DWIGHT TODAY A Magazine for the Global Dwight Community
Volume 12, Number 1
NEW FRONTIERS DWIGHT EXPANDS ON CAMPUS, AROUND THE WORLD, AND INTO THE CLOUD
DIVING DEEPER INTO
CHRIS ALLEN, HEAD OF PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN
INSIDE DWIGHT’S FIRST CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE
ASSOCIATE HEAD OF LOWER SCHOOL CHRIS BEDDOWS
ON PERSONALIZED LEARNING ABHISHEK BATTACHARJEE ’01
ENHANCING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE BRAIN
Dwight is dedicated to igniting the spark of genius in every child. Kindling their interests, we develop inquisitive, knowledgeable, self-aware, and ethical citizens who will build a better world.
Roar, Lion, roar! Our Varsity Boys Basketball Team beat longtime rival, Collegiate, 62-48!
It All Began with The Big Bang: Dwight Introduces The Big History Project
Dwight School Commons Expands Our Urban Campus
Our First Campus in the Middle East: Dwight School Dubai
Spark Tank: Year Two Is Twice as Exciting
Coming Home: Alumni Who Work at Dwight Plus Foundation, alumni, and more
Laurie Silbersweig Editorial Director
Emily Chase Design Director
Kerry Tkacik Associate Editor
Photography: Dave Kenas, Stan Schnier, Mike Sheehan, Dwight staff Printing: SPC PRINT INTEGRATED, North Springfield, VT Copyright Â© 2017: Dwight School
Louisa Childs Head of Communications
CHANCELLOR’S LETTER | DWIGHT TODAY
Dear Dwight Community, Dwight has never rested on its laurels, nor been content with the status quo. We have, since our founding in 1872, been a school and community dedicated to challenging ourselves and our students to think more broadly, break down barriers, and forge new and innovative paths. As we enter our 145th anniversary year, we continue to do so in ways that both honor our rich traditions and embrace the limitless possibilities of tomorrow. As you’ll read about in this issue of Dwight Today, we’re pioneering new frontiers — here on campus with engaging curricular programs such as the Big History Project; across the globe with the addition of Dwight School Dubai, our first campus in the Middle East; and in the cloud, where our Dwight Global Online School is leading the way beyond brick-and-mortar educational models to provide an unrivaled education for students wherever they call home. As we prepare students to succeed in our dynamic and ever-changing world … to become global leaders who can thrive anywhere in the world, we do so in Dwight’s rich tradition of personalized learning: one student at a time. And no matter where in the world — or the cloud — that takes us, this core commitment will never change. In this issue of Dwight Today, we’re also bringing you an inside look into our new Dwight Commons. Located on Columbus Avenue, this two-story, 3,000
us with additional room to teach and ignite the spark of genius in every child. The Commons, along with our Main Campus rooftop pavilions, are emblematic of Dwight’s continued quest to transform learning environments into dynamic, flexible spaces that inspire creativity, nurture collaboration, and reflect our 21st-century vision for education. Fondly,
square-foot, multi-purpose space extends our urban campus, adds a theater to seat 60, lunch and social-
Stephen H. Spahn
izing space for students in grades 8-12, and provides
Chancellor of Dwight School
DWIGHT TODAY | COMMUNITY
SPIRIT DAY | DWIGHT TODAY
SPIRIT DAY! Dwight is brimming with pride and we showed it in spades on Spirit Day! Our community came together for this annual tradition at our Athletic Center, where fun and games were the order of the day. We want to extend many thanks to the Dwight Parents Association for planning another great event!
DWIGHT TODAY | IN THE CLASSROOM
DWIGHT PILOTS “We are made of star stuff,” wrote astronomist Carl Sagan, when tracing the origin of human life back to the breaking apart of stars some 12 billion years ago. “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.” Collapsing stars constitute an event, or threshold, in a series of thresholds the Big History Project (BHP) identifies as critical milestones in the history of time, our planet, and humans — from the Big Bang to today, spanning an astounding 13.8 billion years. BHP — a course Dwight introduced this year for ninth graders — was created by historian David Christian, who mapped human history within a much larger cosmic, geological, and biological history framework. It takes students on a near-14-billion-year journey through time and space. With support from Bill Gates, BHP is bringing this interdisciplinary course to high school students worldwide. And Dwight is piloting it as one of only a handful of IB World Schools to do so, in keeping with our commitment to curricular innovation and record of pioneering IB programs: Dwight was the first school in New York City to offer the Primary Years Program and is the first in the Americas to offer the comprehensive IB curriculum for students from preschool–grade 12. “BHP is a good fit for Dwight and our students,” says Dianne Drew, Head of School. “We have partnered with the IB in the past to explore new programs and paths for learning, participating in studies and providing useful feedback. The opportunity to bring the BHP to Dwight and to challenge our students to see ‘the big picture’ appealed to us. It dovetails quite well with the interdisciplinary and inquiry-based nature of IB learning.” “LIKE NOTHING ELSE” “BHP is like nothing else. But if you had to categorize it, you could say it’s a social studies course that runs on jet fuel,” which is how BHP describes itself, with this aim: “By sharing the big picture and challenging students to look at the world from many different perspectives, we hope to inspire a greater love of learn-
THE BIG HISTORY PROJECT | DWIGHT TODAY
THE BIG HISTORY PROJECT— ing and help them better understand how we got here, where we’re going, and how they fit in.”
And as the course progresses along the timeline of the history of the
That’s a tall order, to say the least! Yet this artfully conceived curriculum manages to accomplish it, thanks to a few core principles such as identifying themes and patterns, and making connections across scale and disciplines. “These principles align well with inquiry-based learning and with skills fostered in the IB Middle Years Program, especially in social studies, including debate and argumentation, research, and writing evidence-based essays,” reports Tom Stabb, who is teaching the Dwight course.
writing different research papers. Their first for the year was on a
A faculty member since 2007, Mr. Stabb introduced a BHP unit into his Asian Civilizations class last year and found it to be both seamless and a valuable window into what it would be like to dive into the one-year curriculum. “Teaching BHP brings me back to the feeling of joy I had about learning in high school, where I loved all subjects and not having to choose to focus on any one in a concentrated way. I want students to have that broad perspective — to see across disciplines, or silos, before higher education asks them to concentrate their learning in one.”
universe, students explore numerous tangents that interest them by topic of their choice — any topic in the universe — and ranged from leading scientists who unlocked the Big Bang, and the use of nanobots in medicine, to motivations for the Crusades, and an evaluation of the evidence surrounding the death of rapper Notorious B.I.G. With students asking questions inspired by their own interests and curiosity — in keeping with Dwight’s commitment to personalized learning — the sky is truly the limit!
BREAKING THROUGH AND MAKING CONNECTIONS The course begins before the beginning of time. In the early part of the year, students explore scientific themes from physics, astrophysics, and chemistry to understand what happened when the universe first appeared, producing energy, forces, and over time, atoms … the first appearance of more complex things like particles and later stars, asteroids, and planets. … moons, the solar system. Fast forward to the first appearance of multi-celled and living organisms, students enter the world of microbiology and evolutionary biology … and so on. When humans develop much later on the evolutionary continuum, just 200,000 years ago, students explore geology, anthropology, and history. The goal: To understand how our world today was shaped by transitions across eight thresholds — when conditions were “just right” in the Goldilocks sense — for something new and more complex to break through. One way that Mr. Stabb helps his class learn about these thresholds is by encouraging students to make connections to key thresholds in their own lives, bringing things back down to earth, so to speak.
DWIGHT TODAY | IN THE CLASSROOM
BIG HISTORY PROJECT THRESHOLDS The Big Bang: Beginning at the beginning, as far as we know
Life on earth: How life evolves, adapts, and thrives
Stars light up: How stars are born
Collective learning: How humans are different
THE BIG HISTORY PROJECT | DWIGHT TODAY
Thresholds are critical milestones in the history of time, our planet, and humans New chemical elements: How stars forge matter in the universe
Earth and the solar system: How morsels of gas and rock created our home
SPANNING 13.8 BILLION YEARS Agriculture: How farming sows the seeds of civilization
The modern revolution: Why change accelerates faster and faster
We love to read and share our favorite stories in the Lower School!
DWIGHT TODAY | FACULTY Q&A
HEAD OF PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN
CULTIVATES A LIFELONG LOVE OF LEARNING IN THE EARLIEST YEARS
FOR CHRIS ALLEN, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOUNG CHILDREN HAVE A POSITIVE AND NURTURING EXPERIENCE FROM THEIR FIRST MOMENTS IN THE CLASSROOM. PRESCHOOL IS AN ESPECIALLY EXCITING TIME FOR BOTH STUDENTS AND THEIR PARENTS, AND THE BEGINNING OF WHAT WE HOPE TO BE A 13-YEAR JOURNEY AT DWIGHT. WE SAT DOWN WITH MS. ALLEN, HEAD OF OUR PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN, WHO JOINED DWIGHT IN 2006, TO LEARN HOW SHE NURTURES INDIVIDUAL STRENGTHS TO UNEARTH EARLY SPARKS OF GENIUS, AND COORDINATES A SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY AROUND OUR LITTLEST LEARNERS TO PROPEL THEM INTO A BRIGHT ACADEMIC FUTURE. WHAT MAKES DWIGHT’S PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN SPECIAL? We’re very proud of our warm and welcoming community. Our teachers love working with young children and their families, and we are a group of passionate educators who come together for a common purpose — to provide children and their families, with an extraordinary early school experience. This experience lays the foundation for all future learning, and the IB curriculum in particular gives students a strong academic base to build on. In Dwight’s
tradition of personalized learning, we make sure that every student is engaged and we promote a strong sense of self. Our students leave our Riverside Campus as confident learners who are more than ready to take the next big step in their educational career! WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT BEING AN EDUCATOR IN AN IB SCHOOL AND AT DWIGHT IN PARTICULAR? There are so many reasons I love working at an IB school and especially at Dwight. Most importantly, we put students at the center
CHRIS ALLEN | DWIGHT TODAY
of everything we do. Our inquiry-based approach allows students to be active participants in their education, with their questions driving the curriculum, helping to shape IB themes and units of inquiry. By putting students in the driver’s seat, their experiences are meaningful and create connections to the world around them in a tangible way. Dwight’s early childhood faculty have the opportunity to go beyond the traditional teaching method and provide a well-balanced approach to learning that lasts a lifetime. We begin the IB Primary Years Program for students at age three. From the very start, they are exposed to concepts, including the IB Learner Profile, which will deepen their understanding of themselves within a broader global context and form a solid foundation that will carry them through the entire IB curriculum: the PYP, which concludes at the end of fifth grade, and into the Middle Years and Diploma Programs that follow. WHAT INNOVATIONS WERE INTRODUCED ON RIVERSIDE CAMPUS RECENTLY? All young children see the world as innovators. They explore, create, and ask questions as a catalyst to engage in the world around them. Innovation, at its most organic state, happens in the younger years. In preschool and kindergarten, we recognize this as one of childhood’s greatest gifts, which is why we developed our very own early childhood STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) lab known as The Studio last year. This classroom surrounds our students with recycled materials that become the foundation of projects and the springboard for creative ideas. It’s where robots come to life and pendulums are used to paint, while children learn about concepts such as force, weight, and angular momentum. We see how much our students love this maker space and we know that every student benefits from having the freedom to discover and create. WHAT ARE SOME MILESTONES STUDENTS REACH IN THEIR EARLY SCHOOL YEARS? There are truly so many! Children develop in leaps and bounds throughout their preschool and kindergarten years. They make astonishing discoveries about who they are as social, physical, cognitive, and creative beings. We have the incredible privilege of watching them discover the joys of relationships, the successes of learning a new skill, and the power of language. They embrace each new experience with awe and wonder and enthusiastically look forward to the next one. And they have lots of fun! Whether watching a preschooler work collaboratively with a classmate, or a kindergartner beaming with pride as she learns a new word in Mandarin or figures
out a problem for the first time, we are constantly amazed at all they accomplish in these foundational years spent with us. HOW DOES DWIGHT FOSTER STUDENTS’ EARLY SPARKS OF GENIUS? Our youngest learners are just beginning to discover who they are — their interests, their passions, their strengths, and their gifts. We provide them with countless opportunities to explore a wide variety of interests through classroom activities and a range of after-school programs. By exploring, children discover what makes them truly unique, and in that moment a spark of genius is ignited. DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE AN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR? Yes, I always knew that I would choose a profession centered around young children. I have higher education degrees in both education and psychology, and intended to follow my passion either for teaching or my interest in developmental psychology. It was a surprise to no one when I chose teaching. The 13 years I spent as a classroom teacher were fun, challenging, and exceptionally rewarding. I firmly believe that I am a better educational leader because of that experience. WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY? My educational philosophy has changed over the years and continues to evolve each day; however, the tenets of my overall philosophy have remained constant. First, I believe that children should be treated as individuals with their unique abilities and traits respected and cherished. A strength-based approach is the best approach, whether teaching younger or older students. By focusing on a child’s strengths, a teacher not only shows respect for the child’s individuality, but also strengthens a child’s sense of self. With each positive experience a child has, he/she feels more confident and can use that confidence to tackle problems that may have otherwise seemed impossible. Additionally, at the core of my educational beliefs is the idea that “play is work” for young children. A large portion of a preschooler’s day should be spent at play. Young children thrive in an environment that allows them to explore a variety of materials, to interact with others, and to feel safe and valued. Second, I believe that teachers play a crucial role in providing the best classroom environment for young children. Teachers who are well educated in early childhood development and teaching methodologies will be able to offer an enriching program for young children. As teachers, we have the ability to set the tone of
DWIGHT TODAY | FACULTY Q&A
All young children see the world as innovators. They explore, create, and ask questions as a catalyst to engage in the world around them.
the class and have an effect on each child’s well-being. It is imperative that we facilitate an environment that fosters a healthy sense of self, a love of learning, and an enthusiasm to participate actively. The adults in young children’s lives have an incredible responsibility to serve as positive role models. Children often learn more from what we do than from what we say. Third, I believe that all of the people involved in a child’s life have an influence on how well he or she will be able to experience the learning environment. The education of young children should be viewed as a partnership between families and school — a partnership that is crucial in providing an enriching and authentic learning environment. Parents should be given oppor-
Spanish Teacher Tania Carpio
tunities and encouraged to participate in the program with their child. It is together with families that teachers are able to provide a well-rounded and meaningful learning experience. Finally, I believe that the early years set a foundation for all future learning. A child should leave this period in school with a positive outlook about the adventures and challenges that lie ahead. I have found that many of the experiences of the very early years will not be recalled with concrete memories, but rather with emotional ones. We want children to remember their early learning experiences with positive feelings: they were loved, they were taken care of, they were trusted and were able to trust others, they forged relationships, and they are excited about their future adventures in learning. WHAT IS YOUR SPARK OF GENIUS? I believe that I have a few sparks of genius (as we all do!), but the one I am most proud of is public speaking — presenting to a live audience. I thoroughly enjoy hosting our parent seminar series for the community as well as presenting to families new to our School at our open houses. WHAT IS A LITTLE-KNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU? A fun fact about me that is little known is that I am distantly related to Walt Disney! My great-great-grandfather and Walt’s grandfather were cousins. With Disney family ties, perhaps it was pre-destined that Chris would be working with young children. And we’re all grateful that she is!
Elicits Early Sparks of Genius, with the Help of Dwight’s Crest
For kindergarteners learning Spanish, the school year began with their teacher learning something about them! Tania Carpio, distributed “About Me” bags to students and asked them to bring back a few items from home that would provide clues about their interests and what makes each one unique — unearthing early sparks of genius. “I wanted my new students to share these with me and their classmates,” she explains. “Finding out what students had in common also helped to build a sense of community. Once we had discovered what each student liked doing, I introduced the Dwight School crest by explaining that crests are a way to show others how a person or a family is unique.” After Ms. Carpio described the meaning behind the symbols — crescent moon, lion, and cross — on Dwight’s crest, it was time for students to create their own. They dove into the exercise, using three or four symbols — “simbolos” — and different “colores” to express themselves. The results are as varied as they are!
TRIPS | DWIGHT TODAY
On the Road Again! How does Dwight bring US history to life? Students and faculty hit the road and head straight for two epicenters of America’s past and present! On these visits, they explore sites and engage in a range of hands-on learning activities designed to deepen their understanding of what they learn in the classroom.
THE CRADLE OF LIBERTY: WHERE HISTORY WAS MADE Seventh graders visited Boston, which played a seminal role in the American Revolution. They walked the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail of historic sites that helps to tell the story of the nation’s founding, including the Old North Church, Paul Revere House, the African Meeting House, the Bunker Hill Monument, USS Constitution, and more. Students found themselves back in time when events in the 18th century shaped the birth of a new nation.
THE FEDERAL CITY: WHERE HISTORY CONTINUES TO BE MADE EVERY DAY Eighth graders traveled to Washington, DC, two weeks before the Presidential election — what a time to be in the nation’s capital! Their itinerary was chock full, as they met with staff members of New York Congressmen on the Hill; had their own debates about legislation in a mock Congress, exploring liberal and conservative viewpoints; visited numerous landmarks, from the White House and Supreme Court to the National Archives, several memorials and museums; and enjoyed a nighttime tour of monuments.
DWIGHT TODAY | ON CAMPUS
DWIGHT SCHOOL COMMONS:
DWIGHT COMMONS | DWIGHT TODAY
DWIGHT TODAY | ON CAMPUS
Fall Scene Night
For Fall Scene Night, we rolled out the red carpet for the ribbon-cutting of our new Dwight School Commons — and it was a smashing success! Students, faculty, and parents gathered to see the 3,000-squarefoot, two-story facility on Columbus Avenue and 88th Street. The Commons extends and enhances our urban campus with a 60-seat theater, lunch space for students in grades 8-12, and other multi-purpose teaching opportunities designed to ignite the spark of genius in our students. The Commons was “dressed” for opening night! With cabaret-style tables, twinkling lights, and a stage ready to showcase student talent, the performing arts space was abuzz with the same kind of excitement found at a Broadway premiere. We enjoyed “a little night music” by student performers Hanna Lahkter ’19 and Abigail
Arader ’18, before IB Theater juniors and seniors joined Chancellor Stephen Spahn, Vice Chancellor Blake Spahn, and Head of School Dianne Drew to cut the ribbon. Fall Scene Night followed, in which 18 IB Middle Years and Diploma Program theater students performed all-original scenes and monologues, bringing the IB Theater curriculum, their work in the classroom, and their imaginations to life.
In the months since, students have been able to take over for the adults backstage, thanks to Kim Guzowski, MYP and DP Theater Teacher, who is integrating design and technology into the theater curriculum. She has been instructing students beginning in sixth grade how to program and use the high-tech lighting console called “The Ion,” which includes a computer and touch-screen monitors.
The Commons, which was designed with student input, has quickly become a hub for creativity, connecting, and collaborating. The performing arts are, indeed, collaborative and while student actors were on stage, there was a team of adults behind the scenes operating the sound system and state-of-the art LED lighting system — the same lighting installation found in Broadway theaters and around the world in the finest performance spaces.
In preparation for opening this school year, Ms. Guzowski and Terry Christgau, Director of Upper School Theater Productions and Director of the Advanced Master Theater Program, worked with architect Barbara Marks (parent of Sara ’95, Constance ’98, Noah ’99) as she finalized plans for the facility. Ms. Marks designed SATURN, MARS, and numerous other innovative Dwight spaces over the last 24 years. And her husband,
DWIGHT COMMONS | DWIGHT TODAY
James Garvey, created our hand-forged, iron “School of Spirit” doors at the entrance to 18 West 89th Street. “The addition of the Commons has transformed what is possible for students to learn theater at Dwight,” said Mr. Christgau. “With teaching and performance spaces fitted with the finest equipment and our own stage, students have an opportunity for hands-on work and can rehearse all the different elements of live theater right from the start, providing them with the kind of experiences professionals have. We were delighted to welcome a full house for the ribbon-cutting and Fall Scene Night, which officially launched our theater season. And what a season it has been!” Ms. Guzowski added, “Mr. Christgau and I are excited that with each new performance, such as the production of The Crucible in December and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in January, we are able to transform the Commons — and the entire Dwight community can experience the magical space in so many unique and wonderful ways.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
SHE HAS DESIGNS ON
DESIGN! For the Mainstage theater production of The Crucible, the Dwight School Commons was transformed into Salem, MA, circa 1692. The cast was outfitted in original costumes inspired by a cross between Puritan clothing and “The Matrix” in different shades of grey — using different textures — designed by Katya Shykind ’18.
Katya, who is usually seen acting on stage, was busy behind the scenes for this play. She designed and sewed the costumes, working with a mentor, a professional costume designer Kerry Gibbons. Katya wants to pursue a career in fashion design and construction. Based on her wonderful designs for The Crucible, some of which are showcased here, we think she will be a big success!
SPARK OF GENIUS | DWIGHT TODAY
DWIGHT TODAY | COMMUNITY
WE ALL ENJOYED
COMMUNITY | DWIGHT TODAY
Students of all ages were unrecognizable in their funny, scary, and creative costumes! Riverside Campus and Timothy House students couldnâ€™t wait for their annual costume parades; Bentley House students gathered for spook-tacular parties; and Upper Schoolers competed in the student-faculty costume contest, emerging victorious in all categories!
DWIGHT TODAY | PERSONALIZED LEARNING
Our Campus in the Cloud
DWIGHT GLOBAL ONLINE SCHOOL | DWIGHT TODAY
The Launch of Dwight Global Online School
By Raymond Ravaglia Vice Chairman, Dwight Global Founder, Stanford Online High School
Dwight tested the waters two years ago with the creation of the Dwight Open World Program, providing online classes for high school students. The goal was to see how Dwight could use technology to extend its ability to serve students who, for whatever reason, were unable to attend school on campus. And while the goal was modest, the results were extraordinary in terms of enrollment, student satisfaction, and parent response.
DWIGHT TODAY | PERSONALIZED LEARNING
Rather than rest on our laurels, we returned to the well-spring of our inspiration and put to ourselves the questions that we had wondered all along: Could we deliver a true Dwight education online? Could we use technology in novel ways to deliver the quality experience Dwight students have here on a regular school day? Could we provide an education that embraced the three pillars — that was personalized, allowing each student to realize his/her own unique spark of genius … that was grounded in community, fostering student collaboration and interaction … while also having a truly global vision?
Dwight Global Online Senior
Yara Shahidi Teams with
Yara Shahidi ’17, Dwight online student and actress on ABC’s “Black-ish,” keeps great company! She sat side by side with First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, to discuss the importance of global education with girls around the world, in honor of the International Day of the Girl. Yara has been an activist and role model, and her participation in this thought-provoking conversation, coordinated by Glamour magazine and the White House’s Let Girls Learn initiative, was truly inspiring!
IT IS THE SCHOOL, NOT THE TECHNOLOGY In answering these questions, we understood that what we needed to “get right” was the human element, since the quality of any education depends first and foremost on getting the right students together with the right teachers — and then getting out of their way. Toward this end, we are instituting an instructional model in the Dwight Global Online School that places a premium on instructor-student and student-student interaction. Each course will be seminar-based, meeting twice a week for 6090 minutes in a real-time video conferencing environment that supports voice, video, text-chat, and document and whiteboard sharing. Such an environment will allow us to conduct seminars that feel substantially similar to what happens in a traditional classroom. Complementing these seminars, we will use traditional asynchronous components, lectures, texts, problems, and so forth, to ensure that students receive full treatment of a subject. Because students may have trouble attending every seminar due to their busy schedules as professional performers, elite athletes, etc., we will record the seminars for later viewing and supplement further with Oxford-style tutorials in which students and faculty meet one-on-one to review material. The results will be a rich and dynamic interaction that is also flexible to accommodate our students’ individual needs. This flexibility will play an essential role in ensuring alignment between educational pursuits and personal passions — in Dwight’s tradition of igniting the spark of genius in every child — while ensuring that students around the world experience Dwight Global as part of an active community of learners. NOT JUST ONLINE; IN PERSON, TOO Dwight Global will offer a unique component that will allow students to come “in residence” for a few weeks each year. Doing so will accomplish several goals. Two of the biggest limitations to online schools historically have been the difficulty students have in developing adequate friend networks and the limited ability of schools to provide the full range of experiences that constitute a robust independent school education. Bringing students together in a residential context will accelerate the formation of friendships, allowing the online component to sustain, rather than engender, these relationships. Moreover, since students know they will be seeing each other again in a few months, inherent problems of isolation are greatly reduced. Finally, by having students come
DWIGHT GLOBAL ONLINE SCHOOL | DWIGHT TODAY
Rowan Blanchard Girl Meets Dwight!
Dwight Global Sophomore
CONNECTS ON CAMPUS
Star of Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World,” Rowan Blanchard ’19 met with faculty, and surprised sixth graders with a spirited and fun visit to their class. They chatted about what they want to do when they grow up, shared favorite dance moves — and even took on the #MannequinChallenge!
together in person, not only do we build community, but also we engage them in leadership, collaborative presentation, and performance activities, which are a vital part of Dwight’s culture and impossible to do justice to in a purely online environment. As Plutarch writes in his Memoria, “The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.” Dwight Global brings the spark of ignition to students throughout the world. Learn more about us at www.dwight.global
Yara and Rowan:
A Mighty Match Gracing the front cover and guest-editing the December issue of Teen Vogue is just another in the countless, amazing accomplishments of Yara Shahidi ’17 and Rowan Blanchard ’19. Friends, feminists, actors, activists … and students in the Dwight Global Online School. Both have become teen icons, but are truly so much more. They are talented, driven role models, who are committed to making a difference — and we are so proud that they are smart girls speaking up!
Middle Schoolers learn to solve problems using the design cycle and explore different technology tools â€” including 3-D printers â€” where their own creations take form and flight.
DWIGHT TODAY | REUNION 2016
Reunion Day Like No Time Has Passed!
ALUMNI REUNION | DWIGHT TODAY
Thank you to all the Dwight, Franklin, and Anglo-American alumni who attended our 2016 Reunion to share memories, reconnect, and celebrate landmark years. It was wonderful to have you back on campus with former faculty and toast to old times. A big shoutout of thanks goes to DJ Shiran Nicholson â€™92 for spinning hits from each landmark year. We had a blast!
DWIGHT TODAY | GLOBAL VISION
DESTINATION DUBAI 32
DWIGHT SCHOOL DUBAI | DWIGHT TODAY
DWIGHT TODAY | GLOBAL VISION
Dwight is crossing time zones to enter one of the fastest growing cities in the world: Dubai.
School Dubai, our first campus in the Mid-
A business hub. A global metropolis. A destination. Dubai is all that and much more. And in the fall 2018, we will open Dwight
of leading International Baccalaureate
dle East, expanding Dwight’s global network World Schools and introducing opportunities for students in New York to participate
in additional trips, and enriching curricular and cultural exchange programs. Dwight School Dubai will share a “super campus” totaling nearly one million square feet with Brighton College Dubai and the
DWIGHT SCHOOL DUBAI | DWIGHT TODAY
Center of Excellence for Arabic Language, Culture and the Arts in the heart of Dubai, creating a world-class educational destination for up to 4,000 students combined. Dwight will offer K-12 students the IB cur-
riculum; Brighton College, the number-one ranked coed school in the UK, will offer K-12 students the British curriculum; and the Center will be dedicated to the development of intra-cultural exchanges, facilitate both teacher and student development, and promote a deeper understanding of the rich Arabic history and traditions. “Dwight has long pioneered opportunities for students to become innovative global leaders and our new school in Dubai will join those in New York, London, Seoul, and Shanghai that share this mission,” said Chancellor Stephen Spahn. “Dwight School Dubai will be a model in the Middle East of how to integrate local strengths to enhance
learning and create mentoring opportunities beyond the classroom for students, while also equipping them with the IB skills needed to communicate and collaborate across national borders to solve challenges on a global scale.” The construction of the state-of-the-art super campus began recently. When complete, it will feature extensive athletic facilities, including tennis and squash courts, and a full soccer pitch with a 400-meter running track for shared usage by both schools. We look forward to the numerous benefits our new school in Dubai will afford students here in New York in the years ahead and to sharing them with you.
Temperatures can exceed
Dubai is home to the
Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building reaching 2,717 ft
Located on the Northeastern coast of the Arabian
totaling 1,588.4 sq/mi
hub A global
for tourism, trade, real estate, financial, and other professional services
income tax 20% of all
One of the fastest growing cities in the world: Ranked among the list of elite global metropolitan cities
cranes operating worldwide can be found in Dubai
DWIGHT TODAY | ON CAMPUS
TIMOTHY HOUSE | DWIGHT TODAY
In Timothy House — where inquiry-based learning is an everyday pursuit — we explore ourselves, our world, and our planet.
DWIGHT TODAY | FACULTY Q&A Associate Head of Lower School
Chris Beddows is dedicated to helping students develop into the best learners they can be by encouraging them to ask questions, make mistakes, and express their understanding in their own unique style. After joining Dwight in 2012, teaching fourth graders, and taking on the role of Primary Years Program Coordinator, he became the Associate Head of the Lower School. We sat down with Mr. Beddows to learn more about how a personalized learning approach benefits students beyond their early years in school.
A young Chris Beddows
WHAT DREW YOU TO EDUCATION? The chance to have an impact on the lives of young learners! I was inspired to pursue a career in education by my own fourth grade teacher when I was at school in the north of England, in York. His unconventional style of teaching had a real impact on my life and learning. Because of his dedication to thinking “outside of the box,” I found ways to learn differently, and discovered that I wanted to teach children that way someday.
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY? My own educational philosophy changes every day. I don’t think it should be finite — it should be constantly evolving and changing. When I first graduated as a teacher, covering content was my philosophy of education. I wanted to get stuff done, to tick those boxes. But now, as my experience has grown at different schools, my philosophy is to make sure that my students are learning and having fun in a safe, secure environment. Safety in the learning environment is two-fold. We want students to feel physically safe at school, of course, but we also want them to feel safe in who they are as learners, to show their understanding in as many ways as they can and in whatever style suits them best. It’s important that children feel comfortable answering a question and perhaps not giving the right answer. From that comes empathy for other students and appreciation for different answers and different ideas. WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT BEING AN EDUCATOR IN AN IB SCHOOL AND AT DWIGHT IN PARTICULAR? I love the international mindedness of the IB — the international outlook it gives students and teachers. The IB is also great because it doesn’t prescribe a fixed curriculum or provide a handbook of what to do each day. Faculty may find that a little bit daunting; I know I did, but the IB provides the overarching academic framework and teachers can be creative and put whatever spin on education they want to, as long as
it fits within that framework. We plan the very beginning of a unit of inquiry and we know where students are going to arrive at the end, but the middle is up to them. It’s a student-led inquiry. At the center of the IB is the development of globally minded citizens. I think this is truly important when you think about the state of the world today and the technology we have access to. Students can find out about a conflict anywhere in the world, and we don’t shy away from these big global issues. The IB empowers students to be deep thinkers, good researchers, and to be socially brilliant wherever they are in the world. The measure of success of an IB student is that you can pick a student up and drop him or her anywhere in the world and they can thrive and succeed. What drew me to Dwight was really a sense of adventure, as I was returning to New York City after living in Italy and teaching at the International School of Como for several years. Dwight’s international community also drew me in. It’s exciting to be a part of not just one wonderful IB School, but a network of campuses in which we can break down global barriers by building connections. HOW DOES THE PYP ENCOURAGE STUDENTS TO CHART THEIR OWN EDUCATIONAL JOURNEY? What I think the IB Primary Years Program does best is to prepare students for the real world, instead of focusing on learning isolated facts
CHRIS BEDDOWS | DWIGHT TODAY ENCOURAGES STUDENTS TO EXPRESS KNOWLEDGE IN THEIR OWN UNIQUE WAYS and skills. Students might forget facts in two weeks or in a few years, but the key concepts that they learn will exist forever. For example, when students learn about sustainability in first grade as part of their unit about sharing the planet, the factual information about recycling might not be applicable in 20 years, but the notion of sustainability is going to last a lifetime. The PYP’s focus on concepts and a sense of inquiry allows students to take their understanding to a richer, lasting level. It’s wonderful to see their personal inquiries thriving!
WHAT INNOVATIONS ARE ON THE HORIZON FOR THE LOWER SCHOOL THIS YEAR? We innovate in a number of ways, with the help of technology. Every student in grades 1-5 has an iPad through our 1:1 Program, and this year Kindergarten students are using iPads in the classroom as well. We use several adaptive learning mathematics programs that offer a personalized approach: Grades 1 and 2 use Mathletics, while grades 3, 4, and 5 use a program called ALEKS.
The PYP also encourages students to ask questions and to think deeply about the world around them. The whole ethos of the PYP is developing globally minded citizens, so our units of inquiry are built upon the premise that we want students to think outside the four walls of the classroom. And as a result of their learning, we want them to be able to take action in their community.
This year, we also use our iPads to store student-selected work electronically via a portfolio system called Seesaw. Students reflect on a piece of work and put it in their electronic portfolio, and then it’s sent automatically to their parents’ email inbox. Parents have a live window into what their children are learning in school!
Through the PYP, we are able to focus on developing five key skills in students: communication, research, thinking, self-management, and social skills. We’re committed to developing these skills because without them, students can’t be successful in the classroom or in life.
The measure of success of an IB student is that you can pick a student up and drop him or her anywhere in the world and they can thrive and succeed.
HOW DOES THE LOWER SCHOOL BRING DWIGHT’S THREE PILLARS TO LIFE? Personalized learning is the fabric of the Lower School! We use assessment data vastly to personalize instruction for the students and constantly encourage them to form their own personal inquiries. We’re able to identify and help students who need more support, or who need access to the higher echelons of a particular subject. Community is who we are. In New York, we’re active within our local community, whether it be volunteering at the senior center in our neighborhood or collaborating with local schools. Within the School, we have several cross-grade collaborative projects, when Lower School students help each other understand a topic and when our students get the opportunity to learn from older peers in the Middle and Upper Schools. We also bring parents into classrooms often involving them in our units of inquiry to enrich a cultural understanding or to share a favorite family moment with students. Dwight’s global network of campuses allows us to be globally minded, and the IB framework lends itself to the notion of global vision as well. It encourages students to look beyond the classroom and to find out what’s going on. It also allows teachers to bring in topics from the outside world that they think will enrich a unit of inquiry. Lower School teachers do a great job of not shying away from conversations that might be a bit uncomfortable, but ultimately, will improve students’ understanding of the world and what’s happening in it.
People often think innovation only refers to new things, but I think of it in terms of adaptation of traditional methods of teaching and learning as well. For example, while our core teaching method of inquiry isn’t new, we’re always finding new ways to define what it looks like. We encourage our teachers to try new things out, use the classroom as their laboratory, and if it doesn’t fly — it doesn’t matter. Fail, and fail gloriously because there’s always something to be learned! We want to celebrate that no one is perfect and demonstrate to our students that it’s okay to make mistakes, but how you learn from, and reflect on, your mistakes is what shapes who you are. WHAT IS YOUR SPARK OF GENIUS? I’m a very passionate cyclist. I love getting out and riding my bike, whether it’s raining, cold, hot, or sunny. It’s a nice way to view the world and clear my thoughts, whether I’m cycling one mile or 100. WHAT IS A LITTLE-KNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU? I’m an open book! I got married this summer, and my wife and I foster cats. We look after rescue cats and kittens through an organization at Petco called Anjellicle. “Foster” is a very loose term because my wife always wants to keep them. We fostered Winnie and Jack two years ago, which has now turned into a long-term commitment!
DWIGHT’S IT’S PERSONAL
What’s the inspiration behind the ideas and innovations students bring to Dwight’s Spark Tank for development? The answer, often, is that it’s personal — the impetus to develop a new product or to launch a business comes from a student’s personal experience or aspiration.
Take for example, Eli ’25, whose idea for a product called Stuffed Hugs was born from his experience of needing weekly shots. Knowing that kids can be afraid of needles — and love stuffed animals — Eli devised the idea for a shot to be delivered through a teddy bear, calming little ones during the process. Another example is Maria ’23, who wants to be, in her own words: “the world’s best fashion designer!” Since the age of six, Maria has
INNOVATION | DWIGHT TODAY
been on a fast track to achieving her goal. She has pursued her passion by taking fashion illustration, design, and sewing classes; introducing her own line for girls 6-13, and designing a collection. Maria is now building an ecommerce site, so she can sell her clothes. And then there’s Niko Sansevere ’21, who is developing Get-a-Grip, a customizable writing aid to make handwriting easier for those, like himself, who have dysgraphia or other conditions that make writing difficult. After Niko found standardized grips on the market to be too bulky, he saw an opportunity to create a grip based on the user’s individual hand measurements, making it easier and more effective, while also more empowering to the user. The list goes on. Spark Tank is Dwight’s incubator for K-12 students designed to nurture innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills beyond the classroom. Because we believe that the next “big ideas” will come from the under-18 sector, Spark Tank equips students with real-life skills beyond academics and theory, so they can pursue their dreams now instead of some uncertain day in the future. Last year, 35 students participated in this unique program to develop their novel ideas for new businesses, non-profits, and products designed to improve our community or school. They made great progress across the five-stage development cycle — idea, research, prototype, execution, and launch — with guidance and mentorship from faculty and The Dwight School Foundation’s Spark Tank Committee, comprised of industry experts and entrepreneurs from our community.
DWIGHT TODAY | SPARK TANK
The Committee hosts Spark Tank events during which students present their ideas for Q&A, feedback, and funding. Students who reach the launch stage receive a $2,500 scholarship for college from The Foundation — and we’re delighted to report that one student did so last year: Calvin Solomon ’17. He created the OurDwight app to bring the latest news and happenings on campus to one’s fingertips. Initiated as his tenth grade Personal Project, and developed further through Spark Tank, OurDwight is now our official School app. “Students hit the ground running this fall, with many having worked over the summer to advance their projects,” reports Spark Tank mentor Matt Moran, Director of Technology and Innovation. “Last year, a number of students came with just an idea for their projects and this year, those same students are creating prototypes, conducting research groups, working with Spark Tank Committee mentors, and planning how to accomplish their project goals. In addition, we have many new students this year, with nearly 70 participating in the after-school program and an additional 80 through their Spark Tank classroom units. When new students joined Spark Tank, returning students began growing into leadership roles through example, encouragement, and mentorship for their peers who are beginning the process.” The Spark Tank Committee has also grown, with three new members this year. Chaired by Dave Lindsey (David ’18, Maggie ’19, Jackie Ray ’21), the Committee includes: Jyotsna Bean ’96, Jessica Capiraso (Gwynne ’22, Grace ’25), Fernando Castellanos (Regina ’19, Luis Fernando ’21, Mateo ’28), James Chang (Maddy ’27, Jay ’29), Paul Dean (Sophia ’19), Daniel Klein (Theo ’15, Mae ’19), Liz Lange (Alice ’19), Maarten Maaskant (Junior Nicolle ’19), Drew Pizzo (Isabella ’15, Stefano ’18), and Nuno Teles (Mada ’19, Maria ’22). With so many great minds offering our students guidance and nurturing an entrepreneurial spark of genius across campus, we can’t wait to see what innovations are yet to come!
Miss the Last Spark Tank Event? Catch It on YouTube!
Student entrepreneurs dive into Spark Tank to bring their dreams to life. They swim — and soar — throughout the year! Keep up with their progress by watching Spark Tank Event webisodes on our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/dwightschoolny
INNOVATION | DWIGHT TODAY
New to Spark Tank: Diving in and Swimming Fast!
Among the many young entrepreneurs who brought their novel ideas to Spark Tank this year are: Stephane Hatgis-Kessell ’20: Passed Level 2 Stephane introduced the Hephaestus Hand to create and distribute low-cost, customized, 3-D printed prosthetic hands for people in need due to injury and below-elbow amputations. Aj Rothenberg ’19 and Federico Zampedri ’19: Passed Level 2 Aj and Federico teamed up to present Simple Mode, an app to help people who are older or technologically challenged to better use their iPhones. Aaron Colodne ’17 and Ilan Pesselev ’18: Passed Level 1 Aaron and Ilan — inspired by the amazing opportunities afforded to students through Spark Tank — came together to present several different ideas for franchising the program in New York City and globally through Dwight’s network of campuses.
DWIGHT TODAY | ALUMNI WHO WORK AT DWIGHT
COMING HOME Alumni Who Work at Dwight
With fond memories of their years as a Dwight student, alums come back frequently to their alma mater to visit. A few have come back to stay, helping to educate future generations of graduates! We asked Dwightonians now on the roster of faculty and staff the same five questions. Because they had lots to say, we are sharing their responses in two parts: the first here and the second in our summer issue.
DAVE BROWN ’97 DIRECTOR OF BASKETBALL OPERATIONS No doubt, you have many fond memories of Dwight. Please share one or two. Born and raised in New York City, most of my early experiences were with children from my neighborhood with similar backgrounds. When I came to Dwight as a sophomore, I didn’t know anyone. But after a few months, I became friends with a host of new people from all different backgrounds. At the time, I didn’t think at all about how this experience would help me develop socially; however, looking back, the diversity prepared me for college, my profession, and for the rest of my life. How did Dwight foster your spark of genius? My passion has always been in athletics and at Dwight I had two influences in that arena: an Olympic trainer, Radomir Kovacevic, who taught me how a healthy body makes for a healthy mind; and Pee Wee Kirkland, my basketball coach, who instilled in me to not take any shortcuts. Academically, my history teacher, Arthur Samuels, demanded nothing short of excellence in the classroom. The combination of the three — all with very different makeups — helped ready me for college. Additionally, no one supported me like Chancellor Spahn did on the court in high school — and even after college when he motivated me to embrace my spark. Where did you continue your education? I received an athletic scholarship to play basketball at Colgate University. After two years, I transferred to Connecticut College, where I joined two other Dwight alumni with whom I played basketball in high school — my point guard, Mizan Ayers ’98; and Aubrey Hodges ’99. Mizan later teamed up with another classmate, Michael Roche ’98, to open a real estate company. Two years ago, they found the apartment my family lives in today!
What brought you back to campus? Prior to coming back to Dwight, I started a youth basketball organization in Manhattan, Basketball Stars. One of the things the organization offers is private training and I was working with a Dwight student, Alex Asciutto, who is now in tenth grade. Alex felt that I had made a great impact on his life and wrote about me in his Dwight Doris Post Oratory Competition speech. Selected as a finalist, Alex delivered his speech in front of the entire school. Mrs. Asciutto had invited me to the competition without telling me why. When I heard Alex, I was floored and humbled. Chancellor Spahn heard it as well and reached out about returning to Dwight to coach the Boys Varsity Basketball Team. The rest is history!
COMING HOME | DWIGHT TODAY
What’s the best thing about working at your alma mater? The greatest moment came two years ago when I presented our Boys Varsity Basketball State Championship trophy to Radomir Kovacevic’s wife. On a daily basis, the best thing is coaching boys from different backgrounds who otherwise would not likely connect, and building them from a group of individuals into a team that functions as a family and supports one another. The support comes from the kids first; then parents get involved as well, which is truly special. We also have alumni returning to support the team, along with Chancellor Spahn, who takes great pride in our success and carrying on the tradition that was set before me. NATASHA THOMPSON-OSTROVSKY ’04 KINDERGARTEN TEACHER No doubt, you have many fond memories of Dwight. Please share one or two. I remember participating in the Dwight choir and in many theater productions, including Three Penny Opera, Working: The Musical, and The Boyfriend. Through these musical and performance experiences, I made some of my closest friends and had so much fun! How did Dwight foster your spark of genius? During my years at Dwight, I was always encouraged by faculty and staff to explore my interests. For example, Terry Christgau would encourage me to audition in the School musicals. This supportive environment helped me to develop confidence to try new things and continue to challenge myself. Where did you continue your education? I attended Boston University for my undergraduate education. I then went to Bank Street College for my master’s degree focusing on early childhood special and general education. What brought you back to campus? I decided to return to Dwight as a teacher because I believe in the IB program and its focus on student-led inquiry. I knew that at Dwight my students would have the opportunity to explore their own interests and find answers to the questions they ask and are interested in. What’s the best thing about working at your alma mater? One of my favorite parts of working at Dwight is reconnecting with my former teachers — having the opportunity to catch up after so many years is really great!
KIRK SPAHN ’95 GOVERNOR, DWIGHT SCHOOL BOARD OF GOVERNORS No doubt, you have many fond memories of Dwight. Please share one or two. For me, it was all about support and caring. When I left my old school it was because they didn’t want to support my flourishing tennis career and passion. At Dwight, I, along with two classmates, tailored our schedules around our training, which allowed us to excel. We had an amazing amount of support from faculty and peers, and the three of us continued our love of the sport beyond Dwight. In fact, one, Max Mirnyi, had an exceptional professional career, including Grand Slam and Olympic glory, while the rest of us ended up playing on Ivy League teams. None of us could have achieved that without the School’s help and guidance. We were also very lucky to have an exceptional coach and mentor at Dwight, P.E. Director Radomir Kovacevic. He was a two-time Olympian himself, and taught us about resilience, grit, and discipline. He is someone who will never be forgotten, as he touched the lives of so many students before his tragic passing some years ago. Dwight is the embodiment of personalized learning. I had teachers who would give up their mornings and weekends to work with me and my friends. Looking back, that means so much; we were so unappreciative at the time, but as an adult, I understand what a magical thing that is. How did Dwight foster your spark of genius? Dwight teachers helped inspire me. I remember Arthur Samuels’s history class, which I wanted to drop in the first week because I thought it would be so hard! By the end of the year, I was hooked on history and it carried all the way through to my college major and even to my graduate degree in international relations. I thank Dwight and Mr. Samuels for igniting that spark of genius! And, as mentioned, Dwight supported my spark for tennis, which has continued to be a lifelong passion. Where did you continue your education? I went to Dartmouth for undergrad and Columbia for my master’s degree. What brought you back to campus? My love for the School, its great time-honored traditions, and legacy. What’s the best thing about working at your alma mater? Convincing current students to stick with Mr. Samuels’s history class! Also being part of the innovation across campus, seeing the ideas that were just percolating in the early ’90s come to fruition, and now seeing Dwight as a global leader in education.
DWIGHT TODAY | ABHISHEK BHATTACHARJEE ’01
ABHISHEK BHATTACHARJEE ’01
Building Brain-Machine Interfaces to Advance Our Understanding of the Brain
Though new to the U.S. when he arrived on campus as a junior, Abishek Bhattacharjee ’01 wasn’t new to international schools. He and his sister, Meghna ’05, pictured above, had attended schools for families of diplomats while they lived in Italy and Malta. What proved to be different about Dwight for Abhishek were his classmates, who had a wider range of backgrounds; the IB curriculum; and most especially, the faculty. “You could question the teachers at Dwight,” reports Abhishek, for whom questioning — with more than a healthy dose of skepticism — is part of life and work. “The school environment was different from anything I had
experienced anywhere else. It kept you on your toes and it kept teachers on theirs. Asking questions and finding answers through inquiry were key to a Dwight education, requiring students to research their positions, support them with hard evidence, and form watertight arguments to defend them.” These skills have certainly served Abhishek well ever since. “Skepticism is a good thing,” explains Abhishek, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Rutgers University. “We live in an age when we are provided with a great deal of information — much of which is manicured without context. We need to
look at all of it, consider and think hard, and consciously choose what we want to adopt or accept.” Abhishek recalls that his Dwight teachers were open to skepticism, which he appreciated, along with the wider range of subjects the IB offered compared to the AP curriculum. He always had a significant interest in the sciences and math; at Dwight, he added the humanities, thanks to Arthur Samuels, who is especially memorable for the high-octane way he taught history; and English teacher Jennifer Bishop, who took a unique interest in Abhishek’s work in classrooms beyond her own. Teachers like David
ALUMNI PROFILE | DWIGHT TODAY
Anstey and Barry Gragg were also instrumental in cultivating his wider interests in applying science and mathematics to broader real-world problems outside the abstractions of the classroom setting. A LAUNCHING PAD “Dwight played a central role in my formative years in the U.S.,” reminisces Abhishek. “Having spent my childhood studying in Asia and Europe, the American system of education was new and so was the college admissions process. Dwight provided the financial support to get me through two crucial years before college and gave me a solid launching pad to set myself up in the upper-level educational system in the U.S. The supportive environment created by the faculty, students, and of course Chancellor Spahn, influenced my decision to continue my studies here rather than return to India after high school.” Abhishek continues, “Mr. Sphan influenced not just my education, but also my career. He has always taken an active interest in my work and we keep in touch regularly.”
“At McGill, I thoroughly enjoyed my peer group of talented engineering students, who had a big impact on the path I have pursued ever since,” shares Abhishek, who received McGill’s British Association Medal for Great Distinction for graduating at the top of his class in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Software Engineering. A PhD in Electrical Engineering from Princeton followed, as did Abhishek’s record of outstanding performance: He received Princeton’s Department of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Wu Prize for Academic Excellence. A CALLING FOR ACADEMIA Immediately upon the heels of completing his PhD, Abhishek became an assistant professor in the Computer Science department at Rutgers — at the age of just 26 — making him the youngest tenured track assistant professor in the department at the time. “I always knew that I wanted to be a professor. Not all jobs embrace skepticism and painstaking decision-making as a virtue and not a vice,” he explains. “The single biggest thing I relate to my PhD advisees is the importance and value of skepticism in science.”
Abhishek explains, “Science has conquered many infectious diseases through vaccinations; we have developed anesthetics and antisepsis protocols to enable invasive surgeries; antibiotics and antivirals have enabled new eras in fighting communicable diseases; and we even have improvements in things like organ transplantations and oncology work to battle cancers. The next big frontier is the brain and countering psychiatric and neurological conditions, cognitive impairments, and so on. By mapping, monitoring, stimulating, and treating neural pathologies, we can improve the quality of life for people suffering from these debilitating problems today.”
Asking questions and finding answers through inquiry were key to a Dwight education ...
Abhishek’s work in this area includes working on computer processors — both at the hardware and system software level — to improve brain-machine interfaces. In 2017, he is a visiting scholar and pursuing research at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute through a CV Starr Visiting Fellowship. Spending a year at Princeton will bring Abhishek back to yet another academic community in which he forged strong bonds, continuing a theme — and an invisible thread — that first began during his days at Dwight.
Chancellor Spahn had identified McGill University as a potentially excellent match for Abhishek’s academic interests and desire for a first-rate college education in balance with the economics of pursuing an undergraduate degree. As it turned out, McGill was where Abhishek headed after graduation. He majored in electrical engineering, which offered rigorous training in a wide range of subjects, from applied physics to applied math and everything in between (computer systems design, analog and digital circuit design, signal processing theory,
Abhishek’s own scientific research focuses on building and using high-performance, energy-efficient computer systems for datacenters, mobile devices, and emerging brain-machine interfaces as tools for computation. He is especially interested in the role that computation can play in improving quality of life. Take, for example, brain-machine interfaces, which can help neuroscientists in their quest to understand the brain — one of the biggest medical challenges we face today.
information theory, etc.).
DWIGHT TODAY | ALUMNI
Wins Olympic Bronze and Cairo World Cup Gold! Congratulations to alum Race Imboden ’11, who together with his teammates — the same three teammates he competed with in London 2012 — defeated Italy in the Men’s Foil finals and won an Olympic bronze medal in Rio! He was one of four Musketeers to bring home a Team USA foil fencing medal in nearly a century. The last time was 1932!
outcome was the opposite. Italy was triumphant in the semis and went on to win gold.
Flashback four years: In the 2012 Olympic Games, the match-up was the same, but the
Race and his teammates are a fencing family who have literally grown up — and grown
Italy had come into this year’s games as the top-ranked team, but it was the Americans — Race, Alexander Massialas, Gerek Meinhardt, and Miles Chamley-Watson, who also attended Dwight — who emerged as jubilant winners. So this victory in Rio was extra-sweet.
into their own — together. And they have become a force to be reckoned with on the global stage, which has been dominated by Europeans for so long. Well, the times, they are a changing! Back on the World Cup circuit after the Olympics, Race and Team USA won a silver medal in Cairo; and Race won the gold, his fifth career Senior World Cup title — and a record for any U.S. men’s fencer! We are so proud!
FOUNDATION | DWIGHT TODAY
Annual Fund Chair Julie Stratopoulos
“When you love the school, the community, and being here, you want to do anything you can to support it,” shares Julie Stratopoulos (Ava ’25, Kira ’27), a trustee of The Dwight School Foundation. The Stratopoulos family has been a part of the Dwight community for eight years, beginning when Ava was in the preschool 2s program. “When we first came to Dwight, my husband, Nick, and I were struck by the facilities, the amazing teachers, and how energetic and engaged the students were. And when we heard about Dwight’s commitment to igniting the spark of genius in every child, we felt that the School’s vision for education mirrored our own. That’s when we began participating in the Annual Fund.” And the family’s participation has since grown. Today, with Ava in fourth grade and her younger sister, Kira, in second, Julie chairs the Annual Fund Committee. As Ava moved into the Lower School, Julie and Nick saw many exciting opportunities for their children on the horizon, including swimming at the Athletic Center, joining sports teams, and taking part in wonderful arts programs. With our annual global concert at Carnegie Hall just around the corner, Ava will soon perform with her classmates in the fourth grade choir on one of the world’s most glorious stages — and Kira won’t be far behind! “Dwight is unlike any other school,” Julie explains, which is why she is so committed to helping The Dwight School Foundation reach its $1.8 million goal in 2016-17. “When speaking to other parents, I share why the Annual Fund is so important to our family: First, Chancellor Spahn has such incredible vision for the School and for our children; he is always thinking way ahead. Dwight offers our children amazing experiences such as Spark Tank, the Carnegie Hall concert, and so much more. Second, the IB is the best education available and supporting the Annual Fund enables Dwight faculty to stay up to date with the latest in IB teaching through professional development grants. When teachers are inspired, it’s great for students. And, of course, giving to our community shapes all of our children’s lives — it seems like the right thing to do!”
#EveryChildBenefits Join the Stratopoulos family in supporting the Annual Fund — the primary fundraising vehicle for The Dwight School Foundation — impacting all students in every grade by providing: • Student financial aid • Faculty professional development grants • Spark Tank grants to students We encourage everyone to contribute, regardless of the amount, as participation in the Annual Fund is a key barometer of pride in the Dwight community. To make a tax-deductible gift, please go to www.dwight.edu/donate or contact Amy Tsoutsouras ’05, Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Affairs, at email@example.com or 646.400.0314.
DWIGHT TODAY | COMMUNITY
Dwight School athletics 2016-17 
ATHLETICS | DWIGHT TODAY
GIRLS VARSITY SOCCER: COMPLETED A STRONG SEASON EARNING A SPOT IN THE ISAL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS [1-2] VARSITY VOLLEYBALL: FLAVIA PIERACCIONI ’19 DELIVERED KILLS AND ANNABEL HAPP ’20 ENDED THE GAME WITH 20 ACES  VARSITY CROSS COUNTRY: BOYS PLACED THIRD IN THE ACIS LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP; AND TALYA LUBIT ’18 MEDALED IN THE TOP 15 FOR THE GIRLS’ TEAM [4-6] BOYS VARSITY SOCCER: HOLDEN BRIL ’18, CALLUM GORDON ’18, MATTHEW DONNELLY ’18, AND GOALKEEPER JAHFARI MITCHELL ’18 GAVE OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES IN THEIR LAST GAME  GIRLS JV VOLLEYBALL: NADIA AFFOLTER ’19, RAFA AIDAR ’19, IRENE YI ’19, MARIA BERLFEIN ’20, AND XIAOJUN FENG ’20 WERE ALL INVITED TO PLAY WITH THE VARSITY TEAM AFTER THEIR FINAL WIN  BOYS JV SOCCER: THE TEAM CONCLUDED THE REGULAR SEASON WITH A 2-1 VICTORY OVER FRIENDS SEMINARY MIDDLE SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL: CLOSED OUT WITH A 6-2 RECORD AND A SERIES OF WINS AGAINST LÉMAN MANHATTAN  BOYS MIDDLE SCHOOL SOCCER: WON FOUR MATCHES IN A ROW AT SEASON’S END [10-11] GIRLS MIDDLE SCHOOL SOCCER: COMPETED IN THEIR HISTORIC FIRST-EVER SEASON FOR DWIGHT
DWIGHT TODAY | COMMUNITY
Fall Art Exhibition
Symphony Space 52
ARTS | DWIGHT TODAY
Fall Conservatory Concert
Concert Student talent sparked across campus and beyond! 53
DWIGHT TODAY | ALUMNI
Part of the Class of 1980 Lisa Robbins Koumis ’71 writes that she went to Wellesley after Dwight, and is an attorney living in Colorado. Doric Capsis ’80, Mike Sacks ’80, and Peter Wood ’80 reunited in November to see Doric’s son, Teddy, play defensive tackle for the College of Holy Cross vs. Fordham
University in a Division 1 college football game held — unusually — at Yankee Stadium with 21,000 spectators in the stands. Teddy, a Holy Cross sophomore, is 6’3” and 261 pounds. Mike flew up from Tampa for the game and Peter Wood traveled from upstate New York. Holy Cross will play Dartmouth in 2017, alma mater of Chancellor Spahn! Melissa Karstadt Roske ’82 shares that her debut middlegrade novel, Kat Greene Comes Clean, will be published by Charlesbridge on June 13, 2017. Shomari Hearn ’93 has been promoted from Vice President to Palisades Hudson Financial Group’s first-ever Managing Vice President, with executive responsibility for all wealth management and financial planning for the firm’s operations. Shomari, who joined the
firm as an associate in 1998 and in 2005 established the Fort Lauderdale office, will concentrate on strategic initiatives such as the newly launched Entertainment and Sports Team. Mark Clemente ’04 “Since moving to Singapore in 2013, I worked first as Director of Marketing for the Savitar Tennis Company and also served as Director of Tennis for the SACAC Tennis Program at the Singapore American School. After one year, I joined the Women’s Team Association (WTA) as Senior Events Coordinator for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals presented by SC Global event. As a member of the WTA team here in Singapore, I help to organize the WTA Finals, which showcases the world’s top female eight singles and doubles players. The WTA Finals serves as the year-end tournament and is considered to be the ‘crown jewel’ event for professional women’s tennis.” Andrew Hirsh ’06 graduated from the University of Miami in 2010 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, after majoring in Political Science and minoring
in Spanish. He served in the Israel Defense Forces as a paratrooper from 2011-13. After returning to the U.S., Andrew began training in the NYPD Academy in October 2016. Matthew Spinozzi ’06 “I left investment banking to pursue my Masters of Science in Brewing & Distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh (graduated 2015). I started a consulting company for the beer, spirits, and bar industries called The Spirited Consultant and am currently the Head Distiller for Matchbook Distilling Company, which will open in the summer of 2017 in Greenport, NY.” Evan Rabin ’08 recently moved back to New York from the Boston area to cofound a sales outsourcing startup, Pillar Sales, which provides a turn-key sales solution to small and medium-sized software companies. Gabriella Andersson ’11 writes that in 2016, she worked for the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in New York, where she dedicated her time to the promotion, advancement, and protection of direct commercial relations between the United States and Sweden. In May of this year, she will complete her MA in Business and Economics at Uppsala University, one of the finest and oldest universities in Sweden. Gabriella hopes to return to New York one day, and has kept her joy for international business ever since she left Dwight. She wishes everyone a happy and healthy 2017!
Share your latest news with your classmates for the next issue of Dwight Today. Send news and a photo to Amy Tsoutsouras ’05, Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Affairs, 291 Central Park West, New York, NY, 10024; or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Believe in a
Summer! Ages 1-3 Small Wonder Summer Program June 19-29 and July 10-27 Art, music, gym activities, story time, and so much more! Contact: Nora Thomson, Preschool Admissions Director email@example.com Ages 3-5 Riverside Summer Camp June 19-29 and July 10-27 Hands-on, creative, and action-packed activities — both indoors and outdoors! Contact: Camp Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Ages 4-12 Dwight Summer Camp June 19-August 25 Mix and match weeks — and make summer your own:
• Discovery Camp: Rise, Shine, and Explore! • Sports Camp: Tennis, Fencing, Soccer, and More! • Adventure Camp: Fly, Soar, and Jump in! • Spark Specialty Camps: Adventures in Minecraft, Coding, Stop Motion Animation, Camp H2O
Contact: Chiarna Morton, Camp Director email@example.com or visit www.dwightsummercamp.org
2017 Spring Benefit Committee Members Gather to Plan
Back row, from left: Veronic Biebuyck, April Horton, Bernadette Mastrangel, Brooke Alexander, Heather Kibbe, Annie Sigal Medina â€™93, Ana Fons, Kim Dickerson, Zorana Jelic, and Isabella Pia Ayoub; Middle row, from left: Akshie Shah, Tiki Barnes, Leslie Wagner, and Geralyn Lucas; Front row, from left: Sarah Knox, Lorena Matus Castellanos (Co-chair), Suraya Khan (Co-chair), Melody Marcus, Lisa Hickey, Arani Osler, and Louise Tonkin Not pictured: Shelley Allen, Darly Corniel, Mina Elahi, Elizabeth Elder, Ann Ferguson, Hayley Foster, Lucrece Francois, Melany Hearne, Rene Hofstede, Hasan Kazmi, Roseann Repetti, Carolina Villamizar, and Alice Zarari
CALL FOR AUCTION DONATIONS Donate any service or product to our auction. We will acknowledge you or your business at the event, in our journal, annual report, and more! For details, contact Amy Tsoutsouras â€™05 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THIS IS OUR SPRING BENEFIT 2017 Please Join Us for The Dwight School Foundation Spring Benefit Friday, April 7 Edison Ballroom 240 West 47TH Street Half Past Six in the Evening 6:30 pm Cocktails & Silent Auction 7:45 pm Sit-down Dinner & Live Auction 9:30 pm DJ & Dancing Cocktail Attire To purchase tickets, email Amy Tsoutsouras â€™05 at email@example.com or visit www.dwight.edu/thisisourtime
Proceeds support faculty professional development, student financial aid, and innovation grants
PRSRT STD US POSTAGE
WHT RIV JCT VT PERMIT 86
Dwight is an IB World School
Phone: 212.724.6360 Website: www.dwight.edu
Fall foliage gets a closer look during studio time in preschool, where future botanists in the Class of 2030 are inspired!