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Northern Virginia Ethical Society (NoVES)

Director of Ethical Education Blog

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  • Friday, March 10, 2023 8:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I sent out a book club survey in last week's newsletter. If you happened to think, "wow, I should definitely fill that out" and then immediately forget and move on to something else then I have great news for you! The survey will be open for a few more days!

    Please fill in your preferences by the end of the day on Tuesday, 3/14. After that, I'll be picking the days and times and advertising more broadly. 

    On a programming note, tomorrow is our Service Project day! We'll be continuing our work following our design sprint last month and figuring out what we want to do to "leave animals alone". With Jim's help we have some great options for places to raise money for or outreach activities that we can do and I'm looking forward to co-creating our next steps together! 

  • Friday, March 03, 2023 8:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I'm really looking forward to March, when we have four solid weeks of class before April's schedule of Spring Festival, Spring Break, and Stream Cleanup! 

    Here's our schedule for March: 

    March 5: Regular Class (Every Day is Earth Day for K-2, Comparative Religion for the older kids)
    March 12: Service Project building on our design sprint from last week
    March 19: Regular Class
    March 26: Regular Class

    For those of you with kids in your life, I also have an ask of you! I'd like to organize a virtual book club to read How to Raise an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. I want to make sure that we have the best chance possible at landing on a time when people are available, so please fill out this survey to let me know what does and doesn't work for you. 

  • Friday, February 24, 2023 6:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “By asking people for their input early in the process, you help them feel invested in the outcome.” (Jake Knapp)

    In my day job, I often joke that I can turn anything into a (modified, short)design sprint https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/design-sprintsdesign sprint -- an activity where a diverse group come together to work together to brainstorm, narrow down solutions, and prototype ideas. Whenever we're faced with a big, ambiguous problem or a wide variety of solutions and idea that we need to organize I pull up a virtual whiteboard and we organize our thoughts on sticky notes. 

    When thinking about our next monthly service activity, I realized that I wanted to let the students help define what we work on between now and June. We're going to kick that off on Sunday with our own mini design sprint and I can't wait to see what the kids come up with. I'll bring the sticky notes and markers and I hope our students bring their ideas and open minds! 

  • Friday, February 10, 2023 5:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thank you so much to all of you who signed up to bring something for Darwin Day! Keep an eye out for an email this morning reminding you of what you signed up for. If you aren't able to bring it, please let me know and I'll plan to go to the store in the evening to pick up anything outstanding. 

    I think it's so valuable for the kids to see us all chip in to make this successful. They're ready to do their part on Sunday! 

  • Friday, February 03, 2023 9:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Next Sunday, February 12, is Darwin Day! The Sunday School students are bringing back their tradition of serving banana splits after platform so I hope to see many of you there. This Sunday, I'll have a sign-up sheet at the front table in case you'd like to bring any ice cream or toppings. We'll provide bowls, napkins, utensils, and anything that doesn't get claimed. 

    I'm always happy when we're able to bring the NoVES membership and Sunday School together. NoVES membership is always so supportive of our Sunday School, and I really appreciate all of your help and support! 

  • Friday, January 27, 2023 9:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This Sunday, some Ethical Societies across the country will be sharing how their students put ethics into action. I wanted to take this opportunity to share how our own students have helped the community in the past several months. 

    As you may know, our students do a service activity each month. This year, I've focused on bringing student choice into the activities and sharing the impact with the kids to help them understand the value that these activities bring to the community. 

    On Sunday, we'll do our January service project by making Valentine's Day cards to sell for charity. We'll select the charity as a group and work on the cards while we watch the AEU Shared Platform to see what other Ethical Societies are doing to give back. 


  • Thursday, January 19, 2023 10:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Did you catch Elliot's interviewing debut last week? It was so much fun to listen to him interview Betty-Chia and Hank about their experiences in the Civil Rights Movement! I want to take a moment to extend a huge "thank you" to Elliot for taking on the role and for all of the work (and Betty-Chia and Hank!) did to prepare. 

    In case you want to learn more about some of the events that we discussed, links below! 

  • Friday, January 13, 2023 8:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    "We are not makers of history; we are made by history. Longfellow said, "In this world a man must either be anvil or hammer," meaning that he is either a molder of society or is molded by society. Who doubts that today most men are anvils and are shaped by the patterns of the majority?"

    - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

    Our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day platform holds a special place in our hearts at NoVES. We make sure that this time is spent learning about ongoing racial injustice and inspiring our members to continue the work that needs to be done to build a more equitable society. 

    This year, I'm thrilled that our Sunday School gets to participate in the tradition by hosting a conversational interview with our own makers of history, Betty and Hank! Join us to learn about the connections between Ethical Culture and the Civil Rights Movement and hear stories about participating in actions big and small to fight for equality.

  • Friday, January 06, 2023 10:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I took some time in December with the students to talk about what they'd like to see in the upcoming year. These conversations made me reflect on my own religious education. I played piano and sang at my local church, and in order to do that I had to attend Sunday school. I dreaded it every week and mostly remember the feeling of guilt, sitting there in class trying to get through it without anyone realizing that I was just going through the motions.

    In talking to the students, I felt so grateful that we have a space where they can learn about what it means to live ethically and, even more importantly, ask big, tough questions. I know that my Sunday mornings would have been much more valuable if I was able to challenge my teachers and argue a little bit.

    Now that we have settled back into our in-person rhythm, it’s time to experiment a bit. In 2023, we’ll focus on finding the right balance between providing a structured experience and allowing for more student-led learning and exploration. After all, ethics begins with choice!

  • Friday, December 30, 2022 9:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It's that time of year again! As we change the calendar to a new year, we're often encouraged to think about what we resolve to do differently in the new year -- how will we improve ourselves or fix our myriad flaws? 

    Personally, I do find some value in taking advantage of the change in calendar to do a little retrospective and set some goals. But there are a few different ways to look at New Year's Resolutions and they can have a huge impact on how we view ourselves. 

    1. Ignore them completely (admirable, but you may need something to tell your teacher on the first day back to school) 
    2. Focus on what you need to fix (who needs another excuse to think about their flaws? Boo to this!) 
    3. Identify opportunities to grow (I try to land here and check myself if I start to slide into focusing on flaws) 

    Finding the right approach is especially important when we talk to our kids about resolutions. This is a great time to talk about growth mindset and how we frame our mistakes and failures. 

    Are you or your kid interested in diving in deeper? There are a bunch of resources on growth mindset available on Khan Academy for all ages! 


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