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the SPRING 2010

Come Together: School as Community


Catlin Gabel seeks to form bold learners who become insightful questioners, responsible thinkers, and inspired action takers for life. Catlin Gabel is an independent, non-sectarian, progressive coeducational day school serving 730 students from preschool through twelfth grade. Its roots go back to the Portland Academy, founded in 1859. The school occupies 54 acres on Barnes Road, five miles west of downtown Portland.

An Upper Schooler reads with a student at Homework Club. Read more on p. 13

S pring

Table of Contents

Nadine Fiedler Editor

3 Communitas—The Gift of Coming Together by Lark P. Palma, Ph.D.

Karen L. Katz ’74 Communications Director

4 6 8 13 14 16 19 20 22

Chris Michel Design

Lark P. Palma Head of School Miranda Wellman ’91 Director of Development Lauren Dully Hubbard ’91 Alumni & Community Relations Program Director

Catlin Gabel School 8825 SW Barnes Road Portland OR 97225 503-297-1894

23 24 25 26 30 31

Learning Community at Catlin Gabel A Dream Playground We Built Together Teachers and Students: The Heart of the Community When Homework is More Than Homework The Little Things and the Big Thing About Baseball PLACE Creates Engaged Citizens The Feeling Abides Redefining Community: Linking the Global and Local The Catlin Gabel Student Association: An Anatomical Analogy Farewell to Bob Kindley and George Thompson ’64 Catlin Gabel News Alumni News Class Notes “This school opened the world for me” The Clint Darling Fund

on the cover

Students coming together in Martinique on a spring 2010 trip. Photo: Mark Pritchard

Come join the conversation at Catlin Gabel’s Facebook page, or visit us at

communitas – the gift of coming together


by Lark P. Palma PhD, Head of School

What is a community? It’s undoubtedly different for every person, and each of us may have many different intersecting or distinct communities in our lives. A school community, like the one we have here at Catlin Gabel, distinguishes itself because in the process of education we explicitly teach children how to become good members of their society and their world, and we model behavior constantly for them. We show our students that we are always there for them, and that they are surrounded by caring adults who are ready to catch them if they fall, both literally and metaphorically. Students who have been at Catlin Gabel for any length of time feel that this school community, in which they have been immersed for hours every weekday, and maybe even evenings and weekends, is an enormous part of their lives. We are fortunate to have the sense of connectedness and formation of social networks here at Catlin Gabel that we do. Grade-level friendships among parents and children, sports team affiliations, interactions among divisions of the school, and extracurricular and other groups help weave the complex whole that is our school. So many different kinds of people make up this entity—from facilities workers to fundraisers, to teachers and students of all ages, and families of all backgrounds— that building community takes time, empathy, and trust. Scott Peck, in his work The Different Drum, offers some useful ideas on how to think about community. He asserts that when people are able to move beyond fear of controversy or revealing of strong opinions and talk frankly with each other, greater community can occur. Sometimes these processes are difficult, even painful, but, as Peck says, at the end of the process true community can exist. True community comes to fruition when we are each able to speak our truth about our feelings and ideas, when we are able to listen to and appreciate one another, and are able to subsume our own personal desires to the higher, social good. We endeavor to teach our students to be humane and open to others’ needs, that sometimes the needs of a few spotlight important issues that need to be addressed, that any community needs to order itself through its guidelines, and that often the needs of the community must trump the needs of the individual. That is why the notion of community is so complex and elusive. Good community is like good communication: you know it when you really have it, but sometimes the journey to that point is long and uneasy. We struggle along on that journey together, for good and bad, old and young, and share our deepest selves in the process. All of the stories in this issue of the Caller explore this notion of community and offer wonderful examples of how we try to live true community every day. How can we not be successful with all of this effort? Enjoy this issue of the Caller, and please accept an opportunity to come to one of the many events that secure true community here. It’s wonderful to join together and see how our children learn to be part of a greater whole.

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at Catlin Gabel

By Allen Schauffler and Jonathan Weedman Community is not an elusive quest at Catlin Gabel. It is the granite cornerstone of our foundation. We can reach back into the school’s earliest history and find references to community woven throughout Ruth Catlin’s writings. In the mid and late 1960s, when the influence of the Black Mountain College Teacher Allen Schauffler and a preschooler connect over a good book group among the faculty provided foundational ideas about community, expectation when someone speaks your name. Speaking to the school as we now know it took shape. Ideas about someone is not an idle behavior; it demands respect. When community have come from many sources since then, but the conundrum of group problem solving emerges in the those two influences are the driving forces behind what we classroom or on the playground, younger children are often teach and model today. From Beginning Schoolers, where befuddled by what to do. Talk, Walk, and Squawk provides community is taught and experienced as concrete cause and an accessible place to hang one’s hat. First you try to talk effect, to Upper Schoolers, where community becomes an to the person or group. If that doesn’t work, you can try internalized and essential ingredient for living, its teaching walking away. If the problem persists, you must squawk to is intentional and direct. Beginning with the littlest children, the nearest teacher or grown-up, who can help untangle the both in the classroom and outdoors on the playground, one issue by providing vocabulary coaching and by scaffolding can hear the mantra “Be Safe and Be Kind” over and over. a conversation. But first, the child must have tried to talk. In the Lower School that mantra becomes the essential These simple mnemonic devices provide easy and accessible question when a child is learning behavioral expectations. tools for young children as they wind their way toward a By definition, a young child enters Catlin Gabel as a deeper and more practical understanding of community. somewhat egocentric being. It is the primary job of the This also sets the foundation for successful problem solving; preschool to lead a child from the exclusive notion of “me” a fundamental element of a fruitful community. to the seed of understanding about what “other” might As children move through the grades we use both mean. The underlying philosophy behind this is that we implicit and explicit interventions to further set strongly believe that the learning of content cannot begin the stage for community development. We teach and is meaningless unless there is a firm foundation of kindergarteners the fundamentals of working in a group and social conscience. As we watch children progress through how to get along with others. They are taught to discover the developmental stages of play and learning, the move if the choices they make are wise and ask themselves, is from being merely a cooperative player and learner to a it safe? Is it kind? Is it honest? Is it fair? A good problem truly collaborative being is crucial to success at the school. solver is a good community member, and from this early In order to thrive as an experiential and process learner, stage of their academic career children are taught the steps one must be internally driven to be open to the riches that to problem solving, through stories, coaching, or through flow from the ideas and experiences of others. The goal is a tool called Kelso’s Wheel, a list of strategies for conflict for children to embody, “I am made better by those who resolution. Learning to be a good friend is also imperative as surround me.” Taking this as a given, then, we begin with a kindergarten Eagle. Children spend time Fishin’ for Friends simple guidelines that ease children into the experience of and discussing the components of good friendship, such as being a group learner. empathy, taking turns, problem solving, sharing, and helping Raise a Quiet Hand and Hand on the Arm are the first each other. In fact, children learn that being a good friend lessons for a preschooler. These teach that interrupting helps their classroom and ultimately the entire community another person, whose ideas are important to one’s own work well. and the group’s learning and understanding, is rude and In 1st grade and onward through the Lower School, unkind. Stop, Look, Listen, and Respond is the behavioral children are surrounded by messages of community and



Beginning School parents and children share a quiet read

being a good community member. Through service, tradition, and class instruction children learn that being a community member is a requirement of Catlin Gabel. Children donate time to the Oregon Food Bank, host a food drive during Harvest Festival, and implement programs about sustainability such as the recent “1 oz. Campaign,” a plan led by 5th grade students to reduce our school waste. Children celebrate their community each week by attending Community Meeting, where they sing songs, read poetry, and celebrate holidays such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The Lower School shares community through its traditions, whether it is the rolling of the oat cake or partnering 4th graders with 1st graders as school buddies. Finally, classroom instruction is an explicit form of teaching community. First graders are taught about community, making choices, and healthy and unhealthy play, as well as using helpful and not hurtful words. Second graders learn the value of diversity, friendship, and conflict resolution. They discuss resiliency and the characteristics that help them “bounce back” from hard times. In addition to the children of Catlin Gabel, a parent body that embraces the school and its ideals is imperative for successful community building and to further solidify community engagement. We encourage parents to participate across the school in official and unofficial capacities, carry over classroom lessons to home, and serve as extended eyes and ears of the faculty while supervising children on the playground and on class trips. Elected Parent Faculty Association representatives for each grade strive to relay communication between parents and teachers. Unofficially, parents celebrate community with their children by attending Friday Sing in the Beginning School and Community Meeting in the Lower School. They volunteer across the school in a variety of capacities and are essential for successful completion of fundraising initiatives, conferences, and special events. Engaged parents model to children the emphasis on community and demonstrate a desire to make it a stronger and better place. Parents are asked to help each other’s children, to intervene in conflicts, and to help children understand that every adult at Catlin Gabel is there to support them. We know from experience that children who have achieved compassion for others and have absorbed and live these ideas of relationship make a firm and constructive

community. A child can achieve almost anything when he or she has internalized community and can use it as both a cognitive and behavioral tool to contribute toward future good. Each June, graduating seniors who started at Catlin Gabel between preschool and 1st grade are invited to come to the Beehive “lifers” ceremony with their parents, teachers, and other community members. We sing together, and each senior gives the younger children in attendance a piece of advice or talks about something he or she learned at Catlin Gabel. Inevitably, the advice and the important experiences they speak of are centered on their understanding of what this community is about and the way it has shaped their experience and, more importantly, has shaped them as young adults. We hear statements like, “be kind to your friends: they will be with you for a long time” and “take care of your business, and if you have trouble there is always someone there to help.” They say things like, “there is life beyond homework” and quite poignantly “being a friend and keeping a friend is the most important thing you will learn at Catlin Gabel.” It’s always exciting to see those early lessons in community come full circle. Preschool teacher Allen Schauffler has been at Catlin Gabel for 42 years. Jonathan Weedman is the Beginning and Lower School counselor at Catlin Gabel. He has worked with children, youth, and families in the Portland area for the last 10 years.

Counselor Jonathan Weedman teaches deep breathing to kindergarteners

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A Dream By Karen Katz ’74

What lifts spirits more than watching children run, swing, jump, and bounce on the playground adjacent to the Fir Grove? Answer: Watching them and knowing that my family, colleagues, and friends—my community—had a hand in building the structure that provides a magical venue for boundless, expressive play. With little prodding, I can recapture 15-yearold memories of Lark and Schauff (former headmaster) drilling bolts into place and chatting about the state of education while the playground underpinnings took shape around them. I picture volunteer co-chairs Leah Kemper and Jennifer Sammons cheerfully gathering the troops, with the aid of bullhorns, to announce the next task requiring attention. And I remember tiny preschool hands sanding the boards that hold the playground together. Those once-tiny hands typed college application essays this year. For five days in October 1995, the campus was a flurry of activity when hundreds of school families busied themselves from dawn until past dark building the playground. Torrential rains early in the week triggered complications but did not dampen our spirits as we mucked about in ankle-deep mud chatting, laughing, working, learning, working more, and scooping out buckets of standing water. The work was hard and the mood was festive as the community came together with a common purpose. Everyone had a job—moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, trustees, alumni, friends, and kids of all ages. First graders rubbed bolts with bars of soap to make it easier to screw them in. Middle Schoolers shoveled gravel into wheelbarrows and put their muscle into urging their heavy loads across rugged terrain to Top left: Dick Shoemaker and Tom Tucker ’66 Bottom: Laura Garnier constructing the playground in 1995

We Built Together lay the drainage. Upper School students, now raising families of their own, toiled alongside adults sawing, routing, and sanding miles and miles of railings. Before the building process even began, students and teachers had worked together to plan how our playground would reflect the campus aesthetic and our children’s imaginations. Excitement intensified as students worked together to come up with drawings and ideas. When a design group requested a castle tower, the plans were adjusted to include majestic spires. The children insisted on multiple tire swings, hidey-holes, and a spiral slide, and incorporating the beloved wooden boat. Community members suggested every feature of our grand playground. Tremendous volunteer effort went into organizing work crews, each with a crew boss to direct traffic, assign tasks, and make sure people were properly trained. Skilled carpenters took novice builders under their wings. The mother of a newborn baby took charge of volunteer check-in. The cooks among us, and parents with restaurant connections, labored tirelessly to feed the hungry crews. The food was fantastic, and meals in the Barn were raucous breaks from physical exertion. Occasionally, someone would break into song. “If I had a hammer . . . ” Dappled sun filtered through the Fir Grove when everyone came together at the end of the week to christen our beautiful new playground. Gathered there, we got that goose-bumpy sense that we were part of something bigger than ourselves. With a new pair of Catlin Gabel-blue scissors Lark cut a ribbon made from paper cutout hands: tiny preschool hands and great big grown-up hands. Children exploded onto the playground in a whirl of arms, legs, flying hair, and whoops of joy. We looked around at our enormous accomplishment, the children’s smiling faces, and each other, consumed by a powerful feeling of community. How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it is the pleasantest thing Ever a child can do! Robert Louis Stevenson Karen Katz ’74 is Catlin Gabel School’s communications director. She has been at the school since 1986. Photos of 1995 playground construction by Karen Katz ’74 and Steve Bonini.

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Teachers Students: The Heart of the Community At the basis of our educational community are the strong relationships that teachers forge with their students. We spoke to five Upper and Middle School teachers about how they build these important relationships, and here are excerpts from their inspiring interviews. Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93, Upper School science teacher, in a lab with a 9th grader

Sometimes all it takes is just reaching out Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93, Upper School science I respect students and listen to them. I listen to whatever they want to talk about: their dogs, their assignment. Spending time and looking each other in the eye shows that I care about them. And I really do care. I really get to know them in those after-class moments. Sometimes it’s very natural and things just click with a student, and there’s an easy interaction. It’s harder when there’s friction. If there is, I make sure that I go and sit with those students. When students are active in the lab, I’ll stand next to them and interact with them as humans, beyond the content of the class. It doesn’t take much, and the students appreciate it. I tell students little stories about who I am. They get a sense of me as a human being with a family, so I’m not a distant figure. I make myself vulnerable in appropriate ways. In my advanced class, in genetics and environment, we were talking about skin color. I showed them photos of my two children—one is blond, and the other is Mexicanlooking. We can talk about my kids in terms of biology, and it helps them explore who I am. Once we had some crickets escape, and we all chased them together. I wasn’t the all-knowing leader, but someone who could share in the humor of the situation. I’m very deliberate. My students’ success depends on it. If we don’t have a connection, they won’t do well. If there’s not a connection, I ask my colleagues about the student. I continually watch my students’ affect. If I see changes, I tell them, I see you’re motivated, or tired, or angry, or sad, and ask what’s going on. In science their lives don’t



come out as much as they might in other kinds of classes. But I do watch them, even if they don’t know I’m watching them in that way. I try to be a part of whatever’s meaningful to students. I go on the senior trip, which is our last chance to cement those relationships. During Campus Day, or on trips or Winterim, we make the best connections. Together we have enriching experiences that invite conversation. Outside of class we let our guards down in different ways. I feel proud to have a class that has six minority students in it. I take ownership of that. I tell them it’s cool. We create emotional connections and become part of each others’ lives. I think those are the common, invisible threads that strengthen the sense of community and identity. Teachers work deliberately to create those invisible threads. Sometimes all it takes is just reaching out to someone. When he was first at Catlin Gabel my son felt anxious about walking to the curb alone. But he soon felt safe in the knowledge that people are watching out for him. His 1st grade class did a poetry unit, and he wrote a poem, “I Am From.” He wrote, “I am from Mexico, I am from Hawaii, I am from Portland, I am from I love you, I am from Catlin Gabel.” Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93 spent her junior year at Catlin Gabel as an exchange student from Mexico City. She holds a medical degree from the Facultad Mexicana de Medicina, Universidad La Salle. She has been at Catlin Gabel for three years and previously taught at an international school in Mexico City and at Punahou School in Hawaii, under former Catlin Gabel head Jim Scott.

Students know I’m on their side Pat Walsh, Upper School history What makes teaching young people so special is that they give back so much. We cover subjects, but I’m willing to let there be serendipity. They know that if something occurs to them, they can raise their hands, and we’ll kick it around. They learn American history, but they also learn that what they know is valued. That’s what learning is: constantly applied knowledge. I talk about my own experiences, and my family’s ancestors. I talk about my father, and why he voted for Eisenhower, or signed a loyalty oath to teach at the University of California. History is about stories and trends, but it operates on a human level. When we talk about immigration, I talk about when my family got here from Ireland, and I ask if they Pat Walsh, Upper School history teacher, shoots hoops during lunchtime know when their families came here. When we talk about the growth of labor unions, I talk about my grandfather, who joined the United Auto Workers. I use his story as color in terms of big At C&C you get to know students on a completely different trends, like the explosion of union membership. level, more as a mentor than a teacher. Students are free to argue or disagree, and my opinion doesn’t matter more What happens before and after class is important. We than theirs. It’s not social or academic, it’s communitytalk about our families, and I tell them about taking my building. We talk about assemblies or special schedules, mother, who has Alzheimer’s, out to lunch. I’m trying or admire someone’s clothes. Sometimes kids bring things to show them there’s no boundary here. Our lives are they’ve baked. It mixes up different social groups and saturated with history, and an educated person brings ages, and that sloshes out into the rest of their school that to bear on daily life. I find that pleasurable. I model experience. behavior for my students: this is how someone who is curious about the world lives his life. Students know I’m on their side. They’ve learned that their success has nothing to do with how I feel about them. I I was more professorial when I started teaching at Catlin don’t like a student better because he or she does better Gabel. I’ve become more informal: I walk in, say hello, in class. It’s all about them as people. If they’re struggling ask what’s for lunch today. The feeling is that we’re all in in my class, I get to know them best and have the best it together and having a good time. If I act naturally, it relationship, because we get to meet and chat. I try to give seems to match what students are looking to find in a them a taste of success so they don’t feel like a bad student teacher. I never have to dumb it down for them. Students or a loser. Sometimes life makes it hard to be successful. I are respectful, kind, and polite to me. No one needs to have yet to meet a bad kid at Catlin Gabel, just kids having prove who’s in charge. a hard time. I try to create bonds with students during extracurricular activities. Besides coaching Mock Trial, I play basketball at lunch with sophomore boys. It’s great when a student comes in his first day of history and we know each other from playing basketball. He’s already seen me in this vulnerable place, since I’m old and slow, and has come to see me as a person.

Pat Walsh came to Catlin Gabel in 2006 from teaching at Minnesota State University, Concordia College in Minnesota, and the University of Texas–Austin. He was also a Fulbright lecturer in Germany. He is a graduate of the University of Texas–Austin and California State University–Chico, and he holds a PhD from the University of California–Berkeley.

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The Heart of the Community

they’re doing better when you point out their good works. You get what you expect. I want to spend an equal amount of time on all my students, whether they’re average, or doing well, or doing poorly. I want to spend as much time with the kids doing right as those doing wrong. We teach who we are. I know that I have to stay aware of my views, my values, and my assumptions— and accept those of my students— to be an effective teacher. A fellow teacher once told me that affirming our own identities is one of the most powerful things teachers can do. If we do that, students feel free to express and explore their own identities. Creating a community that values diversity teaches students to be Carol Ponganis, Middle School science and math teacher, examines beakers with open-minded, and they start to a 7th grader. understand the complexities of The starting point for all real education life. This is where personal relationships begin. That’s the Carol Ponganis, Middle School science & math starting point for all real education. Teaching is all about the relationship between a student and teacher. The discipline I teach just provides the venue to get there. Teachers can’t expect to transmit information, let alone transform a child, if they haven’t formed a connection. The very first day of class I always ask my new students to tell me a story about their name. Everyone has a story about their name. In that story I often find out personal things that begin to establish the connection. I assume that if you don’t know someone’s name, you don’t know even the most basic thing about that person. A teacher has to understand the student’s needs, point of view, background knowledge, interests inside and outside school, family lives, assumptions and biases, and cultural differences. In turn, the student needs to understand the teacher. I try to establish a classroom where students can expect to be treated fairly and respectfully. If that doesn’t happen, they won’t be able to learn. They’ll be constantly guarding against embarrassment rather than paying attention to the lesson. I compliment my students as a method to encourage them. I say, “I can’t believe the quality of your project!” or “That was a great solution you thought up!” They feel



One way I establish a culture of caring is that I “catch” my students being good. I reward them with a small candy called Swedish Fish. They are so tiny, we nicknamed them Swedish guppies. Publicly handing out these guppies indirectly shows other students the kind of behavior I value and what I expect in my classroom. I give them out as pats on the back for acts like asking a great question, helping out a fellow student, or volunteering to clean up the lab. We celebrate each child’s birthday with a quick ritual. I want students to know that I care about their special day. I also acknowledge the holidays that students observe by asking silly questions like: Who tried something new to celebrate New Year’s? What is your favorite side dish at Thanksgiving? What was the weirdest gift you received for Christmas or Chanukah? These questions let students bring their personal lives into the room. It lets them know that I am interested in them as more than just my science students. These little acts help create a sense of community in my classroom. Carol Ponganis has taught at Catlin Gabel for 22 years. She holds a BA in biology from the University of California– Santa Cruz and an MS from Portland State University in curriculum and instruction.

Everything I ask them to do, I do. Carter Latendresse, Middle School language arts In my classroom I think about the kids a lot. I like and understand the middle school-aged kid. I’m excited to be part of early adolescents’ transition from concrete to abstract thinking. They’re able to say, “I come from here, and my parents come from there, and maybe this affects the way I see things.” Self-consciousness peaks in Carter Latendresse, Middle School language arts teacher, tends to the alliums 8th grade. It’s really painful with a 6th grader to watch. I try to protect them from an invasion of “I want to be cool, I don’t look My relationship with kids out of the classroom is also good, I don’t say the right things.” I help them see that important. I love being a coach in cross country and body image is a product of the media, and we work to running with them. Everything I ask them to do, I do. analyze the media to give them tools that will help them Every writing assignment I give them, I’ve done first. If I accept themselves and accept diversity in others. We learn ask them to run a mile and a half at full speed, I do it with how “normal” is a fallacy. What’s important for middle them. If I work hard alongside them, they’re more willing school teachers is understanding the role of hormones and to push themselves. I also work right beside them in the the way the kids are changing, and liking them and being garden, and I have the blisters on my hands to prove it. their ally. They see that I do everything with them. Middle school teaching is not an accident. We become middle school teachers because we understand and love the kids we’re working with. We want them to grow, accept themselves, and become great community members who have integrity and honesty. I come to my class with the idea that the kids and I are in a community of readers and writers. I share my reading and writing with my students. They see that it’s not just something we do for the curriculum, but that it’s a real part of life. I try to create other situations where we grow as a community. I include everyone’s voice in writing examples. I share my own life and talk about my own bad decisions in middle school. I talk about my relationship with my son, who is developmentally disabled. I want them to see me as a person who struggles, like they do. I have firm convictions, but I have good and bad days, just like them. None of us is perfect, but it’s important we try to improve ourselves every day.

I can be a goofball in class, and make faces and noises. I’m part actor, part comedian, part strict rule-setter, and part editor. You just have to be really flexible. Teachers at Catlin Gabel try to see themselves in the kids’ places, and we want students to experience what others are experiencing. Teachers here are artists, scientists, athletes, parents, and writers. We have passions outside of school that we bring to school, just like our students do. We want our students to see that their teachers are growing, learning, and changing. We also see that our students are engaged in the making of their lives in a way that is dramatic and inspiring. The people here are therefore evolving together, in community. Carter Latendresse has taught 6th grade language arts and coached middle school cross country at Catlin Gabel for three years. He previously taught at Seabury Hall in Hawaii. He’s a graduate of the University of Washington with a master’s in English.

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The Heart of the Community

respond to it and like it. As long as we’re learning math together, we might as well have fun. I like these kids and want them to go on and do well in life. I wouldn’t teach if I didn’t care. I’m a former Navy SEAL. I was injured on a night jump from 20,000 feet. It broke my back, and I was already blind in one eye, so the Navy retired me. The kids know that I was a SEAL. It’s a big deal to some of them. They probably give me more slack than I’d have otherwise. I’m seen as different from most teachers because I had a whole life in the military before I taught.

I didn’t get into teaching to teach. When I got out of the Navy I went to Idaho and thought I wanted to coach. I Dave Tash, Upper School math teacher, goes over some math with Upper School students helped coach a football team, but I had to be a teacher to be a head coach. So I earned my I treat my students like people degree in math and my teaching credentials. I then started Dave Tash, Upper School math teaching in Alaska, where I didn’t coach football, but became much more interested in education. I was actually I don’t really know what I do that creates good relationships the principal of a little school in Alaska. with my students, but I’ll make some observations. When I have a good relationship with kids, it’s not because I decide I want to motivate kids. Kids sometimes say that they’ve to get close to them. They choose if they want you to be learned a lot in my class, and that’s because of their close and what they’ll share. You can fool little kids into attitude; if they like you, they don’t want to let you down. thinking you care when you really don’t—you can do the same with adults. But teens seem to know if you like them At Catlin Gabel, all the kids care about their education. or not. If you like someone, they like you back. I’ve told them, “I won’t care more about your grade than you do, but if you want to work on it, I’ll work with you.” There’s a tendency for teachers to like good students, but I’ll never turn down a kid who needs help. I’ll always find that’s not a good test for what kind of person they are. If time. they’re strong in your area, that doesn’t make them a good person; if they are weak in your area, that doesn’t make Students here are just good people. I respect them. I trust them bad. them to play fair. I expect them to be honest. I’d rather be that way than assume they’ll cheat. I occasionally get to I kid around a lot in class, and my students love it. I teach about integrity. I treat my students like people. They like high schoolers’ sense of humor. I went on stage at a are people. coffeehouse after a student asked me, “How do you feel about public ridicule?” If I pass it out, then I need to take Dave Tash began teaching at Catlin Gabel in 2004. He it as well. I teach with a sense of humor, but I don’t think graduated from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, I hurt any feelings—I hope not. Their honesty is also a Idaho, with a BS in math, and from the University of Utah very good thing. If they don’t like something, they’ll tell with a BS in computer science. He has pursued graduate you. I just go out and have fun and be who I am, and kids studies at the University of Alaska–Anchorage.



when homework is more than homework By Leah Weitz ’10


’ll admit it—when I found out that my Spanish V Honors class had required community service hours, I was miffed. I had essays to write, classes to teach, tests to take—and geez, now this? But our teacher, Lauren Reggero-Toledano, insisted that to supplement our class focus on the Hispanic presence in Oregon, each student should go out into the larger community and engage in community service with an organization catering to Hispanics. The only Hispanic community service opportunity of which I had any awareness at all was Homework Club. Here’s what I knew: Catlin Gabel students went somewhere and helped Hispanic kids with their homework, and staffer Mark Lawton plugged it in assembly a lot. With no more information than that, and slightly resentful of the fact that I could be preparing for my next history test instead, I hopped on a bus after school one Thursday bound for this mysterious and elusive Homework Club. What I found was wonderful. Homework Club, which is run

Leah Weitz ’10 at Homework Club

by Bienestar, a Hispanic farm worker housing service, meets twice a week after school. Five to 10 Catlin Gabel students go to the community center at Reedville Apartments, where we meet up with 20 to 30 kids ranging from 1st through 6th grade. First we help them with their homework, which may consist of writing short stories, completing work sheets, or studying vocabulary. After their homework is done, the students practice reading to us. After a heartily nostalgic dose of Dr. Seuss or Maurice Sendak, it’s play time. Catlin Gabel tutors and their students mix while completing puzzles, playing hide and seek, or coloring with crayons. I work with the 3rd graders. Note that I say work, not worked—for all of my moaning and groaning that first afternoon about the hassle of spending three hours helping kids with their homework instead of completing my own, I somehow found the time to come back . . . every week. It’s worth it to watch the kids improve, knowing that you’re the one who taught them

how. Take Brenda, whose shy smile hides a spunky and charismatic attitude. When I first met her, her reading skills were excellent—but sometimes she would suddenly halt, staring at a word with blank eyes, before struggling through it and resuming her regular flawless read. I soon learned that Brenda, to whom English is a second language, had never seen or heard a lot of these words before. Now we sit with a dictionary next to us when we read, with the frequency of pauses always decreasing. It’s not just Brenda’s vocabulary that has grown during the months I’ve been working with her. After a few months she hugged me goodbye for the first time, melting my heart like butter, before skipping off like it was no big deal. The next week she showed me a story she had written for school, featuring a character she’d named Leah. Her eyes sparkled as she laughed at my stunned expression. I’m not the only one fortunate enough to have blossoming relationships with these kids: take junior Lily Ellenberg, another Homework Club regular, who finds herself greeted by a cheering cluster of 1st graders every time she arrives. Over the past months at Homework Club I’ve come to realize that the relationships we have with these kids isn’t just serving them alone. While my 3rd graders have been learning how to multiply, I’ve been learning how to teach—and realizing how much I love it. I can safely say that I have Homework Club to blame for my projected career choice, and I deeply thank Lauren for pushing me to get involved— because at Homework Club, teaching can be a learning experience too. Leah Weitz ’10 chose to intern at Bienestar for her senior project. She will attend the University of Puget Sound this fall.

spring 2 0 1 0


By chris potts

the little things and

the Big Thing about baseball


he argument that “baseball is a game of little things” is, to me, unassailable, as is the philosophy that high school sports should be used as vehicles to teach students lessons that can carry them through the rest of their lives. Holding these truths in tandem, you quickly realize that the avenue to reach these larger lessons is to build a cohesive team, a community of ballplayers. Unfortunately, there’s no handbook for this, there’s no one way to do it. Just like baseball, it’s putting all of the little things together in the right way. When I interviewed for this job, I was told, “Baseball at Catlin Gabel is on life support.” But when I first met the team, I realized that they

Each year I choose a theme around which to build our team mentality. The theme for our first year was “Building Something We Can Be Proud Of.” When we won our first game, I worried that our players were so excited that they’d offend the other team. Then again, when you haven’t won a baseball game your entire high school career, wouldn’t you jump up and down and scream when you got your first “W?” February 26—Manhood—Outside the gym, after practice, I pull one of the new players aside. He’s been struggling this week. He’s a good player (we’d say, “he’s got a lot of upside”), but we need to rebuild some of his fundamentals. He’s also never had to work this hard, physically, ever. There’s a big transition between middle school sports and high school varsity athletics. We’ll be playing against 200-pound gorillas looking to play in college. Wrestlers.



were a great group of young players who needed somebody to give them some discipline, some foundation. We’re not a winning program. In my five years at Catlin Gabel, we’ve lost many more games than we’ve won. It’s not even close. I would argue, however, that we’re an extremely successful program. Each year, this group of students comes together. We’ve grown in numbers every year. Our baseball team is an inclusive and incredible, albeit unique, community. What follows isn’t that elusive handbook for team-building. It’s a look at a few of the little things that we’ve done together.

Linebackers. The kid I’m talking to is 14 and could probably make the scale hit 140 if I handed him a 20-pound dumbbell. We do a lot of physical conditioning. The younger players typically take some time to adjust. During this physical adjustment period, the boy I’m talking with has lost all accuracy with his throwing. We’d say “he couldn’t hit the ground if he dropped the ball.” I’ve been playing catch with him during warm-ups to protect the other players. I’ve seen tears well up in his eyes during three of these first four practices. Time for a chat. At one point in the conversation, I say, “This is why I love baseball, because you can learn lessons through the sport that you can apply to the rest of your life. Right now you need to learn to make the adjustment from 8th grade baseball to high school baseball. Just like how you’re making the transition from 8th grade academics to high school academics. In both things you’re going to have

to get tough, you’re going to have to work harder than you’ve ever had to before and you’re going to have to learn to control your emotions. I think you can do it.” I do think he can do it. I need a #3 starter. During my second year, the theme was “Playing the Game with Class.” March 1—Playing in the Mud—It’s still a little wet to be using the whole field, but we need to put in defense and relays as soon as possible. The first game is two weeks away. The field is still holding too much water. The players circle around the third base cutout, and we talk about the geography of our field. There are three layers. First, there’s the soil underneath everything. That’s what the grass grows out of. Surrounding the bases, there’s a layer of clay that builds the foundation for the cutouts. On top of that is a top-dressing. I explain to the players that this stuff

Chris Potts and members of the Catlin Gabel baseball team

is baked at like 5,000 degrees so that it becomes porous and can absorb three times its weight in water. This, I believe, is the science portion of baseball. We squat around the perimeter of the cutout, grabbing chunks of clay that we’ve churned up during defense and conditioning, and rolling them into balls. When we’ve grabbed the biggest chucks, I have the players throw them so that I can lay them out for one of my captains to tamp back into the clay foundation. One of the sophomores says, “I get to throw mud at my baseball coach.” I’m not too fond of how this sounds, but I don’t think I can argue with him. The theme of my third year was “Learning to be Competitive.” We drive a long way to get to some of the games. To the Pacific Ocean, literally. The team was shocked when I instituted the no-headphones, no-

electronics, human-interaction-only rule. “Why can’t we listen to our iPods?” The answer was no. In deference to my totalitarianism, a group of students began singing on the bus rides home. They got very into it, going so far as to print out lyrics. It was awful: adolescent boys screeching the lyrics to Britney Spears, NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys. It was an assault on human musical aesthetics. It was the sound of my group of boys coming together. It was music to my ears. The dynamics always change after our first road trip. During my fourth year, our theme was “Working as a Team.” Close to the deadline for this article, I get an email from a former player. He’s hoping to be in town and catch the end of a Friday double-header. I want him to come to the game,

to cheer us on, and for the younger players to realize that they’re a part of something bigger than the second game of a double-header. This year’s theme is “Respect for the Game.” April 26—Heart—An unusually large wet-weather system has rolled in. We’re in the gym, hitting practice balls, tennis balls, softies, and whiffles. We’re looking ahead at the season: 8 tough games in 11 days. The arms are ready. Though we’re having difficulty getting on base, I’m fielding the best defense in my time at Catlin Gabel. We’ve seen each of the teams in our league. We know we’re the underdogs, but there’s a palpable sense that we can put it all together and make a run at the playoffs. I’d say our biggest asset is our cohesiveness. This team is all heart. Chris Potts is an outdoor education teacher at Catlin Gabel and is in his fifth year as the head baseball coach.



PLACE director George Zaninovich, at right, with this year’s PLACE class and PSU graduate students

PLACE Creates Engaged Citizens Often, during one of the first classes of a semester, after the chatter subsides and the room quiets, I grab a piece of chalk, turn towards the students and ask: What is community? This is an important question. In the program I lead, PLACE (Planning and Leadership Across City Environments), students work to complete a plan that addresses a community need of a local nonprofit organization, school, or government agency. As the semester progresses, they use what they learn about civics, sustainability, public involvement, and social equity to walk in the shoes of a project client and understand the interests of the many different stakeholders in the project. Five years ago, during Catlin Gabel’s Imagine 2020 visioning process for the future of the school, members of the community brainstormed PLACE (formerly the Oregon Urban Leadership Program) as a way to use Portland as a living urban laboratory. Portland is not only Catlin Gabel’s home, it is the perfect place for students to learn how to work with diverse communities. Portland is an engaged city. People participate. Citizens are involved. Communities care. In fact, public meetings in Portland are attended at a rate of three times the national average. Engaged citizenship for youth is more than registering to vote at the age of 18. Engagement means participating, taking action to enhance communities, becoming a vital member instead of a passive spectator. Urban planning is a dynamic tool that empowers youth by creating real-life situations where they see communities as living entities. This includes spending time in the community in which they work, indentifying stakeholders, talking with them, and creating a plan to work with government officials as well as community members from diverse backgrounds. Engagement in this case is about identifying and strengthening community.



By George Zaninovich

I hear “school” from one side of the room, and I write it down. I hear “neighborhood” from another, and I make a note. Sometimes a voice will mutter “family” and another “friends.” I add both to the list. I ask, can someone be part of many different communities? If so, how does one feel part of a community? And, by the way, what makes a community anyway? As I prepare to write at the board, student stares drift beyond the collection of communities on the chalkboard and out the windows toward different visions of the world around them.

Catlin Gabel students in the current PLACE class have teamed up with master’s students from Portland State University’s School of Urban Studies and Planning and the city of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. Together they are working on a community needs analysis and site design for Zenger Farm, a nonprofit urban farm in outer southeast Portland. This educational experience is unique in the partnership of high school students with graduate students and a public agency. Zenger Farm is in outer southeast Portland’s PowellhurstGilbert and Lents neighborhoods, two culturally and economically diverse areas. This project requires immense coordination among all of the entities and an understanding of a wide array of complex urban issues, including farming in an urban setting, food insecurity and how to address it using local food production, community involvement with non-English speakers, and how to motivate and involve youth of different ages and backgrounds.

enjoyed the door-knocking tremendously, “ Iand found that interacting directly with people in the neighborhood gave me a better insight into the area’s culture than any amount of talking to people who live elsewhere or browsing internet statistics ever could have. This fact seems almost too obvious to state, but I honestly found the experience of walking between houses and speaking with the people living in them eye-opening.” —Devyn Powell ’10

PLACE members study the urban growth boundary As part of the project, Catlin Gabel students have had to figure out, in conjunction with their partners, how to engage the community in the Zenger Farm planning process. They created surveys for adults and youth. They went door-to-door in the area surrounding the farm to administer the surveys, and then planned and implemented a design workshop for community members. Our students created activities for youth of all ages, networked with teachers and principals of area schools to get youth input, led focus groups, and worked with the neighborhood association to get youth involved in the process.

sparked lively discussion—but PLACE is about getting outside the four walls of a classroom. So that’s what we did. This current project is a perfect example of what PLACE aims to do: empower youth to be engaged citizens by working on real-world urban planning projects in different communities throughout the Portland region. Catlin Gabel students learn from the world around them while doing important work that benefits the region—the acts of truly engaged youth who have seen their definitions of community expand. George Zaninovich has been at Catlin Gabel since 2008.

After a few moments of window-gazing and silent contemplation, I sit down at a table near the students. The chatter picks up again. One student uses her hands to sketch a giant circle in front of her eyes as she explains her definition of a community and all of the different groups of people in it. Another student raises his hand and talks enthusiastically about the different communities he feels a part of as his arm continues to point upward. He finishes, and with a deep breath puts his arm back on the desk. One of the quieter students in the room mentions that familiarity and commonalities are the keys to feeling part of a community. I get excited and rush to the chalkboard. I write her comments down and ask one more question before class ends. Is it possible to understand a community just by talking about it? To prepare for the Zenger project, Catlin Gabel students did a lot of reading and discussing. They read articles on Portland’s emphasis on density, the effects of Metro and the urban growth boundary on the region, the challenges facing growing communities, issues facing rural areas in transition, and the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood plan. The reading

Students tour city infrastructures

PLACE students travel the city by bike. Author Alma Siulagi ’10 is second from right.

Urban Planning is Really Quite Fetching


B y A l m a S i u l a g i ’10

s my childhood years faded into the past, the conviction that I would one day change the world dissipated. With the slow creep of reality reducing my options, I resorted to crossing my fingers in hope of stumbling upon another fabulous passion. The wait was a long one. Throughout the first half of high school, I couldn’t even pick a specific subject that particularly captivated me. I was perfectly decent in most classes, and good grades were within reach if I worked hard (which I did). But nothing came naturally. I was restless about my future, and in a fit of aimlessness, I signed up for PLACE, at the time OULP (Oregon Urban Leadership Program). The vague course name matched my fuzzy understanding of the course, which, as far as I knew, was something my mom wanted me to do. George Zaninovich, the current head of PLACE, often tells me that “urban planning isn’t sexy.” But I disagree—it completely seduced me with what I had passed off as the impossible. Changing the world may be forever beyond my reach, but changing lives materialized as a real option with PLACE.



What is urban planning? Most of my peers don’t know, and ask me to define it. I usually ramble on about “public spaces” and end sentences with “you know,” but what I really want to say is: It’s where we are standing right now, you and me. It’s everything around us—the buildings, businesses, the flowers on the side of the road, stoplights, your next door neighbor’s house, the way that road curves in a certain way, that tree you like to sit under in the park. It’s something that changes every step you make, provides the backdrop of every memory good and bad, and it’s what I want to do. It’s changed my world, and one day, I will change yours. Until then, I’ll be here. I’ve chosen to stay in Portland, an urban design and planning hotspot, and study at Reed College. I’ll be downtown starting in May, working with Walker Macy, the firm that designed parts of Catlin Gabel’s breathtaking campus. I plan to spend the next few years learning urban planning inside and out (well, as much as one ever can with such a fluid subject), and then get started on changing the world.



Catlin Gabel is the standard I have set for a great independent school and is the backbone of my vision for being on the board of Cascades Academy of Central Oregon. I cannot think of an experience that has had a stronger influence on the way that I hope to help my community through nonprofits, education, parenting, and business. —Danielle Easly Nye ’87 Catlin Gabel taught me that I can work hard and have fun doing it. It also taught me to take pride in my work, do the best I can, and to not be afraid to keep learning. However, I think the most important thing I learned is to question without judgment. Why do we do it that way? What’s the reason for that? How can we do it better? Why did they put it together like that? —Ashley Tibbs ’92, at right, in his role as CGS basketball coach Catlin Gabel provided me with a foundation in critical thinking skills that I use on a daily basis in the course of my work as a police sergeant. This helps me complete a wide range of tasks, which include everything from managing critical incidents, to addressing training issues, to navigating the various shades of gray I encounter on the street. Although I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, Catlin Gabel also instilled in me the importance of service to others, which manifests itself through my commitment to providing service to the community when I go to work, as well as service to the department. Finally, Catlin Gabel gave me an appreciation for learning that has led me to pursue various classes and interests that enrich both my personal and professional life. —Joe Okies ’90

How have alumni brought the feeling of the Catlin Gabel community into their college, home, and work lives? I’m not sure how much I truly understood the value of “the feeling of Catlin Gabel” until long after graduation. When I think of Catlin Gabel, I think of a near-perfect balance of critical analysis with an environment supportive of intellectual risk. Much is made of the importance of collaboration in professional work, yet as my career life advances I find that the truly excellent examples of effective interpersonal intellectual teamwork are rare. The “life of the mind” that Catlin Gabel espouses thrives in large part because of its environment of tempered judgment. The line between a stupid idea and a brilliant one is sometimes entirely dependent on the willingness of the audience to engage in the discussion, and Catlin Gabel never lacked for engagement. —Justin Andersen ’91 Catlin Gabel gave me the confidence to be an independent thinker. My teachers fostered an environment where friendly debate was not only encouraged, but expected. In my business (the entertainment industry), a lot of the creative decisions we make are entirely subjective. So you can’t be afraid to throw your opinion out there even if you think you’ll be in the minority. But ultimately, you have to have the confidence in yourself to concede that the best ideas aren’t always your own. —Maril Davis ’90 Upon arriving at the University of Virginia, I was dismayed at the lack of on-campus recycling bins. I brought this up with a professor who shared my discomfort in throwing away recyclables. Through some political maneuvering, we were able to procure funding for bins to go alongside the trash receptacles in hightraffic areas around the grounds. I credit all of this to my 4th grade experience at Catlin Gabel, where recycling was ingrained into daily life. —Markus Hutchins ’02



B y S pe n cer W h i t e

Redefining Community Linking the Global and the Local


ur heads fill these days with reports of environmental degradation, the unraveling of indigenous communities, and the harsh realities of human conflict on our globe. I find this overwhelming and sometimes downright scary. I can only imagine how these problems make my 11-year-old students feel as they move through school, becoming more aware every year of the issues we, or they, will live through. Regardless of the life paths our students choose when they leave Catlin Gabel, they will face a world characterized by ever-increasing communication and collaboration with international communities. Technology has brought us the ability to maintain relationships and conduct business with people just about anywhere on the globe, at any time of the day. How our students engage in these relationships—in essence, their diplomacy— is of great importance to our world. Our global education program seeks to foster global competencies in our students. Among these is the ability to work and communicate effectively across national, cultural, and linguistic boundaries. So how do we do this? Besides teaching world languages, or providing travel opportunities, how do we help our students build cross-cultural communication skills? The answer is, we practice. We practice by taking advantage of every opportunity we can to get kids to collaborate with their international peers. Teaching students to be literate in cross-cultural communication requires two intentional activities. The first is creating meaningful relationships with people around the world—initially through email exchanges and interactive Skype conversations, and eventually through global travel.



The second act is linking these relationships to local peer groups. Our students must practice communicating about a specific issue, problem, or goal not only with local peers, but with peers of other cultures, languages, and nationalities. In this way we redefine the idea of community for our students, explicitly teaching that our actions and decisions affect not only our local community, but also those far away.

“Looking back in my journal I see how I have really never felt a connection with someone that far away from home before.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler

For example, Carter Latendresse’s 6th grade unit on food teaches students to critically examine how food is produced in the U.S. and compare our levels of consumption with that of other global communities. Making this tangible, the Garden Club’s new vegetable beds allow students to grow their own organic produce, as well as understand the influence the global food industry has on how we produce, transport, and learn about the norms of global food consumption. Teachers David Ellenberg, Becky Wynne, and Laurie Carlyon-Ward, chaperones on this spring’s trip to Nepal, prepared 13 high school students by viewing Food Inc., a documentary on the U.S. food industry. Nepali students at the Sattya Media Arts Collective screened the film for our students’ visit, and together they talked about the arrival of fast-food restaurants in Katmandu. This spring, the students who traveled to Nepal will visit Carter’s 6th graders to talk about the perspectives of their Nepali peers.

Global education program director Spencer White working in Costa Rica

Our community’s response to the Haitian earthquake in January most tangibly collected a sizeable sum of money to support Mercy Corps’s disaster relief work. But more notable was the fact that our Lower School students created pastel drawings with messages in French and Haitian Creole that were delivered personally by parents who traveled to Haiti to assist in the recovery. Our community grows stronger and more unified by working together to affect change in a distant place. From these collective efforts our students learn about the disparity between resources and power structures in our world—but they also see that they are not powerless in the face of all the world’s daunting problems, and that when we reach out to communities far away, we in turn strengthen our own.

“I really care about conserving water. I mean I did it before, but not nearly as much as I do now.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler

The Viewfinder Global Film Series is another example of how we challenge our community to unite around global issues, in the interest of educating our students. In its inaugural year, the series has hosted 23 films over 8 months of the school year—attended by more than 600 parents, students, and teachers. Far more impressive than the numbers, though, are the post-screening conversations that ignite passionate

“There is no real way to explain what has changed about me. What I can say is that the way I see things is as if I am seeing it on two planes, two perspectives. I see things the way I see it from Costa Rica and from the U.S.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler Global education program director Spencer White with friends in Guatemala

debate and reflection about how our school sees its place in our local and global communities.

“I was really surprised when I got back at the sheer amount of resources we use every day, how easy it is for us to have a hot shower, and how we take so much for granted.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler

As our students move into Upper School, their opportunities for local and global collaboration increase. Model United Nations challenges students’ diplomatic skills, while twice a week students board a bus to Aloha to help Latino children

with homework. Many of these same students recently returned from Cuba. Apart from the humanitarian nature of the trip, the travelers learned the power of creating relationships with their Cuban counterparts and the lifechanging nature of convening with a community so vastly different than their own. Leah Weitz ’10 saw this in action in Cuba, and she’ll never forget it: when she told their Cuban cabdriver about the humanitarian nature of their visit, he gratefully told her their ride would be free. As an 18-year-old at Lewis & Clark College, I traveled to Argentina and Chile as part of my Hispanic studies degree. Six months in Mendoza living with modest third-generation immigrants of Italian descent taught me the power and potential of creating emotional connections with people outside my own community. Shy of the cliché of calling them my Argentine family, especially when talking with my “real” mother on the phone, I was shocked at how close I felt to them and how utterly dependent I was on their parenting and care. Perhaps I was an independent, self-sufficient young adult in the U.S., but in Argentina I was vulnerable and far from home. Here was my new community developing before my eyes.

Middle schoolers help with a beach clean-up in Martinique

We are fortunate at Catlin Gabel to have the opportunities and the means to develop international relationships through travel, technology, and the study of language. We are in the business of redefining for our students what community means, what it means to become a global citizen, and what it means to consider the global effects of daily decisions. In my mind, this fortune comes with a commensurate degree of responsibility. We have the responsibility not only to purposefully seek and create relationships in international communities, but we must always make an effort to connect these relationships to our daily curriculum, our school initiatives, and our local service work. These collaborations linking local action with global realties serve as important reminders of our need to change the way we think about community.

A junior student at a dance in Cuba spring 2 0 1 0


The Catlin Gabel Student Association: An Anatomical Analogy By Eddie Friedman ’10


here are bad days and good days in and for the Catlin Gabel Student Association, the CGSA, of which I am president this year. On bad days the CGSA seems to me like an appendix. It started when the school needed a group to process and carry out the tasks of the community that other student or faculty organizations could not. On bad days, the CGSA feels a little vestigial, and like a sharp abdominal pain above the right hip of the (student) body. I wouldn’t enjoy working with and leading the CGSA nearly as much if every day were a bad day, and the vast majority aren’t. To continue the anatomical analogy, on good days the CGSA is the hind brain of the Catlin Gabel high school’s community. This utterly invaluable cranial region consists of three parts. The pons is the bridge between the brain and the central nervous system. All information traveling to the brain from the body passes through this little patch of tissue. At the beginning of my time as CGSA president, Michael Heath, the head of the Upper School, told me: “Your job in the CGSA is not really to serve as the student liaison and petitioner to the faculty.” Coincidentally, many students told me: “Your job is not to represent the opinions of the faculty



to us!” From what I’ve experienced so far, they were both wrong. The CGSA sends information both ways. The medulla oblongata at the base of the brain, beneath the pons, regulates autonomic functions within the body. These functions are not conscious, so if the medulla oblongata were not there to carry them out they would not happen, and death would probably ensue. While maybe not quite so vital, allotting funding for clubs, planning kidnap day, and managing class elections are jobs that the CGSA does that bear great importance to the Catlin Gabel community. And finally we have the cerebellum, that beautiful striped body of folded neural tissue, tucked back underneath the occipital lobes, attached to the brain stem at the pons. This region plays an absolutely essential role in the functioning of the body. Like the cerebellum, the CGSA receives information from all parts of the community and uses this information to modify and fine-tune the actions of the body as a whole. Not only does the CGSA represent the faculty’s feelings to the students and vice versa, we take into account those feelings and opinions and desires and synthesize them in order to do what we think is best for the Catlin Gabel community.

Earlier this year the CGSA dealt with the issue of cell phones in the high school community. The faculty thought something had to be done, while most students didn’t. We debated it thoroughly, observed cell phone use in the community, and conducted six weeks of experiments. We considered that while it might be easy to simply abandon the issue, if we did the faculty might take more drastic measures than we thought appropriate. Eventually we arrived at a middle ground that emphasized respect and responsible action, pillars of this educational body. (You may read the policy online at So far, everyone seems pretty happy. The work of the CGSA is not always easy or straightforward, hence that uncomfortable appendix-like feeling. But when we toil to complete important, significant work for the community, despite many challenges, we’re the brain stem, and it all seems worth it. Senior Eddie Friedman will attend Brown University this fall. He admits that he may have taken a few liberties with the facts of the actual functions of the various organs he mentions, for the sake of beauty and aesthetic unity.

Two longtime educators retire

Farewell to George Thompson ’64 & Bob Kindley

George Thompson ’64 has launched into retirement after spending 25 years at Catlin Gabel—first as a student, then as a teacher and counselor. He’s become a familiar presence on campus, with his service dog, Cairo, receiving almost as much daily love and attention as George gets. George’s career has centered on education. After earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Colorado College and the University of Washington, he first taught at Middlesex School, the school he attended after Catlin Gabel. “But I was bitten by the bug and wanted to start a school of my own,” he says. When he was 26 he and his wife, Margot Voorhies Thompson ’66, created Neskowin Valley School out of an old dairy barn in south Tillamook County. “It worked. The gods were with me. It was a wonderful, exciting project,” says George. They ran the preschool-8th grade school for 14 years, until they moved back to Portland to enroll their son, Geordie, in Catlin Gabel’s high school. George worked for a year as the head of Vision Northwest, an agency supporting people new to blindness. He returned to Catlin Gabel in 1989 to teach 8th grade English. Six years later he embarked on a new job as counselor in training, spending four years at night school at Lewis & Clark for his master’s in counseling psychology and the credentials to become a full-fledged Upper School counselor. “This was an opportunity for me to delve deeper into the personal challenges of young people and help them become emotionally more literate and learn to help each other,” he says. George is proud of the work he’s done on the Peer Helpers program, which trains students to help their friends solve their problems. He’s also enjoyed teaming with coach John Hamilton to teach the sophomore health class, which focuses on citizenship, ethics, choices, and self-knowledge. “I can’t see myself being idle and probably have a career left in me. I don’t know what or when it’ll be, but it’ll probably involve music. I will miss having kids around every day, but I feel like it’s a good time to say goodbye,” says George.

Bob Kindley retires this summer after 42 years of teaching math at Catlin Gabel. A graduate of Reed College with a master’s in mathematics from the University of Oregon, Bob always wanted to be a high school teacher—especially after attending five high schools around the country and seeing the best and worst of teaching. Bob’s teaching philosophy echoes that of Catlin Gabel. “I want kids to ask their own questions and pursue the answers—not just give back what the text or teacher says. What they find doesn’t have to be profound or new, but it’s a sign that they’re thinking about the topic and getting a perspective on it,” he says. “Math is the hardest thing to teach,” he says. “Some students have the gift to see to the heart of the problem. We tend to shortchange those students—it’s often a case of ‘show your work’—but we want to cultivate that rare gift of intuition.” Bob fondly remembers his first year at Catlin Gabel, when he taught Tom Killian ’69 and Dan Bump ’70 (who’s now a mathematician). “I learned more from them about mathematical creativity and insight than ever before. I had many other fun classes, especially the class of 1971, with Mike Radow, Ilan Caron, and Bill Rempfer. It was a time when ideas were flying around, and we all got in on the thinking process.” Bob has no big plans for retirement, but he expects to garden, travel, camp, hike, and fish. “I’m not done with math,” he says, and he plans to work on math projects and perhaps return to the school to tutor or substitute. “Catlin Gabel is a good school,” he says. “I’ve liked working with the faculty: there are good people here.”

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Yale Fan ’10 and Kevin Ellis ’10 both won top honors and $50,000 each by coming in second place with all-around prizes in the recent Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. This Yale Fan ’10 and Kevin Ellis ’10 was the first time ever winning the Intel International that two winners have Science and Engineering Fair come from the same school. Yale has also won a place on the 20-member 2010 U.S. Physics Team, and he placed ninth at the Intel Science Talent Search in Washington, D.C., earning him a $20,000 award for his research on the advantages of quantum computing in performing difficult computations. Kevin was also one of the 40 Intel STS finalists in Washington, D.C. and won a $7,500 award. At this year’s international Northwest Science Expo, Kevin Ellis ’10, Rose Perrone ’10, and Vighnesh Shiv ’11 each won special awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Rose also came in second place in electrical and mechanical engineering. Yale won first place in physics and astronomy and several other awards. Brynmor Chapman ’10 won statewide second place in biochemistry, and Lucy Feldman ’10 won statewide honorable mention in animal sciences. Kudos to all!

and contemporary religious practice. The day was capped with performances by the Jefferson Dancers and the Maru-a-Pula Marimba Band from Botswana. FESTIVE GAMBOL BRINGS IN GREAT SUPPORT FOR FINANCIAL AID

Thanks to enthusiastic bidders, donors, volunteers, and supporters, the celebratory 2010 Gambol auction at The Nines hotel Gambol co-chairs Gina Wand and raised $345,000. Heather Gaudry Blackburn ’90 Derrick Butler, M.D. ’86 brought the crowd to its feet when he spoke at a special appeal for financial aid. You can read his moving speech on page 30. Many thanks to co-chairs Gina Wand and Heather Gaudry Blackburn ’90. OUTSTANDING SERVICE WORK

Middle School students, staff, and families contributed 1,152 pounds of food to the Oregon Food Bank for Project Second Wind. . . . The Upper School Environmental Club raised enough funds through sales of smoothies and baked goods to help provide 641 Iraqi students with clean, safe drinking water through Water for Peace. KUDOS TO OUR STUDENTS


Catlin Gabel was selected by Oregon Business magazine as one of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon, honoring the school’s variety of green policies and the high value its employees places on sustainable practices. . . . An article by facilities director Eric Shawn, “Catlin Gabel School—a Focus on Food,” was published in the May 2010 inaugural edition of the Journal of Sustainability Education. . . . PLACE director and urban studies teacher George Zaninovich was nominated by the Coalition for a Livable Future for the Robert L. Liberty Regional Leadership Award for his significant contributions to Portland’s livability. . . . . The Oregon Athletic Coaches Association named Lerry Baker the girls track coach of the year and John Hamilton the golf coach of the year for 2009. . . . This year’s diversity conference in April offered a wide variety of workshops on issues that included homeless youth, blindness, race and American popular music, Southern African cultures, immigration, political diversity, Bonding at the middle school masculinity, worldwide track meet access to technology,



Mariah Morton ’12 jumped 18 feet at track and field districts to break the school long jump record set by Wendy Miller Johnson ’68 in 1968. . . . The Upper School mock trial team won its third state championship competing against high schools many times our size. . . . Cody Hoyt ’13 won an Oregon Driver Education Center video contest about safe driving with a spoof of the Old Spice commercial. . . . The Flaming Chickens robotics team won the regional Chairman’s Award this year, the highest honor. They also won the Innovations in Controls award at the Colorado regional competition.

For their senior prank, the community-minded class of 2010 converted the Upper School quad to a petting zoo for the young ones

alumni news We are about relationships.

Lauren Dully Hubbard ’91 ’91

Keeping you informed and connected to the Catlin Gabel community is a top priority for our alumni program. Providing opportunities for our alumni to come together, re-connect, and network is our commitment to you. We do this through events such as homecoming, alumni weekend, the Gambol auction, opportunities for alumni to speak at the school or participate in classes with our students, and social gatherings for alumni outside the Portland area. We hope you have had a chance to join our events and activities at the school, because your involvement keeps our community strong and strengthens the future of Catlin Gabel alums to come. The alumni board plays an integral part in connecting our community of alumni to the school. We are grateful for the commitment of the volunteers on the alumni board, including Adam Keefer ’98, who has completed his term as president. His extraordinary commitment and dedication, as well as his insight and wisdom, brought a thoughtful quality to our expanding alumni program. We thank him for his longevity of service to the school and continued guidance in the future.

Lesley Sepetoski

Please join us in welcoming our incoming alumni officers Markus Hutchins ’02, president, and Susie Greenebaum ’05, secretary. Markus and Susie are both proven leaders (and, by the way, lifers). They bring new ideas, passion, and enthusiasm to continue the momentum of our alumni program. We welcome your ideas and questions about how we might serve you better. Please drop by or call us any time with your thoughts and comments. Have a wonderful summer.

Marcus Hutchins ’02, new alumni board president, and Susie Greenebaum ’05, incoming secretary, at the Gambol

Lauren Dully Hubbard ’91 alumni and community relations program director Lesley Sepetoski alumni and community relations officer

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class notes Catlin Gabel alumni may read and post class notes online at




A Leader in Progressive Education Amani Reed ’93 is one of the youngest division heads in the nation Amani Reed ’93 was an unproven quantity when he came to Catlin Gabel in 8th grade, a self-described “extra kid in the class” who was admitted although the class was full and his admission test didn’t go so well. “The lesson I learned was that it’s important to give kids a chance,” he says. As principal of the middle school at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Amani daily applies lessons like this one, learned from his many years following his heart toward a place he’s perfectly suited to inhabit—one of the youngest independent school leaders in the nation. Leaders at Catlin Gabel noticed Amani’s rapport with students when he was just a sophomore. Ali Barnett Covell ’65, then the Beginning School head, and Roy Parker, then head of the Middle School, both asked Amani to act as mentor to their students, so he worked with the youngest children and accompanied 8th graders on their Gilbert & Sullivan tours. Working with kids resonated for him. “I didn’t know I was teaching, really,” he says. “But I woke up one day and found that I was a teacher.” Amani attended Howard University and the University of Portland, where he studied secondary education and played soccer. He became involved again at Catlin Gabel working with Speed-Ujima, the diversity group that he had cofounded as a student. “I’m blessed to be in this work. But we never do it alone, and I had really strong mentors,” says Amani. His first job in education came through Roy Parker, who had moved from CGS to become head of the middle school for Pittsburgh’s Sewickley Academy. He hired Amani as Summerbridge director, and Amani ended up working at Sewickley for six years, teaching 6th grade humanities, coaching soccer, working in admissions, and serving as diversity director. Amani assumed more responsibility when he moved back to the Northwest in 2002 to serve as assistant middle school head

at Lakeside School in Seattle, where he continued to teach and coach soccer. Amani connected with kids, but this experience for him was learning about adult leadership and what makes a school run. It made him want to take the next step: to become a principal, and lead adults and children. Amani spent two busy years between 2005 and 2007, working at Lakeside, pursuing a master’s degree during a summer intensive at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, becoming a new father (of son Taye, now 6), and exploring independent school leadership as part of Columbia’s Klingenstein Leadership Academy. “It all worked because my wife, Jules, is incredibly supportive,” he says. Amani then landed his job as middle school principal at the huge University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a place completely in sync with his educational philosophy. Founded by progressive education pioneer John Dewey, its tenets are similar to Catlin Gabel’s: experiential education, higher values, critical thinking, and individual responsibility for the collective community. Son Taye is in kindergarten just down the hall from Amani’s office, which delights him. The work absorbs and satisfies Amani. “Figuring out the right way to support people, both adults and kids, to be their best is my goal.” He loves working with middle school kids, finding that to be the best part of his job. “The challenge of middle school is to create a sense of belonging. I help kids find themselves, feel connected to the community, and belong to something bigger and greater. I give them a sense of support so they feel that they can accomplish anything.”

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Service in the Name of Compassion Julie Sutherland McMurchie ’81 is a public face for end-of-life choices When Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act passed in 1994, Julie Sutherland McMurchie ’81 hardly noticed. A new mom who had three babies in four years, she was overwhelmed with family responsibilities. The Act zoomed into precise focus for her in 2001, though, when her beloved mother was dying of lung cancer at age 68—and made the decision to choose the way she would die. Peggy Sutherland was an active, intelligent, and independent woman who had survived a bout of cancer in 1986. When she was diagnosed with a new lung cancer in 2000, she and her family fought it until they had exhausted all medical treatments, and she was declared terminal. In great pain and discomfort, Peggy knew what she wanted: to die on her own terms. After going through the state’s careful screening process, she died at home in January 2001 after taking a lethal dose of barbiturates supplied by her doctor. She was surrounded in peace by her family and their love, and Julie was by her side. This experience was transformative for Julie. She and her family had received counseling from Compassion & Choices of Oregon, a group dedicated to informing the public about endof-life choices. The organization recognized Julie as someone who believed in their cause both emotionally and intellectually. After her mother died they asked Julie if she would like to do media appearances and public speaking about her mother’s experience. Julie became an impassioned speaker. “Public speaking makes me remember my mom and keeps me close to her,” she says. “It has been a good part of my grieving.”

Julie became more and more involved with Compassion & Choices, willing to work hard to help the organization grow and succeed. Today she is the chair of the board and has gained recognition for her effective leadership in fundraising and outreach. “I’m lucky to be in Oregon at the forefront of the movement. I’m at a place I can make an impact, and there’s lots of impact to be made,” she says. “I’m most proud of helping terminally ill people understand their choices. I want them to know that if their suffering gets too large, there’s an option. It brings comfort to people, even if they never do more than gather information.” Julie came to Catlin Gabel in her junior year, and says that her education there was crucial to her: “It changed the way I think about myself. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.” She and husband Brad have three children, Kate ’11, Grace ’12, and Simon ’15, who have absorbed the value of service from school and family. Julie and Kate spent two weeks this spring in Uganda working in a medical clinic, and Grace plans to go on a service trip to Tanzania this summer. Julie is gratified that service work is so much a part of the culture for her children and their generation and is eager to see where their compassion will lead them. “I’m excited to see what my children end up doing,” she says.

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“This school opened up the world for me”

Reversed Lens Photography

After hearing the news that the Rummage Sale would retire, Derrick Butler ’86 M.D. shared his story on how financial aid changed his life. Inspired by his life story, we invited him to speak at the Gambol and help the school raise funds for student financial aid. Here are some excerpts from his speech. I am confident that my life’s work is changing lives and inspiring others. My work is challenging and, many times, fatiguing, but I can wake up every day and possibly make a small positive difference in someone’s life. That is the essence of what Catlin Gabel has given me, and must continue to instill in its students. My journey at Catlin Gabel began with me as a shy, fat kid from the ‘other side of the tracks’ (or in this case, the Willamette River). I was black, not wealthy, from a single-parent household, but hungry for knowledge. Six years later I emerged as a confident, curious, inspired young adult with a desire to explore every corner of the planet. Catlin Gabel allowed me to navigate the world outside of my inner city neighborhood and to realize my own potential for achievement. This school opened up the world for me and gave me the skills and courage to go out and savor it. Financial aid at Catlin is what made all of this possible.

Catlin Gabel exposed me to a diversity of races, cultures, religions, and ideas that made a difference in my life by broadening my world view. I believe that my tenure there equally exposed my peers to someone like me, which helped them understand racial and socioeconomic differences—but also realize our sameness as human beings. I think the need for a wide diversity of students is even greater in our world today, a world of global cooperation and increased complexity. I graduated from Catlin Gabel in 1986 to continue my journey of self discovery. I was first on full scholarship at Morehouse College, where Catlin Gabel’s academic rigor gave me the discipline and study skills to graduate second in my class. Then with the Peace Corps to Africa, where I taught science and math, traveled extensively, mastered French (which I first encountered at Catlin Gabel), and truly became a world citizen. Led by my desire for service, my love of people in general, and passion for science, I then pursued my medical degree at the University of California–San Francisco and a public health degree at the University of California–Berkeley. During this period I also first experienced the devastation of the HIV epidemic, which would influence my later career path. Now as a family physician I treat all types of patients, especially underserved populations of color in South Central LA and those who are even more disenfranchised: people living with HIV. I consider myself a doctor, master of public health, HIV specialist, breaker of stereotypes, lifelong seeker of knowledge, student of the world, and servant to humanity. Upon reflection, I see that Catlin Gabel was the foundation for these accomplishments. I hope my humble story will help convince you that Catlin Gabel’s investment in people is what makes this school such a special institution. Greater than any investment on Wall Street, the support you can give for Catlin Gabel’s students will reap so much more in terms of human impact. We must continue to give talented and motivated students the support they need to realize their potential at Catlin Gabel. Please help Catlin Gabel continue to change the world with its amazing graduates. So please, give cheerfully, give heartily, and give with inspiration. Thank you. Derrick helped Catlin Gabel raise the crowd to its feet—and raise $150,000 for student financial aid. We thank him and all those who were moved by his story.



Relevance! Vague—clarify. Explain reasoning further. Do these terms evoke any memories? Keep you up at night? Clint Darling’s lessons will stick with us forever. For 40 years, Clint served Catlin Gabel as a French and English teacher, interim headmaster, head of the Upper School (for 13 years) and the English department, as well as a parent and friend. To honor his longevity and connection to our school, the Clint Darling Fund has been created in support of financial assistance, one of Catlin Gabel’s highest priorities. Financial aid is a permanent need about which Clint is most passionate. The goal of this initiative is to raise at least $25,000, at which point an endowed scholarship will be established in Clint’s name. We hope you will join us in paying tribute to a devoted community member by ensuring that Catlin Gabel students represent a “cross-section of American life” (Ruth Catlin’s philosophy, 1928). To honor Clint, make a gift today: call 503-297-1894 ext. 310, or donate online at

Thank you!

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Non-Profit Org. US Postage

PAID Portland, OR Permit No 593

Catlin Gabel School 8825 SW Barnes Road Portland, Oregon 97225 Change Service Requested

Parents: if this is addressed to your child who no longer lives at home, call 503-297-1894 ext. 302 or email to update the address. We thank you!

Where do your Annual Fund contributions go? The Annual Fund sustains and strengthens a Catlin Gabel education.

$50 $3,200 $1,700 $100 $600 n

$1,700 buys all materials for Upper School Algebra II, Geometry, and Calculus I and II classes. n

580 gifts of $50 completely fund the Lower, Middle, and Upper School libraries. n

$3,200 provides Beginning School art supplies for 55 preschoolers and kindergarteners. n

18 gifts of $600 cover the cost of equipment for our Upper School science classes. n

29 gifts of $100 fund the Middle School drama program.

It’s that simple.

Give online at before June 30, 2010, the end of our fiscal year.

We thank you!

Catlin Gabel Caller Spring 2010  

Catlin Gabel's alumni & community magazine

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