Welcome to the Headmaster's Blog where you'll find updates, thoughts, and events regarding Saint David's School, the education of boys, and other items of interest. This is by no means meant to be a complete account of all that happens at Saint David's. Please refer to the school's website for more complete details -- it's more a Headmaster's musings.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Turkey Run Time

A crisp fall day. Perfect for a race in Riverside Park.

Yesterday our second graders participated in the annual Turkey Run tradition.  It was blur of gray as the boys raced 500 meters past cheering family members and faculty. The boys had been training hard in sports class for the big event, and it showed!

This year marks the 45th anniversary of this great tradition, and the 20th anniversary of it taking place in Riverside Park.  It is such a fun morning that builds class spirit and is also a wonderful way to mark the beginning of the holiday season.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Topping Off Celebration!

In the New Upper Gym

On Friday, we celebrated the topping off of our expansion and consolidation project with a morning hardhat tour for our early supporters, trustees, and contractors. The group visited the sites of the new lobby, performing arts center, middle gym and eighth grade commons. Our tour culminated at the very top--in our new full-size middle school upper gymnasium.

In the New Auditorium

It is incredibly exciting to stand in the space, experience the progress to date, and the ways in which all these rooms are taking shape.

As Board President Dan Connolly '77  noted, we've come this far due to the tremendous support of so many in our community: donors, trustees, administrators. We are grateful in particular to Trustees John Menz and Craig Wood, Co-Chairs of the Expansion Logistics Committee, who were so instrumental from the very beginning. Without their expertise and vision none of this could be possible.

Inside the New Lobby

Soon we will move into the public phase of our Campaign, "All That We Can Be," and will be reaching out to our entire community to bring this project to completion

This time next year, our boys and their teachers will be engaged in the robust and innovative learning experiences that define a Saint David's education in state-of-the-art facilities that will enable them to maximize potential, and meet the demands of this century.

Math Bowl Fun

This morning's Math Bowl at the Rochester Room was a tight race. At the half, the mathematics competition could have gone to any of the four Upper School Teams: Euclideans, Pythagoreans, Archimedeans, or the Newtonians.

In the end, the Euclideans claimed victory in the speed round, nailing several tough questions in quick succession, leaving all of us in the audience a little more math-savvy!

As usual, Tom Ryan did a fantastic job as emcee, and the math department came up with challenging, entertaining and at times tricky math problems.

A great day for math and all!

Friday, November 10, 2017

First Graders at New York City Transit Museum

First graders visited the New York City Transit Museum in Brooklyn recently.

In preparation for their field trip, the boys studied various ways to travel throughout the city. At the museum, they went on a tour of New York City buses and old subway cars. They learned the history of the subway and transportation methods used prior to the subway being built.

The First Grade social studies program focuses on the geography and landmarks of New York City. Field trips such as this "make real" the concepts discussed in class.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dr. Derrick Gay Leads Workshop for Faculty and Staff

To guide us in our initiative to cultivate cultural competency and in support of our school's commitment to being an increasingly inclusive community, last year Saint David's began a three year partnership with Dr. Derrick Gay, internationally recognized consultant on issues of global citizenship, diversity and inclusion (www.derrickgay.com).

Over the course of the first year, Dr. Gay met with the Administrative Team, the Committee on Community and Inclusion and trustees in a variety of formats.

Yesterday, we began year two of the partnership with an afternoon faculty/staff professional development workshop led by Dr. Gay. All members of our faculty and staff participated in a series of activities designed to explore cultural competency, inclusion, and identity--the ways we define who we are and the power behind our language choices.

The exercises were illuminating and marked the beginning of an ongoing process. Later this year, Dr. Gay also will meet with representatives of our parent body, the broader Parents Association and our older boys.

Saint David's recognizes how essential it is to educate our boys to appreciate difference in all of its manifestations. In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, our boys will need to be able to think about and view the world from a variety of perspectives, to develop cultural competency.

It is also essential to the fulfillment of our mission's aspiration for our boys... "that they be good men."

An interview with Dr. Gay that appeared in Saint David's summer magazine can be read at this link.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Joshua Weiss, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Harvard's Global Negotiation Initiative, Speaks During Chapel

Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Specialist and Author Joshua N. Weiss, Ph.D. was the featured speaker during the third and fourth grade Chapel this past Thursday. Dr. Weiss is the co-founder of the Global Negotiation Initiative at Harvard University and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project.

He read the boys his children's book, Trouble at the Watering Hole, in which a group of animals use effective conflict resolution strategies to resolve their dispute over who will have access to the watering hole.

Dr. Weiss discussed with the boys the variety of strategies employed by the animals in the book to successfully resolve their conflict. The boys then provided examples of situations in their own lives where they could envision a conflict arising with classmates. Through further discussion, the group came to see that the key to resolving these conflicts is active listening: taking the time to ask questions, truly listening to answers, and being open to creative solutions.  

We all face conflicts in our lives. Learning to work through them in a civil, respectful and productive manner is an essential skill for our boys to develop as they aspire to be good men. 

Dia de los Muertos at El Museo del Barrio

Our fifth graders learned about the Mexican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday yesterday during their field trip to El Museo del Barrio.  During this three-day holiday, families and friends gather to pray and to celebrate loved ones who have died.

The boys and their teachers saw exhibits of ofrendas that families build, which typically feature marigolds, butterflies, sugar skulls, and pan des muertos, as well as photographs and items that were significant to their deceased loved ones. They also learned about Catrina, the Lady of the Dead, an icon of the holiday.

The field trip is conducted in conjunction with our Spanish immersion program in which our boys learn both the language and the culture of Spanish speaking people. The immersive experience culminates with a Spain Study Tour during the summer when the boys are rising eighth graders.

We are so fortunate to be close in proximity to cultural treasures like El Museo del Barrio, which enable our boys to view life through perspectives that may differ from their own.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hogwarts at Saint David's

The call from my good friend Albus Dumbledore came in the middle of the night. The request, odd. It seemed that Sunday's rains had flooded Hogwarts and so, he asked, could Saint David's become that venerable school of wizardry--just for a day--while Hogwarts dried out.

I thought about it, and with the magical powers of our PA Officers and their crew of parent volunteers, our hearty maintenance department, and a team of incredibly creative faculty members at the ready, we knew it could be done and done beautifully. Dumbledore was so grateful that he offered to act as headmaster for a day, greeting all of our boys and assigning them, by a gifted tie, to one of Hogwarts-for-the-Day's four Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.

At the day's beginning, a delivery of The Daily Prophet brought news of the special activities, actions, and good deeds the boys could partake of to earn points for their House. When all was tallied the winning House, Ravenclaw, received the House Cup in a special school-wide announcement.

Unfortunately, the cup immediately vanished after the announcement and the boys of Ravenclaw were left with basking in the glory of victory, and the great feeling that comes from knowing all the good they had done.

What an amazing, creative way for Saint David's boys and families to celebrate the school's last year as a collection of townhouses. Appreciation to Linda MacKinnon, Elizabeth Villar, Susan Kissane, Kim Church, Heather Rhatigan, Densie Plunkett, dozens of parent volunteers, our Hogwarts maintenance crew, and the Hogwarts faculty crew who spent last night and today effecting this magnificent transfiguration of Saint David's into Hogwarts.  What a magical day!

Tomorrow it's back to muggles at Saint David's; but rest assured, the magic never abates.

More photos from today can be viewed at: http://www.saintdavids.org/media/photo/detail/20171031-hogwarts

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Grade 2 Math Investigation - Measuring for the Art Show

Second graders have been engaging in their first math investigation of the year. After reading the book Measuring for the Art Show, the boys used inchworm connecting cubes to measure the lengths and widths of several pieces of fabric.

The measurements for the pieces of fabric were carefully chosen by the boys' teachers for their relationship to multiples of five and ten. Boys discover that by using two colors of inchworm connecting cubes, they can quickly recognize groups of 5 and/or 10. Later in the investigation, these measurements will be placed on an emergent number line.

Throughout the project, the boys are encouraged to use a variety of strategies, choosing the ones with which they are most comfortable. 

This open ended investigation is designed to encourage the development of some of the big ideas underlying early number sense, measurement, and addition. It is one of three investigations that our second graders will engage in throughout the year, using active problem solving to deepen understanding of concepts they have studied.

Partnership with Gilder Lehrman Institute Kicks Off Year Five

Each year, our school's partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History kicks off with a morning workshop on "Why Documents Matter" led by GLI President James Basker.

Last week, Dr. Basker led our sixth graders and their parents in a close study and critical analysis of several important historical documents, including Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre, drafts of the Constitution, and letters written by Frederick Douglass.

This is the fifth year of our school's partnership with this prestigious institution, which through the Gilder Lehrman Collection holds a vast archive of more than 60,000 primary source documents and artifacts.

During their study of American History this year, our boys and their teachers will visit the actual GLI vault at the New-York Historical Society that houses the original documents. They will closely examine the real documents and artifacts, enabling the boys to develop a deeper appreciation for the ways they shape our understanding of history.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Afternoons at Daniel's Music Foundation

Last week, after school, I accompanied sixth grade members of the Saint David's Headmaster's Community Club to Daniel's Music Foundation on Lexington Avenue to participate in music activities with the boy and girl members of DMF.

DMF runs recreational music programs in a group setting using the power of music to create community. As volunteer members of the Headmaster's Community Club, our boys will make several visits to DMF this year. During these visits, they have the opportunity to engage through music with children of different abilities. They have a good time with each other, and come to see how alike we all are at our core.

Our partnerships with organizations such as Daniel's Music Foundation (now in year two) and our new partnership with Manhattan's Childrens Center for our second graders, underscore Saint David's commitment to embracing difference in its many manifestations. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Fieldston Visit

I enjoyed an enlightening visit to alums at Fieldston.  Ryan '14 is graduating this year and has applied early action.  We wish him all the best with his first choice.  Ethan '16, Teddy '16 and Matthew '15 are holding down the fort and excited about the possibility of welcoming new Saint David's boys next year.

I learned so much.