Cross Sections (Spring 2019)

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THE BEAUT Y OF TEACHING There’s a special tradition at Crossroads that takes place before the start of each school year. The week before classes begin, I meet with the entire K-12 faculty and staff to welcome everyone back from summer break, bring them up to speed on any recent developments at the School and make sure we are all prepared for the weeks and months that follow. The energy on campus is palpable and invigorating as we await the arrival of nearly 1,200 students.


Each year, as I stand at the podium for my welcome speech and look out at the incredible group of employees who help our students learn, grow and thrive, I am reminded of my own time as a teacher. As you probably know, I taught math at Crossroads long before I became a dean, administrator and head of school. Teaching is such a beautiful and profoundly important profession, and I feel truly blessed to work with the educators at our School. Day in and day out, they go above and beyond to create a supportive learning environment for our students. Because of their expertise and care, our students are

empowered to make new discoveries, work through challenges and heighten their understanding of the world around them. Crossroads unveiled a new strategic plan during the 2018-19 school year, and the School has begun establishing timelines, assembling committees and moving forward to accomplish the goals outlined in the plan. Recent issues of Cross Sections magazine have highlighted the discussions leading up to the creation of the strategic plan as well as a variety of aspects of the plan, including Crossroads’ efforts to promote student wellness and a sense of belonging and inclusion among all members of our community. Future issues of the magazine will provide updates on our efforts to deepen the Crossroads experience; to expand our presence in Los Angeles and beyond; and to sustain our School’s long-term well-being. In this issue of Cross Sections, we delve into the fourth goal of the School’s new strategic plan: Cultivate a consistent culture of learning and continuous improvement. As the goal states, “The entire K-12 faculty and staff commit fully to the ongoing review, design and implementation of clear student learning outcomes, instructional strategies and educational best practices across and within departments and divisions required to sustain excellence in our rapidly evolving educational landscape.” In our cover story (page 22), teachers and administrators share their educational philosophies, classroom approaches and innovative strategies for promoting student growth. The School’s vibrant culture of learning was further enhanced during a fruitful K-12 professional development session (page 20) that focused on how grading systems influence academic progress.

Crossroads teachers make challenging subject matter come alive for students.


Inside This Issue 02

Around the School


Trustee News


Donor Profile


Parent Association


Feature Story


Cover Story


Honoring Employees


Retiring Employees


Alumni News


Class Notes


is published twice a year by the Crossroads Advancement Office: Jeff Goodman Editor, Communications Manager Sara Ring Director of Communications Colleen Bartlett Director of Advancement Ginette Buffone Web Manager Mery Grace Castelo Director of Parent Relations and Special Events Patti Finkelstein Director of Major Gifts Jennifer Gerber ’97 Director of Alumni Relations Leslie MacDougall Annual Giving Associate Tom Nolan Dean of Alumni Relations

The values and principles that guide Crossroads teachers are also carried into the world by an outstanding group of alumni who have dedicated their careers to education. In this issue, we highlight Crossroads graduates whose teaching work across the country spans from elementary schools to universities. Several have returned to serve as faculty members at their alma mater (page 42). Their collective efforts to nurture and inspire students give me hope for a future filled with intelligent discourse, groundbreaking discoveries and greater equality in our society. Crossroads aims to provide life-changing educational experiences to all of our students by offering exceptional

All of Crossroads’ teachers and employees strive to build strong relationships with students, to empower them to be themselves and to inspire them to freely express their ideas.

programming in academics, the arts, Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE), athletics and more; by creating a student body of social, ethnic and racial diversity; and by allowing students to express themselves on the issues that matter most to them. Our amazing teachers carry out this mission and bring our vision to reality. I am thankful for the commitment of our faculty and staff to the success and growth of our students, and I am excited to see them in action throughout 2019-20.

Kathy O’Brien Major Gifts Manager Carlos Ortiz Advancement Coordinator Sanam Khamneipur Smith Director of Annual Giving Veronica Ulloa Events Coordinator Paul Howiler, Steve Owen, Allison Schaub Advancement Services Contributing Writer Joanie Martin Designer Warren Group | Studio Deluxe Contributing Photographers Johana Barahona, Mike Benigno, Randal Coombs, Chris Flynn, Joshua Green, Harper Murray-Nelson, Jason Raff, Tara Shima ON THE COVER

Elementary School Technology Coordinator Joy Watt (center) demonstrates a lesson for teachers Matt Lintner and Sofia Lin that allows students to use iPads to solve tangram puzzles and interact with digitally responsive coding blocks. Cover photo by Chris Flynn. Contact us at

BELLA DI RIENZO, 11th grade




Elementary School Celebrates Women’s History Month By Karla Uminsky, Elementary School Spanish Teacher

On March 22, Elementary School students at Crossroads gathered to learn about women who have made a difference in the world. Faculty and staff gave presentations about women they admire, educating children about some of the oft-overlooked achievements of women of color and promoting conversations.

to relate to people in history and strengthens their sense of agency and purpose.

The Gathering supported the Elementary School’s effort to expose students to a diverse array of fictional and nonfictional characters through monthly All-School Read events. This approach helps students understand their own identities, makes it easier for them

Elementary School Diversity Coordinator Akil Gainer talked about Shirley Anita Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress and the first woman and African American to run for president from one of the two major political parties. Akil shares,

One of the women highlighted was Dolores Huerta, a civil rights activist and co-founder of what is now the United Farm Workers union. Showcasing the major contributions of a Latinx woman was empowering and inspiring.

“There are a lot of women out there who are influential, who have had a positive impact on our society, whom we do not acknowledge and praise as we do men. [Shirley Chisholm is] someone I’ll never forget.” Students from kindergarten through fifth grade were inspired by the Gathering. From authors and activists to leaders and politicians, the featured women served as examples for the young learners. Indeed, the eagnerness of the children to hear about these incredible women underscored the impact of the assembly.

There are a lot of women out there who are influential, who have had a positive impact on our society, whom we do not acknowledge and praise as we do men. Akil Gainer, Elementary School Diversity Coordinator

Elementary School Technology Coordinator Joy Watt presented during the March 22 Gathering about women in history.



Student Activities Highlight MLK Jr. Day, Black History Month From the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January through the end of Black History Month in February, Crossroads students of all ages engaged in a variety of activities to explore the legacy of the civil rights leader and the contributions of many other African Americans to U.S. history, politics and culture. Elementary School students learned about Martin Luther King Jr. during a special Monday Morning Meeting and enjoyed a Jan. 18 presentation by

Elementary School students performed up-tempo choreography during a crowdpleasing step show Feb. 25.

Members of the Centennial High School marching band performed for Crossroads students on both campuses.

Crossroads Trustee and grandparent Nat Trives, a former Santa Monica mayor, took questions during an Upper School assembly. Derric J. Johnson, founding director of the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute, delivered the keynote address at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Santa Monica.

Middle School students about historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). “I felt really proud to be presenting this important information in front of the Elementary School students,” eighth-grader Nneka Moweta says. “I am grateful that I learned about amazing alums, such as Thurgood Marshall, Nic Stone, Martin Luther King Jr., and Debbie Allen, who attended these universities. I hadn’t realized what an amazing opportunity these institutions provided to so many people of color.” On Feb. 25, Elementary Schoolers put on a crowd-pleasing step show, demonstrating a form of dance that was popularized by African American fraternities and sororities. All Crossroads students had the opportunity that day to watch the award-winning Centennial High School marching band, which performed on the Norton Campus athletic field and later in the Alley. As part of Black History Month, the Middle School held a moving “Moments of Activism” assembly. The event featured another dive into HBCUs; a dance performance; and an interview with Dr. Elaine Parker-Gills, a former Crossroads

Trustee who was joined by her son Dedan Gills ’89. Student-made posters about activism lined the Middle School hallways, creating a Newseum-like display. The Upper School organized a presentation and Q&A featuring Crossroads Trustee and grandparent Nat Trives, an engaged civic leader who formerly served as a police officer and mayor in Santa Monica. And at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Westside Coalition’s annual MLK Jr. Day celebration, held Jan. 21 at the SGI-USA World Peace Ikeda Auditorium in Santa Monica, Derric J. Johnson—founding director of the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute— delivered an inspiring keynote address. “People must choose what they feel is right or wrong and then take a stand,” he said. “It is time to dig deeper than thought humanly possible to reshape this country.” Members of the 21st Street Singers, an Upper School student choir, performed beautiful renditions of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Labi Siffre’s “(Something Inside) So Strong,” accompanied on the piano by choral director Jarod Sheahan.

Middle School students gave a presentation about historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) during a Monday Morning Meeting at the Elementary School.

RUBY OFFER, eighth grade




Middle Schoolers Make Sense of Money in Art Exhibition If you could redesign the $50 bill, what would it look like? Middle Schoolers at Crossroads had the opportunity to tackle that and similar projects as part of the “You Have Currency!” exhibition on display Jan. 9-17 in the Sam Francis Gallery. Through a wide variety of media, students from Ceramics, Sculpture, Art and Culture, Studio Art, Multimedia Art and Video Production explored the concepts of wealth, consumption and branding as well as the role of money and how it reflects the values of society. “We talked about how currency is a very large factor in the world,” seventh-grader Eamon Myatt says. “Usually, it’s just paper with coloring on it, but it can be exchanged for something else. It was a really cool project.” Eamon and his group designed and painted stamps to create a layered $50 bill incorporating an eagle (to represent hope and freedom); olive branches (peace); a striped pattern reminiscent of the American flag; and the Washington Monument. Seventh-grade Art and Culture students used only their memories to draw as many logos as they could recall. They then collaborated in pairs or small groups to create logo constellations that reflected their corporate environment. Eighth-grade Multimedia Art students investigated the symbolism and value systems represented in currency from the U.S. and other nations. Students then devised new designs for U.S. bills and coins. The idea of labor provided the focus for seventh-grader Rowena Smith and her classmates, who made two 20-by-44-inch sculptures of a dollar bill out of earthenware clay. Pennies were scattered around the sculptures in the gallery.

“We had to carve it out of a big slab of clay,” Rowena says of the process. “We had to pound it down and smooth it out, and then we started carving into it to try to make it 3D.” Students quickly became aware of the value of their labor as it related to the objects they were making. Indeed, Rowena says it made her rethink entirely what money is and how it is used.

Top: The “You Have Currency!” exhibition in the Sam Francis Gallery featured a variety of Middle Schoolers’ original artwork. Bottom: Middle School students created a clay sculpture of a dollar bill, sparking dialogue about money, labor and value.


This issue of the magazine includes artwork by Crossroads first graders who interpreted various articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.


The Right to Assembly: We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.



Firsthand Accounts Enrich Juniors’ Study of Native American Literature By Nika Cavat, Upper School English Teacher

Teachers at Crossroads are always looking for ways to extend our lessons beyond the classroom, particularly when dealing with issues of human rights. Last year, 11th graders began the fall semester reading Native American literature and discussing the struggles and challenges often faced by Native people as they seek to preserve their culture and way of life.

MILO MATALONE, first grade

Crossroads alumna Alethea Redclay ’91, shown with her aunt, introduced juniors to the “Dawnland” documentary.

Their study was enhanced by a screening of the powerful, recently released documentary “Dawnland”—directed by Adam Mazo and Ben PenderCudlip—about the forced removal of Native children from their families and placement in

non-Native foster care, adoptive homes and boarding schools. The thought-provoking film was screened for the entire 11th grade. “Dawnland” recounts a government-sanctioned Truth and Reconciliation Commission exploration into child welfare practices affecting the Wabanaki people of Maine. With rare footage of tribal ceremonies, interviews with child survivors and oftenpainful public proceedings, the film helped students understand how openly addressing atrocities can potentially support the healing process. Crossroads alumna Alethea Redclay ’91—a member of the Mescalero Apache tribe and

one of my former students— introduced the film, recounting her own experience. Alethea was adopted into a Navajo family when her father was helping his sister fight for custody of her own children. Alethea’s personal account brought the issues to life for students. Alethea’s visit was especially meaningful because she is the mother of my current 11th-grade student Mazen Wharton-Ali. I’m indebted to English teachers Alan Barstow and Abby Chew for helping me plan this event and to Upper School Director Roxanne Zazzaro for supporting this endeavor every step of the way.

The Right of Education: Education is a right. Our parents can choose what we learn.


Middle School Movie Night Spotlights Service Learning By Josh Adler, Middle School Core Teacher and Service Learning Coordinator

Three Middle School students organized a special movie fundraiser to benefit the Make-AWish Foundation for their service learning project.

There were bingo games, popcorn snacks and students wrapped in toilet paper—and it was all for a great cause. On April 12, about 40 Middle School students attended a fun-filled after-school event that raised more than $2,500 for the Make-AWish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. At the beginning of the school year, eighthgrade students Dilan Gohill, Harper MurrayNelson and Bennett Solot proposed a movienight fundraiser for their service learning project. They worked tirelessly for several months to organize the event and successfully managed to create a memorable and meaningful experience for all who attended. The fundraiser kicked off at 3:30 p.m. with Bennett’s music playlist filling the Alley

for all to hear as attendees received blue wristbands. Students formed teams for an uproarious Mummy Wrap game in the Butterfly Garden, where students were wrapped in toilet paper before parading in a fashion show and competing in a mummy sprint. Students also played several rounds of bingo, with Dilan and Harper as co-emcees. Winners received gift cards donated by local shops and restaurants. The eighth-grade coordinators collected donations in order to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps children with life-threatening illnesses actualize their dreams. Local vendors provided free pizza, pasta, salad, sushi and cookies. Students relished the food in Roth Hall while listening to Elizabeth Espinoza speak

about her work as development coordinator for the nonprofit. Espinoza showed a short documentary about the foundation, and students received candy prizes for asking thoughtful questions. The fundraiser culminated with a screening of the Pixar film “The Incredibles.” Dilan, Harper and Bennett spoke about how all kids are incredible and deserve the chance to have their dreams come true. While enjoying popcorn and coming together as a community on a Friday night, Middle School students had an incredible time making a difference and serving others.




» The establishment of the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute and the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series

» The offering of summer Supporting a Diverse Community workshops for all faculty and staff

» The creation of the Radical Inclusion for Social Equity committee

» The increase in the diversity of student applicants to 56% students of color

» Gender diversity initiatives and education for students and employees

» The increase in the diversity of the Administrative Planning Committee

» The raising of $4 million for the School’s financial aid endowment PHYSICAL UPGRADES

» The launch of the Worlds Unimagined capital campaign

» The construction of the Science Education & Research Facility

» The expansion of the Norton Campus soccer field to CIF regulation size

» Improvements in accessibility and safety on the 21st Street Campus

» The purchase of the Pacific Air Although Bob Riddle has been a member of the Crossroads community since 1984, when he was hired as a math teacher, he has made an especially notable impact over the past 10 years in his role as head of school. Over the course of a decade, Bob has overseen numerous major initiatives and improvements with the singular goal of providing students with life-changing educational experiences. During Bob’s tenure, Crossroads has embarked on major upgrades in facilities, accessibility and safety, particularly through the Worlds Unimagined capital campaign. But the greatest sources of pride for Bob are the School’s advancements in service of social justice and diversity, including the establishment of the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute and the hiring of Derric J. Johnson as its founding director;

the creation of the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series; the addition of required faculty training workshops on diversity issues; the formation of the Radical Inclusion for Social Equity committee; and the efforts to build an increasingly diverse community of students, families and employees. As head of school, Bob has learned to be patient, to stay focused on the vision of the School and to be strategic about accomplishing goals. He has also relied on the insight and guidance of his predecessors, Roger Weaver and Paul Cummins (a Crossroads co-founder). With humility and outstanding leadership, Bob has stayed true to the founding commitments of the School and to the educational experiences of all Crossroads students.

properties and the 1753 building

» The remodeling of the Humanities Building PROGR A MS A N D IN ITI ATI V ES

» The creation of Crossroads’ new 15-part strategic plan, “One School. One Community. One Vision.”

» The addition of Design and Engineering to the Upper School curriculum

» The addition of Mandarin to Crossroads’ language program

» The revamping of the Upper School advising and college counseling system

» The creation of vertical curriculum teams in the Elementary School PERSONNEL

» The hiring of learning specialists for all three divisions

» The addition of school counselors on both campuses

SARA OFFER, ninth grade




Closing My Crossroads Music Career on a High Note

MILES CEBALLOS, 11th grade

By Amy Sze, as told to Cross Sections

Two days before a special concert at Carnegie Hall, senior Amy Sze performed with the EMMI chamber orchestra at the Village Community School in New York.

There’s something incredibly special about performing at world-famous Carnegie Hall. When you’re playing in such a prestigious venue, it really inspires you to deliver your best. It was truly an honor to be there with other Crossroads students in March during the New York Invitational Music Festival. We played Benjamin Britten’s “Simple Symphony” under the direction of Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute conductor Alexander Treger. I actually had the privilege of performing at Carnegie Hall as a soloist in 2017 after winning a violin competition. This time, though, it was even more memorable because I was there with other members of the EMMI chamber orchestra.

As concertmaster, there’s certainly some pressure. I felt that any mistakes would be my responsibility, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. In that kind of setting, so many things go through my mind. I just try to focus on the music. In the end, all that mattered is that we were playing together. Throughout the trip, we really got to bond and spend time with one another. During our visit, we also had the opportunity to perform a recital at the Village Community School for Crossroads alumni who live in the New York area, which was wonderful. I remember being very cold on the trip, but I guess I’ll have to get used to it—I’ll be attending the Juilliard School starting in the fall.


Fourth-Graders Examine the Criminal Justice System At the start of their intensive unit on the U.S. prison population, Crossroads’ fourth-grade students verbalized their assumptions about people who are incarcerated: their backgrounds, their motives and their capacity for self-improvement. By the end of the “deep dive”— part of the fourth-grade curriculum that allocates three weeks to student-centered inquiry on subjects ranging from homelessness to war—the students had formed new ideas about the criminal justice system. “I used to think most people were incarcerated because they did

bad things and they were bad people,” fourth grader Maica Monti says, “but now I realize they could be incarcerated because they had just made a mistake in life.” After choosing to focus their unit on incarceration, students formulated questions and examined statistics on a wide variety of metrics. Students also heard from a host of experts, including law enforcement officials, attorneys, activists and leaders from nonprofits like the Prison Education Project and the AntiRecidivism Coalition. The talks gave students a more complete understanding of the issues.

“This was my first time being part of the deep-dive unit, and what stood out for me was the curiosity that the kids had for this very complicated topic,” teacher Elizabeth Cazenave says. “The topic and the questions came from the kids. They were passionate and wanted to know whether or not prison was fair. They began the unit with assumptions and learned empathy and some understanding about our complicated criminal justice system.” The students presented their findings in two moving Monday Morning Meeting assemblies, attempting to answer the complicated question of whether

prisons help people learn from their mistakes. The first assembly explored the criminal justice system, stereotypes about incarcerated people, prison demographics and daily life in jail. The second installment covered the impact of incarceration on families; the challenges faced by people leaving prisons; data on recidivism; and ideas for reforms. “I used to think people were incarcerated because they did bad crimes or didn’t care about people,” fourth grader Coleman Steele says. “Now I realize they can also be incarcerated because they had a bad childhood or a mental illness. It might not be their fault.”

I used to think most people were incarcerated because they did bad things and they were bad people, but now I realize they could be incarcerated because they had just made a mistake in life. Maica Monti, fourth grader

Right: This year’s fourth graders spent three weeks examining how people end up in prison and considering different ideas for criminal justice reform. Far right: Fourth-grade students taught the Elementary School community about the criminal justice system during one of two powerful Monday Morning Meetings.



Roadrunners Make a Splash in Swimming, Diving By Tara Shima, Athletics Communications Coordinator

Once a year, California hosts a championship meet for the top 40 swimmers in the state. This esteemed competition, among the fastest high school meets in the nation, features recordsetting performances by some of the country’s top college recruits and future Olympians. And this year’s list of invitees included two Crossroads swimmers. Junior Georgia Young, after finishing second in the 200-yard freestyle race at the California Interscholastic Federation sectional finals with a time of 1 minute, 50.31 seconds, was seeded as the 16th-fastest competitor in her event. Personal circumstances prevented her from competing, but her entry

time would have brought her back for the meet’s finals. Her time has been submitted for All-American consideration, the top honor given only to the nation’s fastest 100 swimmers in any given event. Sophomore Katrina Mortenson qualified in both of her individual events, the 100- and 50-yard freestyle races. Her stunning performance in the prelims qualified her for finals. With best times of 23.30 seconds and 49.98 in the 50 free and 100 free, respectively, she earned a place among the nation’s fastest sprinters, bested the All-American automatic-qualifying time in the latter race and took home Crossroads’ first piece of hardware from the state meet with a fourth-place finish.

Crossroads’ first-ever diver, ninth grader Dash Glasberg, had an outstanding showing for the team this year. He made it all the way to the CIF masters meet, which is open to only the top 16 competitors among the four Southern Section divisions. Dash finished in the top 10 and earned the right to apply for All-American status based on his high score of 498. “To say that it was a strong postseason is an understatement,” Athletics Director Ira Smith says. “The swimming program is boasting its first-ever All-American in Katrina and has had the privilege of submitting consideration applications on behalf of Dash and Georgia.”

Left: Crossroads ninthgrader Dash Glasberg had an outstanding season as the first diver in program history. Right: Crossroads sophomore Katrina Mortenson (far left) earned an All-American automatic qualifying time in the 100-yard freestyle race at the CIF swimming championships in Clovis.


Girls Varsity Basketball Team Reaches Section Finals By Tara Shima, Athletics Communications Coordinator

Buoyed by an extended postseason run, the Crossroads girls varsity basketball team had a stellar 2018-19 season. Showing resilience under new coach Ryan Wilde, the squad improved throughout the winter to engineer one of the best campaigns in program history.

“This team continues to grow and gain confidence,” Ryan said during the playoff push. “Our girls are embracing this tournament run, and they have no intention of letting up now.” The squad’s determination—and ninegame winning streak—secured a place for

Crossroads in the section title game against Corona-Santiago at Azusa Pacific University. It was the School’s first appearance in the championship game in more than a decade. Although the Roadrunners came up short, 68-56, their historic postseason finished with runner-up honors and a CIF Southern Section plaque to commemorate their inspiring success.

Left: Senior guard Leily Martin (right) and the Crossroads girls basketball team reached the CIF Southern Section finals in their first season under coach Ryan Wilde. Right: Crossroads junior Taylor Plummer rose for a shot during the Division 3AA title game Feb. 23 against Corona-Santiago.

GISELLE HOLINER, first grade

The Roadrunners’ performance in the regular season earned them a spot in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs, which they entered on a five-game winning streak. They proceeded to build on their momentum with a 54-49 win over Chino, a 63-62 victory against South Torrance, a 52-47 decision against Whittier Christian and a 53-50 triumph over Cathedral City in the semifinals. The stretch included a 20-point comeback at South Torrance and a thriller against Cathedral City at home, where senior Leily Martin teamed up with senior Kennedy Martin for a steal and game-winning layup in the closing seconds.

The Right of Democracy: We all have the right to take part in the goverment of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.



Departing Board Members Honored for Their Service Five longtime members of the Board of Trustees were honored for their dedication to Crossroads and their outstanding service—a combined 94 years— during a special dinner at Tiato on June 4. The evening was marked by heartfelt testimonials from other Trustees as well as remarks by Head of School Bob Riddle and his predecessors, Roger Weaver and Crossroads co-founder Paul Cummins. Ted Miller ’82 is stepping down after 11 years of commitment to the work of the Board, where he served on both the Alumni and Development Committees. He has championed the work of the Alumni Office and has played a vital role in securing donations from both alumni and current parents, bringing warmth and enthusiasm to his fundraising efforts. An alumnus as well as a parent of current students and an alumna, Ted will continue to be an active member of the Crossroads community. Mary Farrell advanced the mission of the School in numerous ways during her many years of service on the Board, which she joined in 2003. The mother of two Crossroads alumni and a current grandparent, she previously served as Parent Association president. She brought her strong work ethic and communications skills, along with her deep love of Crossroads, to several Board committees. She served as Chair of the Development Committee and most recently held the position of Executive Vice Chair. Michelle Brookman ’82, a Crossroads alumna and the mother of two Crossroads alumnae, was an invaluable member of the Board. She served for 19 years, including as a member of the Development and Revenue Committees, and supported the School’s Alumni Relations program. In addition

to providing the School with insights about her own Crossroads experiences, Michelle has approached obstacles large and small with sincerity, respect and humor. She will continue to serve on the Revenue Committee as a non-trustee member.

2018-19 Board of Trustees


Bob Friedman, Chair Nada Kirkpatrick, Chair Designate

David Offer ’84 has been instrumental to the Board of Trustees throughout his incredible 24 years of service. As an alumnus and the father of two alumni and one current student, David has provided a wealth of institutional knowledge to the Board and its various committees. In addition, his real estate expertise has helped the School secure additional spaces on the 21st Street Campus. David served on the Development, Real Estate, Finance and Executive Committees of the Board during his long career as a Trustee. Darlene Chan also spent a remarkable 24 years on the Board at Crossroads, putting her breadth of experience to use in a wide variety of arenas. A mother of two alumni, she has served as Executive Vice Chair of the Board and chaired the Governance Committee. She was a longstanding member of the Finance Committee and prioritized efforts to keep the School affordable for more families. A music producer, Darlene has executive produced all 12 Cabaret productions since 1991 and is a consultant on the School’s new performing arts facility.

Darlene Chan, Executive Vice Chair Mary Farrell, Executive Vice Chair Nat Trives, Executive Vice Chair Jeff Worthe, Executive Vice Chair Deborah Kanter, Secretary Bob Davenport, Treasurer


Andy Baum Trevor Bezdek ’95 Michelle Brookman ’82 Juan Carrillo Christopher Chee Ann Colburn Emilio Diez Barroso Nicole Hoegl


Martin Jacobs

At the end of the term, Bob Friedman stepped down as Board Chair after 11 exemplary years in the position. He will continue to serve on the Board as a Trustee. A 22-year veteran of the Board and parent of three alumni, Bob helped to launch the largest capital campaign in the School’s history, which resulted in the creation of the Middle and Upper School Science Education & Research Facility and the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute. In addition, Bob served as a partner to Head of School Bob Riddle, facilitating his transition into the position 10 years ago and continuing to provide strong support throughout his tenure. Trustee Nada Kirkpatrick—parent of two alumni and one current student—will succeed Bob as the new Board Chair in the fall. Nada has served on the Board for eight years and most recently chaired the Governance Committee.

Marisol León ’03 Jeff Lipp Ted Miller ’82 Marc Millman Sharon Nazarian David Offer ’84 Lois Reinis Tracy Seretean Bruce Stern Tom Werner Erik Wright Lanhee Yung

A dinner on June 4 at Tiato honored the five outgoing members of the Board of Trustees. From left: David Offer ’84, Darlene Chan, Mary Farrell, Michelle Brookman ’82 and Ted Miller ’82.



Alvin Zeidenfeld ’92 and Emiliana Guereca

Alvin and Emi have supported a variety of organizations through their philanthropy, and their focus on education has grown even stronger as they’ve thought more deeply about the world their 9- and 7-yearold sons will inherit. They understand the power of Crossroads’ philosophy. Although Alvin didn’t start at Crossroads until high school, it offered him a transformative four-year experience that allowed him to build bonds with students of all backgrounds and hone the skills he uses today as a fantasy football analyst. “Crossroads being a much more diverse environment— and a rigorous learning environment, but in a creative and laid-back setting—really set me up for success,” Alvin says. “It really gave me the foundation that I needed to be successful both in college and beyond.” rossroads Alvin and Emi enjoy contributing to the Crossroads acurricular Fund, which supports academic and extracurricular enefits for programming; competitive salaries and benefits faculty and staff; and financial aid for one in four students each year. They also support the Financial he School to to Aid Endowment Fund, which empowers the sustain a socio-economically diverse student ent body. bodyy. Emi, who grew up in Chicago and attended ed publi public ic ic schools, says, “It comes down to helping parents s and kids get into schools that they normally ly wou w wouldn’t ldn ldn n’t have access to.” While working in her capacity as executive director of the Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation, Emiliana Guereca received numerous emails from Crossroads students who were interested in getting involved in the annual rallies. The messages sparked conversations between Emi and her husband, alumnus Alvin Zeidenfeld ’92, about the School’s focus on social justice and its mission to help students effect change in their communities.

“It’s important for Crossroads to remain the he diverse environment that it was when I went there, e, that there are opportunities and outlets for these kids,” ds,” Alvin adds. “If there’s a kid who can affect the Crossroads community in a positive way, and contribute ute in a positive way, money shouldn’t be the barrier er for why that kid can’t attend Crossroads.”

MAURICE YOUNG, seventh grade

“How they reached out was really important for us to realize how much our youth are in tune with what’s going on,” Emi says. “We decided that we need to focus on giving back to the community and giving back to our youth.”



Cabaret 2019 Was the Golden Ticket! Crossroads Cabaret 2019 continued a 34-year tradition of showcasing the talent and collaborative spirit—and, yes, the quirks—of our wonderful School. On May 19, Crossroads hosted the show at the gorgeous Wiltern thanks to the generosity of the Rapino family and Live Nation. Almost 3,000 audience members were treated to two performances of an original, full-length “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”-meets-“Star Wars” production. It starred more than 230 students and more than 100 parents, alumni and faculty and staff—and it was incredible!

As you may imagine, an event of this magnitude is only possible because of the time and dedication of hundreds of incredible volunteers. Heartfelt gratitude goes to everyone who helped bring Cabaret 2019 to fruition. In particular, enormous kudos go to our fantastic co-chairs—Deborah Dragon, Tamar Kane ’85, Carly Friedberg and Kevin Neustadt—for overseeing this amazing event and dedicating over a year of their time. Thanks also to auction and raffle co-chairs Emily Usher and Zoe Winkler Reinis and Party Book co-chairs Tasha

Baum, Suzann Levine and Janet Shaw, who worked with many other volunteers to raise more than $625,000 for the Financial Aid Fund. The team at The Wiltern went above and beyond to make us feel welcomed and to accommodate our very large and complicated show with the utmost professionalism and graciousness. In particular, very special thanks go to Molly Gignoux, director of sales and special events, and Reid Bartlett, production manager, for meeting our every need!

Clockwise from top left: “Weird Al” Yankovic steps into the spotlight; the parent ensemble strikes a pose; Head of School Bob Riddle shares a scene with Bill Hader and Jonah Hill ’02; Brian Mulligan and Jonah Neustadt deliver magical performances; Jim Belushi and Marcia Gay Harden bring the funny; David McMillan ’96 pitches his script to Phil Abrams and Steven Weber.


Of course, what would a Crossroads Cabaret be without a one-of-a-kind production? The magic onstage was the result of the astonishing commitment, vision and wit of lead writers Karey Kirkpatrick and Jon Aibel, who, along with the writing team, created a laughout-loud show that celebrated our remarkable School. In addition, there’s deep gratitude owed to the folks who guided the crowdpleasing ensembles: choreographers Chippy Wassung and Sophia Stoller, music director Evan Avery, vocal director Jarod Sheahan and

costumer Kate Listenberger. And a long round of applause is due to show producer Darlene Chan and co-directors Davida Wills Hurwin and David Listenberger, whose collective expertise and leadership guaranteed an outstanding show for all to enjoy. Cabaret 2019 also extended beyond the stage and included fundraising efforts, community building and managing the logistics of an event of this scale. Reprising the role of overall event producer for the seventh time was the

dedicated Mery Grace Castelo, Crossroads’ director of parent relations and special events. Whether you were on the stage, behind the scenes, in the audience and/or supported the event as a sponsor, underwriter, auction or raffle bidder, party book host or attendee, thank you wholeheartedly for being a part of our community and for making Cabaret a truly Crossroadian event!

Clockwise from top left: Student leads (from far left) Jaylen Freeman, Isabella Falchuk, Sophie Beck, Bella Williams, Hudson Scheel, Lindsay Gross, Caleb Mann and Kalia Thompson; Elementary School students bust a move; Jolene Blalock plays a pivotal role; and a finale for the ages!





In cross-divisional discussions about assessments, faculty members focus on student learning.


At Crossroads, grades and assessments do more than record and track students’ achievements: They serve as tools for driving educational growth. During a thought-provoking Professional Development Day on Feb. 14, faculty members discussed how grades can support better teaching and learning. In a workshop called “Equity and Enrichment by Design,” they explored why defining learning goals at each grade level and establishing suitable assessment processes invites enrichment and ensures equity for all learners. The collaborative, cross-divisional discussions gave Crossroads teachers, specialists and administrators an opportunity to engage in important conversations about the characteristics of Crossroads students and how grading systems influence academic progress. Faculty members also created K-12 content maps and connected their work to assessments that drive learning. The goal of the session was to identify and develop a set of core competencies that define Crossroads students’ educational experiences from a holistic perspective. “I always benefit from the opportunity to collaborate cross-divisionally, and I found the dialogue around formative assessment particularly illuminating,” says Josh Adler, an eighth-grade Core teacher and Middle School service learning coordinator. “As a teacher and curriculum coordinator, I plan to modify the way that I use writing rubrics so that these tools are more formative in nature. Rubrics should be instructional resources that students can use to reflect on their experience as learners and set specific intentions for growth.” The day was structured and spearheaded by Katie White, an independent education consultant with more than

25 years of experience in education. The author of “Softening the Edges: Assessment Practices That Honor K-12 Teachers and Learners” and “Unlocked: Assessment as the Key to Everyday Creativity in the Classroom,” White takes a holistic approach to understanding how learners interact with school systems and believes assessment practices should be refined to enhance teaching and learning. For this particular professional development session, White focused on helping the Crossroads faculty members strengthen their grasp of the connections between curriculum, assessment and instruction. “The work we did with Katie White was remarkable, and I know that it has led to discussions and reflection,” Upper School Director Roxanne Zazzaro says. In addition, those conversations were slated to continue in the Mastery Transcript Committee, which collected feedback from members of various School departments. Not coincidentally, the collaborative professional development activities also fulfilled another objective: They helped strengthen the K-12 connections between members of the Crossroads community, a priority for the School, illustrated by the title of the new strategic plan: “One School. One Community. One Vision.” For much of the Professional Development Day, faculty members were divided into two cross-divisional groups sorted by department or curricular area. Specialists and administrators also built partnerships across divisions. Says Doug Thompson, assistant head of school and dean of faculty: “These activities, which were incredibly beneficial to our teachers, will ultimately enhance learning for all of our students.”

Top: Fourth-grade teacher Emma Cothren chats with student Raegan Mitchell about an assignment. Middle: Eighth-grade Core teacher Ebony Murphy-Root observes a student debate. Bottom: Upper School film teacher Tom Kemper (left) and Upper School History Department Chair Drew Devore.





There’s a 48-year-old recipe for Crossroads’ inspiring and invigorating culture of learning, and it goes something like this: Start with a School philosophy that values balanced, studentcentered education as well as creative expression and socialemotional development. Mix in a supportive Board of Trustees and a dedicated administration. Fold in a wonderful community of parents and alumni. Sprinkle the two campuses with engaged learners who bring their myriad skills and passions to school each day. Then add the secret ingredient: Crossroads’ outstanding teachers, who possess the energy, wisdom and strategies to guide students into new intellectual territory. As described in the School’s strategic plan, the entire K-12 faculty and staff have committed to excellence in designing and implementing clear student learning outcomes, instructional strategies and educational best practices across and within departments and divisions. Indeed, whether it’s experiential learning in the Elementary School, peer-to-peer teaching in the Middle School or assessment-fueled growth in the Upper School, the teachers at Crossroads create environments in which students are empowered to discover, grow and thrive.

‘ THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE’ As part of a service learning activity in February to promote an understanding of people with different abilities, fifth-grade students simulated a variety of challenges and physical limitations. Felix Ortiz experienced a day without vision by covering his eyes with a bandana. He recalled wanting to read a graphic novel before remembering that his experience would be dramatically different. “It made me think about how people [with visual impairments] miss not just the words in a book, but the pictures, too,” he says. “I had never thought about that.” Fifth grader Ella Ward went a day without the ability to speak, instead attempting to communicate using only hand signals. “The whole experience was harder than I thought,” she says. The lesson demonstrated a focus on experiential learning in the Elementary School, which faculty members accomplish through a wide variety of thought-provoking curricula and enriching programs. In science classes, students don’t simply learn about the life cycles of chicks and ducklings; they also have the opportunity to chart the

progress of incubating eggs and meet the hatchlings once they emerge in their science classroom. To heighten lessons about food insecurity in Los Angeles, kindergarten teachers took students to deliver groceries to the Westside Food Bank, where they also packed fruit to be distributed to families in need. And for an element of this year’s fifth-grade service learning, teachers guided students through the aforementioned simulation to help them imagine what it’s like to live with a different ability. At the end of the afternoon, group discussions allowed students to reflect on their experiences. Says fifth grader Lars Heraeus: “I’ll never take my eyes, limbs or voice for granted again.”


Elementary School Director

The lesson was further enhanced by a field trip to the Shane’s Inspiration Kindergarten students deliver groceries to Westside Food Bank, which supports families in need.



Erin’s approach reflects Crossroads’ culture of learning in the Middle School, which is characterized by exciting, hands-on collaboration. The barometer for mastery is both challenging and achievable.

Kindergarten students enhance their understanding of hunger in LA by packing fruit at Westside Food Bank.

playground at Balboa Park in Van Nuys, where the Crossroads students interacted with peers with special needs from the Lokrantz Special Education Center. “From the very earliest grades, we really work with kids to be conscious, to be thoughtful and to be engaged citizens of the world,” Elementary School Director Debbie Wei says.

you’re not just memorizing facts for a test.” Erin underscored her point by reminding students that there are multiple levels of understanding. For example, they don’t need to memorize the periodic table; their time is better spent figuring out why, for example, uranium acts the way it does. In addition, she believes that the ability to ask profound questions is a better indicator of success than raw intelligence.

Teachers, as professionals, are some of the most reflective and thoughtful and sensitive human beings. They’re constantly going, ‘How did that land? How can I do it differently?’” MICHELLE MERSON

Middle School Director

It comes as no surprise that many of the Middle School’s biggest events—such as Family Science Night, Core debates and the seventh-grade Great Depression ball—involve peer-to-peer teaching. These activities generate authentic assessments of student learning. Bolstering the culture of learning are weekly roll-call meetings, where the faculty members and deans in a particular grade are empowered to share ideas and discuss classroom strategies with one another. According to Middle School Director Michelle Merson, having


The saying is featured prominently on the board in Middle School science teacher Erin Iwai’s classroom, and it’s a reminder to her students—and to her— about Crossroads’ emphasis on learning with a growth mindset.

In her classes, students begin each day with lab work or written reflections to share with a partner. That way, they’re interacting with the material and gauging themselves before Erin enters the conversation. On her exams, students must synthesize the information they’ve learned to demonstrate a more nuanced grasp of the subject matter.

“When a student says ‘I don’t get it,’ I point to it,” Erin says. “I tell them that learning is a process—

“Learning is challenging,” she notes. “If it were easy, then you could’ve learned more.”

“Everything you don’t know can be learned.”

Middle School math teacher Cooper Bergdahl leads his students in the right direction.


I try to put my students in charge of their learning, so it’s all about them discovering. It’s about me setting them up with the materials or the context they need to discover a concept. My job is to ask them questions that lead them in the right direction.” COOPER BERGDAHL

Middle School math teacher

Students in Middle School science teacher Erin Iwai’s class conduct an experiment.

clearly defined classroom expectations encourages students to take academic and intellectual risks. “Teachers, as professionals, are some of the most reflective and thoughtful and sensitive human beings,” Michelle says. “They’re constantly going, ‘How did that land? How can I do it differently?’” It’s an ideology that comes to fruition in Middle School math teacher Cooper Bergdahl’s classroom, where he often modifies lessons based on how students take to them. With a positive and energetic demeanor, Cooper reminds students that mistakes are the seeds of learning. Every few weeks, he has his students spend a day working on interactive notebooks—filled with color-coded

elements, helpful foldouts and other reminders—that reinforce their comprehension, problemsolving and organizational skills. “I try to put my students in charge of their learning, so it’s all about them discovering,” he says. “It’s about me setting them up with the materials or the context they need to discover a concept. My job is to ask them questions that lead them in the right direction.”

STUDENTS AT THE CENTER When Upper School Director Roxanne Zazzaro introduces her division to new or prospective families at Admission events, she often cautions attendees that she can’t promise what they’ll see during classroom visits.


That’s hat’s because Crossroads tteachers use a wide variety of methods and approaches to meth engage students and to promote engag intellectual growth. intelle


Upper School Director

“We more like a smorgasbord and “We’re not prix fixe,” Roxanne says. “It’s no like i a kaleidoscope, and it changes as you y hold it up and twist it.” You m might see World Languages teachers hers Guy Vandenbroucke and Ana Maria Floyd, for example, guiding their classroom learning with full immersion and using a standards-based grading system that some other departments may eventually adopt. You might see Upper School English teacher Abigail Chew and history teacher Drew Devore relying heavily on the Harkness method, which typically involves configuring chairs in a circle to promote dialogue and discussion. But they also activate students’ minds through traditional,

Upper School history teacher Piya Narayen, seen here with sophomore Zoe Rehnborg, brings discussions of current events into her lessons.

in-depth research papers and project-based learning. In the Crossroads Advanced Studies biology course, you might see science teacher Gina Aumock using video resources from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help students grasp rigorous material.

French teacher Guy Vandenbroucke meets with junior Yuuki Okubo in the Alley.

You might even see technical theater teacher Nick Santiago assisting two students with costume design and sewing as part of an informal independent study. Across disciplines, faculty members constantly evaluate their teaching practices to best serve students and help them draw connections between areas of inquiry. “It’s all about meeting students where their interests are, where their passions are,” Roxanne says. “There are different learning cultures, but the student is at the center of all of them. Students are in competition with themselves, and we work really hard to make each student a successful learner on their level.”

DANIELA STAHLE, 10th grade





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After high school, Cheryl Ausbrooks followed her friends’ lead and got a job, but wasn’t satisfied with her first experience and desired something more. In 1984, she began driving buses, including as a contractor to and from Tumbleweed day camp for Crossroads. The School noticed this sunny, efficient driver and, by 1989, Cheryl was hired on as a full-time Crossroads driver. Currently, Cheryl is the transportation coordinator for K-12 buses. She makes sure that students arrive safely each day for PE classes, field trips, athletics practices, games and EOE excursions. Her work is complicated, erratic and sometimes stressful, but, as Middle School Director Michelle Merson says, “She can’t be—and she isn’t. She’s detailed, flexible, compassionate and professional.”

Cheryl adores working at Crossroads, and she says it’s dramatically different from other work environments. Here, she is welcomed, nurtured and invited to classes and activities; she is included in the life of the School in important ways. Cheryl does so much more than the tasks involved in managing transportation. When she isn’t behind the wheel, she serves as a guide and mentor to staff and students. On EOE trips, she has helped students and employees alike deal with homesickness and freezing and scorching temperatures. (When her son was little, she brought him along—and he remembers every single adventure!) She has given her lunch to a student who’d forgotten his and loaned socks to a tennis player. Away from Crossroads, Cheryl takes care of her mother and spends time with her beloved children, Sheena and Joshua, and her boyfriend of 20 years. That’s Cheryl—there for anyone, anytime.


Invited to events at Crossroads with Ronnie Anderson, then a fellow preschool director, Lisa Doyle experienced the positive energy of the School. And when a kindergarten assistant position opened up, Lisa was happy to come on board. Primarily a kindergarten teacher at Crossroads, Lisa has also served as an associate teacher in third grade with Ronnie; as third-grade lead teacher during a colleague’s maternity leave; as an assistant director when thenElementary School Director Joanie Martin was on sabbatical; and as a longtime faculty representative. She’s a can-do kind of employee. When asked why she loves teaching kindergarten, she says, “Kindergarteners are my people: open, honest and innocent. They aren’t afraid to tell you exactly what they are thinking—good and bad— and they are affectionate and loving.” What Lisa so loves about kindergarteners is exactly what the Crossroads

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community loves about Lisa: She is open, honest, fun-loving and committed. As Ronnie puts it, “Lisa is a force to be reckoned with. She will never hold back when she believes in something, especially when equity and justice are at stake.” Lisa still brings the same level of energy and commitment to kindergarten classes as she did 20 years ago. Her mantra? “Find the gold” in everyone. Lisa appreciates it when students return to reminisce about their kindergarten years; recently, a second-grader arrived in her classroom to say, “Remember when I used to make really bad choices in your class? I don’t do that anymore.” Lisa loves to travel, read historical novels and spend precious time with her husband, Tim, their families and her many friends.




Twenty years ago, Bruce Fisher moved from Oxnard to Los Angeles and came to Crossroads with decades of experience as an artist and as a welder in aerospace and manufacturing. Despite being a master welder, he started in the Facilities Department as a journeyman and broadened his skill set to include services that the School relies upon the Facilities team to provide: plumbing, electrical, drywall, painting and more. According to Gayle Taylor, director of facilities, Bruce has a well-trained eye and often works autonomously on welding projects. Once he’s asked to tackle a problem, he’s able to figure out how to solve it. An expert fabricator, Bruce has worked on numerous campus projects. He has also assisted Crossroads students with a range of assignments


over the years, even helping Noah Goldman ’10 create a trebuchet—a kind of catapult— for a Latin convention. One of Bruce’s favorite sayings around the shop is, “It’s too late in the day to start this job”—no matter what time of day it actually is! It keeps colleagues smiling and, of course, he ends up completing the task with aplomb. Bruce uses his considerable welding skills to make custom ironwork around the city, and he has even donated some of his sculptures to Crossroads auctions over the years. Bruce has managed to win two trips to Paris through School raffles—lucky for him! Mostly, though, Crossroads is lucky to have such a dedicated master welder on staff.

It all began at a wedding in Michigan, attended by David Listenberger and Crossroads music teacher Evan Avery. David sang, and Evan decided then and there that David should be Crossroads’ next choral director. Months later, bright-eyed, 21 years old and new to the field of education, David arrived at Crossroads. David spent his first 13 years at Crossroads as the Middle and Upper School choral director. He also taught music appreciation classes in the Middle School and provided vocal direction for School musicals. He put considerable effort into growing the music program into what it is today, starting with increasing enrollment in our choirs. David has also co-directed four

Cabarets and has been the stage manager for Crossroads’ holiday concerts. David also expanded his range and started to teach a Life Skills class. He was eventually offered the position of Life Skills chair and has served in that capacity for the past eight years. Over the years, David has also been an assistant coach for Middle School soccer teams and Upper School cross-country teams. He has proved to be quite an athlete himself, running more than 10 marathons and a few 100-mile ultramarathons, competing in an Ironman triathlon and riding his bike from Canada to Mexico. Having spent half of his life at Crossroads, David is justifiably proud of his work, especially of directing Cabaret, through which he has revealed yet another talent: teaching dance steps to employees. As Evan says, “David is a treasure to Crossroads.” We agree.




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AUDREY PLATT, 10th grade


Commuting to downtown LA from Santa Monica every day to be the project manager for the area’s largest building was challenging for Gayle Taylor, then a single mom. Answering a job ad in the Los Angeles Times, she landed at Crossroads as director of facilities. She has kept the same title for 20 years, but her job has changed significantly. In 1989, she supervised 32 people, including only five women; now she oversees 70 employees and many more women. She feels singularly blessed to have wonderful “problem-solving managers” who handle their responsibilities and who enable her to look at all things Facilities from a broader perspective. Gayle enjoys the fact that every day on the job is different, and some include constant interruptions. She prides herself on her ability to sort out issues as they come across her desk—even the often-gnarly

parking assignments—with equanimity and grace. Gayle is known for having a positive attitude and joyful spirit and for being one of the nicest and calmest people around campus. She often hands out notes, gift cards or sweet treats to let people know that she has been thinking about them or that she is particularly appreciative of the wonderful job they have done. A proud Philadelphia Eagles fan, Gayle sports team gear every Friday during football season. Years ago, Gayle went to the junior nationals as a competitive figure skater. Still active, Gayle walks, runs and goes to the gym. On Saturdays, Gayle works at husband Brett’s jewelry store. Most importantly, she loves family time with Brett, daughter Candice, her stepsons and grandchildren.



of Upper School admissions under his belt, Doug was asked to take over as dean of students—a job he held for eight years. From his office on the second floor of the administration building, megaphone in hand, Doug saw it all—from Jell-O wrestling in the Alley to the tortilla toss from the roof. Doug appreciates high school students and has enormous patience and a great sense of humor, both of which served him well as dean. To this day, he continues to receive notes from kids who say, “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Why did it take him 35 years to complete 20 at Crossroads? Doug left Crossroads in 2002 to become head of school at Mid-Peninsula High School in Menlo Park. He returned to Crossroads in 2018-19 to serve as the interim assistant head of school and dean of faculty.

Seeking a change of scenery after teaching in Philadelphia for 25 years, Ilene Silk moved to California and found herself mulling five different offers for employment. She chose Crossroads. During her time at the School, she has served as second-grade teacher, Language Arts coordinator, student support services coordinator and, most recently, Elementary School dean. In the classroom, Ilene has the uncanny ability to engage every child in the room. Her students sense that they are important and that the work they are doing requires their greatest care. She makes any topic relevant to every child, convinces each of them that they are capable of incredible things and inspires them to be their best selves. Out of the classroom, what Ilene has done—and continues





Doug Thompson was a college teacher when Crossroads co-founder Paul Cummins lured him to the Upper School with a promise that he could teach 12th-grade Spanish and coach varsity soccer. Doug was surprised when the classroom portion of his job included five sections of ninth-grade Spanish, but he realized the younger students were equally engaged and eager to learn. The School’s soccer program was struggling when Doug arrived, but within a few years he turned the squad into a league contender. Doug also started the Crossroads girls soccer program, which is still thriving today (and of which he is rightfully proud). With one year of teaching and one year as director





to do—as dean cannot be distilled into a tidy job description. She goes far beyond shepherding teachers and families through the process of supporting children. She creates a safe place where everyone feels valued and seen. Her office is often a go-to place for students, parents and teachers in need of counsel, wisdom or solace. Ilene is so many things: foodie, dancer, music lover, social justice warrior, cat devotee and fashionista. At her core, though, she has always been an educator. And the Crossroads community is truly fortunate to have her.



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Francisco Balderas was at Crossroads long before he was employed by the School. An aunt had connected him to the Regalado home (now the 21st Street Campus employee lounge), where he lived from 1978 to 1987. Back then, he says, Crossroads didn’t look like a school: Houses flanked the Alley, and what is now the basketball court was an open field. Francisco started working as a child in Mexico. When he was 6 years old, he would carry lunch to the workers in the fields. By age 14, he was plowing the fields himself. Once he arrived in the United States, he worked as a landscaper in Santa Monica, at the Queen Mary and at Disneyland. His next job was at Medical Chemical Corp., where he worked in the warehouse. Every time Francisco returned to his house on the Crossroads campus and saw then-plant manager Frank Gillette, he would ask for a

job—and his persistence paid off. He started as a part-time employee, cleaning and waxing floors, but his hard work earned him a full-time position. At first, he was the only person to maintain all of the floors; now he has colleague Jose Segura to help him. Francisco still works full-time at both Crossroads and Medical Chemical, regularly putting in 16-hour workdays. Paul Larson, who manages Crossroads’ custodial staff, says, “Francisco is so committed that he rarely uses sick or personal time. He has nearly perfect attendance for his 30 years. He is always positive. I wish we had 10 of him.” Francisco says he loves working at Crossroads because it’s a special place, which means a lot coming from such a special person.


Nika Cavat called on Scott Weintraub, a longtime family friend, to talk about film jobs in Los Angeles. Scott introduced her to Jim Hosney, then a film teacher at both Crossroads and the American Film Institute— and that was it. Nika started as a part-time teacher in Crossroads’ film department. She continued doing script analysis and research for major film studios until she took a full-time position in the English department. Besides serving as department chair, Nika has taught ninthgrade English, an American Studies course incorporating English and history, creative writing and senior seminars. During the summers, Nika has taught film at Crossroads and at the AFI. For three years, Nika traveled weekly to Boyle Heights to teach writing to incarcerated youth at Central Juvenile Hall and, later, at the Venicebased Safe Place for Youth. She not only taught writing,

but also became an advocate for her students once they left Juvenile Hall. These experiences inspired her to organize Juvenile Justice Forum Days for the entire Upper School at Crossroads, during which students learn about issues facing vulnerable populations in the community and engage directly with artists, activists and experts who share their personal experiences. As a freelance writer, Nika has penned critical and literary film essays for Salem Press. Given that the late poet John Ciardi was her godfather, it seems fitting that Nika has been writing poetry all her life. Nika is currently writing a memoir about teaching at Juvenile Hall. On top of her other commitments, Nika is the mother of Crossroads alumna Aurora Hoffman ’13.




Straight out of college, Daryl Roper was training to go overseas to play basketball. However, a friend told him about an opening for a junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach at Crossroads. Daryl loved working with kids, and they loved him. So he decided to stay. In 1989, he was hired as a PE teacher and the varsity basketball coach. Later in his career, he worked with Auxiliary Services to offer athletics programming, but he quickly realized that he was meant to be on the court with kids and not in an office. Thirty years later, Daryl still enjoys the vibe of the Alley, the fun with his colleagues and, of course, the energy of the students. Daryl’s basketball team won a state championship in 1997, but even more gratifying are the connections he has created with students. To this day, he is in touch with many of his former players and







understands the significance of his role as teacher, mentor, guide, counselor and friend. When he isn’t teaching PE or coaching Crossroads students, he can be found working with children at Camp Harmony or the Lakers Youth Foundation, where he conducts fitness and basketball clinics for underserved youth. Daryl has a particular affinity for using basketball to inspire kids to see and seize opportunities beyond their circumstances. Outside of basketball and community service, Daryl enjoys spending time with his partner, Crossroads teacher Dianne Enselman, and his greatest sources of pride are his two daughters, Crossroads alumnae Bree’An Roper ’07 and Lauren Roper ’16.

Despite her father’s admonitions, Luz Zuniga followed her dream to provide better opportunities for her children. She bravely set out for the United States from Mexico with her two young sons and her aunt. Initially, she worked in a machine shop in Venice that made parts for slot machines. She found out about a job opening at Crossroads through her friend’s husband, Miguel Cisneros. At the time, there were only four custodians on the 21st Street Campus. Luz was hired to vacuum and clean in the Middle School building; however, when another crew member was out, Luz helped wherever she was needed, including assisting with security and serving as a crossing guard. Now that Crossroads has a large Facilities Department, Luz no longer needs to help in so many different capacities. In her current position, Luz is responsible for cleaning the

Paul Cummins Library and the Modern Foreign Languages building. Often working behind the scenes, Luz takes care of her essential duties with optimism, professionalism and a sense of humor. Her supervisor, Paul Larson, says that Luz is a team player who does such a thorough job that he’s worked hard to keep her happy in her role. When Luz isn’t working, she takes care of her two dogs, her cat and her garden. Luz says she is grateful to work at Crossroads. The School is incredibly thankful for her 30 years of extraordinary service.



Celia Lee

Exuding a warmth that embodies the Crossroads spirit, Celia Lee has represented the School with compassion, kindness and grace. As managing director of elementary admissions, she has helped countless families understand—and appreciate—the School and its philosophy. It’s all been part of a Crossroads love story for Celia, who is retiring after 18 years at the School. “Crossroads is an exceptional and unique school with an incredible vision, a worthy mission and the warmest community I know,” she says. “I continue to be blown away by the beauty of what is possible at Crossroads.” Celia worked at The Archer School for Girls before starting at Crossroads, where she served as assistant director of admissions and then the interim director of admissions during a colleague’s maternity leave. She was named the K-12 director of admissions at Crossroads in 2006. Throughout her career, Celia strengthened the

Kathy O’Brien

School’s commitment to a student body of social, economic and racial diversity. Today, thanks to Celia’s leadership, more than 50% of Elementary School students identify as students of color. She has also been a member of the Radical Inclusion for Social Equity committee. “Her zeal for Crossroads as an administrator and alumni parent is infectious, and her loyalty, tireless work ethic and passion for helping families have helped Crossroads be consistently in high demand for a very long time,” says Eric Barber, director of enrollment management. “In a relationship-based school likes ours, Celia’s ability to connect with people and make them feel safe and comfortable from the get-go has been a treasure.” In retirement, Celia looks forward to spending time with her family, traveling and supporting causes close to her heart. However, she plans to visit campus for sporting events, Gatherings and more.

Regardless of her job title— and she has had several during her 22-plus years at Crossroads, a testament to her flexibility and wideranging skills—Kathy O’Brien has been an invaluable asset to the School through her work in the Advancement Department. Her institutional knowledge is unparalleled, and her deep connections with colleagues ensure that emeriti remain a part of the Crossroads family. When Kathy joined Crossroads, she expanded the School’s alumni relations efforts and established a number of gatherings, including 10-, 20- and 30-year class reunions; East and West Coast all-class events; and alumni college panels. She also created affinity events focusing on sports, music, art, writing and theater. In her first decade, Kathy served as editor of the Cross Sections and Alumni News magazines and handled the School’s media relations. Her impressive knack for writing also fueled fundraising

proposals, inspiring donors to support Crossroads. Kathy’s fundraising efforts have included Annual Giving projects and support of the Worlds Unimagined capital campaign as its communications manager. She has created case statements; campaign proposals; and endowment communications, and she has continued championing the School in her most recent role as major gifts manager. “Kathy embodies a work ethic and conscientiousness that are increasingly rare in the world today,” says longtime colleague Mery Grace Castelo. “She truly helped build the Advancement Office from its earliest stages and was a collaborative and egoless colleague at every step. The loss of her institutional knowledge and dedication, as well as her wonderful sense of humor, can’t be overstated and will be keenly felt.” Kathy looks forward to new adventures and challenges in her next chapter.


HALEY SUMMERS, ninth grade

Peggy O’Brien

Over three decades and across two departments, Peggy O’Brien—no relation to Kathy O’Brien—has maintained a singular focus: providing students with life-changing experiences at Crossroads. Through the Human Development and Drama Departments, both of which she chaired during her illustrious career, Peggy developed strong relationships with students, employees and community members as a leader, mentor, mediator and friend. “She has touched many of our lives, as well as those of countless students,” Upper School Director Roxanne Zazzaro says. Early in her tenure, Peggy helped transform the Mysteries program from a fledgling activity into an essential component of a Crossroads education. As a Life Skills teacher, she encouraged students to speak from the heart, to listen intently and to solve problems with empathy. Elements of this program are now used in other schools as well as in a variety of business settings.

Peggy also became a fixture in the performing arts at Crossroads through her service to the theater program. Like her work in Human Development, where she helped students interact with one another, Peggy empowered students onstage to develop their characters as parts of a larger whole. Whether directing, managing the operations of the theater or providing insightful feedback to actors, she showed an incredible commitment to students and to the School while contributing to dozens of amazing plays and musicals. Peggy was surrounded by colleagues for a special retirement party June 11 in Roth Hall. It was a fitting sendoff, considering that Crossroads has become a second home for her and her husband, longtime employee and Dean of Alumni Relations Tom Nolan. Peggy and Tom are the proud parents of Jesse Nolan ’01 and Elizabeth Nolan ’03.



New York Reunion Features EMMI Recital Members of the Crossroads alumni network reunited March 12 in New York to celebrate the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute chamber orchestra’s trip to the East Coast. Two nights before performing at world-famous Carnegie Hall as part of the 2019 New York Invitational Music Festival, the EMMI students played a special recital at the Village Community School for alumni and parents and grandparents of alumni who live in the New York area. Thanks to Crossroads alumna Esther Lee ’94, who secured the venue space, members of the Crossroads community enjoyed the exclusive concert and reception hosted by the Alumni Office. It was a wonderful opportunity for alumni to gather in support of current Crossroads students.


The evening was a preview of what came two nights later, when the EMMI group earned a gold award for its stellar performance of Benjamin Britten’s “Simple Symphony” at Carnegie Hall under the direction of EMMI conductor Alexander Treger.


Emily Richardson ’18 (left), Andrew Carter ’03, Sharon Yamada ’81, music program founder Mary Ann Cummins, Ahrin Mishan ’82 (back), friend Pauline Kim Harris (front), Sheryl Staples Centanni ’86 and Marina Chen ’11



2. Michelle Kim ’91 (left), Esther Lee ’94 and Grace Rhee-Kim ’94 3.

Grace Park ’04 (left), Alexander Treger and Mary Ann Cummins

4. Members of the Crossroads alumni community with Head of School Bob Riddle (far right)



Reflections on the Alumni of Color Reception

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By Hassani Scott ’13

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Crossroads alumni, students and employees of color shared their experiences in a Council format during this year’s Alumni of Color Reception in Roth Hall.

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On Feb. 19, a group of alumni and students convened in Roth Hall to cultivate multigenerational alliances and share honest takes on navigating life at Crossroads as people of color. We engaged in Council as our method and allowed the circle to bind us together in truth. The second annual Alumni of Color Reception proved that, across time, Crossroads’ efforts in charging students to think critically and question thoughtfully has left an indelible impact on our spirits and psyches. Alumni and current students expressed themselves with clarity and conviction, sharing important reflections and questions spurred by

our respective and collective experiences that we sometimes have struggled to express during our careers at Crossroads. Hearing current students’ narratives enabled alumni to reflect more deeply and offer wisdom and strategies for triumphantly reconciling who we are with where we are. All in all, the event was a great success. I believe I speak for the other attendees when I say that it allowed us to preserve hope that certain cycles can be broken so long as our sacred circles remain intact.

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All-’80s Reunion The Crossroads Alumni Association hosted a totally awesome All-’80s Reunion in the Alley on June 1, and it was a blast! Graduates from throughout the decade, along with former teachers and administrators, came out to reminisce, reconnect and enjoy one another’s company. It was certainly a night to remember!

>>> 1.

Greg Schell ’88, Stephen Leeds ’88, Dana Blumenthal Weinrot ’93, Jason Blumenthal ’86 and David Weinrot ’87

2. Nicolas Stern ’84 and Nicole Hirsch-Whitaker ’85 3.


Alumni from the ’80s convened in the Alley with Crossroads faculty and staff.


4. The totally rad doughnut wall 5.

Adjoa McDonald ’89 with her husband, David McDonald

6. Former teachers Jim Hosney and Jesse Engdahl with Dean of Alumni Relations Tom Nolan 7.

Andrew Gross ’87, Christiane Jory ’87 and guest William Roe

8. Samantha Levy ’85, guest Jason Deutsch, Gary Spivack ’83 and Marilyn Levy 9.

Lisa Chadwick ’82 and Michelle Brookman ’82

10. Alumni got down on the dance floor!


11. Josh Namm ’86, Charles Haspel ’86, Keith Davis ’86 and Byron Carson ’86


12. Evan Hartzell ’87, Kris Schwartz, guest Gabriela Rosenfeld, John Rosenfeld ’89 and retired Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty Morgan Schwartz





Internship Program Strengthens Crossroads Community

’80s 8


Since launching last summer, the Crossroads Alumni Summer Internship Program has proved to be an amazing vehicle for helping our college-age alumni gain meaningful work experience while expanding and deepening their connection with the School community. It also provides current parents and professional alumni with an opportunity to pay their experience forward by offering summer employment opportunities for our young alumni. Our inaugural summer program was a resounding success for the interns and employers alike, and our cohort of interns and employers doubled in size for summer 2019. The internships have given our alumni valuable work experience and exposure to a wide range of job functions and industries.

This summer’s program featured an impressive variety of positions, including a marketing intern for a natural skin care company; research and analytics interns for a company that aims to make the prices of prescription drugs transparent to consumers; and interns in digital production, development and operations at film and recording studios. There were also opportunities in music management, general contracting, architecture, early childhood education and law. Thanks to parent of alumni Jennifer Happillon and alumna Kate Gordon ’97 for helping Crossroads bring this incredible program to fruition. If you are interested in participating as an employer next summer, please email


Upcoming Events


09/18 Alumni Admission Event Roth Hall, 21st Street Campus

10/06 The Alley Party 21st Street Campus

10/19 1989, 1999 and 2009 Class Reunions The Alley

To learn more about or register for any of our upcoming events, or to update your contact information, please visit or contact us at If you would like to be a part of the planning committee for your reunion, please contact Director of Alumni Relations Jenn Gerber ’97 at




Alumni on Campus We love having alumni on campus, whether they’re back to speak to a class, visit with faculty, attend an event or just stroll down the Alley. Here are some of the graduates who have stopped by recently: 1.



Elisa Abondolo ’17, Chandler David ’18 and Kayla Kayne ’18 spend time with Assistant Dean of College Counseling Brianna Shepard.

2. Erik Thordal-Christensen ’13 and Upper School Drama Chair Davida Wills Hurwin share a hug after many years. 3.

DJ Houston ’18 and Xade Wharton-Ali ’18 check out Senior Projects Presentation Day.

4. Mae Mae Dylan ’18 and Addie Gruszynski ’18 are back in the Alley. 5.




Sofia Lieblein ’18 visits the Alumni Office.

6. Julian Stern ’17 and Alex Frye ’17 pop in to say hello. 7.

Shingo Francis ’88 reunites with Head of School Bob Riddle.

8. Lila Malin ’18 is happy to be back in the Alley. 9.

Julianna Yablans ’18 visits her old stomping grounds after her freshman year at Georgetown.

10. Julian Sears ’15 enjoys being back at Crossroads.




11. Anaiya Martin ’18 and Rhys Adair ’18 can’t stay away for long! 12. Ryder Davis ’18 and Luke Bennett ’18 visit for Senior Projects Presentation Day. 13. Dante Vaisbort ’18 visits from Chicago University, where he is studying classics. 14. Keith Closs ’18 is back on campus for Senior Projects Presentation Day.




15. Nico Gordon ’18 visits Crossroads during a college break. 16. Cole Thomas ’17 comes to visit his former teachers. 17. Levi Kaplan ’18 and Sara Ungerleider ’18 swing through the Alley.








ALUMNI WHO ROCK Maybe they started out performing in the Alley, in the theater and Roth Hall. Perhaps they were a member of the Jazz “A” Band or the 21st Street Singers. Those were foundational moments for former Crossroads students who have ended up playing all over the world. Indeed, the list of School alumni who rock is long—and it’s a wondrously talented group. Crossroads has helped spawn an expansive musical community, and the incredible people within it have supported and collaborated with one another as they have moved into the professional realm. In some cases, that collaboration has lasted for decades. Generational circles continue to work together, while connections across classes and decades have led to beautiful music and meaningful relationships. “[Crossroads] was a great environment, not only because of the school groups, which were excellent, but also because of the encouragement for students to do their own thing and be creative,” says Zac Rae ’97, a pianist, keyboardist and composer who has worked with artists such as Death Cab for Cutie and Stevie Nicks and on music for films such as “The Theory of Everything” and “How to Be Single.” The music community within Crossroads’ alumni network stretches across all genres. These graduates’ collective commitment to training, mentoring and community building has yielded an extraordinary and interconnected pool of working professionals. The music they create and the impact they have are sources of great pride for the School they can always call home!

Many Crossroads alumni, including pianist, keyboardist and composer Zac Rae ‘97, have carved out successful careers in music.

For a sampling of the Crossroads alumni who work in pop, jazz and categories other than classical music, visit

Want to see Crossroads’ collective music talent in action? SAVE THE DATE

XRDSARTS2020: Rock‘n’Roads a Parent Association spring fundraiser at the Hollywood Palladium SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2020

It’s going to rock!




Crossroads alumni remember their experience at school fondly. They feel they were given opportunities to learn in a nontraditional setting and they appreciate the School’s philosophy. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that many Crossroads alumni have become educators at their alma mater, teaching in all divisions, working as staff and across curricula and also serving in the administration. These alumni carry forth the philosophy and traditions of the School, keeping it on track as it continues to evolve. They strengthen Crossroads’ tenets and, in turn, have the opportunity to teach in an exciting, creative environment. “It’s a strong community,” Upper School history teacher Casey Baird ’07 says. “It’s a place where I felt nurtured as a student, so I feel a special duty when working to provide the same for my students.” The vitality of the School, the freedom granted to both students and teachers, the strong sense of community and the collective dedication to the School’s mission make Crossroads a fun and dynamic place to work. Casey says, “I had strong, enduring relationships with teachers who became my mentors while at Crossroads. As a student, I benefited from passionate teachers who had the freedom to experiment and explore. When consid-

ering becoming a teacher, Crossroads came first to my mind. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity. I have fantastic, supportive colleagues. Teaching is the right kind of hard work: stimulating and challenging. When students are really learning and growing, it’s deeply rewarding to see.” For fourth-grade teacher Rieka Jackson ’03, her career in education started at a summer camp. “I discovered I loved working with kids,” she says. Before joining the faculty at Crossroads three years ago, she worked at a preschool in San Francisco and taught first grade at the Dalton School in New York (while in graduate school) and at Curtis School in Los Angeles (where she also taught kindergarten). “I always felt welcome and at home in the Crossroads community,” she says. “I grew into myself as a confident young woman, and Crossroads allowed me to discover my passions and cultivate my interests. “I appreciate and love that Crossroads encourages teachers to create lessons that foster outside-the-box thinking, creativity and upstanding morals in students. We value all opinions expressed from our students, and there is always more than one way to encounter a situation or problem. Crossroads not only teaches students how to be inclusive

The faculty and staff roster at Crossroads features a host of alumni, including (from top) Casey Baird ‘07, Rieka Jackson ‘03, KK Jackson ‘82 and Chrissy Gianni ‘96.

and accepting of all people, but also how to be upstanders for those they see need their help.” Elementary School PE teacher Kevin “KK” Jackson ’82, who also coaches flag football and basketball, is one of the more veteran alumni teachers on campus. He is known to give every child a nickname and has legions of former students who still adore him. KK got the teaching bug when he helped out with a PE Class in 1993. He also worked at the Boys & Girls Clubs in Santa Monica and at the local Police Activities League. “[Crossroads co-founder] Paul Cummins drew me back to the School,” KK says. “I stay because of Paul and the kids. I love teaching and being part of a school I went to years ago.” Chrissy Gianni ’96, who teaches Latin in the Middle School, has worked at Crossroads for 19 years. She feels empowered as a teacher, not only because she is encouraged to impart lessons through games and songs, but also because the School has enabled her to attend numerous professional development conferences to hone her craft. “I love the camaraderie of my department and the support and appreciation from my administration,” she says. “Most of all, I have so much fun! I really enjoy working with Crossroads kids because they are curious and fun, and they enjoy learning.”




“Open-minded, curious learners make for great teachers,” says Crossroads alumna Alison Ritz ‘92. The accomplished educator wasn’t describing herself, but she might as well have been. A social studies teacher in New York for close to two decades, Alison spent 12 years at a small arts-based high school before moving to an all-girls public school, The Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx. Teaching has fulfilled her many passions: public service, activism, the arts and youth development. When Alison isn’t teaching, she is providing college counseling for mostly first-generation, low-income students and being a mom of two teenagers. With her twin sister, Jessica, Alison arrived at Crossroads in seventh grade in 1986. By the time she was in eighth grade, her commitment

to activism both within and beyond the School was strong. Off campus, she participated in Brotherhood and Sisterhood International and the Los Angeles Student Coalition, and at Crossroads she was an early organizer of the gay student alliance. Crossfire, the student newspaper, was her passion for all four years of high school. Alison was a beat writer in ninth grade, a sections editor during her sophomore and junior years and served as editor-in-chief as a senior. She considers herself incredibly fortunate to have had Tina Turbeville as her mentor, one of many teachers who helped her develop as a student and as a citizen. Alison says her Crossroads experience applies to her work daily. She is keenly aware that “social-emotional learning,” now a buzzword in many schools, was a basic principle of Crossroads since its inception. As she continues to grow as an adult in a community of learners, Alison values the deep friendships she formed at Crossroads. She also recalls how Paul Cummins and other administrators modeled leadership and how her teachers inspired her to grow. “I love Crossroads for the challenges to think, read, write and converse in constructive rigor, along with the space to create and perform in a supportive community,” she says.

In this issue, we highlight alumni who have pursued careers in all levels of education, from elementary school through graduate school. Inspired by their experiences at Crossroads, they have helped nurture the next generations of students and citizens.


Julie Yannatta continues to have success with her record label, Be Why Music. Opium Moon, an artist on the label, won the 2019 Grammy for Best New Age Album. This is the second Grammy award in three years in this category for an artist on her label’s roster. White Sun won in 2017. CLASS OF 1988

Stuart Townsley is still alive and running a busy family portrait studio in Las Vegas. He’d love to connect with any alumni in Los Angeles or Las Vegas, especially artists (and struggling artists). He is happily engaged to Noymany Kormany and the father of two adult children.




Crossroads instilled in Meredith Pegula both a desire to help others and a joy in doing so. Five years ago, with her daughter Juliette in seventh



grade at Crossroads and student Jaxon Blumenthal battling cancer, they co-founded Chords2Cure to organize a fundraising concert— featuring Crossroads students and guest artists—to benefit pediatric cancer research. The fifth annual Chords2Cure concert was in March at the Broad Stage, and the nonprofit has raised more than $500,000 for Jaxon’s oncologist Noah Federman’s research at UCLA. The group’s goal is to use music to find better treatments and ultimately eradicate pediatric cancer. Learn more at CLASS OF 1990

Ryan Englekirk earned his Ph.D.— finally!


Alwyn Hight Kushner writes, “I met my husband, James, 10 years ago at the Cannes Film Festival. We were both there for work and met at a dinner in Cap d’Antibes. We live in Bel Air with our 3-year-old son, Hunter, and our 19-month-old daughter, Havana. We enjoy playing in the backyard,

J.A. Adande ’88 liked writing when he came to Crossroads as a ninth grader in 1984, and his talent flourished in Jim Hosney’s film classes and Jake Jacobusse’s English class. He was also member of the junior varsity basketball team for two years but injured his knee after his sophomore year, stunting his playing career. “It was actually a blessing,” J.A. says, “as it allowed me to focus my attention on editing Crossfire.” Thinking back on his time at the student newspaper—J.A. was the campus editor as a junior and served as sports editor and co-editor-inchief as a senior—he recalls, “We put so much into those issues. Even if they only came out three or four times a year, it got me hooked on seeing my byline in print.” Crossfire sparked a journalism career that continued at The Daily Northwestern, which helped J.A. land college internships at the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Miami Herald. He then held full-time jobs at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Post and the LA Times, which was an original newspaper partner for the ESPN talk show “Around the Horn.” Following his work as a regular show panelist, he began covering the NBA full-time for ESPN in 2007. These days, J.A. is the director of sports journalism and an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of

Journalism where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and oversees the graduate sports media specialization program. J.A. tries to pass on to his students a lesson he learned in Jim Hosney’s class: to view things with a critical eye. “That doesn’t mean criticize as in seek out the negative aspects,” he says. “It means to consider everything: the composition of the ‘scene’ that’s in front of you, the interaction of the ‘characters,’ the significance of the movements.” For J.A., Crossroads was an intimate and nurturing environment that allowed him to develop his voice—and get noticed—at a time when he was much quieter. “Even though I wanted to go into journalism,” he says, “I doubt I would have taken the initiative to write for the school paper if Ann Colburn hadn’t ‘drafted’ me after I was in her English class in ninth grade.”


hanging out at the beach and going out for croissants or soup dumplings. We love to travel whenever we can; Tahiti is our favorite destination. I recently resigned from the TCL Chinese Theatres, where I was president and COO for eight years.” Joshua Podell has identical twin sons who recently turned 5 months old. Their older brother had a fabulous fourth birthday party at Underwood Family Farms. Joshua and his wife are doing their best to balance work, family and sleep. CLASS OF 2001

Nicole Frand writes, “I’m living in Brooklyn and am about to complete my doctorate of nursing practice at Columbia. I’m working as a nurse practitioner in the neuroscience department at a New York City hospital. Some of my closest friends are my fellow Class of 2001 alumni. I recently went on a weekend trip with three other alumnae and reconnected with a bunch of the old Crossroads crew at a wedding in November. I enjoy attending the awesome alumni events, and I’m incredibly grateful for my two years at Crossroads. I look forward to reconnecting with many more of you in the future! Aho Mitakuye Oyasin!” Cindy Quintanilla Greene was recently promoted to assistant vice president at Mechanics Bank in Mansfield, Ohio. KRISTY LEE, 10th grade




Charlie Jasper writes, “I



went back to campus recently a national Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation. Later, she worked part-time as a university field supervisor for the UCLA Department

Long before becoming a teacher, Jamila Banks ’90 absorbed her experiences at Crossroads like a sponge. She nurtured a love of Spanish; took inspiring science classes and memorable Environmental and Outdoor Education trips; joined the 21st Street Singers; and participated in track and field, basketball and volleyball, later earning induction into the Crossroads Athletics Hall of Fame. During her time at Howard University, she studied abroad as a junior at the Center for Bilingual Multicultural Studies in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She had ample support from Rebeca Ana-Bailey, her Spanish teacher at Crossroads. Her career in education began alongside Rebeca, teaching kindergarten in a dual-immersion language program at Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles. She then transitioned into a teaching position in a bilingual program at Loreto Street Elementary School, where she received

of Education to provide support to students pursuing teaching credentials and master’s degrees in education. It was around this time that Jamila had a son, Crossroads alumnus Xavier Carr ’17, who currently attends the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. Jamila shares, “[The job at UCLA] allowed me to continue working in the field of education while providing time with my son during his primary years. When Xavier was ready to attend preschool, I returned to teaching fulltime at La Salle Avenue Elementary School in South Los Angeles.” Since 2012, Jamila has been teaching kindergarten in the dual-immersion Spanish and English program at Edison Language Academy, an award-winning school in Santa Monica. She is on the school leadership team for her grade. Reflecting on her own education, Jamila says Crossroads impressed upon her the importance of building a positive rapport with students and families. What she cherishes most from her Crossroads experience, she says, is “the positive encouragement I received to be courageous in pursuing my interests, even if they are not the norm.”

and met with Dean of Alumni Relations Tom Nolan, and I really got a good feel for where our old stomping grounds are headed. I’m pretty pleased! I left the Army and now work in corporate security and as a consultant. I got married about two years ago, and my wife and I have been house hunting with an amazing real estate agent: Nick Collins ’04! I have also been working in the outdoors and teaching cooking classes with Adventure Aide, and I volunteer for the Los Angeles Jewish Home. By the way, LAJH has a golf tournament coming up—let me know if you’d like to play!” CLASS OF 2003

Tanya Paperny writes, “I’m still a writer and editor in Washington, D.C., where my work covers the intersections of violence, trauma and resilience. My poem ‘Prababushka’ was recently selected as Poem of the Week by Split This Rock, and I joined a collective of Soviet poets and first-generation Americans of Soviet descent. I also published an essay in Lilith Magazine about losing my beloved Jewish summer camp to the Woolsey Fire. In April,


I visited Crossroads to teach a lesson on personal essays in Nika Cavat’s English classes, and I loved seeing so many familiar faces. I’d love to hear from other alumni,



especially LGBTQ-identified folks or those working in creative to talk together and do something about the barriers that have kept so many young people in Oakland from obtaining a college degree,” she

professions! Find me on Twitter (@tpaperny) or sign up for my occasional newsletter (tinyletter. com/tpaperny). CLASS OF 2004

Melissa Gilbert got married to Casey Jacobs on Sept. 15, 2018, in Los Angeles. The couple met through mutual friends. CLASS OF 2010

Kaela Farrise writes, “I graduated from Antioch University in Los Angeles with a master’s in clinical psychology in December 2018. I’m moving to the Bay Area to pursue research in psychology and licensure as a marriage and family therapist.” CLASS OF 2011

Phillip Golub writes, “A full year out of school has demonstrated that the freelance musician life is indeed possible! I’m living mostly in New York but am often in Boston or back in LA for teaching or music work. It seems it’ll always be a balance between piano, writing and paying bills. I’m getting married this summer to a philosophy Ph.D. student who grew up in Istanbul. That’s about eight years in a nutshell!”

Leslie Hsu Freeman ’01, who started at Crossroads in seventh grade, knew she wanted to be involved in social justice. As a junior, drawing inspiration from volunteer outings at a Santa Monica food bank and at a continuation high school, Leslie founded a student club called SOUL to explore social justice issues. “My mission has always been to be a part of changing the structural barriers that prevent marginalized young people from being able to pursue their dreams,” she says. Leslie now works for the Oakland Unified School District, where she manages a dual enrollment program that enables students to take community college courses at their high schools. “It’s a pretty powerful way for the high school district and our four local community colleges

says. The program, available at all Oakland high schools, serves about 2,000 students annually. Leslie’s Crossroads experience influenced her career path. “My immigrant parents sold our house and moved us into a two-bedroom apartment across town to put me and my two sisters in Crossroads,” she says. “They wanted us to get the best possible education—they knew that that was the best gift they could give us in a world where not all things are created equal.” Leslie is working to provide opportunities, she says, “in the same way my parents and Crossroads did for me.” While Leslie has seen firsthand the benefits of public education, she also recognizes the impact of attending Crossroads. “The opportunities, depth of experience and care I received at Crossroads were like nothing else,” she says. “I remember going to UC Berkeley and then Harvard for my master’s and thinking to myself, ‘I got lots of this and more at Crossroads.’” Leslie believes Crossroads prepared her both academically and socially, developing more than her hunger for knowledge. “I wanted to change the world in some way,” she says. “Crossroads cultivated that in me.”



Luna White writes, “I moved to Chicago!” CLASS OF 2016




Rosenberg studied Kyle Moss ’06 had no intention of becoming an educator. He went to the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied history, but he graduated without a clear idea of what he wanted to do. He worked in the Bay Area as a curriculum editor, line cook, freelance writer and travel blogger. He also traveled widely through West Africa, spending time among Bedouin people. “It wasn’t until I fell into a job as an after-school teacher in Oakland that I found something that I wanted to invest in,” he says. “I decided to get my credential and have since taught fifth grade and kindergarten in Oakland public schools. I felt then, as I do now, that teaching hits that sweet spot for me: It always feels engaging, challenging and important.” Kyle came to Crossroads as a sixth grader. Asked about his passions as a student, Kyle says, “My interests evolved during my time there. I was particularly inspired by Tom Laichas’ history class and Tom Kemper’s film classes.” In the extracurricular world, Kyle was the only student in his grade who played jazz and a sport (baseball). “I took both seriously,” he says, “and they’re both still important hobbies in my life.” Crossroads has colored Kyle’s perspective of his daily work. “I had so many diverse opportunities and passions to explore in small, well-

resourced classes with attentive and approachable teachers,” he says. “My subsequent career in education has really shown me what an enormous privilege that was. “My time at Crossroads shaped some of the core values I have as an educator, like my commitment to making social justice, creativity and critical thinking explicit parts of my practice. I think it also shows up in the deep interpersonal connections I try to establish with my students. “At the same time, I had to recognize early in my career that my role as a teacher is not to redo a more perfect version of my own education, but to reach the students in my class, including the ones with different needs and experiences than I had.” Kyle currently teaches kindergarten at Montclair Elementary School in Oakland. “I’ve gotten to the point,” he says, “where I truly cherish working in public education and couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

abroad in Florence, Italy, with a concentration in art history. CLASS OF 2018

Anna Abondolo writes, “I just finished my freshman year at the New England Conservatory, where I’m studying bass. One of the most memorable experiences was playing three sets of big band music every night on a transatlantic cruise from Lisbon to Ft. Lauderdale. Being on the boat was absolutely incredible, and I loved getting to know all the musicians in the band. After the cruise, I returned to school and continued to work, practice and play with my peers and teachers. I was fortunate to gig a lot around Boston this year and am so grateful to the teachers who took me under their wing.”

To submit a class note and/or update your contact information, please visit


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Mark your calendars! The Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute Presents THE 2019-20 YOUNES AND SORAYA NAZARIAN EQUITY & JUSTICE DISTINGUISHED LECTURE SERIES IBRAM X. KENDI / Monday, September 9, 2019 Author of “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America”

WINONA LADUKE / Monday, October 14, 2019 Native American land rights activist and environmental justice advocate

ZENON NEUMARK / Tuesday, December 17, 2019 Holocaust survivor and author of “Hiding in the Open”

ROBIN DIANGELO / Wednesday, March 4, 2020 Author of “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism”

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE SYMPOSIUM / Wednesday, April 22, 2020 Details to follow *All events are open to the public and will be held at 7 p.m. in the Joanie Martin Community Room: 1634 18th St., Santa Monica, CA 90404.