HACKLEY REVIEW SUMMER 2018
RESPECT QUESTIONS GROWTH
Photo: Kendall Wieland â€™19
Hackley challenges students to grow in character, scholarship and accomplishment, to offer unreserved effort, and to learn from the varying perspectives and backgrounds in our community and the world.
H A C K L E Y R E V I E W S U M M E R 2 0 18
From the Head of School
Jumping Off into Community
Josh Greenzeig ’16 uses music to find new ways to “enter here to be and find a friend.”
6 Portrait of a Hackley Graduate This year, Hackley explored a fundamental question: What habits and skills do we want to develop in our students across a K-12 spectrum?
8 Expanding Hackley’s Vision for Education The Walter C. Johnson Center for Health and Wellness opens up new opportunities in “looking toward the healthier life, intellectually and physically.”
18 The Hackery: Making, Doing, Learning Students K-12 are discovering new ways to envision their learning in Hackley’s Makerspace. By Steve Bileca Suzy Akin Editor Chris Taggart Primary Photography Alphabetica Design
© Copyright 2018 Hackley School. All rights reserved.
22 Life is What Happens A conversation with Wil Lobko and Rafi Malkiel on creativity and improvisation.
By Amanda EK Maxwell
30 “Welcome, Dear Visitors”: The Hackley Rwanda Partnership Five Hackley teachers travel to Rwanda to expand partnerships with two — and now, three — schools. By Suzy Akin
36 Phoenix Rising in the Land of 1000 Hills The new Rwanda, 24 years after genocide. By Suzy Akin
40 Endnote Winning and Losing By Jason Edwards
from the head of school
2031. That is the year of graduation for the newest class of Hackley kindergarten students joining us in the fall. The numbers sound far off enough as to be ridiculous, and yet at some point, so did the Class of 2018 (and likely any other graduating class year in Hackley’s history). Time’s arrow moves quickly, as does the pace of change. It is with this time horizon in mind that we engaged the faculty throughout the 2017-2018 school year to think collectively about the future of the school, asking important questions about a Hackley education now, in 2031, and the years ahead. How should Hackley position its program and approach to best serve students who will go out into a world that will look markedly different than today? What types of changes, challenges, and opportunities await our students and how can a school best position them for meaningful, rich lives? Hackley’s faculty explored these questions through a collaborative process designed to surface and reach agreement on the skills, mindsets, and qualities we seek to cultivate in our students. This project, which we called the Portrait of a Graduate, was driven by Hackley’s mission: “Hackley challenges students to grow in character, scholarship, and accomplishment, to offer unreserved effort, and to learn from the varying perspectives and backgrounds in our community and the world.” Starting in August, faculty worked with peers across academic disciplines and divisions to articulate the qualities of character, scholarship, and accomplishment Hackley seeks to develop in our students. Inspired and informed by the mis-
sion, faculty thought carefully about what qualities — or, as we called them, “habits” — should define a Hackley education. Through many conversations and drafts, we synthesized them into the version found on page seven. Importantly, the Portrait of a Graduate is a foundational document informing Hackley’s next strategic plan, and guiding the school to shape a shared vision for the future. As a school with a strong history of narrative, it feels appropriate to bring the Portrait of a Graduate project to life through the stories found in this issue of Hackley Review. You will see habits of character and scholarship in a wonderful profile of Josh Greenzeig ’16 by science teacher Amanda EK Maxwell. With humility and humor, Josh talks about his emerging music career, reflecting on the importance of community and creativity as a musician. Steve Bileca, Assistant Head of School, describes the impact of Hackley’s new pilot Makerspace. This K-12 resource, a blend of low- and high-tech tools and materials, is predicated on the idea of experiencing “joy in learning while navigating the challenges and failures that are integral to growth.” Through designing, building, playing, failing, and trying again, students and faculty are opening new avenues to develop these habits across disciplinary boundaries. Although the development of the Portrait of a Graduate was a student-centered endeavor, we see these qualities modeled by the Hackley faculty as well. A lengthy conversation between Rafi Malkiel, music teacher, and Wil Lobko, Upper School English teacher and Allstrom Chair in Foreign Affairs, is distilled into an enjoyable piece, ringing with overtones of collaboration and creativity.
Time’s arrow moves quickly, as does the pace of change.
2017–2018 Board of Trustees
Hackley Parents’ Association
John C. Canoni ’86, President Sy Sternberg, Vice President John R. Torell IV ’80, Treasurer
When I discuss the Portrait of a Graduate with parents, students, and alumni, they quickly understand the idea of a school cultivating habits of scholarship; for over 100 years, students and teachers have been learning together at Hackley. Fewer schools purposefully discuss and educate students around issues of character, however. Those familiar with Hackley will see echos of the school’s long tradition of moral and ethical character development throughout the Portrait of a Graduate. By defining the habits of character, scholarship, and accomplishment, we are expanding our leadership role and striving to reclaim “accomplishment” as stated in our mission. Rather than focusing on material accomplishment — wealth, status, prestige — we are invested in helping students acquire habits of accomplishment that are rooted in character and scholarship. Accomplishment — at least at Hackley — is best defined by what a students do with this education, how they shape and improve their world not for their benefit, but for the benefit of others. As you read the accounts of a recent faculty trip to Rwanda, you will see how this group was inspired by this trip and how they seek to rekindle a relationship with schools there to provide this experience for students.
Deborah-Ann Linnett, Executive Vice President
Maria A. Docters, Secretary
Pallavi S. Shah, Administrative Vice President
David A. Berry ’96 MD, PhD
Marian H. Hoffman, Upper School Vice President
Sherry F. Blockinger ’87 Christopher P. Bogart Roger G. Brooks Thomas A. Caputo ’65 H. Rodgin Cohen Dawn N. Fitzpatrick Jason J. Hogg ’89 Eric B. Gyasi ’01* Linda Holden-Bryant Keith R. Kroeger ’54 Kaveh Khosrowshahi ’85 Michael H. Lowry Timothy D. Matlack ’70 Harvinder S. Sandhu, M.D. Jumaane Saunders ’96* Sarah Unger ’03* Pamela Gallin Yablon, M.D. *Alumni Trustee Honorary Trustees Herbert A. Allen ’58 Daniel A. Celentano John T. Cooney ’76 Marvin H. Davidson Jack M. Ferraro H’63 Berkeley D. Johnson, Jr. ’48 Philip C. Scott ’60 Advisory Trustees
I hope you enjoy reading through this issue, reflecting on the Portrait of a Graduate and the ways in which you see these values at play in your life and those around you. This work centers the Hackley faculty as we welcome the Class of 2031 and the rest of our students in the fall, starting a process of growth, challenge, and joy once again.
Koichi Itoh ’59
Enjoy your summer...and this issue of Hackley Review.
Jonathan P. Nelson ’64
James L. Abernathy ’59 John J. Beni ’51 Harold Burson Mark R. Gordon Robert R. Grusky ’75 Michael G. Kimelman ’56 Diane D. Rapp Conrad A. Roberts ’68 Lawrence D. Stewart ’68 Susan L. Wagner Hackley Alumni Association, Inc.
Michael C. Wirtz head of school
Lisa Torell, President
Christie Philbrick-WheatonGalvin ’00, President Sallyann Parker Nichols ’87 Vice President Daniel E. Rifkin ’89, Treasurer Timothy L. Kubarych ’06 Secretary
Kaye J. Duggan, Middle School Vice President Chitra Dhakad, Lower School Vice President Alissa R. Goodman ’95, Secretary Erica Napach, Treasurer Nora Shair, Assistant Treasurer Leadership Team Michael C. Wirtz, Head of School Philip J. Variano, Associate Head of School Steven D. Bileca, Assistant Head of School Peter McAndrew, Director of Finance and Campus Planning Anne Ewing Burns, Director of Lower School M. Cyndy Jean, Director of Middle School Andrew M. King, Director of Upper School Christopher T. McColl, Director of Admissions John P. Gannon, Director of Development and Alumni Affairs Susan E. Akin Director of Communications Hackley School adheres to a long-standing policy of admitting students of any race, color, religion, gender identity, and national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender identity, or national or ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship or athletic and other school-administered programs.
Danny Lawrence Retires
Mary Funchion Retires
Danny Lawrence retires this June as he completes his 20th year on the Hilltop, drawing to a close his extraordinary career of 44 years of teaching at seven schools in three countries. Danny arrived at Hackley in 1998, taking on the roles of Middle and Upper School French teacher and Modern Languages Department Chair. During his 17 years as department chair, Hackley’s Modern Languages program expanded considerably to include Spanish in the Lower School, Mandarin Chinese in the Middle and Upper Schools, and a number of new Upper School elective courses.
Kindergarten teacher Mary Funchion retires at the end of the 2017-18 school year, when she completes her 24th year teaching Hackley’s most impressionable – and energetic — students. Her sense of humor and the deep knowledge she possesses of each of the children in her care have made her a valued colleague and teacher. Throughout Mary’s tenure, she has held numerous roles, both formal and informal. She chaired the Lower School Curriculum Council, served as a Lower School Faculty Representative, and initiated the Lower School math lab program for 1st and 2nd grades. In addition, Mary initiated, developed, and served as the co-director of the Assistant Teacher Program, one of the hallmarks of Hackley’s Lower School.
Beyond language instruction, Danny’s dedication to global education has been impressive and leaves a lasting impact on our school. Throughout his career at Hackley, Danny led and chaperoned many language immersion and exchange trips, while also encouraging and supporting colleagues to do the same. During his two decades at Hackley, he traveled with Hackley students to six countries: France, Canada, Spain, Cuba, China and Vietnam. Danny is also a regular presence at admissions events, proudly representing the school and welcoming prospective families. A highly sought-after Upper School academic advisor, Danny is a valued colleague, important mentor, and good friend to many –and we will all miss him greatly! Upon retirement, Danny plans to move back to the United Kingdom, taking up residence in Manchester. Please join us in thanking him for two decades of remarkable service to his students, his colleagues, and the Hackley community.
One of Mary’s great legacies is the way that she sought to connect her students to the “big kids” on our K-12 campus. Twenty-one years ago, she started the Kindergarten-5th grade buddy program, later migrating it to the Kindergarten-4th grade buddy program when the 5th grade moved to Middle School. In recent years, she expanded her collaboration to include the Upper School through the Upper School/Lower School Student Teacher Program, and through partnerships with Upper School science classes. These many contributions to Hackley made her a natural choice to be the inaugural DelMoro Award winner. Please join us in congratulating Mary on her retirement, and in celebrating her great service to Hackley.
Eve Kleeger Leaves Hackley
Dr. Eve Kleeger leaves Hackley this year to be home with her two daughters. Over her 16 years at Hackley, she has served as both Middle School and Lower School psychologist, touching the lives of many students, faculty, and staff. She pioneered Hackley’s outstanding Lower School Character Education program, and more recently, brought to us the Building Bridges program, which showcases disabilities in an educational and positive light. Her talents in program direction and interpersonal skills are greatly admired and appreciated. She has been an integral member of our community, and we will miss having her with us to empathize, laugh and support us all. We send her off with our gratitude and the expectation that she will visit often!
Renée Pabst Named Health Education Department Chair
Renée Pabst joins Hackley on August 1 as Department Chair of Health Education. In this newly created position, Renée will oversee our health education curriculum and wellness programs, serve as a conduit for and champion of best practices in health and policy for the Hackley community, and work closely with faculty, administrators, staff, and health professionals to promote personal and institutional wellness at Hackley. We look forward to welcoming Renée and her family to life on the Hilltop! Director of Health Education at Vassar since 2008, Renee holds a BS in Psychology and an MA in Psychology with a concentration in Counseling. At Vassar, Renée oversaw the development of health curriculum and wellness programming to address health promotion and prevention among the student body. Prior to working at Vassar, Renée was an adjunct professor of Personal and Community Health at Marist College and a Community Educator at the Council on Addiction Prevention and Education. She holds certifications and licenses in Critical Incident Stress Management, Sexual Assault Violence Prevention, Suicide Risk Assessment, Alcohol Screening and Intervention and she is a NY State Licensed Mental Health Counselor.
Hackley Names Four New Chairholders
This spring, four faculty members were named the next holders of Hackley endowed chairs. Middle School science teacher Melissa Boviero succeeds Melissa Stanek as the new holder of the Akin Family Chair. Upper School biology teacher Tessa Johnson has been named to the Sternberg Family Chair as current holder Erica Jablon finishes her term. Upper School English teacher Wil Lobko is our new Allstrom Chair in Foreign Affairs, the role held through this year by Dr. Adrianne Pierce. Finally, Drama teacher Willie Teacher follows Heidi Chisholm as our new Ferraro Family Chair in the Arts for 2018-22. Each recipient, like those chosen to hold these chairs in the past, represents and upholds the best about the teaching profession: professionalism, dedication, humor, meaningful relationships with students and visible commitment to their growth, passion for their disciplines, and an enduring belief in the power of education. In nominating them, their peers noted that these individuals: • “[model] strength of character and emotional courage...” • “...bring an unbridled enthusiasm for both students and the subject matter.” • “[are] among the most nimble and creative individuals with whom I have had the good fortune to work” • “make sure that students see the connections between what they are learning in the classroom and the outside world.” Please join us in congratulating Wil, Willie, Tessa, and Melissa. Likewise, please join us in thanking the philanthropic leaders who endowed these chairs.
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Portrait of a Hackley Graduate Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, Hackley faculty members explored a fundamental question: What habits and skills do we want to develop in our students across a K-12 spectrum?
and our program: an emphasis on relationships, embracing a diversity of perspectives, accomplishment defined by serving a greater public purpose rather than by material gains, and the development of enduring academic skills.
In partnership and conversation with one another across divisions and departments, faculty members helped create the aspirational vision shared below. The process helped surface and affirm important values, skills, and ideals that fully articulate the habits of “character, scholarship, and accomplishment” we seek to develop in our students.
Creating this document was an essential first step in the generation of our next strategic plan. By working together to think about the attributes and habits developed by a Hackley education, we created an important touchstone for the community, something we will use for years to come as we shape the broad strategic future of the school and in our daily work with students
Our “Portrait of a Graduate” vision connects overtly to Hackley’s mission, our mottos, our unique school culture,
A HACKLEY EDUCATION… cultivates habits of character that help students choose to:
creates habits of scholarship that lead students to:
elevates students to form habits of accomplishment, uniting character and scholarship to:
• Treat others with respect, honesty, and generosity in thought, word, and action
• Experience joy in learning while navigating the challenges and failures that are integral to growth
• Act with humility, integrity, and sense of responsibility toward the greater good
• Explore the breadth of their intellectual curiosity, stimulate their creativity, and pursue meaningful questions
• Demonstrate the personal courage to attempt new things, the intellectual courage to consider new ideas, and the moral courage to stand for matters of principle
• Respect and strive to understand varying backgrounds and perspectives, fostering empathy, friendships, and community
• Communicate ideas, arguments, and analysis clearly and persuasively • Collaborate to sharpen thinking and broaden perspectives
• Create a sense of purpose, orienting talent, service, and actions to transcend individual success • Reinforce the immeasurable value of a life marked by friendship, balance, and joy
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the walter c. johnson center for health and wellness
Expanding Hackley’s Vision for Education The Walter C. Johnson Center for Health and Wellness opened with flourish on Monday, January 8, 2018. The K-12 student body gathered in the new building for a ribbon cutting, and then Head of School Michael Wirtz announced, “We’re not going back to class today!” Instead, students of all ages joined in a day-long festival of health and wellness activities — from yoga to flamenco dance to cooking, puzzle-making, art, and yoga. Reflecting on the opening festivities at the formal dedication on January 22, Francesca Docters ’18, president of Hackley’s student government, Community Council, shared the student body’s excitement about the new Johnson Center and its impact on student life.
Clockwise from top left: New squash courts; fencing studio; Varsity Gym; Community Council leaders cut the ribbon; The K-12 community gathers in the new double gym for the opening ceremony.
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Students enjoying health and wellness activities on Opening Day.
“This Johnson Center could place Hackley in a very special area in education. No matter how many years the kids spend here, they should be able to look toward the healthier life, intellectually and physically. That would be a big deal. That would be a pretty good thing to provide. There are not many schools that do that.” herbert allen ’58 honorary trustee, parent of alumni, and grandparent
francesca docters ’18 president, hackley community council
After the [January 8th] Opening Ceremony, all students, K-12, enjoyed health- and wellness-related activities throughout the day, with plenty of them taking place here in the Johnson Center. They had the chance to tour the building with friends and try new things, it was truly a day for the community. One sophomore commented, “Last Monday was an epic surprise, really educational, fun, and relaxing, and helped us all bond as a school and a grade.” Students in the second grade class 2F were excited to be the first ones to run around the indoor track. A fifth grader admired the contemporary design of this building and how it connects the academic buildings of this campus to the football field (a pretty impressive thought for a fifth grader). In addition, the bright light and glass windows throughout the building keep the different areas integrated, giving this center a very open and cohesive vibe. Another student, a freshman, mentioned how she “thinks the atmosphere in [here] is going to be very different and more focused on supporting and keeping everyone in our community healthy, while still being a place where people can compete with each other and work hard.” And they’re exactly right — the day we spent in here together reminded us that even amidst the hustle of our classes and everyday activities, it’s important that we take a break and do something to boost our wellness. And now, everything we could possibly need to do that is right here. This center will bring a transformative experience for anyone who steps on campus.
Not only does it present new opportunities in athletics, but the center helped students realize the exciting opportunities the massive space gave us that day and will give us in the future. For example, many of us participated in dancing classes from around the world, opening our eyes to different cultures and learning new things. In fact, when I spoke to lower school students, they were all so enthusiastic about circus arts. One student even said that although he couldn’t juggle very well, he still enjoyed watching other people do it. I think it’s pretty great how much they value recognizing and learning from each others’ talents. In a nutshell, this Center for Health and Wellness fulfills aspirations of making Hackley a place where we can work hard, learn from one another, and enjoy the time we have together. I feel very grateful to those who have contributed to provide Hackley with this amazing center. On behalf of the student body, I want to give a special thanks to the Allen family for having the well-being of the current and future classes and generations of Hackley students so close to their heart. I also want to thank all those that worked diligently to make this a reality, and I want to thank you all for choosing to honor Walter Johnson, who dedicated a large part of his life to make our school the greatest it can be.
F E AT U R E
Clockwise from left: Students and faculty make good use of the new fitness center; Students immediately made “The Nest” their own, socializing and studying. Why “The Nest”? Upper School students named it this because, of course, “Hornets live in nests!”; Winter track team enjoying their new practice space; the running track proves a great place to watch practice, or do homework!
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“This Center for Health and Wellness fulfills aspirations of making Hackley a place where we can work hard, learn from one another, and enjoy the time we have together.” francesca docters ’18 Clockwise from top: Wrestling room; weight training room; main entrance
John Canoni presents dedication plaque to Tracey Eve Johnson and Will Johnson ’12.
at the january 22nd dedication, tracey eve johnson offered these gracious thoughts As Walter neared the completion of his 21-year tenure as Headmaster of Hackley, he was deeply honored to learn that this innovative Center would bear his name. The Center embodies a number of the principles which guided his leadership of the school. • A commitment to continuing investment in Hackley’s facilities and physical plant; • A belief in the important role that athletics plays in education — as a means of providing opportunities for students to build character, to learn teamwork, to excel, and to have fun; • And a strong desire to prepare all our students to live healthy and balanced lives. Those of you who were involved in the development of this Center will remember Walter’s excitement on behalf of the school as it started to become a reality. Working with you to define and shape the Center — first in conceptual discussions about the educational programs it would support, then working with the architects to plan the physical spaces, and eventually participating in the ceremonial groundbreaking — brought Walter an enormous sense of institutional and personal satisfaction. And, if it were he who were standing here today, I know he would tell you that the most exciting part of all is to see this amazing space in action: filled with learning, with character, with health and with joy. Walter was deeply committed to promoting Hackley’s excellence in every sphere, and he didn’t shy away from proposing ambitious goals for the school. Indeed, I think there were times when some of you might have wished that he’d take things a little more slowly!
But he was confident that the school’s strong leadership and the exceptionally talented, hard-working and generous Hackley community could make it happen. And you did! You planned it, you funded it, you built it, and you’re filling it with innovative educational opportunities. Congratulations on a truly impressive accomplishment. On behalf of our family, I’d like to say how deeply grateful we are to Herbert Allen and to the Allen family for the extraordinary gift that made this Center possible, and for your great kindness in proposing that it be named after Walter. We’re also eternally grateful to the Hackley Trustees and to the Board’s leaders, past and present, who shared Walter’s vision of what the school could become. Thank you for honoring Walter’s legacy by dedicating this remarkable building to him. It was profoundly meaningful to Walter to know that his name would be linked with Hackley in this enduring way. And we’d like to recognize and thank the many people across the Hackley community who have worked so hard, in so many ways, to bring this outstanding facility to completion. I know this was a long and challenging project, and you can be justly proud of the results of your efforts. Like all of you, I’m thrilled and inspired by the excitement surrounding the opening of this Walter C. Johnson Center for Health and Wellness. I look forward to seeing great things accomplished at Hackley in the years ahead, both here in this building and across the entire breadth of the school.
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Walter C. Johnson Headmaster (1995-2016) During his 21 years of leadership, Walter C. Johnson embodied the Hackley ideal of “unreserved effort,” working tirelessly to improve the school’s programs and campus as he honored Hackley’s past with a vision for the future. He oversaw the redesign of Hackley’s buildings and grounds, beginning with the purchase of 172 adjacent acres of land from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Fund. His leadership continued through construction of new Lower School, Middle School, and science buildings; creation of five new athletic fields, a new track, and new cross-country trails; and renovation of Goodhue and Raymond Halls. He strengthened Hackley’s overall financial stability and expanded faculty compensation and financial aid resources. He saw in Hackley a good school with the potential to be great, and led the way there. Walter Johnson’s vision included engaging all members of Hackley’s K-12 community in lifelong learning about health and wellness, a plan defined in partnership with Herbert
A. Allen ’58, members of the Allen family, and the Board of Trustees. Together, they imagined a space in which all members of the Hackley community would enrich their lives through increased understanding of health, nutrition, and fitness, and develop lasting appreciation for deeper qualities of well-being. The Walter C. Johnson Center for Health and Wellness supports Hackley’s earliest Headmaster’s hope that Hackley would be “a place where it should be ‘easy to be good.’” The proceeds from the sale of three Impressionist paintings — Ethel Strong Allen’s extraordinary bequest that included Monet’s 1905 Nympheas (pictured, above) — made realizing this vision possible. In appreciation for Walter Johnson’s leadership and vision, the Board of Trustees voted to name The Walter C. Johnson Center for Health and Wellness in his honor. We are grateful to the Allen Family and all whose generosity and commitment made this Center possible.
This text greets visitors on the dedication wall near the Johnson Center’s main entrance, beside a reproduction of the Monet painting shown above.
Targeting LEED Gold Consistent with its mission to support health and wellness, the Johnson Center was designed with an emphasis on environmental sustainability. The building and its landscape were carefully planned, gently siting the 115,000 square foot complex into the existing wooded hillside of natural rock outcroppings and hillside trails, including a network of native plantings and a system of storm water drainage “cells” to manage and mitigate water run-off. Windows throughout the building provide beautiful views across the improved landscape, which also provides habitat for forest life. The project also includes a large rooftop solar array, generating 375,000 kW hours of electricity per year, and the light colored roof reduces the heat island effect. The complex includes two large gymnasiums that will employ displacement ventilation systems as part of the highly energy efficient HVAC system, providing air at the floor level where the occupants are instead of using extra energy and ductwork to push air down from the 25-ft high ceiling structure. The project uses sustainable design components throughout, including reclaimed, recycled wood paneling salvaged from a church in Alabama, as well as a high proportion of regionally sourced materials, low emitting flooring and composite wood, high recycled content and low VOC materials. Light fixtures are all LED, and efficient plumbing fixtures reduce water use. The design effort included extensive energy modeling techniques and the project has a EUI value of 44, which amounts to an energy savings of almost 60% compared to similar base models. In areas with the most abundant natural light, Hackley has installed View Dynamic Glass, an exterior glazing system using Electrochromic exterior glass which can be programmed and controlled to tint to an equivalent of 99.5% opacity to reduce glare and heat gain, and to avoid the need for motorized window shades.
From the top: Fourth grade students running up to P.E. class in the Johnson Center; Johnson Center balcony, overlooking “The Nest,” where students love to gather; “The Well,” named by Upper School students, offers smoothies and healthy snacks in the afternoon and early evening.
By Steve Bileca, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs
The Hackery: Making, Doing, Learning Kindergartners constructing African Kalimbas (thumb pianos) to learn the fundamentals of musical tone. Middle schoolers engineering self-propelled underwater robots that they program to swim a precise course in competition against others. Seventh graders creating Japanese Daimyos (medieval manor estates) to illustrate the political and economic model of feudal Japan. Upper School Advanced Greek students building their own soil sifters using wood, wire mesh and hand tools in preparation for their annual archaeology field work expedition. Twelfth graders fabricating a 3D-printed waterwheel and pendulum device to demonstrate the multivariable calculus equations that underlie the physics of resonance. What do these projects have in common? Hackley students designed, built and tested them all in our very own Pilot Makerspace during its bustling inaugural first trimester this year. Located on the first floor of Saperstein Hall, the Hackery, as students have affectionately dubbed it, is an exciting laboratory-like space where students from across the divisions come to learn by experimenting, making and doing. The Hackery integrates elements of a high-tech engineering and electronics lab, a traditional “shop class,” a carpentry workshop and an art studio, giving students the opportunity to experience first-hand Jean Piaget’s insight that “to understand is to invent.” And, if the first few months are any indication, I’d add that to invent is to fall in love with learning all over again.
With the opening of our Pilot Makerspace, Hackley is joining the “Maker Movement,” a cultural phenomenon that has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last decade in the United States and beyond. Anchored by annual flagship “MakerFaires” in San Francisco and New York and nurtured by Make and Wired Magazines, the idea behind the movement is deceptively simple: incredible learning happens when we experiment in a hands-on, social environment to create something meaningful that didn’t exist before. As Dale Dougherty, founder of Make explains, “What you see in the Maker Movement is a wide range of people, young and old, who are developing their talents and discovering new ways to solve interesting, everyday problems by working together on projects. Making is a meaningful form of personal expression that fosters creativity, builds community and encourages the collaborative practice of innovation.” In the context of schools, MIT’s famed Media Lab and Fab Lab are usually cited as the prototype of a Makerspace in an educational institution. MIT Professors Neil Gershenfeld, Nicholas Negroponte, Seymour Papert and Marvin Minsky imagined a place where design, media, technology and engineering would intersect so that students could create novel solutions to real world problems. As Makerspaces have begun to emerge in K-12 schools, Design Thinking is often introduced as a human-centered method to channel the process of ideation, prototyping, testing and refining the creations.
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Classics students making sieves; Kindergarten Kalimba project.
At Hackley, Jed Dioguardi has long been a champion of both Making and Design Thinking. For a number of years, he had been teaching an Upper School course entitled “Design Thinking, Applied Programming and Fabrication,” and he has presented on the topic at local and national conferences. In true entrepreneurial “Maker” spirit, Jed had been teaching the course in a small classroom he himself helped to retrofit with a 3D printer and a few sets of electronics kits and tools. While it served its initial purpose, neither the layout nor the equipment in the space were ideal. Similarly, Mary MurrayJones and Regina DiStefano had introduced Lower School students to these concepts through a portable “MakerCart” stationed in that division’s technology lab. So when Hackley received a generous philanthropic gift from Steven and Debra Schwartz P’15, ’17 for the express purpose of funding a Makerspace, Director of Academic Technology Erich Tusch and I knew to include Jed, Mary and Regina on the committee of 12 teachers we convened last spring to oversee the project. Coming from four departments and across all three divisions, the excitement generated by our faculty team brought energy and focus to the early morning meetings. We followed a Design Thinking process as we puzzled over how we might create an environment that could be utilized by 6-, 12-, or 18-year olds, and accommodate teachers from history to mathematics, science to languages, English to performing and visual arts.
Once we reached a few conceptual milestones, we brought in Gensler Architects to help with the physical design. Lead architect Mark Thaler explained that “the main goal was to give teachers the resources to develop project-based learning for students, to provide students with space where they can explore different kinds of making, and to create a truly ‘Hackable’ space.” Incorporating elements such as writeable walls, reconfigurable furniture and height-adjustable workbenches, The Hackery began to come to life over the summer and into the fall. Most of the teachers on the committee had already been engaging in Maker-like projects in their classrooms or with the Lower School’s portable MakerCart, so as the space took shape, their ideas for how to use it multiplied tenfold. As the project took hold, we brought Middle and Upper school students on board to help with outfitting the space and getting word out about what was stirring behind the doors of Saperstein’s Room 107. And that’s when things really sprang to life. The students organized Hackley’s very own “MakerFaire” to spark interest and awareness, displaying their own handmade projects, robots, contraptions and 3D models in the Grille Room just before the grand opening. On the teacher end, Trevor Shaw of Genesis Learning led 14 faculty members in an on-site Making, Engineering and Tinkering professional development workshop, familiarizing us with
Second graders making African Masks in the Makerspace.
paper circuits, Arduinos, Makerbots, sewing machines, hand saws, 3D printers and soldering irons, while inspiring us to create projects that fit into our curriculum and extend student learning. The doors officially opened the first week of February, and The Hackery has been abuzz ever since. What have we found so far? For one, a lot of joy can come from creating something from scratch. It is exhilarating to observe students lose themselves in the act of invention, undaunted by mistakes, giddily refining a prototype to get it to work. This is echoed by Visual Arts teacher Sarah Coble, who noted that when she and Will Molter taught a Making Workshop for the Upper School ExDay in The Hackery, “the kids were totally motivated and came up quickly with amazingly innovative ideas that combined sculpture, woodworking, electronic circuits and sensors — often in the same piece!” For another, Making has the potential to break through the often illusory boundaries that separate the arts, sciences, mathematics and humanities. When done right, a “making mindset” can help us recompose the relationship between disciplines and recast assessments as real-world experiences every bit as exacting as traditional tests — and perhaps even more so. A case in point. When Keshena Richardson brought her Post-AP Multivariable Calculus students to The Hackery, she gave them simple but clear instructions: build something that overtly demonstrates the validity of the math theorems behind the physics phenomenon of resonance. The projects that emerged were strikingly different in concept, form and function. But to a student, each achieved something beyond what their teacher had expected. Keshena remarked, “This
was in lieu of a written test. The students found it extremely engaging and really fun. They were motivated to go above and beyond what they would normally do. It is a real world application of theoretical concepts, and I love the fact that they had to rework their designs as they learned to deal with experimental error.” But don’t take her word for it. One pair of her students commented that “we love the space. The project was really challenging because we tried to be creative, but found that the materials we used were not exactly what we needed, so we weren’t able to succeed at first. We learned so much by trial and error — and it was an amazing feeling when it finally worked!” Another found the experience to be “so much better than a written test. We were free to explore and try out realworld applications. We have never done anything like this ever. We were able to pursue an interest of ours — music — and relate it directly to what we study in the math classroom. We would have never thought that possible!” And caught in that moment of serious playfulness, what could be grander in the thinking life of a student? Or in any of us? Nikola Tesla, the turn of the century inventor after whom the modern electric car is named, once said “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he [or she] sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.” If our first few months in The Hackery, our Pilot Makerspace, are any indication, we’d definitely agree. And we can’t wait for what the next iteration might bring.
a conversation with wil lobko and rafi malkiel on creativity and improvisation
Life is What Happens… On a spring day, Wil Lobko and Rafi Malkiel sat down to explore their perspectives on creativity, teaching, and their respective arts. Hackley English teacher Wil Lobko is a published poet who actively works on his craft outside of work. Band teacher Dr. Rafi Malkiel leads Hackley’s various jazz band ensembles and is a Grammy-award winning jazz trombonist who plays with the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. Their conversation, excerpted here, gets to the heart of what we value most in education: finding confidence through learning skills and then taking those skills beyond our comfort zone, and working t ogether to create something larger than ourselves.
on magic Wil Lobko: Poetry allows me to get into the record what otherwise wouldn’t get into the record. Oftentimes what gets me to the desk, and to pick up a pen, is that something has been heard or seen or some words have come together in the course of the day and I want to catch it before it evaporates. But I rarely, if ever, know where a poem will take me. And that thrill of mixing together the “historical” nature of writing — getting something into the historical record — but also the exploration of it, is a really heady combination for me. Rafi Malkiel: That’s fascinating. You know...poetry is a lot like music composition and jazz improvisation, with the difference that you’re sending words, or notes, into the world and you can’t take them back. But it’s a lot like sitting down and composing a musical piece. I remember as a kid I was fascinated by the power of music. I think music was a way of meditation, a way of healing, a way of communicating, a good way of spending your time, just practicing. I was also fascinated by what makes those notes make me feel the way I feel, how music energizes and intrigues you. For me it was magic. I wanted to one day create the magic myself.
WL: I think of how, for poetry and my relationship to it, it’s a multifaceted magic. How can these sounds — how does it all accrue into something that appeals to the ear, or first to the ear? The sonics are magic, and the meanings of words, the rhythm, and then all of that gets tapped into and harmonized with one’s personal experience, with what one has to say, with what one has to sing. And that all put together is the best kind of magic. on teaching RM: I think that it’s really cool that Hackley chooses teachers who are professionals who continue doing what we did before we became teachers. I think it’s a different experience for students to learn from someone who is doing what they would like to do. Sometimes I learned from my teachers just by being next to them and watching them do their thing. I learned from one of my most influential teachers, Conrad Herwig, just by sitting next to him and watching him warm up and play, and looking at him and thinking, “Oh, you can do that on a trombone? Really? I had no idea.” That exposure changes your life, because now you know it’s available, and you start searching how to get it. I think it’s cool that we get the opportunity to be ourselves and be the artist that we are
As they talked, Wil Lobko, left, and Rafi Malkiel discovered how much they have in common in their work. as artists and teachers.
and teach the students. Obviously you have to also figure out how to help them get there.
willing to depart from the expected path that a poem or a solo might take? How do you get them there?
WL: Develop their skills.
RM: That’s a great question. When my students first started out in the jazz combos, they said, “I’m not doing that. I’m not going to embarrass myself and try and play a solo. Because I’ll play wrong notes and it’s gonna be awful.” And I tell them, “No, no, no. It’s like playing with LEGO, you just take one note and another one and you see how they work together and then if you don’t like it you try a different combination. It’s play. You play.”
RM: But with my students I’ve found that the most important thing I can give them is the appreciation, the love, the passion, and the standards I am trying to have myself. WL: I agree. My class was looking at “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop recently, a poem that always has accomplished a kind of magic for me. The poem ended and before I could ask my first question, everyone had to brace themselves. Finally someone said, “That’s a knockout poem.” It’s a privilege to be able to share something of what I’ve read and loved, and to see the love start in our students. RM: I think that’s the best lesson. Seeing an adult, a teacher, someone you respect, get excited about something, or about how they listen to you, the student, and appreciate or learn from you. Just today, the senior singer in my jazz combo sang her original composition for the first time, and the band came up with an accompaniment on the spot, and they made music together. And I said, “I just need to get out of there and let them do their thing.” on improvisation and discomfort WL: How do you get them comfortable with discomfort? To be able to try their first few solos? Or in my area, to get them
We start by simplifying it. I say...let’s work on just one note. Just see if you can play different rhythms just with one note. And see what it sounds like. There’s no way for you to be wrong, because one note’s going to work. And then we work on two notes, or on a simple part of a scale. And they get more and more confident. The thing is, we have to improvise all the time, whether we want it or not. You can plan — but life is what happens (laughing)... WL: ...when you’re busy making other plans. John Lennon. RM: Yeah. And I think it’s a great skill for anything. Improvisation is a tool that we use every day. You wake up sometimes tired or energized or happy, sad, I don’t know. Not feeling well, feeling great. So the same with your playing. Playing an instrument is a very physical thing. So the warm up, or the way for you to improve your playing for the day, or work on
your playing in general, has to do with where you are that given day. You basically improvise how to practice at the moment according to where you are...
beyond a class. They are a little family. They know how to work together, they know each other, they know how to get stuff done. That’s where I want them to be.
WL: I love that idea about LEGOs as notes, or vice versa, and that it’s impossible to put them in a wrong combination. I think that’d be so empowering to our students. Sometimes in literary discussions there’s the half-formed thought, when you don’t have a complete interpretation. But the half-formed thought is much to be desired. In the history classroom, in the biology classroom, in the English classroom and definitely the creative writing classroom. The idea that to be half-sure, or to be fully sure that you’ll try out this emerging idea, that’s incredibly empowering. If students can be comfortable with knowing that they won’t have all the answers as they go off to whatever field, they’ll be able to flip the script or be willing to consider a situation in a new way. I think it will help them in whatever classrooms they might find themselves in, and in life.
what’s a good day at hackley? WL: Every day coming to Hackley is a good day. It means having a good sense of what I’m planning to do in my classroom in terms of my literary analysis discussions, my activities in the creative writing classroom, of what I want to facilitate. But to our discussion earlier about improvisation and how it manifests, I often feel like my lesson plan is almost like a script or a score, but I know that there’s going to be a lot of improvisation. Some soloing. We’re all perched, when the bell rings, on a precipice, and every day, many times a day, leaping off into the words and impressions and insights that all the students have. Then the school day ends, and back home at my desk, I start to take stock of whatever it is that has stuck with me. I will have a couple of words, and that’s enough to get me to pick up the pen and see what happens. RM: A good day is when I don’t feel like I’m the teacher and they’re the students. A good day is where we all are there together in a workshop working hard and learning and pushing ourselves. Together. A good day is where I see something in the student that they don’t see and I can bring them to it. It happened with a student who came as a piano player but I said, “I have a feeling you can really sing.” And then she started...and then she didn’t want to do it in the concert, and then she did it in the concert and did well. And then I said, “I think you can scat, improvise.” And then got her to do that and feel good about it and open a new door for her. And that was a great day, because we all discovered something new and we went to a different place. A good day is when I feel like we’re all doing something together. Each one with his ability. And the way I know it works is I look at one group that’s there for a few years and I don’t even have to be there because they have already moved
RM: One thing that helps artists and musicians, and improvisers specifically, is getting rid of the ego. It’s the number one obstacle — in improvising or in performing. You can’t think, “Oh, it’s me out there. I’m going to make a mistake, everyone will look at me.” I tell the kids, “Don’t think about the wrong note. Think about the fact that you are performing magic and you are energizing people and you’re communicating with people and you’re giving them a reason to dance and jump and smile and think and feel.” WL: Do you know Thelonious Monk’s advice to musicians? “Make the drummer sound good.” It’s advice for being on the bandstand with others — you’re up there to help the audience feel something possibly spiritual, or some energy. There is something of communion that that happens. And I think that it happens also between bandmates or a writer and her or his fellow writers. RM: Yeah. You’re part of a bigger thing... WL: ...a larger world that’s outside of you. I think about how poetry has been changing in the last few years to be far more diverse and inclusive. Silenced persons and affinity groups are finding people in poetry who are hungry to hear what they have lived, what they have experienced. We might be able to help our students learn the technical virtuosity, the skills, you know, like scales, chordal knowledge, and mastery of metaphor. But there’s also emotional work. It’s takes work to go to those places where you’re at your most vulnerable or you’re most concerned about the truth that you have to tell. And that’s something that can’t be taught in quite the same way. Perhaps it can be modeled and hoped for. And if a writer, soloist, sculptor, or ballet artist is able to go to that place of fear and vulnerability, that might be the wellspring for the work that connects with anyone who happens to see it. RM: I just realized that there’s something important in common in what we each do, which is the listening. Listening to the drummer, listening to the student reading. Student listening to teacher, teacher listening to student. Listening to work that was recorded before, listening to yourself — to your inner self, to what you want to sound like. Listening is something we all need to learn how to do better. If students learn how to listen carefully, not just hear, I think they’ll learn a lot. And we will too. WL: What we do wouldn’t work if we did it in vacuum. Or out in a cabin somewhere. We need to bring it to the street, to the concert hall, to the page. And we need someone to listen to it.
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Photo: Williams College
By Amanda EK Maxwell
Jumping Off into Community Josh Greenzeig ’16 Creates Relationship through Music and Performance
“Ms. EK, I really appreciate you, but some of your taste in music is definitely questionable.” My former student, Josh Greenzeig, landed this critique on me three years ago in the middle of a Cellular Biology lab. It was a sobering moment for me. Josh had a reputation for being quite the musician and I took some pride in compiling my lab playlists every year. May I just say, if you have never seen a student transition from pipetting DNA samples to dancing for a few moments to whatever music is playing, to right back to pipetting, you are missing out. I remember blushing a little because it was definitely a Taylor Swift song Josh was commenting on, and I asked him in return to make suggestions for our lab playlist. There was an immediate outpouring of suggestions from not only Josh, but also every student who happened to have heard my question. However, Josh’s suggestions stood apart from the crowd — Miles Davis, Cat Stevens, and jazz musicians I had never even heard of — and his face was literally beaming with
excitement. He jokingly added to the end of his list, “Drumming is my life.” And this was my introduction to the sheer depth of Josh’s love and passion for music. Josh graduated from Hackley in 2016, winner of that year’s Parker Cup. Fast forward to 2018: he is now a sophomore in college and just declared a double major in political science and history. In his spare time, Josh is a member of his college’s Jazz Ensemble, including smaller Jazz Combo groups, and a band-collective he started with other musicians called Homebrew. He is also the go-to drummer for senior recitals, theatrical performances, or pretty much any event where a drummer is needed. In addition, Josh enrolls in music classes, takes drum lessons, and attends more musical performances in a month than most people attend in a lifetime.
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All in all, Josh estimates he spends 10-15 hours a week playing music — and those are simply his campus musical commitments. Off campus, Josh is recording, making music videos, and touring with his band, MELT. When I asked Josh what keeps him surrounded by music, he was straightforward: “It’s fun and you get to build relationships with all the people you meet.” This confused me at first. My own musical experience growing up consisted of two years of solitary piano lessons — very little fun and no relationship-building involved. But Josh then began to describe a world in which music was the jumping off point for community. Josh “messed around musically” in his parents’ basement with friends, but it wasn’t until he came to Hackley that his identity as a musician was truly encouraged, nurtured, and solidified. And while he is grateful to a number of important musical influencers he met at Hackley, including Doc Smith, Erick Storckman, Jeff Brown, and Mike Mancini, an accident of scheduling played a huge part in his development. Josh’s sophomore year, a new band teacher, Rafi Malkiel, started at Hackley. That year there were scheduling conflicts with jazz combos, leading to Josh, a drummer, and another student, a piano player, as the only two bodies in class with Rafi. When the trio were all present, they played. When it was only Josh and Rafi in class, they embarked on listening to music, talking about music, and analyzing music to the point that Josh describes as “really getting into someone’s head when they’re playing.” Josh credits Rafi with exposure. Rafi encouraged Josh to try new to learn new instruments, to go see musicians to perform, and introduced him to musicians. Every Sunday when Josh is home from college, he goes to hear Rafi. Afterwards, Rafi introduces Josh to the musicians so he can learn from them and build relationships. In my conversation with Josh, it was clear how pivotal Rafi has been in developing Josh’s musical identity — how giving and open Rafi has been as a teacher, a friend, a support system. Which brings us now to MELT. Like any great band, MELT has a wonderfully random, yet simultaneously logical start. Two key players, then seniors at Dalton, decided to write and record a song for the Dalton equivalent of the Hackley Senior Project Program. In order to pull this off, they called in some friends as back-up musicians. The lead singer looped in a guitar player, someone with whom Josh had attended Stanford Music Workshop his junior summer, and then, that guitar player looped in Josh.
Now, MELT travels around the country performing. Their first song, “Sour Candy,” has over 100,000 streams, and the video has over 200,000 views on YouTube. All of the music MELT performs is written and created by Josh and his bandmates — all current college students. Last summer, the bandmates rented a studio in Brooklyn to record their songs. Over college Winter Break, the group filmed music videos. In March, Josh left his college in the Berkshires, got on a 6:00 AM Friday morning flight, and met the rest of his bandmates in Texas to perform at the South by Southwest music festival. Josh describes that entire mini-tour weekend as surreal because he did “actual musician stuff.” He and his bandmates received laminated passes, and they were treated as artists. Performing for a huge crowd, he says, was invigorating. I have been lucky enough to continue a friendship with Josh since his graduation from Hackley, and we maintain regular text message conversations. Rereading some of them, I was struck by two things: first, the skill with which Josh can still make Biology puns, and second, how much of our relationship is now intertwined with music. I always admired Josh’s musical prowess at Hackley. He always went above and beyond to play whenever he was needed, at Coffeehouse, for art openings, or in Upper and Middle school concerts, and he always strived to return the generosity Rafi gave him. But my admiration was just that, admiration. I knew Josh as a curious student, a student who never shied away from an intellectual challenge, and a supportive classmate. Josh is still all of those things, but now I have the privilege of seeing him through music and through his musical world. I intentionally separate these concepts because Josh sends me both videos and updates of his MELT recording sessions, his college practice sessions, and he sends me videos of performers he admires as they play, or simply songs he thinks deserve to be on the lab playlist. It’s fun to see both him and his world through these little snippets on my phone. And they have deepened our relationship. Through devotion to his practice, Josh proves his point about the power of music to build relationship among the people you meet.
At Hackley since 2012, Amanda EK Maxwell teaches Biology to Hackley juniors and seniors, and is a member of Hackley’s boarding staff. Recently married, she is known to students as “EK,” the nickname inspired by her maiden name, Esteves-Kraus.
Clockwise from top: Text exchange with Josh over launch of the new MELT single, “Inside”; Josh at college; Josh with the members of his college band, Homebrew; Performing with MELT at South by Southwest (Photo: Optical Paragon).
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THERE IS MORE IN YOU THAN YOU KNOW Kurt Hahn Founder of Round Square
By Suzy Akin Photography by Jessica Spates, Peter Wright, Rachel Mwakitawa, Willie Teacher, and Suzy Akin
“Welcome, Dear Visitors” The Hackley Rwanda Partnership
Hackley’s Rwanda partnership, embraced across the K-12 community since 2007, is a jewel at the center of Hackley’s strong global education tradition. It supports partnerships between teachers at Hackley and Rwanda partner schools, visits from students and faculty from fellow Round Square member Green Hills Academy (GHA), a Hackley Casten trip to Rwanda in 2013, and a wonderful K-12 collaboration called “BOWLing for Rwanda,” in which colorful ceramic bowls crafted by Hackley’s youngest students were filled with ice cream and sold to raise funds to create a library at Duha Complex School, our partner school in a poor, rural district. Looking beyond the 10th anniversary of the partnership between Hackley and two schools in Rwanda, we were eager to build for the future, and wanted a good plan for its next phase. The partnership began through the initiative of teachers, and it seemed right to begin this next phase in the same way. As is often the case with the best travel experiences, what we found and how it expanded our perspectives, not only on Rwanda but on our own country, our school, and ourselves, surpassed our expectations. We returned bursting with hope for all this partnership can mean to Hackley students and faculty. Rachel Mwakitawa, Jessica Spates, Willie Teacher, Peter Wright and I arrived in Kigali late in the evening of March 17, traveling a full 24 hours from when we left the Hackley Quad. Though our flight was two hours late, we were greeted by our waiting hosts with many hugs and immediate, joyous conversation. Most of our hosts had previously traveled to Hackley, and knew our teachers and students. We were already friends, even those of us meeting for the first time.
During our 10 day visit we were hosted by wonderful people. We saw beautiful countryside — postcard-perfect mountains and hills, lakes and streams. Traveling in our rented Land Rover, we drew laughter from those we passed as we couldn’t resist snapping photos: women in bright dresses carrying baskets of produce on their heads or babies strapped to their back with fabric wrapped around their torsos. Children in school uniforms walking long distances, up and down great hills. Men pedaling steep slopes on heavily loaded bicycles. We got face to face with gorillas in the mist. We learned to appreciate the grace and spirit of community with which Rwanda has emerged from the 1994 genocide (see article, page 36). All these were revelatory; all are worth the trip. It is, however, our partnerships with two — and now, three — schools in Rwanda that gives us unmatchable access beyond the tourist experience, taking us beyond the surface of global education and cultural exchange to personal engagement and friendships that fundamentally change the way we see ourselves in the world. This is what we most want for our students. With members of the Green Hills Academy school community opening their homes to us as hosts, we built our itinerary around visits to three very different schools; Green Hills Academy, a Nursery through 12 independent school and fellow Round Square member in Kigali; Duha Complex School, also Nursery through 12, in rural Musha; and Maranatha School, a private Nursery through 6th grade school in suburban Rubavu. If we had one regret about our time in Rwanda, it was only that we wished we could have had more time at with students and teachers at our partner schools.
At left: Hackley travelers with a new friend at Green Hills Academy.
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Clockwise from left: Rachel Mwakitawa; up close with a baby Silverback Gorilla, Women carrying produce to market; Team Hackley with the Green Hills Academy leadership team.
The beautiful Green Hills Academy (GHA) was home base for the week, and we jumped right in to constructive dialogue with school leadership about their programs and ours. Touring campus, we fell in love with their nursery program — all built to scale for little people. The children learn motor skills and build strong arms with a water transport set up — they pour and carry water from cups to other cups and watch it run through tubes — an ingenious way to have fun while learning and getting strong. The best part may be the thatched roof pavilion in the center, filled with elements representing Kinyarwanda culture and history so the little ones can explore it, or it might be the neat line of tiny shoes left on a classroom floor as students march quietly down the corridor in stocking feet to the library, where shoes aren’t allowed. The beautiful new Primary School is spacious and crisp, the huge gymnasium accommodates multiple simultaneous games, and the Upper School, like the other divisions, takes wonderful advantage of its outdoor spaces, since the temperature rarely drops below 75 degrees year round. GHA has added a swimming pool in recent years, as well as two large new dormitory buildings to support the incipient five- and seven-day boarding programs. In the Upper School, students are highly engaged, working with teachers who steer them constructively, with positive energy and good humor. We could easily see Hackley students in all these classrooms, sharing stories with the young ones and building friendships with high school peers.
We met with student leaders — the Head Boy and Head Girl, who are elected to serve as leaders of the Prefects, and members of the student council — confident and assertive, with a strong sense of purpose and commitment to serving their community — and were struck by how much they have in common with Hackley students. Like Hackley students, their two biggest complaints are “the food,” and “the dress code.” At GHA, students wear uniforms, and the student council recently considered proposing that uniforms be eliminated. “But we were concerned,” they said, “about how this might lead to inappropriate choices in clothing, and to obvious economic inequities.” GHA students who came to Hackley last year were surprised and excited to see the teachers they had come to know on their visit — hugs and greetings all around. Having familiar faces among the teachers and students made the benefits of our long partnership clear: we were not outsiders. This made room for valuable and open exchange of ideas. For example, in an eleventh grade English class, a student asked, “Do Hackley students read African literature?” to which we could only respond with some embarrassment, “Not really,” which spurred dialogue back home about inclusion of more world literature. GHA’s International Baccalaureate program, meanwhile, introduced us to their “CAS” curriculum (Creativity, Activity, and Service), enriching the ways in which we think about service learning. Students and faculty across the school inhabit a Round Square curriculum that inspired us to think about our own aspirations. In short, the visit both af-
firmed our friendships and connections and challenged us to think about how we can learn from each other. Our GHA partnership is closely linked with our joint partnership with Duha. Duha Complex School is an amazing place surrounded by small farms. A large, rural, state-run school with 3800 children from nursery through high school, students there are given a better education than they would have otherwise, in large part through the work of the Rwanda Education Assistance Project (REAP), which has, in their words, “committed itself...to one rural community and its school so that the children and their surviving parents can reconstruct their lives toward collaborative healing and trust,” grappling with the challenges of poverty, HIV, and postgenocide trauma. Their work at Duha extends beyond their important work on educational programs, teacher training, classrooms, and a library. They brought in electricity, established a garden, and brought in cows. Recognizing that many Duha students and teachers do not eat every day, REAP built a kitchen. Now, they assure that all students get a meal. REAP program leaders launched an advanced literacy intervention program, in which 101 of the most ambitious stu-
dents in grades 2-6 participate. With computers, video, and song, they run a multimedia program that helps students learn English. All state-run schools in Rwanda are required to teach in English, but in rural areas, many students, and even many of their teachers, do not speak English. On Saturdays, as part of their International Baccalaureate CAS program, students from Green Hills Academy travel to Duha to help the students prepare for the essential national exams, helping increase the exam passing rates at the P6 (Primary), Senior 3 (Middle School) and Senior 6 (Upper School) levels, so that students are able to move on to secondary, A Levels and college, respectively. REAP is now building a community center, down the road from the school, so that students and their parents will have ongoing access to educational and language support, outside of the school. Having been part of Hackley’s “BOWLing for Rwanda” celebrations, we feel a special connection to Duha’s library, for which these events raised funds, and in that library, we found shelter. It was raining when we arrived, and the rain escalated to astounding tropical storm levels while we watched rivers form everywhere. Children gathered under roof lines and watched us, smiling when we caught them and then hiding, and we finally figured out that they were waiting for us. They
Clockwise from bottom left: Green Hills Academy students; Art class at Green Hills Academy; Rachel Mwakitawa catches up with two of the GHA students who came to Hackley in 2017.
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had been told we were coming. It was their recess time, between periods, and with the rain there was nothing they could do, except look at us, and so we mobilized. Willie Teacher drew a large group into a drama warm up activity that had them all laughing and moving and understanding the importance of listening and watching and being aware. He had them acting out feelings. There were groups of children at every window, watching. And joy. And the rain stopped. When the rain ended, we had a tour of campus and could hardly get through it, as the little ones attached themselves to us, holding our hands, gathering close around us. We were told that many had never seen a white person before. We were exciting, fascinating, and when we greeted them with warmth and smiles, they responded with the same. “Good morning! How are you! I am well!” Child after child announced themselves, telling us their marvellous Kinyarwanda names we had to work hard at and be patient to pronounce correctly. They went after Jessica’s long curly hair, and then stroked Peter’s and mine. Rachel had been to Duha with Hackley students as part of the 2013 Casten Trip, and commented, they’ve done so much. Willie and I thought, look at all they do with so little. We also noted, these are the ones who have it good. They have this. Having been surrounded by such joy at Duha, we looked forward to our visit to Maranatha School and to the prospect of extending our Rwanda educational partnership to include a third school. Our trip north to the beautiful Lake Kivu region was a treat in and of itself, and we met up with Geoffrey Mutabazi, who had moved there from Green Hills Academy, where he first met Hackley friends and accompanied GHA students to Hackley, to take over the leadership of Maranatha. Geoffrey showed us more wonderful Rwandan hospitality that revealed the wonders of his new locale — a tour of a beautiful lakefront resort, and the unexpected pleasure of the natural spa created from volcanic water springs. And then we drove to Maranatha to meet its Nursery through P6 community. Our bus stopped outside the school gates, we disembarked, and as the gates swung open we were greeted by students lining our path, singing a special greeting song. Welcome, dear visitors. We’re very grateful to be with you today. There is a sound of joy and happiness Welcome our dear visitors to Maranatha.
The singers led us, like celebrities, to the school building and to a large hall on the top floor, packed with students ready to meet us. Student leaders shared welcoming speeches, sang to us, and most amazing of all, exploded into high energy, athletic, intricate, and powerful Rwandan dance, first as a group and then in improvisational pairs, each displaying their own virtuosity, personality, and creative expression. Afterwards, out in the schoolyard, we were each surrounded by groups of students eager to talk to us, tell us their names, take selfies together, and see photos of our own homes and families. The warmth of community was as palpable as we’ve ever felt. It was truly hard to leave. Geoffrey attributes this extraordinary warmth to the roots of the community they are teaching. The families come from humble origins, and the students are intrinsically motivated because they haven’t been desensitized, like many more affluent students, to “value.” “For these students, motivation is all around them. Whatever we do for them has impact,” Geoffrey says. He finds Sean Covey’s The Seven Habits of Happy Kids a useful tool in framing their mission. “When they come to school, it’s where they find joy. They see their teachers radiate love to them. Our teachers put the students at the center.” Geoffrey notes that a key initiative he has taken on since coming to Maranatha is a focus on teacher training, noting that “we need to teach them to love reading so they can inspire students to read.” He notes with pleasure that his teachers have started a reading club. His greatest wish is that students leaving P6 will be strong readers, and that they can fill the school with books. Computers are not a priority — he explains that there is too much education involved, for both students and teachers, in how to use them. The focus on reading is so much more elemental. Geoffrey says, “We hope that children when they are home and have finished their work, they will read.” Driving back to Kigali, we felt like we had been off visiting family but were now returning home. We thought about how much our students would love being part of all this, of the friendships they would make. We imagined pen pal relationships, Skype conversations, curricular innovation, student exchanges, and ever-expanding cross-cultural family bonds. We thought about our fellow teachers and all the ways in which we could help each other through exchange of ideas. We thought, the world is large, and we have come far, but wherever we find community, we are home.
Clockwise from top left: Mission statement on the wall at Duha Complex School; Primary students at Duha; Students at Maranatha School gathered to greet the Hackley; Along the road to Rubavu, above the cloudline; Duha students.
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Phoenix Rising in the Land of 1000 Hills
For many Americans, understanding of African nations and their stories is often superficial, overshadowed by partial truths, inaccuracies, and fear. All many Americans know about Rwanda is the 1994 Genocide, when one million people were killed in 100 days, a powerful narrative shared in the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda. Twenty four years later, surely, Rwanda would no longer be defined by the events of 1994. This March, five Hackley travelers set off to discover Rwanda’s narrative for ourselves, and to recommit Hackley to the partnership we have had with Green Hills Academy since 2007. Shortly before our trip, another Hollywood narrative hit the scene — the blockbuster Disney film Black Panther, the story of wise and moral people, led by their own superhero, King T’challa. T’challa’s fictional kingdom, Wakanda, is a small East African nation, green and full of hills, variably described as bordering Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia. Emanating kindness, orderliness, and unselfish vision for the future, Wakanda was never conquered by a colonial power. Rwanda, meanwhile, is a small East African nation, green and full of hills, sharing borders with Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi. Rwanda was colonized successively by Germany and Belgium. Similar, and yet, not: fiction and fact played out differently. One of Black Panther’s stars, Lupita Nyong’o, whose citizenship is shared between her Kenyan and Mexican heritage, interviewed on The View in February 2018, noted that “We come from a continent of great wealth, but a continent that has been assaulted and abused...and oftentimes what
colonialism did was to rewrite our history, to change our narrative, so our narrative, our global narrative, is one of poverty and strife. [...] This film is...a reimagining of what would have been possible had Africa been allowed to realize itself for itself.” 1 Rwanda has seen amazing growth since our partnership with Green Hills Academy began, with much investment in facilities and infrastructure. Peaceful, politically stable, with a growing economy that is attracting outside investors from China and elsewhere, Rwanda has become somewhat of a hub in Africa. Outside the city, we traveled on excellent roads past flooded rice paddies, fields of tea, and hills neatly terraced to maximize the farming opportunity. Kigali, the capital, boasts new roads and roundabouts, a new convention center and impressive Radisson Blu hotel. The week we visited, Kigali hosted a meeting of the African Union, which President Paul Kagame now chairs, attended by the heads of state of almost every African nation as they signed the African equivalent of NAFTA. The genocide marks a dividing line in the nation’s history. People frequently refer to things that happened, buildings that were built or programs created “before the genocide” or after it, much as we speak of “B.C.” and “A.D.” One hears, “It’s better now…before the genocide, it wasn’t possible for everyone to go to school. Only some people could go to school.” “Some people” isn’t defined — there is no mention of the formerly divided ethnic groups, of “Hutus” and “Tutsis,” as use of these labels is punishable by law. Now, everyone is Rwandan.
Memorializing those lost in the genocide.
The post-genocide government under Paul Kagame has established limits to free speech, making it illegal, as Stephen Kinzer wrote in The Guardian, to “disseminat[e] ‘genocide ideology,’ meaning views that could inflame communal hatred.” Kinzer reports that Kagame “believes western human rights activists underestimate the prospects for a new outbreak of ethnic violence in Rwanda, as well as the danger of allowing ethnically charged speech. ‘We’ve lived this life,’ he said angrily at a news conference. ‘We’ve lived the consequences. So we understand it better than anyone from anywhere else.’” 2 The narrative that emerges post-genocide centers on the forward-looking vision born of Rwandans taking care of Rwandans while much of the world, even the U.N., turned its back. Yet rather than embracing this with bitterness, the commitment Rwanda carried forward is captured in a monument outside the Parliament building: They will have a vision for the country. They will fight for their people and the future of their youth. They will care for the injured. They will honor those lost. Gaspard Kagenza, a senior administrator at Green Hills Academy who has been close to Hackley throughout our schools’ partnership, tells us, it’s “a story of rising from the ashes.” Rwanda has been totally rebuilt in the last 20 years. The new government, he says, “ said no to discrimination and to ethnic groups.” Rwandans have equal access to opportunities, jobs, school, and higher education, and the constitution requires that at least 30% of congressional representatives
must be women. Rwanda exceeds that by a fair margin, achieving the highest percentage of women in congress in the world. Rwanda is renowned for the Gacaca Court system, similar to the South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation process, that followed the genocide. Gaspard told us, “The government designed a system in which residents would give evidence, the accused would come forward, and if they apologized, they were given a reduced sentence. People could live together again.” The word “reconciliation” refers to a bringing together, a return to friendly relations. It also means making different views or concepts compatible, an idea that often involves an element of compromise or loss. We reconcile ourselves to living with something less than what we had expected or hoped for. In Rwanda, however, reconciliation is infused with optimism, hope, and vision for the future. It is the way forward. The disciplined spirit of inclusion and unity may seem like it’s for show, that it can’t possibly exist beyond the surface. How can a people with this history be so positive, collaborative and forgiving? Perhaps because they understand the alternatives, and choose to be better. Reflecting on this in comparison to other places where the tensions that fed conflict still fester, years and decades later, Willie Teacher observed, “THIS is the anomaly. There must have been some divine intervention.” Perhaps the difference
Photos of family members lost in the genocide at the Memorial, contributed by family members who survived, affirm the knowledge that “genocide” is not a single act — it’s many, many, many individual deaths, each with a face.
stems, in part, from the fact that, in Rwanda, they tore the whole system apart. No shred of the previous power structures remained. The city grown out of rubble, slums, and jungle that now hosts multinational conferences is clear evidence of the force of their intention. This act of will, the collaborative unity, and the pride in what they are building together, are evident in so many aspects of Rwanda. There’s a tremendous sense of national pride surrounding their great tourist attractions, their mountain gorilla population, and the Akagera National Park that boasts populations of “The Big Five”: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros. This pride aligns with a commitment to sustainability that extends to details we can’t seem to manage in the United States: plastic shopping bags are illegal, there is no smoking allowed anywhere in public, and on the last Saturday of every month, the entire population turns out for a day of service, cleaning roads, weeding gardens, and collecting trash. A commitment to community well-being is evident in the cleanliness of streets and orderliness of community life even among those living at a subsistence level. Shortly after our return to Hackley, Chadwick Boseman, the actor who portrayed the Black Panther in the film, participated in a skit on Saturday Night Live in which his character, Prince T’challa, was a contestant in a game of “Black Jeopardy.” While the humor underlying the script satirized aspects of black and white relations in the United States, the pure, righteous, and hopeful view of humanity revealed in Prince T’challa’s responses captured something of what we found in
Rwanda: a national community dedicated to working together with a vision for the collective good. It reminded me of a conversation that I had with Valentine, a 24-year old member of the Green Hills Athletics staff, who talked about “before the genocide” and the world they have created since. She told me they are proud to have chosen a way forward that prioritizes taking care of each other and working together. The new generation is proud to be part of this, she said, and politely she observed that “What’s happening in the USA now seems like a waste of humanity.” Our last full day in Rwanda fell on Palm Sunday, and Jessica Spates, Rachel Mwakitawa and I each joined our host families for Sunday services. Whether we shared their faith or not, it was impossible to not appreciate the service, with its vibrant songs, sung in English, Kinyarwanda, Kiswahili , and Kiganda , its multi-voiced retelling of the story of the Passion of Christ. Listening to the old story, it was hard not to reflect on the depth of the metaphor. Rwanda too was betrayed by its friends. It too was forsaken. One million died in 100 days. And it has arisen as its own savior, finding forgiveness and hope in resurrection. Why should we travel to Rwanda? We should go because they have so much to teach us about forging the identity we choose to take forward. And it’s our privilege to learn from them.
The monument to the Liberation, representing the commitment to fight for their people, care for the injured, and honor those lost.
By Jason Edwards, Director of Athletics
Winning and Losing Despite their impressive wins, working with Hackley coaches has taught me the importance of losing. I see them teaching our athletes how to grow through adversity, how to grow in resilience, and to see loss as an opportunity for growth. They are teachers first, and the opportunity for students to be coached by great educators is truly life-changing, not only for the students, but for their parents, who appreciate the values and character our coaches teach and model every day.
In the relay race, it’s all about “team.”
As Athletics Director, I know that win or lose, what I value most is the fact that our opponents look at our teams and see the epitome of what interscholastic athletics stands for: hard work, dedication, sportsmanship and teamwork. These things often result in winning, but winning is just a small piece of what these experiences actually teach our student athletes. Here’s what’s more important: • Playing as a team. • Respecting our competition. • Understanding the importance of being there and giving your best every day. • Managing the responsibility of taking on yet another commitment within their already full lives as Hackley students. • Learning how to work well together and to be a member of a team (as the saying goes, there is no “I” in team!), setting aside personal ambition for the greater good. There’s an innate educational value in losing — disappointment is part of learning. Losing reminds us of the importance of perseverance. We learn from mistakes and work to be better the next time. There’s an important life lesson there — we will not always be successful at everything we do in our lives. While losing is inevitably disappointing to student athletes, learning to deal with adversity is part of the experience. Learning to sustain motivation and commitment in the face of disappointment is a learned skill that our coaches and students build upon during their time on the Hilltop.
I remember one of our athletes who, upon losing the final game of her senior lacrosse season, resolved that this was not going to be the way her athletic career would end. That resolution drove her to try to walk on to the Division I lacrosse team at her college the following academic year — and she succeeded. Now leading the defense at a top 10 program in the country, it’s impossible to imagine that she might have given the game up after high school. It was the experience of losing that solidified her goals. The fortitude of our students and their willingness, drive, and determination is perhaps what most sets them apart, beyond natural talent. I see this as one of the defining characteristics of Hackley students — something different than what I’ve seen in my previous roles. There’s something in the ethos of community that has these athletes prioritizing going the distance on behalf of others, and pushing themselves to exceed their perceived limits that never fails to astound me. When we lose, we lose appreciatively. Sure, defeat disappoints, but we know that if we lose, we’re going to lose the right way: respectfully, with dignity. When we win, we also want to win the right way. Respectfully, with dignity. Each year, I see a new group of young athletes enter our program. My biggest pleasure comes in watching the juniors and seniors passing to younger teammates the knowledge of what it means to be a Hackley athlete. They share the invaluable lessons they have learned here, helping create the next great crop of student athletes who will lead our teams and our community, preparing them to lead wherever their path takes them.
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