In 2017, Hewitt’s summer grant program supported faculty experiences that align with the school’s four academic pillars - presence, empathy, research, and purpose. Made possible by Hewitt's professional development fund and by our Parents' Association, summer grants are just one of the many professional development opportunities offered to members of the Hewitt community throughout the year. Read on to learn how this year’s summer grant recipients engaged in mindful interactions, expanded their perspectives, fostered their own growth mindset, and affirmed their purpose as educators and individuals.
Kemy Wahpepah, Middle School History Teacher
Though I have studied and read much about the Maya and Aztec, I have never witnessed firsthand any ancient sites or artifacts created by these civilizations. I was thrilled when a Hewitt summer grant made it possible for me to spend ten days traveling in Mexico, first in the Yucatan Peninsula, visiting key Mayan sites such as Chichen Itza, Palenque, Uxmal, and Tulum, and later in Mexico City, visiting the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, the Templo Mayor Museum, and the National Anthropology Museum. Throughout my trip, I gained important insights into the social structures, religious beliefs, and engineering accomplishments of the Maya and Aztec civilizations. I even learned how to pronounce a few words in Nahuatl! I am excited to use what I have learned and experienced over the summer to bring these ancient civilizations to life for Hewitt’s fifth graders.
Samia Soodi, Lower School Head Teacher
This summer I experienced a life-changing journey as I trekked several sections of the Camino trail across Northern Spain on the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. This experience supported me in my growth and offered me a sense of renewal as a faculty member at Hewitt. Hiking the Santiago de Compostela was an opportunity to be in nature, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of people from around the world. During my solo time, I had the chance to reflect and think deeply about my past, present, and future. On other stretches, I met and spoke with people from all walks of life, listening to their varied perspectives. The time I spent hiking the Camino helped me reflect on many aspects of my personal and professional life.
Edward Goodall, Lower and Middle School Science Teacher
I look forward to traveling to Costa Rica this spring with the support of a grant from the Parents’ Association. As a fourth and fifth grade science teacher who has taught volcanism for many years, I am excited to undertake field research on Mount Arenal. The rainforest is easily accessible from the Arenal volcano, and time studying conservation in the animal- and plant-rich humidity will round out my trip. I plan to bring my learning straight back to Hewitt’s lower and middle school students and especially look forward to seeing how it enhances the fifth grade geology curriculum.
Leila Kaady, Middle and Upper School Spanish Teacher
This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Spain to research the lives of women who lived in the country during the medieval period, when Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures coexisted under Muslim rule in Al-Andalus. During my trip, I visited the Biblioteca Nacional de España and Librería de Mujeres, as well the Casa Arabe, a cultural center that connects Spain and the Arab world. I also visited Valencia and Palma, two Spanish cities that were transformed by the sophistication of Muslim and Arab agriculture, math, science, architecture, literature, art, and of course, cuisine. My passion for this extraordinary era of Spanish history was enriched by approaching it through a feminist lens. I look forward to incorporating the dynamic identities of Spanish women from medieval to modern times into my language curriculum.
Jon Sabol, Chair, English Department
This summer, in the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, I spent a week in the Maine woods adjacent to Baxter State Park. Like Thoreau, I stayed in a cabin, though this one sat on the shores of Millinocket Lake rather than Walden Pond. While my lodgings were not as sparse as the “cottage in the woods” described in Walden, it offered easy access to the outdoors and the opportunity to explore a region of New England that Thoreau documents in his 1864 book The Maine Woods. In addition to coming into contact with what Thoreau called the “rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! The solid earth! The actual world,” I hiked to the summit of Mount Katahdin and across a narrow ridge called Knife Edge. I appreciate the generous funding of the Parents’ Association, which allowed me to escape the hectic life of the city and the distractions of technology for a short time and find, if not the transcendence that Thoreau, Emerson, and others sought, some spiritual uplift as a result of this journey.
Elise Figa, Middle and Upper School Music Teacher
My Hewitt summer grant helped me connect with Colombian musicians and choir directors and bring authentic Colombian folk music arrangements to the students at Hewitt. I spent the month of July in Bogotá, Colombia observing music classes and working with music students and youth choirs around the capital city. I spoke to many choir directors working with students in Bogotá and partnered with the Director of Choral Activities for the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, Cantus Albus ensemble, CLAN (Centro Local de Artes para Niñez), and ¡Canta Bogotá Canta! In addition to learning about the local music culture, I also had the opportunity to help Colombian students refine their pronunciation of songs sung in English. In the spirit of the continuing work that Hewitt is doing to build diversity and inclusivity, I brought back traditional Colombian folk songs to incorporate into my music curriculum.
Aaron Shapiro, Upper School English, History, and Latin Teacher
This summer I enjoyed two weeks of research and language immersion in sunny Rome. Each morning I bypassed the line of pilgrims in St. Peter's square, flashed my library card to the Swiss guards at the Porta Sant'Anna, and entered the secret city of the popes. In the Vatican Library, I conducted research on education and scholarship during the early Renaissance. I focused on the Latin manuscripts of Gasparino Barzizza, one of the most important schoolmasters and editors of the fifteenth century. Toward the end of my stay, I turned my attention to the living tradition when I visited the Accademia Vivarium Novum, a school where all of the teaching is done in Latin and Greek. Gratissimum erat. It was a pleasure. I returned from my trip refreshed, energized by my research, and eager to share new ideas with my students and colleagues. I am deeply grateful to the Parents’ Association and The Hewitt School for their generous support.
Erica Linderholm, Director of Lower School Learning Services
Thanks to a summer grant from our Parents’ Association, I had the opportunity to spend a very special week totally immersed in my life-long passion for photography. I was a student in a digital nature photography workshop held at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. There were 10 participants, all were educators, and all shared a love of both nature and photography. The week was intense as well as completely energizing and whether in the field or the lab, I was a student who was actively learning. I felt confused and overwhelmed at times, and I often needed clarification or support from my teacher. I leaned on my classmates to help me and I also made a lot of mistakes. As a result of my experiences in Maine this summer, I am reminded that making sense is an active process as well as a personal one, and I returned to Hewitt with a new sense of empathy for the student experience.