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INNOVATION ALLEY Inspired spaces for connected learning

A publication of The Elisabeth Morrow School

Winter 2017

APPLETREE Winter 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. Editor Jan Abernathy Director of Marketing and Communications Design Erbach Communications Group Content Contributors Beth Brennan Aaron Cooper Phyllis Kesslen Sarah Rolle Keith Wiggs Photography and Photographic Contributors Nancy Dorrien Shelley Kusnetz Robin Robison-Dillard Kelvin Ward Keith Wiggs

On the Cover Students at work in The Kamiel Solarium, a central feature of Innovation Alley. This multipurpose space supports a variety of educational activities and community events. 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

Meet our new employees, discover what we did last summer, fun facts about our new students, more news and events

6 Graduation 2016

Our graduates make us proud.

8 Leadership Symposium What makes a good leader? It’s not what most people think.

10 Innovation Alley

The future of education is happening today with our new additions to Little School.

hello from Aaron To say that it has been a busy fall at The Elisabeth Morrow School would be an


understatement, and

Nothing beats a climb on the playground equipment during Family Field Day, our traditional welcome-back-to-school gathering.

throughout the pages of this magazine, you will see why. We are delighted to provide students with even more integrated and meaningful learning experiences through the launch of Innovation Alley, our STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) facility in Little School, as well as enhancements large and small throughout our campus. Our focus on leadership — part of what we think a threes through eighth grade school does best — ­ led to the development of a symposium for our eighth grade students that combines lessons in empathetic leadership and understanding of self with our already comprehensive guidance through the secondary school process. Events provided wonderful community building, with the Book Fair once again raising significant funds that our Parents Association donates to our school. Our Rally4EMS raised nearly $375,000 from its 270 participants to kick off the Apple Tree Fund and our GivingTuesday appeal was similarly successful. I hope that as you read this latest issue of APPLETREE, you see a school filled with students and teachers who love to learn and a community that is tight knit and supportive. This is what I experience as I walk through our halls each day — and that is the manifestation of Elisabeth Morrow and Connie Chilton’s vision. While our facilities may grow and change, and while the best teaching and learning is ever evolving, what

14 Advancement Saluting the Morrow Society; community building at our wonderful Book Fair

16 Athletics From EMS lax player to D1 recruit; fall season highlights

18 Class Notes Catching up with app

developer Dr. Reshan Richards ’90; from kindergarten sweethearts to EMS parents

remains the same is what is at the core of the EMS experience — innovation coupled with tradition. We remain committed to providing students with an education that is at once comprehensive and yet fully embraces the many unknowns that lie ahead. My best, Aaron Cooper, Head of School APPLETREE 1

appletree news

Gerard Allen, English and Leadership Symposium teacher, attended the gcLi Leadership Lab at Fountain Valley School in

Bright Ideas LIFELONG LEARNING A community of teachers is only as strong as its

desire to learn, and at The Elisabeth Morrow School, we are committed to professional development at the highest levels. Our faculty doesn’t spend summer just relaxing (although they certainly

deserve it). Every year, the vast majority of our

Colorado Springs: “This six-day seminar gave me a strong sense of what 21st century leadership entails and how leadership can be taught to adolescents. By exploring a myriad of topics, including adolescent brain development, social and emotional intelligence and group dynamics, the gcLi Leadership Lab gave me new ways to motivate students and foster collaboration skills.” Jessi Almstead, first grade teacher, attended the week-long Constructing Modern Knowledge Institute:

faculty and staff participate in some kind of focused

“I went through the process of idea generation, brainstorming

are only a few of the ways they advanced their

educators from a wide range of backgrounds. This experience

professional development. Here, in their own words, classroom practice over the break:

and designing a product prototype with a group of other reminded me of what the student’s experience must be like when they are asked to do the very same thing. I came away from this institute with a renewed sense of the importance of constructivist learning and the strength that diversity brings to any team.” Valeria Bonasorte, language department chair, completed her master’s degree in Spanish language and culture from the University of Salamanca in Spain: “I look forward to using more task-based teaching approaches to language acquisition to take our students ‘beyond the textbook’ into a real understanding of language and culture, emphasizing authentic communication through collaborative tasks and problem solving.” Lori Lowell, kindergarten teacher, attended a 20-hour training program for teaching children’s yoga: “Playful yoga activities and poses can help children to integrate their minds and bodies. Mindfulness practices help to build a heightened awareness of the importance of caring for oneself and others. I believe that these are valuable tools for children of the EMS community.” Ginny Smith, physical education teacher, spent a week at a Responsive Classroom course: “I learned how to simplify classroom rules by using the language of the responsive classroom. I also studied interactive learning structures that allow students time to talk to one another about a skill, how it should be performed and how it affects the body.”


News, facts and events from The Elisabeth Morrow School

Meet Our New Students

81 Students joined the EMS community this academic year.

New Students Represent Back row: Rachel Woursell, Kelvin Ward, Kathy McGowan, Keith Wiggs, Jaclyn Lisman and John Pratt Front row: Heidi Stubner, Natasha Pronga, Karina Cruz, Phoebe Search, Peter Niemczyk and Melinda Popiel Not pictured: Pat Zuber


The Elisabeth Morrow School welcomed

leadership in their previous schools, which

13 new employees to our community this

include Aaron School, Bank Street School for

year. They bring decades of experience

Children, Collegiate School, Manhattan School

working in some of the most prestigious

of Music, Montclair Kimberley Academy,

schools in the area.

Pingry School, PS 705, Brooklyn Arts & Science

“Our students will get the benefit of working with seasoned professionals who have 13 Countries

15 Languages

School, Whitby School and William Penn Charter School.

chosen EMS because they believe in our mission and believe that we are providing

Our new faculty are Karina Cruz (threes),

the best atmosphere for children to recognize

Jaclyn Lisman (reading specialist), Peter

their full potential,” says Aaron Cooper,

Niemczyk (history), Kathy McGowan (reading

Head of School. “We look forward to

specialist), Natasha Pronga (fourth grade),

experiencing our new community members’

Phoebe Search (fifth grade), Rachel Woursell

unique talents and the ways in which

(art), Pat Zuber (music) and Melinda Popiel

they will make the collaboration between


colleagues even stronger.”

All Grades welcomed new students in September.

Elementary School, Waterfront Montessori

Our new administrators are John Pratt,

He noted that in addition to their expertise in

director of finance; Heidi Stubner, music

their respective curricular or business areas,

administrator; Kelvin Ward, communications

the new hires also bring with them their

and secondary school placement associate

commitment to community building and

and Keith Wiggs, director of development.

EMS Gives Back A wonderful time was had by all as The Elisabeth Morrow School hosted the third annual EMS Gives Back, collecting food donations right before Thanksgiving for the Center for Food Action. Partnering with Starbucks and Whole Foods

Legacy Families 8 students continue to legacy of EMS attendance started by their relatives.

Market to collect donations, EMS also hosted a family fun event on campus with face painting, square dancing, acting lessons, music, arts and crafts and other activities. APPLETREE 3

appletree news


Our Parents Association, which works in partnership with our faculty, staff and administration to engage families in our community and bring resources to our students, has elected a new executive

Confident Chemists

board for the 2016-2017 school year. Its members are (left to right, front row) Catherine Ferreira, secretary; Gia Alvarez,

The role that chemistry plays in our everyday lives was on display at ChemExpo

Chilton House vice president; Melanie

at Liberty Science Center this fall, and, once again, seventh grade EMS students

Weinraub, executive vice president; Fran

were the youngest presenters. Their teacher, Gail Weeks, praises the event as empowering because, “Students have the opportunity to ‘do’ science and not just passively learn facts.” EMS students demonstrated fingerprinting, analysis of ink using chromatography and showed how to identify the pH of solutions using a universal indicator. “Having such a positive firsthand

Rowbottom, president and Saloni Parikh, treasurer. Back row: Alyssa Wilk, Little School vice president; Tania Min, Morrow House vice president and Jen Cordover, communications vice president. In addition to providing a wonderful

experience at an early age can help students feel more confident in

Book Fair and New Family Picnic as well

what can sometimes be viewed as an intimidating subject,” Weeks noted.

as several community service and parent

“Students may be more likely to view science as a career option, a profession to

education opportunities, the PA donated

respect or just an area of interest as they get older.”

$15,000 to EMS last year.


Google Guru

This lovely painting was discovered as we were emptying classrooms in preparation for the construction of Innovation Alley and now has pride of place in Aaron Cooper’s office. It appears to be the work of an artist named McCabe. Sadly, we don’t know the story behind this picture of Chilton House and Little School and we would love to! Can you help? Send any information to


Middle school technology integrator (and mom of Joseph ’17) Samantha Morra has contributed to the newly published book Going Google: Powerful Tools for 21st Century Learning Second Edition by Jared J. Covili. Ms. Morra contributed to the chapter on Google Chrome extensions, as a “Google Guru.”

News, facts and events from The Elisabeth Morrow School


The benefit of employee longevity to our community can’t be overstated. While our culture embraces innovation in all that we do, our ability to meet our mission and students’ needs rests firmly on foundations that our faculty and staff build over a lifetime of service. Here, we salute two employees who celebrate 20 years with us this year, and invite you to discover a little bit more about what makes them so special.

Andy Escala ’83, Director of Athletics How did you come to work at EMS? My professional career started here after I finished playing Minor League Baseball. One of the PE teachers injured her ankle teaching the kids how to rollerblade, of all things, so I started as a substitute. I worked my way up from there, receiving my master’s degree in teaching and curriculum, and became athletic director for our expanded middle school. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for 20 years! What’s the best thing about teaching physical education and coaching? Working with kids doing what they love to do and what I love to do. It’s never a struggle to get a kid to learn while having fun. There are so many life lessons to be learned through sports and it’s great to see kids absorb them. How has PE changed in the last 20 years? With sports specialization, kids are exposed to fewer sports when they come into physical education. They may be really good at baseball but have never kicked a soccer ball. Everyone used to play recreational town sports, but now they don’t. And, of course, you have some kids who are way ahead in a sport versus their classmates because they have specialized. What was your proudest moment here? As much as I enjoy working here, and being an alumnus, there’s no question that it’s going to be when (my older son) Garrett graduates in June. If I were to focus on my years working here, I am very proud of how EMS has expanded to participate in an interscholastic sports program. I have enjoyed being an integral part of our sports programs and watching our student-athletes learn and grow in their chosen sports.

Angela Sinisi, PNP, Morrow House Nurse How did you get your start in nursing? Where were you before EMS? I’m a pediatric nurse practitioner and worked in the neonatal intensive care unit after I graduated from Columbia University. I also worked for their Department of Pediatrics as a research nurse, following drug-addicted infants and toddlers. My last job before my children were born was working at Montefiore Hospital as coordinator of The Center for Child Development, an evaluation clinic of children with learning disabilities. How has EMS changed since you’ve been here? The technology that we have here is amazing and the expectations for children are much greater. The students seem to be more directed, focused and involved. However, I see this as a trade-off because technology calls for less social/personal interaction and I miss that. In addition, the expectations for school nurses are greater. Children who were ill or injured may have just stayed at home or in the hospital longer in the past. Now, they are returning to school more quickly, which requires more coordination of care. Families want to know their children are safe at school. What’s the best aspect of your job? Working with the children and the feeling that I am helping people. This profession was the right choice for me. It has served me well over the years. What was your proudest moment at EMS? I was honored for 10 years of service shortly after my treatment for breast cancer. The outpouring of support here was incredibly touching. But really, it’s a proud moment any time I am thanked by a parent for helping their child. What do you like to do in your spare time? Spending time with my family. When my kids come home on the weekend, it just makes my world. I feel truly blessed. APPLETREE 5

graduation 2016

INSPIRING WORDS TO GRADUATES As our 39 graduates sat on stage as

relationships of people close to me but

EMS students for the very last time,

that these relationships were tied to a

they were inspired by the words of Carter

larger network and community. Thus,

Hirschhorn ’12, a member of Riverdale

during sophomore year in secondary

Country School’s Class of 2016, who is

school, I created a program called

now attending Washington University in

Breaking Borders to provide a space

St. Louis. Carter created a program called

for dialogue about these issues with

Breaking Borders at his secondary school,

students from diverse backgrounds in

designed to bring students from Riverdale

the Bronx. We looked at community

together with public school students to seek

issues, analyzing the ways in which

common understanding around issues of

these problems surface in each of

inequality. Below is an edited version of his remarks to the Class of 2016. “What EMS does so well beyond

our lives. These conversations offered insight into each other’s lives and built a foundation for change in our communities. By putting faces and

teaching students how to be ‘good

stories to the issues around us, we

students’ is teaching students how to be

better understood our place in the

members of a community. Yet I found

topics before us.

that the community perpetuated inside these walls was not reflected in the world outside. The inequality, hatred and intolerance seen in our newspaper headlines were daunting.

you are. Understand why you love what you love. Prioritize the relationships you have with the people around you. Don’t

I have learned through these

be satisfied with a Facebook message, a

interactions how important my

Snapchat or a tweet. See people, listen

community is to my understanding of

to people and understand the people

myself. In the next four years, you will

around you. Our relationships are our

undoubtedly find different interests

mirrors. Who we are is reflected in how

It was here at EMS that I understood

that make your hearts race and your

we interact with others. So, be kind, be

that it is not enough to privilege the

minds wonder. But keep in sight who

honest and be loving.”

The Class of 2016 graduated with distinction, earning admission to highly selective independent and public secondary schools. 6 APPLETREE





guidance for students and families that begins in seventh grade and continues through the application, acceptance and decisionmaking process



additional group meetings held with families to explore options and identify the best high school placement



high schools sent representatives to meet prospective students and families at the EMS Secondary School Fair

secondary schools accepted members of the Class of 2016

coaches helped hone communication skills so EMS students presented their best authentic selves in school interviews



secondary schools in New York accepted graduates

members of the Class of 2016

independent, Catholic and public magnet high schools attended by the Class of 2016

Alumni College Attendance (two or more students in the past five years) New York University (10)

Lehigh University (5)

Cornell University (3)

Brown University (2)

University of Chicago (8)

University of Miami (5)

Emory University (3)

Carnegie Mellon University (2)

University of Pennsylvania (8)

Barnard College (4)

Drexel University (2)

Columbia University (7)

Harvard University (4)

Hobart and William Smith Colleges (3)

George Washington University (6)

Syracuse University (4)

College of the Holy Cross (3) Muhlenberg College (3)

Georgetown University (6)

University of Southern California (4)

University of Michigan (6)

Wesleyan University (4)

Tufts University (3)

Washington University (6)

Yale University (4)

Tulane University (3)

Boston College (5)

American University (3)

Bucknell University (5)

Colgate University (3)

University of Colorado Boulder (3)

Princeton University (3)

Boston University (2)

Duke University (2) Fairfield University (2) Hofstra University (2) Johns Hopkins University (2) Northeastern University (2) Northwestern University (2) Pace University (2) Rice University (2)

Alumni Secondary School Attendance (two or more students in the past five years) Dwight-Englewood School (30)

Masters School (7)

Hackley School (3)

Fordham Preparatory School (2)

Bergen County Academies (18)

Blair Academy (6)

The Abraham Joshua Heschel School (3)

Loomis Chaffee School (2)

Academy of the Holy Angels (17) Bergen Catholic High School (5) Horace Mann School (10)

Academies @ Englewood (3)

Riverdale Country School (10)

Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School (3)

Saddle River Day School (8)

Montclair Kimberley Academy (3) Trinity School (3) Dwight School (2)

Paramus Catholic High School (2) The Spence School (2) York Preparatory School (2) APPLETREE 7

The 4C’s

THE MAKING OF The yearlong Symposium for eighth grade students kicks off with Adventure Week and numerous activities that promote collaboration and teamwork.

Open Session and Strengths Finder are examples of tools used by EMS students to promote productive interactions as well as self-assessment to identify individual strengths and areas for growth.

SYMPOSIUM PROVIDES TOOLS TO LEAD by Jan Abernathy, Director of Marketing and Communications What is a leader? For some, it means being in charge and

competence and connectedness needed to become leaders in

making all of the decisions. But in the modern world of

all aspects of their lives.

work and beyond, with its emphasis on collaboration and

Tools and Perspectives to Lead

consensus, the model of “a man with a plan” seems woefully outdated. Instead, today’s leader must be equipped with skills of empathy and courage and the ability to make moral decisions and see them through.

“For years, we have observed how our students’ leadership skills appear here at EMS, and our graduates go out and assume leadership positions when they leave,” says Paul Baly, middle school head, who also teaches a symposium class. “We

Traditionally, students may have developed these skills

felt that there was a great opportunity to provide them with

through trial-and-error in a more implicit way, through

the tools and perspectives to lead confidently and effectively.”

activities such as community service, team sports or student

The students kicked off their work together on Adventure

government. But at EMS, we want to help students develop

Week, the traditional class bonding activity that takes place

these skills much more explicitly — and just in time for them

at the beginning of the school year. On the first day, spent on

to enter secondary school, a broader canvas on which they

campus, students participated in workshops and activities

will have the opportunity to make their mark. This desire to

designed to promote collaborative decision-making and aid

help our students build their capacity for true leadership is

in planning the secondary school process. On the following

what led to the development of the Symposium on Leadership

two-night trip to Princeton-Blairstown Center, students

and Decisions, a yearlong class in eighth grade which will help

participated in a diversity and inclusion workshop and other

students discover their strengths and develop the confidence,

team-building exercises. “The key to all of the activities was


TRUE LEADERS Students assume leadership roles in the EMS community; they organize, plan and execute thought-provoking weekly assemblies at Morrow House.

Academically well-prepared for secondary school, EMS graduates have also developed the capacity to make good decisions and be leaders in high school and all aspects of their lives.

the debriefing and time for reflection, which is so important

Taking Charge

for students,” says Gerard Allen, one of the teachers of the

The students take the leadership skills they learn out to the

Symposium. “We want them to think about not only what

community by being responsible for planning weekly assemblies

they are doing but why they are doing it.”

at Morrow House. The first assembly conducted by the students

In class, students use a discussion protocol called Open Session, which allows them to share both concerns and celebrations and seek advice from one another in a supportive environment. They also completed a selfassessment using StrengthsFinder, a scientifically designed tool that reveals individuals’ top five strengths. Interwoven into the curriculum are lessons on managing the secondary

was a tribute to Veteran’s Day. “The students arranged every detail by themselves — they booked a speaker, created a PowerPoint presentation, selected a video, wrote a script and organized every aspect of the event,” says Laura Khutorsky, another teacher of the Symposium. “These students impressed us with a powerful and thought-provoking assembly. They truly demonstrated their leadership skills to our entire student body.”

school process, and all students are assigned interview

Students are deeply engaged in the classroom activities and have

mentors who work with them in addition to the secondary

already started thinking about how they will use these tools in

school placement team. As part of their classroom work,

secondary school. “With this class, even when we disagree or

the eighth graders also wrestle with complex moral

have different opinions about important things, we are all able

dilemmas as they seek to come to an understanding of

to participate with respect,” says Ella Toback. “Working together

the mechanics of how leaders make decisions that serve a

toward a solution to the ethical dilemmas we are asked to debate

common good.

creates a bond and adds a new aspect to school that academic classes don’t.” APPLETREE 9

cover story



The Kamiel Solarium, ColLABrium, Romita-Cox Reading Pod and other new spaces within Innovation Alley support and advance our STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum.

by Jan Abernathy, Director of Marketing and Communications The opening of Innovation Alley marks the next iteration of The Elisabeth Morrow School’s commitment to creating the kind of learning environment that children need to become truly welleducated and equipped to take on the challenges inherent in a world undergoing rapid change. Innovation Alley includes several new spaces that can be used in combination with one another or separately, depending on the nature of the activity. The furniture has wheels, allowing for flow between the rooms and a variety of experiential learning opportunities. The Kamiel Solarium is a community space available for groups of various sizes and the ColLABrium, a place for cooperative learning, will include library/media studies and maker activities. The library collection will be deployed throughout Innovation Alley with the Romita-Cox Reading Pod specifically celebrating independent reading and storytelling. “The entire space provides the learning environment, on demand, that kids need. Flexible classrooms help students work collaboratively, communicate and engage in critical thinking,” says Rurik Nackerud, lower school technology integrator. “Research shows that choice in how students learn increases academic performance and engagement, and promotes deeper, more invigorating conversations.” Another key component of Innovation Alley is The Mann Family Faculty Think Tank, where faculty members from different disciplines have desk space and the kind of open environment where brainstorming can blossom. “We know that students learn better when they can connect what they are doing in one subject with what they are learning in another subject,” says Sarah Rolle, director of technology. “Having a shared space for teachers increases everyone’s ability to collaborate and adds great value to our students’ experiences.” APPLETREE 11

cover story

The Mann Family Faculty Think Tank Collaboration is a centerpiece of Innovation Alley. The Mann Family Faculty Think Tank provides dedicated space for EMS specialists in a wide array of subjects (math, science, reading, art, music, technology and more) to brainstorm and generate ideas that enrich the curriculum and make learning more meaningful for students.

From exploring the science of sound in music

“With information gathering being critical to almost

to bridge building as part of the Kidtown social

every project — whether students are studying the

studies unit in first grade, Kara Gustafsson and Jane

monarch butterfly or how to build a machine — we

Zagajeski, both science teachers, look forward to

want to be able to make sure that they can quickly

developing how their discipline will interact with the

find exactly what they are looking for,” she says.

others. “This is in many ways just a continuation and

And Spanish teacher Lourdes Gonzales has already

acceleration of what we had been doing for the past

worked with several of her STEAM colleagues on

year,” Ms. Gustafsson says. Ms. Zagajeski adds, “In

a monarch butterfly unit and later in the year will

any quality science program, the integration of other

connect with art teacher Samantha Smithline for a

disciplines should occur as a matter of course.”

study of the Aztecs. “The more you connect Spanish

Little School math specialist Mary Ann Rota sees

with other disciplines, the greater the language

Innovation Alley as a vehicle for showing students

acquisition,” she says.

that math even connects to the “A” in STEAM.

Even decorating the space — in its permanent and

“Children need to realize that math is not just

temporary form — became a project for the team.

the hour-long class that they have,” she says. “For

Ms. Smithline worked with Mx. Nackerud to graffiti

instance, when doing a simple painting, you have to measure, you have to decide placement, you have to organize and plan. I’m glad that so much more than just the obvious connections between math, science and technology are being made.”

the temporary walls (which was documented on video and shared with the school community). They also will be using a vinyl cutter to design images to put on the glass doors that connect various rooms. “Students will make images

Cindy Cohrs-Brandt, Little School librarian, likes

representative of the different seasons using the

that information resources are now moveable,

vinyl cutter, which teaches them about positive

meeting the children where the task is taking place.

and negative space,” Ms. Smithline says.

Working on art in The Kamiel Solarium

A redesigned Little School lobby and reception desk creates a welcoming sight for visitors and students alike

Upgrades to Morrow House

Improvements weren’t limited to Little School this year. Thanks to the generosity of donors to our Apple Tree Fund, as well as purchasers of items from the wish list created for the 85th anniversary gala, several important upgrades were made to Morrow House to enhance learning, create a greater sense of community and just spruce the place up a little bit. This year, our oldest students were able to get new bottle-filling water fountains, Harkness tables, a redesigned student lounge and a new lunch room. Students love the Harkness tables, which are large ovals designed to facilitate open discussion. “It’s good because it’s easier to see your classmates and what they are trying to convey. It’s almost like being at home and everyone is talking to each other,” 12 APPLETREE

Emily Spaeth, a music teacher as well as a lower school parent, sees the benefits for herself and her daughter. “It’s key for students to see teachers working together as a team and to be able to model that — it shows them that everyone brings different strengths to a project. And my daughter, Sage, is already coming home speaking about how subjects carry over from one class to another — it’s those kinds of connections that make learning stick.” Adds Beth Brennan, lower school head, “We’ve said for a long time that we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist today — jobs we can’t even imagine. Bringing collaborative spaces for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math to lower school students will help them develop flexibility, collaboration and other habits of mind that are crucial to their future learning.”

Constructing a 3D printer in The Kamiel Solarium

Enjoying library books in the ColLABrium

says eighth grader Safia Singer-Pomerantz, who adds that students seem to contribute more when they are arranged around the table. “Last year, more teachers were leading discussions, and now we are.” A central place to dine and build community was long missing at Morrow House, but with new furnishings, the Russell Berrie Music Room has been converted into a flexible multi-use community space, with ample opportunity for students to socialize indoors — and when the weather is favorable, outdoors as well. Eighth grader Lori Hashasian says, “Before, you were always just eating with people from your own advisory in a classroom. Now, you can eat lunch and socialize with other kids, inside and outside.” Adds fifth grader Benjamin Lefkowitz, who is new to Morrow House, “You don’t just see your grade at lunch. You get a chance to meet other people.”

The student lounge was also redecorated, and students are happy that it’s getting more use. “The couches are great and so are the high tables,” says Malachy Guzman, an eighth grader. “The room really gets used — I even see the teachers in there now.” With the building’s new eco-friendly bottle-filling water fountains, students are staying hydrated and helping the environment by filling their EMS-issued water bottles. “Before, we always had to go to the gym to get water, but now we can have it on the go,” says Shira Mandelzis, a sixth grader. While there are always improvements that can be made (students recently raised funds for a student lounge foosball table), the changes made over the summer are getting noticed, and increasing the satisfaction of all those who call the building their home on campus. APPLETREE 13


S M 4E

y l l a R # Rally4EMS a Smashing Success



TOTAL RAISED More than 270 people, including FOR THE parents, alumni, grandparents, APPLE TREE FUND faculty, staff and friends, participated in the first-ever Rally4EMS, a monthlong appeal that raised nearly $375,000 toward the Apple Tree Fund. Culminating with a special day of giving on October 28, the rally brought a new level of awareness about the impact of philanthropy to the school. Social media added an exciting new dimension to our efforts, publicizing the rally to EMS alumni and friends who live beyond the New York metro area. Proceeds from the Rally support professional development for teachers, computers and new technology, Morrow House refurbishments, security upgrades, improvements to the Little School steps and much more.

We want to thank everyone who participated in Rally4EMS and send a special shout-out to the many volunteers who helped make Rally4EMS a smashing success!

Welcome Director of Development Keith L. Wiggs Many of you have already met our new Director of Development, Keith L. Wiggs. He began in July after the retirement of our longtime director, Penny Lippe. Mr. Wiggs has led a distinguished career in fundraising, having served in key positions with leading performing arts and educational institutions in the New York metro area. He joins EMS after five years as Associate Director of Development at Montclair Kimberley Academy. Previously, he was Executive Director of Development and Major Gifts Officer at Montclair State University. “I feel very fortunate to join such a wonderfully supportive team of professionals,” he says. “Since coming to EMS, I’ve witnessed excellent teaching in an environment of boundless creativity where students, teachers and parents are committed to working together. My hope is to cultivate the financial resources our community deserves and to inspire everyone to help EMS reach its potential as a leading independent school. I look forward to meeting everyone!” 14 APPLETREE

The Morrow Society gathered on Thursday, September 15, at the home of Dana Romita ’84 for its annual cocktail reception, recognizing donors of $3,500 or more to the Apple Tree Fund. More than 70 guests enjoyed the spectacular weather with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the back deck. Head of School Aaron Cooper offered welcoming remarks and Development Committee Co-Chair Gil Mandelzis thanked everyone for their generosity toward the school.

THE BOOK FAIR – A PERENNIAL FAVORITE! by Phyllis Kesslen, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations The Parents Association outdid itself once more with the annual Book Fair, held on November 8-10 in the Peter Lawrence Gymkhana. Among the plethora of books, raffle items and café treats, the Fair featured a variety of guests and activities with featured authors, Geoff Rodkey and Sergio Ruzzier; book talk with Paul Baly and Beth Brennan; a mindfulness workshop by Kara Cooper and Beth Brennan; Musical Storytime with Tricia Eickelberg; our beloved Kindergarten Flashlight Picnic and creative after-school workshops for children. In addition, the Community Service Committee collected books for the Hackensack Boys & Girls Club. Again this year, we were thrilled to welcome back our alumni parents as well as many of our high schoolage alumni for a Book Fair reunion. “There’s nothing like the Book Fair,” says Head of School Aaron Cooper. “I can’t tell who looks forward to it more — our students, faculty, parents or alumni. We are so grateful to our Parents Association and all its volunteers for producing this amazing allcommunity event, and especially to our Book Fair co-chairs, Shabri Mitta and Catherine Ferreira, for a job well done.”



FROM EMS TO D1 LACROSSE RECRUIT Many of our students first discover their

“Speaking to many coaches and visiting

passions at EMS, and Alex Borg is no

several colleges before my junior year

exception. Alex is a D1 recruit in lacrosse

had started was an amazing privilege.

who will be heading to Providence College

I was being afforded a chance to be

next fall. Now a senior at Bergen Catholic

accepted into college in what some call

High School, Alex remembers his start in lax

‘super early decision.’”

like it was yesterday.

Alex says he fell in love with Providence

“I first picked up a lacrosse stick in sixth

College from the moment he stepped

grade when my best friend’s brother, Justin

on campus. “I knew it was the place for

Imperatore, who is now a goalie at D3

me. It was truly a dream come true. That

powerhouse Amherst College, was shooting

weekend, my entire extended family from

around in his backyard with Garrett

Texas was here to visit, and we made the

Dickerson, an EMS alum who is now a tight

decision together.” As for his success in the

end at Northwestern. Garrett was shooting

sport, Alex is quick to credit Coach Escala’s

on Justin, and I joined in. I’ll never forget

guidance and the skills he learned at EMS.

that moment.”

“Coach Escala has had a large impact on

Alex went on to play lacrosse for DwightEnglewood and Bergen Catholic, and scored two goals against Seton Hall Prep in the state semifinals game at Bergen Catholic, a career highlight. He was selected for the 2017 Under Armour All-American team, “an amazing experience,” he says.

me both as a person and as an athlete. He brought great enthusiasm, expertise and energy to each practice, and helped me through the growing pains of a new player. Without his guidance, I believe that I would not have developed the passion and joy I have for lacrosse today.” He also adds this piece of advice for those looking to follow in his footsteps: “Work as hard as you can in

Alex made the Patriot Lacrosse Club, a top

school, as grades do matter to the coaches.

tier team. “This provided exposure to college

I am thankful to Elisabeth Morrow, which

coaches during the fall of my sophomore

helped me develop study habits that I still

year and the following summer,” Alex says.

use today.”

Photo credit: Antonio Olivero,

In the beginning of his sophomore year,



Our EMS girls tennis team had a solid season this fall, finishing with three hard-fought victories against Saddle River Day School (twice) and Tuxedo Park School once and one tie against Dwight-Englewood. With lots of new faces and a varied level of experience with the game, the girls held their own against the competition.


Flag football had a great season, going 1-1 in their games vs. Saint David’s School. The flag football players worked hard in practice, and with four eighth graders, four seventh graders and two sixth graders, the team would compete 5-5 every day with almost all games going down to the last drive.


The traditional soccer program at EMS — a boys team and a girls’ team — transmogrified into a co-ed program this fall, and the result was a lively team unity that led to a fine record of six wins, four losses and two ties. Wins over Saddle River, Alpine, Collegiate and DwightEnglewood were the highlights of the season, and those contests featured crisp passing, deft scoring and stout defense.


EMS striders had a nice season of building endurance and speed. By the last meet, several runners achieved personal records and really started to understand the skill of racing, with strong race performances and improved race times.

class notes PROFILE

DR. RESHAN RICHARDS ’90 EXPLAINS EVERYTHING by Keith L. Wiggs, Director of Development

take the fifth grade trip to Philadelphia and participate in the Greek Olympics and Field Day,” he says. “EMS offered me the chance to explore so many different things.” Dr. Richards still remembers happy times in Mrs. Muller’s classroom, as well as many positive experiences with Mr. O’Leary in sixth grade and physical education with Mr. Love. After graduation from EMS, Dr. Richards attended Horace Mann and was well-prepared for the transition. “EMS provided me with academic freedom and opportunities to exercise my creativity. I was given the space to try new things without the fear of failure,” he says.

Dr. Richards in fourth grade at EMS.

EMS is a community of learners that extends far beyond our campus. So, it’s no surprise that among our many alumni are people, like Dr. Reshan Richards ’90, who have made significant contributions to the field of education. An adjunct faculty member at Teachers College and the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University and Chief Learning Officer at Explain Everything, Dr. Richards attended EMS from first to sixth grade. His parents were looking for a challenging and supportive environment for their children. Following Sri Lankan-American families choosing to attend EMS, “my siblings and I had an easy adjustment,“ he says. He remembers looking forward to EMS traditions which siblings Rukshan ‘89 and Rushika (Conroy) ’87 experienced before him. “I watched my brother and sister

Dr. Richards earned two degrees from Columbia and one from Harvard. He was Director of Educational Technology at Montclair Kimberley Academy, where he continues to teach an entrepreneurship course for graduating seniors called Startup 101, and he is the co-author of the recently published Blending Leadership: Six Simple Beliefs for Leading Online and Off (Wiley/Jossey-Bass). Many of Dr. Richards’ presentations and podcasts, including his TEDx talk, are available online.

“EMS provided me with academic freedom and opportunities to exercise my creativity. I was given the space to try new things without the fear of failure.” “It is not meant to replace the teacherstudent relationship. Rather, it helps teachers work beyond school walls and to mitigate barriers.” Just as it was for him at EMS, Dr. Richards notes that relationships are at the heart of education, and he believes that technology being developed now can only strengthen them. “Interpersonal relationships remain the key to good teaching and learning. Technology should never get in the way. Rather, it should help strengthen the bonds between educators and students. I never want technology to diminish that relationship.”

The Explain Everything app developed by educator, professor and entrepreneur Dr. Reshan Richards ’90

Over the last five years, he has been developing a mobile startup, Explain Everything, with his two Poland-based co-founders. “Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard that uses animation, records everything on the screen and allows users to share content easily,” he says.


class notes


CLASS NOTES We welcome news from alumni. Please email Phyllis Kesslen, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations, at

2001 A second-year student at Harvard Business School, Jordan Hurst Levine traveled this summer to Israel and Portugal, totaling 42 foreign countries he’s visited thus far. He looks forward to more travel in the future. 2007 Recently graduated from Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, Adam Kirsch was one of 10 students chosen to manage Cornell’s $1.6 million venture capital fund. He was also an officer of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club. Since graduation, Adam has worked on his own venture, Yorango, which develops online tools for property management.

2008 After graduating from University of Pennsylvania this spring and traveling to Israel and Portugal, Joshua Hurst Levine moved to Washington, D.C., to begin his career as a financial analyst. 2009 A senior at Brown University, Josh Kurtz is the proud recipient of Brown’s Poetry Prize for 2016 for his poem “Untitled.1970.” Maxine Menne is extremely busy with her senior year at New York University, where she manages the men’s ice hockey team while pursuing her master’s degree in elementary education. She also teaches first grade in an integrated co-teaching class at P.S. 57 in Harlem, NY. 2010 A junior at Muhlenberg College, Zoe Homonoff majors in psychology and double minors in creative writing and philosophy. She is the founder and co-president of the college’s creative writing workshop and online publication, Serendipity. She is also a member of the psychology honor society Psi Chi. Peer tutoring and transition mentoring are her favorite activities at Muhlenberg. Zoe attributes EMS’ 4C’s in helping her to connect to other students.

2016 Ishan Walia, a freshman at Trinity School, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., along with his family and our own writing teacher, Laura Khutorsky. They celebrated the publication of his story, “An Instruction Manual on How to Survive an Indian House Party,” in the short anthology, The Best Teen Writing of 2016, from Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The story was a Gold Key winner at the regional level and won a National Silver Key. Ishan’s story will be on display at the Department of Education exhibit Art. Write.Now.DC, where approximately 65 works of art and several copies of the book will be featured for the next year.

Writing teacher Laura Khutorsky and Ishan Walia ’16

LOOK WHO CAME TO VISIT! Several alumni recently dropped in to Elisabeth Morrow to say hello. Queen Smith ’15 is a sophomore at the Academy of the Holy Angels. She is a varsity cheerleader for Saint Joseph Regional High School. Davide Andreadis ’16, now at York Preparatory School, and Kris Pursiainen ’16, who attends Bergen County Academies (BCA), also paid a visit, as did BCA senior Kelly Yen ’13. She hopes to go to Johns Hopkins University to study to be a pediatric surgeon. Kelly was also involved in the Harmony Garden Queen Smith ’15 project (see next page).


Davide Andreadis ’16 and Kris Pursiainen ’16

Kelly Yen ’13


Maxime Anthon ’13, Christian Maloney ’13, Elizabeth Herman ’13, Kelly Yen ’13, Erika Herman ’13, Amelia Gold, Maxine Musto ’13, Christopher Hall ’13 and Alexa Mitumbili ’17

by Phyllis Kesslen, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Mixing their love of music with a love of service alumnae twins, Elizabeth ’13 and Erika Herman ’13 designed and constructed a musical installation along a nature trail at Overpeck Park in Teaneck, enabling visitors to listen to music while creating their own soundscapes. “We’ve always played the flute and violin, so we wanted to combine our love of nature with our love of music and bring it to the Teaneck community,” Elizabeth says.

IN MEMORIAM Anna Dewdney ’77

Author and illustrator Anna Dewdney ’77, best known for her Llama Llama picture books, died from brain cancer in September at her home in Vermont. She was 50. Raised in Englewood, Ms. Dewdney attended Phillips Academy after graduating from EMS and later graduated from the Putney School. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in art from Wesleyan University. Llama Llama Red Pajama was published in 2005 by Viking Press and more than 10 million books in the series (which includes more than 10 titles) have been sold. Her last book, Little Excavator, is scheduled for release by Viking in June. Ms. Dewdney is survived by her partner, Reed Duncan; two adult daughters Barol and Cordelia Dewdney; her parents and her sisters.

Constance Fulenwider

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Constance (Morrow) Fulenwider in June.

The Hermans created their musical installation out of recycled materials after winning a fellowship grant from the Norton Family Center for the Common Good at Loomis Chaffee School, where they are seniors. Their idea was to allow kids to engage in music in novel ways and places. “EMS taught us the importance of music education and we wanted to build a space where children could experience music in a new setting and be creative with sound,” explains Erika. “Throughout the summer, our friends from EMS helped us with our project, personifying EMS’ spirit of giving back,” adds Elizabeth.

Ms. Fulenwider died suddenly of natural causes at her home in Weston, MA. She was 73. Ms. Fulenwider was a dear friend and supporter of The Elisabeth Morrow School. Daughter of Dwight Morrow, Jr. (Elisabeth’s brother), Ms. Fulenwider was fascinated by the curricular, technological and facility innovations here at school. She was delighted to interact with our students, and all looked forward to her visits with her cousins, Elisabeth Pendleton and Reeve Lindbergh. Ms. Fulenwider was a trustee of the Elisabeth Reeve Morrow Morgan Foundation, which was founded by the Morrow family upon Elisabeth’s death, and dedicated to supporting the school. A graduate of Wellesley College and a Davis Scholar, Ms. Fulenwider was a vibrant member of the Weston community, where she and her husband raised their family. Fulenwider also served on the board of the Boston Philharmonic. She is survived by her husband, Michael

The Hermans began the project in June and completed it in August. They built and installed the instruments from found and donated materials and cleared overgrown brush to create a proper home for the installation, named Harmony Garden. Family played a role in the project, as did percussionist Jimmy Musto, (father of Maxine ’13) who assisted them in building the instruments. To celebrate the opening of the Harmony Garden, Elizabeth and Erika organized a Family Music Fair in late August, with a musical instrument “petting zoo,” where children could play different instruments and try to make their own. The Fair featured a concert where the girls played flute alongside legendary jazz artist Jon Faddis, Jimmy Musto and their uncle, James Ilgenfritz.

Fulenwider; her sister, Faith Williams; her two daughters, Anne Fulenwider and Wendy Fulenwider Liszt; her two sons-inlaw and her four grandchildren. We are saddened by the loss of four alumni parents these past few months. Michelle Andreadis, wife of John, mother of Davide ‘16, passed away following a prolonged illness in Manhattan in July. Mark DiStefano, former EMS Trustee, husband of Margaret (Maggie) (MacFarlane) DiStefano ’64 and father of Alexis ’90 and Caitlin ’94, died after a battle with ALS in November in Manhattan. Robert E. Hyer, Jr., husband of Andrea, father of Gregory ’10, Caroline ‘12 and William ’14, died in a sudden jogging accident, in Tenafly, NJ, in October. Craig Lipka, husband of Nancy, father of Kensley ’11 and Connor ’15, died in early December. Our hearts go out to the Andreadis, DiStefano, Hyer and Lipka families. APPLETREE 19

class notes


A MATCH MADE IN KINDERGARTEN by Phyllis Kesslen, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations graduation. Their father, William Van Ness, was a former Trustee and Board President at EMS from 1987 to 1994. Adriel is from Cresskill. He joined EMS in kindergarten along with his sister, Lenis ‘91, who was in the same class as her now-brother-in-law, Will Van Ness. Adriel and Candace keep in touch with many of their EMS friends, including Camellia’s godmother, Kristen Lorello ‘94, and the best man at their wedding, Greg Jones ‘94.

Alumni parents are nothing new at The Elisabeth Morrow School. In fact, each year, we have dozens of families in which one member is a graduate. However, it’s not every day we have a family where both parents are alumni — Candace ‘94 and Adriel Gonzalez ‘94, proud parents of daughter Camellia ’27 and baby Theodore, met at EMS in kindergarten. “Not only do we have extremely fond memories of EMS, but also, through owning a test prep and tutoring company, I see the value in an EMS

education,” says Adriel. “Quite simply, students are curious and confident, both in their coursework and in themselves. Our EMS students never hesitate to ask questions and delve deeper into content.” He continues, “We moved to Englewood from Manhattan, with plans to send our children here so that they could experience this kind of empowerment.” Growing up in Saddle River, Candace and her siblings, Paige ’96 and William ‘91, went to EMS from the threes through

After graduating from EMS, both Candace and Adriel went on to DwightEnglewood. Candace then transferred to the Brooks School. She later graduated from Union College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts, and from Columbia University, where she received her Master of Social Work. Adriel went to Princeton University after Dwight-Englewood and is an entrepreneur and founder of Homework Doctors and Sally, a vehicle provider for rideshare drivers. “We are thrilled to have the Gonzalez/ Van Ness family back at EMS,” says Aaron Cooper, Head of School. “There is no higher endorsement than when alumni choose The Elisabeth Morrow School for their own children.”



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




TIONS EXPLORA The Elisabeth Morrow School

Summer String Festival 2017

Triple A Camp June 19–23

Summer Explorations June 26–August 11

Summer String Festival August 14–18

EMS Appletree Winter 2017  

Innovation Alley