New faces and new opportunities

The beginning of school.  It is always such a mixed bag as I’m sure you can image.  We have new families coming which is exciting, and we have new relational dynamics because of this to work thru as a community.  Truly as a community we are always evolving.  Aren’t we?  The joy of seeing a new face is you do not know this person and it’s exciting to think of the possibilities.  I might make a new friend?  I might find a “kindred spirit” on campus?  I might learn something new about another person and about myself?!

The fear or the anxiety of meeting a new face is you don’t know their response, and guess what, they don’t know what you are going to think of them either.  So first I want to say how enthusiastic I am about our new families joining us this 2011-2012 school year.  In addition, I want to thank all the previous families for making so many feel welcome here this Fall.  I know there is a great group of children in the Elementary program getting to know one another.  And I see the Middle & High School students “storming, and forming”.  Some are very helpful and some are still spinning in a hazy fog about which way should they go :).

As I see many young families with us I think of their hopes… like we know if our child is rested it should be a good day, and if our child is not rested we hope they just get thru the day right :).  As a father of 3, my middle child is severely struggling with allergies where we, as a family, are now is at the point of anything that will fix his sleep patterns and those of his mother …please that is what we need right now.  I know those of you who have allergies now what I am saying.  The frustration, the aggravation, and even the sorrow of it all like “please make my coughing stop, make the deep circles under my eyes go away, and please help me get some rest.”

As the father I ache for my child, and for my wife who has at times gone without sleep to help his asthma.  And as the School Head I ache for our community to adjust to one another and to embrace a classmate, or for someone new to find Glenforest their home, to know this is a safe place in their life, to be at peace while finding new ways to learn.  I can’t make the allergies go away for AJ, and I can’t force relationships to grow any faster but I can foster a healthy dust free environment for my son, and I can open lines of communication with the doctor for him.  So it is with this blog that I hope I can assure you we are working diligently to extend a hand of friendship here at Glenforest, encouraging each child to be patient and to be considerate of one another, to know from the School Head to the Teachers – your child is safe in this place.

Your child will be loved, and we are in an environment which is being fostered so that each student K-12 is nurtured, educated, and challenged.  Each of our Bulldog students is a part of the Glenforest family.

Therefore, as School Head, you have my commitment to keep the lines of communication open, but if you are not certain please ask.  Please do not feel you can’t talk to me or a fellow administrator with whom you can be transparent about a request or question.  If there is doubt, if there is fear, if there is an unrealized, hidden expectation I encourage you to make it known, and then I would ask allow us time to respond appropriately.  Your presence here at Glenforest, in this community, is valued as you are.  And together I hope we can show the world the purpose of community and embracing one anothers differences.  More on this next week when I share a little bit about our Senior class of students.

Ps.  Every teacher has expressed to me their hope to better share with you of the progress in these relationships soon.  And every teacher continues to explore with your child ways to better work together in the classroom and around campus and I am very grateful to our teachers for their service as well.  – Kindly, Mr. Winkler


Glenforest Head of School – Mr. Winkler


August 14, 2011

After 60 days we have taken the facilities to a new level we trust and it’s all for the benefit of our students. Truly, this summer has been one of the busiest and its going to be a great school year for our young learners.  I want to publicly thank the staff for their extra hours on campus, for their extra phone calls and solutions to some very challenging past problems. Please help me in recognizing Mr. Briggs, Mr. Contreras, and Ms. Shayna for their amazing efforts when you see them on campus!

Classrooms are cleaned:

In addition, there are many others to thank like Glaxo-Smith Kline (GSK) for their donation of $45,000.00 of Science furniture.  As you can see in the photos – plus a special thanks to the Krist family for the huge part they played in bringing this about!  We also have the technology improvements which were discussed in the Spring.

So overall we have many to thank – all our parents, the donors, the volunteers, and the teachers!!!  I can’t wait to hear from the students when we get started this Fall.  Here are some of the highlights in the following photos:


Lab remodel 2011

Glenforest has also made $40,000.00 of tech improvements in special thanks to all our families for their role in making this come about.  The technology updates are in place now for the students because of the following team members, Mrs. Cevallos in Special Education, Mrs. Hoppock in the Library, Mr. Briggs in tech support and Ms. Henry.  They have read a lot of manuals, instructions, and directions for implementation and so the time has come to finally get started- yahoo!  Every classroom now has two computers for students to access any online activities given in the middle of class, a teacher can explain a lesson using such items of support like the Kindles or Ipads.  It’s amazing!!  I can’t wait for school to start in just a few days.

Computer Lab:

Come visit us anytime to see the new spaces.

June 22, 2011

We’ve completed our June 3rd Graduation of 16 seniors, and the summer camp program is underway. Our Cultural camp has 31 campers, and our Boys & Girls Club is also busting at the seams this 2011. We are finding many of our students dropping by which is wonderful. Our basketball teams are away at camp, our teachers are involved in Camp Skillz, and in the middle of this we are transitioning a number of programs to update and upgrade.

The Fall 2011 should be an excellent year with many new faces, and families joining us. The assistive technology plan is progressing well, and our new systematic features should allow for better communication and improved timelines. Please give us a call or drop by and see us Monday – Thursday if you want to see some of updates. Enjoy your summer and please keep reading!

May 2, 2011

I’m moved by these words! If you think education needs reform, I encourage you to listen to what Sir Ken Robinson shared at TED. This is a powerful thought:

Another insight to a paradigm change concerning new ideas is:

April 16, 2011

Incredible day for 7th Annual Chili Cook Off! I’m really grateful to all the support, help, prayers, work, cooks, guests, alumni, parents, and our AMAZING VOLUNTEERS. Please join me in saying thanks to the many, many wonderful families and individuals that made today possible.

And now for a little bit of technology from – have you made a widget for your song of choice before? Here are some of the songs that I enjoy and pass along to you now.

April 5, 2011
My recent conversations with parents interested in Glenforest are in part because of struggling social and academic concerns for their child. I’m so hopeful for these families. I believe with our strategies, and the child’s efforts reasonable goals can be achieved. The last few days have been very full with new faces as I have met with more than 8 interested families who heard about our school thru the alaG and the local news stations.

**To any new families interested in Glenforest, here are a few good books on why Glenforest works with students who learn differently:
BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

This reminds me that our mission continues to be bigger than any one person. It is about building a community that accepts learning differences, imparts confidence and challenges children in a manner that offers them a path of success. From Art, to English, to Sports, to Campus Clubs we collectively offer a child the opportunities and the differentiated instruction to excel. And all this takes a great deal of time which is why I am so thankful to all those who support the school’s work from staff behind the scenes to our amazing school board to wonderful parents to enthusiastic community leaders creating new resources for each child.

April 1, 2011
Now after 8 months, and in the final 7 weeks of classes we have 16 Seniors ready to complete their first 12 years of education and many have already received notification for college next year like: Spartanburg Methodist, Midlands Tech, Winthrop, USC Upstate, Brevard, and a few others that I need to go back and find out exactly. I’m beyond thrilled for these young people and their families (photo below)!

March 28, 2011

I’m amazed by the online resources we have to engage our students in learning such as Blabberize and games like Tic-Tac-Toe: made by Neave Games

On Friday, March 3, 2011(Ending our 3rd Marking Period & Prior to Celebration Dinner of March 17, 2011) Thank you everyone for your work lately as we prepare for the alaG and if you would allow me a brief moment to speak regarding this event I believe it will aid us collectively. For all including parents, staff and Board members I’m reminded that without properly directed passion and commitment we can lose sight of our mission and values found here at Glenforest School.

It is why we are preparing for one of the largest events (alaG) for Glenforest since some big changes last Spring. It is why we seek individuals committed to the organization in many respects whether donors, employees, or volunteers. It is vital to be certain of what we seek to accomplish and why prior to asking anyone for any funding towards whether its donations or tuition; its best that we all be on mission.

Our mission continues to impact why we are asking others to be involved in their volunteering, or using their skills, or their hard earned donations. It’s why we were started almost 30 years ago and it is this organization’s daily purpose to educate students who learn differently. And to be leading this charge is a privilege, as I too have 3 children and my prayers for them each day come from a belief that they have a destiny to fulfill. Each day I’m touched by our student’s stories, their smiles, and the hopes that we all have for them. In the month of February we gave more than 20 tours to interested families whose children learn differently. In the last 7 months more than 20 plus new students have joined our family thru either tuition or possibly with some tuition assistance.

Our mission takes place in many ways and although we have had many changes and will face more changes; our values here at Glenforest will remain embraced and found in the leadership and in all our hallways and work. It does start with our School Board who keep the torch lit for us all. It’s passed as a baton, like at a track event, to our Administration which includes myself, Mr. Calvert, Ms. Henry, Coach Knopf, and Mrs. Cevallos who oversee specific areas and report to me. This is how we can best communicate that first and foremost to our teachers in their roles that we will seek evidence of these values in our work to ensure we stay on mission. This is to ensure we care for the student in a manner that builds confidence, that each student is loved properly, is nurtured with accountability, and then is educated as a lifelong learner bringing about much success in their future. Yes, this does take place over time, in social settings, in academic instruction, off site for field trips, on the soccer field between coaches and players and wherever our staff is engaging our Glenforest students.

You have my word and will see in my work that both my heart and my efforts are determined to increase our community. My vision is that Glenforest will be a light to a city where students are given hope for their future to learn differently which is evident in Mathematics, in Physical Education, in Fine and Performing Arts, in Technology and in all areas of instruction. As we draw out of our students natural talents, and remind each of them of their abilities I believe that no child lacks the ability for what they were created for. Each one of our Glenforest students will be surrounded by teachers who embrace these values and instill during class time differentiation of instruction towards the individuals learning style. All of our faculty and staff here must be committed to seeing each student learn in a variety of settings, and gaining skills for lifelong roles and activities. And I’m very grateful to these servant leaders who do!

So it is in this unified way that we can present ourselves to outsiders for what we do best, and how it is that we have come to ask for these gifts and investments to impact the lives of all our stakeholders. As parents, as volunteers, as staff, and as students we will continue to move forward in 2011-2012 with purpose because we remain on mission.

Very Respectfully,

Chris Winkler
Head of School

Thursday, Jan 20, 2011 (Starting 3rd Marking Period) Thank you Tanya for sharing about your hardwork and desire to play professional basketball. At 5′ I’m sure so many people told you your dream was impossible, but your dedication paid off! What a story – you have now performed in NBA arenas all over the U.S., you have met the best (Michael Jordan, Lebron James, etc) and you have been to 30 other countries all because you worked real hard to do something with enthusiasm. Here is a short clip of Tanya’s dribbling abilities.

Tuesday, Oct 26(End of 10th week) and what happened on campus lately Mr. Winkler? Well, the water main had the city working on it and it caused us to have to partner with the area hotel for restrooms and to the credit of the folks at the Holiday Inn Express we thank you! Today, I attended the West Metro Chamber’s Breakfast and enjoyed a great time hearing the news of area business leaders.

We have also had a great month for our $20,000.00 Matching Gift Challenge! Gifts came from Louisiana, Seattle Washington and dozens of families in the Columbia area. We are so very thankful to each of you for your care and generosity.

Also, we have partnered with The Price Group recently for some student evaluations. If you have questions please let us know. More about this will come during our Advisory Board Meeting on November 9th.

Friday, Oct 15 (End of 8th week) and where did Mr. Winkler go recently? Please know when I’m not easy to find it’s mostly because I’m trying to think of the new ways to grow Glenforest for the 21st Century, yet always taking into account our students plus the new families we are working with to enroll soon.

  • You can purchase a stone to engrave soon.

    This week I talked with our art teacher about the students planning to build an outdoor art fountain (stepping stones will be included – photo below).

  • The Celebration of Turkey Dinner on Nov 23, invitations to follow shortly. In addition there is a potential Turkey Fun Run that Glenforest has been invited to participate in and the posters are up around campus.

Everyone should come celebrate the Thanksgiving Dinner with us!

  • Media Center

    Our Library is undergoing renovations, and a partnership with USC is being developed for this Winter. Mrs. Cevallos has met with a few folks about enhancing our reading program, and we are exploring addition online resources for our students to utilize. The Library is beautiful thanks to the creative handi-work from Mrs. Bowers, our Art Teacher. Now we are seeking to hire a qualified part time person to further our work in Library Science.

  • Students practicing in drama class.

    Our Theater program continues to recruit new students, and “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is underway. Thank you Ms. Scaccia for your try-outs and rehearsals (photo below). The drama class is loving their lines!

  • Mike's family includes Coach Knopf, Mr. Calvert, and Dr. Krist here at Glenforest.

    A special thanks to Glenforest alum, Mike Davis former USC Football Player for sharing with the kids about playing professional football and the value of his education!

  • Finally, Mr. Winkler had a few minutes to get the announcements updated for school. Thanks to everyone who made all this possible! Its a team effort and your work is greatly appreciated. See you next week.

Friday, Sept 24 (End of 5th week) and an incredible amount has taken place in a few weeks of school including such things as:

  • Reviewing with the teachers about their classroom activities
  • Meeting with parents about grades (1/2 way in the 1st marking period)
  • Strengthening the school’s strategic plan in many respects with new relationships and possible steps to take for progress
  • Also, an evening for college applications is planned for Mond. Oct 18th @ 7pm
  • Plus, we are very grateful for all the parent’s help in recent activities including our huge YARD sale (photos TBA soon).

Lastly, I’ve been asked often how is school going recently and for many reasons I will say great, and for a few reasons I will say we are not where we need to be. I’m thankful for our community of support and for those serving in leadership roles that continue to strengthen our purpose. I’m also realistic that we do not yet have the much needed resources for those struggling in reading skills, and we lack a librarian to help us in the media sciences.

These items are a part of my prayers for Glenforest, and my near future action steps. We are here for the children; so where there is a will, I believe together we can find a way.

Friday, Sept 10 (End of the 3rd week) and what an awesome Grandparents Day we celebrated! A big thanks to all the families for coming to be with the kids in the classroom. Your stories and time is such a gift to us all. Here is a quick look at some of our visitors:

Mr. Calvert shares why our activities look a bit different during class.

And we want to thank our Agape Seniors as well for spending the day with us. The #1 comments I heard over and over was “your students are so kind” and of course, “what a beautiful school you have”. I’m certain the folks had a great time and I applaud our teachers for integrating them in the class and for visiting even just that little bit made for a great day.

During the week our soccer team played well and won a big game (9-7). And our girls volleyball team played to overcome a good team but lost the overall match. I was so proud of our ladies, here is a snapshot of a few of them together:

Finally, a special thanks to Dr. Zais for encouraging our students that dyslexia would not prove to be insurmountable. Dr. Zais, a retired Army General, and the former President of Newberry College shared of his challenges with a few of our students during his visit to Glenforest school on Wednesday. He is pictured here with Advisory Board Member, Ted McGee, and senior student-athlete:

Thanks Dr. Zais for your inspiring words!

What a week and thank you again to our teachers for their efforts to welcome our guest!

Friday, Aug 27 (End of the 1st week) and I’ve looked back to summarize a few thoughts for you to be aware. 1. I was touched when our Coca-Cola delivery driver came to tears in a quick conversation regarding his 4 children Friday afternoon, which his 3rd child learns differently yet he has just become aware of this. He was unaware of this and prior to understanding he said a few harsh words to her because he thought she wasn’t trying hard enough. His final words to me before he went to his next delivery was “I really wish I could help her know I didn’t mean to say those things.” 2. Our teachers are really getting prepared for the year and I’m so proud of the ways they are using technology like online grading access (Engrade). Hopefully you received your ORANGE FOLDER at home Thursday night with the details as to login and access. 3. Finally, a few of us were also talking about having the students attend the Carowinds Education Day this coming Spring. Mr. Calvert mentioned this as a past option for fun, it’s very rewarding and believe it or not, educational! So stay tuned as we look to launch a few new resources to our students like a potential Spelling Bee, Chess Match, Science Fair, and off site visits to Carowinds! Again thanks for your input and to participate you can either look at the PTSO page, or the Teacher’s have a WISH LIST that is growing with yard sale type items that are probably buried in your closet with no plans for the future (LOL).

Our students R awesome! (We were prep'ing for a photo shoot)

Keep in touch please, and I trust you know our desire is to bring about a lot of enthusiasm to GFS, a great public representation for our students and a sense of pride to all the Alumni, Current Students and Community. We all are a part of a wonderful school that cares about our kids and their future! I am mindful that education is a work of art, and that as a Bulldog we have access to knowledge which is only possible because of advocates like you who resolve to provide an educational source that meets a student’s specific needs & interests.

Wed, Aug 18 (1st Day of School) Ok I’ve turned this welcome letter into a blog based on a few items. 1. I never get enough time to actually think about what I want to convey between the kids, teachers, and stuff. The truth is people matter more than letters. Today a father stopped in with questions about his 5 yr old daughter and we talked for 20minutes, maybe longer. Truthfully, he was hurting and I talked but after he responded on email – here is his response:

I cannot put into words how much I appreciated your compassion and understanding this morning. You have a gift for making someone feel comfortable in a difficult situation. I truly believe that folks, such as yourself, have “callings” as we discussed before and I for one am grateful for you.
As far as going to the seminar goes, I looked at the schedule and unfortunately, that falls on a Thursday. I go to our home office every Thursday and it’s something that I can’t get around. I will however, talk to my wife and see if she can go. I want to take advantage of every opportunity possible, to learn as much as we can. Thank you for the invitation. I appreciate the resources and I plan on taking full advantage of them.

Then I answered questions and visited with the students. Again, much more important. I guess if I was to put into words what happened I would say “refuse to lose”. I talked with a mom today who’s son didn’t want to come to school and we talked about why (no frustrations, no heart ache). We have to keep in mind what is important – these young minds need opportunities to grow and reflect in a safe environment.

I went online today to look over a few things, here is 1 of them:

We have a mission here as “builders” of youth. Our students need us to be servant leaders, and to come with a broader vision than just a day in school. They need our inspiration and our perspiration. They deserve our best.

And my final thought is help your school:

Welcome Bulldogs!

Dear friends,