Oak Leaves, Abington Friends School

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Reflections on Teaching Our teachers write about their inspiration, teaching practice and freedom to create a dynamic curriculum.

IN THIS ISSUE A Scrapbook of Photos Fun Facts about AFS Class Notes




W “Teaching is a responsive process at heart:

We set kids in motion and then both follow and subtly shape the successive development of their ideas.” - Rich Nourie

hen I began my first year of teaching, I thought I knew what teaching was all about. After all, like most people, I had been in classrooms all my life to that point. My conception was pretty simple: know the material well, like and be patient with kids and explain things well so that my understanding would become theirs. I thought I was well prepared to do all three of these. This clarity gave me a useful but completely unfounded confidence with which to begin my life as a teacher. The first year or two for most teachers is a succession of epiphanies that draw one into the real mystery, art and science of teaching. Here were a few of mine: I was fascinated to learn of the wide diversity of thinkers and learners in each of my classes. I learned that I could not teach by simply extrapolating from my own experience, but rather needed to learn to see the material through the many different eyes of my students. In doing so, I was surprised to find myself intellectually engaged, challenged and inspired by the middle school math ideas I was teaching. In anticipating my students seeing these concepts for the first time, I was drawn into fundamental questions about things like the difference between number and numeral, or why we have both fractions and decimals, that had never occurred to me before. Teaching math became a deep re-education in math for me, one that made me a genuinely inspired math teacher. Like many beginning teachers, I initially thought of teaching as a kind of performance, and, like most, I started by trying to be a composite of my favorite teachers. But somewhere in the first year, my attention shifted from watching myself teach to starting to watch my students as they learned. And from there, I learned that teaching is a responsive process at heart: We set kids in motion and then both follow and subtly shape the successive development of their ideas as we ask


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questions, plan next steps and continually find new windows into the material for them. In other words, there is no such thing as teaching in the abstract. Teaching is an intimate, unique relationship with each student and each group of students with whom we teach. Finally, I learned, and continue to see, that this evolving understanding of teaching is a lifelong, continually unfolding process. In this issue of “Oak Leaves,“ we wanted to shed light on the mystery of teaching by lifting up the voices of AFS faculty members from each division of the school as they reflect on their practice. In their self portraits, you will see the remarkable thoughtfulness, care, craft, humility and, notably, ongoing learning that are at the heart of their work. And you will feel the love of students, the delight in their growth and the joy in knowing and caring for them as people shining through every word. I also hear in these pieces a reflection of the remarkable culture of teaching that runs so deep at AFS. In many ways, this culture — of creativity, collaboration, continual learning, of profound aspiration and genuine affection for students — is the most important resource we have as a school community. As a Friends school, we are blessed with a wide and deep vision for education that connects us as teachers. It encourages us to believe that education is an induction into the finest aspects of being human, one that is essential for the future well-being of our students and of the world they will enter. Great teaching runs through the ages at AFS and I am so pleased to see it brought to life so beautifully in these pages.


8 Scrapbook AFS IN PHOTOS

42 12 Homecoming 2016 IN PICTURES

28 Our Teachers Reflect on Their Practice

Real Words from Real Tiny People AN ILLUSTRATION


52 From the Archives A PHOTO FROM 1962


53 School Committee Member Mark Garrison A THANK YOU

56 Fun Facts ABOUT AFS


Lower School Music Teacher Keisha Hirlinger Photo by Rebecca Barger

Richard F. Nourie, Head of School Devin Schlickmann, Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement Lillian Swanson, Director of Communications and Editor of Oak Leaves Melissa Calder, Director of Marketing King Design LLC, Publication Design Oak Leaves is a publication of the AFS Communications and Development Offices.


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P H OTO G R A P H Y Rebecca Barger, John Flak, Ryan Samson ’07, Lillian Swanson and Toni Graves Williamson





R ES E A R C H By Publications Class members Alyssa DeNofa, Gabrielle Ford, Khadijah Hickson, Nicole Morris, Jayne Pardys, Carly Shanken and Allie Slagter. Toni Vahlsing, Teacher.



Abington Friends School main switchboard: 215.886.4350 For more photos and news, visit us online at abingtonfriends.net






Members of the girls’ basketball team gave the School a winter full of excitement as they chased their dream — winning a Friends Schools League title. It had been nine years since a girls’ basketball title banner had risen at Hallowell Gym, and these girls were determined to end the drought. In the summer, the three seniors on the team took seriously their role to teach the underclassmen everything they knew. The girls practiced hard, and played even harder. Everyone on the team stepped up,



and under the smart tutelage of Head Coach Jeff Bond, the girls performed magnificently. They won the title in February, with a hard-fought, 47-41, victory over the Shipley School. Over the season, the girls won 24 games and lost only 4, which was the most number of wins in a season in any sport in the history of Abington Friends School. For her effort in leading the team in most points, senior guard Jade Young was named to the All-State team, Class AA, third team.




Exciting opportunities for student travel sprouted this spring, as the new Center for Experiential Learning consolidated the School’s hands-on learning programs and expanded their reach. AFS this summer will launch a student exchange program with The Friends School in Hobart, Tasmania. Two current AFS freshmen will travel to Hobart in August to live with a host family and take classes at the school. In January, students from Hobart will attend classes at AFS. Meanwhile, beginning next school year, the Center will introduce two trips for Upper School students that will emphasize leadership, hands-on learning and service. One of the trips, to Costa Rica, will focus on ecological, cultural and economic issues. The other trip, to The Hurricane Island, Maine, will give students a chance to do field research in marine sciences and much more.

Abington Friends School this year solidified its role as one of the largest suburban centers for volunteers who wanted to lend a helping hand on the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. More than 600 volunteers arrived on campus to take part in one of 25 projects to help those in need, the elderly and those suffering from illness. Whether it was decorating cookies, making blankets and scarves or creating coloring books in Spanish for a school in Guatemala, a joyful spirit of community transcended all. Head of School Rich Nourie reminded the crowd filling the wooden benches in the Meeting House at the start of the day that Dr. King “saw clearly that our destinies are tied to each other’s — that there could be no justice just for some, no peace that excluded the welfare of others, no prosperity built that keeps some from reaching fullness in their own lives as God’s children.”

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T R A D I T I O N S : H A L L O W E E N PA R A D E




Excitement fills the air as robots, penguins, superheroes and even Abe Lincoln jammed the circle in front of the School for the annual Halloween Parade. Students and teachers donned fanciful costumes and joined in the fun on October 28.

Upper School students take part in a ‘Pink Out’ during Breast Cancer Awareness month.


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Senior Nicole Morris stars as Marianne Dashwood in the Upper School fall production, ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ which was presented with the audience seated on stage.

Teacher Roseanne Liberti readies a student’s homemade hot-air balloon for launch. The eighth grade science students were finishing a unit on density.

Dr. Karen Feisullin P’28, P’24, teaches MedEx students during a visit to a simulation lab at Abington-Jefferson Health.

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A spirited game of tag breaks out during a Lower School recess.





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Hugs, handshakes and smiles abound as former classmates reunite in the Meeting House for Homecoming 2016, held on November 23. The buzz of excited conversations turned to quiet reflections in the familiar Meeting for Worship. After lunch, a slate of activities included a co-ed soccer game, a music jam, a Magic Draft tournament and a RooPride seminar on issues of diversity.



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A third grader gets comfortable in the Lower School library as she and fellow classmates read and talk about holiday traditions around the world.

Scrapbook A skit about holiday cooking, a sing-along to Christmas carols and the presentation of the School’s traditional holiday poem make Winterfest a perfect way to begin Winter Break. The all-school event on December 20 celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Chinese New Year and more.

An umbrella dance is one of the delightful musical numbers in the Lower School’s winter program ‘The Peaceable Kingdom: Lessons for a Loving Heart.’

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Steve Conway, an educator for the Montgomery County SPCA, teaches kindergarten students how to safely pet a dog. The students, who collected food and supplies for dogs and cats for months, donated them to the SPCA.



In a Maker Space, a Middle School student creates a large puppet, one of five that became part of the Middle School’s production of ‘James and the Giant Peach.’

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Six hundred volunteers descend on our campus to joyfully sort books, craft fleece blankets, decorate cookies or take part in 22 other projects on the largest ever AFS Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, held on January 16.


In the midst of winter, Pajama Day offers warm comfort to these Middle Schoolers. In photo below, first graders add a special touch to Pajama Day by bringing in their stuffed animals.

Seeing double in the hallways of AFS is common on Twins Day, one of several Upper School Spirit Week activities.


An intriguing mash-up of the reality TV show “The Most Eligible Bachelor/ Bachelorette” and the Renaissance in Western Europe brings Queen Isabella to the forefront. Other contestants in the social studies lesson included Lorenzo de’ Medici, Machiavelli and Joan of Arc.


Upper School students Katherine Burns, Morgann Thain, Yifeng Shen, Jubi Dugdale, Kiryna Cotroneo and Bea Fisher Guerra attend the annual Quaker Youth Leadership Conference, held at Brooklyn Friends School. Teachers Margaret Guerra (pictured above, right) and Rosanne Mistretta accompanied the group. 20 oak leaves spring 2017


TRADITIONS: CANDLELIGHT DINNER Seniors and juniors dress up for a special dinner together. Teachers Wayne Kurtz and Jordan Burkey were chosen by the seniors as the night’s honored speakers. After dinner, everyone headed to the Meeting House for a ceremony of passing the light of leadership. Senior Class Clerk Desmond Daniels passed the light to Clerk Kenan Sayers, who accepted on behalf of the junior class.


Scrapbook Third graders get an up-close look at the Chinese art of Lion Dancing in a workshop held at the University of Pennsylvania.

An oversized fruit becomes the vessel for a voyage to find the meaning of family in a Middle School production of ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ Some 97 Middle and Upper School students had a hand in putting on the show.

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Scrapbook 24 oak leaves spring 2017



Parents and others pack the classrooms and hallways of the School again this year for STEAM/Science Night, one of the most popular events of the school year. Upper and Middle School students explained the results of the research and experiments they had conducted. Excited fifth graders tested their design skills in the annual egg drop. In the Lower School, dozens of engaging activities and displays were offered, including a building challenge involving uncooked strands of spaghetti, petting a live armadillo and making homemade lava lamps.


Scrapbook 26 oak leaves spring 2017




Our teachers write about their inspiration, teaching practice and freedom to create a dynamic curriculum.

Photos by Rebecca Barger 28 oak leaves spring 2017



ON BECOMING A REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONER BY JENNY BURKHOLDER At age 23, I taught my first class. Thrown into a college Freshman English Composition classroom with a copy of Diane Hacker’s “A Writer’s Reference,” ideas about the value of writing portfolios and a grading sheet that evaluated students’ writing performance with numbers between 1 and 4, I floundered for three years and never asked myself a single question. I never questioned the value of the essays I assigned or the lectures I gave on commas and semicolons. I did not listen to the endless complaints about my grading or my inability to justify comments. I gave up teaching in 1997 after an astute student called me “incompetent” and stormed out of class.

learning. One of my Northwestern professors would ask us to ask ourselves: “Who is this person in front of me? How can I help this person?” To be able to answer these questions I have to challenge my practice. This is a difficult process to internalize and to live. Questioning oneself and one’s ideas and assumptions takes energy and an ability to admit that you were wrong about an idea, lesson, or preconceived notion. For me, admitting that I might be wrong or biased is very difficult, but by asking myself to challenge many of my assumptions, I have begun to see myself and the students not as fixed, but as evolving characters in the same play.

In 2004, after running a literary arts not-for-profit and studying in a year-long intensive MSEd program at Northwestern University, I returned to the classroom and began teaching English at Abington Friends School. What I had learned in those years was that I was not asking myself the tough and difficult questions about my own teaching practice. I was not reflecting on my actions, assuming that what I wanted was right, and what the students wanted was misguided. I was incoherently assessing the students’ work and not being flexible enough to change my ways, and most important, I was not listening to the students or to myself.

Thirteen years later, I am still in the process of learning about teaching. Because I have been the teacher who has taken a long time to recognize the strengths of each student in my classroom, I think I am sensitive to the needs of those whose learning styles are most different from my own. In my lesson plans, I work to incorporate a diverse range of activities, hoping to engage all students’ learning styles. Like any life-long learners, students want to be respected, encouraged, allowed to fail and to succeed, given autonomy and pushed to do their best work, so our job as teachers is to encourage learning conditions that allow for students to shine their Lights.

Teaching English at Abington Friends School has taught me to be a reflective practitioner. Almost every day, I am engaged in a conversation with fellow teachers about books, students’ learning or how to be a more compassionate and empathetic listener. Being a reflective practitioner in the classroom is imperative for a teacher’s success. In my classroom, I must constantly and consistently be reflecting on my practice, asking myself the difficult questions about the value of my lessons, the methods in which I present these lessons and how well the students are

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I’ve found that each of my classrooms is different and has its own characters and dramas. Currently, I teach the whole ninth grade, and each section has its own unique flair, but the essential questions are the same: How is a classroom experience worth a student’s time? How can I arrange conditions that are conducive for reading, writing and discussing? How can I make students feel safe? How do I know if a student is learning and growing? How does my cultural background play into how I teach my students? What assumptions do I bring to the classroom? What assumptions do the

students bring to the classroom? These are some of the thorny questions I continue to ask myself as I engage in self-reflection, which for me, means continuing to be vulnerable and open to change. Teaching at AFS has taught me the valuable lesson of how important it is to be open to being taught. Throughout my career here, I have seen many models of what excellent teaching looks like and in each instance, I have learned from these intelligent,

compassionate teachers. I have learned that each person has a perception of the world that has to be honored. I have learned that to be vulnerable and reflective is scary, but will lead me to deeper understanding about myself, others and my teaching. I have learned that when we listen to each other, we open ourselves up to the possibility of change and growth. Now when I look back at my 23-year-old self, I am reminded that she is me, and with my students, we keep on, unfolding like a lotus. 31


I DRAW INSPIRATION FROM WHAT CAPTIVATES MY STUDENTS BY MARK SMITH At AFS, my colleagues and I are constantly looking for ways to encourage students to be open to new revelations, to allow space for wonder in their daily lives and to find purpose rooted in authentic inspiration. But how can we, as teachers, inspire our students to invest in themselves, in their learning and the world around them? As I explored this question, I started by asking myself this: What fascinates my Middle School students? After wrestling with a variety of answers, I kept returning to an unusual source — video games. I can easily relate to the captivating power of video games because I spent much of my childhood trying to defeat evil Bowser, rescue Princess Zelda or dominate the competition in Ken Griffey Junior’s Major League Baseball (all on my Super Nintendo). Of course, the graphics, cut-scenes and immersive nature of video games have evolved exponentially since I was playing them in Middle School. But what is it about video games that draws us in, keeps us coming back? How can we, as educators, capitalize on this gravitational pull that has kids willing to invest so much time and emotion in them? Were there lessons here that I could apply to my classroom? As I began to research the history of video games and their development, I began to see the patterns. I realized that it all starts with a compelling storyline. Nintendo executives will tell you that dazzling graphics or innovative immersion will never make a game successful on their own. In fact, Nintendo will not invest in the production of a game unless it has a compelling storyline. From there, the game must encompass naturally iterative levels of accomplishment. For example, in Zelda, you can’t get the Master Sword until you’ve proven that you have mastered the basics of combat. At the same time, the levels can’t be too challenging or too easy. At either extreme, the interest is gone and the game likely will never be played again.

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Once you’ve drawn a player in and have them developing their skills, you need to recognize their progress. In the video-game industry, this is called badging. If you take a trip through our Middle School hallway on any day, you will very likely hear kids comparing their badges — What light are you? What worlds have you unlocked? Badging brings kids back, even after they have beaten The Boss. It keeps them practicing their skills, honing their craft to make sure they measure up — and so they can brag. For me, as a Middle School history teacher, the storyline is rarely an issue. The real challenge lies in creating an accessible scaffold of iterative levels of learning. For example, when teaching writing, I often approach this by breaking down their writing into chunks or components: topic sentences, context, evidence and analysis. As students master a level, they can move on to the next, more complex level, until they are ready to take on The Boss by putting it all together. Then, I make it a point to celebrate their successes publicly. Many parents and educators write off video games because they believe that they are a waste of time and they only expose our students to antisocial behaviors. What this fails to recognize is that there is an underlying belief that kids do learn from video games. So, yes, kids can learn negative behaviors from video games but they also can learn positive lessons about problem-solving and even community membership as gaming becomes increasingly interconnected. As a teacher, I don’t know what will inspire a given student on a given day. But I do know my teaching has been inspired by the lessons I’ve found I can apply from video games. Through this approach to skill building, I hope students not only become better writers, but also recognize the value in living a life of intellectual adventure. Ultimately, I hope I am encouraging my students to take ownership of their own quest. 33


LANGUAGE LEARNING IS MUCH MORE THAN BUILDING LINGUISTIC SKILLS BY DINA COHEN I became a language teacher because I was drawn to cross-cultural interactions. I am interested in what happens when people from different cultures are able to see their differences and, at the same time, recognize the humanity in each other. Learning a language is a wonderful way to discover another culture, another world, but it is also a way to cultivate a posture of openness and tolerance. It’s a way to live the Quaker testimony of peace in a very concrete way. It is fascinating to me to think about the variety of languages that exist in the world. I delight in the wide range of sounds and alphabets, the different ways to name things and to organize thoughts. As a language student myself, I remember being enchanted by the pretty Arabic letters, by Virgil’s poetic unraveling of Latin syntax. I was comforted by the orderly, always reliable, grammar of German. I was unsettled by seemingly arbitrary pronunciation patterns in English and simply annoyed by the long list of irregular past participles I had to memorize. I also remember that learning to express myself in another language — the challenge of even learning to say my name — was an exercise in humility. Now, as a Middle and Upper School French teacher, I have thought a lot about the conditions that make for successful second-language acquisition. To me, the emotional atmosphere in the classroom comes first. Students need to trust their teacher and they need to know it is safe to take risks and make mistakes. I also think that an immersive, or nearly immersive, classroom is the most effective way for students to reach proficiency. Language learning is a daily building of skills through repetitive drills. The work of language teachers is to bring in authentic material and to offer students a 34 oak leaves spring 2017

variety of ways to interact with the language, so they can build fluency in a playful and appropriately challenging way. Recently, I showed my younger students, who are fairly new to French, a short movie that was set in a rural village in Senegal. After I explained the plot in simple terms, they watched the film and recognized a lot of the words and phrases. They also realized these words and phrases were spoken in a different accent. They also noticed the bilingualism of the characters, who spoke French and Wolof at different times, so we talked about that as an interesting characteristic of French-speaking countries. At one point in the film, a teacher gives his class a lesson in kindness and tolerance, which he concludes with this statement: Nous sommes tous différents, mais nous sommes tous égaux. (We are all different, yet we are all the same.) We all appreciated the simplicity of this message and later, when the students wrote their reflections on the movie, this was the sentence they commented on the most. In this example, it is clear that language learning is much more than building linguistic skills. Activities that are meaningful, where connections and discoveries are made, create the most compelling and long-lasting learning. When the job is done right, teachers awaken a sense of wonder and curiosity in students. They help them discover new worlds and connect with new realities.

translate our experiences. It is a lens through which we see the world, even when we don’t realize it.

A large part of the language curriculum is learning about culture. Some theorists break down culture into three categories: products, practice and perspective. It is a very convenient way to approach the study of culture. I like to see it as what makes up the collective soul of a people. It colors everything we do. It’s our food, our music, our literature. It’s the metaphors we use to

I remember a debate I had with my seniors about France’s decision to ban the Islamic head scarf in schools. To the French, the protection of secular public spaces was the priority. For my students, respecting individual religious expression was non-negotiable. When we contextualized France’s position in the history of its struggle to separate

Church and State, the students could understand France’s ban better, but most students still did not agree with it ethically. As I teach a language to students, I keep in mind it is both a fascinating and confusing experience. And yet, it is a great mental exercise. Cultivating an inquisitive and open mind allows us to understand, rather than judge. It also encourages us to ground ourselves in our values, rather than relying on unexamined beliefs. 35



I spent the summer before my first September at AFS in a panic. As a teaching artist, I was accustomed to creating curriculum, engaging students and developing material through collaboration — but mostly in outreach programs or summer camps lasting no more than six weeks. How did one sustain a course of study as an Upper School theatre teacher over a period of nine months? I was terrified.

awesome; imperfect and subjunctive? Not so much. I tried pottery and ceramics. Hand-building with clay was like creating in PlayDoh — but throwing on a wheel? Total disaster. These experiences allowed me to notice how I learn, and what I did when I hit obstacles. Those classes also gave me a close-up view of young students wrestling with new material, and how that struggle manifests in a classroom. That was really informative.

I made it through that first year somehow, and learned a lot about time management and skill development (my students and mine) over the course of two semesters. Like most young teachers, I still felt like a fraud. I realized that it might take years before I’d feel like a competent teacher. What I knew I was really good at was being a student. So that became the framework for my classroom — how could I structure my teaching, and my relationships with students, so that we were discovering theatre together?

I’ve been teaching at AFS for 20 years now, and I don’t panic anymore. Well, much. I’m now teaching children who’ve grown up with the Internet. Their relationship to performance can be different; many “perform” all the time, in role-playing games and using apps like musical.ly and dubsmash. But if they come into my classroom, I know they’re interested in that magical interaction that happens only in live performance — between actor and actor, and actor and audience. The experience of learning, though, remains the same: joyful, and sometimes intimidating.

How could I remember what it was like to not know how to read a play, make connections with an audience, use language and understand my body and voice the way musicians understand their instruments? And if I could live in that place again, wouldn’t I be better able to help my students take risks in making their own discoveries? Would I be better equipped to show them what the process looked like, rather than just the product? I made a goal for myself: To find opportunities to feel like a beginner as often as possible. It is not a comfortable place to hang out. I don’t like feeling inept. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m not good at something, like I don’t know the right answers, like other people in the room seem to “get” something in a way that I don’t. But it sure is informative for me as a teacher. I joined a ninth grade French class that met at a time when I wasn’t teaching. Past and present tenses were

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As a teacher, I’ve been inspired by my fellow teachers, who recognized something in me and encouraged me to keep learning. So, when I see something in one of my students, I say something. I do my best to name the qualities I’m seeing so that they can own them as fundamental strengths when they’re struggling through the challenges. I firmly believe that the notion of “confidence” is overrated. I’m a big proponent of doubt and uncertainty. I tend to ask more questions when I’m feeling hesitant; I’m more observant and I listen better when I’m at my most vulnerable. I think our real learning happens when we’re most afraid to try something, and yet we do it anyway. At Abington Friends, we encourage our students every day to “lean into discomfort.” For me, that’s leaning into learning.



SETTING CHILDREN ON THEIR OWN PATHS OF DISCOVERY BY KEISHA HIRLINGER One of the most exciting moments when I’m teaching a Lower School music class is when my students are in the driver’s seat and I am there with them to serve as their guide. We start off on this journey together. I give them the tools they need for making good music and a roadmap to the creative process. As they listen and soak up all the information, they soon make the knowledge their own. After that, I watch, wait, guide, learn and see what magic unfolds. Here is what I mean. Not long ago, I started a lesson by asking my first grade students to walk around the room while I tapped a steady beat on temple blocks and repeated a well-known children’s rhyme: Simple Simon met a pie man Going to the fair.

own arrangements and add introductions, interludes and postludes. Often, they add movements in small groups to accompany their music. Along the way, they discover something that is both fundamental and exciting about music — the possibilities are endless. Much of what happens in my classroom is steeped in the Orff Schulwerk music education process, which encourages students to learn through listening, imitating, improvising and composing. I’ve found that students learn more through doing and following non-verbal directions than by long streams of instruction. The result is more music-making, less talking, more time to process and listen and create and ultimately, take ownership of the music.

Said Simple Simon to the pie man, “Let me taste your wares.”

With each lesson, our students engage in this kind of shared learning, where understanding arises out of a collaborative effort by the teacher and student. Students are not seen as empty vessels to be filled, but rather treasure troves of potential and possibility.

After I repeated the complete rhyme several times, the children began to memorize the stanzas through simultaneous imitation. As each of them felt ready, they joined in, saying the rhyme along with me.

As a musician and music educator, I believe that music lives inside every child. My charge is to draw that music out of them, show them its brilliance and possibility and set them on their own course to discovery and creativity.

Then, they began to clap the rhythm of the words while continuing to walk around the room, internalizing the steady beat. We added percussion instruments — drums and rhythm sticks — and a second rhyme. We kept building on the complexity until the students were playing four different contrasting parts on a variety of instruments.

I am continually inspired and fascinated by the ways in which our students grasp concepts, make them their own and then take off with them in endlessly creative ways. I see both commonality in their ideas and individuality, which gives me satisfaction and renewed hope about both our shared humanity and our capacity to be independent and uniquely creative individuals.

This is but one example of the learning that takes place in the Music Room as I work with students in all the Lower School grades. We start small, and over the years as student understanding grows, we add many more musical elements. The students learn how to create their 38 oak leaves spring 2017

Music, which has been called the universal language, is inherently social. So students are encouraged not only to dig deep into their own creativity and learning, but also to collaborate and appreciate that of their peers. We teach

them that in an ensemble, every voice matters; even the soloist has an influence and impact on the collective. This idea of the collective, of the whole truly being more than the sum of its magnificent parts, resonates

throughout our community and culture. From the smallest child to the teacher who has served in the classroom for more than three decades, everyone’s voice plays a part in creating our special ensemble. Together, what a song we sing! 39


I HAVE THE FREEDOM TO CREATE A DYNAMIC CURRICULUM BY FELIX CHEN When I started teaching at Abington Friends School, the first thing I noticed was how attentive and immersed the students were in their learning. Instead of the traditional schooling that I had experienced, I saw teachers engaging students in deep discussions and working along side them in interactive projects.

Middle School Theatre Teacher Mary Carpenter led workshops on acting, improvisation and enunciation. Our hours-long daily practices were full of fun and selfdiscovery. Students chose roles that surprised us at every turn and challenged their abilities as readers, interpreters and performers.

I had some wonderful mentors in my early years, who helped shape a lot of my teaching. Today, in my 15th year of teaching third grade at AFS, I work in collaboration with a team of imaginative and innovative teachers who are dedicated to student growth.

As we worked on the play, I learned so much about my students, and as the weeks went by, Karolye and I talked about new learning opportunities. We invited students to be a part of the process of creating with us — it’s a delicate balance of learning in community while allowing individual personalities to shine. We all taught each other how to make the story come alive. I still remember students practicing the best way to walk like a dragon or growl and sneer like an evil magistrate.

With that growth in mind, I am able to design my lessons to help students challenge themselves and discover new interests and abilities, and then help them deepen their understanding of their own capabilities. The School gives the faculty incredible freedom and support to shape the curriculum in creative, powerful and purposeful ways that allow students to take ownership of their own learning. A dynamic curriculum gives me, as a teacher, more opportunities to know my students in a deeper way. As I observe how they learn, I adjust the content or methods to further extend their experiences. For example, a few years ago, our students, collaborating teacher Karoyle Eldridge and I were enraptured by Grace Lin’s book, “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.” Our class conversations were so rich that we started to think about what to do with this magnificent piece of literature. A few students suggested that we put on a play for our end-of-the-year project. Karolye and I set to work educating ourselves as teachers and as a class on how to put on such a big production. Our students wrote and rewrote the scripts to match the action and bring out the depth of each character. Karolye led us in creating beautiful costumes, and as a class, we made glorious headpieces for the characters. 40 oak leaves spring 2017

The collaborative learning culminated with our families gathered in the Muller Auditorium in May, watching as their children astounded us all with their performance. More recently, my collaborating teacher, Shana Silverman, and I have developed language arts and social studies units that opened new pathways for student learning in writing and research. One of the most engaging projects we’ve created is about Chinese lion dancing. We’ve been delighted to see how much excitement our students have had in making our lion heads and costumes and in learning about the history and intricate movements of this traditional custom. We also visited my alma mater, The University of Pennsylvania, to watch and learn in a fascinating workshop led by The Penn Lions, a dedicated group of college students. Whether it is putting on a full-scale play, or immersing high-energy third graders in lion dancing, having the freedom to create a purposeful curriculum is invaluable to our students and revitalizing for me as a teacher. As the school year unfolds, I look forward to the opportunities I have to collaborate with my fellow teachers to “dream big” about how we can create the most impactful learning experiences for our students. 41



When Beth Ebert Benveniste ’66 visited AFS in April 2016, she brought the surprising news that an offshoot of the famed Wye Oak tree of Maryland was growing on our campus. She and her sisters, Joan Ebert Davies ’61 and Anne Ebert ’63, had donated the sapling to AFS in 1994. At the time, the Wye Oak was the largest white oak in the nation and dated to the 1500s. The magnificent tree was felled in a storm in 2002.

1994 letter that accompanied the donation. That letter said not one, but two Wye Oak saplings were being donated to AFS. Where was that second tree planted?

A search of the database on the AFS arboretum’s website soon made it clear that the sapling Beth was talking about had been planted near the entrance to the Lower School. Beth later forwarded the School a copy of the

“I planted both of them down there by the Lower School because the Lower School is where it all begins,” Mike said. “The saplings were young, and our kids are young. I thought it would be appropriate to plant them there.”



Abington Friends currently fields 47 interscholastic teams. Football is not among them, but that was not always the case. From 1893 through 1909, AFS football teams competed against Academy of the New Church, Episcopal Academy, Friends’ Central and other schools. During the period, AFS had a combined record of 1627-2, according to statistics kept by the late Dr. Roger B. Saylor, a famed Pennsylvania football historian.

If you walk through the Abington Monthly Meeting graveyard, you will see a stone marker for William G. Shoemaker, a Union soldier who was killed on September 17, 1862, at the battle of Antietam. His burial in the graveyard is listed in Quaker records kept in the Meeting House office. In those records, he is identified as being a son of Charles and Maria Shoemaker.

Historian Greg Bond, a brother of Athletics Director Jeff Bond, fleshed out the picture of the AFS football teams with articles from the limited coverage he found in the local papers. Here’s an example from November 12, 1909.

But a check of the records at Antietam National Battlefield Cemetery in Maryland lists Pvt. William G. Shoemaker, of the 72nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, as being buried there. In addition, educational materials entitled “These Honored Dead,” which are given to school children visiting the cemetery, include his name and a death notice that appeared in The Republican newspaper on October 31, 1862. He is identified in the death notice as being the son of Dr. Charles Shoemaker of Jenkintown, Pa. In both the Quaker records and those included in educational materials at Antietam, William is identified as having a brother, J. Parrish Shoemaker, who was killed in battle at Fredericksburg, Va.

“The first serious football accident of the season in the suburban section happened this afternoon in the Abington Friends-Cheltenham High game, at Elkins Park, in which George Sommers of Abington Friends, sustained a badly fractured shoulder blade. The game was terrifically fought, as it practically determined the scholastic championship of the York road schools, and in a scrimmage Sommers, playing a backfield position, was hurt. His fracture was so severe that it was necessary to etherize the injured player before he could be given surgical attention. Cheltenham High won the game, the final score being 17 to 0.” Greg said a photo of the 1900 team was published in The Inquirer. A photo of the 1902 football team is displayed on a wall in Tyson House. 42 oak leaves spring 2017

A phone call to Mike Holly, former AFS groundskeeper, solved the mystery. He said he planted the second white oak along the Lower School driveway, on the right hand side as the roadway rises to meet Washington Lane.

So, where is the final resting place of William G. Shoemaker? “Clearly, more research is needed to unravel this mystery,” said Stephanie Gray, Chief of Museum and Library Services at the national cemetery. 43

CLASS NOTES since 7th grade. “Once a Roo, always a Roo!” I have been taking oil painting classes and my subjects are all nature driven with trees! My latest is a Japanese maple from my personal ‘arboretum’ at my house in Dallas, Texas. Stay tuned...”



NANCY GOLDMAN KOENIGSBERG writes, “I still maintain my art studio and have been showing fairly regularly. My work was shown in the “Cotsen Collection” at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles last September, and will be at the Racine Art Museum in the spring and The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., in the fall of this year. Concurrent with this, I have work traveling to more than 12 museums in the U.S. in an exhibition titled “All Things Considered: Basketry in the 21st Century.” Both exhibits have beautiful catalogs. The work is done in copper and steel wire and employs textile techniques.


GWEN ROMAGNOLI writes, “I am writing to let you know that my book, ‘Learning to be a Widow: Stories of Love, Loss, and Lessons Learned Along the Way’ has just been published. Over the years since my second husband, Franco Romagnoli, died in 2008, I have been writing articles about widowhood for ‘The Boston Globe.’ In response, I have received an abundance of letters from readers telling me how much they relate to my situation and how helpful my essays have been as they, too, learn to live their new lives. I was also invited to be a guest on the NPR radio program ‘Talk of the Nation’ and there, too, I received a strong response from callers. I met Franco Romagnoli late in life; he was well-known for being co-host of the first TV program on Italian cooking, ‘The Romagnolis’ Table’ on WGBH, later syndicated all over the United States. My book is a compilation of the Globe stories along with many more previously unpublished ones. They are about my life with Franco, and then learning to live without him.”


LOUISA FRIEDRICH BUCK writes, “I graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. I am a retired teacher of Latin and literature at the high school level. I have three children, Scott Barash, an attorney in D.C.; Rob Buck, a newspaper editor, and Brandi Buck, a produce manager at a grocery store. I volunteer for the library and the Democratic Party.”

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Monmouth University. I’m glad I had the opportunity to reconnect with many of my fellow classmates, such as Dutton and Sindy, from the last reunion.”

Ken Thomas

NANCY ABEL HOFFENBERG writes, “I am splitting my time between Delray Beach, Fla., and Southampton, N.Y. I am a Human Resources Consultant for GE Healthcare. I love outdoor sports; golf, scuba diving and still play competitive tennis in senior leagues.”


s JUDITH FUSS writes, “Mark your calendars, Class of ‘63. Asheville Adventures, October 16-18, 2017, is getting closer. The charming Dry Ridge Inn in nearby Weaverville will be our base of operations as we explore all that Asheville has to offer. Betsy Mayers (Weaverville, N.C,) is already suggesting activities from the enlightening (The Biltmore, the Thomas Wolfe House — Miss Bickley would surely approve!) to the artsy to the delightfully bizarre, as only Asheville can provide. She’s even investigating a bus to chauffeur us around. Several of the Inn’s eight quaintly decorated rooms (check out their website for pictures) have already been reserved! Don’t miss out. Let’s fill the Inn with ‘63 spirit. Email me for more information about reserving a spot: jfuss148@gmail.com.


SALLY GOLDSCHMEDING BRANCH writes, “Looking back to May 2014, when 16 from our class gathered for our 50th reunion, organized by Janet Atkinson Gottshall and Marcia Mount Martin, followed last year in May by our Tree Tour 1964 dedication luncheon with 10 classmates, it seems we are all together again. At the dedication, we heard from Head of School Rich Nourie and Teacher Rosanne Mistretta about the many facets and challenges of selecting and identifying the 30 significant trees on Tree Tour ‘64. Nancy Wilson Lampe came from New Jersey and Lynda Jeffrey Plott came from Washington, D.C., both of whom we had not seen

ROBERTA (EHRENREICH) FUSS, who attended AFS, writes, “I would have graduated in 1965. I am trying to connect with members of that class and perhaps find out if Corky Miller graduated with the class. She was a ‘best friend’ in grammar school (Shoemaker) in Elkins Park. (Editor’s note: Cornelia “Corky” Miller did graduate with the Class of 1965.) I also would like to touch base with any other class members.” Roberta can be reached at cwgrl1947us@aol.com.

s SINDY PAUL attended the 37th Annual Pennsylvania Horse Shows Association’s awards banquet in January, where her pony, Chantilly, was inducted into the Pennsylvania Horse Shows Association Hall of Fame. Sindy accepted the Kimberview Farm Hall of Fame Trophy, which is presented to the horse or pony whose achievements have made a lasting impression on the horse show world. t JEFF WILDRICK recently published his first book, “The Complete Guide to Renting an RV.” The book is available on Amazon. Jeff and his wife, Kathy, also have created a YouTube channel and a travel blog, https:// milesandsmiles.us, that document their RV travel plans. Jeff’s planning to retire on July 1, and the couple will hit the road together.


s JANE FLEMING EVANS and her husband with their seven grandchildren.


MARCI ABRAMOWITZ writes, “I am doing well in a new position with Stonemor Partners as an Area Sales Director for the Northeast region of Pennsylvania. My twin boys are enjoying their first year of college; one is attending West Chester University and the other is at 45



STEVEN LEOF writes, “Last year, I started a new business, Alumni Union (alumniunion.co), an affinity group offering discounts on insurance, financial services and travel & leisure to U.K. resident university alumni. We also provide engagement tools for and data to the university Alumni Relations teams we work with, and we’re a new channel to market for our benefits partners. We work with leading universities here in the U.K., such as City University and London Business School, and have partnered with companies such as AXA PPP healthcare, World First and (Philadelphia-based) Context Travel. An aggregator, we’re blazing a new path in the U.K., where universities are just beginning to engage in bottom-up fundraising in earnest. In fact, we’re the first to market services to alumni as alumni. On a personal note, my 17-year-old son, James, is thriving in the Lower Sixth form at Harrow School, studying math, physics, biology and DT (Design Technology). My almost 11-year-old son, Max, is in Year Six at Arnold House School. He’s a keen cricketer and has been working hard to earn his place at Harrow in two year’s time. One of the oldest schools in the U.K., Harrow was founded in 1572. Interesting that, in the scheme of things, AFS has nearly as much history!”

BECCA BUBB writes, “We (Mike Bubb ‘03 and I) currently live in Blue Bell with our 2-year-old daughter, Cora, whom we hope to enroll at AFS soon! We are also expecting another little girl this June. I continue to attend the Meeting and also serve on the AFS School Committee. We are looking forward to attending Alumni Day this spring!”


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CHRISTINA FORBES writes, “I finished my Ph.D. in Chemistry last year from the University of Delaware and have been working in a postdoctoral position at Arizona State University. My project involves designing and synthesizing catalysts that can convert carbon dioxide into other chemical feedstocks. I’m happy to meet up and reconnect with any AFSers that find themselves out here in Phoenix!”

s ROBERT C. KNOX completed his doctorate from the University of Georgia and graduated on December 16, 2016. His dissertation is titled, “A Study of Female Academic Performance in Mathematics and Science Courses in Public, Single-Gender Schools.”


s ARIENNE THAW-BOLTON writes, ”In September 2016, my partner and I brought a beautiful baby girl into this world. Isla June is the ‘sunshine in our souls.’ We cannot wait for her to join the AFS community one day!”


“Void If Detached,” a book that collects the writings and musings of MARK RICHARD GREEN as he struggled with brain cancer, was published in April by DC Design Books of Brattleboro, Vt. After receiving his diagnosis, Mark began writing a blog, in the hope that it would be good therapy for him and be helpful to others. The blog itself, which contains music, video clips and references to other writings, can be found at moosevt.wordpress. com. Mark was a lifer at AFS, and in the paperback book, he references his fond memories of the creek that flows across the property, calling it a place of “magic and fantasy.” He also recalls walking through the graveyard weekly as a student on his way to and from Meeting for Worship. As an adult, whenever he returned to the School, he would quietly “head directly to the grounds,” mourning those he knew — fellow students, school teachers and staff — who were buried there and contemplating those he didn’t. Mark passed away on February 27, 2015, in Walpole, N.H.



JODY MCVEIGH-SCHULTZ writes, “I sold and released my first feature film, ‘Echo Lake,’ this year (on streaming services everywhere), and did editing on two Netflix shows: the football documentary ‘Last Chance U’ and upcoming animated comedy ‘Big Mouth.’ Big thanks to all the AFS-ers who came out to the Philly premiere of ‘Echo Lake’ back in July.”


s BRIAN SHAPER writes, “My wife, Mang, and I were happy to welcome our daughter, Evelyn Kashia Shaper, to the family on December 14, 2016. We are overjoyed with excitement to start this next chapter of our lives with her.”

RUSSELL NADEL writes, “I am pleased to announce the launch of my redesigned and updated website, russellnadel.com, which features audio and visual excerpts of my compositions and information about my teaching. I will also be on the faculty of Winthrop University’s Orff-Schulwerk Teacher Training courses, and will be focusing on teaching recorder pedagogy to music educators from around the country.”

EMILY (DEUTSCH) WEISS writes, “Hello fellow AFSers! I hope everyone is doing well! I am still living in New Hampshire with my husband, Justin, and teaching elementary school in Massachusetts. We just had a baby girl named Brooklyn on March 9! We are so excited!”


REBECCA FOXMAN just opened a restaurant with two partners called Fox & Son Fancy Corndogs, located inside the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.


MORGAN PFOST writes, “Shout out to the class of 2008. We just finished celebrating Mardi Gras here in New Orleans and the city is as vibrant as ever. I will be graduating in May from Tulane’s School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine with a master’s degree in Health Administration. Starting this summer, I will be undertaking an Administrative Fellowship with East Jefferson General Hospital here in the New Orleans area. Hope everyone has a great spring!”


CLASS NOTES am launching my career as a professional artist. I’ve had more than 10 shows so far from the second half of my undergraduate years to the present. I am moving to Rome for the next couple years, in preparation of building my portfolio and experience as an artist before I apply to Yale for my master’s degree. If you would like to check out my work, my Instagram is where most of my work is at the moment @orlandosaverinoart. Come visit me in Rome!”

2013 2011

s ELLEN CARNEY writes, “I graduated in 2015 from Temple University, where I studied Rhetoric and Public Advocacy. I went on to use this degree when I moved to Asia and discovered the Happy Kids Center, based in Bhaktapur, Nepal. The organization is dedicated to providing a safe space and educational resources for children in Nepal whose lives were severely affected by the earthquake in 2015. While the caste system is not officially intact, it still dictates everyday life for most Nepali, and is a source of a great deal of oppression for those in the lowest castes. The children we work with are from the lowest caste in Bhaktapur and refugee children from India. Many of these children do not attend school, spending their days collecting plastic and cardboard to sell back to the city to feed their families. The Happy Kids Center is the one place where these children are able to act like children, learning, playing and interacting with individuals, regardless of their caste. I am returning to Nepal in mid-February as the acting site manager through the spring and early summer. We are hoping to make strides in several projects, including getting solar panels for the center, as we often do not have electricity; developing community gardens and purchasing chickens so that the families in this community might have a sustainable source of food and, perhaps, a commodity in the future.”


ORLANDO SAVERINO-LOEB writes, “I graduated from Temple University in the fall of 2016 with a B.F.A. in painting and drawing and a minor in Italian, and I 48 oak leaves spring 2017

ALEXA BOWMAN writes, “I’m excited to share that I am interning with a social worker in the emergency department of Susquehanna Health Hospital in Williamsport, Pa. This internship is providing me with amazing opportunities and I could not be more grateful! I can’t wait to graduate in May and see where life takes me. Good luck to the rest of the class of 2013 as you all finish up school as well!”

TORI GINGRICH writes, “I hope everyone from my class is well! I am finishing up my last semester at Goucher College, and I will be attending American University in the fall for an M.A. in Art History. I think back on AFS fondly and will always remember it as my home.”

an English class for adults on Tuesday and Thursday nights at a company called Vatnova, and I volunteer with preschool children after class a couple of times a week. No matter how far I travel, AFS will always be in my heart.”



RAQUEL KAHN had her NYC debut playing the role of Katie in the premiere reading of “The Bishops,” a new musical written by Danny K. Bernstein and directed by Adam Quinn (“Dear Evan Hansen,” “Holiday Inn”). The plotline for “The Bishops”: When an interview featuring their young chess prodigy goes viral, two fathers and their two children find themselves at the center of a national discussion about what makes a successful American family. With the country watching their every move, the Bishops are forced to confront their identities, their relationships and their fears as they strive to be a “picture perfect family.”

JENNA MICHELLE COHN writes, “After spending my first semester at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., I decided it wasn’t the right fit for me and transferred to University of Central Florida. I’ve been much happier here; I have my own apartment rather than a cramped dorm, more exciting classes, a much larger but far more interesting workload, and a new outlook on life. This place is very accepting, and I finally feel I have found the right fit. I love it here. I have become involved and met new people. If the first college doesn’t fit, don’t worry you can transfer! I’m glad I went to Stetson because it opened my eyes to the outside world, but I found I was much happier in a place similar to AFS.” DANIELLA NICHINSON writes, “Since coming to NYU, I’ve become a staff writer for the film section of the newspaper, which basically means I get to watch a bunch of films for free, then write about them. I’ve had some amazing experiences because of this, like seeing Warren Beatty introduce a screening of ‘Bulworth,’ and in April, I am officially covering the Tribeca Film Festival, a dream that I never thought I’d achieve at my age.”

s ERYKA BRADLEY writes, “This winter, I spent the month of January in sunny Australia. During my study abroad, I studied health behavior science and community health. I’m so happy I had a chance to experience another culture and to go surfing on the fantastic beaches. I went skydiving, climbed up the Sydney Harbor Bridge, watched a cricket game and had a chance to pet kangaroos! I am very excited that I will be graduating from the University of Delaware with a Neuroscience degree and a minor in Biology on May 26, 2017! In April, I will be applying to graduate schools to pursue my goal of being a physician assistant. I love my AFS family and I can’t wait to visit soon.”


s JAYLIN CLARK writes, “Right now, I am studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, for a semester. I have visited many places in Spain as well as Morocco, Italy and Switzerland. I also traveled to Ireland for a weekend with Abigail Beckele ‘15. While in Barcelona, I am studying Spanish and sociology. I also teach

RACHEL YAKOBASHVILI writes, “My research paper on the experience of Black and African American students in the United States was chosen by George Washington University’s Capstone Committee to be part of GW’s Spring 2017 University Writing Conference. The paper outlined the urgent need for more constructive assertiveness, as well as communication and cooperation, across the entire educational hierarchy in order to end the cycle of flawed education in low-income schools across the country. For this achievement, I definitely have the AFS English and History departments to thank. I am immensely grateful and forever proud to be a Roo!” n



Dr. Clifford Hudis, 77

Julia McMillan, 09

CEO, American Society of Clinical Oncology

Chicago Firefighter

Clifford Hudis took over last June as the head of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, spearheading the largest professional society of cancer specialists in the world.

Before graduating from the Chicago fire academy, Julia McMillan had to learn how to jump headfirst out a window, grab onto the ladder and flip her body around.

The 43,000-member organization advocates for patient access to cancer care, defines and measures the quality of that care, supports cancer research and provides resources for the lifelong education of cancer care providers. In addition to its advocacy role in Washington and a large number of related projects, the society hosts the world’s largest annual meeting of oncologists, where groundbreaking findings in cancer research are presented. Dr. Hudis has played an active role in the society for years and rose through the ranks of volunteers to serve as its president. In the process, he found he enjoyed the opportunities to form and shape research and clinical care policy by interacting with patients and their advocates, healthcare providers, payers, regulators, pharmaceutical manufacturers and lawmakers. “When my predecessor announced his intention to retire as CEO of ASCO, I thought it would be an extraordinary opportunity to leverage my career in scientific research and clinical care to try to make a different kind of difference in the world,” he said. For the previous 18 years, he had served as chief of the Breast Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Under his leadership, the Service grew into the largest of its kind in the world and became known for advances in cancer treatment that led to changes in doctors’ practices across America. Like many doctors, he sees his profession as a calling. In his case, he has known since grade school that he wanted to be a doctor. He grew up in Northeast Philly and attended public schools before enrolling at Abington Friends School in ninth grade. He recalls “working very hard” on his studies at AFS, and gaining clarity about his responsibilities in life. “The thing I remember,” he said, “was the emphasis on

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“It was a lot,” she said, as she rattled off what was involved in the emergency escape procedure, along with a long string of physical challenges she had to master. both personal responsibility for your work, but also on the need to help make the world better.” He was accepted into the six-year medical program at Lehigh University, and graduated from what was then The Medical College of Pennsylvania (now Drexel University College of Medicine). It was during his residency in internal medicine that he was especially drawn to treating patients with cancer. He liked being able to have long-term relationships with patients and families as they navigated the fear of cancer and the promise of new and promising treatment options. And from a scientific point of view, he could see, in the 1980s, that the field of cancer diagnosis and treatment would change rapidly over the course of his career. “Cancer medicine was in its early days,” he said. “But you could see what was coming.” He accepted a three-year fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 1988. There, he met and worked under an established leader in breast cancer research and treatment, Dr. Larry Norton. “He was my mentor for three decades. I first worked for him, and then with him. My career unfolded along with his,” Dr. Hudis said, noting that it was the serendipity of that meeting and collaboration that set the stage for all that followed.

After six months of training, Julia in February became one of only 140 women in the ranks of Chicago’s 4,000 firefighters, and is the only woman assigned to her firehouse on the city’s Near West Side. “I know that I’ve entered into this very male-dominated field,” she said. “I think my presence is important.” While enrolled at the academy, she had to work “to exhaustion, and past exhaustion” on her conditioning exercises to pass the grueling physical requirements to be a firefighter. She was one of only six women in her class of 120. “I’m almost in as good a shape as when I did cross country at AFS with Erin [Bengtson] and Niall [Hood],” she said, laughing. Asked what else she remembered about her days at AFS, Julia recalled hitting the books hard when she was a student. “I was a nerd,” she said. “I was really academically focused. I did Model U.N., which I continued through college.” She also played JV basketball and lacrosse at AFS, in addition to running track.

Now, after three decades of specializing in the field of breast cancer, and playing a big role in identifying more effective therapies in its treatment, his passion for the work hasn’t dimmed.

After graduating from Colgate University in peace and conflict studies, with a focus on the Middle East, she lived in Palestine for six months. She was involved in community service for a year in Los Angeles and worked as a preschool teacher before moving to Chicago in 2014. She continued working at a preschool in Chicago while studying for her Emergency Management Technician license.

“It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s satisfying. But most of all, it’s really an honor to do this work,” he said. n

She said she took the city’s written exam for firefighter and, of all those who passed, she was randomly assigned

the number 170 out of 18,000. “Numbers like that don’t come around every day,” she said. When Julia entered the academy this past August, and while fellow cadets worked on EMT training, she was able to focus on her physical training, doing crab walks, bear crawls and running up and down lots of stairs. Then, during the final three months at the academy, the focus was on training to use the fire-supression equipment. That meant carrying two bundles of 50foot-long hose, air tanks and tools into a high-rise buildings; learning the stance for holding and aiming a high-pressure hose and crawling around in the dark in search and rescues. She fought training fires in shipping containers, and doused live burns on train cars. Standing 5-foot-11, and weighing 167 pounds, Julia knows she will have to stay in shape for the rest of her career, but doesn’t consider herself strong at all. “Our class motto was never stop, never quit. That’s very much what I had to do,” she said. “A lot of women see that it will be hard, and they don’t try.” Now, working at Engine 26, she’s on duty at the firehouse for 24 hours, and then off duty for 48 hours. In the city, about 80 percent of calls the firehouses receive are for medical help, she said. “We don’t want bad things to happen to you,” she said. “But we want to be there if they do.” n





Mark Garrison’s Impact on the Growth of Abington Friends School He helped ‘Raise the Bar’ in Every Division

Mark Garrison, who is stepping down from School Committee in June, has served Abington Friends School well since 1995 when he and his wife, Heather, enrolled their oldest child, Christopher, in third grade. Daughters Lindsay ’07, Eliza and Brittney ’12 soon followed. The Garrisons became participating members of the Meeting at that time, too. Mark has served as a member of the School Committee for almost 20 years, but that does little to describe his impact on our community. Both Mark and Heather clerked the 1997 Strategic Planning Committee. Their work produced an awareness of the need to raise the academic standards. Armed with the new Strategic Plan and mission statement, Mark has been an active member of the Meeting and the School, working with Head of School Rich Nourie to “raise the bar” in every arena — especially in academics, theater and athletics — in each division of the school. Mark also has chaired and enthusiastically led numerous school committees, including Development, Finance,

Quakerism and Membership. One semester, when beloved Librarian Rosie Montgomery suddenly passed away, Mark jumped in and taught her Technology class in Upper School. He also served on the board of the Friends Council on Education for five years. His hallmark initiative of growing our parentalnetworking community took many forms. He started a Phillies season-ticket-holder club, hosting lottery parties for participants. He always included teachers and then saved a few prime dates for the annual auction. The Garrison’s home in Jenkintown hosted a multitude of student and parent networking and fundraising parties — games and competitions often ensued — all Quaker approved. Though Mark and Heather have relocated to Park City, Utah, Mark continues to be an active member of the John Barnes Society. After 20 years, his connection with AFS remains strong. We all know that even though Mark is stepping down from the School Committee, it will not diminish his devotion to all things AFS. n




We are grateful that Jack shared his infectious spirit so generously with the AFS community. n

Jack Rudin

(Information from The New York Times was included in this article.)

JUDITH ROMIG SCOTT HAAB ’58 passed away on December 24, at her home in Flourtown, Pa., at age 77. She is survived by her husband, Frederick C. Haab; her sister, Patricia S. (Nate) Doughty; her sisterin-law, Corinne R. Roxby; her children, Gerald C. Romig III, J. W. Scott (Allison) Romig, Wendy R. (Mike) Concannon and Meredith R. (Hank) Russell, and her 11 grandchildren. She was pre-deceased by a husband, Gerald C. Romig Jr., and a sister, Janet S. Hassold. Memorial contributions may be made to The Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, 1080 N. Delaware Ave., Philadelphia, Pa., 19125 or to Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia, Pa., 19111.

By Rich Nourie In early December 2016, Abington Friends School lost a wonderful friend and advocate when Jack Rudin passed away after a long illness. Jack and Susan Salesky Rudin ’57 have been spirited and joyful supporters of the AFS community for many years. In 1998, the couple established the Rudin Lecture series, which annually brings to campus the distinctive perspectives of leaders in diverse fields, ranging from the arts and humanities to natural sciences and industry. From Jack and Susan’s wide circle of friends, Rudin Lecturers have included Wynton Marsalis, Jules Feiffer, Neil de Grasse Tyson and Jeffrey Toobin. Jack and Susan contributed to several AFS projects and programs over the years, and in 2016 were the lead donors to the new Headwaters Discovery Playground, which opened this past fall, expanding the School’s innovative footprint in hands-on learning in the outdoors and creating a magnificent new space for outdoor learning, play and exploration. Jack Rudin’s support of AFS was part of a lifetime of philanthropic support and civic engagement, most notably in New York, the city that he loved and where he saw great success as chairman of The Rudin Management Company. Jack and his brother, Lewis, were founders of the Five-Borough New York City Marathon, and, at their request, the winner’s trophy was named in honor of their father, Samuel Rudin, himself a long-distance runner. Jack also served on the boards of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the American Museum of Natural History and Congregation Shearith Israel. He was awarded the Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 2003 and, in 2008, was granted the Benemerenti Award Medal by Pope Benedict XVI. Honorary degrees were bestowed on Jack by Iona College, The City College, The City University of New York, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Yeshiva University. The platform for Jack’s engagement was his extraordinary success in business. With his brother Lewis, he dramatically expanded the Rudin Management Company from a 54 oak leaves spring 2017

for our graduates. We share our appreciation and sympathy with Susan Salesky Rudin ’57, who continues her wonderful support of AFS as a current School Committee Member and Co-Chair of our current Now More Than Ever Capital Campaign.

family business founded by their grandfather into a world-class company with more than 800 employees. As President of Rudin Management, Jack oversaw the design and construction of numerous commercial and residential buildings. He was also a staunch supporter of the New York City trade unions throughout his career. I attended his memorial service in December at Central Synagogue, where the speakers included family members and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and former New York City mayors David Dinkins and Michael Bloomberg. All spoke of Jack’s outsized love of life, family, civic commitments and his passion to see New York thriving in every dimension from arts to education, from healthcare to the environment. They told of how he and Lewis had rallied the business community in the 1970s to pay their taxes early in order to keep NYC solvent during a challenging time. At AFS, Jack followed Susan’s lead in championing her beloved alma mater. He brought his big smile, generous spirit and boundless energy to campus often when he was well. Jack loved being at AFS for the lectures and the lunches with students afterward. He generously hosted me once a year in New York at his luncheon table at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he daily gathered a host of important city players for wide-ranging conversations. While not an alumnus of our School, Jack’s life of contribution, accomplishment, love of community and joyful legacy are perfect reflections of our aspirations

JOAN GEIGER DOYLE ’50 In a hand-written letter mailed to the alumni office, Joan’s husband, Joseph Doyle, writes, “Joan Geiger Doyle, 84, passed away peacefully at her home in Medford Lakes, N.J., on May 22. She loved her school (Abington Friends School) and spoke of it many times. She loved her Physical Education Teacher, Lib Smith. She often went to visit a former headmaster, Mr. Scull (J. Skolwell Scull Jr.), at Medford Leas. At Joan’s gravesite, my four children sang an AFS cheerleader song that ended in, ‘Abington Friends School! Boy, oh boy!’ Thank you for all of her good times.” She is survived by Joseph, her husband of 59 years; children, Shaun, Dwayne, Shivaun and Darrin, and 14 grandchildren. Contributions in her memory can be made to Acacia Hospice, 902 Jacksonville Rd., Burlington, N.J. 08016. BONNIE BLAIR JOHNSON ’85 Bonnie Blair Johnson, 50, of North Port, Fla., passed away suddenly of natural causes on April 6, 2017. Bonnie, who was known as Blair at AFS, loved her years at Abington Friends, and enjoyed her many friendships during her time there. She was a wonderful sportsman, and excelled at field hockey, lacrosse and other varsity sports. Upon her graduation, she attended college in Florida. She married Joe Salvaggio and raised her daughter, Brooke, who was the sunshine of her world. Bonnie’s mother, Ruth Kindt Johnson, now deceased, was a 1948 graduate of Abington Friends. Bonnie also was predeceased by her brother, Stephen. In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her father, Charles Johnson; brothers Charlie and Scott, and a sister, Mary Lee Bolton. 55

BY THE NUMBERS Fun facts about AFS that we bet you didn’t know!





books checked out of the Faulkner Library in a year

cups of coffee brewed in Andrew Bickford’s classroom in one day

families that send more than one child to AFS

cinnamon buns sold in the Farmhouse in a week


seats in the Muller Auditorium


alumni currently working at AFS

184 ft. shortest commute to AFS

Longest commute by a student: 31.7 mi.


lights in each of the two big chandeliers in the Meeting House Number of Upper School students who knew the correct answer: 31

Compiled by the Publications class

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END NOTE My love of theatre grew right along with me at AFS BY WHITNEY ESTRIN ’98 My first memory of live theatre is not about seeing a play, but about performing in one. Barbara Weaver’s first grade class was learning African fables and we performed a play about how the giraffe got its long neck. We made masks and scenery in art class. Students played the musical accompaniment on glockenspiels. The amazing Debbie Pizzi directed/conducted. I played the giraffe. I loved every minute of it. The first play I remember seeing was the AFS Middle School production of “The Wizard of Oz.” The Triangle Gym was transformed into a magical wonderland. I was 8. I was hooked. In fifth grade, Middle School Theatre Teacher Rita Burrows visited our class and taught us about “getting into character.” As we acted out scenes, I crawled around on the floor, determined to be the best wild boar Rita had ever seen. I must have done something right because in the years that followed, I would play a butterfly, an alligator and a rat in Middle School productions. By the time I graduated, I had read/studied/ memorized/performed nine of Shakespeare’s plays. I had no idea how rare this was until years later. And what was even more unusual was that the study of these plays was woven through our different disciplines, so that we were talking about Julius Caesar in English, social studies, theatre and Latin classes. Shakespeare became ingrained in me. I chose a liberal arts college with a professional Shakespeare theatre on its campus. In my junior year, I studied abroad in London and interned at Shakespeare’s Globe. I have worked for two major classical theatres. I think that can all be traced back to reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Bruce Brownell’s sixth grade English class and acting out the play within the play. As much as I loved performing, I did not apply to a BFA program when I went to college. I wanted to learn more about all the different elements of theatre-making and still take classes in English, art history, biology and Italian. That choice — to learn broadly, soak in as much as I could, knowing that all knowledge would 58 oak leaves spring 2017

be valuable as I formed my career in the theatre — was 100 percent because of AFS. When I got to college, I was surprised to find that most of my classmates had only performed in musicals, had only read Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet, and that their goal was to be on Broadway or win an Oscar. These things had honestly never occurred to me. At AFS, I had been taught and mentored by professionals who were working at theatres across Philadelphia. Fran Brooks, Darla Max, Megan Bellwoar Hollinger, Ken Bolinsky. They showed me a real picture of life as a professional in the arts. Because of them, I didn’t dream of being famous. I wanted to make a career out of making art, and I knew what that looked like when I was 16 years old. That exposure was a true gift. My teachers also gave me the personal attention I needed to build my confidence and self esteem. They practiced monologues with me on the weekends and introduced me to other professionals in the field. They were invested in me. We all know that small classrooms are a benefit of private education, but the dedication of my teachers at AFS went way beyond that. There are so many other ways that AFS laid the groundwork for my career in the arts: critical-thinking skills, the basic elements of storytelling, conflict resolution, how to craft a five paragraph essay. Many adults do not have these basics. And of course, Quaker values — you cannot put a price tag on the impact of being taught the principles of equality, simplicity, community, integrity, stewardship and peace from the age of 5 until age 18. Theatre-makers hold a mirror up to the world to educate, engage, entertain, empathize and enrich the lives of those who are watching. I would not do what I do the way that I do it, or be the person (let alone professional) that I am, if it were not for Abington Friends School. I am forever grateful. n Whitney Estrin is the Director of Development at Theatre for a New Audience, a modern classical theatre in Brooklyn. She earned a BA in Theatre Arts from Drew University and an MFA in Theatre Management from Yale School of Drama, and has worked in professional theatre, predominantly in arts administration, for her entire career.

Please give.

The Annual Fund helps make these student experiences possible. • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Upper School musicals Quaker Youth Leadership Conference Science Night Field trips and student assemblies The Eighth Grade Trip to Washington, D.C. Candlelight Dinner Varsity and junior varsity athletics The AFS arboretum Tree plantings on Arbor Day Eighth Grade Independent Study Night The Roobotics team Second Grade Egypt Night ECO Fest and Nature Playdate

Donations to the Annual Fund are unrestricted and support essential student programs from early childhood through grade 12.

Gifts are payable by June 30, 2017. Make your donation today to the Annual Fund at www.abingtonfriends.net/giveonline

575 Washington Lane Jenkintown, PA 19046

215.576.3950 www.abingtonfriends.net

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