Currents Magazine Summer 2017

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Passion + Purpose 8th GRADE CAPSTONE PROJECT

Currents is published annually by The Town School Advancement Office for families and friends of The Town School.


Heather Greer Jodie Wilkerson CLASS NOTES EDITOR

Philip Bien ’95 CONTRIBUTORS

Emily Abbott Yuko Abe Melissa Bauman Chris Black Chris Buonamia Brenda Cruz Nicole D’Amico Alysa Delerme

Courtney Dougherty Taseen Ferdous Azalia Garcia Hilarie Goodenough Ken Higgins Cari Katz Jeff Kennedy Alison Koss Laura Lazarus Odette Muskin Iloire Nye Kathleen O’Brien Gabriella Pereira Tamara Schurdak Rachel Shugg

Deborah Snyder Eva Vega-Olds Chris Whitney Megan Wright CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Stephanie Burger Kris Qua Town staff DESIGN


Nicole LaRue


Melissa Bauman Director of Institutional Advancement Philip Bien ’95 Director of Annual Giving and Alumni/ae Affairs Jodie Wilkerson Director of Communications Emily Abbott Development and Communications Associate

The editors welcome comments and story ideas from all members of The Town School community. e-mail: mail: Jodie Wilkerson The Town School 540 East 76th Street New York, NY 10021 © 2017 The Town School


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Message from Tony Featherston Activities + Events


Q&A with Eva Vega-Olds


Program Peeks


Professional Development


8th Grade Capstone Project


Class Notes


Class of 2017

Inspired by our view of the ever-changing river, The Town School founded Currents magazine in 1996. This broad-based magazine is designed to share news and stories with our Town families past, present and future. Currents offers glimpses into Town’s evolving program, while celebrating the things that will always be Town: our philosophy, educational approach, core values and warm, inclusive community.



How can my passion have purpose?

What matters most is what a student can do with the academic skills learned in school.


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this is the question town asked seven speakers to address in their talks to 8th graders for our inaugural Capstone Project. The answers varied as widely as the paths taken by each of the speakers. There were, however, common themes. Each pursued formal education at least through the undergraduate level, although there was some disagreement about the necessity of college these days depending on the field being pursued. Each has found success doing something different than they set out to do early in their professional lives. And each employs — and indeed embodies — what some call 21st century skills in their work now, including collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity, among others. And none of them took a single class in these topics in elementary, middle, or high school, or even in college. So what does that mean for schools like ours? Town’s curriculum is not unusual in its organization around traditional academic subjects — mathematics, English/ language arts, history, science, and world languages as well as the arts and athletics. But our higher order learning goals are very much aligned with 21st century skills: creativity, open-mindedness, written and oral expression, self-directedness, application, empathy, integrity, critical thinking, resilience, and lifelong learning. In other words, the academic skills are important primarily in service of the broader learning goals. Or put another way, what matters most is what a student can do with the academic skills learned in school. This was the genesis of the idea for our 8th Grade Capstone Project, as featured in this magazine, and what you will find in every article herein is a demonstration of these higher order skills by our faculty and students. Accordingly, the title for this edition of the publication could be “What can you do with what you’ve learned at

Town?” And isn’t that actually more important that each subject area in isolation? How can middle school students use what they know about science, math, cultures, and the impact of climate change to help protect the planet? What can students in Nursery 4 learn about coding through the use of logic, creativity, and collaboration? How can Town students understand the apartment rental market and what it takes to live in New York City by the application of 6th grade math skills? What can teachers across disciplines do together to promote greater understanding, resilience, and selfdirectedness? As is often the case, deep, lasting learning happens in the formulation of meaningful questions and respecting the ability of young children to grapple with complex, real-world challenges. This is where Town teachers excel and where a Town education pays dividends down the road in high school, college, and throughout life. I hope you find these stories thoughtprovoking, inspiring, exciting, and evidence that Town is living our motto: ‘let there be joy in learning.’ Our students’ willingness and ability to engage with their teachers, each other, and issues important to the world outside our walls is a measure of the effectiveness of a Town education and symbolic of what it means to be a member of our school community. Thank you for your engagement with and support for Town, and I hope you enjoy reading about our program, our alumni/ae, and our commitment to Joy with Purpose. Sincerely,

Tony Featherston Head of School

Tower Gardening Upper School Sustainability Club students devote their free time every Friday to caring for this vertical garden in our back lobby.



News + Notes For more than 50 years, The Town School has occupied its place where 76th Street meets the FDR Drive and East River. While our location holds many memories, schools are much more than the buildings they occupy. This is certainly the case at Town. Our school is made up of the many people — students, parents, grandparents, caregivers, faculty and staff — who have come through the doors over the years. Students stay for up to eleven years, but some Town faculty and staff often end up spanning more than a generation.


Peaches Gillette Director of Clubhouse


eaches Gillette came to Town in 1986 as an associate teacher in Nursery 3. Over the next few years, she worked in each of the three grade levels in N–K and developed close relationships with students, parents, and her colleagues. In 1991, Peaches was tapped to start the Clubhouse program. For the last 26 years, Peaches has been a touchstone for almost every Town student, some who have spent most days in Clubhouse and others who drop in occasionally. Her warm, approachable nature has made her a favorite of children and parents alike, and her bonds with students endure long beyond Town, with many alumni/ae making a visit to Clubhouse whenever they return to Town. Peaches was also instrumental in starting important conversations around diversity and inclusion, helping to establish and facilitate Parents of Children of Color, the Faculty of Color Affinity Group, and SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity). Without Peaches at the forefront, we would not be where we are today in our conversations around diversity. Peaches plans to move upstate where she hopes to continue her work with children.


Walter Midland Facilities Director


wenty-two years ago Walter Midland joined the staff at Town as Facilities Director, and ever since he has worked closely with the maintenance team on all aspects of keeping our building running effectively and efficiently. It is no exaggeration to say that he knows our building better than anyone else, having worked on every renovation, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical problem, and with countless contractors over the last two-plus decades. Walter has always been behind the scenes, quietly dedicated to ensuring that all aspects of our facility run smoothly. Many students and alums know and love Walter for his popular “Wood is Good” class that he’s offered for years through Postscript, where students create masterpieces made from wood with professional tools that most of us don’t have at home. Always willing to be challenged, Walter has built many wonderful custom structures to serve Town classrooms and events over the years. While Walter will retire from his full-time position, we plan to put his expertise to work as a consultant on future building projects.


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Tamara Schurdak

Head of Upper School

We’d love to hear your memories of these wonderful Town community members. Email us a tribute message at and we will be sure to share!

WELCOME Andrea DeJesus


amara Schurdak is leaving Town after a five-year tenure as Head of Upper School to become Head of School at Chestnut Hill School, just outside of Boston. While this is a loss for us, it is clearly a wonderful professional opportunity for Tamara. She has demonstrated outstanding leadership in her work with students, faculty, and parents, and she is ready to take on this new challenge. In her time at Town, Tamara has built a strong sense of teamwork among the Upper School faculty and she has overseen many programmatic improvements that will live on, in the humanities, literacy, mathematics, and technology. She has worked effectively with Odette Muskin in Nursery-Kindergarten and David Wood in Lower School to align curriculum from Nursery 3 through 8th grade. This year she partnered with Head of School Tony Featherston to develop a pilot 8th Grade Capstone Project, and helped lead the school through a significant change to our daily schedule. We will miss Tamara’s thoughtful leadership style and thorough approach to everything she does.

We welcome Andrea DeJesus, Town’s new Head of Upper School. Andrea’s background speaks to what she hopes to bring to Town, starting with an “unconditional love of middle school students,” deep knowledge of independent schools in New York City, and commitment to and demonstrated leadership in curriculum design. Andrea comes to Town from Dalton with a reputation as an innovative teacher, a tireless advocate for students, and for helping to move curriculum forward as English Department Chair. Prior to Dalton she taught English at The Brookwood School, Chapel-Hill Chauncy Hall School, and The Shady Hill School, all in Massachusetts. A graduate of Packer Collegiate, Andrea has known of Town for as long as she can remember, but it is as the parent of Joaquin, currently in our 4th grade, that she has come to appreciate how much Town’s mission, motto, and focus on S.O.S. resonate with her own personal and professional beliefs around education and what makes a great school. She is excited to lead our Upper School forward, working closely with our experienced and outstanding faculty, and to partner with Town parents for the continued success of our students.



Activities + Events Town Goes Downtown: May 2017 Alumni/ae Donors Party It’s officially summer in NYC when the restaurant outdoor spaces open, and members of the Town community enjoyed a wonderful evening together on May 18th at SushiSamba’s roof garden in the West Village. All alumni/ae donors, who represented classes from 1949 to 2016, were invited as well as Town’s “20-year-club” of teachers and staff, current Trustees, and Advisory Council members. Alumni/ae donors celebrated an outstanding year of giving to Town as they reconnected and reminisced with each other and with Town’s longtenured faculty and staff, who reveled in seeing ‘their kids’ all grown up. Our school song starts with the line “The Town School is a family,” and it felt very true that night. Head of School Tony Featherston and Alumni/ae Advisory Board member Stacy Tenenbaum Stark ’83 kicked off the evening with welcome remarks. Ms. Tenenbaum Stark took a moment to extend special thanks to the alumni/ae donors for their participation in Town’s first ever (and very successful) micro-campaign in support of financial aid. The campaign was a breakthrough for alumni/ae Annual Giving participation, with many new donors joining in and several good-natured challenges encouraging classmates to give. We loved seeing so many Town classes — from 1979 to 2007 — represented and the teachers, staff, Trustees and Advisory Council members loved connecting with each other as well as so many of our Town graduates. We feel the makings of a new Town tradition!


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1 Benefit Auction: The Spirit of Town 2 Julie Lythcott-Haims, Town Speaker Series Book Signing 3 Rise Against Hunger Community Action Day 4

Book Fair


4th Grade Farm Trip


Washington D.C. Trip

7 Upper School Community Service Day


8/ 10

All School Picnic

9 / 11


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Each year in March the Upper School

Explore New York

heads out on trips all over NYC for Explore New York, a day devoted to hands-on, minds-on field trips led by our intrepid faculty. We put our regular schedule on pause for the day, as students and teachers engage in cross-grade electives to explore our city in unique and creative ways. We maximize NYC’s cultural resources to provide innovative ways to spark critical and creative thinking outside of the traditional academic setting.

1 — A Taste of Harlem A great way to learn about a culture is through food. We explored the history and diversity of Harlem through stops at various eateries and historical sites. Fried chicken and waffles, grits, and homemade biscuits… ackee and saltfish… chicken yassa… pollo con arroz y habichuelas… Mmmm…

2 — Circuits and Sensors We constructed our own interactive electronic device using switches, sensors, LEDs, motors, wires and other materials. We visited a “maker space” in Manhattan for a brief introduction to how switches and circuits work. We then created two simple devices — one to bring home, and one to document and share with the group.

3 — New York Walking Tour We went to China, Italy, and Ireland and, were back in time for dismissal! During a walking tour of Chinatown, Little Italy, and The Five Points areas of New York City we learned about the Chinese, Italian, and Irish immigrants who made these neighborhoods famous. We saw the hanging Peking ducks on Mott Street, the Italian-American museum on Mulberry Street, and where Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York battled it out.


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4 — Hip Hop History and Culture in NYC Hip Hop music is a worldwide phenomenon that began right here in New York City. We spent the day with Hip Hop pioneer Ralph McDaniels and explored how the culture of Hip Hop developed throughout the streets of Queens. We visited landmarks such as the Run DMC mural, the house Curtis James “50 Cent” Jackson III grew up in, and ate lunch at a famous soul food restaurant. We learned about the history of Hip Hop and the art of graffiti, and some even created their own tags!

5 — World Trade Center The rebuilding of the World Trade Center is the most architecturally, politically, and emotionally significant urban renewal project in American history. We spent the day learning about the building of 4 World Trade Center, added our own mural to the street art gallery on the 69th floor, and saw New York from one of the tallest buildings in the city.

6 — Jackson Heights We visited Latin America — in Jackson Heights, New York! We started at an Uruguayan bakery and visited stores that sell soccer shirts and souvenirs, leather hats and boots from Mexico, quinceañera dresses, as well as a botánica. We also had a dance lesson! Our trip ended with delicious food at a Peruvian restaurant.

7­— Painting With Eggs We learned how to paint with egg yolks (a method used long before oil paints were invented) with New York artist Casey Concelmo. We did some egg painting together and helped him brainstorm ideas for his current project of an illustrated book. We also went to The Met and saw paintings done with eggs over 500 years ago.

8 — Positively 4th Street We explored iconic music venues and historic sights in Greenwich Village through participating in a scavenger hunt. We followed clues and solved riddles leading from one place to another to make connections between music, culture, history, and New York City. We learned about iconic artists such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Miles Davis, as well as important venues such as Café Wha? and the Blue Note jazz club.

9 — Staten Island Staten Island is one of the five boroughs that make up New York City, but for many of us it is the least-visited. We rode the world-famous Staten Island Ferry and took in dozens of amazing sites and locales including New York’s biggest bridge, longest beach, tallest mountain, oldest collection of civic buildings, the only Chinese Scholar’s Garden, and enjoyed the city’s best-tasting pizza and most famous Italian ices!


QA &

You joined the Town community in 2016. What made you choose an N–8 school? What brought me to Town was the community piece that I wanted more of, the ability to invest and build relationships over time. Town also represented a new challenge for me professionally; though I had a lot of great experience working with middle school students, our N-K and Lower School students are the youngest children I’ve worked with. If you want to test what you know about these big ideas, you’d better be able to communicate it to a six-year-old. Town’s NYC vantage point also means everyone is welcome. The best thing about our city - and our school - is our diversity. And finally, the S.O.S. (Self, Others, Surroundings) framework really attracted me to Town. My work is a continuation and extension of the S.O.S. conversations as we ask important questions like ‘Who are we as human beings?’ ‘How are the people around us similar or dissimilar to us?’ And ‘what can we do in our world so that we all feel good about being here?’ We are all responsible for each other and to each other. 12

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with Town’s Director of Community and Diversity

Eva Vega-Olds

How has your first school year been? I’ve spent a lot of time this year listening, observing, and talking with our community members about Town’s commitment to, and history of work around, diversity and inclusion. I can tell you the teachers and administrative leaders here are passionate about supporting students, thoughtfully engaging in challenging conversations, and deepening our understanding of diversity and inclusion. I’m also really enjoying the energy and enthusiasm of our Board Diversity Committee. I’ve never met a group of people who so consistently end conversations with ‘what can we do for you?’ — they see themselves as hurdle removers for my work at Town. I am especially loving learning about, connecting with, and working to support our students. In addition to my role teaching our Upper School students in Life Skills, I have found that my office location [on the 1st/2nd grade floor, near the playroof], offers the wonderful advantage of direct proximity to many of our younger students. I get to build relationships in and out of their classrooms, and when it’s time to have deeper conversations they are relaxed and open with me. In my previous work as a diversity trainer for educators, I had one day to make a point. Now I have the opportunity to help deepen children’s learning over time. And that’s pretty cool! What are you excited to take on? My position, Director of Community and Diversity, has existed for 10 years, and I want to help develop a strategy for where and how we can move forward as a school. In educational technology, we’re always talking about helping kids prepare for a job market that hasn’t been invented yet. Diversity conversations are similarly always evolving. For example, think about what we knew about the transgender experience 20 years ago. Changing our own understandings requires us to approach sometimes tough, but always meaningful, conversations as the norm, and as a school we embrace that dynamic relationship.

Paul Gorski, a social justice educator who runs a website called Multicultural Pavilion, says “You’re never going to Diversity-Day your way into creating equity.” Not to say we shouldn’t have a celebratory attitude towards diversity — we should — but we also need to create safe spaces for open conversations on difficult topics. My role is to develop the relationships that make developmentally appropriate conversations possible when they come up with students.

Never give up.

What is a diversity mission statement? And why does Town need one? A diversity mission statement is a tool that great businesses, universities and schools use that faces outward to declare who we are, and lets our internal community know what we’re reaching for. And this tool only works if it is thought about and revised every five or six years because what we know about diversity today is evolving so quickly. The faculty, administrative leadership and I will be developing a diversity mission statement this fall that will inform a diversity strategic plan that will be developed by the Board Diversity Committee. We’ll begin where our last plan ended, evaluate the successes and progress we achieved, and then think creatively about how to address our opportunities for growth.

My identity about my work has always been that of educator, facilitating learning in different ways. A lot of my work has been helping to remove barriers, inviting people from the margins in, and asking ‘how do we create a community where we are all valued and cared for?’

Be amazing.

What do you hope for Town’s community — students, teachers, parents? What if S.O.S. drove the world? I feel like parents who choose Town choose us in part because of S.O.S. What if we can develop a world where our values and intentions can be in line with our impact? For the adults in our community — teachers, staff, parents — I want to work together towards an expanded understanding that diversity means all of us, and inclusion work means working on ourselves in ways that challenge our natural biases and build intergroup connection. My wish is that when a Town student graduates, they have a strong sense of their own identity (racial, ethnic, religious, gender, cultural) and that they are conscious of and caring about how their differences intersect with others. I wish for our kids to be curious and courageous, to feel they have the power and responsibility to impact the world. If students leave here with real self-knowledge and interest in others, they will have the tools they need to be part of the evolving conversations around diversity and inclusion.



Program Peeks


Everything Old Looks New Again The goal of the 7th grade landscape unit is to develop students’ ability to view the world they see every day in different ways and to learn to translate what they see into an original landscape. A lot of time is spent working on observational skills — looking at depth, lighting, color and form — and deconstructing images to determine their properties. We are training their eyes to see through observation and inquiry. A couple of weeks into the unit, students choose an image they would like to turn into a painted landscape. Students then ask questions about their image — How many colors are in the sky? Would I paint the background or foreground first? What kind of textures do I see in my image? Once they have answered some of these questions, they start working on the actual elements of the landscape — the tree, the sky, the water. During this part of the process, students are encouraged to take risks and to be patient, two very important skills for artists to develop early on.

Forget About Perfect Upper School students, by nature, are a bit risk-averse. They feel pressure to make something perfect on the first attempt, they want to know the “right” answer or the “right” way to do something. 14

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They don’t want to stand out or look silly in front of their peers. So there is a challenge in getting them to really step out of their comfort zone and try something they haven’t done before that is very personal. There is also a challenge in asking students to create texture and variation in a world that more and more asks for surfaces to be uniform, perfectly smooth and often computer-generated.

I emphasize that what we do in class is just one way to create art, another tool in their toolbox. They may encounter something totally different in the future and should be open to that. If I can help a student to achieve these things before they leave Town, I have done my job. Hilarie Goodenough Upper School Art Teacher

What Do You See? Observation and interpretation is at the core of all visual arts, and learning how to see and translate what you see into a work of art is a trained skill that takes time, practice and patience. This project helps students to develop these foundational skills while at the same time allowing them to uncover their own visual style.



Math and the City

Welcome to New York City. You landed a job with a livable salary. Congratulations! Now you just have to find a decent place to live, figure out your budget, and factor in your taxes. No problem. Did we mention this is all part of math class?

Brenda Cruz and Kathleen O’Brien, Upper School Math teachers, and Town’s Upper School Math Specialist Jeff Kennedy have created a compelling simulation that provides the ultimate in real-world application of math skills for 6th graders. The good news is everyone in the class is gainfully employed. The bad news is New York is full of challenges, and only excellent math skills will help these students successfully navigate life in the city. They are learning and immediately using percentages (calculating taxes and the rent they can afford), figuring the area of odd-shaped spaces (New Yorkers all know that apartment with the one weird-shaped, small room), and decimals (converting inches into feet when planning carpet or drapes). Along the way they are negotiating with real estate agents — who bear a striking resemblance to their teachers — and even learning to write checks and understand tax deductions. With Mr. Kennedy’s instruction, they are also using Excel spreadsheets and formulas to account for and re-adjust their financial planning around situations dictated by chance cards: lost metrocards, unexpected medical bills, going on vacation or throwing a party for friends. The students are deeply and joyfully engaged in this project, bringing their new math skills to bear, and also pulling in persuasive writing and strategic thinking skills as they vye for a very limited inventory of apartments. Now the big twist: two of the real estate agents pressured the students to tender money orders instead of checks and have This entire project is absconded to Acapulco! The money is grounded in benchmarks gone, but the sole trustworthy agent Cynaround key 6th grade math thia McMaster (aka Ms. O’Brien) is here to help them recover. They will have to abcurriculum points. The sorb the hit to their finances, and renovate repetition of math skills in apartments since the landlord is allowing a story-based challenge them to move in as long as they cover the helps the students truly walls and floors with a $2000 budget. The master and internalize landlord is happy to give them this money as long as they agree to do the labor and what they have learned. purchase the materials (paint, wallpaper, tiles, linoleum, carpet, etc.). Vivid realworld challenges still to come include having to calculate the volume of the apartment for a bug bomb, and unexpected happenings, which could include getting fired, getting a promotion, increased co-pay amounts, and acquiring an inheritance. We feel confident none of these students will even consider posing the classic math teacher challenge of “will I ever use this in real life?” The brainchild of Ms. Cruz, this entire project is grounded in benchmarks around key 6th grade math curriculum points, and the teachers have been delighted at how the students are so excited to learn and apply the necessary skills. The repetition of math skills in a story-based challenge helps the students truly master and internalize what they have learned...and as a bonus they will likely be preternaturally savvy when the time comes for them to really take on some of the bigger obstacles in adult life.


Coding with Bears


The Nursery 4 team had been thinking about how to introduce sequential thinking — the basis of coding — to young children in a non-digital format. They wanted an activity that was concrete and literal to prepare children for technology-based coding work, and for the children to understand the step-by-step process, cause and effect, and how a computer program works. They realized that storytelling could be a powerful tool. When talking with the N4 students about coding, teachers heard lots of ideas. One child said coding is something you do on your computer, like Minecraft: you have to give the computer instructions so it knows what to do and how to build. The teachers agreed that coding is in fact a set of instructions, and discussed how the brain is like an elaborate computer, processing information all the time. If a teacher says ‘go to the red table,’ the student’s brain has to to process a series of moves: ‘I have to go forward, walk around this chair, pass by the block area.’ To prepare for creating coding stories, Though this is sophisticated students mapped out their own grid, coding logic at work, they started using arrows to tell simple shape are also still young children. stories, and then progressed to developing stories about their teddy bear’s progress For example, when a child along a route. It was important for chilcorrected their partner on dren to understand the cause and effect the directions, he replied that their instructions have — in this case, that the bear did it himself! how it affects the direction and progress of their teddy bear. It’s a story-based way to understand how a computer works interpreting coding directions. Once the children got comfortable with the basics of the compass directions and placing arrows on the grid, they created a very short story, three or four sentences long. Teachers then read it back and asked the students ‘what are the key pictures and directions you need to draw so your bear can get where it needs to go?’ They drew a river, mud, a car, etc. to serve as props for their coding. Some students took it to the next level by adding another stop along the route (a snack on the way to the bear’s playdate), or by challenging themselves to map a zig-zag pattern.



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Through coding stories children are developing many skills: communication negotiation & compromise storytelling sequencing listening organization representational drawing counting

The coding project didn’t stop at the N4 classroom door. This activity was brought into dance class with a grid in the dance space for the students to follow. The N4 team also presented their work to their fellow N–K teachers, discussing how to adapt it for N3 and Kindergarten students.



The Great 2nd Grade Culture Quest

Each year 2nd graders study New York City as part of their social studies curriculum, and this year a new trip and a new culminating project guided their study of community in interesting new directions. They began in the classroom by discussing as a group how NYC is home to many cultures, and then thinking about different ‘markers’ of culture: language, clothing, food, entertainment (arts), religion, and celebrations. Armed with these ideas, 2nd graders hit the streets and made the city their classroom as they visited Arthur Avenue (aka Little Italy of the Bronx) and Jackson Heights — twice! — to explore both the South Asian and Spanishspeaking areas of that neighborhood. The students looked for cultural markers in each location, noting both expected and surprising finds, such as a Star of David on a long-established business in an Italian neighborhood. They also sampled food, learned new dances, and visited local businesses and religious sites. They brought their field research — and a lot of enthusiasm — back to the classroom for discussions about identity through several perspectives. Though we are all New Yorkers, most of us also identify with several other groups from native

languages to race/ethnicity to religion (or even lack of religion). Now, the big question — how to share everything they had learned? The teachers introduced the idea of a community museum as a project-based way to deepen the students’ learning and to share their knowledge. The students dove in, working to make their projects as richly detailed and informative as possible. The group interested in dance created an instructional video; the language group created a dictionary; those with an interest in cooking collaborated on baking different breads; one group decided to build a Mandir (Hindu temple); and one group created their own fantasy quinceañera shop, complete with authentic details and tiny ‘do not touch’ signs, just like the shop they visited. Starting from a place of personal interest was a powerful motivator for the students, resulting in well-researched, thoughtful representations of what they had learned about their NYC community. And the engagement didn’t stop at the classroom door — parents were invited in to share knowledge about cultural traditions and even to help tie a sari; weekend playdates were joyfully transformed into group project work time; and a snow day — usually a delightful surprise — was met with groans about the impact on their production schedule. Along the way, the teachers watched students collaborate in new ways, leaning on each others’ strengths and finding ways for each member to contribute meaningfully. For the teachers, this process was both challenging and inspiring, and they loved the opportunities to make connections across disciplines with the students and to collaborate with other teachers from the Spanish, technology and arts teams. When the day finally came to share their museum with parents and fellow Town students, 2nd graders were bubbling over with excitement and knowledge, ready to share and discuss every aspect of what they had learned.



Never Stand Still

Professional Development in Action

Town teachers are always asking ‘how can we make learning better for our students?’ and to this end our faculty are committed to taking advantage of professional development opportunities to learn new skills, refine curriculum, and find inspiration to think about the craft of teaching in new ways.

Making Literacy FUNdational


ivision Head Odette Muskin along with Learning Specialist Kristen Pedersen and Literacy Specialist Ellen Cookson led the Nursery 4 and Kindergarten classroom teaching teams in researching new and interesting ways of teaching letters, phonics and reading. They evaluated several literacy programs, including visiting other schools to see programs in action. As a result, the teams engaged in an intensive summer workshop as they prepared to incorporate a program called Fundations — a systematic approach to the teaching of phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, word study, comprehension and handwriting — into their current language arts curriculum.

students love the routine and get excited because they know which components to expect. The consistency, structure and clear scope and sequence have also been extremely helpful for teachers. Planning meetings now focus more on conversations about extensions and helping students find deeper meaning.

Seizing the Challenge Town teachers are flexible, lifelong learners who welcome a challenge, and introducing a new program into an existing curriculum is energizing and presents a chance to really challenge themselves as educators. By early spring Nursery 4 and Kindergarten teachers were already seeing real results for the students.

Why Fundations? The scope and sequence are very clear, and the common language — including scripted lessons — ensures a consistency and routine that the students and teachers have both embraced. This program also brings together as a cohesive whole the reading, spelling, handwriting, and phonological awareness that used to be planned as separate pieces. Using a common language has created such independence among the students. Teachers see them using the Fundations skills in writing workshop and other settings throughout the school day. The


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Children are truly internalizing the concept — which is hard for four and five-year-olds — that letters put together make a word. Fundations has helped them get there more quickly, more consistently.

The N-K Division has embraced

a collaborative ethos of never being content to stand still when it comes to professional growth and curriculum. The goals and objectives of how and what we teach must always meet the current and future needs of children. It allows faculty to embrace new ideas and concepts in a positive way. The faculty’s joint commitment to working with children ensured that the implementation of Fundations would be a success. It was exciting to watch “joy with purpose” unfold as the children and faculty learned something new together.

Children want to make books, to learn spelling — their interest in writing is so strong. Independence is another big element — the skills and confidence they are building transfer across the curriculum.

— Odette Muskin Head of the N–K Division

Smoothing Out the Learning Curve The entire team, as well the 1st grade teachers who will implement this program next year, are excited to see the benefits as the Fundations program grows. It takes the guesswork — and the small learning curve of different systems — out of what children will take from one grade to the next. For example the ABC chart was different between N4, Kindergarten and Lower School, so students had to take a little time to learn a new visual system each year. The very specific common language Fundations is helping the teachers establish is so helpful and will be powerful as students build on it from year to year.

By January several N4 students were already sounding out their own words, getting the beginning and ending. In past years, maybe two or three kids were doing that in the late spring.

What’s with the owls? Their names are Big Echo and Baby Echo and the students love them! Functionally they serve as motivation and as a cue for children to literally echo the lesson. It’s also a much-anticipated signal to the children that it’s time for Fundations. The owls are so popular, the teachers even use them as prompts in other lessons during the day.



Making a Big Project out of It


ourth grade teacher Chris Buonamia and math specialist Iloire Nye attended a Learning and the Brain conference focused on civic and social engagement as the purpose of education. They came back deeply inspired by the conference topics, especially around bringing passion and purpose into the classroom through mindful iteration, reflection, and project-based learning.

New ways to Succeed, Struggle, and take Learning Deeper Students who typically have some challenges with more traditional tasks often excel in a project-based assignment — even discovering new skills or abilities. Students who are accomplished in traditional classroom work are challenged and pushed out of their comfort zone in a very positive way. New approaches to established curriculum can also help students bring process and product together in the right way. We strongly emphasize process at Town, but it’s also essential to be able to effectively and engagingly express your knowledge.

Building and Weaving the Immigrant Story In 4th grade social studies, students built models of the home environments of the cultures they were learning about in their immigration study, such as family homes in Eastern Europe and tenements in New York City. The students dove into the required reading, research and writing not just because it was assigned, but because it was necessary to achieve their goal — an important shift. Empathy was an essential skill as students worked in groups to find solutions to the problems they encountered along the way, and many came to a new understanding of their own strengths as learners. Chris found students voluntarily taking their research deeper to fully realize the home environments they were building. One group studying Eastern European Jewish immigrants wanted to make a tallit (prayer shawl) and went online to find Rabbi-approved instructions. They were 20

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then confronted with the challenges of hand-making, and even got into deeper discussions about weaving traditions and the meaning of the strings in the fringe.

Math as Road Trip 4th grade math students were captivated by the idea of a road trip, so Iloire and 4th grade teacher Ava Collins designed a project around the math of a long drive. Students calculated distance, gas prices, lodging, and food expenses and then represented their work visually. The students were learning — and immediately applying — sophisticated math in the service of a project they were excited about, which made a great difference in their engagement with applying knowledge and skills, and in their commitment to sharing what they had learned in an interesting way.

To Glow and Grow Math students in different grades also quickly invested in the idea of crafting beautiful work, in the sense of creating the clearest possible communication of their thinking. Students offered each other feedback on their drafts in the form of a ‘glow’ (compliment) and a ‘grow’ (way to improve). Iloire has observed that the students are more deeply invested, and their math work feels more significant, when there’s a presentation and feedback loop as part of the process. And in perhaps the most exciting indication of engagement, she has come across more than a few conversations outside of math class with students asking each other ‘how could you make your thinking even more clear?’

or a teacher, project-based learning can honestly be a F little unnerving as it’s challenging and takes a lot of work to guide students rather than dispense information, and to not know in advance exactly what direction the project will take. But the rewards — seeing the students so excited to learn everything they can to make their project even better — are powerful. — Chris Buonamia

e loved talking to each W other about these concepts and couldn’t stop comparing notes between our sessions at the conference. Back at Town, we’ve been bouncing ideas off each other and were so excited to share what we’ve learned that we basically demanded to present to our fellow teachers at a full faculty meeting — which led to a great conversation. — Iloire Nye

Exploring the Mysteries of “Mathence”


pper School math teacher Brenda Cruz and Upper School science teacher Courtney Dougherty had been looking for ways to collaborate in the classroom. When the study of the solar system in science coincided with the study of ratios in math, they knew they’d found the perfect opportunity. After discussing the goals for each of their classes, they co-taught a 6th grade class on layers of the atmosphere, scale drawings, and ratios. The class was a huge hit. The students had the opportunity to see their teachers working together and trying something new, while Brenda and Courtney were able to apply common language and real-world problem solving to their subjects. And a new subject name was born - either ‘scienth’ or ‘mathence,’ depending on which student you ask. Their pilot class “experiment” was so successful that they decided to take time during summer break to look at the natural overlaps in their curriculum goals and lessons and to find more areas and opportunities for collaboration in the 2017-2018 school year. Stand by for a full report!


Earth Day every day Growing our own food Town installed an indoor vegetable Tower Garden in the back lobby to provide greens for our school lunches. Student sustainability club members learned about every aspect of tending the Tower while using their free time every Friday to plant, maintain and harvest the garden.

To deepen our annual celebration of Earth Week, a committee of teachers developed a curriculum-based plan for every grade to make meaningful daily connections with sustainability concepts. We shared this with parents, who enjoyed continuing the conversations at home and engaging in each day’s active commitment along with us, such as Meatless Monday and Walk to School Wednesday.

Reducing our waste Town joined the DSNY organic waste collection program, composting food and paper goods and reducing cafeteria waste going to landfills by over 75%. We brought our whole community on board thanks in no small part to a fun educational video created by our Upper School students.


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Sharing b rilliant ideas Town students, teachers and alumni/ae helped plan and run the second annual NY Sustainability in School Communities through Student Voices Conference in April. Student keynoters presented alongside national organizations as almost 150 students and adults gathered at Town to hear about successful initiatives and strategies, ranging from waste audits to activism to urban gardens, and each of the 15 schools in attendance developed an action plan to take back to their schools.

Our kitchen pros— local food, compostable everything

Our Sustainability Coordinator— Ken Higgins leads, educates, and motivates us all (for 20+ years and counting!)

Our Facilities superheroes— make sustainable systems a priority

Our PA Sustainability Co-Chairs— ensure community activities include sustainable actions and messages

Our CFO— dedicates resources to sustainable choices

Our students— choose sustainability every day, and inspire adults to do the same!

Our Head of School— treats sustainability as a core school value

Our teachers— inspire students through words and actions

Our parents— join the efforts at home and school

Our alums— bring sustainability to new communities



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In 2016–17 Town launched the 8th Grade Capstone Project under the leadership of Tony Featherston, Upper School Head Tamara Schurdak and Upper School teacher Alison Koss. The project was structured as a speaker series and presentation workshop designed for students at the end of their 8th grade year to demonstrate what they have learned during their time at Town. We have a deep belief in the power of our students graduating from Town with a strong sense of self, and of their ability to be agents of change. We saw the Capstone as an opportunity for them to reflect on who they have become and how their interests have changed and developed over the years before heading off to high school.

The Process at a Glance: Speaker Series Self-Reflection Design Thinking Student Presentations


SPEAKER SERIES In the spirit of a TED talk, each speaker was given a topic, a theme and a time limit before they came to speak. The students were asked to research the speakers, prepare an introduction for each of them, and develop of series of questions for the Q&A after each talk. The goal was for the series to be guided by the adults but led by the students. Each student was given a Moleskine notebook to record his or her thoughts, reflections and insights.


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What is your definition of success? Did you ever fail and think you wouldn’t recover from it? What advice do you have for small kids with big ideas? What was your passion at age 13? How has that changed over time?

GUEST SPEAKERS Jonathan Cedar ’95

Product designer for Smart Design Inventor, Biolite Stove

Gary Vaynerchuk

Entrepreneur, digital marketing pioneer Founder of VaynerMedia and VaynerX New York Times bestselling author

There’s no lack of opinionated reporting. There’s a shortage of facts. — Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin

Danny Meyer

CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group (Shake Shack and many others) Founder of Union Square Café

Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin

Co-founders of theSkimm, a media company with a successful daily newsletter aimed at millennials

Marvin Pierre

Former Goldman Sachs executive Director of 8 Million Stories an alternative education program

Triple down on your strengths, and then work harder than anyone else. — Gary Vaynerchuk

As you climb the ladder of success, bring people up with you.

— Marvin Pierre

I’m the opposite of a restaurant critic — I’m looking for what’s right.

What did this person start out doing? What was their passion? What was the catalyst for their passion to become their profession? What challenges did this person face? What advice did this person have for the 8th grade?

— Danny Meyer

Neela Vaswani

Award-winning author GRAMMY award winner for book narration

Work to understand people’s needs, and then design solutions to everyday problems. — Jonathan Cedar ’95

Writing is an act of compassionate understanding. — Neela Vaswani

REFLECTION After the Speaker Series the 8th graders gathered to reflect as a group on what they had learned about and from each of the speakers. Using a course developed specifically for the project in Schoology, (Upper School's digital LMS), students worked in groups of threes and were given five minutes to review their speaker notes to jog their memories and set them up for deeper reflection.

Then each triad was given one speaker to reflect on and were asked to frame their reflections using specific questions. At the end of the process, each group presented their reflections to the entire class, with time left for a guided Q&A. The work accomplished during the Reflection Exercise was to help prepare the students for their Design Thinking Challenge.


DESIGN THINKING CHALLENGE Skills Developed Critical Thinking Rapid Prototyping Public Speaking Time Management Self-Reflection/Expression Collaboration Critical Listening/Thinking Risk-Taking

The next time the students met, they were guided through a rapid-prototyping, design-thinking challenge, the goal of which was for each student to produce a proposal for their final Capstone presentations. They could choose any medium they wanted, but they had to stick to the themes of passion and purpose. Rather than talk about their purpose as a potential profession (i.e. what do you want to be when you grow up?), they were asked to talk about their passions and in what ways they might see that developing into a pur-

pose. Students were given a box of design materials and a list of timed questions to help guide their process. After they completed their brainstorming, they shared their work with their classmates and then were given 15-20 minutes to refine their proposals. At the end of the session, each student stood up and presented their proposals to the entire class and a select group of teachers and administrators who had agreed to serve as advisors for the final presentation preparation.

Students were asked to talk about their passions and the ways they could see them developing into a purpose.

Students’ Passions IN THEIR OWN WORDS

FINAL STUDENT PRESENTATIONS Once the proposals were done, the students were divided into groups of five and assigned an advisor to work with to develop and refine their final presentations. The advisors were a mix of teachers and administrators who worked closely with the students for three intensive periods. Working with adults, most of whom the students did not have regular contact with, added a level of professionalism to the process to which the students responded well. They were taken seriously and, as a result, took themselves seriously. During the last two days of the project, additional teachers and staff were invited

to the theater, the conference room and the dance space to sit in on the students’ final presentations. It was amazing to see each student standing proudly and speaking confidently about themselves and what they love to do. Both the students and adults took risks as we navigated new territory together in the Capstone project. In the end, our 8th graders thought deeply about what inspires them and connected their passions to purpose beyond themselves, an experience we believe will prove a real strength and advantage for our graduates in high school and throughout life.

Cooking because it has always been a way to connect to my family, and to the countries my family comes from. Dance gives me joy, and when I perform I feel like I can share that joy with people in the audience. Photography because I can make people see the world in a new way: whether inspiring them to explore places they have never been or raising awareness about important social issues. Community service because even the smallest acts of kindness can make our world better for everyone. Science because there are endless fascinating questions to answer, and we can help so many people with research and innovation. Law because it touches every aspect of our society and can positively impact so many lives. Animation because I wanted to see my stuffed animals come to life as a kid, and I can make that happen now!


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Human rights because we are so fortunate to live in a democracy and have a voice — we all need to use our voices to move towards equality for everyone!

Extraordinary. It’s not just what they build. It’s who they become. Your gift enables that to happen.


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1940s Sandy Waters ’48 Sandy visited Town in May, 2017 and had a lively question-and-answer session with 4th graders. They discussed favorite Town traditions and memories, her best neighborhood roller skating spots, and even some favorite math strategies.

1960s Clark Smidt ’62 Both of Clark’s children, Jeff and Katie, got married in the past year. He remains very active with broadcast media in Andover, Massachusetts. Sophie Glazer ’66 Sophie and her husband, Douglas, live in a small fishing village in Florida where they look after their six-year-old grandson. Sophie entertains herself by leading a very lively Shakespeare group. This season they have been exploring the Roman plays.

1970s Tim James ’70 Tim became Chair of the White Plains Democratic City Committee in February. Julie Sogg Seymour ’70 In May, Julie began a new job as Director of Development at Rodeph Sholom School.

Alissa Keny-Guyer ’73 Alissa was sworn in as the State Representative for House District 46 in Oregon’s 79th Legislative Assembly. Sharon Blume ’75 Sharon’s son, AJ ’09, graduated from Emory University in May. Jodie Gold (Meininger) ’75 Jodie published another book, The Developmental Science of Early Childhood: Clinical Applications of Infant Mental Health Concepts From Infancy Through Adolescence in February and has a new job as an infant-parent mental health specialist as part of the Human Development Strategic Initiative at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA. Beth Roberts ’75 Beth has been painting up a storm and took her first trip to Japan. Debra Weiss Huddleston ’76 Debra is still living on the Upper East Side, just around the corner from her parents, and continues to work in commercial real estate finance. She and her husband, Jim, are celebrating their 29th anniversary this year. Their daughter, Hailey, graduated from Brown University in 2015 and is finishing up her first year of medical school at SUNY Downstate. Their son, John Huddleston ’13, graduated from Horace Mann in June and will be starting at Brown in September. Debra stays in close touch with Susan Kaufmann ’76 and Pamela Bradford ’76, and sends her best to all of her former Town classmates.

Cynthia Carris Alonso ’77 Since her photography book, Passage to Cuba, was published, Cynthia has been giving photo presentations and lectures about the Cuban people and Cuban culture, which she has been photographing since 1992. In addition, she is now consulting travelers to Cuba as a guide, and helping to plan itineraries, including food, art, and cultural recommendations. Cynthia’s next book, A Taste of Cuba, will be published in January 2018.

1980s Kate Greer ’80 Kate turned 50 in 2016 and kicked off a yearlong and counting reinvention and personal growth journey that included getting trained as a co-active coach, reorienting her digital strategy work to align with her values and purpose, and developing her 16-acre property as a small-scale retreat center. Kate is also developing a brand called “Contagious Vulnerability” and is offering workshops and experiences under that umbrella in 2017. Claudia Rowe ’80 Claudia published her first book, The Spider and the Fly, after a 25-year career in journalism. The Spider and the Fly is a hybrid of memoir and literary crime reporting that delves into Claudia’s involvement with a fairly sensational murder story. Claudia notes, “it’s been quite an interesting ride.” Kirk Vartan ’80 Over the last year, a small group of employees at Kirk’s business, A Slice of New York, have been working with him to create a Worker-Owner Cooperative in the South Bay

Kate Greer ’80

Clark Smidt ’62

Kirk Vartan ’80

Alissa Keny-Guyer ’73

Claudia Rowe ’80

Beth Roberts ’75 Tim James ’70

Sandy Waters ’48



in Silicon Valley, where they will continue to advocate for this kind of business practice. Kirk says, “For those who don’t know what a Worker-Owner Cooperative is, it’s simple: workers that want to become members of our business can join and be owners with us. Members can vote on the future of the business and decide how business income is spent. They are owners! Stay informed by following us on Facebook or on our website:” Evan Spingarn ’83 Evan is celebrating his 25th year in the wine business. Evan says “I’m going to stick with it just a little longer to see if it’s the right career for me.”

Cassandra Constantinescu Hafsett ’88

Stacy Tenenbaum Stark ’83 Stacy’s daughter, Harlan, is in 1st Grade at Town and loves school. Kurt Sanger ’85 Kurt and his wife Natalya welcomed a baby, George. Elisa Miller Mangina ’85 Elisa started a new career as a lawyer, focusing on issues that affect people with disabilities.

Evan Spingarn ’83

Cassandra Constantinescu Hafsett ’88 Cassandra is living in Switzerland and stopped by Town with her family on a recent trip to New York. Nicole Roberts ’85 Nicole has just been appointed the Senior Rabbi of North Shore Temple Emanuel, a Progressive (Reform) synagogue in Sydney, Australia. She is married to David Roberts who was an accountant, but is now a personal trainer. Nicole says, “So we have body and soul covered, between us!” Nicole recently came across a bunch of old Town report cards which, she says, “now that I’m 46, are hilarious to read!” Sperry Younger ’88 Sperry’s grandson, Dante, turned one-yearold this Spring. James Brust ’89 James lives in Harlem and is married with two sons, ages four and six. He is on the faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, focusing on infectious diseases. He works in global health, studying drug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV in South Africa. He recently caught up with classmates Sarah Karp Paris ’89, Emily Gitter ’89, and Wendy Spero ’89. William Rockett ’89 William moved to Denver for a new job and got engaged.


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Brust ’89, Karp Paris ’89, Gitter ’89, Spero ’89

1990s Alex Mustonen Whelehan ’90 (next page) Alex and her four-year-old daughter, Peyton, had a great time modeling for the ALALA Mother’s Day campaign, and their photo got picked up by a several websites featuring “Great Gifts for Mom”. Alex says, “It is such a nice keepsake and it will make for a wonderful memory!” Nicole Walsh ’90 Nicole welcomed baby Riley. Elizabeth Fein ’91 (next page) In the past few years, Elizabeth has completed a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in the Department of Comparative Human Development, and moved to Pittsburgh to take a job as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Duquesne University.

Sperry Younger ’88

Brian Stein ’91 (next page) Brian had a get together with classmates Sachi Feris ’91 and Jordan Cuttler Katz ’91. Dara Moses ’92 Dara lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband and three kids, Chiara, five, and twins Luke and Silvia, two-and-a-half. Dara says, “Life is good out here! We travel back to NYC frequently and visit John Jay Park and gaze upon The Town School!” Kristin Ogdon ’92 (next page) Kristin is still working at Microsoft and loving it! She is also planning to run the NYC Marathon later this year. Kristin notes, “I had a very happy reunion with Paul Mishkin ’92 and our families. So great to catch up after all these years!” Justin Boening ’95 Justin got married at the end of March. He and his wife are living in Iowa City while she

Ogdon ’92, Mishkin ’92

Stein ’91, Cuttler Katz ’91, Feris ’91

Ian Sambor ’97 Jamie Fleischman ’97

Alex Mustonen Whelehan ’90

finishes her graduate degree. Justin’s latest book, Not on the Last Day, But on the Very Last: Poems, was published in October. Todd Goldblatt ’95 Todd moved to Los Angeles to continue his lighting design career after running nightclubs and designing lighting in New York for 15 years. Natalie Matesic ’95 Natalie welcomed daughter Valentina Adria on June 7th, 2017. Valentina was 8lb, 3oz and born with a full head of hair! Emlen Smith ’95 Emlen appeared on “Jeopardy!” in March. Heather Phillips ’96 Heather got married this past year. Haley Salles ’96 Haley and her husband, Andy, welcomed their

Doug Mishkin ’97

Elizabeth Fein ’91

second child, Tate, on October 10, 2016. Amanda Bassen ’97 Amanda and her husband, Bart, welcomed their daughter, Ava, on July 8, 2016. Amanda says, “Being a mom is better than I could have imagined!” Jamie Fleischman ’97 Jamie is getting married in September 2017. He new last name will be Tenenbaum, which Jamie says will always remind her of Mrs. Tanenbaum. “I’m always spelling it like Mrs. Tanenbaum’s name by mistake, too”, she says. Rachel Lawrence Catalani ’97 Rachel and her husband, Blas, welcomed their first child, a son, on February 23, 2017. Doug Mishkin ’97 Doug and his wife, Alexandra, had their first child in February 2016. After living in Las Vegas, the family of three moved back to NYC this

past fall. Doug has been working as in-house counsel at the NFL since December 2016. Ian M. Sambor ’97 Ian recently won an Emmy Award for his work as a producer for the ABC series “Shark Tank.” He and wife Kristy got married in January 2015 and welcomed their first child, Evan James Sambor, on June 9, 2016. Ian is currently finishing up his duties as Co-Executive Producer on MTV’s new show, “Dare to Live”, which premiered in June.

2000s Molly Graham ’00 Molly got Engaged to Ben Pevarski. Matthew A. Mintzer ’00 Matthew and his wife, Amanda, welcomed a baby girl named Madeline Goldie.



Christopher A. Wimpfheimer ’00 Christopher and his wife, Carly, had a baby in May. Alex Harvey ’01 Kitty ’95 and Alex Harvey ’01 made a generous gift to the school in memory of Susan Estelle, their caregiver when they were students at Town. Many students, parents, and faculty saw Susan daily and shared a joyful smile with her. A plaque in Susan’s memory has been placed in in the exact spot where she waited to take her girls home. Please look for an article in the 2016–2017 Annual Report. Brian Curci ’01 (next page) Brian celebrated his 30th birthday with classmates Andrew Maas ’01, Brandon Dawson ’01, Sam Marks ’01, and Garret Starr ’01. Lily Ockert ’01 (next page) Lily’s 30th birthday was celebrated with classmates Sam Marks ’01, Brandon Dawson ’01, Matt Markezin-Press ’02, and Andrew Maas ’01. Evan Richards ’01 Evan is pictured at his wedding to Jacquelyn Dougherty on October 17, 2015 at The Fox Hollow on Long Island. Evan’s brother and best man, Blake Richards ’03, is by his side. Garret Starr ’01 (next page) Garret is engaged to Andi Rogoff.

Anna Balber ’02 Anna married Zachary Pych on September 10, 2016. The couple met at Hamilton College. Ellie Bressman ’02 Ellie and Lara Glaswand ’02 are pictured at Ellie’s bridal shower. Ellie is getting married over Labor Day weekend. Bridget Gabbe ’02 Bridget has been on multiple TV shows including Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Blue Bloods, and more. She was in the 2014 feature film Big Stone Gap opposite Ashley Judd and Whoopi Goldberg, and filmed a role opposite Cate Blanchett in Ocean’s Eight this past fall. The film is set to premiere in 2018. Lara Glaswand ’02 Lara married Zach Lichaa on February 25, 2017. Classmate Ellie Bressman served as maid of honor. Rebecca Isaacs ’02 Rebecca recently got engaged. Rachel Cholst ’03 After four years in the classroom, Rachel is now an academic advisor at the CUNY Start program at Hostos Community College. Rachel notes, “In this college transition program, I empower students to be successful in college. I’m proud to continue serving the Bronx!”

Bridget Gabbe ’02

Bressman ’02, Glaswand ’02


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Nicholas Berry ’04 Nicholas received his Masters of Science in Education from Bank Street on May 11, 2017. He is a teacher at The Browning School. Jasmine Adams ’05 (next page) Jasmine welcomed her first child, Kyrie Jarrell Keitt, on April 27, 2017. Dani Weishoff ’05 Dani moved to Denver, CO and is about to complete her second year of AmeriCorps service with City Year. Jami Moore ’07 Jami graduated from Teachers College at Columbia University with her masters in Early Childhood Special/General Education. She will be teaching Kindergarten at Brooklyn Friends School.

Faith Heyliger ’03

Anna Balber ’02

Bressman ’02, Glaswand ’02

Faith Heyliger ’03 Faith and Zachary Thomas Cedarholm were married on April 29, 2017 at the Byrdcliffe Theater. The couple moved to Woodstock last March, and are now embarking on their second year as Artists in Residence at the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, the oldest active artist colony in the United States. Faith, a multifaceted artist who is primarily a poet and performer, and Zak, a director, cinematographer, filmmaker and editor, are currently collaborating on their first feature film.

Evan Richards ’01

Maas ’01, Curci ’01, Dawson ’01, Marks ’01, Ockert ’01, Starr ’01

Marks ’01, Dawson ’01, Markezein-Press ’02, Ockert ’01, Maas ’01

Garret Starr ’01 Jasmine Adams ’05

Kacker ’16, Morse ’16, Mr. McCartney, Dhingra ’16, Yaffa ’16

Lindsay Weissman ’07 Lindsay moved out of New York City for the first time to start a new job in San Francisco. Anna A. Brenner ’08 Anna is thrilled to announce that her latest play, God is Dead & April’s Getting Married, was produced as Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2016–2017 Fellows Project in the Forum at Sidney Harman Hall. Qadeer Morgan ’08 Qadeer graduated from the University at Albany in May 2017 and will be focusing on a career in Sports Management. He is currently interning with the Rockland Boulders baseball team. Rebecca McCartney ’13 Rebecca graduated high school in June and will be heading to Minnesota to attend Carleton College in the fall. Toluwani Roberts ’13 Toluwani will be spending a year living and working in Ecuador as a Global Citizen Year Fellow.

Class of 2016 alums at Sustainability Conference

Mayanka Dhingra ’16 Mayanka, Dillon Sheekey ’16, and Rebecca McCartney ’13 attended the Sustainability in School Communities Through Student Voices Conference at Town in March. Maddie Morse ’16 Maddie and Rebecca McCartney ’13 performed at a Dalton a cappella concert. In the audience was Town teacher Bill McCartney, Ila Kacker ’16, Mayanka Dhingra ’16, and Caroline Yaffa ’16. Austin Somers ’16 Austin continues to train for mixed-martial arts. He will spend Summer 2017 working as a camp counselor, and looks forward to visiting Florida for the first time. Caroline Yaffa ’16 Caroline was the recipient of the Maysie Anderson Award from the Dwight-Englewood School. The Maysie Anderson Award was established in honor of Maysie Anderson, a 1989 Dwight-Englewood graduate, and is given each year to the Dwight-Englewood ninth grader who best embodies Maysie Anderson’s qualities of honor, integrity, intellectual curios-

ity, and profound desire to improve the world. Dwight-Englewood notes, “In giving the award to a student in the first year of high school, we are acknowledging potential as much as accomplishment.”

Corrections (2016 issue, page 32) The photo printed with a note for Evan Richards ’01 was incorrectly identified as from Evan’s wedding. The photo is from Brian Curci ’01’s engagement party. In addition to Evan and Brian, Brandon Dawson ’01, Trevor Draper ’01, Will Edwards ’01, Andrew Maas ’01, Sam Marks ’01, and Garrett Starr ’01 were in attendance. A photo from Evan’s wedding has been included in this publication on page 34.

Please Note We make every effort to include all submissions. Some photographs have been omitted due to space limitations or poor image quality.






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Susan Collins ’72 Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy (2007–2017) Professor of Public Policy Professor of Economics Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan Town ➝ Friends Seminary ➝ Harvard University ➝ Massachusetts Institute of Technology

What or whom is your inspiration?

My parents both left Jamaica with scholarships, and worked their way up to earn advanced degrees. My father worked at the United Nations, and would come home talking about “those annoying economists at the UN,” which of course inspired my study of economics.

What was your passion as a six-year-old? And how has it changed over time?

What was your favorite part about middle school?

I especially loved the 5th and 6th grade plays with Mr. Valenti. The plays were eye-openers for me because I was studious, and theater was a different world from studying. I loved it! I remember that Terry Mardis and I were the only girls who got to be pirates. I also loved going to Randall’s Island and playing “Birge Ball”. Oh, and it was great to reunite with

Town friends Nicholas Stone, Peter Rossbach, and Al Steele when we all started at Harvard together!

In your opinion what is the key to success and happiness?

If you can find something to do that is the intersection of things that you’re good at and things that bring you joy, that is a sweet spot.

Reading and horseback riding were constants during summer break trips to Jamaica. My love of novels informs the way I talk now in my professional life about telling stories through data and statistics, or “econometrics,” which is using data to better understand the world. For example, why is there more poverty in Kingston, Jamaica? It’s not because the people are not smart. Economics helps us understand differences in living standards and we can use that to inform public policy.

When did you first discover your interest in this subject? What made you want to focus on this certain passion?

My passion evolved over time, because of my interest in international and cultural dimensions and the differences between Jamaica and other countries. I remember going to Jamaica and hearing tourists complain that they had to change their money, but then I would notice that Jamaican kids could figure out exchange rates rather quickly. I wanted to know more about institutions and economic relations, and I wanted to understand those better, so I majored in economics, with a Ph.D. in international economics. Testing a hypothesis — using data to inform decision-making — was fascinating to me, and I liked the rigor of it, the scientific part of analysis.

How do you want to change the world?

So much of people’s lives are determined by where they are born. I want to find ways to expand the possibilities that young people have to develop their gifts and talents, regardless of where they grow up.

People say what matters is where you go to high school, but I believe that Town is where you develop your habits, curiosity, and perseverance, within an intense academic experience.



I got in trouble a lot because I was passionate, but I had such respect for, and great relationships with, my teachers.

Winnie Stachelberg ’78 Executive Vice President for External Affairs Center for American Progress

Town ➝ Horace Mann ➝ Georgetown University ➝ George Washington University

What or whom is your inspiration?

My parents and their love of community, family, New York City, and Yorkville. By doing good and being engaged neighbors, they inspired me to want to be “that kind of human being” in the world.

When did you first discover interest in your current line of work? What made you want to focus on this certain passion?

My career is advocacy and policy, and being engaged in challenges in progressive policies is part of my DNA. Going from Town, to Horace Mann, to Georgetown was a perfect trajectory; a focus on the common good, and making the world a better place. After graduating from Georgetown I taught public school, where I refined my sense of wanting to help people and change things for the better. It was sort of by accident that I ended up at the Office of Management and Budget and then Human Rights Campaign, but I realized that advocacy and connecting people to ideas was something I loved to do.


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How do you want to change the world?

You don’t have to be an A-student or be the best at everything to change the world, but you have to make things better for other people. You don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to treat everyone with respect. I’m making change through policy and cultural change, but it starts by ensuring that every person is treated fairly and equally.

Were there any obstacles in your way of achieving your goals?

I was passionate, and I had a temper. I think I probably knew at an early age that I was different and looking back, I was struggling with my sexual orientation and it was difficult being in 6th, 7th, 8th grade, without any open conversations about gay people. I don’t think that was an obstacle to achieving my goals, but it was something I had to deal with in my elementary, middle, and high school-age years.

What was your favorite part about middle school?

I related well to my teachers — Ms. Burke, Mr.

Whitman, Mr. Neuberger, Mr. Ferguson, Ms. Etis, Ms. Tanenbaum, Mr. Calder, and Mr. Birge. I got in trouble a lot because I was passionate, but I had such respect for the teachers at Town. Town was always a place that helped provide that sense of community, comfort, and engagement. There was a sense of engagement in the community life — trips to Putney, for example — that afforded me the ability to feel engaged with school. I was pretty athletic and every once in a while Ms. Weissman would grant my request to have P.E. class with the boys. I was good and immediately liked because of it, and I always appreciated her bending the rules for me now and then.

In your opinion what is the key to success and happiness?

Doing what completes you, being who you are, doing the things you feel passionate about. My spouse, Vicki, and I have been together for 28 years, and we always try to model for our kids that it’s more about what you do for the other person than what you get in return. If you’re happy and fulfilled, it’s an indication of success.

My first government post was at Town. I was elected vice president of the Student Senate.


Troy Clair ’95

Chief of Staff to Congressman G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina

Town ➝ St. Ann’s ➝ Duke University

What or whom is your inspiration?

a moral standpoint, but I don’t see it that way. I look at diversity from “how is society taking advantage of the unique skills and talent that each person has to make communities and people more successful?” We’re not doing nearly enough with cancer, poverty and education. The person who is going to solve your problem — you have no idea how old they are going to be, or what race or gender they are. If we don’t put forth our folks with potential, we are going to lose the race against other countries. I want to help someone figure out what they are good at, and help them develop that. And if we took that approach with everybody, then the world would be better because we would be allowing people to contribute in the way that suits them best.

How do you want to change the world?

What was your favorite part about middle school?

I try to live by the golden rule, and I’m passionate about trying to make sure that our country’s government creates policies that keep that in mind. When I commuted from my home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, to school on the Upper East Side, I noticed stark contrasts between the two neighborhoods. I noticed simple things, like it was much cleaner on the UES compared to where I lived, and I started to question why that was. For example, there was a trash can on every corner. Those decisions about trash cans, and police too, were made because of politicians; I started to see that disparities exist because of decisions that people make.

I want to empower others to unlock their potential so that they can make their mark on the world. Many people look at diversity from

Overall, it was the ability to do different things that I was interested in — my first government

post was at Town. I was elected vice president of the Student Senate, and I remember running for that race and planning the dances after school. I also remember playing Harry the Horse in the 8th grade musical, Guys and Dolls. I spent six years in public school and six years in private school. Private school encourages and supports students in following interests they are passionate about — you can do art, music, drama, math beyond the math class. When I was at St. Ann’s, I wrote plays, did photography, and was President of Princeton Model Congress. I tried things, and experimented, and developed skills I use today in being Chief of Staff for a congressman. I use a lot of skills that are not political science-focused, such as storytelling, that I know come from my experiences in private schools.



I remember spending time in the computer lab and starting to learn about computers for the first time at Town.

Steven Traykovski ’91 Head of Product Operations Facebook

Town ➝ Trinity School ➝ Northwestern University

What or whom is your inspiration?

I’ve found multiple role models in my professional career and personal life and I’ve picked up best practices and life lessons from a variety of relationships. My advice to the future of the workforce: evaluate opportunities not just by what you’ll do, but also by who you'll work with and learn from.

What was your passion as a 6-year-old? What was your passion as a 13-year-old, and how has it changed over time?

I have no clue about those early years! But in middle school, I remember spending time in the tech lab at Town; it was my first exposure to computers and something must have clicked because I am in a career focused on the Internet.

Were there any obstacles in your way of achieving your goals? I went through the experience of being laid


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off from a company, working for a company that wasn't a good fit, and being in a role that wasn't a good fit. What counts is how you bounce back from these challenges and grow. In my case, my layoff led to a decision to travel around the world for a period of time which was a formative experience in my life. And with my more difficult work experiences in life, when I look back on them I see that they led me to build skills and gain experiences that have brought me to where I am today.

What was your favorite part about middle school?

Some of my closest friendships were made at Town and we are still close to this day. Even after high school, college, and my first jobs, the Town connection is one of the strongest bonds I’ve ever experienced. Just last week, our class of ’91 was emailing about a reunion in NYC, and bonding over the fact that we are turning 40 this year!

I have particularly fond memories of my French teachers — Ms. Melvoin and Mr. Sargent. I’ve had an interest in foreign languages my whole life, and I attribute some of this to the early exposure I got at Town. And memories of Mr. Golden... I remember spending a lot of time in math class, probably good preparation for my future career in tech, and I loved those gorilla stickers. I also spent two summers as a SummerSault camp counselor and this was my first work experience that I proudly had on my resume for many years.

In your opinion what is the key to success and happiness?

Achieve balance, take time to appreciate the beauty in the world, and make sure you’re having fun in whatever you do. It’s not worth it otherwise.

Alum Fun

What’s your hidden talent? I’m a pilot. I love to fly — have flown everything from a two-seat prop plane to a 737. Gary Zimmer ’85

What was your favorite cartoon? I loved Hey Arnold. I had one weird moment a couple years ago reminiscing with a childhood friend, where I remembered we played basketball with this tall kid named Stinky. I asked my friend if he remembered him, describing details, and he looked at me like I was insane — apparently Stinky was a Hey Arnold character. I remembered him as a kid I knew, but he’s just a drawing. So, I guess I watched it a lot. Dan Perlman ’04 Tiny Toons Adventures. Lee Goldberg ’95 Gem. Renee Hudson ’97 I used to watch Tom Terrific. Daniel Sedlis ’68

Pepper Ann. Kathleen Collins ’07 Teen Titans. John Huddleston ’13 Tom and Jerry. Matthew Schnadig ’13 The Boondocks. AJ Scavone ’13 Rugrats. Kiana Lui ’13 My Little Pony. And now my two-year-old daughter has gotten into it! Stephanie Bauman ’97 I wasn’t allowed to watch cartoons. If only it was that simple these days! Susan Krauss’86

What crazy activity do you want to try someday? I dream of traveling the world with my friends and living completely in the moment. Reayana Kabir ’15 Walking the whole Pacific Coast Trail. Alissa Keny-Guyer ’73 I always thought it would be fun to hike coast-to-coast with just a well-equipped backpack and a credit card. Stephen Perlmutter ’75

What is the one thing you can’t live without?

Climb K2 in Pakistan. Billy LoBue ’13

My friends and family. Sthefany Martinez ’13 Chocolate chip cookies. Daniel Sharon ’95

Skydiving. (We should apply for a Town alums group discount!) Aidan Gibbons ’13, Merrick Gilston ’13, Kelyali Infante ’13, Kennedy Burrows ’14, Nate Appleby ’16

I have to get to Yankee Stadium a few times a year to see them in person. Lily Oliver ’98 French Fries. Adaku Nwokiwu ’14 The one thing I can’t live without is my microplane (zester). I use it for everything — citrus zest, garlic, even shallots. It’s my favorite tool and I’ve even been known to carry it in my purse or on vacation — you never know when you might need a little lemon zest! Jessica Meter ’98

Pizza! Lily Ockert ’01 Bouncy castles! Julia Udesky ’97 Music. Jenny Eisenpresser Kwit ’82

Join us on facebook: Town Alumni-ae


A CULTURE of GIVING The Town School relies on community support to provide an extraordinary education for our students. Your support is an essential part of our annual budget, but more importantly the culture of giving at Town is a core value of our community and a profound endorsement of our mission. Financial Support Annual Giving • Directed Funds • Planned Giving Volunteering The Parents’ Association • Classroom Volunteering • All School Community Service Projects


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For more information contact the Advancement Office at (917) 432-3043 or

2015–16 Annual Report Corrections

Town Podcast We’re launching our first

LEADERSHIP GIFTS Head’s Circle ($5,000 – $9,999) Alessandro Chiurazzi and Devi Kroell are members of the 110% club.

DIRECTED GIFTS Library Book Donations The Chiurazzi/Kroell Family should have been listed here.

CURRENT PARENT DONORS 3rd Grade — Class of 2021 Alessandro Chiurazzi and Devi Kroell are members of the the 110% club.

Updated parent participation percentages for all grades: N3 87% N4 81% K 86% 1 92% 2 94% 3 100% 4 84% 5 95% 6 85% 7 88% 8 was listed correctly at 100%

1st Grade — Class of 2023 The Vaynerchuk Family was incorrectly listed as Mr. and Mrs. Gardlin Vaynerchuk. Grandparent Donors Phyllis & Gerald Friedland are the grandparents of John Friedland, Class of 2018.

ever podcast in 2017–18, hosted by Head of School Tony Featherston! We’ll be talking about NYC, independent schools, and more.

Stay tuned for details!


Join the Town Community Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 6pm

Speaker Series Join the conversation

Wendy Mogel PhD author of The New York Times bestseller

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee RSVP to

All current and former Town community members are welcome.



2017 Cameron Belgrave The Masters School || Eric Berg The Packer Collegiate Institute Rachel Bilzin Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School || Clara Cantor The Nightingale-Bamford School James Caro Rudolf Steiner School || Arnav Choudhry Dwight-Englewood School || Leila Crist Trevor Day School Luke Ehrenfreund The Berkeley Carroll School || Youssef Ellozy The Berkeley Carroll School Harry Fins Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School || Avery Freund Berkshire School Andy Friedman Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Sean Glass Grace Church School || Mia Haddad Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Aaron Kahn Trevor Day School || Natasha Kapadia The Brearley School Sophia Khakee The Nightingale-Bamford School || Jack Kobre Dwight-Englewood School Aashni Kotecha The Nightingale-Bamford School || Emma Kramer The Chapin School Sam Lévy Millbrook School || Bobby LoBue The Packer Collegiate Institute Brendan Lopez The Browning School || Alex Lynes Fernandez Ethical Culture Fieldston School Olivia Morse Avenues: The World School || David Nimura Grace Church School Jacqueline Ostrower Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School || Emma Pon Trevor Day School Diana Rendon Rudolf Steiner School || Mason Rudnick Grace Church School Marie Shpilrain Riverdale Country School || Daisy Smith Horace Mann School Roan ter Kuile Salisbury School || Harrison Velasquez Marvelwood School

You have proved to us, and more importantly, proved to yourselves, that you have what it takes to make meaning out of what you’ve learned in school. …My hope for you as you head to high school is that you continue to be pioneers. You have demonstrated excellence in academics, but you also have experience with identifying, articulating, and following your passions. You have demonstrated the skills and values that many search a lifetime for. Continue to employ that pioneer spirit as you go. Dream big, take risks, trust yourself, and remember that the only way to truly live a life of meaning is to do so in the service of others. I am always proud of our graduates, but I feel especially proud of what you have accomplished as students and who you are as people. — Tony Featherston Head of School


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Graduation Speaker Excerpts

The staff, faculty, and students — this community… family… takes you in, plants you, waters you, and gives you everything you need to bloom… these teachers are sunlight for us. It has been an honor to meet all of these people, to grow with them, and after nine years I can safely say that, these are my people, and this is my garden. — Cameron Belgrave

While the teachers at Town care about their subjects, they are just as passionate or even more so about their students. Every single morning there is a tunnel of teachers waiting to greet you. You feel as if you have just won the NBA Finals and are being greeted by a swarm of fans. And that is truly what Town’s faculty members are to the students. Fans. — Bobby LoBue

When you are part of a community or a family, there’s no status or ranking. Membership is permanent. Because, even when we leave the physical space of Town, we are still a part of its family. We will carry Town’s values with us. — Natasha Kapadia

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Parents of Alumni/ae: If this publication is addressed to your child who no longer maintains a permanent address at your home, please notify the advancement office of his or her new mailing address at or call 212-288-4383


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