The Masters School THE BULLETIN | SPRING 2020
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE IN TIMES OF NEED
ON THE COVER
CONTACTS The Masters School 49 Clinton Avenue Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522-2201 914-479-6400 mastersny.org
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Members of the Class of 2020 planted daffodil bulbs in the circle in front of Masters Hall in October 2019. The daffodils had their first bloom this spring on a largely empty campus as the school community participated in remote teaching and learning. Photo credit: Bhavin Patel
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CONTENTS COVER STORY
03 FROM LAURA DANFORTH 18 CAMPUS HIGHLIGHTS 28 LEADERSHIP
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE IN TIMES OF NEED The COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe with unprecedented force. The Masters School community responded to the health crisis with the School’s mission as its focus.
10 Questions with Brian Pugh ’04
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FROM LAURA DANFORTH
Powers for Good in Challenging Times Dear Friends, No one could have foreseen the particulars of the COVID-19 global health crisis, and, even now, the depth of the massive economic, political and psychological fallout is yet unknown. Within this public health pandemic, I believe that each of us has a responsibility — that is, an ability to respond. The core of my responsibility as head of school is to lead Masters as thoughtfully, courageously and calmly as I can. The waters we have been in for the past several months are rough and may indeed get rougher; we simply don’t know. But there’s no question that we have been tossed about in some of the same ways as everyone else. My responsibility is to keep the ship steady and on course. Beyond relying heavily on my amazing leadership team, the School’s COVID-19 task force and my family, I’ve found some inner stability through two things that I see as essential: First is the mission of the School. What is being asked of me as a power for good in the world?
WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES THIS SITUATION OFFERS FOR BEING POWERS FOR GOOD IN THE WORLD? WE EACH NEED TO DETERMINE THE ANSWERS TO THIS QUESTION.
Then, too, I reflect on the concept manifest in the Chinese term for “crisis,” which consists of two characters: one representing “danger” and one representing “opportunity.” Marrying those two concepts — our mission and the “opportunity” within this crisis — I ask: What are the opportunities this situation offers for being powers for good in the world? We each need to determine the answers to this question. We have an opportunity and an obligation to deepen our resilience: to be calm, disciplined, diligent, careful, compassionate, generous, brave — and hopeful. What else is being asked of us? I encourage you to consider this for yourself. Throughout the spring, as our campus remained closed and our students and teachers engaged in remote teaching and learning, I saw beacons of hope and resilience — powers for good — everywhere within our community. I saw it in the students, who so enthusiastically jumped into their online classes; our teachers, who pivoted to virtual teaching with grace, humor and thoughtfulness; our parents, who guided their families through the challenges of day-to-day life at home; and our alumnae/i, who were out in the world doing it with their might: caring for the sick on the front lines, making masks and hand sanitizer, and leading their communities through the crisis. This issue of The Bulletin features our School’s response to this pandemic and some of the many selfless actions taken by members of our community in a time of great need. I am sure that there are many more out there who are also contributing in different ways. For that, I am immensely grateful. This pandemic underscores our profound interdependence — as a world, as a country, as a school. So many in our community have responded to the stress and uncertainty by doing good, by actively being powers for good. That, I believe, is our responsibility now and in the future. As of this writing, our campus remains quiet. But the trees and flowers are blooming, and with spring comes a sense of renewal and hope. I’m thinking of you and hoping for all good things to come your way.
LAURA DANFORTH Head of School
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The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis swept the globe with tremendous force, and, like every community, The Masters School felt the impact of the pandemic. The ways in which students, teachers, parents and alumnae/i responded showcases what it means to live the School’s mission: to be a power for good in the world.
NORMAL While the northeast United States enjoyed a mild winter and one with a relative sense of normality, on the other side of the world, a health crisis — one that would make its way into every community and every way of life — was brewing. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) rapidly changed daily routines and human interactions. A welcoming handshake turned threatening, social distancing became the new norm, entire communities went on lockdown, and health care workers bravely put themselves on the front lines to save lives. Westchester County became a hotspot for COVID-19 in early March, and, similar to the rest of the state and the country, The Masters School faced tough decisions.
Harkness tables on campus sat empty as the community engaged in remote teaching and learning from March 31 through the end of the academic year.
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In January, anticipating the need to reinforce several protocols, Head of School Laura Danforth wrote to the community that the School was closely monitoring the novel coronavirus situation in China and taking precautions, such as deeply sanitizing all facilities, installing additional hand sanitizers throughout campus, and conducting select admission interviews through remote platforms instead of in person. Within a matter of weeks, field trips, performances and athletic events were canceled; boarding students returned home; Commencement was up in the air; Reunion and the Spring Gala were postponed; and teachers and students, largely confined to their homes due to government stay-at-home guidelines, began teaching and learning remotely. In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, Danforth wrote a letter to the community asking, “What is our responsibility — that is, what is our ability to respond?” Indeed, the pandemic has required a response from everyone in the Masters community, whether it be rethinking teaching and learning, learning to maintain social bonds in a time of social distancing, or stepping up to help others.
A NEW WAY
OF LEARNING In response to the increasing spread of COVID-19 in the area, The Masters School closed its campus in mid-March. Essential employees continued to work on campus with strict precautions in place, and nonessential employees logged on to their computers from home to ensure continuity of all aspects of the School’s operations. Teachers faced a particularly daunting task: keeping students engaged from afar and advancing their learning, all while ensuring a supportive and balanced approach. Remote learning kicked off on March 31. Masters’ Remote Learning Plan relied on digital platforms like Google Meet and the Learning Management System, known as LMS. Teachers and students met daily in virtual classrooms, where they replicated the dynamic discussions that take place around the Harkness table. Assignments were posted and turned in digitally. Teachers made themselves available via video conferences and provided feedback through email or Google Docs. Prior to the beginning of classes, students received a set of expectations “to ensure productive, respectful and constructive sessions.” Punctuality, timely delivery of school assignments, and an appropriate dress code were all part of the plan. As remote learning began, Masters teachers welcomed students to the new educational format with a heartwarming video that featured their children, pets and musical skills. “School, learning and education are all states of mind,” upper school English teacher Miriam Emery said in the video. “I am looking forward to continuing to pursue knowledge in these crazy times.” Head of Middle School Tasha Elsbach shared a similar sentiment: “I am excited that we are all going to get to reconnect, even though it is virtually. I will miss seeing your faces every day, but I think this is going to be an outstanding way to connect during these very tough times.” Elsbach’s counterpart in the Upper School, division head Peter Newcomb, acknowledged the empty campus and shared an enthusiastic greeting alongside his three young children, Cole, Finn and Chase.
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“ I am excited that we are all going to get to reconnect, even though it is virtually. I will miss seeing your faces every day, but I think this is going to be an outstanding way to connect during these very tough times.” — TASHA ELSBACH, HEAD OF MIDDLE SCHOOL
Seniors spent their last months at Masters learning online.
Beloved longtime middle school art teacher Bruce Robbins echoed the optimism of his colleagues in his video segment, telling his students, “I look forward to seeing you as we begin this new adventure of virtual teaching, virtual learning, and of virtually being together with thy might.” “Classrooms were not made to be empty, and teachers did not go into this profession to work remotely,” Danforth said in a separate video message to families as remote teaching and learning began. “There will be some bumps in the road.” She asked for patience from families and recognized the hard work of the faculty. Remote programming extended well beyond virtual classes. The Counseling Center remained fully operational and available remotely to students and their families, and counselors hosted weekly Google Meet group sessions with students and parents. They also regularly provided helpful tips for managing stress and anxiety during the pandemic.
Many clubs continued to meet, albeit in a new, virtual fashion. EFFECT, the School’s environmental sustainability club, dedicated the entire month of April to raising awareness about the importance of environmental protection through weekly emails and social media challenges. Olivia Sharenow ’20, a co-president of EFFECT along with Sophia Forstmann ’20, expressed confidence that their initiatives made an impact on the community. “Our hope is that even though we are distanced at home, we can help encourage people to think about the environment and take action,” Sharenow said. Tower, the student-run newspaper, also continued reporting at a distance. In addition to sending out its annual April Fool’s edition, “Pravda,” by mail, the paper’s coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak, “Coronavirus Chronicles,” was lauded with several awards from School Newspapers Online, the provider that hosts Tower’s website.
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“I’ve spent some time reflecting upon myself and realized how lucky I am to have teachers, friends and family that support me through every step in my life. I am so excited to give all of them a big warm hug when I am able to see them again.” — KAREN LI ’20
The Athletics Department provided workouts and physical education guidance tailored for middle and upper school students, and engaged the community in heart-pumping workouts on social media. Even the meaningful tradition of Senior Speeches continued, with members of the Class of 2020 gathering on Google Meet to listen as seniors reminisced about their time at Masters and considered what lies ahead.
TOGETHER After a month of remote learning, what Kira Ratan ’22 missed the most was the Masters community, particularly spending time with friends and teachers “who really care about the students and are passionate about what they do. Masters has a ‘vibe’ that makes it an enjoyable space to spend as much time as we do there,” Ratan, an aspiring journalist, said. However, she stated, “Google Meet sessions are definitely better than nothing,” and added that she and her friends were “eager to finally be able to do something productive with their time.”
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As of this writing, it is unclear when Masters will resume business as usual. But Ratan is looking forward to getting there. “It’s lonely being at home all the time,” she said. “Everyone else is at home, too, so when we return there’s going to be a lot of excitement.” Logan Schiciano ’21, co-editor-in-chief of Tower, the student-run newspaper, also longed for the day-to-day interactions, such as bumping into friends in the hallway and hitting the tees with his golf teammates. But he also appreciated how his teachers embraced this new challenge. “I do feel as if we’ve done some fun activities that we wouldn’t have otherwise done,” he said. “For example, in my English class we did a ‘scavenger hunt,’ which allowed us to make connections and inferences from the previous night’s reading in ‘The Great Gatsby.’” Karen Li ’20, like her fellow seniors, was looking forward to all the excitement and celebrations that accompany the end of a high school career. She acknowledged that it felt “bizarre to continue our senior year with the absence of all the waves of laughter and the exciting events on campus.” But she decided to make the best of the situation and immersed herself in her learning. “The online experience got better every day; all my teachers are continually figuring out ways to keep the classes engaging, and my peers are attentive, patient and diligent as usual.” Among the things Li missed the most about being on campus were the unforgettable times spent with friends in the Pittsburgh Library’s McKnight Room, the “insightful conversations” around the Harkness table, “the delicious orange chicken and mango ice cream we have at the dining hall,” and meeting with teachers during breaks for extra help. More than ever, she said, “I miss dancing on the quad when the flowers are blooming.” Like many, Li was eager for the future and a return to normalcy. “I’ve spent some time reflecting upon myself and realized how lucky I am to have teachers, friends and family that support me through every step in my life,” she said. “I am so excited to give all of them a big warm hug when I am able to see them again.” Olivia Sharenow ’20 echoed the sentiment: “Missing the spring of senior year, while disappointing, has allowed me to reflect on my past four years at Masters and to see our community in a new light. I feel incredibly grateful to be part of a school that values its students so much, and I am so appreciative of the faculty’s effort to make our senior spring special.”
Celebrating Our Seniors Normally, the spring of senior year at Masters is a joyful yet bittersweet time that is filled with traditional celebratory events, awards ceremonies and plenty of time spent enjoying the warm weather together on the quad. But this year, members of the Class of 2020 spent the culmination of their high school careers at home, learning remotely and connecting with classmates virtually. Despite the loss of the spring they expected, the School aimed to make this momentous time as special as possible for the soon-to-be graduates. During the last weeks of school, seniors received lawn signs with a message of school pride, school-branded mugs — to be used during the Virtual Senior Tea event in May — and the letters they had written to their senior selves as freshmen. “We have done everything we could to keep all of the events that they would have enjoyed,” Dean of the Class of 2020 Jeff Carnevale said. “We had a virtual McKnight Room, senior T-shirts, College Shirt Day, Senior Speeches and so many more ‘traditional senior things.’” Students were also invited to individually come to campus to ring the college bell in front of the dining hall, the clang of which proclaims a student’s acceptance into college. Seniors’ accomplishments were also recognized during the Virtual Senior Awards Ceremony on June 5. And, in lieu of a formal graduation ceremony on June 6, the School celebrated the Class of 2020 with a virtual gathering in the morning, followed by an informal drive-through parade for seniors and their families past Graduation Terrace on campus. Barring any extenuating circumstances and adhering to government recommendations and guidelines, the School will hold Commencement on campus on August 15. Although impossible to fully recreate the storied traditions and once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, Carnevale explained that the School’s priority was clear: “Our focus has been on making this time as meaningful, culminating, celebratory and special as it can possibly be for the Class of 2020.”
“The teachers have done an amazing job, and it is clear how much preparation they are doing to make remote learning as positive and successful for their students as possible. We appreciate how carefully they have worked to make sure that their students are getting the best academic experience possible while also paying such close attention to how they are doing emotionally during this challenging time.” — MARIE FABIAN P’22, ’26
As students adapted to a new way of learning, parents and guardians became essential partners in this endeavor — all while balancing home, family and professional responsibilities. “So far, the transition to remote learning has been much smoother than I had anticipated,” Amy Kyle Parker P’21, ’25 said, about a month into remote learning. “Having a clear, set schedule for each day is wildly helpful and provides a necessary frame around this new way of learning.” Knowing what to expect, Parker explained, made all the difference: “My children knew, not only that there was a plan, but they also knew what the plan would entail. Advisors reached out and reassured that instruction would continue and relationships would continue. Those are, after all, the twin goals in putting together a meaningful distance learning program — building on past learning and maintaining a sense of community.” Marie Fabian P’22, ’26 missed the school routine but shared appreciation for the work that faculty and administrators put into remote learning. “The teachers have done an amazing job,” she said, “and it is clear how much preparation they are
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COVER STORY “We will get through this. We need each of you to pull on your oar, though. Each of you. When you feel unsteady, I encourage you to regain your balance by actively being a power for good.” — LAURA DANFORTH, HEAD OF SCHOOL
Christopher Barnaby ’22, center, picking up food to deliver to local health care workers. Barnaby teamed up with two friends to start the initiative Friends4Frontline.
doing to make remote learning as positive and successful for their students as possible. We appreciate how carefully they have worked to make sure that their students are getting the best academic experience possible while also paying such close attention to how they are doing emotionally during this challenging time.” Madeline Seguinot P’20, ’24 admitted that she never envisioned a remote learning model for her children, but, given the circumstances, she said, “We embraced the opportunity to connect with the school community we love!” And after a long day of screen time, “We look forward to the time when we shut off our devices and take our daily family walk through our neighborhood.” Faculty at Masters pivoted rapidly into this new reality, and within a few short weeks adapted their curriculum for online instruction. Despite the challenges brought by this new dynamic, upper school math teacher Anna Cabral Drew found a way to make it work. “I have changed the format of many of my classes to have them work on problem sets in small group ‘meets,’” she said, alluding to the Google Meet platform teachers at Masters used to teach remotely. “This is to try to mimic the group work that we normally do in school, but it’s not as natural as face-to-face collaboration.” Drew, like many parents at Masters and around the world, experienced firsthand the struggles of juggling her full-time job
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as a teacher and parenthood while her two children, 12-year-old Peter, a Masters Middle School student, and 8-year-old Daniel, also focused on their school work. “We are on four different schedules,” she said, referring to her children’s schedules and that of her husband, Josh Drew, a college professor who was also teaching his students remotely. “Odd things become challenging, like making them lunch in the middle of the day when we are all teaching or meeting at different times.” As she envisions returning to school, she looks forward to “walking around the classroom” and being able to see her students collaborating in person. Glenn Rodriguez, a Spanish teacher in the Middle School, shared a similar sentiment. While Rodriguez says he adapted to remote teaching “fairly well,” he missed the Masters community. “I miss seeing my students and colleagues,” he said. “I miss the smiles and laughter.” Rodriguez also adapted to juggling teaching and parenthood. He and his wife, Ligia, have an 8-year-old son, Tobias. “He loves to play sports,” Rodriguez said. “Since he has no siblings, I am his playmate. In addition to homeschooling, it makes for a very busy schedule, but we make it work.” And the Spanish teacher maintained a hopeful outlook: “We take lots of walks and we are really enjoying the newness of spring. It’s a reminder that all things are temporary.”
The Masters School and Brock & Company donated unused, shelf-stable food from the dining hall to local food pantries and kitchens.
The bottom portion of face shields for health care workers being printed on the School’s 3D printer.
In a mid-March email to the community, Laura Danforth called on everyone to exercise resilience: “We will get through this. We need each of you to pull on your oar, though. Each of you. When you feel unsteady, I encourage you to regain your balance by actively being a power for good.” Indeed, as the pandemic unfolded, myriad members of the community took the School’s mission — to be a power for good — as a call to action. With COVID-19 severely impacting the New York metro area, Masters aimed to live its mission. On March 25, the School sent a shipment of goggles, rubber gloves and germicidal wipes from its Science Department to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, one of many area hospitals in desperate need of medical supplies. Parents and alumnae/i learned about this initiative on social media and were quick to respond with both pride and praise. “So very proud of our incredible Masters community. Thank you!” Jennifer Nappo P’21, ’23, ’23 exclaimed. “What an amazing idea, wonderful way to spread positivity!” Christa Daniello P’23 added. “Doing it with thy might!” Gladys Levis-Pilz ’65 said, referencing the School’s motto. A couple of weeks later, while most businesses were under strict lockdowns, people around the country adhered to stay-at-home state guidelines, and health care workers continued to express a
“Food that would normally have been used to feed students is sitting idle. We know that this precious resource, when placed in food pantries and kitchens, can offer the help that is sorely needed. So we are pairing up with these local help centers to achieve that mission.” — LEE BERGELSON, BROCK’S GENERAL MANAGER
need for personal protective equipment, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship John Chiodo and a few of his students were eager to help. After researching face shield designs that could be fabricated using the School’s 3D printer and procuring material donations from community members Nate Borwick ’23, Rob Feuer P’19, Dell Hallock ’22 and Chris Nappo ’23, Chiodo began the process of printing, measuring, cutting and punching clear film, as well as sanitizing all parts, assembling, packing and shipping them. The design itself, Chiodo shared, provided health care workers with enough room to wear goggles and respirators underneath. In total, Chiodo produced 405 face shields that were donated to the Dobbs Ferry Ambulance Corps; Andrus on Hudson, a rehabilitation center in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York; Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, New York; Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, New York; Saint John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, New York; and Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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Members of the Masters community and Brock & Company loading donated food onto a truck for delivery.
The Masters School donated goggles, gloves and germicidal wipes to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Students and staff at The Masters School also found ways to support health care workers and help those in the surrounding community. Christopher Barnaby ’22 spent his downtime working with two friends from outside of school to deliver meals to health care workers at local hospitals. Their initiative, Friends4Frontline, aimed to feed those working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic while also supporting local restaurants and delis that had been impacted by the statewide stay-at-home order. Barnaby and his friends focused their efforts on feeding those working the night shifts in hospitals who weren’t necessarily benefiting from the generous food donations that tended to be delivered during the day. “We have received emails saying how the night-shift workers don’t have much left over from the daytime shift and really appreciated us giving them the food,” Barnaby said. The trio started a GoFundMe campaign to ensure that they could continue to purchase enough food for the hospital workers, and, as of this writing, they have raised more than $9,400 for the cause. Thanks to the support of their many donors, by late April, the three friends had made 15 deliveries to three New York hospitals — White Plains Hospital in White Plains, Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla and Phelps
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Hospital in Sleepy Hollow — and were looking to expand to other medical facilities. “Health care workers have a really thankless job, so giving them this small thanks for literally keeping us together means a lot,” Barnaby explained. The economic impact of the COVID-19 health crisis meant that many local families were struggling to put food on the table. Out of a concern for families in need, The Masters School Operations Department partnered with the School’s dining service provider, Brock & Company, to deliver shelf-stable food from the dining hall to local food kitchens and pantries. “Given the current need for food around our local area and the fact that so many are in a state of flux right now, it is clear that action is needed to help those of our surrounding communities that need support,” Brock’s General Manager Lee Bergelson said as he launched the initiative. “Food that would normally have been used to feed students is sitting idle. We know that this precious resource, when placed in food pantries and kitchens, can offer the help that is sorely needed. So we are pairing up with these local help centers to achieve that mission.” As of this writing, Brock and The Masters School have delivered a total of 4,300 pounds of food. Items include canned goods, pasta, dressings and condiments, beverages, cereals, chips and snacks, pancake and waffle mixes, and peanut butter and jelly.
Alumnae/i Taking Action
“I have always believed that when we are born, we unknowingly signed a social contract to try and make your immediate area around you better.” — WALKER DUNBAR ’02
Walker Dunbar ’02 transitioned his distillery to creating free hand sanitizer for local first responders.
After learning about the shortage of hand sanitizer during the start and peak of the pandemic, Dunbar and Vierheller shifted their distillery operations to begin producing hand sanitizer and distribute it for free to local first responders.
FROM RUM AND WHISKEY TO HAND SANITIZER As the COVID-19 pandemic made its way around the globe, health authorities in the United States and abroad urged citizens to wash and sanitize their hands to prevent contagion. Hand sanitizers flew off the shelves, becoming an essential but scarce commodity. A former volunteer firefighter and paramedic who later became a police officer, Maryland resident Walker Dunbar ’02 felt compelled to help. “I have always believed that when we are born, we unknowingly signed a social contract to try and make your immediate area around you better,” Dunbar said. In 2015, while still working in law enforcement, Dunbar partnered with a colleague, Ryan Vierheller, to launch BlueDyer Distilling Co., a distillery in Waldorf, Maryland. Since 2016, Dunbar has served as chief operations officer and head distiller.
By working 21-hour shifts, Dunbar shared that, at the end of April, his distillery was able to distribute more than 200 gallons of hand sanitizer to emergency services in eight counties in Maryland, as well as to the District of Columbia police and fire departments. Dunbar and his partner also entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with the United States Navy in order to increase production. “We have streamlined the process and expect to be able to produce approximately 50 gallons of hand sanitizer every three days,” Dunbar added. With his impressive resume and the success of this important initiative, the alumnus offered these words of wisdom for Masters students: “Do not let the idea of failure prevent you from trying anything. I never would have imagined that after leaving Dobbs for the last time that I would know how to operate a fire engine, determine the settings for and troubleshoot a ventilator for a 1-year-old critically ill patient, become a positive and productive member of the law enforcement in the community I served, build and operate a distillery, build and operate a mobile taco truck, or be able to shift production of my distillery to something I have never made within a matter of days.” When Dunbar reflected on the meaning of the School’s motto, Do It With Thy Might, he had this to say: “If you believe enough in the process and the end result, success is going to come. I did not fully understand what the quote really meant to me until I had the opportunity to learn from past failures and to realize that success is taking that little idea you have and executing it to take it as far as you possibly can.”
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Alumnae/i Taking Action
Mia Tsuchiya ’01, a professional ballroom dancer who founded an online store for ballroom dancers, used her sewing skills to create cloth masks.
“I never knew that my sewing skill would make people cry of joy and possibly save lives.” — MIA TSUCHIYA ’01
FROM BALLROOM COSTUMES TO MASKS As a mother of two, Mia Tsuchiya ’01 has a lot on her plate. The daughter of professional ballroom dancers, Tsuchiya followed the same path as her parents, a path that led her from her native Japan to The Masters School as a boarding student in 1998. “I really wanted to improve my English, and I thought I could dance on the stage in countries other than Japan.” Her favorite memories at Masters involve socializing in the dining hall and performing with Dance Company under the guidance of Dance Director Karen Kristin. Tsuchiya graduated in 2001 and continued to pursue her dream. She met her husband, David Dowding, while they both worked as dance instructors in New York City. Five years ago, Tsuchiya stopped dancing to stay home with their children, 5-year-old daughter Emma and 2-year-old son Geon. “I stayed home and looked for things that I could do to make money while I am home raising my kids,” she said. From her
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home in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, Tsuchiya learned to use a sewing machine and continued to contribute to the industry she loves. “I started making dresses and jewelry for ballroom dancers,” she explained. In 2015, Tsuchiya founded Glitz On The Floor, an online store for ballroom dancers. As COVID-19 spread, Tsuchiya felt compelled to help and put her sewing skills to work for a greater cause. Recognizing the demand for cloth face coverings, Tsuchiya knew that she could make a difference by focusing her sewing efforts on making masks. She posted her idea on Facebook and requests for masks started coming in immediately, with a single post leading to 620 orders. While Tsuchiya may never know the true impact of her work, the alumna said that “I never knew that my sewing skill would make people cry of joy and possibly save lives.”
Lucas Buyon ’11 is currently pursuing his doctorate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“I am Jewish by religion and ethnicity and have always subscribed to the saying that if you save a life you are saving the world, and that really has motivated my desire and drive to get into public health.” — LUCAS BUYON ’11
A CALLING IN PUBLIC HEALTH The conversation around public health has been front and center during the COVID-19 pandemic. But for Lucas Buyon ’11, his interest in the field started much earlier and is deeply rooted in his religion, his upbringing and his experience as a student at The Masters School.
Buyon credits Dr. Dieck’s class for the long-lasting impact it had on his life. “This was the first class that I had ever taken in my life that I actually looked forward to doing the homework,” he recalled. “It was a light bulb shift. I really credit her class with crystallizing the power of public health at such a young age.”
“I am Jewish by religion and ethnicity and have always subscribed to the saying that if you save a life you are saving the world, and that really has motivated my desire and drive to get into public health,” Buyon said.
The concept of an equitable society and the mission to work for the greater good are almost almost intrinsic to public health. For Buyon, this pandemic has brought to the forefront the essential need for societies to prepare for these rare but immensely devastating kinds of events and to protect the well-being of every single citizen.
After attending Masters, Buyon felt compelled to give back. “For me, the great thing about public health is not just focused on the health of a single individual, but on the health of millions of people at a time,” he explained. “The ability to make that kind of impact on the health of society is very valuable.” Buyon is now a doctoral candidate at Harvard University’s Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. After graduating from Masters, he attended Emory University and majored in biology and global health. He shared that his interest in these areas was deeply influenced by two Masters teachers, upper school science teacher Elisabeth Merrill and Ethical Leadership Coordinator Lee Dieck, who taught a class on world health when Buyon was a student at Masters. Of Ms. Merrill’s AP Biology class, Buyon remembers that a main goal was “to understand the societal impact of science, which I don’t think is commonly done, and that opened up for me the possibility that science has a broader impact beyond the lab.”
“As we are seeing now, COVID-19 has really exposed the inequities and predicaments that we are seeing in American society,” he said. “Being better able to understand what is driving those inequities that have been around for years is the only way to make an effective impact.”
These stories are just a small representation of the countless contributions that Masters students, parents, faculty, staff and alumnae/i are making during this time of great need. The Masters School is grateful for each and every one of the members of its community who are leaving their marks as powers for good.
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10 QUESTIONS WITH BRIAN PUGH ’04 Brian Pugh ’04 officiating a socially distant wedding.
Brian Pugh ’04 is the mayor of Croton-on-Hudson, New York, a village of approximately 8,000 in northern Westchester County. This interview took place in May 2020.
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As the mayor of a village in an area severely affected by COVID-19, you have encountered very difficult decisions. What has that experience been like for you, and when did you realize that this was a serious situation and action was needed? I think that for many people, myself included, there has been a progressive understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, rather than a single epiphany. I realized this was serious when I read about the first community spread case — the patient’s exposure was unknown — in February. Since then, the other key milestones have
been the first case in New York, the first case in the village, and the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order that continues to this day. What has been the most challenging part of your job during this crisis? Making long-term plans at a time of unprecedented uncertainty has been the most challenging part of being mayor during this crisis. Under state law, the village must prepare its draft budget by March 31 and must adopt a final budget by May 1. In essence, we have had to develop a financial plan for the 2020-2021 fiscal year entirely during the current pause — without knowing
Inspiring artwork made by children in the Village of Croton-on-Hudson.
for sure what the world will be like afterward. We have been conservative in our assumptions. We must remain flexible and prepared to do what’s necessary to preserve the fiscal solvency of the village and maintain essential services. How have the residents of Croton-on-Hudson responded to the pandemic? The Village of Croton-on-Hudson is a very special place — and I’m not just saying that because I’m the mayor or because I grew up here. Croton-on-Hudson is not just a village, it’s a community. It is home to multigenerational families that go back to the immigrants that built the Croton Dam at the turn of the last century and earlier. At the same time, we are welcoming to newcomers and, in my lifetime, have become increasingly diverse. We have tremendous community spirit and what I would call “civic patriotism.” I am so grateful for the continued service of the Croton Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services. Our volunteers have always been willing to run to the aid of a neighbor without knowing what’s on the other side of the door. There have also been very moving grass-roots tributes to first responders and essential workers made by children from the village.
Is there a heartwarming story from your town during this trying moment that you could share with us? Since the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order began, I’ve had the opportunity to perform two civil weddings. These are the first weddings I have officiated as mayor. Due to the pandemic, people can’t hold traditional ceremonies, but life must go on, and love conquers all. I am so honored to be invited to participate in these profoundly hopeful and life-affirming occasions. How would you describe yourself as a leader? I have always drawn great inspiration from the example of Franklin D. Roosevelt. There were many elements to FDR’s success as a leader. For me, the big takeaways include: Keep your ends certain but your means flexible, and we are usually stronger when we work with others. How has this moment prepared you for whatever is next in your professional career? Hopefully, we never again have to deal with a crisis like this. That said, I would like to think that this experience will alleviate the normalcy bias, which tells us that the present will be like the past. Not only should we prepare for future crises, but be better able to see them without psychological blinders.
What in your years at Masters prepared you for the work you do today? The Harkness method helped to prepare me for substantive deliberation and collaborating with those who hold different points of view. Was there anyone or anything at Masters that inspired you to pursue the greater good? My experience volunteering at Andrus, Cabrini Immigrant Services and Children’s Village gave me some real perspective on how truly fortunate my peers and I were and are, and the tremendous responsibility we have to reform and improve our society, which includes so many who struggle and deserve better. What does Do It With Thy Might mean to you? Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. What do you look forward to doing when we go back to normality? Seeing my parents and grandparents again — in person and not through a screen.
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Virtual Workouts Keep Masters Community Moving New York’s stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Masters students, who were learning remotely for the last two months of the academic year, had to get creative with their physical fitness routines. Fortunately, the Athletics Department rolled out a set of inspiring and engaging initiatives to keep students active at home. In addition to providing exercise information and guidance tailored to upper and middle school students, the department posted daily workouts on the School’s social media pages. This included a popular weekly community event, the Panther Challenge. Every Wednesday, the School shared a short workout that could be completed in three to five minutes. Students, faculty and parents were encouraged to record themselves completing the exercises and then challenge other community members to participate the following week. Participants submitted their videos to the School in time-lapse mode, and the compilation was shared on social media. Even the school mascot joined in on the fun, maneuvering its way through exercises such as squats, jumping jacks and sit-ups every week. “We are very proud of the initiatives that our department has been producing,” Director of Athletics and Physical Education Logan Condon said. “All are great ways for our department to promote the importance of healthy habits and physical fitness.” Condon also highlighted the value of maintaining physical activity as students navigated a new world of staying at home and learning remotely: “Especially during times of high stress, physical activity is proven to help maintain and improve overall physical and mental well-being.” He also noted that “Exercising boosts immunity, reduces stress levels and develops lifelong healthy habits.”
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Even the panther joined in the School’s weekly athletic initiative, the Panther Challenge.
Eliza Abady ’21, who has played on the girls varsity tennis team since her freshman year and played squash freshman and sophomore years, kept up her exercise routine while at home with strength and conditioning workouts. She found that taking part in the Panther Challenge was a quick and enjoyable way to get her heart pumping and show her school spirit: “I wanted to participate in the Panther Challenge to support Masters, but also to change up my workout routine and share it with the School. I enjoyed participating for Masters!”
We are grateful to the many community members who prioritize support for The Masters School Annual Fund each year. Now, more than ever, your endorsement of our School ensures that our students have continued access to an unparalleled educational program. To support the Annual Fund, visit mastersny.org/makeagift.
SAVE REUNION 2021 THE DATE
FRIDAY, MAY 14, AND SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2021 Celebrating two cycles of graduates: the classes ending in 0 and 5 and the classes ending 1 and 6!
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Distanced, Together: Keeping Faculty and Staff Connected As faculty and staff dived into a new reality of remote teaching and working from home, adults in the Masters community no longer had the opportunity to connect over lunch in the dining hall, say hello in the hallways between classes, or catch up while walking across campus. And while nothing can replace the experience of those in-person interactions, a group of administrators aimed to bring the adults in the community together during a time of social distancing with a variety of virtual events.
Drama and dance teacher Jason Reiff, who is a certified yoga instructor, offered virtual yoga classes for adults in the Masters community.
Director of Equity and Inclusion Karen Brown, Director of Student Activities Ed Gormley, and Director of Parent Engagement and Special Events Aishling Peterson kept faculty and staff connected with weekly events like mat yoga, taught by dance and music teacher Jason Reiff, and a Friday evening happy hour called Happy Fri-YAY. Brown, Gormley and Peterson also offered a book discussion and alerted the community to virtual events happening throughout the week, such as online musicals and plays. One initiative, The Lockdown Challenge, encouraged colleagues to share something
new they had learned as a result of the stay-at-home orders; the idea came about after a colleague discovered the joys of canned bread, something she had not been aware of prior to the pandemic. “During this period of time, more than ever, we need to support and uplift each other however we can,” Brown said. “We don’t have the dining hall anymore to socialize or ‘break bread’ with each other. We’re unable to take the walks around campus to drop in and say ‘hello’ to one another. This is just a small way for us to see those smiling faces of our friends and colleagues, even though we can’t do so in person.” Gormley, who has attended several of the Fri-YAY happy hours, said: “They are a great way to start the weekend. I really crave interaction with my colleagues. It’s been so nice to have some time where there is no pressure to talk, and I can just hang out and listen if that’s where I am that day. It’s nice to see how everyone is doing.”
STAY CONNECTED Visit our website for the latest news from campus: mastersny.org
Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/mastersny
Watch your inbox for The Masters Messenger Alumnae/i E-Newsletter
Follow us on Instagram: instagram.com/mastersschool Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/mastersny
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Prefer to stay updated the good, old-fashioned way? Contact Director of Alumnae/i Engagement Sujata Jaggi ’01 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-479-6611.
Despite the closure of campus beginning in mid-March, the Admission team ensured that families were able to get to know The Masters School from afar.
Admission Team Showcases Masters Digitally This spring’s closure of campus and implementation of remote learning didn’t stop The Masters School Admission team from connecting with families interested in the School. The team wrapped up the admission cycle in full virtual swing with interviews through Skype and remote events for prospective families through Zoom. While families interested in the School’s day program had the opportunity to learn about Masters in person during winter events like campus revisit days, similar spring events for families interested in the boarding program were impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, while nothing compares to the magic of visiting Masters’ beautiful 96-acre campus and being welcomed by students, faculty and staff in person, the Admission Office organized a full and engaging remote experience for prospective boarding families.
Despite the shift from in-person to virtual events, “We were hoping to offer admitted and enrolled boarding students a warm, welcoming and informative experience,” Director of Enrollment Management Emma Katznelson explained. She and her team accomplished this by hosting remote presentations with Director of College Counseling Adam Gimple, Dean of Faculty Sam Savage, Associate Head of Upper School Sara Thorn, Director of Equity and Inclusion Karen Brown and current students. The Admission Office also hosted the School’s first Virtual Revisit Day on April 3, during which accepted boarding families met with proctors, dorm parents, Head of School Laura Danforth, Head of Upper School Peter Newcomb and a host of administrators. Throughout March and into April, the families regularly received video updates that aimed to help them get to know
the School from a distance, including virtual campus tours; arts and athletics highlights; and faculty, student and alumnae/i testimonials. “Parents were extremely grateful for the opportunity to engage with various constituents, especially our current boarders and their dorm parents,” Katznelson said. “There was a lot of enthusiasm around the events we created, and we are eager to continue them next year in addition to our in-person events.” Even after the boarding deadline of April 10, the Admission team was still hard at work engaging families interested in learning more about Masters: Spring tours in April and May took place on Zoom, with dozens of families logging on to experience Masters from afar.
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From the Studio to the Screen: A Spotlight on Virtual Arts
Sophia Herzberg ’20 recreated Constantin Brâncuși’s “The Kiss”
It is hard to imagine the world of the arts through a virtual lens. And yet, art offerings at The Masters School pivoted to the screen as the community engaged in remote learning this spring. From virtual art exhibits and musical ensembles collaboratively recording their music online to entire families participating in dance performances, the arts at Masters continued to thrive, despite the challenges. And, in what was a spectacular surprise for the Class of 2020, students, parents, faculty, alumnae/i and siblings collaborated to record the “Old Irish Blessing,” which is traditionally sung to the graduates during Commencement. The recording was played during the virtual senior celebration on June 6. For some, the arts became a family affair: Students in Dance Technique 3 and Dance Technique 4 classes were tasked with choreographing, performing and video recording dances with family members. “A silver lining gained from this time was taking advantage of having families together,” dance teacher Shell Benjamin said. “It is heartwarming and shows the spirit of adapting as they use their talents to bond and share laughter.” Chair of the Department of Performing Arts Jennifer Carnevale underscored students’ remarkable ability “to adapt to both the challenges in the world at this time and the unique characteristics of remote learning.” As she reflected on the unprecedented spring semester, Carnevale highlighted the enthusiasm with which students embraced the new reality. “They have gamely jumped into everything new we have tried,” she said. “While they are grieving the loss of contact and in-person connection that are especially present in the performing arts, they have also been incredibly open-minded, patient, engaged and hopeful.” In the world of visual arts, supplies including paint, brushes and cameras were shipped to students to ensure that they could continue their creative endeavors. “Even a darkroom class can continue by virtue of several extra steps that allow our students to receive scans of their photos that they can then edit at home
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using software,” Chair of the Visual Arts Department Cheryl Hajjar explained. Indeed, students continued to produce impressive and innovative artwork from home. AP Art History students took the Getty Museum Challenge, a playful social media challenge announced by the Los Angeles museum asking people to recreate famous works of art using items from their homes. Students used orange peels, Band-Aid wrappers and even Apple AirPods to create their own versions of well-known pieces. An architecture class project took a different approach to art recreation: Students made masks using household objects and then provided a classmate with design instructions. The classmate then used the instructions to produce a similar mask — all without having seen the original piece. Burgeoning videographers took inspiration from the stay-at-home measures to create short films that ranged from an imagined horror movie trailer to a scenic hike with family. Others used their skills to create “how-to” videos for making delicious recipes at home, including penne alla vodka, pizza and osso buco. “Our team has done a tremendous job of taking students who are in all different places in their physical lives and teaching to the situation that this isolation has imposed,” Hajjar said. “The students have used creativity and ingenuity to produce works that inspire and entertain, but also speak to these times that we are living through. They are using their practice to process this stressful situation, and it could set an example for us all.” Whether they prefer a paintbrush or pointe shoes, by stretching their imaginations and adapting their talents to the times, Masters’ young artists have shown that creative expression through the arts is always a joyful endeavor, even in difficult times.
SHOW YOUR PRIDE! Want to show your school pride? The Campus Store has you covered with a wide selection of hats, mugs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, athletic gear, ties, blankets and more. Make sure to check out our Dobbs line, too! To place an order, please visit mastersny.org/campusstore. Masters is offering free shipping on all domestic orders while the campus is closed. Photo credit: Junrong (Karen) Li â€™20
Thank you to the many members of our community who have supported the
STUDENT ACCESS FUND
To make a gift to this important initiative, which provides financial aid to Masters families experiencing economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, please visit mastersny.org/makeagift. Thank you for ensuring that all current Masters students remain part of our unique community.
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Classrooms at Home
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Classrooms at Home
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THE MASTERS SCHOOL
LEADERSHIP 2019 -2020 Head of School Laura Danforth
T H E
B U L L E T I N
Laura Danforth Head of School email@example.com
Adriana Hauser P’18 Director of Strategic Communications firstname.lastname@example.org
Seth Marx P’23 Director of Institutional Advancement email@example.com
Isaac Cass Digital Communications Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Donald Advancement Associate email@example.com
Bob Horne P’15 Director of Marketing firstname.lastname@example.org Jen Schutten Associate Director of Communications email@example.com
Hilary Finkelstein Annual Fund Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Sujata Jaggi ’01 Director of Alumnae/i Engagement email@example.com Maryann Perrotta Database Administrator firstname.lastname@example.org Aishling Peterson P’18, ’20, ’22 Director of Parent Engagement and Special Events email@example.com Mary Ryan ’00 Associate Director of Institutional Advancement firstname.lastname@example.org Amie Servino ’95, P’26 Advancement Operations Manager email@example.com
Board of Trustees Edith C. Chapin ’83, Chair Keryn Norton Mathas P’19, ’21, ’22, Vice Chair Katherine A. Henry ’94, P’25, Treasurer Suzie Paxton ’88, Secretary Lisa Bezos P’21 Martin Bjäringer P’17 Fred Brettschneider P’19 Jonathan Clay P’19 Laura Danforth Michael D’Angelo P’15, ’19 David Heidelberger ’01 Christina Masters Jones Philip Kassen Shaojian (Richard) Li P’20 Tracy Tang Limpe ’80, P’18 Victor Luis P’17, ’19 Sydney Shafroth Macy ’70 Edgar M. Masters H’98, Life Trustee Susan Follett Morris ’57, Life Trustee Beth Nolan ’69 Dana W. Oliver P’22 Hillary A. Peckham ’09 Janet Pietsch P’09, ’20 Steven Safyer P’04, ’07 Margarita Sawhney P’20 Diana Davis Spencer ’56, P’84 Mirna A. Valerio ’93 Honorary Trustees Marin Alsop ’73 Cynthia Ferris Evans ’52, P’76, ’86 Jeannette Sanford Fowlkes ’58, P’87 Ruth Mitchell Freeman ’51 Nancy Maginnes Kissinger ’51 Claudia Boettcher Merthan ’51 Lynn Pilzer Sobel ’71, P’99, ’05 Dobbs Alumnae/i Association Board David Heidelberger ’01, President Hannah J. Miller ’10, Interim Vice President
Design: Kelsh Wilson Design
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Sharon Nechis Castillo ’84 Ellie Collinson ’98 Karen Feinberg Dorsey ’84 Austin O’Neill Dunyk ’98 Evan B. Leek ’01 John M. McGovern ’07 Justina I. Michaels ’02 Ricardo C. Oelkers ’03
Parent Association Executive Committee Officers Janet Pietsch P’09, ’20, President Leslie Rusoff P’17, ’17, ’18, ’21, ’22, Co-Vice President, Upper School Robin Scheuer P’18, ’20, Co-Vice President, Upper School Marie Fabian P’22, ’26, Co-Vice President, Middle School Gabrielle Rosenfeld P’24, Co-Vice President, Middle School Committees and Chairs Leslie Rusoff P’17, ’17, ’18, ’21, ’22, Chair, Admission Support Erick Blanc P’23, Parent Chair, Annual Fund Andrew Barnes P’26, ’26, Parent Vice Chair, Annual Fund Sally-Jo O’Brien P’21, Boarding Parent Representative Anne Termini P’20, Boarding Parent Representative Irma Pereira-Hudson P’21, Co-Chair, Equity and Inclusion Committee Madeline Seguinot P’20, ’24, Co-Chair, Equity and Inclusion Committee Mary Lockhart P’19, ’20, Co-Chair, Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day Jennifer Nappo P’21, ’23, ’23, Co-Chair, Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day; Co-Chair, Parent Programs Amie Servino Kritzer ’95, P’26, Co-Chair, Parent Programs Class Representatives Jose Camacho P’26 Patrice Coleman ’77, P’21 Marie Fabian P’22, ’26 Staci Marlowe P’23, ’23, ’25 Jillian Miller P’22 Allison Moore ’83, P’17, ’19, ’24 Lindsay Mortimer P’26 Brooke Nalle P’24, ’27 Jennifer Nappo P’21, ’23, ’23 Janet Pietsch P’09, ’20 Rini Ratan P’22, ’24 Gabrielle Rosenfeld P’24 Liz Tarter P’25, ’27 Anne Termini P’20 Natasha VanWright P’25 Cori Worchel P’19, ’21 Monaqui Porter Young P’23, ’25
Eliza Bailey Masters wrote in a 1919 letter to alumnae, “you own the School.” Inspired by her call to action, the alumnae raised the money for a new school building, completed in 1921, and named it Masters Hall in her honor. Today — nearly 100 years later — The Masters School still relies on the generosity of our community to continue Miss Masters’ legacy and support our School’s mission, students, programs and future.
Here are just a few of the ways that alumnae/i and parents can give back to our School:
Alumnae/i Giving Day
Annual Fund Volunteer
Class Notes Editor
Class Agent Event Host
Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day Committee
Contact: Sujata Jaggi ’01, Director of Alumnae/i Engagement, at 914-479-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Aishling Peterson P’18, ’20, ’22, Director of Parent Engagement and Special Events, at 914-479-6639 or email@example.com
Contact: Seth Marx, Director of Institutional Advancement, at 914-479-6527 or firstname.lastname@example.org
There are numerous ways to get involved and give back to Masters. If you have an idea that is not listed above, please let us know.
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