What We Did Over the Summer

Written by Dr. Laura Blankenship, Dean of Academic Affairs

Myriam Harvey lead a 9-day trip to Peru for Upper School Spanish classes in June.

When I was in school, we often had to write a “What I Did Over the Summer” essay during the first few days of school. I’m sure many of us did, and I’m sure many of us filled the page with descriptions of leisurely activities like swimming, hiking, or just watching tv. While faculty do have the opportunity to get in those leisurely activities, many are just as likely to have spent some portion of their summer participating in workshops or classes, attending conferences, reading new materials for their courses, or redesigning their curriculum. What follows are some of the highlights of the activities our faculty participated in that ultimately create a better educational experience for our students.

Kathy Gates (3rd grade) and Christie Reed (Science) both traveled and did work under the Reed Fellowship. Christie received the fellowship for the 14-15 school year and Kathy received it for the 15-16 school year. Kathy spent time traveling to National Parks while Christie continued her work at the Biology Institute at Exeter. There will be a more extensive overview of their work coming soon.

Athena Anthopoulos (4th grade) spent three weeks in Greece visiting her family and spending time with her two daughters. In addition to some rest and relaxation, Athena also visited museums and historic sites. She also observed and learned from the austerity measures that the Greek population finds themselves under. She says she is already making changes at home to curb the wasteful use of valuable resources and plans to bring some of those ideas into her classroom.

Stephanie Greer (LS DREAM Lab coordinator) was very busy this summer. First, she went to Constructing Modern Knowledge, where she spent the week prototyping, programming, networking, attending lectures and fully immersing herself as a learner. One of the highlights of the workshop was when she had dinner with Carla Rinaldi (of the Reggio Schools in Italy). It was a very special night, she says, as she is a fan of both Carla and the Reggio approach to learning on which she had spoken. She also attended a conference on the Question Formulation Technique, a process she’ll be sharing with the rest of the Lower School faculty and she visited a company that makes a machine that will allow us to upcycle 3D filament as part of her plans to make her classes more environmentally friendly.

Monica Henkel and Carol Beaverson (Kindergarten) attended a class at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Unlocking Creativity. They learned about fostering creativity in students and incorporating playful learning into their classes. They heard from world-class educators and participated in hands-on activities such as creating a Rube Goldberg Machine that encourages creative problem solving. They took away several important messages. From Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute at University of Pennsylvania, they were encouraged to rethink the definition of educational success and the ways in which education might stifle creativity. And from Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Temple University Professor of Psychology, they learned to appreciate the importance of play in the learning process, especially when it comes to interpersonal and collaborative skills.

Anne-Mette Hansell (5th grade) and Kathy Gates (3rd grade) attended a workshop on Google Apps for Education at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. The workshop focused on educational strategies, identified differentiated strategies within Google’s suite of tools and gave the participants an opportunity to experience Google Classroom from a student’s perspective. For more about Google Apps, check out this video.

Lynn Cohen, Christy Renninger, Barb Cass, and Jen Lee (Middle School Math) all worked together to develop curriculum for the new math sequence in Middle School. They created more hands-on activities and plan to leverage tools such as Khan Academy in order to further support student learning and to provide opportunities for review and challenge as needed. Lynn Cohen worked on strategies to support the MS teachers within the classroom, further assisting in differentiation for students. Christy Renninger also spent a good portion of her time developing the new Micro and Macro Economics classes, which she is very much looking forward to teaching.

As part of researching new approaches to the math curriculum, Jen Lee attended the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of Mathematics where she learned about some new techniques for teaching math, both hands on and online. She learned about foldable notes, an interactive physical method for taking and interacting with notes. She also discovered that Rubik’s Cube has a lending program and will be borrowing 30 Rubik’s Cubes to use with her students.

Matthew Bunn used his grant money to purchase some new books and spent time developing the new 8th grade History course. Thanks to Baldwin’s support, he was able to complete the curriculum for all seven of his units!

Kristen Brown (Art), Gabbie Alvarez-Spychalski (Spanish), Cindy Lapinski (MS Director), and Katie Burke (Computer Science) went to the MCRC session with Rosetta Lee and Alexandra Scott. Kristen had seen Rosetta Lee before, but appreciate hearing some of the same topics again. And she was impressed with Alexandra Scott’s discussion of supporting transgender students.

Lauren Friedman-Way (Library) attended Columbia Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project where she learned specific strategies for teaching Reading and Writing. Her big take-home was following: “[E]very student is capable of greatness, but we have to measure that greatness by the abilities of the individual student; that every child works harder when praised for what they did right instead of scolded for what they did wrong; that we have to manage our expectations of our students, while still keeping them high – you have to go into your class assuming that all of your students will rise to your expectations, instead of going in assuming that they will probably fail; and that being a student is hard!”

Aileen McCulloch (Drama) participated in an online course, called Untangled – Educating Adolescent Girls led by Lisa Damour, the author of the book Untangled. She found it tremendously enlightening and recommends the book itself to parents and teachers. She especially learned a lot about the ways middle school girls interact with each other and their parents and how we tend to make some of the changes girls naturally go through into a negative, when we don’t do the same for boys. I highly recommend talking to Aileen about her experience and to look for more details coming out on the blog soon!

Caedmon Haas (Latin) attended Rusticatio Virginiana, a one-week program in which participants pledge to speak, read, and write entirely in Latin for the duration of their stay. She improved her oral proficiency in the language and gained many strategies for using “active” (i.e., spoken and heard) Latin to generate higher levels of student engagement and achievement. One of the official “work” sessions each day had participants reading texts from 100 BCE to 1800 CE (all about Africa; that was this year’s theme), and she came away with a renewed sense of Latin’s importance to cultural continuity in the West.

Vicky Gold (Art) attended a class on making different kinds of books. The class was intense, 9 hours each day. She made 7 different types of folded books, and 3 bound books, a Mongolian Board Book, a Pyramid Book and an Accordion Book. She learned about various inks and techniques to make decorative papers. She cut stencils, made mono prints and layered images on top of the decorative papers. She learned about many different kinds of paste, inks and tools. Every day was a completely new experience. She looks forward to sharing what she learned with her students.

Katie Burke (Computer Science) participated in an online class called Introduction to Independent Schools. New to independent schools, Katie thought it would be important to find out more about the culture and expectations found in independent school classrooms.

With his grant money, Fred Kountz (History) purchased books for his already extensive collection and traveled to the Holocaust museum in D.C. in preparation for his elective on the Holocaust. He hopes to have students visit the museum and conduct research in the library.

Caitlin McLane (History) spent her summer working on curriculum for the new 9th grade Modern World History course. She worked with fellow 9th grade History teachers Ingrid Herrera and Matthew Bunn to lay out the units, transfer the resources from the current 10th grade Modern World History course, and create new, developmentally appropriate assignments and assessments for 9th graders. Ingrid and Caitlin also spent time discussing essential study skills and discipline-specific history skills that they want their new 9th grade course to teach. Along with her work on the 9th grade course, Caitlin spent time revising and building out my elective on Modern East Asian History and attending two professional development conferences: Facing History and Ourselves seminar “The Reconstruction Era and the Fragility of Democracy” in Brookline, MA and Gilder Lehrman’s seminar on World War I in New York City.

Gretchen Boger (History) traveled to France and Switzerland where she visited the sites related to John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation. She was able to see the churches Calvin established for early Protestants and the Huguenots, and a museum documenting much of the Reformation’s Geneva-specific history. In Paris, Gretchen particularly valued an exhibit at the Shoah Memorial Museum about women of the French Resistance. Finally, she spent the third leg of her trip in Normandy, visiting the D-Day beaches, as well as Impressionist sites and the ancient abbey of Mont St. Michel, where she was able to witness Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France.

Josiane Mariette (French) attended the Oxbridge program’s seminar in Paris where she met other French teachers and spent time discussing curriculum and strategies for teaching French. Josiane noted that the teachers were from a wide variety of backgrounds, so she got to hear many different points of view about the teaching of the French language.

Myriam Harvey (Spanish) used the Blair D. Stambaugh Award for Student and Faculty Enrichment grant to lead a 9-day trip to Peru for Upper School Spanish classes in June. The journey began in Peru’s capital city of Lima.There the students spent 2 days learning about the fusion of several ancient civilizations with the Spanish conquest and the city’s evolution into its current contemporary state. Then they flew to Cuzco where the students spent 3 days learning about the Incan Empire. In Cuzco, they explored the ruins of Ollantaytambo and Sacsayhuaman before traveling by train to Machu Picchu. The journey ended in Puno, where they took a boat ride on Lake Titicaca and visited the Taquile and Uros islands. The students spent 3 days visiting indigenous communities living on the floating islands. Most important, the students and Myriam experienced first-hand the importance of learning language and history outside of the classroom.

Adrian Cox (Athletics) directed the Baldwin Summer Select soccer program for U10 and 11 girls. The program ran for five weeks in June and July on Lower Field and attracted over 35 players from the area. The teams trained two evenings per week and played in two tournaments in Lancaster, PA and Fort Dix, NJ. Baldwin varsity soccer players Lauren Bracken ’19 and Celia Page ’19 were assistant coaches in the inaugural program. Megan Adelman’ 23, Violet Paiva ’23 and Gabrielle Reiser ’24 participated in the program and did a fantastic job. The program was a big success and in 2017 there will be teams offered in the U9-13 age groups.

Mira Ramchandani (Jewelry) enrolled in a stone setting class. It was a one-on-one hands-on workshop that focused on four different types of stone settings.  Settings included a pre-made tube setting, claw settings and a four-pronged setting to a rectangular faceted stone. The class was one of the more advanced and fun classes that she has taken in a long time.  She plans to show the girls how to set faceted stones and inspire them to be creative not only in working with metals but in stone setting as well.

Grade 9 in Italy: The Experience of a Lifetime

Written by Jane McAleese ’19 and Celia Page ’19.

12237208_1646206695619887_933614247_nFor the past four years, every freshman class has had the amazing opportunity to go to Italy. Our grade, Class of 2019, had the chance to take this fascinating trip in November 2015. We traveled to three cities including Rome, Siena and Florence. There, we saw many famous paintings, sculptures and historical buildings. We also experienced the culture in many unique ways such as eating medieval recipes and completing a scavenger hunt in Florence based on the book A Room with a View. We started our trip in Pompeii, where we went on a walking tour of the city and were able to see how different it was compared to every other city we observed. After the first day when everyone wasn’t so jetlagged, we started our three days in Rome. We saw famous monuments such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon. On our third and last day in Rome we visited the home of the Catholic Church leader, Pope Francis. We took a tour through the The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. The next day we headed off to Siena, where we went on a walking tour and had some free time to shop in the local stores. After a night in Siena we loaded our luggage onto the bus and headed for Florence. On our way to Florence, we stopped in the hilltop town of San Gimignano, and walked around town with our friends. San Gimignano has breathtaking views that can’t be found anywhere else. After our time in San Gimignano, we had an amazing lunch on a scenic farm. What was unique about our lunch was that everything that we ate was either grown or produced on the farm, literally farm to table. It was one of our grades favorite meals while we were in Italy. Our last stop was Florence. When we were there, we went to the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Museum, and saw famous sculptures such as the statue of David.

Our trip to Italy was a great experience for our class as it provided us with knowledge on the country from different perspectives. The tour guides, who were natives of the different cities, showed us not only the educational significance of the different buildings, statues etc., but also the importance of the object to the town. For example, the statue of Romulus and Remus (located in Rome) shows the story of how the brothers founded the famous city. However, the statue means much more to the people of Rome. Not only does it depict how their city was founded, but it also symbolizes the independence and power of the Romans, two concepts that were very important in ancient times. Italy also allowed our class to connect the information we heard to concepts we have learned in English, world history and art.  As previously mentioned, we had a scavenger hunt in Florence where we had to step in the shoes of Miss Lucy Honeychurch, the protagonist in A Room with a View, a book that we read in the beginning of the year. This is a story of a young woman’s adventures in Italy and how they affect her life. In Rome, we were able to connect the famous buildings, such as the Colosseum, to the content we have studied in history thus far. In class we learned about gladiatorial combat, animal fights and the criminal executions that would take place in the Colosseum and it was quite interesting to see where these forms of entertainment took place. The art portion of our curriculum was showcased all over Italy, from the beautiful Michelangelo paintings in the Sistine Chapel to the statues shown in the Uffizi Art Gallery. Art was shown in many different forms in Italy.

Overall, our Italy trip was incredible and definitely unforgettable. One of our favorite parts of the trip was the opportunity to bond with our classmates, new and old, and form new friendships.  Another highlight from the trip that cannot go unmentioned was the delicious food. From the different types of pasta to the countless flavors of gelato, the food was all so amazing there. We’re so fortunate to have had this experience, and on behalf of the Class of 2019 we would like to thank everyone who made it possible. We hope this will be a Baldwin tradition that carries on for a long time!

A Journey Through Baldwin’s History: Introducing Our Digital Archives

Written by Madeleine Marr ’17

Madeleine MarrWhen people ask me on Lamplighter tours what my favorite thing about Baldwin is, I have always told them that it’s the history of the School. I’ve always loved that there are stories from decades ago that are set in the same classrooms where I’m making my own memories; it gives me a sense of sisterhood with all of the girls who came before me, who walked down the same hallways and sat at the same desks. Before this summer, I knew only the pieces of Baldwin’s history that I have heard from the Admissions team and from the alumnae who have spoken at assemblies. I had also gleaned snippets of information about student life at Baldwin from the decades of old yearbooks that are available in the Anne Frank Library; I spent many free periods sifting through the pages, picking my favorite senior quotes and attempting to understand what life was like at Baldwin forty and fifty years ago.

Pouring over the Prism yearbooks, I began to notice how astonishingly ahead of the times Baldwin students were in the 1950s in terms of women’s education. In the spring, I decided (in true Baldwin girl fashion) to spend the summer researching and writing about the radical nature of Baldwin education during that period, using the old Prisms as my primary sources. When I asked Ms. López-Carickhoff if I would be able to access the yearbooks over the summer, she invited me to join her and a small team of student interns in digitizing materials from the archives over the summer. I said “yes” immediately, and I couldn’t wait for school to let out so I could get started sifting through 127 years of photographs, records, and correspondence.

My first week in the archives was overwhelming! I was working together with Lolly Anapol, and we knew that we would have to begin developing an organizational system if we were to work through the thousands of stored photos and documents on the third floor. We spent hours learning the cataloging system developed for the archives in 1989. I decided to focus first on scanning selections from the ten boxes of catalogued photographs, as the 60+ boxes of written documents seemed daunting. In addition to the boxes of catalogued photos, we later discovered dozens of additional photo boxes and piles of polaroids scattered throughout the archives rooms.

As I began combing through the photo boxes, I couldn’t believe the snapshots I was finding. My favorites were the prom pictures from 1968 and 1969 – my first prom will be this year, and it was so incredible to see the same ritual played out by Baldwin students forty-seven years ago. I also loved seeing candid pictures of Baldwin girls having fun with each other between classes or after school. I felt such a connection with my predecessors who had the same experiences that I am having now. I read recollections written by alumnae, and they spoke of the same anxieties about homework, the same joy at having dances and parties, and the same guilty pleasure for the cafeteria cookies.

As I continued wading through the thousands of papers in the archives, I learned so many bits of information about life at Baldwin. I will forever have a surplus of information stored in my mind about my alma mater. Realistically, this will serve me no real purpose other than impressing other Baldwin students with how much I know about, for example, the history of flu epidemics on the campus. As I am a nerd, I immensely enjoyed every new item I discovered, and many of my friends can attest that I sent them multiple texts about the “coolest” new thing that I had learned. For example:

  • Ida Tarbell, the famous female journalist and muckraker, was the Commencement speaker in 1920
  • The 75th Anniversary of the school was celebrated with a conference on women’s roles, which included speakers such as Margaret Mead
  • Baldwin students were featured twice in Seventeen Magazine, in the 1970s and 80s
  • An alumna who went on to become a celebrated Broadway and Hollywood star in the 1930s used the name of a beloved Baldwin music teacher as a tribute

The information about our school’s past helped connect me to the generations of women who graduated before me and went on to achieve amazing things. I had always loved the history connected with Baldwin, but through my immersion in the archives I was able to create a fuller picture of what life was like at Baldwin so many years ago, and through that I feel like I am a part of this huge, connected story. I am so proud of the amount of information that the other interns and I have made available through the Baldwin Digital Archives project. I hope that by making this invaluable resource available online, more people will be able to discover the history of our school and benefit in the same way that I have.

Sharing My Admiration of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speech given by history teacher Fred Kountz at the All School Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Assembly on January 12.

This talk is a shorter version of a chapel homily I gave at the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, January 2011.

Fred KountzWhen we love something. When we are really in to something, we get defensive about it when we feel like it is misunderstood or under appreciated, and especially if we perceive in someone else something like false or insufficient affection for it, which we chalk up to them just not getting it. I was going to say this isn’t really an issue for you little guys. Like, if I walked into your classroom and said “I love Frozen! ” You would all freak out because of course you love Frozen too and we could just share that love and have the best time ever. You wouldn’t care that I was old-er or maybe didn’t know as much about it as you. You would just be happy that we could all watch together.

I was going to say that. But I see this same defensive-aggressive mindset in my daughter, who’s 3. She, like literally hundreds of millions of little girls like her, loves Frozen. My son, who is a year and a half, also loves Frozen. Except he calls it Anna, just like he calls every character in the movie, Anna. And this really bothers my daughter. When Joe, my son, sees Elsa, he calls out, “Anna!” And my daughter, Romy, let’s say forcefully corrects him that it’s Elsa. Because she loves Frozen so much and to her, Joe is just getting it wrong. (Complicating things is the fact that when my son says “Outside” it sounds like “Elsa,” and so my daughter is just baffled when he then turns around and calls Elsa Anna. Really mind blowing stuff for my daughter.)

We high school teachers see this more pronouncedly in our students, I think. By way of example I offer the time I agreed with a class of my seniors that Lil’ Wayne was, indeed, the greatest rapper alive, first surprising them that I was listening or even in the room, and then prompting them to never, ever, listen to him again. I tell you this is because I love Martin Luther King, Jr., and that I have long had a very anxious relationship with the popular celebration of the Federal Holiday that bears his name.

There are eleven of these days, every one of them mandated by the United States Congress in Title V of the United States Code.  We celebrate our independence from Great Britain, the New Year, Christmas, Veterans Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, the inauguration of our presidents, and three holidays that have been set aside for individuals: Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Martin Luther King, Jr. And on all of these days we end up celebrating things far removed from the historical moments or people who we purport to be celebrating in the first place.

And this used to bother me. A lot. When I was in my early twenties and knew everything, this really, really bothered me. With King, I hated that we had reduced him to his dream and his Nobel and to service and removed him entirely from the immensely and specifically charged and fraught period in which he lived. That we had removed him, in short, from his history. Eventually—and here I depart from a longer talk about history and memory and cynicism—I came to believe that I risked a great deal by alienating King from what Bernard Bailyn has referred to as the “popular embrace” of historical memory.

So let me tell you what I think about when I think about King. I will think about his upbringing in Atlanta, the privileged son of one of the giants of the Southern Baptist Church. By his 20s, Martin Luther King, Jr. was very near a prince of that church, and in 1954, when the 25 year-old King became pastor at Dexter Avenue Church in Montgomery, he was one of the most sought after preachers in the country, black or white. I will think about this not to contradict the familiar idea that King embodies the upward rise of the postwar liberated South, but to remember all that King had to lose when he became the most visible leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955.

I will think about the uproar caused at a meeting of the National Baptist Convention in Kansas City in 1961. When King, with his Civil Rights contingency, moved to take over the convention, a riot broke out in which one preacher was killed.  Joe Jackson, King’s conservative opponent and eventual leader of the convention, publicly blamed King for the death and threw the weight of the church against King’s civil rights initiatives. I will think of this not to wallow in King’s defeat, surely one of the most tragic and bitter experiences of his life, but rather to remind myself of what he must have been going through as he moved into Albany, Georgia for the first sustained campaign of civil disobedience against the South’s segregation laws. I will think of Dr. King during the three years between his successful Selma campaign and his death in 1968. The Civil Rights movement was coming apart, with King’s commitment to nonviolence increasingly derided by other leaders of the movement. His outspoken criticism of the Vietnam War led some in the white press to label him a traitor. President Johnson stopped seeing him, and the New York publishers stopped returning his literary agent’s calls.[3] All of this occurred during a decade when King, reviled by parts of his own government, was being mercilessly hounded by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, who were convinced that King was a Communist. When his long-time surveillance of King revealed no such thing, Hoover attempted to use details of King’s personal life to blackmail him into bowing out of the movement. Despite failing health, despite pressure from the Attorney General and the deranged Hoover, despite doubts about the direction that the movement was taking, not once did King give up.

I will think about the year 1983, when the holiday was finally enacted into law, a year that saw president Reagan publicly call into question King’s loyalty to his country, and an infamous 16-day filibuster of the holiday bill by North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms. In death, as in life, contempt for Dr. King revealed itself among our political leaders, and perhaps more than anything else, revealed why a holiday celebrating his life is so important.

Above all, I will think about Memphis, where King was shot and killed by James Earl Ray. King had come to the city to join a strike by its sanitation workers, far from the mall in Washington, far from Oslo, far from presidents and prime ministers, and far from the glare of the national press. Along the way, writes King’s great biographer Taylor Branch, “[King] pushed his way back down to jail, [and] to new battles that left him nearly a pariah… The proud young doctor forged a prophet’s humility out of his determination to leave behind what he called “a committed life” This downward thrust makes him a transcendent figure rather than merely a romantic one.”[4]

So you can have your idea of King, and I can have mine. What I have come to understand is that it matters that we have them together. You might, like me, be troubled by our national and cultural tendency to mythologize our historical figures, but you can also take time to reflect on their histories, and maybe you’ll understand why we are moved to do so in the first place, and why it can call us into action. Maybe you’ll read about King’s life and find that a deeper understanding of him can lead to a deeper love, too. I’ll have some work to do to fully embrace the popular image of King, or at least to give it some room alongside my own view of him, but it will be well worth it. Thank you.

The Oxbridge Academic Program’s Paris Teacher Seminar

Written by Upper School history teacher and Grade X Dean Frederick Kountz.

2014-07-14 21.35.54-400

In July I had the good fortune of being a part of the Oxbridge Academic Program’s Paris Teacher Seminar, a week long, teachers-only, travel and study program in France’s capital city. While Oxbridge’s Cambridge and Oxford programs are perhaps better known, the Paris program offers the chance for immersive language study, and I saw it as a good opportunity to keep working on my French.

The Paris Seminar revolves around the culture, history, and architecture of its illustrious host city, and our daily schedule included walking tours of famous left-bank neighborhoods, museum visits, and time in the classroom with our trip leaders. Whether we knew Paris well or were discovering it for the first time, all of us in the group were impressed with the knowledge of our guides and the sights and sounds of Paris itself.

I highly recommend this trip to my colleagues. There are no prerequisites (the curriculum is offered in both French and English) and admission to the program comes with room and board, excellent meals, metro passes, and site costs. The Oxbridge Paris Teacher Seminar is an incredible way to get to know Paris intimately.

The Oxbridge Academic Program's Paris Teacher Seminar

Written by Upper School history teacher and Grade X Dean Frederick Kountz.

2014-07-14 21.35.54-400

In July I had the good fortune of being a part of the Oxbridge Academic Program’s Paris Teacher Seminar, a week long, teachers-only, travel and study program in France’s capital city. While Oxbridge’s Cambridge and Oxford programs are perhaps better known, the Paris program offers the chance for immersive language study, and I saw it as a good opportunity to keep working on my French.

The Paris Seminar revolves around the culture, history, and architecture of its illustrious host city, and our daily schedule included walking tours of famous left-bank neighborhoods, museum visits, and time in the classroom with our trip leaders. Whether we knew Paris well or were discovering it for the first time, all of us in the group were impressed with the knowledge of our guides and the sights and sounds of Paris itself.

I highly recommend this trip to my colleagues. There are no prerequisites (the curriculum is offered in both French and English) and admission to the program comes with room and board, excellent meals, metro passes, and site costs. The Oxbridge Paris Teacher Seminar is an incredible way to get to know Paris intimately.