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Spring 2016

50 years of Progressive education 1965 to 2015 - St. Francis School.

IN THIS ISSUE Just Mercy 20 Years of Imagine! Alum Profile: The Alwan Family Master Teachers

By Alexandra S. Thurstone G ’80, ’84,

Despite children’s young ages, there are criminologists today who say that some kids aren’t kids; they are super predators. We know that children fall down and they make mistakes, we know this is part of childhood, and we know that it is normal due to brain development. Wyvern Report

We have to get out of our safe and comfortable neighborhoods to walk in someone else’s shoes in order to understand their plight.

just mercy

3. We can’t change the world unless we commit to being hopeful. Injustice prevails where hopelessness persists. Hope allows disadvantaged children to believe they can do anything and achieve their dreams despite the odds. We have to commit to this in a world in which discussion of banning people from entire countries and from certain religions is commonplace in the U.S.

At the end of February, Suzanne Gorman, Jennifer Griffith, Luke Johnson and I all traveled to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference in San Francisco. My favorite speaker there was Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. He is an African-American man who grew up in Alabama and went to college in Pennsylvania, majoring in philosophy. He went to the only kind of graduate school where, in his words, “you don’t need to know anything – law school!” He attended Harvard Law School and there became very concerned about social injustice, an awareness that was heightened when he took a class that required him to spend a semester in the South working with a group that provides legal representation to those on death row. This experience changed his life and he knew then that he wanted to help condemned people get to “higher ground”. He has since founded an organization called the Equal Justice Initiative, and through his work there he asks the question, “What do we need to do to change the world, to create more hope and justice in the world?” In talking about this question, he shared some staggering statistics with us about the criminal justice system in the U.S.: • 2.3 million people in jail; highest rate of incarceration in the world • 70 million people with criminal arrests • 70% of women in jails are single women with children; many children today have the expectation of incarceration in their lifetimes • 31% of African-American men in Alabama have lost the right to vote due to incarceration • 1 in 3 African-American men and 1 in 6 Latino men in the U.S. can expect to go to jail in their lifetime


Stevenson’s address focused on how, given these sobering statistics, can we show mercy, and make a difference? He had four pieces of advice for us on this: 1. Get proximate to the poor and vulnerable – proximity is critical. Stevenson says we can’t make a difference from a distance. Proximity empowers us to make a difference and to really understand the causes of poverty. 2. Change the narrative of the problems we see. One example of this is that Stevenson believes we have to change the narrative about children. Despite children’s young ages, there are criminologists today who say that some kids aren’t kids; they are super predators. We know that children fall down and they make mistakes, we know this is part of childhood, and we know that it is normal due to brain development. Even the children who make egregious mistakes are still children and can learn from their mistakes. As a society, we have become far too willing to simply throw them away and put them in adult jails where they have no chance to become productive adults. Stevenson also bemoans zero-tolerance policies in schools as wreaking damage across the nation. Today, we have 10,000 children in adult prisons. His goal is to ensure that no one under 17 can be sentenced to life without parole.

4. Be willing to do uncomfortable, inconvenient things. Humans are programmed to seek comfort. But if we want to change the world, we have to be a witness. We have to get out of our safe and comfortable neighborhoods to walk in someone else’s shoes in order to understand their plight. Stevenson believes that the story of great education is when administrators intervene in spaces where there is despair and neglect, and this is hard work. Despite the fact that Bryan Stevenson has taken on an initiative that must be devastating to witness on a daily basis, in the state of Alabama which has the highest execution rate in America, he remains hopeful. He continues to ask “Why do we want to kill all the broken people – we want to suspend them and punish them?” He believes that this is because too many policy-makers and decision-makers are too far away from the people who are suffering due to their policies and decisions. Working with condemned inmates has shown him that “the broken will teach us about mercy and how to get to justice.” So much of what Stevenson had to say was so powerful, and his ideas are important ones in our quest to truly change the world. I highly recommend his book. It will be one of our faculty summer reading options this summer and we’d welcome discussion next on it fall. I’ll leave you with a few more of his thoughts for your reflection: • “I believe each person is more than the worst thing they’ve ever done” • “The opposite of poverty is justice.” • “The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” • “If we get close to the kids who are struggling, we can change the world.”



By Síofra Rucker G’84, Director of Advancement

This bright, airy, comfortable Commons Room will be the SFS home for our high schoolers. With windows facing Broadway and 3rd Street, the Commons Room will be the hub of student life. Complete with a student kitchen, game tables, lounge furniture, AV equipment, and, of course, charging stations, the Commons Room is large enough for the entire high school to gather together as a community.

This expansion significantly improves the student experience with two studentcentered areas: a cozy new Commons Room and a flexible “Space for Thought,” incorporating technology that can be used for classes, performances, lectures, and events. Wyvern Report

Coming (really) soon! We are expanding the School of Thought! This spring, we are purchasing the front of the 233 W. Broadway Building (some 17,000 additional square feet), which includes some of the most beautiful space in the building for our High School students. The main entrance of our building will return to Broadway, which will have a major impact on the School’s visibility in downtown Louisville. This expansion significantly improves the student experience with two student-centered areas: a cozy new Commons Room and a flexible “Space for Thought,” incorporating technology that can be used for classes, performances, lectures, and events. In addition, we will conduct a major renovation of our Science Wing, including “The Workshop,” our new MakerSpace. The science faculty thought about it, and they need upgraded labs and a MakerSpace to meet the needs of their students. The three current labs will be renovated and updated to facilitate lecture and lab work. The Learning Center will be moving upstairs to allow for its expansion and give the Science Department room for a large, flexible, MakerSpace. Our MakerSpace, which we are calling “The Workshop,” will be filled with everything from woodworking tools to laser cutters to sewing machines.


While the majority of the funds have been raised to purchase and complete this project, we cannot complete the work without help from all our supporters. Our Capital Campaign Co-Chair Ginny Frazier recently doubled her gift from $500,000 to $1,000,000 as a 1:1 matching gift that will allow each new gift and pledge up to $500,000 to be doubled! Our hope is that we will start construction this spring and open for the 2016-17 school year. With your help we can begin construction!

Left: High School Science Teachers (from left): Benjamin Studevent-Hickman, Physics; David Word, Biology; and Luke Johnson, Chemistry. Top: This flexible “Space for Thought” gives the School room to hold lectures, classes, AP exams, parent discussion groups, Open House, Parents’ Night, Grandparents’ Day luncheon. Bottom: “A MakerSpace is a general term for a place where people get together to make things. MakerSpaces might focus on electronics, robotics, woodworking, sewing, laser cutting, programming, or some combination of these skills.” MakerSpaces by S. Roslund & E.P. Rodgers

Please contact our Advancement Office to help us with Expanding Thought!


20 years of imagine! By Kim Hales, Director of Development

20 years ago, a St. Francis parent told the founding Head of School, Tom Pike, that we needed a new kind of a fundraiser. One that would be fun. One that would get interesting people to come. One that would be St. Francis-y. One that would raise money for the Scholarship Fund. She suggested an art auction. Tom Pike, master of delegation, said, “Great idea. You are in charge of it.” Wyvern Report

That was the start of two decades of the Imagine! Art Auction + Scholarship Fundraiser, which has raised more than $1,000,000 in student scholarship funds in its 20 years. Over the years, Imagine! has been held everywhere from the Marriott to the Gillespie to the Mellwood to the Henry Clay to this year at the Tim Faulkner Gallery. Guests have worn jeans, guests have worn gowns, and guests have worn feathers. It’s been on Friday night, Saturday night, and during March Madness. Guests have ranged from curators to collectors to philanthropists to teachers to artists to new parents to alums. In fact, many of the guests have no direct affiliation to St. Francis School at all but come for the art


and the fun. Throughout all the years, the one constant has been the focus on art and the artists. Realizing that artists, of all professions, should be among the last from whom we ask for a donation, we split the proceeds of the art sold at Imagine! 50-50 with the artists, and the artists set the minimum bid for each piece. This equitable collaboration with artists is essential to making Imagine! a success. “Imagine! is good for artists as well as for the school - and that’s unusual. For most art auctions, we are asked to donate our work or a portion of it, but with Imagine! we benefit just like if we were in a gallery,” said artist Susan Howe. The art procurement committee begins its work in each fall, soliciting regional and local


Special thanks to our 20th Anniversary Imagine! sponsors. Brown-Forman

Harry K. Moore Co.

Buffalo Construction

Lara & Robert Johnson

Commonwealth Bank and Trust

Kidz Club

Lancaster Built Homes Steptoe & Johnson PLLC

OB/GYN Associates of Southern Indiana

William and Julia Carstanjen

The Oliver Group

Join us. Support the Annual Fund.

Miller Family Foundation

Heather McHold and Steve Campbell Parents of Aidan, 8th grade, and Jamie, 5th grade Annual Fund Chairs Why do we give? Tuition covers a little less than 74% of the School’s operating budget. We give to help the School be extraordinary. We give because:

“Imagine! is good for artists as well as for the school - and that’s

We value the faculty. We give to support salaries and programs that help retain and attract exceptionally-trained teachers who are dedicated to the School’s Mission and each individual student.

unusual. For most art auctions, we are asked to donate our work

We value our national-award-winning Drama Project and our visual and performing art and music programs. They enrich our students emotionally, intellectually, and culturally.

or a portion of it, but with Imagine! we benefit just like if we were in a gallery,” professional artists to submit work. Sandy Schreiber said, “As a collector, I really enjoying working with the Imagine! art procurement committee. We contact local and regional​ artists, always looking for pieces that not only catch our eye, but also that we think will sell. We also look for one or two important pieces that will elevate the entire auction.” This year’s Imagine! Chairs, Jane Tierney and Julia Carstanjen, together with the art procurement committee, event committee volunteers, and Kim Hales, our Director of Development, held true to the intentions of the first Imagine! This year’s Imagine! was an immersive art experience at the

Wyvern Report

Tim Faulkner Gallery in Portland, with three working artists providing interactive experiences; live music, including the Louisville Orchestra’s own Teddy Abrams; and four pop-up galleries - Revelry Boutique Gallery, Kaviar Gallery, Stephen Rolfe Powell and The Tim Faulkner gallery, all together filled with interesting guests surrounded by art. It was a night that was most definitely fun. A night that got a wide range of people to come. A night that raised (a lot of ) money - over $70,000 - for the Scholarship Fund. Perhaps best of all, it felt like it was a true reflection of our School; it was St. Francis-y!

We value St. Francis School’s commitment to racial, ethnic, religious, and socio-economic diversity. St. Francis is one of the most diverse schools in the area and we like that the School aims to reflect the diversity of greater Louisville. Welcoming the most qualified students sometimes necessitates financial aid. We are proud that the School can currently dedicate nearly 27% of its annual budget to scholarships for over 50% of its students.” Please join us and support the Annual Fund. Heather & Steve

Here’s to 20 more years of Imagine!



Lindsey Brown Ronay G’84

If you are not receiving emails from the school, update your contact information by emailing Callie Gray, Director of Alumni Relations, at

Nathan Driskell ‘05

Jacob Williams ‘07

Wyvern Report

Adam Snyder ‘96

Lindsey Brown Ronay G’84 is the Director of Communication and Special Projects in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville. Recently, one of Lindsey’s colleagues commented on her curiosity and excitement for learning new things, which Lindsey attributes to her time at St. Francis. Lindsey has two sons, Cooper and Peter, who are in the 7th and 5th grades, respectively, at St. Francis. Their attendance at SFS has brought back all sorts of great memories for Lindsey from her time there. Pictured here in the Goshen play Mirror Mirror, a parody of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, directed by the late Ed Gupton. Distinguishable characters are Lindsey, who was Snow White with the big blue bow, Lowell Stokes G’83, the Boy Scout to her left, and Brian Archibald G’83 to her right in the blue suit. Those distinguishable on the floor are Anna Feitelson G’84 and Lane Blevins G’84. Adam Snyder ‘96 works as a freelancer in the television and film industry. Most recently, he worked on the A&E Docuseries 60 Days In as a production sound mixer. He also works as a location scout and manager on everything from commercials and documentaries to reality television and feature films. Adam has done sound for shows such as Sharktank, Mysteries at the Museum, The Today Show, Househunters and MSNBC, to name a few, and has scouted locations for films including Secretariat and 50-1, and for television shows such as American Ninja Warrior and the Food Network’s Food Star. Adam lives in Louisville with his wife, Sarah, and his two daughters Ava, 8, and Violet, 4. Josh Wilcox ‘01 stays busy wearing many hats. Recently, he spent three years helping to build a nonprofit for engineers and tinkers, known as LVL1 Hackerspace here in Louisville. Josh was featured in Louisville Magazine’s January 2016 edition for his work at LVL1 Hackerspace, where he built a robot for Red Bull called Nex. Previously, Josh helped out in the launching of New Roots, an organization that aims to provide the Louisville community access to farm-fresh food. Currently, Josh attends the University of Louisville’s Speed School, where he conducts NASA research and designs chemical plants as well as cell tower installations. Josh has one year left before he completes his degree. Last semester, Josh worked as an executive producer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, as well as serving as the President of U of L’s United Nations Association student chapter. As if this doesn’t keep him busy enough, Josh is also currently training to be a circus performer.


Mohamed Musa ‘13 and Bantu community members.

After St. Francis, Ghuneem “Gee” Abdulnur ‘02 got into sales management for a few years, working in telecommunications. Following that, Gee enlisted in the United States Navy and is currently serving as an aircraft mechanic, which has led him to six countries. Gee is currently finishing up his degree with a major in cybersecurity at the University of Maryland and applying for a UAV piloting program at the University of North Dakota. Good luck, Ghuneem! Nathan Driskell ‘05 went on to Brown University after St. Francis, where he majored in comparative literature. When he moved to Washington D.C., he developed an interest in public policy and advocacy around education issues, and he began working on training programs with teachers and low-income families. After earning his master’s degree in education policy from Harvard, he returned to D.C. to work as a policy analyst at the National Center on Education and the Economy, conducting research to inform state policymakers, legislators, and the public about international education topics. Together with his partner of eight years, Sam, he travels as much as possible; they try to find delicious new food wherever they go! Jacob Williams ‘07 kicked off his stand-up career at his St. Francis Graduation, where he gave a speech that he says was similar to a stand-up routine in nature. After St. Francis, Jacob went on to Beloit College, where he spent even more time doing stand up. He eventually moved to Chicago, where he took classes at ComedySportz, Annoyance Theater, iO and Second City, a renowned improvisational comedy theater troupe. Comedy has successfully turned into a full-time job and led Jacob through some fun experiences. You may have seen him in the semifinals of 2012’s America’s Got Talent and on MTV’s Wild ‘N Out, and he will soon be on the season premiere of Adam Devine’s House Party this spring.

Napo Matsoso ‘13

Kevin Lindon Ryan ‘07 was recently hired to work for Rachel and Company, a professional organizing and event planning firm in the Washington D.C. area. Kevin was hired to do public relations and marketing for new products. Alongside a handful of other Bantu community members, Mohamed Musa ‘13, who is originally from Kenya, worked to set up a resource center for the community. The goal of Musa’s work is to identify talented academic students from the community and to help them figure out options other than assigned schools, similar to Musa’s opportunity to attend St. Francis. (Musa attended St. Francis through our New American Scholarship.) Musa also wants to help adults better understand U.S. culture and expectations and how things work outside the community in terms of health, housing, and job opportunities. They are interested in speakers and tutors who can help them reach more people in the community with a new perspective. Please reach out to Callie Gray at if you would like to be connected with Musa to assist in this project. Napo Matsoso ‘13 is an All-American star of the University of Kentucky men’s soccer team and is ranked as the 13th best Division I collegiate player in the country. Napo is a midfielder and has been the recipient of many awards; he is also a “MAC Hermann Watch List Member,” the soccer equivalent of the Heisman Trophy prospect list. Coming to Louisville from Lesotho, Africa, Napo speaks highly of his time at St. Francis, appreciating how open the teachers were for him to approach any time, one-on-one, which he said helped him a lot, as he is not a very talkative person. Napo says that he is in very large classes at UK, and that he is thankful St. Francis gave him the confidence to go to a professor’s office with questions at any time. Napo is “having a blast” with soccer at UK and gives Ralph Marshall, his varsity soccer coach (and history teacher) a huge shout-out for all of his help throughout his time at St. Francis. We wish him the best as he is closing in on his dream of playing professional soccer. Go, Napo, we can’t wait to see you out there next season!


in memoriam



Henry Wallace G’76, ‘80 passed away in February 2016. Henry had a deep appreciation for adventure, nature, and especially the Ohio River. Ashley Johnson-Wilmoski ‘05 passed away on January 11th,

summer alumni show 2016 2016. Ashley was an avid U of L fan and graduate, and above all a proud mother to her son, Zachary.

Come one, come all! First it was Godspell, then Almost, Maine (which won a National Youth Arts Award for Outstanding Ensemble). Now, it’s time for Summer Alumni Show 2016, and this time we are taking on The Breakfast Club. Four shows will be performed at The Baron’s Theater on July 28th and 29th and August 4th and 5th. Auditions will be held Thursday, June 2nd (alternative date can be discussed if you can’t make it then).

The St. Francis community mourns these losses and sends Henry’s and Ashley’s family and friends well wishes.

wyvern holiday & more

We will also have an 80s band perform throughout the show, so we need musicians and singers as well as actors. Reed Gabhart, Head of the Goshen Campus, is taking this on to reassemble SFS students from all graduating classes to reinvigorate the Wyvern camaraderie. Email Reed directly at if you are interested. Any alumni from Goshen and/or the High School are invited to participate. The more alums, the better!

baby wyverns Congratulations to Marshall Eldred G‘79, ‘83 who welcomed a baby boy, Marshall Polk Eldred IV, to his family on April 30th.

Congratulations to Kenneth Cohen ‘84 on his marriage to Christopher Conway. After graduating from St. Francis, Kenneth went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania and then to med school at the University of Louisville. Kenneth now resides in and works as a psychiatrist in New York City.

Jared Frenzel Sulyok G’02, ‘06 married Alissa Sperling in Philadelphia on October 10th, 2015. The newlyweds live in Philadelphia, where Jared is an IT professional at Drexel University and Alissa is a high school physics teacher. Also in attendance at the wedding were St. Francis friends Jon Corwin G’02, ‘06, Brad Green G’02, ‘06 and wife Roseanne Brandreth, Orlando ‘06 and Emily Grimany Calas, and Shepard Vail G’02 ‘06.

Wyvern Report

2015 Wyvern Alumni Holiday Party

Becky and Rob G‘86 ‘90 Duncan welcomed a baby girl, Camilla Vaughan Duncan, into the world on November 30th. Dean Robertson

In November, Dean Robertson, beloved former St. Francis High School English teacher and now author, visited St. Francis for a reading and signing of her book Looking for Lydia; Looking for God, to which all alumni were invited. It was a very interesting and intimate discussion of her book among alumni and parents, followed by an all-school assembly with Dean. Thanks to Dean for coming back to St. Francis! On November 27th, more than 30 alumni ranging from the Class o​​f 2015 all the way to the Class of 1984 stopped by The Silver Dollar for our 2015 Wyvern Alumni Holiday Party. Alumni connected with their old peers as well as different generations of Wyverns to celebrate the holidays and our Wyvern Alumni Community. Thank you to all who attended and made it a fun, relaxing evening: Ron Mikulak, Kit Llewellyn, Alexandra Thurstone G’80,’84, Devin Emke G’84,’88, Siofra Rucker G’84, Bill Schreiber G’84,’88, Tom Henrion G’85,’89, Davis Tyler ‘91, Alice Gray ‘91, Kelly Wright ‘92, Jill Frank ‘97, Carolyn Gilles Hannan ‘99, Hilary Bendon ‘99, Erica Frank ‘00, Adam Hocker ‘01, Deron Simmons G’02,’06, Ari Bendon G’04,’08, Hazel Levine ‘09, Anna Memphis Levine ‘11, Julia Bendon G’07,’11, Brelin Tilford (former SFHS student), Olivia Beres ‘14, Eliza Jay ‘14, Anna Finkelstein G’11,’15 and Jordan Lyons ‘15.


Jesse Lebus ‘94 and his wife Meredith Brown welcomed Martha Anne Lebus into the world on January 29th. Jesse, Meredith, and Martha are currently residing in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

Marshall Eldred G’79, ’83

Charley Miller ‘96 started 2016 off with a bang, welcoming a baby girl, Maggie Vera Miller, to his family on January 19th. Charley graduated from New York University’s interactive telecommunications program in the spring of 2008 with a master’s degree in interactive design. He is now a game designer, app developer, and web producer. His latest app is called TouchCast. Meghan Gillis G‘97 ‘01 works at the Portland, Maine, public library, where her French comes in handy helping an increasingly multicultural clientele. Between that and motherhood, somehow she still finds time to write short fiction, putting to good use her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. In 2014, she won the New Letters Alexander Cappon Prize for Fiction; this year she has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her stories have been published In Salamander, New Letters, THE RATTLING WALL, Barnstorm, Folio, and Nat. Brut. Meghan and her husband, Adam, welcomed a baby girl, Ida, to their family in June 2015.

Cassie Caudill ’08

Meghan Gillis G’97 ’01

Camilla Vaughan Duncan G’86, ’90

Meryl (Bendon) Miller ‘02 welcomed a baby girl on December 18th. The family now resides in Baltimore, MD. Cassie Caudill ‘08 welcomed Adalie Elise on November 6th. Cassie graduated from cosmetology college last year and is enjoying this new chapter of her life! Jamee Ryan Rogers ‘08 and her husband, Hunter, welcomed into the world William Marques Alexander on February 7th. Jamee, Hunter, and William currently reside in Morehead, Kentucky.


wyverns in DC continued

The Alwan Family How did you become a St. Francis family? The Alwans’ mother, Dr. Faten Abdullah, says, “We moved from Iraq in 2004 because of the war there, and spent four years in a refugee camp in Jordan until the UN was able to help us get to America. We picked Louisville because of all the universities here. When we came here the girls were [slated for] Shawnee High School, and then Kentucky Refugee Ministries helped get us to St. Francis.”

On December 10th, the Wyverns flew to the Northeast! Head of School Alexandra Thurstone G’80 ‘84 and Alumni Coordinator Callie Gray headed to Washington, D.C. to gather with some Wyverns at Dupont Circle restaurant and bar Local 16 to celebrate Wyverns in DC. We had a great turnout, making it worth the trek, and we definitely plan on making this trip more often! Thanks to all of the D.C. alums who came out, including Porter Wiseman ‘95, Charles LeGette ‘97, Nathan Driskell ‘05, Audrey Matthias ‘05, Kevin Lindon Ryan ‘07, Miriam Roff ‘09, and Eli Beard G’08, ‘12.

Describe your paths after leaving St. Francis. Mais: “I won the Templeton Scholarship and am a senior at Hanover as a biochemistry major. I’m on the pre-med track and will be taking next year to volunteer at Norton Hospital.” Shahad: “I graduated last year from Spalding with a natural science degree and will be going to school next year to be a dentist or to get my master’s in public health.”

wyverns in NYC

Mohammed: “I am a sophomore at U of L with a major in biology, and I hope to go to med school, too. I am playing club soccer, too.”

From D.C., the Wyverns traveled even farther north for our annual Wyverns in NYC party on December 13th. We switched it up a little bit this time as Dara and Bill G’84, ‘88 Schreiber graciously offered to host the event in their Brooklyn home. Alums caught up with old classmates and networked with new Wyvern friends. Thanks to all who helped plan the event and who came: Kit and John Llewellyn, Zachary Golper (former Goshen Campus student), Katty Jones G’84,’88, Sayar Lonial G’81,’85, Nat Grauman, G’81,’85, Jill Friedman ‘86, Devin Emke G’84,’88, Rob Kemp G’85,’89, Kimberly Levin ‘91, Stephanie Honchell ‘02, Isaac Hodes G’04,’08, Dakota Isaacs ‘11, Anna Memphis Levine ‘11, Teddy Finkelstein G’09,’13, and Gray Thurstone G’10,’14.

Wyvern Report

Looking back at your time at St. Francis, what stands out? Do you recall a specific teacher or friend that influenced you in some way? Mais and Shahad both say, “Terri White [School Counselor].” Mohammed laughs and agrees, “Yes, Terri White.” “She’s the one who is like a second family to us. She had us do extra writing sessions and reading sessions with us. She even let us stay after school to do homework with her,” says Shahad. “Kit Llewellyn [College Counselor] helped us all. She even took Shahad and me on trips to visit colleges. I would never have applied for the Hanover scholarship [without Kit]. Kit made me do that,” laughs Mais. Mais continues, pointing out something that really stood out for them all: “The diversity at St. Francis helped us, too. Since everyone was different, it was easier for us to fit in.”


Muhannad Alwan, Faten Abdullah, Mais ’12, Shahad ’11, and Mohammed ’14 Alwan

How did you all three end up in the medical field? All three laugh again and point to their mother, a physician in Iraq, who worked to re-establish herself here in the U.S. Faten studied at home for two years for her medical license and then spent the next three years in Norfolk, Virginia, for her residency: “I went by myself for my career. These three were all set in St. Francis and college; no one wanted to move to Virginia with me. So for those years, we were all in school. Me in my residency, Mohammed at St. Francis, Mais and Shahad in college and my husband, Muhannad, studying for his CPA license.” Faten is now a primary care physician with Norton Healthcare. “Also, Mr. Word made me love biology, so now I am a bio major and want to go to medical school,” says Mohammed. “The community service [at St. Francis] helped me see that I wanted to help people,” says Mais. What advice would you give to St. Francis students and new alumni? “My advice would be to stay connected. Someone from St. Francis can help you, make an introduction, help you skip an initial step in your career,” Shahad says. “Don’t be scared. “St. Francis prepares you well for college. You will be fine,” says Mohammed. Mais agrees, “Yes, the transition to college is smooth after St. Francis. I was definitely prepared.” “Research papers are much easier for me than for other students who didn’t go to such a good high school. The volume of writing helped a great deal. All those papers for Miron paid off!” says Mohammed. In closing, Faten remembers, “My children were all struggling, crying, having such a hard time those first days. Everyone, every single person at St. Francis, helped my children. They went step by step, helping them, supporting them. I love St. Francis. We all love St. Francis.”



Spotlight Sam Borden, SFS Class of 2016

April 2015: Sam notches a perfect 36 on the ACT a few days after returning from the St. Francis Spring Break trip to China (during which he purchased an erhu in order to study the acoustics, physics, and tradition of this Chinese instrument for his Senior Project the following year). August 2015: The varsity soccer season gets under way with Sam, recipient of the Best Defensive Player award his junior year, anchoring the backfield. November 2015: Louisville Magazine honors Sam as one of its 2015 Super Kids. January 2016: Sam and the rest of the varsity Quick Recall team finish off their second consecutive undefeated league season and championship.

Cia White, High School English

Angela Katz, High School Spanish

Annette Rudd, Kindergarten

Ralph Marshall, High School History

Sukanya Chandramouli, Lower School Math

Tom Miron, High School History

Sarah Wallace, Middle School Math

Kim Aberle, Lower School Music

February 2016: Sam decides to participate in February Album Writing Month, the goal of which is to write 14 songs in 29 days.

“Sam manages to have all of the aptitude of a highpriest nerd while retaining the social graces of the coolest kid you’ve ever met. To the institution that receives Sam Borden: you are acquiring an impeccable mind whose academic strength is undeniable.” Wyvern Report

Spring 2016: Sam collects accolades and college acceptances; at the time this publication went to the printer, these included top-five individual finishes in Governor’s Cup district and regional math and science assessments, earning him a trip to the state competition, where he’ll also be part of the SFS Quick Recall team; early acceptance to Yale University; being honored as a Wells Scholar by Indiana University; National Merit Finalist status; and the invitation to be a Presidential Scholars candidate. Scholar, athlete and musician, Sam stands out even in the extraordinarily talented and interesting Class of 2016 at St. Francis. His accomplishments are noteworthy, to say the least, and go beyond even those noted above. Sam has taken so many AP courses that he reached the AP Scholar designation in both his sophomore and junior years (and, of course, will earn it for his senior year as well). He is a mainstay on our school academic teams, with top-10 individual finishes in Science Olympiad every year from 8th grade through 11th grade (so far) and top individual honors in the Jefferson County Math League as a freshman. His band, 2nd St. Bridge, placed second in the 2013 Kentucky State Battle of the Bands, with Sam as lead guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter. English teacher Brett Paice summed up Sam in this way in a college recommendation letter: “Sam manages to have all of the aptitude of a high-priest nerd while retaining the social graces of the coolest kid you’ve ever met. To the institution that receives Sam Borden: you are acquiring an impeccable mind whose academic strength is undeniable. More importantly, you’re receiving an affable and steady soul who strengthens a community through his balanced and alwayspositive approach to people. He will make your institution proud, just as he has made all of us at St. Francis.”


What makes a teacher a Master Teacher? A Master Teacher at St. Francis School is a special recognition for those who have achieved consistent excellence in teaching at St. Francis. Master Teachers are recognized by their peers as leaders among the faculty and as being at the top of their profession. Dedicated to their profession and their students, they are committed to employing the Progressive teaching philosophy in their classrooms and exemplify the Mission of the School on a daily basis. Master Teachers have taught for

a minimum of 20 years, five of which must be at SFS. This year we are proud to recognize three new Master Teachers: Annette Rudd, Kindergarten, Kim Aberle, Lower School Music, and Sarah Wallace, Middle School Math. These three Master Teachers join the ranks of Sukanya Chandramouli, Lower School Math, Angela Katz, High School Spanish, Ralph Marshall, High School History, Tom Miron, High School History, and Cia White, High School English.

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Master Teacher Annette Rudd, Kindergarten

How do you differentiate in your classroom?

What stands out about your first year teaching at St. Francis?

What are your favorite content areas to teach?

I think the openness of it all. The openness of the building, and the people, too. It was evident to me from the beginning that the whole school was oriented toward children and their needs.

What I love about teaching kindergarten is that we get to teach all content areas. I love all of it, art, literature, history, science, and math; getting to teach all of it is one of the beautiful things about being a kindergarten teacher. Interweaving these studies with nature on our gorgeous campus just makes it all the more wonderful.

When did you know you wanted to be a teacher? Tell us about a moment/experience. I knew that I loved children, but I didn’t like traditional schools. I really didn’t want to teach until I walked into St. Francis. I fell completely in love with this school: the big window looking onto the field, the open classrooms, the happy children moving around, the enthusiastic teachers, the music, the art. I am very sensoryoriented and don’t like an institutional feeling.

What is your favorite memory of teaching at SFS? My favorite memory is each year when the children write and illustrate a book together about their family. Seeing parents’ faces when they read it and hear what their children have to say - that is my favorite memory. And I get to make it every year.

Wyvern Report

What makes a student stand out and stick in your memory? Sometime a student will have such a strong personality, such firm inclinations at this early age that it just amazes me. They are so open at this age, you know how they are feeling each day. They are completely uncensored and excited about creating.

What is your greatest success in teaching? My greatest success in teaching is in helping all these children feel really safe and comfortable in their new environment, helping them know that whatever happens, the adults at school are there for them, and they can be themselves here.


A lot of what we do is open ended, divergent thinking. For example, writing a new version of a familiar story or making a pattern out of materials in the classroom. Our work involves choices and allows for different levels of sophistication. For more specific skill-oriented tasks, I can work one-on-one with one child on reading, for example, while the others are learning letter sounds. We can really tailor it to each child.

You’ve taught for 20+ years. Where do you see education going in our country over the next 20 years? The most exciting trend I see in education is the increase in research on the crucial role of play in a child’s development, as well as emotional intelligence and mindfulness. I hope that in the next 20 years, technology will allow teachers to have smaller classrooms while balancing that technology with more time in nature.

What is your superpower as a teacher? My superpower is empathy. I do my best to put myself in a child’s place and imagine what is going on in his or her mind. The St. Francis philosophy supports my making decisions in the classroom that will be best for my students in the given moment.


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Louisville, KY 40202

50 years of Progressive education 1965 to 2015 - St. Francis School.

IN THIS ISSUE Just Mercy 20 years of Imagine! Alum Profile: The Alwan Family

Master Teachers

Profile for Erika Schneider

Wyvern Report Spring 2015-16  

Wyvern Report Spring 2015-16