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Showing posts from January, 2013

Ethiopia Anno Tre--Pass it Forward

At Chapel Friday, Student Council President, Skakel M. and I, kicked off year three of Saint David’s School Ethiopia project. Launched in celebration of the School’s Sixtieth Anniversary in 2010, our aim was to raise the $100,000 necessary to build a school for a small village in Tigray, in the northern region of Ethiopia.

This will be the third successive graduating class that has assumed the leadership responsibility for Ethiopia.

Saint David's teamed up with Mimi’s Building Blocks and Save the Children to help us achieve our goal of bringing a school to a community that needed one, much like our founders did for Saint David's--"pass it forward."

Ethiopia’s children have been profoundly affected by decades of conflict, food insecurity and poverty, and as such suffer from some of the world’s worst education and health indicators. Children under the age of 18 account for roughly half of the total population of approximately 80 million, resulting in high demands on ba…

Horizons Reunion--Big Day!

This past Saturday, the normally quiet 'weekend Saint David's,' came alive with the sound of young voices. Horizons Summer program boys and their families ventured out in the cold for the Horizons Reunion Day.

The boys, now all first graders from our four partner schools in Harlem, were so excited to see each other that they hugged and huddled for the first 15 minutes. After settling in, the boys met with their teachers, Mrs. Sanchez and Mrs. Patterson, in the Omega classroom for a morning of reading, music with Mr. Bell, and for sports with Coach Roman.

During the reading session, Ms. Kaplan, Saint David's Reading Specialist and Horizons Summer Reading Teacher, assessed all the boys, evaluating their progress since last summer. Pre- and post-testing of fundamental academic skills is an important component of our Horizons program. While the boys were with their teachers, Horizons' parents met in the Smith Room.  Their day began with a highly interactive introduct…


At the end of the first period. Saint David's White leads Trinity 7-4. Tight game, but White is holding the lead. Here Trinity with possession shoots high at the buzzer, no basket.

Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos, author of the Rotten Ralph series of books, visited Saint David's last week as part of the Parents Association sponsored Author Series. Gantos shared his experiences and advice as a writer in sessions with the first and second graders and with the fifth and sixth graders. The younger boys greeted Gantos with a version of the theme song from The Addams Family, with lyrics changed to reflect the plots and characters of the Rotten Ralph books. Since the younger boys read the Rotten Ralph series and, in the spring write and publish their own story inspired by it, they were very excited to meet the author. 

With the younger boys, Gantos talked about the importance of keeping a journal and what makes a good picture book, divulging his past "mistakes" that led to a better understanding of how to create an exciting, memorable character and fun story. 

With the fifth and sixth graders, he discussed how they can use pictures and text from their life experiences to gener…

A Letter to the President

Eighty-seven Heads of independent schools in New York City, including myself, have written a letter to the President and our nation's leaders, which ran as a full page advertisement in The New York Times.  The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, another in a long line of tragic events involving gun violence and schools, has compelled my colleagues and me to speak out.  We are not an organized lobby or political action group, but simply a collection of like-minded independent educational leaders speaking out with a call for action.

We have not taken, nor do we directly address, any one particular political stance, rather we attempt to focus on the issue of gun violence and its physical and emotional impact on our children. We call for action. If you would like to sign our letter, please visit The text of our letter follows:

An Open Letter to the President and Our Nation’s Policy Leaders:

As Heads of Independent Schools in the New York City metropolitan area, responsi…

Philharmonic Ensemble

This morning, Saint David's Philharmonic Ensemble performed a special morning concert for all the Lower School boys from Pre-K through Grade Three. Coming on the heels of yesterday's first rehearsal of The First Orchestra (our new orchestra for boys in Grades One through Three), the younger boys gathered in Hyman Hall and watched, rapt, as Ensemble Director Phil Hough took them through the Ensemble's rehearsal process, from warm-up to an introduction to some of the orchestra's sections and instruments with which they might not be familiar.

One of the younger boys was invited to take the conductor's baton at one point and conducted the ensemble for a few measures of music.  The boys then enjoyed the Ensemble's performance of the Masterpiece Theater theme, Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, and a selection, the prayer in the woods, from the Engelbert Humperdinck opera Hansel and Gretel.

Our First First Orchestra

An exciting day today at Saint David's!

Fourteen First, Second and Third Grade boys arrived early to school this morning to launch one of our newest programs at Saint David's: The First Orchestra.  Making their way up five flights of stairs, the boys met their director, Ms. Anderson, who welcomed them inside.  After a few pointers on ready positions for playing in an orchestra, the boys quickly dived in with gusto.

Saint David's has a long and distinguished classical tradition. This commitment and the role of orchestral music at Saint David's took a whole new and important step forward today. Joining the Philharmonic Ensemble, The First Orchestra, which is focused on strings, now introduces the 'collective, group experience' to boys at a much younger age, expanding our ensemble performance program all the way from the First through the Eighth Grade.  The First Orchestra, like the Philharmonic Ensemble, rehearses weekly.

Always innovating, Saint David's is c…

Teachers, Professional Development and True Community

On Monday, January 7th, while the boys enjoyed one final day of vacation, Saint David's teachers spent the day exploring and expanding upon this year’s school-wide theme “True Community” by participating in a series of professional development workshops that were targeted to specific needs.  A brief overview of the workshops follow:

Responsive Classroom: During this three-hour workshop led by representatives from Responsive Classroom, Lower School teachers practiced “interactive modeling”– an approach that teaches children to notice and internalize expected classroom behaviors through “positive teacher language”– using specific words and vocal tone as a tool to promote children’s active learning, sense of community, and self-discipline. 'Responsive Classroom' is a series of strategies and classroom activities and procedures that promote a sense of 'classroom community'--a way to listen, respect and work as a contributing and productive member of a community.

Case Stu…