This Blog’s for You Healthcare • travel education • Parenting Nutrition • theology
in this issue
This Blog’s for You
By Julie Reiff
h Members of Taft’s Collegium Musicum relax on the steps of San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, where they performed over March break. Brian Chung ’11
Thoughts on Education John Merrow ’59
What to Feed Your Kids Our Gluten-Free Family Kirstin Boncher ’87
Following Elias The special needs journey of premature parenthood in the last frontier Christy Everett ’90
Thin Places Places where heaven and earth touch Amy Julia Truesdell Becker ’94
Firestone Sisters Bringing that playful vacation spirit back home into everyday life! Lucy ’97 and Mary Firestone ’95
Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis: Your Guide to Better Care for Less Davis Liu ’89
Departments 2 From the Editor 2 Taft Trivia 3 Letters 4 Alumni Spotlight 10 Around the Pond 15 Sport 39 Tales of a Taftie: Samuel T. Orton 1897
from the EDITOR No, I don’t have a blog (like the alums featured in this issue). I guess you could say that the four-times-per-year ramblings you find in this space are a bit like a blog, except that you may be reading them on paper instead of online. Most of the time I have no idea what to write about. Well, actually, I have tons of ideas, but what will you still want to read about weeks or months from now when it actually arrives in your box? That’s a wonderful advantage of blogs: their timeliness. The biggest news on campus as I write, is the reopening of the Jigger Shop. For those of you who haven’t been closely following our movable feast, the Jigger Shop got a major renovation two years ago—in part because it needed a facelift after 20 years, but also to serve as an additional but temporary dining space while the HDT renovations were underway. Seniors are happiest of all that the Jig is back in time for spring term, but all students are enjoying the return of the televisions, pool and ping-pong tables, and the addition of foosball, dartboards and a few computers. Ted Heavenrich is already treating members of the math team with perfect scores to milkshakes, and kids are lining up for a quick bacon-egg-n-cheese after assembly. Life is good. Of course, by the time you read this, the whole dining hall complex will be open. There will be plenty more on that in the next issue. In the meantime, keep those stories coming! —Julie Reiff p.s. If you’re intrigued by any of the blogs in this issue, be sure to check them out online. You’ll find convenient links on our website at www.TaftSchool.org/bulletin. Have a blog of your own? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list!
On the Cover B
This Blog’s For You Healthcare • travel education • Parenting
Nutrition • theology
2 Taft Bulletin spring 2010
v No, the letters do not appear in that order on your keyboard, but they are the keys to a new kind of media. For more, see page 17. ©iStockphoto.com/ jallfree
??? Taft Trivia
As we prepare to dedicate a new dining space, who can recall the name of the man whose bequest made the 1959 dining hall addition possible? A Taft blanket will be sent to the winner, whose name will be drawn from all correct entries received. Congratulations to Ken Saverin ’72, who correctly identified Dick Cobb as the longest serving faculty member at Taft. Ken adds, “Not only did I have the pleasure of being a Latin student of his, but my daughter Hilary ’06 was his student too. It was great to connect with him the last six years as a parent of two Tafties—Hilary and Diana ’09. I also have fond memories of late-night card games in his apartment with Molly Baldrige ’72.”
Spring 2010 Volume 80, Number 3 Bulletin Staff Director of Development: Chris Latham Editor: Julie Reiff Alumni Notes: Linda Beyus Design: Good Design, LLC www.gooddesignusa.com Proofreader: Nina Maynard Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org
Send alumni news to: Linda Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftBulletin@TaftSchool.org
Taft on the Web Find a friend’s address or look up back issues of the Bulletin at www.TaftAlumni.com
Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Summer–May 15 Fall–August 30 Winter–November 15 Spring–February 15
For more campus news and events, including admissions information, visit www.TaftSchool.org
Send address corrections to: Sally Membrino Alumni Records The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftRhino@TaftSchool.org
What happened at this afternoon’s game? Visit www.TaftSports.com Don’t forget you can shop online at www.TaftStore.com 800-995-8238 or 860-945-7736
1-860-945-7777 www.TaftAlumni.com The Taft Bulletin (ISSN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, August and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents and friends of the school. All rights reserved.
This issue of Taft Bulletin was manufactured using 100 percent Green-e Certified Renewable Energy.
This magazine is printed on 30% recycled paper.
Love it? Hate it? Read it? Tell us! We’d love to hear what you think about the stories in this Bulletin. We may edit your letters for length, clarity and content, but please write! Julie Reiff, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 or Reiff J@TaftSchool.org
Alumni in Africa It was with particular interest that I read the theme issue on Africa in the winter Bulletin. After graduating from Chapel Hill (UNC) in 1966, I served for two years in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, where I taught 9th grade secondary school English and my wife, an RN, taught in the Red Cross School of Nursing. Our first year was in Asmara, now the capital of Eritrea, and our second year we were in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capitol. Both years I taught four classes of approximately 30 to 40 students in each class. Truth be told, many of us who served our country at that time, myself included, did
so for reasons that were not entirely selfless and noble, but practical. For me it was either the Peace Corps or Vietnam! Nevertheless, it turned out to be a great, transformative experience for me, one that opens your eyes and lets you see the world (our country included) as never before. During the school break the summer between our first and second years, we traveled to Uganda, Tanzania, the island of Zanzibar, and Kenya, where Bob Poole ’50, Taft’s famous football coach during my four years at school, was the Peace Corps’ country director. I never got to see him, but only was able to leave him a note. We learned sometime later that he had died tragically in a car accident. I believe his daughter, Joyce ’74, carried on his legacy, working to save elephants in Kenya. Thank you for bringing back so many wonderful memories of my experience in Africa. —David Forster ’62 I read the most recent Bulletin featuring Taft Alumni in Africa with great interest. I think it is wonderful the number of alumni who are involved in Africa and the range of their activities. It made me wonder, how many Tafties of an earlier generation were involved in Africa. I am sure there were quite a few, but perhaps this letter or some other enquiry would smoke them out.
After graduating from Yale Law School in 1962, I was awarded a fellowship by the Ford Foundation as an Africa-Asia fellow and taught law at the University of East Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It was a fascinating experience. Since then I have made approximately ten trips to various parts of Africa and am currently involved in secondary education for young girls in Tanzania. I am interested in hearing from contemporaries of about that time as to their experiences in Africa. It made a great change in my life. —Charles Richards ’55 I was particularly interested in the “Alumni in Africa” issue. I have traveled to 40 African countries and have a particular affinity for Liberia, a country founded by returning American slaves in the mid-1800s. Their capital, Monrovia, is named for our American president James Monroe. My fascination with Africa is thanks to former Taft faculty member Bob Poole ’50, who ran the African Peace Corps for many years. Many Taft alumni have been involved in one way or another with this diverse continent. For several years I have been a trustee of a Boston-based foundation, founded 150
Legacies Left Off An export error meant that a number of grandparents were unfortunately omitted from the list of alumni with offspring currently attending Taft (winter, page 49). Our apologies. They are as follows. Do you know of others we missed? Otis L. Guernsey 1912, great-grandfather*..........................................Sara E. Guernsey ’11 John V. Farwell III 1914, great-grandfather*....................................... Jennifer J. Janeck ’11 Samuel F. Pryor Jr. ’17 great-grandfather*..........................................Peter C. Burgeson ’10 Charles P. Luckey ’18, great-grandfather*......................................... William P. Luckey ’11 J. Stillman Rockefeller ’20, great-grandfather*..................................... Andrew M. F. Cannon ’11 Thomas W. Chrystie ’21, great-grandfather*......................................... John L. Wyman ’10 Charles Fleming Richards ’21, great-grandfather*............................ William G. Evans ’11 Wilmot B. North ’30, grandfather* . ................................................Benjamin W. North ’10 L. Charles Scherer ’58, grandfather*...............................................Taylor C. Persechini ’12 Two alumni were mislabeled in the most recent “In Print” column. Christy Everett is Class of ’90, and Richard Smoley is Class of ’74. My apologies to both. For more on the correct year for the Oriocos photo, please read the letters…
n Dan Senecal ’60 in Monrovia with the president of the University of Liberia, Al Hassan Conteh.
—letters continued on page 50 Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 3
By Julie Reiff
h Laura Kreitler
’97, at her family’s vineyard, Bates Ranch, is working with vineyards, golf courses and growers in California and Nevada to help them improve their soil and reduce water consumption. Conner Jay
Better Dirt After five years in banking and two at Kellogg business school, Laura Kreitler ’97 has found her niche as a partner at the sustainable agriculture start-up HealthySoil in California. They manufacture organically based products that improve soil health and enable customers to reduce their use of water and synthetic inputs while improving crop yield and quality. Half of their business is production agriculture and the other half is golf courses and landscaping. Customers include Jackson Family Wines, Driscoll’s 4 Taft Bulletin spring 2010
Berries and championship golf courses and resorts in Las Vegas. “Las Vegas is under huge water restrictions right now,” says Kreitler, “and water costs are through the roof. Most courses out there spend over a million dollars a year on water.” Kreitler turned down an offer with Disney after business school. “I realized it was exactly what I didn’t want—cog in a wheel, what have you, and wasn’t in line with my interests…sustainable business, a small company. So I took a break; people thought I was nuts.”
Nine years earlier, her father had set up a company in the U.S. to manufacture and distribute a soil remineralization product developed by an Australian farmer he met at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, but he had moved on to other projects. “I said to my dad, if ever there was a time for this business to take off, it’s now, with people so interested in organic and sustainable farming and local food sources, etc. So I helped him develop a website and worked on his marketing campaign. And in that process met with some of the larger buyers… one of whom is now my business partner.”
The company, now called HealthySoil, manufactures products that enable their customers to substantially decrease use of water and synthetic inputs. Their products are organically based, and although 80 percent of their customers are conventional growers, “they love us because we reduce their costs and improve their crops or turf,” says Kreitler. Remineralization used to be a natural process that happened on its own, she explains. Water sources carrying minerals down from the mountains into the plains would flood the valleys, “but now with industrial agriculture and advanced irrigation systems you don’t have that
natural flow of minerals. Our soils are getting depleted at a much faster rate,” she adds, “and that is what my dad’s business tapped into.” But remineralization is just a part of HealthySoil’s business. “Our golden child is a microbial solution we inject into the field, often through irrigation,” she says. “We rebalance the soil by introducing the good bacteria, good fungi, all the good bugs, and by giving them proper nutrition, you can sustain the benefits over the long term.” Improving the aggregate structure of the soil improves input efficiency—“We turn soil from concrete into a sponge.
Plants have better access to water and to nutrients so we’re able to improve crop quality and yield with a lot less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.” HealthySoil won an award from the EPA in 2008 as one of 6 national pesticide environmental stewardship champions and was named a semifinalist in California’s 2009 Clean Tech Open. “I’m passionate about sustainable agriculture,” Kreitler says, “and the importance of figuring out ways to conserve water, especially here in California, where our water resources are at risk.” For more information, visit www.healthysoil.com.
Stand-up Paddleboarding whole new point of view,” adds Losee, “from paddling with dolphins, to sneaking up on blue crabs, to dropping in at your favorite surf-break, stand-up paddling has evolved from its surfing roots to a far more extensive means to enjoy time on the water from a new perspective.” So far response has been very good. Vie magazine listed YOLO boards as a must-have Christmas gift in 2009, and Coastal Living, Florida Travel + Life, Standup Paddle magazine and several other publications have recently featured YOLO boards. The Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, company also hosted a successful cancer benefit in September, raising $11,250 at the YOLO Board Seaside Celebration. YOLO Board recently teamed up with renowned California surf legend and board shaper Steve Brom to design a new custom line of YOLO boards for racing and performance surfing, reports Standup Paddle magazine. The two first collaborated on the creation of the YOLO Yak, the first rotomolded polyethylene stand-up paddleboard on the market. “Made in Washington state, the YOLO Yak now ships internationally,” the magazine adds, “and has become a
popular rental board of choice at resorts across the Southeast and Caribbean.” “My favorite moments,” says Losee, “are when you are stand-up paddling in crystal-clear water and see all the way to the bottom and everything in between—including an occasional shark or alligator in our neck-of-the-woods!” To see where you can try out the sport, visit www.yoloboard.com. Tommy Crow
Combine surfing with kayaking and you get YOLOing, or stand-up paddleboarding. “This beginner-friendly paddle sport feels like walking on water,” says Coastal Living magazine. “It’s the perfect combination of two things,” says Tom Losee ’84, “my love of being on the water—having sailed, windsurfed and surfed my whole life—and my determination to stay fit. Because it is so low impact, stand-up paddling can be enjoyed by participants into their 80s. So...I know what I’ll be doing for the next 40 or so years!” So Losee and friend Jeff Archer launched their own line of paddleboards called YOLO, or You Only Live Once. Balancing family, business and recreational activities has its challenges, yet the realization that life will never slow down caused them to look at maximizing fun in relation to responsibility. After extensive research and development, Losee and Archer determined that there was a need for more of a hybrid style stand-up paddleboard—one that not only has its roots in traditional surfing but also in other related paddle sports such as canoeing and kayaking. “Standing up and paddling offers a
Farm Fresh Children’s Hair Care “What goes on children’s bodies should be as natural as what goes into their mouths,” says Kate Solomon ’90, who recently launched Babo Botanicals, a line of hair and skin care products for babies and kids. Drawing on her 10 years of experience with companies such as L’Oréal, Parfums Givenchy and Avon, she combined her expertise in prestige hair care development with her passion for natural ingredients. “It seemed like most baby ‘grooming’ products were long on chemical names,” Kate adds, “and didn’t truly address our children’s particular hair and skin problems.” Several years ago, she began working with top botanists to develop a line of products that are sulfate free and allergytested, containing certified organic ingredients and plantbased science. She also worked with hair stylists from top Manhattan salons to ensure product performance and professional quality. “I worked with three botanists for more than two years to perfect each and every one of the Babo formulas,” she says. “We all used them on our infants and kids to ensure they were effective and gentle. I also gave the products out to all my mommy friends to use on their children.” Kate had served in the Peace Corps in South America, where she taught rural women farmers to beekeep so they could earn additional income and also serve their nutritional needs. Supporting sustainable, pesticide-free agriculture continues to be her mission, so she selected an organic farm in upstate New York to produce her collection. “When I thought about how I wanted to develop and produce Babo Botanicals, a few concepts kept coming to mind: authenticity, sustainability and organic farming. I am passionate about greenmarkets—I just love the idea that locally grown organic foods can be made available to urban 6 Taft Bulletin spring 2010
dwellers,” Kate adds. “I found an amazing farm in upstate New York whose values and ethics seemed exactly like my own. Our products are manufactured right in the red barn; since products are made in an immaculate and sterile barn, the batches are small—so they are easier to control in terms of quality and safety. “I love visiting the farm; I love the simple nature of the place—they have a
café where all of the employees eat every meal together, every day—with fresh food they grow right there on the farm. And, they are committed to using the highest quality, fair trade ingredients, which is very important to me,” says Kate. “They are here to make lives better—that is their livelihood. The team values the earth and helping others. As a former Agricultural Peace Corps volunteer, I, too, am committed to advocating best farming practices and using natural ingredients.” , Kate Solomon and her team, Rush and Seka. Kfir Ziv
Energy Advocate by Ethan Gilsdorf department, to design better HVAC systems, and to teach adults about solar power and energy conservation. “There is absolutely no escape from the necessity of getting rid of our dependence on fossil fuel,” says Killorin. He admits finding the answers will be daunting, but he’s hopeful, adding, “It’s a long-term challenge we’re beginning to solve, clumsily.” These days, he’s less a tinkerer in the basement than he is a citizen activist. He serves on his town’s energy and solid waste committees, belongs to a public awareness group called Plymouth Sustainable, and runs a website called www.popularenergy.org that’s full of information and tips on how “to save energy, to cut back on the petroleum imports…and to save a lot of money in the process.” For the past three years, he’s written a column called “Popular Energy” for his local paper, the Old Colony Memorial, covering issues such as whether wind or nuclear might be the right path. But Killorin’s columns are no rants. “I fit it into people’s lives,” he says, “so they might modify their attitude or actions.” (That said, anyone who does not believe in global warming, he says, “is out of his mind.”) Despite his Ivy League education, it’s Taft, not Yale, he credits for teaching him how to write. In fact, the Watertown native’s family has long been linked to Taft. “The headmaster now lives in my uncle’s house,” Killorin says. His class, interestingly, was the last to receive diplomas
Like the Energizer Bunny, Frank Killorin ’36 keeps going, and going, as if powered by some endless and renewable energy source. As it turns out, energy is Killorin’s obsession. The 91-year-old World War II veteran, Yale-educated mechanical engineer and inventor-entrepreneur has dedicated much of his life to finding better ways to meet our country’s ravenous energy demands. After stints as an engineer with Westinghouse and Anderson Nichols, and developing real estate on Cape Cod, Killorin’s life took an inspired turn. Angered by the energy crisis of the early ’70s and the gas-wasting, V-8 engines of the era, he figured there must be a better way. “So I plunged in,” he says during a recent visit to the Plymouth, Massachusetts, home he shares with Peg, his wife of 64 years. “And I have been into renewable energy ever since.” First stop: solar power. The ’70s were a time when alternative energy ideas like burning woods and harnessing the sun began to percolate. But the practical technology was often inefficient. “I thought I could design a better solar water heater,” he says. “And I did.” He obtained a patent and sold a couple hundred models. While his design never caught on in a big way, the invention kick-started his passion to wean Americans from their fossil fuel addiction. He went on to work for Joseph Kennedy’s non-profit Citizens Energy as manager of its energy auditing
signed by Horace Dutton Taft himself. Killorin says there’s no point in trying to find “a logical sequence” that led him from one pursuit to the next. Looking back over his life, living within earshot of Pilgrim Station, Massachusetts’s lone nuclear power plant, had no bearing on his interest in alternative energy. Nor did being part of the team that measured atomic bomb tests in the Marshall Islands—an experience, he says, that exposed him to “an overdose of radiation.” In fact, he thinks nuclear power, done well, can be a part of a sensible mix of this country’s future energy options—one that he hopes might also include wind, solar and even hydrogen.
Legendary With Harvard’s 5–1 victory over Princeton in February, Katey Stone ’84, the Landry Family Head Coach for Harvard Women’s Ice Hockey, became the NCAA Division I all-time winningest coach, reported the Boston Globe. Stone, in her 16th season with the Crimson, has won 338 games, all at Harvard. Nine of Stone’s players— including A.J. Mleczko ’93 and Tammy Shewchuk ’96— have medaled either for Canada or the United States at the Olympics since women’s hockey was introduced at the games in Nagano, Japan. Kevin Burns Photography
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 7
In Print Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales Bing Bingham ’64, contributor Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, 2010
Wade Sheppard ’86 has been on the China Desk at the Department of Agriculture since 2002, and their senior adviser on China since 2006. “China is a top-five market for us,” says Sheppard. “Our agricultural exports to China in 2009 were approximately $14 billion—soybeans alone accounted for $9 billion of the total. We help coordinate across the department and represent USDA in the development of our trade policy vis-à-vis China. We also have several offices in China under the embassy umbrella and my desk is their central point of coordination in Washington for the department. We brief senior officials for their meetings, and usually sit in or travel with them for the meetings.” Last fall, he attended the annual U.S.–China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade ( JCCT) in Beijing, his sixth. “This is our highest bilateral forum for resolving trade issues,” says Sheppard. “USDA, Commerce Dept and USTR are represented at the Cabinet level. A Chinese vice premier and three ministers also participate. My office coordinates USDA’s role in this meeting, as well as related working groups. If an issue cannot be resolved in other fora (such as technical level meetings), then it can be elevated to the JCCT.” Current trends and tensions make it both more challenging and more critical to generate successes from meetings such as the JCCT, he adds. “China came through the latest global financial crisis with a sense of vindication that its policies have been wildly successful. Meanwhile, our current domestic troubles take away the moral high ground that once gave us greater leverage in these discussions. This, combined with a global rise in protectionist sentiments, raises the stakes for our annual trade meetings. The bottom line for both countries, though, is a need to expand market access for our respective markets, thereby creating or preserving jobs.” Sheppard says the job is still fun and varied enough to not become stale, but not what he thought he’d be doing when he started learning Chinese at Taft. He finds that his experiences working and living in Asia certainly enrich the work he does now. He first studied in China in 1988 and taught English in Taiwan in 1990–91. He lived in Shanghai from 1997 to 2000. In his current position, he visits China 2 to 3 times a year. “We still keep an apartment in Shanghai,” he says, “but we don’t get back as often as we hoped.” “I am here in large part because of the first year of Chinese I took with Mr. Liu back in 1985,” he adds. “That led me to two degrees in Chinese studies (with another in trade policy), five years living in Asia, and more than one China-centric career. If not for that first year, I cannot imagine where my life would have taken me.... My French grades at Taft certainly didn’t indicate a proficiency with foreign languages!” 8 Taft Bulletin spring 2010
Here are 101 inspirational stories that will make teachers laugh out loud, shed a few tears, and above all, realize that they really do make a difference and that they are very much appreciated. As Anthony Mullen, the 2009 National Teacher of the Year, says in his foreword, “We need this book!” In an unprecedented move, all 55 of the 2009 State Teachers of the Year came together in this project, joined by several dozen other teachers and appreciative students, to write the stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales. “These educators understand what we teach is not as important as whom we teach.” In addition to the stories from the State Teachers of the Year, Chicken Soup for the Soul selected 46 stories from teachers, and some grateful students, from the thousands of stories that were submitted. In, “The Lesson,” Bingham, who teaches at Marvelwood School in Kent, Connecticut, reminds us that a little gratitude goes a long way. Since 1993, books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have sold more than 112 million copies, with titles translated into more than 40 languages. For more information visit: www.chickensoup.com.
American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People
Rethinking World Politics: A Theory of Transnational Neopluralism
T.H. Breen ’60
Philip G. Cerny ’63
Hill and Wang, 2010
Oxford University Press, 2010
Most Americans have a working knowledge of the Founding Fathers and the role they played in American Independence, but in his new book, celebrated historian T.H. Breen tells a different story—that revolutions are not made solely by a handful of influential leaders. Revolutions require a majority of the ordinary. They are violent events that require a level of anger, organization, communication along with a philosophical undercurrent that emboldens purpose. Drawing on a wealth of rarely seen documents, including diaries, letters and minutes from revolutionary committee meetings, Breen introduces us to some of the extraordinary farmers who made up this grassroots movement. He points to the important role newspapers played in uniting colonists from New Hampshire to Georgia. Breen, who is William Smith Mason Professor of American History at Northwestern University, has written ten books and hundreds of articles. He has been called “one of the most imaginative and productive of early American historians.”
Rethinking World Politics is a major intervention into a central debate in international relations: how has globalization transformed world politics? Most work on world politics still presumes that the state lies at the center; it is what politics is all about. Cerny contends, however, that recent experience suggests another process at work: “transnational neopluralism.” Cerny explains that contemporary world politics is subject to pressures from a wide variety of sub- and supra-national actors, many of which are organized transnationally. In recent years, the ability of transnational governance bodies, NGOs and transnational firms to shape world politics has steadily grown. These processes are not replacing nation-states, but they are forging new transnational webs of power. Rethinking World Politics offers us new ways to think about the forces shaping the contemporary world. “The study of international relations has traditionally been dominated by state-centric approaches,” says David Baldwin, senior political scientist at Princeton University. “This book challenges students of international relations to think about world affairs from alternative perspectives and to question the applicability of traditional approaches to the 21st century.” Cerny is a professor of global political economy in the
Department of Politics and International Studies and the Division of Global Affairs at Rutgers University, Newark. He is also professor emeritus of government at the University of Manchester, UK. He is a former chair of the International Political Economy Section of the International Studies Association and has been a member of the executive committees of the British International Studies Association and the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom. He has written extensively on political theories of the state and globalization.
Schooner: Building a Wooden Boat on Martha’s Vineyard Tom Dunlop ’79
Photographs by Alison Shaw Vineyard Stories, 2010
In photographs and words, and from drawings to launch, Schooner: Building a Wooden Boat on Martha’s Vineyard takes you through the construction of Rebecca, a 60-foot wooden schooner (and the largest boat built on the Vineyard since the election of Abraham Lincoln), as no other book about traditional boat building ever has. Schooner celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway, the boatyard where Rebecca was designed and built—and one of only a very few yards in North America still devoted exclusively to the design, construction, repair, and maintenance of traditional wooden boats. Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 9
For the latest news on campus events, please visit TaftSchool.org.
around the Pond
By Sam Routhier
h Jazz artist Darmon
Meader performed as part of the Walker Hall series. www.Darmonmeader.com
Much Music for a While Bruce Fifer’s music series for Walker Hall has been extremely active this winter, keeping a smile on Taft’s face in spite of the tough weather. On February 12, Walker Hall welcomed the Manhattan String Quartet. Celebrating its 39th season, the group has been the quartet-in-residence at Colgate University for the past twenty-two years 10 Taft Bulletin spring 2010
and is known as the premier performer of the quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich. Darmon Meader presented an evening of jazz on January 22. Recognized in both the jazz and instrumental worlds, Meader is a highly respected vocalist, arranger and saxophonist. He has achieved international recognition as the founder, musical director, chief arranger, composer,
producer, saxophonist and vocalist with New York Voices. Providing a lighter feel, Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem returned to Walker Hall on January 8. The quartet also played a children’s concert earlier in the day and graced Taft with “a jubilant and unabashed mix of traditional, original and contemporary sounds.”
Green Cup Take 2 alongside ongoing construction. With that in mind, our usage per square foot actually decreased significantly. As the challenge progressed, Taft students became more aware of their electricity consumption and made huge efforts to act more sustainably. This was evident as our electricity use decreased with each week of the challenge. In addition, a number of the dorms contributed excellent performances. Vogelstein and CPT decreased the most, with a considerable overall decrease of 16.85 percent. Taft beat schools such as Exeter, St. Andrew’s, Salisbury and Blair; however, Hotchkiss competed
Andri Li ’11
For the second year in a row, Taft competed in the annual Green Cup Challenge. The Green Cup Challenge is a competition among sixty-four boarding and day schools to reduce electricity throughout February. Each week, members of TEAM, Taft’s Environmental Awareness Movement, checked the electricity meters of each Taft building to monitor usage. We then entered the data and compared our results to our average usage from the last three years. This year, Taft had an overall increase of +0.43 percent in electricity use, a notable achievement considering the addition of the new dining hall
in the Green Cup Challenge for their first time and decreased an impressive 12 percent. Nevertheless, TEAM and its faculty leaders, Carly Borken and Jim Lehner, are excited for next year’s competition. Planning is already underway for ways to make Taft sustainable not only for the Green Cup Challenge, but also for the future. —Hanna Dethlefs ’12
Landscapes fill Potter Gallery
For the month of February, artist Nancy Friese’s exhibit “Greenswards: Tremendous Trees, Bending Skies, and Greenswards” adorned the Potter Gallery. The exhibit showcased landscape painting at its finest. Friese writes, “By studying nature’s phenomenon, I tie visual observations to experience…. With unpeopled views,
scenes, and vistas, one can enter a more philosophical, personal, and timeless place.” The works range from oil-on-linen landscapes that cover half of the gallery’s far wall to smaller line etchings. Friese’s art has been on display in 25 solo shows and 170 group shows in cities ranging from London, Tokyo and New York.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri spoke in Morning Meeting in March and also attended classes on campus. Her novel, The Namesake, was chosen as Taft’s all-school read last summer. Lahiri was born in London and raised in Rhode Island. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and author of two previous books. Her debut collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award and The New Yorker Debut of the Year. The Namesake was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist and was selected as one of the best books of the year by USA Today and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her latest book is Unaccustomed Earth.
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 11
around the POND
Haiti Relief Efforts When he addressed the faculty in early January, Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 used the term “helpless” to describe his feelings in response to the earthquake disaster that hit Haiti. To be sure, the scope of the events in Haiti present a daunting challenge for world relief efforts. With that said, the Taft community has shown determination to do its part. Coordinated by Baba Frew, students of the Global Concerns Club, and various varsity athletic teams, Taft has put its best foot forward in efforts to raise money to help those in need. The most lucrative fundraiser that Frew put together was a raffle for four tickets to a Trey Anastasio show. Anastasio ’83, former lead singer of the hit band Phish, played to a packed house in New Haven on Saturday, February 13. The tickets were donated by Brad Joblin ’73. The winners of the tickets were Remo Plunkett ’13, Rob Daigle ’12, Ben Rifkin ’12 and John Carroll ’12, and the raffle earned $2,085. In addition to the Volunteer Council’s efforts, the Global Concerns Club has been baking avidly to raise money for Haiti. Brian Sengdala ’10 and Thu Pham ’10 organized brownie sales that totaled $300. The varsity boys’ basketball team spearheaded an extremely profitable and philanthropic venture. Taking off of the University of Kentucky’s idea, the team
designed and ordered “Hoops for Haiti” T-shirts. During Taft’s night basketball game against Avon Old Farms, the crowd enjoyed a “red-out,” with the majority donning the T-shirts. In just two weeks, the team sold nearly 100 shirts and raised $1,100 for the cause. Additionally, the boys’ varsity hockey team contributed $700 from bake sales at games. Proceeds from these fundraisers were donated to two organizations— Partners in Health and the Hospital Albert Schweitzer. Students chose these organizations with a few items in mind. First of all, the whole school had read author Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains in the summer of 2007, the story of Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health. “It only seemed right that we should donate part of our money to PIH,” uppermid LillieBelle Viebranz said, “and so we decided right away that they would be one of the two recipients.” The other recipient, Hospital Albert Schweitzer, is the only fully functioning hospital within reach of Port-au-Prince, according to Viebranz. Because it was lesser-known, the volunteer council trusted that funds would be used directly for aid as opposed to advertising. “We’re confident that we did really good work for Haitian relief,” added Viebranz. “It feels extra good to know that the money will go toward optimal use.”
Students Boogie Down for Dance Club February 13 saw the Taft community rally for the school’s dance club. For the first time, the club was invited to an international dance festival in Jamaica over spring break. As a fundraiser and a general enthusiasmbuilder, dance teacher Meredith Lyons teamed up with the student activities team to put together “Taft’s Best Dance Crew.” The competition featured three different teams of students dancing before a panel of judges, with seniors Thad Reycraft, Thomas Freyre, and Cam Mullen taking home the crown in a tight competition. In addition, the night featured a performance by the dance team at halftime of the boys’ basketball game. “We loved rallying support for the dancers,” explained Mullen. “It was great to have the whole student body getting behind their efforts.”
Crush Can Sale Benefits Uppermid Class, Community Love
Rob Madden ’03
12 Taft Bulletin spring 2010
Forget candy hearts, chocolate boxes and serenades. Valentine’s Day at Taft means only one thing—the annual Crush Can sale. Headed by the Uppermid class committee, students and teachers are encouraged to purchase cans of orange Crush soda for friends, significant others and maybe even an unsuspecting far-off object of affection. One recipient of a Crush can this year was Lisa Keys, director of Health Services. Keys, an avid baker, used her gift to bake an Orange Crush pound cake in order to “keep the love alive all year long.”
Andre li ’11
MLK Day Celebration Shows Taft at Its Finest
For yet another year, Greg Ricks and the Martin Luther King Day team put together a memorable day for the Taft community. From school-wide assemblies in Bingham Auditorium to outreach to local middle schoolers to reflective workshops between students and faculty, the day filled our hearts and minds with the spirit of Dr. King. The events began on Sunday night, January 17, as the community gathered for a keynote presentation. After talks by Headmaster MacMullen and head monitor Bo Redpath, the performing group Nzinga Daughters took the stage. The quartet hails from Waterbury and seeks to educate through music of the African diaspora. Their music livened the audience and inspired the community values that mark MLK Day as special. Producer Callie Crossley then presented the keynote talk about her work on “Eyes on the Prize,” the Oscar-nominated documentary that chronicles the civil rights struggle from start to finish.
The next morning, interested faculty and students assembled for the annual MLK prayer breakfast along with 45 guests from the local community. Each table had a student leader who offered his or her perspective on service at Taft, highlighting the many forms that leadership takes on and off this campus. Following these brief statements, the group heard speeches from Headmaster MacMullen and Connecticut’s Lieutenant Governor, Michael Fidele. Up at the athletic center, Tafties then welcomed students for the MLK Young Heroes program. Local middle schoolers heard a talk by Rohan Freeman, who described his experience as the first African-American to climb Mount Everest. Freeman also led a workshop for Taft students entitled, “Climbing your personal Everest.” At the Young Heroes program, 105 Taft students led clinics in rock climbing, ice skating, volleyball, basketball and other sports in a great effort of community outreach.
In the second part of the morning, faculty and guest speakers sponsored more than 30 workshops related to themes of MLK Day. Included among these was an examination of the Negro Leagues in baseball, a class on the current gay marriage debate and a discussion on health-care reform. Following the workshops, the whole community rallied in the afternoon for “Faces, Voices, and Spirit,” a series of performances highlighting not only Taft’s pervasive talent, but also its friendship and goodwill. Performances included a rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” a traditional Vietnamese song and dance called “Co Tam Ngay Nay,” and U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love),” performed by Spanish teacher Chamby Zepeda. “The energy of the participants all contributed to making this a community-wide success,” said Linda Saarnijoki. “This was a day when everyone was influenced to think about ideas and values that will help make ours a better world.” Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 13
around the POND
Courtesy of Taft Annual
Improv Keeps Taft Light It has been a pleasure to report on various Taft clubs that are constantly adding to the feel of the campus. A group that certainly falls into that category is the Improv group. Led by acting teacher Helena Fifer, the improv group not only augments its members’ Taft experiences, but frequently performs in a manner that enlivens everyone else’s days. The group meets once a week to learn new methods of improvisational comedy and to try out new games. Along with these meetings, they perform about twice each season, usually in the black box, but also to open
for Saturday night entertainment in places like the choral room or Cruikshank gym. Some of their favorite games take such wacky titles as “Motivational Speech,” “Inner Monologue,” and “PoemGibberish-Interpretive Dance.” The improv-ers were quite open with what they see as the value that the group has added to their lives. “Being part of the improv club has given me more confidence in everything that I do,” remarks uppermiddler Sam Fifer. Fellow uppermiddler Jake Cohen adds that performing with the improv group has
been a delightful exercise in teamwork: “Each of us has our own set of interests; we even have a handful of varsity athletes. However, we still connect through comedy, working as a team to build scenes and stories that people hopefully find funny.” Furthermore, many members of the improv group have gone on to play significant parts in their colleges’ groups. Just this February, Matt Fisher ’97 came through Taft with his group, Sidecar, to perform for his alma mater. Our school is lucky to have a group so talented and dedicated as the improv squad.
n Uppermids Ebony Easley, Sam Fifer and Jake Cohen keep the customers laughing as they try to keep their new restaurant in business in Flaming Idiots. Peter Frew ’75
14 Taft Bulletin spring 2010
“This fast-paced, physical comedy depends on precise timing,” writes Tom Sasani ’11 in the Taft Papyrus. Directed by acting teacher Helena Fifer, Flaming Idiots consists of frantic and fast-paced action that is complemented by “ridiculous twists and turns.” Clever dialogue is essential to the farcical nature of the play, Sasani adds. “Idiots succeeds here as well. Combining witty
banter and slapstick humor, Flaming Idiots covers all of the comedic bases.” Technical director David Kievet worked on the original Flaming Idiots set when it premièred. “A talented cast and an experienced crew have combined to bring a humorous and witty script to life onstage,” says Sasani, “and the results are memorable and downright hilarious.”
For more on the winter season, please visit TaftSports.com.
winter SPORT wrap-up By steve Palmer
Lindsay Karcher ’12, Katie Harpin ’13 and Maggie O’Neill ’13. Double victories over Hotchkiss and Berkshire were season highlights. The second Hotchkiss win saw the visiting Big Red storm back from a six-point deficit to finish a solid season. Karraker led the team in scoring, while newcomers O’Neill and Harpin had several great games in double figures.
h Founders League MVP Chris Evans ’10 Rob Madden ’03
Boys’ Basketball 18–7 Western N.E. Semifinals
This was a great season for the team, and their 18 wins were the third most in school history. Taft went 16–4 to earn the top seed in the Western N.E. Basketball tournament. They won the first-round game convincingly against a strong Salisbury team, 71–51, then lost an agonizingly close but well-played semifinal game to Wilbraham, 57–54. During the regular season, this hard-playing, tightly knit team swept the two game series against perennial powers Trinity Pawling and Avon, and took 2 out of 3 games against eventual champion Kent. The Rhinos also won three overtime games, another indication of their team character. Throughout the season, Taft was led by league MVP Chris Evans ’10, who averaged 22 points and nearly 8 rebounds
a game and was a force at both ends of the court. Greg Nicol ’10 played hard inside and led the team averaging 9 rebounds per game, while Jeff Tagger ’10 and captain Jared Jackson ’10 were multifaceted guards who handled the ball and were all over the court. Keefer Rafferty ’10 and Matt McLaughlin ’10 played crucial roles as well in this special season.
Girls’ Basketball 10–12 This was a young team, with six lower schoolers and two seniors, that was never at full strength. Senior co-captain Katie Carden was out early in December, and other key players—notably scoring guards Kate Karraker ’11 and Claire Wilson ’11—missed several games. But, co-captain Sarah Perda ’10 was a constant, as were Lexi Dwyer ’12,
Despite having very few returning starters from last year’s team, the grapplers put together an impressive season. Co-captain Tucker Jennings ’10, who wrestled at 125 pounds, started the winter in spectacular fashion, becoming the first Taft wrestler to be crowned champion at the Canterbury Tournament in December. The highlight of the season was a tri-meet win against Choate (54–24) and Suffield (48–24). The team went 9–3 for the final 4 weeks of dual meets. In the league tournament, eight Taft wrestlers took home medals. Ryan Tam ’11 (103), Quinn Gorman ’12 (112), and Nick Joung ’11 (160) finished 6th. Steve Holland ’11 (119) and Alex Urban ’10 (285) earned 5th. John Kukral ’11 (145) battled his way to fourth place. Tucker Jennings reached third place at 125, and co-captain Kris Bae ’11 was the league champion at 189 pounds, a fitting end to his great season.
Girls’ Hockey 6–15 This young team, with only one senior, struggled to score goals, but kept many games close through solid defensive play. The Rhinos lost eight games by two goals Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 15
finishing 4th in New England at the #5 position, and James Calello ’11, who played in the final varsity spot this winter, will be one of the co-captains for next year’s team, which looks to be very strong again. h Middlers Sachika Balvani (pictured) and Zeyad Elshorfy both won the NE #1 squash
draws—the first time a Taft boy and girl have done so in the same year. Rob Madden ’03
or fewer, including two in overtime, and half the team’s wins came by one goal. Highlights of the season were wins against Berkshire, a come-from-behind thirdperiod 2–1 win, and Hotchkiss, a 1–0 win behind uppermid Jess Desorcie’s goal and uppermid Emy Farrow-German’s great play in the net. The Rhinos also had the opportunity to play against Andover at Harvard’s Bright Ice. Despite losing 4–2, it was a great trip, set up by Taft alum and Harvard women’s head coach Katey Stone ’84. Both teams are looking forward to a rematch at Harvard next year. Desorcie led the team in scoring, and her linemate Laura Mead ’12 was second in points, while captain Kate Moreau ’11 was the team’s leader on defense.
Boys’ Hockey 11–11–3 The team finished with a .500 record but had several big wins over the best teams in New England, including eventual champion Avon, 3–2, Salisbury, 4–1, and a very strong Belmont Hill team, 3–0. However, playing in and winning an exhibition game against Avon Old Farms at Fenway Park was by the far the highlight of the season and a memorable moment for everyone playing or coaching that day. Taft’s defense was anchored by tri-captain Mike Petchonka ’10 in the net, with a .915 save percentage, while Zander Masucci ’10, Eliot Bostrom ’10 and tri-captains Thomas Freyre ’10 and John Barr ’10 controlled the bluelines. Offensively, the goals came in spurts in some games, including an 8–1 win over a strong Canterbury team, and at the last minute in others, such as the two goals in the final minutes of the exciting 16 Taft Bulletin spring 2010
2–0 win over Deerfield. Founders League All Stars Aidan Cavallini ’11 and Corbin McGuire ’11 led the team in scoring, while Will Einstein ’10, Peter Mistretta ’11 and Mike Moran ’11 did a lot of the hard work in the corners and neutral zone. Of course, for everyone on this team but for the seniors especially, their final game, a hardfought 3–2 win over Hotchkiss, was a good way to go out.
Boys’ Squash 12–1
Founders League Champions 5th Place Nationals The boys varsity squash team finished off a fantastic season as Founders League champions with a 12–1 record. The Rhinos went undefeated in the league, and their only dual-match loss was to New England champion Brunswick. The season began with an exciting win over Exeter, 4–3, but Taft had its best day later at the biggest venue, finishing 5th at the United States Team Nationals held at Yale University. In that highly competitive tournament, Taft came from behind in two heart-pounding wins over Haverford, 4–3, and Tabor Academy, 4–3, with Max Frew ’10 winning the final match by a 3–2 score both times. Cocaptains Andy Cannon ’11 and Max Kachur ’10 played well all season in the 2nd and 3rd spots respectively, while newcomer Zeyad Elshorfy ’12 went undefeated at the top spot and finished as the individual New England champion. During the season, he also beat the #1 and #2 ranked players in the United States. Freshman Andrew Cadienhead was outstanding all season long, finishing #3 in New England at the #6 position. Senior Cam Mullen also had a fabulous season,
Girls’ Squash 11–2
New England Runner–up 6th Place Nationals The girls’ squash team saved their best for last in their fantastic 2nd place finish at the New England Championships. While the Rhinos had defeated strong teams from Hotchkiss, Deerfield and Andover during the season, all by the score of 7–0, they felt that their 6th place finish at the National Team tournament left something to be desired. However, they left no doubt that this was one of the best squash teams Taft has had by scoring 102 team points, close on the heels of champion Greenwich Academy’s 111 points. Taft’s top player, Sachika Balvani ’12, won the individual championship over her counterpart from GA in a tough 3–1 match. Ellie O’Neill ’11, Celina Schreiber ’12 and Jenny Janeck ’11, all finished 2nd—in the third, fifth and seventh spots respectively. Captain Kelly Barnes ’10 was 4th in the second draw, and Rachel Barnes ’11 and Katherine Carroll ’12 were both third.
Skiing The Taft Ski Team competed in a number of Berkshire Ski League slalom races during this spotty winter. Jason Feinman ’11 and captain Mike Klein ’10 were a strong 1–2 punch for the boys, while captain Jessie Johnson ’11 and Sarah Palmore ’11 often led the girls. At the ten-school BSL Giant Slalom championships, Taft’s combined, co-ed placement was 8th, behind Feinman’s 14th place out of the 72 finishing competitors. At the NEPSAC Class C Championships, the boys placed 8th of the 14 teams, while the girls were 10th. Taft’s highest finish was Feinman’s 11th place in the slalom, and Andrew Trevenen ’13 and Liz Veillette ’13 both had great GS runs.
This Blog’s For You During the 94 days Christy Everett ’90 waited to bring her newborn son home from the hospital, she started a blog, a “written outlet [that became] as important for my own healing and growth as it was to tell my loved ones about Elias’s.” Family physician Davis Liu ’89 started his blog to give his patients, and everyone else, more information to help them make better health-care decisions. Along the way he also became an advocate for health-care reform. After 35 years of reporting on education, John Merrow ’59 was already a recognized expert in the field, but he sees his blog as a place to share some of his stories and ideas. Blogs are the new media. They may have started out as a form of online journaling, but today they can be anything from a means to share expertise to a way to connect with others who share similar interests or concerns. A recent study by www.Technorati.com found that bloggers actually vary little by age or gender, or even geography. Blogging is the universal equalizer; anyone with internet access can now become a columnist or reporter. Who knows how many Taft alumni are actually blogging; we’d love to find out. The ones I have come across in recent months—and which are excerpted here—are impressive. From education and health-care reform to travel and theology, from parenting to nutrition, their variety and scope reflect well on our community of lifelong learners and their passion for effecting change. In a world where we are ever-connected, people have increasingly looked for ways to connect— not just with information but with each other—and blogs can help us do that. At a time when the line between our personal and professional lives is increasingly blurred, bloggers can help narrate and help us navigate this brave new world.
S TAT S Blogosphere stats 133,000,000—number of blogs indexed since 2002 346,000,000—number of people globally who read blogs 900,000—average number of blog posts in a 24-hour period 77—percentage of active Internet users who read blogs 81—number of languages represented in the blogosphere 59—percentage of bloggers who have been blogging for at least 2 years Source: www.Technorati.com
—Julie Reiff, editor
Blog (a contraction of the term “web log”): a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. [www.wikipedia.org] Check out all of the blogs at our website at http://www.TaftSchool.org/Bulletin
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 17 Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 17
ab o u t
Taking Education isn’t known for having an institutional memory, which means reformers often embrace fads or re-invent the wheel. Unfortunately, every such misstep wastes more than money and energy. Each also has real consequences for children and youth, who don’t get a do-over when adults endorse “reforms” that have failed before. After nearly 35 years of reporting, I may now qualify for “institutional memory” status, and this weekly blog is a place to share some of my stories and ideas, in hopes that you will find at least a few of them of value.
J u ly 2 1 , 2 0 0 9
Wasting Talent “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air”
In Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” those flowers are a metaphor for talents and gifts. I have always loved both the poem and those lines, but I wonder whether they accurately describe what is more likely to happen to talented youth today? What happens to talent that is not nurtured? I remember the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan—the gifted son of hardscrabble Irish immigrants–telling me that “cream rises to the top,” which was his own experience. My experience as a teacher in a federal penitentiary suggests otherwise. More importantly, so does hard data from solid research. Let’s put one important fact on the table to start: Talent is randomly distributed. It is not a function of social class, race, income or even education. For more information on this, look at “The Achievement Trap” (PDF), a report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. It notes that when they enter elementary school, high-achieving, lower-income students mirror America both demographically and geographically. They exist proportionately to the overall first-grade population among males and females and within urban, suburban and rural communities and are similar to the first-grade population in terms of race and ethnicity (African-American, Hispanic, white, and Asian). Not only that, “More than one million K–12 children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch rank in the top quartile academically. Overall, about 3.4 million K–12 children residing in households with incomes below the national median rank in the top quartile academically.” This population is larger than the individual populations of 21 states, the report notes.
Read more from his blog at http://learningmatters.tv/blog/op-ed/
Thoughts on education from John Merrow ’59
But then what happens? Here the news is not good, starting as early as first grade. Because ability is randomly distributed, kids from different income groups ought to appear in equal numbers in the four academic quartiles. Unfortunately, among first-grade students performing in the top academic quartile, only 28 percent are from lower-income families, while 72 percent are from higher-income families. As the report notes, “In elementary and high school, lower-income students neither maintain their status as high achievers nor rise into the ranks of high achievers as frequently as higher-income students. Only 56 percent of lower-income students maintain their status as high achievers in reading by fifth grade, versus 69 percent of higher-income students.” If programs for gifted and talented were adequately funded, things might be different. But, as we and others have reported, these programs have been cut, victims of No Child Left Behind’s frenzied pressure for higher test scores among kids who were just a point or two away from getting over the “adequate” bar. Does “Cream rise to the top” on its own? No, that’s not likely. However, talented kids who were born into upper-income families are likely to rise. Again quoting from the Jack Kent Cooke report: While 25 percent of high-achieving lower-income students fall out of the top academic quartile in math in high school, only 16 percent of high-achieving upper income students do so. Among those not in the top academic quartile in first grade, children from families in the upper income half are more than twice as likely as those from lower income families to rise into the top academic quartile by fifth grade. The same is true between eighth and twelfth grades. They are also twice as likely to drop out of high school without graduating. And do these kids whose talent is not nurtured “waste their sweetness on the desert air,” as Thomas Gray wrote? Here I have some direct experience. I taught in a federal penitentiary in Virginia for two years in the late 1960s. I had classes of 20 or so young men who wanted to read literature and improve their writing. During my career I have also been a high school English teacher (NY), a junior high school summer school teacher (Greenwich, CT) and a teaching assistant (Harvard). The young men in that federal prison were easily the most focused, ambitious and responsive students I’ve ever taught. And while it’s true that they were self-selected and that most prisoners have literacy issues, I still wonder, nearly 40 years later, where things went wrong for those guys. Why criminals instead of teachers or plumbers or business executives? What did not happen in their schools that might have set them on a productive path? I stayed in touch with one of those former prisoners and later was best man at his wedding. Bobby worked hard, bought and fixed up a couple of two- and three-family homes, rented them out, and before long became a very successful citizen. I hope the other guys did as well, but, more than
C o mme n ts John Bennett said… There are two problems, I believe. First, any minimal assessment that’s done is used only to defend current positions—never as the starting point for honest dialogue (teachers, administrators and parents) as to how things are going and what can be done to make things go better. No one talks/plans; they just “go to the mattresses.” Secondly, new teachers coming into the profession do have the intrinsic motivation to work to do better. But just as happens with young learners (who are intrinsically motivated to learn), the school environment kills all the motivation. There are lots of great thoughts expressed in this article, John, and in the comments offered by others. IF there’s no dialogue and intrinsically motivated commitment to meaningful change, teachers of today will be comfortable in the schools of 2059—but very unhappy with the position of the USA in the world.
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 19
Taking Note Thoughts on education from John Merrow ’59
that, I hope that educators will address their own “Expectations Gap” when it comes to low-income kids. Kids from wealthy homes are likely to get that extra stimulation at home, but poor kids need what schools can and should provide—field trips, challenging curriculum, and the best teachers. This country cannot afford to waste any talent. We’ve done that for too long. S e p tember 1 4 , 2 0 0 9
The Sources of Innovation What produces innovation? Why does there seem to be such an abundance of it in serious fields like medicine and computer technology and trivial ones like online dating, but so little in education, arguably the most important of human activities? First, let me support my premise, that schooling is largely bereft of innovation. A doctor or an auto mechanic from the 1950s, if dropped into today’s hospital or garage, would be baffled. A teacher from the ’50s, however, would feel pretty darn comfortable in today’s classrooms. Maybe the desks wouldn’t be attached to the floor, and perhaps the blackboards would have been replaced by whiteboards, but there’d be bells every 50 minutes or so, attendance to be taken, and interruptions by the principal. I rest my case. Back to why: The thirst for money, prestige and fame are reliable spurs of innovation. Living in Silicon Valley as I do, I’ve seen plenty of evidence of that. Unfortunately, public education is not the road to travel if your goals are money, prestige and fame.
Another spur to innovate is a supportive but challenging environment, one in which failure is seen as an opportunity to learn, not a stain. Does that describe most schools? I don’t think so. John Doerr’s New Schools Venture Fund is working to recreate in education some of the conditions that have spurred Silicon Valley’s growth. That’s an uphill battle with a number of hurdles standing in the way, including a “one size fits all” mentality and a glut of “experts.” Education’s “one size fits all” approach to evaluating and paying teachers has to dampen enthusiasm for trying new approaches. Why bother if you aren’t going to be reward-
ed? As “The Widget Effect,” a new report from the New Teacher Project, makes clear, administrators don’t pay much attention to teacher effectiveness. “Evaluation systems fail to differentiate performance among teachers. As a result, teacher effectiveness is largely ignored. Excellent teachers cannot be recognized or rewarded, chronically low-performing teachers languish, and the wide majority of teachers performing at moderate levels do not get the differentiated support and development they need to improve as professionals.”
Read more from his blog at http://learningmatters.tv/blog/op-ed/
Another barrier to innovation in education is the glut of “experts,” meaning all of us went to school and therefore “know” what school should be like.
It’s tough to argue for new and different approaches when everyone’s an expert! Imagine, for example, trying to create an ungraded classroom for children in the K–2 range. It makes sense, because children learn in spurts and at different times. We segregate by age largely because it’s administratively convenient, not for pedagogical reasons. Now suppose an enlightened principal wanted to put all the kindergarten, first grade and second grade students into one group, empowering teachers to work with them in skillappropriate groups. She’d say, in effect, “Your job is to get them all to a certain level by the end of what we used to call Second Grade.” That’s innovation at its best, in my view, because it empowers teachers, sets standards and encourages responsibility. What would happen if we did try to innovate? Imagine the conversations at the hairdresser’s or the hardware store:
“How’s little Charlie doing this year? He’s in 1st grade this year, right?” “Well, no. There’s no such thing as 1st grade any more. Now they call it “K–2.” Charlie’s 6, but they’ve got him in with a bunch of 4-, 5- and 7-year-olds.” “That’s crazy. We didn’t do stuff like that when I went to school. Have they lost their minds down there? Wait till I tell people about this” How long would that innovation last?
Perhaps bad times will spur innovation. A theory going around is that today’s desperate circumstances are likely to produce educational breakthroughs. Certainly desperation can be a source of innovation, as in Apollo 13 (“Houston, we’ve got a problem”) or in countless big game situations when time is running out. The Apollo 13 astronauts solved a life-threatening crisis with stuff like duct tape, baling wire and paper clips, just as quarterbacks like Tom Brady manage to find ways to overcome impossible odds and win the game. But those are not innovations with a long shelf life, just ways to get past a challenge. I’m hearing that recession conditions—45 students in a class, and so on— do not have a silver lining, at least not one that teachers themselves have been able to discern.
John Merrow began his career as an education reporter with National Public Radio in 1974 with the weekly series, “Options in Education,” for which he received the George Polk Award in 1982. He is currently president of Learning Matters and scholar in residence at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching at Stanford. Since 1984 he has worked in public television as Education Correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and as host of his own series of documentaries, The Merrow Report. His work has been recognized with Peabody Awards in 2000 and 2006, Emmy nominations in 1984, 2005 and 2007, four CINE Golden Eagles and other reporting awards. A frequent contributor to USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Education Week, he is the author of Choosing Excellence and co-editor of Declining by Degrees.
Are you hearing different? I’d like to know. j
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 21
our glutenab o u t
Kirstin Boncher ’87
I went to cooking school and cooked in restaurants years ago. Then I went back to school to study art (painting). Now I am back cooking...for my kids. With the genes for celiac and many severe symptoms of gluten intolerance we have given up gluten (wheat, rye and barley) and gone dairy and soy light as the molecules are similar. In the process we have found an old-fashioned, unprocessed homemade life that is profoundly satisfying. My father says that I am 3/4 scientist and 1/4 religious nut about this stuff. I think my blog reflects my conviction that there is a better, healthier way to live. And it can be miraculous for everyone. It isn’t easy, but it is worth doing. T u es d a y, N o v ember 2 7 , 2 0 0 7
The Dangers of Processed Food Processed food is everywhere. It is hard to avoid and seems to be a staple among young children. We grew up on Goldfish and macaroni and cheese, so I used to think it wasn’t that bad. But the more I know about nutrition, the scarier this processed food is becoming. Being gluten free and soy free and dairy light eliminates 95 percent of this processed kid food. But as I read every ingredient on every label on every food that I even consider buying, I have become more aware of how this processed food has changed since we were growing up. Although we don’t eat Goldfish anymore, the “Goldfish” today are probably not the same recipe that they were when we were growing up. They probably contain additional additives and preservatives that didn’t even exist when we were growing up. I thought MSG wasn’t something I had to worry about until I read this article. www.livingwithout.com/features/feature-MSG.html
This one also gives a thorough explanation of how MSG is hidden in most processed food. www.naturodoc.com/library/nutrition/MSG.htm For snacks, we try to have fruit, nuts, homemade GFCF cookies, homemade GFCF muffins, rice cakes, organic popcorn or Organic Kettle potato chips, which have three ingredients (organic potatoes, safflower or sunflower oil and salt) and are clearly labeled no MSG, no transfats, no artificial anything.
Read more from her blog at http://www.whattofeedyourkids.com
Melissa O’Neal/Classic Kids
And this article on fast food also opened my mind to how bad processed food is for developing children. www.newstarget.com/022194.html
Everyone who knows me knows I am on a mission not only to feed our
family better, but to get other parents to realize that they can make better choices about the nutrition and well-being of their children. Nutritional intervention isn’t easy, but it works. ©iStockphoto.com/carterdayne
S u n d a y, S e p tember 2 7 , 2 0 0 9
Easy Pad Thai Recipe This recipe for Pad Thai (Fried Noodles) is a yummy dinner everyone in my house loves. It is nice to have one meal that we all like. I learned to make Pad Thai when I lived in Thailand years ago. Unfortunately, I lost the original recipe, but I am still hoping that it will turn up some day. Also, in Thailand you use a spoon and fork to eat pad thai, but the picture with the chopsticks looked nice. I rediscovered pad thai when I made this for the Gourmet Club with my friend, Lauren. We found the hard to find ingredients at The Bangkok Center Grocery in Chinatown. (They ship anywhere in the US in case you have a hard time finding tamarind and fish sauce.) If you want to see pad thai being prepared, you can go to Thai Food Tonight to watch them cook an authentic pad thai recipe. Bangkok Center Grocery: 104 Mosco Street, New York, NY 10013, 212-732-8916 Easy Pad Thai Recipe
4 T. oil 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 shallots 1 egg 4 oz./120 g. dry flat rice noodles soaked in water for 20 minutes until soft and drained 2 T. lime juice 1½ T. fish sauce 2 T. tamarind sauce ½ t. palm sugar (or sugar) 2 T. chopped roasted peanuts ⅛ t. dried red chili powder (or cayenne) ½ cup bean sprouts 2 spring onions/scallions, chopped into 1 in. lengths sprig of coriander leaf, coarsely chopped 1 lime cut into 4 pieces for garnish shrimp optional
In a wok or frying pan, heat the oil, add the garlic and shallots and fry until golden brown. Break the egg into the wok, stir quickly and cook for a couple of seconds. Add the noodles and stir well, scraping down the sides of the pan to ensure they mix with the garlic and egg. One by one, add the lemon juice, fish sauce, tamarind, sugar, half the peanuts, the chili powder, half of the bean sprouts, and the spring onions, stirring quickly all the time. Test the noodles for tenderness. When done, turn onto a serving plate and arrange the remaining peanuts, dried shrimp and the rest of the bean sprouts around the dish. Garnish with the coriander and lime wedges. j
Bio A 1992 graduate of the French Culinary Institute, Kirstin Boncher publishes the blog What To Feed Your Kids (at www.whattofeedyourkids.com) in which she focuses on nutrition and its impact on the health and development of children. She has written extensively on: celiac and gluten intolerance, the importance of healthy fats for brain development, how real foods can be protective against toxins, how processed foods are damaging our health, and how healthier food choices can have a huge impact on children’s health. Her passionate belief that nutrition plays a critical role in childhood health and development stems from her own experience as a mother of two children whose developmental delays were eliminated through dietary intervention. Kirstin’s focus is now on educating other families how homemade, nutritious food can be healing for children and adults with chronic problems.
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 23
Following Elias The special needs journey of premature parenthood in the last frontier
ab o u t
Christy Everett ’90
I started writing about Elias, in February of 2004, a few weeks after his premature birth, as a way to keep family and friends informed on his status from our home in Alaska. As the days in the NICU turned into months I found this written outlet as important for my own healing and growth as it was to tell my loved ones about Elias’s. I continued to write updates, though not as often, when after 94 days we finally brought our baby home...along with oxygen tanks, medication and a long list of appointments for the months ahead. In 2006, my friend E-beth who worked for ClubMom in NY asked if I’d be interested in applying for one of their new blogging positions. “What’s a blog I asked?”
n Nick, Elias and Christy
“It’s what you’ve been doing, a way of journaling on the internet...” “Oh...” So I applied and was offered a contract to start From the Mountain Top to the Valley Floor. It was during these years that the reality of Elias’s disabilities, as a result of his premature birth, began to sink in and I will be forever grateful to the support of my readers and commenters for helping me through each stage.
Read more from her blog at http://www.followingelias.com/
A Snowy Morning Reflection Sometimes being a parent means stretching thin the line between self and other, till the threads of who you are unravel and trail behind the person who rocks, feeds, holds and comforts another. You barely remember what it felt like to wake in the mornings on your own time clock, with only your individual needs to fulfill. A late February snowfall covers the unfamiliar trees in my new backyard, fat flakes, relentless in their tragic beauty. Somewhere underneath the layers, up in the mountains, on the tundra, in the caves and hollows, Mama Grizzlies give birth to their cubs, where they wait out spring, entwined in the darkness, tongue to nipple, fur to fur, skin to skin.
C o mme n ts Tina said… Christy, I think this is your most beautiful and heart wrenching writing yet. Love to you and your baby cubs from our den...
This morning as I lay in bed nursing Olive, Elias asked, “Did you used to nurse me when I was a baby?” “Yes, babe.” “Was I in your belly?” “Mm-hmm,” I responded, eyes still closed, not quite ready to rise to this ongoing conversation we’ve carried and nurtured and expanded since the arrival of his sister. “What room was I born in?” “The surgery room.” “Did I have to have surgery?” he asked, as he leaned over Olive and put his head on top of mine. “Yes, as a baby you did,” I said, awake now. “Where did I have to have surgery?” he asked, cutting our conversation deeper, to questions I haven’t yet answered. “On your heart, your brain, and your eyes.”
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 25
Following Elias Christy Everett ’90
As I said this, I looked at his eyes that rarely look at mine, for a sign of comprehension, wondering if the next question would be “Why?” Heart. Brain. Eyes. Three different doorways to the soul. And I may not attend an indoor church, or identify with a specific religion, but I still search for deeper meanings, for spiritual awakenings, and redemption. When it comes time to answer Elias’s brewing storm of why’s—Why do I need canes? Why was I born early? Why can’t I...—I’ll try to give him different layers to wrap around his growing sense of self, so that he looks in the mirror and sees himself as whole. In order to do this, I need to do the same. Embrace my own completeness, my own soul. I will always be Elias’s and Olive’s mommy, and with this title comes a blurring of edges, a run-on sentence in which my subject leads to theirs, without semicolons or periods, barely a comma rests between us as we breathe the same air, like Grizzlies entwined in their winter den, snowed-in till spring comes. But spring will come. And little paws will grow wide. And wander off to find their own blueberry bushes, their own salmon streams, their own honeyscented air to breathe. 0 2 / 11 / 2 0 1 0
Following Elias, Olive Too I had the chance to rename this blog when www.Parents.com ended their blogging contracts and I started writing for myself. But I chose not to, even knowing Elias had a sister on her way. In part because I already had to change names once, on my editors request, when I moved from ClubMom to Parents. It was during our family bike trip from Washington to Wyoming, as we pedaled over mountain passes and through small western towns, that I thought of possible names as a way to pass the time. I didn’t think of Following Elias, my husband Nick did, and I liked it right away, even if it was his creative impulse and not mine. I liked the simplicity of it. And the layers.
Read more from her blog at http://www.followingelias.com/
Those of you who read regularly are following Elias’s journey. As his mother I’m often literally walking behind him, holding his hood, ready to catch him when he stumbles. He leads me to places I didn’t expect to go, teaches me, forces me to grow. I’ve learned to work on his timetable and not mine, not child development experts or doctors or school specialists. Elias time.
“As his mother I’m often literally walking behind him, holding his hood, ready to catch him when he stumbles. He leads me to places I didn’t expect to go, teaches me, forces me to grow.”
And now his sister Olivia, whom we call Olive, has followed him into our family and will forever be the second child. I am also the second child, the younger sister of my brother Andrew, who is two years minus two days older than me. When I arrived and my parents’ friends came to check out the new baby, Andrew would say, “I’m cute, too!” Before long it was me who followed him around saying, “Me too, me too, me too!” I am defined by his presence, by my desire to keep up with the boys, or to choose a different path from my big brother’s. Whether I wanted to do exactly what he did or wanted to do the opposite, he was one of the mirrors I judged myself by. Not as smart as Andrew. Not as social as Andrew. Not as strong as Andrew... I still remember my sixth grade teacher telling me that my creative writing book of poems and short stories was one of the best in the class, but it was her next line that made me beam: “Better than your brother Andrew’s.” More often I failed to live up to the standards he set. At least in my own mind—in my own impulse to measure and compare. I remember thinking my parents loved him more because his baby book was fatter than mine, his Christmas stocking bigger, and more pictures of him in diapers could be found in the albums on our shelves. But oh, do I get this now. It’s not about lack of love but lack of time. Olive will always share us with Elias, but he had almost six years of our undivided attention. We could take more pictures, collect more, sew a bigger stocking...that is, if I knew how to sew. Olive will always follow Elias. Her cries seem louder than normal because her brother rarely cried. She seems so round and pudgy compared to Elias’s bony frame. The other day, after watching a 12- to 18-month-old baby jump from a picnic table into his mother’s arms, I turned to Nick and said, “You know, this feels weird to say but I’m excited about Olive’s physicality.” “I know, me too,” he said. And by this we mean compared to Elias. At seven weeks, I can already see the difference in her strength and ease of movement. Her grasp of objects, the way she kicks her legs, or when I hold her in a standing position, how she supports her weight for a moment and takes a mock step forward. I wouldn’t appreciate this in quite the same way if it weren’t for Elias. A part of me feels guilty, like I’m somehow cheating on my devotion for my son by admiring his presumably able-bodied sister. Not sure if that makes sense. It’s the same part of me that struggled with my desire for a full-term, healthy baby during my pregnancy, as if this took away from my love for Elias because I hoped for a different situation this time. As if I wanted someone different from him. And I did, but not because I don’t love him to pieces. Just as Olive’s second place in line doesn’t mean I love her any less. j
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 27
ab o u t
Thin Places I am a writer, a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, wife to Peter ’95 and mother to Penny and William. I blog about the things I’m thinking about, which usually include theology, disability, children and parenting, education and the intersection of grief and hope.
God is at work in this world, but most of us are blind to it most of the time.
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Considering Lent: Disruptive Grace It’s one of Jesus’ more enigmatic sayings. The disciples ask him to explain why he speaks in parables, and he replies: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (see Matthew 13 for the whole context). It’s a theme that runs throughout the Gospels, and one that Jesus picks up from writers of the Old Testament. God is at work in this world, but most of us are blind to it most of the time. I thought about that passage when a friend asked me a few months back, “What do you think it takes for people to open their minds to a new idea?” I’m approaching my 33rd birthday, and I’m pretty stuck in my ways. I drink black tea with one Splenda and lots of milk every morning. I place the same order every time I eat at Panera. I read TIME magazine cover to cover each week. I drink one Diet Coke in the afternoon. Every Tuesday, a friend comes over for a play date with our kids. Every Thursday, my mom comes to visit and Peter and I go out to dinner. I drink a glass of wine, or two, in the evening. I go to church on Sunday and to small group on Monday nights. I have a routine, a framework for understanding the world, habits of doing and being. In the past, it has been moving, sickness, death and birth that have changed those patterns. I hope and pray that I won’t face a major life crisis again anytime soon, and yet I sometimes long for the clarity of vision that came in their midst. Do I have eyes to see what God is doing all around me? Do I have eyes to see my own faults and failings? Do I have eyes to see other people and their gifts? Do I have eyes to see other people and their needs?
Read more from her blog at http://amyjuliabecker.blogspot.com/
C eltic C hristia n s called them thi n p laces , p laces where hea v e n a n d earth touch , where G od seems more readily p rese n t, more easily accessed . T his s p ace is mea n t to ide n tify thi n p laces — ideas , relatio n shi p s , p oi n ts of co n n ectio n , mome n ts with beauty a n d truth that draw us towards o n e a n other , a n d toward the H oly O n e .
Amy Julia Truesdell Becker ’94 ©iStockphoto.com/chesterf
It’s the fear of being stuck, of becoming blind to the spiritual reality all around me, that has prompted me to decide to observe Lent this year. I can give all sorts of personal reasons why I will be fasting from alcohol for the next 40 days—the money, the calories, the fear of addiction—but really, it’s because disrupting my own habits provides an opening for God’s grace. Really, it’s the hope that one small change will open my eyes. W e d n es d a y, F ebr u ar y 1 0 , 2 0 1 0
What Yoga Has to Do with Snowstorms I’ve been practicing yoga for going on seven years now. Approximately once a week I spend an hour in a room with a dozen other people, saluting the sun, breathing deeply, and contorting my body into poses that both energize and relax me, all at the same time. There are three main aspects to yoga, as far as I can tell: flexibility, strength and balance. Flexibility is not my thing. When we’re supposed to be stretching our hips, for example, I can’t even get to them because my hamstrings hurt too much. One shoulder is so tight I can hardly reach my arm overhead somedays. When we do a “forward fold,” I’m lucky if it simulates a forward tilt. As for
C o mme n ts DVDRowe said... I appreciate and agree with much of what you say here, Amy Julia. Thanks! What would you say to those who warn that this Lenten practice is potentially dangerous precisely because it is much easier to fast from certain foods, say, than it is to turn from idols of the heart? Because the point of Lent is not of course to give up chocolate or even to fast; it’s to give up sin. And yet we often reduce sin to eating chocolate, and never really deal with the real sin of the heart. When that happens, well, then grace will seem abundant!
v Penny, Peter ’95, Amy Julia ’94 and William
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 29
Amy Julia Truesdell Becker ’94
strength, I’m okay. I can usually stay in Goddess pose or Warrior One or a High Runner’s Lunge (American terms, fyi) for as long as needed. But balance? Balance is my forte. Put me in Tree Pose (one leg hitched upon the other, arms overhead, swaying like a tree in the wind) and I can stand there forever. As it turns out, what holds true for my body in a yoga class holds true for my whole life. Adequate strength. Impressive balance. Not so flexible.
They have a constant fear that they won’t measure up, won’t get into the right school, won’t “make it” in life. But tonight, they were playing in the snow. Let’s use today as an example. A snowstorm. Which means a snowday for Penny. Which means two hours that I expected to work (while William napped), gone. Another snowday tomorrow, and a snowed in babysitter. Which means another however many hours of work, gone. I have been cursing the snow. It disrupts the balance of my life. We live on the campus of a boarding school, and the view out our window contends for the award for “most idyllic snow scene in America.” Tonight, I was walking back from yoga class. And I stopped walking. Just stood there. First I noticed the silence. No trucks passing by. No rush hour traffic. Then the softness. The contours of the snow. The way it traced the lines of every branch of every tree, bending without breaking. And then two boys, students who live in the dorm with us, concentrating hard on constructing an igloo. These boys are pushed hard every day—classes, sports, activities, homework. They have a constant fear that they won’t measure up, won’t get into the right school, won’t “make it” in life. But tonight, they were playing in the snow. Silence. Beauty. Delight. Maybe we’ll take our kids sledding tomorrow. Maybe I’ll try snowshoes for the first time. Maybe yoga is making me a little more flexible after all.
Read more from her blog at http://amyjuliabecker.blogspot.com/
T h u rs d a y, N o v ember 1 2 , 2 0 0 9
Making Mistakes William and Penny and I were taking a walk. William said, “Wa! Wa!” (Watch! Watch!) I complied. Penny took off in the other direction. So I chased her down, plunked her in the stroller next to her brother, and resumed walking. It was about 30 seconds later that I realized William was no longer playing with my watch. We searched the stroller, his clothes, her clothes. I went through my own pockets four times. We traced the path where I knew the watch must have fallen. I even called Peter to come and look with us. To no avail. I felt sick to my stomach. It was the watch Peter gave me for Christmas last year. It cost a lot of money. It was stupid to let William play with something so valuable. Stupid to turn my attention away from him, even for that moment. Stupid. I realized, over the course of the night, as I traced over the moment of loss again and again, that it wasn’t really the watch I was upset about. I could buy another. Peter wasn’t mad. It really wasn’t that big of a deal. Honestly, what really upset me was that I had made a mistake. A friend of mine wrote recently to say that her car had been stolen because she left the keys in the front seat. I responded by saying, “Actually, your car was stolen because someone violated your private property.” She made a mistake in leaving the keys in the front seat. But she didn’t cause the car to be stolen. I made a mistake in entrusting my watch to a toddler, but I didn’t cause the watch to be lost. And yet I hated myself for the mistake, nonetheless. So what causes us to make mistakes? Is it human sinfulness? Will we someday, when God has begun the new heavens and the new earth, not make mistakes? Actually, I think making mistakes is not bad or wrong or immoral, in and of itself (which is not to say I could never make a mistake that was bad or wrong or immoral, just that giving William my watch wasn’t one of those). I’m pretty sure Adam and Eve made mistakes in the garden, learned from God, learned from each other, grew, changed. Jesus may very well have made mistakes as he learned carpentry from Joseph. Making mistakes is a part of being human, of being limited. So this morning, when I mistakenly cut William’s hair way too short and Peter compared it to a traditional monk’s do, and when I started to apologize and berate myself and think back through all the ways I could have avoided... I let it go. I made a mistake. Sorry, William. Your hair will grow back. I promise. As it turned out, my watch was found and returned to me by a colleague the next day. Funny. I guess I just needed to learn something about who I am. j
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 31
ab o u t
We are sisters who share a love of traveling and experiencing new places, cultures, the great outdoors, food, fashion, and helping others travel more authentically, effortlessly and dynamically. And bringing that playful vacation spirit back home into everyday life! We love discovering the spirit of each place we visit. From the hotels, shops, restaurants and bars (no chains!), to unique experiences in each area. We have searched high and low to find where to go and what to do. (If you think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve missed anything, let us know!) We hope to be a source of inspiration and show you a new way to experience the world where you are and the world where you want to go. Join us on our journey and share in our lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s adventures. See you out there!
Read more from their blog at http://firestonesisters.com/
Firestone Sisters Lucy ’97 and Mary Firestone ’95 M o n d a y, Oct o ber 2 6 , 2 0 0 9
Not All Waiters in PARIS Are Mean We arrived exhausted and it was raining, but nothing could dampen the effect of gay Paris. Unlike previous visits when we were slaves to the Michelin Guide, we simply walked the city. We focused mostly on the Marais and St. Germain des Prés discovering lesser known and more peaceful churches (St. Julien, St. Paul and St. Eustache) and fortifying ourselves with chocolate crêpes, kir royales and café crèmes. Our trip ended on a high note at the launch party for the Louis Vuitton City Guides. We celebrated our contribution to the City Guide for Los Angeles at the cozy and original home of Louis Vuitton. The party was elegant and tasteful with champagne flowing and the opportunity to explore the small museum on the second floor with a collection of iconoclastic LV pieces including steamer trunks, car camping sets and a custom yellow patent leather suitcase that straps onto the back of a motorcycle.
Stay ST. GERMAIN DES PRES (6th arrondissement)
C o mme n ts Jen said… Congratulations on your gorgeous site. Just visited all the different pages and felt like I got to know you both better. I look forward to more “sisters” themed posts as well—with more details like those from your biographies. Can’t wait to keep visiting, and for my next trip west with all of your ideas and suggestions.
Hôtel Le Placide de St. Germain
6, rue Saint-Placide 75006 Paris Tel: +33 (0)1 42 84 34 60 Fax: +33 (0)1 47 20 79 78 firstname.lastname@example.org www.leplacidehotel.com After searching for a chic boutique hotel that was in any way affordable in trendy St. Germain or the Marais, we stumbled upon glowing reviews and gorgeous photos of a newly opened 11 room hotel just catty-corner to the upscale department store, Bon Marché. We appreciated that in these economic times, the hotel was willing to offer us a great rate (which many other hotels would not even days before our arrival) on a junior suite. The junior suites are half of a floor (two per floor), and are really one long room but are so stylish and thoughtful in design with desks, sitting areas and a huge (especially for Parisian standards) white marble bathroom. The Cole and Son wallpaper of trees is modern and warm all at once, the bed linens are high quality and luxurious, the white leather built-in bench is chic, chic, chic, and the Murano vases filled with fresh flowers and Missoni pillows are refined touches. The staff is exceedingly charming and friendly as well. This truly is a little oasis in the bustling city.
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 33
Firestone Sisters Lucy ’97 and Mary Firestone
MARAIS (4th arrondissement) Hôtel Caron
3, rue Caron 75004 Paris Tel: +33 (0)1 40 29 02 94 Fax: +33 (0)1 40 29 02 95 email@example.com www.hotelcaron.com Hôtel Caron is located just off a charming little square in the Marais where we had an amazing lunch (see Le Marché below). We had read about the hotel which opened several months ago and had a look at a few rooms after lunch. They are tiny, as most rooms in Paris are, and modern in design and décor. The location is pretty perfect and the prices far more reasonable than most in town. Let us know if you stay there and what you think! Marais House
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 74 61 36 Fax: +33 (0)1 42 74 61 36 firstname.lastname@example.org www.maraishouse.com We wanted to stay at this four-room, elegant looking hotel in the Marais but were not interested in splurging. If you are, it looks amazing.
Eat Le Grand Colbert
4, rue Vivienne Louvre/Tuileries Paris Tel: +33 (0)1 42 86 87 88 n Mary and Lucy at La Société www.legrandcolbert.fr Set in a historic monument in the 2nd arrondissement, Le Grand Colbert is a better version of the traditional bustling French brasserie. With huge potted palms, brass railings, leather banquettes and mosaic floors, the crowd was 100 percent French (except for us!) and animated. The steak frites were excellent and the profiteroles mind blowing—soft croissant-like pastry with delicious vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. Le Marché Restaurant
2, place du Marché Ste Catherine 75004 Paris Tel: +33 (0)1 42 77 34 88 We stumbled upon this cozy restaurant nestled in a quaint courtyard on a rainy day. It was a welcome refuge from the wet and busy thoroughfares and the white truffle raviolis in cream sauce were shockingly delicious. Café de Flore
172, boulevard Saint Germain 75006 Paris Tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 55 26 www.cafe-de-flore.com This famous café is the one to go to (Les Deux Magots next door is chock-full of American tourists). Traditional favorites are served at picture perfect café tables and our waiter was surprise, surprise, sweet and encouraging of our school-level French. Allegedly their hot chocolate is worthy of its world famous reputation. We can attest to the fact the cheese plate is scrumptious. Read more from their blog at http://firestonesisters.com/
4, place Saint-Germain 75006 Paris Tel: +33 (01) 53 63 60 60 Fax: +33 (01) 53 63 60 61 After several flutes of champagne at the Louis Vuitton party, we were on a high and n Lucy at the Place des Vosges in Paris this was just the place to match our mood. The word from several chic Parisians we met, including our Louis Vuitton editor Julien Guerrier, is that Société is the ofthe-moment place to see and be seen. We agree.
SEE Place des Vosges
75003 Paris We love Paris for the gorgeous gardens and parks that spring up around every corner. Place des Vosges is an elegant and welcome refuge in the bustling Marais. Notre Dame
6, place du Parvis Ile de la Cité 75004 Paris Is famous for good reason. While we had so much fun exploring lesser known churches and chapels, Notre Dame is awe inspiring and words can’t describe. If you do one touristy thing in Paris, go visit Notre Dame!
SHOP We were so disappointed with ourselves that we were too exhausted and pressed for time to shop in Paris! These are a few of the shops we browsed and wish had had more time to return to…. Merci
111, boulevard Beaumarchais +33 (01) 42 77 78 92 www.merci-merci.com Housed in a former factory, such stellar designers as Stella McCartney and YSL design lines for Merci at price points 30 percent lower than those designers usually sell for. They also have an extensive selection of vintage, books, home furnishings and a small bar. And all the profits go to children’s charity in Madagascar. Cheers! ba & sh
www.ba-sh.com We loved the wearable staples with a fashionable twist! And at reasonable prices. We would be happy outfitted head to toe in ba & sh. They have several boutiques around Paris, so check the website for your best location. Jonak
www.jonak.fr Jonak appears to be the much more fashion forward, upscale cousin of America’s Nine West. We worshiped boots we saw through the window while walking home at night and are on a mad hunt to find them online and have them sent to us! j
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 35
Saving Money and the Healthcare ab o u t
Y o u r G u i d e T o B etter C are F o r Less
Davis Liu, M.D., ’89, is a practicing board-certified family physician and author of the book, Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely— Making Intelligent Choices in America’s Healthcare System. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Learn more about what you must do to stay healthy and well at www.davisliumd.com. Follow me at Twitter—davisliumd
Disclaimer This blog provides general medical, health insurance and financial information that are meant to inform and educate the reader. Readers should consult with their doctors, human resources staff, insurance brokers, accountants and financial advisers about their specific situations, as the information provided in this blog does not replace their counsel.
S u n d a y, J a n u ar y 3 , 2 0 1 0
Hate English. Became a Doctor. My New Year’s Resolution to Blog and Fix Healthcare. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. Never a writer. With a new year and a new decade, I am determined to become a better writer not because of some childhood dream or expectation from others, but because of a near mishap that occurred at the beginning of 2000. A simple phone call changed the destiny of my brother from having a good outcome to having a great outcome. A simple phone call may have been the difference between you are cancer-free to I’m sorry to tell you it’s come back. It was a medical error that was avoided only because I was a doctor who was engaged to an oncologist and because my brother simply called me the night before his surgery. Based on his diagnosis, his surgeon should have referred him to an orthopedic oncologist, a musculoskeletal cancer surgeon, to perform curative surgery. Only two exist in the entire state of Connecticut. Instead, the surgeon opted to do the surgery himself even though he admitted he didn’t know what the diagnosis meant. A simple phone call the night before made the difference between being told that “unfortunately your cancer came back” to “you are cancer-free.”
Read more from his blog at http://davisliumd.blogspot.com
Davis Liu, M.D ©iStockphoto.com/alexsl
What if you had the knowledge to make a difference to save lives? What if you could see the problems that others don’t or refuse to see? Would you feel compelled to intervene? I write and communicate this information because our healthcare system, the doctors and hospitals, that we or our families rely on at some point in our lives is not as good as it can and should be. Each of you have your stories. Healthcare reform will not fix the problem. It was my brother’s phone call and many subsequent episodes with other relatives that made me glad I became a doctor not because I could help them get better sooner, but help stop bad things from happening to them as a result of less than perfect medical care.
What if you had the knowledge to make a difference to save lives? What if you could see the problems that others don’t or refuse to see? Would you feel compelled to intervene?
C o mme n ts Anonymous said... Hmmm...Vertically integrated, controls hardware & software, closed, proprietary system, one configuration...Sounds kinda like an accountable healthcare organization like Kaiser Permanente, doesn’t it? Are they the “Apple” of healthcare?
Despite my knowledge, I wish I could say I stopped each and every bad outcome. I didn’t. I couldn’t. Every missed opportunity to intervene and make things better bothers me today. I am a better doctor today than I was a decade ago and will undoubtedly be a more skilled physician a decade from now. As everyone this new year focuses on typical goals of becoming healthier by exercising, losing weight and ridding themselves of vices like smoking and excessive drinking, I have a completely different lifelong mission: to educate individuals on how to get the best medical care by giving them insider tips only a doctor would know. As a doctor I’ve taken a pledge to do no harm and to help those who suffer. To do that I need to be a better writer.
Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 37
Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis Davis Liu, M.D
W e d n es d a y, N o v ember 2 5 , 2 0 0 9
e-Patients, Dr. Google, Your Doctor, and You A recent article by NPR confirmed what many patients and doctors already know. The internet is leveling the playing field and allows individuals to access information easier and more quickly. Research by Pew Internet and American Life Project found: • 61 percent of adults say they look online for health information—known as e-patients • 20 percent of e-patients go to internet and social-networking sites where they can talk to medical experts and other patients • 39 percent of e-patients already use a social-networking site like Facebook Yet as individuals embrace new technology, the New England Journal of Medicine found earlier this year that only 17 percent of doctors use electronic medical records. To say doctors are conservative and slow in adapting to new ways of communicating and accessing information would be an understatement. An article in TIME magazine proclaimed “Email Your Doctor” which graced newsstands in 1998! Email communications with doctors is still the exception rather than the rule. Many doctors actually are very concerned about patients using the internet to research information. Stories of physicians being inundated with printouts or patients insistent that they have a certain diagnosis based on a description abound. Doctors don’t always appreciate patients googling their medical information. Why? Because although information gathering is far easier than a decade ago, the problem is data overload. How does one filter out all of the different diagnoses with similar symptoms? How does one use judgment when theirs is based on little experience? Medical students commonly coming down with medical illnesses after studying a subject. The power of suggestion. Fever and a little neck stiffness? Meningitis. Intermittent numbness in the arm? Multiple sclerosis. Circular rash? Lyme disease. Only through experience and actually caring for patients diagnosed by more seasoned colleagues do medical students see the textbook descriptions come. Patients diagnosed with meningitis, multiple sclerosis, and Lyme disease and their symptoms and signs are seared into their memories. Words in the textbook now have far different meanings. Reading and book learning while important only provide the foundation to build upon. It’s seeing and doing that matter. Doctors can’t know everything. It can be helpful if you research information and bring in some ideas or questions you have about a particular diagnosis. I know patients are more empowered with more information, but realize there is still value in clinical expertise. Have a frank discussion with your doctor whether the information obtained by Dr. Google is accurate or relevant to your concerns. Keep an open mind. Don’t be anchored by what you read. I certainly learn from my patients. My patients learn from me. It’s a win-win. While the internet can make anyone more knowledgeable, it doesn’t make someone an expert. The good news is that the survey found in the end that the source people still trust the most is their doctor. So go ahead research, but find reputable sources like the Mayo Clinic or Medline Plus. Talk to your doctor and perhaps email him. Gain from both knowledge tempered with expertise. As we all gather around for Thanksgiving, savor the time with family and friends. While I would never be mistaken for a chef, let alone a good cook, I will be making a delicious butternut squash soup, which is a new Thanksgiving tradition. The recipe? Courtesy of the internet and Wolfgang Puck. How hard could it be? I finished organic chemistry. j
Read more from his blog at http://davisliumd.blogspot.com
tales of a TAFTIE
Samuel Torrey Orton, Class of 1897
An American physician who pioneered the study of learning disabilities Sources: Annals of Dyslexia Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library, Columbia University Medical Center Wikipedia Works: In addition to authoring numerous scientific articles and papers, Orton published Reading, Writing and Speech Problems in Children and Selected Papers (W. W. Norton, 1937) Thanks: Henry Reiff ’71, who is a professor of special education at McDaniel College, suggested this column. Photo: Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library/Columbia University Medical Center
Orton is best known for his work examining the causes and treatment of reading disability, or dyslexia. The International Dyslexia Association was originally founded as The Orton Society in his honor. Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1879, Orton was a first cousin to Horace and William Howard Taft (their mothers were sisters), and son of Edward Orton, a noted geologist who went on to become president of Antioch College and Ohio State University. “Sam was described by an older sister as ‘the imp’ at the age of four,” his second wife, June, recalled, “and his participation in the activities of his neighborhood friends seems to have been one of the reasons his parents decided to send him east to his cousin, Horace Taft, for his college preparatory years. Although he did not shine as a scholar at Taft School, his pranks in pursuit of ‘science’ were long remembered there.” He trained as a pathologist (M.D. University of Pennsylvania and M.A. at Harvard) at Boston City Hospital, and went on to work at Columbus State Hospital (Ohio) and St. Ann’s Hospital (Montana) before returning east to work at Worcester State Hospital (Massachusetts) and teach at Harvard Medical School. In 1913, he traveled to Germany to study with famed neurologist Alois Alzheimer. He later founded a clinic in Iowa before moving to New York in 1928, the year he became president of the American Psychiatric Association. “A few years ago, by one of those quirks of life, I found myself invited to be on the Board of the Massachusetts Branch of the International Dyslexia Society (formerly called the Orton Society),” says Mark Orton ’65, “and encountered this cult around
Dr. Orton. I attended a meeting at MGH and found myself surrounded by young students who simply wanted to shake hands with a grandson.” Orton not only discovered that people who were thought to be mentally retarded were in fact suffering from a disease that he described—and originally called strephosymbolia—he also developed a therapeutic technique that successfully allows dyslexics to become fully competent, engaged individuals, Mark explains. Orton’s research is still frequently cited today, more than half a century after his passing. Many of his theories are now being proven with new medical evidence. “Researchers today confirmed part of an 80-year-old theory on the neurobiological basis of reading disability,” reported Science Daily in 2003 in an article titled, “Was Orton Right?” Even without modern brainscanning equipment, Orton believed that the problem for many subjects with above average IQs who had difficulty reading was the failure of one brain hemisphere to dominate the other. Developed in the 1930s, the Orton-Gillingham Method, a multisensory approach to teaching dyslexic students how to read, is still the most prevalent form of remediation used today. He retired from active practice in 1948 and died a few weeks later. The International Dyslexia Association annually presents the Samuel T. Orton Award, its highest honor. His collected papers are held at Columbia University’s Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library in New York. j —Julie Reiff Taft Bulletin Spring 2010 39
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