Upper School chemistry teacher Cindy Albach went through a workshop at the University of Texas where she worked through a yearlong UT-developed engineering program in 2 weeks. With her team, she built a pinhole camera, redesigned a flashlight, designed and built an earthquake-proof tower, and much more. Cindy loved the problem-solving challenges that the workshop gave her, and she can't wait to bring what she learned to her classroom at St. Andrew's.
Upper School History teacher Courtney Elliott visited Colombia for two weeks. Her classes include a strong emphasis on Latin American studies and art history, and her experience in Colombia gave her lots to bring back to her classroom. Among other things, she went to the Botero Museum in Bogotà, which houses one of Latin America's most important collections of international art -- the permanent collection includes works by Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali, Sonia Delaunay, and Pablo Picasso.
Greg Mele, Director of Outdoor Education at the PARK, spent time at the North Country School in Lake Placid, NY. NCS is a leading school in Edible Schoolyard programs, sustainability and outdoor engagement with over 90 years of experience. Greg was able to explore the school's original continuous flow rotary drum composter, their zero-waste dining hall (which produces high-grade compost used in their garden and production fields), their teaching kitchen and children's garden, and their greenhouses which are used as experiential learning tools. The school has a garden of 100% student-grown flowers as well as vegetables that are eaten in the school dining hall. Greg left North Country School inspired and motivated to explore more ways we can serve our environment.
In June, a few St. Andrew’s faculty members traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the National Diversity Practitioners Institute. This three-day program helps faculty develop and strengthen their tools to develop more equitable and inclusive school communities. In attendance were Priya Kenny (7th grade Science Teacher and Asst. Director of Diversity for K-6) and Annie Sykes (Dean of Middle School Student Services) from the Middle School as well as Sam Davis (Upper School Library Educational Technologist) and Kate Jones (Assistant Head of Upper School & Upper School Dean of Students). The four attendees developed their ability to recognize their own implicit biases by examining facets of their identity - race, age, gender, sexual orientation, and more. Attendees also learned to critically examine their organization’s beliefs, patterns, and mindsets in order to better strive toward equity.
Over the summer, Sykes and Kenny combined forces to use the training to align SEL (Social & Emotional Learning) and DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) work through middle school advisory programming. Jones and Davis are using what they learned at NDPI plus their Restorative Justice Coordinator training to implement programs at the Upper School. The National Diversity Practitioners Institute is an incredible opportunity to equip faculty members to prioritize and execute work that makes St. Andrew’s a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive school.
Mark Richards, the new Middle School Director of Curriculum and Instruction attended the Middle Level Leadership Conference (through AMLE: Association for Middle Level Education) held in San Diego this summer. In his words, “This conference proved to be one of the best of my career. While there, I came to understand and appreciate AMLE's unique set of principles, beliefs, and practices related to middle school education and the advocacy role they serve in this regard. Their 2010 "This We Believe" position paper guides their work and provides a reliable, research-based framework that helps ensure educators continually meet the unique needs of 10-15 year olds who "undergo more rapid and profound personal changes than at any other time in their lives."
Session topics included developing and maintaining a positive school culture, teacher supervision and feedback, managing organizational change, creating inclusive schools, teaching strategies for a block schedule, building quality assessments, and much more. “In my short time at St. Andrew's, I've already seen numerous indices of effective middle school practice that comport with AMLE's high standards, said Richards. “Over the next year in my role as Middle School Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I look forward to sharing and implementing some of the ideas I took away from the Middle level Leadership Conference that could help our school be even better, particularly in the areas of teacher growth, honing assessment practices, and preparing for a block schedule”
Faculty professional development is a priority of Head of School Sean Murphy, our three Division Heads, and Chief Academic Officer Josh Nelson. Valuable insight from conferences, seminars, and experts help continuously improve the experiences our teachers are able to provide in the classroom.