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ISSUE #7 FALL 2015


fall 2015


Accept the Challenge



Curriculum Questions: Can I take Estonian? Affordability: Sliding Scale Tuition Changes the Conversation Champlin Grant Refurbishes Chem Lab And More…



ISSUE #7 FALL 2015

All Dressed Up and Ready to Go: Students and faculty gather on the first day of school for the annual all-school photo.

DATES TO REMEMBER December 17 Holiday Tea

January 6 Young Alumni Reception

March 4-5 PCD Players

FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL VINCE WATCHORN As winter approaches, most people are preparing for the austerity of the season and adding extra layers to the daily wardrobe. At PCD, those practical considerations are in distinct contrast to our educational experience, which strikes me as the ‘eternal spring’ of perpetual learning. You will see in the pages of this Participant that PCD is a place of constant growth—our students, our teachers, and our school itself are always advancing, becoming better versions of themselves by taking appropriate risks and becoming practiced at new skills. Through curiosity, experience, and engaged citizenship, we gain not only confidence in certain areas, but also confidence to accept new challenges. In this way, we are prepared to survive winter with the constant greenery of ever-evolving learning—with the freshness and sweetness of an eternal spring. Please enjoy this issue that highlights many examples of growth and advancement.

Vince Watchorn



$50,000 grant from the Champlin Foundations was put to work over the summer on a chemistry lab overhaul. The upgrade was the second phase of a renovation plan, which launched in the summer of 2012. The plan identified the lab as the next priority, and we were fortunate to have our needs align with the Champlin Foundations’ philanthropic goals last spring. The design of the new, polymorphic space was informed by several decades of educational research. It has been demonstrated that students are best able to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to master science content in a dynamic, flexible, project-based learning environment. The lab’s flexibility allows students to move equipment, including the workstations themselves— modifying the space to suit the objectives of each class. The lab also received much needed safety updates, including a new fume hood, eye washing stations, and emergency showers.



ISSUE #7 FALL 2015

Family Matters THE 2015 PLAY FOR PCD BENEFIT EVENT HONORED A LEGACY OF LOYAL KNIGHTS. “You’re thanking the wrong people,” said Terry Murray ’58 at the Play for PCD Benefit, which honored his family last spring. I should be thanking you.” We must agree to disagree. No one could have known at the time, but the course of The Providence Country Day School changed forever in the fall of 1956, when J. Terrence Murray, a scrappy kid from Woonsocket, enrolled for his junior year. Fifty-nine years later, the Murray Family name is synonymous with PCD’s success. The Murray Family and PCD have been partners in the truest sense of the word: they have cheered with us to celebrate moments of greatness and they have lifted us up in times of need. Demonstrations of their commitment are everywhere— Murray House, the Shurman Center, the 2012–2014 campus interiors renovations, and the Murray Scholar Program—in addition to multiple trusteeships, decades of strategic support, and wise counsel to PCD’s heads of school. Three generations of Murrays have called PCD home—perhaps the family’s most meaningful legacy.

Representatives of the Murray family at Play for PCD are: Front row, l-r: Maggie McNamara, Suzanne Murray, Joe McNamara ’15. Back row, l-r: Kevin McNamara, PCD Trustee, Paula McNamara, Terry Murray ’58, and Terry Murray ’85.

Talking About Tuition IT’S TIME FOR A NEW CONVERSATION ABOUT TUITION AFFORDABILITY. PCD has inspired lives of engaged citizenship and leadership in 6th-12th graders for more than 90 years. Today, the school seeks to make its individualized brand of education more accessible for more students, and give families the opportunity to pay according to their demonstrated need. A new tool on the PCD website allows families to see not only the full tuition, but also a reduced tuition for which they might qualify. Under the Sliding Scale Tuition model, families must demonstrate need through a standard application process administered by the National Association of Independent Schools. A family’s calculated ability to pay will be considered along with a student’s qualifications, and the school’s available funds, when determining the level of tuition each family will pay. “We hope that the Sliding Scale will help families understand that the advantages of independent school are more affordable than they might think,” says Head of School Vince Watchorn.

Hidden Identity STUDENTS AND FACULTY EXPLORE YEARLONG THEMES OF IDENTITY AND KINDNESS. Upper school students and faculty launched a yearlong conversation about identity with a TED talk by author Chimamanda Ngozi, titled “The Danger of a Single Story.” Ngozi spoke about the pitfalls of reducing someone to a single element of his/her identity—a ‘single story.’ She found that people tend to reduce her native country of Nigeria to one narrative of catastrophe, poverty, and illness, and as a result, the entrepreneurship, resilient spirit, and rich cultural traditions of Nigeria are lost. Ngozi’s perspective served as a springboard for conversation, exercises, workshops, and programming that will animate community and advisory time throughout the year. The goal is to empower students to share openly and think deliberately about the many factors that form their and others’ personal narratives. In this way, we can help develop the essential skill of empathy, to prepare students not only for the social and academic rigors of college, but also to imbue them with a sense of care and understanding.


What’s the Problem?

Independence Day



Computer science is quickly becoming one of the most valuable skills in college and the workplace, and the discipline is being taught to younger and younger children in schools around the world. Although elements of computer science have been taught in PCD’s computer club, math class, and chemistry class for years, it was not until this fall that a formal computer science class was added to the upper school science curriculum.

“If a student has a compelling reason to take a course that we don’t offer, we do everything possible to give that student options,” says Jen Aitken, PCD’s director of teaching and learning.

Chemistry teacher, Klaus Amburn, designed the course with the idea that he could give students more than relevant skills; he could also fundamentally alter the way we teach students to problem solve. When students design a computer program and immediately see if their work is successful, the teacher can step back. With direction, students can work through problems independently, develop their own methods, and troubleshoot their own mistakes. Amburn hopes to help students “develop three of the most important intellectual virtues: precision, clarity of thought, and organization.”

Aitken explains that, despite offering a broad and varied curriculum at PCD, from time to time there are students who benefit from independent study. Gabe Zelaya-Rincon ’16 is This year we have students studying AP Statistics online through PCD’s independent working with private tutors or taking online courses in French, study program. Estonian, German, AP Chemistry, AP Statistics, AP Economics, and Chinese. All independent study programs must be approved by Aitken, who also monitors each student’s progress. Individual success is the result of self-motivation, good time management, and a deep intellectual curiosity. “PCD’s program is distinguished by the in-class experience,” says Aitken, “but there are some great resources out there, and when we find one that aligns with our curriculum, it can provide a very positive experience for students with specific interests.”

Students Learning from Students RISD PROJECTS ARE INFORMED BY PCD MIDDLER FEEDBACK. Students in Rhode Island School of Design professor Khipra Nichols’s ‘Design for Children’ class aim to design innovative products and activities for young children. Their projects include, among other things, “purposeful toys,” “artful tools,” and “functional furniture.” What makes the class different from other RISD industrial design classes is the way in which Nichols integrates design with the child perspective. Rather than surveying children, or using popular psychology to determine what might be interesting to them, he creates spaces for co-creation. One of those spaces is the PCD middle school, where college students and middlers collaborate in the creative process. The students think outside the box together to come up with ideas for products and activities. At the end of the semester PCD middlers will attend the final session at RISD, during which working prototypes will be presented. “The PCD students are lucky to be an integral part of this creative process,” says Art Department Chair Michele Mennucci. “It exposes them to art in the real world, and makes it relevant in a way that a studio experience cannot.”



ISSUE #7 FALL 2015

Alumni In the News

In Recognition and with Gratitude



Bianca Wilbur D’Allesandro ’99 is the new principal of Bret Harte Middle School in Oakland, CA. Established in 1930, the school serves about 600 students and is the alma mater of Tom Hanks ’71. Bret Harte is one of the most diverse schools in Oakland, and proud of its commitment to serving all the city’s youth. D’Allesandro received a BA and MA at Bard College after PCD, and a doctor of Education from Mills College in Oakland. In her opening of school letter, D’Allesandro said it was both a privilege and an honor to step into her new role. Publishers Weekly refers to David Reynolds ’66 as a “virtuoso writer,” and Kirkus Reviews describes his writing as “exemplary scholarship, not just for our time, but for all times.” The Bancroft Award winning cultural historian has 16 books to his credit, including “Walt Whitman’s America” and “Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America.” Reynolds received his BA from Amherst and his PhD from UC Berkeley. In addition to a short teaching stint at PCD, he has taught American Literature and American Studies at Northwestern University, Barnard College, New York University, Rutgers University, Baruch College, the Sorbonne-Paris III, and, since 2006, at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Reynolds was recently featured in the Long Island publication, Dan’s Papers.

Hey Alumni! Got a Minute? FIVE QUICK THINGS ALUMNI CAN DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE 1. Login and create your profile in our website Alumni Center. 2. Become a career mentor and/or post available or needed positions/internships on our Career Networking page. 3. Connect with us on our social media sites: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. 4. List PCD on your professional profiles. 5. Sign up to be a class representative if you’re in one of the following classes: 1953, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2006

This spring marks the retirement of John Buxton ’65 as Head of Schools at Culver Academies, in Culver, Indiana, where he has had a deep impact as its leader. His retirement coincides with his 50th PCD reunion year, which was honored in a meaningful, if unconventional way. The members of the Culver Academies Class of ’65 were so appreciative of Buxton’s contributions to their alma mater that they gave a donation to PCD in honor of Buxton, acknowledging their shared class year. More importantly, the gift symbolized “…how grateful the members of [the Culver] alumni community are for the transformational leadership John Buxton has provided Culver.” Director of Culver Alumni Relations, Alan Loehr, said, “Every key indicator—demand numbers, student leadership systems, and financial sustainability among them— has risen dramatically since John’s arrival in 1999.”

Raising Great Kids PCD PENS SERIES OF ARTICLES IN GOLOCALPROV.COM. is home to a new bi-weekly series featuring articles by PCD faculty and staff, written for parents looking for answers. There are no magic formulae for raising great kids, but drawing on the experience of PCD educators and the research of noted experts, the articles should spark thoughtful dialog and get parents to think about age-old issues in new ways. The first piece, by Director of Admission Dave Provost, looks at the skills kids need for 21st century success. Creativity, collaboration, compassion, and innovation have emerged as skills that don’t replace the three Rs, but are equally important. Associate Head of School Mark McLaughlin examines the importance of resilience in every kid’s toolbox. Rather than focusing on success as a by-product of a good education, McLaughlin suggests that, if kids are taught to be resilient, the success will follow. Vince Watchorn considers the essential, yet oft neglected, role of nature in education. Kids learn more completely— about their coursework and themselves—when there is hands on, contextual relevance. Six articles in all will be published by December 31. Read them all at and/or on the PCD Balance Blog.


New Knights Dave Provost, Director of Admission “I couldn’t be happier being back home in Providence and working at a school I have admired and respected my entire career,” said new Director of Admission Dave Provost. Provost brings 28 years of independent school experience to PCD’s admissions office—most recently as Head of Glen Urquhart School (MA), Nantucket New School (MA), and Interim Head of School at Quest Montessori (RI). Following 12 years as a school head, Provost now appreciates the narrower focus, more direct connection with students and families, and greater opportunity to impact a single area of school life that his new position will allow. He has held a variety of teaching, coaching, and administrative positions at numerous schools and his work has been recognized with the Eldon Boyd Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching, an English-Speaking Union Fellowship, and as a Columbia University Klingenstein Fellow. Outside of school, Provost is an author and professional musician, a Union College (NY) graduate with a certificate from Oxford University (UK) and an M.Ed. from Lesley College (MA).

Jaci Arnone, Development Manager Jaci Arnone joins the PCD Development office after 15 years at Milton Academy (MA) as Director of Parent Giving and Prospect Researcher. She held prior development positions at Phillips Academy (MA) and Moravian College (PA), and is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Wheaton College (MA) with a Master’s in English from Kutztown University (PA). Arnone’s community service includes a term as board member of the Bayside YMCA (RI), during which she was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2011. Arnone is responsible for leading our key fund-raising events and senior parent gift initiative, as liaison to the PCD Parent Council. “I came from larger schools,” said Arnone, “and never experienced this kind of close knit welcoming community. It feels like home and I am so honored to be a part of it.”

Flying High DONOR ENSURES FUTURE OF PCD LANDMARK. When a friend of PCD wanted to make a gift to beautify the school in memory of her military husband, our flagpole seemed ideal, and the project was funded by the Richard R. Hallock Foundation. The 82-year-old 80-foot pole—installed in 1933 on the school’s 10th anniversary—was in such need of repair that only replacement or removal were options. The pole had become a campus focal point, local landmark, and clear statement about PCD, so we wanted to continue waving a high-flying flag for another 82 years. “As we plan for campus improvements,” said Head of School Vince Watchorn, “it is important to remember the details, not just the big facility projects.” Watchorn noted that it is a distinct honor to have Col. Richard R. Hallock’s name associated with PCD. “Hallock was a decorated World War II and Korean War hero who spent his career advocating for soldiers. He was a soldier, scholar, and gentleman, and we are proud that PCD is part of his legacy.” A landscaped garden and commemorative plaque will enhance the base of the pole.



ISSUE #7 FALL 2015

A Global Perspective PCD’S GROWING INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM BENEFITS HOSTS AND VISITORS ALIKE. When Peter Shang, ’16, came to PCD in 2012, he was the school’s first student from China. This year, he will become the school’s first 4-year international graduate, and he’s not alone. PCD has 10 students hailing from China and one from Japan. As our international program has grown, so too has its demands, and this year Mary Suttell was appointed PCD’s first international student coordinator. Suttell addresses the unique needs of our international students—from legal conformity and school logistics, to ensuring that all students have a positive experience that honors their own culture while immersing them in a new one. Suttell says that PCD offers international students a different academic culture that allows for an emphasis, not only on strong American academics, but also on increased opportunities for extracurricular activities. Like all PCD students, the students from abroad can distinguish themselves in the classroom, on the field, on the stage, in the studio, and in the community. She is quick to point out that the benefits for American students continue to grow as well, with broader perspectives that strengthen class discussions, enrich friend groups, and shrink global boundaries.


Natassia Perrine Presents at State Conference

Michaela O’Donnell Joins School One Board of Trustees

Performing arts teacher, Natassia Perrine, was a guest presenter at The Delaware Music Education Association’s ‘State Music Day’ in Smyrna, Delaware. High school choral, strings, and band teachers, as well as middle and elementary school music teachers from around the state, came together for a day of performances and professional development.

PCD art teacher, Michaela O’Donnell, has been elected to the board of trustees at School One, an arts-based Eastside Providence high school. A 1987 graduate of the school, O’Donnell is pleased to be able to give back to such a special place, which she sees as a tremendous resource in the community.

Widely respected for her choral expertise, Perrine led a session called ‘Shake Up Your Warm Up,’ that focused on the five areas of a vocal warm-up: brain, body, breath, voice, and ears. At PCD, on any given school day, her creative and engaging warm-up exercises can be heard ringing through the halls on the upper level of Metcalf Hall.

O’Donnell has spent her first nine months on the board listening and learning, and is now working with the development office to build alumni relations. Along with her work at PCD, O’Donnell credits her board work at School One for helping her appreciate the commonalities between the two schools. “Both schools truly meet students where they are and value students as individuals with something special to offer,” she says. “In this tricky time of adolescence, when there is so much pressure for kids to be something they’re not, I feel lucky to support two schools that encourage and empower kids to be themselves.”

Perrine was excited to return to her home state, benefit from the experience of colleagues, and share some of what she has learned in her own career. “Any time you can connect with that many professionals in one place who share a passion, you can’t help but learn something and be energized,” she said.


Leading the Way NEW BOARD LEADERSHIP AND MEMBERSHIP CONTINUE STRATEGIC SCHOOL-BOARD PARTNERSHIP. James Skeffington, Jr. ’88 took on the role of PCD Board President July 1, following the Metcalf winning leadership of Mary Heffner. Skeffington, Director of Business Development, CVS Health Corp., joined the board in 2011 and has served on both the executive and finance committees. Both Skeffington and Head of School Vince Watchorn agree that the transition has been seamless, and there is a solid foundation on which to advance strategically and with assurance. They are excited to welcome a strong slate of new trustees, who bring a wealth of experience to complement the current membership.

MEET THE NEW TRUSTEES Paula M. McNamara is president of the Murray Family Charitable Foundation, having worked for more than 21 years at Fidelity Investments. In 2011, Gov. Lincoln Chafee appointed her to the Rhode Island State Investment Commission. McNamara has a BA from Brown University, has served on the Brown University Sports Foundation since 1995, and is currently president of its board. McNamara brings a parent perspective (Joe ’15), the benefit of additional Brown leadership roles, both in athletics and development, and nearly 15 years of independent school board leadership to the PCD Board. Robert Khoury ’86 is the Chief Operating Officer in charge of Company Operations, Risk Management, and Client Relations for Esulep, an investment management company in Chicago. Over the past 20 years, he has found success as an equity derivatives trader, portfolio manager, recruiter, project manager, and corporate strategist. Khoury earned his Master of Business Administration from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and graduated from Princeton University with a BSE degree in Electrical Engineering. He is currently president of the Princeton Club of Chicago and a member of the Fuqua Advisory Board. The PCD board welcomes Khoury’s broad business background, strategic thought process, and loyal PCD alumni status.

Marc Horner ’87 is the founder of Fairhaven Wealth Management, a boutique financial planning and investment advisory firm located just outside of Chicago. In addition to being a new trustee, Marc also serves on the Advisory Board of The Chicago Community Trust and the Editorial Board of the Investments & Wealth Monitor, published by the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA®). A collegiate All-American in basketball, Marc now enjoys golf, cooking and wearing a kilt as a bagpiper with The Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band (currently on sabbatical). Marc and his wife, Christine, live in Wheaton, Illinois, with their four children. Kenneth W. Graboys ’81 is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of The Chartis Group, a healthcare consulting firm with offices in Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. Today, his 20+ years of experience are the foundation for a focus on economic and strategic planning, collaborative venture strategy and affiliations, network formation and organization, and provider/physician/payer alignment. After college, Graboys served in the Peace Corps in Mauritania, West Africa, establishing and maintaining feeding centers in famine regions, and today he serves on several civic and business organization boards. He holds a Master of Public and Private Management from the Yale School of Management and a Bachelor of Science in social policy from Northwestern University.

See Things Differently THREE TRAVEL OPTIONS PROMISE TO CHANGE OUR WORLDVIEW. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller Traveling is one of the surest ways to understand a different point of view—about others as well as ourselves. Not only does going to a new place get us out of our comfort zones, it also gets us out of our zip codes, where things aren’t always what they seem. That is why intrepid traveler, PCD Spanish teacher Sarah Garcia-Mata, will lead three PCD trips this year (Quebec – for freshmen only, a spring break service trip to Guatemala, and a summer trip to Spain). Though the destinations and itineraries are different, the themes of cultural immersion and the goal to develop a broader understanding of our global community are the same. Whether driving a dogsled, eating a food you can’t pronounce, exploring sites that are rich with historical significance, or helping to build a health clinic with an NGO, PCD’s trips will provide memorable experiences while equipping students with an expanded cultural literacy.

Providence Country Day School 08The THE PCD PARTICIPANT 660 Waterman Avenue East Providence, RI 02914-1724

ISSUE #7 FALL 2015

First Class Presort US Postage


Providence, RI Permit No. 537

Under the Radar IT IS OFTEN THOSE WHO LEAST SEEK RECOGNITION FOR THEIR GOOD WORK WHO DESERVE IT THE MOST. Mary P. Heffner was honored at the 2015 PCD Commencement with the Michael P. Metcalf Service Award, which recognizes individuals who embody the spirit of distinguished ser vice and exceptional achievement exemplified by Michael P. Metcalf. Heffner traces her PCD history back to the student days of her uncle, Raymond Fox ’51, whose positive PCD experience compelled Heffner to send her own son, Matthew ’12 here. In presenting the award, Head of School Vince Watchorn recognized her as a ‘thought partner’ in every aspect of PCD’s advancement. “Most trustees calculate their amount of service to a school in hours per month,” said Watchorn. “Mary could calculate hers in hours per day. All she wanted to do was make a difference, and the difference she has made is significant.”

PCD Participant #7 Fall 2015