Currents T H E M AG A Z I N E O F T H E TOW N S C H O O L
P R O F E S S I O N A L D E V E LO P M E N T
A Path of Lifelong Learning
Did you know that The Town School is made up of three different buildings, each with its own history? The Nursery 4 class does. After researching, collecting data and conducting interviews, they created a detailed photo representation of Town.
M E S S A G E F R O M T O N Y F E AT H E R S T O N
AROU ND TOWN
S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y
C L A S S O F 2014 SC H O O L P L AC E M E NT
M E S S AG E F R O M C I N DY G I L S TO N
F E AT U R E S
Understanding By Design
How project-based learning delivers enduring understandings
Weaving Words into Movement
By weaving language into dance, Kindergarteners find new ways to think
Simple tools, powerful lifetime benefits
Today, Spanish...Tomorrow, the World
Townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Spanish teachers open a whole world to their students
The Applied Classroom
Fourth grade team scours the app market to spark student interest
Cultivating ourselves and our schools
THE TOWN SCHOOL
MESSAGE FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL
he pursuit of learning as a guiding value and approach to life is absolutely central to our goals as a school community. And what better way to show the meaning of our mission than to live it? This issue of Currents is devoted to highlighting faculty professional development, as our teachers demonstrate through words and deeds the value of lifelong learning. Faculty members from all three divisions have written articles about the direct impact their own learning has on
classroom as a result of their professional and curricular development. Our students benefit directly from our teacherdriven, flexible and evolving curriculum, but they see our mission in action when our faculty demonstrate what it means to be lifelong learners themselves. As part of this year’s work to develop a unified strategic vision for Town, we identified four values that are central to who we are: community, excellence, nurture, and innovation. All are important as we endeavor to have our students understand and embrace the ethic of lifelong learning, perhaps the secret to being successful and productive and to living a life of consequence. Excellence, for example, is often discussed as a measure of achievement, and that is certainly important. But at Town we strive for excellence to be a mindset, a value, a habit. The school’s long record of strong commitment to faculty professional development is but one of many examples of how excellence is embraced and evidenced. Each year every member of the faculty is involved at some level, whether it be in graduate school, attending workshops or conferences, or engaging in intensive summer work to revamp curriculum. This year, thanks to a generous donor, we are starting a Summer Sabbatical
Linda Cox Gardlin CO N T RIB U T IN G WRIT ERS
Danielle Cheriff Ava Collins Johnny Cook Cynthia Davies Courtney Dougherty Dana Feigenbaum Emily Fisher Peaches Gillette Campbell Glenn Julia Henderson Kenneth Higgins Chelsea Koenig Ali Koss Bob Levine Jan Mooney Garth Pearl Telita Perry Wendy Rose Sanchez CO N T RIB U T IN G P HOTO GRA P HERS
Linda Gardlin Hechler Photography Patrick O’Connor Kris Qua DESIGN
Coppola Design DEVELO P MEN T O FFICE
Melissa Bauman Director of Development
Linda Cox Gardlin Assistant Director of Development
Kids don’t remember what you teach them. They remember what you are. — J I M H E N S O N , creator of The Muppets
the curriculum. As you’ll see, the effort and resources devoted to faculty professional growth are considerable, and our students are the direct beneficiaries. Whether it is improving instruction in Spanish, further developing the Fourth grade iPad program, using dance to tell stories, or creating the N3 shoe study curriculum, our teachers are constantly working to enhance the experience of our students. Town is anything but a static place. Additionally, each article illustrates our program’s balance between the traditional and innovative, the practical and the inspirational. But as Jim Henson noted, what teachers are modeling through their commitment to their own growth is as important as the concrete things they bring back to the
CURRENTS summer 2014
Camille Mathrani Director of Annual Giving and Alumni/ae R elations
Carly Pearson Development Associate, Parent Liaison and iCommunications
Travel Grant Program that kicks off with our two Upper School science teachers traveling to the Galapagos to further their exploration and understanding of Charles Darwin’s research and to bring it back to the classroom. While striving for excellence themselves, our faculty are living examples to our children, demonstrating each day that who they are matters as much as what they teach. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into just some of the exciting work going on at Town. The best part of working with children is that we are constantly future focused, as evidenced by our faculty making plans for next year even as we celebrate all the successes of this year. — T ON Y F E AT H E R S T ON
Currents is published by The Town School Development Office for families and friends of The Town School. The editor welcomes comments and story ideas from all members of The Town School community. Correspondence should be addressed to: Assistant Director of Development The Town School 540 East 76th Street New York, NY 10021
© 2014 The Town School
A CU LT U R E of GI V I NG Tuition alone does not cover the cost of providing a Town education. The Town School relies on charitable support to provide an extraordinary education for its families. But beyond its financial necessity, charitable support is at the very core of the Town community.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT A n nu a l Giv i n g
C a mp a i g n Giv i n g
D i r e c t e d F u nd s
Pl a n ne d Giv i n g
VO L U N T E E R I N G T he Pa r ent sâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; A s s o c i a t ion
* C l a s s r o om Volu nt e er i n g
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GIVING OPPORTUNITIES, please contact the Development Office at (917) 432-3043 THE TOWN
News + Notes Town Educators to Travel to the Galapagos In December 1831, Charles Darwin set sail on the Beagle towards the Galapagos Islands. Over the next five years, he observed the vast diversity and ecology, which formed the basis for his theory of natural selection. Imagine having the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of one of history’s leading scientific figures. What started as a dream within the science department four years ago will become a reality this August through the summer travel grant program at Town! The uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands provides the ideal experience for Science teachers Johnny Cook and Courtney Dougherty to further their learning and therefore the students’ understanding as they both cover several of the concepts for which the Galapagos is famous. The formation of ecosystems, biomes, biodiversity, sustainability, adaptations and evolution directly coincide with the work done in both Fifth and Sixth grades during the environmental science unit. They often refer to Charles Darwin and the Galapagos tortoise when discussing the basics
W E LCOM E
DAVID W O O D
FOND FAREWELL TO
Elizabeth McKenna of adaptations and evolution. Charles Darwin and his theory of natural selection is one of the main topics of an entire trimester’s worth of work in Seventh grade, focusing on evolution and how species have evolved over several generations. Johnny and Courtney are looking forward to bringing to life this experience in the classroom next year!
David comes to The Town School following four years as Director of Lower School at Friends Select School in Philadelphia. Previously David worked in both the Lower and Middle School divisions of The Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, serving at various times as Middle School Dean of Students, Grade Dean, and classroom teacher in grades 2 through 5. David holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership at Columbia University’s Teachers
Town is saying goodbye to Elizabeth McKenna as she is headed back to school as a student in the Columbia Coaching Certification Program at Columbia University here in NYC. Alongside her studies, she plans to engage in consulting work with the charter school networks and other school reform initiatives.
College, a master’s degree in Elementary Education from the Hunter College School of Education, and a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. David is very excited to join the Town community and return to New York City. A proud parent, David enjoys spending time with his son and husband, running in the park, and relaxing over dinner with friends. He very much looks forward to joining Town this summer.
EVER SINCE MY FIRST VISIT TO TOWN, I’VE FELT AN ALIGNMENT IN APPROACH TO PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT WITH CLEAR ACADEMIC EXPECTATIONS, COMMUNITYBUILDING THAT CELEBRATES DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVITY, AND RECOGNITION OF THE BENEFITS OF BALANCING TRADITION AND INNOVATION — ALL WITH A FOCUS ON BUILDING SELF-AWARENESS, EMPATHY, AND RESILIENCY IN STUDENTS. QUITE A COMBINATION.
CURRENTS summer 2014
Activities + Events 1
Annual Book Fair
4 Fourth graders visiting Jackson Heights 5 Grandparents / Special Visitors Day 6 At the Union Square Greenmarket 7 Fourth Grade Play
6 THE TOWN SCHOOL
Diamond Jubilee Auction Gala The 100th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Auction Gala was a huge success, lots of fun, raised over $500,000 to support our childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s education at The Town School and was the perfect jewel to crown our centennial celebration.
CURRENTS summer 2014
THE TOWN SCHOOL
At Manhattan Country School Farm in Roxbury, NY.
CURRENTS summer 2014
Teaching and learning occur far beyond our walls. Town teachers use field trips as opportunities to shepherd our students in exploring and experiencing the world.
F I E L D T R I P S I NC LU DE D
Muscoot Farm SOMERS, NY On the First grade farm trip, students learn about the history of the dairy farm dating from the late 1880s. There are lots of animals to enjoy, and before the students return to Manhattan, they are treated to a tractor-pulled hayride.
Manhattan Country School Farm ROXBURY, NY Each year the Third and Fourth grades spend time on a small working farm in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, experiencing the value of teamwork, community, and sustainability. The children participate in farm chores, including caring for and feeding the animals, cooking and cleaning. Students have daily craft classes and take nature walks, enjoying a brief respite from city living.
Natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Classroom LAKESIDE, CT Located on 300 acres in historic Litchfield County, the site has a beaver pond, frog ponds, swamps, and multiple hiking paths. There, Fifth and Sixth graders experienced a science symposium, dissected animals, ventured on nature day and night hikes, built rockets, played teambuilding games, put on skits, and learned about various aspects of ecology. The Fifth & Sixth grade science program at Town has several ecology-based units, which were complemented by the program.
Natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Classroom WAKEFIELD, RI Located on Point Judith Pond in south central RI, which sits on the Atlantic Ocean, this site is an exciting marine science environment. There is about a mile of salt water beach to explore, as well as a freshwater stream and estuary. Accentuating the biology and chemistry studies of the Seventh grade science program, students were divided into field groups and studied marine life, in both salt water and fresh water environments.
US Capital WASHINGTON, DC Working with our partners at CloseUp, we designed a program to educate and inspire Eighth graders to become informed and active citizens. The activities included participation in a model Congress, mock committee meetings debating potential legislation, a Q&A session on the Capitol steps with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Congressman John Lewis, and visits to the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the White House, the Capitol Building, the FDR Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Natural History Museum.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y
The State of Sustainability at Town At Town, we embrace the idea that sustainability reflects the interconnection of environmental stewardship, social justice, and economic equity.
e know that our children face significant challenges in order to secure a sustainable future. Creativity, critical thinking, resilience, empathy, and a commitment to service are all qualities that will be essential in meeting those challenges. These are all integral components of Education for Sustainability. We work on these skills in multiple disciplines in each division at Town. This work is a process and not always easily quantified. There are, however, many visible signs of our institutional commitment to sustainability, and as the year closes, we thought it might be beneficial to post a reminder of the things we accomplished this year. A significant component of our professional development is a yearly faculty retreat. This year’s retreat was centered around our motto SOS (Self, Others, and Surroundings) and its intrinsic connection to the idea of Educating for Sustainability. The mission of the retreat was complemented beautifully by Town’s participation in a number of events and initiatives. US students at Mulchfest
Year at a Glance October Million Trees event, in which many members of our community joined together to help replant the Rockaways in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Since its inception, the Million Trees initiative has facilitated the planting of more than 850,000 trees across the boroughs of New York City. This was our sixth year of participation in Million Trees. Members of our Sustainability Club continued to monitor our waste stream throughout the year, checking weekly to make sure plastics, paper, and landfill materials were all put in their proper bins. The Nursery/Kindergarten Division and Lower School began recycling dairy tubs. Yogurt containers from lunches are cleaned and put into buckets that are collected weekly by the Upper School Sustainability Club. They are sent to a company called Terra Cycle, which repurposes them into components of various textiles, flooring and curtains. We have been sending in more than 100 containers every week. At the end of the year, Terra Cycle will send us a check, which will go into our Sustainability Club fund. Town joined a Green Energy Purchasing Consortium. All of our energy needs are now purchased through renewable energy sources! A good number of Upper School students spent a chilly Saturday in January dragging discarded holiday trees throughout the streets of the Upper East Side so they could be mulched for use in community gardens and parks throughout the city. Students spent a service day working to help maintain and beautify John Jay Park. A number of Upper School students spent a Friday working with Riverkeeper to help clean and maintain wetlands on Randall’s Island. More than 200 members of our community signed a pledge to “bag the bag” and avoid taking single-use plastic bags whenever possible. During our Earth Month initiatives, we collected over 500 pounds of electronic waste and brought it to an electronic recycling center in Brooklyn. We also collected a few hundred pounds of textiles, which were collected to be recycled and repurposed. All in all, we probably kept about 800 pounds of waste out of our landfills! We continued to compost some of our organic waste from snack and lunch, and the Sustainability Club used that soil to plant herbs which will grow on the N/K Terrace over the summer.
10 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y
Million TreesNYC Volunteer Planting Day We were truly “stronger than the storm” as Town families came out on Saturday, October 19th to help in Rockaway Community Park in Queens. New Yorkers banded together, and the day yielded amazing results!
20,173 & 2,025 TREES
THE TOWN SCHOOL
own can be counted among the ranks of great schools where teachers constantly work on curriculum to make our program more engaging, effective, and relevant. As our mission impels students to “continue on the path of lifelong learning,” the faculty embodies this value through our model of ongoing professional development. Rather than simply highlighting the faculty’s professional development experiences, however, this issue of Currents highlights excellent curriculum that was the product of meaningful professional development, often deepened through faculty partnerships. Additionally, each article illustrates our program’s balance between the traditional and the innovative, the practical and the magical. Faculty members from all three divisions have written the articles in this issue about the direct impact professional development has had on their curriculum. From the projectbased N3 shoe study to alignment of the Upper School Spanish program, these examples showcase curriculum that puts a premium on critical thinking, collaboration, risk-taking, and being present — habits of the mind that will serve our students well on their journey through the 21st century. — A L I KO S S Curriculum Coordinator and Fifth Grade Reading Teacher
12 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
THE TOWN SCHOOL
14 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
P R O J E C T- B A S E D C U R R I C U L U M
Understanding By Design WHEN N3 CHILDREN SHAPE T H E C U R R I C U LU M T H E M S E LV E S G R E AT T H I N G S H A P P E N
by DA NIELLE CHERIFF, EMILY FISHER and TELITA PERRY
About four years ago, the school decided to begin a review of all of our curricular strands. It decided to conduct this review through an approach called Understanding By Design. This approach requires teachers to think about curriculum in terms of what is truly important for children to know. We refer to these in N3 as â&#x20AC;&#x153;enduring understandings.â&#x20AC;? Thinking about curriculum in this way allows teachers to deliver to children broader, deeper and richer ideas that move beyond teaching about shapes and colors.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Last summer, the N3 faculty received a grant to determine the “enduring understandings” that we want children to know. Upon completing our review, the curricular areas children are focusing on in N3 include independence, critical thinking, creativity, communication, physical development, social/emotional growth, technology and sustainability. After defining the Nursery 3 enduring understandings, we had the pleasure of attending the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference in Washington, D.C. While at the conference, we attended several workshops led by Lillian Katz, who is a co-founder and expert in development and implementation of projectbased curriculum. Katz described the power of project-based curriculum and how it is focused on projects, questions and interests that are student driven. In this way, students’ learning is based on real life investigations that are authentic to their world. The project approach includes deep project work that builds intellectual capacity as well as authentic explorations of adult work. These in-depth explorations create catalysts for meaningful constructions, creations and
16 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
The children were divided into ‘shoe groups’ where deeper exploration and learning would take place in the form of hands-on exploration, use of the library and iPads for research. artistic expression. In hearing Lillian Katz’ presentation, we recognized that a project-based curriculum would deliver the “enduring understandings” we had created during our curricular review.
Upon returning from the conference, we were eager to implement projectbased curriculum into our classroom setting. In order to determine what type of project the children would study and explore, we asked them, “What would you like to know more about?” Their answers were varied and ranged from “animals” to “buildings.” After reviewing their responses, we discovered that
the majority of children wanted to know more about “shoes.” Thus our shoe study was born! Our study continued as we asked the children, “What do you know about shoes?” The children were incredibly excited to share their knowledge about shoes, the stores they come from, when they wear them, etc. After compiling their current knowledge we asked the group what they wanted to learn about shoes. As teachers, we helped guide their questions to explore some sophisticated topics such as: “What are shoes made of?” “Do people wear different shoes in different parts of the world?” “What is a shoe store and where do they get their
SHOE DESIGNER FARYL ROBIN (PICTURED CENTER) DESCRIBED THE PROCESS OF CREATING A SHOE FROM ITS INITIAL DESIGN TO ITS COMPLETION. STUDENTS WERE THEN GIVEN THE TASK TO DECORATE THEIR OWN SHOES.
shoes from?” The children decided what types of shoes they wanted to study, which included: Mary Janes, sneakers, rain boots, boots, slippers, flip flops, high heels and flats. The children were divided into these ‘shoe groups’ where deeper exploration and learning would take place in the form of hands-on exploration, use of the library and iPads for research. To provide the children with authentic exploration of adult work, two shoe designers visited the classroom to speak to the children about how they design and create shoes. The children even had the opportunity to decorate their very own TOMS shoes. As a culminating activity, we created a book where the children shared with the rest of the group what they had learned about shoes. All the children were able to take this book home at the end of the year.
When you teach at The Town School, you enter into a journey of learning alongside the children. Town fosters this journey of learning by providing rich opportunities for professional development.
Students’ learning is based on real life investigations that are authentic to their world. The project approach includes deep project work that builds intellectual capacity as well as authentic explorations of adult work. SCAN THIS QR CODE TO SEE THE N3 SHOE STUDY IN ACTION!
THE TOWN SCHOOL
TA C T I L E L E A R N I N G
WEAVING WORDS into MOVEMENT
by CHELSEA KOENIG
How many ways can your body be lazy? You might not expect to hear this question in dance class, but it is one of the many prompts that Kindergarteners consider when dancing their way through literacy each week.
18 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
When studying repeating word poems in the classroom, children dig deep and think of the many ways they can use their bodies to show a word like “lazy” or “wait” while moving along to Shel Silverstein’s poem “Lazy Jane” in dance class. This is one way that Kindergarteners are encouraged to explore an array of solutions to a problem and not settle for the first idea that pops into their head. Through expanding their repertoire for creative movement, students build literacy skills aligned with their Reading Workshop experience in the classroom. Early in the year, during the Wordless Picture Book unit, children found action words in the illustrations and wove them together to retell the story with their movement. For example, considering the picture book Wave by Suzy Lee, students noticed the wave “crashed,” “hurdled,” and then “creeped on the sand.” The children interpreted these action words in their own way, creating a deeper understanding of this literacy objective with this kinesthetic experience.
In the past, the Kindergarten dance curriculum focused on storytelling through dance, and Town’s Summer Grant program gave Laurel Lederman, Yezebel Manaloto, and myself an opportunity to expand upon this foundation and align the dance and literacy curriculum in even more exciting and effective ways. With the ability to spend ample time to examine, explore, and discuss, we were able to find commonalities between both curricula and integrate classroom literacy studies into the dance space. In the classroom we wove books and
T H E K I N D E R G A R T E N E R S A R E E X P R E S S I V E LY E M B O DY I N G C H A R AC T E R S , D E V E LO P I N G CO M P L E X A N D A B S T R AC T DA N C E S T E P S , A N D B R AV E LY P E R FO R M I N G T H E I R OW N DA N C E S O LO S I N F R O N T O F T H E I R C L A S S M AT E S .
SCAN THIS QR CODE TO SEE “HOW MANY WAYS YOUR BODY CAN BE LAZY.”
poems that children love, such as Tomie de Paola’s Pancakes for Breakfast, into dance to provide a richer understanding of the characters and plots in each story while deepening dance units that explore action words, feelings, and abstract movement using variety and sounds.
Another way students blend literacy with dance takes place each week during our routine class warm-up. Recently, children combined descriptive language with dance vocabulary when observing a classmate sitting down in a unique way without using his/her hands. When asked questions such as, “What did you see?” and “What did you imagine while watching your classmate dance?” one student commented, “When Chloe jumped and floated down, I imagined she was floating from the clouds.” During a similar exercise, other classmates “walked on a volcano and fell down,” or “moved like tornadoes.” By analyz-
ing movement through prompts that are similar to those used to approach literature, students bolster their story sense while building their critical thinking skills. The impact of aligning the dance and literacy curricula has exceeded any of our expectations. The Kindergarteners are expressively embodying characters, creating their own movements instead of copying those of their friends, developing complex and abstract dance steps, and bravely performing their own dance solos in front of their classmates. The children have already hit year-end creative thinking and problem-solving benchmarks. This huge growth allows us to expand on the children’s work and focus on developing language to explain their creative process. The most exciting outcome of our summer grant work is how the increased skill level and understanding of the Kindergarteners advances their ability to discover, challenge themselves, and grow in the coming years in dance.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Simple Tools. Powerful Lifetime Benefits. I had already begun leading 3East through brief meditation-type activities last year during morning meetings in an attempt to help our students start their day in a centered and calm manner, drawing from my own meditation experience, adjusting or inventing techniques to make it practicable and enjoyable for eight and nine year olds. So I was thrilled when Town gave me the opportunity to attend two mindfulness workshops last summer. I came away with a new repertoire of activities and, just as importantly, the language with which to help our students understand the potential benefits and uses of these compelling new techniques. There’s a very simple definition of mindfulness that covers virtually all of the mindfulness activities we do in our class: “intentionally paying attention” (to something). Students develop proficiency in that type of focused attention through a wide variety of methods. Most of them are quite simple, and a casual observer might not be able to identify the subtle action or thought process in which the students are engaged. The simplicity and subtlety of the exercises belie the powerful positive effects that can result, as practicing mindfulness has been shown to have enormous potential benefits, primarily the increased ability to focus and the ability to calm and center oneself in times of stress or over excitement. The children get excited when they hear that “increased ability to focus” not only can help them with their schoolwork, but also can help them improve their skills in their favorite sports and recreational activities.
20 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
by BOB LEVINE
Some of the mindfulness activities in which we engage are: • M indful breathing — the core practice in our mindfulness work — sitting silently, still and focusing your attention on your breathing • Mindful listening • Slow-motion mindful movement • Mindful standing (believe it or not!) • Mindful observation • Mindful walking • B ody scan — very slowly from toes to head, noticing the sensation in each area of your body, then relaxing that part of your body before continuing upward) • Mindful eating • Mindful movement mirroring • Empathetic breathing
The last two activities on the list help promote another important potential benefit of practicing mindfulness: increased compassion and empathy, about which Dr. Mooney discusses in detail in her article.
METAPHORS TO HELP STUDENTS UNDERSTAND THE BENEFIT OF MINDFULNESS
Glitter Jar We have a jar in our classroom with clear liquid and glitter on the bottom. We shake up the jar so the glitter swirls all around, making it no longer possible to see through the jar. When you then hold the jar still, the glitter settles back to the bottom, and you can see clearly once again. We discuss that the glitter can represent big emotions, over excitement, or too much external stimulation. Using mindfulness is like holding the jar still, calming yourself so that you can once again think clearly and make more reasoned decisions.
Anchor Breath We picture ourselves as a boat in stormy, turbulent water, representing how it feels in times of stress or over excitement. Doing mindful breathing is like dropping an anchor to hold you steady while the storm rages around you, allowing time for the turbulence to pass and the waters to return to stillness and safety.
Stepping Out of the River (another water metaphor)
You’re standing in a river and the current gets stronger and stronger around you making it difficult to maintain your balance and threatening to sweep you away. It’s impossible to think clearly in that roiling, unstable situation. However… if you step out of the river and onto the riverbank (metaphorically by using mindfulness), you remove yourself from the turmoil and confusion, and can address the situation with calmness and clarity.
Third graders start their day with meditation, practicing mindfulness activities that increase their ability to focus and calm and center themselves in times of stress or over excitement.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
In addition to the benefits we’ve seen in our classroom, I’ve been enormously gratified to have had several students share examples of using mindfulness techniques they learned in our class in the course of their lives outside of school: • helped them when they had trouble going to sleep • helped them feel calm in the midst of a stressful situation • developed a ritual of doing a mindfulness activity with a parent or as a family Overall, I’m thrilled with what I’ve been able to share with my students from the mindfulness workshops I attended last summer. I firmly believe that introducing them to these tools at so early an age will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Karen Mulqueen, Bob’s co-teacher in 3East, shares her observations of this year’s mindfulness work and its effect on their class:
hen Bob first introduced the idea of implementing mindfulness into our classroom, I was quite skeptical. My energetic self was truly uncertain that I, along with eight and nine year old New York City children, could calm ourselves and
be serious enough to let the process of mindfulness unfold the way it was intended. As the year progressed, I found myself observing Bob’s sessions with the children, participating from outside the circle, evaluating and assessing his mindfulness experiences with the class. Although earlier in the year, several children chose to keep their eyes open during some mindfulness activities and there were even some hints of laughter and discomfort in the room, these moments became fewer and fewer. Before we left for the holidays, I was in complete awe of the students’ seriousness and focused attention. Bob had hooked me on the notion that mindfulness belongs in our classroom and benefits our children. The clinching proof came on April 22, when I walked down the 5th floor hallway, my heels echoing through the corridor. As I burst through the closed door to our room, I quickly noticed our class sitting in a circle, all eyes closed, engaged in mindful breathing. I walked to my chair where I too took a few deep breaths, calmed myself, and watched. When the chime rang and Bob asked the class about their experiences, I sat back and relished in what I heard. After listening to a few of the children’s experiences, Bob asked, “Did anyone hear Ms. Mulqueen coming down the hall before she even entered the room?” To Bob’s question more than half of the class had no idea I had even entered the room and were surprised to find me sitting at my desk. There it was, the proof! Yes, New York City children can learn, practice and apply mindfulness to their lives for a calmer, SCAN THIS QR CODE TO SEE MINDFULNESS IN ACTION
22 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
focused state. Now that I have witnessed the great success the children have had implementing mindfulness, now the real test… Can I do it? I’m happy to report that I’m looking forward to taking a full-day mindfulness workshop next month! Thank you 3E and Mr. Levine for teaching me the value of mindfulness.
Resources for Parents, Caregivers and Teachers Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child, encourages parents to use mindfulness strategies at home: “Your
Equanimity in 60 Seconds by CY NTHIA DAVIES
mantra, ‘Short times, many times.’ Aim to do these simple activities for a couple of minutes a few times a day to heighten awareness of what’s happening in and around you so you can ground yourself,”
Understandably the transition to the Art Studio from elsewhere in the school can often be an exciting and stimulating opportunity for students to engage with others in the same grade. Preparing the children to be ready for learning in Art can be a challenge when their energies are high and they are ready to create. In as little as a Mindful Minute at the beginning of my class, whether it be paying attention to breathing, listening or eating, I have witnessed mindfulness having a remarkable effect on calming their emotions without diminishing creativity, and increasing their patience and persistence in the process of making art. It also improves problem-solving, planning, and organizational skills across all grade levels. The children have learned some basic neuroscience and they know that they can use mindfulness anywhere, anytime to access the prefrontal cortex when they need to pull back from any kind of impending meltdown. It empowers our students to know that they have a constant “mindful toolbox” of strategies, and that they have a choice of reactions in any given situation.
explains Kaiser Greenland. “Kids are usually game as long as the emphasis is on fun, but if your child can’t concentrate, try again another time.” Kaiser Greenland makes the following suggestions. In the Morning
Before you rush out the door, take a few deep breaths together — a trick Kaiser Greenland discovered when her children were little. “It will help you collect yourselves as you face the day,” she says. In the Car
If you’re stuck in traffic and everyone’s getting tense, ask the children to focus their gaze on the horizon for a few seconds — or to relax any parts of their bodies (shoulders, jaws) that feel stiff. During Dinner
Develops Kindness, Compassion and Connection Bonnie Levine, our Mindfulness Course instructor at Bank Street, teaches Third and Fourth-graders at Corlears School in New York City and shared her results with us. In an exercise she calls “friendly wishes,” she asks her students to close their eyes, think about a person they see daily, and send them good thoughts. Next, she invites students to share their feelings. This often sparks a moment of connection, when a child shares that he thought about his mom and that he misses her and another student responds and shares that she feels the same way.
Tell your family that for a couple seconds, you all are going to pay attention only to what you’re feeling or hearing: your rear on the chair, the breeze through the window, the neighbor’s dog barking. At Bedtime
“Practicing at night helps kids fall asleep more easily,” says Kaiser Greenland. Put a stuffed animal on your child’s belly and have him feel it move up and down as he breathes.
Another way mindfulness seems to help students is by boosting their compassion.
Mind Jar App
Early findings by researchers at the University of Wisconsin’s Health Mind Institute
If you don’t have time to make a glitter jar, you can download one. Listen to the gong, then watch the sparkles settle as your child breathes. iOS, $2. All ages.
suggest that after lessons that include belly breathing and reading books about feelings (like When Sophie Gets Angry — Really, Really Angry), preschoolers are more likely to take turns, play fair, and share. More than ever our students’ lives are full of distractions, which makes it all the more difficult for them to concentrate on schoolwork. Because mindfulness techniques are about paying attention to the here and now, they can be the perfect antidote to distractions whether they be at home, socially, or in school.
The glitter jar is very effective and holds children’s fascination with making and using them. It can also be supplemented with an app that offers a fairly good alternative and greater mobility.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
TH E M I N D F U L H E AR T
Engendering Empathy and Compassion by JA N MOONEY
hen the body and mind are calm, the heart can open up more readily to the self and others. It is this aspect of Mindfulness to which I am especially drawn. First introduced to heartfulness and compassionate care practices at Bank Street, Omega Institute, and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, I was struck by their simplicity, brevity, and the powerful sense of positive regard and connection to others they evoked in me. I thought if I could bring these practices to my work with children and adults at Town, it could only be a good thing. Opening our hearts to others begins with kindness to the self. Nonjudgment is at the core of Mindfulness. When we set about to intentionally pay attention in the moment, we often fall prey to our internal chatter of judgment and doubt: “Am I doing this right?” “Shouldn’t I be able to stay focused longer?” “I keep getting lost in other things. What’s wrong with me?”
“I bet others can do this better than I can.” Our first act of kindness is learning to notice these thoughts dispassionately, letting go of them without analysis or judgment, and gently leading our focus back to the intended object with renewed full attention. When we first learn the core practice that Bob describes above, the common objects of attention are breathing, sounds, the taste of a fruit, or body movements. As we more easily drop in to the calm, open and focused state these practices engender, we are ready to extend our objects of attention to others. Here, we practice letting go of judging how and what we see in the other, what we fear or hope they may see in ourselves, and gently bring our focus back to our connection, open to giving and receiving whatever it is that transpires in that moment. Whether it is leading a mindfulness activity in a classroom, or offering support to a child who has come to my office with a tenacious worry or conflict, I notice how eager children are to try these activities and the calm, pleasure and relief they experience in response to them. Many exercises involve a high level of focus and attunement to the feelings and movements of self and others, expressed both nonverbally and verbally.
P R A C T I C E S M E A N T T O D E E P E N E M PAT H I C AW A R E N E S S A N D C O N N E C T I O N T O O T H E R S Begin with a few rounds of focused breathing to settle and calm.
❤ Sitting in a circle, child 1 turns to child 2 and focusing on her eyes and face says: “Good morning (name). Your eyes look (name color).” Child 2 returns the phrase to Child 1: “Good morning (name). Your eyes look (name color).” And so it goes around the circle. All are silent and focused upon whoever is the speaker.
24 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
❤ In circle or pairs, Child 1 says: “I see you.” Child 2 returns the gaze and phrase: “I am here. I see you.” Child 1 responds: “I am here.” ❤ Sitting in a circle in half groups (about 10 to 12 children), a glass of water, about 2/3rds full, is silently passed from child to child. Children share their experience of doing this. Next, the same glass is passed again, this time with eyes closed. Group shares experience.
❤ In pairs, Partner 1 lies down and closes eyes. Partner 2 sits by his side, watching his belly move up and down as he breathes. In silence, Partner 2 breathes in synchrony with Partner 1. Partner 1 and 2 reverse positions and repeat the same. After, Partners process their experience together.
❤ A group is asked to count (to whatever the number in the group is). Anyone can start, and anyone can say the next number at any time. If two or more people speak at once, the counting starts over. This is hard to complete and may take many tries, and/or coming back to the exercise on another day. Eyes can be open or closed, or first open, then closed. Group shares the process afterward.
FOR MORE INFO ABOUT MINDFULNESS AND ITS EFFECTIVENESS ON LEARNING VISIT
Identifying and accepting our emotions and those of others with kindness and without judgment, we commit to respecting and caring for all the feelings embodied in our community. I like to think that the smiles we see are the result of the enhanced sense of well-being derived from having one’s feelings and place acknowledged, and the connection to the whole of the community deepened. I have noticed over the past year how quickly Bob and Cynthia’s students drop in to a mindful state, and are ready for mindful reflection and connection to self and others. There is a palpable difference in their readiness, behavior and attitude towards others. There is a centered calm alertness and sense of care towards peers that is a joy to witness. I have also derived a greater sense of well being and focus from my own personal practice of mindfulness. There is one exercise in particular that has been particularly meaningful to me as I prepare to meet a parent, teacher or student in my everyday work. It is especially helpful on those days when there is a long list of to-dos and very little space and time between events of one sort or another — meetings, phone calls, observations, ad hoc visits — and it is a challenge to stay centered and focused on what is important in the here and now. After several mindful breaths I say the following words to myself: Breathing in, I am in touch with the effort this (parent, teacher, student) is making to understand their child’s (their own) struggles. Breathing out, I will do my best to listen with all my heart and mind and to guide with clarity, skillfulness and compassion. This brief and simple act calms and centers me, allows me to focus solely on the connection with the person who is at my door, and helps me let go of the to-dos tugging me in disparate directions, as well as the internal chatter about what is to come. I am grateful to Town for providing me with the opportunities to explore the many possibilities that Mindfulness can offer to the children at Town and to me personally, and I look forward to future opportunities to share what I have learned with children, faculty and parents.
❤ Mindful eating. Sitting with a fruit (raisins, grapes or clementines are particularly good for this) in your hand in silence, thinking about all it took for the fruit to be where it is in this moment. This would include thinking about the sun, earth, rain, wind, the people who planted the seeds, tended the soil, picked the fruit, packed and transported it, delivered it to vendors, sold it to consumers, etc. In silence we bring our awareness and gratitude to everyone and everything that made it possible for us to have this fruit. We then mindfully notice the fruit itself (colors, textures, size, shape, smell) before slowly eating the fruit.
marc.ucla.edu (UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center) mindfulschools.org garrisoninstitute.org
SOME USEFUL APPS Stop, Breathe & Think Children can identify their mood from icons and hear a customized meditation. iOS, FREE All ages My First Yoga Pick an animal from a set of 12 cards, and the app will walk your child through the pose. iOS, FREE Ages 3 to 6 Super Stretch Yoga Grade schoolers will gravitate to these videos of children doing yoga while a cartoon superhero narrates the steps. iOS, FREE Ages 6 to 8 Smiling Mind This app can grow with your child — it features ageappropriate exercises, like breathing while picturing bubbles. iOS and Android, FREE Ages 7+ Inner Peace for Kids Children can listen to meditations, read affirmations, and create a Zen garden. iOS and Android, $2 Ages 5+ Part of the proceeds go to SHARE Africa, helping transform the lives of children across Africa.
❤ Glitter jar: This is a variation on Bob and Cynthia’s. In a whole class setting, we choose the glitter color that matches a feeling state that is most prominent in us at the present moment (gold=excitement or happiness; blue=sorrow; green=worry; red=angry). Each child places an amount of his/her choosing in relation to the intensity of the emotion he/she is feeling, in a large jar. One of us stirs the glitter, and the whirl of colors that results represents all the emotions that are contained in the classroom at that time. We breathe together to calm ourselves, as the glitter slowly descends and settles to the bottom of the jar. We note that while the emotions are still there, we can now face them with more calmness and clarity.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
G L O B A L I Z AT I O N
Hoy, Español… Mañana, El Mundo* Between pen pals in Colombia, a Peruvian restaurant in Queens, and tales of Latin America, Town’s two newest Spanish teachers open a whole world to their students.
by CA MPBELL GLENN and WENDY ROSE SA NCHEZ
THIS YEAR Town welcomed two new Spanish teachers: Campbell Glenn, who teaches Grades 4–8; and Wendy Sanchez, who teaches Grades 1, 2, 3, 5, 6. Last summer, Campbell and Wendy met with Spanish teachers from last year and division and curriculum heads to ensure a smooth transition for our students and to build curricular connections. Throughout the school year, Campbell and Wendy have established a weekly collaboration in order to ensure that students cover the same material and discuss next steps in the curriculum based on students’ progress. Frequent conversations also occur with division heads and other world language staff. All these efforts weave a scaffolded, intentionally structured experience in Spanish from one grade to the next. Another priority for the Spanish Program is to help students connect their classroom experiences to the Spanishspeaking world. As an example, Spanish 3, 5 and 6 began the year conversing about maps of Latin America — in Spanish. Fourth graders wrote holiday cards for Spanish-speaking staff at Town and 26 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
wrote questions in Spanish for their trip to Washington Heights. Campbell and Wendy, who have both traveled and studied in Latin America, are able to share their experiences with students and help them identify and discuss moments in their own lives where they interact with Spanish speakers. This January, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh graders had the opportunity to have a class with Gabe Sanchez, a Ph.D. student in Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies at the University of Albany. Gabe is also Wendy’s son. He spoke with students about globalization and described it as a process of building and strengthening connections across borders. He used the metaphor of a highway between countries where food, culture, people, music and money move about. He spoke of his personal experiences as a child with Latin America and globalization, and asked students “How do you feel connected to other places in the world?” Students wrote some wonderful reflections, and even some parents joined in and reflected on what they heard about the presentation from their children.
FOR EXPLORE NYC DAY on March 8th, Gabe, Wendy, Regina Matthews (Social Studies), and Juana Arias (Kitchen Staff) accompanied a small group of students on a trip to Jackson Heights in Queens. They visited a Mexican leather goods store, a soccer store, a quinceañera store, a botánica (a spiritual store), and enjoyed the sights and sounds of globalization and Latin America first hand. They began the day at a Uruguayan bakery and feasted at a Peruvian restaurant. As another example of connecting classroom experiences to the Spanishspeaking world, Campbell’s Eighth grade class has been writing directly to a class of native Spanish speakers at The Columbus School in Medellin, Colombia. Each student is paired with a Colombian student, and the pairs have exchanged * Today, Spanish...Tomorrow, the World
Top Gabe Sanchez, a Ph.D. student in Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies, speaking to Fifth graders about globalization. Below left Fifth grade students during their Explore NYC trip to Jackson Heights. Below right Uruguayan drums called tamboriles hanging in La Gran Uruguaya, the bakery visited by Town students during their “Explore NYC” field trip to Jackson Heights.
written descriptions of their cities, their families, their summers and more. These extensive letters help Town students prepare for high school level work as they are applying all the vocabulary and language structures they’ve learned while in Upper School. The students from The Columbus School have also created video letters that they have voiced over, providing a fantastic opportunity for Town students to hear and connect with Spanish-speaking peers. The momentum of the year will continue through the summer as Wendy and Campbell collaborate on a grant to fine tune our spiraling curriculum and explore fresh ideas for enriching students’ experiences with language, culture and globalization.
My Spanish teacher’s son came to Spanish class to talk to us about Latin American Studies and Globalization. His name is Gabe. He told us how he became interested in Latin America. One reason was that he was born on the U.S. – Mexican border. He was so close to Mexico that he could go to Mexico for lunch and come back of the U.S. for dinner. Being close to a Latin American country helped get Gabe interested in Latin America. He told us that he is a graduate student studying Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies and he wants to become a college professor. He told us that globalization is the global process of making and strengthening connections. He told us ‘By studying Latin America I keep learning how interconnected things are.’ What Gabe said made me realize that if we didn’t have globalization then I would not be living in the U.S. I might not even exist. This is true with many other people in this country. I always knew immigration and globalization are the reasons we have a variety of food and music in this country, but after Gabe’s presentation I started thinking about how without globalization our country would be a completely different place.
— FIFTH GRADE STUDENT
THE TOWN SCHOOL
D I G I TA L L E A R N I N G
Appl覺ed Classroom THE
GRANT TO FIND APPS UNCOVERS POWERFUL LEARNING TOOLS FOR FOURTH GRADE TEAM
by JULIA HENDERSON, AVA COLLINS, DA NA FEIGENBAUM and GARTH PEARL
LAST SUMMER, the Fourth grade team received a curriculum grant to research iPad app possibilities to add to Language Arts and Math curricula. We also wanted to find apps that matched our broader curricular objectives for students in our 1:1 program; that is, to be able to easily record explanations of their understanding and progress, and to readily share and collaborate with others.
28 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
THE TOWN SCHOOL
In our Language Arts curriculum we added two new elements: the Write About This app and QR code generators/readers. The Write About This app uses visual images and questions to prompt writing and invite children to explore their natural curiosity and imagination. These images can be created by the student (such as in taking their own picture with their iPad or creating a drawing on paper or using an app) or selected from over a hundred categorized images embedded in the app. The result of using Write About This has unquestionably sparked more inquiry and imagination, and in turn, a greater enthusiasm for writing than we have seen in past years. For example, many of the written prompts ask students to
The goal was to find apps that could be used to create tasks for students that targeted higher-order cognitive skills.
n October 2013, Apple announced that there were over one million apps available in the App Store that have led to more than 60 billion total app downloads. When we launched our Fourth grade 1:1 program in the fall of 2012, there were less than half as many apps available. While this explosive growth in the iPad apps marketplace has opened up many learning opportunities, this degree of growth emphasizes the need for an adept filter to cut to the most constructive apps for learning. To help with this critical sifting process, we adopted a framework (SAMR) created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura to help identify technologies that have the biggest impact upon teaching and learning. This model aims to enable teachers to design and integrate digital learning experiences that use technology to lead to more transformative levels of learning for students. More specifically, our goal was to find apps that could be used to create tasks for students that target higher-order cognitive skills (as posited by Bloomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s taxonomy). Puenteduraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s model also helped us look for apps and design tasks that could have a measurable impact on student learning.
30 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
explain their opinion about a variety of topics that have provided a valuable jumping off point to invite the child to independently further explore a topic. As such, students have learned how to become better writers by identifying a point of view and being able to convey what he or she has experienced, imagined or felt. The prompts are also differentiated, allowing multiple entry points into a particular topic, with increasing depth and complexity offered with each prompt level. We began the year using the app to collect images and audio on a sensory walk through John Jay Park. Those images and sounds were then used in class to help the children understand the importance of writing with their senses to add depth to their writing. In addition, our students used the app to create custom prompts about their Fourth grade goals for the parents to read on Curriculum Night. In turn, parents
SCAN THIS QR CODE TO READ OUR FOURTH GRADERSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; BOOK REVIEWS
SCAN THIS QR CODE TO SEE A MATH ASSESSMENT IN ACTION
Teachers designed and integrated digital learning experiences that used technology, leading to more transformative levels of learning for students. wrote a response back. You can imagine the excitement that caused! We have also used Write About This to introduce and model different types of writing, including letters, lists, poetry, and prose, and to provide inspiration to those who struggle with written expression during a free-writing time. Finally, as part of the expository writing curriculum, students learned how to explain and defend an opinion by writing reviews of different books they have read this year and rating these books on a scale. These reviews were linked to a QR code that each student created using a QR code generator. QR codes were shared between students and on a website called Read All About It. This was a fun and new way for students to share book recommendations and experiment with new technologies simultaneously.
In Math, we used the app Explain Everything to empower students to talk through their thinking process while they solved a problem. The app acts as an interactive whiteboard and screencasting tool, recording both audio and anything written on the screen. The app records children as they verbalize their thinking through each step of the problem, even capturing the mistakes and corrections they may make as part of the problem-solving process. Listening to students explain how they solve a problem is vital in getting to the core of studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; misunderstandings. This has served as a great assessment tool for teachers, too. Once we watched the student videos, we were able to make plans for how to teach the following lessons. Students can also use this app to coach one another. If a student records
an efficient and effective strategy for solving, other students can then use that video to help them solve similar types of problems. This is an example of how students are learning the important skill of becoming creative producers of knowledge and curators of media, and not just simply consumers. We are delighted that the results of our summer grant has led to a stronger Language Arts and Math curriculum, and a more robust 1:1 program. We are looking forward to continuing to work on how we use these apps to hone and support student growth and learning.
THE SAMR MODEL EXPL AINED
Doing the same thing you would do without technology or modification of the task.
Some functional improvement but still a direct tool substitute. The task is not changed, but the use of technology might be incorporated.
The outcome is still the same but has been enhanced, the product has changed. Giving a different kind of assignment. For example, using multimedia, adding sound, video, etc. The question to ask is does the media enhance the message?
Doing something that is inconceivable without technology. For example, posting on the web so the audience is the world and there is a feedback loop.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
P L A N T I NG
Awareness C U LT I VAT I N G O U R S E LV E S AND OUR SCHOOLS by PEACHES GILLETTE
In 1986, when I first came to The Town School, what was then described as diversity work was taking place in one Kindergarten classroom among a handful of teachers who collaborated and worked to heighten racial and cultural awareness in their classrooms, with the hope that their work would be embraced and incorporated into the curriculum of the entire Nursery division â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a total of four classes. The group was informal and it was not recognized as a vital part of the school.
n the Lower and Upper Divisions, the Spanish teacher had created a similar group. It too consisted of teachers, but parents were welcome to join. The goal of each group was the same with one exception: part of the focus of the group was to explore feelings of difference and isolation that teachers and parents of color were feeling within the context of an environment that was not very diverse, culturally, racially, or economically. The Spanish teacher, like the handful of teachers in the Nursery division, clearly saw that changes in awareness and a venue for conversations about diversity needed to become a part of the thinking of the school, and needed to be recognized as a necessary and invaluable part of education as a whole. I immediately became part of each group.
32 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
I imagine that the concept of diversity awareness or cultural awareness did not have the weight it now has in either public or private institutions, and finding curricular models and information on its application within the Upper East Side, predominantly white, independent school system was not as easy as it is today. Nonetheless, this first path was paved and the journey began. We were determined to walk our way to a more concrete understanding of diversity as it related to race, culture, religion, gender and socio-economics. Over the next few years the two groups combined, and with the help of the relatively-new head of The Town School, the group got the administrative recognition that it needed and its worth became more widely acknowledged throughout the school. Furthermore, as the overarching societal structure changed and the mission of the school evolved, the faculty and parent body of the school became more diverse; consequently, a few more teachers and parents joined, the group expanded and The Town School was then placed in the position to formulate a more fluid, more insightful interpretation of what diversity truly meant.
As the school continued to shift in its racial and cultural composition, it became apparent that this new identity required a different bundle of information. The Town School then needed a greater depth of awareness and awareness-training, a more thorough commitment to openness and a transparent acceptance of the fact that we had a lot to learn. Our enthusiasm toward understanding diversity in a more formal mode, and our commitment toward becoming more racially and culturally aware endured; our work became more complex. We were establishing ourselves as more than a grassroots gathering of those with good intentions. This organic group of teachers and parents were now informal and formal leadersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;trusted to help create change. We had to clarify our language, solidify our objectives and burnish our leadership, not only for professional cohesiveness within the group itself, but for the overall good of the school. We struggled, and at times we felt lost.
In 1991, a young male teacher who was hired as an assistant in one of the Kindergarten classrooms immediately became interested in our group and was thrilled to join. He told us about some of the diversity work he had done at his former school and mentioned that he was a diversity facilitator, trained in a program called SEED. He explained the acronym—Seeking Educational Equity
school is immeasurable. It was a piercing light in what could, at times, seem like darkness. SEED has become one of the most useful vehicles on our never-ending journey toward talking, thinking and planning our next move toward the sensitivity, the seriousness and the intelligence that is needed when doing diversity work.
SEED has become one of the most useful vehicles on our neverending journey toward talking, thinking and planning our next move toward the sensitivity, the seriousness and the intelligence that is needed when doing diversity work.
and Diversity. All that he shared with us about SEED was powerful and inspiring. We saw, with mobilizing clarity, that his knowledge and his training with SEED were going to give us a more elaborate collection of tools that we would be able to use to continue to build racial and cultural-awareness — tools that we would use to strengthen our understanding of diversity. This young teacher introduced us to the mission and the purpose of SEED and he worked tirelessly with us; he was instrumental in adding greater dimension to our levels of awareness — helping us to sow and reap a more enriching and encompassing perception of all that diversity is. We never looked back. We continued to struggle, but we never felt lost.
ears past that sketchy beginning in 1986, through two heads and one interim head of school, SEED has become one of the most useful vehicles on our neverending journey toward talking, thinking and planning our next move toward the sensitivity, the seriousness and the intelligence that is needed when doing diversity work. The head of the school added diversity as part of the mission of The Town School and made it part of the school’s Strategic Plan. SEED remains the bold line that underscores diversity. The impact that SEED has had on the
Each person has her or his own ideas; each school has its own objective; each group, whether formal or informal has its own agenda as they reach toward their ideal of what diversity is. I believe that for The Town School, SEED was and still is one of the most effective measures we’ve taken to create the blueprint for the myriad diversity groups and initiatives that we have established. Whether it was directly or indirectly, the incorporation of SEED influenced the following groups or committees: Parents for Diversity Committee, Parents of Students of Color, Faculty SEED Committee, Faculty of Color Group and even the Director of Diversity position. In the summer of 2004, The Town School responded to the request of the person who was then the Diversity Director and sent three of us to the weeklong New Leader’s Workshop so that we could become SEED Facilitators. The
threesome included the director of one of Town’s after-school programs and a long-standing, informal diversity leader, a brilliant young Second grade teacher, and the Diversity Director himself. The three of us worked very closely together at The Town School, organizing, leading and implementing Diversity programs. Naturally, I wasn’t certain what to expect out of the training. I was worried that it would be cold and strictly methodological; I was terribly wrong. I will never forget the feeling of belonging the instant that I walked onto the campus where the SEED training was held. The campus itself was sweetly meaningful to me—a perfect place to do incisive, purposeful work. The greeting I received was endearing, sincere and ripe with human kindness. My most profound thought was that this experience is going to change who I am; it is going to reach inside my soul and gently carry it to a place it yearns to go—into my reflective self. And it did. In my life, I look for those moments wherein all that I passionately believe — love, respect, emotional honesty, self-reflection, community, humility, and spirituality come together. I experienced this at the SEED training. I had the opportunity to listen to the hearts of others, to witness the depths to which we are pained by bias and isolation, and I was given the beautiful opportunity to share the dreams of those looking for a better place to be, a more loving place to go, a more precious, conscious connection to our human family. I was lucky; I was transformed. I stood in the rays of the humanity that is one of the most perfect parts of SEED and I was warmed and reminded that it is only through our humanity that we give and receive life — the kind of life that respects diversity of all kinds and that seeks equity at all costs.
Peaches Gillette is Director of Clubhouse, an extended day after-school program for Town School students. Her article was recently featured on the SEED blog. The National SEED Project on Inclusive CurriculumSM is the nation’s largest peer-led leadership development project. It engages public and private school teachers, college faculty, parents, and community leaders from all subject areas, grade levels, and geographic locations to create gender fair, multi-culturally equitable, socioeconomically aware, and globally informed education.
For more information visit nationalseedproject.org
THE TOWN SCHOOL
CLASS OF 2014
34 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
H I G H S C H O O L P L AC E M E N T Charlotte Abernathy Grace Church School Maddie Aptman The Spence School Bobby Bakalis The Birch Wathen Lenox School Toby Berggruen Saint Annâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s School Jenna Brause Elisabeth Irwin High School Kennedy Burrows The Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Kate Cerwin The Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Miranda Cohen Trevor Day School Jack Deslauriers The Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Lucy Deslauriers The Dalton School Isabel Edison Trevor Day School Will Ehrenfreund Fiorella H. LaGuardia High School Sonia Epelbaum The Dalton School Freddie Fernandes Trinity School Alex Friedman The Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Marti Gendel The Riverdale Country School Connor Greene The Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Charles Gruber The Lawrenceville School Tori Krieger Trevor Day School Mark Lang Trevor Day School Billy Lehrman Horace Mann School Justin Levine Avenues New York Simon Manne The Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Davey Morse The Dalton School Drew Myers The Packer Collegiate Institute William Najjar Ethical Culture Fieldston School Adaku Nwokiwu Trinity School Kavi Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor The Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Matteo Palacardo Regis High School Rafi Perez Elisabeth Irwin High School Caleigh Ryan The Dalton School Serena Sen Trinity School Dani Sitzer The Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Callie Smith The Abraham Joshua Heschel School Chloe Stern The Hewitt School Blythe ter Kuile Convent of the Sacred Heart Olivia Whitmer Poly Prep Country Day School
Each year the Eighth grade is given the opportunity to choose between several options for their Eighth grade class gift to the school. The Class of 2014 gift is the creation of a fund to help digitize all of the Town yearbooks.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Many of us already share photos and news through social media. Now you can easily share these updates with the Town community. Add #telltown to your post, tweet or photo and consider it submitted!
Alexis Francisco ’99
Yoruba Richen ’86
ALEXIS FRANCISCO HAS BEEN ACCEPT-
Yoruba Richen’s latest film The New Black had a limited theatrical release including a run at New York’s Film Forum in February. The film has won Audience Awards at AFI Docs, Philly Q Fest and Frameline LGBT Film Festival. The film also won best documentary at the Urbanworld film festival and was nominated for an NA ACP Image Award and a GLA AD Media Award. The film premiered on PBS’s Independent Lens on June 15th. Yoruba was also a featured TED Speaker at the annual TED conference in Vancouver.
ED INTO BOTH COLUMBIA UNIVERSIT Y AND HUNTER COLLEGE’S MSW PRO GRAMS! SINCE GRADUATING FROM SUNY NEW PALTZ IN 2008, ALEXIS HAS BEEN WORKING IN THE BRONX AT YOUTH ADVOCATE PROGRAMS, A NONPROFIT THAT PROVIDES SERVICES TO YOUTH AND FAMILIES INVOLVED IN NUMEROUS SYSTEMS, INCLUDING THE CHILD WELFARE, JUVENILE JUSTICE, BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, EDUCATION AND
Scan this QR code to watch Yoruba’s TED Talk.
Mark Harris ’77
Nathaniel Rich ’94
MY SECOND BOOK, FIVE CAME BACK: A STORY OF HOLLY WOOD AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR, WAS PUBLISHED BY THE PENGUIN PRESS IN MARCH 2014. I DIVIDE MY TIME BETWEEN BOOKS (WHICH COME SLOWLY) AND JOURNALISM (WHICH COMES QUICKLY). MY HUSBAND TONY KUSHNER AND I JUST CELEBRATED OUR 16TH ANNIVERSARY. WE LIVE IN NEW YORK CIT Y AND PROVINCETOWN, MASS.
NATHANIEL RICH, ESSAYIST AND
Suzanne Perreault Blakely Former Faculty MY MOST EXCITING NEWS IS THAT I RECENTLY LAUNCHED A SMALL SIDE BUSINESS, SPECIALIZING ON CANDID, LIFEST YLE PHOTOGRAPHY OF CHILDREN, PETS, AND THEIR FAMILIES. I WOULD LOVE TO PHOTOGRAPH ANY TOWN FAMILIES IN THE NYC AREA! CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE (suzanneblakelyphotography.com) FOR MORE INFO.
AUTHOR OF ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW AND THE MAYOR’S TONGUE, SPOKE AT A LIVE FROM THE NYPL EVENT ON JUNE 9TH. AUTHOR ELIZABETH KOLBERT JOINED HIM.
Jennifer Inra ’95 SHE’S HERE! ELLA SOPHIA GORDON WAS BORN ON JUNE 23RD AT 9:08 PM WE ARE SO IN LOVE!
Bruce McBarnette ’72 Bruce won the World Masters Track and Field Championship in Porto Alegre, Brazil on October 22 in the high jump for his age group, 55 to 59 years old. This was his tenth world championship victory. He also holds the world record for his age group at 6 feet 2 inches. He will represent the USA in Budapest, Hungary at the next world championship this year.
36 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
Jennifer’s brother Matt Inra ’98 graduated from Weill Cornell Medical College in 2013 and is now finishing his intern year at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He is in a joint general surgery – thoracic surgery program. Her brother Chris Inra ’00 is at UT Southwestern in Dallas, TX doing a combined MD/PhD degree.
Jennifer Press ’76
Jessica Nissen ’81
THANK YOU MICHAEL WHITE FOR BRINGING YOUR SKILL/TALENT AND GENEROSIT Y TO SUS.ORG!!!!!
For years, Jessica has folded hundreds of pieces of paper stained with ink, which have become the stimulus for an ongoing series of drawings based on projective psychological tests, a surrealist agenda and cloud gazing. The collectively titled “All in Our Head” drawings are Rorschach inspired and, much like a nonverbal version of Rorschach’s diagnostic systems, she says: “I have the blots before me and respond by drawing into them, making sometimes small, or much broader interventions. There is a sense of immediacy in this action that allows me to work intuitively and fluidly. Each response is unique, yet subcategories of imagery emerge which reveal personal preoccupations sometimes funny, or disturbing, or provocative.” Her show opened May 17th at Gallery at Halsey in Brooklyn and will run through July 12th. The Gallery at Halsey is located at 790 Halsey Street #1, Brooklyn, ph: (347) 901-3626. All are welcome to the Closing Reception on Saturday, July 12th from 4–8 pm. www.jessicanissen.com
Diana Posner ’04 I JUST FOUND OUT MY SCREENPLAY WON “BEST SUSPENSE/ THRILLER” AT THE 2013 LOS ANGELES FILM AND SCRIPT FESTIVAL!
William Rockett ’89
Carol Clurman ’68
NOT ONLY HAVE I MET MY GOAL OF AT LEAST
CAROL CLURMAN IS A WASHINGTON,
20 DONATIONS IN HONOR OF RUNNING BACK
D.C.-BASED EDITOR AND WRITER WHO
#26 JACK “THE JET” ROCKETT, BUT YOUR
HAS INTERVIEWED EVERYONE FROM
GENEROSIT Y TO THE MOVEMBER CAUSE HAS
MICHELLE OBAMA TO SARAH PALIN.
BEEN HEARTFELT. OVER $3,600 RAISED FOR
HER LATEST PROJECT WAS EDITING
PROSTATE CANCER RESEARCH AND MEN’S HEALTH AWARENESS. THANK YOU. — ROCKETT MAGNUM, P.I.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S GORGEOUS GLOBAL TRAVEL BOOK, FOUR SEASONS OF TRAVEL.
Amanda Sinclair ’11 AMANDA HAS SPENT THIS PAST YEAR AS A JUNIOR AT THE TAFT SCHOOL STUDYING ABROAD IN RENNES, FRANCE THROUGH SYA FRANCE. SHE IS PICTURED HERE IN FRONT OF ONE OF THE MANY CASTLES IN THIS REGION.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Elizabeth Munch ’69 On 3/3/14, the newest member of the Munch family was born to Jamie Munch ’04 and his fiancé Caitlyn, in Sarasota, Florida. They have named him Christopher James, after his uncle. Gary and Liz are celebrating along with Aunt Jessie ’98 and Aunt Amanda ’06. If Jamie and his family move to NYC, keep an eye out for little CJ!
Ashna Mehta ’10 ASHNA WOWED TOWN STUDENTS WITH KATHAK DANCE PERFORMANCES DURING THE UPPER AND LOWER SCHOOL ASSEMBLIES. SHE ALSO DISCUSSED HOW SHE HAS CHANNELED HER PASSION FOR DANCE INTO A VEHICLE FOR CHANGE. ASHNA AND HER SISTER ARIA FOUNDED ASHIRA KIDS, A NON-PROFIT THAT USES THE ARTS TO SUPPORT CHILDREN IN AHMEDABAD, INDIA. www.ashirakids.org
Andrew Weisblum ’86 I HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF WORKING ON NOAH FOR NEARLY 2 YEARS. AND NOW IT’S FINALLY AVAILABLE
Lee Bressler ’96 Lee Bressler ’96 and his wife Shira welcomed their second child Martin Sebastian Bressler on October 21, 2013. Big sister Eden is thrilled to have a playmate.
FOR YOUR CONSUMPTION. SO, IF YOU
Matthew Mintzer ’00 MATTHEW MARRIED AMANDA LEIGH GOLDEN ON JUNE 2, 2013 AT THE LIGHTHOUSE AT CHELSEA PIERS. THEY MET AT THE UNIVERSIT Y OF PENNSYLVANIA. AMANDA RECEIVED A MASTER’S IN SECONDARY EDUCATION FROM FORDHAM AND IS PURSUING A DOCTORATE IN SCHOOL AND CLINICAL CHILD PSYCHOLOGY AT YESHIVA UNIVERSIT Y. MATTHEW IS AN INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL TRADER AND IS PURSUING HIS MBA AT NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS.
Alexandra Teitel ’97 SO PROUD TO SHARE THAT BUILD IS A TOP 10 FINALIST IN THE #GOOGLEIMPACTCHALLENGE. CHECK OUT A GREAT VIDEO FEATURING OUR AMAZING BUILD EAST OAKLAND STUDENTS https://impactchallenge.withgoogle. com/bayarea2014/charity/build
ARE DOWN FOR SOMETHING REALLY BIG, THOUGHT PROVOKING, A LITTLE UNCONVENTIONAL AND MORE THAN A LITTLE CRAZY, PLEASE GO OUT AND SEE IT THIS WEEKEND.
Dana Kugelman Feigenbaum ’94 DANA, BELOVED 4TH GRADE TOWN TEACHER, AND HER HUSBAND DAVID WELCOMED THEIR SECOND DAUGHTER INTO THE WORLD ON MAY 12, 2014. HADLEY ROSE JOINS BIG SISTER ANNA. THE WHOLE FAMILY IS DOING GREAT AND LOOKS FORWARD TO THIS SUMMER AS A FAMILY OF FOUR.
Vida Weisblum ’09 FINISHED THE NYC FRED LEBOW HALF MARATHON #NEVERCOAST #OVER13MILES — FEELING ACCOMPLISHED.
Susan Laufer Krauss ’86 SUSAN LIVED IN BEIJING, CHINA FOR 3+ YEARS WITH HER HUSBAND AND 2 SONS, GAVIN AND LUCAS. THEY TRAVELED EXTENSIVELY AND LOVED LIVING IN A FOREIGN LAND. AFTER RETURNING 2 YEARS AGO TO THE U.S., THE BOYS ATTENDED TOWN BEFORE THE FAMILY MADE THE DECISION TO MOVE TO WESTON, CT THIS PAST YEAR. THEY ARE ALL LOVING THE LIFEST YLE IN WESTON. SUSAN HAS OPENED A PSYCHOTHERAPY PRACTICE IN WESTPORT CALLED BOOST! CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES (WWW.KIDSBOOST.COM) WHERE SHE SERVES CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN THE COMMUNIT Y AND THE BOYS ARE FULLY ENGAGED IN SCHOOL AND LOTS OF SPORTS!
38 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
Lane Phillips ’02 AND Austin Phillips Kupke ’99 ZOMG MY SISTER GOT HER WHITE COAT TODAY!!!!! FUTURE DR. PHILLIPS, Y’ALL.
Jeremy Bar-Illan ’76 Jeremy is living in New York and playing music whenever he can. He is passionately involved in fundraising through several organizations. In 2009 Jeremy founded the Purple Hat Foundation in memory of his son Zachary. The Foundation is a conglomerate of musicians who perform marathon benefit concerts to raise money and awareness for various causes related to pediatric cancer patients and their families. Its annual benefit concerts have benefitted Musicians on Call and North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital Oncology Department. Purple Hat Foundation also sponsors Kids Rock for a Cause, a school of rock that presents benefit concerts for various causes. FOR MORE INFO VISIT purplehatfoundation.org
Lane finished her first year at Albany Medical College, and is on track to graduate in 2017. Austin is an attorney in Boston doing youth education and employment policy.
Jed Spingarn ’77
Dave Eppley ’90 DAVE WAS PART OF INHABITING TEN EYCK, A SITE-SPECIFIC EXHIBITION CURATED BY KARIN BRAVIN OF BRAVIN LEE PROGRAMS. THE SHOW FEATURED 14 INSTALLATION ARTISTS WHOSE WORKS SPREAD INTO THE BROOKLYN GALLERY’S CORNERS, CREVICES AND RAFTERS.
Will Bressman ’96 WILL BRESSMAN, HIS WIFE LINDSAY AND SON LEO WELCOMED THE NEWEST ADDITION TO THEIR FAMILY — RUBY!
Three-time Emmy® winner Jed Spingarn has created another fantastic tv show! The Thundermans premiered on Nickelodeon in October 2013 and was recently renewed for its second season. The live-action comedy is about a family with superhero powers. Jed remembers every teacher he ever had at Town and considers the school his gold standard as he looks for middle schools for his daughter, Violet.
Kevin Spector ’93 FINAL PRODUCT. FIRST PAINT CLASS.
Katie Stern ’97 KATIE IS A FILMMAKER AND WAS RECENTLY INTERVIEWED BY FILMMAKER MAGAZINE. MOST RECENTLY, SHE PRODUCED ALEX ROSS PERRY’S FEATURE FILM, LISTEN UP PHILIP, STARRING JASON SCHWARTZMAN AND ELISABETH MOSS, WHICH PREMIERED AT THE 2014 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AND WILL BE RELEASED BY TRIBECA FILM IN THE FALL. SHE PRO DUCED FRANCINE, STARRING ACADEMY AWARD ® -WINNER MELISSA LEO, WHICH PREMIERED AT THE 2012 BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL AND SXSW, OPENED THEATRICALLY AT THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, AND WAS NOMINATED FOR A GOTHAM INDEPENDENT FILM AWARD. STERN WROTE AND DIRECTED THE SHORT FILM, BLUE DRESS, WHICH WAS THE RECIPIENT OF THE WARNER BROS. PICTURES FILM PRODUCTION AWARD, WINNER OF THE HAMPTONS INTERNATIONAL AND ROME INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVALS, AND SCREENED AT FESTIVALS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. SHE WORKED CLOSELY WITH WRITER/DIRECTOR KELLY REICHARDT ON HER FEATURE FILMS OLD JOY AND WENDY AND LUCY AND HAS PRODUCED TWO PROJECTS FOR LAURIE ANDERSON/NONESUCH RECORDS. SHE IS AN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AT WASHINGTON SQUARE FILMS, WHERE SHE PRODUCES AND DIRECTS FILMS, COMMERCIALS, AND MUSIC VIDEOS AND IS CURRENTLY IN DEVELOPMENT ON TWO NEW FEATURE FILM PROJECTS.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Penny Paul ’76 Last year Penny Paul directed Nutley Little Theatre’s production of Kenneth Lonergan’s drama Lobby Hero! The April 12th opening night performance benefited Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties. Penny lives in Montclair, NJ with her daughter Caitlin (21) and son Griffin (16); she is Director of Marketing & Business Development for the law firm Genova Burns Giantomasi Webster.
Wendy Rein ’91 RAWdance, the dance company founded by Wendy and Ryan Smith, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary! Recent exciting projects include “since you went,” a short film shown at Lincoln Center as part of the Dance on Camera: Shorts Program, and “Turing’s Apple,” a collaboration with composer Richard Einhorn. The New York Times also highlighted RAWdance’s par-
Lisa Chajet ’83 Meet Lisa Chajet’s adorable son, Emanuel!
ticipation in the annual Emerson Spring to Dance Festival in St. Louis.
Doug Davis ’86 GREAT NIGHT RAISING $$ FOR @CIT YOFHOPE. HAPPY MY GOOD FRIENDS @LIL JON & @JOJOISTHEWAY CAME TO SUPPORT A GREAT CAUSE.
Lily Ockert ’01 AND Jeannie Fischman ’01 SO PROUD OF ONE OF MY OLDEST FRIENDS FOR GRADUATING LAW SCHOOL. HERE’S TO LILY OCKERT, ESQ. Lily received her J.D. from New York Law School — Congratulations!
Gillian Robespierre ’92 Congratulations, Gillian Robespierre! About 5 years ago, she wrote, directed and produced a short film titled Obvious Child. Now it’s a full feature film in movie theaters nationwide! Gillian and the movie have recently been featured in Marie Claire, Filmmakers magazine, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Zara Hoffman ’11 ZARA HOFFMAN IS A SELF-PUBLISHED YA AUTHOR! THE BELGRAVE DAUGHTER, FIRST BOOK IN A TRILOGY, WAS PUBLISHED IN NOVEMBER 2013.
Lexi Cullen-Baker ’95 Miguel Guadalupe ’90
Miguel and his family celebrated their daughter’s First Communion this past spring. He is a director at Gartner Inc., a global technology research company. Previously he worked for FirstRain, a search technology startup, where he helped build their financial service-focused franchise, and Merrill Lynch, where his responsibilities included online marketing, international sales and research operations management. In 2012 Miguel became a Wesleyan University alumni-elected Board of Trustees member.
40 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
LEXI CULLEN-BAKER AND FAMILY AT EASTER BRUNCH.
Adam Jones ’05 Adam spent time in Honduras this past year as a volunteer with Walk Beside Me for Knowledge, a non-profit that strives to create lasting solutions to poverty through its bilingual educational program. Adam wrote us saying, “The organization is based in San Pedro Sula, and I was a teacher at Smart Kids Bilingual School, one of two schools operated by Walk Beside Me for Knowledge. My responsibilities as a volunteer resembled that of a primary school teacher, namely assigning homework, giving exams, etc. I also held free nighttime English classes for members of the community, something that I enjoyed greatly.”
Michael Martinez Former Staff MIKE EMAILED US THIS GREAT PHOTO TO SHARE!
Janee Morales ’99 WISH I COULD MAKE IT TO THE @MILLIONTREESNYC ROCKAWAY EVENT WITH @THETOWNSCHOOL ALUMNI/AE! SOUNDS AWESOME!
Dan Perlman ’04 AND Kushal Patel ’04 DAN AND KUSHAL RETURNED TO TOWN FOR AN AFTERNOON OF HOOPS AND LAUGHS. DAN IS A STAND-UP COMEDIAN AND WRITER. HE AND KUSHAL USED TOWN’S GYM TO FILM A SHORT BASKETBALL COMEDY SKETCH FOR DAN’S COMEDY WEB SERIES, MODERATELY FUNNY. VISIT YOUTUBE AND SEARCH FOR “MODERATELY FUNNY — HOOP DREAMS.”
Stevie Rachmuth ’06 #IHEARTTOWN BECAUSE TOWN IS ALWAYS THERE FOR ME.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
ne August afternoon in 1981 Phyllis Fletcher came to The Town School seeking the receptionist position. She was interviewed by Head of School Gillian duCharme and then by me, who had started out at Town as the receptionist. Gillian and I both fell in love with her immediately. She was perfect for the job: open, warm, friendly, laughing and obviously a people person. For 14 years Phyllie was the voice and presence of Town School. Every student, parent and staff member was a special friend of hers. She went out of her way
I Phyllis made every person she encountered feel loved and important.
42 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
f it is, in fact, true that first impressions tell the tale, then Phyllis Fletcher, from her seat in the receptionist’s lair or in the lobby, told the tale about Town School to hundreds of people who walked through the door on any given day. She was often the first person someone saw when he or she entered the building, and the message she gave, through her warm smile and welcoming tone of voice, was that ours was a school where you would be treated with love and kindness, no matter why you were there. For Phyllis, Town was a happy place and everyone who worked or studied there was a wonderful person. As her tenure at Town lengthened, Phyllis became every child’s faux grandparent, attending Grandparents Day festivities in any number of Nursery and Lower School classrooms. She was every child’s most appreciative audience, reveling in their performances in concerts and plays; she even sat
to see that messages were delivered, birthdays celebrated and that all individuals were cherished and cared for. Phyllie left Town in 1995 and moved upstate to her wonderful little stone house. She had many friends and neighbors nearby and loved the countryside and her cat Katie. Our beloved Phyllie passed away peacefully on April 16, 2014 and was buried in her parents’ plot in Valhalla, NY. She is remembered by generations of Town School families with enormous affection. — Ann Gorycki Past Staff
through numerous bad rehearsals with a gigantic grin on her face, for she loved watching her children “strut their stuff.” Phyllis was each parent’s most willing source of help; whenever possible, she would deliver a message, help arrange a playdate, or hold on to some prized possession in her office until the end of the day. And by her sheer joy at being in the community, she reminded all of her colleagues how lucky we were — when all else failed — to be working in such a fundamentally loving environment. Phyllis made every person she encountered feel loved and important, and so she was loved and important. We miss her, but suggest that everyone take a moment and remember their favorite Phyllis story — for everyone’s got one that will surely bring him/her pleasure. She was just that kind of person. — Arthur Whitman Past Faculty
D E A R F R I E N DS O F TH E TOW N SC H O O L , It has been my great privilege to chair the Board of Trustees of The Town School during the 2013– 2014 school year. On June 13, 2013 we kicked off our commemoration of Town’s centennial year with a watershed event for the entire community. That evening as I walked the halls of The Town School with pride, I saw our newly minted alums and their families mingling with past students from as far back as the early 1960s. Over 1,000 current and past parents, alumni/ae, faculty, staff and friends came together to celebrate, showing their continued commitment to, and love for, our school and community. The parties and the celebrations have continued throughout the 2013–14 school year. We have had the opportunity to look back, reconnect, and truly appreciate our history while also looking forward and renewing our commitment to sustaining Town’s future. This year we exceeded our Annual Giving goal of $1 million and are closing in on 100% parent and faculty/staff participation, a truly remarkable accomplishment. Town’s Diamond Jubilee Auction Gala at the Mandarin Oriental was our most successful Parents’ Association fundraiser to date
with our community generously supporting Town’s SOS initiative of Self, Others and Surroundings. With a net income of more than $400,000 we are able to enhance our spaces, strengthen our commitment to community and diversity and enhance our teachers’ professional development opportunities and our children’s curriculum. I have truly enjoyed chairing the Board and thank you for the trust you placed in me. Although my term has come to an end, my entire family will always feel the bond of our Town family and we will continue to be “Townies” at heart. I am confident that Tony’s guidance will propel us to a new level of educational excellence. My birthday wish for Town going forward is that the community challenges itself beyond its achievements over the first 100 years, continues to exceed expectations and sets even higher standards for itself going forward. Happy 100th Birthday Town. With best regards, Cindy Gilston OUTGOING BOARD CHAIR
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Connect with Town! GET THE LATEST NEWS, PHOTOS AND MORE.
44 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 4
Who makes professional development happen? You do. Your generous support of The Town School enables our teachers to become the best they can be. Which enables our students to become the best they can be. Contact our Development Office to discover how you can help Town — and everyone in it — continue to be extraordinary. FOR INFORMATION ABOUT GIVING OPPORTUNITIES contact Melissa Bauman at (917) 432-3043
540 East 76th Street New York, NY 10021
Non-Profit Org. US Postage
PAID Permit No. 370 Albany NY