MCS Courtyard SPRING 2015
Educating leaders who change the world
MANHATTAN COUNTRY SCHOOL 7 East 96 Street • New York, NY 10128 Tel: (212) 348-0952
E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEBSITE: www.manhattancountryschool.org BLOG: www.manhattancountryschool.org/mcs-blog FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/ManhattanCountrySchool TWITTER: www.twitter.com/MCS96 YOUTUBE: www.youtube.com/user/ManhattanCountry96 ALUMNI WEBSITE: www.manhattancountryschool.org/community/alumni BOARD OF TRUSTEES Officers and Executive Committee Roxanne Elings, Chair Michael Patterson, Vice Chair Alan Altschuler, Treasurer Sharon Phillips, Secretary Trustees Brian Abell, Parent Representative Michael Arons Sarah Woodward Beck, Parent Representative Herman Bennett Mogolodi Bond Tom Grattan, Faculty Representative Chauncy Lennon Caitlin Naidoff ’00, Alumni Representative Honorary Trustees Debo Adegbile ’80 Aiyoung Choi
Courtyard SPRING 2015
MESSAGES TO THE MCS COMMUNITY
2 Message from Michèle Solá, Director 3 A Letter to MCS Alumni
By Caitlin Naidoff ’00 and Stephen Trowbridge ’74 MCS Trustees and Alumni Representatives to the Board
LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION Caroline Cotter, Development Committee Chair Renee Reynolds ’95, Committee on Trustees Chair
4 4-5s Home Visits in the Spotlight:
Liam Pleven ’79 Stephanie So Michèle Solá Gus Trowbridge Stephen Trowbridge ’74, Alumni Representative Elsa Wentling Olumide Wilkey Paul Williams, Faculty Representative
8 Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Activism Project
The Power of this Preschool Curriculum Reaches Beyond the Courtyard By Angela Johnson Meadows, Communications Manager
Sends a Powerful Message
By Angela Johnson Meadows, Communications Manager
10 The Right to Have a Future:
The Climate Change Exchange 2015
By Aimee Arandia Østensen, Farm/City Coordinator for Special Projects
11 Mindfulness: A Moment of Silence in the Upper School
By Maiya Jackson, Upper School Director Carl Flemister Frank Roosevelt
12 At the Farm: Eighth-Graders Explore Where Food Comes From and When and How It’s Shared By John McDaniel, MCS Farm Program Director
Please contact Akemi Kochiyama ’85, Director of Development & Alumni Relations, at email@example.com or 212.348.0952, ext. 283 for questions about alumni-related programs, giving and events.
14 2015 Big Night Out! Celebrates Two
Please contact Angela Johnson Meadows, Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.348.0952, ext. 281 with any questions related to the MCS website or social media channels or to share class notes.
THE COURTYARD JOURNAL
EDITORS Angela Johnson Meadows, Akemi Kochiyama ’85, Michèle Solá WRITERS Maiya Jackson Akemi Kochiyama ’85 John McDaniel Angela Johnson Meadows
Champions of Economic Equality By Angela Johnson Meadows, Communications Manager
16 Highlights, Newsmakers, Professional Development and Special Visitors
18 Alumni Spotlight:
Adrian “Stretch Armstrong” Bartos ’83
Caitlin Naidoff ’00 Aimee Arandia Østensen Michèle Solá Stephen Trowbridge ’74
PHOTOGRAPHERS Valerie Dudley, John McDaniel, Angela Johnson Meadows
By Akemi Kochiyama ’85, Director of Development & Alumni Relations
20 Class Notes 24 MCS Alumni: Get Involved – Stay Connected By Akemi Kochiyama ’85, Director of Development & Alumni Relations
Messages to the Community Message from Michèle Solá, Director 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the meeting where the idea for Manhattan Country School was first proposed. Inspired by the strengthening movement in the fight for civil rights and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Gus and Marty Trowbridge envisioned a school where children would receive a quality education regardless of race or socioeconomic background. MCS opened its doors to 66 students the following September. Since 1966, we have earned respect and recognition for offering a progressive education rooted in social justice and environmental stewardship to students of all races. Our sliding-scale tuition has been essential to maintaining our diverse community. This school year, MCS received many inquiries about sliding-scale tuition. Recently, we hosted a daylong seminar for Germantown Friends School and Randolph School, whose representatives were curious to learn how we have used a pay-accordingto-your-means approach to create and maintain a diverse community. Gus and Marty met with these visitors and shared their vision for the school and how the mission served as the genesis of the sliding-scale approach. Another highlight of the day was a panel of seventh- and eighth-graders, who credited economic diversity for fostering in-depth classroom discussions and analysis. “Don’t you think it will be a challenge to leave MCS where diversity is such a way of life?” one of the visitors asked. “I think of it more as an opportunity,” a student replied. “I’m ready to go into any of the high schools I’m applying to. Maybe I can help others understand what diversity is like when it’s real.”
Separate research studies conducted in recent years by UCLA, the Economic Policy Institute and the Century Foundation reinforce just how crucial it is to students’ academic success and social skills to have the diverse environment that our sliding-scale tuition creates. Unfortunately, that is far from the norm. The UCLA study found that schools across the country are more segregated today than in the 1960s and schools in New York are the most segregated of all. With broad economic diversity and no racial majority, MCS stands as an
exception. Mass movements calling citizens to come together and speak out were very much in evidence during the mobilization of Black Lives Matter, People’s Climate March and Catskills Climate Change Exchange, bolstering the importance of our Farm and activism curriculum. Eighth graders’ speeches in this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March addressed these critical topics, among others. This issue of MCS Courtyard includes articles that highlight how the study of culture and diversity takes root in the 4-5s home visit curriculum and continues through graduation. Along the way, numerous trips to the MCS Farm inspire a strong connection to our food system. This year’s seventh- and eighth-graders’ activism project, centered on sexual violence, emerged out of growing media attention to the topic on college campuses. Relevant legislation being proposed by New York State Senator Gillibrand became the focus of student advocacy. A topic many adults would be hesitant to embrace proved that our young students have a maturity that belies most middle schoolers. The commitment to fostering activism was far less explicit in MCS’ early years, but is evident in the work of Alicia Glen ’80, who received a Living the Dream Mentor Award at Big Night Out! this year. The article about our annual spring benefit for sliding-scale tuition highlights Glen’s work and that of fellow Living the Dream Mentor Award honoree Robert B. Reich. As we head toward our 50th anniversary in 2016 and our next 50 years, we are working to assure that the impact we have had over the past five decades continues. In the fall of 2016, we will open the doors to our new home on West 85th Street. We will also start the process of expanding our enrollment, which will increase our impact and ensure we are true to our inclusive mission. More of the many families seeking admission can be accepted, the number of students able to have the MCS experience will increase and they will undoubtedly become the leaders of change we seek in the world. I look forward to taking this journey, which will be documented in the pages of future issues of MCS Courtyard, with you.
Dear Fellow Alumni, It is amazing to think that Manhattan Country School will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016. Incredibly, the number of MCS alumni has grown to over 1,500 people since 1966 when 66 students entered the big green door at 7 East 96th Street for the first time. Even more poignant than the numbers are the stories we have heard regarding the important work our alumni are doing to make our world a better place. So many of you carry out the MCS mission each day. You have started communitybased organizations, worked to achieve social change through advocacy or in government, fought for intellectual freedom through academic work and in the arts and contributed to your communities in countless other ways. In reflecting on these experiences, so many of you have spoken eloquently about the impact MCS has had on your values and lives. As the Alumni Association gains momentum, we hope to expand the ways in which alumni can connect with one another and support MCS. The Alumni Advisory Committee has been working to facilitate alumni engagement by planning new events that we hope will become annual traditions and expanding our database of alumni. Over the past year, we have organized two alumni events in New York City. Additionally, we have about 100 new members of the MCS Alumni Association Facebook group, bringing our total to more than 460, and we continue to grow our alumni database. The Alumni Advisory Committee is continuing to help with building a vibrant, active and representative Alumni Association. If you’re not already engaged, we would love for you to join us! To get involved, please email email@example.com. There are several opportunities for you to engage with MCS and your fellow alumni throughout the year:
• Encourage alumni to update their contact information and share a class note via the MCS website at http://bit.ly/1aZNSsD • Attend the following annual events: Young Alumni Reception (June) Farm Outing Day (June) Farm Festival (October) Alumni Breakfast and Tour (December) Big Night Out! (May) We are proud and thankful to have been elected as your alumni representatives to the MCS Board of Trustees. It is especially gratifying to know that the MCS Alumni Association held its own election last year to elect representatives, a process that continues this year and beyond. Thank you for participating in this important process, and please do not hesitate to reach out to us with ideas about how we can better represent you.
Sincerely yours, Caitlin Naidoff ’00 and Stephen Trowbridge ’74 MCS Trustees and Alumni Representatives to the Board
• Invite fellow alumni to join the Alumni Association Facebook group: http://on.fb.me/1CNp56L
M C S C O U RT YA R D
Leadership in Education 4-5s HOME VISITS IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Power of this Preschool Curriculum Reaches Beyond the Courtyard By Angela Johnson Meadows, Communications Manager On an unseasonably cold first day of spring, five Manhattan Country School 4-5s students bundled up in coats, hats and scarves and headed out into the brisk morning air to visit their classmate Violet’s apartment. Accompanied by their teacher Sarah Leibowits, they journeyed the same way Violet travels to and from school each day—a combination of walking and riding the M4 bus. When the preschoolers arrived at Violet’s Upper West Side home, they were greeted by her father, Josh, and the family’s au pair, Juliette, but Violet quickly took on the role of host. The pint-sized tour guide led her guests up the duplex apartment’s steep stairs to the bedroom she shares with her older brother, Milo. There she showed off her collection of toys and introduced her friends to Gertrude and Horton, her pet parakeets. After exploring the other rooms in Violet’s home, the students took a few minutes to document what they observed during their visit. They then snacked on graham crackers and honey milk and made a quick stop at Violet’s favorite neighborhood playground before heading back to school to recount their experience to their classmates.
“When I saw what the children were able to share I thought it was important to what we were doing as a community at MCS,” says Gelernt, who later served as MCS’ Lower School director and director of admissions. “Not only did the children learn, the parents were pleased to see their children talking about their own homes. It became a foundation for all the other work we would do in the school.”
These preschool visits allow students to share their culture, family and home life with their classmates.
This excursion wasn’t an impromptu weekday play date, but rather an example of the many trips that are part of our 4-5s’ home visit curriculum. The idea of going to classmates’ homes was introduced in the mid1970s by then 4-5s teacher Lois LOIS GELERNT Gelernt in response to a student who expressed frustration that his peers thought families like his from India wore feathered headdresses and used tomahawks. She asked the student if he’d like to have his classmates visit his home to learn more about his family. After seeing the impact of that visit and a similar one
with another child in her class, Gelernt decided this was an experience all of her students needed to have.
These preschool visits allow students to share their culture, family and home life with their classmates. In the process they discover the different ways people live and learn to find commonalities and appreciate differences. “The children love going on the home visits,” says Leibowits, MCS’ 4-5s head teacher. “They remember the trip for years. They get to know their classmates in a different setting. While there is an underlying current of socioeconomic difference, I don’t think the children notice it. The experience is not about money; it’s about valuing each other and New York City.”
Gelernt says every family has something to offer. In fact, families are critical to the success of the curriculum. “It’s really important that the MCS community is willing to be a part of this. It’s not just a teacher teaching curriculum. It’s a piece of curriculum done by the whole community.” Violet’s father, Josh Galitzer, is one of the many MCS parents who see the benefit of the home visit curriculum. While a little nervous to participate at first, he appreciates the impact the program has had on his family. “My children have a lot of pride showing their house off and that makes me feel good,” he says. Anxiety is a normal initial reaction for 4-5s families across the socioeconomic spectrum when learning about (continued on page 7)
M C S C O U RT YA R D
Leadership in Education
In the process they discover the different ways people live and learn to find commonalities and appreciate differences.
(continued from page 4)
this unusual study. Making children the focus, instead of material things, quickly erases any trepidation. Over the past four decades these field trips have evolved into a significant piece of our 4-5s’ social studies curriculum. It begins the conversation about race, culture and class in an age appropriate way. MCS founder Gus Trowbridge has described the home visits as the most radical piece of curriculum the school does.
In the past year, our home visits have gained the attention of national media and educators beyond the MCS community. In May 2014, it was the subject of one of Ron Lieber’s New York Times “Your Money” columns. He also dedicated three pages in his recently published book, The Opposite of Spoiled, to the program. Lieber was compelled to write about our home visits curriculum “because so many schools are totally, utterly afraid to talk about difference unless they have to.” Lieber says, “Race is a have to in many instances, since many of us wear it on our skin. You can’t ignore it, even if it’s hard to talk about. Social class is easier to skip though…and yet your school takes it on, takes kids literally where they live and somehow ends up emphasizing the commonalities—and the fact that nobody has a monopoly on a good time (or a great snack). It’s lovely.” Educators have invited MCS to teach others about our home visits. In November 2014, Leibowits and Paulo Cesar Arango Bermeo, our 4-5s assistant teacher, led a workshop about the curriculum at the Wonderplay Early Childhood Conference at New York City’s 92nd Street Y. Leibowits also collaborated with Gelernt and Lower School Director Mary Trowbridge to write an article for Social Studies and the Young Learner. The piece walks the reader through the home visit process, which includes preparing both the preschoolers and parents for the field trip, making and recoding observations during the visit and sharing findings with classmates once back at school. The article also provides teachers with tips on how to introduce a similar exercise in their own schools. With this recent exposure, those in the MCS community say the home visit curriculum is getting acknowledgment that is long overdue. “I’m so pleased with all of the attention,” says Mary Trowbridge. “It’s well deserved.
May 2014 New York Times article about MCS 4-5s home visits. Read the article at nyti.ms/1SH9BXL
It’s a piece of curriculum that stands for the mission of the school so beautifully. It lays the foundation for the discussion about diversity.” “When we were young teachers we talked about race, religion, gender, but we didn’t have ways to talk about class,” adds Gelernt. “I’m happy to see more and more people talking about class.” The heightened awareness of the home visits curriculum may help foster partnerships with other educators. “We’ve always been seen as a model for diversity and inclusion, and I would like to remain a model,” says Mary Trowbridge. “There’s an assumption in being a model, however, that we have all the answers, but that is not the case. I want teachers from other schools to see our curriculum in action, but I also want our teachers to visit other schools and for educators to make connections with each other and learn from each other in thinking about how to develop meaningful curriculum and a strong sense of community in our schools.”
MCS founder Gus Trowbridge has described the home visits as the most radical piece of curriculum the school does. M C S C O U RT YA R D
Leadership in Education
SEVENTH- AND EIGHTH-GRADE ACTIVISM PROJECT Sends a Powerful Message
By Angela Johnson Meadows, Communications Manager From an early age, Manhattan Country School students are encouraged to discover their voices, stand up for their beliefs and work together to create change. Each year, our seventh- and eighth-graders apply what they’ve learned about social justice to an activism project that addresses an issue of local and global significance. Deciding on the topic for this year’s project wasn’t easy for our young activists. As they brainstormed various issues impacting their community, two topics quickly came to the forefront. Through movements such as Occupy Wall Street, the issue of income inequality has become a topic of national conversation. And media stories about Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University student who carried a mattress around campus to illustrate the burden of being sexually assaulted and raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses, are hard to ignore. After many intense debates and rounds of voting, the group chose sexual violence for this year’s project. It was an emotional issue with which some had personal experience. Some were hesitant, but many felt very strongly that they should be educating others about it.
This year’s activism project, titled “Object/Defy: Objectification is Dehumanization, ” explored a variety of issues that fall under the umbrella of sexual violence— including street harassment, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual assault and rape—and the lack of legal protections and accountability around the issue. Adept faculty advisors guided conversations and identified speakers who helped our impassioned adolescents define and enact healthy gender relations in a community and analyze some ways the media influences assumptions. Their three-prong strategy for raising awareness about the issue included advocating for policy change, educating about healthy relationships and analyzing the role of the media in creating a culture that encourages sexual violence.
Policy and Advocacy
“Eventually someone you meet will have had an encounter with sexual violence—or you will,” says Ajani Nazario, an MCS seventh-grader. “People need to be more educated about what sexual violence is. As young people in the world, we realized our voice would be heard.” The statistics are alarming: one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to the National Institute of Justice. And the issue doesn’t go away once they head to college. Nineteen percent of women and 6 percent of men will face an attempted or completed sexual assault during the course of their undergraduate careers.
Our students chose to focus on the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), a bill introduced in the Senate that is designed to reform how colleges and universities respond to sexual assault cases and provide funding for survivors and training for staff. Through a partnership with Postcard.com, they created a campaign that encouraged people to upload images and messages to the Postcard.com website, which were turned into physical postcards that were sent to the chairman of the committee that decides on CASA and to Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. This is the second postcard campaign MCS’ seventhand eighth-graders have done with Postcard.com. In December, the students created postcards in response to the acquittals of the police officers involved in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Postcard.com was so impressed by our students’ efforts that they were invited to work with the company on a second campaign.
Education About Healthy Relationships Understanding what constitutes a healthy relationship may be the first step in avoiding sexual violence in the future. As part of their education about the topic, MCS seventh- and eighth-graders participated in a workshop about the various kinds of abuse that can happen in relationships and what constitutes consent. The impact of these discussions was so powerful that our students lobbied to have this type of workshop built into the school’s regular curriculum. In addition, they took what they learned and shared it with their MCS peers in age-appropriate ways. For example, they talked to younger students about what makes a good friend and the difference between a good touch and a bad one. With slightly older students they had conversations about gender roles and expectations and what constitutes verbal harassment.
about the issue. A panel discussion hosted by the New York Collective of Radical Educators gave our students the opportunity to learn what organizations such as Girls for Gender Equity, Hollaback! and SPARK are doing in this area. “I got to hear lots of stories from teachers and their students and people who were victims,” says one student. “Just to know that there were other people out there who were also working on [this issue], it made me feel like we could be supportive.”
They talked to younger students about what makes a good friend and the difference between a good touch and a bad one.
For the last component of this year’s activism project, students analyzed representations of masculinity and femininity in the media as a root cause of sexual violence. They examined objectification and rape culture and then satirized news coverage and remade ads and videos to reframe the original message in an effort to illustrate how prevalent these issues are in popular media.
Beyond the Classroom
Several students attended Hollaback: Revolution 2015, an event held at The New School that expanded the discussion of street harassment to look at its impact on diverse communities, including women of color, Muslims, LGBTQ and other groups. “All the speakers were really cool, and this one guy Q was doing some really cool work,” says one of the students who attended. “Before he started talking about his work, I didn’t really realize what role guys could play. It was really cool how he was engaging young men in a predominantly female issue.”
We are extremely proud of our students’ commitment to this challenging topic and the maturity they exhibited during the learning and sharing process. Their efforts have opened the eyes of fellow students, teachers and families to an important issue that impacts everyone. To learn more about the activism work of our seventh- and eighth-graders, visit mcsactivism.blogspot.com.
As part of their education about sexual violence, our students attended events held by groups speaking out
M C S C O U RT YA R D
Leadership in Education
THE RIGHT TO HAVE A FUTURE: The Climate Change Exchange 2015 By Aimee Arandia Østensen, Farm/City Coordinator for Special Projects In March, just as the season was turning from winter to spring and maple sap buckets began to appear around the mountainsides, more than 130 educators gathered at the Delaware Academy, not far from the MCS Farm, for The Climate Change Exchange: A Conference on Teaching Climate Change in the Catskills. Bill McKibben, author, environmental activist and founder of 350.org, kicked off this event via video. As McKibben acknowledged the great dangers we face as a result of a dramatically changing climate, he emphasized the importance of educating and empowering young people and the power of collective action, saying, “There is a powerful movement of people building—just like there was around civil rights and women’s rights—around the right to have a future.” The right to have a future. This was the reason New York educators from Buffalo to Staten Island and all around the Catskills convened for this one-day event co-sponsored by Manhattan Country School, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. The conference, supported with funding from the Catskill Watershed Corporation in partnership with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the O’Connor Foundation, was designed around the question of how to support educators in their efforts to teach about climate change. The result was a rich day filled with keynote speakers, a curriculum sharea-thon and teacher-led workshops. A resource fair rounded out the program with representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Watershed Agricultural Council, Hanford Mills Museum, the Wild Center and other regional organizations sharing programs that can enrich classrooms and support teachers’ efforts to deepen students’ understanding of and engagement with climate change. Curt Stager, a paleoclimatologist and professor at Paul Smith’s College, energetically explained and modeled the scientific data of climate change, emphasizing the fact that human behavior has resulted in geological change, moving us out into the epoch of the Anthropocene. Connecting this to education, Stager noted, “We need to learn what is true in order to do what is right…. Our choices will echo into the deep future.” Kerissa Battle, president of the Community Greenways Collaborative, spoke about the science of phenology and the growing field of citizen scientists. In the field of phenology, observable events such as the blooming of specific flowers, the appearance of migratory bird species, the emergence of butterflies and the changing colors of deciduous trees are recorded and analyzed. As a result, evidence has been documented noting distinct
change over time and the now syncopated rhythms of previously interdependent species. For example, a migratory bird may arrive too late to feed on larvae that emerged earlier than usual, leading to the decimation of one species and an ecosystem that is out of balance. Battle went on to describe how students from across the country are engaging as citizen scientists. Teachers are connecting with a range of organizations that are collecting biodata and as their students take note of local biotic events near their schools, they contribute to the growing body of evidence at a community and global level. The voices of these experts reaffirmed the realities of climate change and the need to act on it. But, what are we to do? The afternoon of the Climate Change Exchange helped to provide answers to this expansive question with eight workshops, each one led by educators with their feet on the ground in schools. MCS was well represented, as Flannery Denny (Upper School math coordinator), Claire Galya (Lower School science teacher) and I were among the workshop leaders. Participants could choose from sessions on curriculum design, watershed studies, service learning, art, nature play, student green team development and a tour of Delaware Academy’s solar-powered sap house and school garden. The wide range of workshops offered educators concrete examples of what teaching about climate change looks like in classrooms. Connecting students with human and natural dynamics in their communities was the common thread that wove its way through each of the workshops. This first Climate Change Exchange is the third conference in the last five years that Manhattan Country School has co-sponsored around the issue of sustainability. The Climate Change Exchange Advisory Committee, including Ginny Scheer (retired MCS Farm Director) and me, will convene after the conference with a proposal that we focus our ongoing efforts on a 2016 Youth Climate Summit modeled on one held annually at the Wild Center in the Adirondacks. As educators dispersed from Delaware Academy and headed into a long-awaited new spring season, let’s hope they carried McKibben’s parting advice back to their students and colleagues: “Don’t let people despair, but don’t let them be complacent. This is the great fight of our time.”
n c e in t h e
As Upper School teachers were considering the theme for this year, many of us had read about how mindfulness was being used in other schools to help students gain self-awareness and focus while reducing stress. There are even stories of mindfulness being used in Fortune 500 companies and in the military. With the hope of bringing a greater sense of calm to the lives of Upper School students, we decided to choose mindfulness as our theme. Some of us began to read about mindfulness, learning about its roots in the Buddhist tradition. We learned that in order to teach mindfulness, we also had to practice mindfulness, and some teachers shared stories of their yoga classes or their meditation practice. We introduced mindfulness to the students at the opening Upper School assembly on the first day of school, and there was something powerful in our first moment of silence together, with all 82 students sitting on the floor in the Music Room, focusing only on the rise and fall of our breath. Most students and teachers in the Upper School are new to the concept of mindfulness, but we are already noticing the difference that comes from spending a few moments in silence each morning. Teachers shared the following reflections about incorporating mindfulness into our morning meetings: “Starting every day with a few moments of meditation means that, rather than exploding off to class, students take that calm with them after morning meeting. It makes the space feel different. It feels expansive.” – Tom Grattan, seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher “We cultivate lots of things in middle school students—their curiosity, their sense of social justice, their math skills and writing skills—but now we are also cultivating their ability to be calm.” – Flannery Denny, Upper School math coordinator “I connect [mindfulness] to critical thinking. You’re supposed to be using your own mind and your own self as you respond to various ideas. How would you know if you were being
“Taking a moment to meditate is one of the rare times that students can figure out what they are feeling that is not in reaction to something or someone else. During our moments of silence in the morning, they can ask themselves, ‘What is the energy that I am bringing into this space right now?’” – Shani Brignole, fifth-grade teacher
Each year, the Upper School chooses a theme that becomes part of morning meetings, classes and assemblies. This year’s theme is mindfulness—the practice of being in the moment, being aware of your current thoughts and emotions without judging them. Mindfulness often involves meditation practice. We spend time sitting in silence, focusing on our breath or on an intention for the day. It is also possible to eat lunch mindfully, noticing each detail of taste and texture, or to participate in a discussion mindfully, attending to your brain’s ability to focus, listen and contribute. On mindful walks, we practice noticing everything we can see, smell, hear, taste and touch.
influenced by another’s perspective if you do not know yourself? Mindfulness helps our students notice, think and observe.” – Nassim Zerriffi, seventh- and eighthgrade history teacher
By Maiya Jackson, Upper School Director
FULN D E N
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Our students have had mixed reactions as they embark on this new practice. For some it feels like something they wouldn’t otherwise do, while for others it has been a welcome addition to the program. Some shared the following perspectives: “Mindfulness is important, but people take it for granted. You have to slow down your mind. Take a step back. At first your thoughts are racing but with practice they slow down.” “It has more of a relaxing and positive effect in the morning. It helps me stop for a second and take a break.” “I don’t really get how to notice my emotions. Are we supposed to ignore them or make them go away?” “Even when I stumble in late in the morning, it helps for me to slow down and just think about what I’m going to do for my first class, what work I need to hand in and how I want to approach the day.” “When I try to be mindful, it’s actually quite helpful and I feel centered. When I’m annoyed, it feels like something for hippies.” “I like it because it helps you slow things down and step back from all the stress and craziness of school. It helps you to calm yourself and ready yourself for the school day and just for the day in general.” There is much more to explore with this topic, and we intend to continue practicing mindfulness in the Upper School. We are learning about ways that mindfulness connects with the brain study in the seventh grade, since students are more able to learn when they are calm and positive. The Fifth Floor recently wrote messages of gratitude and sent them through the 6-7s’ post office as we discussed the connection between expressing gratitude and kindness and our emotional state. Mindfulness is a practice; even learning to focus on the breath requires repetition. With time, our practice will become more meaningful as we continue to weave it into our daily experience in the Upper School.
M C S C O U RT YA R D
Leadership in Education
AT THE FARM:
Eighth-Graders Explore Where Food Comes From and When and How It’s Shared By John McDaniel, MCS Farm Program Director Food Systems: The phrase brings up such cold and detached images of how we nourish ourselves. As part of Manhattan Country School Farm curriculum, eighthgraders explore the very complex local, regional and national food systems that bring food to our tables through the lens of the three “E’s”—environment, economics and equity. Research began in September with a tour of a very large grain mill that grinds raw ingredients ranging from corn, soybeans, canola, flaxseed and molasses into animal feed. The mill has its own rail tracks that allow for delivery of the raw products by train car.
fruits and vegetables that feed the Farm community throughout the school year.
The kids listened closely as the owner explained the intricate balance of purchasing, based on the Chicago Commodities Market, to insure competitive prices for their costumers. Even though the owners were discussing grain amounts in the hundreds of tons, the lesson resonated with our kids, who feed their own cows, sheep, pigs and chickens the same ground meals.
We talked about who sits around certain tables, the kids’ table or the table in the living room that is only for the elders. We pondered why we only eat particular foods at specific times of the year. If turkey, stuffing and sweet potato pie taste so incredible in November and December, why are we not eating them year round? Our discussion of food rituals also explored eating techniques including how we eat a slice of pizza (do we fold it?) and how we eat Oreo cookies.
A number of students also volunteered at a community food pantry run by an interfaith council of churches. Our job was to sort donated food by type and expiration date to be stocked on shelves. While filling box after box, we discussed issues of food security, maintaining dignity and the struggle of families in our own communities that tragically go unnoticed. At the MCS Farm we often talk about practicing a zero-mile diet. The idea is based on the practice of consuming only products grown or produced within one hundred miles of one’s home. Our kids know intimately the MCS Farm’s animals that provide 100 percent of the dairy products, eggs, poultry, beef, pork and lamb that they themselves prepare, serve and eat at the Farm. They’ve worked countless hours in the gardens that provide the greater percentage of
While living daily through these food systems, the celebration of food is always at the forefront at the Farm. During the winter Farm trips we had very animated discussions of our rituals of daily food habits, and the influences of literature, family, religion and culture on our diverse ways of breaking bread. In small groups we shared our holiday traditions, including who does the cooking. Several students said in very reverent tones that “only grandma is in the kitchen;” some said, “Each family brings a different dish.”
At the MCS Farm we often talk about practicing a zero-mile diet.
We discovered, through children’s literature, that we’ve been exposed from a very young age to table manners (or the lack of), grand feasts and mythical foods. Butter Beer and Turkish Delight quickly came to mind. We talked about food as temptation, reward and even the threat of being sent to bed without dinner. Our food systems project continues this spring with more volunteer work at our local food pantry and a trip to the Schoharie Valley, which was known during the Revolutionary War as the “Breadbasket of America.” This work continues our tradition of examining, researching, discussing and debating environmental issues facing the Catskill Region and its people.
...the celebration of food is always at the forefront at the Farm.
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Big Out! 20152015 BIGNight NIGHT OUT!
2015 BIG NIGHT OUT! Celebrates Two Champions of Economic Equality By Angela Johnson Meadows, Communications Manager Manhattan Country School faculty, staff, trustees, parents, alumni and friends gathered at Espace in New York City, Saturday, May 2 for Big Night Out!, our annual spring benefit to support sliding-scale tuition. This year’s event featured the Living the Dream Mentor Award ceremony, dinner, dancing and a silent auction. (Images from the event can be viewed in the Photo Galleries section of the MCS website, ManhattanCountrySchool.org.) Each year, MCS celebrates excellence and leadership in progressive education, arts and sciences, social and environmental justice and community activism with its Living the Dream Mentor Award. Both of our 2015 award recipients have personal ties to MCS. Alicia Glen graduated from MCS in 1980. Robert B. Reich is a grandparent to a student in the 5-6s. However, they were selected as Living the Dream Mentor Award honorees because they exemplify our school’s vision and mission through their lifelong commitment to creating just policies and investing in ways to address inequalities. As New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, Alicia leads the administration’s efforts to grow and diversify the city’s economy, build a new generation of affordable housing and help New Yorkers secure good-paying jobs to support their families. Previously, she served as the head of the Urban Investment Group (UIG) at Goldman Sachs, which provides capital to underserved urban communities. Under her leadership, UIG spurred more than $5 billion in development across dozens of residential, mixed-use and commercial projects in New York and other cities. Alicia was a 2010 David Rockefeller Fellow and has served on the boards of the Fund for NYC Public Schools, Enterprise Community Partners, the Bowery Residents Committee, the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, the NYU Institute for
Affordable Housing and was a trustee of the Citizens Budget Commission. This year, she received the Jack and Lewis Rudin Award for Service to New York City from New York Building Congress. “Alicia Glen is a role model I hold up to today’s students at MCS,” says MCS Director Michèle Solá. “From Citi Bike to mixed-income residential developments to her work to support women entrepreneurs, she is committed to developing programs and policies that benefit everyone.” Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at The University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as Secretary of Labor under President Clinton. During his tenure in this role, he implemented the Family and Medical Leave Act, successfully promoted increasing the minimum wage and launched a number of job training programs. TIME magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the century. He has published 14 books and is the co-creator and host of the widely acclaimed 2013 documentary, Inequality for All, in which he explains the underlying forces that are shaping our economy and lays out pragmatic solutions for a broader prosperity. “The MCS community admires the courage and conviction Robert Reich has demonstrated to uphold values we have come to associate with Manhattan Country School—treating every human being with respect and seeking social and economic justice for all,” says Solá. Big Night Out! revenue helps us raise the more than $1 million needed to sustain our sliding-scale tuition program each year. Thank you to everyone who attended, participated in the auction, served as an underwriter or supported our event in any way.
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The Courtyard Journal Highlights
at WinterHale Debo Adegbile ’80 contributed to the discussion via pre-recorded video. On April 22 we celebrated Earth Day with a tribute to former MCS science teacher Helen Ross Russell, who passed away in November 2014. In the spirit of Helen’s book, “Ten-Minute Field Trips,” all classes participated in place-based experiences in nature and then gathered for a short assembly to celebrate their day out in the field.
Newsmakers The mild autumn weather brought out a robust crowd to this year’s Farm Festival. Attendees represented three generations of MCS graduates, as well as past, current and prospective families. Immediately following Farm Festival MCS alumni had the opportunity to reconnect and reminisce at the second annual Alumni Cocktail Reception. “Daring to Dream: A March of Hope” was the theme for this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March. The 18 eighth-graders, accompanied by parents, faculty, staff and other supporters, stopped at six locations throughout Harlem to give speeches on topics including street harassment, environmental racism, bullying and income inequality. (Read the students’ speeches at http://bit.ly/19YdTHR) February’s Community Basketball Game at the 92nd Street Y brought out the competitive spirit in students, parents, teachers and alumni. The close game had fans on the edge of their seats and ended in a 40-40 tie. In March, the MCS Alumni Association hosted a reunion in the MCS Music Room for the classes of 1971 through 1989. More than 30 alumni attended, including two from the first graduating class. Several teachers from that era, including Armand Bartos, Lois Gelernt, Hubert “Doc” Hilton, Richard Lewis and Cynthia Rogers, were among the special guests. In April, MCS hosted a panel discussion for parents, trustees, faculty and staff titled “Celebrating and Reflecting on the Voting Rights Act and the Struggle for Civil Rights.” The panel featured MCS parents Ta‑Nehisi Coates, national correspondent, The Atlantic; Jason Moran, artistic director for jazz at The Kennedy Center; and Judy Pryor-Ramirez, director, Office of Civic Engagement and Social Justice at Eugene Lang College, The New School. MCS alumnus and partner
Manhattan Country School’s seventh- and eighthgraders joined environmentalists, city council members and students from other schools at City Hall to rally in support of legislation to reduce wasteful plastic and paper bag use. Eighth-grader Savannah and seventhgrader Christopher were among those who stood at the podium during the event’s press conference and presented compelling arguments in favor of the bill. MCS students appeared in articles about the event in AM New York and the New York League of Conservation Voters’ email newsletter. Sixth-grade teacher Karen Zaidberg was among a group of New York City teachers who spoke to WNYC about how they are shaping classroom discussions about the Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. (Read the article at http://bit.ly/1xYicxX) More than 200 people participated in this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March. Images from the event were featured in news outlets across North America, including The Wall Street Journal, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Yahoo! News, The Globe and Mail and NBCNews.com. An Associated Press story about the march was picked up by publications including The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Fox NY, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Our 4-5s home visit curriculum was included in the book The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money, written by New York Times “Your Money” columnist Ron Lieber. For the first time in MCS history, the boys’ varsity basketball team won the American International Private School League championship.
Special Visitors Egyptian artist and activist Ganzeer explained how he uses art as a form of protest at a fall Upper School assembly. Upper School Director Maiya Jackson says he was invited to speak because it’s important for students to meet other activists. “They need to know there are people in the world with a strong political voice,” she says of activists such as Ganzeer who are fighting for change without losing hope.
MCS Upper School Math Coordinator Flannery Denny was one of 16 teachers selected from more than 170 applicants to participate in the This Changes Everything Writing Retreat in Portland, OR. Julianna Trementozzi, 9-10s head teacher, was accepted to the Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminar program entitled, “New Approaches to Immigration.”
Maria Tere Tapias, Lower School Spanish teacher, received a Gelernt Mentoring award to visit two Colombia-Bilingüe farm-based schools. These programs are of interest because of their interpretation of language policy, composting and gardening, as well as yoga.
Our Celebration of Books Week drew a diverse range of children’s book authors. The week started with a visit with the 4-5s and 5-6s by Mike Curato, author and illustrator of Little Elliot, Big City. Emily Jenkins, the author of many picture and chapter books, including the popular Toys Go Out series, brought her infectious energy to a presentation with the 6-7s and 7-8s. The 8-9s, 9-10s and fifth grade were excitedly engaged with the author of the Powerless series, Matthew Cody. And S.E. Grove, author of The Glass Sentence, met with the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders to talk about her writing and story-development process.
Flannery Denny and computer teacher Paul Williams are working together to create a “Make Math Relevant” page for the MCS website. Manhattan Country School is one of the schools hosting the Progressive Education Network 2015 Conference in New York City this October. MCS Upper School Director Maiya Jackson is this year’s conference chair. The theme is Access, Equity and Activism: Teaching the Possible. In addition to school visits and educator-led workshops, the program will feature presentations by educators and activists including Curtis Acosta, Pedro Noguera and Michele Fine.
Scan the QR code to view photos from this year’s events. If your smartphone doesn’t have a QR code reader, visit the Photo Galleries page in the News & Publications section of ManhattanCountrySchool.org.
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The Courtyard Journal ALUMNI SP OTLIGHT:
Adrian “Stretch Armstrong” Bartos ’83 By Akemi Kochiyama, Director of Development and Alumni Relations
“...going to a school with kids who came from different neighborhoods, where there were older brothers and sisters who were into hiphop music, that’s how I got exposed to it.” 18
Over the past 20-plus years Adrian “Stretch Armstrong” Bartos ’83 has made a name for himself playing an eclectic mix of the latest hip-hop, reggae and house music on the radio and in clubs and other venues all over the world. To fans and scholars of underground hip-hop, the New York City-based DJ and producer is probably best known for his weekly four-hour hip-hop radio show that aired on Columbia University’s WKCR (89.9FM) in the ‘90s. Co-hosted by his then roommate, Bobbito Garcia, the show featured hip-hop classics as well as new music and freestyles from the city’s hottest established and up-and-coming artists who often visited the studio to do live recordings. Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Common, Big L and Fat Joe are just some of the MCs who performed live on the “Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show” during its 10-year run. In 1998, The Source magazine named it the best hip-hop show of all time. Adrian later moved to New York’s Hot 97 and began producing records for a wide range of artists, including Lil Kim, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Eminem. Today, he continues to experiment with music and DJ in clubs internationally. What many don’t know is that Adrian and his sister, Justine ’82, are graduates of Manhattan Country School. Their dad, Armand Bartos, was the art teacher during MCS’ early years. I recently sat down with Adrian to talk about his time at MCS and how that impacted his life and interest in music.
I don’t think I would have ended up in the profession that I’ve chosen if it wasn’t for MCS. Obviously hip-hop became a global phenomenon that people from all walks of life and all over the world are into, but when I got into it, it was still in its infancy. That was in ’79 or ’80. I can vividly remember the day that I learned what rap music was…. It was on that little rooftop playing area on the fourth floor [now the computer lab] where we played this great game we made up called socky (soccer with a tennis ball)…. I remember being up there playing and some of the African-American and Latino kids there that day were rapping “Rapper’s Delight.” Now, we were all tiny and too young to be up on underground music or music that teenagers and adults were listening to but “Rapper’s Delight” was a song that was based on a hit record [“Good Times”] that I knew about through my sister who was into disco.… The rhymes were super, super simple and they weren’t edgy or offensive or rated R, so it was accessible to kids. So everyone was rapping and I was terribly curious. I felt left out but I also felt like “Wow! This is so cool what they’re doing. What is this?!”
When I went to Collegiate afterward, a period when I got more and more into hip-hop music, the experience of having three African-American kids in my whole class was very different. At MCS, everyone was in it together and it was so totally normal. Even though we were taught about civil rights and different struggles, and racism and prejudice, it was all very far away from us. It didn’t really seem like that was a part of our daily reality [at MCS] because it wasn’t. Then I went to Collegiate and it was an eye-opener. With all that’s happening now and all the talk about racial politics, police brutality and institutionalized racism, for me, I can relate to all of this more directly in terms of music. I know that [the issue of race and music] is a discussion that’s never going to end—especially when, not just America, but the world is so obsessed with black music. I look back on my time on the radio in the nineties and I’m still kind of perplexed that [being white] was never really an issue for me. And I’ve seen other white people in the music business have to deal with it in a way that I never did. I don’t really know why that is but I think part of it is because I went to MCS. That conditioned me just to be myself. My experience infused me with this idea that whatever I wanted to do, I could do. “Stretch and Bobbito,” a documentary film that explores the social impact of the nineties radio show, will be released this summer. To learn more, visit stretchandbobbito.com.
Getting a taste of music by virtue of going to a school with kids who came from different neighborhoods, where there were older brothers and sisters who were into hip-hop music, that’s how I got exposed to it. I think it’s more than just being exposed to it. I think it was also being in an environment where things don’t have labels. So it wasn’t like hip-hop music was a black thing. It was something that we all got into and it was fun. I was not lucky enough to have been in [Sixth-Grade Teacher] Chris Iijima’s class (my family took time off to spend a year in the wilderness), but I remember my sister’s sixth-grade class did a musical that Chris wrote and produced with the kids. There was rap in that musical. This was like 1980-81. That’s crazy. A hip-hop musical by a bunch of private school kids on the Upper East Side!
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Class Notes 2014-2015 1971
Gabe Miller is the copy chief at Sports Illustrated, where he has worked for more than two decades. He oversees trafficking and copy editing of the magazine and helps ensure that the magazine meets its deadlines. He was one of several alumni who participated in this year’s Eighth Grade Mentoring Day.
Courtney Lance Morakalis lives in San Jose, Calif. and is the co-author of the recently published Pruno, Ramen, and a Side of Hope: Stories of Surviving Wrongful Conviction.
writes: “Two years ago we returned to NYC and it’s been great to be closer to family and friends. We do miss the weather in southern California, though. Our son, Jack, is now in sixth grade at MCS, in my old third-grade classroom, studying the Civil Rights Movement among other topics. I am continuing to work with a very dedicated small group of fellow alumni to build the Alumni Association. In March, we hosted a fantastic reunion for the first two decades of students, and we had a great turnout including several former staff members. It’s so satisfying to reconnect alumni with the school.”
Lee Gelernt is deputy director of the ACLU’s national
Immigrants’ Rights Project and director of the Project’s Program on Access to the Courts. He has argued numerous groundbreaking civil rights cases throughout the country, including in the U.S. Supreme Court. Lee also has testified as an expert before the U.S. Senate, and teaches at Yale and Columbia Law Schools. He is also father to Cal ‘16 and Charlie ‘20.
Melissa Hacker is an independent filmmaker and freelance film editor at Bees Knees Productions and
professor of media communication arts at The City College of New York. She produced, directed and edited the awardwinning film “My Knees Were Jumping: Remembering the Kindertransports,” which tells the stories of children who, in order to be saved, were separated from their families a few months before the start of World War II. As of fall 2014, Melissa has been at a remote artist residency in Summer Lake, Ore.
Lisa Petterson writes: “After over 25 wonderful years of working at Planned Parenthood in Eureka, Calif., I am leaving for a new adventure as client services director of the Breast and GYN Health Project, a local nonprofit in Arcata, Calif., that provides support and information to people with breast and gynecologic cancers. My eldest son, Liam, will graduate in May, with a degree in photography from California College of the Arts in Oakland. My younger son, Aidan, is a music major in his second year at Humboldt State University. Life is busy, but good!”
Leira V. Satlof writes: “My mother, Jane Hill, and her second husband, Carlo Mazzone-Clementi, left NYC in 1968 to go to California. There they bought property in Humboldt County, the very rural north of the state, and established the Dell’Arte Company and School (now Dell’Arte International, www.dellarte.com) in Blue Lake. I left California as a 16-year-old to work for the Seattle Opera Company for a year, before going back to NYC as a student at the Manhattan School of Music, where I earned a bachelor’s in music. I moved back to California, got my MFA at Humboldt State, got married (twice!), had three children, moved to Santa Rosa and worked for 25 years as faculty in the theater department at Santa Rosa Junior College and as music director for a Jewish congregation. In 2012, my husband, youngest daughter and I moved back to Humboldt County where I opened a farm-to-foodtruck business called Nature’s Serving: World Food, Fast! I can only imagine that my mother’s wisdom in placing me at Manhattan Country School as a tot had something to do with the fact that I have always longed to have my own farm. After years of being an avid gardener, foodie, and CSA member, I am delighted to have my own business raising and preparing food.”
John Garrison writes: “I am living in Maryland with
my wife Maria (from Madrid, Spain) and my two children, Diego (16) and Elena (14). I work for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on the President’s Power Africa initiative, helping to bring more sustainable and reliable power to millions of people in Subsaharan Africa. I manage USAID’s partnership with the US Energy and Geothermal Associations here in DC to promote greater use of geothermal energy in East Africa. Life after MCS has taken me to Boston (Milton Academy), the Caribbean as a first mate on a charter boat (year off), UVM (history major with a minor in environmental studies), New Jersey (Hart Environmental Management), Spain (English teacher), Pace Law School (environmental law), Mexico (Fulbright Scholar - went for a year, stayed three), Boston with McDermott, Will & Emery (corporate, international and energy law) and finally Maryland (Business Council for Sustainable Energy and USAID). In 2008, we moved to El Salvador for a year where I ran USAID’s regional trade and environment program in Central America and the Caribbean. Will try to be better about posting pictures on Facebook. Too much time riding my bike. If anyone comes through D.C., please look me up.”
In 2014, Debo Adegbile joined Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (WinterHale) as a partner. He was previously senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and acting president and director-counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc.
Alicia Glen is New York City’s deputy mayor of housing and development. This year, she received MCS’ Living the Dream Mentor Award, which was presented to her at Big Night Out! by Renee Reynolds ’95. Chris Purdy lives in
the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is the president of DKT International, an organization that provides family planning products and services in twenty countries. (Carlos Garcia ’80 is now on the DKT board). Based on his overseas work of the last 20 years in Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Turkey, Chris recently established a new nonprofit called carafem, which focuses on providing early-term abortion services in the United States.
As a public defender, Michelle Gelernt has dedicated her life’s work to defending individuals who live in the margins of society. For nearly two decades, Michelle has provided free legal representation for people charged with crimes who cannot afford to retain council in both state and federal court.
Lorna Thomas is an executive producer at Discovery Communications, responsible for overseeing shows for Investigation Discovery (ID) and Discovery Life. She recently executive produced Hate In America, a special for ID featuring the work of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center. She is formerly a co-executive producer at ITV Studios where she oversaw production and post-production of the A&E television series, “The First 48.” Lorna lives in New York with her husband Eli Kabillio and their daughters Mia and Ani.
Nicole Lamb Ives writes: “I’m happy to announce, after 3.5 years, the publication of Introduction to Social Work in Canada: Histories, Contexts and Practices, published by Oxford University Press. I wrote this textbook with my two good friends and colleagues here at McGill University in Montreal.” Katie Whitney Luers will graduate from the University of Portland with a BSN in August. She plans to practice nursing in a neurology unit in an Oregon hospital. She is excited to carry forward the commitment to social justice seeded at MCS by working on issues of access to care, health education and patient-centered care. Being a student again has been entirely enjoyable, and she will miss doing homework with her two children, Arden (14) and Carl (11).
lives in New York City and is working as the design director for American Rag, a clothing line sold exclusively at Macy’s. His son, Kenji, is a seventh-grader at MCS. His daughter, Kai, graduated from MCS in 2012.
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Ada Malcioln Martin writes:
“I am still living in Arizona with my husband, Bryan, and my two kids, Zane and Hannah, ages 7 and 9. I am currently working at Arizona State University for the W.P. Carey School of Business as a senior instructional designer. I consult with faculty and assist them in creating, building and maintaining their undergraduate- and graduate-level courses. I recently started a blog, Afrolatinagirl.com. My motto is ‘Commentary with a little sazón.’ I try to bring awareness to various social, racial and gender issues affecting the community at large. I have written pieces for The Phoenix New Times, one of our local publications, and I have performed some of my written work in venues across the valley.
Michael Grutchfield is living in southern Oregon,
working at Josephine Community Libraries as a collection development librarian and at Rogue Community College as reference/instruction librarian. Occasionally, he also works as an indexer for academic historians.
Mary Purdy writes:
“I got married three years ago to the wonderful Keith Hitchcock, although I am still and will forever be ‘Mary Purdy.’ In addition to my private practice as a registered dietitian nutritionist, with a holistic and whole foods approach, helping patients to address medical issues with dietary therapies, I am also adjunct professor at Bastyr University in Seattle teaching nutrition, culinary and naturopathic doctor students and providing regular corporate wellness presentations, both of which afford me the opportunity to keep a toe in what often feels like the creative performance world.”
Sasha Wilson writes: “Kendra, Delphinium (age 8)
and I welcomed Azalea into the world in May 2014. She is a joy, curious and connective and lively, and she lights us up every day. We cherish her while we continue to mourn our beloved Magnolia, who died two years ago. Our school, Bronx Community Charter School, continues to thrive, and to maintain strong connections to MCS. Our staff went on its annual retreat to the Farm for the seventh year, our fourth graders went on a three-day Farm trip in the fall, and we’ve had faculty from MCS visit our school as well. Most recently, I brought two colleagues to the Fifth Floor so that we could watch middle school classes and pick Maiya’s brain as we plan our own expansion to middle school.”
Karima Grant writes: “Still plugging along with our children’s museum, but hooray! We have a site, fast-tracking our goal of a November 2015 opening of West Africa’s very first children’s museum (http://www.imaginationafrika.org/en/). Any alumni coming through Dakar, please do reach out.” Rebecca Plummer has earned degrees from Harvard College and New York University School of Law and is a staff attorney for Vermont Legal Aid. She has two children, Zoe (8) and Nico (2). On a recent visit to New York City, Rebecca and Zoe came to MCS and Zoe spent the morning with the 8-9s class.
Samuel Pott lives in Jersey City, N.J., with his wife,
PeiJu Chien-Pott. He is the artistic director of Nimbus Dance Works. The dance company recently produced an event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music titled “Public Forum: Dance, Race and Social Justice,” which included dance works with social justice themes, including rarely performed modern dance masterworks Pearl Primus’ 1942 Strange Fruit and Charles Weidman’s 1936 Lynchtown. Following the performances there was a town-hall-style discussion about dance in relation to political and social issues. Samuel says the program of dance works was inspired by Manhattan Country School.
Dawn Newman, an assistant teacher of the 6-7s class at MCS, recently earned a master’s degree in education from Sarah Lawrence College. She will be getting married this October.
Cailtin Naidoff, who
served as an alumni representative to the MCS Board of Trustees for the 20142015 school year, writes: ”I graduated law school in May 2014, and have been working as a Karpatkin Fellow in the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. Also, I got engaged to Mike Glass, whom I met when we were both undergrads at the University of Chicago.”
Tash Neal lives in New York City. He and his band, The London Souls, released a new album this year titled Here Come the Girls and are currently touring.
Maya (Jones) Strzempka writes: “I married Joseph
ESL in the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq. As a response to the displacement of millions of people caused by the violence taking place western Iraq, Chris and his students initiated a community service learning project to raise donations for those affected. In two months, they raised more than $4,000 and collected more than 100 bags of clothing. He also started a community bicycle group called Slow Roll Slemani, and thanks to the inspiration of Maria Tere and the 2012 6-7s class, he finally began raising egg-laying hens.
Strzempka (Holy Cross Class of 2009) in June 2014. We now live in San Pedro Sula, Honduras where we teach at an international school, Escuela Internasional Sampedrana. We love having the opportunity to travel around Central America and experience new cultures.”
Suzanne O’Leary writes: “I recently had a wonderful
visit with Jay and Cynthia. I am now interning on Cheyenne River Reservation. I’m very grateful to be here. It reminds me of being on the MCS Farm! I know that the values taught at Manhattan Country School are what lead me to this very special place. I know that Native American culture is taught in the middle grades at Manhattan Country School, so I wanted to share a link to the organization I’m working with. It’s called Okiciyapi Tipi: www.facebook.com/ OkiciyapiTipiHousingPartnerships. Through that page you can get connected to me as well—I’m the admin. If you have any questions let me know. See you when I return to N.Y.C.!”
Chris Guajardo (2010 to 2013) continues teaching
Naomi Raquel Enright (2006 to 2014) writes: “¡Saludos! After eight years teaching Spanish at MCS, I am now a diversity practitioner at Horace Mann. It is a huge shift and one I could not have achieved without my time at MCS. I am loving my work. I was featured on the RIISE (Resources in Independent School Education) website as well as quoted in an article for Yahoo! Parenting on mixed families. My son, Sebastián, is now 4 years old and in pre-K in public school. He’s bilingual and a handful! I hope MCS is well and thank you for forming such an integral part of my life. ¡Abrazos!”
Kyle Bartos spent last summer in Turkey as part of the Student Development Corp. He spent time in Istanbul, as well as with a host family. He now speaks conversational Turkish. Kyle received a Posse Scholarship and will be attending DePauw University in the fall on a full four-year scholarship.
Helen Ross Russell
Former MCS Science Teacher February 21, 1915 – November 7, 2014
Kira Felsenfeld writes: “Life is very exciting! I am
headed to Oberlin next year and have just finished working at Planned Parenthood of New York City as a peer educator. My dedication to social justice definitely originates from MCS’ commitment and I am forever grateful.”
Ana Maroto is a senior at LREI. Her photography
project, part of the New York Youth for Justice’s “We Need Justice” project, was included in a New York Times article about how New York City private schools are addressing the issue of white privilege. (View the project at http://lreineedsjustice.tumblr.com) Ana will be attending Tulane University in the fall.
Jack Stein writes: “I’m proud to announce my
enrollment at Emory University. I would like to thank MCS for instilling in me a sense of compassion, curiosity and the desire to achieve the unknown—all of which have helped me succeed in high school.”
Thomas Julian (TJ) Almodovar ’08 May 4, 1993 – January 9, 2015
MCS Farm Folk Musician July 18, 1925 – March 3, 2015
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MCS Alumni: Get Involved – Stay Connected By Akemi Kochiyama ’85 Director of Development & Alumni Relations As alumni of Manhattan Country School, we have a special connection to the school and to each other. Toward the effort to help alumni stay more connected to MCS and to the MCS community, we are creating new ways for alumni to engage and get involved. Below are some of the ways alumni can connect: Visit our website. Read the MCS blog, check out event photos, and more. manhattancountryschool.org Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/manhattancountryschool Join the MCS Alumni Association Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/519722738065013 Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/mcs96 Update your contact information and share a class note manhattancountryschool.org/alumniupdate
Serve as a Class Representative to the MCS Alumni Association Class representatives are members of the MCS Alumni Association who help the school stay in touch with alumni by keeping us up to date on their classmates (including changes in contact information, marital status, new jobs, new schools, etc.) and reaching out to classmates about special alumni events and initiatives. In addition, they communicate alumni ideas and concerns to the alumni representatives to the MCS Board of Trustees. The MCS Alumni Association is currently seeking alumni volunteers to fill class representative positions for the following classes: ’71, ’72, ’76, ’77, ’78, ’79, ’80, ’83, ’84, ’87, ’88, ’90, ’91, ’92, ’93, ’94, ’97, ’03 If you are a member of one of these classes and are interested in serving as a class representative or want to learn more about what it involves, please contact Adam Isler, development and alumni relations associate, at 212.348.0952, ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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