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Rigorous Academics & Thematic Learning

World Languages at SIS: An Interview with Madame Brie / Señora Brie (Briana Kuruzovich)

October 05, 2023
By Saratoga Independent School

Madame / Señora Brie has been a part of the SIS family since 2019, when she began teaching in the after school French Club, officially joining the faculty in 2021 teaching both Spanish and French. In this blog, we learn about the inspiration and approach to world language learning at SIS!

Q: What inspired you to teach languages?

A:  I've always loved geography, traveling, and exploring new cultures. I also love to learn new things and consider myself a lifelong learner. And I enjoy sharing all of that with others. Two things inspired me to learn and teach languages the most: My Cajun relatives, who spoke a language that I could not understand as a child but which fascinated me, and a month I spent traveling all around Europe when I was nine years old. I had never traveled by airplane up until that point, so going so far away and seeing so many new cultures and languages made a big impression on me and made me want to learn more about ways of life that are different from my own. 

Q: Why is it important that SIS is committed to teaching students Spanish at an early age?

A: I love that SIS is committed to starting world language at an early age since childhood is the best time to learn a new language! Not only will children remember new phrases easily, but they organically come to the realization that people all over the world are different and that there's no one "right way" to speak or to be. Students learn that people think differently through the lens of their language. For example, in many languages, the word "ball" is different depending on the type of ball. Is it small and hard? Inflated? In English, we can get by with the word "ball" in both cases, but in some languages, a greater distinction is made. This shows that people categorize things in the world depending on what language they speak. The idea that we don't all see things the same way, and that's OK, is fundamental to language learning. 

Q: What techniques do you find most effective?

A: In an effort to make learning a foreign language as natural for our students as possible, Señora Chocolate and I provide comprehensible input. That means the language they hear in class is at a level slightly above their ability but can be understood through visuals, context, cognates, etc. Therefore, foreign language learning mimics the way students learned their native language, by hearing speech repeatedly and gaining understanding naturally. One way I do this with the younger students is by mirroring what they are doing in their other classes but in Spanish. So every class starts with introductory songs paired with movement, and we talk about the calendar and the weather. Tons of vocabulary is embedded in this: greetings and responses in our songs, numbers as we count to the date, the colors of the numbers on the calendar, the days of the week, and obviously weather expressions and seasonal vocabulary. The kids start picking up on these things quickly, and before long they can say "It's sunny" without ever having been taught it explicitly because they have been hearing and using these words in an organic way.

Q: How is the addition of French impacting our students?

A:  I think it's important for students to be able to choose the language they pursue. The more interested a student is, the better they are likely to do. People might have a strong interest in one or the other - maybe they like the sound of a certain language, maybe it's family heritage - whatever the case may be, it's good to have options. Sometimes parents worry that children will get confused learning multiple languages, but that is the best time to do it! Our brains were designed to pick up language. Students who take both Spanish and French will notice many similarities due to their Latin origin and generally seem to have an easier time with the second foreign language since they already have somewhat of a base in the first. Studies have proven that being multilingual strengthens cognitive abilities, as well as makes people more tolerant towards other cultures. I tell my students that knowing more than one language is a superpower!

A Guide to Family Internet Safety & Cybersecurity

May 05, 2022
By Saratoga Independent School
We have all spent a little more time online than we ever have in the past two years.  COVID and remote learning exposed children to the internet to learn and interact with teachers and fellow students. The question now is how do we keep them safe and teach internet safety?

What are the top online threats for kids?

According to, below are the three top online threats to kids.  COVID and remote learning exposed children to the internet to learn and interact with teachers and fellow students.
1. Cyberbullying: More than 36% of kids aged 12–17 have been cyberbullied at some point in their life, and nearly 15% have bullied someone else online. Cyberbullying is any aggressive, threatening, or mean-spirited activity conducted via electronic communication (email, social media posts, text messages, etc.). Girls are more likely to be the victims of cyberbullying, and more boys admit to bullying others online.
2. Online predators: Adults who use the internet to entice children for sexual or other types of abusive exploitation are considered online predators. Child victims can be as young as 1 or as old as 17. When it comes to online enticement, girls make up the majority (78%) of child victims—while the majority (82%) of online predators are male. And 98% of online predators have never met their child targets in real life.
3. Exposure to inappropriate content: Inappropriate content is one of the most common online threats that kids encounter. Everything from vulgar language and hate speech to graphically violent or sexual images can have a harmful effect on an impressionable child. Over 55% of tweens (kids aged 10–12) have been exposed to violent content on the internet, and nearly 60% have come across sexually explicit words or images.

4 Ways to Keep Kids Safe on the Internet

Children and parents should explore the internet together and decide what websites/apps are acceptable for the family. Families should also discuss online behavior and how to navigate situations that may occur. 
  • Restrict electronics in the bedroom. Perhaps create a space in the house like an internet café where the family can all enjoy online time playing games or researching for school projects. Create a shared email account for easy monitoring. Monitor or disconnect camera and photo apps on all devices.
  • Reinforce that providing personal information online is dangerous. Never share pictures or personal information, such as where you go to school, take piano lessons, or play a sport.
  • Discuss the positives and negatives of social media. Monitor your child’s “friends” list and talk to the parents of your child’s friends, so you are all on the same page regarding what is acceptable. 
  • Create a dialogue that allows your child to come to you in any situation, even if they may have made a mistake. Most parents were unaware of cyberbullying or related issues until it was too late. Encourage your child to stay safe and let them know they have your full support if they encounter an unsafe situation.  

What can you do to keep your family safe?

It can be easy for kids to be given electronics at an early age, and parents should limit screen time and monitor what children have access to on their devices. Don’t be afraid to ask your children questions if you find questionable activity.
Ensure that all devices, software, and firmware are up to date. Companies frequently release security patches, so downloading updates is critical.
There are many tools for parents and guardians to help children with online safety:
Find tutorials here to help you maximize built-in privacy settings and content blockers. 
Take some time to chat with your kids about the internet and enjoy the benefits of an open discussion.
Special thanks to Trooper Steven M. Rothwein, NYS Police Troop G, School & Community Outreach Coordinator, and the people at for their expertise, excellent suggestions, and dedication to keeping kids safe.

Help Stop the Summer Slide

April 06, 2022
By Saratoga Independent School

Summer slide, or summer learning loss, refers to the ‘slide’ backward of scholastic achievement made during the school year. 

What is the Summer Slide?

According to, “The concept of the summer slide has been on researchers’ radar since at least 1996 when one of the first comprehensive studies on the phenomenon was published. The study showed that kids lose significant knowledge in reading and math over summer break, which tends to have a snowball effect as they experience subsequent skill loss each year. A more recent study of children in 3rd to 5th grades also showed that students lost, on average, about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math during summer break.”

What can you do, as a parent, to combat the summer slide and minimize skill loss? Below are some thoughts and ideas for creating summertime structure and skill-building tools that are fun, educational, and engaging. 

How do I engage my children this summer?

Summer Slide can affect skills and scores, but also social and emotional growth. Often, the biggest challenge for kids is a lack of structure and routines.  To maintain learning, try setting goals, make learning connect to real life, and keep busy.  True knowledge comes from a well of curiosity, motivation, and follow-through.  

Here are some fun activities to build engagement and fend off the summer slide!

  • Take a trip to the supermarket. Sounds simple, right? Here you will find a variety of engaging activities:
  • Make a shopping list and create a budget
  • Count specific items and use a scale to determine the weight and cost
  • Estimate costs for the whole trip
  • Read the labels and look for healthy alternatives to some favorite treats
  • Clip coupons and store ads and sort them into categories


  • Going on vacation? The world awaits you!  Whether by car, plane, or boat, activities are readily available to engage your children and enjoy quality family time:
  • Driving to a favorite lake getaway or destination? Plan a trip on a paper map and learn to read a map scale. Listen to a Podcast about the destination and learn about the area, local customs, and perhaps famous residents.
  • Create a vacation scrapbook. Keep a journal and write about new foods you tried, people you met, and events you want to remember. Collect shells or other items such as rocks or driftwood and catalog and organize them. Met a new friend? Make them a pen pal, the old-fashioned type, using pencil on paper!


  • Staying around town this summer? Structure and schedule are fundamental, and children are accustomed to structure in their daily lives. Create a ‘teaching plan’ to include: 
  • Math- Measuring and creating fun recipes. Make a shopping list
  • Reading- Take a trip to the library. Sign up for a class, or volunteer to read to younger children. Chart the books each child has read and invite neighborhood kids to join the summer reading challenge. 
  • Science- There are numerous homemade solutions for cleaning the house. Do you know what happens when you add vinegar to baking soda? (it’s fun, try it!)
  • Recess- Get outside! Communities have tennis camps and learn to play golf.  Investigate options that you can also do as a family.


Enroll in Summer Camp!

The Summer Slide does not have to be inevitable. You and your children can create a summer full of fun, activity, and learning with a bit of imagination, either at home or through summer camp.

Here at SIS, we offer a summer camp program from Pre-K through 6th grade. Whether exploring the past or designing the future, the summer enrichment 2022 Summer Camp experience at Saratoga Independent School will engage and excite children ages 3 to 12 years old.  Our morning program themes change from week to week with topics of all interests.  Campers will spend time with various teachers, including STEM, PE, and Art, all while experiencing theme-based exploration.  Afternoon sessions are available if you would like to extend camp to a full day.  The afternoon sessions will be multi-age and less structured than our morning sessions.  We will offer water play, outdoor activities, and various other opportunities for personal expression.

Please email us, at, if you have any questions about summer camp or if you would like to be added to the waitlist for any closed weeks. 

Enjoy the 2022 summer! Fall will be here before you know it, and we cannot wait to hear about all the fun you had.

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