Rowland Hall has always emphasized literacy development for our Beginning School students. Teachers foster a love of reading by using positive reinforcement to build confidence and encourage effort. Thanks to the generosity of annual fund donors last year, our kindergarten literacy program recently got a boost: the Lucy Calkins Classroom Library, a collection of diverse reading material with selections specifically chosen for that grade.
In 2011, Rowland Hall's Board of Trustees approved a diversity mission that affirmed the school's commitment to building cultural awareness, cultivating an inclusive environment, and appreciating how our differences create a stronger community. The school's Inclusion and Equity Committee—first created in 2008, and strengthened with the board mandate in 2011—has been hard at work implementing an action plan to bring the values of this diversity mission to the forefront. According to Upper School English teacher Kate Taylor, who co-chairs the committee with Lower School principal Jij de Jesus, a significant long-term goal is "to provide more consistent and across-the-board training opportunities in inclusion and equity topics for our faculty and staff."
Since the implementation of Rowland Hall's 2014 Strategic Plan, teachers have increasingly engaged in professional development to help us achieve Goal 2—provide an outstanding math and science program. Last summer, when Mrs. Jenkins shared an interest in pursuing a math endorsement, Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus sent her to a workshop at Stanford University. "I just died—I was so excited," she said. "I sat right up front. It was so much fun."
Environmental science and ornithology upper schoolers on an early April weekend drove south to frigid, beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park to study sage-grouse—an indigenous bird species.
Congratulations to the following teachers who received awards this June for outstanding service to their profession and to the school.
As the 2016-2017 academic year wraps up, Rowland Hall's FINE PRINT magazine asked Ingrid Gustavson to reflect on her first year as Upper School principal. Her candor, ease, and excitement about the community she's been embraced by is as infectious as her enthusiasm for the future.
Freshmen Hailey Hauck and Laura Summerfield have attended SummerWorks since kindergarten and return as interns this year. Now it's up to them to make sure campers have the best summer ever.
A math specialist is responsible for enhancing the student learning experience in math and partnering with the classroom teacher to ensure each student is learning math at his or her level. Rowland Hall's Lower School is fortunate to have Math Specialist Jodi Spiro, now in her third year. We sat down with Ms. Spiro to find out more about her job, and what it's like to inspire students to engage in flexible thinking and use math in their everyday life.
Best-Selling Author and Former Rowland Hall Teacher Jessica Lahey Gets Students and Parents on the Same Page
In October, a former Upper School teacher returned to her old stomping grounds with a best-selling book in tow and a plethora of parenting wisdom to share. Author and educator Jessica Lahey, a Rowland Hall tenth-grade English teacher from 2000 to 2002, delivered three unfailingly energetic lectures in the Larimer Center for Performing Arts: one to Middle School students, one to Upper School students, and a public lecture in the evening attended by nearly 200 Rowland Hall parents and other interested community members.
Jan Chappuis, a nationally recognized education expert, led three separate professional development workshops on formative assessment, a research-based education strategy that in the past few years has solidified its place in the Rowland Hall vernacular. Fifth-grade teacher and Strategic Plan Implementation Committee Co-Chair Sarah Button has a simple definition for the term: "It means checking in with my students—where are they on this particular concept—and then that decides what I do next," she said, as opposed to advancing in a lesson plan before all students have grasped a concept.
Congratulations to the four teachers who received Sumner Family Faculty Awards for teaching and excellence in their field, and to the teacher who won the Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award for excellence in the classroom and service to the entire Rowland Hall community.
Increased graduation ceremony attendance plus a national dialogue on diversity in gender identity and expression spurred the Rowland Hall community to reevaluate key components of this year's joyous June 4 event—while keeping the joy fully intact.
Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus still refers to himself as "the new guy," a self-imposed moniker that is more of a sensibility than it is a timestamp. It's just one way he models the vibrant and dynamic learning culture that is a trademark of Rowland Hall.
Studies consistently prove that reading with children is critical to developing literacy skills, but the look of contentment on a child's face is proof enough that reading one-on-one is as important as ever. That's why when the self-named Reading Grandmas volunteered their time with Rowland Hall's young readers, everyone knew it was a great idea.
In the spring of 2015, 58 percent of our students took one or more AP exams. Combined, they took a total of 438 AP tests. Of the tests taken, 93% earned college credit with a score of 3 or higher. Additionally, all 14 of the students who took one of the most challenging AP tests offered, BC Calculus, scored a 5 on the AP test which is the top score possible – a very rare feat.
Ten Rowland Hall Upper School students armed themselves with plastic gloves and performed an important waste audit as their Rowland Hall's Half Day Whole Heart project this past October. Their goal was to understand what was being thrown away in Rowland Hall's garbage cans. Half of the students stayed on the Lincoln Street Campus and were led by Katie. The other five headed up to the McCarthey Campus to perform a second waste audit there with Jensen.
When our entire student body came together on the Steiner Campus fields for the opening day ceremony of Convocation, I was once again reminded of the school's responsibility to remain committed to our founders' deep roots in ethical education. There are many things that make Rowland Hall special, but our mission to graduate good citizens has been central to our purpose since the Episcopal Church founded our school nearly 150 years ago.
What if I told you that we could make a significant impact in how students view their school experience -- that we have ways to diminish students' anxiety about grades while creating a culture of learning where struggle, hard work, and even failure are all options? Now, I am under no illusion that this is a one-year project; it will take time to help students transition from a results-oriented approach to an approach focused on the process of learning, but I believe that we can create such a culture through consistency of language and intentionality about our approach as a school.
Personal finance has become a hot topic in high schools across the country. Rowland Hall students are excited to learn about money management thanks in part to Math Department Chair Missy Tschabrun's new year-long Personal Finance class.
The Tuttle Cup is a friendly competition between the faculty members at Rowland Hall. It is two years old, and in that time it fostered observation and collaboration across multiple divisions and disciplines. The Tuttle Cup originated when Garrett Stern, Middle School math teacher, suggested a challenge to encourage teacher interaction across divisions. All of the administration enthusiastically supported the initiative; therefore, we created a team of representatives from each division to manage the Tuttle Cup.
All school messages come regularly from Director of Curriculum and Instruction Wendell Thomas. He's scouting articles, putting together statistics about our programs, advising on assessment models, collecting and sharing data about our student's excellent performance in math and science. He a busy and very interesting guy! So, until we can hook him up with his own blog, check out a sampling of his latest communiques and some video footage from our Parent Forum on Math and Science.
The National Speech & Debate Association recognizes Rowland Hall as a "National School of Excellence." Most recently Rowland Hall debaters were informed that they had achieved 100 or more points and degrees from the NSDA last year, ranking them in the top 10% of high schools nationwide, public or private, and has earned membership in the Association's prestigious 100 Club. This designation comes on the heels of the debate program's top 14 finish in the national rankings for "Policy" debate.
In 2013, while we were momentarily flattered to be named one of Utah's and the nation's "Most Challenging High Schools" by The Washington Post, we were also flabbergasted because we had not even sent in the date the newspaper had requested. So last year, Director of College Counseling Bruce Hunter responded with a letter to Jay Mathews, the journalist behind the newspaper's rankings, in which he explained why Rowland Hall doesn't participate in rankings and cited the stance of our accrediting body, the National Association of Independent Schools, on rankings: "Ranking of schools encourages a destructive competitiveness, leading institutions away from offering rich alternatives and toward a stultifying sameness. It is a disservice to the schools, concerned parents, and children, and therefore, to our society."
On May 8, 2014, the board of trustees approved an exciting new strategic plan.