Every year, each division chooses an area for faculty members to explore so they can stay abreast of current trends in education. The faculty focus begins with summer reading and continues throughout the year with discussions, guest speakers, and pilot programs in order to help teachers understand the topics more fully and to provide a forum in which to integrate theory with practice.
To learn more about recent faculty fellowships, please click on any of the expanding boxes below:
Jane Banse and Erica Deane
Project Based Learning in Fifth Grade Science
Erica Deane and Janie Banse explored the best practices surrounding project based learning (PBL). They studied how to develop essential questions, create a sense of urgency in student learning, provide a safe environment for authentic student inquiry, assess appropriately, and integrate outside experts. They examined the intersection between student led inquiry and learning specific skills and content. Using this study, they then designed a 5th grade PBL curriculum that teaches the existing 5th grade science content by answering the essential questions: What does a habitat that supports pollinators look like? The teachers will continue to collaborate on this project in the science classroom, the library, and with field trips to a native plants focused farm throughout the year.
Highland Night School
Cathy Campbell’s faculty fellowship involves creating a program, “Highland Night School,” to be implemented during the 2016-2017 school year. Modeled on a similar program run by Park School in Baltimore, Highland Night School invites parents and their guests to sign up for a one –session, 90 minute “class” delivered by a Highland faculty member in an area of interest. Sessions for this first year could include a book group discussion of The Great Gatsby, a Philosophy seminar, a hands-on Physics class, and a presentation on parenting. Class size and price will the set by the teacher, and s/he will receive compensation based on number of participants. Highland Night School is designed to showcase faculty talent, further Highland as a cultural center in the community, and encourage lifetime learning generally.
Highland School Winter Break Trip 2017: From Madrid to the Andalusian Region, Spain 11-12 Days of cultural interchange
Angeline Cancio-Bello planned a customized student trip to the Spain Andalusian region. Family homestay and school visits will play an integral part in this travel abroad experience. This designed trip supports Highland’s World Languages Department mission to foster multilingualism and global awareness necessary to compete in today’s world. In addition to this, provides a venue to support our Global Studies Program. This cultural immersion trip includes a diverse program, which incorporates history, art, music, nature, and culinary activities that Spain offers. This journey is designed for a maximum of 15-20 students and is considered our first step toward fulfilling one of our World Languages Strategic Priorities: “Introduce exchange programs on a regular schedule.” For the past five years we have received students from Sevilla, Spain, who have enriched our community in different ways; this trip is our student’s opportunity to immerse in their culture and show who he/she is- -- in other words, who we are!
New Student Survey
The goal of this fellowship is to create a new student survey which is informative, useful, relevant, and accurate for the teachers and the Highland administration. A few general demographic (grade level, sex, and extracurricular activities) questions will be added so that responses can sorted by categories, if applicable. Each question is designed to be pertinent, clear, single issue, and bias free. Quantitative data will also be collected on student interest, participation, and work habits in the class. Comment sections will be included with most questions. The survey should provide relevant feedback to the teachers, for professional and personal development.
Erica Deane and Scott Pragoff
Middle School Schedule
The Middle School schedule is getting an upgrade! Over the summer, Scott Pragoff and Erica Deane began the year-long process of researching, creating, and implementing a developmentally appropriate schedule that will maximize instructional time. Finding a schedule that keeps class times proportional due to closings and holidays also presents a challenge. They have started to visit and have conversations with other schools across the East Coast and have surveyed faculty needs. As they comb through the data and research, they will be asking for student, parent, and faculty input to make sure that the needs of students and faculty are addressed. They will have a new daily schedule ready to launch by the 2017-2018 school year.
Redesigning Sophomore World History courses
The goal of this fellowship is to create the new curriculum for the sophomore World history classes, specifically replacing the year-long World history 2 class with 3 semester-long alternatives, in East Asia Studies , the Economics of Imperialism (South Asia and South America), and Tribalism and Nationalism (Nation-building in Africa and the Middle East). These courses have been designed to promote knowledge about the world, develop student skills in historical thinking, cater to different learning styles and abilities, and maintain student interest. The variation in geographic area of coverage and the historical thinking skill concentration allows these courses to offer choices that should appeal to all students. These courses are built around curricula and lessons developed for college courses in these subject areas, modified to the extent made necessary by developmental concerns. Products of student work, regardless of course chosen, will include peer-to-peer lessons, debates or trials, essays, short answer responses to primary sources and political cartoons, and exams.
Middle School Wellness
The goal of this fellowship is to develop wellness units that incorporate lessons covering thirteen weeks (thirteen lessons) for the seventh and eighth grade, and twenty three weeks (23 lessons) for the fifth and sixth grades. This Fellowship proposal is two-fold: 1) determine when during the course of the year is the best time to incorporate the Too Good for Drugs and Brainology curriculums, and; 2) create Wellness units by determining a list of relevant topics not covered by the other curriculum, researching available wellness/health resources/curriculum, determining which existing curriculum meet Highland students’ needs and Highland’s time allotment, conducting cost/benefit analyses of purchasing curriculum, creating wellness units and timelines, and compiling unit notebooks with addendums and supplements.
Diana Hewitt and Michele Daniel-Shenk
Lower School Curriculum Development
The goal of this fellowship was to develop a cohesive curriculum that will sequence iPad skills, content apps and faculty education in the Lower School. Pulling from the knowledge we gained from the pilot program in Kindergarten a curriculum was developed for all Lower School grade levels. Using the iPad as a teaching tool and the ease of Seesaw, a student driven e portfolio, the curriculum will be implemented during the 2016-2017 school year.
The Highland Formal Laboratory Report
Highland School produces excellent student writers who go on to university prepared to express themselves articulately in many formats. Writing a formal lab report is a critical skill for university students as well, and is an area where the science department would like to strengthen our effort. Students need to be able to document the findings of their laboratory experiments and to communicate effectively in writing the significance of these findings. This Faculty Fellowship has included research of universities’ expectations for undergraduate science writing, and examination of many examples of formal lab report formats in use at a wide variety of preparatory secondary schools, with the goal of designing a formal lab report to be used in Highland’s science classes.
LS Science Organization & Curriculum Development
The goal of this fellowship was to clean and organize the LS Science Lab for scientific tools/materials and FOSS curriculum units. In addition, the fellowship allowed for investigation of areas of opportunities for students to inquire and engage in design projects and share them with an authentic audience. Students will participate in a Wonder Workshop where they will engage in the Launch Cycle. The Launch Cycle is an approach to design thinking that adds to the engineering design process in a student-friendly way. It fosters creative thinking and boosts problem solving skills that students will be able to use throughout their lifetime. The end result is for students to begin to see themselves as makers, innovators, and creators. Andrea McEvoy attended a conference session for Genius Hour/Maker Space/20% Time, attended a webinar on Genius Hour, read, Launch, Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student, viewed TED talks on Design Thinking, and researched and gathered mentor texts to introduce the engineering process to LS students.
Lee Ann McVane
Accommodations for College Boards and ACTs
The goal of this fellowship included four parts: to obtain College Board accommodations for the rising 10th grade Learning Center students, to connect with the ACT organization to ensure that Highland is a site for ACT special accommodations testing, to assist rising 11th grade Learning Center students with the application process for ACT testing accommodations, and to assist the admissions office with applicants who have a current psychological and /or IEP from a prior school. The Learning Center works with 9th grade families to obtain College Board accommodations prior to the October testing of the PSATs sophomore year. We also encourage our juniors to take the ACTs early in their junior year. This allows time for multiple ACT tests and/or tutoring for ACTs, if needed, and allows for an overall less stressful testing process. With testing for PSATs in October and ACTs beginning in September, the process of obtaining accommodations includes the summer months.
Writing Scope and Sequence
The Vertically Aligned Scope and Sequence in Writing is an interdisciplinary bridge for students to learn and practice writing skills needed for college and beyond. Highland’s humanities program has a strong reputation among alumni and is prominently advertised to prospective employees and students alike. There are some points at which English and History departments intersect, but working together to implement an innovative, engaging scope and sequence that scaffolds multiple effective writing strategies gives teeth to an already successful program.
NHS Chapter Bylaws
The purpose of this fellowship is to clarify the Highland School chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) chapter bylaws. The Highland School chapter bylaws are consistent with the Constitution of the National Honor Society. Information concerning chapter operating procedures, membership, member obligations, responsibilities of the various project chairs, meetings, and additional ongoing activities are included.
Dave Robertson and Elizabeth Kennedy
The goal of this fellowship is to create a Pre-Engineering Certificate for students in the Upper School interested in preparing themselves to study engineering in college. The framework for the certificate is based on research into the expectations of top engineering programs at various universities, as well as feedback from recent Highland graduates enrolled in such programs. This fellowship establishes guidelines for academic coursework, outlines expectations for extracurricular individual and team engineering activities, and requires that students produce a culminating, or Senior Capstone, project to showcase their skills and highlight a particular area of interest in an engineering field. Students who complete the requirements over their four years at Highland School will earn a certificate at graduation indicating their achievement.
Jane Banse, Mary Chrisinger, Miriam Solms
Monarch Butterfly Project
During the 2014/15 school year, the first grade and special area teachers, took part in a project that studied the endangered monarch butterfly. Through research and student initiated action, a plan was developed to help conserve the monarch. At the end of the school year, a monarch butterfly way station was established to support migration by Lower School students. Jane Banse, Mary Chrisinger, and Miriam Solms maintained the garden over the summer, researched rearing, releasing and tagging practices for classroom use in the fall, and developed classroom packets of grade appropriate activities and books for all Lower School classes.
Upper School Leadership Program
This fellowship will include review and revision of the existing guidelines and framework for the leadership development certificate program to ensure the program adequately reflects existing expectations, and provides a structure for promoting assessment and soliciting feedback for student leaders. Additionally, this fellowship will examine strategies to promote consistent language and process for developing student leaders and holding them accountable across disciplines (athletics, fine arts, clubs, class officers, NHS, prefect board).
Megan Catalfamo, Jon Kraut, Elaine Patry, Ron Ross
Freshmen Activity Days Program Development
During the 2015-2016 school year, we will research and develop a proposal and budget for revised programming for Freshmen Activity Days. Our goal is to develop programming that builds on the existing program to include curricular and development ties, and to bridge the fall freshmen field studies program on the bay to the fall sophomore wellness retreat and spring Blue Ridge Heritage field studies experiences. This program is the last whole class experience of the freshmen year, and has the potential to serve as a capstone to the freshmen year by addressing leadership, service, environmental stewardship, and wellness (goal setting, decision making) themes. Freshmen Activity Days promote class unity and norming at the end of an important milestone year when traditionally class composition has changed with an infusion of new students, and supports school efforts to retain and attract students. In addition to investigating potential programming resources and developing a budget, we will articulate a curriculum for the revised Freshmen Activity Days program.
Mary Chrisinger, Lisa Cooper, and Charity Duncan
Wellness Curriculum for Grades K-4
The goal of this fellowship is to create a wellness library for each classroom. This fellowship supports Highland School's 2015-16 Gratitude theme and also incorporates the Responsive Classroom approach already established in our Lower School. Books focusing on specific themes are being chosen for each month. Throughout the year teachers will share these books with their students and use follow-up activities to reinforce the positive messages. Some monthly themes include friendships and inclusion, differences, the power of our words, and respectful sportsmanship.
Michele Daniel-Shenk and Margie Kuzminski
K-8 Curriculum Guide
Michele Daniel-Shenk and Margie Kuzminski created an at-a-glance overview of Highland’s K-8 curriculum in language arts, math, science, social studies, visual and performing arts, physical education, world language, technology, and experiential education. This entailed the compilation of all Atlas Rubicon curriculum mapping and its synthesis with best practices, standards, and language for the articulation of enduring understandings and essential learnings for each discipline across the designated grade levels. The document will serve as a resource for the Admissions office, increase horizontal and vertical alignment of curriculum, and facilitate the development of project-based learning activities that expand multiple disciplines.
PK-8 Technology Scope and Sequence
Michele Daniel-Shenk create an in depth scope and sequence for technology in grades PK - 8. This encompassed researching previous Highland Curriculums, evaluating ISTE and NEA technology standards, as well as standards published by various schools and organizations throughout the United States. The final document emphasizes the International Society of Technology Educators (ISTE) Standards for Students and how Highland can most effectively and efficiently ensure our students at all levels are challenged to meet or exceed the skills necessary for success in our technology enhanced world.
Diana Hewitt and Michele Daniel-Shenk
Michele Daniel-Shenk and Diana Hewitt visited multiple independent schools to evaluate their iPad usage. At each school technology specialists and classroom teachers were interviewed to assess the success of their technology programs, the implementation of such programs, and how the school keeps student portfolios. After collecting what worked and what needed improvement at each location, they compiled their findings and presented suggestions as to how Highland’s Lower School should proceed with technology. As a direct result of this fellowship, Highland’s Kindergarten class will be piloting a 1-to-1 iPad program this year. They will also continue to pilot the SeeSaw Learning Journal program.
Active Latin in the Middle School Classroom
The goal of this fellowship was to develop a middle school Latin curriculum that utilizes speaking, writing, and listening as well as reading, allowing students to gain a more intuitive and highly functional grasp of the language. This approach will lead to both higher mastery and a more engaging learning experience, as communicating original thoughts and ideas in Latin requires deeper understanding of the material. To develop this curriculum, Celia Kelly read extensive research on second-language acquisition, observed active Latin classes at Kettle Run High School, and attended the National Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) Conference. This curriculum will be implemented over the next two years, starting with the current seventh grade.
Donna Loba and Cathy Hartley
Early Childhood Program Development
Donna Loba and Cathy Hartley’s Faculty Fellowship focused on developing a cohesive Early Childhood program for PK 2, PK 3, and PK 4/5 that uses sensory exploration as a binding element. Donna and Cathy researched the philosophies of Sensory Play trays and Reggio Emilia. The plan for PK implementation will include the development of sensory play trays and child centered emergent curriculum. Activities will be designed to promote growth in the areas of cognitive, social, physical, and emotional development, all of which are essential for a strong foundation in Early Childhood education.
Elaine Patry and Jane Banse
Technology Essentials Curriculum Development
Elaine Patry and Jane Banse are developing the curriculum for this required freshman technology class. The goal of the class is to provide all freshmen with the technology skills, aptitudes, and habits of mind they will need throughout their high school career. By utilizing real time interdisciplinary faculty collaboration, students will connect the skills instructed in this class to their core classes; thus, the skills will be taught when students will need to apply them in their core classes. Additionally, content teachers are able to collaborate on the design of “practicum assignments” that allow students to apply the tech skills to specific academic content. Freshmen will receive both instruction on and experience in authentic collaboration on projects, which is essential in today's college and work experiences.
Ronnie Ross, Margie Kuzminski, Pat Morse, Leslie Ziegler, and Jon Kraut
Extending and Tweaking the J-Term
Over the past two years, freshman-level English and history classes have worked together to create and implement an interdisciplinary research unit called the J-Term due to its placement in the calendar, launching upon return from winter break. During this time, students researched the “story” of a scientific discovery or biological event. Now, this faculty fellowship has enabled the expansion of the program to add the collaboration of instructors in both science and library/technology skills. As a result, students will now be deepening their understanding of both the research and scientific components of the J-Term. Moreover, students will begin to more deeply explore the fundamental interconnectedness of academic disciplines, collaboratively creating products that creatively integrate research across disciplines, rather than in siloed academic departments. Students ultimately showcase skills in research, synthesis of ideas, and scientific thinking and doing. The J-term is a unique signature feature of Highland’s dedicated freshman program, and the work of Ronnie Ross, Margie Kuzminski, Pat Morse, Leslie Ziegler, and Jon Kraut embodies Highland’s emerging emphasis on non-traditional, authentic assessments.
Portrait of a Graduate
With his faculty fellowship, Ronnie Ross worked to construct the portrait of a Highland graduate. In doing so, he examined how Highland’s dedicated outcomes—the teaching of the 5 C’s and its mantra to “Be Yourself”—meshed with its programmatic offerings—a focus on the 3 A’s and its extensive Experiential Education program—as well as how students were using those offerings. Moreover, he interviewed Highland graduates in order to more accurately gauge where they were in their educational and professional lives and to get a sense of what role Highland played in getting them there. The result was a massive amount of data that was then synthesized into that portrait of a graduate. The portrait now exists as a tool for Highland faculty, staff, students, and parents, an image of how the promise of the institution manifests itself in the reality of its graduates.
Michele Daniel-Shenk and Andrea McEvoy
The iPad has quickly become a platform for learning that is agile enough to meet the learning needs for any subject, any age and all abilities. Schools and teachers need to be prepared to effectively implement this valuable resource to meet the needs of our learning community. Michele Daniel-Shenk and Andrea McEvoy received a faculty fellowship grant to take the required 36 courses to receive TCEA's Mobile Devices for Children with Disabilities Certification. This series of classes will enable them to better direct other faculty members to resources for use with the iPads.
The goal of this fellowship is to create steps to streamline the process of designing and producing a yearbook in a tech-savvy world, while keeping the tradition of the yearbook intact. With facebook, twitter and instagram, students are faced with different images every few seconds on their mobile devices. The essential question is: How can we as a school continue to improve our yearbook, while taking into consideration all of the elements of technology the world presents? The fellowship will address several issues at hand, including the large printing costs, fundraising challenges, ad sales, and incorporating lower and middle school into the design of their own yearbook pages. This fellowship will also look into the probability of using the school’s design software for production of the book versus the need for a larger company such as Jostens to spearhead our yearbook process.
ePortfolio Committee: Cathy Campbell, Megan Catalfamo, Robert Hampton, David Henrickson, Margie Kuzminski, Elaine Patry, and Ron Ross
During this fellowship, faculty investigated the creation and use of ePortfolios as a platform for students to highlight and connect their most meaningful academic and extracurricular interests and pursuits. The ePortfolio will serve to help students articulate and share a holistic view of their Upper School experience. During the Phase I Pilot, faculty created and led a Kickstarter workshop with thirteen rising seniors, with diverse and varied strengths and interest areas, during which they created an ePortfolio highlighting their most significant experiences and achievements. During Phase II Pilots, we will implement ePortfolios with underclassmen in English I, English 3 Honors, and Leadership. Together, these pilots will result in engaging a large sample of Upper School students, but under different implementation strategies, to inform our recommendations to the Academic Committee about if/how a broader ePortfolio program might be implemented at Highland.
Dr. John Harmon
For my summer fellowship, I worked on two curricular projects for the middle school. The first one focused on developing an eighth grade signature project. Ive spent some time researching culminating projects at other independent schools and reading several interesting books. My hope is to create a project that involves reflection, technology and several academic disciplines. As the eighth grade Language Arts teacher this year, my eighth grade students and I will be working on this project together.
The second part of the fellowship focused on identifying and implementing key habits of learning for our middle school students. As adults, we know that developing a variety of social, academic, and developmental skills is important for our students long term success. We began as a faculty in February  by identifying the key skills or habits for each grade level in our middle school. In June, the faculty met and provided specific examples of these habits from their classes. Matt Ormiston and I met during the summer to refine these lists and put them into a more tangible format for our teachers and students. We will meet with the teachers this month to begin implementing these habits in our academic classes as well.
This summer, I participated in Rusticatio Virginiana, a spoken-Latin immersion program held at the Claymont Mansion in West Virginia. The program is tailored for teachers like me, who know Latin on paper but have never tried to speak it in conversation, as well as veteran Latin speakers. For seven days we spoke nothing but Latin, as we attended classes on topics from food and clothing to the history of the mansion, discussed Latin readings, practiced and performed a short play, and prepared meals for the group. Even our free time was in Latin- we took nature walks, told stories on the porch, played Bananagrams and Texas Hold 'Em, had a bonfire for July 4th, and more.
Why speak Latin when there are no ancient Romans around? Non discimus ut loquamur; loquimur ut discamus. (We do not learn in order to speak; we speak in order to learn.) Speaking a language makes it stick better in your brain, because you get much more practice with the grammar and vocabulary than you get by just reading or translating into English. This was my first foray into conversational Latin, and I was amazed that by the third morning I was waking up thinking in Latin. Speaking Latin also opens up a world of engaging classroom activities. I came away with great techniques for teaching Latin as a living language, and I plan to start incorporating some spoken Latin into my classes in the fall. Vivat Latinitas!
Lee Ann McVane
Highland’s Learning Center is interested in providing additional programs and support for its students. This summer Ms. McVane worked on several pieces of Highland’s support model. Mr. Berg, Mr. Megless and Ms. McVane developed a tutoring program which allows independent contractors to work at Highland during the school day. These tutors (independent contractors) are not Highland faculty, but will provide support for the students in academic areas. Parents will be provided daily feedback from the tutors and monthly plans and goals for the students. This is the first phase of Highland’s support model which will provide multiple services at Highland for our students.
Additionally, Ms. McVane worked on refining the 5th and 6th grade Intensive Programs. Ms. McEvoy and Ms. McVane planned and ran an Intensive Boot camp for both programs at the end of the summer. They also discussed changes to the technology and applications to use with the students. Much of the work on this program throughout the summer focused on making sure students and parents were ready for the start of the school year with the right materials and the right academic applications on the iPads.
Bryanne Peterson, Scott Pragoff, and Lindsay Ward
Teachers today are asking, "How can I create a class that encourages meaningful learning?" The Flipped Classroom creates the opportunity for class time to be focused around more active learning - things like project based learning, inquiry activities, group discussion, peer-teaching scenarios, and video teaching. In addition to participating in a four-part webinar series discussing the flipped classroom and ways to incorporate it into one's practice, each participant will go through a separate class to earn a Flipped Class Certificate which is endorsed by Capella University. On top of this training, we will collaborate to create video lessons for math and social studies that will launch our flipped classroom experience in the fall and prepare us to mentor other colleagues in our building and around the campus in the following years.
In order to make meaningful connections between our content material and our students, the middle school teachers seek to engage students in learner-based instruction. We want to promote a genuine curiosity within each of our students and give them the kind of classroom environment where they feel free to explore topic and ask questions rather than solely being fed information. Flipping the classroom has two intended results; first, it gives the student ownership of their learning, and second, it allows teachers to concentrate on higher-order thinking skills during class. Students in this division are just learning to take notes and filter out information in a lecture-style classroom, so by having a library of video lessons where the student can pause, rewind, and re-watch lectures, these students can maximize their understanding of the lecture. Students in Middle School are learning how to hold themselves accountable for taking care of their responsibilities, and giving them the power on the video lessons does just this. Piloting the program in math, social studies, and technology departments will demonstrate its relevance and accessibility for all grade levels and content areas to fellow faculty.
Miriam’s faculty fellowship hours have been spent researching current best practice approaches in teaching mathematics in the elementary grades in order to gather information to aid in the selection of a new math curriculum for the Lower School. She researched the contents of the Common Core Standards, Virginia’s Standards of Learning, and the Standards of Learning outlined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Four different math curriculums were then reviewed and analyzed to see how closely they align with these standards. This information will be used to aid in the selection of the new math curriculum that will be chosen and purchased for the 2015-2016 school year.
Towards the goal of developing our students’ knowledge of science and increasing their ability to think like scientists, Ms. Ziegler wrote an Honors Biology Curriculum this summer. She reworked labs, wrote her own original labs, and requested students be scientifically creative by designing their own experiments. This course now has twenty-six labs, is very inquiry based, and covers recent biological news, such as the Toledo water issue and the Ebola outbreak. This curriculum is very detail oriented and will help students transition smoothly into the AP Biology class.
In partnership with Marjorie Kuzminiski, Megan Catalfamo researched and reviewed Social Justice curriculum models, resources, and programs to consider which might be adopted to enrich Highland’s curriculum, particularly the new Social Justice electives in the Upper School, and Service Learning program in all divisions. The Project outcome is an outline of the resources, and recommendations for where within the school program (age, subject matter, service project) each resource could best be implemented. She also identified local resources that could illuminate larger global social justice issues and concerns, and developed a Partnership Packet that will be used to guide strengthen student service experiences at community organizations. The packet outlines the mission and philosophy of Highland’s programs, particularly the Experiential and Service Learning curriculum, articulates desired outcomes for the student service experience, and provides an opportunity for local organizations to specify their needs and how our students might help meet them.
In the Summer of 2013, Lindsey Dengel began work to enhance the aesthetics of the Middle School and to connect the students to the space through photos, quotes and artwork. She installed two motivational quotes in the middle school girls' and boys' locker rooms, as well as a quote in the art room, and an excerpt from the school's philosophy statement in the middle school office. These quotes serve as a constant reminder of each student's potential. Lindsey gathered a group of student photos to illustrate the many aspects of a Highland School student through music, arts, field studies, sports and academics. She also designed two posters for the library with stanzas of poems written by seventh grade students, describing what it's like to be in seventh grade. This allows all of the middle school students to read work of past students and connect with what they have written. Finally, Lindsey painted an accent wall in the Johnson Academic Center to bring warmth to the room which is used by students in all different capacities throughout the day. Lindsey plans to continue to connect the space with the students throughout the school year and to integrate various programs with the space.
Robert Hampton researched online courses in order to plan and prepare materials for a blended course that combines the best aspects of both traditional and online learning. He approached this from the point of view of using the online components to make the traditional, inquiry-based course more effective. He looked at ways to combine the two approaches to try to improve all aspects of the class, including presentation, assessment, review, investigation, modeling, collaboration, and discovery. He will be piloting the approaches with the goal of not only improving the class in question but also in order to help interested teachers implement similar techniques in their own classes.
In July, middle school teacher, John Harmon, attended the Martin Institute’s Master Class with John Hunter at the Sabot School at Stony Point [Richmond]. At this weeklong seminar, fourteen experienced independent school teachers observed thirty students [aged nine to thirteen] playing the world peace game. This is a complex, four level board game, created by John Hunter, which combines elements of the board game Risk and interactions in a model UN. Students serve in specific roles (i.e., prime minister, secretary of state, chairman of the world bank, secretary general of the UN, arms dealers, etc.] and work to resolve twenty-two interlocking problems. In the afternoons, the teachers’ roles changed and they examined open space curriculum design, using games for learning, student ownership of learning, and personal teaching reflections. John is planning to use these ideas and concepts in his fifth and seventh grade classes this year. This was an exciting and rewarding opportunity because experienced teachers rarely get to observe a master teacher working with kids in a unique environment.
As our new Freshman Wellness teacher, Jon Kraut spent time this summer revising the curriculum for the course. He contacted people outside of Highland who might lend their expertise to important topics like financial literacy and drug and alcohol use. He also met with teachers to invite them to cover topics, including study skills, time management skills, and exam prep. Jon looked at resources so he can teach our freshmen about social media and media literacy. Jon is excited to create a dynamic new course for freshmen to provide them with foundational skills they will need during this transition year and for the remainder of their time at Highland.
Margie Kuzminski developed a semester long Social Justice elective, focusing on the essential question: How can students identify and take effective action on complex issues of social justice in contemporary local and global communities? Compiling, digesting, and documenting myriad multi-media resources, Margie identified the building blocks for community development and action, from empathy to entrepreneurship. To create the unique, hands-on course that provides pathways to success for students with a variety of skills and interests, Margie studied and integrated recent educational research in alternative assessments, neurodiversity, rubric design, and problem-based learning. The new offering will expand opportunities for students to identify meaningful placements for the Junior Internship and Senior Project programs, as well as pursue independent work in the Leadership and Global Studies programs.
At the end of June, Mike Lieser attended the Writers Workshop Conference at Phillips Exeter Academy, a program balancing individual creative pursuits with applications to teaching practice. The conference sessions at Exeter’s Harkness tables naturally involve rethinking traditional classroom assumptions and focus on how discussion in a student-centered classroom can enable individual discovery of meaning, both in literature and in life. By being mindful of creative teaching methods and ways to facilitate the creative play of students, the conference furnishes a wealth of new perspectives on what creativity means in the classroom.
Lee Ann McVane
The Learning Center is an essential component of many students’ success at Highland School. In order to provide essential services to the students, the Learning Center staff needs to consistently review how to provide the appropriate support and what the correct amount of support should be. In addition, the Learning Center staff needs to be constantly reviewing the types of programs needed by Highland’s population. Lee Ann McVane spent this summer solidifying the new 5th grade Intensive Reading, Writing and Technology Class that will begin this fall. Lee Ann also met with the Learning Specialists several times to discuss accommodations versus modifications and to define the levels of service Highland’s Learning Center can provide. As a result of the meetings, the Learning Center defined accommodations and modifications and their implementation in each division. Additionally, we defined levels of Learning Center Service at each division. The documents developed at these meetings will provide guidance for faculty and parents in the coming year.
Claire Mello and Michele Daniel-Shenk
Claire Mello and Michele Daniel-Shenk acquired the new Mindstorms EV3 Lego robot kits. They familiarized themselves with the new elements in the kit, including the use and function of several sensors, as well as the new operating system. Subsequently, they evaluated the new robotics curriculum developed by Lego Education and devised the appropriate ways to integrate this curriculum into the science and computer curriculums and robotics programs at Highland. They look forward to implementing what they have learned throughout the upcoming school year.
What makes children successful? All of us have seen incredibly intelligent and talented students who lack the needed motivation or will power to succeed. In addition, all of us have seen students with somewhat limited intellectual horsepower who through sheer force of will or personality are able to reach their goals and then some. What qualities do our students need to be successful in life? What character traits do they need (grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, curiosity) to develop and learn to be successful? Can character traits like those truly be taught and learned? In this faculty fellowship, Matt Ormiston is studying in-depth the works of Martin Seligman (Positive Psychology), Carol Dweck (Mindset, The Online Brainology Course), and others (Paul Tough and Angela Duckworth) to see not only what character traits are necessary to prepare our students to be successful, but also if and how those character traits can be taught. After Matt completes his research, he will visit a school that is on the cutting edge of trying to teach these characteristics.
Bryanne’s faculty fellowship hours have been spent designing the new instructional technology coordinator position for the Middle School. She wrote a job description, mission statement and SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that defines what the position is, how it works, and how it will help Highland better accomplish its mission. In addition to these items, through backward planning Bryanne worked to flesh out a more journalism-focused curriculum for the iMiddle class and began to build and organize an electronic resources library for her colleagues’ use. Bryanne is eager to teach this year, and also to implement these new items and learn alongside her colleagues.
Nancy Scheffel, Lisa Cooper, Lindsay Soyars, and Betty LaPrade
This group of math teachers worked to develop and implement a math program framework that emphasizes number sense, comprehension and computation through the lower school grades and into the middle school. A key component will be the use of Math Talks, a set of purposefully designed strategies for number talks building computation and mental math skills from counting through division, including use of the distributive property.
Starting with the 2nd and 4th grade content, these teachers restructured the math curriculum to emphasize main topics that are essential for students from that grade level to move on with strong skills and understanding. This work will continue with first and third grade content to provide strong vertical integration of content from grades 1 through middle school.
They also planned and created professional development workshops that will increase content and pedagogical knowledge of that math taught from lower school grades to Algebra I.
In June of 2012, Cathy Campbell attended the Deans' Round Table at the Milton School in Milton, MA in preparation for her new role as Dean of Students. The Deans' Round Table, the first conference of its kind, included deans from both independent day and boarding schools from across the country. In addition to sharing best practices and expanding their professional network, participants attended sessions on a variety of topics including Administrative Partnerships, Advising, Disciplinary Systems, Student Life and Leadership, and Trends in International Education.
In October 2012, Mary Chrisinger had the opportunity to attend the International Dyslexia Association’s Annual conference held in Baltimore, Maryland. She attended many different lectures and workshops where she learned about current research on dyslexia, explored a variety of teaching strategies to use both in a learning center environment and in the classroom, and had the chance to meet and talk with many colleagues and experts in the field of dyslexia, including our friend Susan Barton. She has been able to share many ideas from this conference with her colleagues here at Highland during staff and professional development meetings. These discussions have helped us to explore different strategies that can be used (currently with a focus on our math program), and support our entire academic programs throughout the Lower School. Our goal is to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all of our students.
Eric Dudley began preparing for the opening of the new MS academic center by becoming the administrator of Google Apps for the school. In this capacity, he has worked with the faculty to help all middle school students use the collaborative and creation features of Google Apps. He also became the administrator of the Criterion account which is currently being used for 7th and 8th grade LA. He has researched and implemented cloud based programs such as Glogster, Animoto, and Pixton; he is working with teachers on implementing Little Bird, StoryBird, Pic Lits, and other graphic story creating software. He has organized and implemented our Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum for computer class and is reworking the Imiddle elective which now includes the creation of the Camp Friendship video and the end of season sports video. Additionally, he helped set up and install software to run the computers in the new space as well as the interactive smart board in the JAMR.
John Harmon’s faculty fellowship focused on how best to use the Johnson Academic Media Room (JAMR) this year. He visited two independent schools and attended a technology conference; he also spent time researching ideas and plans for his two classes (fifth grade social studies and seventh grade language arts). This school year, we registered all middle school students for Google Apps for Education and he uses these programs (i.e., presentation, documents, etc) with his seventh graders for writing and peer editing. The students also created fake Facebook pages for the characters in our novel. Finally, in fifth grade we tested a curricular program with the Smithsonian Museum that culminated in a video conference with an anthropologist.
Diana Hewitt and Donna Loba
In the Spring Diana Hewitt and Donna Loba traveled to Maryland to attend the Gesell Developmental Observation‐Revised workshop. The GDO is a developmental tool that is part of a multi‐dimensional assessment system. The screening helps to understand characteristics of a child’s behavior in relation to typical growth patterns based on sequential, normative stages of development. This assessment is used as part of Highland School admission to PK 4/5 and Kindergarten.
During the summer of 2012, Elizabeth Lang redesigned the Honors Chemistry and Chemistry curricula to better reflect the upcoming changes to the AP Chemistry curriculum towards a more inquiry‐based, hands‐on approach where students learn science by discovering principles and analyzing data for trends. The redesigned curricula and shift of focus from a lecture‐driven class to a data driven, inquirybased course will promote greater understanding of the material. Students will be discovering concepts, reinforcing material and skills, and learning science through doing science, just like a scientist.
In May 2012, Claire Mello had the opportunity to attend the first‐ever NSTA STEM Forum & Expo, held in Atlantic City, NJ. The Expo included many science, technology, engineering, and math vendors demonstrating their new STEM resources. The Forum featured many lectures and workshops about teaching STEM topics and how to seamlessly integrate them into the school day curriculum as well as after school activities. Claire has been able to share many ideas from this conference with her colleagues at Highland during Science department and professional development meetings. She also attended the Integrated STEM and Engineering (iSTEM) Workshop in April, 2012 held in conjunction with the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC.
Scott Pragoff spent a week at Philips Exeter Academy learning more about the history and implementation of the Harkness method of teaching. Exeter provided Scott with the opportunities to participate in many Harkness discussions as a student, to actively chart other discussions as an observer, and to teach a group of his peers for a 45 minute period. Additionally, Exeter provided time where Scott and the other participants could ask active Exeter teachers about their experiences with the Harkness method, and to share other teaching methods with peers. After a week at the school, Scott returned to Highland with a vastly altered image of the role of the teacher in the classroom and began working on new lessons that invited more student interaction as an integral part in learning not only content, but meaningful skills such as active listening, reading comprehension/decoding, and personal responsibility. The Harkness method puts much more emphasis on the student to be part of the educational journey, as the teacher assumes more of a facilitator role instead of the traditional head of the class.
During the summer of 2012, Ron Ross attended Columbia University’s Klingenstein Summer Institute for New Teachers. Located on the campus of the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, this highly selective program brings together 75 independent school teachers from around the world and engages them in an intensive two week course. During this time, participants learn from master teachers (including Pearl Rock Kane, the head of the Klingenstein Institute) as well as each other. While the course is incredibly demanding, it provides participants with a wealth of new knowledge as well as a new found enthusiasm for the job that they love.
During the summer of 2012, Silvana Ruckman traveled to Mexico to attend the Universidad de Guanajuato and to start a Highland summer abroad program. She attended graduate classes through Southern Oregon University’s Spanish Language Institute and part of a Masters program. She took Spanish classes in teaching advanced grammar and writing, assessment, culture and Spanish acquisition research. During her stay, current and former students traveled to Guanajuato to take classes in Mexican cooking, dancing, art, and be immersed in the language by staying with a Mexican family.
In June 2012, Jacob Shechtman attended the Gilder‐Lehrman Institute of American History’s seminar, The Sixties in Historical Perspective. Hosted at Georgetown University, the seminar focused on the events, ideas and figures of the tumultuous decade in addition to tackling many of the myths associated with the period. Instructed by two leading professors on the decade’s events, the seminar was aimed to provide an accurate, detailed and balanced account of the 1960’s. Through lectures, discussions, guest speakers and a trip to the Senate House, the week‐long, rigorous seminar provided not only detailed content, but pedagogical practices related to the decade as well.
Maria Sogegian planned for and prepared the Middle School Library for students and faculty. This included reconfiguring shelving, procuring new fixtures, planning for collection placement, and relocating the print materials. She also prepared for International Week: visiting museums, locating programming opportunities, and planning activities for each of the Highland School Divisions.
During the summer of 2012, Lindsay Soyars studied our current middle school math curriculum as well as researched other institutions’ curriculums – both private and public. The VA Standards of Learning and the National Common Core Standards were also reviewed to gain a broader picture of what middle school math students are learning both locally and nationwide. She then wrote curriculum outlines for each course, fifth grade through Algebra I, identifying the three to four main components of that course’s essential understandings. This information has been presented at both math department meetings and to the middle school faculty. Now, she is working with colleagues to develop a curriculum and locate resources that will support our students’ mathematical development. This process involves working with both middle school and lower school teachers in order to continually develop and improve our math program. The next step is to turn the research and curriculum outlines into working curriculum that will more fully integrate the LS and MS math programs and ensure that our students are truly becoming more fluent in math.