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Beech Tree CONNECTION

A Seasonal Magazine for The Independent Day School Community

Early Spring 2013

All In How Lower School Enhancements Build Community & Personal Growth

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A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Reflections Greetings from IDS! ! The 2012 – 2013 school year has been extraordinarily busy and fulfilling thus far.  As we sail toward the spring semester, we also navigate the final four months of my tenure as Head of IDS.  I want to take this opportunity to express my humble gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of the team of people who have led IDS on its journey for the last six years. ! There is little I can write that can match the eloquence of the experience of working with dedicated, talented teachers, committed administrators, and a diverse community of families whose shared priorities and values make IDS possible. ! Our Fearless Learning campaign is among the efforts that I am proudest of at our school.  But, perhaps it is a little misleading. Although we try to diminish fear from the equation, learning new things does take courage. That is why we help our children take some risks as they learn and grow in the safest and most connected space IDS can give them. ! The safe feeling of our school has everything to do with the way we treat each other each day – the effort we make to reach out and to be kind; the extra moment to listen to the reply when we ask, "How are you?" And, the spirit we share, at least on our better days, that seeks to empathize with our colleagues, students, parents as we all work to sustain the best IDS we can create. Make no mistake, while the values that are our core compass have been steady since area families and educators founded IDS Fifty-one years ago, how we implement those values, how we carry them out, is up to us each and every day. IDS is a community made real by the choices and decisions we make each day about what matters to us and how we choose to behave toward one another.  When a small school like ours is at its best, we focus on the quality of our children’s learning and connection with their community, and we each make thoughtful and compassionate decisions about how we work with one another.

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Creating our school in this way, every day since 2007, has been a privilege.  And, I know that the spirit of the school is in steady and competent hands as Jessi Christiansen takes the helm this summer.  Getting to know Jessi in recent months as we’ve worked on the transition has been a pleasure. Jackie Pisani wrote a terrific article about Jessi for this issue of the Beech Tree.  I know you will enjoy getting to know Jessi and that you will find in her a wise, values-driven, and thoughtful leader for IDS. ! I will look forward to smiling in the rearview mirror as I learn of IDS’s adventures and progress in coming years. Gratefully, John Barrengos, Ed. D.

Early Spring 2013


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Spring 2013

MEET JESSI CHRISTIANSEN AFTER 23 years AS AN EDUCATOR AND ADMINISTRATOR, Jessi BRINGS HER POSITIVE SPIRIT TO IDS. Jessi Christiansen, newly appointed and first female head of IDS, leans in when she speaks with you. As she talks to a group of assembled parents in the South Conference Room, she practically bends across the table. “Her sincerity is palpable,” said Jere Sirkis, a parent of a kindergartener and third grader. “You feel that every inch of Jessi is listening to what you have to say.” !

! Over the past several months a Head Search Committee

comprised of board president and eighth grade parent, Giovanna Weller, board vice president and seventh grade parent, Nadine Brennan, board member and seventh grade parent, Brian Farrell, board member and seventh and fourth grade parent Suzanne Figuere Cook, second grade teacher Maureen Dorsey and fifth grade teacher Martha Effgen worked with Educators’ Collaborative, a leading, nationally recognized executive search and consulting firm, whose

services were retained by the Board. After interviewing five impressive candidates, the search was narrowed to two finalists, and Jessi was selected. All the major constituents – board, faculty, parents, staff and students - had input in the decision. After several days of exhaustive meetings with the candidates, each party was asked to fill out a survey. The Head Search Committee carefully culled the responses. “There was clearly a stand-out. Jessi made an impact on everyone with


A Seasonal Magazine for The Independent Day School Community

Early Spring 2013

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Education is fundamentally the business of working with people. No matter the role you play, be it teacher, student, parent, board member or administrator, the ability to positively and effectively work beside others is the most important ingredient to a successful educational environment. Building and maintaining the relationships with those

One student said of Jessi, “...what she believes on the inside matches the values of IDS...we could see it in her.

her warmth, intelligence and sincerity,” enthused Nadine Brennan, Chair of the Search Committee. Brennan shared how one of our students described Jessi, “What made Ms. Christiansen awesome is that what she believes on the inside matches the values of IDS...we could see it in her.“ ! Genuine and affable, Jessi reflects the IDS community downto-earth ethos. She sees her role as Head as one that builds an atmosphere of trust among the key players. In her educational philosophy statement, she explains:

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

around you depends on balancing a high level of trust with holding people and oneself accountable to the high standards of the institution. Consistently rigorous levels of accountability in combination with the trust of being able to rely on people are essential ingredients to effective school leadership. Based on the fact that she herself grew up in Germany and moved to the United States when she was 13, one of Jessi’s core beliefs

is building in our students a comfort and knowledge of our world and preparing them to be global citizens. Backing her words with actions, in 2011 Jessi moved to Panama City, Panama with her then two year old son Max to become the Director of Strategic Development at Colegio Brader, a for-profit Pre-K-12 school of 1200 students. Some of her main responsibilities included engaging the school’s owners to define their mission and values and assessing their policies and practices as the school moves to a non-profit model. Jessi views the experience as very grounding. “You can’t preach that you want students to become global citizens without experiencing what that means yourself. It’s humbling to walk into a grocery store to order something and have to fumble for words. It’s a reminder of what our students might be feeling every day and the resilience it takes to keep trying when things don’t go as planned. “ Although Jessi has grown accustomed to the mild Panamanian clime, she is no stranger to the New England winters having attended Greenwich Academy for her high school years. Then it was on to four years at Gettysburg College, where she was able to focus her time on her two loves: music and athletics. Her first job after graduating from college was the Director of Athletics, Director of Music, teacher and Associate Director of Dorm Life at The Purnell School for Girls, a 9th through 12th grade boarding school in New Jersey. Although director of two disparate areas like sports and music might seem like an odd pairing at first, not for Jessi. An accomplished singer who began her training at 13 as well as Division I field hockey player, Jessi proved to be a well-rounded and formidable addition to the faculty. She laughingly relates of her rare skill set, “I think I was one of the first people to sing the National


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Anthem and then run on the field and play offense in college.” After three years at Purnell School, she moved to New York City and attended Bank Street College of Education. There she focused her energy on appreciating and supporting students’ different developmental profiles and learned the importance of instilling in them the basic joy of coming to school. It is also here where she discovered the joys of teaching first grade and decided to dedicate her time to elementary education. After all, elementary school is where a student’s foundation is built, where, alongside all of the academics, young people and their families begin to learn about being positive members of a school community. “Bank Street taught me about learner-centered education, and how important it is to invest in my students both academically and personally. Getting to know them on that level helped me recognize that each child’s journey is different. Creating a classroom that supported a variety of learners while at the same time being a safe and fun place became paramount for me.” In 1994, looking for a new challenge, Jessi moved to Seattle to work at the Westside School as both a first grade teacher and Director of Admissions and Development. Her success there – she increased enrollment by 18% and annual giving by 12% in two years – led to a nine -year stint as Assistant Head of School at the Epiphany School. As Assistant Head, Jessi was instrumental in running the daily operations and oversaw a dramatic 60% increase in enrollment, a $7.2 million capital campaign and the construction of a $17 million classroom facility. Although Jessi put in long, rewarding hours at Epiphany, she found time to unwind by blazing trails in the Cascade Mountains on foot or on

skis. “Nothing puts you more in touch with physical limitations then hauling a fifty pound backpack up the side of a mountain.” As Jessi’s tenure in her past positions suggests, she is a results oriented leader, who now brings her 23 years of professional experience to IDS, which she regards as a special place. Like many of us, she realized as soon as she walked through the doors that IDS was the right place for her and Max. “There is a palpable feeling of pride in this community, be it from a board

...the question for IDS has to be how we differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. What makes this school different from any other school in the neighborhood?

member, a faculty, staff, parent or student. This dedication to IDS has enabled the school to positively affect hundreds of lives for the past 50 years. What unites all of us, even in these hard times, is our drive and commitment to ensure that IDS will not only continue to impact our children’s lives, but the lives of our children’s children as well.” Jessi has an acute perspective in dealing with the challenges that face at IDS and other private schools throughout the country. “With the economic pressures facing any small business right now, the question for IDS has to be how do we differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. What makes this school different from any other school in our neighborhood?

! Early Spring 2013

And, how do we sustain the creativity, talent and energy in our wonderful community in the face of declining enrollment.” She points to the “Fearless Learning” marketing campaign as a strong start; in fact, it was IDS’s plea to find its Fearless Leader that drew Jessi to apply for this position. “IDS has a phenomenal 50 year history. The key is having representatives, myself included, who understand our mission, our principles and our values, pinpoint what makes it unique for so many people and deliver that message internally and externally. With continued focus, determination and collaboration, we will be able to ensure the future of this wonderful school.” Her first steps as the new Head of School are to talk and listen to the parents, faculty, staff, students, and alumni to assess the strengths of the school in addition to identifying growth segments, especially in the area of development and philanthropic giving. The dedication required to be Head of School is extensive, and Jessi will bring her potent mix of candor, tenacity and curiosity to the challenges ahead.


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

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Lower schoolers set their own goals !

Third grader Liam Sheeley doesn’t look nervous at all. When he takes the floor of the Galluzzo Theater to demonstrate the proper technique for constructing a snow flake at the monthly Lower School Share for the second through fifth graders, he’s armed with scissors, a smile and plenty of easy confidence. And if Liam looks like a pro in talking in front of people, that’s because he is one. Starting in Beginners, IDS students engage in speaking in front of their peers at the shares about their class projects and interests. ! But this year, the Lower School shares have a re-energized format to build an even stronger sense of community and move the Lower School to the next level of excellence. ! This past summer, Frann Ravid, Head of the Lower School and the team of teachers consisting of Maureen Dorsey, Jen Bergin, Tiffany Byrne, Rob Schoen and Martha Effgen met to plan for the year ahead and brainstormed on a program that could be broad enough to capture the social/emotional and academic touchstones as well as to highlight individual student needs. Hence, the theme “Quest” was selected because

it builds personal skills through setting goals, tackling obstacles, helping others and sacrificing immediate gratification to attain long term aspirations. By embarking on a Quest, students will hopefully attain part or whole of their goal. ! Ravid said, “The theme of Quest forces the students to think critically. What is my goal? How am I going to get there? The teachers then ask themselves, “How can we help?” We are building a community that recognizes that success takes hard work and that the teachers are there to support them along their journey.” ! Early in the fall the Lower School students develop their Hopes and Dreams as part of the Responsive Classroom curriculum to help them set their individual goals. Class rules stem from the student’s goal setting, which gives them a sense of input, empowerment and value within the class. At Shares, students are placed in groups of children of different age levels based on their interests: math, history, reading, writing, friendship, geography, penmanship and fitness. The students break into these small groups each month and meet with a non- home


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

room teacher to establish ways to achieve their goals, discuss their common struggles and assess their progress. ! Each week since the beginning of the school year, Ravid would post a letter on the wall in the Lower School with a hint so that students could guess the upcoming theme of the Share. Students dropped their guesses in an answer box. Some creative answers included “guest”, “great” and “treat”. The winners were announced during the January share and were called to the stage to hold the letters of the word “Quest” . “Who can tell me what a quest is?” Ravid asked the students assembled at the January share. Hands flew up. “A trial,” responded one student. “A mission,” yelled another. “A journey with a reason.” ! After breaking into their small groups, the students sprawled on the floor of the theater coloring their group’s name plates designed with shields, dragons or crowns. A fifth grader handed a bunch of crayons to a second grader and complemented the younger student on their creativity. Fourth grade teacher Rob Schoen’s group made a pact to support one another as they embarked on

Early Spring 2013

their Quest. All the students in Schoen’s group put their hands in a circle and raised them together in unity. This crossgraded Quest program is intended to broaden the children’s social groups and provide a leadership opportunity for older students. From this solid start, it looks as if progress is taking hold already. ! Fifth grade teacher Martha Effgen said one of the benefits of the cross-graded program is exposing children in one -child families or small families to kids of different age groups. “The students can connect with kids that are older or younger and enhance their school experience. It helps the students stay connected with one another and provides a cohesive journey through the Lower School until they move on to Middle School.” ! The Quest program creates an environment where students define for themselves an area of improvement and ask for help in a safe and comfortable space. Priscilla Pascucci said that although she was good in many subjects, she knew she needed help in Geography. With extraordinary self-awareness she matter- of -factly stated, “I just don’t know where things are.” Jessica Hinton set a specific target for herself, “I want to know all the 50 states in alphabetical order.” ! As a launching point for enhancing and revitalizing the Lower School, the Quest program is just one program initiative instituted to enrich the students both academically and socially. Ultimately, building better selves builds a better community.


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Early Spring 2013

NEW ENERGY

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! This past summer Lower School teachers Heather Urso , Margot Kawecki, Martha Effgen,Tiffany Byrne and Frann Ravid attended a social development workshop presented by Responsive Classroom entitled How to Bully Proof Your Classroom based on a book of the same name. Positive social interaction begins early at IDS; specifically, the Beginners’ “Be Kind to Everyone” class rule established in the beginning of the school year reinforces good behaviors and prevents negative “gateway behaviors” from developing. Following a weekly reading of a story with a social component, the class discusses various ways of responding to a similar situation. When needed, the class rule is bolstered through modeling and redirection during playtime. Fourth and fifth graders have also implemented many of the lesson plans. Valuable conversations center on better ways to mange and negotiate difficult circumstances to stem unkind behaviors. By underscoring positive interactions, the teachers are building a friendly, safe, inclusive community that accepts everyone’s individuality.

REINVIGORATES

Creating a Climate for Better Learning

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! How do you instill a love of reading in an age dominated by electronic games, visual excess, tablets and On Demand television? ! The Lower School teachers target the students’ competitive instinct by engaging them in a friendly trivia contest to test their knowledge over on a range of teacher selected books. The students are arranged in five cross-graded groups with diverse reading levels. The teachers aim to stretch the students reading abilities with challenging material and to break them out of their comfort zones by offering a variety of stories. ! In addition to making reading part of a student’s repertoire, students can experience the joy of discussing books with other children and build deeper and expanded social connections.

LOWER SCHOOL


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

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Early Spring 2013

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Middle school can be a time of with emotional difficulties and greater social and academic pressures. In part to support students through these times, IDS instituted a social and emotional learning program called Second Step to help students navigate through these challenging years to give them the tools to achieve success. The Second Step approach is more intentional by providing a framework of exercises that deliberately builds from grades 6 through 8. The skills and attitudes promoted in Second Step establish a strong foundation for creating a safe, respectful learning environment. Stephanie Dwyer, Head of the Middle School said, “Since we started this in September, we already seen a marked improvement and engagement with the students�. ! According to child psychologists Joseph Zin and Maurice Elias, social and emotional learning is defined as the capacity to recognize and manage

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emotions, solve problems effectively, and establish positive relationships with others. These skills are critical in the formative middle school years. As students transition from elementary school to middle school, they may begin to feel disconnected to the school since they no longer have one primary teacher. They begin to separate from their parents to assert their autonomy and gravitate toward their friends and peers who exert significant and not always positive influence. Second Step employs five themes: empathy and communication, bullying prevention, emotion management and coping, problem solving, goal setting and decision making and lastly, substance abuse prevention so that middle schoolers can develop their abilities and better regulate their own behaviors. ! IDS students meet with their advisors on Wednesdays during their weekly Advisory Period to tackle an interactive lesson or to view a lesson

social and emotional learning is defined as the capacity to recognize and manage emotions, solve problems effectively and establish positive relationships


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

companion video featuring students their own age. Modeling the right skills is a key component of the program. Carrie Boyce, an advisor to seventh graders said, “These role playing devices are really effective. After the students initial discomfort, they get really into the personas of whom each character is and how they perceive them to act. It engages them on all different levels. It’s work, but it doesn’t feel like work. I think that’s what makes it successful.” ! A Middle School student agrees with Boyle’s assessment of the program. “Some of the topics are things I know everyone my age is thinking about but no one wants to discuss. These scenarios force you to confront maybe some of your own unintentional bad behaviors. You are definitely more aware of your words and actions afterwards”. ! Although the programming takes place on Wednesdays, every

day at IDS is a Second Step day. Dwyer says, “This program is not taught in a vacuum. It has to move out of the classroom into real world situations to make a difference” To that end, teachers cue, coach and provide feedback on a regular basis. One student related a time when she and her friend were at odds over the progress of a project. Her advisor approached her after hearing the exchange and complimented the student on directness but suggested a more purposeful, step-by-step approach next time. ! Another essential element of Second Step is active listening and that element applies to the faculty also. That’s why pre and post program surveys are used to assess learning and to evaluate the effectiveness of the program lessons from the students’ perspectives. Additionally, to encourage the use of program skills, teachers can seek

Early Spring 2013

student input when making decisions. A Middle School teacher shared that the more she values and listens to her students, the more apt they are to value the positive social goals in the class. “I am aware that I have to model good behaviors, too. The kids are looking to me as an example. Whenever possible, I have to view myself from their eyes. Can I expect them to be even tempered if display annoyance or frustration? It’s a two way street. You need to walk the walk.”


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Early Spring 2013

Tanglewood Marionettes Pull Students’Heart Strings marionette theater based in New England. The troupe travels with a self -contained  theater  complete  with  an   integrated  lighting  and  sound  system. ! After the show, the two puppet masters fielded questions from the students who were mesmerized by the construction of the marionettes and technique of the handlers. The program dovetails with the 6th Grade study of puppet theater with Shelly Sprague. Cultural enrichment programs at IDS are funded through the generous efforts of the Parent Association. The Tanglewood Marionettes filled both teachers and students with wonder and awe by this ancient art form.

 

This January, the Tanglewood Marionettes entertained IDS students with a visually inventive Chinese folktale, The Dragon King. Influenced by Japanese Banraku puppetry, The Dragon King captivated the audience with its clever and creative marionettes operated by visible people using poles and wires ! The story follows the travels of an intrepid grandmother who journeys to the bottom of the sea to see the Dragon King and the answer to why he has not brought the life giving rains to prevent the terrible drought that has befallen the land. Throughout the tale, the audience was mesmerized by goldfish that magically transform into girls with a flick of the wire, a life size squid with six- foot long tentacles and a water- squirting dragon (a water pistol was discreetly disguised in the dragon’s mouth) that descended into the crowd. At the appearance of the dragon, the crowd screamed and many students ran to the monster to get squirted intentionally. Scene changes were manipulated through a 25 -yard canvas scroll depicting the palace, carp pond and landscapes with an Asian motif. Absolutely magical!

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Tanglewood Marionettes, founded in 1993 by Anne Ware and Peter Schaefer, is a nationally touring


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Early Spring 2013

Where’s that? Geo Bee tests students’ knowledge of geography ! Can you name the state located north of Yellowstone National Park and known for its ranchers, artists, and trout fishing? Did you know the Yaghan were a nomadic tribe indigenous to Tierra del Fuego? That’s a sample of some of the geography stumpers that fourth grade teacher Robert Schoen fielded to ten students in the fourth Annual IDS Geo Bee held in January. Some students prepped for months to bolster their skills by studying maps and geographic terminology. Others were just plain lucky to receive a question on a topic that they knew. “This is the fourth year that IDS has hosted a geography bee open to students in grades 4 through 8,” said Rob Schoen. “It really is a valuable opportunity for the IDS community. Students and teachers join hands to embrace a venue whereby academic knowledge, trivia, competition, and a bit of luck are all wrapped up into a positive community experience.” ! After battling wits over rivers, mountain ranges and volcanic craters, the final four students, including Kieran Anderson (2014), William Foster (2017), Matthew Marottolo (2016), and Elise Gendrich (2015), advanced to the semi- final round. Elise was eliminated with an incorrect answer to the question about the Edwards Plateau, where a number of tributaries converge. Third place winner Matthew Marottolo was tripped up by a

Winner Kieran Anderson with fifth grade teacher Rob Schoen (l) and Head of School John Barrengos (r).

question about the origin of the common name for the Kodiak Bear. ! That left two finalists, fourth grader Foster and seventh grader Anderson sitting together uncomfortably on the stage under the glare of stage lights. Galluzzo was fraught with tension with the audience anxiously whispering in admiration as these two students battled for an advantage. And then, silence descended in the theater for the final round. Anderson and Foster faced off to write down the answer to three tough questions with only 15 seconds to respond. While the first question went in Foster’s favor about the state of Montana, the second went to Anderson about the Aleutian Islands. Both boys answered the final question correctly by naming the country of Chile. The geo bee came down to a tiebreaker question with Anderson topping Foster with his stunning knowledge of the remote Asian country of Kazakhstan. Foster, and all ten of the bee’s participants, did a more than admirable job with their dazzling knowledge. ! As the winner of the school geo bee, Kieran will take a written test to qualify for Connecticut’s State Geography Bee, and based on his performance, he may head to the national competition in Washington D.C. Way to go, Kieran, and good luck!

Kieran and William Foster match wits in the finals.


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To complement the fifth grade study of the classical Greece, students learn to design their own amphoras.

Third and Fourth Grade Printing Students begin by drawing a design on a foam board plate and then use brayers to roll ink on their plates. They select a contrasting color to print on. Melissa


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

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First Grade Math Birds Students fold and cut colored circles of paper to create fractional pieces of eight and use those fractions to create birds and landscapes.

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A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Early Spring 2013

A Community of Commitment Profile: Naseema Merchant After speaking with Naseema Merchant, parent of seventh grader Daanyl, one has to wonder how she accomplishes everything in her rigorous twenty-four hour day. Currently serving as Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, Naseema is also actively involved in volunteering as Chair of the Diversity Committee in the Connecticut Chapter of the American College of Physicians, Executive Committee Member of Connecticut Pulmonary Section of the American Lung Association of New England, a member of an interfaith group promoting harmony amongst the Abramanic faiths, a participant in a Hartford based Christian charity organization that assists refugees from Africa and the Middle East and a server in a soup kitchen. She says modestly of her volunteer work, “It’s important to feel a sense of gratification. (This work) makes me grateful for the things I have.”

certain cases, Naseema needed to customize our policy to include special preventative measures for certain infections like strep infection and Lyme disease. At the beginning of every school year, one of her roles as school physician is to ensure that there is an adequate supply of inhalers and epi-pens for those children who need to use them for emergency at school. A native of Karachi, Pakistan, Naseema completed her post -graduate training in Internal Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago followed by a fellowship at Yale University in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. It was during her first job as a staff Intensivist, Pulmonologist and Hospitalist at Middlesex Hospital that she learned of IDS. Initially, Daanyl was enrolled in a local daycare, but her long hours in the ICU and Medical/Surgical wards necessitated a more stimulating day for her son. A colleague, Stan Opalacz, whose children were middle schoolers at IDS, suggested And then, remarkably, she take a look at IDS. is the time she dedicates to Naseema said, “He said I IDS. would be happy and he was Naseema and her son Daanyl For the past seven right! It was a great decision for us.” years Naseema has served as the school physician, ! Although Naseema has provided her consulting the school nurse, Christa Ness, on a host of professional experience and guidance to IDS, she heath related topics from over-the- counter medications participated in many school activities and class plays, to emergency procedures. Nurse Ness said that Naseema school open houses and marketing for school at her work is an invaluable resource. “She may be behind the scenes, place. She cited one of her fondest and most touching but she has always made herself available when I have recollections of a Grandfriend’s Day when the called her with questions regarding the health and wellgrandfriends expressed the one thing they loved about being of the school community.  I am grateful to have their little friends. She believes that she made friends Naseema to turn to when questions arise that I may not through her engagement in the classroom. One of be able to answer.” Naseema’s missions was raising cultural awareness in her Throughout the years Naseema dealt with son’s class by celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid that various health issues that emerged in the community marks the end of Ramadan with artifacts, food and native such as the flu virus or a gastro- intestinal noro virus. By garb. Naseema thoughtfully notes that we are more assessing the school health policies every year, Naseema common than we think and with this knowledge we can ensures that our policies are in line with those work better together. “IDS is a welcoming place. It’s just recommended by Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and like home.” the State of Connecticut Public Health Department. In !


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Early Spring 2013

A Community of Commitment Profile: Jen Mahr   If you want something done well, ask Jen Mahr, chairs Brian and Anne Gouin (parents of Emily (4th grade) th th mother of Andrew (7 grade) and Allison (4 grade) to and Jack (2nd Grade). Jen plied her organizational talents do it. For those of us who have worked with Jen, she by tapping Max’s Oyster Bar Executive Chef, Scott Miller, instills a steady confidence due, no doubt, to her training to prepare an on-trend farm -to -table dinner from local in the Coast Guard. After graduating from the Academy Connecticut farm products. Not your typical Auction in New London in 1996, she was assigned as a Deck dinner – attendees will sit at farm tables on a blue or Watch Officer onboard the USCGC SWEETGUM green side of the Galluzzo Theater, according to their (WLB-309), a buoy tender homeported in Mobile, child’s Field Day team color. Chef Miller will prepare the Alabama. For two years, her primary duty was to drive dinner on-site and explain each course as it is served. The the ship as it maintained the major Gulf Coast evening will commence with a Silent Auction and waterways between New conclude with a Live Auction. Orleans, LA and Apalachicola, Needless to say, with the selfFL. Then, it was on to the Fletcher possessed Jen at the helm (pun School at Tufts University for an intended), this event will be a M.A in environmental policy and memorable one. American foreign policy followed ! Last year, Jen served as Vice by a four year a teaching stint at President of Fundraising for the the Coast Guard Academy. While Parent Association. She initiated fun, there, in addition to her teaching kid- friendly fundraising ideas such responsibilities, Jen was the as selling smencils (fragrant pencils) faculty advisor for the and organizing a Cupcake of the Government Majors Association Month Club (one charming cupcake and project officer for many delivered to a student) and the official events. Most notably, as Valentine’s Gram (parents buy a the Hedrick Fellow Project message and send to their child’s Jen and her husband Tim Officer, she was responsible for class). To think that all of Jen’s three high-level visits: President George H. W. Bush (41), involvement with IDS started by a simple IDS postcard in former Chief of Naval Operations and Secretary of the mail! Due to the overcrowding and redistricting at her Energy, ADM James D. Watkins, and former Secretary of son’s school, the family was ready to make a move to a the Army and Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Togo D. West, more academically challenging environment. The IDS Jr. postcard serendipitously arrived regarding an Open House. “Once we visited, we loved it,” Jen said. “It has a Clearly, Jen has a lot of experience to draw upon great curriculum and the kids get to have many different for spearheading IDS’s major parent led fundraising experiences.” th event, the May 4 Spring in the Garden Auction with co-


Faculty

A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Early Spring 2013

IN MEMORIAM ! IDS mourns the passing of Diane Leighton Dame Whitten on November 7, 2012. Diane served as the librarian at IDS for twenty years before she retired in 1992. IDS is a better place by having Diane grace our little school, and everyone who was fortunate enough to know her was enriched by her presence in their lives. ! Diane passed away having suffered quietly for 25 years from Parkinson’s disease. At the memorial service in December, she was described accurately as “an exquisite lady”, “the queen of puns and all things literary”, “sweet, kind so very smart and witty,” and a goddess of kindness and elegance, a quiet spirit.” The service was attended by many of Diane’s IDS friends including Gail Tubbs, Sue Berry, Barbara Zemetis, Krishna Winston, Nancy Brittingham, Ruth Kahn, Norm Jason, Janet Sisson and Robin Nichols. All her IDS colleagues would agree that, “Diane was wonderful to work with and spoke to every child kindly with intelligence and gentle humor.” ! Diane will always remain in the heart of IDS as each year our faculty of 10, 15, 20 and 25 years are honored for their dedication and service to IDS by receiving recognition of the Diane Whitten Award. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to our school.

On January 15, Dr. John Barrengos and Middle School teacher, Andrew Watt, were the chief presenters at a conference on Design Thinking for AISNE (Association of Independent Schools in New England) at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, MA. About 75 educators from 24 K-12 schools across New England attended the event to learn about how design process and design thinking can have a positive effect on student learning. About ten of the attending schools announced that they were either planning or building design lab-like spaces for their schools.

Rachel Levine ’01 is engaged to Sebastian Vivanco. Maeve Ryan ’91 is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Suffield Academy.

Class

Small world. An IDS parent wore their IDS school baseball cap during a recent visit to their vet in Norwalk. The veterinarian remarked that she was an IDS alum. Hathaway Fiocchi ’96 attended and received her veterinarian degree from Ross University of Veterinary Medicine after attending Vassar College and Miss Porter’s School.

Focus

C.J. Klopfer ’97 and his wife are expecting their second child in June. Kimberly Klopfer ’93 is still teaching 5th graders in Los Angeles, CA. Gregory Marinelli ’04 graduated Cum Laude from the College of William and Mary in ‘12 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He is a currently a first-year law student in the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at The College of William and Mary, where he is enrolled in a 4-year joint JD/MBA Degree Program. He is also a Graduate Fellow at the Center for Legal and Court Technology at the Law School. Greg is a 2008 graduate of Loomis Chaffee High School. Ryan Marinelli ’07 is a sophomore at Bentley University where he is pursuing a double major in Corporate Accounting and Finance. Ryan is a member of the AEPi Jewish fraternity and is currently serving a one-year term as their President. Ryan has continued his interest in audio production as a d.j. for campus events and sound technician for theater events. Ryan is a 2001 graduate of Kingswood Oxford High School.

Notes


A Seasonal Magazine for the Independent Day School Community

Early Spring 2013

Fourth Grade Performs The Emperor’s New Clothes

  When  you  try  to  name  a  self  indulgent,  clothes  -­‐ horse  who  only  cares  about  appearances,  Kim  Kardashian   might  <irst  come  to  mind.  But  long  before  this  reality  star   became  a  stain  on  the  fabric  of  our  cultural  consciousness,   there  lived  an  Emperor  equally  vain  and  sel<ish.  Twenty   fourth  graders  staged  a  performance  of  Hans  Christian   Anderson’s  “The  Emperor’s  New  Clothes”,  a  tale  of   pomposity,  slavish  toadyism  and  ultimately,  the  triumph  of   truthfulness.   Cole  Hadarik  as  Emperor  Velvet  aka  Duke  of  Denim   and  Earl  of  Corde  Roy  gave  an  admirable  performance  of  the   sartorial  obsessed  royal.  Elias  Bachner  and  Silas  Casertano   provided  the  comic  relief  as  the  Dungeon  Masters  who  ran   onto  the  stage  at  the  mere  mention  of  the  word  “Dungeon”.   Their  tenacity  pays  off  at  the  play’s  end  when  they  gleefully  

transport  the  trickster  tailors  into  prison.  Patches,  the  naïve   and  simple  child,  performed  by  an  earnest  Patrick  Wiliarty,   is  the  only  person  in  the  kingdom  to  be  forthright  with  the   underwear-­‐  donned  king.  The  Emperor  recognizes  that  due   to  his  shallowness  he  is  not  <it  to  be  king  and  rewards   Patches  with  the  honor.     All  the  fourth  graders  worked  diligently  to  produce   the  show,  focusing  on  a  variety  of  public  speaking  skills   including  projection,  enunciation,  expression  and  pacing.   After  the  performance  several  of  the  student  actors   mentioned  that  yelling  on  the  stage  was  their  favorite  part   of  performance.  Luckily  for  them,  IDS  provides  them  ample   opportunity  to  practice  that  skill  on  stage,  not  in  the   classroom.  

Souper Bowl Supports Local Food Bank It comes as no surprise that the United States is one of the most racially, culturally and religiously diverse countries in the world. But, what is breathtaking is that as one of the world’s richest nations, one in six people in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. That’s 36.3 million people! To combat local hunger and to support Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown, IDS students collect soups that recognize cultural differences -- halal, kosher, vegan, vegetarian. As part of service learning, IDS students learn about tolerance, diversity and inclusion by collecting different soups that adhere to various cultural and religious food restrictions. Sponsored by the 7th grade, last year’s Souper- Bowl drive amassed over 300 cans.


Beech Tree Spring 2013