changed in our world over the past weeks, but one thing has remained consistent: Landmark's sense of community and camaraderie​. Both were on display on March 19, when more than 40 members of Landmark's faculty and staff gathered remotely via Google Meet for a group meditation session.

Elementary•Middle School Counseling Team Leader Laura Polvinen organized the event to give colleagues an opportunity "to connect, be present in the moment, feel the presence of each other, and feel our community energy and power as we move through this challenging time," she said. "At EMS, we provide meditation each day to students and several staff participate too. We thought that this was a natural extension of what our community usually does when in session, and meditation is certainly something so many of us need during an unprecedented time like this."

"For a first session, the turnout was fantastic! It seemed beneficial that we all had five minutes just to be, turn off, and tune into ourselves and one another." 

remote group meditation landmark school


My Story Presentations

News Type:  EMS Date:  Monday, February 10, 2020

In February, students in Ann Andrew's seventh grade oral expression/literature class courageously presented projects that revealed their strengths, challenges, and what helps them as learners. They also debunked popular myths about dyslexia (people with dyslexia read words backward, students with dyslexia can't read, for example) and shared classroom goals.

The My Story presentations were highly personal and revealing—and the product of a vast amount of research and self-reflection. Students reported feeling nervous about presenting in front of other students, faculty, and administrators. They shared tools they used to manage their nerves. "I fiddled both my hands and feet," said Emma '25. Maggie ‘25 pre-recorded the oral portion of her presentation. 

Identifying Strengths

Nearly the entire group agreed that listing their strengths was the hardest part of the assignment. Ms. Andrew said it’s not surprising that students struggled with this part of the project.

“Research shows most people are either unaware of or unable to describe their strengths or strengths of the people around them. Throughout this project, we circled back to strengths,” she said. “We spent a lot of time talking about "soft" skills—the intangible ones that so many of our dyslexic students share.”

The students also listed strategies that help them in the classroom, such as starting homework in class with teacher guidance, teacher-provided cues for word retrieval, and teacher modelling, and found quotes that they relate to or provide them inspiration. 

Metacognition at Work

Ms. Andrew said the goal of the My Story project was to highlight the importance of self-advocacy—one of the cornerstones of Landmark's approach—and to create a class of self-advocates. Students engaged in deep soul-searching to identify their strengths and develop strategies to compensate for their weaknesses. The class worked as a team to build empathy and understanding among peers.

Students read excerpts from books, such as Dyslexia: Profiles of Success, published by the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity; David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell; Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck; and Grit, by Angela Duckworth; and watched video clips that explore ways people with a variety of challenges, such as dyslexia, capitalize on their strengths to compensate for their deficits. 

“We discussed the fact that perseverance, metacognition, and vulnerability are necessary to overcome our fears of failure,” said Ms. Andrew. 

“In all of the stories we studied of successful adults with dyslexia, every single one credited their success in part to the support of a caring adult. When my students were asked who in their lives was critical to their core ‘team,’ most mentioned parents, tutors, teachers, counselors, coaches, and their Landmark friends. In addition, each student said that trust was key to allowing someone into their inner circle,” she said.

“I am proud of my students for their willingness to share their stories. It's so important to empower them with self-advocacy. The more they know about themselves, the better they understand their needs, and the easier it is to explain their needs to others!”

landmark oral expression students

EMS Digital Art Exhibit

News Type:  EMS Date:  Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Mass., is featuring an exhibit of the work of students at Landmark Elementary•Middle School who participate in Gemma Flavin's Digital Art classes. The students were treated to an opening reception on February 5. They proudly discussed their artwork with parents, friends, and community members, explaining the medium and the inspiration behind their creativity while nibbling on cookies baked for the occasion by EMS's chef, Tom. The works, professionally matted, graced an entire wall of the museum's Activities Room.

Students in the Digital Art class use iPads and 3D drawing pens to create artwork that teaches traditional art skills and techniques as well as animation, green screen, and 3D hand-printing techniques. They work with various iPad apps in a work-flow model, moving from app to app, learning how to create, manipulate, save, and ultimately upload final images to an online art gallery.

Aaron '26, whose drawing featured a black-and-white collage of random objects with his name written in cursive over the items, said, "I took all the thoughts in my head and let them pour out onto my paper." He used a stylus and an iPad to create his work using the app Sketch Club. He was experimenting with a layering tool in the app.

"I am so proud of my students for creating such fantastic digital artwork," said Mrs. Flavin. "Due to our small class sizes and the amazing technology we have in our classroom, each of my students from first semester had the opportunity to be represented at the show."

Expressing Themselves as individuals

Parents were in awe of the quality of the work and how the program affords students the opportunity to express themselves.

Joe Morrison, the father of Graci '25, observed that the art revealed each students' individuality. "The students let their inner selves come out through their art. It's a wonderful thing." Graci, who created an image with pink and black checkerboard background with floating checkerboard globes using the Sketch Club app, said creating art relaxes her. "I like that we have freedom to create what we want. Making art is very relaxing," she said.

"As a local art educator for the past 32 years, I feel very fortunate to have such an outstanding museum nearby. Not only is the Cape Ann Museum a world-class museum of Cape Ann and Gloucester art and fishing history, but it has also evolved into a child-friendly museum that is always willing to work with local teachers in order to provide a beautiful and safe space to display our student work," said Mrs. Flavin. "The museum also offers a child-friendly space that provides hands-on art activities connected to the museum’s collections. I am very fortunate and grateful to have such a long standing relationship with such an amazing organization." 

Kendall Reynolds, education coordinator at the Cape Ann Museum, embraces the opportunity to introduce students and parents alike to the museum, acting as a bridge between the museum and the community. "Coming from an art education background, I deeply understand the importance of kids creating art and then being able to see it matted, labeled, and hung," said Kendall Reynolds, education coordinator at the Cape Ann Museum. "When they walk into a gallery of their work, search the walls for their own, and have their eyes light up when they find it...what a special moment to be able to create for these kids!"

The students' work will be on display at the Cape Ann Museum through February. The museum is located at 27 Pleasant St., Gloucester, Mass.

landmark digital art class cape ann museum

Dyslexia Simulation

News Type:  EMS Date:  Tuesday, January 28, 2020

On Saturday morning, January 25, 2020, dozens of parents and family members of Landmark students attended the Experience Dyslexia Simulation at the Elementary-Middle School. A little bleary-eyed and perhaps apprehensive about what was about to happen, parents grabbed a quick coffee and chatted with other participants prior to the program. 

The Landmark Parents' Association sponsors this annual event to help parents understand what their child with dyslexia may be feeling in the classroom. And new this year, due to increasing interest, the LPA offered a sibling track geared toward helping brothers and sisters of students with dyslexia better understand—and empathize with—their siblings' experiences.

While there are no "dyslexia goggles," as Danielle Figueira, director of Alumni and Parent Engagement at Landmark said, the simulation is meant to help people understand the types of frustrations, emotions, and inadequacies many students with dyslexia feel every day. 

"Parents and siblings expressed frustration, empathy, appreciation, and a new perspective for their LMK students," Figueira said.

Participants in the Experience Dyslexia Simulation split into groups and rotated through several stations. Each of the stations dealt with difficulties around handwriting, reading, working memory, processing speed, and more. Instructors at each of the stations did not scaffold the activities as one might as a Landmark teacher, rather participants were allowed to struggle, feel pressure, and compare themselves to their peers who were able to work faster and better. Many participants commented on how this experience helped them feel empathy for their child or sibling. They talked about how they will change the language they use with a person who has dyslexia, being more patient and encouraging. One mom was so moved by the experience, she said she was going to have her whole extended family participate in a simulation when they gathered next.

adult writing using a mirror in dyslexia simulation

Start With Hello Week 2020

News Type:  EMS Date:  Tuesday, January 28, 2020

During the week of January 27–31, Landmark Elementary•Middle School students and faculty are participating in Start With Hello Week, part of the Sandy Hook Promise organization’s initiative to decrease social isolation and promote inclusion. It’s an event-packed week, with students engaging in a variety of activities that foster a sense of connectedness and display kindness and empathy.

On Tuesday, January 28, enthusiastic faculty and administrators greeted students with an exuberant "warm welcome" as they arrived at school. Landmark's Viking mascot made a guest appearance and high-fived students as they passed under the archway. Mr. Kahn, clad in a Viking hat, multi-tasked, operating a noisemaker while shaking hands and giving students fist-bumps. Several teachers donned enormous masks of EMS teachers and adminstrators. 

"It was surprising and funny," observed Sydney '25. "It was a fun way to start the day."

Making Connections

At EMS, Start With Hello week focuses on building an inclusive community that decreases social isolation by "saying hello," making friends, and reaching out to support each other with kindness in actions and words.

In observance of Start With Hello Week, EMS students are participating in a Student Voices Showcase, in which they use a variety of mediums to answer the question, "What does the Landmark community mean to you?";  performing acts of kindness; saying hello to students and teachers they may not know; taking part in “Mix it Up” lunches; and enjoying various dining hall treats. Teachers wrote postcards to students with personalized messages that illustrate a connection between teachers and students.

Gun violence, school shootings, and self-harm will not be part of the conversation.

"Start with Hello week is an outgrowth of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation and ties in with our emphasis on community and culture." said Rob Kahn, EMS head of school. "With students ages 7 to 15 and as a school with a specific mission for a specific population, Landmark EMS benefits in so many ways from a culture that emphasizes inclusion, kindness, and responsibility for everyone's positive experience. We want all our students to feel EMS is a place they have an ongoing responsibility for maintaining.”

Sarah Turnbull, administrative assistant at EMS, organized Start With Hello Week with the help of many members of the EMS faculty.

start with hello week Landmark Elementary Middle School

students participating in warm welcome start with hello week

EPIC EMS Soccer Match

News Type:  EMS Date:  Thursday, October 31, 2019

The EMS soccer team completed their season with a final match against faculty and staff members. The middle schoolers brought polish, experience, and a true sense of teamwork to the game. Faculty and staff brought dusty old sweats, parents, and thankfully some youthful siblings. The second half culminated in an all-on-the-field showdown where very few rules were adhered to, but everyone emerged a winner.

EMS student faculty soccer game


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