Currents Magazine 2018

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currents 2018 ISSUE

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


Philip Bien ’95 Emily Abbott CONTRIBUTORS

John Backman Melissa Bauman Ellen Cookson

Nicole D’Amico Andrea DeJesus Ken Higgins Jeff Kennedy Ali Koss Bill McCartney Odette C. Muskin Iloire Nye Janie Vance David A. Wood


Stephanie Berger Kris Qua Town staff DESIGN


Lindsey Balbierz


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

The editors welcome comments and story ideas from all members of The Town School community. e-mail: mail: Jodie Wilkerson The Town School 540 East 76th Street New York, NY 10021 © 2018 The Town School


18 12


Message from Tony Featherston


News + Notes


Activities + Events

10 Sustainability



Program Peeks


Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity


Farewell Tony Featherston


Class Notes


Alum Profiles


Alums Reflect


In Memoriam


Class of 2018

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.



Commitment to Community the town school’s song,

WE ARE PROUD TO SHARE the product of a year-long process involving many voices across all Town constituencies and approved by the Board of Trustees in May: our new Statement on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. This updated language reflects the many years of work we have done as a community, current best practice, and where we aspire to go together. Director of Equity and Community Eva Vega-Olds led the process that coalesced around shared commitments to openness, engagement, respect, and trust. Once Doug Brophy was named as Town’s next Head of School in January, he too provided valuable feedback, input, and support. This fall there will be opportunities for all Town constituencies to join the conversation and help our community embody these beliefs every day. Read the statement on page 18!


Currents Magazine 2018

Gaudeant Discentes, includes a line about the school’s location: “a school where park and river meet.” The Head of School’s office, at the Northeast corner of the building, has afforded me the perfect view to observe the connection between park, river, and school. While the song offers a literal reference to our unique locale, it also serves as an apt metaphor for what makes Town special and is highlighted in this edition of Currents. John Jay Park, across the street to the north, is a place where people gather — rain or shine, warm weather and cold — to find a bit of peace and community in this raucous and sometimes impersonal city. From the senior citizens doing early morning exercise, caregivers allowing their young charges a little room to run, groups of people of all ages playing basketball, tennis, or tag, to those who are just looking for a place to have a quiet conversation on a bench, John Jay provides a place to gather and feel part of the neighborhood community. The East River is an equally defining boundary, but in contrast to the park it is always in motion, never at peace, ever dynamic, with boats and barges of various sizes (some larger than one would think could safely navigate such a busy waterway) traveling up and down the river every day. But it is the natural flow of the East River that I find most compelling. As it turns out, the East River is a tidal estuary, not a river at all. As such, depending on the tides, it flows north or south, changing direction frequently with great fluctuations in its flow. Sometimes it is almost totally calm and at others it is racing, while on some occasions it is roiling with large, menacing waves. Suffice to say, it is always mesmerizing. Like John Jay Park and the East River, Town is a place where people seek community and that is characterized by its own dynamic energy and flow. And over the last six years I have had the pleasure of being a part of and benefiting from both.

Town continues to be a place where community is a core value for students, parents, faculty, staff, caregivers, alumni/ae, and friends. With our focus on S.O.S. — Self, Others, Surroundings — sustainability, a newly strengthened commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity, and celebrations of community, including TownFest, monthly assemblies, our annual benefit party, all school picnic, graduation, and more, Town serves as a touchstone for all of us who are connected to the school. A community that truly values each member and celebrates being together, as Town does, will continue to thrive. Similarly, the dynamic nature of the East River is reflected in the way Town never rests on its laurels, how it balances tradition and innovation, and is driven by the notion of relentless improvement. Our students, ranging in age from three to 14, are analogous to the vessels that travel the river: different sizes, sometimes traveling in different directions and at different speeds but all on their way to an important destination. Preparing children for success in a fast-changing world is a daunting challenge, but Town’s approach to teaching and learning and the value placed on hard work, perseverance, and building skills and confidence will serve our students well no matter where their journeys take them. In this issue of Currents, I hope that you are inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of the children as well as by the dedication of all Town adults to provide the best possible learning environment as promised in our mission and school song. Town is indeed a school where park and river meet; it is also a school where inspired teaching, joyful learning, engaged parenting, high standards, continual growth, and a true commitment to community meet — to the benefit of us all. Sincerely, Tony Featherston Head of School 2012–2018

Upper School Percussion Ensemble Students rehearsing for a drum line performance, one of three trimester rotations in Percussion Ensemble each year.



News + Notes FAREWELL

Pawel Zylewicz

Physical Education FAREWELL


fter 17 years on the physical education team at Town Pawel Zylewicz retired in June. A passionate sportsman with a contagious love of competitive sports, “Mr. Z,” as he is known to Town students, coached almost every sport at one time or another and built Town’s track program into a powerhouse among our peer schools. A native of Poland, Pawel is looking forward to more time and flexibility to visit friends and family in interesting locales across the world.

Richard Lercari Chef


or 14 years Chef Richard Lercari provided our students, faculty, and staff with nourishment to get through the rigors of Town’s school day. Chef Lercari brought considerable expertise and creativity to his role, effectively blending traditional Town favorites like “Muenster Bagels” with more inventive options that appealed across the board, often using local ingredients including greens from Town’s own Tower Garden. Chef Lercari, an avid beekeeper, plans to take advantage of his retirement to spend more time upstate tending to his honey bees.

Faculty / Staff Years of Service Milestones


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30 YEARS Dr. Jan Mooney 25 YEARS Cynthia Davies

15 YEARS Hilarie Goodenough Carlos Pelaez Stephen Petrillo Peter Roberts

10 YEARS Stefanie Boutis Ava Collins Courtney Dougherty Johnson Wong

Welcome Dr. Douglas Brophy TOWN’S NEW HEAD OF SCHOOL


e had the honor this past school year of chairing the search for Town’s next Head of School, and we are so pleased our search led us to Doug Brophy. A leadership transition is an opportunity to think boldly and strategically about the future as well as reflect upon the qualities that we most value about our school. The defining characteristic of our search was the consistent, caring investment and engagement of our Town community, and we are grateful to all constituencies for the time, energy, and astute feedback you contributed to this important process. We want to particularly recognize the dedication and countless hours of deeply thoughtful work by our Search Committee members. We are also profoundly grateful to Tony Featherston for six years of fantastic leadership, and for his partnership, advice, and support throughout the search and transition process. Learn more about Doug on our website

The Brophy Family: Doug with his wife, Barbara Porter, and their daughter, Allegra.

The Search Process in Brief Between late September and early February Town parents, faculty, and staff attended two open forums with our search firm, submitted over 200 community survey responses, attended 16 forums with finalists, conducted a collective 56 one-to-one meetings with candidates, and submitted over 400 feedback forms to share impressions of our finalists. Search Committee members read every single one of those 600+ survey responses, reviewed credentials for the 20 most outstanding applicants, interviewed eight semi-finalists, observed forums, and met at length with finalists. Finally, the Committee reviewed in-depth references for each finalist, and came to the unanimous decision to recommend Doug Brophy for consideration by the full Board. The Trustees carefully reviewed the Committee’s recommendation, and ultimately voted to appoint Doug as Town’s next Head of School. Then we got to share the news with Town’s entire community of current and former families, current and former faculty and staff, and alumni/ae! We officially welcomed Doug and his family to Town with a special event in April, and he looks forward to connecting with more community members as the school year begins. By the time you are reading this, Doug will have been at Town for about two months, and we can report he is thrilled to be officially starting work with our community. He has been busy meeting with families, faculty, staff, and Trustees; getting to know the building; doing a lot of reading and planning; and preparing for a fantastic school year ahead. We have never been more proud or pleased to be Town parents and Trustees than during this search process, and we look forward to Doug’s leadership and partnership to build on Town’s many strengths. — Valerie Russo Chair of the Board, Parent Karyn Kornfeld Trustee, Parent Head Search Committee Co-Chairs



Activities + Events

Treasure the Night: A Celebration of All That We Treasure About Town On May 3, 2018, our community came together for a special party to celebrate a great year at Town and to toast our outgoing Head of School, Tony Featherston. More than 300 parents, faculty, and staff put on their best “jeans and jewels” attire to enjoy great music, food, entertainment, and dancing in a hip NYC warm-weather venue: the openair bar at Rock & Reilly’s. Town’s program and community were at the heart of the event in many ways. In the months leading up to the party, students, teachers, and parents contributed to a display in the main hallway at school with personal reflections on “what we treasure about Town.” Photos of our students decorated digital screens and furniture in the party space, and the event’s program featured heartfelt speeches thanking Tony Featherston for his six years of leadership and friendship, as well as announcing The Capstone Experience Fund in his honor (read more on page 22). The evening even included a special treasure hunt based on our ethical motto of S.O.S. (Self, Others, and Surroundings). Thank you to the Parents’ Association, and particularly our event chairs Jamie Brown and Stephanie Thaler (pictured page 7 upper right corner), for creating a night that was “very Town” and truly joyful!


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Currents Magazine 2018

1 Rise Against Hunger Community Action Day 2 4th Grade Farm Trip 3 Art Show Kick Off 4 Augmented & Virtual Reality with Google Education 5 7th Graders at Nature’s Classroom 6 Lunar New Year Celebration 7/8 TownFest 9 All School Picnic




Leadership, Education, and Community Engagement Earth Week at Town

3rd Annual Sustainability Through Student Voices Conference

Our annual week of activities dedicated to environmental awareness, community activism, and individual commitment. A committee of teachers from every division helped design age-appropriate activities for each grade.

— Close to 150 people representing more than 20 schools —T own students, teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and board members attended —T own faculty & students held workshops; students & alums helped plan the conference —K eynote speaker Carl Pope, former executive director of The Sierra Club, delivered an inspiring and forward-thinking message and shared copies of his book Climate of Hope, written with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — A sampling of the workshops given:

Earth Day Student Rally

• Celebrating Diversity & Creativity in Environmental Activism

On April 22nd members of the Town community joined students, faculty, and parents from a dozen other schools for a rally at Union Square Park.

•T he Greatest Quest on Earth: Empowering Students as the Leaders of a Regenerative Future

•E nvironmental Movement Shark Tank: Apply an Entrepreneurial Model to Environmental Activism

• Global Awareness in a Pre-K Classroom

Facilities, Waste Stream, and our Student “Green Team” Participation in NYC’s Organic Collection Program Several tons of organic waste that in the past would have found its way into a landfill has been transformed into composted soil or biofuel. Students and teachers alike have become much better at recognizing “what stuff goes in what bin,” and the instances of cross-contamination in our compostable and recyclable materials continues to diminish.

The Upper School Student Sustainability Club —H elped parents properly recycle, even standing by before assemblies with the recycling bins! —M aintained our Tower Garden, from which our chefs harvest fresh greens and herbs throughout the year for use in our salads at lunch. —P lanted herbs on the N–K terrace using soil from the rooftop composting barrel maintained by our 2nd graders.


Currents Magazine 2018


Extending Sustainability Efforts Beyond Town > MAKE A COMMITMENT AS

A FAMILY & STICK WITH IT Refuse single-use plastic bags, cups, and straws. Walk, bike, or use public transportation when possible. Add a meatless meal to your weekly menu.

Curriculum Teachers weave sustainability concepts through the curriculum at every level.


Upper School

Conversations about respect, waste, S.O.S., sharing resources, and the value of multiple perspectives lay the foundation for eventual discussion of systems in Upper School Life Skills classes.

—E xploring global systems that advantage some and disadvantage others.

Lower School — 1 st grade’s community study includes hands-on care in John Jay Park with clean-ups and planting. Students grapple with how to reconcile individual rights with collective responsibility to preserve and protect the commons. —3 rd graders raise money for City Harvest and learn about hunger and food waste in NYC.

—5 th graders examine their own carbon footprints and begin to consider “what do I have, and what do I need to live a good life?” —6 th graders develop a strong understanding of the waste stream including plastic and electronics pollution. We discuss the idea there is no such thing as throwing something “away,” and we are all responsible for the planet. —7 th graders study food systems, including the concept of “food deserts” in cities.


Does your apartment building participate in NYC organics collection? You can make this happen. Visit and search for organics collection.


Contact elected officials at the local, state, and federal level regarding issues that are important to you and your family.


Sustainability Events at Town

> Thursday, October 25th

A screening of the film Straws and a discussion panel focused on encouraging NYC restaurants to reduce or replace plastic straws. Americans dispose of almost half a billion plastic straws a day. Unlike cans and bottles, almost none of these are recycled. Next year, Town will join national efforts and coordinate with our fellow NYC schools to encourage individuals, schools, businesses, and restaurants to reduce or replace plastic straws. Learn more:

> Saturday, April 27th

4th Annual Sustainability Through Student Voices Conference for students, teachers, administrators, Trustees, and parents. Want to join us? For info visit:



Making Mathematicians Most people think of math as arithmetic: the study of numbers and the operations that manipulate them. Town students go further—deep into the larger science of patterns and relationships that describe nothing less than our universe.


Currents Magazine 2018

What’s the big idea? Children internalize math concepts best when they construct authentic meaning first. That’s why we give students a lot of time to explore concepts on the front end. Before we introduce the standard algorithm—the calculation method most adults would recognize— students learn WHY the algorithm works and WHY it’s such an efficient tool. This helps them to become excellent problem solvers. The curriculum approaches in use at Town (TERC Investigations in Kindergarten to 5th grade, Connected Mathematics Project 3 in 6th and 7th grades, and leveled Algebra in 8th grade) work well as an overall arc because they share this common philosophy of launching a concept, exploring potential approaches collaboratively, and then moving to mastery of procedures.

We support this philosophy with several other “big ideas”: Town teachers never stop honing their skills. At regular math planning meetings, they collaborate as grade-level or divisional teams, read the latest professional literature and discuss best practices, review a particular strand of math in other grade levels’ curriculum to ensure alignment, and check in on personal goals around the practice of teaching math. They also pursue professional development to deepen their conceptual grasp of the math they teach. We keep math in the real world—from Nursery 4 students divvying up snacks to 6th graders developing a real-life budget. As students move into 8th grade Algebra, we balance this approach with strong preparation for the slightly more traditional classes they will likely see in high school. At the same time, our teachers do not shy away from the rigor of algorithms and mathematical models.

We encourage “cognitive discomfort.” Our brains feel uncomfortable when we look at a problem and don’t immediately understand how to solve it. That discomfort is where profound learning and new neural pathways are born! We discourage students from erasing mistakes—the entire journey is important—and often require them to share or document their failures right along with their final successful outcomes. Town teachers also pursue the experience of cognitive discomfort themselves through professional development experiences. We collaborate. Students engage in a lot of small-group work in math lessons. Though we take care to provide additional instruction or challenges as needed, we also ensure that the full class comes back together to discuss a concept or unit, as everyone builds their own knowledge from hearing different understandings, strategies, and pathways to solving problems.

Town Math Year by Year N3 & N4 Number Sense Representation Measurement (length, height, & weight) Spatial Sense (shapes, attributes, space, position) Patterns (size, shape, & pattern) Estimation (more than & less than) K & 1st Grade Number & Operations, Whole Numbers, Addition & Subtraction Measurement Geometry Patterns & Functions Data Analysis 2nd Grade Number & Operations, Whole Numbers, Fractions Measurement

Are You Smarter than a 7th Grader?


Geometry Patterns & Functions Data Analysis 3rd–5th Grades

A farmer is taking her eggs to market in her cart. Along the way, she hits a pothole, which jars her cart and spills the eggs. Though the farmer is unhurt, every egg is broken. So she goes to her insurance agent, who asks her how many eggs she had. She doesn’t know, but she does remember some things from various ways she tried packing the eggs. She knows that when she put the eggs in groups of two, there was one egg left over. When she put them in groups of three, there was also one egg left over. The same thing happened when she put them in groups of four, groups of five, or groups of six. But when she put them in groups of seven, she ended up with complete groups of seven, with no eggs left over. • What can you figure out from this information about how many eggs the farmer had? • Is there more than one possibility? • What would you do if you were the insurance agent? To check your work against our students visit

Numbers & Operations, Whole Numbers, Positive Rational Numbers Geometry & Measurement Patterns, Functions & Change Data Analysis 6th & 7th Grades Multi-step Operations with Integers & Rational Numbers Geometry Ratios & Proportional Relationships Algebraic Expressions & Equations Statistics & Probability 8th Grade Leveled Algebra Arithmetic with Polynomials & Rational Functions Creating and Applying Equations & Systems of Equations Reasoning with Equations & Inequalities Expressions



Creating Communicators On one level, the letters and words you see here are simply random notations. The ability to convert them into a system of meaning is the very definition of literacy— and just the beginning of literacy education at Town. Our mission, from Nursery through 8th grade, is to grow our students into skilled, fluent writers and readers who can express their own thoughts and incisively grasp the thoughts of others.


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What’s the big idea? We start with the skills we want for our graduating 8th graders, then design programs for each developmental stage to get there. From developing confidence through wordless picture books in Nursery-Kindergarten classes to interpreting Romeo and Juliet in 8th grade, students are given the strategies and challenges they need at each phase of their lives.

Several other “big ideas” support our goals for our students: We reinforce comfort with current skills— and ask students to challenge themselves. Town students encounter cognitive discomfort as they progress in reading and writing—and that’s a great thing! Those points of manageable struggle are the moments when the most important new connections are made. We help students find their own voice. As early as 1st and 2nd grades, you can start to hear a personal voice in the children’s writing, thanks to their experience reading books and studying how authors communicate ideas. In 4th, 5th and 6th grades, students get feedback on essays, spend time revising to improve a single paragraph, and learn to build stronger arguments with examples and quotes from the text. By 7th and 8th grades, students

read with sophisticated comprehension, interpret the author’s intent and technique in a piece of literature, and write in a variety of styles with increasing independence. We nurture a lifelong passion for the written word. In the lower grades, students spend time learning to pick a “just right” book that will be both somewhat challenging but also fun and engaging to read. In Upper School, we take class time to read each week in 5th and 6th grades, and students through 8th grade are expected to always have something they’re reading for pleasure in addition to their assigned reading for class. As 3rd and 4th grade reading specialist Ellen Cookson once said, “I was so engrossed in my book this morning that I missed my train stop— and I want that for our students!”

Challenge (and Fun) at Every Step FUNdations A phonemic-based approach to literacy for younger children, which incorporates the orthography of English (how words are spelled).

Sounds in Motion A multisensory approach to letter-sound correspondence for younger children.

Words Their Way A pattern-based word study and spelling program. We don’t send kids home with traditional spelling lists, but rather encourage them to sort words and look at the patterns that make up spelling in the English language. This energizes students and gives them a better foundation for thinking about spelling for the rest of their lives.

Teachers College Readers and Writers Workshop A comprehensive approach to reading and writing that provides direct instruction through a mini-lesson and workshop format, building a community of readers.

Windward Expository Writing Program A curriculum that provides concrete structures to organize writing. Students learn to organize and expand their writing with clarity and sophistication while improving syntax and flow.



Capping Off a Town Career What do you want to be when you grow up? By the time they enter 8th grade, Town students have answered that question hundreds of times. The Capstone Experience asks them something different—and much deeper.


he Capstone Experience, initiated by Tony Featherston in 2016, poses questions like who are you? What do you find most compelling right now? How might that connect to something bigger? The ability to answer these questions thoughtfully and creatively is an excellent gauge of what a Town education does for our students. Town 8th graders have acquired the skills, attitudes, and knowledge to think and communicate effectively. They have gained self-awareness, a sense of their potential to impact the world, and a distinctive voice with which to express both who they are and why that matters. During the Capstone Experience, they get to demonstrate all this, as well as their capacity to imagine and create a future. Here’s how it works.

Listening to the Giants The Speaker Series features leaders, creative thinkers, and change agents from the worlds of business, the arts, literature, education, philanthropy, and public service. Guest speakers share how they found their passion, and eventually their purpose, followed 16

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by an open discussion with questions from the 8th graders. The Speaker Series exposes students to several models of what passion with purpose can look like, while helping them understand that highachieving people rarely travel in a straight line from age 14 to their adult life.

Making Purpose Personal Inspired by the speakers, the 8th graders then reflect on what they heard while considering what they are personally passionate about and how it might connect to a larger purpose. This phase begins with a


Reusable Space Rockets, Fashion Art, Growing Up Muslim... Student presentations were thoughtful, well-researched, and passionately articulated. A few examples:

• Translating passion for singing into an interest in the psychology of music to improve the experiences and lives of others • Sharing a personal experience of growing up Muslim in the U.S. • Creating a website to inspire others to environmental activism • Combining a love of interior design and medicine to create models of therapeutic spaces for mental illness

•E xploring the intersection of science, technology, and sustainability—from reusable space rockets to a recently discovered enzyme that breaks down plastic more quickly

Ben Smith ’91 Investigative Reporter Editor-in-chief BuzzFeed News

•D esigning and fabricating a fashion line based on original artwork with deep personal meaning •U sing sculpture to capture emotions not easily expressed in words Edwidge Danticat Award-winning author 2009 MacArthur Fellow

Heather Greer ’83 Award-winning filmmaker Multimedia artist

brainstorm session, using a design thinking model that challenges the students to think deeply and quickly. Within 90 minutes they must identify their topic and develop an idea of how to tell their story. Next, for a few dedicated class periods, they work in small peer-workshop groups with faculty advisors to create a brief presentation. This short timeline is intended to help students quickly turn big ideas into an organized and clear presentation—a skill essential in school and later life.

Presenting the Results Students share their ‘passion with purpose’ stories with a small audience of faculty, staff, and classmates. After their presentations, the students discuss how much they enjoyed sharing their passions in a format that does not exist outside of the Capstone Experience. They appreciate the emotional connection they experienced in helping others understand something core to themselves—as well as the chance to think broadly about how personal interests can have a purpose in the wider world.

Sheldon Gilbert Tech innovator & inventor Founder & CEO Proclivity Systems

Lauren Hersh Lawyer, Activist, Educator & Writer


The Town School Statement on Diversity, Inclusion, and

Celebrate diversity. Cultivate inclusio At The Town School, we believe a diverse, inclusive, and equitable school community is critical for preparing students to participate in a complex, pluralistic, and interconnected society. We challenge ourselves to regularly evaluate and refine curricula, policies, and practices, and to commit the appropriate resources to ensure we embody these beliefs every day. Guided by a commitment to Town’s ethical motto of Self, Others, and Surroundings, we seek to engage all community members around our multiple identities: among them race, age, gender identity and expression, ethnicity, family composition, ability/disability, learning styles, religion, sexuality, and socio-economic status. By engaging in this exploration of identity, culture, and systems that advantage some and disadvantage others, Town aspires for all members of our community — students, parents, caregivers, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and Trustees — to develop a sense of belonging and for our graduates to bring about positive change in the world.


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on. Prepare to change the world. In support of diversity, inclusion, and equity at Town, all members of our community commit to:

Respect all rust each other to engage T in difficult conversations hare our unique stories S and listen to others’

earn from different L perspectives and experiences

Foster belonging, connectedness, and safety

xamine our biases and E endeavor to overcome them

I nvest in the personal growth of children and adults alike


a Heartfelt Goodbye to TONY FEATHERSTON


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I BEGAN MY JOURNEY AS A TOWN PARENT 13 years ago in 2005 when my daughter Simone entered the Nursery 3 program. In 2011, I was asked to serve on the Board. I was appointed to be Co-Chair of the Head Search Committee along with Anne Scavone and our mission was to lead a team in a search for the new Head of School for the 2012-2013 academic year. Just how did they expect us to find someone who would understand our motto? Where would we find someone who could embrace our culture? Who would lead our faculty and continue to produce more “citizens of the world” in accordance with our educational philosophy? The mission statement was no longer just words on a page. The task seemed daunting and impossible. People like this did not grow on trees — but they did grow in Buffalo, NY. After a very extensive search, we found Anthony G. Featherston IV (aka Tony). Over the past six years, Tony has led this school valiantly. He has embraced our mission and has preserved our culture. Town has continued to produce “citizens of the world.” Tony has ensured abundant offerings for professional development for

our faculty. And S.O.S. remains a strong part of our curriculum and community: not shocking since it is part of his own personal character and one that he shares with his wonderful family. When Tony tasked the Board with rebranding a couple of years back, we were quick to respond: we know who we are, we don’t need to do this. He persisted and we undertook a very lengthy and detailed exercise led by a team of outside consultants. We found out that we were exactly who we thought we were and we were true to our mission, true to our culture and true to our educational philosophy. BUT — we were not saying it loudly or proudly enough! We were humble in our achievements and not prone to self-praise. We strengthened our messaging both

internally and externally. We had joy in learning, and that joy had purpose! The Town School became Town. We now own our achievements and proudly tell all! Thank you Tony for making sure Town found its voice. Thank you for your years of service, the enormous effort, the endless hours. Thank you for watching over our children: teaching them, guiding them. My son Sivan graduated this June and my Town journey is at its end. I will have nothing but happy memories from this school that gave my kids so much. I am honored to have been a parent here, honored to have served on the Board for you and honored to consider you a friend. Tony, you are Town. Period. — Danielle Billera Alumni/ae parent Former Vice Chair of the Board

the ethos of joy in learning means achieving the right balance between intense periods of focused work with equally intense periods of time when our children can recharge. you have strengthened the balance of town and for that we — and our children — are truly grateful. — Marc Stern Alumni/ae parent Chair of the Board of Trustees 2014–18


The Capstone Fund A LASTING LEGACY

Tony’s Impact List > 2012–13

Guided the community in celebrating the School’s 100th Anniversary, presiding over all events and publications.

> 2013–14

Led the school community in creating Town’s Strategic Vision.

> 2014–15 Led a team of faculty to re-invigorate SummerSault, Town’s summer program, aligning it more closely with Town’s educational philosophy. Led the school through a successful self-study in preparation for re-accreditation. Under his leadership many improvements were made to the school building, including major renovation of Town’s Science Center.

> 2015–16

Led the school through a successful NYSAIS re-accreditation. Initiated a branding strategy for Town that aligned with the Strategic Vision.

> 2016–17

Created the Capstone Experience which benefits every child who completes the 8th grade at Town by asking the question, “How can my passion have purpose?” Lengthened Fridays to full school days, allowing a more child-centered, aligned schedule. Continued to fully support Town’s sustainability efforts, with organic recycling, the installation of the Tower Garden, and hosting the 2nd annual Sustainability Through Student Voices conference. Continued to add strategic positions in support of Town’s program such as the Asst. Head of Upper School and Lower School Learning Specialist.

> 2017–18

Simplified the dress code, making it more inclusive for all students. Championed diversity, community, inclusion, and equity by initiating the creation of a new statement on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.


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When Tony announced that the 2017-18 school year would be his last at Town, Holly and I, along with a group of Town parents, began to look for a way to express our appreciation — to find some lasting way to honor Tony for his six years of dedicated service to Town. Right away, it became apparent that a fund for the Capstone Experience, which Tony initiated in 2016, would not only be a fitting tribute to Tony but also of lasting benefit to our students and our school. The Capstone Experience benefits every child who attends Town through the 8th grade. It gives students the opportunity to take ownership of their own learning as they explore the question “How can my passion have purpose?” and this process will serve them well for the rest of their lives. The Capstone Fund allows Town to provide the resources to develop the experience to its fullest potential by supporting student research to deepen the students’ projects, underwriting student travel to hear from guest speakers in their own professional environments, connecting with new guest speakers outside of our community network by funding expenses, accessing expert assistance for student projects when needed, growing our core team of teacher leaders and mentors with stipends, and offering professional development for faculty leaders for the Capstone Experience. We are thrilled to announce that the Town Community has overwhelmingly embraced Capstone as an initiative going forward and as a profound reflection of our gratitude to Tony for his years of leadership. To date, we have raised $725,000! We are grateful to you, Tony, for starting this initiative and proud to have created a fund that will ensure that the Capstone Experience continues to grow and thrive for years to come. — Gordon Kroft Parent

Tony worked to make his relationships with faculty and staff more than just a professional connection — the difference between saying ‘my door is open’ and actually walking around the building, visiting your class, and stopping to have a real conversation. My personal attachment to the Town idea of community became stronger, more overt, with Tony as Head of School. As a leader, Tony puts trust in other people to make good decisions. He expects to be part of the team that develops the plan, and then invests the team with the responsibility of the specific tasks — an approach known as distributed leadership. As a teacher I appreciate that vote of confidence. Tony is comfortable sharing ownership of a project, but is also willing to step in as needed to move things forward at the right times. Perhaps even more importantly, Tony was able to understand when there was need for an adjustment to a plan. Not every initiative will pan out as originally conceived, and there is a selflessness in Tony’s willingness to change his original vision to fit the needs of the institution. He will alter course if it’s what the community needs, even when it doesn’t necessarily align with what he would decide in a vacuum.

Tony’s experience as a diversity practitioner — and willingness to openly share how his own identities shape his experience — has had a remarkably clear impact on Town’s diversity, inclusion, and equity work. As a school we are now in a place where some of the more easily measurable elements of diversity have been hit, such as increased percentages of families and faculty of color, or creating a more genderinclusive dress code. We are now on the path toward inclusion, doing work that is messier and more challenging, because we have enough different voices in the room and people who feel safe diving into murky, messy, difficult conversations together. There will rarely be true unanimity in a community as diverse as ours, but Tony’s gift as a leader has been to listen, discuss, tap into the expertise of his colleagues, and ultimately understand

when it was time to take action to move Town forward. Finally, Tony’s openness and willingness to show his attributes and flaws equally, to present as an authentic person, was very impactful for me, and I think embodied Town’s commitment to a sense of collegial safety and comfort that goes beyond the merely professional. My memories of how that plays out with him have a lot to do with our disagreements, which were always great conversations — him willing to hear an opposing idea, and me not feeling I had to soften my position because I was talking to my boss. Tony, what it comes down to is this: it has been a pleasure to be in your presence. — Johnny Cook 7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher 7th Grade Homeroom Advisor

you truly embodied the heart of our school.

you eloquently reminded us to place equal value on who our kids are as well as what they achieve. you led by example in challenging us to have open, thoughtful conversations with each other. and you have articulated for us the profound value of community: essential to the daily town experience, and to our children’s success. — Valerie Russo Parent, Chair of the Board of Trustees 2018


Six Word Memoirs Tony established a tradition with each year’s graduating class of writing their own “sixword memoirs” about their time at Town. The results were uniquely evocative, and often quite poignant or just plain funny. We asked our community to write their own six-word memoirs in honor of Tony, and below are just a handful of the many wonderful responses from students, parents, faculty, staff, Trustees, and alumni/ae, which we collected in a special farewell book for Tony.

New family, felt welcome, thanks Tony! Inspiring, Mentor, Leader, Friend, Role-model, Trailblazer! Leads with heart, and by example. Always cherished your meaningful heartfelt letters. Strong values, personal touch, great books! Keeps us all focused on SOS. Sox fan…won us over anyway. Wondrous, warm, wise, woke... our Tony! Despite his palpable angst, he danced! Wonderful role model for my children Featherston’s book picks... better than Oprah’s! Sound purposeful thoughtful advice whenever needed. Educator, athlete, dad, advocate for all.


Currents Magazine 2018

Tony and I have known each other for over a decade and I am proud to count him as a colleague, mentor, and friend. One of our first projects working more closely together was as co-presenters at the 2009 NAIS Diversity Leadership Institute. At the time I was considering whether I wanted to become a head of school and getting to know Tony made the idea of headship accessible in a way I simply had not experienced before. Tony leads with authority and wisdom, but also humility, humor, and a focus on authentic relationships. Most heads of school I had encountered up to that point operated from somewhat of a distance, and I had honestly wondered whether I could do this job. What would I have to give up, to change about myself to take on this role? Tony helped me understand the office of the head as being inhabited by a human being; you don’t have to shed who you are to inhabit this leadership space. In fact, the work of a head is only enhanced by bringing your full self to the role, and to the school community. The other remarkable thing about Tony is the way he views everyone as bringing real value to a conversation. Despite the fair amount of difference in our experience levels, he has never made me feel less than a true peer and colleague. In the first year of my headship, I leaned on Tony quite a bit, but as often as not it was him reaching out to check in with me (we had many good phone chats while he was out on a walk with his dog). He never led with advice, but instead would just listen and offer the encouragement I needed to keep moving forward.

To his work in the broader independent school community, Tony brings the same qualities that make him so special as a school leader and in one-to-one settings. He brings deep expertise and commitment to the mission of independent schools and to advancing our collective work around diversity, inclusion, and equity. And he has simply shown a different narrative for the role of head that is valuable in this community. As Tony moves into his new role of recruiting school leaders, I believe he will continue to be a mentor in a different and broader way. Finding the match between a head and a school is the final outcome of a search process, but along the way will be an opportunity for even more people to benefit from Tony’s experience and guidance. Tony, I am grateful for your friendship, encouragement, and mentorship. I wish you all the best in your new role, and I look forward to the positive impact you will no doubt have on independent school leadership.

— Nishant Mehta Head of School, The Children’s School, Atlanta GA

what’s next for tony?

I am pleased to let you know that I have accepted a position with RG175, a consulting firm whose primary business is conducting head of school searches. This exciting opportunity enables me to stay connected to the independent school world and have a meaningful impact on the future of leadership in our schools. It will likely not surprise you that there are very few people of color in the head search industry, so I’m excited to ‘colorize’ that world a little bit. This position also allows Helen and me to live full-time in Rhode Island as the job entails a fair amount of travel, but as long as I’m near an airport (T.F. Green in Providence just barely qualifies!) I can live anywhere. I am looking forward to using my experience to support others as they navigate the important transition of searching for a new head, and to help connect great leaders to great schools! — Tony


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Currents Magazine 2018

We are deeply saddened to share the passing of Katy Kjellgren ’83. Read more: In Memoriam, page 38.

1960s Sophie Glazer ’66 Sophie visited the UK in Spring 2018 where she visited her sister Sarah Glazer Khedouri ’64, and spent time in Scotland with her daughter, Clara, who teaches linguistics at the University of Glasgow. She was in NYC in May where she attended the Metropolitan Playhouse production of Jacob Gordin’s “Jewish King Lear,” translated from Yiddish to English by her mother, the late Ruth Gay. She was joined at the performance by Town School classmates Katharine Ross ’66 and Michele Bogart ’66.

1970s Andrew Hofer ’78 Andrew joined Town’s Board of Trustees last summer, and is in the process of moving back to New York City after 29 years of commuting.

Heather Greer ‘83

Phineas A. Lambert ‘93

1980s Yvette Wynn ’80 Yvette and Todd Yannuzzi ’80, who are colleagues at Morgan Stanley, went to see one of Bill Charlap’s ’80 NYC performances and ran into Kathy Charlap ’78 in the audience. Jenny Eisenpresser Kwit ’82 Jenny completed her MFA at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Heather Greer ’83 Heather recently produced the documentary film “How to Steal a Chair.” The film is about a 72-year-old Greek designer, collector and educator, Stergios Delialis, who is buried under the weight of his lost dream: the Thessaloniki Design Museum, which made an international splash and then died a slow and peculiar death in the 1990s. The film follows Mr. Delialis as he contemplates parting with his enormous design collection, once the core of his museum and now defunct and too costly to maintain amidst the financial crisis. “How to Steal a Chair” made its world premiere in Thessaloniki, Greece in October 2017, followed by its U.S. premiere in May 2018 at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Multiple screenings in various locations are planned for this fall:

Justin Pront ‘95

Stella P. Heyliger-Mulatu ‘98

Jessica Hertle‘98

1990s Benjamin Pope ’94 Ben is the owner and executive chef at Mr. Koo’s Kitchen.

Jessica Munch Kessler ‘98

Jenny Eisenpresser Kwit ’82



Bradford Little ’95 Brad and Dr. Lorraine Toner were married on June 2nd in Darien, CT. They live in Mamaroneck where Brad paints and Lorraine works as an OBGYN in NYC. Justin Pront ’95 Justin and Kate Giuca were married in October in Door County, Wisconsin and honeymooned in New Zealand. Phineas A. Lambert ’96 Phineas and his wife, Daily, have two sons. Phineas says, “Roark will be turning four and refers to himself as ‘Roark The Superhero.’ Colson, Roark’s superhero trainee, just turned one. He likes drooling and walking away from his parents through any available door.” David Cabassa ’98 David is engaged to Darcie Kozlowski. Jessica Hertle, ’98 Jessica and her husband, Jonathan Meter, welcomed their first child, Michaela Claire. Stella P. Heyliger-Mulatu ’98 Stella graduated from Hunter College in January with a M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education, and was awarded dual certification from NY State in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education. Stella also received a fellowship through Teachers College to attend Columbia University’s Klingenstein Summer Institute for early career teachers this summer. Stella says, “it was fantastic!” Jessica Munch Kessler ’98 Jessica married Fritz Kessler on October 21,

2017 at a barn in Ghent, New York. She and her husband live in Seattle, Washington. Jessica and Fritz are pictured with Jessica’s parents, Liz ’69 and Gary Munch, and siblings Jamie Munch ’04 and Amanda Munch ’06.

2000s Cecilia Cholst ’03 Cecilia became engaged to Nathan Zeichner (UPenn ’11) in March 2018. Nathan is a software engineer at a major computer animation studio. Ceci says, “We’re so excited to grow the Town family by just a little bit!” Alexander Bolano ’04 Alexander and Neha Chavi Goel were married on January 14, 2018 in Indian Wells, California. The couple met at Princeton. Daniel Perlman ’04 Dan, a stand-up comedian and writer, headlined at Caroline’s in January 2018 and also recently wrote for the 2017 WGA Awards, hosted by Lewis Black. Janel L. Coleman ’05 Janel graduated Dalton’s high school in 2009 and returned to Dalton in September 2017 as the K–5 Health Educator. Helen Feldman ’06 Helen began working at Horace Mann high school in January 2018 and was surprised to encounter someone very familiar at a crossdivisional meeting — Sandra Seo, her Reading and Writing teacher at Town beginning in 4th

grade. Sandra is now the Learning Specialist for the Lower Division at Horace Mann. Helen recounts, “After we recovered from our astonishment, we both got up and gave each other a big hug before the meeting got started.” Liana Pavane ’09 Liana’s new business, TTYL (Talk To You Later) will open with a pop-up space in September 2018. No cellphones will be allowed and the space will be filled with board games, coloring books, comic books, snacks, and more. Check out to learn more. Willem T. Ehrenfreund ’14 Will had a featured role in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular during the 2017 holiday season. Will also appeared in the play Linger at Premiere Stages. Ethan Moszkowski ’13 Ethan recently wrapped up his freshman year as a member of the University of Virginia Men’s Tennis Team. The team participated in the NCAA Tournament in May. Sonia Epelbaum ’14 Sonia served as Dalton’s Senior Class President for the 2017–18 school year. Caleigh A. Ryan ’14 Caleigh scored her 1,000th point as a Dalton basketball player on December 2, 2017. Dalton has not had a 1,000 point scorer since 2012. Giovanni K. Schwab ’15 Gio made his television debut on Fresh Off the Boat on ABC.

Liana Pavane ’09

Helen Feldman ’06

Giovanni K. Schwab ‘15


Currents Magazine 2018

Cecilia Cholst ‘03

Caleigh A. Ryan ‘14


Peter Goldberg ’95 Lawyer and Executive Director, Brooklyn Bail Fund

Town ➝ Trinity ➝ Johns Hopkins ➝ University of Michigan Law School

Who or what inspires you?

My mother, the most inspiring and bravest woman I've ever met.

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

At six the answer would probably be baseball cards. At 13, a hundred percent, it was basketball. I remember very clearly that my 8th grade class won the Hackley tournament and went 14–0 that year! My only regret was our coach promised to let us shave his head if we won the tournament, which did not happen. I’m working on following up on this.

When did you first discover an interest in your current career? What made you focus on this specific passion?

Later in life, which I think should be encouraging for others. After college, living abroad for a few years, and then law school, I was working at Cleary Gottlieb doing private equity and hedge fund formation. I signed up for a pro-bono assignment to help form a charitable bail fund and quickly learned about the devastating consequences of the cash bail system. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers are imprisoned every year for their inability to buy their own freedom. Presumptively innocent, they end up in Rikers and often lose their jobs and housing. People are offered the choice to plead guilty and go home or to stay in jail to fight their case, and overwhelmingly folks plead guilty even when they are innocent. I started working on this project in 2012, forming the fund, and then I started going to arraignments where bail was set. I saw this cycle of misery and poverty leading to imprisonment. You can read about it, but you have to see it to fully understand. That’s when I decided to leave the firm and work on the charitable bail fund full time.

system which currently overwhelmingly criminalizes people of color, people who are mentally ill, people who are poor, people who are struggling with addiction. To fundamentally rethink about how we treat individuals, and recognize there is inherent dignity and worth in all people, and that we are doing them and ourselves a great disservice with a system that incarcerates millions every year.

What was your favorite part about middle school?

That’s an easy one: basketball! And Miss Melvoin’s history and English classes.

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

The relationships with the people we love, and family and the many forms it takes. For me that means my wife, my immediate family, the people I’ve met along the way from Town to now, and my dog.

I’d like to see a rethinking of the scope and purpose of the criminal justice system.

How do you want to change the world?

A starting point would be the elimination of cash bail and wealth-based detention. More broadly it would be fundamentally rethinking the scope and purpose of the criminal justice



Claudia (Meininger) Gold, M.D. ’75 Pediatrician and writer with a longstanding interest in addressing children’s mental health care in a preventive model. Town ➝ Brearley ➝ University of Chicago ➝ U Mass Boston

the living room with my parents watching all the hearings as an 11-year-old. Though my passions have evolved enormously over time, when I think about watching the Watergate hearings, I was really interested in the people, the dynamics, the characters. So you could say my interest in psychology, in why people are the way they are, was emerging then in the form of my interest in politics.

When did you first discover an interest in child development? What made you focus on this specific passion?

What or whom is your inspiration?

Personally, my mother, a child psychologist who saw kids in our home, and my dad, who is a superb writer, though not by profession. More broadly, my greatest inspiration was D.W. Winnicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst who brilliantly integrated his experience working with infants and parents with his experience listening to his adult patients.

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

My husband and I had a good laugh over this because I have no clear memories of being six! I do remember being 13, however, and the first memory that came to me was being at Carole Kline’s ‘75 home, working on my Town 'senior thesis’ project about All the President’s Men. Watergate came out 1972–73 and I was a Watergate junkie. I remember sitting in


Currents Magazine 2018

When I was a senior in high school we had the opportunity to focus on a single project during our spring term, rather than taking classes. I worked as a volunteer at the Cornell Medical Center Westchester Division with Dr. Paulina Kernberg (a child psychiatrist and authority on personality disorders), which led me to become a pediatrician rather than a psychiatrist. During my pediatrics residency in medical school, I discovered psychoanalysis, read Winnicott, and was introduced to the work of Dr. Berry Brazelton. I discovered the incredible, complex, connected, very individual world of newborns and I chose to specialize in behavioral pediatrics, seeing the physician as having a key role in prevention, in setting children on a healthy path. I began to understand that we weren’t taking good care of babies and parents in our society, which drove me to this field called early childhood mental health — which of course is not babies lying on the analysis couch, but working to support healthy parent and infant relationships.

What challenges did you find along your path?

When my children were young I was practicing pediatrics and my husband had his ophthalmology practice. It was extremely difficult to manage the demands of being an on-call physician and our children’s busy schedules. Here I was advocating for children and I wasn’t able to be there for my own children the way I wanted to. I decided to stop doing general pediatrics when they were seven and 11, which in a circuitous way led me to writing.

How do you want to change the world?

I now develop a community-based program for supporting infants and parents. We use the latest science to think about how best to support families starting from birth. That’s how I want to change the world: giving every newborn baby a ‘voice’ and supporting parents in the transition to parenthood, the challenges of which are often under-recognized.

What was your favorite part about middle school?

I loved the plays with Mr. Valenti! I have very vivid memories, even of the plays I wasn’t in. I had small roles, like ’Anne, townsperson’ in The Music Man, but I really enjoyed them. I remember the library really well, and I remember especially the days when our Scholastic Books arrived — the excitement when they would take the books out and distribute them.

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

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. When you’re not afraid to make mistakes then you move through difficult moments and get to the other side, which gives you a sense of hope, of purpose and meaning — which I would say are what we call happiness and success. Interestingly, my next book is about this subject!


Andrew Myers ’14 Student Activist Co-organizer of two NYC student rallies protesting gun violence in 2018

Town ➝ Packer Collegiate ➝ Northwestern

Can you tell us about the student protest events you helped organize?

There were two different events I was a part of this year. Six of my fellow Packer students and I organized a rally in solidarity with the National Student Walkout on March 14, 2018, which about 1,000 students from Brooklyn schools attended. I was very hands-on in the planning of that event: reaching out to political officials, connecting with students, contacting media, talking to city officials, working on permits, running social media, etc. In the aftermath of the March 14th event I connected with a group of about 20 students from public and private schools all over NYC who also care deeply about this issue. We created an orga-

nization called NYC Says Enough and planned a protest on April 20th at Washington Square Park [the 2nd National School Walkout, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting]. Since we had a bigger team, we all had more specific tasks and I focused on organizing staging and contacting press and elected officials about the event. This event was bigger, with more than 3,000 students in Washington Square Park from 40+ schools from all over NYC.

What or whom is your inspiration?

For the March 14th student rally, the inspiration was the group of Parkland, FL students (from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School) who took action. Seeing them step up right after the shooting, talking directly to politicians in the CNN Town Hall meeting, and really turning it into a movement inspired me. They gave me hope that something might change this time around. It felt important to me because I was sort of fed up about this issue. It seems like something that can be fixed, considering that other developed nations around the world have solved the problem of gun violence at least to an extent. Our government isn’t taking action,

and it’s up to us, to students, to say there are concrete steps we can take such as increasing background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and creating a gun registry. To me, these are small steps that could have an impact on suicide rates, school shootings, mass shootings, and gun violence in general. I felt the need to take action because there are solutions out there, but no one is doing anything about it and the problem is getting worse and worse.

How do you want to change the world?

I hope Congress will take action on comprehensive gun control legislation: banning assault weapons, raising mandatory waiting periods, red flag laws that prevent mentally ill or unstable civilians from purchasing a weapon, raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, and introducing ‘smart gun’ technology to help avoid accidental deaths. Those are some steps I hope my activism can help propel into the mainstream. I know this is a marathon, so I’m not expecting instant results, but I am hopeful in the long run.

What are you planning to study when you head to college at Northwestern? I’m planning on majoring in political science, with a minor in music. I’m hoping to intern during summers with lawmakers in Washington, DC. This summer I’m going to intern with the campaign for Senator Chris Murphy in CT, as a first introduction to political work.

What were you passionate about about at six? What was your favorite part about middle school?

At six I liked baseball a lot, and that was probably what I thought I would be when I grew up. That’s when I started falling in love with the Yankees, at least! In middle school, I know I loved PE class and more importantly, I made great friends who I stay in touch with now.



Cynthia Carris Alonso ’77 Photographer, Photo Editor, and Author

Town ➝ Trinity ➝ University of Michigan

What or whom is your inspiration?

The photojournalist Dorthea Lange documented important issues of her time, telling stories in a moving and visually beautiful style. Each of her images respectfully communicates and connects people and communities, while inspiring reflection and social change.

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

At six years old, I was passionate about writing. I enjoyed “Diary” time when we reflected on our day and wrote about our lives: events, classes, teachers, friends, and family. At 13, I was already passionate about photography! At that age, I didn’t know it could be a career, but I loved the magic of seeing images appear on photographic paper in the red glowing light of The Town School darkroom.

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

ism in Cuba, striving to share the resilient Cuban spirit. In spite of limited resources, Cubans are creative and maintain a positive perspective, enjoying life and appreciating family, friendship, community, education, and art. My second book about Cuba was just published and is called: A Taste of Cuba: A Journey Through Cuba and Its Savory Cuisine; my first book is called Passage to Cuba.

What was your favorite part about middle school?

I loved studying American History, the constitution, and the teachers who taught us about our freedoms and responsibilities as Americans to make the world a better place. I also loved having the opportunity to incorporate the arts into a strong curriculum of reading and writing.

When you were in middle school did you ever imagine you would be doing what you are doing now?

My dad really enjoyed documenting our family life with both a still camera and video. He taught me how to use a camera, and I always enjoyed seeing the photographic results. I loved my photography class at The Town School and worked on the yearbook! It took a few years for me to realize that journalism would be the perfect career for me: communicating through words and photographs. I was very idealistic when I was young and thought I wanted to become a human rights lawyer. After working on two big media cases for a Wall Street law firm as summer jobs during college, I realized I was much more interested in the power of the media than actually becoming a lawyer. After graduating from the University of Michigan, I got a job at Vanity Fair magazine, which was a wonderful training ground. I’ve been working as a photographer, author and photo editor in publishing ever since.

How do you want to change the world?

With my photography, I try to share the beauty in life, documenting special events, family and community. Photography can preserve meaning and memories as well as communicate ideas, inspire action, and celebrate cultures. For 25 years, I have been doing photojournal-


Currents Magazine 2018

Cynthia with her husband and their daughter.

When I was in middle school, we didn’t learn about journalism as a career, so I never knew it was an option. However, the education that The Town School provided was a wonderful base for becoming a journalist. We were given a strong appreciation for analysis, questioning, learning, and communicating through our writing lessons as well as through visual arts. Growing up in New York City gives us all such an international perspective on diversity, art, culture, and communication. It was a natural development to combine communication skills with cultural appreciation to eventually become a photographer and work in publishing.

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

I believe the key to success is to discover your passion and talents, then pursue them throughout your life. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful and happy.


Tell us a childhood hobby or interest juxtaposed with your career. We want to hear about it whether it syncs up perfectly or seems completely unrelated.

Jane Lahr ’52

Elisabeth Ladenson ’75

I have been in publishing for 30 or so years – and deeply involved with art book publishing and visual book publishing. My agency Lahr & Partners, LLC agents and packages books for Harry N. Abrams and Rizzoli etc. I have authored a few visual books as well. Before that I was a sculptor; I also taught and had a handful of exhibitions. During Kindergarten and 1st grade I remember all the paints were in the co-ed bathrooms at the school. The bathrooms were cheery with the masses of paints in large jars. I loved going into the bathrooms and seeing the large glass jars of paints. I remember vividly making paintings of colors in an urgent dance on the page as though there was a cosmic battle of light and dark. I had been born during World War II and the war was not long over, so this kind of dramatic energy seemed very real to me. Each painting’s outcome resolved in a unique way. Sometimes the dark colors won over the bright, light colors. Sometimes light over the dark. These were important images to me. The point is that without question all of us were influenced by those vivid years at The Town School. Probably they were imprinted even before that — but the openness, creativity, and caring in the school’s environment encouraged our natural tendencies and our creativity to emerge.

Childhood Interest: reading, writing Profession: Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Columbia University

Yvette Wynn ’80

Jeannie Banker ’79

My childhood interest aligns with my profession for sure. As a child of eight, I said to my mom that I wanted to be president of the bank. My entire career has been in financial services; American Express, The Bank of New York, and currently First Vice President at Morgan Stanley. Even my volunteer commitments are in this realm. I serve on several non-profit boards, am the treasurer of two, and my committee assignments are either Investment & Endowment or Finance & Budget. Thankfully I still like what I do so it is all good. I am blessed to be healthy and doing well, and wishing all the Town family the same.

At Town I was very involved in drama, singing and practical jokes. Today, I am a transportation consultant trying to improve mobility for people and goods in urban environments. Not a close match at all — but a really fun journey!

Karin Schweitzer ’86 It’s never too late to follow your passion! I’m a 46 year-old PhD student studying Marine Science. It was my passion as a kid. I loved my science classes at Town. I still remember projects I did on the orbit of comets and the reproductive cycle of frogs. But while I was in college “being practical” changed my career path to business. I don’t regret the choice. I have had fantastic professional opportunities, lived abroad, met lasting friends...but sometimes your passions can't be ignored. I went back to school four years ago and know it was the right thing to do, even with a few more years to go. And not that a Ph.D. is easy by any means, but it's worth it to work for something you are passionate about. Although when I was a kid staring intently at hermit crabs, I didn’t know 40 years later I would be investigating the ecology of diatom parasites.


Jessie Janowitz ’87 I graduated from Town in 1987, went on to Fieldston for high school, and then Princeton for college, graduating with a degree in comparative literature and a certificate in creative writing. I credit my teachers at Town, and in particular, Susan Melvoin, who, sadly, has passed away, for inspiring my love of language, literature, and writing. Ms. Melvoin taught French and English with equal skill and passion. She was wicked smart, had attended Yale, and was fresh off of teaching in France on a Fulbright grant. Beyond her intelligence, Ms. Melvoin taught with a wild passion and creativity that captured and held the attention of even the most skeptical student. The lessons I learned from her, as a teacher and as a role model, absolutely impacted my life in profound ways, not just my decision to study languages and writing in college, but my decision to follow in her footsteps and teach English in France on a Fulbright when I graduated. Even now, decades later, as a writer for children, speaking to large groups of kids, trying to get them excited about stories and language, I find myself doing my best to channel Ms. Melvoin and all that passion so that they may benefit as I did.

Katie Schor Elliot ’94 & Margaret Selsam Muhlfelder ’94 While 4th graders at Town, we co-founded S&S Party Productions, an event planning company that managed birthday parties for Town students, at a whopping paycheck of $5 per party. About 25 years later, Katie continues working with kids as a teacher and reading specialist. She has worked at schools in NYC and spent three years teaching in Rome, Italy. Margaret continues to hone her creativity and entrepreneurial skills as the Co-Founder of boutique creative advertising agency GO ( While we are no longer managing birthday parties, we do still have the original business cards handy.

Miguel Guadalupe ’90 I did not know what I wanted to be growing up. I just wanted out of the projects. I thought I wanted be an actor. However, I will say this — my first attempt at fundraising was at Town. After Hurricane Hugo in 1989, I raised about $400 to help replace a blown off roof of a school in Puerto Rico. Ms. Muslin, my Spanish teacher, connected me with a teacher on the island to make it happen. For two weeks before class, I manned a table in The Town School front lobby, raising money by collecting donations, selling raffle tickets and candy, and having students guess the number of jelly beans in a jar. It was an amazing experience to know that I was helping other students from thousands of miles away. Skip ahead 30 years, and I again found myself raising money for schools devastated by hurricanes in Puerto Rico. This time it was via a foundation I volunteered for, where we raised $17,000 to adopt a school, help it rebuild, and buy much needed supplies. It was also at this time that I decided to switch from the corporate world and try my hand at fundraising for nonprofits full time. Now I am Director of Donor Relations for the Bowery Residents’ Committee (, New York’s largest non-profit helping homeless New Yorkers. My job is to find amazing individuals to help with our mission, and promote private/public partnerships to create a more compassionate New York. It’s been a huge change, but also one that to me, was 30 years in the making.


Currents Magazine 2018

Dara Resnik ’92 My favorite extracurriculars at Town were all performance-oriented—participating in chorus with Mr. Higgins, acting in the musicals, and singing in the talent shows. Now I write TV dramas for a living. There was definitely a relationship between that early love of theater and music and creating work as an adult for others to perform.

Rachel Cholst ’03 I was inspired to become a teacher thanks to the amazing role models I had at Town. It was wonderful to be surrounded by teachers who genuinely cared about and actively supported my development as a human. Mr. Creed, Ms. Anthony, and Ms. Millman fostered my Redwall addiction. Mr. Creed also introduced me to one of my favorite bands. As any of my teachers can tell you, I spent a good 80% of class drawing comics in the margins of my textbooks. To this day I still hang out with Ms. Brunschwig! After four years of teaching history, I realized what drew me to teaching was the thing that made Town such a wonderful place for me: people who wanted to help me grow. To that end, I am now an academic advisor at Hostos Community College in the South Bronx. I selfpublished a comic book, Artema, which I wrote on my own (I didn’t illustrate it, though). As an outlet while teaching, I’ve been churning out my own country music blog and podcast, Adobe & Teardrops, which takes its name from a song by the band Mr. Creed and I love. It’s fair to say that I’m still very in touch with my inner kid, but that inner kid is as cool as she is because of all of the patient and caring adults who helped her along.

Ethan Moszkowski ’13 It will shock none of my teachers or classmates that’s I’m studying American Politics at the University of Virginia. My 8th grade year was the 2012 Election, and I think many of my peers and teachers will remember me as being politically interested. Upon starting at the University of Virginia, it became very clear that I’d be pursuing either a major or minor in Government, specializing in American Government.

Sabrina Bakalis ’16 When I was young, I fell in love with photography after experimenting with it in 7th grade for a class project. Ever since then, I’ve been taking photography classes at art centers and my current school. I explore different types of photography including black and white and color film. My love for photography has earned me a Gold Key Scholastic Award which is being presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evy Verbinnen ’12 When I was younger, my parents were always wondering if they wanted to raise my brother, Andrew ’10, and me in NYC or elsewhere. This meant that nearly every winter we would drive out to different towns to see if they thought it would be a good move. Prior to doing this, I would typically sit with my mom as she scanned through every Corcoran and Sotheby’s catalog that came to our apartment. This process started when I was about six, so from a very early age I was incredibly aware of the residential real estate climate. I'm now a sophomore at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA and my interest in real estate has apparently stuck. I joined the Real Estate Investment Society, which manages $1 million of the university’s endowment, last year and am looking to pursue real estate development and investment opportunities in the coming summers.

Bobby Bakalis ’14 My childhood interest was swimming. I was on the Asphalt Green swim team until 10th grade. Now I’m interested in photography. I do analog photography (film) and find myself in the International Center of Photography facilities far too often. I’m going to School of the Art Institute of Chicago to study photography.


Jamie Fleischman ’97 I was a very “indoors” kid; I spent most of my time reading, watching TV, and renting movies (VHS forever!). Those hobbies pretty much line up perfectly with what I do for a living now — as a development executive for a production company. I spend most of my time reading books, poring over scripts, and trying to bring great stories and characters to the screen. It's a great fit, and I’m lucky to have landed here after moving out to Los Angeles for a career change (probably the biggest risk I’ve ever taken). I still miss NYC terribly, though!

Cecilia Cholst ’03

Roland Gillah ’08 My childhood hobby/interest was drawing and art. Currently I live in Tunisia and work for a humanitarian aid organization called Mercy Corps, where I analyze the conflict in Libya in order to provide safe access for our staff to get in and out of warzones. Although not directly linked to my childhood hobby, one aspect of my job involves designing maps of the territories controlled by different armed groups, and I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make them visually compelling.

At Town, I was famous for doodling in class and drawing comic books in my spare time. Now I’m a fashion designer. While most of my drawings these days are diagrams that get sent to factories half a world away, I’d like to think that my doodles, and my education at Town, helped me get to where I am today.

Join us on facebook: Town Alumni-ae

Alum Spring Social


ong-tenured Town teacher Ken Higgins hosted a social event this Spring for adult Town alumni/ae focused around two of his great talents: telling a great story and demonstrating how to mix a classic cocktail. Alumni/ae representing class years 1992 through 2008 joined us in the library for a wonderful evening of reconnecting with friends and sharing

stories. Mr. Higgins, joined by Bill McCartney, even recited a new work of poetry, their “Ode to Field Day on Randall’s Island” for the group; it was very well received and declared an instant classic.


Currents Magazine 2018


Speaker Series


Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 6pm

Join the conversation

Devorah Heitner PhD Author of

Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and survive) in their Digital World Dr. Heitner will offer empowering, research-based advice on raising resilient and kind kids in our always-connected, increasingly challenging world. Her presentations engage audiences with fresh insights about Digital Natives, communication across the generations, and what it’s really like to grow up in the digital age.

All members of our exteded Town community are welcome!


The Last Straw

Thursday, Oct 25th at The Town School

Almost half a billion plastic straws are thrown away in the US every single day, yet almost none are recycled. Join us for a screening of the short film Straws, followed by a panel discussion about ways to reduce or replace plastic straws, including how NYC students can join national efforts by encouraging our schools and local restaurants to do the same. learn more:



Katy Kjellgren ’83 I should be writing a birthday card today instead of a memorial. Katy Kjellgren, who always used to refer to me in jest as her “boyhood friend” was, in fact, my lifelong friend until January of 2018 when she succumbed to a rare and fast-moving form of cancer. Her birthday was June 11th, and I find myself penning this, coincidentally or not, on Sunday, June 10th. I don’t think she expected me to be writing it for her at all. I’m not 100% sure she would approve of the choice. It’s fitting that Jillian Shagan, her other “boyhood friend,” will write it with me. Maybe together we can cobble together something that does a fraction of service to our incredible, beloved, and enormously missed friend. Others can talk about Katy’s later adult life, her laudable and lauded career as a multiple award-winning audiobook artist; her wide circle of friends and admirers in London, New York, and elsewhere; her love and marriage bordering on storybook-perfect to the theater critic and playwright David Cote. It’s all in print and in the many hearts of those who knew her… later. But Jill and I knew her first at The Town School, and that’s a different story. Town was where our families met and our siblings all attended, eight in total. We were known You can’t sum up a life there, our arrival at in a few words, especially each grade anticipated—the scions of an extraordinary one like dynasties. Town felt Katy’s, with all her quirks literally like family to us, and I am and passions, loves and not using the adverb hatreds, comedies and lightly: Katy’s mother tragedies, and weird, Alice taught there for decades and had every wonderful theatricalities. one of us in class. In She was unlike anyone 1975, Jill and Katy else ever. and I met in 1st grade and stayed together, traveling onward through time—through a lifetime, it turns out. We had Katy with us through countless playdates and birthday parties, Steve Martin and Monty Python records, class trips and kiddie-wrangling at SummerSault, and of course our school plays where the inklings of her future career in theater publicly emerged to thunderous applause. Then we moved onward past Town into the embarrassments of high school and adolescence, the birthing pains of college and drama school, and the winestained evenings and professional struggles of our drifting, soulsearching twenties. Then gradually, miraculously in our thirties: the moments of accomplishment, the focusing of purpose, the start of full-scale careers, accompanied by the finding of life


Currents Magazine 2018

at Katy’s wedding in 2011

partners. Inevitably the time we spent together diminished; yet we loyally cheered each other on from the balconies of our separately forged lives. In our forties, Jill and I watched happily as the world found out about Katy and the treasure that she was; when Kjellgren became Kellgren, and Kellgren became famous, and Katy married David and was much loved. And then she got sick. And before the three of us could find out together what happens next in the adventure, it was over. So, instead of writing her a birthday card today, I am writing a remembrance of her. Which is impossible, of course. Because you can’t sum up a life in a few words, especially an extraordinary one like Katy’s, with all her quirks and passions, loves and hatreds, comedies and tragedies, and weird, wonderful theatricalities. She was unlike anyone else ever. How did she fall in love so hard with the paintings of Ingres and Vermeer while her teenage peers sat drooling over music videos? How did she attain an almost chummy literary comradery with John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier while the rest of us were reading Tiger Beat? How did she stay so original, so weird, and so outwardly sweet-seeming while under her breath she could say things that were so viciously, darkly funny? She was simply Katy, a unique work of self-creation. Jill and I agreed to write something for Town because it’s true we were all connected in some deep way and it started there. In my case, I must add that Katy was uncannily familiar to me right from the start—not a “soul-mate,” which I find a maudlin term tinged with teenage romance—but more like a twinned image of a part of me, a good and humane part that I like. I don’t remember feeling that connection with anyone else. It has always felt a little mysterious. Oh and we’re all Geminis, did I mention? Our three birthdays are just days apart in late May and early June. Call it coincidence if you like, but no matter. Neither Jill nor I has ever celebrated our own birthday—nor will we ever, I’m sure—without always, always thinking of hers too. The link is there, etched in time and feeling, and as Gershwin (one of Katy’s favorites) wrote in Shall We Dance, “they can’t take that away from me.” —E van Spingarn and Jillian Shagan Town Class of ’83


Here lies treasure. Treasure in the heart and mind of every student. A treasure chest overflowing with community, energy, inspired teaching, joy in learning. Buried where park and river meet. Placed there by you. Your gift makes it possible for us to lavish the treasures of Town on our amazing students. Thank you for your continued support.



2018 Julia Alfieri Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Sivan Billera Trevor Day School || Taryn Chung The Brearley School Sophia Cimmino Poly Prep || Nathaniel Doldron York Prep Milla Douer Trevor Day School || Annalise Fried Blair Academy John Friedland Riverdale Country School || Ben Gleeman Trinity School Jonah Gleeman Ethical Culture Fieldston School Jackson Gold Grace Church School || Astrid Gruber The Lawrenceville School Georgia Gutkin Trevor Day School || Aman Hamdard The Chapin School Farah Haskin The Chapin School || Luke Hollman Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Amir Homayounfar Ethical Culture Fieldston School Reza Homayounfar Trinity School || Madison Kellier Grace Church School Giacomo Lugato Fordham Preparatory School Isabelle Miller Trinity School || Daniel Montanero Cardinal Hayes High School Ryder Morse Kent School || Elizabeth Najjar Ethical Culture Fieldston School Rena Nakum Grace Church School || Isabella Otero LREI Luca Palacardo New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m) Sabrina Pamoukian Loyola School || Noah Rubin The Birch Wathen Lenox School Jenna Ryan The Dalton School || Lillian Sen Ethical Culture Fieldston School Penelope Shapiro Trevor Day School

I have yet to come across another school that has so simply and clearly articulated what character and citizenship look like, and where the students so effectively and regularly reflect it back. It is easy to focus on the self, but it is rare for 8th graders to care as much about friends, classmates, schoolmates, and fellow citizens as they do themselves. That will make you stand out in high school, college, and the world beyond. Work hard. Pursue your passions. And remember that when we invest in the success of others, we are enriched tenfold. You have set the bar high for yourselves, and ...we look forward to great things. — Tony Featherston Head of School 2012–2018


Currents Magazine 2018

Graduation Speaker Excerpts

Town gave us the opportunity to live in the moment and enjoy the world and people around us. I feel grateful for being part of a community that has allowed me to thrive and succeed, but not at the expense of having joy in everything I do. ...I hope the world is ready for the class of 2018’s spirit and light. Congratulations again to my classmates, and thank you for the best years of my life. 7th grade doing the Galileo Trial project, ...I remember comfort in knowing that everyone in my group had similar emotions and expressions on their faces. It was the comfort of not being the only one... of experiencing things with others. My class, my family, is one I will always cherish and love. ...and I hope that the next chapter in our lives will be just as good as this one has been. — Jonah Gleeman

— Isabelle Miller

I have worked with almost every single person in this grade, and not one of you is the same; you are wonderfully unique... We did not set out to create this masterpiece, yet each of us was a color in The Town School painting that can’t be recreated once we leave here today. Thank you for painting my experience. The last 11 years ...are my Mona Lisa, made up of 32 individual masterpieces. It was an honor sharing this magical time with you. — Milla Douer

At the very beginning of 8th grade, as my peers and I began to think seriously about where we wanted to attend high school, I realized the same group of children who once built with magna-tiles and fingerpainted in Kindergarten ...are now independent, self-assured people. ...As I end this speech, filled with anticipation and nostalgia, I strongly believe we are now ready to discover our passions, gain personal freedom, and enter the next stage of our lives. — Bella Otero

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