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.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Girls from Nightingale at Saint David's

Nightingale girls visited with our first grade boys today for a morning of fun and socializing. Last week, the boys spent time at the girls' school and today they were even more excited to host their new friends and show them their classrooms. 

Saint David's provides a number of opportunities throughout the year for our boys to connect and bond with our neighboring schools. These include the eighth grade art lectures and the orchestra coffee concerts with NBS girls; third grade concerts with Spence students, and a piano recital at Steinway Hall with Marymount girls.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Second Grade Art Show at Child Mind Institute

Sunday was the opening reception of our second graders' art exhibit at the Child Mind Institute in New York City. "What We Love to Do In, On, and Around Water" featured waterscapes in crayon and watercolor resist done by the boys.

Art teachers Melanie Fidler and Maria Valdes asked each boy to recall happy memories around the theme of water and to create a picture depicting that memory. Their works are colorful and wonderfully detailed. In creating them, the boys were inspired by their study of Hokusai, Homer, Monet and Seurat, the use of color to create mood, and a variety of art concepts including landscape and horizontal line. Boys first sketched their works, refining them before creating the final picture.

The Child Mind Institute sponsors showings of student work on a rotating basis and Saint David's was invited to participate. Art Chair Jenna Boccella coordinated with the Institute to install this show of our second graders' work.

About fifteen boys and their families attended the opening event.  The show will be open to the public through the end of May at the Institute, located at 445 Park Avenue. Stop by.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Remembering Headmaster Emeritus David D. Hume, a Patriarch of Saint David's School

It was a picture perfect spring morning this past Saturday, April 11, 2015 as members of Saint David’s community past and present filled St. Thomas More Church for a memorial mass
in honor of David D. Hume (at left), Saint David’s Headmaster from 1953 through 1990, who passed away in February at the age of 87.

We gathered to honor a husband and father, a grandfather, brother and uncle; author, painter, boat builder and sailor; teacher, colleague, friend, headmaster and to me, personally, a wise sage. David Hume was the patriarch of his family and a patriarch of our great school

A gentle breeze swept East 89th Street as the memorial began, and I imagined a gentle breeze skipping across the surface of the Connecticut River, where he so often loved to sail.

The mass was celebrated by Msgr. Thomas Leonard, Saint David’s School Chaplain during and after David's tenure, and featured readings by Hume’s longtime assistant Stephanie Berardesca and his daughters Charity and Amity.

Offertory gifts were brought to the altar by his grandson Aaron and Saint David's teacher Joe Kilkeary; and former teacher Bob McGrath served as cantor.

David passed away this February 18th, on Ash Wednesday. In his homily Msgr. Leonard noted how apt this date was, for David had no need to participate in the annual process of reconciliation and preparation before the redemption and rebirth of Easter: "His preparation was complete."

Beautiful, warm and witty eulogies were delivered by master teacher Bob McLaughlin, John Patrick Fennell '57, and Noah Hume '75. Bob spoke of how the school in so many ways "still reflects David's imprint"; John, of David's erudition, which always was mixed with whimsical playfulness. One of his sons, Noah, remembered most acutely "the softness and steadiness of my Papa's hands" which had taught him so much, from drawing to sailing. All three remarked on David's role as a gentle mentor.

After the memorial, we all gathered with Hume family members in the library that bears his name, for conversation and to continue to recollect a great man.

David Hume certainly embodied our school's theme this year, "ideas and ideals."  He never wanted for ideas, and was always guided by high ideals, for himself and for his students. He leaves behind a great legacy, including the phrase he penned as Headmaster in 1974, one that reflects the aspiration of the school's founders, and encapsulates the ultimate goal that all of us in the Saint David's community have for our boys: "...that they be good men."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

NE Patriot Tom Brady at Saint David’s

Last night, Saint David’s was honored to have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, four time Superbowl champion and three-time MVP winner Tom Brady, as the guest speaker for our Alumni Parents Council Lecture Series. Tom, who is the father of one of our Saint David's boys, addressed a standing-room-only audience in Hyman Hall comprised of our eighth graders, alumni, alumni parents and faculty.

Friendly, introspective, witty, and wise, he directed his talk to the delighted eighth graders in the front of the room, and focused on the topic of leadership.

“You are the young men and leaders of Saint David’s,” he noted. Tom debunked the perception that leaders are born not made, and credited his leadership abilities to “standing up to and facing fears” and to “cultivating a mental strength,” which he cited as “more important than being physically strong.”

He also stressed the importance of working hard, honoring teamwork, believing in oneself and being a good listener in order to learn from those who know more than you. Relating this to our boys, he likened their teachers to great coaches and urged the boys to “treat each assignment as a game: plan, strategize, and execute.”

In the end, Tom noted that “the true test of a man and leader is how you react to adversity,” crediting the tougher times and challenges he faced early in his career with helping him to learn, grow and succeed.

During the Q&A session, eighth graders asked Tom thoughtful questions about his career and goals, how he dealt with setbacks, and his work with the charity Best Buddies.  I was proud of the depth of boys’ questions, and the assured manner with which they delivered them.

At the conclusion of the talk, Tom, with help from his sons, thrilled the boys (well, really all who were present) by throwing to each eighth grader an autographed football as a memento of the evening.

It was such a fun and insightful event that reminded me of the potent ways in which sports is a metaphor for all of our lives…in the goal setting and practicing, the winning, the losing, the overcoming of challenges, and most of all in our doing our very best in whatever 'game' we play.

The Alumni Council Lecture Series is sponsored by our Alumni Parents Council, under the direction of John Dearie '95 and the leadership of co-chairs Dorothy Faux and Linda Foran. They do a wonderful job of reaching out to our extended community by providing memorable evenings like this.

Walk-a-Thon for School in Ethiopia

Cheered on by pre-primary boys, our seventh and eighth graders kicked-off this year's Dollars for Scholars fundraising project for our school in Ethiopia with the first of three Central Park walk-a-thons today. In the next few days, boys in Grades 4 through 6 will also participate in walk-a-thons in support of the Saint David's Kalina School, which opened last year in Tigray.

The money the boys raise this year will go toward a second building where young mothers in the area will be educated about modern child-rearing practices and post-natal care for their children.

The Dollars for Scholars project began in 2011 during Saint David's 60th anniversary celebration as a way to give back by providing education facilities for children in need of a school. It is one of several community action initiatives that our boys engage in throughout the year. Contributing to the greater good is a way that spirituality can be seen most concretely at Saint David's.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Ideal Young Athlete

The following article by Lower School Assistant Athletic Director Robert O'Carroll and Head Coach Alan Fishman, appears in the Winter 2015 issue of Saint David's Magazine. 

It is the first day of school, and an anxious Pre-K boy enters Saint David’s and wonders, “What are we going to do first?” The reassuring hands of Mrs. O’Neill and Mrs. Hazenberg lead the boy out to the yard, where he can run around, shoot a basket, or play catch.

This physical activity is the start of a Saint David’s boy’s introduction to the importance of play. He will spend his Lower School years learning how to play many games while in Kindergarten, experience the wonders of the Great Lawn as well as the off Campus Gym in Grade One, participate in the time honored tradition of The Turkey Run in Grade Two, become a member of a team (and finally get to keep score!) in Grade Three and finish his “Intramural career” in Grade Four.

During this time, he will be exposed to all the core sports that Saint David’s offers: soccer and cross-country in the fall, basketball and fitness training in the winter, and baseball and lacrosse in the spring. The Athletic Department’s “IDEA” is to expose the boys to all the different sports at a young age with the hope of creating the “IDEAL” student athlete: One who can excel at one or more sports and displays the respect and good sportsmanship that the coaches try to instill in all.  

Flying Airplanes in Math

Boys in a Lower School math class today were up and out of their seats flying paper airplanes to learn about symmetry as part of their geometry unit.  After building the paper airplanes, the boys tested their creations to explore the role symmetry plays in both construction and flight pattern. The boys needed to consider the various angles (right, acute, obtuse) they would use when folding the planes.

This is another example of active, hands-on, tangible learning experiences that we integrate throughout our math curriculum in order to spark the boys' creative and analytical thinking, deepen their understanding, and engage them fully in an area of study.  All this combined with the more traditional study of theory through teacher directed instruction provides the ideal balance for optimum learning. It's the Saint David's way!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Third Graders Share Research on Korean and Haitian Cultures

During the winter term, our third grade boys studied the cultures of Korea and Haiti. As a culminating activity for that unit the boys researched an aspect of those cultures, for example transportation, music, art, or education.

Today in Mrs. Kim's classroom, boys in pairs gave presentations on their research. Each boy discussed how the aspect of culture he researched differed in the Korean and Haitian cultures.  He also cited the primary source used for his study.

Today's presentations demonstrated the boys' increased understanding and use of primary source materials, and their comprehension of the ways in which cultures are different and, importantly, why they differ.

Boys will bring this knowledge and understanding to the next segment of their study by choosing a culture that they will independently research and ultimately share with their classmates and families. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Showtime for Sixth Graders at the Hayden Planetarium

Just prior to spring break, our sixth graders, in groups of two, presented their original space shows to their parents and teachers at the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History.

Topics the boys selected ranged from why Earth can sustain life while other planets can't, which planets might be able to sustain life in the future and how they might do so, the Big Bang, the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, and the trials and travails of Pluto.

The shows were narrated by the boys, who wrote the scripts and prepared the storyboards in English classes, and designed the presentations using the planetarium's Uniview software, which visualizes space data in real time to create 3-D tours of the universe.

In addition to working on their projects with their teachers at school, the boys made several trips to the planetarium for workshops with the Digital Universe Flight School of the AMNH.  This was the first time that the Digital Universe Flight School has partnered with a school for this program. The boys loved it.

When asked what impressed them most, boys' answers ranged from "using the software which gave me a better understanding of the distance among stars and planets" to "learning and seeing how surprisingly large the universe really is" to "it was fun to fly in the planetarium."

The final shows were exciting, imaginative adventures that were visually arresting and challenging to execute as the boys needed to maintain focus on two screens as well as the dome of the planetarium for the duration of their shows. The scripts were well composed and delivered with an impressive professionalism by the boys.

In truth, rather than witnessing a school project, the audience experience was that of a real space show. Great work by the DUFS, our boys, and their teachers Mrs. Sundar, Mr. Andrews, Mr. Fortney, and Mrs. Davis!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

San Marco, 8 Marzo

The San Marco Study Group instructs their peers on the architecture of San Marco, its history and its significant works, including Fra Angelico's famous Annunciation. 

Below are some shots of the boys sketching and taking notes on this beautiful Sunday morning. 

We'll be heading off to the 11 am mass next door after our visit. 

San Marco

My thoughts in a nutshell. 

Sketching in the cloister of San Marco. 

San Marco

Frescos by Fra Bartolomeo