6/14/19—Beth Alexander, a STEM teacher at The Linden School, was recently awarded a Lowell Milken Centre (LMC) Fellowship in recognition of her achievements in teaching understanding and respect through project-based learning. The fellowship will allow Alexander to spend a week at The Lowell Milken Centre in Fort Hood, Kansas, where she will network and collaborate with top educators from around the world to enhance student learning experiences and learn new tools to draw out the highest potential from students.
Alexander has taught at Linden for 15 years, where she currentlyserves as Curriculum Leader and runs the CERES Lab for coding, engineering, robotics, electronics, and science. She is known for her high-energy lessons and for her ability to encourage students who have had difficulty with STEM classes in the past. She organizes an annual conference, “Teaching for Justice,” which is a gathering place for educators wanting to move beyond the curriculum and make the world a more equitable place. She has also developed community programs for at-risk youth and volunteered on a crisis line.
LMC Executive Director Norm Conard said, “By helping young girls to see their own potential, [Alexander] encourages them to realize their dreams and make a difference in the world around them. Her energy, passion, and enthusiasm are the very traits that make her an outstanding fellow.”
6/12/19—Arda Thomson, a Kindergarten teacher at Balmoral Hall School, recently won the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM Certificate of Achievement.
The Canadian Innovation, Science and Economic Development department, which awards one certificate per territory, announced, “Bringing up the next generation of scientists and engineers, (Mrs. Thomson) introduces the scientific method and design process, focusing class work around tinkering and building; very young girls build structures and learn to use tools.”
Thomson shared, “This is for all the people I work with. We constantly collaborate.”
6/11/19—The Ethel Walker School recently received a prestigious $250,000 Edward E. Ford Foundation Educational Leadership Grant to support the school’s new Capabilities Approach program. This grant requires a 1:1 match from the school community, and only six schools nationally were selected for this honor.
Capabilities Approach arms students with the skills needed to become lasting leaders and social justice advocates. The program focuses on the acquisition of a constellation of skills that allow for challenge and failure, with the end goal being a comprehensive understanding of each skill. The ten capabilities are divided into four categories—fluencies, discoveries, agencies, and a self-selected capability—and range from self-defense to financial fluency to sustenance and sustainability and more. The program is intended to promote collaboration and teamwork, and it embraces a “bolstering” model of learning that rewards both individual resiliency and supportiveness towards other students.
“At Walker’s, we are reimagining girls’ education in a way that seeks to disrupt gendered mindsets. This program will help us create an environment where girls will bolster each other to achieve functional mastery of a variety of capabilities,” said Walker’s Head of School Dr. Meera Viswanathan. “I was drawn to the thinking of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and his work on justice and the capabilities approach. He suggests that justice is measured by the ability of a person to engage in an array of actions or ‘do-ings’ that help one realize one’s full potential according to one’s own system of values. Walker’s Capabilities Approach is inspired by Sen’s research and will focus more specifically on the iterative process of success and failure as necessary stages of girls’ learning.”
6/7/19—Madeira School junior Tarina A. ’20 recently spoke at the 2019 Madeleine Albright Luncheon, an annual event celebrating advancements in women’s political empowerment. Other speakers included members of the U.S. Congress, prominent activists and journalists, and foreign dignitaries.
Tarina, the only student speaker, gave a speech reflecting the luncheon’s theme of “Celebrating Risk-Takers for Women’s Empowerment.” She shared, “My speech was about what it means to be a young person taking risks and how the risks of other women have paved the way for my generation. Secretary Albright and Representative [Abigail] Spanberger, for instance, have taken risks to allow my generation to follow in their footsteps. They are the ones that have passed the baton and we are grateful for it.”
Susannah Wellford, President of Running Start, a nonprofit organization devoted to preparing young women to run for public office, explained why Tarina was selected to be the student speaker, “Tarina was a standout student at Running Start’s high school program this past summer. I immediately thought of her when the National Democratic Institute reached out to us about having a Running Start young woman speak at the luncheon. Tarina exemplifies what Running Start stands for: she is confident, passionate about creating change, and is already a powerful voice for her generation.”
“Our world is yearning for new voices,” proclaimed Tarina. “Voices of women who are fearless, change-oriented, have an ideal outlook of what the world could be. I and women in general belong in politics and our voices matter.”
Tarina’s speech can be viewed here:
6/5/19—The Elmwood School Board of Governors recently announced the appointment of James Whitehouse as the new Head of School, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.
Whitehouse has been Elmwood’s Deputy Head of the Middle and Senior Schools since 2012 and has had a profoundly influential tenure. Previously, he was an Assistant Head at Seven Kings High School in London, one of the top twelve state schools in the U.K.
Whitehouse remarked, “Since the day I joined Elmwood, I have been extremely grateful to work in such an innovative and collaborative school community surrounded by a family of learners… I am excited to work alongside our board, staff, students, and parents to fulfill our commitment to our strategic pillars focusing on academics, the whole girl, our community, faculty, and sustainability. It is, however, our students who are the most important to me as I take on this exciting role. The girls make Elmwood the unique and special place it is today, and my commitment is to them and the future that we will create together.”
6/3/19—Stoneleigh-Burnham School (SBS) student Jacqueline “Jax” M. ’19 recently brought home two trophies from the World Individual Debate and Public Speaking Championship hosted at fellow girls’ school Branksome Hall in Toronto, Canada. She earned third overall in both Interpretive Reading and in After Dinner Speaking.
Jax represented SBS on the U.S. team joining 160 competitors from around the world, which competed in three rounds a day over four days in four different events, including one round partnering with another student.
SBS Debate Coach Karen Suchenski reported that Jax was graceful under pressure, showed stamina over the competition, and congratulated other competitors, displaying the girls’ school characteristics of “grit, grace, humility, and teamwork.”
The Debate and Public Speaking Society is one of SBS’s signature programs, and Jax joins an elite group of former competitors. She is the 18th debater in the school’s history to qualify for the world competition and the 7th to do so in the past five years.
5/31/19—The Ethel Walker School’s a cappella group, the Grapes, participated in the largest scholastic a cappella competition in New England, the Wyvern Invitational a Cappella Festival held at Kingswood-Oxford School.
For the second time in their history, the Grapes were awarded the Gold Citation – Best in Show for their performances. The group also received the Best Student Directors award, and senior Liz H. ’19 was the first female the competition’s history to advance to the beatboxing finals.
The performances, arranged by Music Department Chair Laurie MacAlpine and directed by Grapes Co-Heads Mari D. ’19, Katherine D. ’19, and Bella M. ’19, featured complex harmonies, choreography, vocal percussion, and strong solos.
5/29/19—The Linden School’s co-founders, Diane Goudie and Eleanor Moore, recently received the 2019 Women of Distinction Award by YWCA Toronto. The award denotes success in five areas: commitment and advocacy in improving the lives of girls and women; being role models and door openers to help women achieve greater independence and success in traditional and non-traditional careers; breaking new ground and old barriers; being agents for change; and commitment to equity across barriers including gender, race, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation.
Goudie and Moore are trailblazers in all-girls education having introduced feminist pedagogy to Toronto and creating tangible, structural change in how girls socialize, learn, and engage with their studies to overcome gender-based bias. Reflecting on their accomplishment, the co-founders said, “When we founded Linden, girls told us that they had felt silenced in their schools. Therefore, enabling our students to have a voice is an essential tenet at Linden, as it is in all quests for equity, liberation and change. In our curriculum and structures, we teach our students to ask: Who speaks? Who is heard? Who is missing? And who decides who has the voice at any given time and in any place?”
Emma Warnken Johnson ’04, a Linden alumna and member of the school’s Board of Trustees, noted, “Teaching young women to think critically about the world around them—and then go out and improve the world for other women and girls—has never been more important. It was Diane and Eleanor’s fierce determination that created a community in Toronto where girls learn to do just that.”
5/24/19—Hockaday’s middle school robotics team, Saturn V Girls, were in Houston last month to compete at the World Festival, a celebration of champions who competed and won in the 2019 FIRST LEGO League season.
Among a field of 469 teams, they took the first place Champions Award at the North Texas FIRST LEGO League Regional Championship Robotics Tournament in February. “Our team is all girls, and it’s important to have girls in STEM. And we’ve been inspired by astronauts in space,” said team member Jana D.
Team member Anika K. explained, “Every year there’s a theme that has to do with a real-world problem, and this [year] it’s Into Orbit and helping astronauts on either a physical or mental problem they face in the real world on long distance spacecraft. People are wanting to get to Mars, so this is how we can help, and it’s kids’ ideas.”
Starting in August, Saturn V Girls researched and studied contemporary problems in space and designed innovative solutions using the STEM skills they learned in the Hockaday classroom. The girls identified an issue that could be solved with an unconventional approach: scratch-n-sniff stickers.
“In space, there’s no gravity so the body fluids of an astronaut rise up and it feels like you have a head cold all the time. Since taste is 80% smell, the astronauts can’t taste,” Anika K. explained. “So this would allow them to taste what food actually tastes like.”
“These skills they’re learning through the core values, the gracious professionalism, the treating others with respect, collaboration as team will pay off as they move forward in college and careers,” said Terera Lenlig, VP of School and Community Engagement at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which hosts the competition.
5/22/19—Greenwich Academy (GA) recently received a prestigious $250,000 grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation Educational Leadership Grant to support the expansion of the school’s Girls Advancing in STEM Network (GAINS). The foundation supports independent secondary schools that pledge to collaborate with other institutions and schools, with a focus on improving the environmental sustainability of their campuses. The award is valued at $500,000, with the Edward E. Ford Foundation paying half and GA matching the other half through fundraising.
Over the next three years, GA will use the grant money to make upgrades to its GAINS program, which started in 2011 to connect girls who have a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with each other and with women working and studying in these fields. The network has three arms: student-run clubs in schools nationwide, an online portal for networking with STEM mentors, and an annual conference open to independent schools across the U.S.
With the funds, the school will develop a blueprint for students of other independent schools to start their own clubs, upgrade the virtual networking platform, and continue funding the nationally recognized conference.
5/20/19—The Archer School for Girls recently celebrated the grand opening of its new Academic Center, further delivering on its mission to empower future female leaders in an environment specifically created for their success. The Diana Meehan Center features spaces that are flexible and light-filled, creating an ongoing dialogue between indoors and out. The new building comprises over 30 state-of-the-art classrooms, student center, and courtyards.
“Thanks to Archer’s early and passionate supporters, the iconic Eastern Star Home for Women became the school’s permanent home in 1999,” Head of School Elizabeth English said. “Being the steward of one of L.A.’s most stunning, historic buildings is a responsibility Archer takes seriously. Inspired by the myth of Artemis, the Archer, protector of girls and goddess of the hunt, our architects at Parallax and Associates designed the new Academic Center with Archer’s mission firmly in mind. While the design provides an elegant counterpart to our cherished historic building, it also signals to our students and our community that the empowerment of girls and women is critically important work for Los Angeles, our nation, and the world.”
Bridging the school’s 2018-2019 theme of “courage” with the new center’s grand opening, students from The Unaccompanied Minors, Archer’s a cappella group, and student dancers created an original rendition of Sara Bareilles’ anthem to courage, “Brave”.
5/17/19—Madeira recently earned the first College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science A. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP Computer Science courses. Out of more than 18,000 secondary schools worldwide that offer AP courses, Madeira is one of only 167 schools that earned the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for AP Computer Science A.
“By inviting so many young women to advanced computer science classrooms, Madeira has taken a significant step toward preparing its students for the widest range of 21st-century opportunities,” said Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president of the AP Program. “We hope this inspires many other high schools to engage more female students in AP Computer Science and prepare them to drive innovation.”
Beyond preparing students for AP Computer Science in the classroom, Madeira also provides real-world STEAM exposure through its Co-Curriculum internship program, giving students hands-on experience at engineering firms, labs, and technology companies. Trudy P. ’19 completed her senior Co-Curriculum internship at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, where she researched security vulnerabilities in ship navigation systems.
“Madeira has given me a strong foundation in STEAM and increased my knowledge about computer science. The personal development I experienced in an all-girls environment helped me feel really confident in going beyond my school community,” Trudy noted. “After my Co-Curriculum internship at Johns Hopkins, it is exhilarating to say that I improved ship navigation security. It was also a little scary because I was able to figure out how to hack into the system.”
Madeira is among the top AP Computer Science programs worldwide in providing inspiring opportunities for young women.