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the newsletter of Saint Mark’s School

DIGGING DEEP From the beginning of my time at Saint Mark’s, I have been influenced by the way that I first came to know the school: through its graduates. Teaching English to sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Marin Academy, I was so impressed by how Saint Mark’s alums deepened the discussion by asking questions rather than just offering answers, the way that they dug into thorny issues, the way that they wrote, and rewrote, and rewrote again. This fall I was fortunate to work with Jennifer Wood’s 7th grade English classes, facilitating literary circles where I could witness the students practicing analysis and discussion that leads to such impressive work by our graduates. Together we honed skills of discernment, of noting when a pattern emerged or when a character acted in unexpected ways, and then querying the author’s purpose. What a joy to watch our students increasingly trust their ability to analyze literature, realize that their observations and analyses are eminently worth sharing—as are their peers’—and find their voices to make meaning together. In one class, as we discussed the experience of an AsianAmerican protagonist who struggled to find the right box to check in the “race and ethnicity” category of a standardized test, a student shifted the perspective for us. He noted that the fictional person or group that wrote the question must not have faced the same identity dilemma that our protagonist did. It was an excellent example of how the cross-curricular strands of global education, social and emotional learning, and media and information literacy intersect with the study of literature. The student’s insight also highlighted the ways in which racial and ethnic identity form lenses that influence our every experience, and that we often must work to identify our own blind spots. In the pages that follow are more examples of how Saint Mark’s teachers are developing these skills of inquiry and analysis in our students. Fifth grade teacher Courtney Coghlan writes eloquently about the sophisticated questions that her students asked in the newly revised colonial project (page 4). They are learning—at a young age—that the textbook does not have all the answers; indeed, it often does not even ask the best questions. They are learning the valuable lesson of pushing beyond the surface into deeper ore beds, a process of inquiry that requires more effort but yields much more meaningful results.





Saint Mark’s Multicultural Fellowship leverages the talents of young educators to take us on journeys right here at school. by KARLA GARCIA

As this year’s Multicultural Fellow, I hope to help Saint Mark’s further connect with the surrounding community, in part by building upon the school’s existing partnerships, such as our longstanding Spanish-language and cultural exchange with the Canal Alliance

attire from the state of Jalisco and explained Dia de los Muertos and its traditions against the backdrop of a beautiful altar created with the help of Saint Mark’s staff members Marina Juarez de Silva, Alfredo Jimenez, and Maria Coronado, and parents Patricia Garcia and Maria Reyes. Athletic director Ray Orwig and music teacher Richard Navarrete added pictures of Ray Bizjack, our founding headmaster; Maria Coronado and school registrar Olivia Jimenez placed personal items. Students shared memories of our furry friend Boomer, the first grade’s pet rabbit, and placed drawings and photographs of him on the altar. The assembly wrapped up to the music of Mexican Hat Dance, warm hot chocolate, and pan de los muertos, “bread for the dead.” There is much more planned for the remainder of the school year, including a return visit from storyteller

Left: the community altar; below: Lower School students performing a traditional dance

( One of my primary responsibilities is designing the slate of presenters for Saint Mark’s Roots and Wings program for the year. Roots and Wings engages students in kindergarten through 6th grade in thinking about and discussing diversity through storytelling and activities with guests from a variety of backgrounds, including performers, authors, and artists. Capitalizing on our rich local context, I created a two-part event for Roots and Wings in celebration of Dia de los Muertos. Ernesto Hernandez Olmos, a multifaceted Marin-based artist, presented to the students on October 22 about the sacred roots and indigenous traditions of Day of the Dead, engaging them with interactive workshops. Young students listened as he played several musical instruments, including a conch and “the whistle of death.” Older students were challenged to re-evaluate perceptions of the underworld. At the end of each workshop, students had the opportunity to add items to an altar and learned the reasons for including photographs, food, drinks, and marigolds. The celebration concluded with a festive and colorful all-school assembly involving many community members. Parents Alfredo Zarate and Barbara Clifton Zarate led the assembly dressed in traditional Mexican


Diane Ferlatte in January and performer Alan Scofield in February. This year’s “destination” for Passport Day is China, and we will certainly build a Roots and Wings event around that. I have worked with youth in Marin for the past three years, in schools as well as educational nonprofits, and I have seen how many people here are working to create positive change. I hope to encourage students here to see themselves as agents for change as well. Karla Garcia is Saint Mark’s Multicultural Fellow for 2013–14. Prior to this, she worked for Next Generation Scholars, a nonprofit organization working to bring educational opportunity to underserved students in Marin. She is currently pursuing a master’s in teaching at the University of San Francisco.


Is there a better way to confront a certain type of anxiety than by holding a giant millipede or a large hissing cockroach? No, there isn’t. by theresa hall

I first learned about Norm Gershenz and the Insect Discovery Lab a few years ago. Norm is the executive director of, and he visits many Bay Area schools with a collection of bugs that students can hold or touch to teach them about the creatures’ native environments and habits. Last year, in my role as school counselor at Saint Mark’s, I was casting about for ways to engage 6th graders with an aspect of our social-emotional learning program, specifically a set of skills that we can all develop to help regulate our emotions—like mindful breathing and visualization—and I remembered Norm, his bugs, and the reactions people have when they encounter these wondrous creatures.

says, “you know consciously that you aren’t going to get hurt—the bug isn’t poisonous, you won’t fall 50 feet to the ground—and, yet, you can’t seem to control your reaction. So, we do discuss the science around it, but there’s also the aspect of just getting them out of their comfort zone and seeing how they manage the situation.” Visit for more information on the Insect Discovery Lab and habitat rescue programs.

Clockwise from left: Examining a giant African millipede; Norm Gershenz of with an Australian walking stick; getting to know the walking stick

This sparked an idea to incorporate real-life experiences that would integrate the SEL concepts with the science curriculum. I approached 6th grade math and science teacher Tim Evans to see if there was a fit between the bugs and what Tim was doing in the classroom. Tim does a unit on genetics, so we decided a visit from Norm would be a fun way to explore the topic of anxiety, phobias, and fears and whether these are learned or genetic. If they are learned, can they be unlearned? If they can be unlearned, what SEL tools— such as deep breathing, calming visualization—do we use to manage our reactions? If they are innate, can we control how they affect us? What is the difference between a fear and a phobia? He also draws a connection between this experience and the 6th grade’s outdoor education activities of rock climbing and ropes courses. “Sometimes,” he 3




interview by christine maguire

Colonial Day, held every year shortly before Thanksgiving, has always been a time for students to research and present on specific jobs and trades of the American colonial era. This year, we wanted to give the students an opportunity to research more deeply and to develop their analysis skills. My teaching partner, Lisa Gockel, and I decided on a new format for the day, with a series of skits that the students themselves would create “from scratch.” Every year, there are topics that grab our students in the social studies curriculum. This year, the first of those topics was slavery—and we found our textbook lacking. So we invited Trevor Getz, an associate professor of African history at San Francisco State University, to speak to our class. One group of students


The 5th grade teachers redesigned the Colonial America project this year—and took the social studies curriculum along for the ride.

Sophie Shulman ’02 has just published her first novel, a mystery called The Shadow Pact.

I have always been an avid reader with an active imagination. But throughout high school, I struggled with searching for the right words. When I was a senior, my AP English teacher sat down with me one-onone to review an essay and something clicked. Instead of trying so hard to adhere to a set of guidelines, I saw opportunities for creativity. In college, I took my joy of writing essays a step further—I wrote stories. Over the years, writing has transformed from a hobby into a passion and a career. My favorite author and greatest influence is Jodi Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper, The Pact). I was fortunate enough to interview her in person in 2010 when she came to Sacramento on her book tour. I also enjoy classic novels by Jane Austen and psychological mysteries by Irish novelist Tana French.


Fifth graders reenact the trial of Bridget Bishop, the first person executed for being a witch in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. came away from this unit wanting to do their Colonial Day presentation on the Middle Passage. Another topic that grabbed our students was the era of the Salem witch trials. But again, we found our textbook lacking. Why? Enter stage left, media literacy: We saw a chance here to investigate with our students how textbooks are marketed and purchased, and thus how they are written. This led to students seeing an opportunity with Colonial Day skits to investigate history from the perspective of what has been left out. Chosen topics included the Middle Passage and the Pequot War, and historical figures such as Eliza Pinckney and Anne Hutchinson. And, of course, this has led us as teachers to start thinking about the sources and books we use. The presentations were student-led, and it was grati­ fying to see everyone work with each other and with other teachers—they worked with drama teacher Tori Truss, librarian Alli Decker, art teacher Karen Klier, and Director of Technology and Information Services Bonnie Nishihara. The students did extensive research, came up with the scripts, painted the sets, researched and created their own costumes. The new format presented many challenges, and we were impressed with how the students rose to meet them.


I wrote my first short story a few years ago to help me fall asleep. To calm my busy mind, I closed my eyes and thought, “Once upon a time...” What followed was a story about a construction worker who visits a decrepit house he was hired to tear down. One of its previous owners appears and takes him through the house, recounting memories of its special past. The previous owner mysteriously disappears, and the man decides to fix up the house for his own family. Since then, I have written many short stories, some of which have been published in literary magazines. Writing a novel became my ambition when I was a sophomore in college, but it was a frustrating process. I wrote 50 pages—and threw them in the trash. But I believed my story deserved to be told, so I started over. I didn’t like my second attempt, either. It wasn’t until I interviewed Jodi Picoult that I began to understand the process of writing a novel. I asked her for advice for aspiring writers and she said, “Write every day.” After I graduated from college, I took her advice and wrote two pages every day (a manageable workload in addition to my full-time job). A few months later, I had a first draft.

Your first book, The Shadow Pact, is newly published and available on Amazon. Did you self-publish or work with a publisher? My goal has always been to see my book in a bookstore. I want to travel the world on a book tour. I want to be a full-time novelist who doesn’t need to worry about money because my novels practically sell themselves! Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that these goals aren’t realistic. Sure, authors still go on book tours and J.K. Rowling is set financially for the rest of her life. But the landscape of publishing has changed with the popularity of e-books and the ease of self-publishing. I spent eight months

writing query letters to literary agents, who accept novels they deem promising and “shop” them around publishing houses. Though my novel received some attention from agents, it was a slow process. I wanted to get my work out there, share it with family and friends and move on to my second—and probably better—novel. Self-publishing on Amazon (which included formatting the text and designing the cover myself) allows me to share it and use it as Sophie Shulman ’02 leverage for my next novel, for which I hope to get a traditional deal.

HOLIDAY REUNION On December 16, 2013, we held our bi-annual reunion for alumni and alumni parents at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael. PHOTOS BY WENDY LEVINE ’89

Christina Downer Paster ’97, Pablo Paster, Jessica Kubik Pumpka ’97, and Assistant Head of School Michael Pincus

The Shadow Pact has complex characters and relationships and lots of suspense. Where do you find inspiration for characters and plot lines? The Shadow Pact was inspired by a short story I had started writing and thought, “There’s more here.” The short answer is that they just come to me, but that’s a cop out. It took several years of practice to achieve a receptivity to any and all inspiration—in other people, other books, dreams, even daily activities like washing dishes. When I get writer’s block, I step away from the computer. I know that eventually the ideas will come. The story is told from several characters’ points of view, including a 40-year-old father and a male criminal. I don’t know what it’s like to be those people, but I have experienced feeling lost and harboring regret over past mistakes. I take inspiration from my own emotions, perceptions, and beliefs, but I also like to try to feel what it’s like on the other side of the coin.

Ray Orwig and Michael Ross ’83

What is your fondest memory of Saint Mark’s? When my friends and I created a music video for the song “Jann Pehechaan Ho” by Mohammed Rafi in Mr. Forrester’s elective class. The original video is the most peculiar thing I’ve ever seen, and it was so much fun filming our own version. I wish I had that video!

Is there anything else you would like to add? I would encourage everyone to try writing. All you need is a pen and paper or a computer. If you’re intimidated with the blankness staring back at you, start writing, “I don’t know what to write.” More ideas will follow. It’s a liberating process. Sometimes we are pigeonholed into following a set of rules, which makes it difficult to think outside the box. I’ve had friends say, “I don’t really have an imagination. I couldn’t make up a story.” I always tell them they’re wrong—that they would be surprised if they gave themselves a chance. All you have to ask yourself is, “Then what happened?” Sophie Shulman graduated from UC Davis in 2010, with a dual BA in communications and sociology.

Carl Ma, Oanh Tran ’00, and Lauren Howey ’00

John Geisse, Lisa Geisse, retired history teacher Mike Fargo, Sarah Godsey, and 6th grade teacher Tim Evans 5


Our school’s strength is built on the foundations of steadfast donors like Marimar Torres, who has supported Saint Mark’s since 2000. By Wendy Levine ’89

As a winemaker, Marimar Torres (parent of Christina Torres ’02) knows that to make great wine, you need to combine ingredients in just the right way. The same can be said about the ingredients of a great education. Start with a dedicated faculty, add in students’ love of learning, mix in a hands-on program and a nurturing community, and you get Saint Mark’s School. As a girl growing up under the Franco dictatorship in Spain, Marimar was not allowed to study as much as she wanted to. She fought to attend college. Later, as a parent, she wanted for her daughter what she didn’t have, and always made education a priority for Christina. During her daughter’s time at Saint Mark’s Marimar Torres and her daughter, and in the years since Christina Torres ’02 she graduated, Marimar has continued to support Saint Mark’s School annually through the True Blue Fund. When asked why she has continued to support Saint Mark’s these many years, she cites “a sense of commitment and gratitude for how positively inclusive Saint Mark’s was for Christina.” Music and athletics (flag football with Mike Fargo) were important parts of Christina’s time at Saint Mark’s. Marimar Torres directs all activities at Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma County.

Class of 1995

Kristen Woldrich Roozen and husband Kyle live in Portland, Oregon. They have two girls and welcomed a boy this fall.

Class of 1998

Morgan Galland was married in October. She and her husband live in Washington, D.C., where after completing a clerkship for a federal judge, she has joined Latham Watkins, an international law firm. Pinthip Zook welcomed her first child, a boy, with her husband David in October. They live in Danville in the East Bay.

Class of 2000

Kate Baer left active duty service and is now living and working in Missoula, Montana. She works at Paws Up, a luxury resort, while attending University of Montana on a Leadership of Achievement scholarship. She is part of the US Army Reserve Unit Base, at battalion level, in Missoula. Philip Markle performed his one-man show, Sparkle Hour, at the 2013 New York Fringe Festival. His show was one of 185 selected from over 2,000 applicants. He received glowing reviews!

Class of 2001

Dennis Roberts is currently living in Brooklyn, where he has helped start a company with some fellow Marin Academy graduates that makes and rents photo booths and other media installations for events. He is still besties with Mike Spilsbury ’01, who is currently in Australia.

Class of 2002

Sophie Shulman has just published her first novel, The Shadow Pact. It is available on Amazon.

Class of 2004

Emily Shulman works in central San Rafael at a publishing start-up called Savory Books. She was hired to help start and lead the company, which works with restaurant owners to publish cookbooks highlighting their establishments, food philosophies, and careers. In her free time she continues to learn Japanese, cook with her boyfriend (with whom she lives in Marinwood), and give plenty of attention to her young Corgi, Bucky. Michael Galindo and his wife moved to Long Beach to join the Salvation Army College for Officer Training. Michelle Markle performed as assistant principal second violin in a performance of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. The opera was performed at Boston’s Faneuil Hall and on the city’s waterfront.

Class of 2005 Class of 1993

Nadine Becker Johnson married Michael Johnson in September 2012, and they welcomed their first child, a boy, last April.

Class of 1994

James Newton completed a master’s in education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2012 and has been accepted to Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, to pursue a PhD in education. James will be teaching school in Adelaide and will coach lacrosse with the Australian Professional Lacrosse Association. Cory Putman Oakes has secured a publishing deal for her next book, Dinosaur Boy.


Alexa Stevens graduated cum laude from Tufts last spring with a double major in Middle Eastern studies and Arabic. She interned at the American Task Force for Palestine in Washington, D.C.; studied in Amman, Jordan, for a semester; and traveled throughout the Middle East. She returned to the Palestinian Territories for human rights work in summer 2013. Joey Hauswirth graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in food science. He is an associate scientist at Mondelez International in northern New Jersey. Lauren Kelly graduated from Stanford in June with a BA in environmental anthropology. She is now working on an MA in communication and media studies.

Matt Bourhis graduated from Boston University with a major in journalism and a minor in history. He spent the summer working in Boston, editing a professor’s book, and preparing to take the LSAT. He will be working in Marin this fall and doing an internship with a superior court judge in San Francisco, while applying to law schools in California.

Class of 2006

Erin Wilson is majoring in computational biology at Carleton College. She spent a winter semester abroad in Australia, spent her sophomore year at Technos International in Tokyo, and played four seasons of soccer for the Knights. She also played on the tennis team sophomore year, with both teams advancing to NCAA playoffs!

Class of 2007

Bobby Bourhis is in his junior year at Washington State University, where he is pursuing a major in sports management. This summer he interned with Basketball Times, a collegiate basketball magazine, and he attended the NBA summer session in Las Vegas. He plans to take a semester abroad this year. Davin Dam is a junior at Pitzer College in Claremont. Over the summer, he took classes and interned at a San Jose law firm. He plans to pursue law.

Class of 2008

Lilly Grinnell is doing very well at Bryn Mawr and plans to double major in philosophy and political science. Will Sano is a sophomore at Brown University, where he is concentrating on biochemistry. He spent the better part of his summer studying the migration of giant tortoises in the Galapagos as an intern with the World Wildlife Fund and the Charles Darwin Research Station. Gena Topper interned at UCSF last summer in the hematopietic stem cell lab. She returned to Cornell for her sophomore year in August. Bryn Wilson graduated from Marin Catholic in 2012, where she made the Dean’s List all four years, was varsity tennis MVP, and made 1st Team All League. She is in her sophomore year at UC Davis, where she is studying viticulture and enology and plays for the Aggie Club tennis team. Bryn is a summer tennis instructor and harvest/cellar intern at Saintsbury Winery in Napa.

Class of 2009

Andrew Bourhis graduated from Marin Academy last May, where he built a scanning electron microscope for his senior project. This fall he started his freshman year at Tufts University, in

the College of Engineering. Over the summer, he traveled in Europe with friends and worked with a solar energy start-up. He was recently offered a job in Boston to help design electrical circuits for a start-up medical company.

Class of 2010

Jessie Colin spent summer 2013 at the Berklee College of Music to explore her newfound passion for the harmonica. She is captain of the cross-country team at Marin Academy and is looking forward to her last season. Patrick Dunne is a senior at St. Ignatius and was invited to speak at the Stanford medical conference on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in September. Landon Kleinbrodt was a National Merit Scholarship finalist for Marin Catholic this fall.

Class of 2011

Kyle Bacciocco plays lacrosse at Drew, and for the past two years has been learning about car mechanics, culminating in a restoration of a 1966 Mustang with his dad. Kate Claman has been busy at Marin Academy. Along with being part of the Well Being Project, with goals to increase overall happiness of students, Kate also led a stress-relief workshop for freshmen, and brought in a drug addiction and recovery expert to speak to MA students.

Class of 2012

Caroline Carothers is a sophomore at Branson and enjoys being on the fencing team. Michael Dunne, is a sophomore at St. Ignatius, is currently one of the top three cross country runners in Division 1 and is training for state and national competition this year. Kelly McCormish plans to do independent studies for her second semester of sophomore year, which will allow her to do a volunteer trip to West Africa. Mia Simon is a sophomore at University High School. In summer 2013, she participated in Young Actors’ Theatre camp. Last spring she played a Hot Box dancer in the UHS production of Guys and Dolls. Dylan Woodhead plays water polo, basketball, and baseball at Drake. He also participated in the Olympic Development Program for water polo this year and made it to the national team selection camp for 10th grade and under; he now plays for the varsity team.

Class of 2013

Sarah Ashe is enjoying Marin Academy, where she joined the Model UN and Crossroads, a tutoring program. Ming Bacharach played freshman soccer this fall for Branson and will join the basketball team this winter. Elaine Shaw plays for the JV volleyball team at Marin Catholic.

Message from Oanh Tran ’00, Alumni Representative to the Board of Trustees

I am excited to serve on the Saint Mark’s School board. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing Saint Mark’s first as a student, then as a Multicultural Fellow, and now as a trustee. I serve on the School Name Task Force and the Development and Finance Committees. After graduating from Saint Mark’s, I attended Branson and then Tufts University in Massachusetts, where I studied child development and neuropsychology. Two years ago, I embarked on a professional and personal challenge, helping open a new charter high school in Richmond, California. I am excited to announce we will have our first graduating class next year. When I’m not working, I enjoy reading, hiking, hosting dinner parties with my partner, and planning our next big scuba diving adventures.

Tell us! Share your news with alumni coordinator Christine Maguire at CONNECT WITH US On Facebook: Request to join the Saint Mark’s Alumni group. On LinkedIn: Join the Saint Mark’s Community Professional Network.

Kurt Engel ’88, 1974–2013 It is with heavy hearts that we remember the life of Kurt Engel, who on October 6 lost his fight with colon cancer, which was discovered only last July. He is survived by his wife Hattie and their three children and parents Bonnie and Carl Engel. Kurt had a quick wit and sense of humor, with him until his last moments, according to friends. After his diagnosis Kurt’s motto became “Get busy living because you only live once.” His words are a good reminder for us all. 7

39 Trellis Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903 Parents of alumni: Please forward this publication. If your son or daughter no longer maintains a permanent address at your home, please notify the Development Office at 415.472.8000 or

SCENES FROM OUR FALL PLAY, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

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The Marker: The Newsletter of Saint Mark's School, Winter 2014  

Critically rethinking curriculum, alumni news, social-emotional learning, and more.

The Marker: The Newsletter of Saint Mark's School, Winter 2014  

Critically rethinking curriculum, alumni news, social-emotional learning, and more.