Currents T H E M AG A Z I N E O F T H E TOW N S C H O O L
J OY I N SCI E N CE DISCOVERY + E X P L O R AT I O N
Potato Sack Race Town All School Picnic Central Park / May 2015
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
OUT + ABOUT
S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y + C O M M U N I T Y A C T I O N
CLASS OF 2015
F E AT U R E S
The Power of the Scientific Method
Town’s Division Heads talk about how the process enriches learning
Sink or Float
A boat-inspired mystery introduces Nursery 3 to the scientific method
The Science of Snails
Nursery 4 explores the creatures at the bottom of their classroom tank
Building Pathways through Inquiry
Cultivating wonder and applying the scientific method in Lower School
Theory Into Practice
Preparing Upper School students for more advanced learning
Town students talk frankly about life’s complex challenges
MISSION STATEMENT: 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.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
MESSAGE FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL
Heather Greer Jodie Wilkerson CO N T RIB U TO RS
his issue of Currents is dedicated to the science curriculum at Town, an area where inquiry, discovery, and mastery are at the core of the discipline. As you’ll see, the nature of teaching science has changed from the teachers being the chief questioners and holders of knowledge to one where they act as guides for students to formulate questions, apply skills, and arrive at their own answers. The hallmark of Town’s program is in using the natural inquisitiveness that our students exhibit to build excitement and develop skills. From Nursery 3 through 8th grade, Town students practice the scientific
imperative has led directly to many identified priorities, including the renovation of our science labs. Understanding that learning environments can inspire curiosity and discovery we set out to reimagine the science labs as a space that is both purposeful and inspirational. Every detail, from the choice of materials, the use of light, the type of furniture, the incorporation of technology, and the future direction of the sciences has been considered in the design. The labs themselves will be newly updated, and the lobby and hallway that connect the labs are being turned into additional teaching and learning space with materials meant to inspire questions and space to display student work. The result will be a new science wing that will meet the needs of our students in science today and for many years to come. The study of science at Town is collaborative and forward-leaning, requires self-direction and creativity, allows students to apply learned skills in realworld situations, and both builds and reflects critical thinking in our students.
Yuko Abe Melissa Bauman Danielle Cheriff Angela Cheung Johnny Cook Courtney Dougherty Emily Fisher Ken Higgins Camille Mathrani Odette Muskin Carly Pearson Tamara Schurdak Krissy Stecyk Megan Wright David Wood CO N T RIB U T IN G P HOTO GRA P HERS
Victoria Jackson Kris Qua Town Development Staff DESIGN
Coppola Design DEVELO P MEN T O FFICE
Melissa Bauman Director of Development
Camille Mathrani Director of Annual Giving and Alumni/ae R elations
Jodie Wilkerson Director of Communications
The hallmark of Town’s program is in using the natural inquisitiveness that our students exhibit to build excitement and develop skills. method: starting with a question, developing a hypothesis, testing their assumptions, analyzing the results, rehypothesizing or re-testing as necessary, and communicating their findings. By the time our students graduate and head to high school they are curious and able to apply the habits of mind and the skills they’ve developed to arrive at thoughtful theories and answers. As educators and administrators, we must also apply a rigorous process of inquiry, testing, and evaluating. Grounded in our mission and supported by the recently developed Strategic Vision, the work of our faculty, staff and Trustees is to support the learning and growth of Town’s students. This mission-driven
CURRENTS summer 2015
Our annual Science Night brings all of this into focus. As you wade through the happy throng of young scientists, parents and teachers, it is overwhelmingly clear that each project reveals an understanding of key scientific concepts and the acquisition of new skills. Most importantly, Science Night, and the months of intense research and work leading up to it, shows our students’ clear and abundant joy in learning. As the field of science evolves and there is increasing interest in science-based careers, Town is well positioned to meet the needs of current and future students. TON Y F E ATH ER STON Head of School
Development and Communications Associate
Currents is published by The Town School Development Office for families and friends of The Town School. The editors welcome comments and story ideas from all members of The Town School community. by email: firstname.lastname@example.org by mail: Jodie Wilkerson The Town School 540 East 76th Street New York, NY 10021
© 2015 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
E ndow ment 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
t he t ow n s c ho ol .or g /g iv i n g THE TOWN SCHOOL
News + Notes
Fond Farewell to Retirees At Town we are lucky to have many faculty and staff who have made the school and our students their life’s work. We have been privileged to have served with such distinguished colleagues, and our entire community has been enriched by their presence at Town.
UPPER SCHOOL MATH TEACHER
Retiring after 24 years at Town
Retiring after 32 years at Town
Kate Ford took care of more than a generation of students and teachers and created a Health Office that is “so Town” in many great ways. She has seen us all when we’re not feeling our best and always struck just the right balance with a soft touch and excellent, knowledgeable care. An alumna recently spoke of Kate as both her calm rescuer after a serious injury and the person who seemed to understand when just a few minutes of quiet and comfort were needed more than any medical care. The Health Office is a refuge for some who always seem to need a Band-Aid and a pat on the head before being sent back to class as well as for those who have whatever version of the flu is sweeping through school. In every case, Kate always fit the bill keeping the children comfortable and helping to calm worried parents. Kate also provided thoughtful, strategic input to help ensure Town was always prepared for health-related crises in our own building or NYC. Her shoes are big ones to fill! As for her future plans, Kate was very clear that she is NOT retiring as she will continue on with her other full-time job as general manager of the Opera Theater of Connecticut.
Tom will be fondly remembered by colleagues and students alike for his wonderful blend of humor, commitment to teaching, patience and deep pride in his students’ math breakthroughs. When alums came back to visit or asked about their favorite teachers, he was often the first stop or name mentioned, often with vivid memories of “Mental Math” class challenges. In addition to preparing generations of Townies for the rigors of high school math, Tom was Town’s master of trivia for many years. Students enjoyed plumbing the depths of his memory of all things historical, perhaps best displayed in his meticulous preparation to play ‘Alex Trebek’ for the annual Upper School College Bowl. When we add in the fact that Tom met his wife — former dance teacher Laurie Raker — at Town, he brings new meaning to the notion of being a Town “lifer.” While he’ll miss his students and colleagues, Tom looks forward to spending more time at his home in Connecticut, traveling, and being able to focus on all 162 games of the Red Sox season without worrying about lesson plans and grading.
CURRENTS summer 2015
Carol Mayers KITCHEN STAFF Retiring after 34 years at Town
Although she is quiet and mostly worked behind the scenes, faculty and staff knew Carol Mayers for her warm hellos and dedicated work in the cafeteria, making sure that students and faculty alike were properly nourished and able to be at their best for busy school days. In her early days at Town, Carol worked with a head chef with a famously formidable personality — which could be what inspired Carol to bring such quiet and calm to her work! It’s because of Carol’s tireless efforts that there was always hot coffee ready for a teacher who needed a fresh cup, that snack was ready for the children to keep their brains properly engaged, and that dirty dishes magically disappeared and reappeared clean and ready to go. She has helped to feed hundreds of Town students, staff, and faculty over the years, and for that we are eternally grateful. We will miss Carol, and we look forward to welcoming her back as an honored guest at future Town lunches.
Activities + Events 1
Annual Art Show
All School Picnic
3 Annual Benefit Auction 4 Grandparents / Special Visitors Day 5 Book Fair Guest Author 6 TownFest 7 Film Festival guest filmmaker
7 THE TOWN SCHOOL
OUT + ABOUT
Field Trips 1
CURRENTS summer 2015
Teaching and learning occur far beyond Townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s walls. Field trips are opportunities for our students to explore and experience the world.
First graders visit Stone Barns
2 Second graders at Beczak Environmental Center 3 Second graders tour Inwood Park 4 Eighth graders visit Washington, DC 5 Upper School students at Madison Square Garden during Explore NY Day 6/7 Seventh graders participate in Natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Classroom in Rhode Island
THE TOWN SCHOOL
S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y + C O M M U N I T Y A C T I O N
EVERYTHING WE DO AND EVERYTHING WE DON’T DO
MAKES A DIFFERENCE
e embrace a holistic definition of sustainability that recognizes the interconnection of three fundamental principles: environmental stewardship, social justice, and economic equity. Establishing schoolwide understanding of these principles has enabled us to push the conversation past “being green,” affording us unique opportunities for cross-disciplinary curricular connections, greater community involvement, commitment and action. A main component of Community Action at Town is service learning. Students often do projects that are directly related to the communities and organizations that they learn about in the curriculum. These experiences allow the children to use their academic skills and knowledge in real life situations, extending student learning beyond the classroom. After completing a project, students are given a structured time to think about and discuss what they learned from their experiences. We 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 educating for sustainability and essential elements of a Town School education.
Host a “100 Mile potluck” get creative with #localfood from within 100 miles or less & enjoy by candlelight! #EarthWeek #DoOneThing
Success @UnSqGreenmarket! We got ton of veggies for tomorrow’s soup! #greenmarket #fieldtriptakeover
Teaming up w/@BreakthroughNY to make sandwiches for NY Common Pantry today!
@TheTownSchool makes top 30 on the EPA’s Green Power Partner list for K–12 schools!
Such a great day with @stop_hunger_now! #communityaction
Team Town excited to plant some trees today! @MillionTreesNYC #plantingday As part of #EarthWeek, 5th graders took #CommunityAction close to home: volunteering in our local park! #DoOneThing
CURRENTS summer 2015
On #GivingTuesday we’re grateful to be part of such a #giving community. #communityaction #stophungernow #sandwichesforthehungry #milliontrees
TOWN PARTNERED IN 2014â&#x20AC;&#x201C;15 WITH THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS:
NYC Parks Department Ronald McDonald House City Harvest NYSAIS Lower East Side Ecology Center YSOP Green Schools Alliance Sterling Power Green Energy Consortium Stop Hunger Now ASPCA Soles4Souls NY Cares Deaf Link Uganda Project Cicero
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Science Lab existing lab
phase 1 demolition
architectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s concept sketch 10 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
Rendering: Alspector Architecture, LLC
Materials that will be used in small blocks throughout the common spaces of the new Science Wing
How can learning environments reflect and enhance Townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s science program? hile Town has a fantastic facility which has been purposebuilt to meet the needs of our students from Nursery through 8th grade, it is important to make sure that it keeps up with the latest trends in teaching and learning. This summerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s renovation of the science labs presents just such an opportunity. It has been more than 10 years since the last science lab update, and that was more of a refresh than a full renovation. This time, we have tried to look at every aspect of the science curriculum and the needs of our students to fashion a completely new environment within the same footprint. It has been a challenge, to be sure, but an exciting one for all involved. In the spirit of exploration, collaboration, and joy in learning, we started over a year ago asking ourselves three essential questions: What is possible? What is necessary to meet the needs of our students today? And what is necessary for the future? We then assembled a team of teachers, administrators, and members of the facilities team and started to dream about what the space could be. Our planning committee visited more than 20 other schools which had recently renovated science spaces to see some of the latest thinking in action. In typical Town fashion, student input was solicited as well. The end result will be a space that reflects a shared vision for science education, one that will inspire our students to be thinkers, questioners, researchers, theorists, discoverers, and writers well into the future. While these skills are largely built through the curriculum, the physical space is meant to stimulate learning through the use of sustainable materials, interactive displays, and highlighted student work. We are excited to see where our students take it from here!
THE TOWN SCHOOL
The Power of the Scientific Method Lies in the Process of Asking Questions and Then Searching for Answers Odette Muskin Head of Nursery–Kindergarten / David Wood Head of Lower School / Tamara Schurdak Head of Upper School
ou can see the evidence of this simple truth everywhere at Town. For our younger students, it fuels the ability to explore in-depth scientific questions that emerge from their own interests. For our older students, it inspires the confidence and the structure they need to delve into more advanced, abstract scientific concepts. Over the course of their education at Town, students become critical thinkers as they develop their ability to conceptualize, apply, analyze, and synthesize information gathered from their observations, experience, and reflections. The scientific method asks students at every level to question and conduct research in order to determine “what causes what.”
In the articles that follow, Town teachers will share with you how the scientific method inspires students in every grade. You will get a glimpse into student research, hypotheses, experimentation, and data analysis; learn more about how they communicate the results of their studies; and see how a Town education in science creates a graduate who understands that: •
The Scientific Method is the foundation for exploring the world around us.
Science is dynamic and ever-changing; there are no absolutes.
We have many tools to observe the world, ranging from our five senses to sophisticated technology.
Science has its own language, and written language alone can’t communicate scientific results.
here are interconnected relationships within our planet and its systems as well as between T our planet and the rest of the universe.
We hope you enjoy the journey and perhaps come up with some questions of your own.
12 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
The SCIENTIFIC METHOD At a Glance Ask
Construct a Hypothesis
Test by doing an experiment
Analyze your Data + Draw a
Communicate your REsults
THE TOWN SCHOOL
NURSERY / KINDERGARTEN
ONE OF THE PURE JOYS OF BEING an administrator in an early childhood setting is the ability to spend each and every day in the company of young children. Their innate ability to be curious about the world around them sets the stage for some of the most exciting learning that occurs during their educational journey. Their drive to know more about the world around them sets the stage for Project Based curriculum. One of the most exciting moments in my week is brainstorming with the teachers about the learning goals and objectives they would like to accomplish with the children through the project. As the children express an interest in knowing more about such subjects as water transportation or snails, the faculty and I begin to think about what knowledge we want the children to acquire through the study and how the acquisition of that knowledge allows exposure to academic content in math, science and literacy. While it would be easier to simply explore the different modes of transportation that exist, the children’s interest in water transportation allowed the teachers to embed in their study science concepts that are sophisticated but explored in a developmentally appropriate manner. The questions now to research are not “How do we get to school?” but rather “Why do some objects float?” and “Why do some objects sink?” allowing for the very beginning seed of interest in the distribution of weight in water to germinate. When a project is complete, we marvel at the culminating event or activities that the children have undertaken to demonstrate acquisition of knowledge but that event or activity has not happened by accident. It is the result of tremendous thought and reflection on the part of children and teachers alike. As you read about the projects that the N3 and N4 children pursued this year, think about how the children experienced the scientific method through their observations, questions, predictions, investigations and the interpretation of their hands-on explorations? Their explorations at this young age have set the foundation for solving more complex problems in the area of science in years to come.
Odette Muskin Head of Nursery/Kindergarten Division
14 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
THE TOWN SCHOOL
FLoat Submarines, Sea Captains & Scientists in conversation with Danielle Cheriff & Emily Fisher Nursery 3 Co-Head Teachers Telita Perry Associate Teacher 16 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
A chant is emanating from the Nursery 3 classroom, and the excitement is clearly growing. Perhaps students are singing a favorite song; perhaps a show and tell item has particularly resonated with the group. But, as you get closer, you hear the whole class calling out: “Sink or float, sink or float, sink or float!” As you peer into the classroom, you find a boisterous group of Nursery 3 students engaged in their study of buoyancy, the systematic exploration of what makes different objects “sink or float.” How did these young scientists arrive at this chosen area of study? What does the scientific method look like at age three? And how does tossing an item into a tank of water help students learn letters, numbers and other skills they will need going forward?
e begin each year by asking students what they want to know about, and then structure our year of curriculum around a related project. This year, the Nursery 3s were interested in transportation, which led to a discussion of boats and submarines, and finally to questions about what makes something sink or float. We talked about their toys in the bathtub at home, and how the children float when they swim. They soon put on their “scientist hat,” passing around different materials and talking about feel, look, and weight. The students began to understand how important it is to observe, look critically and use specific language to describe what they see. Next came a basic sink or float experiment, during which we discussed how to make a scientific guess or prediction. In this case, the children took votes about
whether each item (a fork, an apple, an old cell phone) might sink or float. They were completely caught up in the excitement of scientific discovery. After the experiment, it was time for the children to dig a little deeper — and to engage their parents — by studying an object from home. Through their personal sink or float journals, they were pulling in literacy skills — recognizing and writing their name — and using a sticker to demonstrate their understanding of the concept of sinking or floating. Some children had it mixed up initially, which is part of the learning process, but we did so many different experiments as a group that they all gained a solid understanding of the “sink or float” concept. The scientific method includes close observation, and our students used tools like a magnifying glass to carefully examine and describe their objects from home. Balancing these objects on a scale against different-colored cubes
Every year we’re amazed by how much they retain and are able to share with each other and their parents. You can see the tremendous value in developing a curriculum around the children’s interests and asking them to be full participants in their learning. — Danielle Cheriff N3 Teacher
THE TOWN SCHOOL
exposed them to the idea of mass. When we introduced observational drawing, which is very different from the artwork they usually do, we were amazed at how they noticed small details and accurately represented them. Finally, we asked the students to make their own personal prediction and explain why they thought their object from home would sink or float. During each week of our study, we gathered on the classroom rug around a tank filled with water and reviewed the previous week’s experiments. The children could see the results of other classmates’ work in the outcomes of experiments with measuring cups, balls, toys, and other objects. Students presented to the class what they predicted about their object, ran their experiment by placing it into the tank of water, and discussed their results. Throughout the process, students documented their work, and we introduced the iPad as a recording tool. They made connections with counting and math, and categories of items that sink or float began to emerge. Using the SmartBoard as a discussion aid, we gradually moved
Learning With the Children in Charge When children drive the learning process, how do you make sure they learn what they need to learn? That’s the challenge for us in Nursery 3 as we help our students seek out answers to questions they have posed themselves. This project-based approach brings lifelong benefits. By immersing young children in research, the project builds intellectual capacity and creates the catalyst for meaningful constructions, creations, and artistic expression. So how do we foster such meaningful growth without knowing where the children will take us? The answer lies in collaboration, and a lot of it. At the beginning of the year, after gathering ideas from the children, we meet with our Division Head to discuss those ideas and establish where we want to end up. This ensures that we can guide the students through the appropriate milestones as they in turn are guiding the project direction with their questions and discoveries.
I was excited to see how the students developed the capacity to make connections between different materials and buoyancy, beyond simple ideas about objects being heavy or light. For example, they observed that even heavy wooden things float. — Emily Fisher N3 Teacher
items from the bottom of our chart to the sink and float sides of our data collection graph. Since our investigation began with an interest in boats, we decided to speak with an expert. Captain Kristin Johansrud from South Street Seaport joined our class for a lively discussion of several different kinds of boats and what helps them move (wind or gasoline). This was a great opportunity for the students to develop their own questions and reflect on what they had recently learned. We also took advantage of our location on East
18 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
76th Street to study boats on the East River right from our school windows. Our project concluded with building our very own boats and sharing them with other students and parents in a boat museum. At the end of this process we were especially pleased with how well the students grasped and retained the sink or float concept, which is difficult for children their age. They were also able to meaningfully reflect on their work, including why experiments didn’t always work out as they predicted.
Ahoy! After learning about buoyancy and boats, the Nursery 3 children observed boats on the river and then designed and built their very own Boat Museum.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
THE SCIENCE O in conversation with Yuko Abe and Megan Wright Nursery 4 Co-Head Teachers Krissy Stecyk Associate Teacher 20 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
When Town children can’t take their eyes off something, it might just be the focus for the next curriculum. That is how our snail study was born. At the beginning of the year, seeing the children’s fascination with the snails in our classroom tank, we asked them: What do you want to know about snails? Their answers — everything from food to body parts to feelings — shaped the exploration to come. This kind of “guided choosing,” also known as project-based learning, can be a powerful motivator for students. Choosing the subject gives them a sense of ownership — they are learning about something they are interested in. This in turn inspires them to reach essential educational goals, such as literacy and math sense, and to develop methods of inquiry.
uring our first sessions with the students, we divided into three research groups and spent time brainstorming. The food group discussed methods to find out what the snails eat, including taking an X-ray of their stomachs. This led us to write a letter to a local veterinarian to ask for help. Meanwhile, the children learned through research that snails’ numerous small teeth grind up their food. To better understand this idea, we borrowed a mortar and pestle from the Upper School science teachers and ground up some food in the classroom to simulate what it might look like in the snails’ stomachs. Upon seeing the results of this experiment, the children determined that a stomach X-ray would not allow them to distinguish a particular food. Our second idea was more successful: we developed an experiment we could run in the classroom. The students placed five different foods into the snails’ tank, made predictions about what would be eaten, and then watched for changes over time. One question they had was
how to know whether a snail enjoyed a particular food. We photographed the foods before and after to see how much the snails ate. Through close observation, the children realized that snails take many small bites when they eat, creating lace-like patterns in the food. The more the snails liked the food, the more holes in it. Cookies turned out to be unpopular, but lettuce and cucumbers were a clear success.
A Shell Called Home To learn more about a snail’s home, the habitat group typed “snails” into the library’s book search engine, and then reviewed the results to determine which books would be most helpful. We were surprised at how quickly the children were able to evaluate a source. One book that came up in our search had only a short note about snails being born from an egg — and no other information — so it was rejected. We applied the same process to online resources.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
A big point of discussion concerned how to document and share what we had learned. We thought about building a walk-through habitat in the Kindergarten resource room, but realized it would take up space that other students and teachers needed for learning. We developed a list of ways to share with our classmates, including books, posters, and videos, but ultimately decided on a newly learned idea: building a diorama to represent the habitat.
A Study in Slime The group studying snail bodies were full of questions. Do snails breathe? Why do their eyes look so strange? Why do they produce slime? We did research, closely studied our classroom snails, and made observational drawings. Asking the students to represent the snails in drawings required them to really focus on the details of the snails’ bodies. Students were encouraged to take the snails out of their tank and place them on black paper — the better to observe their slime trails — as well as hold them in their
hands and examine them with magnifying glasses. Along the way, students learned to use new science terms like mucus gland and respiratory hole, as well as how snails grow their shells.
The Snail Museum Opens Its Doors The students were really excited to share their findings. Each group chose a different presentation method: the food group produced a play about their experiments, the habitat group built detailed dioramas of snail environments, and the body group created a book filled with facts and observational drawings. As each group had information the others did not, we first shared with each other as a class. Then we decided to turn our classroom into a full-scale snail museum, staffed by Nursery 4 student experts, to share our findings with the Town community. The students wrote and practiced scripts to frame the presentations, but they were also prepared — and excited! — to answer unexpected questions from our visitors.
When Children Come Out of Their Shells ne of the most wonderful byproducts of our snail study and presentations was the overwhelming increase in the children’s confidence. One little boy who had been very shy in class completely changed in his role as a snail expert in the play about food. He felt so good afterwards, and we talked as a class about how to remember and use those experiences to support ourselves in new challenges. More than anything else, the students’ growth is incredible to watch. As teachers we are constantly inspired by how their innate curiosity leads to understanding that lasts. We see emerging skills that will form the foundation
22 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
S S NAIL O D Y WH LIM E? S E K MA for everything that is to come in their educational journey at Town â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Science Night presentations, the 7th grade Galileo trial, the 8th grade play. The children learn to listen to each other, to problemsolve, and to continually ask questions. We often see deeper insights as well. The body group spent a lot of time wondering about how snails experience our world. The students thought about how they feel when they are tickled, how they are affected by loud noises, and wondered how the snails might feel in that same situation. Their empathy was a catalyst for much of their discovery. Moments like these make all the preparation and hard work worthwhile. And who would be surprised to learn that, at the end of our project, the students told us they want to study snails when they grow up?
HOW D O S NAIL S
BR EATH E?
How do they m ove their bodies?
Can snails live in a desert?
What do ? snails eat
THE TOWN SCHOOL
A REMARKABLE SHIFT TAKES PLACE as students progress through Lower School: they move from acquiring skills as their world expands to using those skills in support of their learning. In science we see great examples of students applying their skills, knowledge, and experience across domains to construct meaning. They build resilience by learning from mistakes as they problem-solve to determine what works and what does not in their experiments. They come to appreciate that mistakes are a part of learning that offers key information about the next steps to take in order to solve a challenge. As students progress through the science curriculum in Lower School, they grow to see themselves as scientists tinkering with resources and data to figure out solutions to complex problems. Their understanding of process, inquiry, observation, and collaboration evolves, as does their vocabulary. When working on their circuitry unit, for example, students construct meaning by experimenting with materials and determining which materials operate as conductors and which as insulators. They collaborate, take turns leading discussion, and support each other as a group. As Division Head, I find it especially gratifying to see Lower School students so present and invested in their work, joyfully engaged in building the foundation they will need for the next steps in their scientific and academic journey. On Science Night it was wonderful to see small groups of Lower School students enthusiastically pursuing the scavenger hunt, searching through their own projects and those of their peers to find â&#x20AC;&#x153;hiddenâ&#x20AC;? details. Their focus, excitement, and collaboration in the collective effort was yet another example of the Town program in action.
David Wood Head of Lower School
24 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Building Pathways through
CULTIVATING WONDER AND APPLYING THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN LOWER SCHOOL
26 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
in conversation with Angela Cheung Lower School science teacher
It’s a bustling Monday afternoon in the Lower School science lab. The sun is streaming through the windows, the East River is sparkling in the background, the students’ tomato plants are beginning to bear fruit, and an energetic group of 2nd graders is in the throes of preparing exhibits for Science Night. They are attaching features to intensively researched animals, residents of the deciduous forest they’ve been studying. Amidst the paint, papier-mâché, and lively conversation, Lower School science teacher Angela Cheung is guiding students through the ongoing process of testing and tinkering.
Lower School, the science grows with the students. We cultivate their emerging ability to understand bigger concepts and to engage more deeply in the scientific method. Students are also preparing for their transition into Upper School, as we move from projectbased learning in the younger grades to a more discussion-based model by 4th grade. A lot of my teaching centers around encouraging students to ask questions and then work out how to find answers. Younger students’ mental pathways are still very flexible, so it’s important that I “wonder” along with them and help them explore, rather than provide immediate answers. In 1st grade we start off the year talking about how we define a scientist, and I emphasize that it can be anyone: a person reading and looking for information or a person using the five senses to observe the world. This year 1st graders examined snails and insects — things they can hold, analyze, and examine in
detail. Instead of simply giving them facts, I let them formulate their own questions and helped them use scientific tools like research, observation and experimentation to find answers. Along the way my students deepened their understanding of the basics of the scientific method’s essentials: how to prepare their own experiments, document their work and interpret their results. In 2nd grade we bring nature into the classroom and take advantage of connections to other points in the curriculum, such as where our food comes from, and the study of New York City past and present. This year the students were interested in fruits, so we dissected and tasted a variety of fruits, and grew tomato plants from seeds. The children collected data about the plants’ growth, learned about the lifecycle of a plant, and discussed how one seed can grow a new plant that produces several new fruits. All that knowledge reached its “fruition” in our Science Night project, where students built a model of an entire
deciduous forest, including the resident animals. Each child completed a detailed study of one animal, researching its physical features and habitat. Third grade students learn about the variables that can affect a scientific investigation. We conduct several basic experiments, and the students go in with expected outcomes. For some the experiment might work out as it’s “supposed THE TOWN SCHOOL
to”; for others it might not, prompting a discussion about what conditions may have impacted the results. I help them understand that in science, outcomes are often achieved in a controlled environment; without those controls you get a different answer. Through questioning, testing, failing, and refining their process, the students begin to understand — and feel comfortable with — science’s basic unpredictability. By the time students arrive in 4th grade, they are ready for more sophisticated concepts. Studying the solar system inspires students to think beyond daily life and connect with current events and scientific discoveries such as asteroids and missions to other planets. In the process, my colleagues and I work together to prepare 4th grade students for their transition to Upper School science, where classes are more frequently taught in the discussion-based model. We engage in abstract thinking by debating the deeper philosophical questions as a class: Are humans a superior life form because we live on Earth so successfully? Are we an inferior group because we can only live here? Throw humans a curveball — take away electricity, for example — and how would we fare?
aving explored everything from snails to asteroids, students leave Lower School with a strong habit of asking questions, collaborating with their peers, using cross-disciplinary knowledge, testing their predictions through experimentation and research, and presenting their projects and findings.
Los Animales The 2nd graders’ culminating science project was more like an “everything” project, integrating social studies, Spanish, and technology into their newfound knowledge of the scientific method. While exploring the relationship between plants and animals, each student took on the role of a “research ranger” to learn about indigenous wildlife, and the class created a model of a deciduous forest filled with highly detailed papier-mâché animals. In Social Studies, students also examined the Lenape people and how they used natural resources of the forest for food, clothing, and shelter. In Spanish the 2nd graders learned how to identify, describe, and speak about specific characteristics of animals. The students recorded their animal descriptions using an MP3 recorder, and on Science Night each animal in the hallway ‘forest’ wore a unique QR code that linked visitors to the recording of a student describing that animal — en Español! The children were excited to learn and use the new vocabulary necessary to describe the features of their animals; they were even more thrilled to share the recordings with their parents and other visitors.
28 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
beautiful trash Can rubbish transmit electricity? It can in the hands of our 3rd graders. One of our major units in 3rd grade, about conductors and insulators, eventually leads up to our Science Night project of building individual working circuits. This year the class was interested in making something from materials that do not quickly biodegrade, or often get discarded after only one use, so many students created their circuits for Science Night from recycled materials. We called it Beautiful Trash. At the beginning of the project, I walked the students through an overview of circuit principles and asked them to visualize how to create a flow of electricity. With a variety of materials at hand, they drew up their plans and documented how they were going to wire the circuits, which let me assess their comprehension of the concepts. Throughout the process, I listened to them confidently use new science terms (conductor and insulator) as they discussed their projects, and I witnessed peer-to-peer learning as they shared discoveries and tips. They embraced the challenge, and I got to act as their support system and guide through the process â&#x20AC;&#x201D; not as the person with all the answers.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
AS I ROUNDED THE CORNER OF 76th Street early one morning in May 2014, I spotted two Town students and a skateboard. However, these students weren’t riding the skateboard or even carrying it — they were using it to transport a 5-by-3-foot board with countless wires, pulleys, and ramps constructed of found objects. Passersby were trying to ignore the scene, but several were taking an extra long glance at what was playing out in front of them. I knew immediately what it was: Science Night was approaching and this contraption could be none other than a Rube Goldberg machine. Earlier this year Tony Featherston referenced a New York Times article by Thomas Friedman about how to get a job at Google, discussing the character traits students need to succeed in a world that we have yet to see. Those qualities included learning ability, humility, ownership, collaboration, teamwork, leadership — and the courage to risk, fail, recover, and to try again. The Rube Goldberg projects, and indeed Town’s full science curriculum, help students develop all of these qualities and more. Such habits of mind, paired with a core body of scientific knowledge, ensure that our students are prepared for high school and life beyond Town. As you read about science in the Upper School, consider how we challenge students to become good scientists and innovative thinkers. Are students learning to question and to challenge assumptions? Are they learning to approach questions with a rigorous process? Are they learning to work together and present their findings with confidence? Are they learning to view failure as both information and inspiration? This is the kind of joyful, lifelong learning we celebrate at Town.
Tamara Schurdak Head of Upper School
30 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
THE TOWN SCHOOL
THEORY INTO PRACTICE PREPARING UPPER SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR MORE ADVANCED LEARNING AND A LIFE OF INQUIRY in conversation with Courtney Dougherty / Johnny Cook Upper School science teachers
The study of science requires us to truly look at the world around us, be open to the unexpected, and examine our pre-existing assumptions. In Upper School, students take new responsibility for their work as scientists â&#x20AC;&#x201D; from independently designing and running experiments to sharing and defending their data with their peers and the wider community. Students regularly confront the idea that, even though their findings might not yield definitive answers, they still can significantly advance our collective understanding.
32 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Only the one who does not question is safe from making a mistake. — Albert Einstein physicist
Courtney Dougherty 5th/6th Grade science teacher
Designing Experiments Although I love Science Night, what is truly exciting to me as a teacher is the several weeks beforehand, during which students initiate, design, run, and interpret their scientific experiments, and then develop engaging presentations to accurately share what they have learned. After the students identify an area of interest, their first major challenge is designing an experiment that provides meaningful results. Students have to spend some time and thought around the measurement tools they have, the time they have to run the experiment, and the likeliness that their experiment will yield measurable data. This is one of many
points where students come up against the fact that there is not just one path to scientific discovery. This past year, for example, two teams were testing the greasiness of food. One group studying french fries decided to use stacked paper towels and measured how far down the grease penetrated. Meanwhile, a group studying potato chips drew a 10x10 grid on an absorbent material and measured the size of the grease ring. Both groups ended up with measurable, comparable data that could inform their conclusions.
When Problems Arise Often students run into complications during their experiments. In response,
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. — Thomas Edison scientist
34 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
we emphasize two things: complications don’t make the work worthless, and it’s important to accurately present information that impacted the outcome. Last year a group studying waterproof mascara ran into trouble with their application method: the brush they meant to use wouldn’t fit in all the tubes. They had to adjust their methods but knew they also had to report that shift in their process. A more dramatic example came from another group of 6th graders, who were talking about their 5th grade project. “The first time we ran our ‘which chocolate melts the fastest?’ experiment, the oven caught on fire! We decided the oven was set a little too high, and threw out that data set (and the burned chocolate).” All Town science classes emphasize that “science isn’t perfect” and that students should be prepared for the unexpected. They may identify unintended variables in an experiment or encounter a real challenge in interpreting results. A group studying sidewalk chalk began their experiment of soaking sticks of chalk in water; one brand dissolved while the other two didn’t change at all. Though this initially felt like failure because of the lack of measurable data, the team did some research to help explain their findings. As it turned out, the brands that didn’t change at all had higher concentrations of certain minerals that made them less likely to dissolve in water.
Sharing Our Findings To prepare for Science Night, students learn how to create meaningful graphs and charts, summarize their process, and accurately represent their experiments. When they prepare their written reports, we discuss how science writing is different from the writing we do in English class. As an exercise, students craft business letters to the companies whose products they tested. (Every once in a while a good letter results in a free product sample!) We also spend a lot of time talking about the challenges of public speaking, how to present yourself as a professional, and how to craft a strong presentation. As a foundation, we start by discussing general skills that help make any presentation effective: making eye contact, standing up straight, keeping your hands at your sides, varying your voice tone, minimizing distractions (such as putting long hair in a ponytail), and wearing your best-looking school uniform. Then we get into Science Night presentation specifics. To draw people into their projects, students develop 10-second pitch videos as a way to identify their “hook.” In their presentations, students must give a general project summary to explain how they tested their hypothesis; they must finish with what they found and what it means. I ask my students to practice speaking to varied audiences (anyone from their grandfather to their little sister) and consider which terms in their presentation need to be defined and what level of knowledge can be assumed. An essential part of sharing scientific results is inviting people into a dialogue, so all of the students end their presentations with “do you have any questions?” They are prepared with strategies to handle unexpected and challenging responses. Students emerge from this process truly proud of their work, knowing they have the tools and knowledge to support future scientific investigations. They develop confidence and the ability to reflect on past challenges in a positive way. Perhaps even more importantly, they understand that as they continue to advance in science, they will have more variables, unknowns, and unexpected outcomes.
In 5th and 6th grades students take the lead in applying all the steps of the scientific method. They own the work on a new level, most notably performing experiments at home. In class they work as a group to develop how to present and defend their findings. We also talk about how to handle “failure” — otherwise known as unexpected outcomes — in their experiments and their public presentations.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Collaboration is essential in the scientific field, and working together is emphasized throughout the Town science curriculum. In 8th grade we take the practice of teamwork even further by asking students to choose a team for themselves at the beginning of the process and to manage their group’s workflow over the course of the project. Choosing their groups requires the students to think about team members who will support their work and learning style, rather than merely picking friends they like to spend time with. We’re often pleasantly surprised when students we would not necessarily have put together turn out to be very successful partners.
In 7th and 8th grades we start to ask critical questions: What can you do with what you know? How do you evaluate what you know? We’re also preparing for the transition to high school, ensuring that students have accumulated fundamental knowledge as well as the ability to think critically about new information or situations. The Shout of Success
Johnny Cook 7th/8th Grade science teacher
Recalculate, Recalibrate, Repeat In the Rube Goldberg project, process is paramount as students see the physics concepts we study in class — motion, speed, velocity, acceleration, force, work — playing out in the real world through their machines. Trial and error, a staple of the scientific method, is perhaps the defining experience of their project. The machine worked seven times in a row but didn’t work the eighth 36 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
time. So what happened, what was different? The variables can be very subtle, which pushes students to ask questions in new ways about new things. Last year one team decided to cover their project in glitter right before Science Night. It looked great (of course) but they found that the ball didn’t roll the same way down their inclined planes as it had before. They realized that the glitter had changed the surfaces the ball was rolling over, and they had to recalculate and recalibrate their machine.
As the students toil on — working before and after school, in the labs and corners of classrooms —we often hear a scream of triumph from the hallway: seven seconds of success after a month of sweat, revisions, repairs, and pushing through frustration. In this moment I see the culmination of an important process: the students have learned to meet challenges with the curiosity, rigor, and persistence that are the cornerstones of the scientific method. When alums come back to Town and talk about their high school experience, I can see they have retained a willingness to look at things from different perspectives, to continually ask questions, to learn from trial and error, and to forge new pathways to achieving their goals.
DOUBLE-SLIT EXPERIMENT This experiment, which shows protons behaving unexpectedly, was brought up by a 7th grade student a few years ago. We had such a great discussion that it is now a part of the regularly planned curriculum and leads into our exploration of quantum theory. In the experiment, protons exhibit properties of both matter and waves, and the outcome seems to be influenced when the experiment is conducted under human observation. This forces us to question everything we know about physics and matter, as well as the tools we use to observe their behavior. We assume the natural world has a pattern that can be uncovered using the tools available to us, but the double-slit experiment challenges this assumption. We have to perceive the world in order to make sense of it, and there is no experience without perception, but does our perception actually influence the phenomenon we are investigating?
The Rube Goldberg machine is the last project 8th graders complete before they graduate, and it comes at a time when we talk a lot in class about applying science: putting theory into practice. The task is always the same but there are many paths â&#x20AC;&#x201D; both physical and analytical â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to achieving the goal, resulting in infinitely varied machines.
>C urious to learn more? Search for Dr. Quantum videos on YouTube explaining the double-slit experiment.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
COMMUNITY + DIVERSITY
� � AND
, y t i n u m m o C t u o b a s t n e d u t wn S y and Inclusivity W�T� To Diversit
38 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
own faculty continually ask themselves about the skills children will need in their adult lives. Certainly academic preparedness is essential, but our teachers also realize that children are growing up in a rapidly changing world and need equally strong social-emotional skills. Taking Care of Town: Self, Others, Surroundings (S.O.S.) is the basis for our approach to Town students’ moral and ethical development. S.O.S. — and the embedded commitment to critical thinking, communication, collaboration, empathy and sustainability — is infused in our everyday life at Town. We work from a place of mutual respect and inclusivity as we celebrate differences and make connections. We recently spoke with students about different aspects of S.O.S. they have encountered in the curriculum and in their experience at Town.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
COMMUNITY + DIVERSITY
Learning ABOU� Each Other AND Making Connections What do you think you might take away from your Life Skills discussions this year — is there a big idea that’s important to you?
In the Upper School Life Skills program we guide student discussions about topics ranging from health and wellness to stereotypes and personal identity. Eighth graders are ready to have conversations about more complex issues. And being Town students, they explore challenging topics while embracing, enjoying and encouraging their peers.
KINDERGARTEN FAMILY CURRICULUM Reflecting on Families and Discovering Connections
40 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
Claire Scavone: I’m a huge feminist and I think that feminism encompasses a lot of issues, from gender inequality to racism, to homophobia. I think of feminism as a community where you can talk with people, express your opinions, and have debates. It’s an open-ended topic where you’re just trying to make the world a better place. What I want to be a part of is to take the negative connotation away from the word feminism. To be a feminist is a scary thing right now. It’s seen as something bad, about really overbearing people who hate men. That’s not at all what feminism is. Mostly it’s people trying to bring more kindness and equality into the world around many important issues. They’re trying to make the world a better place for our kids to live in.
One of the main components of Town’s family curriculum is that every child has a family visit and a family album. The family album is designed to celebrate the cultural and historical perspective of each family. Our goal is to teach the kids that, regardless of family structures, families have many things in common. Kids have an opportunity to see themselves reflected in someone else’s album and also learn about something new. Town Kindergarteners Noah and Bodie recently shared their family albums, along with some of the connections they discovered in class. As they spoke, they found new connections and these are just a couple of highlights from their very lively conversation.
What is the biggest problem you think kids your age are dealing with? Claire: This could be a ‘cheating’ answer but I think that the main problem kids are dealing with right now is just how many problems we have to deal with. There’s a lot of stress at our age thinking about either fitting into society or being different from society. Both are seen as ideals in some ways. At our age, the future is something that comes up a LOT, but we don’t have enough information about it, or any idea of what it’s going to be like. A lot of different problems come together to be one big problem: we’re overwhelmed with how many changes we’re going through and dealing with so many big things at once. It’s hard to navigate and you need people in your life who can help you with that. My friends are really great because they’re going through the same thing and we can al-
So during this project, you realized how much you have in common with each other as a class?
What about food? What kind of connections did you find there?
ken chic i hett spag and e. sauc with
e I lik
ways talk about it. My family’s great because they just completely understand. I feel lucky to have all this support; I think it keeps me from getting overwhelmed.
What is one thing your Town experience has taught you? Claire: Town has taught me to be myself, and it’s worked out pretty well so far! I have friends and teachers who have made me comfortable sharing my views about a really deep conversation in class, or just having some witty banter in the hallway about what happened on TV last night. My friends might debate with me and express their own opinions, or sometimes we just agree and bond over that. I feel like I am ready to go to high school and out into the world. I know how to interact with people who are excited to express really strong opinions and I can have conversations with people who are a little more shy. Our grade has so many different personalities, but there’s no one who is excluded from any group because of who they are. And that’s something that is rare to find, I think. So to have it for the 11 years that I’ve been going to Town — I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Khalil, you came to Town as a 6th grader. What were some of your first impressions? Khalil Walker: Amazing people. That’s what I noticed when I first came to Town in 6th grade. I told the Head of School —
I have a connection with spaghetti
and chicken fingers.
Mr. Marblo at the time — “Oh my god, can I please go here? These are the nicest kids I’ve ever met.” When I first came in, I was really not the nicest kid. I was just trying to be the best and was very competitive, but then people like Will and Andrew sort of hung out with me and told me that it was good to have that sense of competition but you don’t have to be so intense about it. It really helped me open up and talk to other people in the other grades.
graders come and talk to me. And we’ll talk about unicorns and ponies — something really random like that. And it’s a lot of fun. You can’t have that experience anywhere else. They’ll never judge you. It’s a really comfortable environment. I have really cherished it all this time and I really wish I were here longer because this year I’ve made the most friends. I’m really starting to get to know everybody.
What do you hope to take with you as you go on to high school? What has been most special to you about your Town experience? Khalil: I have friends in the 5th grade, the 6th grade, the 7th grade, the 8th grade and I talk to them daily. It’s just great because you have all these kids who are talented athletes or musicians, actors, singers and you just really get to know who they are through Town. At sign-ups (free time in the Upper School day) I can just hang out in Miss Broussard’s room and have a bunch of 6th
Khalil: I want to interact with all grades like I have here. I really want to be a bridge for my grade and other grades. I’ve heard from people who have gone to boarding school (and people who haven’t) that to talk to people in other grades will really help you. I really just hope to be the glue for my grade — to help them stick together. I have multiple groups of friends here at Town and I can only hope to have that at Westminster.
taught me to
BE M�SEL�. Yeah we did .
During your conversation today, did you realize some things in common that you might not have known before?
. ming swim I like
Mmmmm that's a really big connection.
eah! OH y
Someone mentioned that you both really like golf — is that right?
Did you know that’s a connection you also share with Mr. Featherston (Head of School)? You all like to play golf!
THE TOWN SCHOOL
COMMUNITY + DIVERSITY
Faculty guide students as they examine the history of immigration (through Ellis Island and the Lower East Side) and juxtapose it with modern forms of immigration. They learn more about their own family and gain knowledge and experience that help them empathize with the immigration stories of others.
FOURTH GRADE Tell us a little about your immigration project, and what was special to you. Skylar: I got to know more about where I came from. I loved that. My Dad is from Ghana, West Africa. How did your dad end up coming to the US? Skylar: He said that he always loved entertainment and he really wanted to make movies for people. What about you, Max? What did you like about your immigration project? Max: I got a chance to see where my mom was from. And when I get older and have my own family, I can share with them the story of how we ended up here.
42 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
Where is your mom from? Max: She’s originally from Brazil and in Brazil their first language is Portuguese. She came here because she wanted to be with my father. My father is also originally from Brazil, but he came 15 years earlier for education. What were some things that stood out about this project for you? Max: At Ellis Island we got to see how the people in the late 1800s and early 1900s immigrated and we got to see how more modern people immigrated.
What were some of the difficult or challenging things about the project? Max: You wouldn’t always have your parent right there to answer every question you would have. It was a long-term project; it took a long time to find out all the information.
How did you share what you had learned? Skylar: We presented to our class after we finished. The cool part about that is we got to present to our table groups first. Then when we went to share with the whole class, we asked our table to share what they had learned about us. Max: Ours was a little different. We showed our project to the whole class and everyone took notes. Then we had to answer questions about everyone else’s immigration story. When did they immigrate? What was their first impression of this country? What was the reason they came here? Sounds like you both really enjoyed the project. Skylar: Yeah, it’s really amazing to learn about other people’s families and where they come from.
Scan these QR codes to learn more about the projects featured in this issue.
Watch a trailer video for a glimpse at parent visiting day for the Nursery 4 snail project.
Hear a few of our 2nd graders describe their deciduous forest animals in Spanish.
Get an insider view of the 8th gradersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Rube Goldberg machine design + building process.
Get a sneak peek at the Science Labs renovation.
STAY CONNECTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA Include #telltown on your posts to share news with the Town community.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
8TH GRADE GIFT: In the spirit of S.O.S. the class of 2015 voted to support a wheelchair lift for the cafeteria.
TOWN CLASS OF 2015 Class of 2015 High School Destinations:
h e y’r e And t
o f f. . .
44 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
Henry Anrig Sam Benchimol Emma Berg Kyle Bernardez Justin Bernstein William Bigio Harper deBoer Tito Crichton-Stuart Hadly DaPuzzo-Kilpert Daniel Geller Thomas Getman Emilia Girardi Emma Gottschalk-Henriquez Hamilton Gruber Daniel Heredia Reayana Kabir Cece King Lara Kling Melissa Kornfeld Sam Lesser Pietro Lugato Lilly McCuddy Olivia Murray Orianne Recanati-Kaplan James Robles Claire Scavone Gio Schwab Andrew Shannon Sarah Shapiro Stefano Vassilaros Khalil Walker Talisha Ward Jordyn Waye Alexandra Wolf
The Taft School Horace Mann School The Spence School Horace Mann School Riverdale Country School Riverdale Country School Fieldston School Millbrook School Emma Willard School Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School The Hotchkiss School Riverdale Country School Grace Church School Avenues, The World School Choate Rosemary Hall The Hewitt School Riverdale Country School Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Packer Collegiate Institute Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School The Bronx High School of Science Packer Collegiate Institute Fieldston School Saint Ann’s School Grace Church School Fieldston School Professional Children’s School Fieldston School Trevor Day School Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Westminster School Poly Prep Country Day School Trevor Day School Westminster School
ashington’s crossing of the Delaware 238 years ago is an apt metaphor for your graduation from The Town School. While you aren’t likely to encounter armed troops as you head to high school, there are certainly going to be new challenges and adventures waiting for you on the other shore. Some will seem easy and comfortable, but others will push you to your limit. And while you can anticipate what’s on the other side, you won’t really know what it’s all about until you get
there. Washington, often thought of as our nation’s greatest military leader, received excellent training, but in the end he also had to rely on his wits – his ability to think on his feet – to be great. And I know you’ll do the same when challenges come your way. Certainly, the academic and social skills you’ve developed at Town will serve you well in high school and wherever life takes you after that. But in the end, you, too, will need to rely on your wits to get wherever it is you’re going. I learned that there is a much easier way to say this: be the Left Shark. At this year’s Super Bowl Katy Perry
performed at halftime with two big blue sharks behind her. The one on the right clearly had formal dance training and performed the choreography perfectly. The one on the left decided to do his own thing – and as a result Left Shark stole the show! So, whether you choose to emulate George Washington or Left Shark, do it your own way. Be creative, adaptable, persistent, and plucky. And two more things, be good and stay in touch. ~E xcerpted from Head of School Tony Featherston’s graduation speech
GRADUATION SPEAKER EXCERPTS Because of the bonds I formed with my teachers that allowed me to feel so at ease in school, I have been able to try all sorts of new things here at Town. I think I have found a part of me that I otherwise would have never discovered. Whether you’re an artist, or an athlete, a mathematician or musician, we all have our differences, and I think Town has given us a place where we can feel comfortable exploring our individualities. And I think that through those individualities our grade has become closer and more understanding towards each other. It’s hard to believe that classmates can feel like family, but Town has created an environment where that is exactly what’s happened. While it’s very sad we’re going our separate ways, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us. — ANDREW SHANNON
In my family we do something at dinner called Good, Bad, Funny as a way to jump-start conversation. Let me give you my ultimate Goods, Bads and Funnies about Town. The first stories that came to mind were all good, like our 5th grade girls’ basketball team. Ten girls of varying skill level (and I mean varying) worked together to have an undefeated season that year. Most of my ‘bads’ are just funny now; our Seventh grade drama class’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was spectacularly bad. Our classmates still tease us, but Drama 3 has a bond from our play that no one else has. Probably one of my funniest memories was during Dutch Day in Third grade when we conducted school as if we lived in New Amsterdam, the 1600s precursor to New York City. Back then girls were expected to sew, and I couldn’t get a piece of string through the eye of the needle, which resulted in my teacher telling me that I would never have made a very good New Amsterdam wife. My only genuine ‘bad’ about my nine years at Town is that I have to leave this amazing school. I don’t think I have loved many things as much as I love Town. [To the younger students in the audience], when you stand here on this stage one day, you won’t remember the Bads, you’ll only remember the Goods and the Funnies. — OLIVIA MURRAY
C ONGR ATU L ATIONS TO OU R GR A DUATE S! We can’t wait for your f irst of f icial cla ss n otes n e xt year! THE TOWN SCHOOL
Eric Wimer ’08 ERIC IS STUDYING PHILOSOPHY IN DENMARK AT THE SOREN KIERKEGA ARD CENTER. DURING HIS SPARE TIME HE HAS CLIMBED IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, SEEN THE NORTHERN LIGHTS, SPOKEN TO ACTIVISTS IN ISTANBUL, AND ENJOYED THE DANISH SUN WHENEVER IT CAME OUT.
Briar McQuilkin ’08 I STUDIED ABROAD IN BERLIN, GERMANY DURING THE FALL SEMESTER OF MY JUNIOR YEAR FOR ABOUT FOUR MONTHS. I TOOK AN INTENSIVE GERMAN LANGUAGE COURSE AND TWO OTHER LIBERAL ARTS CLASSES THAT FOCUSED SPECIFICALLY ON GERMAN HISTORY AND GERMAN ART. I ALSO HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO TRAVEL AROUND TO OTHER CITIES IN GERMANY AND EUROPE. I SAW WEIMAR, DRESDEN, AMSTERDAM, EDINBURGH, PRAGUE, COPENHAGEN, AND BUDAPEST.
New York Times
Doug Davis ’86 CONGRATS TO PROUD PARENTS DOUG DAVIS AND JESSIE MUSCIO ON THE ARRIVAL OF BILLIE HAZEL DAVIS, WHO WAS BORN ON MAY 9TH, WEIGHING IN AT 5 LBS., 14 OZ. DOUG REPORTS THAT EVERYONE IS DOING GREAT AND ENJOYING THE NEW ADDITION TO THEIR FAMILY.
Erica Rosenfeld ’89 Erica’s sculptural installation, “Like Remembering a Dream the Day After...” was exhibited at Heller Gallery from April 10 – May 21 and at the gallery’s booth at Art Southampton in July. The sculptures are made from glass, paper, eggshells and fruit.
Leah Davidson ’80 QUICK UPDATE: I’M A MOTHER TO 3½ YEAR OLD TWINS PHILIP AND GRAHAM. I’M A PRODUCER FOR A WOMEN’S CLOTHING CATALOG CONTINUING TO TRAVEL ON LOCATION PHOTO SHOOTS. I’VE GOTTEN BACK INTO MARATHON RUNNING DOING ALL 5 BOROUGH ½ MARATHONS AND WILL DO MY 7TH FULL MARATHON THIS NOVEMBER IN NYC. LIFE IS FULL AND RICH AND BUSY!
Katie Richman ’08 THIS PAST SEMESTER I HAD THE OPPORTUNIT Y TO STUDY IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC. IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST INSPIRING ADVENTURES I’VE HAD SO FAR IN MY LIFE. I WAS ALSO ABLE TRAVEL TO MANY OTHER PLACES, AND MET LOTS OF NEW PEOPLE. MY FAVORITE CIT Y WAS MONACO; IT WAS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. I’M CURRENTLY AN INTERNATIONAL STUDIES MA JOR AT THE UNIVERSIT Y OF MICHIGAN.
46 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
Stephanie Bauman ’97 STEPHANIE AND BJORN QUENEMOEN CELEBRATED THE BIRTH OF THEIR FIRST CHILD, ADELINE WILLA QUENEMOEN ON MAY 15.
Jonny King and Freddie Bryant ’79 Jonny and Freddie performed together on May 17th at Mezzrow, a jazz piano room in Greenwich Village. Jonny was on the piano, Freddie on the guitar, and Dezron Douglas on bass. Fellow classmate Ashish Caleb Gattegno ’79 attended and took this great photo!
Ty Matsunaga ’08
Nico Marceca ’00
T Y IS CURRENTLY A STUDENT AT NYU, STUDYING MEDIA, CULTURE, AND COMMUNICATIONS. THIS YEAR HE TRAVELED TO STUDY ABROAD IN PRAGUE THROUGH NYU’S PROGRAM. T Y WAS ABLE TO TRAVEL THROUGH MUCH OF EASTERN EUROPE BUT IS HAPPY TO BE BACK IN THE BEST CIT Y IN THE WORLD.
I HAVE BEEN LIVING AND WORKING IN GUATEMALA SINCE 2011. IN JANUARY 2015 I LED A TEAM OF FOUR PEOPLE TO HIKE UP GUATEMALA’S 37 VOLCANOES IN 27 DAYS. WE SET OUT ON THIS JOURNEY TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE FOUR CHARITIES WE SUPPORT, WHICH RANGE IN SIZE FROM A GRASS ROOTS GUATEMALAN NGO TO THE BIG NAME HABITAT FOR HUMANIT Y. THE CHARIT Y I REPRESENTED IS NINOS DE GUATEMALA, A DUTCH-GUATEMALAN ORGANIZATION THAT RUNS TWO SCHOOL BUILDINGS, OFFERING EDUCATION AND OPPORTUNIT Y TO NEARLY 350 UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES. 100% OF DONATIONS WENT DIRECTLY TO THE CHARITIES. DURING THE HIKE WE CANVASSED THE COUNTRY, INCLUDING THREE SUPER ACTIVE VOLCANOES, CENTRAL AMERICA'S HIGHEST PEAK, AND LOTS OF GREAT ADVENTURES WHILE DESTROYING OUR LEGS!
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Olivia Cranin ’99 OLIVIA AND SCOTT ADAM ABRAMOWITZ WERE MARRIED JULY 19, 2014 AT THE BRIDGEHAMPTON TENNIS AND SURF CLUB. OLIVIA IS AN ONLINE MARKETING MANAGER AT AMERICAN EXPRESS. SCOTT IS AN ASSOCIATE SPECIALIZING IN CORPORATE LAW AT THE NEW YORK LAW FIRM KRAMER LEVIN.
Colin Graham ’97 Colin is the Chief Mate and head of programming for the National Historic Landmark Schooner Lettie G. Howard at the South Street Seaport Museum in NYC. The Lettie is involved with the New York City Harbor School, and they take student trainees on voyages along the East Coast teaching programs that combine coursework in history and environmental sciences with leadership and teambuilding components.
Jennifer Press Marden ’76 PARIS...THE PERFECT START TO THE PERFECT HONEYMOON. WE WERE MARRIED THIS PAST SEPTEMBER AT OUR HOME IN NYC SURROUNDED BY OUR FAMILIES. MUSIC TO WALK “DOWN THE AISLE” AND RECEPTION PROVIDED BY MY DEAR FRIEND AND CLASSMATE, JEREMY BAR ILLAN.
Annual Alumni Donors Party ON JUNE 11 ALUMNI/AE DONORS GATHERED AT TONY FEATHERSTON’S HOME TO CELEBRATE TOWN AND BE RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR SUPPORT. THE PART Y WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN COMPLETE WITHOUT SPECIAL GUEST AND ALUMNI/AE FAVORITE TOM GOLDEN. Top photo: Stacy Tenenbaum Stark ’83, Debra Ellenoff Lang ’78, Tony Featherston, Head of School. Bottom photo: Stella Heyliger-Mulatu ’98, Shira and Lee Bressler ’96, Stevie Rachmuth ’06
48 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
Tori Goodell ’08
SOULCYCLE Charity Ride TOWN’S FIRST EVER SOULCYCLE CHARIT Y RIDE WAS HELD ON JUNE 16TH AT THE WEST VILLAGE STUDIO. MR. MCCARTNEY WAS LEADING THE PACK OF TOWN FACULT Y AND ALUMNI/AE “TAPPING IT BACK” FOR TOWN! WE CAN’T WAIT TO HOST OUR NEXT RIDE!
David Ebersman ’83 IN JUNE 2015, DAVID (FORMER CFO OF FACEBOOK AND GENENTECH) LAUNCHED LYRA HEALTH, A STARTUP THAT WILL FOCUS ON ADDRESSING THE GAPS IN THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM SURROUNDING BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CONDITIONS LIKE ANXIET Y AND DEPRESSION. LYRA HEALTH’S MISSION IS TO TRANSFORM BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE THROUGH TECHNOLOGY WITH A HUMAN TOUCH.
TORI SPENT THE FALL SEMESTER OF HER COLLEGE JUNIOR YEAR PERCHED IN THE HILLS OF FIESOLE, ITALY LIVING IN A VILLA WITH 30 GEORGETOWN UNIVERSIT Y STUDENTS. HER ADVICE FOR THOSE STUDYING ABROAD: MAKE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO AVOID THE VERY AMERICAN SPOTS IN YOUR CIT Y; DEEPEN YOUR EXPERIENCE IN YOUR HOST CIT Y INSTEAD OF TRAVELING EVERY WEEKEND; SAY “YES” TO AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. TORI WRITES, “I KNOW THAT I AM A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON HAVING BEEN ABROAD. I AM MORE CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE IN MY OWN SKIN. ALSO, I NOW FEEL MUCH MORE INDEPENDENT AND RESOURCEFUL.”
Adam Nelson ’98 ADAM AND HIS WIFE JACLYN RICE NELSON WERE MARRIED JULY 26, 2014.
Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling ’96 Welcome to the world, Tali June Zwerdling! — with Alex Zwerdling.
Peter Asimov ’06 Peter performed a program of Schumann, Carter and Schubert with violist Richard O’Neill at the Louvre in Paris on February 19, 2015 and in Grenoble, France on February 22, 2015.
Molly Graham ’00 MOLLY GRADUATED FROM SUNY DOWNSTATE MEDICAL SCHOOL AND WILL BEGAN HER RESIDENCY IN EMERGENCY MEDICINE AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSIT Y HOSPITAL IN WASHINGTON, DC IN JULY.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Phineas Lambert ’96 MEET PHINEAS AND DAILY LAMBERT’S SON, ROARK!
Krista Dubin ’99 Krista Alexandra Dubin married Eric Matthew Giambattista on November 29, 2014 in the Metropolitan Building in Long Island City. Krista is studying for a medical degree and a Ph.D. in microbiology in a program of Weill Cornell Medical College, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University. She also serves on the student board of the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights, which provides forensic medical evaluations to survivors of torture seeking asylum in the United States. Eric is studying for a Ph.D. in economics at New York University.
Stella Heyliger-Mulatu ’98 STELLA IS BEGINNING HER SECOND YEAR AS A 1ST GRADE TEACHER AT TOWN. SHE AND HER HUSBAND, FITSUM, ARE PROUD PARENTS TO ZELALEM, TOWN CLASS OF ’24! FRIENDS OF THE HEYLIGER FAMILY WILL BE PLEASED TO HEAR THAT STELLA'S MOM Y VETTE IS ALSO STILL AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF OUR TOWN FAMILY, AS A FORMER GRAND PARENT ANNUAL GIVING CHAIR AND PROUD GRANDMOTHER!
Bill Charlap ’80 Bill Charlap began his second decade as artistic director of 92Y’s Jazz in July Festival. This year’s festival featured Bill performing with Marcus Roberts, Ann Hampton Callaway, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Bill’s wife Renee Rosnes among others.
Joshua McCartney ’10 JOSHUA JUST COMPLETED A POST-GRADUATE YEAR AT GOULD ACADEMY IN BETHEL, MAINE. HE IS NOW A NATIONALLY CERTIFIED EMT AND SKI PATROLLER AND WILL BE HEADING TO DENNISON UNIVERSITY IN THE FALL.
Town Alumni/ae as SummerSault Teachers EACH SUMMER, MANY TOWN ALUMNI/AE JOIN OUR SUMMERSAULT STAFF, HELPING CHILDREN ENJOY A SUMMER OF SWIMMING, SPORTS, ARTS, AND MORE. WE LOVE HAVING THEM ON THE TOWN TEAM!
50 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
#telltown Share your social media updates with the Town community. Just add #telltown to your post, tweet or photo and consider it submitted!
Passage to Cuba SKYHORSE PUBLISHING
Cynthia Carris Alonso ’77 As an American photographer, accredited journalist and member of a Cuban family by marriage, Cynthia had access to the beautiful areas accessible only to foreign tourists as well as to the daily life of the Cuban people that was usually kept separate and isolated from tourists’ eyes.
Getting There: A Book of Mentors HARRY N. ABRAMS
Gillian Segal ’83
Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh W. W. NORTON & COMPANY
John Lahr ’51 The definitive biography of America’s greatest playwright from the celebrated drama critic of The New Yorker. This astute, deeply researched biography sheds a light on Tennessee Williams’s warring family, his guilt, his creative triumphs and failures, his sexuality and numerous affairs, his misreported death, and even the shenanigans surrounding his estate.
Odds Against Tomorrow: A Novel PICADOR
Nathaniel Rich ’94 This book chronicles a gifted young mathematician asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail. His schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. As his predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. At once an all-too-plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, posing the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization.
Turtle Face and Beyond: Stories FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX
Arthur Bradford ’84 Darkly funny stories by the man David Sedaris calls “the most outlandish and energetic writer I can think of.”
The path to success is rarely easy or direct, and good mentors are hard to find. In Getting There, thirty leaders in diverse fields share their secrets to navigating the rocky road to the top. In an honest, direct, and engaging way, these role models describe the obstacles they faced, the setbacks they endured, and the vital lessons they learned. They dispense not only essential and practical career advice, but also priceless wisdom applicable to life in general.
Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year – Dark City DC COMICS
Scott Snyder ’90 The Riddler has plunged Gotham City into darkness. How will a young Dark Knight bring his beloved hometown from the brink of chaos and madness and back into the light? This is the concluding volume to Batman’s origin story, as you’ve never seen it before.
Balls: A Novel RARE BIRD BOOKS
Julian Tepper ’93 A New York story, a dark comedy, about 30-year-old Henry Schiller, a songwriter and lounge-player, in love with a woman far younger and more musically gifted than himself, one with her eye on other men and the rise of her own career, whose crisis deepens when he discovers he has testicular cancer.
THE TOWN SCHOOL
Jeanie M. Smart WE REGRET TO ANNOUNCE that Jeanie M. Smart passed away in her home in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, on April 23, 2015. Jeanie was Chair of The Town School Board of Trustees from 1981–88 and her son Dana graduated from Town in 1983.
Jeanie threw herself heart and soul into her role as Board Chair of The Town School and took an interest in every aspect of the school. It was in very large part due to her hard work that, together with a small committee, the air rights were sold, putting Town onto a much more solid financial footing – [the rights were sold for] $7m – and gaining two floors of the new building for the school. Jeanie had boundless energy and enthusiasm and it was fun to work with her. She was always positive and encouraging. She will be much missed, not only by her family but also by those who worked closely with her at Town, as I did.
— Gillian duCharme Head of The Town School (1980–1985)
During her tenure as Board Chair, Jeanie skillfully coordinated two and a half years of negotiations with the Glick Development Affiliates to sell Town’s air rights. This was a transformative moment in Town’s history, providing much needed funds that were designated for immediate renovations, a Capital Improvements and Maintenance Fund and an endowment, which has grown to over $40 million to date. We remember Jeanie with gratitude for her legacy to Town.
Jeanie Smart was an extraordinary friend to The Town School and to me. She was the backbone of the air rights deal and without that Town would not have an endowment. Jeanie was tough and she was tender. She was a hard negotiator. She had lunch with the Queen mother at her palace in London and she fed the squirrels in Carl Schurz Park. She collected Native American pottery and jewelry and supported two Native American families who would visit and stay in her California home. She was devoted to her sister, her son Dana and her three grandsons. Jeanie loved to laugh and to make those around her laugh. She was an incredible lady. I will always remember the sound of that laughter.
— Annie Gorycki Town Business Manager (1976–1989)
Jeanie Smart was a “no-nonsense” leader of the Town Board. She had a very incisive mind that could cut through the fog of words to get to the essence of an issue. Jeanie led the Board through some difficult financial times for Town and kept us focused on preserving longstanding Town values despite the economic strains. I was one of the Trustees who led the air rights sale effort, and my job in that role was made immeasurably easier with Jeanie backing me up. The Town community owes a great debt of gratitude for the extraordinary leadership of Jeanie Smart.
52 C U R R E N T S s u m m e r 2 0 1 5
— Burt Lehman Past Town parent and Board Chair Current Town Grandparent
Asking the Questions & Finding the Answers
What do teachers need to provide an exceptional classroom experience for students?
* Professional Development * Building Improvements and Classroom Upgrades * Technology Resources How can the Town community help?
* Financial Support * Participate in the Town Community
The Town community is engaged, involved and generous. Over the years, a strong culture of philanthropy has taken root and is a testament to the community’s support of Town’s extraordinary N–8 education.
Be Part of the Answer thetownschool.org/giving
The Town School
Non-Profit Org. US Postage
540 East 76th Street New York, NY 10021
Connect with Town!
PAID Permit No. 370 Albany NY
GET THE LATEST NEWS, PHOTOS AND MORE.
TAKE A LOOK AT OUR NEW SITE!
VISIT US ONLINE AT thetownschool.org