Director of Strategic Initiatives & Professional Development Jen Shakeshaft traveled north to visit the only all-girls middle and high school in the state of Minnesota, Visitation School (affectionately known as “Vis”) near Saint Paul. Upper School Director Anna Barter described the school’s strong sense of community, which is partly due to several faculty who have taught at Vis for more than three decades. Vis is also home to the state’s first all-girls robotics team, The Robettes [pictured above]. The next day, NCGS and Vis co-sponsored a booth at the Invent It. Build It. EXPO, an experience designed by the Society of Women Engineers to encourage middle and high school girls to choose a career in engineering.
Jen was joined by Manager of Membership & Outreach Vera Smith-Winfree to visit two NCGS member schools during their recent travels to Baltimore. Their first stop was Oldfields School, a day and boarding school that recently celebrated its 150th anniversary. During a visit with new Head of School David Perfield and members of the Program Team, they learned about several of the school’s signature programs, including the May Program, a two-week experiential learning opportunity for students to do everything from touring the volcanic terrain of Iceland to visiting local animal shelters. The program is a direct reflection of Oldfields’ mission to encourage girls to try new things and its dedication to “each girl’s success.”
The next stop was Garrison Forest School, which serves girls in grades K-12 and has a boarding component for students in grades 8-12. New Head of School Chris Hughes and Upper School Director Reema Khanchandani explained the innovative programming that is currently happening at all grade levels. Lower school students, for example, recently began a comprehensive financial literacy program and upper school students can elect to take interdisciplinary courses such as “The Science of Art,” which includes regular visits to The Walters Art Museum. Students also benefit from The James Center, which was founded in 2008 to develop curricular and co-curricular programs to provide girls with hands-on, real-world learning experiences.
While in Baltimore, Executive Director Megan Murphy visited Lillie May Carroll Jackson Charter School (known as “Lillie May”). Founded in 2015, Lillie May enrolls scholars in grades 5-8 and is a unique public-private partnership between Roland Park Country School (RPCS) and the Baltimore City School System. Lillie May is the result of a five-year process of visioning and planning conceived of and designed by faculty and administrators from RPCS and The Bryn Mawr School. During her visit, Megan learned about Art with a Heart, an innovative community arts program where scholars explore the underlying social and political messages and artistic expression of graffiti styles in Baltimore. As part of the curriculum, the girls used techniques found in graffiti to design their own tag, which is the artist’s distinctive personal signature.
Director of Finance & Operations Paige Rannigan visited Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic college preparatory school for girls in grades 1-12 in Bethesda, Maryland. Focusing on the five goals of Sacred Heart education, Stone Ridge inspires young women to lead and serve through lives of purpose that integrate faith, intellect, community, social action, and personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom. Following a campus tour, Paige learned about some of Stone Ridge’s signature programs, including the Social Action Program where upper school students engage in community service projects throughout the greater DC metro area.
While in Bethesda, Paige attended the Holton-Arms School’s Pedagogies & Passports Conference. Joining classroom teachers interested in global education, Paige participated in several interactive workshops including a Model UN simulation led by a Holton-Arms alumna from the UN Association of the National Capital Area and a diplomacy simulation led by an education program specialist from the U.S. Department of State. Paige also got creative during a hands-on workshop where participants sketched drawings on clay slabs to represent a global cause for which they are passionate and willing to stand up.