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Volume X, Fall 2012


truth service

learning silence


community compassion peace

equality diversity stewardship

integrity social-justice

Madeline Edwards, Class of 2013

Brooklyn Friends School Journal | Volume X, Fall 2012



Message from the Head of School


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Looking Inward Together: The BFS Quaker Self-Study Celebrating an Iconic Quaker Leader: The Life of Bayard Rustin



Alum Profile: Jill Kneerim ’56


BFS Welcomes Bob Bowman



Preschoolers (and Their Butterflies) Take Flight


Walruses, Turtles, and Seals – Oh My!


A Visit from an American Ballerina


History by Choice: Electives Enliven Upper School Curriculum

Brooklyn Friends School Journal is published annually by the Communications Office of Brooklyn Friends School for alumni/ae, parents, grandparents, and friends. 375 Pearl Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Tel: 718.852.1029; Joan Martin, Editor Maureen O’Brien, Layout



Profile in Giving: Macon and Mike Jessop



Highlights from 2011-12

About the cover: During the 2011-2012 academic year’s Quaker Self-Study, faculty and staff reflected on what values they bring to their work here at Brooklyn Friends School. This word cloud was one outcome of that process. Read more beginning on page 4.


Brooklyn Friends School Journal

Founded in 1867, Brooklyn Friends School provides a college preparatory program serving 729 students from Preschool through Grade 12 and 49 two-year olds in the Family Center at Brooklyn Friends. The school is committed to educating each student intellectually, aesthetically, physically and spiritually in a culturally diverse community. Guided by the Quaker principles of truth, simplicity and peaceful resolution of conflict, Brooklyn Friends School offers each student a challenging education that develops intellectual abilities and ethical and social values to support a productive life of leadership and service.

A Message From Dr. Larry Weiss, Head of School Brooklyn Friends School opens the 2012-2013 academic year, our 145th, with record-breaking enrollment of 778 students. This number includes our thriving Family Center for two-year olds as well as enrollments for Pre-School–12th grade that surpass all previous comparable historical levels. Today Brooklyn Friends presents itself to the greater New York educational community as a dynamic, intellectually powerful, socially responsible, and lovingly humane institution of early childhood, elementary, and secondary learning.

Such enrollments reflect the continued successful implementation of a school expansion program that began as a central element of the BFS 2008 Strategic Plan. As anticipated, increased net tuition revenue from our growing student body has provided, over the past five years, the resources for continuous improvement and growth of our faculty, curriculum, student support services, and physical plant. As BFS grows, we are systematically fulfilling the Strategic Plan’s objective of intentionally becoming more diverse in terms of the racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds of our students and faculty. Our learning community in 2012-13 includes 37 percent students of color and 37 percent teachers of color as highly valued members. Another important record that we surpassed is related to the Brooklyn Friends Fund. The total amount raised was $769,653, well ahead of the $750,000 goal. The number of alumni/ae and grandparent gifts set new records, and the average donation by all constituency categories increased significantly. The total amount raised represented an increase of 21 percent over the 2010-11 total and 43


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percent over the 2009-10 total. All such accomplishments symbolize the exceptional work of our Development Office and the many energetic volunteers who donated time, energy, and resources to support our school. Informed by our sustained commitment to the Quaker principles that have defined BFS for nearly oneand-a-half centuries, we have drawn upon the support of an outstanding faculty, dedicated Board of Trustees, and strongly committed parent and alumni constituencies to achieve our strategic goals. Today Brooklyn Friends presents itself to the greater New York educational community as a dynamic, intellectually powerful, socially responsible, and lovingly humane institution of early childhood, elementary, and secondary learning. I’d like to highlight briefly three priorities for our work this year at BFS. Upper School Curriculum Development Under the leadership of Dr. Bob Bowman, our new Head of Upper School, we will be building upon the highly successful initial implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program to expand and refine the curriculum offerings to all Upper School students. We will continue developing the new 10th grade history electives, the new second language offerings (including Mandarin and Italian), and the After 3 at Willoughby seminar programs that were all started last year. In addition, we will be examining

the possibilities for framing our existing travel program in a manner that maximizes multicultural understanding and provides opportunities for developing international exchange initiatives between BFS and schools (both IB and non-IB) around the world. The BFS Community Service Program Every year when I meet individually with members of the senior class, almost every student refers to “community” as one of the most positive attributes of our school. While I strongly agree with this assessment, I believe that our commitment to community makes the improvement of community service at BFS especially urgent. Thus, we are launching an initiative to bring a “service learning” methodology and structure to our program. The newly formed Student Service Leadership Committee will be vital in this effort. Service learning requires providing students, from the starting point of project development, with an

information-rich analytical context in which to understand some of the central issues that they will confront in their service project work. From such a context, and in consultation with the adults supervising the project, students can then develop an informed plan of action. Implementation can be documented by the student writing in a journal or a blog. Finally, service learning requires a reflective assessment by the student of what she or he has learned from the project and what further work the student might productively engage in related to the area of concern. The Quaker Self-Study Last year, we launched a communitywide Quaker Self-Study following guidelines developed by the Friends Council on Education. Our primary goal was to create a wider awareness in our parent and alumni constituencies, as well as within our student body and faculty and staff, of the central elements of Friends beliefs, historical practice, and spiritual vision that have


Brooklyn Friends School Journal

shaped the school since 1867. A substantial number of smallgroup discussions of Robert L. Smith’s A Quaker Book of Wisdom took place involving current parents (and will continue with new parents this academic year). The discussions were held in the living rooms of parent, faculty, and Board-member homes as well as in school classrooms. They were supplemented by formal presentations given by invited Quaker guests, culminating in several outstanding talks by Bruce Stewart, Head of School emeritus of Sidwell Friends School and Abington Friends School. The BFS Quaker Self-Study will conclude this year with a comprehensive written analysis of identifiable strengths that are visible in the relationship between Quaker values and practice on the one hand and the BFS community ethos on the other. At the same time, we will highlight the areas in which we can and should improve in our ongoing efforts to build and sustain the Quaker identity of our school. All-in-all, we expect to have a busy, productive, and joyous year at BFS in 2012-2013. With deepest thanks for your interest in Brooklyn Friends, we welcome your support, participation, and encouragement. In friendship,


Students, parents, and Quakers at one of the self-study gatherings held throughout the year

Looking Inward Together: The BFS Quaker Self-Study by Jeffrey Stanley


ince the founding of the Religious Society of Friends in England in the 1600s, Friends (or Quakers) have been recognized for their prominent work in promoting social justice and progressive education. Quakers feel a responsibility to “let their lives speak” – that is, they direct their lives toward expressing their most deeply held values. Because of their belief that there is that of God, or goodness, in everyone, Quakers believe that each individual has the capacity for self-reflection that leads to discernment of his or her own values. A similar process of self-reflection was undertaken by BFS last year in its first-ever Quaker Self-Study. The process has been transformative for the school culture, according to the self-study steering committee: Whitney Thompson, Dean of Faculty (who chaired the committee); faculty

members Jonathan Edmonds and Marna Herrity; administrator Karine Blemur-Chapman; and Alice Pope, a member of Brooklyn Monthly Meeting, a longtime BFS parent, and a former chair of the BFS Board of Trustees. An important reason to go through the process, Whitney explained, was to learn how BFS is a Quaker school. “There are so many different kinds of Quaker schools. So what is the BFS version of being a Quaker school? And what are the strategic outgrowths for us to build upon?” Although the Friends Council on Education provides guidelines and support, schools engaging in a selfstudy are encouraged to develop their own process of self-examination. The steering committee initiated the self-study with an education phase, ensuring that the community held a common knowledge about Quakerism.


Brooklyn Friends School Journal

Several days before the start of school, Quakers from New York City served as panelists in several teaching sessions for the entire faculty and staff. Head of School Larry Weiss assigned a summer reading: A Quaker Book of Wisdom: Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service and Common Sense by Robert Lawrence Smith. A lifelong Quaker who served in World War II as an expression of conscience, Bob Smith went on to serve as head of Sidwell Friends for many years. The book was required reading for faculty and staff, and parents were encouraged to read it. The fall professional development day brought speakers and panelists to the school, allowing BFS faculty and staff to share interests and concerns with their counterparts from other Quaker schools. Discussion groups were led by 14 Quaker educators from all over the eastern United States.

From left, BFS Dean of Faculty Whitney Thompson; Alice Pope (left) with Willie Mae Watkins (right) at the “Quakerism 101” workshop

Topics were suggested by BFS faculty and included academic competitiveness, violent play in young children, service learning, and competitive sports in a Quaker school. “We tried to expose our faculty to thinking at other Quaker schools,” said Whitney, “to help our faculty realize that these kinds of issues come up at all Quaker schools. We’re not delinquent as a Friends school because we don’t have clear-cut answers to these issues.” Much of the critical work of the self-study was done in the reflection phase. The community was challenged to examine the values BFS brings to the educational process, as well as how those values are expressed in the day-to-day life of the school. The steering committee was assisted by two sub-committees: one of faculty/ staff members, and another of current parents, who guided the work within their respective communities. During the winter months, the parent community was invited to salonstyle meetings, held in families’ homes and led by Larry Weiss, to discuss A Quaker Book of Wisdom. Participants were asked to consider whether Quaker

values are present at BFS. Some themes that emerged included: BFS students are guided toward authenticity and “letting their lives speak” rather than being taught a set of moral rules; silence is valuable for centering and reorienting to what is important in life; we have a profound respect for individuals of all ages and backgrounds and beliefs. A seminal event during the year was the inspirational visit by Bruce Stewart, a Quaker and former head of Sidwell Friends and Abington Friends, who spent a week at the school getting to know the community. Bruce spoke about the value of a Quaker education at the professional development day in February, and participated in workshops held for faculty/staff and for parents. Faculty and staff led groups for one another in which they experimented with centering (settling into a reflective inner silence) through creativity and activity. They also used a writing exercise to reflect on the values each person brings to his or her work at BFS. Such guiding principles would be called “testimonies” by Quakers and have historically emerged through


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both individual and community-wide discernment. Finally, a “word cloud” was made, depicting commonly voiced testimonies, including community, truth, learning, compassion, equality, and integrity; visitors to BFS can see the word cloud hanging in the school lobby. (It’s also on the cover of this publication!) Bruce Stewart’s parent meeting used a Quaker practice called “worship sharing” where discussion comes from a centered experience and each person speaks from the heart and listens deeply to others. The worship sharing groups, which considered the themes that had emerged from the book discussions, were led by teams comprising an Upper School student, a teacher, and a parent. During the year’s final professional development day in May, the faculty met by division to work on outcomes of the self-study to implement this school year. In the Upper School, a joint student and faculty committee was formed to more closely examine and discuss Quaker life in the Upper School. The Middle School will explore continued on next page


continued from previous page

“Without specifically intending to do so, the self-study evolved to focus on adults in the community more than on the students. Ultimately we realized that the adults had long needed the opportunity to develop ourselves as genuine models of Quaker education to become better enabled to lead students in their own processes of developing values to live by.” – Alice Pope

Quakers and leaders in Quaker education took part in Professional Development Days dedicated to the Quaker Self-Study. Pictured, left to right, from top, Ari Betof from the George School; Nancy Black, Brooklyn Monthly Meeting; Rich Nourie from Abington Friends School, and Ted Ehrhardt, Brooklyn Monthly Meeting. Above: Bruce Stewart, a keynote speaker for faculty, staff, and parents.


Brooklyn Friends School Journal

the testimony of community and how that is being realized throughout the division, and the Lower School aims to conduct Quaker meeting in their classrooms in more meaningful ways. Preschool and Family Center teachers will continue and expand the ways they introduce Quaker concepts to their young students. Over the summer the steering committee began reviewing the material gathered throughout the year. “We began looking over all of the written data to see a list of themes emerging, and a list of possible outcomes to be worked on over the fall semester and the next few years,” said Whitney. During the winter of the 2012-13 school year, the Quaker Self-Study Steering Committee expects to create a written document intended to be a tool for the community to further explore questions about how BFS can continue to nurture and express its Quaker foundation. Whitney calls it “a first” for the school. “The finished document will be based on the understandings, queries, and emphases that have emerged from our community throughout the self-study,” she said. “It will be a way for us to articulate the threads of spirituality and Quakerism that are most key in our community and also be a tool for community exploration and self-reflection.” Although a full understanding of the outcomes will take some time, Whitney noted that “one theme that emerged early was figuring out a way for all employees, not just the faculty, to be able to participate together in professional development and Quaker life of the school.” Previously, the school’s professional development initiatives had focused almost solely

on the teachers and administrators, excluding administrative support, cafeteria and maintenance staff. During the self-study, outside help was hired so maintenance staff could attend the meetings and pizza was ordered for lunch to free up cafeteria staff. Spanish language translators were also brought into the meetings. This precedent will continue at the school going forward. “Starting this year,” said Whitney, “on Professional Development Days everyone will participate in some way. These days will be for everybody, not just teachers.” Provision has also been made so that staff can be released from their duties to attend Quaker meeting with middle and upper school students and their teachers. There will be other positive outcomes. Completion of the selfstudy will result in reaccreditation of the school by Friends Council on Education in 2014. The council will also use our unique self-study model as a pilot to be considered by other Friends schools embarking on their own self-studies. “Our Quaker self-study has been eagerly awaited for years,” said Alice Pope. “The Board had long ago committed to it, but was waiting for the right time. With the hire of Larry Weiss, and a space in between other accreditation self-studies, the time finally came.” In short, the steering committee sees the end of the self-study as a beginning. “Through talking honestly,” said Whitney, “way has opened to becoming a more unified and inclusive community. We now have an enhanced sense of being a true community, where the value of each individual is recognized and celebrated.

Alums Weigh-In on the Quaker Self-Study We know that BFS and Quakerism have a life-long impact on our alumni, but the Quaker Self-Study afforded an opportunity to delve further. At Reunion 2011, alumni were asked to complete a survey in person or online on the impact of Quakerism on their student and adult lives; many also participated in video interviews on the same subject. At Reunion 2012, alum guests completed a simple survey about their reflections on the Quaker testimonies or beliefs. Through these surveys, we learned that BFS alumni identify most strongly with the testimonies of equality, truth, community, diversity, integrity, compassion and non-violence. A sampling of alumni sentiments are shared below:

During the parent sessions,

I honor the Quaker values of respect for each individual.

session, a Quaker practice

At BFS I learned how you can make a difference on a one-to-one level. You don’t have to save the whole world at once – you can start with one person at a time. BFS instilled in me a sound basis of right and wrong and the merits of nonviolent activism. If it had not been for the Quaker aspect of BFS, I would not have had the curiosity and desire to dig deeper into the things I found interesting during my formative years. Morning meeting was a wonderfully democratic practice where everyone had a voice – a big deal for a teenager. The ability to continue to see the world as a whole rather than taking a singular stand has provided me with the delight of seeing farther, trusting more and it has helped in my own spiritual journey.


Brooklyn Friends School Journal

conversations centered around Friends education, including the concept of learning with questions, not answers. There were several query groups, which were led by BFS Upper School students who had participated in the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference earlier in the year, along with a teacher and a parent, who were members of the Quaker SelfStudy Committee. Each of the groups held a worship sharing whereby discussion comes from participants speaking freely from the heart and listening deeply to others.


Bayard Rustin with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the time of the March on Washington

In Celebration of an Iconic Quaker Leader by Larry Williams


ayard Rustin (1912-1987) was a man among men. He was brilliant, black, Quaker, gay, and unquestionably unique. He walked side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and was a tremendous force in the Civil Rights movement. It was only fitting for Brooklyn Friends School, then, to celebrate the life of this pacifist warrior at the PAT’s annual Embracing Diversity Conference on March 12, 2012. For the third consecutive year, this conference brought together students,

parents, and faculty/staff from Brooklyn Friends, Berkeley Carroll, Packer, Poly Prep, and Saint Ann’s. Everyone gets together first for a buffet supper and conversation, which is followed by a film screening and panel discussion. The film screened this year

Bayard went to prison as a war resister during World War II because, as a Quaker and conscientious objector, he refused to serve in the armed forces.

Students from five Brooklyn independent schools helped to plan and participate in the Embracing Diversity Conference.


Brooklyn Friends School Journal

PAT Diversity Committee Co-Chair Toukie Smith (second from left) with panelists Norman Hill, Walter Naegle, and Bennett Singer

was the award-winning documentary Brother Outsider (2003), an incisive examination of the life of Mr. Rustin. There was a standing-room-only audience in the BFS meetinghouse, and high school students from the five schools facilitated the evening. The film begins with Bayard Rustin’s youth in West Chester, PA, where he was reared by his Quaker grandmother and grandfather, and shows his development as an active proponent of Quaker values. In the 1940s, he was bloodied and battered as a civil rights activist, as he worked to integrate the interstate bus routes that traveled in the south.  Deeply influenced by Gandhi, A. Phillip Randolph and pacifist A.J. Muste, he was a master strategist who employed an idealistic and pragmatic approach to change. It was Bayard Rustin who met with a young Martin Luther King Jr. and helped him organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Dr. King saw his brilliance and chose him to organize the historic March on Washington in 1963. However, when Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, jealous of Dr. King’s rising prominence, threatened to “expose” Dr. King’s associate Bayard Rustin as a homosexual, Dr. King was forced to disassociate himself from Mr. Rustin. As a result, Bayard Rustin’s epic contribution to civil rights was overlooked. Always the activist, he continued to fight for the rights of working class Americans and the Black unemployed, and in his later years, became a vocal activist for gay rights. Following the film screening, there was a panel discussion. Filmmaker and director, Bennett Singer, spoke eloquently about his journey in making the film, praising Bayard Rustin’s “openness and honesty about being gay” and his unwavering pursuit of social justice for all. Mr. Rustin’s life partner, Walter Naegle talked of life with Bayard – his elegance, passion,


Brooklyn Friends School Journal

and great zest for life. Another activist on the panel, Samuel Anderson, a former Black Panther, told the audience about the tremendous depth of commitment that Mr. Rustin had for the struggle. He described Bayard as a man with passion and commitment but also one who embraced life and had a great sense of humor. Norman Hill, former member of CORE and President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, spoke of Mr. Rustin’s belief in economic justice for all, the power of mass action, and the power it had to effect social change. Above all, these beliefs were anchored around his strong, lifelong commitment to his Quaker faith and non-violence.


Boston literary agent Jill Kneerim has launched the careers of prominent journalists, novelists, poets, scholars and short story writers who have won the Pulitzer Prize and other major awards, but she remains an active alumna in the BFS community.

Alum Profile: Jill Kneerim ’56 by Jeffrey Stanley


FS and all other schools in the ’50s were pretty dull places by comparison to what’s happening these days. I often think wouldn’t it be fun to go to school now?” Class of ’56 alum Jill Kneerim knows what she’s talking about, having attended eight different schools before landing here in sixth grade. “Not only was nobody talking about anything real in those days, it was unheard of to deviate from the standard curriculum. You learned Hamlet, you learned punctuation, European history. Everybody did the same thing. Within those strictures, Friends was a wonderful dish.” The 1950s were indeed a different era; a time when Jill’s father didn’t think twice about placing his 13-yearold daughter aboard an ocean liner to travel by herself to Europe to attend a boarding school for a year in a land

where she didn’t speak the language. “I went to Friends from sixth grade all the way through graduation except for taking off the ninth grade, when I sailed alone to Europe on the SS Liberte, a French line ship, and spent a year in a Swiss boarding school called Prealpina, near Vevey,” she recalled. She wrote long letters to her father, a World War II Navy veteran, detailing her friendships, challenges and adventures at the school. Her mother had died when she was eight and she had no siblings, so her father was her lifeline to home. When she returned to New York and BFS a year later she got her first taste of the publishing business. “We negotiated the sale of rights in those letters to a writer with the pen name Betty Cavanna, who wrote very popular romances for young teenage girls,” she said. Cavanna wrote a novel inspired by Jill’s adventures.



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Three years later the royalties helped pay for Jill’s first year at Radcliffe. “Clearly, I was born to be an agent, but didn’t become one ‘til I was 51.” Jill was born in New York City and lived up and down the East Coast before she got to Brooklyn. “My mother, by the way, was a professional,” she said with pride. “She started and ran a film library at NYU. Extremely unusual for a woman of her generation, born in 1902.” After her mother’s death, Jill and her father settled down in a historic carriage house on Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights. “Brooklyn Heights was my first really stable home,” she said.  Stable but admittedly quirky, her early life reads like a 1930s screwball comedy. “Not anyone’s typical childhood,” Jill said. “I lived an oddball bachelor life with my marvelous, funny, sophisticated father. At age 12 I could mix a perfect martini. Not

for myself!” She and her father were close, and he made sure she absorbed all the culture New York City had to offer. They frequented museums, spent evenings at the theatre, read poetry together, walked the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights and played chess there on Sundays. Jill started BFS with some apprehension. “I hadn’t moved schools in three years and now I was coming to a new and strange environment with no mother to shield me. Not only was I traumatized by her loss two years earlier, I was also horribly embarrassed to be motherless. This seems grotesque now, doesn’t it? The girl next to me, Judy Koota, who later became a close friend, was kind and friendly, so things got off to a good start.” Before long Jill was fully immersed in all the school had to offer. “Part of the reason the school was great for me is that it was so small,” she said.  “I got to do a lot of different things.  I got to co-edit the literary magazine and the yearbook, both with my good friend Judy Leopold (now Kantrowitz). We tried to deviate from the routine yearbook. It was fun. We felt like flaming radicals.” She holds many other laser-sharp memories of her years here. “What I loved Friends for was its dignity. Benjamin Burdsall was the head of the Upper School. He was hardly a ball of fire,” she quipped. “He was a deliberate kind of person, a fussy guy in lots of ways, but he was such a good man. His values were kind-hearted. True blue all the way, very supportive of the students.” Similar to today, the students began every morning with a homeroom period, now called morning advisory. Back then, they also had

a morning reading presented by a student. “Whoever was appointed for the day or the week would stand up and read something very short; a little text, often a psalm,” she said. “It didn’t have to be religious but it was thoughtful. Then we’d have silence in the Quaker tradition. What a wonderful way to start the day. If we could all do that today still we’d be better off.” She elaborated further on the continued importance of silence in her life. “I guess none of us should ever underestimate the importance of silence. Life is such a bedlam. What silence does is give us a chance to rest, to feel present. You know, the Buddhists have interesting things to say on this. Quiet down that noise in your brain and just be. Be there. For 17-year-old-kids it’s a very ripe age, I think, at which to realize you don’t have to be racing every minute.” After BFS, she attended the school she had spent her girlhood dreaming about: Radcliffe College at Harvard. “I was in the big time. I just felt very lucky with that.” She was not alone in her graduating class. “We all went on to good schools. We went to Brown and Vassar and Harvard and Yale. For a class of 26 kids it was surprising.” After college she had no real career goal in mind. “I went back to New York and lucked into publishing.” She makes it seem like happenstance, and in some ways it was so. “I didn’t plan. People didn’t plan very far ahead in those days. People weren’t thinking of their mortgages when they were 15. We were allowed time to daydream.” So at a leisurely pace she got a job working as a copy editor and proofreader when a friend from Radcliffe called out of the blue and told her about a job at Simon & Schuster. 



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“Part of the reason the school was great for me is that it was so small,” she said. “I got to do a lot of different things.” “I said, ‘I have a job, why are you calling me?’” With some cajoling she went in for the interview. “Of course I had to take the job. Simon & Schuster was a glamorous place,” she recounted. “They were just publishing a book that my college roommate’s father had written, and it turned into a #1 best-seller – The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. So that was fun, the big-deal author coming into the publishing office, and the kid who was nobody was the one he came to see.”  She still chuckles about it today. “My boss said, ‘Hi, Bill; have you come to see me?’ And the company’s number one best seller said, ‘No – I came to say hello to Jill.’” Although she didn’t become a literary agent until much later in life, she had embarked on a career in book editing that was for her as dazzling and enchanting as working in Hollywood. “What could possibly be more exciting than easing the way of people who write books?” she said. “All my life I had been star-struck about writers… I just wound up so happy to be in the profession. It was a good match for me.” Late in the tumultuous ’60s, however, Jill reached a breaking point and decided the time had come for meaningful change, both in her own life and in the world at large. “I left publishing when Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were both killed,” she said. “I was an editor in the book division at American Heritage and

Jill in the 1956 yearbook

suddenly I couldn’t stand it. It seemed like the barricades were burning and society was falling apart. We were in the middle of this ghastly, stupid war. Social standards were falling by the wayside and I thought, what the hell am I doing editing coffee table history books? I went to work for causes for a long time.” In 1990 she returned to books and started a literary agency with a friend. Today her company, Kneerim, Williams & Bloom, has offices in Boston and New York. Last year its authors won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Malamud Award and the George Washington Prize. “Being a book agent is the most exciting career in the world,” Jill said. She’s proud to represent prizewinners, best sellers, and just fine writers delving into interesting things. “My writers are all heroes to me,” she reflected. One of her favorite career highlights concerns her representation of short story writer Edith Pearlman, whom she considers a good friend. “She writes

these gemlike stories,” said Jill. “She’s in her 70s and she had published all of her stories over 50 years in small literary quarterlies. A circle of very select readers loved her work, but all of a sudden she got her big break” when a small press published a collection of her short stories, Binocular Vision, and it was reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review. “All of a sudden her name was on everybody’s lips. She was a finalist for most of the country’s biggest literary prizes – the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Story Award. She won the PEN Malamud and the National Book Critics Circle Award.” “I represent so many famous people and that’s thrilling, of course, but to represent someone like Edith who was not super-famous, who is really, really good, and to watch her become famous, was possibly the biggest thrill I ever had.” Her passion for her career is palpable. “It’s an enormous privilege. You’re in a position to be important, to be useful, to someone with a lot of talent, sometimes genius.” Another client she cites, a writer of nonfiction, is Stephen Greenblatt, a Pulitzer-winning Renaissance scholar who teaches at Harvard. “He could write about his shoelaces and make you want to read it,” she bragged. “I had the time of my life working for such a genius.” In turn, Greenblatt was interested in the sources of Shakespeare’s genius. “That’s what his first book for the general reader was about, really. Not about Shakespeare’s life – almost nothing is known about that. I had a blast watching Greenblatt shape his book proposal – and then, what fun we had selling the book, Will in the World. Every publisher in America was vying for that one!” When Jill’s not storming the gates



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with her clients’ highly regarded works, she takes time off to read fiction for pleasure. And, “I love to hang out with friends, with my husband Bill, with the kids in the world I care about.” In 2005 she traveled to China and made a special trip by herself to Yantai, where her mother grew up in a boarding school run by the China Inland Mission. Jill and Bill, an electronic artist, also enjoy their little house in the country, which she literally built herself by hand in the 1960s. “It was tiny! Hardly more than a shack. Lots of life went on there, though. Friends, children, grandchildren, all in one room with no electricity. We finally tore it down and now it’s been rebuilt by a normal builder,” she joked. “I like building things. I’m probably building a table this fall.” She enjoys building books, too. “Just taking someone’s life story and making it into a single-copy book,” she explained. “I spent two years writing a book for my father for his 90th birthday. It was a homemade effort published in spiral-bound Xerox form, maybe 50 copies, a hundred pages long,” she said. “The story of his life, brimming with anecdotes. You’d take one look at it and say, well that was a labor of love, and that’s exactly what it was. I’ve done quite a number of things like that. I would be happy if you locked me in a room with paper and scissors and glue and some good stories to tell. Every person has a good story.” Today she remains an avid supporter of BFS. “The bonds,” she added, “are still there. I had lunch this summer with classmate Jay Romm, whom I hadn’t seen in 56 years. I adored visiting with him. I felt like nothing had changed!”

Profile | Bob Bowman

From “Crime and Chemistry” to Shaping Young Minds An Interview with Upper School Head Bob Bowman by Jeffrey Stanley


FS welcomes new Upper School Head Bob Bowman. Before he came to us he was Academic Dean at the Ranney School in New Jersey. He supervised department heads in all academic matters and professional development, chaired the all-school curriculum committee, and coordinated the academic budget. Before that he was the K-12 Science Chair at Collegiate School in Manhattan. Previously his career had been heading in an entirely different direction than independent school education. He holds a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Columbia University. As a postdoctoral student at California Institute of Technology he worked with Nobel laureate Dr. Ahmed Zewail, and

he went on to become an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kansas and Colgate University. What caused such a dramatic shift in his life? I had a quick Q&A with Bob in mid-August as he settled in to his office at 55 Willoughby Street. You clearly enjoy serving in independent schools rather than, say, in a public school or university setting. In fact it seems that you left behind a strong background in chemistry at a professional level. What’s the appeal for you? I remember when I told a number of my friends from college I was leaving the land of college academia to teach at an independent school in Manhattan. I anticipated many questions and raised eyebrows. Instead, I was met mostly



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with comments along the lines of, “that makes sense.” When I was in college, I used to say how I thought the greatest job would be teaching junior high or high school, coaching sports and working with kids. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of this aspiration and became enamored with some pretty serious, highly specialized research. The real turning point for me career-wise was during my last two years at Colgate when I got to develop and teach a course entitled “Crime and Chemistry.” It was primarily for nonscience students, and I truly adored teaching that course. It reminded me that there were plenty of young people who still felt intimidated or bored by science. I was able to pique the interest of “non-believers.” I was completely

energized by the students who began to understand how important being a scientifically literate citizen is in this highly technological age. I realized that my heart was in teaching, and I wanted to teach younger students and keep proselytizing about the excitement and relevance of chemistry and physics. So you started flipping through the classifieds looking for jobs as a junior high school science teacher? I got a call from a headhunter asking if I knew any senior undergraduates who might be interested in teaching at an independent school. I said I did, but I also knew a professor who might be interested, and the rest was kismet. Yet, in the spirit of the political season and full disclosure, the more than 200 inches of snow we had in Hamilton, NY that winter was also highly motivating. Now you’ve been at it for a number of years and have thrived in K-12 academia. How does BFS generally compare to your previous schools in terms of age, size, and philosophy? BFS is an amalgamation of the two schools in terms of age. Ranney is a relatively young – about 50 years – school while Collegiate is more than 375 years old, so BFS sits in between. The Upper School at Brooklyn Friends is a little smaller than at either Collegiate or Ranney. Ranney and Collegiate had much more restrictive dress codes, and students addressed teachers formally. I really appreciate the ethos promoted by the use of faculty and administrator first names. Collegiate, as an all boys’ school, is significantly different in terms of philosophy. BFS is by far the most inclusive, diverse school of the three, and as a Quaker institution, the extent

of character education and the expectations of acceptance and respect for differences are a palpable part of the life of the school. As I have said to many people, Brooklyn Friends walks the walk in terms of living its mission. Most schools promise, but do not deliver fully, an education that balances academics, respect for others, and stewardship of the world. Did you have any prior exposure to a Friends school or Quakerism before joining BFS? I was raised a little more than a mile from Wilmington Friends School in Delaware. Due to the politics of busing during the late ’70s I had many friends transfer to this school while I stayed in a public high school. My friends kept me informed about life at an independent school and this unusual thing called Quaker Meeting where everyone was silent. As I grew older, both my nieces spent time at WFS, and I learned a great deal about what makes a Quaker school special. As fate would have it, I got an opportunity to learn a great deal more about Wilmington Friends during a search three years ago. So my experience was almost entirely from the outside looking inwards, but I always was enamored by what I saw. What are your first impressions now that you’re on the inside looking out? So far, my time at BFS has been a little surreal given that the Upper School at Willoughby has been almost entirely empty since I started in July. If it had not been for the great company and counsel of [Security Staff] Donna Foote and [Administrative Assistant] Colin Brennan I would have been completely lost. Everyone has been



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incredibly generous with their time. Many teachers, parents and students have stopped by and shared their thoughts and allowed me to see the school through their eyes. I’ve gotten a real sense of the love and passion everyone has for this school. I’m really impressed with the level of insight and self-awareness everyone has about the areas for growth in the school. I believe this is a reflection of the “speaking truth to power” principle in practice. I’m incredibly excited for the year to start. Do you have family nearby? My mom still lives in the house in which I was raised in Wilmington, Delaware. The rest of my family is spread throughout the country including Colorado, Florida and Massachusetts. What do you do when you’re not at BFS? Any hobbies, passions? I get the greatest pleasure coaching my son’s baseball and soccer teams, something I have been doing since he was a wee lad. I still play indoor soccer and used to be an avid golfer, but that takes too much time, so my handicap has gone through the roof. I’ve seen almost every children’s movie made over the last few years. My favorite television show is Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom. I’m an avid reader, mostly fiction. What’s the last book you read? Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder and Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding. I really enjoyed them both. I’ll embrace my quintessential nerdiness and admit I’m currently reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy. For the first time! Welcome to the BFS community.

Teaching and Learning

Preschoolers examine the caterpillars in their classroom (left) and watch as the butterflies are released from the rooftop playground (below).


Preschoolers (and Their Butterflies) Take Flight

very spring in the Brooklyn Friends preschool, children watch as butterflies take flight from the rooftop playground. This culminates the students’ journeys with their insect friends, which started as painted lady larvae weeks before. This process helps the children learn about the spirit of spring, focusing on growth and transitions, as many of the children prepare to move on to the lower school in the fall. The preschoolers were all very excited to watch their larvae became hungry caterpillars, eating everything in their path. As the caterpillars grew to the size of the children’s little finger, some in the red room class commented “Everything grows big and fast in springtime!” Once the caterpillars began their metamorphosis into butterflies, the children began wondering how long it

would take for the butterflies to appear out of their chrysalises. The answer? Ten days. While waiting for the butterflies to arrive, many of the students



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incorporated the insects into their art. Symmetrical butterfly paintings were cut out and displayed on the classroom bulletin boards. When the butterflies hatched, the preschoolers enjoyed spending a few days watching them fly and sip nectar inside the Butterfly Pavilion. Finally, it came time for the butterflies to explore the outside world of Brooklyn. The children brought the pavilion up to the rooftop playground and, tentatively, the butterflies edged out and flew off into the sky. Although everyone was sad to see the butterflies go, it was an overall fun and important learning experience for the preschoolers. They grew and transformed this past year, like the caterpillar into the butterfly, and are now ready to take on the challenges that await them next at Brooklyn Friends. – John R. Martin

Teaching and Learning

Second graders enjoy the cascading waterfall and exhibits at the New York Aquarium at Coney Island.

Walruses, Turtles and Seals – Oh My! by Anna Kotelchuck and Margaret Trissel


ne of the biggest projects second grade students undertake every year is a study of ocean animals. For the children, this is an exciting chance to become experts on fascinating aquatic species while enhancing their research and writing skills. It is also a truly interdisciplinary unit–the children have opportunities to integrate their growing knowledge about ocean animals into music, art and movement. As a kickoff to the unit each year, the second graders take a trip to the New York Aquarium at Coney Island. The students break up into small research groups in order to observe one of six animals in residence at the aquarium—penguins, seals, walruses, sharks, sea turtles or sea otters. The children observe and record the animals’ movements, behavior, and physical appearance. These notes prove valuable to their later research and writing. After the trip, the students continue

their research by reading high quality non-fiction books in order to answer key guiding questions about their animals. Children read to find out about how their animal’s bodies are adapted to their environment, what kind of food they eat, how they protect themselves,



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and how they raise their young. Children then practice synthesizing the information in their notes into clearly written and engaging nonfiction books. Most children choose a “True or False” format. “True or False? Penguins can dive as deeply as the height of a

3-story building.” (FALSE! They’re actually can dive up to 7 stories!) “True or False?: Sea turtles can’t pull their heads into their shells.” (TRUE! A sea turtle’s head would not fit inside its shell, which is also a part of its skeleton.) The second graders always incorporate creative arts into their studies, singing their favorite nautical songs heartily and with gusto–two top choices being “Calypso” by John Denver, a song about Jacques Cousteau, and “Cuida el Agua” about water conservation. In dance classes, children cooperatively create dances based on the movements of their animals. In art and wood the children create animal prints and animal carvings based on ocean life. The Ocean Animal study culminates with an Ocean Animal Celebration where the children can share their new expertise with their families and the Brooklyn Friends community. Their artwork is displayed, their choreographed animal dances are shown on film, and they read their beautifully illustrated, scientifically accurate “True or False” books to their adults. Second grade marks the true beginning of children’s ability to ‘read to learn,’ and they can then turn that newly acquired information into written material of their own. In becoming undeniable experts on ocean animals, children take pleasure and pride in exercising this new skill set. Intimate knowledge of the natural world is also key to developing a spirit of stewardship and environmentalism. As one second grader wrote in a reflection on the study, “I am so happy I learned about seals. I never knew about them before, and when I studied them it really opened a new animal up to me. Now I love seals so much.”

A Visit from American Ballerina Raven Wilkinson Retired American ballet dancer Raven Wilkinson spent a day with Middle Schoolers at the end of February. She shared stories of her life in the Ballet Russe and the close encounters with racism that she faced throughout her life. by Larry Williams


he Middle School celebrated Women’s History Month this year by hosting a very special guest, Raven Wilkinson. Ms. Wilkinson has been hailed as the Jackie Robinson of American Ballet, as she was the first African-American artist to sign with an international ballet company. Science teacher Janet Villas had invited Ms. Wilkinson to BFS. The two friends met at the New York City Opera, where Ms.Villas was singing in the chorus and Ms. Wilkinson was a dancer. The program began with a clip from the film Ballet Russe (2005), an acclaimed documentary that told the story of the famed company and Ms. Wilkinson’s important contribution to the world of ballet. For the novice or for the ballet aficionado, the film was an exciting glimpse into the heart and soul of the ballet world. After the movie excerpt, Ms. Villas interviewed Ms. Wilkinson. Because of their close personal friendship, the conversation was insightful and revealing. Ms. Wilkinson, is, in a word, fascinating. A native New Yorker, Ms. Wilkinson was about five, when her mother took her to see the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She was enthralled and wanted to dance. Although too young to study, she would eventually take classes at the Ballet



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Teacher Janet Villas (left) with guest speaker Raven Wilkinson

Russe school. She attended Columbia University because it afforded her the opportunity to take dance classes. Dance was her passion. In 1954, Ms. Wilkinson signed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but not without some difficulty. Initially, they did not want to give her a full contract, fearing how she would be received in the south. She was told that they were looking at another dancer in Chicago to complete the southern leg of the tour. When the company arrived in Chicago and there was no other dancer, Ms. Wilkinson quickly saw through the ruse. She told the Company Manager that she would not deny that she was black but she would not advertise it either. She got the full contract. continued on next page

continued from previous page

Ms. Wilkinson toured for three years without any problem. But one day, in Atlanta a jealous black elevator operator reported her to management as a Negro. She was forced to move to a black hotel. There were other incidents. In Alabama, she sat down in a hotel dining room only to discover that the pleasant rural looking people around her were all in the Ku Klux Klan. After six years with the Ballet Russe, management informed her that she had gone as far as she could go. She took the hint and in 1967 moved to Holland, where she danced with the Dutch National Ballet. In 1974, missing America, she returned and began work at the New York City Opera where she performed character parts. She retired two years ago after a lifetime of dance. After the interview with Ms. Villas, Ms. Wilkinson took questions from the students. Her

message to them was very simple – life will throw obstacles in your path and it is up to you to overcome them. The program ended with a tribute in dance performed by BFS students and choreographed by teacher Vanessa Aird. After the program, Ms. Wilkinson had lunch with some of the faculty. One faculty member, Erin Mansur told the group how her mother had a brochure of the Ballet Russe with the brown ballerina. This was the impetus for Erin to dream of becoming a ballerina. Erin did not become a ballerina, but seeing Ms. Wilkinson’s picture allowed Erin to dream. She would later study modern dance in college. With her beauty, elegance and charm, Raven Wilkinson cast a spell over all who met her, both faculty and students alike. Perhaps a new generation of dancers and dreamers was born on the day this ballerina came to Brooklyn.

Raven Wilkinson as a young ballerina



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Where the Middle School Shines: Collection in the BFS Meetinghouse


aven Wilkinson’s visit to BFS was one of more than 30 assembly periods, known at BFS as collection, that take place in the Middle School throughout the academic year. Collection is held once a week in the school meetinghouse, and every grade, from 5th through 8th, attends with their teachers. The programs are lively, inspiring, sometimes serious, often entertaining, and always special. There is time set aside for spelling and geography bees, student presentations on math and science, previews of our students’ performing arts productions, the student-produced Bridge Film Festival, and recognition for team sports as well as the National Latin Awards. Programs vary from year to year, but they are always planned carefully by the division head, teachers, and students. In the 2011-12 school year, a new program was introduced to the students at collection time. The Student Diversity Leadership Series brought five nationally renowned speakers to BFS – Amer Ahmed on Islam, Rosetta Lee on gender; John Palmer on stereotypes; Frederick Gooding on media literacy, and Wade Sandoval on multiculturalism and the arts. Moreover, there were collections on the Occupy Wall Street movement (led by BFS lower school teacher Matthew Presto), and a Student Council-led “Day of Concern” with a panel of veterans of the US military. Middle School collection is a great time to be a fly on the wall of Middle School, where – as Shakespeare said – all the world’s a stage. – Joan Martin

Teaching and Learning

Aria Cato (left) and Tyler Clark (right) check out some of the library reference books for their history elective on Japan.

History by Choice: New Electives Enliven Tenth Grade Curriculum


by Jeffrey Stanley s the International Baccalaureate program continues to grow into a popular fixture in the Upper School, some ramifications have trickled down to impact other courses and curricula. One such challenge

was faced last year by the History department, which found itself in need of reshaping the tenth grade curriculum. “The big new component is, there are now history electives in tenth grade,” explained Middle and Upper School History Chair Ed Herzman. That might seem simple enough, but as any teacher or educational administrator can tell you, one can’t simply offer new courses and modify course content without potentially causing chaos for students and other faculty if not handled with care and much forethought. 19


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“When the IB came in, eleventh and twelfth grade classes used to be the slot where we had history electives,” explained Ed. “We discovered that we were essentially pitting those electives against the IB history courses.” As the IB grew in popularity, it pushed the non-IB history electives into a marginalized position, so the faculty began looking for a long-term solution. “There were several years of discussion,” said Ed.  Previously, the tenth grade history classes were stronger in breadth than in depth. Yearlong courses like World Civilizations were broad surveys with textbooks that covered the entire globe but which only skimmed the surface of any one nation or era. “Now students

Teaching and Learning

are reading narrative histories on particular facets of a culture instead of broad-based textbooks.” The courses are no longer on a yearlong track but are one- semester courses, allowing students more elective choices.  “The concept is to let the students dabble, and to give the teachers a sense of as many students in their grade as possible,” said Ed.  “There are advantages to that. A lot more teachers will become invested in who these kids are and what they’re good at.” Traditionally the department implicitly shied away from military history in keeping with Quaker values not to glorify violence; instead, the focus was on social and political history.  Those elements are still covered but now military history is also an elective option.  “Teaching war can be a really good way to be anti-war,” Ed pointed out.  Among the new tenth grade courses offered are The World Wars and The Wars in Korea and Vietnam both taught by Jesse Klausz. Also in the 2012-13 school year, Mark Buenzle is teaching Art History in the first semester and Modern Art History in the second semester. Courses focusing on social and political history are now more specifically region-based, and more contemporary, covering roughly the period from the 1880s until now.  Dr. Jon DeGraff teaches Modern African History and Latin American History. Trevor Corson, who also teaches Mandarin as a world language elective, teaches the history courses The Rise of Modern China and The Search for Modern Japan.  Vlad Malukoff taught the courses Modern India and The Middle East in 2011-12 and these will be offered again in the near future.

“What I loved about this course was the fact that we were asked to play the roles of different people in Japan. We got to debate questions and use the information that we learned to support our opinion.” Trevor, now in his second year at BFS, brings his own personal experiences to his subjects. He himself enrolled in a Mandarin language elective “on a whim” while a student at Sidwell Friends, “because it was so unusual at the time.” The course piqued his interest so much that soon he was applying for scholarships to travel to China and Japan to study while he was still a high school student.  His passion continued at Princeton where he studied both Chinese and Japanese. “The challenges of these difficult language and travel experiences forced me to perceive the world in new ways,” he said.  “I got hooked on that sense of having your horizons expand, so much so that I ended up investing a decade learning both languages and living altogether five years in the two countries.” Trevor is also well versed in East Asian history and current events. In these new history electives, narrative histories, memoirs and other primary source materials have replaced traditional textbooks. Less traditional homework assignments are also the norm. Students in Trevor’s China class read Modern China by journalist Jonathan Fenby, which is geared toward college-age readers. Students also read excerpts from the best-selling memoir Wild Swans by Jung Chang. In both courses Trevor also makes use of role-playing exercises.  “I might divide them into two or three groups representing people in the history we’re



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reading, have them work together to explain and present their positions, and then we talk as a class about the conflicting agendas and interests that have come up.” Jesse Klausz teaches The World Wars and The Wars in Korea and Vietnam. An interdisciplinary history major while at Stanford, he focuses these classes on history, literature and arts from around the world.  Jesse was particularly passionate about nineteenth and twentieth century European intellectual history in college and studied abroad in Berlin for two semesters. To keep on top of his game he attended a seminar at his alma mater this past summer taught by Professor David M. Kennedy, author of one of the textbooks BFS uses in its eleventh grade history courses. As an NEH fellow in summer, 2011 Jesse attended the weeklong seminar Jazz, Motown and American Culture in the 1960s at Washington University in St. Louis.  Some of what he learned there had a direct impact on the content in his Korea-Vietnam class. In addition to traditional textbooks “for context” in his classes, Jesse also has students read T.R. Fehrenbach’s highly acclaimed classic book This Kind of War, a collection of personal narratives from soldiers in the Korean conflict, and Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History, praised for its multiple perspectives on the war. What do the students think of such

Top: Several of the sophomores who studied China as their history option last year had the opportunity to visit the country and experience its culture and traditions when the Upper School toured China during spring break. Above: History Department Chair Ed Herzman

changes in the curriculum? Junior Tyler Clark took Trevor’s “The Search for Modern Japan” during the spring semester of her sophomore year. “Surprisingly, to me at least, we did not study the so-called modern time period,” she said.  “We actually focused

on whether Japan could be considered a modern country in terms of their government, military, societal norms, economic system, and other various elements that made Japan who they are today.” Tyler expressed appreciation for this unique way to discussing such a contemporary society. “We did learn from a different perspective,” she said.  “What I loved about this course was the fact that we were asked to play the roles of different people in Japan. We got to debate questions and use the information that we learned to support our opinion.”  The innovations in learning didn’t stop there.  Tyler’s final paper in the course, a ten-page research essay, was about Godzilla as an allegory for the nuclear attacks that devastated the country in World War II, and the sci-fi mega-lizard’s purpose in pop culture – “making Japan forget that it was an aggressor before those bombs were dropped.”  Tyler described this paper as “definitely a challenge, but it was



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unique and I wanted to develop a great paper on a fun topic. I learned so much during this course. I enjoyed every part of it.” During the fall semester Tyler took the Modern Latin America elective taught by Vlad Malukoff “A semesterlong history course was definitely different compared to a year-long history course,” she reflected.  “I don’t think there was a great difference in difficulty. However if I had to choose I would say that the semester-long courses were easier because we were able to choose the topic of our interest.” In other words, passion goes a long way toward a student’s success or failure.  Junior Cindy Chen, who took The Rise of Modern China and The Search for Modern Japan as her sophomore history electives, agreed.  “The classes were much more enjoyable because the courses were more specific to my interests. I did learn a lot from them, and Trevor really focused on helping us develop our critical thinking skills.”  Quite simply, the mid-year change to a new elective helped her break up the monotony.  “Taking a semester course compared to a year-long course felt more interesting because one wouldn’t get tired of staying with a single long history course throughout a year.” As for teaching a semester-long course over a yearlong version, Trevor sees advantages to the former.  “There’s an intensity of focus, both in terms of the subject matter and the time we have to get through the material, that generates excitement and that seems especially stimulating for tenth graders,” he said.  “They are maturing toward a deeper awareness that history is less about facts, figures, and dates than it is about comprehending the human experience.”

Philanthropy at BFS

Profile in Giving: Macon and Mike Jessop by Jeffrey Stanley


acon and Mike Jessop have a strong personal connection to Brooklyn Friends School for several reasons. First they are parents of a sixth grade daughter who started in the BFS Preschool, and a son who is a current Kindergartner. “We have been involved from the beginning,” Macon put it, “through volunteering our time and our financial support.” The two are currently the outgoing Parent Chairs of the Brooklyn Friends Fund, which raised more than $770,000 in the 2011-12 fiscal year. Macon holds a masters degree as a reading specialist. She attended high school at Friends Central in Philadelphia, which indirectly led to her teaching Special Education for five years at the Mary McDowell Friends School. “Quakerism in some aspect has always been a part of my life,” she said. “It was through me that Mike became interested in Quaker education.” Mike is from Garden City, Long Island and works as a bond broker in Manhattan. Even as a father who works during school hours, he has found ways to participate in the school life of his kids after school and on weekends, volunteering at events such as the Winter Festival in addition to chairing the Brooklyn Friends Fund with Macon. “When I had Galen I chose to be a stay at home mother,” Macon said. That’s about to change, as she will soon be embarking on a new venture with

“We wanted them to be in a place that would not only focus on academics but on nurturing and educating the whole person. BFS has done that in an exemplary way.” business partners later this year selling affordable art. Why does giving to the Brooklyn Friends Fund remain so important to them? “We have made BFS a philanthropic priority because we believe that the school is moving forward in a positive direction,” she said. “We believe in the leadership, faculty and administration, and value the academic and Quaker aspects of BFS. We see that our children Galen and Owen are thriving both academically and emotionally and we really believe that this has a great deal to do with



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the culture of Brooklyn Friends.” Macon and Mike also came from families with a strong “culture of giving,” as she put it. “It is your job to give back in the form of service or financial support.” They hope they are imparting the same family wisdom to their own kids. “We wanted them to be in a place that would not only focus on academics but on nurturing and educating the whole person. BFS has done that in an exemplary way.” As BFS parents, they are not alone in their dedication and commitment to the school. Macon saw that first-hand during her time chairing the Brooklyn Friends Fund. She was gratified to see so many parents participate in direct giving and also impressed with the level of support BFS garners through the spring fundraiser. “I think of all the parents who go out of their way to support the Gala by either giving or soliciting donations for the silent auction. It really shows the parent body coming together.” Macon and Mike’s support isn’t just for the relatively short time their own kids will be at the school, but for BFS’ future. “We would like to see Brooklyn Friends find a new building and continue to grow the school,” Macon said. “We would certainly like for them to continue to strengthen their already strong academic program and to make sure that the school retains its Quaker values and community.”

Notable Achievements

won several playoff games. The Varsity Girls Softball team played competitively, setting a foundation for a bright future. Finally, the first ever boys volleyball team in Brooklyn Friends history completed a very successful inaugural season. All 12 players (four seniors, four juniors, and four freshmen) who joined the team completed the season with a very successful 5-3 record. Our sports program for younger children also expanded, with a swimming and water polo team that meets at the St. Francis College pool and the founding of Friendly Flyers, a youth running team for 3rd to 5th graders.

n International Perspectives

Upper School students getting ready for a spring day of service at Red Hook Fields

Highlights from 2011-12 n Service and Leadership Our Upper School students co-planned and co-sponsored the 15th annual Quaker Youth Leadership Conference held at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, Long Island. The entire junior class spent five days in New Orleans in the late spring to rebuild houses with the St. Bernard Project as part of the service learning program. Children of all ages participated in service, including work day at the Quaker Cemetery, local park clean-ups, visiting senior citizens, tutoring students, sponsoring food, clothing and book drives, and raising funds for Horizons at BFS and other service organizations.

n Latin Laureates Sixty students scored sufficiently high in the National Latin Exams to receive prizes in the spring of 2012, and Maya Kaul ’15 achieved a perfect score for the second

consecutive year, earning the “Cum Honore Maximo Egregio” award from the American Classical League.

n Spectacular Sports What a year in Panther sports at BFS! The Girls Varsity Volleyball team won a championship. Girls Varsity Soccer finished with its first ever winning season. Middle School Girls Volleyball won the Poly Prep Tournament and had a winning season. The Middle School soccer team, composed of almost 30 players, finished with an 11-5 record. The Girls Varsity Basketball team had a winning season with a trip to the playoffs, and Janna Joassainte ’13 scored 300 points. Our 7th through 12th graders ran on crosscountry, indoor track, and spring track teams, competing throughout the city. The Boys Varsity Baseball team finished with a 13-6 regular season record and



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Italian and Mandarin were added to the Upper School’s world languages offerings, 65 students traveled to China during spring break, and nine students participated in an exchange program with Lycée-Collège Victor Duruy in Paris. In addition, ten BFS students and Head of School Larry Weiss hosted a group of visiting high school seniors from China for several days in the spring. The Chinese students were on a US study tour arranged by the National Committee on US-China Relations. Jake Reiben ’13 won an award and $200 in an essay contest organized by the Japan Center at Stony Brook University. “Brooklyn Bonsai” was published on the Center’s website and in the BFS Upper School magazine, WordFlirt.

n We’re the Top The BFS Preschool division was in the top three of all NYC schools in a survey conducted by New York Observer. Brooklyn Friends was named the best private school in Brooklyn by Brooklyn Magazine, and the school also was named to the “Brooklyn 200” list published by Community Newspaper Group as one of the “essential, influential, and distinctive” places and things that make Brooklyn special.

Brooklyn Friends Fund Committee 2012-2013

Steven Burwell and Heidie Joo Burwell, Chairs Mary Ann Adolf Amy Axler Andrea Basham Margaret Bary Andrea Compton Trefor Davies Raphael Davis Jessica Donofrio Andrew Essex Michael Farkas Nicole Gagnon M. Salomé Galib Ricardo Granderson Peta-Gaye Grey Karima Hassan Megan Hertzig-Sharon Ed Herzman Lara Holliday Kathryn Hwang Macon Jessop Ty Kaul Sabrina LeBlanc Claudia Lewis ’89 Matthieu McAuliffe Isa Moneypenny Jeffrey Moore   and Monica Vaughn-Moore Emily Moyer Brad Mulder Marie-Christine Perry Jeff Preiss   and Rebecca Quaytman Richard Reiben ’71 Lisa Richland Deborah Richman Karen Robinson-Cloete Lisa Sack Bill Siegmund and Lucy Hart Cheryl Springer-Azeez  Kay Wilson Stallings  Margaret Trissel Rachel Ulanet

Setting the Pace for Another Record-Breaking Year


arents Steven Burwell and Heidie JooBurwell (pictured above) are volunteer chairs of the 2012-13 Brooklyn Friends Fund. As preschool and lower school parents, Steve and Heidie are actively and

enthusiastically involved in the daily school lives of their son and daughter. Together they serve on the Board’s Development Committee, and Heidie is a co-chair of the Diversity Committee of the Parents and Teachers

(PAT) Association as well. What accounts for their dedicated volunteerism? Simply put, it’s the student body of BFS that inspires them. “Brooklyn Friends students share the joy and excitement of learning while developing the confidence to define for themselves the unique paths that their inner light will illuminate,” say Steve and Heidie, “and this occurs not just at school, but at home, in the community, and in the world beyond.” Voluntary giving to the Brooklyn Friends Fund advances the mission of the school, which gives our students the skills they need to thrive as individuals in a friendly, diverse, and academically challenging community. When a volunteer reaches out to you in support of the 2012-13 Brooklyn Friends Fund, please give as generously as you are able. Thank you.

What accounts for their dedicated volunteerism? Simply put, it’s the student body of BFS that inspires them. “Brooklyn Friends students share the joy and excitement of learning while developing the confidence to define for themselves the unique paths that their inner light will illuminate.”



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Brooklyn Friends School —

the numbers speak for themselves…


students road-tested their global perspectives on study trips to China and France.

729 5 world languages are

students are enrolled for the current school year taught by


passionate, dedicated teachers,


of whom have advanced degrees.


of those teachers received prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities grants in the past five years.


athletes compete on



netbooks were issued this year – one to every student in 5th through 12th grade.


awards were garnered by students in the 2012 National Latin Exam.


Gold and Silver Keys were earned from the regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and

The Brooklyn Friends Fund is the school’s largest source of revenue after student tuition. Annual contributions support the BFS operating budget, allowing the school to make purchases and fund programs that directly and immediately impact our students.


students went on to receive gold or silver medals in the national competition.

30 250 students of all ages enjoyed

interscholastic sports teams in volleyball, cross country, soccer, basketball, softball, baseball and track.


International Baccalaureate courses were taken by last year’s seniors which translates to


IB courses per graduate.


students participated in Model UN.

after-school programming in everything from ballet, cooking and chess to Brazilian martial arts, Uhuru dance and world percussion.


– the budgeted goal for the 2012-2013 Brooklyn Friends Fund – will support this and more. However, it can only do so with the generous contributions of ALL our BFS families.

To give, please visit www.brooklynfriends. org/donate or call us at: 718-852-1029 ext. 243, or snap below

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Permit # 79 S. Hackensack, NJ

Address Service Requested Board of Trustees, 2012-13 Karen Robinson-Cloete, Co-Chair Lisa Sack, Co-Chair Margaret Bary Wade Black ’92 Dorothee Cates Sarah Clarke Richard Cutler ’62 Ed Herzman Seamus Henchy Lara Holliday, Secretary Hildemarie Ladouceur Brad Mulder ’83 Catherine Ramey Ninon Rogers Shelley Ullman, Treasurer Larry Weiss,   Head of School, ex-officio Karen Edelman, Director   of Development, ex-officio Vanessa Wassenar, Interim Chief Financial Officer, ex-officio

Administration, 2012-13 Larry Weiss, Head of School Crystal Backus ’96, Director of Middle and Upper School Admissions Taunya Black,   Director of Afterschool Karine Blemur-Chapman, Director of All-School Enrollment and Preschool/Lower School Admissions Bob Bowman,   Head of Upper School Jacquelyn Condie,   Head of Lower School Karen Edelman,   Director of Development Maura Eden,   Director of Preschool David Gardella,   Athletic Director Greg George,   Director of Technology Martha Haakmat,   Head of Middle School Joan Martin,   Director of Communications Eddie Moore, Jr.,   Director of Diversity Mary Osorio,   Assistant to the Head of School Mary Ellen Ostrander,   RN, School Nurse Michel Rimpel,   Director of Physical Plant Sara Soll, Director   of Family Center Whitney Thompson,   Dean of Faculty Vanessa Wassenar, Interim Chief Financial Officer Rachel Webber,   Executive Director of Horizons   at Brooklyn Friends School

Jake Reiben ’13

Brooklyn Friends School Journal  
Brooklyn Friends School Journal  

Annual publication of Brooklyn Friends School reporting on the school's teachers, students, alumni, and special events