Appletree Magazine 2013

Page 1

A publication of The Elisabeth Morrow School

appletree 2013

Getting out



A look back at the 2012 all-school election curriculum

The Lenape Unit Living History and Social Studies in the Third Grade

Storm Stories Safety, our Community and Hurricane Sandy

Brain Breaks The Importance of Exercise in our Curriculum

A Foundation Built on Song Link Up and Choral Education at EMS

“Our reputation is founded on a community that respects children and cares deeply about their development. The unwavering generosity of our alumni, parents of alumni, current parents and friends continues to ensure our commitment to exceptional teaching and academic programs. I encourage you to be part of this legacy; support The Elisabeth Morrow School with a gift to the Apple Tree Fund.� ~ Aaron C. Cooper Head of School

The most valuable gift we can give our children is an exceptional education.

The Apple Tree Fund Development Office


435 Lydecker Street, Englewood, NJ 07631 (201) 568-5566 x7223 |


CONTENTS Storm StorieS Safety and Community Shine through During rough Weather ~ Jennifer Brown


Brain BreakS @emS Why exercise is Vital Within our Curriculum ~ Ginny Smith


CommenCement 2012


the Lenape Unit experiential Social Studies in the third Grade ~ Janis Wein


GroWinG GooD CitizenS the 2012 election Curriculum ~ Evan Brown


What’S in a Box? ~ Laura McConville


emerGent LiteraCy ~ Beth Anne Brennan and Dr. Allison Egert


time WeLL Spent reflections upon 20 years at  the elisabeth morrow School ~ Sanda Cohen, Jackie Riley, Liza Jones Hards


From eaGLeS to entrepreneUrS ~ Adam Kirsch ’07


a FoUnDation BUiLt on SonG emS and the Carnegie hall Link Up program ~ Carey White


BaCk For Camp! young alumni return as Counselors for Summer explorations ~ Liza Jones Hards





ecently, I had the pleasure of dining with two men whose history with Elisabeth Morrow stretches back a long time: Graham Jones (parent of three EMS grads, former chair of the Board of Trustees, and a Trustee Emeritus) and Bill Miller (son of one of our school’s first teachers, graduate, and parent of EMS grads). Both are also members of the Board of the Elisabeth Reeve Morrow Morgan Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded in 1936. The Foundation Board, consisting of members of the Morrow family and friends of the community, has been enormously supportive of The Elisabeth Morrow School over the years. At dinner, Graham and Bill related a story told to them by Reeve Lindbergh, daughter of Anne Morrow (sister of Elisabeth) and Charles Lindbergh. It came from a passage in Anne’s diary around the time when her mother, Elizabeth, passed away and the family was considering options for the family home, now called Morrow House. Anne commented that the home should somehow serve a “greater” purpose. Fast forward more than sixty years, and the Morrow family home does just that—it serves the purpose of educating tomorrow’s leaders, of nurturing their intellects, of helping them to hone their moral compasses, and of instilling in them the joy of lifelong learning. Further, from the physical space in Morrow House to the connection between members of the community, the sense of Elisabeth Morrow as “home” is as strong as ever and is, in fact, central to our mission. That sense of home can be felt in many ways. This past summer, over one hundred young alumni returned to campus in various capacities—to work at our Summer String Festival and our Summer Explorations camp (page 48), to intern with Mrs. Bower developing our school-wide election curriculum (page 25), to help in our technology department, and in the words of Jonathan Abramowitz ’08, who came to the concert at the close of the Summer String Festival, simply “to soak up the nostalgia.” In fact, both of our alumni profiled on page 41 (Adam Kirsch ’07 and Christopher Lavinio ’06) were on campus this summer in capacities beyond their new business venture. Our faculty and staff also feel at home at EMS. A large number of our faculty and staff have been at Elisabeth Morrow for more than two decades. Such commitment and attachment is exceedingly rare in independent schools. Three more faculty (Sanda Cohen, Liza Jones Hards, and Jackie Riley) joined that illustrious group at the start of this academic year (see page 36). We hope current families feel at home here, too. Judging from the dozens of students and parents who came in the cold and dark to set up the Book Fair in the wake of Hurricane Sandy (page 9), they do. From my office (which used to be Dwight Morrow’s study), it is clear that the Morrow family home does serve a greater purpose, both literally and figuratively, in the life of the Elisabeth Morrow School. My very best,



Core Values


The Elisabeth Morrow School pursues the highest educational standards in a supportive, creative environment. We challenge our students’ intellects, promote academic excellence, encourage independent thinking, and cultivate individual talents. Our dedicated, experienced faculty fosters moral growth and social responsibility. In our culturally diverse community, we value tradition and innovation and the joy of lifelong learning.

• An educational environment committed to academic excellence and child-centered learning.

• The Elisabeth Morrow School will educate three-year-olds through eighth graders in a supportive, childcentered environment of restricted class size.

• An educational process symbolized by the Four C’s (courtesy, consideration, cooperation and compassion) that focuses not only on the intellectual, but also upon the social and character development of children. • A passion for learning. • A strong sense of community among students, teachers, families, administrators and staff.

• The Elisabeth Morrow School will prepare students to be proficient academically and strong of character. • The Elisabeth Morrow School will attract, develop and retain the highest quality faculty, staff and administration. • The student body and professional staff will reflect diversity of ethnicity, heritage and economic status. • The Elisabeth Morrow School will be in a position of financial strength.






urricane Sandy was a superstorm like nothing seen in recent years along the northeastern seaboard. For many living in New Jersey, the storm meant power outages or major home damage, and if it did not impact you, the record-breaking weather event likely impacted your friends or family. For the campus at Elisabeth Morrow, power was out most of the week following Sandy. Power problems over the last few years because of severe weather have school officials considering new avenues to better prepare the campus for outages beyond the school's control. "There is a lot of talk about the new normal, in terms of the climate and weather patterns. The power lines in our neighborhood are not buried. During the last few years, big trees have come down, even on power lines, and the chances of this happening again and having an extended power outage are significant enough and real enough that having generator backup is something we are considering," said Elisabeth Morrow Head of School, Aaron Cooper. He said that as part of the campus master planning process, the

"Safety is my focus. With hundreds of trees on campus, I'm constantly looking up to see the condition of branches."

The Crew (from left): Osberto Martinez, Craig Smith, Gerald Mulholland, Chris Jurgensen, Albert Mulé, Vito Liza, Gilbert Moreno.

school is studying long-term plans for the installation of permanent generators at their three main buildings. (Currently each building is unique unto itself, with two of the three on separate electrical grids; to help address partial power outage issues, the school has gasolinepowered generators on standby.) For a school like Elisabeth Morrow preparing ahead of time for a sizable storm is years in the making. Chris Jurgensen is Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds: "Safety is my focus. With hundreds of trees on campus, I'm constantly looking up to see the condition of branches." As for damage from Sandy, Jurgensen says Elisabeth Morrow got lucky: "We had some shingles blow off a roof. Some siding came off but we were able to reattach it. What I saw was mainly a lot of branches down. We lost one big tree in front of Morrow House, but to lose one big tree and some branches— we were lucky compared to others. But I base that on thirteen years of prep work." Visit the campus garage and you'll find Jurgensen ready to go for emergencies with salt-spreaders, chain saws and snow blowers. For the winter, "I have a lot of salt and a lot of calcium. We're in the process of getting a new

~ Chris Jurgensen


plow. I need to make sure we're ready for anything," Jurgensen said. He has a sixmember crew to maintain the campus grounds, and that does not include his three teenage sons who helped their dad following Sandy, when others couldn't get in because of their own flood damage. The Tuesday morning following the storm Jurgensen and his sons were working on and around campus. "We helped open the roads. We were cutting and dragging out trees. I've got to make sure people can get to the school safely." In the days that followed the storm, state and local officials told residents to stay home and not travel the roads. News helicopters showed buckled highways along the coast. For millions of kids it meant a week home from school. But sometimes the safest decision is not always the most obvious. In other severe weather incidents, knowing if it's safe to get to campus is not as easy as listening to the weather forecast. "It could be raining in downtown Englewood, but it could be snowing or icy up by the school. We are at a breaking point in the elevation. You can go on the computer, go online and bring up Englewood, and if the temperature is almost freezing but not quite


there and they're (forecasters) calling for rain and a little bit of ice, I need to get my crew to work earlier just in case," said Jurgensen. The safety of the students and teachers at Elisabeth Morrow took on a whole new meaning following Sandy. With phone lines and power out and spotty Internet service, those "EMS calls" parents know well became the first line of communication on what was happening day-to-day on campus. "I'm really happy that we now have a more sophisticated means of communication than the old phone tree. I was very pleased with the system we used. We have the capability of sending emails and text messages, in addition to phone calls. In this storm texts were getting through much more readily than cell phone calls. If there was anything I'd do differently, I may have texted every update," said Mr. Cooper. In a world of books, pencils and chalkboards, it turns out texting was a lifeline for many who went for days without electricity and heat. Lower School Head, Beth Brennan, lost power for five days at her home. "I'm very lucky to have good relationships with many of our parents. That week I heard from so many families, texting asking how I was doing. It's

those personal relationships that really make a difference. It was helpful. People offered their homes and health clubs for showers. We really tried to stay connected as a community that week." The stories of care and support are best shared by those who survived Sandy, together. Parents helping parents. Teachers helping teachers. (See stories on page 8). Community in numbers—it was there in the week that followed. Mr. Cooper reports that the Monday when school reopened, more than 95% of the student body came to school, with many still not having power restored in their homes. "For some of our younger students that first day back felt like the first day of school for them," Mr. Cooper said. “Parents and faculty recognized the importance of getting back into a routine. The safe, caring, and predictable environment at EMS was ideal for easing students back into school after the storm and the time away.”

More than ever the lesson from Sandy is that the safety of the children comes first. As Ms. Brennan sees it, "Sometimes it may seem we react quickly or we react slowly but it's because we care so deeply. Knowing our location as a school and accounting for where people are traveling from is important. We want to make a good and safe decision for all." Mr. Cooper summed up the experience: “Ultimately, though the storm was a traumatic event for many, the character of our EMS community shone through. People cared for one another, worked together to ensure that school could open safely when the power was restored, and thoughtfully ensured that students would return to the routine of school as quickly as possible.” Jennifer Brown

CBS News Radio Jennifer is an editor/producer for CBS News Radio; married to EMS Communications Director, Evan Brown.

Elisabeth Morrow got lucky... What I saw was mainly a lot of branches down. We lost one big tree in front of Morrow House, but to lose one big tree and some branches—we were lucky compared to others. ~ Chris Jurgensen


Parents helping parents, teachers helping teachers… For EMS families, living through the unforgettable experience of a hurricane meant coming together in some creative and helpful ways...

Jenny Steingart, P ’18, ’21, ’23 As Upper West Siders in New York City, we were extremely fortunate that Hurricane Sandy didn’t affect our neighborhood. We were happy to host close friends from New Jersey (and a current EMS family) for the week, until the power in their town was restored. When we mentioned to people what our living situation was for that week, everyone commented on how difficult it must have been to have so many kids (there were six between our two families!) and adults under one roof. But the funny part was, we didn't find that aspect of things stressful at all! Of course, we were all concerned about the big-picture implications of the storm, but within

the four walls of our apartment, we gained a tremendous amount from the experience. For the kids, the first few days felt like one long party—an endless sleepover! But as the days passed, they also learned how to give space to each other when they needed a little down time, and be respectful of each other’s needs. Happily, our children play well together so that helped matters, but it was a joy to watch their deepening affection. The only daily disagreements seemed to arise over which kid got to sleep in whose room each night! Selfishly, as an adult, I loved the opportunity to spend time with my friends and not feel rushed when we

talked. All of our lives are so busy all of the time, that it felt like a real gift to be able to take a breath and really be together. Not since college have I had late night conversations about substantive things in my pajamas with anyone other than my husband! It was a great reminder to me as to what a blessing it is to have deep connections in our lives and take the time to nurture them. With certainty, we never again want to see the kind of pain and loss that Sandy brought on our community, but I harbor a secret, small hope that our friends' generator will give out for a couple of days every year, so we can have more quality time together!

being together may be enough! Let's play at our place and have an early dinner while it's still light." Seven families made a “stone soup” of sorts with food, water and—

most important—an adventurous spirit. In the end, this was one of our best Halloweens yet!

Jennifer Cordover, P ’17, ’20 During last year’s big storm, hours after losing power, we were guests at a Halloween party (our hosts had a generator), where we ultimately took refuge for several nights while our power remained out. This year, because of Sandy, we lost Halloween! After several years of this bizarre weather, we have gotten in the habit of checking in on our immediate neighbors and EMS friends. Once the storm had passed and the waiting for the utility crews begun, we sent an email to those families within a few blocks of us: "Let's try to get the kids together in costume! We can pool our resources: I have chips and salsa, lots of sugary snacks, etc. I'll call around to see if any pizza is open. We can get creative with activities, though just


Janis Wein, Faculty My hurricane story actually began last year, during Hurricane Irene. We had lost power at our house, which resulted in six inches of water in our basement because the sump pump didn’t work. At that point, there were no generators to be found anywhere. Our friends the Milnes did not lose

power and were gracious enough to lend us their generator. As soon as generators were in the stores again, we purchased one. Who knew that the following year, Hurricane Sandy would arrive? This time both households lost power for a week. Our new generator was

running perfectly while the Milnes’ generator, this time around, was not working. We had the chance to return the favor; the Milnes stayed with us, and our two families happily spent several warm and cozy days together.

Karen Toback, P ’18, ’19 and 2012 Book Fair Co-Chair Book Fair 2012 was quite the roller coaster ride: our contingency plans had contingency plans. It is still hard to believe that the Fair opened on the days it was originally scheduled, though unfortunately was closed down early on Wednesday because of the Nor'easter—the storm that followed the superstorm. Despite all of the obstacles that Sandy put in our way during Book Fair set-up, we had parents, children of all ages, administrators, teachers and the maintenance crew, all working together. The lack of heat and power didn't stop the EMS community from getting the job done. I felt a sense of pride in the tenacity which kept the wheels in motion. There was a buzz in

the Gymkhana those two days prior to opening, as everyone worked toward a common goal, seemingly happy to have some normalcy amidst the chaos, though the impact of the storm and the uncertainty of the days ahead weighed heavily on us all. Many things were inspiring but the kids were truly amazing during those days. Some of the older kids supervised craft activities, which freed up the parents who came to help, while others paired up in a true “EMS buddy” fashion, unpacking boxes and organizing book displays, making sure that the littlest

children were included. Throughout the week of Book Fair, from the setup to the breakdown, I had an overwhelming sense of community that I'd like to bottle for generations of EMS families to come.

Kenny's. While my phone was charging, Michele and I walked up to EMS to see the damage, and we were relieved to find that while there was no power, there was no damage to the buildings. We were sad about the giant tree at Morrow House that fell, but happy that it did not hit any part of the library—which it seemed capable of reaching if it had fallen at a different angle. We then walked back to Englewood, retrieved my cell

phone and went home. Fortunately for me the power was back on in my building, and I did not have to walk up twenty-seven flights of steps, as I had done the day before. Unfortunately for Michele, however, the traffic in Fort Lee was a nightmare and what should have been a ten-minute ride turned into an hour. I felt terrible about that, but Michele said that “it was what it was,” and that it was more about friends helping friends.

Sanda Cohen, Faculty I have lived on the twenty-seventh floor of an apartment building in Cliffside Park for thirty-eight years, and this was the first time we’ve lost power. We were completely dependent on cell phones and stupidly, I did not have a phone charger. So when my phone was dying, Michele Bower picked me up, and we drove to Englewood where I charged my phone at the Pelican Coffee Shop—known to us as





“The research is in: exercise grows new brain cells and it improves learning, memory, focus and attention.”


heard this news for the first time at a Physical Education conference a few years ago. The presenter held up a book and continued, “This is our future; make sure you read it.” I was intrigued. I have always known that a quality physical education program emphasizing maximum participation is beneficial to a student’s health and fitness. Up to this point, however, the idea that physical activity correlated with better learning was mostly hypothetical. The fact that this is now proving to be true is big news! Why? Because, by building exercise into the curriculum, our school (or any school) can offer a very real, and, for the most part, very effective means of assisting students in improving their academic performance. The book is called Spark, written by Dr. John J. Ratey, a clinical associate professor of


psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. For me, it is the key to understanding the scientific research revealing how exercise promotes brain function. As Dr. Ratey notes, it seems that the brain works much like muscles do, growing with use and withering with inactivity. It was once thought that when brain cells died, they were gone forever and could not be regenerated. Now neuroscientists have found that new brain cells (neurons) are generated in the hippocampus (the part of the brain associated with learning and memory) during aerobic exercise. This process was termed “neurogenesis,” and its discovery further solidified the idea of our brain’s “plasticity” (its ability to change).

Neurogenesis is possible because of the presence of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain. BDNF is a protein that is secreted in the hippocampus during aerobic exercise and acts like “Miracle-Gro” for the brain, developing new neural connections leading to peak learning performance. Dr. Ratey pointed to the work of Dr. Carl Cotman (Director of the University of California’s Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders) and his experiments using laboratory mice on running wheels, which revealed increased levels of BDNF in the hippocampuses of the exercising mice. Cotman’s research pinpointed a direct biological connection between movement and cognitive function. In 2007, in a notable experiment on humans, it was further discovered that after a 35-minute workout on a treadmill at 6070% of an individual’s maximum heart rate, the brain was sufficiently stimulated, and improvements in cognitive function were noted. In his book, Dr. Ratey points to a case study that supported this neuroscientific research. In Naperville, a suburban school district outside of Chicago, 19,000 students participated in a daily exercise program called Learning Readiness Physical Education (LRPE). It was the brainchild of a group of physical education teachers whose students engaged in aerobic-type exercises (running, cycling, elliptical machines, playing 3 vs. 3

basketball, etc.) for forty minutes while monitoring their heart rates. The exercise took place every morning before their most difficult class. The goal for students was to work out at 80-90% of their maximum heart rate. The results were nothing short of astounding. In 1999, Naperville Central High School tracked their LRPE and Non-LRPE math and freshman literacy scores, noting that math scores improved 10-23% while reading competence increased 1-2 grade levels. Perhaps even more impressive, on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study test (TIMSS), Naperville had the highest science scores in the world and placed sixth internationally in math. So, not only were they the fittest students, they were apparently the smartest ones, as well. In the late 2000’s, Dr. Charles Hillman, a psychophysiologist at the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois, conducted his own study. In his research, he attached EEG (electroencephalogram) caps to the students being followed and measured their attention, memory, and processing speed during cognitive testing. The results, he pointed out, had “better integrity.” As it turned out, better fitness also translated into better attention and focus. In fact, neuroscience is revealing that any amount of complex movement challenges and stimulates the production and levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. If this sounds


Exercise balances and regulates these neurotransmitters, which in turn provide the brain with an ideal “setting” for learning new information and retaining it. Physical activity chemically tunes the brain’s readiness for acquiring new information.


familiar, then you may have already heard the names of a few of these neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These are chemicals in the brain that control an expansive range of emotional and mental states, including attention, focus, mood, motivation, perception, impulsivity, anger and aggressiveness. Exercise balances and regulates these neurotransmitters, which in turn provide the brain with an ideal “setting” for learning new information and retaining it. Physical activity chemically tunes the brain’s readiness for acquiring new information. The challenge for educators is how to incorporate this research into a typical classroom setting and school day. Approximately twelve years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Jean Blaydes-Madigan at a physical education conference. She was a “pioneer” at the time, a neuro-kinesiologist who was promoting action-based learning. Her workshops emphasized the need to use movement to teach curriculum. Dr. Blaydes-Madigan developed lessons and cross-lateral activities to teach difficult content. Her techniques demonstrated that it is not necessary to break into teams or set up a court to get students involved in physical activity in the classroom. Rather, she performed hand jives, jumping activities, cross-lateral challenges and even the Macarena to teach science concepts, addition, multiplication and even punctuation.

It wasn’t surprising for me to see how easy it was to learn a difficult topic when you actually experienced it with your body and your mind. According to Dr. Blaydes-Madigan and her research, the majority of school-age children (approximately 85%) are kinesthetic processors, which means they learn more easily when they are given the opportunity to move during the process of acquiring information. Moreover, using physical activity in the learning process helps many students recall information more efficiently. After reading Spark, I felt compelled to become an advocate for incorporating movement into learning and began researching the topic further. I took a graduate course called The Kinesthetic Classroom, which outlined the purposes of using movement to promote learning in the classroom and provided hundreds of activities that could be built into a curriculum. Many of the activities were designed to make use of both sides of the body, crossing over the “midline,” and therefore utilizing both hemispheres of the brain. Complex movements like grapevine movements, crosscrawls, jumping jacks, Simon Says and juggling are great brain development exercises. These exercises do not require students to relocate or acquire any special equipment beyond a little bit of room to perform the activity. My take-away from this class was that it is remarkably easy to build what are termed “brain breaks” (complex movements that challenge and stimulate the brain to improve focus and attention) into a regular classroom setting and timeframe here at Elisabeth Morrow. This concept is consistent with our philosophy of providing the best academic environment for children. Over the past year, I have presented the science, the purposes and the classroom applications to the EMS faculty in a two-part workshop. It is exciting to see the progress as teachers begin to embrace this research. The third grade (Mrs. Barile) and fifth grade (Mrs. Bliesener) have

introduced exercise/stability balls into their classrooms in place of chairs, as research is showing that the ability to bounce and balance has a very positive effect on children’s learning. The early response from our students is that it is easier to focus and pay attention while satisfying an internal need to move while they are learning. The Little School PE program has initiated a learning readiness class (LRPE) for second and third graders who want to run, jump rope or play an aerobic game before school in the morning in an effort to raise their heart rate, stimulate neurotransmitters and promote brain function before they tackle morning meeting or their first class. Teachers in Chilton House have begun teaching numbers and letters using movement challenges. Little School students are using motor skills to learn sentence punctuation and improve class cohesion. Morrow House teachers are adding brain breaks to their lessons and using cross-lateral movements to teach content and help students retain



The top  reasons  why we use movement  to improve learning: 10) Movement engages the senses 9) Movement increases circulation 8) Movement reduces stress 7) Movement allows for implicit learning 6) Movement meets basic needs 5) Movement improves learning states 4) Movement differentiates instruction 3) Movement enhances learning and memory 2) Movement provides a break from learning and refocuses the brain 1) Movement improves brain function ~Kuczala & Lengel, 2010, from The Kinesthetic Classroom


information. In Little School assemblies, which are often led by Mrs. Brennan and the music department, many interactive movement activities are being used to keep the students engaged. The EMS faculty realizes that it will take a bit more time and experimentation before we can fully complement our curriculum with effective brain exercises. The advantage for us is that our administration believes in this research, and it backs up what many of our most experienced educators here have known for years: that children learn better when they are given the opportunity and freedom to move and play. What’s particularly important for us as a school is that incorporating more activity into our academic day will not only lead to a child embracing a more healthy, active lifestyle, but it stands to improve their academic performance. And for The Elisabeth Morrow School, embracing the best, whole-child centered education (for now, as well as in their life beyond our school) is what we’re all about. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ginny Smith teaches physical education at The Elisabeth Morrow School. An independent school educator for over 20 years, her experience includes teaching early childhood, elementary and middle school aged children. In addition, she teaches Health, coaches girls’ volleyball and softball, supervises intramurals and directs summer camp programs. She has presented at the New Jersey Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance State Convention, the NJAIS Conference in Lawrenceville, and the NJAHPERD Lake Conference.

The Elisabeth Morrow School

CommenCement 2012

Jayne Gurland Lein Alumna, Trustee, EMS Parent


s you sit here today, I’m sure that you’re thinking more about the future than the past. You’re looking ahead to the next stage of your life and wondering whether you are well prepared for the “bigger world” out there beyond the friendly walls of EMS. Well, I can tell you without any doubt that you are very well prepared for what is coming next. Our unparalleled faculty has given you all of the academic tools that you will need, and as you have experienced this year, they certainly have given you enough homework to prepare you for the workload in high school! But the academics are just the tip of the iceberg in your preparation for high school and beyond. It is the life skills that EMS has instilled in each of you that will really serve you well as you move ahead. EMS has taught you how to be part of a community, how to work as a team, how to solve problems together creatively, how to respect others and most of all, how to respect yourself. Everyone is encouraged to participate and to support and applaud each other’s participation. At the core of the EMS philosophy and what lies behind the 4 C’s is a belief that every student here is an individual who has something valuable to contribute to the community.




Daniel Ackerman ’08


ello, soon-to-be fellow graduates. I’m so honored to be here. I remember my EMS graduation as an important milestone in my maturation, a process which might have no end, but which certainly felt like it had a beginning and a solid foundation here at Elisabeth Morrow. But even earlier in the process, the first moment in my life when I really felt mature, like I was what—at the time—I would have called “a big boy,” was during a car ride. As a kid, I never met a thought that I didn’t think deserved to be voiced out loud. I’m not a whole lot more discriminating now, but it was even worse back then. I began every wish, every whine, every discovery with the phrase “I think...” “I think Tyrannosaurus Rex and T. Rex are the same dinosaur.” “I think I should be allowed to watch ‘Men in Black.’” “I think zero’s the middle number. You know, because of negative numbers?” So one day, I’m in the car, and my poor mother is driving me back from Tiger Schulmann’s Karate, which I hated. I’ve got a full magazine of “I thinks” to shoot at her. “I think Sensei Dave should let me get a band-aid when I cut my toe.” “I think the yellow-belts should be nicer to the white-belts.”

I go on like that for a while until, at one point, I look over at my mom all the way up in the front seat, and I read her facial expression for the first time since I’ve gotten into the car. en something just clicks in me, and I just stop talking. My mother, not used to the silence from the back of the car, looks to make sure I’m still there. She says, “Daniel, what’s the matter? You’re so quiet.” And I say, “I just figured out that you probably don’t want me to talk all the time.” My mom rolls her eyes and says, “Most grown-ups I know haven’t figured that out!” I took away from that day a lesson way more important than Sensei Dave’s sparring pose: You’ve entered childhood once you’ve learned to talk. You’ve entered adulthood once you’ve learned to shut up. Now, if you know me, you might be thinking, “Well, that’s a lesson he could learn again.” But really, the takeaway was a little more nuanced. It was a lesson that I have built on and refined as I’ve grown older. ere is a movement that holds that youth is something to be embraced. Youth, they say, is a time of gradual and halting self-discovery. It’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s a time in your life when no one has anything figured out, when you can try anything once, when you should ask as many questions as can


flow out of your mouth. You know what I’m talking about. “Don’t worry what other people think of you,” they say. “Forget the risks and find yourself,” they say. “All the cool kids are doing it.” I have to disagree. Youth is an inconvenience, and you should end it as soon as possible. Sure, you can take the long way. You can give in to the interests of “big curiosity” and “mainstream wonder.” But I’d like to offer you some shortcuts. Aer four years, I think I’ve found a couple of ways to convince others that I’m all grown-up without all the work of personal and intellectual self-discovery. You might say I’m motivated by basic insecurity and a fear of facing myself honestly. I wouldn’t know, I don’t ask your opinion. e first step to instant adulthood is confidence. When I first entered Manhattan for high school, I was worried about commuting, less because I was afraid that I would get lost or mugged than because I was afraid that seasoned subway-riders would judge me for looking out-of-place or bruised. Before I started at Trinity, my good friend told me, “e key to moving into the city is to always look like you know where you’re going.” I’ve taken this advice to heart, even though this advice has taken me to Newark and the Bronx on occasion. You just have to be willing to wait for reality to fall into line with your attitude, and your reward will be the false impression that you were right all along. When I make a wrong turn on the street or absent-mindedly walk a couple of blocks too far, I will never turn around on the spot. at would be like admitting that I was wrong. No, I will walk around an entire block and come around the other side rather than admit to the anonymous masses of people around me that I made a mistake in getting from one place to another. Call it a commuter’s complex or delusional narcissism if you like. I call it maturity.


Even the initial commitment, the moment of “Yes, this is the school I will attend,” is a big move, and it only makes sense for you to plan your itinerary before you arrive. For me, high school was a new country. I had to apply for membership and then set off across a body of water. I was thrown together with a bunch of students coming from every corner of the New York area. And all of us had to find our place among this group of native ninth-graders who had been in this new school for nine or ten years already, had an active community and history, and seemed to get along just fine without us recent immigrants. But just like coming to a new land, high school is an opportunity to reinvent oneself. In middle school, you might have been known as the lame foursquare player. You might have never quite gotten the inside jokes. You might have had an unfortunate nickname, like, you know, just off the top of my head, Short Dan. But in high school, you can be a totally new you. You can spend the summer learning to skateboard and stagger into freshman orientation with a boombox over your shoulder playing Avril Lavigne, whom you all listen to. You can laugh at the jokes, whether you get them or not. I hope this advice helps some of you, because it’s become a lot less relevant to me recently. You can only walk so far in platform shoes, but I think that aer a certain point, you don’t need to pretend you’re an adult. You don’t even need a ceremony like this as proof to yourself that you’re an adult (though don’t get me wrong, it’s a great ceremony—enjoy it). If there’s one thing I wish I had learned earlier in my high school career, it’s how little really separates middle school mentality from middle age mentality. To an extent, everyone is kind of just trying to blast Avril Lavigne from a boombox long enough to figure everything out. If you happen to do that next year, your freshman year, make sure to look me up.

The Elisabeth Morrow School • Class of 2012 Secondary Schools for the Graduates of 2012 Rasa Anvari Academy of the Holy Angels Jonathan Candler Tenafly High School Joseph De Rose Bergen County Academies Nicolas Diaz Northern Valley Regional High School (Demarest) Catherine Grieco Notre Dame School (NYC) Eddie Happle Xavier High School Elizabeth Harris Saddle River Day School Quinn Hecker Saddle River Day School Carter Hirschhorn Riverdale Country School Caroline Hyer Academy of the Holy Angels Emily Insana Blair Academy So Young Jang Emma Willard School

Breanna Kelly Concord Academy Adelina Latinsky-Ortiz Academy of the Holy Angels Alexander Lein Horace Mann School Kenjiro Lee Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School Gregory Litt Riverdale Country School Anna Lockhart Northern Valley Regional High School (Demarest) Emma Loring Blair Academy Kevin Lu Don Bosco Preparatory High School Casey McConville Riverdale Country School Emma Michiels The Masters School Richard Nelson Tenafly High School Patrick Owens Horace Mann School

Lauren Park Riverdale Country School Sang Uk Park Phillips Exeter Academy Valentina Ramirez-Cruz Tenafly High School Pamela Restrepo Academy of the Holy Angels Jeffrey Richardson St. Joseph Regional High School Abigail Rivoir Academy of the Holy Angels Peter Shamamian Horace Mann School Justin Trout Bergen County Academies Michelle Tu Bergen County Academies David Yang Bergen County Academies Anakatrina Zeidwig Academies @ Englewood




Experiential Social Studies in the Third Grade by Janis Wein, Third Grade Teacher


y the time children reach the third grade, they have likely acquired a good foundation of the basic skills required for reading, writing and math. In addition, they have developmentally reached the stage where they are beginning to think more abstractly and, as such, they are ready to interact with our curricula in a more sophisticated manner. The question is: how can we best capture their interests, engage their minds, and help them to make relevant connections to their experiences and lives? It is often said that when students hear a lesson they remember around 20% of what has been said. If they hear a lesson and also have a visual aid, they remember 50%. If, in addition, they are actively involved in a related task, the retention percentage increases to 90%. For teachers and administrators alike, the implication for planning curricula seems fairly clear: support the academic program with concrete experiences, and the students will retain more information. At EMS, the third grade social studies curriculum is the perfect example of how this is accomplished. Our theme for the year examines the interaction between people and their environment. As the children’s cognitive abilities allow for projection beyond the self and the immediate, we are able to establish imaginary contexts as a crucible for learning.


The question is: how can we best capture their interests, engage their minds, and help them to make relevant connections to their experiences and lives?

We start our year by investigating the precolonial Lenape, the Native Americans who inhabited this region, and explore how they utilized the forests, wildlife, and waterways to meet their needs. Students participate in a wide variety of immersive activities that involve reading, writing, mathematics, science, art, music, technology and physical education; not only are they required to listen and to look, but they are also called upon to participate. Our Lenape research project provides an excellent example. The unit starts by accessing students’ prior knowledge, asking students to list what they think they know about Native American culture and what more they may wish to learn about the Lenape. Based on their questions and interests, they are organized into groups of two or three to investigate a variety of topics such as shelter, religion, hunting and entertainment using texts, online research, and field trips to gather information and take notes. Each team then becomes the class expert on a topic and creates a visual and oral presentation to teach the rest of the class. They use drawings, pictures from the Internet, photographs they have taken themselves, writing and speaking to convey what they have determined to be the most important information. Depending on the topic, they are also encouraged to build or create props to support their research, such as games, masks, or bow and arrows. Other curricular connections are made throughout the unit as the children are immersed in all things Lenape. The third grade classes become the turtle, wolf and turkey clans during a special ceremony in our forest. Each child chooses a Native American name and writes a story to explain how it was acquired. Native American stories and legends are read, and their structures are examined. Using this information, each student writes a legend to explain something in nature: for example, “Why Bunny has Long Ears.” Even math problem-


solving activities and games involve the Lenape culture. Native American chants and songs are learned in music, and games such as lacrosse are introduced in physical education. By the time the children are ready to perform at an assembly, they are truly Lenape, complete with clothing, spirit necklaces and headdresses they have decorated. There are no tests involved in this unit. That may seem shocking because. After all, how is student retention and understanding of this information assessed? At this age and with this particular kind of study, testing does little to promote understanding. Instead, student assessment is performance-based. At each step during this multiweek project, students’ progress and understanding must be accessed as they conduct research, take notes, create posters and, finally, stand up to teach the class what they have learned. Moreover, they are required to engage their peers through public speaking and group-assessment as they are called upon to gather in their teams and address team performance. The priority here is not to have students come away with merely a modicum of knowledge about the Lenape. Although retention of knowledge is important as we build from grade to grade, it is equally important (if not more so) to engage children in learning at a developmental level that’s appropriate. It is more important that they are active participants in their own learning. Education is trending in this direction, and yet at EMS we have always understood this important factor in learning. We ask children to make relevant connections now through experiential education because, down the road, we know this will shape their character and abilities during their school-age years and beyond. That’s the EMS philosophy. EMS 3rd Grade Teachers | 2012–2013 Mrs. Janis Wein Mrs. Beth Goldman Mrs. Gael Barile


The priority here is not to have students come away with merely a modicum of knowledge about the Lenape. …it is equally important (if not more so) to engage children in learning at a developmental level that’s appropriate.





“The most important political office is that of the private citizen.” ~ Louis Brandeis Supreme Court Justice 1916-1939


hen many of us were in elementary or middle school, history class focused on memorizing dates and occurrences, establishing patterns of cause and effect, and tracking the subsequent events through time (for example, the Treaty of Versailles, 1919, as an impetus for the Second World War, 1939). At The Elisabeth Morrow School, our experience has demonstrated to us that focusing on just facts—events, deeds, and dates— makes for an incomplete and less engaging curriculum. The key to our history curriculum has been to tie in citizenship. By doing this, the school impels its students to make a personal connection with the subject matter. This is nothing new, however, as Elisabeth Morrow has a long track record of placing its curriculum within experiential contexts for its students. You can witness EMS’s teaching of citizenship in many ways and at many grade levels. Some of our younger students study the workings of the post office, while other grades visit stores or farms to study how food is produced and distributed. Meanwhile, our eighth graders take an annual week-long intensive trip to Washington, D.C., where they study government, both past and present. During this trip, the students visit many museums that capture the American experience and culture, capping the visit with a face-to-face session with a United States Supreme Court Justice. This year was special as it was an election year. Under the guidance of Michele Bower, History Teacher and Director of Curriculum and Secondary School Placement, our community developed and participated in an election curriculum that bridged subject areas and involved all of our students, school-wide. We did not merely have students


casting ballots into boxes; instead, they learned from a much larger analysis of what it takes to vote and elect candidates within a democratic society. From establishing our own electoral college and organizing the student body into voting “districts” (which were our divisional buildings) to physically registering voters in those districts, from tracking candidate visits and breaking down party platforms, rhetoric and ideology to campaigning and debating—all facets of the U.S. election process were examined and the process involved the entire school, along with the hard work of four dedicated EMS alumni: Emily Gruber ’11, Samantha Rahmin ’11, Alex Lein ’11 and Daniel Lein ’10. "Our first task was to find activities for the younger grade levels,” says Samantha Rahmin ’11, recalling the start of the process back in June 2012. "We organized a binder compiled with potential activities for kindergarteners through sixth graders. The plan throughout the election year was for teachers to use this binder as a reference.” Samantha explains: "Next, we went through the outdated sources to ensure that the students would have current material. We then created participatory projects for the students. Kindergarten activities were more basic, including coloring exercises and maps to help them to learn the location of the White House. The activities became more complex for the older students. For example, second graders had different vocabulary activities to help them learn key terms in the U.S. government system, such as the House, Senate, and President’s Cabinet." For the alumni interns, the process became a good deal more complex as they started at the middle

Morrow House: the candidates debate.

school grade levels. Samantha continues: "We then worked to enhance the election experience for the eighth graders. In the past, studying the election has meant learning about how it happens, how the media plays a role, how candidates campaign, how people vote and how an election will play a role in the scheme of history. This time, the classroom experience emphasized the different positions the candidates take on controversial issues. The eighth graders were asked to put on a mock debate for Morrow House, with students representing the presidential and vice presidential candidates. This activity required the students not only to learn about the election and the issues, but

also to learn how to work together, how to speak in front of a crowd, and how to do research." The election itself was also a school-wide event. The eighth grade "candidates" had to speak to the younger students, as well. The point? Samantha explains that this way “everyone at Elisabeth Morrow would be educated enough to vote.” She continues by explaining that, because of the Internet, “students would also have the means to vote online on Election Day. We would then be able to see if the EMS election results matched the national ones!"


Little School: election day.

“The point is not to change students’ political leanings, but rather to provide them with the resources and skills to explore issues with rigor and to develop a more profound understanding of their own beliefs as opposed to simply coming up with cursory opinions on issues.” ~Paul Baly, Middle School Head Elections are complex entities and Mrs. Bower and her team of alums sought to put the eighth graders through the paces to mimic the actual groundwork involved in establishing a “national” vote. Voter registration teams were sent out to the three divisional buildings (deemed “districts” for this initiative) to register voters. "Get out the Vote" teams were also sent out to provide information to students regarding the candidates and issues. "The idea here," says Mrs. Bower, "is to encourage conversation and discussion. After all, this event takes place on a national as well as local scale. It is an event that consumes our society (these days more than ever) and it's a good idea to bring our children into understanding what is happening.” Four eighth graders were assigned the challenging task of playing the candidates, but the entire grade played an advisory role, assisting their candidates with research and advice on how best to challenge or defend on specific issues. Paul Baly, Middle School Head, explains: “Each week, they read current events through the lens of the election. So, for instance, regarding the acts of terrorism in Benghazi, they learned the details, but then they took the next steps to consider how the

Obama administration’s handling of the crisis reflected President Obama’s efficacy as a leader, and how each campaign might think strategically about how to ‘spin’ this event for political gain.” Whether students agreed or disagreed with a particular platform wasn’t at issue—the students weren’t asked to take sides. “Part of rigor is the discipline of placing information within a context,” says Mr. Baly. “In this case, having students study an issue like the fiscal cliff as, say, a Republican (even though some may believe in further taxing the one percent) forces students to deeply understand the other perspective and come to a much more mature understanding of the issues and one’s own belief systems.” “The point,” Mr. Baly goes on to say, “is not to change students’ political leanings, but rather to provide them with the resources and skills to explore issues with rigor and to develop a more profound understanding of their own beliefs as opposed to simply coming up with cursory opinions on issues.” Mr. Baly continues, “Within all of this are lessons on communication, transparency, ethics, philosophy on government and the media’s influence.” Elisabeth Morrow's "mock" elections are nothing new. Many schools do this. But at EMS, our approach is unique: we expand the scope of the exercise to play out in real time, to move beyond the cursory details and to involve the entire school. A great deal of original thought and effort went into this living history lesson—the type of teaching that sets EMS apart. As always, we seek to build our program in a way that is appropriate and engaging for children, providing creative and meaningful learning experiences that prepare our students for life beyond EMS and academics. As Mrs. Bower explains, “The best thing that we can do for our future voters is to help them understand how an election works, but one of the most important things we can do as educators is to help our students grow into good citizens.”


What’s in a


BOX by Laura McConville Early Childhood Teacher


hat’s in a box? For the prekindergarten children in Chilton House, more than they even realized. Children have an extraordinary capacity and passion for innovation, imagination and creativity. When provided with an opportunity and a collection of discarded cardboard boxes, tape and two colors of paint, our prekindergarteners got to work. First, they connected the boxes and painted them, mixing red and yellow paint to make orange paint. Next, the teachers supplied more materials: colored tape, coffee filters, plastic spindles, cardboard tubing, plastic bottle caps, pipe cleaners, markers and hole punchers. As more items became available, the children repeatedly asked: “How can we use this?” and “What can this be?” Finding answers to these questions, along with the evolving structure, happened as a result of collaboration. Also, emerging language skills were required to explain plans, to negotiate and compromise, and to develop stories about the structure. The stories were changeable: at different times, the structure could be a ship, a castle, or a space rocket. In addition, the


structure had pieces that changed from windows to doors to gates. As the children assumed various roles during construction, decisions had to be made about how to use the variety of tools and materials, which required the need to apply critical thinking skills. Of course, there was no right or wrong way to accomplish their goal; it was more important for the students to feel comfortable, to take risks and to explore the variety of ways they could achieve a desired effect.

Work on the boxes also engaged the children in authentic experiences based in math, science and literacy. The children considered the size, shape, dimension and quantity of materials as they worked toward assembling and balancing them on top of the other pieces. Box building was a whole-body exercise, engaging both gross and ďŹ ne motor skills, from lifting, stretching, reaching and wiggling to ripping tape, squeezing hole punchers, writing, weaving pipe cleaners and attaching small decorative elements. The motivation behind the Box Curriculum was to cultivate diverse, creative and entrepreneurial talents. Using constructivist learning, problem-solving and critical thinking, through an activity that was relevant and engaging for them, the children were able to develop their own solutions and skills which we know they will use and apply in future classes, in future situations. At The Elisabeth Morrow School, we know that when children learn to approach their work with enthusiasm, curiosity, determination, resilience and respect for teamwork at this early age, they develop a joy for learning and a strength of character that they keep for a lifetime.


“The least complicated entry into literacy learning is to begin to read and write the language that children already know and speak. What they already know about language can then be used to power their literacy learning.�~ Marie Clay ~

EMERGENT LITERACY Beth Anne Brennan, Lower School Head Dr. Allison Egert, Director of Learning Services

This makes sense, right?... After all, any good language teacher will tell you that the best way to learn a language is to live in its culture—to be surrounded by it and immersed in it. That said, we should not expect it to be any different for our youngest children learning their first language, their native language, especially at a stage in their development where they are highly receptive and engaged in their own learning. Marie Clay ventured the concept of “emergent literacy” about 40 years ago. Her groundwork in early childhood education has helped educators understand that the “experience” of language and communication for pre-literate children plays as significant a role as the actual act of reading or writing. At EMS, we are in step with this philosophy when it comes to emergent literacy and we’ve made it a priority for our early childhood teachers to promote an immersive environment for our young students in an effort to provide a significant foundation for “conventional literacy” in later grades. The curriculum at The Elisabeth Morrow School is always evolving to incorporate current research and trends to improve pedagogy. That said, regular curricular assessments are important to us, especially within the Early Childhood program, as these students are just embarking on their academic journeys. Recently, the kindergarten

team, including our reading specialists, took a look at how the instruction of emergent literacy and oral language development may potentially impact their students’ performance and interest in reading and writing. This collaborative team approach began prior to the start of the fall 2011 school year. Teachers were assigned articles and selected readings, including current research describing and documenting the importance of developing oral language in young children as it relates to literacy. Next, time was allotted for collaborative teaching to occur in designated language arts blocks twice weekly for thirty minutes. Such self-studies are a valuable tool for The Elisabeth Morrow School, as it becomes a means to question, tweak, and affirm our pedagogy and practices for educating young children. By focusing on oral language development and strategies to develop early literacy, we have been able to make the following assessments regarding our curriculum: all instructional needs are being met (for both teachers and students), phonological awareness skills are being developed, and vocabularies are expanding. In addition, we are seeing academic progress relative to each individual student, through formal and informal assessments. Arriving at this understanding, however, meant coming to terms with what emergent literacy means in the context of an EMS education.


For early childhood, emergent literacy starts with spoken language. Young children hear family members talking, laughing and singing, and they naturally respond to all of the sounds around them. Children hear stories being told and experiences being shared, and they are asked questions about the world around them, stimulating their natural curiosity to understand the world. Everyday experiences, as well as those that are planned through family trips to museums, parks and far away places, facilitate engagement and oral language development. We also know that children who hear a lot of talk and know a lot about oral language, including understanding and speaking, often have a less difficult time learning to read and write than children who do not have these opportunities. Furthermore, we know that children who experience delays in speech and language development are compromised in developing literacy skills. Therefore, the more that children experience positive opportunities where they can expand their language knowledge, build sentences, tell stories, play with sounds, learn the meaning of new words and listen to books of all kinds, as well as talk about the books, the more ready they are for breaking the literacy code and becoming confident readers and writers. With evidence-based research in mind, we have expanded emergent literacy in kindergarten to include the aspects of oral language development. Children learn how to tell stories using wordless picture books. Besides using the books to tell narratives that have a beginning, middle, and end, children discuss setting, characters and plot. Vocabulary words are discussed, described and used in the classroom. Children create sentences on each page, which teachers record on sticky notes for re-reading activities at a later time. When reading Carl in the 34

Park and Carl Goes Shopping, the children use puppets to retell the story. Story illustration using “paper block” enables the children to illustrate and sequence the elements of a story. Reading and telling stories help create a literacy environment that naturally flows into the next stage of developing phoneme awareness. Phoneme awareness is the understanding that speech is composed of a series of individual sounds. The goal of phoneme awareness is to help children develop an “ear” for language by hearing specific syllables and sounds, as well as identify sound sequences and understand the role that individual phonemes play in words. Rhyming, an early stage of phoneme awareness, teaches children to use language in a fun way. Children rhyme real words with each other or they can make up “silly” words just for the fun of it. Using nursery rhymes, alliterative verse, rhyming bingo and “silly” rhymes, children begin to understand the “rhythm” of language while also beginning to see that words are made up of sounds. They begin to see that we can move those sounds around in the words to make other words. Poetry using alliteration (i.e., “Peter Picked a Peck of Peppers”) and rhyming verses also help children enjoy language listening and teach phoneme awareness. The next step to developing literacy awareness is the introduction to the concept of syllables. Children learn to count words in sentences and the number of syllables in words. “Clap to the beat” becomes a game using their names, songs, poems, and objects around the classroom to count syllables. Children engage in classification activities such as sorting pictures into piles or drawing pictures that have the same number of syllables, as well as playing other games that enhance syllable awareness and understanding.

We also know that children who hear a lot of talk and know a lot about oral language, including understanding and speaking, often have a less difficult time learning to read and write than children who do not have these opportunities.

Continuing along a developmental framework, the children move naturally and efficiently from words to syllables to sound identification. Phoneme awareness tasks such as identifying initial and final sounds are part of the curriculum. Children sort objects and pictures that have the same initial or final sounds. They might be asked to count on their fingers how many sounds a word may have or blend individual sounds to form words. “Move and Say” involves showing children a picture, asking them to identify it and then telling them to move a block from one end of the table to the other for each sound they hear in the identifying word. The teacher might ask a child to blend a word presented as individual sounds and then show a picture for correct blending. Working as a full class, in learning centers or individually helps the teachers connect with all students to develop their phoneme awareness skills. The point is to get children ready for advanced academic goals along the road to literacy. Matching individual sounds with letters becomes easier when young students are given a solid understanding of sound knowledge. Confidence builds as they begin to spell and write letters/words in their journals, thereby beginning the process of written expression. As the children are on the cusp of identifying and decoding words, their excitement builds with this developing knowledge. By providing a languageimmersive environment, we are noticing that our children are engaged in and excited by comprehensive language instruction such as speaking, reading, telling, creating and writing. Literacy immersion is the most important aspect of our program at Elisabeth Morrow. We understand that our children must grow up in a world of words, and at this young age we want them to enthusiastically embrace that world, as it is requisite for academic achievement moving forward. 35

Liza Jones Hards and Jackie Riley, 1992.

Time Well


Reflections upon 20 years at The Elisabeth Morrow School One of the clearest measures of the strength of a school is the tenure of its faculty. We are proud at EMS to have a large number of our faculty having served for twenty years or more. We start a new tradition this year of honoring those who completed their twentieth year last June. ~ Aaron Cooper Head of School

Sanda Cohen I began teaching when I came to Elisabeth Morrow in 1987. My friend Phyllis Grossman thought I would be a good teacher, so she convinced me to apply for a job as a substitute. Phyllis introduced me to Molly Anderson, who was only too happy to have a reliable substitute teacher available. As I began teaching that fall, I realized that Phyllis was right: I loved teaching at EMS from the very first day, and I began to spend as much time as possible at EMS. The following fall (1998), full-time teacher Meg Sempreora's husband became ill. I was asked to take her fourth grade class until Christmas break.


That was my first experience teaching full-time. When she came back, I returned to work as a substitute teacher. In January 1990, first-grade resource teacher Audrey Spencer took a leave of absence, and I filled in for her that semester. It was then that I realized how much I loved working in Little School with the younger children. Finally, in 1992, when fifth-grade teacher Vicky DiDio took a year’s leave of absence to have her baby, I was able to fill her position. This is where I have been ever since.

I fell in love with EMS from the first day that I visited, and I still feel that love today. I also feel extremely fortunate to have come at a time when there were so many fabulous, experienced teachers who were willing to share what they knew with me. I will never forget Grace Muller, who taught me what classroom management meant. But, mostly, I have to credit Phyllis for leading me here, then to Columbia University Teachers College, and then for giving me help and support every day until I could stand on my own. I have remained at EMS because I have loved every day that I have spent here. I love the faculty, the environment and—most of all—I love the students. EMS students are bright, funny, caring, committed and ambitious. What more could someone who adores teaching want? EMS has given me students who want to be in school

Sanda Cohen,

and want to 2013 succeed. When I see my former students, in my mind I picture them as the little children they once were, but standing before me are young men and women. I feel so proud to have been a part of the education that is leading them to successful, fruitful lives. My granddaughter is currently in the third grade at Little School and my daughter-in-law teaches kindergarten at Chilton House. Again, I feel like the luckiest person in the world that my family can reap the benefits of all that Elisabeth Morrow offers.

Jackie Riley I started my career at EMS in 1992 as an assistant first grade teacher. This was my first teaching job. Before EMS, I worked as an assistant product manager at Polo Ralph Lauren in the International Licensing division. After two years teaching first grade, I moved up to Morrow House and began teaching fifth grade. There are a number of reasons why I have remained at EMS for the past 20 years. First of all, I have the highest respect for the faculty that I have worked with over the years. When intelligent and committed teachers surround you, you become inspired to do your best each day. I had the good fortune to work with Janis Wein when I began teaching first grade. She was one of my first mentors. Janis is an outstanding teacher, and I learned much about classroom management from her. When I moved up to fifth grade, I was surrounded by a supportive team that included Phyllis Grossman, Sanda Cohen and Michele Bower. These three teachers are truly gifted individuals, and I am convinced that having them as examples helped shape the kind of teacher I am today.

Another reason I have stayed here at EMS is the sense of community that is fostered among the faculty, administration, students and families. It is a rare opportunity to teach in a school that also feels like "home." The summer can pass, and I can lose touch with some of the faculty I work with and the students I have taught. However, once we all come back together in September, it is like no time has passed and we seamlessly pick up right where we left off. Teaching is a unique profession because it is difficult to really understand the impact you can have on your students. A teacher's influence goes beyond grades. When former students return to visit, it is always a rewarding experience to see how they have flourished over the years, and to see first-hand what fine adults they have become. It is wonderful knowing that you were a part of their life journey. I always look forward to the beginning of the school year. It is such an exhilarating time, not only for me, but also for my new students. There is a palpable feeling of excitement and


anticipation about what the new school year will bring. That feeling never gets old. The one change that has impacted my classroom over the past 20 years is technology. The advances in technology have changed rapidly. It

is a challenge to keep up. However, each year I try to do something different to keep the learning experience for my students fresh and interesting. When both the teacher and the student are excited about the learning process, so much more can be accomplished.

Another reason I have stayed here at EMS is the sense of community that is fostered among the faculty, administration, students and families. It is a rare opportunity to teach in a school that also feels like “home.” ~Jackie Riley

Liza Jones Hards Working at EMS was my first teaching job. I graduated from Cornell University in May 1991 with a degree in Child Psychology and spent the year substitute teaching at local schools in the area. Emily Hewetson and Stephen Jones interviewed me for a position at EMS, and I got a job as a first-grade assistant teacher beginning in September 1992. It was the first time that this age group would have assistant teachers. I was an assistant teacher with Sandy Malko for two years. The position eventually changed to co-teacher. I continued to work with several other teachers in the first grade for four more years. In 1997, I moved to the second grade where I taught for ten years. While working in the first and second grades, I also worked the Summer Program every year, mostly teaching drama. After eight years there, I became a building supervisor for the second and third grade program. Then, while working in second grade, I became Director of the Summer Program. Finally, in 2008, I left the classroom and became


the Director of Auxiliary Programs. I have been working in that capacity for the past four years. Working at The Elisabeth Morrow School has been a real gift. I feel like I grew up here, learning from the very best educators and watching them work with children in and out of the classroom. I taught alongside master teachers: Sandy Malko, Grace Muller, Janis Wein, Carolyn Milne, Joyce McGirr and many more. They helped me to develop my skills, gain confidence in my abilities and learn how to become a better teacher. During my first three years at EMS, I was completing a Master’s in Education at William Paterson University. However, what I was learning in the classroom with the other teachers here at Elisabeth Morrow was the greatest education; it was a life-changing experience. The teachers here became my friends and my family. They helped me when life was good, and they helped me when life was bad. They also let me learn on my own, but they were there to pick me

EXPERIENCE MATTERS In addition to those who completed their twentieth year in June 2012, we recognize those other excellent faculty and staff who, including this school year, have served at least twenty years educating the students of Elisabeth Morrow with "the best of the old and the best of the new.�



Jean Timbrell



Sandy Malko



Barbara Bhagia



Carolyn Milne



George Penny



Mary Ann Rota



Ronnee Lipman



Osberto Martinez



Jo Ann DiGirolamo



Karyn Fasciotti



Gene Love



Janis Wein



Ann Rothberg



Maureen York



Liz Gabriel



Gail Winter



Marianne Malmstrom



Sanda Cohen



Liza Jones Hards



Jackie Riley



Michele Bower



Amelia Gold



Susan Labita




up when I failed and help me learn from my mistakes. The teachers are just one part of the incredible family at Elisabeth Morrow. The students and their families are also an integral part of this community. I have had the honor of working with so many wonderful students throughout my time in the classroom. In their own unique ways, they have helped to teach me and guide me. Every year on my birthday, I receive a call from a former student wishing me a happy birthday. Even when his family moved to India, the phone calls kept coming every year. Not many other teachers have connections like that, but this is what happens here at Elisabeth Morrow every day. My first year at EMS was a wonderful one, full of exciting new experiences, enlightening moments and of course, some mistakes. My first year, in addition to working with Sandy Malko, I worked with Grace Muller, Michelle Vialonga, Jackie Riley, Christy Babbit and Audrey Spencer. It was a great team. The teachers embraced the new first- grade assistants with enthusiasm and gave us responsibilities, value and respect. They also gave us reports to write, parent teacher conferences to lead and many recess duties. We dressed up as the seven dwarfs for Halloween and even got some matching dresses that would come back again and again over the years. During my interview with School Head Stephen Jones, his dog Bernie licked my leg the entire time. I had saliva running down my leg while touring the school. (Gross, but true!) My work in the Summer Program was also a very valuable and meaningful experience. Summer time here at EMS is a wonderful time to be creative, have fun and play. It allows teachers to take on different roles, try out new grade levels and subject areas and share personal interests and talents. I taught drama here for many years and was the director of many musical theater productions. Then, I gradually began to take on

more leadership roles during the summers. Now, I am so proud of the program that has been built over the years. It is also a pleasure to work with the counselors in the Summer Program, many of whom were students here at EMS and some of whom were even in my class! They have become wonderful young adults. It is so much fun watching them work with the younger students. Some are even interested in becoming teachers themselves. What an honor. Working with the qualified staff in the summer, including Sally Ruback, Beth Goldman, Emily Spaeth, Tricia Eickleberg and Beth Brennan, has also been a privilege. They have helped to guide me and have inspired me to help make the Auxiliary Programs at EMS grow and develop into outstanding programs. Finally, it is incredible to watch my own son as a student here at Elisabeth Morrow. This year, he has Liz Leff and Laura McConville. I taught both of Laura’s girls, Casey and Tara, in second grade, and now Laura is my son Tyler’s teacher. Talk about coming full circle! I have watched Elisabeth Morrow come to life through his eyes in ways that I could never have imagined. He has spent a lot of time here, even before he was old enough to begin school, so I think in many ways Tyler feels like EMS is his home, too. It has been an honor to work here for the past twenty years. I am so appreciative of the wonderful teachers that I have worked with and learned from, as well as the different administrations. I am proud to continue to help the school succeed and grow. My many roles here have helped me to see the school through many different lenses—first as a teacher, then as an administrator, and now as a parent. The school has continued to change, develop and grow, always staying true to its belief in providing the best for its students. It has been wonderful to be a part of the changes that have occurred, and yet the heart of EMS has always stayed true. Elisabeth Morrow is a very special place to me, and it always will be. Currently, Sanda Cohen and Jackie Riley teach 5th Grade; Liza Jones Hards is the Director of Auxiliary Programs.





hris Lavinio ’06 first told me about the idea for Beacon Records when we were sitting around the EMS Explorations counselor lunch table two summers ago. Inspired by his time as an artist development intern at a record label, Chris had a vision for reviving the music industry by honing the talent of young artists

with a sound different from the genericsounding pop that had dominated the airwaves during much of our teenage years. The idea had a few things in common with a business plan I had written in my spare time during the previous year. So, naturally, I was interested. Several months later, we met again and 41

Adam Kirsch ’07

decided that we were ready to make Beacon Records a reality. Skills I had cultivated in a marketing internship seemed to fit with Chris’s industry knowledge. After hours upon hours of research and conversations with our families, we decided to officially incorporate Beacon Records, LLC. We’ve been in business for over a year and, despite changes to the original concept, we haven’t looked back. Beacon’s mission remains to serve young musical talent. We work with up-and-coming artists, DJs and producers to showcase their work, build their fan base and advance their careers. This means we handle the marketing, media and promotional services, help arrange shows and introduce potential collaborators. Essentially, we strive to handle business necessities so that the talent we work with can focus on their art. While our original focus was on independent rock music, we pivoted earlier this year to focus on electronic dance music, a genre of rapidly increasing importance in the music industry today. Looking at Beacon’s day-to-day operations, it’s clear that our early education has influenced Chris and me. The musical appreciation cultivated in the arts curriculum at Elisabeth Morrow underpins the company’s fundamental mission: skills honed in Writing Club support our communications strategy, Adam Kirsch’07 is a student at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a graduate of Bergen County Technical High SchoolTeterboro. He can be reached at


Chris Lavinio ’06

and the digital media lessons learned in the computer room guide our multimedia and Internet enterprises. It is especially rewarding when our paths cross with the entrepreneurial journey of another EMS graduate. For video work, our first option is Stephen Roll ’07, a New York University film student and founder of Spring Street Pictures focusing on event videography and narrative projects. He also collaborates closely with ENEW Films, a Manhattan-based outfit known for its work in the documentary and sports/entertainment arena. Suffice it to say that his expertise has been rather helpful in building the Beacon brand. Without Elisabeth Morrow, there would be no Beacon. Not only because that’s where Chris and I met, but because EMS is the place where we developed the qualities and skills that made us the people we are today. We learned cooperation as intramural and interscholastic teammates, compassion from fundraising and food drives, courtesy from morning handshakes, and consideration from faculty and staff, teachers and friends. Each and every element plays a role in what we do, as individuals and as entrepreneurs. I didn’t realize it then, but the Four C’s are not buzzwords: they are the foundation of an Elisabeth Morrow education and a foundation for life, no matter where it takes you.

Chris Lavinio ’06 is a student at the George Washington University’s School of Business and a graduate of the Dwight-Englewood School. He can be reached at

Stephen Roll ’07 is a student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a graduate of Ethical Culture Fieldston School. He can be reached at




he bus stopped at the backstage door to Carnegie Hall. We were blocking traffic so we got out as fast as we could. There were security guards and a number of people with ID badges. We introduced ourselves to one of the people wearing an ID as being from The

Elisabeth Morrow School, to which she exclaimed, "Oh! EMS! Come this way." We followed her through the backstage door and into a very large elevator. One student asked why it was so large, and I explained that it had to be this way to move harps, double basses, kettledrums and other large instruments up and down from rehearsal rooms to stage level. We got up to the dressing rooms, which were filled with light bulbs, mirrors, windows and hangers. Another school was there as well, but they didn't have any violins with them, only recorders. I held up my recorder to a student and said, "Hey, good luck! Recorder power!� We high-fived with our recorders, which made for a good laugh. Then the other kids started doing the same. We never got to know their names but spending time together before the show helped break the ice. "Ten minutes ’til show time!" shouted a voice on the speaker. We lined up in our rows and proceeded single file down a few staircases, through a room with what seemed like a million miniscreens and machines, and eventually to a huge door that opened up onto the Carnegie Hall stage, where we stopped. The professional orchestra was on stage warming up their instruments. The audience was already filled with students. It's hard to describe how large Carnegie Hall really is. As we found our seats, one of the professional musicians, a French horn player, turned to us and said, "Hiya kids, have fun today." Quiet fell over the hall, and all eyes turned to me and Ms. Gold who assisting the conductor. When The Elisabeth Morrow School was announced, the audience clapped. Despite it being loud, we were able to hear our third graders and their teachers cheering for us. We began with "Come to Play." It was unbelievable to be there, joining together in song with such a large orchestra and audience, in such an incredible and famous place....


“Every culture and community sings, and generally, it starts when we are young. Students learn that singing brings us together, but it is more than this. ere is a special sensation, different from playing an instrument, because it comes from within you, in a physical and emotional way. When children sing, with their eyes looking out into the audience, they must connect and must stand poised and strong. Sometimes it feels scary for them, as they are more vulnerable and have nothing to hold onto but themselves. But the experience is extremely beautiful, powerful, inspiring and rewarding for both the young performers and the audience privileged to hear them.” ~ Carey White


s world t r a g in m r o f r e p e h t in Almost everyone tion: s e u q e h t h it w r ia il m a is f … ” ? ll a H ie g e n r a C o t t e “How do you g


hey are equally familiar with its famous answer: "Practice, practice, practice." That remains true for EMS and its remarkable relationship with Carnegie Hall’s Link Up program. Link Up is selective; schools must apply, student choirs must audition, and invitations must be extended. Our school goes up against 250 other schools in the NYC metro area, numbering to roughly 18,000 students. It is a testament to how hard our children work that our program has earned consecutive invitations to this prestigious event for the past ten years. Needless to say, we practice. We practice a lot. Link Up is the brainchild of the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, its mission being to "connect great music to the widest possible audience." Geared toward third and fourth graders, the program explores how composers use rhythmic patterns, melodies and movement to bring everyone

together in one culminating performance. The Link Up concert consists of five or six pieces in which students participate, and an additional three pieces to which they listen as members of the audience. In the past, works by Beethoven, Ives, Gershwin, Britten, Bernstein, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and Mozart have been featured. Accompanying the music, multimedia images flash across a large screen behind the orchestra helping the audience track the flow of the music. The seed is planted early in our students. When our third graders pick up the recorder and their choir is assembled in September, we are generally already looking forward to a Link Up placement in the spring. It is our fourth grade musicians that build up the excitement for the younger students. The anticipation of the music, the view of the audience from the stage, the backstage dressing rooms, the lights and even the red velvet seats are all

memories that have helped shape our students’ love and appreciation of music. Third graders mostly perform or sing from their seats in the audience, accompanied by the orchestra and some 3,000 other students from the tri-state area. The fourth graders, however, receive the honor of performing on stage, alongside other selected schools and musicians from the Orchestra of St. Luke's, where the chairs actually vibrate from the power of the horns and percussion. It is an unbelievable sensation. Recently, The Elisabeth Morrow School received two distinctions in association with Link Up. Two years ago, after a number of years presenting an outstanding audition DVD to Link Up, a unique opportunity fell into our laps. We received a call from Carnegie Hall asking if we were interested in featuring our students for a new nation-wide promotional DVD, which would be seen by over 300,000 students and teachers across the country. With a resounding "YES!" our fifth graders were tasked with learning new songs and repertoire with only three rehearsals. Two weeks later, a crew of videographers and directors came to EMS and set up in the Chilton House music room. Link Up’s resident composer, Thomas Cabaniss, coached us through a two-hour filming session. This past Link Up (May of 2012), our chosen students were given the honor of performing in two locations. Some students were onstage, while other students were placed in special VIP box seats, next to ambassadors


as s ie d u t s l a ic s u k of m a e p s e l p o e p , . s ic m e d a c a Sometime y il r a ecess n t o n t u b , r a l u extracurric e. e r g a is d e w S M At E

s e s u c o f t n e m t r a p e d c i s u Our m . s l l i k s d l r o w on real

from the Japanese Ministry of Culture. The ambassadors were at the concert to see how Link Up works, as they are planning on starting a similar program in their country. The Carnegie Hall Link Up administrators wanted their guests to see our “model students” participating in the program.

be better, as individual performers and collaboratively as a choir or orchestra. Together these tasks allow students to practice forming social connection, and lead to bonding between our students and their classmates, as well as between other musicians the students meet and play with through Link Up.

Although the accolades are always appreciated, the experience is worth much more, both for us as educators and for the children. When we attend Link Up, we are part of something larger than ourselves; we connect with others from over 250 participating schools, from as far north as Albany, as well as the Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and many schools from New Jersey and Connecticut. The program has also expanded into other states, such as Texas (with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra) and California (with the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra). Currently, there are 30 participating orchestras in the Link Up national program.

Sometimes, people speak of musical studies as extracurricular, but not necessarily academic. At EMS we disagree. Our music department focuses on real world skills. Hard work, persistence, resilience, poise and appreciation all go into our Link Up experience. Notes, timing, rhythm and melodies are specific to music, true, but a child learning to find his or her own voice, to practice and tune that voice, and then to find the courage to use it emphatically at this stage in their lives can pay remarkable dividends going forward. I hear about it from our alumni who return for the Summer String Festival reunions, and who choose to be involved in our music program even beyond their school years. For our children, both past and present, music is simply a natural factor that has helped define who they are.

Of course, the spectacle of Link Up has immense value. The experience of participating with professional and aspiring musicians on one of the preeminent stages in America is truly memorable. This alone could be the sole rationale behind why we make the effort for Link Up, but it's not. Link Up provides teachable moments beyond singing and playing. Foremost is goal setting: we must set an objective and focus our efforts. This is followed by risk-taking and practice, because if we want to achieve our goals, our children learn that they must put themselves "out there" and work to

Perhaps the Link Up experience can be explained best by the children themselves. Last year, as we were leaving Carnegie Hall and getting on our bus, an exuberant student approached me excitedly and said, “That was AWESOME. The sound in Carnegie Hall was so…big. I learned today that no matter how big or small, you can take over the whole world with music!”



Young Alumni Return As Counselors for Summer Explorations by Liza Jones Hards ~ Director of Auxiliary Programs


uring the summer months when The Elisabeth Morrow School is home to Summer Explorations, the campus fills with the buzz and energy of children. The quality and outstanding reputation of our program is directly related to the dedication and enthusiasm of the teachers and counselors who choose to spend their summers here. For the summer of 2012, we were pleased to welcome twenty-four energetic and capable counselors, coming to us from different towns, high schools and colleges. What is more impressive is that many of our counselors are Elisabeth Morrow alumni who look to remain connected to our school by working in the Summer Explorations program. This year, five of our counselors were graduates of EMS: Brian Hajjar ’07, David Aghassi ’08, Daniel Ackerman ’08, Susie Trachtenberg ’08 and Taylor May ’10. Whether they are participating in the annual talent show, diving down the water slide on a hot summer day, leading a group of kids in a special Harry Potter class or cheering on their teams at Olympic Day, our counselors provide the program 48

with an amazing vitality and enthusiasm. When asked why he wanted to return as a counselor at Summer Explorations, Daniel Ackerman ’08 said, “I had a great time working with the campers and I really appreciated the energy of the staff, the other counselors and the campers.” The job is indeed fun, but for all of the counseloralums, working at the Summer Program is also about sharing the EMS experience. Taylor May ’10 described Elisabeth Morrow as her home away from home: “I just can’t even think of being anywhere else,” she said, “EMS is just a part of who I am.” Susie Trachtenberg ’08 added to this, noting that her participation as a counselor gave her the chance to share what EMS meant to her. Susie explained, “I wanted to give the campers the same great experience that I had while I was here as a student and as a camper.” In fact, all of these counselors were also campers at Summer Explorations during their childhood. Brian Hajjar ’07 and Taylor May ’10 began their time at Summer Explorations as campers in the

Three-Year-Old Program. Brian, particularly, expressed his delight to be back in Chilton House as a counselor working with the four-year-old class, commenting that it was “a very challenging and rewarding experience.” He continued: “Every day I saw just how much work it was, but it was all worth it—especially when you get a hug from a camper at the end of the day!” Others, like David Aghassi ’08, began as a camper and then continued their connection during our Counselor-in-Training (CIT) program. When asked about his experience here, David said, “Having gone to Elisabeth Morrow, I was inspired to take my experience and use it in a positive manner. Summer Explorations gave me the chance to apply the lessons I learned and teach them to those younger than me.” The Explorations CIT Program is a six-week leadership-training program held while camp is in session. The CITs are students entering the seventh or eighth grades. Throughout the summer, they work on team building and cooperative group activities while observing classes, campers and teachers, and learning how to become effective and active leaders and role models. In addition, the CITs are also responsible

for organizing a community service project during the summer. This past summer they continued the project of organizing a food drive for the Center for Food Action (Englewood, NJ). During the summer months, the food pantries can run extremely low, so the CFA welcomes assistance with its collections. The CITs gather all the food they can, deliver it, and then work at the CFA to stock the shelves. For the CITs, there is great satisfaction in leading this project and helping those in the community who are in need. The Summer Explorations program is proud to call itself home to dedicated and caring staff, comprised of both teachers and counselors. Their dedication to our school, their willingness to learn from those around them and to help contribute to the future of others, is what helps make our program strong. The students enjoy being with the counselors and look to them as role models. We are especially grateful to our counselor alums for their desire to return to Elisabeth Morrow each year and assist in building upon our school’s traditions and connections.

Summer Explorations is a six-week enrichment camp for children age three to grade six. Campers engage in a range of activities that include arts and crafts, gardening, movie making, LEGO engineering and fashion design (to name just a few). Summer Explorations attracts students from all over Bergen, Hudson and Rockland counties. Students also come to camp from countries as far away as Russia, Korea, Japan and Israel. While some students come to us as first-time campers, new to The Elisabeth Morrow School, we see many more campers return to us year after year. For more information, contact the Office of Auxiliary Programs, 201-568-5566 x7150.


...Be Part of the Conversation


t Elisabeth Morrow, we know that wordof-mouth is valuable. For prospective families deciding about education, the experiences and opinions of families who are within an independent school community can carry a lot of weight. We have always been grateful to our parents and alumni who have recommended and referred families to us for a visit, but you are also invited to join in our web and print “conversation.” The EMS communications effort is intended to be inclusive; in this and in past issues of our Appletree magazine, we have received a number of articles from our faculty. Their work demonstrates to external audiences that our teachers are passionate about their subject areas, and they are dedicated to the growth and education of children. Their contributions have been invaluable in sharing the ideology and methodology behind an Elisabeth Morrow education.

I also believe, though, that everyone’s voice matters. EMS parents and alumni know well the teachers, the campus, the program and ultimately the lasting influence Elisabeth Morrow has had on you or your children. I couldn't think of a more dedicated and knowledgeable group to talk about the strengths of our school. If this sounds interesting, you are welcome to lend your thoughts, ideas or images to our magazine, online magazine, blog or our social media pages. I look forward to working with you. When you give voice to your experiences at EMS, you not only share your enthusiasm and support for our remarkable school with an external audience, you also share your confidence in our program and legacy with our entire community.

Evan Brown Director of Communications and Alumni 201-568-5566 x7208

SPEAK UP! You don’t need to pen an article to have your say… check out our social media options: Facebook Twitter Pinterest YouTube Soundcloud Blogger


(Like, share or post) (Tweet, retweet, favorite or hashtag) (Repin, favorite or send a link to post to our board) (Have video? Send link or embed code) (How about audio? Send link or embed code) (Submit short comments along with your images or video)

GET GEAR Great gifts! Great for yourself! Show your school pride with EMS apparel or accessories. Visit our Online Store: click the button on our homepage. Visit our Live Store: look for posted flyers around the school or look for announcements in the Wednesday Envelope. Live store items are on display in the Chilton House and Morrow House reception areas.

Snap the QR code to visit the store on-line!

The Elisabeth Morrow School 435 Lydecker Street, Englewood, NJ 07631 (201) 568-5566 |

ELISABETH MORROW ALUMNI Evan Brown, Director of Communications and Alumni · 435 Lydecker Street, Englewood, NJ 07631 · 201-568-5566 ·

CLASSNOTES Sophie Barnes '41 As I am about to turn 80, it seems that the life of the real me has finally begun to emerge. Less than five years ago when I retired due to health concerns, I began writing poetry and catching up on the rest of my education; i.e. the much neglected field of world affairs. As a divorcee since 1965, I have been in the category of the 99% and alone with four daughters until they all departed for the Pacific Northwest. I am about to embark on a children's book. Plenty to keep me busy and all good wishes to all of my classmates who may still be out there. Bev Holmes Prevost '54 I am glad to say that I saw some EMS classmates at our 50th reunion at Dwight School. I took with me our 4th grade graduation photo on the rocks by the brook! EMS started me on a lifelong path of singing, and I have stayed in touch with classmates Anne McClanahan Bourne and Gaylen Hicks Bent, and look forward to seeing Molla Sloan Donaldson again (at Dwight) ! We are loving our new house and location in Worcester, MA after my husband Ned's retirement after almost 20 years at the Christ Church (Episcopal) in Winnetka, IL. We are now happily close to the ferry for Cuttyhunk where we have summered for many years. We are new grandparents to our first, Grace Elizabeth Guenther, daughter of our older daughter Elizabeth Prevost and her husband Michael Guenther, both in the history department at Grinnell College in Iowa. Younger daughter Marnie Prevost Weir often welcomes groups from EMS at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in NYC where she is Co-Director of Public Education and Visitor Services.

Jim Webster '70 All continues well out here in Bozeman, MT where we’ve lived now for 19 years. I saw Melinda (Macdonald) Twomey '70 when her family was visiting Montana. I also have heard from Rob McCabe '70 in Albany, NY and Andrew McKenna '70 in Boulder, CO where our older son goes to college. Schools like EMS don’t exist within 400 miles of here, so I appreciate what I had growing up! Still, this area has many great attributes so we’ve enjoyed raising our three kids here. Besides our son at CU Boulder, we’ve a daughter in grad school near Portland, OR working on a Masters in Clinical Psychology and our youngest is going to be a junior at the Fountain Valley School of Colorado in Colorado Springs where I’m also a Parent Trustee. Bess Eckstein '84 Bess Eckstein and her husband welcomed their daughter, Emily Rose Mallow, on May 9, 2012. Kim (Ketive) Sunshine '87 I am currently living in NYC with my husband, David, and our children Ella and Nate. I work part-time producing videos for XO group, Inc, which is the parent company to,,, and, among other websites. David Rand '90 Third generation Hudson County-based ad agency, HarrisonRand, was recognized last week at the Chart House in Weehawken by the NJ Ad Club at their annual competition, The Jersey Awards. Judges from the Westchester Ad Club awarded the brothers in 17 categories for work done on behalf of their clients. Re-launched in Guttenberg three years ago, the brothers, Jason '81 and David Rand '90, built their firm on the strong foundation of excellence set by their founder and


grandfather, NJ Ad Club Hall of Fame recipient Harold Harrison, and their mother Daryl Rand, also a member of the Hall of Fame and Vice Chair of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. This year HarrisonRand also received three awards from the Insurance Marketing and Communications Association, ranking their work for the independent Otterstedt Insurance Agency among the national carriers. In discussing the growing recognition the agency has received this year, Media and Client Services Director, David Rand, stated, "It's hard to believe that Jason and I joined Daryl only three years ago. We are thrilled to receive such tremendous recognition which is owed in large part to our clients who have trusted and believed in us since day one. Our approach, which has and will always be a 24/7 commitment to our clients married to obsessive attention to detail, is the hallmark of our success." Melissa Leber '94 I am an emergency medicine physician and excited to be a fellow in sports medicine in Pittsburgh. I miss EMS, but I'm lucky to still have so many close friends from my elementary school days! Lauren Camarinos '96 Lauren and her husband Michael announced the birth of their first child, a baby boy, Nicholas John Michael, on November 5, 2012. Evan Vogel '00 Since my last update, I have graduated from The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, DC with a BA in biology. While at CUA, I met my wife, Mara McCawley, whom I married in August 2010. The best man at my wedding was fellow EMS alumna Erin O'Neill '00, whom I

Ensign Joe Hill, EMS class of 2002, with family upon graduation from the Coast Guard Academy.

have stayed in contact with since leaving EMS. After getting married and finishing college, my wife and I relocated to Morgantown, WV. We have a beautiful dog (black lab border collie mix) named Abby. I currently work as an EMT-B at Jan-Care Ambulance Service in Morgantown and will be applying for my doctorate of physical therapy (DPT) in the fall 2013. Joe Hill '02 On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, Joe Hill '02 graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, and was commissioned as an Ensign in the US Coast Guard. Joe's commission was presented by Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, and his officer’s bars were pinned to him by his godfather and mentor, Joe Renton. Ensign Joe Hill will be stationed aboard the USCGC Bear as a Deck Watch Officer and Spanish Language Interpreter, based out of Portsmouth, VA. Andreas Sakellaris '02 Hi, I have completed my senior year at Princeton University, where I studied chemical engineering. I am currently working for Schlumberger as a field engineering in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, where I will make maps of the ground with sonar to look for oil.

Max Lesser, EMS ’06, got a private White House tour in 2012 since he is working for the Center for American Progress in DC.

Max Lesser '06. Max is working for the Center for American Progress in Washington D.C. He was also an intern on Capitol Hill and in the Department of Justice. Currently at George Washington University, Max was a member of the liberal team for the pre-election debates in 2012.


The Elisabeth Morrow School

ALUMNI EVENTS ~ 2013 ANNUAL NYC ALUMNI PARTY Thursday, March 14 | 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. AVA LOUNGE @ DREAM HOTEL 210 West 55th Street, NYC

YOUNG ALUMNI LUNCHEON Wednesday, June 12 | 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. RUSSELL BERRIE MUSIC ROOM @ MORROW HOUSE 480 Next Day Hill Drive, Englewood, NJ

Top (l-r): Alice Sun, Julie Emra, Polina Kasparova, Annie Rasiel, Adam Kirsch Bottom (l-r): Zal Sayari, Michael Hajjar, Brian Hajjar, Kara Lessin, Nick Canelos, Julia Russell

Vikram Kumar '07 Is in his second year at Columbia University and is majoring in biochemistry with a concentration in classics. Julia Russell '07 Last year, the Class of 2007 alums met up (as we try to do at least once a year) for dinner at Baumgarts and a Vermonster at Ben & Jerry's. Kara and I took gap years, and the others are all well into their sophomore years in college. We consider ourselves very lucky to maintain such close friendships after graduation, and we miss our days at EMS! David Aghassi '08 David is attending Case Western Reserve University.

Elizabeth Dente '08 Elizabeth is attending Columbia University as a biomedical engineering major with a pre-med concentration in the fall. She also published an article in a British science magazine about her personal bioresearch project, where she created an original wound repair treatment. Jesse Roth '09 The Horace Mann Senior will be attending the University of Virginia on a baseball scholarship. Daryl Johns '10 Daryl Johns (bassist) spent the summer touring/performing in Japan with The Monterey Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

The Elisabeth Morrow School Diversity Statement The Elisabeth Morrow School values the rich dimensions of diversity embodied within each member of our community. We understand that each person is unique, with a distinct individuality that encompasses (in alphabetical order) age, gender, physical abilities, political view-points, race and

ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Diversity in an educational environment must move beyond simple tolerance; it is among our highest priorities to provide a safe, positive and nurturing environment in which to appreciate and understand dierence.


Louise Hunter ~ Faculty Beloved Elisabeth Morrow teacher Louise Hunter passed away on September 10th in Grinnell, Iowa at the age of 86. Louise, a long time Cresskill resident, was a strong, bright, dignified, independent woman, a great mother to her two sons, a loyal and loving wife. She was also a dedicated and inspiring teacher to hundreds of young students over the years. Friend and EMS colleague Jean Timbrell remembered her fondly: “Louise was the epitome of a lifelong learner, continually investigating and expanding her knowledge. She had a great feeling for literature and loved sharing that with the children.” Louise loved music, books and travel. In retirement, she and her husband cruised on the Queen Mary to England

and traveled repeatedly to Italy, especially loving their time in Venice. Among the highlights of her travels in her later years were river cruises down the Rhine in Europe, the Nile in Egypt, and the Yangtze in China. Her last travel adventure was a round-the-world tour that took her from Easter Island to New Guinea, Cambodia, Bhutan, and Ethiopia, Morocc, and back home. Louise is survived by two sons, Richard ’63 of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and Christopher ’61 of Grinnell; four grandchildren; a great grandson; and a sister, Dorothy Vaughn, of Dallas, Texas.

Charles C. Parlin, Jr. ~ Class of 1933, Trustee Emeritus Charles (Charlie) Parlin, Jr., 84, died peacefully on October 28, 2012 in Florham Park, NJ after a brief illness. Charlie was a long-time resident of Englewood and was among the first students to attend The Elisabeth Morrow School. He is a member of the class of 1933. A distinguished member of our community, Charlie served as a member of the Board of Trustees for 35 years, served as Board president from 1957 to 1958, and was awarded trustee emeritus upon his retirement in 1988.

Charlie was a graduate of the University of Chicago, going on to earn his LLB from the University of Pennsylvania. In his career, Charlie became a noted partner with Shearman & Sterling and was involved in several significant litigation proceedings involving high-profile commercial clients. He retired in 1991. Charlie is survived by his sister Camilla Smith ’39, brother Blackwood ’44, and sons Chris ’61, Rob ’63 and Tim ’69, all of whom attended Elisabeth Morrow.

Brian Fernandez talking with Charles C. Parlin, Jr. (at right)

William J. Alford ~ Class of 1950 William J. Alford IV (Bill or Wink), previously of Hackensack, Englewood and Haddonfield, NJ passed away on January 20, 2013, at the age of 72. Loving husband of Susan Alford (nee Gibbons) and dear brother of Stewart Alford and Susan Alford ’57 Pozdena, he is also survived by his father, William John Alford III of Englewood, five children and seven grandchildren.


A student of Elisabeth Morrow (class of 1950), and a graduate of The Hill School, Long Island University and Stevens Institute of Technology, Bill was most recently a Certified Project Manager in the pharmaceutical industry and worked previously in metals and waste management recruitment. Bill was a gregarious, active person with a disarming wit and

many friends and accomplishments. He was a scuba diver, a marathon runner, a pilot and a motorcyclist. He was also a musician, a talented photographer, avid fly fisherman and birder. Above all, Bill never hesitated to go the extra mile to help a friend.

appletree Appletree is a publication of The Elisabeth Morrow School 435 Lydecker Street, Englewood, New Jersey 07631 Articles, images and other contributions from the extended Elisabeth Morrow community are welcome. Contact the Communications Office at or call 201-568-5566 x7208. All submissions are subject to review and approval; submission does not guarantee publication.

EdiTOrS Evan Brown Director of Communications and Alumni Aaron Cooper Head of School COpy EdiTiNg Kim Kaufmann Jan Keshishian Rachel Tavel

phOTOgrAphy ANd phOTOgrAphiC CONTribuTOrS

C ONTENT CONTribuTOrS Daniel Ackerman '08 Paul Baly Michele Bower Beth Anne Brennan Evan Brown Jennifer Brown Sanda Cohen Aaron Cooper Jennifer Cordover Dr. Allison Egert Liza Jones Hards Richard Hunter '63 Adam Kirsch '07 Jayne Lein Penny Lippe Laura McConville Timothy Parlin '69 Susan Pozdena '57 Jackie Riley Ginny Smith Jenny Steingart Karen Toback Janis Wein Carey White Gail Winter

Gael Barile Evan Brown Aaron Cooper Jennifer Cordover Nancy Dorrien Beth Goldman Liza Jones Hards George Hill '97 Richard Hunter '63 Chris Jurgensen Margaret Lesser David Lowry, Ph.D. Laura McConville Janet McMonagle Debie Morris Julia Russell '07 Ginny Smith Samantha Smithline Karen Toback Janis Wein Gail Winter

dESigN Evan Brown

COVER Election Day:  Students in Little School cast their  ballots in the All-School Election.  See article  about the 2012 Election Curriculum on page 25.

The Elisabeth Morrow School 435 Lydecker Street Englewood, NJ 07631 201-568-5566

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FirST STriNg! The Elisabeth Morrow School prides itself on its instrumental music program–string instruments in particular.  Currently there are 178 students who have taken up the violin (in addition to 25 cellists, 2 violists, 1 bassist and 1 harpist).  A significant portion of our student body participates in instrumental lessons.

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