Page 1

Life After EMS

A publication of The Elisabeth Morrow School



Fall 2017


APPLETREE is a publication of The Elisabeth Morrow School 435 Lydecker Street Englewood, NJ 07631 Articles, images and other contributions from the extended Elisabeth Morrow community are welcome. Contact the communications office at or 201.568.5566 x7208. All submissions are subject to review and submission does not guarantee publication.

MORROW MOMENT Families old and new come together on Family Field Day. The hay maze was a new addition to this year’s event.

Editor Jan Abernathy Director of Marketing and Communications Design Erbach Communications Group Content Contributors Aaron Cooper Phyllis Kesslen Rurik Nackerud Dara Picard Mary Ann Rota Keith Wiggs Photography and Photographic Contributors Nancy Dorrien Stephanie Massaro Stephanie Nebel Kelvin Ward

On the Cover No matter where they go, our graduates feel the impact of an EMS education. Our Mission: 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. Within our diverse community, we value tradition, innovation and the joy of lifelong learning.

in this issue 2


Appletree News

12 Math in Focus

Life After EMS

14 Athletics

Connecting with families, teacher development, meet our new faculty, staff and PA Board. Our graduates are the secret to our success.

The Singapore Math-based curriculum comes to our classrooms.

Team updates, an athlete for all seasons.

hello from Aaron A culture of innovation was central to the founding of our school by Elisabeth Morrow and Connie Chilton. Elisabeth Morrow coined the phrase “best of old and best of new” to describe our institution, and indeed, creating a school in 1930 for children before kindergarten was quite new and controversial. The world has caught up to that vision and, as we can see in the profiles of our alumni, the impact of what Elisabeth and Connie created is profound. Over the past several years, we have intentionally reinvigorated a culture of innovation to stand on the legacy of our founders. We celebrate the innovators in our community and we have fostered an environment where taking risks and piloting new concepts is encouraged. We sustain an innovative institution by creating a culture that supports it. Establishing new programs to give our faculty effective tools for offering and receiving collaborative feedback, as well as professional development that focuses on identity so that we can better understand our students, are but two efforts we are undertaking this year to instill the habits of mind that will create greater engagement for our students. We are proud of the innovations that have already impacted our students and our community, like the Leadership Symposium in Morrow House, Innovation Alley and our STEAM curriculum in Little School, and our second-to-none music program. Two more recent examples of innovation that you will read about in this issue are Seesaw, a student-driven digital portfolio and parent communication tool being piloted in the fours and second grade, and Math in Focus, a Singapore Mathbased curriculum being piloted in kindergarten. Elisabeth Morrow once wrote her mother that she knew EMS would thrive when educators visited

15 Advancement Thank yous for our donors, an action-packed Book Fair, EMS Gives Back.

18 Class Notes

Greetings from our graduates, Look Who Came to Visit.

to “see how they do it in Englewood.” Once again, educators from as nearby as The Juilliard School and Columbia University and as far away as India, Holland and the United Kingdom are visiting to “see how we do it in Englewood.” In this issue, you’ll see why. My best, Aaron Cooper, Head of School APPLETREE 1

appletree news


Teaching Tuesdays

by Rurik Nackerud, Lower School Technology Integrator In our effort to meet families’ needs and communicate about life in

the classroom, EMS is piloting with Seesaw, a student-driven digital

portfolio, which allows teachers to share photos of children and their work in a private connection with only their own families. This year,

we are using this app in the fours and second grade. We believe this tool will create a closer connection between parents, their child’s class activities and teachers.

This natively mobile app with quick response features such as

comments and “likes” also allows families to privately message

teachers. Its repository retains students’ creations in a portfolio from year to year.

Providing families with the right communication at the right time is

extremely important to EMS, and we look forward to exploring the potential of this tool to enhance the home-school connection with our families.

It was a casual conversation between a parent and a division head at an event last year that led to the creation of one of Little School’s exciting new parent education initiatives, Teaching Tuesdays. Lower School Head Beth Brennan explains, “A parent told me how much her child was enjoying school, but then she leaned in and softly added, ‘You know, it makes me feel badly when I have to miss out on parent education or classroom traditions because they conflict with my work schedule.’” With more than two decades of juggling work and home responsibilities herself, Ms. Brennan began thinking of a way to connect all families more closely to their children’s school lives. “Teaching Tuesdays are designed to be completely flexible and digital,” says Ms. Brennan. “They are 45 minutes long and held at 8:15 a.m., then that video is uploaded to our Family Portal.” Topics for these sessions include technology, library skills, mindfulness and social-emotional learning. The Teaching Tuesdays concept has now expanded to Chilton House, with a recent session on Responsive Classroom techniques.


News, facts and events from The Elisabeth Morrow School

NEVER STOP LEARNING A Snapshot of Professional Development at EMS

EMS Third Grader Wins National Story Contest


Third grader Sage Spaeth was one of five winners of the prestigious Roald Dahl’s Imaginormous Challenge, sponsored by the Roald Dahl Literary Estate, Penguin Young Readers and Warner Bros., in conjunction with Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions. The contest challenged entrants to come up with imaginative story ideas ­— summarized in 100 words or less.

teachers attended Responsive Classroom training


community reads this summer


hours of training in Math in Focus


of faculty and staff received professional development


teachers participated in Critical Friends training

Our technologists spoke at more than 15 workshops

The prizes included a weekend in New York City, including tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a meet and greet with the cast, as well as four days of sightseeing in London and a visit to Roald Dahl’s house for the family, which includes mom, our own music teacher Emily Spaeth, dad Jason and younger brother Max. Emily and Sage then went to Los Angeles to pitch her story idea to Warner Bros. Animation. Over 20,000 young authors entered the contest, which Sage learned about when Emily saw it on Facebook. Congratulations, Sage!


“The opportunity to engage with my

improve teaching practices, this year, EMS

colleagues to gather valuable feedback

provided all middle school faculty, as well

about challenges I encounter with my own

as grade-level leaders in other divisions,

teaching is particularly valuable, especially

training in Critical Friends Group (CFG)

considering the breadth of experience

protocols. These protocols are designed to

among the EMS faculty,” says Stephanie

create an environment that makes it easier

Nebel, Ph.D., middle school science teacher

to give and receive constructive feedback

and advisor. “I am eager to see how our

from peers. What makes CFG protocols

collaboration as a faculty will develop into a

unique is structured dialogue.

richer, more cross-disciplinary educational

In the “Tuning Protocol,” for example, a

experience for our students.”

faculty member presents an instructional

Significant research shows that teacher

practice, such as a lesson plan or

collaboration and collegial engagement

assessment, to the group with a question

have a significant positive impact on school

that will help the presenter improve their

culture, student experience and student

practice. The group leader guides the group

performance. Given that teachers are often

through a series of highly disciplined

the only adult in their classroom, we look

stages to assess, provide feedback and offer

forward to all the ways in which CFGs will

suggestions for improvement. While the

strengthen these important attributes and

outcome leads to enhanced practice for the

help our faculty continue to innovate and

presenter, the entire group has grown, not

grow for the benefit of all students.

only by learning about a colleague’s work but by challenging, refining and building upon their own thoughts and philosophies.


appletree news


Gilbert Moreno

Melissa Ebeling

Lorra Baylis

Every day at EMS for Gil Moreno starts with a single step ­— and often adds up to more than 24,000. “I walk up and down the hill between Morrow House and Chilton House maybe 20 times a day,” says the 20-year maintenance department veteran. “During the day, I could do anything — ­ cut the grass, do carpentry and repairs or help a teacher with art. I like the fact that every day, the job is different.”

When Melissa Ebeling first toured EMS, she was a public school teacher looking for a school for her daughter. Little did she know that search was going to turn into a 20-year career. “I came here for an open house and fell in love with this school,” Mrs. Ebeling says. “A friend of mine, Ann Sayari, told me she’d just gotten a job here and I thought to myself, ‘Why not?’ All three of us started the next year.”

Lorra Baylis loves being a working performer and teacher. “I’m happiest when I am able to have both of those sides of me fulfilled,” says the violinist, who came here after meeting Amelia Gold, arts department chair, at the Jewish Community Center in Tenafly. “I watched her teach third grade with my mouth open. Just to be able to work with someone like that has provided incredible mentorship to me.”

Mr. Moreno, who came to EMS through a tip from his brother-in-law after he moved his young family to Palisades Park from the Bronx, remembers being struck by the natural wonder of his new work environment. “I thought that the campus was so beautiful and I love working outdoors.”

As a first grade teacher, Mrs. Ebeling has enjoyed many “aha” moments with her students. “I love seeing the learning happen. I am proud of my students when they can see the benefits of hard work. They are so happy,” she says.

Seeing the music program expand has been a gift, Ms. Baylis says. “Now, music is in the bones of the school ­— it is alongside all of the academic subjects as an equal part of what makes EMS the school that it is.”

Beyond the physical beauty of the campus, Mrs. Ebeling enjoys the many EMS traditions, particularly the part of the first grade curriculum that features the work of Beatrix Potter. “It’s a completely integrated unit that touches many subjects but especially literacy,” she says. “The assembly that the students perform about Peter Rabbit showcases everything that they have learned.”

Performing on Broadway with the American Ballet Theatre and New York Pops does not exceed the joy Ms. Baylis finds in working with students throughout their childhoods. “It’s wonderful to have taught generations of violinists here. I have students who can’t wait to send their kids here to EMS to play the violin.”

In addition to the outdoors, Mr. Moreno loves “drawing, carving ­— any kind of art,” he says. Some of his work can be seen in Morrow House. “I’m a self-taught artist,” he says with a smile. “I have always thought that you should work with your hands.” Asked about the difference between EMS then and now, Mr. Moreno says he’s lucky that some things never change. “The kids are great here ­— and that always stays the same.”


Like any great teacher, Mrs. Ebeling appreciates the opportunity to witness her former students mature. “I have students who were just beginning readers in first grade go on to amazing universities. It’s great to know how much lies ahead for young students.”

One of the reasons, she says, is that even beginners are taught by true pros. “Every third and fourth grader plays an instrument with amazing teachers. The highest caliber of performers play here — that’s what you typically find in a conservatory, but to find that in a school is a very special thing.”

News, facts and events from The Elisabeth Morrow School

EMS Begins Strategic Planning Process EMS has launched a strategic planning process, designed to help chart the school’s direction for the next five years. Facilitated by Front row, left to right: Dara Picard, Amy Goodwin and Sofie Zamchick. Back row, left to right: Megan Degraff-McMenamy, Cesar Rodriguez, Gemina Gates and Nyafa McCloggan


Christina Drouin of the Center for Strategic Planning, the process takes about one year. It began with a full-day board retreat in

We are delighted to welcome new

Our new faculty and staff are Amy

the beginning of October, at which

colleagues to EMS, and we know that

Goodwin (first grade); Cesar Rodriguez

trustees discussed the school’s

they will make our teaching and

(fifth grade); Megan Degraff-McMenamy

core values and mission statement.

learning community an even more

(Latin, learning support and ELL

“As the process continues, ample

vibrant one. “Every year, we are gratified

teacher); Gemina Gates (middle school

input from all members of the

by the strength and depth of experience

nurse); Sofie Zamchick, Seojin Yang

community is important for us

of the educators who choose to apply to

and Clara Boudrot (music) and Dara

to have the most successful plan

work here,” says Aaron Cooper, Head of

Picard (development associate and

and the strongest future,” says

School. “Our outstanding candidate pool

alumni manager); Nyafa McCloggan

Aaron Cooper, Head of School.

contributes to our ability to hire top-

(enrollment management coordinator

Small group meetings to discuss

notch individuals to guide our students.”

and ELL teacher).

core values were held for various constituents in November. After extensive research conducted over

NEW EXECUTIVE BOARD FOR PARENTS ASSOCIATION Our Parents Association Executive Board looks forward to another year of working with all of its members to build community between families and the school. Pictured here are (front row, left to right) Catherine Ferreira, Secretary and Melanie Weinraub, President. Back row, left to right, Shabri Mitta, Executive Vice President, Gia Alvarez, Little School Vice President, Tania Min, Morrow House Vice President and Jen Cordover, Communications Representative. Not pictured are Jon Rustin, Treasurer and Marina Buatti, Chilton House Vice President.

the winter, a large-scale “Visioning Day” will be held in March. “We want to engage our community in helping to create a shared vision for our future, particularly now that we are operating from a position of strength, with a solid brand and financial position,” says Hanita Walia, Board President. The strategic planning process will occur concurrently with the school’s reaccreditation by the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools, scheduled for 2018.


appletree news

EMS Class of 2017 by Dara Picard, Development Associate and Alumni Manager Oh, the places you’ll go! The members of the Class of 2017 have very bright futures ahead of them. The 39 graduates are off to schools as wonderful, unique and diverse as they are. From Horace Mann to Holy Angels, Dwight-Englewood to Dalton, Tenafly High School to Trinity and Northern Valley Demarest to Newark Academy, the graduates are well prepared for their new adventures at highly selective independent and public secondary schools. Like other EMS graduates before them, the members of the Class of 2017 will be positioned to go on to equally interesting, engaging and challenging post-secondary pursuits at highly competitive technical programs, prestigious liberal arts colleges and major academic research institutions. And wherever their minds and hearts take them, the members of the Class of 2017 carry the 4 C’s — Courtesy, Consideration, Cooperation and Compassion — and our very best wishes with them always.


EMS Class of ’17 Secondary School Matriculation Academy of the Holy Angels Bergen Catholic High School Bergen County Academies Blair Academy Calhoun School Dalton School Dwight-Englewood School Hackley School High Tech High School Hopkins School Horace Mann School Lawrenceville School Loomis Chaffee School Newark Academy Northern Highlands Regional High School Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest Paramus Catholic High School Passaic County Technical Institute Phillips Academy Andover Ridgewood High School River Dell High School Riverdale Country School Saddle River Day School Spence School Tenafly High School Trinity School

Colleges & Universities 2009-2013: More Than Two in Five Years New York University........................... 9 Columbia University........................... 6 Cornell University............................... 5 University of Chicago......................... 5 University of Pennsylvania................. 5 Barnard College................................. 4 Franklin & Marshall College.............. 4 Georgetown University...................... 4 Lehigh University................................ 4 Syracuse University............................. 4 American University........................... 3 Boston College................................... 3 Boston University................................ 3 Colgate University.............................. 3 Fordham University............................ 3 George Washington University......... 3 Hobart and William Smith Colleges................................. 3 Tufts University ................................... 3 University of Miami............................ 3 University of Southern California...... 3

Chilton House


Little School

Although we write extensively in APPLETREE about EMS’ rigorous education and one-of-a-kind arts program, what lies at the core of our school is something much more profound — the commitment we have to helping children become not just good students but good people. These profiles of six of our alumni show that where achievement meets character, wonderful things happen.

Morrow House


cover story by Jan Abernathy, Director of Marketing and Communications

Sam Lessin Co-founder/CEO, Fin General Partner, Slow Ventures Sam Lessin ’95 has done many impressive things in his life, such as selling a company to Facebook, co-founding a venture capital firm and attending Harvard. But an early achievement at Elisabeth Morrow still stands out in his mind. “I remember building with Cuisenaire rods in kindergarten,” says the 34-year-old Englewood native, now a Bay Area resident. “I remember being allowed to stand on a chair to keep building higher and higher — and in my memory, that structure never fell over.” The oldest of three siblings — Daniel, 31, and Kara, 24, also attended EMS — Sam remembers a school that allowed for an “enormous amount of creativity” and actively encouraged kindness in its students. He says, “We made origami cranes for children who suffered from leukemia due to nuclear fallout in Japan. Things like that were just a part of school life.” He remembers, too, a particular mixture of formality — students wore jackets and ties daily — and healthy exploration of boundaries encouraged by unique educators. “I think of Mr. Penny and how hard he pushed us to achieve academically, while at the same time allowing us the freedom to experiment and do things a little bit differently,” says Sam. “There also was so much art and music, coupled with the opportunity to be in a natural environment, which is something that I continue to value strongly today, and share with my own child.” School didn’t always go smoothly for Sam, who has significant learning differences that affect reading. “I give EMS a lot of credit (along with my parents) for being ridiculously supportive and helping me get the skills that I needed to succeed,” he says. “It’s not easy to build confidence in an area where you are being surpassed by your peers, but I have very fond memories of the resource room and the teachers in it.” Perhaps foreshadowing his future career, Sam also clearly remembers an early tech class at EMS. “We used a program called Logo Writer — known historically as one of the greatest programs for coding,” he says. “We broke down problems and worked on basic circuitry, which created an excitement about computing that I still have today.” 8 APPLETREE

Molly Williams Development & Operations Assistant Chicken & Egg Pictures For Molly Williams ’09, the personal is also political. “I am a big believer in art to advance social causes because it can amplify voices rather than speaking over them,” says the recent Yale University graduate, who works in development for Chicken & Egg Pictures, which promotes women filmmakers. “I am involved in queer activism, and the more I learn, the more I want to push the boundaries of feminism and intersectionality.” Molly, who has a degree in psychology with a neuroscience focus and plans to pursue an M.F.A., developed her deep interest in storytelling and politics at EMS, where she was in the writing club and studied the 2008 election. “I remember being in Mr. Penny’s class and having current events tests every week. I was asking my friends why they weren’t more politically involved. I could see how my beliefs aligned with candidates’ platforms, and I was able to think about things critically.” That critical thinking is on display today on her Instagram page, Feminist Thought Bubble, which has over 14,000 followers. “I know that if I am having these feelings, many other people are having them, too — I want to provide some pushback and cause readers to think about issues from different perspectives because I know art has the power to change hearts and minds.”

tie every day and cleaning the cafeteria — impact Nelson to this day as president of the Chen Agency, a large local real estate firm. “I was taught that going to school was an ‘occasion’ and there’s a protocol to that. I treat work that way, as well. There was an elegance to that you don’t recognize as a kid — that was foundational for me.” Nelson is heavily involved in his industry, and was awarded the Fort Lee Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Person of the Year in 2009 in recognition of his civic and business accomplishments. He has served on the boards of several

Nelson Chen President, Chen Agency

industry organizations and as a trustee of Dwight-Englewood School, where he was the youngest board member in its history. “One of the things that EMS taught me was the

“EMS is about so much more than just a good education

importance of standing up and getting involved,” he says.

— it’s about creating good citizens,” says Nelson Chen ’80,

Nelson also appreciated the diversity of the EMS community.

who entered EMS from public school in third grade with his

“Differences were embraced — this is so important in a

brother, Clifford ’78, who was entering fifth grade. “It was life-

place like Bergen County, where you can hear six languages

changing and so special,” he says. “Not only was the education

in the course of a day,” he says. “EMS was and continues to

above and beyond what I had experienced before but I still

be very good at creating a sense of awareness about people

remember the dedicated teachers who devoted their lives to

around you. When you are a child, school is your world, and

working with kids.”

EMS helped shape my concern for my community beyond

So many small habits — handshaking, wearing a jacket and

that campus.” APPLETREE 9

cover story

Rachel Hur Sophomore, Bergen County Academies Rachel Hur ’16 was nervous entering EMS in fifth grade. “I was basing all of my expectations on the kind of behavior you see in movies about middle school, and EMS was nothing like that at all,” says the Bergen County Academies (BCA) sophomore. Now, Rachel is the business manager for her school newspaper and the branch co-manager for a local tutoring service. She’s also pursuing an International Baccalaureate degree and helping BCA freshmen adjust to high school through social media groups she helps maintain. Not surprisingly, Rachel appreciates EMS’ emphasis on pursuing many interests. “I remember performing at the Actors Home and seeing how just singing made older people so happy. That made me seek out service electives here at BCA.” This summer, Rachel interned with Korean American Civic Empowerment and plans to continue working with the group. “We work to get Korean-Americans to become politically active,” she says. Rachel, who was a student ambassador at EMS and hopes to become one at BCA, still misses our close-knit community. “EMS really taught me to be kind, to treat everyone well and live my life according to the 4 C’s. It was a great honor to go to school here.”


Vikram Kumar M.A. Candidate, Ludwig Maximilian University

He credits EMS for helping to develop his character through

Vikram Kumar ’07 knows that EMS teachers shaped his

privileges I’ve had. Attempting to understand the lives of the

worldview and his education. “I remember Mrs. Cohen telling our fifth grade class, ‘There’s no such thing as a good slaveholder.’ This is especially important to remember now,

the 4 C’s — especially compassion. “Every year on my birthday, I try to do some charitable activity to give back for the people around me as fellow human beings is what focusing on compassion has taught me.”

when people think that we are destroying American history by taking down statues of Confederate soldiers, politicians and generals,” he says. Later in life, a book given to him by his sixth grade teacher, Mr. Penny, was instrumental to his theses for both Columbia University and the University of Oxford. “I received a copy of Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things, where he wrote, ‘Always look for the truth.’ I ended up writing both my Columbia and Oxford theses in part on Lucretius.” Vikram, who entered EMS at four, holds a B.A. in classics from Columbia and a master’s degree in ancient philosophy from Oxford. He is currently enrolled in an M.A. in ancient philosophy at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in philosophy.

Josh Hyman Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center Associate Attending Physician, NewYorkPresbyterian Hospital

be seen more than heard. “I remember being comfortable

Dr. Josh Hyman ’75 has a deep

he has had several patients attend EMS), Josh makes time for

connection to EMS. In addition

several charitable medical endeavors, including the Children

at school. I remember liking my teachers and being liked by them, and this was long before this notion of treating the elementary school student with respect and giving them autonomy,” he says. “At EMS, individual teachers knew within themselves and also heard from the leadership that they needed to treat the children with respect.” In addition to an extremely busy clinical practice (from which

to attending along with his siblings, he has sent all four of

of China Pediatrics Foundation, which provides medical

his children to the school (his youngest is currently in sixth

services to orphans in China, as well as offering fellowships

grade) and spent 12 years as a trustee. “I care deeply about

to medical professionals. He is also active in MiracleFeet, an

the school, as an alumnus, as a parent and also as a local

organization that provides technical, financial and operational

resident. It has tremendous value, not only to our immediate

support to clinics throughout the world that support

community but to an ever-expanding community,” he says.

people with clubfoot. Josh is also on the board of the Gold

“I firmly believe the academic and social education that EMS

Foundation, which promotes humanistic healthcare.

offers is unique.”

One of the things Josh is most proud of in his time as an

One of the things Josh believes sets EMS apart is the emphasis

EMS trustee is an increasing commitment to welcoming

on the 4 C’s. “EMS has a very long tradition of trying to

families from diverse socioeconomic circumstances. “As a

inculcate these ideas into its students. I think that other

private school, it’s difficult to have economic diversity,” he

schools understand the importance of these principles and

says. “Having the financial resources to provide the support

would like very much for their students to embody them, but

is one thing, but there’s also a question of how to do it in a

they don’t always know how to do that.”

way that is humane and worthwhile. EMS has done a good

Josh remembers an EMS where he felt very much at home, during an era when some adults still believed children should

job in making all families feel that they are a part of the community.” APPLETREE 11

feature story

by Mary Ann Rota, Math Coordinator The Math in Focus kindergarten program is structured around the investigatediscover-explore-apply format: • Investigate invites children to sing, clap,

“How do you know?” “Are you sure?” “Who agrees with Joey?” “Will this work instead?”

These are the kinds of questions kindergarten teachers Janet Cohen, Annie Hur, Lori Lowell and Hong Su are asking during math class. This year, EMS is in the process of adopting Math in Focus, and engagement is already growing among students, who are using snap cubes to show numbers, working in their own colorful workbooks or talking with a partner about ways to apply their knowledge to real-life situations.

rhyme and discuss colorful, playful scenes from the math text while the teachers encourage related math talk. • Discover provides hands-on work in small groups or pairs to allow the children to actively engage with the new math idea. • Explore reinforces and enhances concepts as the children go one step further with the concept. • Apply allows the children an opportunity to work independently with paper and pencil to practice the new skill.


Math in Focus, the U.S. edition of

and from the team at Math in Focus

development each year to ensure

the widely used “Singapore Math,”

itself, EMS launched the program in

that the program is successfully

draws on best practices from around

kindergarten this year. It will build to


the world and highlights problem

include first through third grade next

solving as the focus of mathematical

year, and then fourth through sixth

learning. The success of the Singapore

grade in the 2019-2020 school year.

approach derives from how carefully

“We believe that this significant change to our math program will ensure that students have the

Ultimately, it is the quality of teaching

foundational knowledge necessary to

and our faculty’s ability to effectively

develop the higher-order math skills

implement any curriculum that makes

they will need for success in today’s

the difference in student achievement.

world,” says Michele Bower, director

We are working closely with a Math in

of curriculum and secondary school

Focus consultant, who will teach our

placement. “Faculty are excited to

professionals the effective pedagogy,

take on the challenge of learning a

A curricular change of this magnitude

pacing, classroom management and

new pedagogy and we look forward

requires thoughtful planning, care,

assessment practices to make this

to seeing our students adapt to this

consideration and intentionality. With

program a success. Our faculty will

engaging way of learning this subject.”

recommendations from other schools

have several full days of professional

algorithms are developed. Students move from concrete models to pictorial representations to abstract number sentences. Concepts also are introduced earlier and more concretely than in many other programs.



AN ATHLETE FOR ALL SEASONS by Jan Abernathy, Director of Marketing and Communications

Formerly a three-season athlete at EMS, Maddy Kachikian ’14 recently made it to the quarterfinals in the NJSIAA State Individual Doubles Tournament in tennis and is no slouch in her other sports, either. “I have been allcounty and all-league in tennis, and have won the Bergen County doubles championship for the past three years. I have also been all-league in both basketball and lacrosse,” says the DwightEnglewood senior. Although tennis was her first choice, the other sports that she has played come with specific rewards. “I have a great appreciation for team sports, and the camaraderie of competing as one unit, with one goal in mind. There is something amazing about working with your teammates, the relationships you build and the fun you have competing as a team. This is why I love playing basketball and lacrosse, and I love my teammates as well. Some of my closest friendships are a direct result of playing on a team,” she says. Two out of three sports that Maddy now plays use skills she honed at EMS. “My first exposure to basketball and lacrosse came at EMS. The sports environment was fun and competitive, and I learned so much from the older athletes. My coaches played a big part in mentoring me and helped me bring out my love of competing.” She remembers a particularly exciting game against Horace Mann her eighth grade year. “I remember waiting on the bus for what felt like such a long time to see if we were actually going to play because of the weather,” she says. “EMS traditionally never competed well with them, but on that day, my team worked so hard, and somehow I scored the winning goal at the final whistle. I remember it being a very exciting win.” Maddy hopes to teach her sister, Olivia, more sports now that Olivia is in Morrow House. She says one of the most important benefits of playing in high school is having the ability to connect with students in other grades. “It was important when I was a freshman to have developed relationships with older athletes, and I try to have the same connection now with the underclassmen.”



The girls volleyball team had a very successful season, with two teams comprised of sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The first team finished the season with a 5-4 record and the second team also had an impressive record, 5-2, with one tie.


This year’s cross country team had a fantastic chemistry. The workouts were always productive and the results showed in races. The final meet of the season showed almost every runner achieving a personal best.


The girls tennis team had a good season, finishing 2-6. There were a number of beginners on the team this season and each of them was an important part of how the team performed. Throughout the course of the season, the girls showed tremendous growth.


For the first year, the flag football team was coed. The team lost both games but worked hard.


The coed soccer team compiled an 8-5 record, demonstrating scoring prowess, defensive tenacity and team unity. Wins over Saddle River, Collegiate, Alpine and Teaneck Charter were season highlights.



S M E 4 y l l a #R 36%






Our deepest thanks to all who participated in the #RALLY4EMS!! HERE’S HOW OUR COMMUNITY RALLIED 4EMS!





Parent Volunteers On All 11 Grade Levels

Although the #Rally4EMS is now over, donations to the Apple Tree Fund continue to be gratefully accepted throughout the year. Visit our website for more details.

The Book Fair committee, under the leadership of Catherine Ferreira and Judy Grossman, re-envisioned this classic event with


a new name and theme: Find Your Voice Book Fair & Storytelling Festival. The fair kicked off with famed pop-up artist Matthew Reinhart leading hands-on creative workshops for more than 60



students. Our Morrow House students, under the guidance of writing teacher Phoebe Search, thrilled the audience with their original works in a Story Slam. Singer Alicia Keys even made an



inspirational video for the participating students. Visiting authors Selina Alko and Wendy Mass then thrilled our students as they learned how the authors found their voices. Timeless book fair favorites like the raffle prizes, pop-up café, gift



books, the Kindergarten Flashlight Picnic and Musical Story Time were enjoyed by all. It was great to welcome back young alumni and alumni parents, as well. “Catherine and Judy infused a great deal of energy and excitement



into this year’s Book Fair. The theme encapsulated our goal to serve each and every student at The Elisabeth Morrow School and to help them become their best selves,” says Aaron Cooper, Head of School. “We were thrilled that the Sunday start was such a success making the book fair more convenient for all our families.” APPLETREE 15


MORROW SOCIETY RECEPTION On Wednesday, September 27, members of the Morrow Society gathered at the home of Abigail and Antonio Alvarez, parents of Gia and Victor Alvarez ’93 and grandparents of Greyson ’27 and Gemma ’27, for a celebratory evening of wine and hors d’oeuvres under the stars. Surrounded by cascades of pink orchids, Head of School Aaron Cooper and Board President Hanita Walia shared their insights into what makes EMS so special. The guests were thanked for their tremendous generosity and leadership in supporting the Apple Tree Fund. Trustee Emerita Joan Van Alstyne Johnson ’34 gave a warm and heartfelt toast to everyone, saying, “Here’s to EMS!”

EMS GIVES BACK Our fourth annual EMS Gives Back celebration was held on Sunday, November 12, right before our Find Your Voice Book Fair & Storytelling Festival. This yearly event honors the relationship EMS has with our community, and collects food for the Center for Food Action. Families attended free, fun workshops that

EMS GIVES BACK Together we can


included New York City Children’s Theater, square dancing, raptors from Tenafly Nature Center, acting classes from bergenPAC, face painting, art with One River School of Art + Design, nutrition workshops and a musical coffeehouse, with a special appearance from the ponies of Bergen Equestrian Center. Food was collected in the community at Whole Foods Market, Starbucks and H Mart.


NEW FAMILIES RECEIVE WARM WELCOME On Thursday, September 14, the Board of Trustees, along with faculty and staff, welcomed our new families to the 20172018 academic year. Around 130 guests gathered in the Cohen Center for wine and hors d’oeuvres followed by a delicious seated dinner. Board President Hanita Walia described her personal experiences as a new parent and the importance of community to the success of our school. Then, Head of School Aaron Cooper shared his vision for EMS now and in the near term, and noted the school’s historic leadership position among independent schools. Parents Association President Melanie Weinraub and Director of Development Keith Wiggs explained the roles of volunteerism and philanthropy, and their positive impact on our school. More photos at elisabethmorrow/docs/new_parent_dinner_ photo_book_2017_

CARS AND COCKTAILS Cars and Cocktails

On Thursday, November 9, members of the Morrow Society and Head’s Council gathered at the home of Trustee Emerita Emily Mann and her husband, Sam, for Cars and Cocktails, the first in a new series of social events directed toward leadership donors. On display was the Manns’ internationally celebrated collection of antique cars, dating from the early part of the 20th century. Among the highlights was a Duesenberg once owned by Hollywood legend Clark Gable.


class notes


CLASS NOTES We welcome news from alumni. Please email Dara Picard, development associate and alumni manager, at

1963 Donna Lewis writes from San José, CA. She reports, “As an aging baby boomer, I upped and moved to California to be near my 34-year-old son and his husband. My other son, 40, and his wife live in Los Angeles with my 15-month-old granddaughter. I’m a retired computer teacher, advertising copywriter and now photographer’s assistant, which is kind of like being a magician’s assistant without the disappearing act. I spent most of my life in New Jersey and about eight years in the middle of northeast Pennsylvania, where I busied myself with eight gardens on 55 acres. I’m loving Northern California’s weather. No, I don’t miss winter at all.” 1973 Checking in from Chicago, Reed Webster let us know that he keeps in touch with Jeff Grant and Forty Conklin. The three “manage to get into some trouble at a Dead & Company show together from time to time, and if we are lucky, a Giants Super Bowl.” Reed is in Chicago with Morgan Stanley, Jeff is in Berkeley — a doctor at San Quentin — and Forty has been with Merrill Lynch in Bergen/Rockland counties for over 30 years. Reed writes, “I know [Forty] sees Chris Anderson and Adrienne Buda Anderson ’79, as well. We miss EMS and are glad to hear the school is thriving, as it meant so much to us at such an instrumental time of our lives.” Reed continues, “Great to see so many old faces on Facebook: David Solow, Betsy Mettler, Kim Kossman, Stephen 18 APPLETREE

Beer, Ken Chiang, Henry Schwartz, Meredith Halpern, Kathy Brockie, Brian Crawford, Annie Prosser and Tracy Cooper are just a few. Anyone hear from Jamie Bono, Julian Sprague, Peter Sanchez, Joe Buda, Stephen Keim, Elaine Roberts, Liza McRay or Bruno de Landevoisin? I sure miss those EMS days!” 1977 Mark Brzezinski reports from Washington, D.C., where his family moved after his time at EMS. He studied at Dartmouth, Oxford and University of Virginia, after which he went into private legal practice and public service. As a member of the White House staff and as U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, he served two U.S. presidents. He recently joined Makena Capital Management, a global capital asset investment company headquartered in Silicon Valley. 1997 George Hill is an advisor at Kingsborough Community College in Staten Island and teaches the freshman seminar courses designed to transition students to college and prepare them for future academic success. He also serves as the coordinator of the Peer Mentoring Program in the Opening Doors Learning Communities at Kingsborough. George writes, “In my spare time, I am helping my wife build

her ghost story writing business (www., and building a six-foot-long model of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation in my garage.” George and his wife live in Bergenfield. 1998 Sam Negin is living in his childhood home in Englewood Cliffs. In September, he began a three-year graduate school program for speech therapy at New York University. He is tremendously appreciative of the wonderful experience he had at EMS and states that no other school (yet) has been able to compare. He especially remembers the outsized positive impact that Jean Timbrell had on him and on the school as a whole. Sam reports that older sister Martha (Negin) Agensky ’92 lives in Lower Manhattan with her husband and two children. She serves as Director of Product Management at Vimeo. Sam also was pleased to let us know that classmate Jacob Stolar ‘98 was married this year to mutual friend Kaila Stewart, and they reside in New York City. 2007 Adam Kirsch recently joined the New York City office of West Monroe Partners as a senior consultant on the Mergers & Acquisitions team. In his spare time, he enjoys fencing and volunteering with Cornell University and the Network for

LOOK WHO CAME TO VISIT! Abby Kwak returned as a counselor for our most recent Summer Explorations program, pictured here with Nancy Dorrien. She is currently a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College.

Sam Negin ’98 enjoyed an October visit to EMS. He came to Little School, where he met with Dr. Allison Egert to discuss his new graduate studies in speech pathology, and stopped by the Alumni Office to deliver his class notes update in person. It was great seeing you, Sam!

Tanvi Jonnalagadda ’15 and Rachel Hur ’16 enjoyed their visit with Nancy Dorrien. Both are now at Bergen County Academies, where Tanvi is currently studying medicine and Rachel is focused on business.

Carolyn Milne Former middle school science teacher and noted author Leslie Day stopped by EMS on October 27 to talk about bees, the subject of her upcoming book. She was with Carolyn Milne, former lower school science teacher and 2016 annual gala honoree.

IN MEMORIAM Teaching Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit organization providing entrepreneurship training and education programs to young people from low-income urban communities. You also might have spied him on campus not too long ago, when he was a “guest shark” for a Morrow House edition of Shark Tank. 2009 Jesse Roth reports that he is currently a first-year student at Fordham Law School. 2011 Zach Walsh is a senior at Colgate University majoring in biochemistry. He is currently working as a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland in a pediatric cancer immunotherapy lab. He is eager to continue immunotherapy research for a two-year post-baccalaureate program, after which he intends to pursue an M.D./ Ph.D., with a focus on immunology and pediatric hematology/oncology. Zach extends his appreciation to all of the wonderful EMS teachers who fostered the curiosity that has inspired him to become a researcher and a physician. 2013 Christopher Hall is currently enrolled at Rider University. He is studying biology, and hopes to go into biological research. Christopher is part of the Rider Bonner Community Scholar Program. Bonner Scholars serve on small teams with community partners to address issues of hunger, homelessness, adult literacy and at-risk youth in the Trenton area. 2015 Josh Benson is in the 11th grade at Horace Mann. He writes, “I’m having a great time playing my cello in the orchestra with many of my EMS classmates. I love the debate team and I’m deeply involved with Seeds of Peace projects in the Greater New York area. I have stayed tight with EMS friends and I loved seeing everybody at the Summer String Festival. I hope everyone’s having a great year!”

Alex Gastman ’97

From his legal colleague and friend, Louis Fasulo, comes the following sad news about Alex Gastman ’97, who passed away on October 19: “Just about three weeks ago, we celebrated his wedding to longtime friend Shawna in Brooklyn. He returned from his honeymoon to find himself suffering from a blood clot. After an apparently successful medical treatment, he immediately fell victim to cardiac arrest and never regained consciousness.” Alex was a member of the class of 2011 Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, former moot court and trial team member, former student attorney at John Jay Legal Services and current mentor of Pace Advocacy Teams. Alex also was a successful litigation associate at Anderson Dodson and former member (of counsel) to the firm Fasulo Braverman & Di Maggio. “He was an outstanding young lawyer and great mentor to many students. He put his all into everything he did. He was always generously giving his time to judge, coach and mentor students. He was a great professional, and most of all, he was a true friend and valued colleague.” The music faculty from The Elisabeth Morrow School played at his funeral on October 22, and many of his oldest friends from EMS were in attendance to honor him. Alex was a graduate of Horace Mann School and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Douglas Edward Ix ’37

We must also report that Douglas Edward Ix ’37, a longtime resident of Englewood and Spring Lake, passed away peacefully on March 21. He served as President of the Board of Trustees at EMS and was a longtime lector at St. Cecelia Church in Englewood. Born in Hoboken to Mary Hill and Alexander F. Ix, Doug was a graduate of The Englewood School for Boys (which later became Dwight-Englewood) and North Carolina State University. After serving in the Army as a second lieutenant, he joined his family’s

Douglas ’37 & Barbara Ix

textile firm, Frank Ix & Sons, where he became CEO. He is survived by his three loving children, Mary Ix ’80, Christine Ix Grimm ’81 (Christopher) and Douglas Ix, Jr. ’84 (Kristin Hordyke); his grandchildren, Tripp, Sara and Georgia; his sister-in-law, Ann Ix and many nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his wife, Barbara, and siblings, Alexander Ix, Mary Ix Gaynor and Barbara Ix Leis.

Dr. Michael L. Gruber

We are saddened by the loss of Dr. Michael L. Gruber, father of EMS alumni Joseph Gruber ’78, Dr. Deborah Gruber ’81, Daniel Gruber ’91 and Emily Gruber ’11, and husband of Mrs. Maura Gruber of Englewood. Dr. Gruber passed away on September 13 “after battling a long illness with the same dignity, tenacity, intelligence and humor that characterized his entire life,” according to his obituary in The Star-Ledger. Internationally recognized for his revolutionary approach to the treatment of brain tumors, Dr. Gruber was director of the Department of Neuro-Oncology at NYU Langone Medical Center and medical director of the Brain Tumor Center of New Jersey at Overlook Medical Center. The author of many scholarly articles and contributor to medical textbooks, Dr. Gruber served throughout a distinguished career as clinical instructor of neurology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, associate professor of neurology at UCLA Medical School, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and clinical professor of neurology and neurosurgery at NYU School of Medicine.

Robert Ashton, M.D. (former parent) Zbigniew Brzezinski P’77, 79 Ronald Burnham GP’99 Malcolm Wiseheart (brother of retired faculty member Carolyn Milne, president of Wiseheart Foundation, generous donor to EMS) APPLETREE 19

class notes

A Mexican Memento Our correspondent and former school archivist, Adrienne Buda Anderson ’79, offers an explanation for the mystery

Solo Art Show for EMS Teaching Artist

gate featured in the last issue:

Barbara Landberg taught third grade at EMS for 30 years, and has remained an art and creativity teacher in our Summer Explorations program for more than 20 years. She lives in Tenafly, and is an artist working in several types of media, including watercolor and Chinese brush painting. Most recently, in October 2017, she had a solo art show, “From Realistic to Abstract,” at Kaplen JCC on the Palisades.

“There are several items in Morrow House that relate to Dwight Morrow’s stint as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. These include the tile floor in the front hallway and the painted tiles on the wall in the hallway leading from the Music Room (known in my day as the ‘Mexican hallway’). The Morrows collected many Mexican artifacts and folk art. The bulk of the collection was given to the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.”

MYSTERY ART Do You Recognize These Rabbits? These cute ceramic creatures caught Tricia Eickelberg’s eye when she inherited the Chilton House librarian job six years ago. “I immediately thought about the other rabbits I had seen throughout the school, on everything from tapestries to the bookplates that we use for gift books that families purchase at our Book Fair,” says Mrs. Eickelberg, who is also the director of early childhood programs.“I started wondering what connection rabbits might have to the Morrow family or to our founder, Connie Chilton.” Can you help uncover the mystery? Send an email to



TOGETHER WE GROW When families, alumni and friends step forward with a contribution to the Apple Tree Fund, our students, community and school flourish. That’s because annual gifts to The Elisabeth Morrow School go beyond what tuition alone can provide. Your support, at any level, sustains the pursuit of the highest educational standards and ensures that every child who graduates from EMS is academically independent, socially responsible and well prepared for a bright future.


Contact Director of Development Keith Wiggs at 201.568.5566 x7222 or visit our website: We look forward to seeing you on campus and sharing with you all the ways your gifts help us grow.

The Apple Tree Fund

The Elisabeth Morrow School 435 Lydecker Street Englewood, NJ 07631 Return Service Requested


Alumni Events

ALUMNI COCKTAIL PARTY April 17 • 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Sofia • Englewood, NJ 21 and over


June 13 • 12 p.m. Russell Berrie Music Room • Morrow House

RSVP to Dara Picard, Development Associate and Alumni Manager at 201.568.5566 x7224 or

January 27 • 12 - 2 p.m. Peter Lawrence Gymkhana


April 28 • 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Fall 2017 APPLETREE