Hewitt News

Spreading Sustainability at Hewitt 
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. 

In the spring of 2017, Hewitt began a partnership with the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF), an organization that works with teachers and schools to implement sustainability programming. That summer, Hewitt’s first faculty sustainability committee attended the CELF Summer Institute, where they participated in a variety of training workshops and made plans to ensure that sustainability continues to be a shared and central goal of the Hewitt community.

Less than a year after forming, Hewitt’s faculty sustainability committee has already made great strides. Our work is guided by the Big Ideas of Sustainability, a framework designed by the Sustainable Schools Project at Shelburne Farms in partnership with CELF to help educators frame sustainability curriculum and projects for their students and colleagues. Whether working with maintenance and facilities and our kitchen to implement a composting program of all food scraps in our cafeteria, providing professional development workshops for faculty, collaborating with colleagues to develop curriculum, or planning student programming, the relatively new committee is already making a big impact on every member of our school.  


In lower school, the committee’s curricular work has included a kindergarten unit on resource use and a second grade focus on sustainability through the lens of urban development. In middle school, sixth graders completed an animation project focused on issues related to water, an elective course looked at sustainability through ethical dilemmas, and the student council expanded to include a middle school sustainability committee. In upper school, Marine Biology students engaged in an ongoing marine biomes project; our AP Environmental Science class focused on a sustainable city design project and a personal waste audit to track how much paper, plastic, and metal trash they produce; and our earth committee brought the One Last Straw Campaign to Hewitt. At various points during the year, students of all ages have had the opportunity to work with the Central Park Conservancy to learn about the park and volunteer to help keep it clean.

With so many exciting initiatives in the works, the Hewitt sustainability committee continues to grow in size and scope. The coming months will see a full day devoted to sustainability programming featuring student-led workshops and activities, and this April students and faculty attended the NYSAIS Sustainability Through Student Voices Conference. This summer, a new group of Hewitt faculty will participate in CELF’s 2018 Summer Institute, ensuring the continued spread of sustainability throughout the school. 

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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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

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.”

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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

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

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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?