Our Wildwood, Winter 2017, Volume 40

Our Wildwood, Winter 2017, Volume 40

Wildwood Our

8 18 2

Parent to Parent

Drawing Connections in

Elementary Visual Arts

Wildwood Athletics: Building Bridges


t a b l e o f c o n t e n t s


Letter From Landis ................................................................................................... 1 All School Feature: Parent to Parent ....................................................................................................... 2 Giving Voice: Joel Brand & Lyle Poncher .................................................................................. 6 Elementary School Feature: Elementary Visual Arts: Drawing Connections ........................................ 8 Book Shelf ................................................................................................................... 13 Middle School Feature: Advisory Is Essential—Every Day ................................................................. 14 Wildwood Athletics: Building Bridges: Upper School and 5th Grade Athletes Combine Forces ..................... 18 oh snap! ........................................................................................................................ 20 Good to Know ............................................................................................................. 24 Alumni Profile: Jessie Baren ’14: Internships Key to Success ............................................................................... 25 Class Notes ................................................................................................................. 26 Perspectives: Lilly W. ’17 ................................................................................................................... 28 Upcoming Events ..................................................................................................... 29


Pendulum clock built by Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development (WISRD) students Remy W. ’20 and Jacob M. ’20.

Special thanks to the following student contributors: Matthew M. ‘25 for his book review on page 13, Chantal S. ’18 for her book review on page 13, Ande V. ’18 for his photo on page 28, and Lilly W. ’17 for her essay on page 28.

l e t t e r f r o m l a n d i s

Dear Friends,

THIS ISSUE OF OUR WILDWOOD FOCUSES ON ONE of the seven Habits of Mind and Heart: The Habit of Connection. Ironically, I’ve sometimes found this Habit to be a challenging one with which to connect! Yet now I understand it to be timely in so many ways. This year prompts us to reflect as a nation on a contentious presidential election that exposed deep divisions in our country, perhaps as dramatic as ever before. The early days of a new administration did little to ease that contention. Connection may be one of the last words that come to mind when we think about the tragic chasm that exists between people with various perspectives within our society. But by combining Connection with some of the other Habits—namely Perspective and Common Good—we can begin to build much-needed bridges, politics aside. I can’t think of a better time to supply the world with the collection of young people I’m privileged to see in action each and every day at Wildwood School. They give me hope. They should give you hope, too. Connection is exemplified, too, in those who steward our mission—past, present, and future. Lyle Poncher, past Board chair and current trustee, has served on our Board for more than a quarter century and was one of the driving forces behind our expansion to K-12. He’s in good company with John Friedman, another trustee who has dedicated the last 25 years in service to the future of our decidedly progressive, bold, dynamic, and soulful school and community. Their efforts, along with dozens of other current and past trustees, and their support of our current Board Chair Lisa Flashner and Board Chair-Elect Joel Brand illustrate the vital connection between the past, present, and future of Wildwood. During this year, my 10th here at Wildwood, I’ve been thinking about the connection between past, present, and future. My reflection has included pointed conversations with past and present parents, current and former trustees, colleagues on both campuses, and alumni. I’ve been asking them to share how they’ve seen

Wildwood School build on strengths and address stretches over the course of the decade we’ve been in this work together. It has been affirming, celebratory, and at times sobering to connect past to present and future. And it’s been an honor for which I’m grateful. I plan to share what I’ve learned from these conversations at this spring’s annual State of School on April 25, using my Senior Institute colleagues’ work on a revised Senior Exhibition framework to provide a structure for my talk. It will be my 11th State

of School, since I was invited to speak at the spring 2007 event several months before I arrived to begin my work as head of school. Please mark it on your calendar and come. The connections that we share—with each other and between those who ground us in our history and those who represent our future—are more important than ever. At the center of it all are our students, who are so fortunate to be in our care and to have our faith. I hope that you will enjoy reading this issue of Our Wildwood as much as those involved have enjoyed preparing it.

Warm regards,

Landis Green Head of School

a l l s c h o o l f e a t u r e

by Melinda Tsapatsaris, ASSISTANT HEAD OF SCHOOL


Parent education at Wildwood serves as an essential time to pause, reflect, and connect: connect to who we are as parents, connect to what is happening at Wildwood, and finally connect to fellow parents. These parent education connections are diverse and varied—as diverse and varied as the young people we guide . That is what I wrote in the original version of the article you’re reading now. Following this perfectly fine (maybe even “eh”) statement was a series of thoughts, reflections, and quotes—all lovely and good and true. But as I reread what I’d written, I kept asking myself: SO WHAT? It’s a question that English teachers and journalism professors ask their students to help them get to the heart of what they’re writing. When I taught high school writing and literature, I’d ask my students this, too. What is the “so what” of parent education at Wildwood? I asked myself while stuck in traffic, stirring broccoli soup at dinnertime, lying in Shavasana as my yoga instructor told me not to think about anything but breathing. The problem wasn’t a lack of so whats; there were too many of them, and this article needed just one. I was sitting with a group of parents at an actual parent education event, a book group on Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed, when, one day past the deadline for this article, I realized what I needed to do—ask for help. I needed to “think out loud” with insiders—the parents I was trying to write about. Conveniently sitting to my left were two parent education aficionados, middle and upper school parents Erin Rottman and Jaclyn Lieber who each happen to have master’s in Journalism. Ah, the universe, I chuckled to myself. We got to talking and came to the agreement that while all levels of connection (parent to self, parent to content, and parent to parent) are essential, one emerges as the most important, the most essential, and the most necessary to hold up: the connection that happens between and among parents.

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I’D FOUND MY SO WHAT Wildwood’s particular brand of parent education intentionally bonds parents to other parents in a unique way and that helps parents connect to themselves and the content, too. Every session reminds them that they are not alone. It allows them to take risks, to lean into their discomfort and insecurities, to be vulnerable, and to grow. It’s because parents connect with other parents that learning becomes internalized. Eileen Landay, a retired professor of education at Brown University, states plainly and often, “Learning is a social act.” We can easily transfer this mantra to parent education. Consistently, the parents

our children’s privacy and independence while making it clear there are boundaries? At what point do I reach out to other parents about their children’s habits? Are my kids doing their homework or are they noodling around? How am I supposed to monitor the “time suck” my children experience on their devices when I can’t properly monitor my own? Eighth-grade parent Rob Solomon said, “The recent parent technology evening was a great opportunity for parents to speak openly and honestly about the challenges, fears, and anxiety we all are facing in this rapidly evolving frontier.” He reflected on the evening and the powerful connection between parents it created, “It was comforting By taking care of themselves as parents, they can more effectively guide their children’s social, emotional, and intellectual development—especially when the ride’s bumpy.

who are active participants in Wildwood’s parent education program experience the power of learning that is social to the core. In three separate evenings this fall, parents of 6th graders, 7th graders, and 8th graders convened at Technology Parent Partnership meetings to share their fears, hopes, and strategies around issues that their 11 to 14-year- olds face or are about to face. Parents grappled with one another. They reflected. They posed questions: How much is too much monitoring of my kid’s text messages? How do we honor

Wildwood endeavors to conduct its parent education program in a way that mirrors the progressive pedagogy of its teachers. A Wildwood education is based on research that shows students take consistent intellectual risks when they feel safe. To build this safety, Wildwood created the Habits of Mind and Heart for the middle and upper schools, the Life Skills for the elementary school, and an advisory MIDDLE SCHOOL PARENT COFFEE: TRANSITIONING INTO UPPER SCHOOL Parents of middle schoolers have the opportunity to learn about what’s to come in upper school, from curriculum to co-curriculars. MINDFULNESS COFFEE WITH CHRIS Elementary school counselor Chris Kiefer highlights how Mindfulness is threaded throughout the curriculum, and provides techniques to employ at home. Here is a sampling of our spring parent ed. offerings: LORI GETZ A technology and cyber safety expert speaks with parents of 4th-8th graders. RICHARD LOUV Best-selling author and journalist, Richard Louv, explains how to nurture a “hybrid mind.” ED BACON Author, activist, and retired pastor speaks about equity and justice, race, and what we do in a community to serve the common good. COFFEE WITH CHRIS: BODY IMAGE Parents learn about body image language that elementary school counselor Chris Kiefer uses when working with students. BOOK GROUP WITH AUTHOR REGINA PALLY A discussion of Pally’s recently-released and approachable guide: The Reflective Parent: How to Do Less and Relate More with Your Kids. SAFETY EXPERT CHRIS JOFFE Wildwood’s consultant reviews and answers questions about the school’s extensive safety programs.

to hear directly from other parents that what [my wife] Jenn and I struggle with are many of the same issues as everyone else.” Then he jokingly added, “Misery loves company.” “We do not learn from experience, we learn by reflecting on experience,” goes the quote commonly attributed to John Dewey. And so it is with parents. Through listening and observing other parents’ misery and glorious moments, parents can hold a mirror up to their own misery and glorious moments with their children. Every day, parents parent, often without time to hit the pause button. It is when parents connect that insights and aha moments emerge. Parent education becomes an intellectual and emotional oxygen mask for moms and dads. By taking care of themselves as parents, they can more effectively guide their children’s social, emotional, and intellectual development—especially when the ride’s bumpy. Whether it’s coffee with one of the counselors, a WWPO (Wildwood Parent Organization) summit to hear about child and adolescent development from faculty, or a parent book group, the power of these experiences comes down to “I am not alone.” In the 2015–2016 school year, the middle school coffee series was introduced to increase parent-to-parent connectivity. WWPO Co-President Laurie Zerwer reflected, “The coffees are a great parent bonding experience. They also helped me feel closer to my child at a time when, developmentally, he is seeking greater independence.” Teenagers individuating can trigger myriad feelings in

Our Wildwood /Winter 2017 4/5

parents. The range of these feelings is wide— disillusionment, sadness, even acceptance. When parents experience and support and context from their school and parent community. Early in the parenthood journey, moms and dads often join baby groups to discuss the ins and outs of breast-feeding, sleep training, and attachment philosophy. Participation in groups tends to share these feelings, they receive needed

dissipate as kids age—ironically just as parenting gets more complicated and nuanced. Wildwood parent education brings back the notion of a “Mommy and Me” class—that by sharing, creating community, and offering tips of best practice, our kids will thrive and we will, too.

sponsored forums, air our grievances and think we are done. We need continuous dialogue with other parents, our children, and their educators, with the hope that over time we will all be better equipped to navigate the challenges created by technology.” As Rob put it, this night was just a step on the path that the Wildwood community takes. A path marked by its reflection, humor, and camaraderie, one that never goes away. After every technology parent evening, groups of Wildwood parents gathered together in people’s homes to continue the learning and the dialogue. Tim Arnold would be proud. While their children have already received their diplomas, parent education devotees Susan Stockton (Rollin ’16) and Caitlin Wootton (Clem ’15) frequently participate in alumni parent book groups. Pinpointing the power of the

program all about forging strong relationships inside and outside the classroom. The pedagogy also asks students to lean in and participate while in relationship. It’s easy and safe just to listen to a lecture. It’s something else entirely to grapple with other learners, share stories to back up one’s perspective, and question an assumption in the room. K–12 Wildwood students do this every day in their classrooms. While at parent education events, parents get the opportunity to also learn this way. TAKING IT WITH YOU While my father told me never to trust a man with two first names, my first teaching mentor was a man named Tim Arnold. I came to trust Tim deeply. He used to drink seven cups of coffee and smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. Tim once

shared that his favorite moment of the day was when his students walked out in the hallway and on to the next class. I looked at him, puzzled. “That is when,” he said in his signature raspy voice, “they take what they learned from your classroom and apply it, use it, and make something of it. It’s what really matters.” Tim’s “walking away” phenomenon happens to parents, too. After a middle school technology evening, Rob Solomon said, “While there was

Wildwood endeavors to conduct its parent education program in a way that mirrors the progressive pedagogy of its teachers.

a diverse set of opinions expressed about the negative—or should I say challenging—issues presented by technology, there was consensus that the discussions need to keep happening. We can’t meet once or twice a year at school-

parent-to-parent connection, Caitlin says, “Showing up and talking with others at parent ed. events made so much more of an impact than just reading or viewing material on my own. I connected with parents by sharing our experiences in confidence, without judgment.” And Susan, who served as a parent education co-chair as well as the WWPO middle and upper school president, agrees that connection is at the heart of parent education at Wildwood. “I was able to connect with like-minded parents, compassionate teachers, and engaged administrators,” she says. “I was able to connect with the Habits [of Mind and Heart] in a way that they became part of our family’s culture.” It is noteworthy when our young people’s home lives and school lives share values and culture. When the significant adults in our children’s lives are aligned, joined together by a common mission and a community, children will be reflective scholars and confident leaders who know how to use their minds and hearts well, and they will be vital community members like their parents and their educators—together—modeled for them. WW

g i v i n g v o i c e

Giving Voice In this issue of Our Wildwood, we launch a new section called “Giving Voice,” where two Wildwood community members engage in dialogue about our school. This first Q&A is between BOARD CHAIR-ELECT JOEL BRAND AND PAST BOARD CHAIR LYLE PONCHER, about Landis Green’s ten-year anniversary as head of school. If you have a suggestion about two people you’d like to see in conversation, please send their names to oww@wildwood.org with the subject “Giving Voice.” We look forward to hearing from you.

Q/ a JOEL BRAND: Landis is celebrating his 10th year as head of school. What is the biggest impact that you think he’s made on Wildwood? LYLE PONCHER: I think one of the most important things that he did was that he took a fledgling secondary program, which was only a few years old, and really made it shine. He understood and adhered to the basic principles of Wildwood’s existing program while embracing change— which I think is one of the hardest things for people to do, to strike that balance. He is a great school leader, and he’s not afraid of change. Q/ a JOEL: When Hope Boyd was retiring in 2007, you were a key part of the search for a new head of school. What was it about Landis that made him the right person for the job? LYLE: Part of picking a new head of school is a roll of the dice. You don’t know whether this person will be exactly the right person or will really jell with the community or with the teachers. The Board and the selection committee knew that Landis was definitely the guy. Why? Because there was a spirit about him. He really got what we were doing. Q/ a JOEL: What was the first thing you remember about meeting Landis? LYLE: That he was prepared for the job—that he had done his homework and was seriously ready to be our head of school. And that he was a bright guy. I don’t just mean intelligent; there was a brightness about him. There was an enthusiasm about him. He was a connective guy; he wanted to engage. And he actually listened. JOEL: It’s not just that he’s an experienced and visionary educator, but Landis brings with him a unique set of personal values. The values of our school are quite different from other schools’ values. And it’s really important that the head of school reflects that. I think that’s a part people don’t always appreciate—how the leadership’s values trickle down into every part of the school. LYLE: I think you’re absolutely right. The head of school sets the tone in so many ways, including for the kind of teachers who are attracted to Wildwood. We have a truly wonderful faculty, and he deserves a lot of the credit for that.

Our Wildwood /Winter 2017 6/7

Lyle Poncher

Joel Brand

Q/ a JOEL: What is your hope for the next 10 years? LYLE: Well, the Institutes are so exciting. The output I’m seeing from the kids through the [WISRD] Institute is just remarkable. Whether it’s in the STEM area, or in design, or social justice, I think they can really blossom over the next decade. JOEL: There’s something uniquely Wildwood about the Institute Model. It’s the logical evolution of what we’ve done here as a school, and also in a typically Wildwood manner, it’s both the outcome and the impetus for more change. Q/ a JOEL: Is there anything else that you’d like to add about Landis? LYLE: I just think that we’re lucky to have him. He’s done a great job for us, and I think he’ll continue to. It’s just in his DNA. He’s incapable of not giving his all. I’ve rarely seen someone work so hard with such determination to do it well. JOEL: And he’s such a great match for our values and our DNA.

Q/ a JOEL: If Landis were a “Habit,” which one would he be and why?

LYLE: Is Kindness one of the Habits? (laughs)

JOEL: Common Good comes to mind.

LYLE: Common Good, yes. And he is an extremely kind person. I think our children benefit from that because our community respects kindness. Landis sets that tone. Q/ a JOEL: One word to describe Landis’s leadership style is … JOEL: That’s a good word. I think that that inclusiveness comes out in his desire to hear—his foundation of kindness in the way he interacts with people. And when you have a head of school whose leadership style is inclusiveness, how does that affect the shape of the school? LYLE: Well, I think it makes the school more vibrant, and it allows the children to know that they are respected. One of the many things that is wonderful about this school is the fact that it’s not just giving lip service to children following their passion in education; they actually are encouraged, even directed to do that. It is part of the ethos of this school. I know my kids had that experience here. LYLE: Inclusive.

LYLE: Indeed. He is. He definitely is.



Save the Date

Wildwood State of School Tuesday, April 25, 6:30 p.m. Elementary Campus Commons Head of School Landis Green uses the Senior Exhibition framework to reflect on and celebrate his first 10 years at Wildwood.

e l e m e n t a r y s c h o o l f e a t u r e

by Kerri O’Neill and Dawn Urbont, WILDWOOD PARENTS


Our Wildwood /Winter 2017 8/9

their peers and get crucial face time in organized meetings and free-flow collaborative sessions. At the beginning of the school year, teachers and specialists meet to design the curriculum and look for ways to intersect. This intersecting continues throughout the year, often organically. “We are a collaborative school,” Kendra says. “It’s in the culture to connect.” HAPPY ACCIDENTS The Lascaux Caves aha moment got Kendra and Melanie thinking about a collaborative project for the 3rd grade intensive involving the Tongva dwelling on Big Yard. While usually covered with tule reeds, this year it is decorated with small canvases painted with acrylics. On each is a student’s answer to the question, “What is Los Angeles to you?” The canvases riveted together over the dwelling create a cave. Kendra imagined a mini-unit in which the 3rd graders could go inside the dwelling to make cave drawings—a deeper expression and historical connection to their social studies lesson. Events like these are a hallmark of progressive education—students make interdisciplinary connections

In a 3rd grade social studies class, during a unit on the Native Americans who once inhabited Los Angeles, teacher Melanie Benefiel shows her students photos of cave paintings by the Tongva people. One of her students recognizes them. In visual arts class earlier in the day, he’d learned about the paintings in France’s Lascaux Cave. The student grows excited. “We just did that!” he exclaims with enthusiasm. This is the “aha!” moment of a Wildwood education—when a student understands that a subject is not just confined to a single classroom, but is learnable through a spectrum of lenses. Moments like these are not uncommon at Wildwood, particularly in the Visual Arts program, which aims to promote mastery over materials and artistic fundamentals while incorporating elements of other disciplines into its rich curriculum. Connections across disciplines are vital to Wildwood teachers. Kendra Elstad ’95, one of the Visual Arts teachers on the elementary school campus, notes that professional development is at the heart of it all. Teachers have opportunities to overlap with

The Lascaux Caves aha moment got Kendra and Melanie thinking about a collaborative project for the 3rd

In turn, Visual Arts uses Systems Thinking in the classroom. Michael explains that a systems chart can come in handy for tougher-to-grasp art techniques. To teach his students about abstract art, he asks them, “What does ‘abstract’ mean? How can you represent an idea, concept, or emotion visually?” This can all be charted, making a non-tangible concept suddenly very clear. excels at finding ways to link to other disciplines, but what about connecting to the art itself? Is there always an immediate, instinctive connection between students and the creative process? Kendra has been teaching Visual Arts in the elementary school since 2013. If there’s one thing she knows, it’s how to bring the joy of making art to every child. Her goal is to provide a curriculum that appeals to each student, from kindergarten through 5th grade. “We try hard to expose students to different types of art here,” Kendra says. “From Dada, abstract art, and performance CONNECTING TO THE MATERIAL The Visual Arts department

grade intensive involving the Tongva dwelling on Big Yard.

This collaborative work is invaluable socially and emotionally for students at the elementary school age and will serve them positively in life.

and teachers, with the freedom and flexibility to build upon students’ observations, create projects that evolve from work done in other classrooms. Visual Arts has a history of collaboration with their specialist colleagues. Two years ago, Visual and Performing Arts memorably collaborated to design the set for The Great Kapok Tree , performed by the Pods (K-1st grades) for an audience of parents. And this year, the art department’s newest faculty member, Michael Fujikawa ’95, led a 3rd grade unit on photography in conjunction with technology. Digital photography and microscopes were paired to create macro drawings of photographs students took around campus and on walking field trips.

CONNECTING THROUGH SYSTEMS When asked how he makes

connections between Visual Arts and other activities, 2nd grader James C. began by drawing a “Systems Map”—a Wildwood staple for breaking down how and why things work. James placed art at the center of his map. Radiating outward, he added explorations, quiet time, social studies, garden, reading, math, performing arts, projects, and Spanish. Systems Thinking enables students to visualize how one type of learning supports another.

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The students proudly displayed these “passion trophies” in their Pod classrooms. “With the passion trophies, we try to connect with something they love to do,” Kendra explains. “Everyday objects can help students feel a little more comfortable.”

to begin? Kendra and Michael are interested in making sure students understand that they can all be artists, even if fundamental skills like painting and drawing don’t come naturally to them. “There’s so much more to it than being a person who just happens to have excellent hand-eye coordination and representational drawing skills,” Michael explains. “You might like working with sculpture or further outside the box, like performance art, soundscapes, or installations. I want our students to understand that they can be artists even if they’re not people who can draw.” “Creativity lends itself to everything,” Kendra says, “so if you don’t like what you’re doing, there’s a way to look at it differently and find a way to access what you’re learning.” Such was the case with a 3rd grader who was passionate about sports but disengaged when it came to painting a tile for a class project about L.A.’s urban landscape. Kendra knew the student liked to draw jerseys in his sketchbook so Michael, who shares this student’s love of sports, was able to connect with him and help him channel his passion into the

displayed these “passion trophies” in their Pod classrooms. “With the passion trophies, we try to connect with something they love to do,” Kendra explains. “Everyday objects can help students feel a little more comfortable.” “Then there’s a flip side of that,” Michael adds. He’s talking about the discomfort sometimes triggered by the creative process. Kendra agrees, “Part of being an artist is being uncomfortable and leaning into that discomfort.” So, what happens when a student doesn’t know where

art to the representational, the observational, and the realistic, we explore current and past art movements so that kids find a way in and bring their passion and interest to their work.” This year, the art teachers brought in objects like toy cars and animals to help 2nd graders connect their art to a personal interest. Similarly, the Pods began the year by using cardboard, paint, found objects, and glue to make trophies that represent something they love. The students proudly

project. “Michael jumped in,” Kendra remembers. “While doing a jersey wasn’t the initial assignment, it was an opportunity to get a foot in with a student—to support him.” Bravery, risk-taking, flexibility, and non-judgment are life-skills practiced daily in the art room. Getting uncomfortable, as this 3rd grader did, in a safe and supportive group environment breeds resilience, courage, discipline, and self- discovery. “We go out of our way to reach every child,” Kendra says. As subject matter progresses from kindergarten through 5th grade, so do themes of multiculturalism, incorporated into the curricula for each grade level. This year, the themes include Age & Family Structure (Pods), Gender & Appearance (2nd grade), Ethnicity & Citizenship Status (3rd grade), Race (4th grade), and Language & Abilities (5th grade). Visual Arts makes connections to those themes by looking at ethnography, history, society, or ancestry. Kendra is CONNECTING TO MULTICULTURALISM

always thinking of ways to bring in multiple perspectives. “When we find opportunities for that connection, it’s more meaningful and purposeful,” she says. Jennie Kampani, a new Wildwood mother, met with Kendra and 3rd grade teachers Melanie and Jody to plan a Diwali celebration on campus. Kendra, as the 3rd grade’s specialist buddy, helped the children create rangoli in several spots on campus using pigmented powder, chalk pastels, and marigolds. Specialist “buddies” have connected relationships with a matched class or grade level. Working with the Kampani family was a way for Kendra to lend her expertise as an artist, deepen her buddy relationship with the 3rd grade, and produce a cultural connection through art. Reflecting, Jennie says, “The result was a festive and bright display. My son was happy to share this part of how his family celebrates together with his new classmates. I loved watching the students work together and seeing their enthusiasm for learning about Diwali.”

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Working with the Kampani family was a way for Kendra to lend her expertise as an artist, deepen her buddy relationship with the 3rd grade, and produce a cultural connection through art.

WW and Michael that parents know what’s happening in Visual Arts, that they feel comfortable coming in and have reasons to do so. “The committee needed to happen on many levels,” Kendra says. “Artists need community.” involvement, community influence, the arts, social studies, critical thinking, and time management. Getting parents involved was the driving reason behind the new WWPO (Wildwood Parent Organization) Visual Arts Committee. Kendra recognized the potential for parents to be more connected to art in general and their kids’ work in particular. It is important to Kendra

CONNECTING THROUGH PARENT INVOLVEMENT Wildwood culture is steeped in parent involvement. Last year, Visual Arts and a parent who is a design-thinking consultant imagined Wildwood in 2050 through the eyes of 4th graders. The students built models based on their research. Leslie Wilson, a Wildwood parent and architect, who worked with Frank Gehry for many years, got the wheels turning on the project by accompanying the kids to LACMA for a Gehry retrospective. “It was this wonderful opportunity,” Kendra recalls. “We could go on the field trip,

see the show, learn techniques about making models, and connect that to design thinking that was happening on the project.” Afterward, the kids gathered information from around campus (the library, science room, office, the hot lunch serving area, and different classrooms) to determine the needs of particular spaces. Architect parents and Visual Arts provided a sounding board and asked critical questions in the model design and building phase. This opportunity for the kids to “stretch their minds” (a favorite mantra of Michael’s) neatly wrapped together parent

Book Shelf


James Baldwin wrote, “It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” Librarians regularly discuss the importance of providing both mirrors and windows. Good books connect us; they can reflect ourselves back to us, and they can provide vistas from which we can begin to understand people different from us.

THE CONTRACT by Derek Jeter

GIRL COMING IN FOR A LANDING by April Halprin Wayland Reviewed by Chantal S. 11TH GRADE

HERE I AM by Jonathan Safran Foer Reviewed by Jennifer Arnold WILDWOOD SCHOOL BUSINESS MANAGER

Reviewed by Matthew M. 4TH GRADE

The Contract is inspiring. This book is about Derek Jeter’s experiences playing baseball as a kid, and it shows the importance of setting high goals in school and on the field. Even though Derek was an incredible baseball player as a kid, there was still one discouraging and mean boy who was a better player than he was. Derek didn’t let this kid keep him down. He committed to getting better and worked hard to accomplish his goals. Jeter worked like crazy, and, as most of you know, he became an all- star baseball player. I feel a connection with this book because I love the game of baseball, but more important, I also set high goals for myself and work hard to reach them. In fact, last year, I set a goal to have my best year ever at school. I worked hard the whole year, and I felt very successful and proud of myself when I accomplished my goal. When you set high goals for yourself and work hard to improve, you can do amazing things.

Here I Am is a big, messy, Jewish family drama, taking place in Washington, D.C. during one month with lots of flashbacks in the telling of the story. The patriarch of the family, and protagonist, grapples with the dissolution of his marriage, his faith, and his guilt to be a good Jew in support of his family and the people of Israel, following an act of God that violently shakes the Middle Eastern region. Heavy with intelligent, witty dialogue, at times comparable to Woody Allen’s existential conversation style. It could have ended three-quarters of the way through this 571-page opus at the funeral of his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor. At times, Foer seemed to be repeating himself, albeit on purpose. Otherwise, I recommend it as a worthy novel to check out.

Girl Coming in for a Landing by April Halprin Wayland, is a series of poems inspired by the life of a teenage girl. It’s filled with quirky, weird moments and she talks about first kisses, first dates, siblings, and much more. Wayland divides the poems with chapters of “Winter,” “Spring,” and “Fall.” The novel covers many different but relatable feelings about adolescent life and the struggles of growing up while also expressing the joys of experiencing new things. Later in my teenage years, I found that I could relate a lot with the experiences described in the book. Girl Coming in for a Landing showed me that I’m not alone and that having quirky experiences is just a part of growing up.

m i d d l e s c h o o l f e a t u r e


advisory is essential– every day

place, our once pioneering Wildwood approach is now in high demand by schools worldwide seeking knowledge and training through the Wildwood Outreach Center.


Each Monday morning, the entire Wildwood student body and faculty (grades 6–12) come together for All School Meeting and twice a month, middle school students stay for a middle-school-only meeting that brings together all 180 6th–8th graders. Here, announcements are made, and the advisory chosen to host that week engages their peers in fun challenges and contests, like sculpting a Pokémon character in two minutes with clay and straws. Then, students who have been “caught in the act” of positive, community-minded behavior and nominated for recognition by their teachers will hear their names called out by Assistant Director of Middle School Collette Bowers Zinn. Afterward, Division Two students (grades 7–8) head off to their advisories for Roses and Thorns conversations. The rooms are set up with chairs in a circle and students— along with their advisor—share one “rose” from their weekend (something that went well) and one “thorn” (something that didn’t go well or

Every student in Wildwood’s middle school begins each day with advisory. Advisory is a time and place intentionally positioned to provide a bridge between the school day and students’ lives outside of school. The practice of giving students this bridge dates back to the founding of Wildwood’s middle and upper schools. While the idea sounds simple, even obvious, it has taken decades for other schools to catch up. Now, an increasing number of schools organize their students’ day around a group or class like advisory, because it is meaningful for both academic and social reasons.

WHAT HAPPENS HERE Students gather in groups of about 15, led by a teacher who serves as the students’ mentor and advocate. These adults provide an essential link between home and school. In this informal setting, students have the space to develop supportive relationships with adults they trust, and with a small group of peers. Advisory becomes a comfortable space where kids can try out new ideas and explore their identities. In the process, they cultivate a sense of self—academically, emotionally, and socially. “I think it’s great to have a community of people that you can fall back on,” reflects 6th grader Jamie B. on her experience so far this year. “Your advisory is a group of people that you can trust.” With this vital combination of connection and learning, students experience a curriculum that’s an essential part of the Wildwood way. The most current academic and brain research guide our advisory program, which correlates social-emotional support with educational outcomes. With years of data now solidly in

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in Schools, suggests students pass around a talking piece (a shell, a stuffed animal, or another object) as they follow the four intentions of Council: speak, listen from the heart, speak spontaneously, and be brief.

Mind and Heart stand out, and it’s also a way to have some fun. A key responsibility of the Student of the Week is to pick a balloon from a bunch and pop it to reveal the Division’s “Fun Friday” activity. This week, Friday is “dress up as a twin” day. TUESDAY— FOCUS ON PERSONAL GROWTH Mindfulness characterizes Tuesdays in Division One. Students practice focused breathing intended to promote relaxation and academic preparedness. In Division Two, Tuesdays are often devoted to Council discussions—offering a space for students to talk about academic anxieties, social fears, or even gratitude. The Council protocol, developed by the Ojai- based educational nonprofit Council


something that weighs on their mind). It’s an effective way to help students leave the weekend behind and look ahead to the school week. On a typical Monday in Megen O’Keefe’s advisory, students share a range of roses from sweet to silly. “We went to my grandma’s house for her birthday,” Justin D. shares. “I had a kazoo solo in my band,” Nolan G. shares. While Grace M. combines her rose and thorn, “I baked a cake—but it was a fail. So I made another one— it was way better, then I ate it.” Meanwhile, Division One students (grade 6) have their own activity. All gather in Becca Hedgepath and Louise McCune’s humanities classroom for their weekly Big Room gathering. Here, the Division One teachers help students frame the school week ahead—noting any important work deadlines or upcoming events. Big Room ends with the naming of the Student of the Week. This recognition goes to someone whose demonstration of the Habits of

In Division One, midweek brings an opportunity for collaboration to advisory. All 6th grade students and teachers are free to work together. Students work on individual and group projects, while teachers are available to help or meet one-on-one with them. In Division Two, Wednesday is “Wildcard Day.” A student can use this time for Community Involvement work, Wildwood’s multicultural curriculum, or to prepare for upcoming student-led conferences.

The most current academic and brain research guide our advisory program, which correlates social-emotional support with educational outcomes.

The goal is to spend fun time together with a purpose—to cement social bonds and build new ones.

Community Involvement activities include a division-wide drive to help homeless veterans in L.A., through an organization called New Directions for Veterans, along with environmental stewardship activities in the spring, including beach cleanups. Each middle school division focuses on a multicultural theme. This year, Division One is exploring the concept of School Dimensions—the range of ways students identify as part of different groups at school (e.g., athletic interest, friend group, after- school activity). Throughout the year, 6th graders engage in lessons that look at the ways in which these identities affect them and others. Division Two students are examining the origins and impact of conflict, which can emerge when engaging in dialogue about differences between people. This THURSDAY— MULTICULTURALISM

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the four strands of advisory


Woven into the fabric of Wildwood’s Advisory program are four key curricular strands, each reflecting a central focus of our internationally recognized program:


> Becoming a more effective student > One-on-one advisor and advisee meetings > Guided reflection for conference and Gateway preparation

2. PERSONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT > Interpersonal skills > Mindfulness practice > Finding a healthy school-life balance


> Individual and group affirmations > Inter-advisory competitions > Group bonding and fun


> Building awareness of one’s multicultural identity > Skill building to understand topics like ethnicity, ageism, and conflict resolution > Grappling with and discussing multicultural-themed current events

together with a purpose—to cement social bonds and build new ones. Division One students often play their favorite board or card game together during their advisory group. Uno , The Game of Life , and charades offer students the opportunity to interact in ways that help build community. “It’s fun to see how other kids play the game,” 6th grader Skyler S. says during a hand of Apples to Apples. “It helps you understand their sense of humor and how they think.” The Wildwood approach to learning and community is taught very intentionally in advisory, every day. Connections—between students, and between advisors and advisees— are at the heart of it all. WORKS CITED: Busteed, Brandon. “Make a Difference: Show Students You Care.” Education Week (2014): n. pag. Edweek.org. Editorial Projects in Education, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 2016. Durlak, Joseph, Allison Dymnicki, Rebecca Taylor, Roger Weissberg, and Kriston Schellinger. “The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions.” Child Development 82.1 (2011): 405-32. Wiley Online Library. Wiley, 3 Feb. 2011. Web. 2016. McClure, Larry, Susan Yonezawa, and Makeba Jones. “Can School Structures Improve Teacher-student Relationships? The Relationship between Advisory Programs, Personalization and Students’ Academic Achievement.” Education Policy Analysis Archives 18.17 (2010). Epaa. Arizona State University, July 2010. Web. 2016. Olson, Kirke: The Invisible Classroom: Relationships, Neuroscience, and Mindfulness at Work in School. New York: W. W. Norton, 2012. Print. WW

year’s curriculum is designed to help students understand different styles of conflict and leadership while allowing them time to investigate their personal inclinations. One Thursday per month, all middle school students can opt-in to activities beyond their assigned advisory. For example, students can join an affinity group (students of color, allies, LGBTQ community, and more). Students take their affinity groups seriously. A member of the Allies Affinity Group, 7th grader Angela R. suggests the students start an anonymous advice column for LGBTQ students and their allies. “We can make it part of The Howl, ” she

says, referring to Wildwood’s online middle school journal. Students’ other option is to sign up for and attend a discussion around a particular contemporary multicultural issue. One recent Thursday, students chose between six topics: veteran homelessness in L.A., the plight of Syrian refugees, an examination of white privilege, the voting rights of prisoners, the interplay between sports and politics, and a discussion on female gender roles. These opportunities allow students to choose an area of study as well as join a group that fits their identities and interests. opportunities for students and their advisors to purely enjoy one another’s company. The curriculum encourages fun. Division Two advisories might play a favorite game, celebrate a birthday, or compete in the inter- advisory Olympics while Division One students enjoy the “Fun Friday” activity chosen at the beginning of the week. The goal is to spend fun time FRIDAY— A TIME TO BOND The end of the week brings

w i l d w o o d a t h l e t i c s


Building Bridges: Upper School and 5th Grade Athletes Combine Forces

New mentorship program brings together upper

Alongside new 5th grade sports like volleyball and basketball, Wildwood has introduced a new mentorship program that brings together upper school and elementary students. Now, 11th and 12th graders at Wildwood are working with 5th graders in athletics, coaching them and offering up their years of athletic experience and familiarity with the Wildwood ethos. “We’ve been working on ways to thoughtfully and intentionally build bridges between the two campus’ athletics programs,” says Wildwood Director of Athletics Billy DuMone. “By designating three signature sports [soccer, volleyball, and basketball], we’ve created a through-line for 5th through 12th grade athletes.” This plan, Billy explains, allows younger Wildwood athletes to build their skill set in a particular sport while boosting their confidence during their transition from 5th grade to the middle and upper campus. After establishing the three signature sports, the athletics department seized the opportunity to connect the two campuses further by creating the new mentorship program. “It’s been a rewarding experience for upper school students to work with the younger kids,” says Ashley Webster, Wildwood P.E.

school and elementary students.

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teacher and elementary school basketball coach. “The juniors and seniors make an important

We’ve been working on ways to thoughtfully and intentionally build bridges between the two campus’ athletics programs.

impression on the 5th graders, and at the same time, they’re learning about the intricacies of coaching. Aspects such as game management and statistics recording improve their knowledge of the sport as well. It’s a win-win for everyone.” On her first day as an assistant coach for 5th grade girls volleyball, 11th grader Kayla G. was feeling energized. “Volleyball is hands-down my favorite sport,” Kayla says. “I love

working with the younger students. So when Billy approached me with the idea of coaching, I was really excited.” From the get-go, she recognized the unique chance to give back to her school. “I went to Wildwood elementary and loved it there,” she exclaims. “Knowing I get to share my experience with elementary kids feels great. It’s a perfect opportunity.”






Our Wildwood /Winter 2017 20/21 oh

MuchAdoAbout Nothing snap !

Wildwood students connected to each other, the community, and the world with art, science, performance, activism, and most of all—with dedication. They inspire us with the heart they put into everything they do.

{ JOG-A-THON: 1 The 30th annual Jog-a-Thon was a tremendous success thanks to the entire Wildwood community. 2 Elementary students ran more than 6,000 laps and helped raise funds for Wildwood’s K-12 Athletics. { MUCH ADO PRODUCTION: 3 The upper school fall production based on Shakespeare’s classic comedy of love and its vagaries is given a contemporary spin by Vanessa Mancinelli, playwright and Senior Institute literature teacher. { INNOVATED.LA: 4 Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development (WISRD) hosted InnovatED.LA, a popular event that engages visitors from all around Southern California, in activities that explored 3D printers,

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