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Growth. Achievement. Hope.


BUILDING A SOLID FOUNDATION Dr. Jenny Sabin, Academic Dean, writes about the ways that TBS faculty and students are using unique tools to encourage understanding and dig deeper into learning.


LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! A special feature on programs that distinguish The Burlington School’s talented students from the rest of the pack: The Arts.


ATHLETIC AMBITION The Burlington School student-athletes have had an exceptional year! Athletic Director Ron Johnson notes honorable distinctions for their efforts on the court and field.

THE CLIMB A reflection from our Transitional Head of School, Dr. Smokey Oats on growth and high expectations for the future.


HISTORY IN THE MAKING After over a decade together, Sarah Vossers, ’14, reflects on the years she and fellow graduate Nicholas Lea spent together, and the growth they’ve made from Bruins to Spartans.


CINDY JORDAN: THE LEGEND With 37 years of teaching experience invested in our youth, Mrs. Jordan has taught multiple generations of TBS families.


Pictured above: The Burlington School’s eighth graders at the Greenwood Terrace campus on their last day of classes. Cover Art: Rising senior Brannin Webber plays the drums during the June 7 Spring Rock Ensemble Festival.

This school feels like home.

TBS eighth graders eagerly anticipate the transition to ninth grade, while also reminiscing about their unique TBS experiences. “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts.” Martha Barefoot-Yeager started an emotional speech to her classmates with a sentimental quote on June 6, surrounded by faculty and 4th7th graders. Soon after, her remarks were followed by the tear-laden voices of her classmates: some thanking teachers who encouraged them to be their best selves, others reliving memories that only their close-knit group would understand. As they depart from the only campus they’ve known, they forge ahead with a deeper-than-usual understanding of what it means to experience change, make sacrifices, and be dedicated students, supportive friends and compassionate members of their communities.

Pictured Above: Eighth grade boys do their best reenactment of Abbey Road on the Greenwood Terrace campus crosswalk; the entire TBS eighth grade class is pictured in one of their last moments as students on the Greenwood Terrace campus.

PROGRESS Thoughts on a tremendous first year What a year it has been! When the TES and BDS Boards of Trustees agreed to merge a year ago last December, I doubt they or anyone could have predicted how far and fast we’ve come. Enrollment grew 14 percent year over year. A new Academic Dean and Academic Team added such rigor to our curriculum that students routinely say school is harder (and they like it). Accountability to students and professionalism as a learning community are increasingly the norm in our teaching ranks. The inclusion of drama as an enriched class in our Lower and Middle School divisions has been a huge hit, and many have commented that this year’s The Music Man, Jr. production was the best in years. Arts, a perennial power program for the School, has again not disappointed, winning city and regional awards in visual and international acclaim in performing. In athletics, we have hired several “kid magnets” to coach who have helped us to again boast state champion teams and individuals, fielding more teams than ever before and competing at a level that has surprised several in our league. As painful as it was, we have “right-sized” the administration for a school our size, adding personnel where there were deficiencies, reducing where we were overstaffed, and investing in the right people to help us grow into the premier educational institution in the region. A new TBS Pledge has been crafted by student leaders and will be rolled out to the entire community next fall. It is intended to be our version of an honor code, a document that defines how we intend to live together and a rehearsal of what our responsibilities are as members of that community. College admissions, a sort of final “report card” on your tuition investment, produced a bumper crop of great freshman acceptances and earned scholarships ($2.47 million), including one Jefferson Scholar at UVA. This is not to say we’re done. The Long Range Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees has been quite busy, but not quite ready to make a recommendation regarding a permanent campus location or design. The Parents’ Association has sponsored several splendid adventures and supporting events. Next year it hopes to become more of a communications vehicle because inquiring minds want to know and certainly I and every head of school can use all the help we can get. The Board of Trustees is evaluating its committee structure and by-laws in light of the merger and in hopes of closer alignment with the working goals of The Burlington School, all the while searching for the next sitting Head of School. Next year’s Lower School will see the addition of a Science Catalyst, someone (Mechelle Noronha) to promote regular engagement with and a love of science. Think hands-on science replete with lab coats, chemical reactions, controlled explosions, guided dissections, mighty microscopes, plenty of wow factor and lots of conversations around the dinner table. Next year’s Middle School will see a far more consistent presence of faculty in its hallways. Moving 5th grade to the Middle School wing (Greensboro Day, Friends of Greensboro, Charlotte Country Day, Durham Academy, Davidson Day) will enable us to keep more staff where the action is – Middle School. Next year’s Upper School will see the addition of a philosophy class taught by Lucius Wilson and a stronger emphasis on community service, all part of our increased efforts to assist our students as they develop a moral compass, that still small voice that helps us sort the good from the bad in life. Yes, it’s been quite a year. And there’s much more to come!



BOUNDARIES The Burlington School has taken this merger as an opportunity to improve the quality of academic instruction and embrace a growth mindset in continually improving even the things we are already doing well. Curriculum is my passion and joining this community has created a professional dialogue about what and how we teach our students, allowing teachers, as well as students, to grow in the process. Many families and friends joined us in celebrating Grandfriends May Day and I heard several praises for the depth of arts we showcased. What many others do not get to see is the hard work in the classrooms that gets students to be performance ready. The Tinikling, Virginia Reel and May Day dances were all part of an integrated unit on dances, culture and ways of life. In addition to Healthful Living class, participants worked in their art, music and regular education classrooms to integrate these concepts in other content areas. Students gained a broader understanding of the May Day traditions and the many academic connections that make the production strong. In freshman English, students embarked on a non-fiction project where students studied the work of Michael Kruse, a writer for the Tampa Bay Times who has a wide following and has even done a TedX Talk. Students looked at non-fiction storytelling and learned how to weave factual information into a narrative that hooks readers. In this unit students integrated creative writing, current events, and technology to craft a true story which captivates not only the author but also the audience. (See more about the inspirational author on our school blog,

From above: The Burlington School's fourth and fifth graders explore the outdoors on a field trip to The Outdoor School at Kanuga Convention Center, where our students experienced a wide variety of hands-on activities that allowed them to interact with the unique history, geography and culture of the NC mountain region (view more at; Middle and Upper School English teacher Will Roberson listens as his students ask a question of Tampa Bay Times writer Michael Kruse; members of The Music Man, Jr. cast perform at Grandfriends May Day.

Each and every day I see academic rigor within the walls of TBS. It is my privilege to watch our faculty and students challenge one another and grow in their depth of content knowledge and expertise in the processes of learning. ď‚žDR. JENNY SABIN, ACADEMIC DEAN


t is crazy to think that Nicholas and I have been a part of a community together for 15 years; over those years we could not have asked for anything better. We’ve learned respect and responsibility, but we’ve also learned who we wanted to be. The Burlington School has given us great opportunities in ways that public school or other institutions could not. Since the age of three, we have been taught by the most dedicated teachers whom, to this day, we talk to and go to for advice. Throughout all these years, we have bonded and created the most influential relationships with people whom we could not imagine our lives without. Spending fifteen years with a group of people truly creates a family. Some of our favorite memories include watching The Sixth Sense at three o’clock in the morning at our 8th grade lock-in, turning Type To Learn into a competition, and reenacting The Polar Express wearing our pajamas in K-3. Even though much of our class parted ways after the 8th grade (at a time when we weren’t merged) whenever we come back together it is as if nothing ever changed and in seconds we are reminiscing on all the good times we shared. There’s something really special about growing up together that you can’t get anywhere else. That’s our favorite thing about this school and it is something that we want everyone to be able to experience. We can honestly say that this school shaped us into who we are today.

Sinceday ONE


Vossers, ’14

This fall, Sarah Vossers will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Nicholas Lea will be attending The University of North Carolina at Wilmington!

Mitchell, making MOVES “Singing is one thing, singing with a purpose is another thing entirely.” With his sights set on his first semester at The NC School of the Arts this fall, junior Mitchell Holsclaw says he no longer considers performing on Broadway a feat only ‘gods’ could achieve. What began as a practice trial to prepare him for senior auditions turned out to be an offer he couldn’t refuse. When asked what about TBS helped him become the student he is now, Holsclaw immediately identified the aspect of support. It’s a recurring theme amongst all of our students when they speak about their experiences at The Burlington School; the tight knit community allows passions to shine through while solid relationships are built. “Because we’re such a small school, every good aspect of a person is amplified,” he says. The talented actor and singer has been a part of the choral program here, as well as the ‘Barbershop Quartet’, a group he and three other Upper Schoolers began on their own. Holsclaw credits Marshall Qualls and alumni like Kelly Autry and Marley Duff for motivating him to pursue his passion. Holsclaw says that his immediate goal is to improve his craft but remain in touch with everybody he leaves behind at The Burlington School. Long term, Mitchell intends to become a musical theatre major, perform and then ultimately teach ambitious students like himself.

Art live. Art is is how we live. We We live. live. We We breathe. breathe. We create.

The Burlington School arts program inspires faculty and students alike to become the best performers, musicians and artists they can be. Here are just a few words from those who make it all happen here at TBS.


do what I do in the choral music program because I love teaching. That’s why I continue to instill the love of singing and performance in students, and work with students who would like to move forward in their training to the professional level. Seeing students who start out young and ending up as a teacher or opera singer or Broadway performer is very rewarding. Marshall Qualls, Choral Program Director


do what I do in the music program because I am passionate about the way music impacts our life and how the arts help generate learning in every subject.

Music opens up a door to students in the same way reading does. It helps to tell the story of where we've been and where we are going. Making music, as in singing or playing instruments, gives each student the intrinsic value of contributing to something bigger than themselves and taking ownership of that product. I have often thought about what I would do if I didn't share my love of music and aside from performing, I can't even imagine! Fredda Payne, Music Teacher


uring the Renaissance, children were apprenticed to Art Masters to learn a trade. Not all of these children became masters of their craft, but if they stuck with it, they learned a trade and were competent drapery painters, background painters and assistants to the Master Artist. I have always felt this way concerning the teaching of art today. If one is "taught" how to see, one can learn to draw. If one can draw, one can be taught how to paint and/or sculpt. Drawing is not only the basis of all visual arts but it is also the most difficult to teach because you have to teach the student how to see. How do you do that? Practice. And more practice, and failure and closer direct observation of your subject, and practice some more, and lots more failure. We learn the most from our failures; that is when we become better artists. I believe that anyone willing to work hard can become a competent artist. Rodney Moser, Art Teacher


'm very passionate about teaching theater arts in the context of a real play production experience. This is project based learning at its core, in which young actors must fuse together skills and concepts from a variety of disciplines and use them to produce a final product collaboratively.

Through the play process students learn techniques for memorization, they learn to manage their time, and they learn to focus. They must analyze new concepts and ideas in the text of the play and interpret them in the context of their own lives to make them relevant on the stage. Students develop coordination and gross motor skills through dance and movement, and they learn to cooperate with others. The final product of a performance on opening night is rewarding for the students and parents, but for me, the rewards come much earlier. I experience that same joy and accomplishment when a kid realizes he has a talent for the first time, when a girl finally perfects a step that she swore she could never get right, when a boy finally says a line clearly that he has struggled to get out, or when a girl finally obtains the confidence and trust to sing out fearlessly. These are the rewards that I experience. Every year I witness several audience members exclaim, "I haven't seen a school production of this caliber anywhere around here for this age group." The Burlington School is unique in providing this opportunity for students beginning in Kindergarten. Teachers report the positive effect on overall student learning, and parents note the enthusiasm they see their children express about drama class. Drama, along with music and visual arts serve to enhance and enrich the academic rigor of the school.

Bethany Baker, Drama Teacher


ucius Wilson allows us to experiment with different genres, playing styles and even instruments. He’s very good at stepping back and allowing us to develop individual leadership qualities as well as excellent group dynamics, allowing us to make our group what we want it to be.

Jack Parker, ’15 (member of the Rock Ensemble)

GENERATIONAL Cindy Jordan’s impact far exceeds the confines of time.


When you are an adult with three small children you don't remember a lot about being eight, but boy do I have one very specific memory that stuck with me and helped shape me into the person I am today. “I remember everything about the moment; we were sitting in rows with the big school desk chairs, and we all had those really cool trapper keepers. (Mine had a picture of hot air balloons on it.) Printed on each folder inside was a multiplication table. As we were being tested on multiplication, I decided it was a good idea to consult my little trapper folder on the subject at hand. I don't think I really knew what cheating was, but when Mrs. Jordan walked up to my left side and patted me on the shoulder, she said the words I never forgot. She wiggled that finger, raised her eyebrow and said, ‘You don't need that. YOU don't need that. I put my trapper down and never again thought about what I know now is cheating.’ It's just that simple.

I have wanted to be a teacher my entire life. Teaching is my chosen profession— it’s not my job. My daughter asked, ‘Mom, if you could start over what would you do?’ I told her, ‘I would teach at The Burlington School.’


Cindy Jordan

“I remember being a Freshman in college at opening convocation signing the honor pledge. ‘No problem for me,’ I thought with a smile. Mrs. Jordan didn't say ‘no cheating’, she didn't call my parents; she did not give me a failing grade; she taught me a life lesson without even blinking and that's what makes Mrs. Jordan a multi-generational gift to this school. I'm so glad to have learned this life lesson in the most gentle way and know that the lessons my children are learning from Mrs. Jordan and other wonderful teachers at TBS will be ones that will stick with them too. Thanks, Mrs. Jordan!

indy Jordan remembers her first days teaching. She facilitated lessons on a chalkboard, not a Smartboard. The advent of technology-based curriculum was non-existent then. It was 1977, after all.

Susan Davis, Mother of Elizabeth Davis (daughter pictured left)

Fortunately for each and every one of her students, time has no impact on Jordan’s passion for this work. The standards she held for her students then are the same as they are now. High. “They are capable of meeting my expectations,” she says. Though a majority of her 37 year long career was spent teaching grade levels spanning early childhood development, first graders hold a special place in her heart. Jordan describes them as “little sponges”  inquisitive, excitable and incredibly teachable. She views their inherent malleability as a factor that increases her responsibilities as a teacher. She knows she is shaping their minds – she has the power to develop in her pupils independence and a love for school. Decades later, Jordan says she has never looked back. The Burlington School, she says, is an ideal learning and teaching environment. One need only spend a few moments in Mrs. Jordan’s classroom to observe the rapt attention her students pay to each word she speaks, gestures she displays and requests she makes. To say Mrs. Jordan is dedicated to honing the craft of educating young scholars is an understatement – you can find her here at 6 am to prepare her classroom, and until each child is safely secure in a car seat to go home. Above: Cindy takes a brief moment to smile for the camera; (below) a student is engaged in a technologically focused activity. Jordan (who is also an active member of the Portrait of a Graduate task force) cites technological literacy as a vital means of real-world preparedness for her students as they grow.

Mrs. Jordan taught me when I was eight.

After what is and will continue to be a magnificent career, Jordan still has big goals; she hopes to one day teach an adult to read. We know one thing for certain: she has taught this community far more than literacy. Hope, confidence and success now span generations because of her gentle guidance.

I am very much looking forward to when Caroline is in Mrs. Jordan's class. I know Caroline already loves Mrs. Jordan and has spent some time chatting with her on the playground. She was fascinated when Mrs. Jordan told her that when her mommy was a little girl she had sat on her lap too. I was pretty shy as a child, and was very much a people pleaser, but Caroline has a very big personality. I am sure Mrs. Jordan will have a lot of fun teaching her!

Jenny Blythe, Mother of Caroline Blythe (both pictured above)

Above: Mrs. Jordan involves parents in the learning process as often as she can. Here, a mother guides students in an arts and crafts activity. Left: A decades-long tradition is celebrated—two Middle School students excitedly point to Mrs. Jordan’s annual bulletin board that counts down the 30 remaining days of school for the year.

ANNA, AT HOME Originally from Southeastern Germany, 17 year old TBS Junior Anna Forstreuter is certainly well-traveled. She’s ventured to France, Belgium, Greece, Croatia and England – yet her pioneer voyage to the United States took place just this year, to live and learn in our very own Burlington, North Carolina. At first, Forstreuter wasn’t sure she was up to the task of traversing a foreign country with little knowledge of its language and customs. It took two years of prodding from her mother to send an application through her placement agency, and even then, she wasn’t sure where in the U.S. she’d be placed. Despite her nervousness, Forstreuter took a solo plane ride (her second, ever!) to meet her host family for the 2013-2014 school year. TBS Administrative Assistant Debbie Strickland, sophomore Madison Strickland and father Norm Strickland welcomed their new ‘daughter’ as she assimilated to American culture. A testament to TBS’ dedication to technology integration and project-based learning, Forstreuter mentioned the differences in learning techniques used here and abroad. “A big difference for me was that we use computers and phones… we’re not allowed to use those back home. The studying is different. Here, we have more projects and presentations. At home, we have more exams.”

Of her year at The Burlington School: I really enjoyed it. I had fun. I’m thankful to everybody that helped me.

Pictured below: Anna Forstreuter, her mother, father and her host family, Debbie, Norman and Madi Strickland at The Burlington School’s Move Up Day all-school luncheon.

The choral program, she says, is the one thing even she didn’t expect to love. “I’ve never been in a choir, but when I got here and heard them singing, I was really impressed.” Her eyes twinkle as she recalls the initial discovery of her new passion. “Especially [by] the quartet! I sent a recording to my mom and she said they were really good.” The Upper School choir traveled to Vienna to perform this past fall, creating the perfect opportunity for her to reunite with family. Forstreuter is not without memories to share when she returns home. She says that she will miss being a part of such a small school. “I have been to a private school, but it was much bigger. Here, everybody knows everybody. Everybody cares for each other. It’s not like a place you go to study and leaveit’s a community.”

The First

Commencement On June 10, the first graduating class of The Burlington School enjoyed commencement exercises at Elon University’s McCrary Theatre. Our 19 distinguished seniors have earned over $2.47 million in scholarships and the Class of 2014 consists of all-state athletes, exemplary scholars and collegiate fellows. Truly, they are the embodiment of the TBS spirit! In special moments shared with friends, family, faculty and staff, our graduates spoke eloquently of memories shared with peers, the dedication of TBS faculty, and the sentiments they will treasure after departing from The Burlington School. We are immensely proud of our graduates, who serve as an incredible example for generations to come.

From left: Allie Bardes smiles after commencement exercises have ended; 19 diplomas sit atop the stage prior to presentation; dozens of traditional roses are displayed—seniors are granted five to give to faculty members and close mentors who have supported them throughout their time at their alma mater; Sarah Vossers speaks about the Senior class gift; The entire senior class poses in front of Elon University’s Lake Mary Nell; Seniors and faculty convene for a gleeful photograph prior to departure.

From Top: The Junior Marshalls pose for a photo outside of McCrary Theatre (from left to right—Craig Beckner, Mitchell Holsclaw, Jack Parker, Philip Kowalski, Tanner Slaughter, Thomas Holt, Michael Countryman, Alston Hill, Elena Oertel and Sarah McQueen); graduate Sebastian Zuhr poses with his mother and sister Wiktoria Zuhr, ’15, after the ceremony; The Blank family (which includes School Counselor Mrs. Leslie Blank, son Dexter Blank ’13, Dustin Blank, ‘17, Davis Blank, ‘18, and TBS Varsity Boys Golf coach Mr. Dave Blank) gathers around graduate Samantha Blank for a photo; graduate B.J. Bradshaw is overcome with emotion as he embraces Upper School teacher and coordinator Ms. Shelly Killeen prior to receiving his diploma.

#WINNING The Burlington School finished an exemplary spring sports season with an end-of-year awards ceremony which recognized our students’ outstanding individual achievements, impressive team progress and thrilling victories! From our Most Outstanding to Most Improved athletes to our AllState honorees (13 of our students were selected for an AllState team!) The Burlington School faculty, staff and coaches are in awe of the effort, determination and sportsmanship TBS athletes have displayed this year. With a new school name and merged identity comes the opportunity to establish new traditions. The Burlington School’s Booster Club introduced the inaugural ‘Spirit of the Spartan’ award, which seeks to honor the core of a student-athlete: their heart, determination, dedication and their eagerness to play whatever role is needed for the good of the team. Rising senior Tanner Slaughter earned that award this year. The North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) awards highlights a school’s athletic program based on how Varsity teams perform in the state playoffs. After the fall, winter and spring sports seasons are complete, points are combined from each sports season to determine the success of each school’s athletic program. In 2011-12, The Elon School had a fantastic athletic year finishing 5th overall in the state. This year, out of 34 Class 1A schools in the state, The Burlington School finished 3rd in the overall standings for the most successful athletic program this year! This means that our athletes are not just participating but competing at a very high level! That said, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our athletes and coaches for their outstanding commitment, dedication, and overall performance this year… and a special thank you to all of the parents for your support! Ron Johnson, Director of Athletics

From top: Raekwon Villines and Sarah McQueen are photographed with Spartan’s Club Leadership team member Tony Holt as they win the ‘Spartan Award’ (male and female Athlete of the Year) respectively; Tanner Slaughter is presented with the ‘Spirit of the Spartan’ Award by Spartan’s Club Treasurer Loryn Payne; Davis Blank and Michael Basirico earn Most Outstanding and Most Improved respectively in Middle School Boys Golf; Amanda Bailes and Lily Barnett-Mould stand beside coach Jayne Woodruff as they are honored with awards for Most Improved and Most Outstanding in Middle School Girls Soccer.


Williamson A graduate of the inaugural class of The Elon School, Jeffery Williamson reflects on art, passion and his bright future Jeffrey Williamson has traveled a long way to arrive at the place where he now stands, but the journey was well worth it. A Burlington native, Williamson graduated with The Elon School’s inaugural class in 2009. That education propelled him to pursue a major in Digital Art at Elon University, though he began as freshman studying Broadcast Communications and Music Technology Education. Upon his matriculation from undergraduate studies, Williamson was accepted into Elon’s rigorous 10-month iMedia graduate program. Described as “very intense” by Williamson himself, he says it was his education at The Elon School that gave him the confidence to believe that he was capable of success in the program. He spoke highly of the culture of acceptance, support and comradery in both that inaugural class and the ones that followed; not unlike other TES alumni. Williamson paid tremendous credit to his mentorship with art teacher Rodney Moser and choral program director Marshall Qualls, both of whom helped him explore his interest in both visual arts and vocal disciplines. Williamson went on to become an active member of Elon University’s Gospel Choir while completing his undergraduate studies. “Marshall Qualls believed in me before I believed in myself,” he mused, thoughtfully. Williamson visited the Greenwood Terrace Campus this spring, surprising Qualls with career updates: job prospects as Junior Graphic Designer at a firm in New York; another offer further south, in Georgia. It’s wonderful to have options – even better to be cognizant of the source of those open doors.

Above: Jeffrey Williamson poses beside his former math teacher, Leanna Giles, and choral program director, Marshall Qualls on the Greenwood Terrace campus.

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The Spear: Summer 2014  

The Burlington School's quarterly publication - a collection of student, faculty and alumni stories.

The Spear: Summer 2014  

The Burlington School's quarterly publication - a collection of student, faculty and alumni stories.