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, 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returned to Saint David's School yesterday to conduct a workshop for our sixth graders about the importance of original historical documents.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.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Boys Back at Their Alma Mater

With their secondary schools closed in observance of Yom Kippur on Wednesday, several young alumni took the opportunity to visit Saint David's.

They made the rounds of our newly expanded school and met up with their Saint David's teachers, expressing awe about the new spaces and excitement about all that is happening at their elementary school.

We loved seeing Alex H '17, John S '17, Paul L '18, Will M '17, Donovan S '15, Ryan E '15, Edoardo C '15, Charlie C '18, Jack C '18, Richard P '18, Caspar S '17, Billy G '17, Brody P '17, Lucas R '17, Nicholas v P '17.

Our door is always open to them and to all our Saint David's alumni!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Puer viri pater est

The following excerpts are from my Opening Letter to the Saint David's Community:

It’s been a dream for 45 years and an active goal for 12, and here we are—a newly reimagined, redesigned, and expanded campus on 89th Street.  A cast of thousands got us here.  It was an awe-inspiring collection of remarkable talent and unbridled commitment that enabled the school to complete this major construction project on budget, and to open on time.  Our new spaces will allow the program, its teachers, and our boys to fulfill their endless potential...

...Despite all this newness, we will never lose sight of what truly defines Saint David’s: our mission.  In keeping with our Classical tradition, Saint David’s will continue to balance the education of our boys across her four pillars: the academic, athletic, artistic, and spiritual.  Our academic, athletic, and artistic programs are strong.  Of this there is no doubt.  Our boys successfully matriculate to schools that demand much of them academically, athletically, and artistically.  To be honest, one can find this at many great schools.  What distinguishes Saint David’s is that we are equally committed to the spiritual—to the development of the character of our boys—one that is informed by faith, shaped by practice, and celebrated by community.

The education of a boy’s character is the whole work of the school.  It is everything that happens here.  It is the reason, I would argue, we do school.  Character is not achieved through divine providence, but through the quality and consistency of what our boys choose to do—their actions. 

For a boy to thrive in his twenty-first century world, he must learn to be a man who believes that his highest obligation is not to himself, but to others—to move from viewing the world as all about ‘me,’ through one that’s all about ‘you,’ to a world that’s all about ‘us.’  

Today, unfortunately, he is too often surrounded by a popular culture that celebrates the antithesis of these values.  A Saint David’s education must be an antidote to popular trends.  A Saint David’s boy must learn to think critically, debate intelligently, and act respectfully. 

School must be a place where boys can make mistakes and learn from them.  Our founders did not articulate …that they be perfect men, but rather… that they be good men. 

My letter opened with the Latin idiom “Puer viri pater est”—the boy is father to the man.  You’ll find the phrase etched in the bench located on the Second Floor Mezzanine...

...The experiences of childhood, both positive and negative, create impressions that become deeply etched in our minds.  It has been said often that past is experience, present is experiment, and future is expectation.  A boy, by gathering his experiences into his experiments, can achieve his expectations and, by extension, become the father of his own manhood. 

The Opening Letter in its entirety can be found on the website at this link.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Celebrating Boys!

Yesterday was the first day in a school that, after two-and-a-half years of tight-belt compression, stretched into beautifully expanded space. Exhale. We were ready. So were the boys!

Often wide-eyed, they oohed and aahed, and then got to business greeting their classmates and teachers, who helped them navigate their way to their classrooms; some familiar, others brand new. Teaching and learning began.

Each morning, I will continue to greet our boys at the same townhouse door, the black door of Building 16, as has been custom for decades. Saint David's is the same school at its core, with the same values and mission that have guided us for nearly 70 years, now housed in a beautiful new program-driven facility that will enable our community to be all that we can be.

This year's school-wide theme is simple--boys. They are who we teach, what we do. And boyhood is what we treasure.

Welcome to Year 68. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Near the Finish Line

Our monumental expansion/consolidation project is on track and we are all set to be ready for opening day! Many thanks to the construction team under supervisor Pete Provenza, and our Facilities staff, who have been working around the clock to ensure a timely completion.

Here is a look at a few of the spaces. They are spectacular, and will serve our boys and their teachers well!

  Lower Gym

Middle Gym

 Upper Gym

Cardio Fitness Center Space

"Il Duomo" -- The Eighth Grade Commons

STEAM Commons


Fifth Grade Commons

Performing Arts Center

New Lunchroom

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Getting Closer!

Final work progresses in our consolidation/expansion project's sprint to completion. Here's an updated look at some spaces:

Wood doors in new school lobby entrance.

 Scaffolding down from Omega entrance to backyard.

 Acoustic ceiling in one of the music classrooms.

 Floors down, fixtures installed in the Fifth Grade Commons, which features a study room.

All incredibly exciting!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

And the scaffolds come down...

... and the sinks go in, and the fireplace mantles get placed... but we’re not done yet. Closer, but still much to do! The reimagined, redesigned and expanded Saint David’s is almost ready...

Notice the new ornamental friezes and the repaired cornice