NEW LOWER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL APPOINTED
We are thrilled to share that Karyn Payton has been appointed Lower School Principal at Westtown School! She will assume her duties on July 1. Karyn came to Westtown three years ago, initially teaching first grade, in which capacity she was elevated to Master Teacher, broadening the social studies curriculum to include more diverse voices. Most recently she has served as the Lower School Learning Specialist, notably managing the design and implementation of the new Lower School learning support system.
Karyn earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Temple University and a master’s degree in education and human development from The George Washington University, both with highest honors, and holds a certification in early childhood education from Widener University. Karyn has completed the Friends Council on Education’s Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends School. Her time before and outside Westtown has included teaching language arts at Delaware Valley Friends School; training teacher interns in the Delaware Valley Friends School Adolescent Literacy Program; teaching first and second grade at the The School in Rose Valley during which she collaborated to create curricula; and, teaching at Friends Select School – of which she is a graduate. A lifelong Quaker and member of Chester Monthly Meeting, Karyn has also coordinated educational programs at Pendle Hill. In her personal statement of philosophy, Karyn speaks of Quaker practices as key influences and inspirations, including holding issues or ideas in the Light, discerning in collaboration with others and in her own quiet time, and leading with intention. She identifies listening and seeking as particularly important practices, calling them “cornerstones of successful teaching and leadership.” Head of School Tori Jueds noted, “With the wisdom and experience of a rich career in elementary education, demonstrated commitment to Quaker-influenced practices in both teaching and leading, and natural warmth and humor, Karyn stood out among a strong pool of candidates. She garnered enthusiastic, resounding, and unified support from our community as well as the search committee, and I am thrilled for our students and our school that she has accepted the position.” Please join us in congratulating Karyn on her new role!
NEWS IN DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION, AND ACCESS
As you know, on July 1, Jay Farrow will begin a new role as the inaugural Dean of Access and Equity. Jay’s developing portfolio will include work with Admissions as we seek to diversify our student body, and with Advancement as we work to shore up robust sources of financial aid and full access funding, as well as connecting with alumni/ae/x of color. Jay will partner with Marissa Colston, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, on various school initiatives.
We are introducing new Diversity Coordinator roles among faculty and staff. Bekka Schultz, Lower School science teacher, has been doing a wonderful job piloting this work in their division, and will continue as Lower School Diversity Coordinator next year. Position announcements for internal applications from Upper and Middle School faculty members for Diversity Coordinator positions in those divisions have been posted. In the coming months, a position announcement for Staff Diversity Coordinator will be made. These coordinators will partner with Marissa as well as division principals and department heads to further our work in DEI school-wide.
Finally, two committee structures will support this work. The Multicultural Board has been re-framed as a committee of the school and Board of Trustees called the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Board. The DEI Advisory Board will be co-clerked by Jay and Marissa, and will include trustees and adjunct members drawn from our alumni and parent communities. In keeping with its new name, it will serve an advisory function and will convene 2-4 times a year on Board weekends. At the same time, we are convening a new standing committee of faculty and staff to pursue and support initiatives in our school community, called the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. The DEI Committee will also be co-clerked by Jay and Marissa, and its inaugural membership will be the staff and faculty members who have up until now been serving on the Multicultural Board, as well as the staff and divisional Diversity Coordinators. Members will serve three-year terms on the DEI Committee, and new members will be appointed by means of an open, transparent process to be developed by the co-clerks.
Throughout this school year, a professional development cohort of teachers, staff, and administrators has been exploring the history of Westtown School by looking through a new lens: specifically, conducting an assessment of the school’s history with regard to race. The cohort’s stated aim is to “bring together teachers dedicated to creating racially just and equitable classroom spaces as well as a just, equitable, and restorative curriculum at Westtown School. Our work will involve undertaking an honest appraisal of our school’s history, especially with regard to race; owning and taking responsibility for that history; and using that history to frame a more equitable future for students, teachers, and all community members. This work will amount to truth-telling, reconciliation, and restoration…” The cohort’s undertaking is inspired by the American Truth and Reconciliation (ATR) movement, but, as the group notes, “…will proceed in a way that is true to Westtown’s values, mission, and Quaker history, and serves Westtown’s unique population and culture.”
During her Alumni Day address, Head of School Tori Jueds introduced this project to the community:
Throughout our history, from 1799 to date, countless Westonians have felt seen and valued at our school — but we need to recognize that many have not. You will remember that Westtown did not admit African-American students until 1945. Some of you may have read the excellent action research and oral histories collected by Teacher Pat McPherson…If you have, you will have read that only five of the seven black women enrolled at Westtown in the 1950s survived “great isolation” in order to graduate. One Westtown alumna of color wrote in an essay in Pat’s collection that “social isolation defined our experience”; another commented, “I don’t think the teachers had any conception of the problems I was going through except to criticize me academically.” Another was made to feel “that black was ugly in [the] white world” of Westtown.
These are just a few of many deeply painful observations to be made about our history. And yet, they are truths — Westonian truths — and as such, acknowledging them frankly is a critical part of our work. Seeking out and honoring that of God requires clarity. If we fail to be clear-eyed with regard to our shortcomings, we risk falling short again and again. Our Quaker calling remains Westtown’s most potent means of seeking healing, peace, and a better world. And it requires us to hold in the Light those who have felt that that of God in them went unsought and unseen at our school. It requires us to look at our individual and collective shortcomings, and to ask our history: What gift do you have to give me? What can I learn from you?
Marissa Colston, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Kevin Eppler, Class Dean and religion teacher, are leading the charge of seeking truth, truth-telling, and authentic restorative justice. The goals and outcomes include: a scholarly examination of Westtown’s history; assessments of curricula in all divisions; building community and making recommendations about community discussions; recommending guest speakers who are active in social and racial justice; and, discerning ways to present their findings and act upon them. Colston and Eppler acknowledge that even after a year of meeting with the cohort, this deeply important work has only just begun. It will continue in a variety of ways, some yet to be determined. If you have questions, concerns, or would like to share your experience at Westtown, please be in touch with Marissa Colston and/or Kevin Eppler.
HERITAGE SPEAKERS PROGRAM
Westtown’s Lower School is seeing a growing number of heritage Spanish speakers. A heritage speaker is someone whose heritage is Hispanic –there are Spanish speakers in their home, so they might be fluent or proficient in Spanish, or they might simply be immersed in the cultural aspects of their heritage, or both. In the Lower School, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity in Spanish instruction, which is not split into levels as it is in Middle or Upper Schools. For heritage speakers, the Lower School Spanish classes might move too slowly or be too basic. Parents of heritage speakers were concerned both about language loss, and about making sure their children become bilaterate as well as bilingual.
The question for Lower School teachers, then, was how best to support these students in their language progression. Lower School Spanish teacher Amy Liermann along with Innovation Specialist Oscar Sosa, implemented the Heritage Speaker Project this year in close partnership with parents of the heritage speakers. In this pilot year, Liermann and Sosa concentrated on fourth grade which has three heritage speakers. They began supplementing Spanish education in a variety of ways for these students. One such way is through “lunch buddies” in which heritage speakers from the Upper School who are involved in the Latinx Leadership Club have lunch with the students once a week, speaking Spanish and talking about their cultures and cultural identity.
A book club was also formed for the three students. Liermann and the students come in early one morning a week to discuss the book they are reading. Liermann, Sosa, and Lynn Clements, Lower School librarian, were careful to choose authentic novels and short stories; ones that were written in Spanish, not translations from English. Liermann notes that culture is embedded in language, and translations often lose those cultural nuances. In addition to these discussions, Liermann uses the books to select spelling words, highlight vocabulary, and note patterns in grammar. In these sessions, she is able to continually assess students’ progress in reading, writing, spelling, and grammar. She notes, “These students bond over their common language and have a safe community to learn in the target language, and when they stumble over words, they help each other. It’s been rewarding to see them develop this small community, this affinity group.”
Field trips were incorporated into this project as well. Westtown has long partnered with La Comunidad Hispana (LCH) in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, as a service destination and a beneficiary of winter clothing drives. Liermann and Sosa took the group on a mini-field trip in which they could learn from the director (in Spanish) about the services provided by LCH and to deliver the items collected by the Lower School. Next year, these students will coordinate and lead the drive themselves.
Integration of Spanish into other academic areas has bolstered learning and practice as well. The fourth grade teachers have encouraged these students to read their news assignments in Spanish, as well as complete some of their projects in Spanish. In just one example: when the fourth graders were to research plastic pollution, produce an educational brochure, and make a presentation about it, the heritage speakers completed their work in Spanish; their presentation to the Lower School was also in Spanish.
Liermann, who teaches “immersion-style,” explains that having heritage speakers in Spanish classes with new learners is beneficial to all in the class. Lessons are contextualized so students are not just learning Spanish, but also about the 22 Spanish speaking countries. The heritage speakers enhance both the immersion aspect and information about vocabulary and dialects that differ from country to country. Each student brings her own expertise which allows her to be teacher as well as learner, and allows authentic peer-to-peer learning.
Liermann, Sosa, and the parents were happy with this pilot year, although consideration of and conversations about what more supports can be offered is ongoing. There are plans to continue with these current students as they move into fifth grade, and to explore expanding into other grades. The challenge is time; the work for these students and Liermann is, with the exception of integrated academic assignments, outside the classroom. Liermann and Sosa are committed, though, to enhancing the experience and instruction of these students.
Amy Liermann and the heritage speaker group deliver clothing to La Comunidad Hispana
3D BOOKS FOR THE BLIND
Innovation & Technology Specialist Alicia Zeoli and Lower School Librarian Lynn Clements are members of Build a Better Book, a project that encourages students to design and fabricate inclusive media. The program identified a need for blind and visually impaired students to have not only books in braille, but also in 3D for tactile illustrations. Zeoli and Clements enlisted Middle School visual art teacher Cindy Hodgson to bring her ideas to this program. Hodgson integrated 3D books into her 7th grade 3D modeling unit. It was Hodgson’s idea to have the students create three-part stories based on the topics identified by the Royer-Greaves School (RGS) for the Blind in Paoli, with whom these Westtown teachers had partnered. RGS indicated that they needed life-cycle books (insects, animals, plants) and how-to books (how to do everyday things such as brush your teeth or make a sandwich) for children at their school. Westtown students worked in groups to create the tactile books and to test the books by using a blindfold to see if they could understand what the objects illustrated. Zeoli and Hodgson also included lessons in braille, which was included with the tactile illustrations, and students participated in make the braille text as well. The end result was an impressive, clever selection of 3D books! They were recently delivered to the RGS, where they are already in use. Design Thinking is at work in this kind of project –it encourages empathy and provides a useful solution to a real-world problem. To learn more about the details of this project, we encourage you to read Alicia Zeoli’s blog.
THE CHAIRMAN’S AWARD
In March, the Metal Moose robotics team competed at a district competition, and while they finished in the top three with the robot, a more important success took place: The Metal Moose was awarded the Chairman’s Award – one that only eight teams in the region receive each year! In the words of the award criteria: The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST. It was created to keep the central focus of FIRST Robotics Competition on the ultimate goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encouraging more of today’s youth to become science and technology leaders.
Faculty advisor Steve Compton says, “The most important work we do in the realm of Chairman’s is in supporting underserved communities of young people through partnerships with development organizations. Through our annual Good Robot Challenge and our new Access and Equity team, the Metal Moose has created opportunities for 158 batey children in the Dominican Republic to have sufficient school supplies for the first time, supported university tuition for a student from a DR batey, funded African water projects and youth development, and created a growing partnership with the Kennett Youth Garage.” Working at the Garage with underserved middle school students, the Metal Moose team donated 20 MS surface laptops, ran a weekly tutoring program, and have generated funding to offer week-long summer Lego League robotics camps with the students for the next two summers. The Westtown students who work in these programs give selflessly of themselves, and their hard work and dedication to service was noted in the award presentation.
Kavi Gandhi ’21 was recently honored by the Phillies at the All-Star Student Night! Kavi was one of only five students to receive this honor for “going above and beyond in their communities.” Teacher Mitch Bernstein (who nominated him) got to enjoy the game and ceremony as well! Join us in congratulating Kavi!
PRINCETON PRIZE IN RACE RELATIONS
Congratulations to Zora Carroll ’21, recipient of the prestigious Princeton Prize in Race Relations! The Princeton Prize in Race Relations “recognizes and rewards high school students who have had a significant positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities through their volunteer efforts.”
Working in small groups, third graders created a 3D topographic map of Africa. People often refer to the continent of Africa, but not the 55 specific countries that make up the continent. The aim of this project was to learn about the individual countries, and to dispel stereotypes about the continent as a whole. Teachers Vicki Shelter and Marc Dear divided the continent into six regions, and the students into six groups. Each group was given puzzle pieces that made up their region. These groups determined who was going to research each country within their region. They researched natural resources, land forms, bodies of water, populations, religions, and cities. After researching, the students built an enlarged version of their region. They learned to build on scale and to build economy symbols for things such as, mining, oil, coffee, and cacao. The creation of this 3D map brought together all of the geography lessons that third grade learned over the year.
NATIONAL CHINESE HONOR SOCIETY – WESTTOWN SCHOOL CHAPTER
The National Chinese Honor Society’s objective is to acknowledge the superior achievement of secondary school students studying Chinese as a second language. Like other honor societies, the National Chinese Honor Society not only recognizes high scholastic achievement but also good character, leadership, and service. National Chinese Honor Society members should exemplify all these standards. The Society’s goal is to promote enthusiasm for Chinese language and culture learning, commitment to advanced study, and greater cross-cultural understanding.
Teacher Bei Zhang says, “After reviewing examining the national standards set forth and discussing the many qualifications of gifted students, the Westtown School chapter of National Chinese Honor Society was pleased to induct 10 new members into the society and renew five students’ membership earlier this spring.” Congratulations to all!
THINK. CARE. ACT.
The seventh grade Think, Care, Act (TCA) Fair was an inspiring example of the commitment our students have to creating a better world. The TCA Fair was held in the Belfry, where students presented their projects to each other, faculty and staff, and parents. Collectively, these students spent over 400 volunteer hours in our local community. One student banked his voice with VocalID as a way to give another child their own authentic and realistic voice while another used recycled paper to make sheets embedded with seeds of bee-loving plants to support our pollinators. Whether working in animal shelters, schools, faith communities, or food banks, our Middle School students made a difference in the lives of others. This project, introduced by seventh grade English teacher Abby Lausch, is now in its fourth year. Well done, seventh grade!
WESTTOWN IN THE WORLD
Where did Upper School students go this year during Senior Projects and school-sponsored trips? Where DIDN’T they go might be a better questions. The seniors embarked on 25 independent projects spread out across ten countries and five states. Many seniors joined school-sponsored trips that went to: Florida, for coral reef restoration; Ghana, for teaching and service; Israel/Palestine for exploration of culture, religion, and conflict; Italy, for Latin and study of the Classics; and, Puerto Rico, for language immersion and service. Both independent projects and group trips afford our students rich, unusual, and life-changing learning experiences.
This spring season brought with it a lot of excitement, record-breaking performances, and a renewed display of school spirit by our student body, parents, and community! Below are just some of the highlights of what was a memorable spring season.
Our 2019 Spring teams produced 18 FSL All-League Recipients! Congratulations to;
- Maya Torpey – Golf
- Fritz Gessl- Golf
- Javi Albacar Obeso – Golf
- Cate Cappuccio – Girls Lacrosse
- Julian Klenner – Track & Field
- Thomas Inggs – Track & Field
- Jalen Jones – Track & Field
- Dylan Tyler – Track & Field
- Sarah Eddy – Track & Field
- Makayla Tucker – Track & Field
- Cianan Gamble – Baseball
- Dylan Grim – Baseball
- Ewen Donald – Baseball
- Taj Donald – Baseball
- John Graff – Boys Tennis
- Harold Jensen – Boys Tennis
- Jaxon Hendrickson – Boys Lacrosse
- Harrison Williams – Boys Lacrosse
The spring season’s Waring Award Recipients were Sophie Yager and Mathias Zawoiski. These two amazing student-athletes displayed the qualities that embodied what it means to be a member of a Westtown Athletics team both on and off their playing courts and fields.
Our varsity baseball team (12-8 record) made the FSL Championship game for the first time since 1997! They were runners up in the championship, but it was a season to celebrate! Please join us in congratulating the team on a great 2018-2019 season.
Our boys track and field team repeated as FSL Champions for the second consecutive year. This season will go down as one of the most exciting track seasons with multiple new school records. In the PAISAA State Tournament, our Boys’ 4x800m relay team finished in third place. Makayla Tucker finished in third place in the triple jump during the PAISAA tournament and she set a new school record in the triple jump. Rebeca Fomich was a record setter in the pole vault. Julian Klenner provided another amazing performance in the PAISAA tournament with a first-place finish in the boys 200m and 400m races. Julian ends his Westtown career in style this season by breaking the school record for the 100m, 200m, and 400m races. He also ran anchor on the record-breaking 4x100m relay team. The 4x100m team, which also includes Jalen Jones, Alex Reichard, and Quin Berger, broke the previous record set in 2009. Dylan Tyler also joined the record-breaking performances this season by setting a new school record in the triple jump.
From left: Dylan Tyler ’19, Makayla Tucker ’21, Julian Klenner ’19, Rebeca Fomich ’21, Quin Berger ’22 Not Pictured: Jalen Jones ’19, Alex Reichard ’19
Please join us in congratulating all our spring teams and coaches for a such a memorable 2018-2019 spring season. Lets’ Go ‘Town!
Celeste Payne was recently awarded the first-ever Ida B. Wells “Champion of Truth” Award from the Families for Multicultural Community (FMC) group! Of the honor she said, “It continues to be a privilege to partner with FMC in support of students and to make Westtown a more equitable and inclusive community. To have any association with Ida B. Wells is an honor.” Congratulations, Celeste!
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Sports are a passion for the Giangiulio family. Tom Giangiulio is a founding member of our Athletics Advisory Council and Graham Giangiulio ’14 returned to Westtown this year as one of the boys varsity baseball coaches.
At Westtown, the Giangiulios have supported the creation of baseball dugouts and offered their Phillies box for bid during our auction and weekend student and coaching events. Recently, they made a lead pledge to the upcoming Oak Lane project, which will add two new artificial turf fields, a clubhouse, and related facilities to enhance our student experience, athletics program, and community events, and to increase auxiliary revenue.
Co-Director of Athletics Paul Lehmann ’99 says, “Tom Giangiulio is the ultimate gentleman. The projects that he and his family have chosen to support have had and will continue to have a tremendous impact on our athletics program and our student athletes. The Giangiulios have been incredibly kind and generous, and I am truly grateful for their ongoing encouragement and involvement.”
Graham is an entrepreneur who has been giving back to communities in need since his college days. Through his company, Manners Maketh Clothing Co., Graham provides free haircuts, dress clothes for job interviews, and monetary donations to the Coalition for the Homeless in Orlando, Florida.
Westtown has always held a special place in Graham’s heart. “It played a major role in molding me into the man I am today by providing me with tools to excel both in college and in my adult life. Westtown is the faculty and staff who truly care about the wellbeing of their students. Westtown is a cohort of students who learn to be deep critical thinkers and accepting of all people. Westtown is the memories we make with lifelong friends. Westtown is more than just a school, it’s a community. Thank you, Westtown School, and thank you, dad, for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing community. They say home is where the heart is, so my heart must belong to Westtown.”
Tom adds, “Although most of my capital support has been placed through the athletics area of Westtown, I certainly view athletics as only one aspect of the overall academic and social mission of the school. Core values such as honor, integrity, trust, and respect are developed as well as the encouragement of athletes to compete with fairness, excellence, and passion in every game and sporting event. In effect, student athletes are not measured solely by their accomplishments on the field of play but ultimately by the magnitude of their character. Westtown School, with its familial atmosphere, creates a stable and durable permanence in the hearts and minds of all those who enter its doors. My family is proud to have that connection in our lives.
Westtown is likewise extremely proud and very fortunate to have the Giangiulio family as members of our community. We appreciate their generosity and thoughtful engagement. Thank you Giangiulios, for all that you do!
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ALUMNI WEEKEND 2019!
Alumni Weekend was a truly wonderful celebration of the Westtown community. The entire campus was buzzing with excitement as alumni celebrated reunions and old friendships, visited classes and former teachers, attended informational symposium presentations, went canoeing on the lake, and many other meaningful activities too numerous to mention. Thank you all who came home to visit and to all who helped make the weekend a success! Enjoy the photo galleries!
For more alumni news, join the Westtown Community Group on LinkedIn and “like” the Westtown Alumni Facebook page.