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, June 17, 2015

Boys as Forensic Detectives

Yesterday, after lunch, a group of Saint David's boys came upon yellow crime scene tape and the outline of a body in the art room.

They weren't shocked. 

Earlier in the day the boys had assumed their roles as forensic detectives for a week-long summer camp offered by our school in partnership with the DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

In this hands-on program, the boys are using techniques that real CSI experts employ to investigate a "crime scene." They are collecting and analyzing evidence such as fibers, fingerprints, hair, and blood, and learning about pathology, fire science, and forensic psychology through engaging investigations and activities.

I am looking forward to the end of the week, when the boys will explain what they've learned to visiting parents and family members!

Next week, a cohort of boys will explore the issues of slavery and abolition through another camp we are providing at the N-Y Historical Society, in collaboration with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Both camps were launched last year to provide our boys with engaging summer camp enrichment learning experiences.




Spain Study Tour

A group of our rising eighth graders and their teachers are currently in Salamanca, Spain, for Saint David's fifth Spain Summer Study Tour.

The two-week trip provides our boys the opportunity to partake in a Spanish language immersion experience that augments what they have learned in Spanish classes at Saint David's through our school-wide Spanish language program, which commences in Pre-K.

Saint David's works in partnership with the University of Salamanca, the provincial government and local schools to offer a customized program for our boys. Their days include a mix of classroom studies in Spanish language and culture, cultural experiences, and the opportunity to play sports with students from local schools.

The boys have a wonderful time honing and improving their Spanish, and as important, participating in cultural exchange with the students and people they encounter in Spain.

The Salamanca trip is an example of how learning at Saint David's extends beyond the walls of our school building; the world, indeed, is our campus.

Graduation Day

Last week we held Commencement exercises for Saint David's Class of 2015 at the Church of St. Thomas More. It was an exciting and moving day, full of pride and promise. Congratulations to all of our boys who were graduated from their first alma mater.

As I said in my address to the graduates, I have witnessed the growth of these boys from their earliest days: I watched them play in our Kindergarten courtyard, dubbed them knights in the Third Grade, and walked the streets of Italy with them this spring on the Eighth Grade Italian Study Tour.

Guided always by our mission, Saint David's teachers have taught these boys throughout their years here to have the courage to listen to their inner voices and to be led by the power of their intellect to assess situations clearly, always with a moral compass. Nothing is as important as good character, it is all that endures, and it is at the heart of our founders' aspiration for our graduates.

Commencement is less about endings and more about beginnings. As our graduates assume their new identities as Saint David's alumni, we wish them well, and forever hold them near.  I hope they will visit often to participate in the life of the school, for Saint David's will always be their second home. Ut Viri Boni Sint.

A Special Spring Gathering

On Thursday evening, June 4, hundreds in our community came together for a truly special spring gathering, one that welcomed back former Headmaster Don Maiocco and bid adieu to our long-time Upper School Head Sara Peavy upon her retirement from Saint David's.

The night began with Dr. Maiocco's Chapel talk, given for our reunion classes and faculty and staff. Don lauded Ms. Peavy for the work she has done with the faculty over the years. Dr. Maiocco also spoke of the school's longtime second headmaster, David Hume, who passed away in February, noting that it was Mr. Hume who penned our alma mater's mission: "that they be good men." He closed by calling those present to "pray to honor David and all who have shaped our past."

Festivities honoring Ms. Peavy followed. Our Alumni Council Chair Sam Samuels '84 presented Ms. Peavy with a gift on behalf of the alumni body. Coach Will Arias then provided a warm and humorous tribute in which he admired her honesty and forthrightness and, on behalf of the faculty, noted of Sara: "Caring and compassionate, she is there for us in the most challenging of times."

Because Ms. Peavy loves words and wordplay, my tribute took the form of a poem that I wrote, influenced by the ancient Greek poet Pindar.
All told, it was a wonderful evening that reinforced the strong ties among members of Saint David's community near and far, from years ago to today, all bound together by the ideas and ideals that guide us each day in the education of our boys.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Networking Event Features Richard Coraine

On Tuesday, current parent Richard Coraine, the Chief Development Officer of Union Square Hospitality Group, was the featured speaker for Saint David's Networking Event, which was held at a local club in midtown.

Richard's talk focused on how to manage people and the importance of viewing your client with knowledge and respect. "Hospitality is a dialogue," he noted, and relayed the story of how the Union Square Cafe, rated as a good restaurant with good food and good service in 1985, rose to the status of the most popular restaurant in 1997, according to Zagat.

Richard attributed this to the customers' experience. "The rating came about because people felt known and well regarded," he said, stressing the important role that superior staff members play.

This important advice is summed up in his quote from Maya Angelou, which emphasizes how vital it is for a business to build positive relationships with its customers: "People will forget what you said, what you did, but never forget how you made them feel."

The dynamic and engaging presentation left all present with much to think about vis a vis the importance of this aspect of the business-client relationship, as people make decisions based on how they feel. We thank Richard for his generosity in sharing his wisdom with us.

Richard's talk was followed by a reception featuring professional affinity groups led by Ted Casey '83 (technology and digital entertainment), Mauro Maccioni '87 (hospitality), Richard Petrocelli (finance), and Kenneth M. Wolff '86 (law).

The Saint David's School Networking Event, organized by the Alumni Council led by Arthur (Sam) Samuels '84, provides the opportunity for all in our community to network together and support each other.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

An Expo of Cultures

The vivacious energy in the Hume Library last week might be expected more at a pep rally than at a research exhibition.

But research expo it was, and it was a fantastic display of the third graders' culminating project on their study of culture.

Working in teams, the boys selected a culture they wanted to research, with each boy responsible for two aspects (for example, food and education). Assisted by our school librarians Gwen Kaplan and Gretchen King, the boys learned the process of conducting research on their topics. They worked on their projects, which also involved expository writing, creative crafts, poster design, and public speaking, under the guidance of teachers Claire Lescop, Jennifer Kim, Liza Helwig, and Amanda Rathbun.

Boys were given significant freedom in how they would finally present their project, and they had to include a creative component brought from home. These delighted visitors, and ranged from boys playing a Bach minuet on the cello and violin (Germany), the distribution of vanilla and chocolate gelato (Italy), a Japanese pop song video displayed on an iPad, and a diorama reflecting the dry landscape of South Africa.

Beyond the obvious efforts the boys had made to make their presentations stand out, what struck me most was their level of engagement. When asked a question about why they selected a particular topic or what surprised them about their selected culture, or what was most challenging about the project, the boys' eyes would light up and they were eager to share their learning and their thoughts.  Their classmates were equally excited to share with each other. 

This is the type of active, creative, project-based learning that we incorporate throughout the school program at Saint David's.