Hewitt News

2018 Faculty Summer Grant Program
Hewitt News

Hewitt’s summer grant program supports faculty experiences that align with the school’s four academic pillars - presence, empathy, research, and purpose. Made possible by support from the Hewitt Parents’ Association and from Hewitt's professional development fund, 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 as individuals.

Chris Han, History Teacher
My Hewitt summer grant enabled me to travel to parts of Honduras to explore its geography, culture, and history. I teach middle school history and ethics, and Honduras's rich past, including the Maya civilization and European colonization, provided a glimpse into how geographic diversity may have played a role in shaping the country’s history. A visit to the Copán Ruinas was an opportunity to experience the grandiosity and the complexity of a Maya city nestled in the lush Copan Valley. With intricate carvings of glyphs and images impressed on stone architecture and modern underground tunnels to view multi-layered buildings, each layer representing the reign of a king, it was easy to see why UNESCO names this as one of the most important Mayan sites in the world. 

In contrast to the mountainous mainland, the Bay Islands were a tropical oasis with constant trade winds that readily brought to mind the European explorers and colonists who used the islands as their base and settlement. A visit to the Garifuna community in Roatán was a vivid reminder of the ongoing challenges of a historically oppressed community, including the question of how societies come to terms with institutional crimes against humanity and make amends to their legacies. Throughout my travel, I was struck by the gentleness and warmth of the people of Honduras. From guides to shopkeepers to schoolchildren, local residents were proud of their heritage and curious about mine.

Anusheh Hashim, Lower School Head Teacher
When Maria Montessori opened her first school in 1907, her ideas – that children are the most motivated when they make choices about their learning, that hands-on work is engaging and effective, and that children learn best through collaboration with one another – were revolutionary. Today, these principles guide many educational institutions, including our own Hewitt School. With the help of generous summer grant funding, I was able to enroll in a leadership course administered through the West Side Montessori School. I spent three weeks studying the theories and philosophy of Maria Montessori alongside a cohort of women leaders and changemakers in the field of early education. 

Over the course of three weeks, we learned about children and their development, engagement, and positive discipline, as well as ethical and practical leadership and teacher development. This experience has made it even more clear to me that many of Montessori’s practices – especially the careful preparation of the classroom environment and the self-reflection that teachers engage in to make their work transformative – are closely aligned with our work at Hewitt. I’m leaving this course reaffirmed in my belief that it is critical to incorporate student voice into our curriculum development, and reminded of how impactful opportunities for choice are on students’ motivation. 

James Oates, Physical Education Teacher 
My summer grant allowed me to fulfill a lifelong ambition of traveling to St. Andrews Golf Course in Scotland, where I conducted research into how we can incorporate golf skills into the physical education program at Hewitt. St. Andrews is a magical place steeped in history, and being there provided me with knowledge about the game that I look forward to bringing to Hewitt’s P.E. department, including new ways to develop students’ hand-eye-coordination and balance. My grant also allowed me to develop my sense of purpose as I completed the Coast to Coast, a day-long bike ride in which I departed from the west coast of England and traveled 137 miles to the country’s east coast, climbing over 10,000 feet in the process. The terrain was challenging and included a long series of hills, and I finished the final 20 miles of the ride in the dark. The experience pushed me to the limit both physically and mentally, and though I wondered if I would be able to carry on, I was ultimately able to push myself to complete the final miles of the journey. By the time I finished, I was exhausted but ecstatic to have completed a challenge for which I had spent months training and preparing. Throughout my 15 hours of biking, I learned a lot about my own limits and how to push myself to persevere. I will draw on these experiences as I follow my purpose to guide Hewitt students to develop a lifelong relationship with health and wellness, to persevere in their own athletic pursuits, and to take great joy in achieving a difficult goal.

Miriam Walden, Upper School English Teacher 
This summer, I spent five weeks revisiting a novel I started writing when completing my M.F.A. My grant gave me the freedom to devote myself fully to the craft of writing each day. Each morning, my yoga practice helped me to embody a meditation about myself and my work. By setting a particular intention, I opened myself to the creative process, which requires being receptive to the unexpected. I then critically read my original manuscript, and, most importantly, tried to write new material. In addition to the daily work of writing, I looked to other related creative work as sources of inspiration, such as documentary films and autobiographical accounts of the onset of the AIDS crisis, during which my novel is set. I attended a marathon Wednesday performance of Parts 1 and 2 of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America on Broadway, and immersed myself in Nick Cave’s installation and performance art at The Park Avenue Armory, “The Let Go” and “The Freedom Ball.” I also spent several meaningful hours at The Whitney studying the exhibit “David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake At Night,” which included a wealth of work relevant to my own storytelling and research. Through writing, I discovered that my novel’s narrative voice has changed dramatically, and my sense of each character has become deeper and more sophisticated. In recognizing this shift, I reflected on the many crucial ways that I have transformed personally since first starting to tell this story years ago. The summer grant program gave me a working writer’s most valuable gift: time to clear my mind and allow my characters to live.

Claire Arnod, World Languages Department Chair 
As a French teacher and speaker of French, English, German, and Russian, I have always had a love of languages and linguistics. I set out to study Spanish so that I could better collaborate with my colleagues in the world languages department here at Hewitt, and I used my summer grant to travel to Mexico to continue learning the language. I chose Mexico in particular because I was upset by the way Mexico and Mexican people have been depicted in the media and in the news, and I could see the danger of the single story about our neighbor to the south. During my time in Mexico City, abbreviated as CDMX, I improved my Spanish while learning about the country’s rich culture, history, and future. In addition to exploring many beautiful museums including Museo Nacional de Antropología and Museo de Arte Popular, I discovered that CDMX is the 2018 World Design Capital and home to one of my favorite architects, Luis Barragan. My travels also taught me about Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, a scientist and the first woman to be elected mayor of CDMX, and about the many ways in which Mexican history is truly global history. Finally, I learned that we shouldn't wait 10 years to visit our next door neighbors!

Arlene Padilla, Middle and Upper School Spanish Teacher  
As a Spanish teacher, I love to learn about other cultures and languages, and this summer I was given the opportunity to travel to and immerse myself in Slovenia. Slovenia is the meeting point of the Slavic, Germanic, and Latin cultures, each of which has influenced the country’s architecture and food. As I pushed myself to learn Slovenian, I was humbled by the experience of being a student once again. During my trip I enjoyed a personal tour and history lesson of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, led by a local family. I explored the beauty of country during a trip to Lake Bled, which looked like something out of a storybook with its panoramic and peaceful views, and which was also home to a delicious local dessert called a vanilla slice. A final highlight of my trip was a visit to Predjama Castle, a fortress that is built into the Postojna caves. The caves are a natural work of art and I was in awe of their beauty. I am grateful to Hewitt for supporting this travel experience, and while I may not yet be fluent in Slovenian, I learned a great deal from this experience. Hvala! Thank you!  

More News

Chris Leaver and James Oates, Physical Education Teachers

Hewitt’s physical education program provides students with the tools they need to live a healthy and active lifestyle while instilling a passion for physical activity and movement that goes beyond school hours and lasts a lifetime. With classes that center around movement and fitness, sports technique and strategy, and yoga and dance instruction, Hewitt girls learn early on that they all have something to offer and gain from their physical education classes. 

Hewitt News

Hewitt’s summer grant program supports faculty experiences that align with the school’s four academic pillars - presence, empathy, research, and purpose. 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 as individuals.

Mary Anne Sacco, Lower School Literacy Specialist

This September, second graders did the important work of setting up and organizing their classroom libraries. During the first few days of school the girls explored their libraries with excitement, their curiosity and enthusiasm contagious. Collaboratively, they began to investigate bins of books, having conversations about what types of books were in each and what they noticed about the books they were reading.

Margaret Brown and Meredith Miller, Kindergarten Teachers

Whether student, faculty, or staff, all new members of our community are paired with a buddy who offers guidance, support, and friendship as they navigate their first year at a new school. As the youngest members of our community, kindergarteners are welcomed to Hewitt through a unique partnership with the senior class, allowing for a special relationship to grow between the oldest and youngest students at Hewitt. 

Benjamin Joffe, Middle and Upper School Latin Teacher 

Having spent much of the year applying their knowledge of Latin vocabulary to a systematic and rigorous study of English derivatives, Hewitt’s seventh and eighth grade Latinists devoted the final weeks of school to regaling their classmates with tales from ancient Pompeii. 

Stephanie Dore, Upper School Service Coordinator

Hewitt’s dedication to fostering empathy in our students makes our partnership with Riley’s Way Foundation a natural fit. Throughout the year, Hewitt upper school girls work with peers from the Young Women’s Leadership School - Astoria on the Riley’s Way Youth Council, a public and independent school partnership designed to develop kind and compassionate leaders. 

Joseph Iannacone, Middle School History Teacher

Each spring, a delegation of Hewitt’s middle and upper school students participate in the Packer Model Congress, where they engage in heated but civil debates about taxes, foreign aid, veterans’ affairs, and environmental policy. Delegates view the annual event as yet another opportunity to make their ideas known and their voices heard. 

Samantha S., Class of 2018

In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote, “We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.” Well, I know something of what we are. We’re venturers and friends, students and sisters. Above all, we are Hewitt girls. As we walk out into the next stages of our lives as women, we do so with the immeasurable potential to become anything we want to be.  

Nancy Gallin

Good morning, families, students, colleagues, members of the Board of Trustees, and first among equals, good morning to the Hewitt Class of 2018. Look around you and memorize this moment, your classmates, your families, your teachers, this beautiful place, and the chance to sit quietly just for a little while so you can remember it. 

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This April, the Hewitt community gathered to celebrate the opening night of our student-curated art exhibition, Diversity and Identity: The Pieces of Your Puzzle. From thoughtful self-portraits to an interactive world map to a school-wide collaborative mural, each work of art spoke to the exhibition’s theme, recognizing the beauty of the Hewitt community’s diverse perspectives and experiences. 

Mia V., Class of 2018

As most people were just waking up and beginning their morning routines, the 14 members of Hewitt’s varsity tennis team were arriving at the courts ready to practice. The hardworking and passionate team grew incredibly close over the course of the season, making it all the way to the quarterfinals of the AAIS tournament, with an impressive 7-3 record the rest of the season. 

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This spring, faculty advisors focused the ninth grade advisory program on empathy skill-building and trained in council, a method of story sharing developed by the Ojai Foundation. Council provides a space where students can voice their opinions and share their stories, knowing they will be heard by their peers without comment or judgment. 

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Believing strongly that an artist must have empathy in order to tell and honor another human being’s story, Ms. Britt asks her seventh grade drama students to step into the shoes of a classmate through a project in which girls learn, reflect on, and ultimately perform another’s story. 

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Earlier this year, first graders noticed the chairlift at the front entrance to McKelvey Hall. When it came time for students to begin their study of Central Park, Ms. Hashim seized the opportunity to change the traditional curriculum, harnessing her students’ interest by learning about Central Park through the eyes of the elderly or disabled. 

Alexa Collingwood and Samia Soodi, Third Grade Teachers

This March, visitors to Hewitt’s third grade classrooms found themselves rubbing elbows with a myriad of famous and vibrant women from every era of history. Guests expecting an ordinary wax museum full of motionless figures were in for a treat as the third graders, dressed as historical figures, came to life to share their stories.

Jeremy Sambuca, Director of Technology

Whether building a robot from scratch or working alongside a teammate to troubleshoot a pesky programming glitch, students in Hewitt’s middle school robotics program are design-thinkers and problem-solvers who learn from their successes and challenges. 

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Estefania Suquilanda, Hewitt’s lower school tech support specialist, has always had a passion for repairing gadgets. “My goal is to pass on the repair bug to Hewitt students from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Whether dealing with a cracked phone screen or an argument with a best friend, knowing how to repair things is an important skill to have.”

Jennifer Errico, Educational Technologist and Lindsey Brown and Maggie Turner, Kindergarten Teachers

Hewitt kindergarteners approach their role as Hewitt's newest community members with fresh eyes, deep curiosity, and lots of enthusiasm. Throughout their first year of school, kindergarteners focus on identity explorations, learning about their larger school community and their own role in that community. 

Tim Clare, Science Teacher and Middle School Coordinator of Sustainability

Hewitt’s commitment to sustainability spans divisions and disciplines. Between clubs, courses, and community service, faculty members are developing a variety of ways for students, teachers, and families to get involved with efforts to spread awareness and education about the environment. 

Elaine Schreger, Fourth Grade Teacher and Grade Level Coordinator 

Hewitt’s Sandwich Friday tradition goes back to 2005, when this service relationship originally began in our first, second, and third grade classrooms. Since then, it has expanded to fourth grade and kindergarten so that every member of the lower school shares in this empathy-building experience. 

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Hewitt fifth graders tapped into their skills as mathematicians, problem solvers, coders, researchers, and writers to plan road trips across the United States. With only a few specific guidelines about budget and mileage, students were encouraged to make independent decisions about routes, finances, food, and lodging as they planned elaborate trip itineraries.

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Each year, Hewitt’s world languages department offers opportunities for middle and upper school students to travel abroad to Spanish- and French-speaking countries. These trips, filled with new experiences and discoveries, provide students with the chance to immerse themselves in the language, culture, history, and culinary traditions of different cities. 

Stephanie Dore, Digital Arts and Photography Teacher and Coordinator of Experiential Initiatives 

This October, three upper school Graphic Design students attended the 12th annual Teen Design Fair, where they caught the attention of graphic designers from Sesame Workshop. 

Erik Nauman and Young Kim, Technology Integrators

On any given day, visitors to Hewitt’s O’Hara Family Innovation Lab might smell the burnt wood of the laser cutter, see traces of sawdust left over from a woodworking project, or hear the hum of a 3D printer bringing student designs to life. 

Carly S., Student Head of Athletics

This fall, Hewitt’s athletes hit the ground running in volleyball, soccer, and cross country. Our varsity and JV teams were complemented by a record number of middle school student athletes, and the season was characterized by talent, skill, determination, and teamwork. 

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In its second year, Hewitt’s summer grant program supported faculty experiences that align with the school’s four academic pillars - presence, empathy, research, and purpose. 

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This summer, several Hewitt faculty members participated in mindfulness training designed specifically for educators. Read their personal reflections to learn how they are incorporating mindfulness practices into their classrooms. 

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Spurred by questions based on both hypothetical and actual situations, fifth and sixth students utilize classical philosophies and political theories like those of Aristotle, Kant, and Rawls to guide their critical reasoning as they consider dilemmas in law and justice. 

Alicia Ferrill, First Grade Teacher

On the first day of school, the entire first grade participated in a team building activity designed to encourage planning, collaboration, problem-solving, and creative expression.

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Faculty member Erik Sommer discusses his summer art installation at Fastnet, an alternative exhibition space in Red Hook, Brooklyn. 

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The Hewitt School embraces the notion of teachers as learners and offers faculty several opportunities for professional development throughout the year.

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From the first day of rehearsals the cast of "The Cripple of Inishmaan" jumped at the chance to take on the challenges posed by this complex text.

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At Hewitt, we believe in empowering girls to establish a sense of self rooted in confidence, empathy, and hardiness through active, girl-centered academics and authentic connections to the world beyond our campus. 

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In December 2016, six upper school students and nine faculty and staff members attended the annual People of Color/Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Atlanta.

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At The Hewitt School, all middle school students are given the opportunity to learn robotics, and interested girls are encouraged to build on this foundation by participating in our Hawks Robotics elective. 

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This March, over 700 members of the Hewitt community, including students, current and incoming families, alumnae, faculty, staff, and Met Museum educators, gathered at The Vinegar Factory to celebrate the opening of Feminist Stance: What Do You Stand For?