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 7, 2018

Faculty vs. Boys

Last Friday afternoon it was Faculty vs. Eighth Grade for an after school soccer match in Central Park.

It was fabulous fun for all, and the match ended with a Faculty win by one goal (3-2).  Coaches Russo, Arias and Byrne scored for the faculty, and Diego R. '19 scored both goals for the students.

The last time the faculty played the eighth graders was in 2004. Nice to revive this community building tradition! A huge shout out to Mr. Doocey for spearheading the entire program and organizing such a talented Faculty Team--who would have thought!

Dr. Derrick Gay Leads Workshops in Third Year of Partnership

This is the third year of Saint David's partnership with Dr. Derrick Gay, an internationally recognized consultant on issues of global citizenship, diversity and inclusion. Dr. Gay has been guiding us in our school's initiative to cultivate cultural competency and to be an increasingly inclusive community. 

Dr. Gay's work with us this year began a couple of weeks ago, when he led a workshop for our parent community. These past two days, he visited classes throughout the Lower and Upper School focusing on cultivating friendship, empathy, kindness, and moral courage; and on the danger of stereotyping. With our youngest boys, he shared the picture book "Pink is for Boys," which debunks stereotypical thinking around gender.

Dr. Gay also led a workshop yesterday with the faculty and staff on Cultivating Moral Courage in Boys. He led us in discussions about stereotypes, the ways students often use jokes to perpetuate them, and the how impact of one's action is more important than intent, noting that "intent doesn't sanitize the impact of your words."

These have been fruitful sessions for all--parents, boys, faculty and staff. We look forward to Dr. Gay's returning in January to build on our work thus far.  Accepting and appreciating differences, and tapping into our moral courage in challenging situations are two important avenues toward fulfilling our mission's call "that they be good men."

Math Meets Art

Two current math investigations, one in Lower School, the other in the Upper School, are actively engaging our boys in real-life application of mathematical concepts with a dash of art.

Second graders are Measuring for the Art Show, a project that requires them to use a variety of strategies to correctly determine the dimensions of several pieces of "artwork" represented by different colored cuts of fabric.

Sixth graders are  using their knowledge of geometry and the architectural style of St. Thomas More Church to construct an extension to the church. The boys are employing their knowledge in math and art to create designs that are geometrically sound and aesthetically pleasing.

Both projects reflect Saint David's approach to math teaching: we engage boys in activities that reinforce skills and concepts, and require them to use problem solving to deepen understanding.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Cross Country Champs

Our Cross Country team was outstanding at yesterday's Championship Meet.  Five boys took medals for finishing in the top 50: Michael S. (third overall), Colin, M. (top 10), Will F. (top 20), Romuel P. (top 50) and Graham K. (top 50). Congratulations to the medalists and to their team members: Hewitt S., Addison L., Kai T., Ishaan R., and Andres T., many of whom had personal bests.

The boys put in great effort all season under the guidance of their talented Coaches Ryan Solton and Alan Fishman, and it certainly paid off. Well done!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Visit from Class of 2018 Boys

Yesterday, four alumni from the Class of 2018 visited with me and toured their newly expanded alma mater. Benno W., Jack K. and Grant P. are all at Westminster, and Will U. is at Pomfret.  When I asked them their initial impression of the school, they had one word: "Amazing!"

Expansion map in hand, and led by Mr. McLellan they took off to see all the highlights. Along the way, they met several of their teachers including Ms. Iannicelli, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Barbieri and Coach Roman.  The boys finished their tour in Hyman Hall where they met with Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Davis.

It was great to see the boys back at Saint David's--they were so happy to see the fruits of the sacrifices that they made as a class for the benefit of our current and future students. This school is and always will be their school too, and we hope they visit often. I look forward to seeing Benno, Jack, Grant, Will and more of our young alumni at next month's Young Alumni Chapel and Dinner.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Boys on the Cape

Seventh graders and their teachers are enjoying their week of interdisciplinary learning on Cape Cod. 

The week's agenda includes a marine biology harbor cruise, the Great Island hike, sketching from nature, cycling, sessions with scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and exploring the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Active learning outdoors, which involves exploration, discovery, and engagement aligns with how boys learn best. The experience augments what they learn in the classroom. It also strengthens the bonds between the boys and their classmates.

Building Connections Through MCC Partnership

The second year of our school's partnership with Manhattan Childrens Center, a school that provides treatment and education to children with autism and related disabilities, began last week. To prepare our second grade boys for their visits to MCC ,where they participate in a variety of activities with MCC students, educators from the school recently led a student orientation at Saint David's.

Our boys practiced communicating and interpreting images on a card, without using language. Afterward, they reflected on the challenges of communicating without words, as well as techniques that were useful for conveying their ideas.

The boys will make five visits to MCC this fall, and their MCC friends will visit Saint David's as well. This partnership helps our boys engage with children whose experience of the world differs from theirs, and helps to cultivate an appreciation for difference, as well as an understanding that despite differences, we are all essentially alike at our core.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Boys in Frost Valley

Our sixth graders spent last Thursday and Friday with their teachers at Frost Valley YMCA in Upstate New York.

In this beautiful natural setting the boys hiked to a 40-foot waterfall and explored nature. They participated in a variety of challenges designed to stretch them beyond their comfort zones, and to build trust and teamwork.

The Frost Valley trip comes at a time in their lives when boys, while still needing close adult supervision, are asserting their independence and their relationships with peers become increasingly important. It is a time when they must navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of adolescence.

The field trip, along with our emphasis on character throughout our program, helps our boys understand that in order to grow they need to go beyond what is comfortable, work collaboratively, make good decisions, and be supportive of each other.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

"Why Documents Matter" Workshop with GLI President James Basker

James Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, returned to Saint David's School yesterday to conduct a workshop for our sixth graders about the importance of original historical documents.

The workshop,"Why Documents Matter," explored the insights and valuable information that can be gleaned through close reading and analysis of documents in their original form. Among the documents analyzed during the session were Paul Revere's Boston Massacre engraving, drafts of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Our boys will use what they learned yesterday during their year-long study of American history. They will also have the unique opportunity to closely examine documents from the GLI Collection in person, when they visit the GLI vault at the New-York Historical Society, where the Collection's 70,000-plus trove of primary source documents and artifacts is held.

Boys love to explore. They learn best when learning is active. This partnership enables both, as our boys become historians who uncover truths by examining "the thing itself."

Below is a clip about a version of the Declaration of Independence.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Exploring Machines and Robotics in Grade Five

Fifth graders have begun their interdisciplinary unit exploring machines and robotics through mechanics and coding. They will build, test, and revise simple and compound machines and robots using LEGO technic parts and the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics system.

Today, the boys worked in small groups to build a LEGO mechanical car that that could travel down a ramp for a desired distance. Taking advantage of the large spaces in our new science labs, they used the engineering design process to test, revise and retest their cars. LEGOs are perfect for this type of iterative work, as it is easy to modify a design.

This fifth grade was the first class to participate in The Nerdy Derby project when in third grade. The boys noted how what they learned then about variables like friction, mass, and aerodynamics is helping them in this current, more advanced challenge.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Leymah Gbowee Gives Chapel Talk at Saint David's

Nobel Laureate and Founder of the Gbowee Peace Foundation, Leymah Gbowee, gave Monday morning Chapel for our seventh and eighth graders. Both classes of boys had participated when in Grade Six in the GPF's Backpack Initiative, which provides backpacks and supplies to high achieving Liberian students in need.

Last year, the boys organized, managed, and ran a bake sale that raised more than $1,200, enabling them to purchase 48 backpacks. In religion class they wrote letters to the children who were to receive them.  Ms. Gbowee thanked the boys for their efforts in support of GPF.  She showed where in Liberia the boys' backpacks and letters were distributed, and the network of young volunteers involved in the process.

She also asked for our boys' prayers ahead of her address to the UN General Assembly about sustainability goals, raising peace builders, ending extreme poverty, and providing increased opportunities for girls. Ms. Gbowee expressed her hope that some of the boys will continue to volunteer for the organization in the years ahead as she expands the initiative to Ghana.

This was an inspiring way for our oldest boys to begin the week: to see and appreciate that working to address poverty and inequity in the world requires dedication, sustained effort and commitment.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Our beautiful new Upper School Library!

The new Library Suite, which includes a commons area between the Lower and Upper School Libraries, affirms Saint David's commitment to the classical tradition.

Here our boys can read quietly, collaborate on projects, conduct research, and learn to utilize the tools of technology in support of their scholarship.

Research has indicated better comprehension and engagement when reading printed texts. Our belief in the power of books and the written word remains steadfast! It will serve our boys well.