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oakleaves Spring 2011

AFS Parents on

PARENTING AFS Upfront Farewell, Ferne Alumni Events

the AFS

Annual Fund We’re not there yet‌ Will your Annual Fund gift put us over our goal? $425,000 by June 30 Every Annual Fund gift supports the learning lives of our students and the teaching lives of our faculty. Your participation in the Annual Fund is one of the most important gifts you can give to the School. Gifts must be received by June 30, 2011 to be counted in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Give online at

in this issue 18

4 10 16

AFS Parents on Parenting

Life at AFS:

Four Month Scrapbook

AFS Upfront

Farewell, Ferne

Oak Leaves is a publication of the AFS Development and Communications Offices. Richard F. Nourie Debbie Stauffer Jon Harris Judy Hill Marji Burke Gabrielle Giddings Anna Stiegel

Head of School Associate Head of School Assistant Head for Institutional Advancement Director of Communications, Editor Communications Assistant Assistant Director of Development Director of Alumni

Peapod Design

Publication Design

27 29

Alumni Events



letter from the

head of school A Community of Parents Is there any role in our lives more joyful, inspiring, demanding and challenging than that of being a parent? As parents, we experience the deepest love, tenderness, anxiety and heartbreak of our lives as we watch our children grow and experience the fullness of their own lives, from shining moments to deepest hurts. We worry about them, hope beyond hope for them, shake our heads at them, laugh, snuggle with them and also experience some of our most intense anger and outrage with them. It is, for many of us, the most profound role of our lives.

And most of us had no idea what we were getting into. Surely, we thought, we’d be better at it than our own parents! As a young man, pre-children, I was quietly disdainful of the young parents whose toddlers were having meltdowns at neighborhood gettogethers who seemed helpless in the face of toddler rage. I just knew my children wouldn’t be like that. We’d have a warm, trusting relationship that would ensure that they would be sweet and adorable until they got sleepy and then drifted off to a good night’s sleep. Any minor mishaps would be quietly settled in a brief conversation off to the side. Well, we all know how that turns out. It’s a lot harder than it looks as we face the complexity of what it really means for children to grow up. If we’re lucky, we have, at moments, the perspective to understand that all the hard stuff of family life is really important to the growth of our children. Their need to push back, push buttons, push boundaries and our need to keep control, keep safe, chart the paths, make for a powerful, crucial setting for their development, and arguably, ours as well. But it can be hard, wearing stuff in the day to day. In November, when I suggested some grade-level parent conversations to share experiences with each other, our Home and School clerks dove headlong into rich exchange that quickly devoured our hour-long meeting time. It was easy to see that there was plenty to talk about. So this school year,




I am in the midst of 24 conversations with parents of various two-year age groups in my office, some in the morning, some in the evening, simply to connect and share wisdom and challenges with each other. The discussions have been so rich, so reflective of the deep values, aspirations, intention and care of our parent body. We’ve been able to dispel the myths that some families manage the tensions of day-to-day life with ease and unbroken grace and realize that we are far from alone in the rich blessings and struggles of being parents of young children and adults in 2011. What I’ve come to realize in these conversations is that we are raising, and educating, our children for a complex age. One in which a deep sense of values, of self, is necessary in order to create a life of meaning and purpose. One in which making intentional choices about how we live and what we dedicate ourselves to is the central call of our lives, in a way far different from the slower moving, more prescribed world that we and our parents grew up in. Our families and our school community form the essential crucible for helping our children learn to make choices, manage complexity and ambiguity, find moral purpose, love and joy in the world around them. Where home and school were once quite separate arenas, one for nurturing self and another for gaining a finite set of knowledge and skills, we are blessed to see AFS as a community of families of strong, healthy, shared values in a quite discordant world, where we create together the sometimes messy, sometimes bumpy but ultimately wonderful place in which our children grow up and in which we share that grace-filled experience together.

“What I’ve come to realize in these conversations is that we are raising, and educating, our children for a complex age. One in which a deep sense of values, of self, is necessary in order to create a life of meaning and purpose.”

And so we’re pleased to share this issue of Oak Leaves with you, which is centered on parenting. We hope it captures some of the full spectrum of our community and of the role itself. Enjoy!



life at AFS:

The Government Inspector


month scrapbook The Upper School put on a riotous, ribald and hugely entertaining production of The Government Inspector, by Russian playwright and novelist Nikolai Gogol. Playfully adapted from the Russian by American playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, this comedy of errors satirizes human greed, folly and the rampant

Cum Laude Society Inductees


corruption of Imperial Russia.

AFS honored our newest inductees into the Cum Laude Society, an honors society for independent schools (similar to the National Honors Society). The seniors (those with the highest GPAs in the class) were joined by their parents, teachers and advisors for coffee and dessert. Following the reception, the audience was treated to a lecture by cancer researcher Dr. Louis Weiner, whose two sons, David and Ken, are AFS alums.

november Josh Shapiro Visits Lower School » State Representative Josh Shapiro, who represents the 153rd district comprising the communities of Abington and Jenkintown, visited the fifth grade, where he engaged in lively debate about green jobs, improved infrastructure, budgets, education spending and his proposed cell phone driving ban.




Visiting Quakers

Jabril Trawick Signs with Georgetown


In what has become an annual tradition at AFS, members of the Abington Monthly Meeting were invited to spend the morning at the School on November 17. As well as joining Lower, Middle and Upper School Meeting for Worship, our visiting Quakers sat in on classes throughout the morning. Welcoming Meeting members into our classrooms provides a wonderful opportunity for our students to interact with a group of Quakers with a personal interest in the School.

AFS Senior Jabril Trawick signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Georgetown University. His family and friends joined in the celebration at a special recognition event in the Faulkner Library.

Homecoming We were thrilled to welcome back a huge crowd of returning alumni for Homecoming 2010. After a special breakfast in the John Barnes room, our alums headed into the Meeting House for a Meeting for Worship with our Upper School. Alumni shared about missing AFS hugs, finding themselves well prepared for the writing requirements of college, and realizing how much they have come to appreciate the silent reflection that is at the core of an AFS education. A current Upper School student talked about how sad she had felt when her friends went off to college but how it struck her now that, “AFS is a community and everyone comes back.” Following the Meeting, the Class of 2010 gathered outside the Muller Auditorium to dedicate their class gift: a foursquare court for all to enjoy, complete with official foursquare balls and a bench. Capping off the Homecoming celebration was the traditional alumni soccer game, played on our newly restored varsity soccer field. To ward off the chills of a late November day, Chef Nick Waldron served up a piping hot selection of chillis and cornbread.


AFS Craft Show » On Saturday, December 4, the lobby and halls of AFS Upper School were ablaze with activity as shoppers purchased original handcrafted items from more than 50 vendors, many our own faculty, staff, parents and alumni.

Upper School Instrumental Concert The Upper School Instrumental concert brought to the Muller Stage all of the US instrumental music ensembles: String Ensemble, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble and Chamber Players. The Concert Band’s version of the “William Tell Overture” featured a very special guest – Upper School Director Martha Holland on trumpet!

Consortium Gift Drive A group of Upper School students, including 12th graders Alex Harley and Sasha Rojavin, and 10th grader Rebecca Fisher, continued the legacy of Chris Hennigan ’09 by coordinating a divisionwide gift drive for special needs children at the Consortium preK program. More than 200 festively wrapped packages were picked up by the Consortium on December 14.

PACT partnership « This fall the 11th grade embarked on a partnership with an area preschool program called PACT (Parents and Children Together). In December, junior Dustin Hill spearheaded a book/gift drive and a group of 11th graders delivered the supplies to PACT and took part in a sing-along at the PACT holiday party.

december 6


Winterfest ÂŤ AFS ushered in the winter holidays as it always does, with the joyous all-school celebration in Hallowell Gym known as Winterfest. With entertainment provided by the Middle and Upper School jazz bands and Upper School acting students, the morning festivities on December 16 involved students in every division as they decorated a Christmas tree and added items to the Hannukah and Kwanza tables. As always, Winterfest wrapped up with a spirited reading of the Winterfest poem and a group sing of yuletide favorites.

KYW Visits Kindergarten Âť Hadas Kusnitz, a reporter from KYW Radio visited the Kindergarten to talk with some of our youngest students about their winter holiday traditions.



Martin Luther King Day of Service

Now a well-established and much anticipated annual event, our Day of Service in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. began on the morning of January 17 with a rousing program in the Meetinghouse featuring poems and songs by our students. More than 300 AFS community members then began a joyful morning of volunteering, making 300 meals for Aid to Friends; 200 activity kits for St. Christopher’s Hospital; 75 scarves and hats and 100 puzzle packets for Face to Face Kitchen in Germantown; 400 cookies for Whosoever Gospel Mission and

Snow Football


150 hygiene kits for Face to Face.

Korean Students Visit AFS


Is there snow on the ground? Then it must be time for the AFS tradition of Snow Football! Here, seventh graders take to the fields for a spirited round of flag football on a recent snowy morning.

A group of 13 Korean students visited us for a four-week stay through the School’s partnership with Camp Korea. Now in its third year, the program gives our visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves fully in the culture of an American school. “This was a great visit,” said Upper School History the program.

Alumni Basketball Game


Teacher Rusty Regalbuto, who coordinates

Rescheduled because of snowy weather, the Alumni and Community Basketball Game finally took place last Saturday, January 29 in the Hallowell Gym. The game, with the “old timers” against the “youngsters” went into double overtime, with the more seasoned (older) team winning. After the game, the players and audience gathered in the Stewart Lobby to eat five-foot hoagies prepared by Chef Nick Waldron.


Book Author Choldenko Visits AFS » Fifth and Sixth graders received a visit from Newberry Award winning children’s book author Gennifer Choldenko, who talked about Al Capone Does My Shirts, Notes From a Liar and Her Dog and her latest, just-published book, No Passengers Beyond This Point. She advised the students to be “kind” to themselves when they write and to have fun with the process. “Make yourself laugh. Make yourself cry!”

Faculty, family and friends gathered in the

AFS Community Talent Show

Faulkner Library for the annual Fifth Grade

With the Muller Cafeteria transformed for

Poetry Night. Over the years, the event has

the night into a charming coffee house, a

become a rite of passage for AFS fifth

capacity crowd of parents, Meeting members

graders, whose insights often stun the

and a fair smattering of students enjoyed the

crowd. “AFS students understand from an

10th Anniversary AFS Community Talent

early age that poetry is a vessel for deep

Show, with stellar performances by Middle

emotions,” says All-School English

School Math Teacher Justin Solonynka, MC

Department Chair, Mary Lynn Ellis, “but at

and Upper School French Teacher John

the same time, they have tremendous fun

McCabe and many others.


Fifth Grade Poetry Night »

with word play.”

february AFS Red Cross Blood Drive « The Upper School Community Service Council worked with the Red Cross to organize a blood drive at AFS on Valentine’s Day. The effort yielded 70 pints of blood, enough to help 210 people through plasma, platelets and red blood cell donations.


afs upfront AFS Welcomes New Director of Alumni Affairs Anna Stiegel AFS’s new Director of Alumni Affairs, Anna Stiegel, worked in the D.C. corporate marketing world for several years after college, but found she yearned for a smaller, more intimate work environment. Thinking back to the joyful days she had spent as a PreK-12 student at a private school, Anna began to move in that direction, and happily landed a job in the Alumni Relations Department of Sidwell Friends. It was a good match, and she ended up working at Sidwell for three years alongside former AFS Head of School Bruce Stewart. After that came a move to NYC and a job at Columbia University, but when Anna became engaged and learned her fiancé had landed a job in Philadelphia, she decided to relocate to the area, and once again found herself job hunting. So she touched base with Bruce, who convinced her AFS might just be the kind of experience she was looking for. “Bruce and I met a couple of times, and he had nothing but great things to say about AFS administration and the students,” Anna says. “What I think is different about AFS, is that teachers, administration and students sit together at lunch, and there’s a sense of team effort about things here. It’s a very welcoming place.”

Anna says she loves to listen to people’s stories, and that’s a quality that serves her well as Director of Alumni Affairs. At least once a week she’s out in the community meeting with AFS alums. “AFS alums seem very prideful of their school,” says Anna. “I met with the class of 1957 in October who came from all over. They were so enthusiastic. Also, I was helping out with the recent Annual Fund Phonathon, and I was amazed to learn that several alum Phonathon callers returned to AFS to help out!”

Michael Amole Signs




“What I think is different about AFS…there’s a sense of team effort about things here. It’s a very welcoming place.”

Letter of Intent Michael Amole signed a letter of intent on November 18, 2010 to play for the Mens Golf team at Temple University. At the signing event, held in the Faulkner Library, Michael thanked his friends and family for their support, as well as his coach John Savage. Michael has had a remarkable golf career at AFS. He led the School to a 10-2 overall record in 2010 and a 2nd place finish in the Friends Schools League. In May, Michael, a two-time National High School Golf Association All-American, lived up to that billing when he carded a 7-under par 63 to run away with match medalist honors. Not only did Michael shatter the Friends Schools League 18-hole record by 7 strokes, but he also tied the Philmont Country Club course record as well. Last summer Michael was one of 8 scholastic players on the east coast selected for the prestigious Blair-Wellington Golf Exchange, which involves 21 matches over 3 weeks with a British select team on historic courses in

Race to Nowhere Screening On Tuesday, January 25, we screened the documentary film “Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture” to an audience of more than 300 comprised of AFS families as well as a sizable contingent from outside of our community.

Great Britain. Simply being chosen to participate in the exchange is considered to be a quite an honor in the golf community as players are chosen for their sportsmanlike approach to competition and talent on the golf course. Michael follows AFS alum Andrew Mason (’07) to the Temple University Golf team. AFS Head Coach John Savage proved

The film, which has garnered extraordinary attention nationwide during the last few months, focuses on the high-stakes, high-pressure culture that has invaded our schools and our children’s lives and questions assumptions about how best to prepare our youth to become healthy, contributing citizens. During a discussion after the screening, Head of School Rich Nourie noted that the film, while flawed in its lack of evidence and professional grounding, touches on something very real: the empty pursuit of performance. “In our school,” he said, “we build space for discernment, punctuate dialogue with silence and encourage a range of voices, developing deep roots of motivation. We have a fuller vision of who kids are and how they can grow and develop into capable people in a complex world.” Rich fielded questions from the audience about homework and AP classes and talked

instrumental in Michael’s development as a golfer, as the long-time AFS coach is renowned for his teaching technique and knowledge of the sport. In his 9 years at the helm of the Kangaroos, Savage’s teams have recorded a 61-16 Friends Schools League mark, 8 consecutive top-2 finishes in the League, and 3 FSL titles.

about the challenge of developing students that compete well and are also whole and healthy. “We want kids to be able to frame questions, create meaning, take risks and own their work. What we’re looking for is for kids to turn the corner and be captivated by their own work.” AFS faculty had their own screening of the film and have been engaged in lively debate about the issues raised. Students in our Upper School have also watched the movie and shared their responses in their advisories. “I feel under a lot of stress,” said one high schooler. “I’m always worried about disappointing my parents. If I get a B+ on a paper, my dad is quick to say he would have liked to see at least an A-.” Other students talked about lack of time, choosing between sports and academics and feeling “programmed” by expectations surrounding getting into a “good” college and getting a “good” job.


he laughs. “And it just went on from there… journal after journal after journal, with a focus on sports stories.”

AFS News Show The brainchild of AFS Upper School teacher Niall Hood and students Jesse Dougherty ’12 and Mike Washington ’11, the new AFS video News Show features sports, entertainment,

“We began with a marathon training session on iMovie,” says Niall. “We had a successful first run, but the students are anxious to include more interviews, and they’re still developing their style and working harder at finding the story.”

current issues—especially as they relate to the AFS community—and more, and has quickly drawn the interest of many Upper School students. Niall and AFS Director of Technology John Rison are executive producers.

Middle School Blog A group of enthusiastic and dedicated Middle School students has started its own blog, Middle School Reports. Through the blog, whose members meet as a lunchtime activity led by 7th grader Grace Armstrong, the students chronicle life in Middle School and promote conversation around issues of topical interest. The blog also includes an advice column, where fellow students can share problems and gain advice from their peers on navigating the complexities of middle school life. Grace was inspired to start the blog when a teacher gave her the book The Landry News, which tells the tale of a young student who starts a school newspaper. “Originally, my idea was to use paper and post it. Rachel Kane suggested I start a blog. I want to write stuff that's newsworthy and I want this to be a place where kids can express their feelings in blog form.”



As an aspiring journalist Jesse Dougherty has been interested in writing since the second grade. “I remember I was the first kid in my class to fill up my writer’s journal,”

Mike Washington’s interest started a bit later. His eighth grade independent study project highlighted his interviewing skills, and during his sophomore year he attended a journalism workshop at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Mike is planning to major in the field next year at college. Asked how he felt about seeing himself on the big screen, Mike joked, “Well, I realized I really needed a haircut badly, but seriously, the experience helped me begin to really picture myself in the broadcasting field as well.” Niall sees the show as an early step towards developing a larger multi-media presence within the AFS community. “There are a lot of different ways to tell a story,” says John Rison. “And I’m enjoying the fact that we’re figuring this out together. It’s a real example of teachers and students working side by side teaching and learning from one another. The students are very invested.”

Tedx AFS Abington Friends School is excited to be hosting its own Tedx conference here at the School on May 21, 2011. TEDx afs is a local event created in the spirit of TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design), a global set of conferences addressing a vast range of topics within the realm of science and culture. Past presenters at TED conferences have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Malcolm Gladwell and Richard Dawkins. The goal of TEDx afs is to tap into some of the great minds associated with our school and hear what they are passionate about. TED’s tag line—“Ideas Worth Spreading”—provides an inspiring conceptual framework for our own event. What makes TED and TEDx events so compelling and interesting is the passion behind the speakers, the range of presentations and the willingness of the audience to listen and engage.

Zach Atkins Wins Cum Laude Paper Award The day will start at 9 a.m. and run until 5 p.m., with plenty of time built in to engage with the speakers, talk to one another and learn. “TEDx afs offers a unique opportunity to hear what parents, faculty, alumni and community members are engaged in and passionate about,” says AFS Technology Director John Rison who is heading up the event. Talks on the days’ schedule so far cover topics from “big numbers” in mathematics to “What if schools were run more like Google.” Check the AFS website and the Tedx afs website (

Every year the national judging panel of the Cum Laude Society, an organization that honors scholastic achievement at secondary institutions, selects outstanding papers in each of its eight districts along with a national winner. AFS junior Zach Atkins has been named the District 2 winner of the 2010 Cum Laude Society Paper. Atkins’ paper, about the founding of the Royal Society of London, was entitled “By their admission of Men of all professions” On the Motives behind the Membership Policies of the Early Royal Society. Using Princeton University’s library, Atkins was able to obtain a number of early primary sources including minutes of the Society’s meetings, uncovering conflicts among its members around funding and how to practice Science at a time (in the late 1600s) when scientists were just beginning to define their field.

“I chose to research the Society because I wanted to experience the wonder that individuals at that time felt,” says Zach. “It was great to read about their trials and triumphs and the members’ exact thoughts. After researching the Society for three months and writing my paper, I felt a part of their story.” “Zach’s process was to read, theorize, write, talk to me, create new theories, and read some more. It's an incredible piece of work,” says AFS Upper School History teacher Margaret Guerra. “We’d have these great meetings where he would think out loud and I would ask him questions. Zach is a great student, always curious, interested and very respectful of his colleagues,” says Margaret. Abington Friends School has educated four winners of the National Cum Laude Society Paper in the past six years. Liz Soltan ’08 and Matthew Rosario ’06 were district winners, and in 2009, Ilana Breitman won the national prize.


it takes to get into a high division one program like Georgetown. I'm proud and honored to have been able to coach Jabril, not just as a basketball player, but as a fine young man.” At the Nov. 15 signing, Jabril told those gathered that AFS had prepared him “academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually.” The Quaker environment, with its focus on reflection, “helped me develop and grow as a young man,” he said. Jabril also thanked his mother—“The strongest lady I know”—his uncle, Brother Leon Shamsid’Deen and his aunt, Khadijah, and noted that this was just the beginning of a long journey. “I’ve still got high school to finish and I’m going to need a lot more love and support.”

Jabril Trawick Signs Letter of Intent for Georgetown Surrounded by family, friends and teammates, AFS senior Jabril Trawick signed a letter of intent on November 15 to play basketball at Georgetown University. Jabril came to AFS in 8th grade. “One of the things that’s impressed me most about

AFS Welcomes Bill Newman: Director of Admission and Tuition Assistance

Jabril is how he’s developed into a real student athlete over his four years here,” said Coach Steve Chadwin. “Academics have progressively become a major focus in his life to the point where he can get into a school like Georgetown. He knew he had to work on his grades and his SAT scores, and he did. Basketball wise he has improved every year and this past summer he put everything in place to show that he has what

AFS has won 15 Friends Schools League basketball titles since 1982. Last year’s team finished 18-5 overall and made the FSL postseason for the 26th time in the last 27 years. In the past 5 years, 11 AFS graduates have gone on to play collegiate basketball, including 6 at the Division 1 level. 2010-11 marks Head Coach Steve Chadwin’s 33rd year on the AFS bench, where he's amassed over 500 career wins.

Divisions. Prior to Chicago, Bill was the Dean of Admissions at Vermont Academy where he served as an academic adviser, dormparent, and alpine ski coach.

In Chicago, Bill was tasked with ramping up admissions operations to set the stage for increased enrollment. Although the school, which is affiliated with the University of Chicago, is three times larger than AFS, pedagogically it had similarities, giving Bill an immediate sense of comfort and familiarity when he first stepped onto the campus at Abington Friends.

Bill began his career as a teacher at North Country School, a boarding school in Lake Placid, and after being recruited by the admissions director to assist in the admissions office, he discovered “a real passion for working with families, meeting with students and ensuring that if accepted this was going to be a great match for both the student and the parent.”

In January we welcomed Bill Newman to campus as our new director of admission and tuition assistance. Bill joins us from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools where he was the Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid for all four



Working at two boarding schools, says Bill, was “a great way to cut my teeth, since it’s 120 percent about community. When you’re involved in a school where you’re selecting everything from the child’s orthodontist to what secondary school they’ll be attending, these are lifelong relationships.”

“What I find so compelling about AFS and being part of a Quaker community,” says Bill, “is there is a gracefulness and a level of warmth and kindness that is omnipresent. It feels very comfortable here for me. Right now I’m setting up a schedule to sit in on classes and I’ve also been invited to chaperone some ski trips. I’m excited about the time I’m coming in and where AFS is in its strategic planning. It’s an exciting opportunity to be part of that and to help raise the visibility of AFS.”

National Merit Semifinalists Congratulations to the following AFS seniors who were named National Merit Semifinalists: Martin Greenberg, Maria Ratskevich, Daniel Schiano and Hannah Weitz (not pictured). As semifinalists, these students remain in competition for National Merit Scholarships. In addition, AFS seniors Susie Meyer, Rohan Prabhu, Sasha Rojavin and Alex Zega all received Letters of Commendation. Established in 1955, National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that conducts annual competitions for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. The organization’s goals are to identify and honor academically talented U.S. high school students; to stimulate increased support for their education; and to provide efficient and effective scholarship program management for organizations that wish to sponsor college undergraduate scholarships. Since its founding, NMSC has recognized 2.8 million students and provided over 350,000 scholarships worth more than $1.4 billion.

Gwen McEntee Appointed Lower School Librarian Gwen McEntee, former AFS library assistant, has been appointed Lower School Librarian after an extensive search that began in late August. “She was the best candidate and a great match for AFS,” says Director of Libraries Toni Vahlsing. “Gwen has a strong Quaker background, which is a wonderful asset to our program; she’s a natural collaborator having both the need and ability to connect well with others; and she’s remarkably creative as well.”

Alumni Video Contest Back in the fall we put the call out for submissions to our first Alumni Video Contest. We asked recent graduates to tell us, in video form, how AFS prepared them for college. We were thrilled with the responses, which incorporated hand drawn illustrations, inspired locations, delightful humor and both thoughtful and thought provoking reflections on the AFS experience. Our winner, Stephen Pettit ’10, who will receive an iPad for his efforts, is currently studying at Drexel University. In his video, he talked about how AFS had encouraged him to explore all his passions and become a true “Renaissance man.” Runner up Liz Myrtetus ’07, who will receive an iPod Touch, dazzled us with her wit and humor, and we also appreciated the powerful message behind all the fun.

In her previous position, Gwen spent weekday mornings in the Lower School Library as an assistant. Now she’s fully immersed in the world of our PreK-5th grade students and enjoying herself immensely. “The Lower School students have so many questions. They’re curious about everything, and they engage you in a very direct way,” says Gwen. “I’m using up a great deal of energy taking in all of their questions, but at the same time, I’m getting so much energy from them in return. Their excitement is contagious!”

We also commended Katie Gross ’08 for her supremely imaginative and beautiful take on the assignment and the film making team of Jacob McEntire ’10 and Dan Basch ’09, for their thoughtful perspective on how AFS paved their way to Vassar.

Gwen has two specific goals she’s set for herself in her new role. “I really want to stimulate and celebrate the students’ independent reading. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, independent reading is a great way of exploring things that aren’t necessarily in our curriculum,” she says. “And I’m excited about getting to know the students’ families, and gaining a deeper understanding of each child’s emotional and educational life.”

You can see the winning videos on the AFS Youtube channel at AbingtonFriendsVideo


farewell, ferne Ferne Moffson came on board at AFS in 1981 as an English teacher in the Middle School. In her three decades here she has touched many young lives with her warmth, compassion and contagious excitement about the power of words and stories to transform us. Ferne announced earlier this year that in June she will retire from AFS. We will miss her more than we can say. Her grace and humor and her deep love for the art and craft of teaching, and for her students, will stay in our memories long after we say goodbye. We asked alumni and former colleagues to share some of their thoughts about Ferne. Here is what they told us.

“I have fond and respectful memories of Ferne. She stood out as a teacher who recognized that teachers always need to learn as well as to teach. I remember how she stunned the participants at a diversity workshop we had for faculty and students during the 1989-90 school year when she confessed, ‘I didn't know what I didn't know.’ That statement about cross-cultural understanding was much more powerful than it seems on the surface! Ferne cared genuinely for the young people she was teaching and her dedication and enthusiasm encouraged all of us who had the privilege to teach at AFS.” Virginia Wilkinson, (History teacher and Department Chair, 1987-1992)

“I remember being in seventh grade with Ferne and how supportive and nice she always was. Never a mean day with her. It was like going to school with your mom. She was very encouraging all the time. We did such fun projects and she made literature exciting. I think my class started the writers conference where we all dressed up as our favorite authors and had a party of sorts. I remember it was very elaborate. The students really got into it. I was Bernard Malamud. We even had someone be Oscar Wilde (AFS was always so tolerant!). Ferne was a wonderful teacher and I have only the fondest memories of her classes.” Jonathan M. Kroser ’89

“I remember nostalgically Ferne as a

“Books gave her tears in her eyes, and I have tears, too, as I think of what I owe her.”




substitute teacher who filled in after Charlotte Anderson’s retirement in 1980. She made me feel like a valued member of the AFS community who instilled within me a love of reading. She was an inspiration to all who studied under her and her commanding presence in the classroom I’m sure will be sorely missed.” Jonathan R. Verlin ’84

“I first met Ferne Moffson when we were both

“Ferne Moffson taught me about onomatopoetic words. I remember the excitement in her voice as she listed all the words she could think of—bark, jingle, cock-a-doodle-do—whose sounds mirrored their meanings. It strikes me that Ferne Moffson's name, too, is onomatopoeic. It sounds like growing things and softness. She was a teacher who taught through example, by modeling the way literature moved her. Books gave her tears in her eyes, and I have tears, too, as I think of what I owe her.” Sarah Deming ’91 “First of all, Ferne looks about 26, so I am not sure why she is retiring. I owe so much to Ferne. When I was in Middle School, I was very reserved. Ferne required that we do a dramatic reading of a section of Hamlet. Being reticent, I was not too enamored of the prospect of sharing with the class. Ferne encouraged me all through the process. When I did my recitation, Ferne said that she had not seen this colorful side of me before. That is exactly what I needed. Ferne’s words of encouagement and this compliment gave me the confidence I needed to become more outgoing. I wish you all the best.” Jared G. Solomon ’97

“A student/parent/teacher conference with Ferne was always an exercise in kindness. While maintaining her own high expectations, Ferne simultaneously conveyed respect for the parents, admiration for the academic standards of Middle School, and above all, absolute faith in the student. All three of my children were lucky to have experienced her classroom, and we will miss her dignified and stylish presence on campus!” Bonnie Schorsch ’75

involved in a play at the Stagecrafters of Chestnut Hill. After 30 years, I can’t remember the name of the play or what roles we each had; with her beauty, youth and lovely voice, as well as acting ability, Ferne usually took ingenu roles, while I usually worked on production as props or costume manager or producer. At any rate, we fell to talking backstage between acts and I discovered that she was a teacher. I told her about the school’s decision to make a middle school. Since Miss Bickley couldn’t be expected to teach double sessions of sixth, seventh, and eighth grades with her full schedule of Upper School English, and neither could I, we needed an additional English teacher. Would she care to apply? My inviting her to was one of the best deeds I've done in my life! She was very competent, very popular with the students, very dependable, a joy to work with. When I retired, she inherited my classroom as her homeroom; and called to ask me what I wanted with a big file cabinet full of miscellaneous quotes, pictures, book reviews, maps (this was before one could look up things like that on the Internet!) I advised her to keep it all until she found out if she could use things in there for bulletin boards, lesson plans, etc. After a few months, she phoned to say that she indeed could see uses for most of the stuff. AFS is so lucky that she has stayed all these years, and I do wish her well in retirement.” Charlotte Andersen

“Ferne was an incredible listener. It’s extremely rare to meet someone who truly listens as she does. When she was in the classroom, she was engaged, focused and fully present in the moment. She was always interested in what we had to say. She made us feel as though our thoughts and opinions were meaningful, as if we were always on the cusp of an exciting insight or powerful idea. Because she was so encouraging, she helped us see great potential in ourselves.” Ricky Ahl ’05

“I had English with Ferne in seventh grade. I asked her if she was married because my dad was a single parent and I LOVED her!!!” Danielle Brodnick ’96


e sat down recently with a handful of AFS parents to talk about the challenges of parenting in today’s complex world. We met in the Tyson House boardroom, and though many of the parents had not met each other previously, the conversation flowed easily as this eclectic group, with children ranging in age from 8 to 26, reflected on the daily struggles and rewards of “the hardest job in the world.”

afs parents ON


The Parents: Moderator, Marji Burke: Communications assistant at AFS and mother of Samantha Burke ’10. Keith Hodges: Father of third grader Kendall and fifth grader Cameron. Ann Manta: Mother of eleventh grader Vincent, Nick ’10 and Alexander ’09. Jill Rosenfeld: Mother of Gabe (not at AFS) and sixth grader Noah. Robin Vogel: Mother of seventh grader Jed Pancza. Len Garza: Father of eighth grader Douglas, ninth grader Matthew and tenth grader Gabrielle. Karel Kovnat: Mother of ninth grader Rachel Adler and eleventh grader Sarah Adler. Bonnie Schorsch: Mother of tenth grader Hannah, Christina ’10, Adam ’03

MB: How is parenting in your family different from the parenting in the family you grew up in? KH: The first word that jumps out would be discipline. I grew up in a family and a time where discipline—and what I mean by that is spanking—was okay. That’s how my father led the home and that’s what I think we needed. One of the things you needed was a fear of dad. When you came to a crossroads in your life and had to make a decision you’d say, ‘I’d better not go down that path because I have to see dad later on.’ Fast forward to 2011 and in my house we quickly realized that wasn’t the way to go and not what our kids responded to. What our kids needed was conversation and talking to. AM: The word that popped into my head was conversation. We definitely had a fear of what our parents were going to think if we did something. I think communication was not as open and flowing as it is with our children. JR: Reflection is what occurs to me. Even though I’m very close with my parents, saying ‘I love you’ was not very common. My heart is so warm when my son Noah calls out and says ‘I love you,’ even when his friends are around. I feel proud of that because it wasn’t part of my growing up. I feel growing up my parents often were so busy trying to parent that reflection, stopping in the moment, didn’t happen. KH: I agree. I never heard ‘I love you’ growing up. Though I knew they did.

« Clockwise from top: Robin Vogel and Keith Hodges, Ann Manta, Keith Hodges

JR: Did it make you feel conscientious about making the effort? KH: Believe it or not I started with the ‘I love you’ with my parents. Which made them uncomfortable. It warms my heart to hear my kids say it. RV: I was a child of the ’60s and ’70s, which was very laissez faire. I heard ‘I love you,’ but no other words of direction. It was very hands off. I was a little adult from the get go. Wherever I took myself was where I ended up. I picture myself as more of a consultant for my child. We’ve worked at talking about money. That wasn’t discussed in my family. Money and sex, those were the shuffling-ofthe-feet conversations. I’ve tried to make that more of a comfortable conversation. JR: We definitely have that philosophy of facilitating as opposed to lecturing them on what they need to learn. We had a family meeting recently. That’s not something we typically do, but my husband felt there were a couple issues we needed to brainstorm about. That wouldn’t have happened growing up. LG: I grew up in not the most normal family so really I can’t compare, but I looked at other families in the neighborhood. It’s about involvement. There wasn’t as much involvement back in the ’60s and ’70s as there is with our kids. KH: There was an expectation of what you were supposed to do. When you got home dinner was ready, you did your homework, but there wasn’t a lot of discussion about who you were and what you wanted. There was a little bit of a distance. It was like this is what the course is. Follow the course.

Jill Rosenfeld AM: There was a disconnect between family and school. At conferences, whatever the teacher said was the authority and the parent never questioned that. Now it’s more about working together toward a common goal. KK: My mother, particularly when we were little, was reading Dr. Spock or whoever. She didn’t believe in hitting us so I was never hit. In our house we made posters and went on the picket lines with teachers. I think something I see different is there wasn’t as much support for our family system as there is now. We were in the ’60s so there was more room for people being liberal but I don’t think there was as much support from school. There was less support in the community for a more democratic family. BS: I’ve been quiet because there wasn’t a lot of difference between the way my parents parented and the way I do. It may have something to do with the fact that my mother taught here and AFS has not changed in basic ways since that time. How my mother parented was very much listening and advising and standing back sometimes, but never authoritative.


Of course the conditions in which she was parenting were definitely different. When my son, who’s 26, was in high school 10 years ago there was one social networking site. The speed of technology was not what it is today. His sister who’s 15 lives in a totally different world. When I was growing up my parents could at least listen to us talking on the phone and know who was calling. Now my daughter has friends who I will never meet. So the door is closed a little bit.

RV: What I love about parenting now is I feel I’m in a less defined role than my parents. My parents had a much more concrete division of responsibilities and ergo were more defined about how they should parent. My mother was defined as the housewife and my father was defined as the breadwinner. I feel much more free to be Robin Vogel and to parent my child the way I believe.

Is the way we parent today better or worse? JR: I kind of feel like it’s not necessarily better or worse, it’s just different. That’s what they knew at that time. Teachers were the authority and they listened to them. There are still plenty of parents who discipline differently than maybe we do. So as far as better or worse I’d view it more as a journey. Even in your own household you might change as you see the need to.

KK: I was always encouraged to speak my mind but there was more emphasis on learning how you do that in a cooperative way. You learn that at AFS but there’s more room for challenging instruction and authority than there was back then. Back then there was more emphasis on learning how to do that in a non threatening way. I think that actually presents a challenge in parenting—how you teach a child to be both challenging and respectful. How you help them understand there are certain ways you have to behave to be cooperative member of society.

Has being in a Quaker community shaped your approach to parenting? If so, how? JR: For me, coming into this school, we were drawn here because the philosophy matched ours. So I don’t know if it shaped it. It’s kind of the reverse.

KK: That’s why we chose it here, too, because it was a place where we were comfortable. We could be who we are socially and in all different aspects.

KH: It’s a different school of thought. I think that’s what it comes down to. It’s about a wholesome child. That’s the attraction to me. About a child who’s going to know who they are and be comfortable in themselves, and that’s what they get here.

LG: Quaker values attract families with the same values. And we want our kids to be with your kids.

How do you navigate the barrage of parenting advice? BS: A little late in the game I started taking parenting classes. I already had a child graduated from high school. There’s a great resource in Abington called The Parenting Center. They helped me weed through it all. We read a book a month so you got a perspective and were able to put it all

Moderator Marji Burke

Parenting by the Book




Parents, the oldest parenting publication in the U.S., begins publication in October of 1926, with an editorial focus on the daily needs and concerns of moms with young children. Today, it continues to appeal to American families with a paid circulation of 2 million and a total circulation of 15 million, according to its website.

American pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock influences several generations of American parents to be more flexible and affectionate with their children, and to treat them as individuals with his 1946 publication of The Commonsense Book of Baby and Child Care.


1950s Eric Erikson delineates the eight stages of personality development, the first of which he describes as Basic trust vs. Mistrust, which asks the question, “Does the child believe its caregivers to be reliable?”

JR: I get overwhelmed looking at all that stuff. Raising Boys I’ve read and How to Talk so They’ll Listen. And at different stages you go to different ones. As you read them you connect with something or you don’t and it helps you solidify what you want to be doing as a parent and what you don’t. It helps you reflect. Where do we stand and how do we want to go forward? I think it’s beneficial in that way.

What have you found to be the most challenging age or stage? Bonnie Schorsch and Karol Kovnat (right) together. There was some basic advice. Like when a child has a problem you should say three things: oh, umm, ah. And no more than that. That was so helpful I find even now.

AM: I teach kindergarten so I have young parents and I am often giving parenting advice. Sometimes I step back and say, ‘I should really do that too.’ I think it’s much easier parenting five-year-olds than high school age kids. I asked my son Vin ‘What is our parenting philosophy?’ and he said, ‘You parent each one of us differently,’ and I said ‘Really? We must be really good!’

KK: I have a PhD in psychology. There are actually critical books that critique the popular literature. I tend to listen to other people talk and think ‘Oh, that’s a really good idea.’

RV: Rich Nourie I listen to. He knows more about developmental psychology than I ever will. I derive great comfort from listening to him. I really tune in. he helps me lay the groundwork of where we might be going. I find his descriptions and explanations so insightful and helpful.

RV: I use my gut, my instincts. I don’t love reading this stuff. There’s not enough science behind it, so I just say I’ll just use my instincts until I see a really rigorous study.

KH: I see parents with large thick books, 30 percent off from Borders. But we’ve just gone with what we think is best for our children. We are a Christ centered family, so we pray a lot.



London-based child psychologist and prolific author Penelope Leach publishes Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five, which has sold over two million copies to date. In it she noted that: “the happier you can make your baby, the more you will enjoy being with her, and the more you enjoy her, the happier she will be.”

The concept of the hurried child is proposed by child psychologist David Elkind in his 1981 book The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast. He decries forcing pre-school children to take classes and perform other “enrichment” exercises to help them prepare for school.

AM: I have two in college. When they call with issues and you can’t come and save them, I find that hard. You have to let them go through it and that has been the hardest part so far. Having to let go. Nick’s laptop was stolen and I wanted to drive down and go to the police station, but I had to let him do that.

JR: Don’t you think that each stage might seem the hardest while you’re in it? When you’re a parent in the midst of what a five-year-old is going through, it’s big in your life at that time.

AM: But looking back at that time, it didn’t feel so heavy. So when I have parents saying to me ‘Is it ever going to get easier?’ I say ‘Just relax and enjoy this.’

1980s Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish release How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, and provide a step-by-step approach to improving relationships in your family through effective parent talk along with tips for problem-solving with your child.


How do you navigate differences in parenting philosophy among your peers? JR: We had a lot of ‘Why did you pull Noah from public school?’ How do I verbalize it without making it sound like public school was horrible and they shouldn’t keep their kids there. So that’s a little bit difficult. We’re still struggling with how to answer that. Len Garza

LG: You know what it is? It’s the parent’s ability to adjust. You know, what’s going on in the parents’ life at the same time. There are so many variables involved. It can feel out of control. There are so many factors. It’s just a moving amoeba that keeps turning into different shapes.

AM: A lot of times you become friendly with people who kind of have the same philosophy. Hopefully your kids get along. Also I think when they’re younger you may have more interaction with the parents. The challenge comes later if there’s a party at someone’s house. Will the parents be home? Will there be drinking?

KH: We’re at fifth grade and third grade. There have been some key moments but I don’t think we can say coming out of kindergarten was a heck of a transition. I agree with you, Len. We decided there were so many things we had going on in our life we needed to say no and cut some things out, just not do so many things. We need to be a part of our children’s lives. As I think about it we have more years behind us with them than we do ahead of us if they go to college when they’re 17 or 18, so we’re just trying to look at whatever phases are coming and be there as much as possible.

KK: There are certain things that aren’t going to be acceptable. No co-ed sleepovers. No drinking. But around that there’s a tremendous amount of room for people to have different parenting styles. I’ve tried to help my kids to make some judgments so now if they find themselves in certain situations and circumstances that aren’t in keeping with the norms of our home and who they are they’ll know how to deal with them and get out of them. In terms of other people’s styles I find there’s a lot of room for people to have other voices. That’s fine if it works in their house.

BS: My kids come home and say ‘I love so and so’s mom.’ And often they make good choices and I agree with them that these were nice parents, open, friendly and caring.

LG: I learned a long time ago from another parent. He told me, ‘This is the way I set up my family. I make sure they bring all their friends to my house. This way I have control. I see who their friends are, how they’re doing and we’re involved.’ I thought that was great advice.

BS: This kind of talking and sharing actual practices among parents, like, ‘How did you do your daughter’s sweet 16 party?’ is very helpful. The tips and the tricks within each grade particularly. I’ve learned so much from other parents about how they’ve handled situations. It’s just helpful not to reinvent the wheel every time.

AM: If you like something you can say ‘Oh, I’ll try that.’ Just ignore the things you don’t like.

KH: You have parents who are already here, who have gone though it, and it’s useful to know how they’ve successfully transitioned. You can get it from the community rather than those thick books, right here in our community.

Parenting by the Book 1980s The popular guide to pregnancy What to Expect When You’re Expecting covers every possible aspect of the prenatal period and is soon followed by What to Expect the First Year.





Bruno Bettelheim’s how-to book on childrearing, A Good Enough Parent claims the key to being a “good enough” parent is to explore relational needs and motivations. He argues that it is more valuable to understand emotions than to be “perfect” parents of “perfect” children.

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton aims to increase pediatricians’ awareness of, and attention to, the effect of young children’s behavior, activity and emotional expressions on the ways their parents react to, and affect them.

Talk to the Expert:

Margaret Sayers

family, so even though everyone is healthy and everybody is a lovely person there’s some kind of temperamental clash. Or sometimes it’s parents coming in because they don’t understand what’s going on developmentally with their kids. They need help understanding what slamming doors and putting headphones on means, and once they understand what it means they can go back to good parenting and not assume their kids are going down a terrible path. A lot of times it’s really just about how to coexist peacefully as a family.

Back to the slamming doors, how can parents have a sanguine attitude about some of the more challenging stages in their child’s development? Margaret Sayers is a child and adolescent psychologist in private practice. She is also (with her husband, Steven) parent to two AFS students, Kenan in fifth grade and Douglas in seventh grade. Margaret, who is also a Quaker, has lectured widely on parenting issues, including a well-received presentation on Parenting Teens and Tweens that she gave last year here at AFS.

Part of it really is trusting in human development and also recognizing that one of the guiding principles in just about any parenting dilemma should be in maintaining an open relationship between parent and child and just about everything else is less important than that. Grades are less important. How they color their hair is less important.

project,’ it may not be the best thing for their grade but it signals they’re taking ownership of their work, and if they get a C they get a C and they’re going to own that.

So what if your child chooses a topic for a project at school that you know they’re going to have difficulty with? If you know in your gut your child has chosen a project that’s going to be very difficult to do, you express that concern but in the end you say, ‘But it’s your project. If that’s what you want to do, you’ll figure out a way to make it work. I believe in you.’ So much of what we say is not intended as, ‘We don’t think you can do it,’ but that’s how it sounds to kids. What they hear is, ‘You’re not capable.’ What they need to hear is, ‘Wow, that’s really ambitious, but I know you can do it.’

Let’s talk about helicopter parents. What’s your take? There’s a growing realization, I think, that current trends in parenting aren’t preparing kids for life after 18. Part of it is that we want everything to be perfect. We help our kids do their projects so not only are they not learning the material, they’re not learning the process. They’re not learning to think critically and creatively.

Families come in for lots of reasons. A lot of times what we have is a healthy mom, healthy dad, healthy kid, but some mismatch in the

One of the things that’s important to do when our kids are in these very, very icky developmental stages and they have no need for us and they know everything, is to try to be empathic and to remember what it was like to be 13 and to know everything, so you don’t react with anger or despair but you trust in human development. Some of those awful interactions—when they tell us, ‘No, I don’t want you to read over my social studies




Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall? by Anthony E. Wolf discusses the angst young people feel in dealing with an evermore complex world and the difficulties parents face when a cooperative loving child morphs into a teenager who lies, talks back and avoids parental company. He urges parents to accept “imperfect” control over their teenagers.

Congress designates the 1990s the “Decade of the Brain” and Mel Levine releases All Kinds of Minds, written from the perspective of five elementary students, enabling young readers to gain insight and understanding of their “kind of mind” as they come to terms with attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, language disorder, social or motor skills deficits.

Pediatrician William Sears publishes The Attachment Parenting Book, based on the philosophy that children form a strong emotional bond with their caregivers during childhood, and that emotionally available parenting helps fosters a child’s socioemotional development and well being.

Why do families decide to go to family therapy?

I know there’s been a great amount of concern in my profession and among educators about helicopter parents. Twenty years ago if a child got in trouble at school the first question would be, ‘What did you do?’ Now the first question is, ‘Who should I call?’


“When you’re faced with a parenting dilemma and you’re not sure what to do, it’s so important to ask yourself, ‘What am I teaching my child by this choice?’” So how can we adopt a saner approach to parenting? I like to emphasize the importance of two essential components of parenting. One is maintaining a positive relationship with your child. That’s the most important thing. The second one is allowing your values to guide your parenting. When you’re faced with a parenting dilemma and you’re not sure what to do, it’s so important to ask yourself, ‘What am I teaching my child by this choice?’ Say it’s time for baseball practice and your seventh grader hasn’t finished his homework. If you ask a group of parents what they would do in that situation, about half will say, ‘Well he definitely wouldn’t go to baseball if his homework isn’t done.’ That says to me that they value academics over athletics, but it also says they value academics over teamwork, over balance and over fitness. I’m not saying that one is wrong and the other is right. I’m saying it’s really important if your child has been working on his homework and it isn’t done that you realize that by not letting him go to practice you’re saying you don’t care about the commitment your son made to the team or the fact that he’s been slaving over his books for hours and needs some fresh air. Whatever decision parents make it’s just really important that you’re clear about what you’re teaching your child. Another important thing to remember is our children’s behavior really is not always a reflection on us. If my child doesn’t do her homework I don’t think her teachers are saying, ‘Oh boy, her parents are really out of line.’ I think they look at the kid and say, ‘You’ve got to take accountability for this. What’s up?’ I think parents are overly concerned about that. When kids won’t do homework my advice to parents is to talk to the teacher. It needs to be between your child and the teacher. You may have to let them go to school without their homework a few days.



You’ve described your approach to parenting as strength based. Can you talk about that? I’m a big believer in a strength-based approach. If a report card comes home and it’s two As, two Bs and a C, often a parent’s first attention goes to the C. I think you should wait a couple of days. Let’s celebrate those beautiful comments and bask in that for a few days and then we’ll ask what’s up with the C. And if what’s up with the C is you’re an average math student, that’s okay. If what’s up with it is that you didn’t hand in your assignments or do your work then it probably needs some attention. What I love about our report cards at AFS is that there’s a grade but there’s also a lot of text. So really very little time should be spent on that letter grade. I would say as a parent who’s been through Lower School and Middle School here that teachers at AFS definitely take a strength-based approach.

Does being a Quaker affect your parenting? I think that it does actually. As a family we all really do relish a couple of Quaker concepts. We certainly relish silence. We spend a few moments together in silence at dinnertime every night. I think discernment is also a really important process. When you react to something in the moment there’s emotion attached to it and you really want to have clarity before you talk to your child about something that’s difficult. The whole idea of letting ideas season and thinking about things over time and not being quick to take action I think is something all parents could benefit from. The other thing I think Quakerism offers is it’s a nice concise way to conceptualize what values are important. When your child says, ‘Why do I have to shovel the snow on the neighbor’s sidewalk?’ you can say, “Because that’s what being part of a community is all about.” It’s also great to be raising children as Quakers when they go to a Quaker school.

tweet it! We asked members of our community to tweet us their parenting philosophy, in 140 characters or less. Here’s what they told us: Children need the most love when they’re the least lovable. Winning a power struggle with your child means that your child must lose. Mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn. Take a real interest in your kids’ friends and get to know their parents as well. Ally building cannot start too soon! Raise the light to show the way. Drop breadcrumbs in case they stray. Draw the lines but let them bend, and dream big ’cause it never ends. No means no!! Remember you are the parent and not the friend! When you pick up your high school freshman, don’t wave. It embarrasses them. Enjoy every positive response on a good day. Be quietly supportive on a bad one. Laugh with them often. Allow them to struggle. Help reframe their problems and refine their goals. Root out their selfishness and yours. My son is dealing with divorce and foreclosure. He worries that the ‘home’ he can afford to provide his 3 small kids won't be enough. I tell him he is their home. Pray with your child every night. Fill in the blanks: Thank you God for_. God help me tomorrow with _. Then bless each other! Thought I was writing the story – but found I am reading a rough draft that I help edit at times so they love their final draft. Take little credit, accept little blame...

Talk to the Expert:

Mary Eno Mary Eno is Abington Friends School’s consulting psychologist for the Middle and Upper School as well as the Early Childhood program (Lower School has its own consulting psychologist, Eliza Lee). Mary has been connected with AFS for 21 years and is here on campus one day a week. She also teaches in the Clinical Developmental Psychology Ph.D. program at Bryn Mawr College and has her own private practice. Mary’s two children, ages 23 and 25, are currently working abroad in India and Rwanda. Mary, you play a vital role on the student support team here at AFS. Can you describe what that team does? The Student Support Team consists of key players in a student’s life here—the educational consultant, myself, the dean of students, the division head, key teachers and the student’s advisors. We put our heads together to respond to issues that arise and maintain the right kind of supports for everybody, but mostly for kids who run into some trouble. Most kids run into some trouble at some point in their development, so we end up working with a lot of students and families.

What makes for a good partnership between the School and families? Trust is key, as well as openness to hearing each side. For parents, being able to hear what the School has to say about our experience of their child and for us, being able to hear what parents have to say as well. It’s important that we all feel we’re equals. Families are experts on their child’s family life and we are experts on their educational life. When it works it’s because people come together and talk and share ideas. There’s something about the combination of people thinking together about a kid that creates a synchronicity of ideas–more than any one of us could generate on our own. We end up in a different place as a result of the conversations we have. Also there’s a certain level of accountability that happens–you’re going to do that and we’re

going to do this and we’ll see what works. One of the reasons I love working here is that there’s so much respect for parents and families. Information about children and families is conveyed respectfully.

What other resources do you think are most helpful to parents? I think the most important thing is to talk to other parents. We get in trouble as parents when we think our kids are either so wonderful or so different and impossible. And when we talk to other parents we tend to find out our kids are pretty much like other kids and we get a sense of the parameters of what we could do and should do and we find solutions about how to handle situations. I remember when my kids were young I was in a parent networking group. Just because I had a PhD in childhood development didn’t mean I could apply that knowledge to my own kids. One of the parents was talking about how his kids were riding their bikes up to Chestnut Hill on their own and I remember having a profound realization that someone I respected allowed their children to do something I’d never considered. I had been a long way from letting my kids do that. I realized how off I was and I remember going home and saying to my husband that we needed to recalibrate. You talk to people and you make changes based on what other people are doing, or you get reassured that what you’re doing is within a good range.

As children move into adolescence they tend to distance themselves from their parents. Can you give us some advice on how to deal with that? I think the number one thing is to reckon with your own sense of loss. It’s hard to reconcile your wish for proximity with the knowledge that your child is doing well and the reason you know they’re doing well is because they’re turning to you less. Having said that, you also want to make sure your child is getting advice and mentoring from other adults. It’s important to be aware of and to support your child’s relationship with other adults rather than being threatened by them. Or if you’re threatened by them, try to handle that internally or talk to your spouse or partner about it. Ultimately, success means your child functions independently in the world.

Where do you think parenting advice is at right now? Are we moving beyond helicopter parenting? I think we’re in an unstable period. We have a generation of kids where the parents were very focused on them, and now the pendulum is swinging back. Today, parenting advice is moving in the direction of saying you don’t need to do as much as my generation did for our children. Take care of yourself. Go out with your spouse or friend. Give your kids a little more breathing room. People are wondering how to be a good parent and it’s a very interesting time. I think the questions are partly driven by the economic difficulties. People’s lives have been changed and for some it means putting more time and energy into kids knowing how important it is for them to succeed, but at the same time there are ample messages out there saying you don’t need to be so overly focused on your children. It’s a transitional time for parents and, if possible, it would help to address our own anxieties.

As parents how do we not get swayed by all the parenting advice? I think the best thing we can do is to reflect on our values and ask ourselves what matters to us. Are we behaving as a family–are we doing things and being in the world with each other in a way that reflects those values. It’s not that they should be necessarily fixed. In fact, they should grow and alter with time, but we all need to have core values. Kids need to grow up knowing who they are in their family and what values they share. And then I think we need to be open to hearing other points of view along the way. If some good advice comes down the pike that seems to fit your family then accept it and be open to being corrected.


Also we need to understand that our children change us. They’re not just clay that we’re molding. They have their own point of view, their way of telling you who they are. If you accept them for who they are you’ll grow with them. I’ve learned a lot from my children. They’ve helped me see the world differently.

When your child comes home from school with a dramatic story, how do you calmly interpret the situation without raising the stakes? Understand that your child is one player. I think this is one of the hardest parenting challenges. They come home and say, ‘My teacher was so mean to me! This kid’s picking on me!’ As a parent you need to step back and see your child as a player in a larger world in which there could be other ways of seeing what happened. You can’t just question your child’s version of reality because that won’t help. It will make them feel misunderstood and alone. Try to understand what it’s like for them, what their experience of the situation was, and value that. There’s a lot written about letting your child experience difficulties so they can learn to work things out. Your job is not to soften all the edges. Your job is to help them think thorough what they could do differently, what they might have done well, who they can talk to and help them have a voice. It will vary depending on how shy or outgoing your kid is and how complex the situation. Where we get into trouble is when we, as parents, simply buy the whole story as if it were fact. Take in and validate your child’s experience but try to extend the conversation into different terrains, asking clarifying questions such as “What do you think it was like for your teacher that day? What might have been going on in the lunchroom when you felt picked on? This allows them to see that they’re a player among many and begin to do some perspective taking.

Of course if there’s something that sounds alarming, call your child’s advisor and check it out. Don’t let things sit and fester. And if you call the School, trust that they have your child’s best interests at heart. That they’ll be looking to understand what happened and finding solutions.

How have you balanced being a psychologist with a professional expertise about children with being an actual real life parent? It is difficult to apply the knowledge you have about child development to yourself and your own children. My love for my children is so particular to me that I can’t really see them objectively. You have to rely on other people. Maybe it’s more important for psychologists to be talking to other parents than anybody else. I never thought of that until now! At the same time I think the fact that I was a psychologist and family therapist gave me one advantage, and that’s the experience of seeing how much being able to talk something through leads you to places you wouldn’t have gone otherwise with your children. As much as my kids would say to me, ‘Stop being a psychologist with me!’ and I would say, ‘I’m not being a psychologist, I’m your mother,’ we were both right. I think I was pretty disciplined about not applying textbook type principles to them but I also think they benefited from the principle that relationships involve talking. They both would say now that they really talk things through with friends, with bosses, and others. And I think it comes from experience of having difficult, messy conversations and being able to sit with them, wade through them together.

“As a parent you need to step back and see your child as a player in a larger world in which there could be other ways of seeing what happened.”

tweet it! Lots of affection: hugs, kisses, good food, uncontrolled laughter at the dinner table, special dessert on Thursday, holiday feasts. Parenting is everything you do means more than what is said; in 40 yrs the time spent with your kids will matter more than wealth Don’t confuse your kids: Be a parent to your kids when they are growing up and become their friend when they are grown! Spend as much time with them as possible. Say yes more than no. Praise them and tell them how much you love them every day. Know your child. Love, patience, and consistency. Get help when needed. Partner with teachers. Be ready to advocate. From a young age we emphasized that telling the truth was always better than hiding a problem/mistake. We could deal with the situation if we really knew what happened. Make sure they have all the tools they need; empower them to decide what they want to build with them. They do their own laundry. Mine comes from Russell Shaw: “Your adolescent is on the rollercoaster of his life. He doesn't need you to get on it with him.” Good Instruction Is Better Than Riches – William Penn. Resist trying to work out your anxieties, disappointments and shortcomings through your children. They are not you. Learn to be a loving witness and let kids make mistakes. Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from lots of bad judgment. follow us on twitter @AbingtonFriends



alumni events


Left to right, Emily Rush, John Hoyle, Cherine Morsi, Troy Unverdruss and Jill Batdorf ’01

The Class of 2000 – written by Cherine Morsi ’00 On Friday, November 26, 2010 the class of 2000 gathered at the Kitchen Bar in Abington, PA for our 10-year reunion. For some of us it had been 10 years since the last time we saw each other. It was so great to have everyone together again and to be able to catch up face to face. Thanks to the power of Facebook, many of us have been able to stay remotely in touch with one another. Being together again as a class was a good feeling; we have a lot of history between us. It’s hard to believe we graduated from AFS more than 10 years ago; we have all come a long way. Now it’s time to work on our next reunion. Those in attendance were Jill Batdorf ’01, Aaron Billet, Lauren Brantz, Ryan Foley, Ari Halbert, John Hoyle, Andy Kendall, Mike Klein, Cherine Morsi, Emily Rush, Troy Unverdruss, Betsy Gultanoff Widelitz. Left to right, Cherine Morsi, Ryan Foley, Ari Halbert and Aaron Billet

Left to right, Lauren Brantz and Betsy Gultanoff Widelitz


People of Color Conference Mini Reunion – written by Cherine Morsi ’00


During our trip to POCC in San Diego, CA, Jody McVeigh-Schultz 01, Jane McVeigh-Schultz, AFS Lower School Teacher, Laura Zingle ’99, and myself, Cherine Morsi, ’00, went out to dinner. Jody now lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend Jessica, and Laura lives in San Diego with her husband Brian. It was so great to see Jody and Laura. It has been years since we all got together. » (Top)Left to right, AFS Health and P.E. Teacher David (Chewy) Fields ’91, Cherine Morsi ’00, AFS School Counselor Marc Thompson ‘86 (Bottom) Left to right, AFS Spanish Teacher Cindy Silverman, Jenny Hammond ’86, Cherine Morsi ’00, AFS Assistant to the Athletic Director Eric Gravely


Left to right, Laura Zingle ’99, Cherine Morsi ’00, Jody McVeigh-Schultz ’01, Jessica, AFS Fifth Grade Teacher Jane McVeigh Schultz. ALUMNI EVENTS

classnotes 1957


Joan High Putney recently moved to a lovely

Lisa Shaffer Anderson writes, “Nancy Goldman Koenigsberg ’45 and I met in Gdansk,

apartment at Rydal Park, Rydal, PA 19046. By coincidence she had been living in the same house in Huntingdon Valley where our classmate Shirley Pearson Goldsmith lived growing up. Joan brought her Bernese Mountain Dog, Otto, to Rydal Park with her and is visiting assisted living residents with him as a therapy dog. She has been deeply involved with Hospice and therapy dogs over the years.

Liz Cobourn Cole lives in western Virginia with Dick,her husband of 45 years. They have 2 sons and 5 grandkids ages 8, 6, 6, 4, and 3. She is currently First Vice President of a volunteer group that supports the arts in nearby Roanoke. She also participates in 5K races near home and in Florida, gleaning a number of first place awards in her age group. She is an avid birder and participates in a small group who write and share together essays for their grandkids. Judy Hughes writes, “I retired two years ago and had been looking for some type of volunteer work, when I was told about the Vita Literacy Program in Doylestown, PA. After going through training sessions, I am tutoring 2 female students in Quakertown, one from Morocco & one from Kenya. I am tutoring them in reading and writing on the 2-4 grade level. Then it will be 4-6 grade level to prepare them for their GED’s. They both want to better themselves in their careers. It has been very rewarding and I am learning things that I had forgotten over the years and about two different cultures. I am enjoying retirement with my life partner, Corey and our chocolate lab in the woods of Upper Black Eddy.”

Poland last May. They discovered each other on a trip sponsored by the Friends of Fibber Art International. The most fun of all was that after asking my maiden name, Nancy (a highly esteemed fiber artist) announced that she had been my 4th grade teacher – 1949-50- the only year she had taught. I remembered a terrific teacher who made 4th grade one of my favorite times at AFS. Since then I have lived in Hartford, Charlottesville, Cleveland, Norfolk, Philadelphia and Wilson, NC for the past 39 years. Other than my sister and 3 cousins I have rarely had any AFS folks in my life. Since May I have been able to stay in touch with Nancy. My husband, Dudley, and I celebrated my 70th birthday with her on July 4th, we had lunch in Chicago during the art fair Sculptural Objects Functional Art, and we had dinner with her family to celebrate the beginning of Hanukah. Meeting her again has been a wonderful gift. One more story – on a small group trip to Russia in September I reunited with Julie McClintock who was a classmate in 4th grade!”

61 50th Reunion CLA SS CHA I RS Bonnie DrumondGross ’61: Lynn Wilkinson ’61: Glenna Renger Bingham ’61: Barb Reeder ’61: Susan Pohe Plotts ’61:

66 45th Reunion CLA SS CHA I RS Beth Ebert Benveniste ’66:

1970 Liz Clark writes, “Hi, just checking in. Currently residing in Alexandria, VA for past 20 years or so. Matriculated my freshman year at Bennett and transferred to Tulane. After graduate school in business moved to Palo Alto for 7 years with Ford Areospace. When I moved back to Washington D C area, I eventually opened my own firm which I manage with two partners. I married in 2000, to Courtney West, Haverford school class ’64 and now retired from the FBI. My parents have retired to Chapel Hill, NC and my older sister lives in MA. I have a Summer home in Boothbay, ME and invite any of my classmates to visit or be my guest.”




Jill Berger and Paula Webster Grant write: “Paula and I are working with a talented singer/songwriter, Rob A (Robert Allen). Rob worked on two of this year’s Grammy nominated Contemporary R & B albums, R. Kelly’s Untitled and Chris Brown’s Graffiti. Another client, Harold S. Reed Jr., author of Find a Way To Make a Way: You’re Either Part of the Problem, or part of the Solution, a motivational book with a new twist, has had a busy year with many book signings, two of which were at the famed Harlem Hue-Man Bookstore & Café. Harold’s book is available on Amazon and he is currently working on his second book. Paula and I are looking forward to the new opportunities currently on the horizon for phillybass’d Entertainment. (”

Katie Medori Barthelet currently lives in Vitrolles, France but was home for the holidays and met up with AFS Alumni Melissa Osorio Seigrist ’94 and Jen Alvarez-Conrad ’94.

96 15th Reunion CLA SS CHA I R Karen Meshkav ’96: Matt Pillischer ’96:

1997 Marcy Eiseman Flickinger ’97 added yet ANOTHER addition to her family this year... A horse! Jackson, 4yrs. Greta, 3yrs. Beau, 1.5yrs and Prince Charlie Horse.

1980 Brent Whitman recently spent four months living and working in Paris, where his company is headquartered. Brent is Associate General Counsel at Capgemini, a technology consulting firm.

86 25th Reunion CLASS CHAIR Jenny Hammond ’86:

91 20th Reunion CLASS CHAIR Judith Gold Friedman ’91:



Elissa Fuller is married to Jeffrey Datz and has a son born September 16, 2010 named Jay Ethan Datz. Elissa is an attorney and currently General Counsel at an Italian pharmaceutical company.

Katie Liebenberg has a doctorate in Psychology and is living and working in Connecticut. She is married to Dave Falkenstein and has a son born June 17, 2010 named Jackson Connor Falkenstein.

Zach Gitomer plans to stay in New York City after graduation to work for Bank of American Merrill Lynch in their Technology Investment group. During his time at NYU, he studied in Shanghai, London, and Buenos Aires. Zach was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society (top 7% of class) last spring.

06 5th Reunion CLA SS CHA I RS Rachel Gitlevich ’06: Emily Green ’06:

2007 Amanda McClain writes, “I’m currently an Assistant Professor of Communication at Medaille College, in Buffalo, New York. I graduated from Temple University in May 2010 with a Ph.D. in Mass Media and Communication. My book, American Ideal: How American Idol constructs celebrity, collective identity, and American discourses, will be published summer 2011. Hope everyone is well!”

Scott Winston wed Megan Mosher in October 2010.

1998 Amanda Grosso Kaminis writes, “My husband Michael and I welcomed our second baby this past November 18th – a little girl – Athena Odessa. We already have a son Nikko who just turned 2. I am also in the middle of a career change, pursuing a new second career in Nursing. I will be entering an accelerated Masters program this Fall and plan to specialize in Nurse Midwifery. We also plan on relocating to the West Coast.”

01 10th Reunion

Ying Qian’s daughter Kaili born on November 4, 2010.

Yuri Rogavin writes “I am finishing up the General Surgical Residency at Cooper University Hospital (where I am chief surgical resident right now) this June and moving to Hartford, Connecticut for a year to do a Trauma Surgery Fellowship. Once I am done with that, I will return to the area and work as a Trauma Surgeon in one of the academic centers.”

CLA SS CHA I RS Melissa Green Present ’01: Jillian Apfelbaum ’01: Jaime Pearlstine ’01:

Liz Myrtetus plans to stay in Philadelphia after graduation and attends graduate school. During her past two years at Temple, Liz has worked in the Object Perception and Learning lab and is now working on her Honors Psychology thesis. Liz was recently inducted into the Golden Key International Honors Society. She and Jeff Kahn (’06) adopted an Akita in May 2010. Jane Esslinger is staying in New Orleans after graduation and participating in Teach for America. Amanda DePaul is graduating from Arcadia University in May with her Bachelors in Spanish. She is currently engaged and expecting a daughter, Skye Ciela. After graduation she plans to take on the job of being a mother and partner in her new family, and continue to pursue her dreams of helping others.

Hannah Udell is graduating from Tulane this May with a BA is Art History and a minor is Political Science. Last spring, she studied with NYU in Berlin, Germany. Currently, she’s working on her Master's Thesis on German Nationalism in Painting and Sculpture in the 1960s and 19702. She will graduate (again!) May 2012 with a Master’s in Contemporary Art from Newcomb Art Department at Tulane. Linsey Calandra will be graduating in May

Erica Grill graduated from Rider University in 2005. She married Matthew Sovin on December 31, 2010 and is a freelance writer for She is also a real estate/property manager in Center City.

Justin Lavner is the CEO of Lavner Premier Camps & Programs ( In addition he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 and Villanova Law in 2009.

from the University of Delaware from the School of Nursing. Last summer she was accepted into the Nurse Externship Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on the surgical trauma unit. She was kept on during the school year as a Nurse Tech and, as of last week, she was hired to start as an RN in July after she take boards.


Rebecca Foxman is concentrating in Food and Beverage Management at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with an Associates degree in Culinary Arts in 2009. This summer, she’s doing a management internship this summer for Union Square Restaurant group at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. She plans to graduate from Cornell University, December 2011. Since graduating from AFS, she's worked professionally as a cook for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group and for Fairmont Hotels. Rebecca Ha is graduating from Duke University and looking at Law Schools. She says, “18 years of school behind me. 3 more to go.” Ryan Samson will be coming back to Philadelphia to focus on photography after he graduates from University of Pittsburgh with a History degree. He still plays paintball and has run Pitt's nationally ranked team for the last two years. Keep an eye out for him and his team this April in the National Collegiate Paintball Association. He uses what he learned in AFS’s photography classes daily (shout out to Donna Russo) while working for the Pitt News concentrating mainly on sports photography. Ryan hopes to get a job working for a newspaper

after graduation, and even plans to create a camper-run newspaper at AFSEP where he’s worked for the past 3 years.

Aleks Krutanis is graduating from Tisch at NYU with a degree in Drama. During his time at Tisch he was in the Atlantic Acting Studio and Cap21, was featured in the dance pieces Nijinsky in Asylum and Subsistanc, and was in the Main stage Musical called Grand Hotel. Last year, he choreographed a Tisch film piece confronting issues of sexuality and was also a featured dancer in the music video “Trip the Light Fantastic.” This past summer he trained with a scholarship with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and is currently dancing with SLK Ballet under the direction of Sara Knight. Aleks was recently awarded a full scholarship to train with North Carolina Dance Theater, Nashville Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. And, was recently offered a contract with Nashville Ballet starting this August and is very excited to start as a company member there for the 2011-2012 season! Brandon Williams writes, “I’m doing great!! The last game of our regular season is tomorrow night and playoffs start next week!! The program has gotten a lot better since my freshman year,

we’ve made the playoff the last 3 seasons including this one, which is the most by any athletic team in the school since we went D2 my freshman year, we also were the first athletic team to make the playoffs. This season our team has matched last year’s for the most D2 wins in program history with 11 and hope to break it tomorrow night. I was selected as captain this year and I am 100pts away from 1000 for my career. But besides basketball school is going well. I am not clear what is going on with graduation yet because last season I got hurt and missed the whole season so I got a redshirt year. So I will be playing again next year but I’m not sure if I am going to graduate and get my business degree in May and start taking graduate courses or just pick up a minor to put on my degree. I also am going to Italy this summer. I was recruited to play in a 10-day tournament over there by a USA select team. We will be playing all over Italy. I have never been out of the country so I'm excited that basketball is what is helping me see the world. I’ll be over there May 20-30.

Lindsey Garrison is staying at Rochester for a fifth year scholarship program to study Public Health, specifically structural violence as a theoretical framework for understanding excessive deaths due to cervical cancer among poor American women. This past summer she studied Art History and Photography in Cyprus and traveled to Egypt, Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, and Amsterdam. She recently received the Amy Vojta Impact Award from the Northeast Greek Leadership Association for her position as Vice President of Public Relations on the Panhellenic Executive Council. Lindsey is still active musically and is musical director for her all female acapella group, Vocal Point. Keep an eye out for their Spring Break tour in California and new CD this semester!

Class notes are compiled by the Alumni Office. You can submit a class note by calling Anna Stiegel in the Alumni Office (215-576-3966), via email to or through the AFS website: Please submit photos as .jpgs at a resolution of 300 dpi or higher.



reunion weekend schedule of events Friday, May 6, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

1:30pm Arbor Day Athletic Fields

10:30am Registration Begins Little Meetinghouse, Abington Arts Center

Afternoon Activities: Varsity Softball Game Varsity Girls’ Lacrosse JV Boys’ Tennis (please check website for times)

Informal Campus Tours View Alumna Joan Schneiderwirth Daw ’52 photography exhibit Faulkner Library

Shuttles will be provided from campus, starting at 10:30. Handicap parking is available at the Little Meetinghouse. Please call the Alumni Office at 215.576.3966 for information.

11:00am All-Alumni/Former Faculty Meeting for Worship Little Meetinghouse, Abington Arts Center 11:45-12:15:pm State of the School from Head of School, Rich Nourie Little Meetinghouse, Abington Arts Center

Immediately Following: Alumni Luncheon for all alumni classes and former faculty Alumni Tent at Roo Fest Registration at Roo Fest 12:00-4:00pm Alumni Reception at Roo Fest Roo Fest is a family friendly event for the entire AFS Community with games and live music. Join us under the Alumni Tent at Roo Fest for: Lunch, Reunion Class Pictures and Campus Tours

NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID Horsham, PA Permit No. 90 575 Washington Lane, Jenkintown, PA 19046

Calendar Highlights Arbor Day


Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Roo Fest and Alumni Day

Hank Faulkner Memorial Golf Outing

Saturday, May 7, 2011

August 29, 2011

Oak Leaves Spring 2011  
Oak Leaves Spring 2011  

AFS Oak Leaves alumni magazine Spring 2011