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David Lucs, Director of Communications
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Best Selling Children’s Author Visits Sierra Canyon School

Chatsworth, CA – Fifth and Sixth Grade students at Sierra Canyon School had the rare opportunity to meet one of their favorite authors when Stuart Gibbs joined them for a discussion and book signing on Wednesday, May 13, 2015.
Gibbs, who lives in Los Angeles, is the author of the popular series Spy School and Fun Jungle, which are geared for children ages 8-12. “I enjoy meeting with students and letting them learn about the books and characters,” Gibbs said. “At this age, most children are interested in writing, even considering it as a career, so it’s important to give them a window into how books are created.”
Sierra Canyon’s Fifth Grade classes read Gibb’s books as part of their curriculum, using language art skills to develop projects exploring mysteries, especially those in the books. Teachers found the books to be extremely engaging for students. “When we introduced Stuart’s book, Spy School, to the fifth grade last year, they fell in love!” said Molly Gunny, the curriculum project lead.
Special events where authors and guest speakers engage with students allow Sierra Canyon to provide a dynamic learning environment for students, and they can meet people who potentially provide inspiration to explore new interests and talents. During the assembly, Gibbs, a New York Times bestselling author, presented the background and basis for each of his six books. He then answered questions for over an hour from the students, before signing copies of his books which the students brought with them to the event.
“There are many different ways to write, and the process of becoming is different for everyone,” Gibbs said, adding, “I think kids who want to write need to find the right path for themselves, know there will be rejection along the way, but not to let it prevent them from achieving their dreams.”
Teachers at Sierra Canyon believe Stuart’s books have changed the way students feel about reading and books. “The current 5th graders have all read Spy School and some are continuing on their love and excitement with Spy Camp, and will no doubt start their summers reading Evil Spy School,” Gunny said, referencing the three books in Gibb’s Spy School series, adding, “We have never before heard so many students and parents tell us that they have never loved reading until now. We have a group of 150 students and adults that have been inspired by Gibb’s work.”
For more information about Stuart Gibbs, visit http://stuartgibbs.com


May 18, 2015
Kindergarten Students Buy Jeep for Elephants
Chatsworth, CA – When Jan Schlossberg saw an ad in a magazine about how to rescue turtles she never imagined it would result in her leading efforts to buy a jeep for an Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Yet, as the lead Kindergarten teacher at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, CA, Schlossberg is always looking for new service project ideas for her students.
“I’ve participated in dog and cat rescue programs,” Schlossberg said, “but the ad for turtle rescues made me curious about other opportunities for our students to help animals, especially those which are threatened.”
When Jan found a way to help circus elephants, she knew it was the right fit for her students. The idea was an immediate success with the three Kindergarten classes. The children weren’t just interested, they were ecstatic. “Imagine thirty-six excited kids, each wanting to learn everything about the elephants in Tennessee, their names, what they do, where they sleep, what they eat, it was just a delight to see their enthusiasm,” Schlossberg said.
Jan and the other Kindergarten teachers then discussed what type of service project they could organize which would create awareness and raise funds to support the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN (http://www.elephants.com/).
At Sierra Canyon, every student from Early Kindergarten through Twelfth grade participates in some type of service project each year. For younger students, like the Kindergartners, the service project is done as a grade. The projects, part of the school’s curriculum, instill in children the importance of caring and helping others.
Partnering with Paula Corley, the Lower School’s dynamic Art Director, the kindergarten students created a handprint with grey paint, which was then allowed to dry and when decorated and turned 180 degrees, an adorable picture of an elephant appeared.
“Every child created their own elephant, decorating the trunk, ears, and legs,” Corley said, adding, “We created an entire herd of elephants!” The artwork was then scanned and used to make greeting cards on recycled paper.
When Mick Horwitz, one of Sierra Canyon School’s founders, heard about the project, he asked Schlossberg if he could get involved, and has become one of the project’s biggest promoters. Horwitz joined the Kindergartners on their visit to the seventh grade class to share what they learned about elephants. In return, the seventh graders agreed to help assemble organize the cards in packs of five to be sold for $10.
The thirty-six handprint elephants were also transferred to fabric and then assembled into a large quilt for a baby elephant. Both the cards and quilt were enormous hits among the students and teachers.
“We really didn’t imagine the quilt would be so stunning,” Schlossberg said. When parents came to pick-up their children and saw the quilt, some enquired about purchasing one as a keepsake. Instead, Schlossberg was able to redirect their enthusiasm to learning about the cards.
The cards have been a huge hit with families and sales have nearly reached $2,000. For Schlossberg and the Kindergartners, it’s more than they ever hoped to achieve, but is gratifying to know they are helping the elephants.
For the Tennessee Elephant sanctuary, it means a new jeep can be purchased to help their efforts to care for the elephants,” Schlossberg said. “In my conversations with their staff, the vehicle will make it possible to visit the elephants with food and medicine when away from the main compound.”
While the initial printing of cards has sold out, more have been ordered, in case anyone is interested in supporting the project. Please contact Jan Schlossberg ([email protected]) to place an order and help the Kindergartners help the elephants.
A graduate of UCLA with a Masters in Gifted Studies, Schlossberg has taught Kindergarten at Sierra Canyon for the past twenty-one years. She says this year’s service project has been one of the most unique and gratifying. “The children understand they can’t change the world, but they can impact the life of one person or even one elephant, and make the world a better place,” Schlossberg said. The children constantly express an enthusiasm and interest which is very noble and Schlossberg has watched how they love watching the videos from the sanctuary. “They have enjoyed every part of this project. They’ve adopted this experience and will remember it for the rest of their lives.”
Attached Photo Captions:
Paula Corley, Sierra Canyon Art Teacher, helps Kindergartners create handprints which will be transformed into elephants and used to create cards and a quilt to raise funds to support the Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee.

Members of the Kindergarten Class make a presentation about elephants to the five-hundred students at Sierra Canyon’s Lower School campus, sharing information they learned about elephants and how they are cared for at an elephant sanctuary.

Members of Sierra Canyon’s Kindergarten Class with their teachers hold the handmade quilt featuring their elephant artwork, which will be used to care for baby elephants. Jan Schlossberg, lead Kindergarten teacher, is at top left (with glasses).
Seventh Graders supported the Kindergarten project by helping assemble packs of cards which were then made available for sale as part of the service project.
Mick Horwitz, one of Sierra Canyon School’s founders, with members of the Kindergarten class showing their creative way to help elephants at a sanctuary in Tennessee.

Sierra Canyon School is a selective independent, nondenominational, coeducational day school located on thirty-five beautiful acres in the Chatsworth neighborhood of the northwest San Fernando Valley. Sierra Canyon School is distinguished by its intimate classroom settings and commitment to excellence in education, the arts, and athletics, preparing students to live and thrive in the twenty-first century. For more information, visit www.sierracanyonschool.org
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