Our Wildwood, Winter 2019, Volume 44

This issue of Our Wildwood is all about "evidence." Stories about our strong athletics and internship programs, alumni news and events, and Wolves Making Waves make us all proud to be members of the Wildwood community.

Wildwood Our


p7 Multicultural Community Dialogue

p8 Wildwood Music Teacher Wins Grammy

p12 Structured Word Inquiry

Wildwood School cultivates reflective scholars, bold innovators and compassionate leaders equipped with the skills, ethics and inspiration to transform their world.

Cover photo by Evan Mulling ‘13, courtesy Art Streiber Studio (Art Streiber is a parent of alumni Siena ’14 and Kayla ’17).


DEAR FRIENDS A Letter from Landis

Sophie described the moment when she realized that the Habits we’d so diligently encouraged had, indeed, become second nature as she reviewed a draft of a paper. Reading her own work critically, she recounted thinking that she needed to incorporate other perspectives in making her argument, as well as support her position with more evidence. Then she delved back in to improve her work. Sophie shared the story with characteristic wit and a spirit of appreciation for both the content and the skills she’d learned over the course of her 13 years at Wildwood, wisely noting that she wasn’t always conscious of the lessons she’d taken with her. Evidence, one of the many evolving skills and Habits we teach, is also a useful tool for the adults in our community. Evidence informs all we do at Wildwood, as the stories and articles in this issue of Our Wildwood outline. Research and evidence inform the structure of our internship program, featured on page 18. Evidence of the positive impact of Structured Word Inquiry to students’ mastery of the English language led to its introduction and expansion here at Wildwood, as described on page 12. Similarly, our student athletes’ success, as outlined on page 22, is evidence that Wildwood’s longstanding balanced and healthy approach to athletics provides our scholar-athletes with exactly the skills that selective college programs seek.

There’s sometimes a funny thing that happens when someone hears, “progressive.” We all bring our own experiences and understandings to the word and can often apply definitions of progressive to Wildwood that may align with other schools but that don’t necessarily characterize ours. The parent of two K-12 alumni and I were on an admissions panel together in January when a prospective parent asked a question about the intersection of “progressive” and “college preparatory.” He framed his question in a way that suggested the two weren’t always an easy fit. Debriefing with the alumni parent afterward (yes, to all the Wildwood alumni reading this, we debriefed!), she and I shared stories—evidence, really—of how inextricably linked progressive and college preparatory are in the 21st century. in developing best practice— is college preparatory in this century. Our work should rely on everything we can know about teaching and learning so we can utilize that knowledge to structure delivery of content and mastery of skills in ways that will prepare students for college, work, and life. Not only are progressive and college preparatory an easy fit, they are one and the same in today’s world. This winter issue of Our Wildwood focuses on the theme of “evidence,” one of the seven Habits of Mind and Heart that provided the organizing framework for the development of the middle and upper school program 20 years ago. One of my earliest memories of getting to know Wildwood was a dinner conversation with alumna Sophie Ragir ’07, who was an undergraduate student at Barnard. I remember that dinner fondly. Her reflection on her first year of college helped me better understand the essence of Wildwood School. The reality is this: Wildwood’s specific brand of progressive —the intersection of research and our own experience

Enjoy this issue of Our Wildwood. We are proud to share it with you.

With warm regards,

Landis Green Head of School





p12 Structured Word Inquiry and the Science of Literacy Wildwood elementary and middle school students are learning to use a new set of tools this year to build literacy skills and more deeply understand the English language.

p18 Wildwood Internships: More Than a Time Sheet

p22 Two Athletes, Three Sports

They met in the most Wildwood way: trying something new. Lexi K. ’20 wanted to play a sport other than soccer. Asha F. ’19 was new to the school and just wanted to be part of the athletics program. They met on the basketball court.

Skills like knowing how to write a proper business email, looking people in the eye when shaking hands, or stepping out of your comfort zone by introducing yourself to a co-worker—these are what differentiate a Wildwood graduate in the world.

by Herb Higginbotham Wildwood Parent

by Steve Barrett Director of Outreach

by Phil McFarland Director of Community Programs



OH SNAP! ................................................................. p26 Photos from notable Wildwood events

GIVING VOICE ......................................................... p4 Wildwood Parent Sara Noyes and Parent of Alumni Lewis Kanengiser

GOOD TO KNOW ................................................... p6 Useful information about and for us



CLASS NOTES ..................................................................

Tell us what you’re up to

WOLVES MAKING WAVES ....................... p8 Students, alumni, and faculty making us proud


ALUMNI REFLECTION ..................................................

From Intern to Employee by Sarah Bales ’14


DONOR PROFILE .................................................. p9 Meet Wildwood Parent Jessica Aronoff

ALUMNI EVENTS ............................................................


ALUMNI STORY ...............................................................


STUDENT PERSPECTIVE ......................

The Habits Go to Oxford by Molly S. ’20

BOOK SHELF ............................................................ p11 Recommendations from readers



GIVING VOICE A conversation between community members

Wildwood Parent Sara Noyes & Parent of Alumni Lewis Kanengiser

Sara Noyes and Lewis Kanengiser are at very different stages in their journeys as Wildwood community members. Sara’s son recently culminated from the elementary campus and started our middle school. Lewis is one of the pioneering parents who founded our secondary school in 2000. He was a member of the Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2011, and his son Joseph was in the first graduating class in 2004. His son Gabriel followed, graduating in 2010. Here, Lewis explains why progressive education was a good fit for his sons and gives Sara a glimpse into alumni life after Wildwood.

SARA: You were instrumental in the creation of Wildwood’s secondary school, and you sent two of your three kids here in the earliest days. What was it that drew you to a program that was so young? LEWIS: We used to kid ourselves that we were the group of parents that wore raccoon hats. We were the pioneers. It was the pedagogy, the progressive philosophy. Joey’s needs were addressed so well that he became a leader here. And for our second son, we thought, “Why would we keep him in a traditional school when he could be here?” The school evolved and grew along with our kids. SARA: So you chose the school because of its progressive education, and your boys are thriving after having experienced it. I love hearing that, I’m always so impressed with the Wildwood graduates I meet and college will be here before we know it. What are they doing now?



SARA: What do you love most about Wildwood?

LEWIS: I’ve been sort of blown away by the path my kids have taken. Joey graduated from Kenyon College as a music composition major. But he switched paths and became a job counselor in the tech industry. He helped candidates with social skills during their placement process and realized he really enjoyed this part of the job. He has wonderful social skills and eventually decided to become a social worker. He went to USC and now is a mental health counselor in Chicago. LEWIS: Gabe went to Oberlin and had a mentor there who brought him up through an entrepreneurial development program. After graduation, he got a job with a software company in New York and quickly realized he had an aptitude for selling. So he started his own consulting company one year after leaving college. He has an entrepreneurial spirit. SARA: What skills or qualities do you think your boys would say they attribute to Wildwood that have benefited them in the workplace? LEWIS: For Joey’s work in mental health counseling. it’s his ability to interact one-on-one with individuals, for their benefit. He cares about other people, and empathy is definitely nurtured at Wildwood. For Gabe, it’s about collaboration and working together with others to help them achieve their goals. Both boys certainly show echoes of Wildwood. SARA: And Gabe?

LEWIS: I think the Habits, particularly the Habit of Collaboration because it fits with the needs of the workforce. Also, because of Wildwood and the focus on reflection and self-knowledge, my kids have the courage to change course when necessary and try new things.

SARA: A through line is the ability to be nimble.

LEWIS: Definitely. It’s about how you define “success.” I think my kids are successful because they know how to navigate life. And they really love what they do. SARA: Your kids graduated in 2004 and 2010, and you’ve given to Wildwood every year since. Why do you still support Wildwood philanthropically after all these years? LEWIS: I feel like our roots are here, and I believe in the school’s future. My kids are proof of Wildwood’s strengths, not just academically, but interpersonally. They’re kind, resourceful, and resilient.. And it’s important to stay connected. W



GOOD TO KNOW Useful information about and for us

Mastery Transcript Consortium Wins Gold Award We’re excited to share that the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC) has received the annual Reimagine Education Gold Award. Called the “Oscars of Educational Innovation,” the award recognizes excellence in areas such as innovation, scalability, and efficacy. The MTC is a network of 230 schools creating a high-school transcript that reflects the unique skills, strengths, and interests of each learner. Wildwood is proud to be one of the 15 founding MTC schools. In the fall Jenn Spellman, director of upper school, and Regan Galvan, director of student life, presented at the Mastery Transcript Consortium in Northern California. It was a unique opportunity to share with peer schools our standards-based assessment practices, unique student-centered programming, and emphasis on the value of reflection and advocacy. Wildwood welcomes MTC member schools to our campus in March when we host the spring consortium. To learn more please visit mastery.org or check out Head of School Landis Green’s Head’s Perspective blog about MTC.

Wildwood Receives New Accreditation

We are proud to announce our accreditation with the Council of International Schools (CIS), a membership community committed to high-quality international education. Member schools must “infuse their programs and offerings with international and intercultural perspective so that students can move forward with the attitudes and understanding that will provide them with a solid base wherever their studies or work may take them.”


Hosted by the Parent Multicultural Collaborative (PMC) and facilitated by Director of Equity and Inclusion Rasheda Carroll and Multicultural Leadership Team (MLT) current and former members, the Multicultural Community Dialogue provided a safe and welcoming space for parents to learn about and discuss implicit bias. Parents dove into how implicit bias affects their personal and interpersonal relationships, and they considered ways to recognize it and lessen its impact. After further reflection on research showing that even limited contact across difference can reduce bias, parents considered ways to “get proximate” and make meaningful contact with those who identify differently than them. Multicultural Community Dialogue On Implicit Bias The evening began with an overview of multiculturalism and the dimensions of self (the parts of a person’s identity) and a set of guidelines to create a safer space for communicating across difference. Parents participated in a “common ground” exercise facilitated by teacher Monique Marshall, which invited parents into a large circle where they had the opportunity to share an aspect of their own identity as they stepped into a smaller circle, with others joining them if they shared the same identity. Following a presentation on implicit bias, parents then used their personal social circles as data to examine trends that may reflect implicit bias. Using the “proximal relationship matrix,” parents identified patterns that emerged around the dimensions of self-model (age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic class, education, and other dimensions). In pairs, parents reflected on areas of success and opportunities for growth with regard to potential implicit bias. The conversation continued as they considered how expanding their own social circle could affect their child’s social group and the school community at large. In closing, parents were encouraged to continue their work on implicit bias by examining patterns in their life, taking the Implicit Association Test (IAT), and participating in affinity spaces for support, learning, and growth. Parents expressed gratitude for Wildwood’s multicultural programming, as well as hope and excitement about their insights and learning. Contact Director of Equity and Inclusion Rasheda Carroll at rcarroll@wildwood.org for further information. PARENTS CONSIDERED WAYS TO “GET PROXIMATE” AND MAKE MEANINGFUL CONTACT WITH THOSE WHO IDENTIFY DIFFERENTLY THAN THEM. EVEN LIMITED CONTACT ACROSS DIFFERENCE CAN REDUCE BIAS,



WOLVES MAKING WAVES Students, alumni, and faculty making us proud Our Latest Wave-Makers

Jessie Baren ’14 Jessie was featured on the cover of a U.S. News article about innovative ways to pay for college. He graduated from the University of Michigan where he sold custom college apparel for campus events. He started working for the company Fresh Prints in his freshman year and over time earned almost $100,000. Now THAT’s an entrepreneur!

Asher K. ’20 and Remy W. ‘20 Their film Sight Unseen was

designated an “Official Selection” by the 2018 All-American High School Film Festival and screened to the public at a theater in New York City. Asher directed, wrote, edited, and starred in the film. Remy was the producer and first assistant director. The All-American High School Film Festival is the premier destination for talented high school filmmakers and media arts enthusiasts from around the world. More than 2,000 films were submitted this year.


Laura was honored for her exceptional visual and digital arts instruction: “2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards hereby recognizes Laura Forsythe as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors.”

Ital Disraeli, MUSIC TEACHER

Itai‘s band Opium Moon won a Grammy for Best New Age Album! Itai plays fretless bass on the debut CD described as “a

Nick Cron-DeVico ’08 Nick (far right) won an Emmy in the “Outstanding Short Form Animation Program” category for writing an episode of Robot Chicken . He also designed his senior yearbook!

sensual and groovy collaboration of master musicians making peace through harmony.”


DONOR PROFILE Thanks to our generous supporters

IF YOU ASK A GROUP OF WILDWOOD PARENTS to describe the school in one word, that word is most often community. For Jessica Aronoff, “community” means family. She remembers choosing Wildwood for her son Max as a kindergartner (now in 7th grade) because “they would help him become the human we wanted him to become.” What she didn’t realize was that choosing Wildwood would also affect her parenting. “I think I’ve become a more attuned, communicative, open, collaborative parent because of the things I’ve learned from being part of the Wildwood community,” she says. Community is the main reason she gives to Wildwood. Along with her generous yearly contribution to Annual Giving, Jessica feels strongly about giving to the Hope Fund for Flexible Tuition because she believes in the value of a socioeconomically diverse community. Additionally, her Hope Fund donation represents her views of true philanthropy: investing in the promotion of fairness and equity. “I wish every kid could have access to this kind of education and every parent could have the support I get from Wildwood,” she says. Jessica knows a thing or two about philanthropy: She is an attorney who began her career working in the nonprofit sector in children’s advocacy and domestic violence prevention. She went on to run a family foundation before moving into corporate philanthropy, culture, and social impact. Currently, she’s in the middle of a yearlong fellowship with the Los Angeles County Probation Department helping to find ways to improve outcomes and reduce recidivism. As part of that work, Jessica is advocating for an employee survey to ascertain if people believe they have the opportunity every day to do their best work, if they are acknowledged and recognized for their contribution, and if MEET Wildwood Parent Jessica Aronoff




they believe they have a degree of autonomy and authority over how they do their work. She knows that these are key success factors for businesses and their employees. She notes that Wildwood approaches student learning in a similarly nurturing and empowering way. The sense of being known, encouraged, and valued, she says, is a tenet of progressive education—and is one of the many ways that Wildwood is preparing our children for the future. “I’m sure many schools’ 7th grade humanities curriculum covers the Russian Revolution and communism,” she notes. “However, my child is learning the Russian Revolution and communism as it pertains to the world today and to the future. He is learning to think broadly and critically. He’s not just checking boxes.” Asked how she sees Wildwood in 10 years, she says, “We are all guessing to some extent what the workforce will look like. But I feel confident that the decisions being made at Wildwood are with the changing world in mind, taking into account the best thinking, the best research, the best pedagogy there is.” Jessica has devoted her life and career to social justice and is modeling a sense of compassion and duty to her son. Her generosity to Wildwood, through her support of Annual Giving and the Hope Fund, certainly reflects this. She says this core value comes from her mom, who is active in various volunteer and political action groups. “It’s funny,” she muses, “she makes me look like a slacker.” Hardly.




The Habits Go to Oxford

had to overcome. I again used the Habit of Collaboration to ask one of my classmates, who was from Australia, to check my work. Everyone else had used only the metric system, but I was most familiar with the imperial system. During my global issues seminar class and spending time with my new friends, I learned about what others thought of America and Americans. Some people, including those from countries at war, were concerned about my safety as a student because they heard of school shootings on the news. It was interesting to learn because I knew very little about how other people see where I’m from but also shocking. I also learned a lot about daily life in other countries. In my astronomy class I spoke to girls from Saudi Arabia about driving, as just weeks before women could legally drive there. Driving is something I take for granted, which made me appreciate it so much more. I learned about diverse backgrounds and types of education. One person I met said she speaks five languages almost fluently, her fourth or fifth being English, which was required for the program. Many others were polylingual and spoke English almost as well as I do even though it was their second or third language. This was interesting because I speak only English fluently and speak little Spanish. The city of Oxford is so much older than anything I see in my daily life. Although I was staying in the newest college, built in the 1960s, as I walked around the town to my classes and lunch, my friend pointed out that almost every building was older than the United States. This was startling and exciting. I came back to Los Angeles and Wildwood with a sense of perspective about the world

LAST SUMMER, I HAD the fortunate opportunity to study abroad at Oxford University in England with a program called Oxford Royale Academy. I went with Myles K. ’20 and Emily R. ’20, and we were three of seven Americans in a program with about

250 strangers living together in college dorms. We took classes in chemistry, astronomy, and global studies, and I became friends with people from all over the world, some from countries I knew almost nothing about. My first day in chemistry, while we were introducing ourselves, I realized I was the only American in the room and one of the only people who had never taken a chemistry class. I dreaded the day when I would have to say the word aluminum in front of people who pronounce it differently than I do or spell ionization when most people there spell it ionisation. I was uncomfortable, but I knew that I could use the Habit of Convention to meet the academic standards of my peers and the confidence that I’ve grown at Wildwood to speak even though I might be wrong. In chemistry, I suddenly had to do a group project with people I had only met the day before. I used the Habit of Collaboration and my experience with group projects to keep my group organized and productive. In my astronomy class, I had more difficulty with the content when I forgot parts of the metric system. This was one disadvantage due to being an American that I


and different experiences of the many interesting people I met and learned with. I was able to take the Habits and skills I learned at Wildwood and apply them to my time in Oxford.


BOOK SHELF by Michelle Simon, Head Librarian Middle and Upper School

PART OF BEING INFORMATION LITERATE IS HAVING THE SKILL TO LOCATE RELIABLE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT ONE’S CLAIMS. Wildwood students from the Pods (K-1) to Senior Institute (11-12) learn to consistently use evidence from texts to think critically and support their ideas. Even our youngest learners can read about a character with a hat on and then infer from a picture of a character with a hat on in a crowd that he is the one referred in the text. In this edition of Book Shelf, see how middle and upper students use evidence to support their ideas when reading texts in our curriculum.

GATHERING BLUE by Lois Lowry Reviewed by Mary Z. 6th Grade


Reviewed by Lily H. 10th Grader

Prompt: How does Gathering Blue connect to the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities? In Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry, there are many examples of inequalities in the village. First, women weren’t allowed to do most of the things men are able to do. Women aren’t allowed to read and write, and they aren’t allowed to hunt. Kira says to Thomas, “You can write and read?” (pg. 98). Kira is shocked that Thomas is allowed to read and write because she was never

Prompt: Discuss how the author characterizes the American experience. Select and analyze a passage that contains a compelling quote that you think addresses this.

In Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, the author characterizes the American experience as one of great hardship, racial tension, and suffering through her displaying of the misfortune that plagued the Chinese immigrant community and the poor treatment afflicted upon working women throughout the Gold Rush. While the novel covers the experiences of many ethnic groups, nearly none suffered so intensely as the Chinese immigrants did during this time. Though most came to America seeking work or even a fortune, they were often subjected to much more harassment and pain than any person deserves. This is most clearly conveyed through Tao Chi’en’s reflection on the development of the new official state of California and his experience during the Gold Rush. Tao reflects, “... he was living in a paradise of greedy, materialistic, and impatient people whose obsession was to get rich quick. There was no food for the spirit; instead, violence and ignorance prospered. All other evils derived from those, he was convinced … he was shocked by the standards of behavior and the impunity of crime. Such a place was destined to choke in the muck of its own vices, he maintained. He had lost hope of finding in America the peace he so desired …” (pg. 319). Though Tao initially describes America as a sort of “paradise,” He quickly turns on his opinion as he details the vices that have befallen the country.

taught. For another example, in the Council Edifice, there is running water and residents can take baths and clean themselves with water from a faucet. However, in the village and the fen, there is no running water or plumbing; the people only have access to the water from the river. Kira wonders, “Why must

people live like this?” (pgs. 177-178). In conclusion, Lowry explores inequalities in her novel Gathering Blue, and it helps the reader understand these issues in real life.




FEATURE by Steve Barrett, Director of Outreach

Structured Word Inquiry and the Science of Literacy

W ildwood elementary and middle school students are learning to use a new set of tools this year to build literacy skills and more deeply understand the English language. The approach they’re learning is called Structured Word Inquiry (SWI). It’s new to Wildwood but steeped in years of research and best practice, and it fosters the intellectual curiosity and skills necessary for a successful Wildwood education. SWI is versatile. It helps our younger Wildwood students become more confident and knowledgeable readers, and it challenges our older ones to deepen their critical thinking and spark their curiosity.



FEATURE Structured Word Inquiry and the Science of Literacy

ENGAGING EMERGING READERS Tahnee Muñoz, Dolphin Pod head teacher, begins a literacy lesson with students seated on the classroom’s colorful carpet. “I’m going to reread an interesting sentence we heard in Charlotte’s Web yesterday,” she begins. “‘Children almost always hang on to things tighter than their parents think they will.’” She’s written the sentence on the whiteboard and reads it again, and the students’ eyes follow her finger as she points out the words. In the K-1 Pods, Structured Word Inquiry introduces our youngest readers to some core premises of English literacy. Chief among them, that all words consist of one or more of three essential building blocks: prefixes, bases, and suffixes. “Let’s go on a hunt!” Tahnee exclaims. “Let’s find words in this sentence that have bases and suffixes in them.” She checks that her students understand these terms that they learned previously. Tahnee just launched these Pod students into a structured word inquiry—whetting their curiosity with her word-hunting challenge. Students start raising their hands. “I see ‘children,’” one student says. “I see ‘parents,’” another says. For the latter, Tahnee engages students to tease out the base—“parent”—and the suffix—the “s” that makes it plural.

Tahnee then pushes her kids a bit further: “Who sees any digraphs or trigraphs in this sentence? Do you remember what these are?” Many students raise their hands, and some of them proudly provide answers. For the uninitiated—digraphs represent a single sound represented with two letters (like the “ng” in sing), and trigraphs use three letters (like the “tch” in match). The students find multiple examples of digraphs—the “ch” in children and the “th” in things for starters. The trigraphs, however, are a bit harder to find. More on that later. Wildwood’s adoption of SWI is inspired by the seminal work of reading specialist, linguist, and teacher Pete Bowers, Ph.D. Several Wildwood elementary teachers first learned about Bowers and SWI while attending a conference a few years ago at The Nueva School, a K-12 school in the Bay Area. The implementation of SWI at Wildwood was solidified when Emily Johnson became Wildwood’s director of middle school in 2017—after a long-term appointment as a director at Nueva. When she arrived, Emily leveraged her long-standing connection to Bowers and his work to bring SWI to Los Angeles. LEARNING FROM THE SOURCE TO SOLVE THE “EQUATION”


“English language is a highly ordered and consistent system that represents meaning. Unpacking that system not only helps younger kids to read and spell better but also helps older students deepen their understanding of the language and concepts written in the language.” —EMILY JOHNSON, DIRECTOR OF MIDDLE SCHOOL

“Pete’s approach is a great synthesis of what works best in literacy education, and that reflects Wildwood’s spirit of adopting what helps students learn best,” Emily says. “[His work shows], Emily adds, “that the English language is a highly ordered and consistent system that represents meaning. Unpacking that system not only helps younger kids to read and spell better but also helps older students deepen their understanding of the language and concepts written in the language.” This year, Emily spends a few hours each week back in a familiar setting—the classroom—teaching a class on SWI to all Wildwood 6th graders. For older students, the practice encourages intellectual inquiry, curiosity, self- discovery, and even playfulness into everyday learning.

Today, Emily and her students sit together on the floor in one of the Division One humanities rooms. With them on the whiteboard via Skype is Bowers himself. Emily reintroduces Bowers to the kids and shares with him that the students are interested in doing an inquiry into the word “equation”—a term they all know well from their math studies. “Well, there’s an interesting word!” Bowers declares to the class. He reminds students of the four questions they’ve learned to ask when doing a structured word inquiry:

1 What does the word mean/what do you think it means?

2 How is it built? What bases, prefixes, suffixes do you see?

3 What other related words can you think of?

4 What are the sounds within the word that matter?

After discussing the word’s meaning, Bowers helps students identify the component parts—beginning with the base and suffix. He reminds them of the role of morphemes—a linguistic term with a simple definition: a discrete component of a word that can’t be broken down further. (Think of them like the atoms that make up a word.) With this, Bowers helps the students use a tool to help them deepen their understanding—a word sum:


equ + ate + ion

Focusing in, Bowers asks for some related words that also contain the “equ” morpheme. Kids rattle some off: equal, equality, equate. He throws out a couple of others—



FEATURE Structured Word Inquiry and the Science of Literacy

She pushes her students’ thinking even more to analyze the discrete word sounds—or phonemes—within a word. “What are the phonemes in ‘tighter’?” Tahnee asks. (The students clearly understand the linguistic term.) She instructs the students to tap out the individual phonemes with two fingers on their forearms while they speak them aloud—“‘t,’ ‘igh,’ ‘t’”—with the “igh” phoneme spoken by running together the names of the three component letters: “ei-gee-aytch.” Confident that they understand this challenging word structure, Tahnee sees an opening to take her Pod students one step further—writing a word on the board she’s confident most of them haven’t seen before: “Sigh.” “How would you pronounce this?” Tahnee asks. The students pronounce it correctly. Before the lesson ends, one eager student raises her hand—prompting an acknowledgment from Tahnee. “I just figured it out!” the girl exclaims. “‘Igh’ is a trigraph.” “You’re right!” Tahnee says, and they add the construction on a wall chart recording what students have discovered on this word hunt. A deep understanding of language is essential to future academic success. Structured Word Inquiry is the newest tool Wildwood provides students of all ages as they forge their own paths down the road of lifelong learning. W

equalization and unequivocal. Then Bowers launches an analysis of the word equation using Etymonline.com—a website that looks initially like an online dictionary but really provides students a portal into etymology—the history and origins of any English word imaginable. Using Etymonline.com, Bowers reveals that the base morpheme of equation—“equa”—is based on the Latin word aequus , meaning “level, even, flat; as tall as, on a level with; friendly, kind, just, fair, equitable, impartial; proportionate; calm, tranquil.” Some students audibly gasp as they make the connection and consider what an equation really is—a mathematical expression that shows the equality of two quantities; it’s why equations are balanced on both sides. What’s more, they now are equipped with the ability to discern the meaning (and spelling) of a slew of other related words to which their future studies will, no doubt, expose them. THE ROAD TO LIFELONG LEARNING Structured Word Inquiry’s strength is its holistic approach. It acknowledges that literacy is based on understanding meaning and structure, as well as sounds—thus complementing the traditional phonics approach, which prioritizes the latter. Sarah Simon, assistant director of elementary school, was an early proponent of SWI. “It helps kids understand that there are reasons why words are spelled the way they are—it makes more sense when you look at their structure,” she explains. “This is essential for early and emerging readers.” “SWI is discussion-rich and follows scientific principles of forming and testing hypotheses to understand the rules underlying the English language,” Sarah continues. It’s a process, she hopes, that teachers and students will use more frequently with practice and growing confidence. Back in Tahnee’s class, her K-1 students are delving more deeply into their excerpted sentence from Charlotte’s Web . Highlighting the word “things” in the sentence, one of her students noticed that “ing” is embedded within it. “‘Ing’ is sometimes a suffix,” Tahnee offers. “But it isn’t here because it doesn’t make sense with what I know about the word.” Then Tahnee moves on to one of the most challenging words in the sentence—“tighter.” “Show me the base,” she says. “Tight,” the kids say. “And ‘er’ is the suffix,” another kid says.

How many words can you form? The word matrix is a visual tool used in SWI

practice to help students understand word structure and meaning while building vocabulary and perfecting spelling skills.


re de


s ed

ing ion or

in de


ly ity ness

struct “build”

in ob sub super infra


es ed ing


ly ism ist



FEATURE by Phil McFarland, Director of Community Programs

Wildwood Internships: More Than a Time Sheet

H igh-school internships look great on a college application, but that’s not the reason they are required at Wildwood. Skills like knowing how to write a proper business email, looking people in the eye when shaking hands, or stepping out of your comfort zone by introducing yourself to a co-worker—these are what differentiate a Wildwood graduate in the world. These skills are not about college, they’re about life, and that’s what drives our internship program.




FEATURE Wildwood Internships: More Than a Timesheet

valuable in the workplace,” he says. “It’s always easy to spot the young professional who had all their problems solved for them versus the person who was given the space to independently solve problems and come into the workplace with the ability to roll with the punches.” OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES There are so many internship options that students can experiment with their passions before the stakes get too high: They can choose whatever they’re interested in. Students interested in science can intern at UCLA in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department or at the UCLA Department of Cardiology. They also can use their STEM skills at Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute at USC, one of the world’s leading labs on greenhouse gas emissions. At the Natural History Museum, students can assist with research on the dinosaur or BioScan projects. Those more artistically inclined can find opportunities in dance, music, or the business of entertainment. The Metro Expo Line is two blocks away from the middle and upper campus, which makes internships at USC or nearby museums attractive and accessible. This also can lead to obstacles

Internship is a required course

for graduation from Wildwood School. All juniors and seniors

must choose from more than 200 internships and devote part of the school day each Wednesday after lunch to fulfill their commitment. There are very few high schools in the country with this structure— making it part of the school day— and this is one way our program stands out from the norm. We do this to give students a sense of what it’s like to be part of a professional setting during the workweek. REAL-WORLD SKILLS Developing creative problem- solving skills is an essential goal of the Wildwood internship program. Students are instructed to not only identify problems in the workplace but also to present solutions to those problems because supervisors value initiative. The interns develop a comfort level approaching adults, which gives them confidence with professors and employers. As graduates, they are imbued with self-confidence and an ability to advocate for their ideas. Jim O’Gorman, the California Operations Director of Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, supervised alumna Sarah Bales ’14 during her internship with the campaign. “Students who are able to solve problems on their own are more

Nick N. ’20 and Harry Valner ’16

Eli L. ’20 and Wildwood parent Steve Sitkoff

“Students who are able to solve problems on their own are more valuable in the workplace.” —JIM O’GORMAN, OPERATIONS DIRECTOR OF BARACK OBAMA’S 2012 CAMPAIGN

Sarah Bales ’14 at Hulu


The interns develop a comfort level approaching adults, which gives them confidence with professors and employers. As graduates, they are imbued with self-confidence and an ability to advocate for their ideas.

Internship Narrative Assessment Standards

Communicates orally and in writing clearly and precisely. Demonstrates the ability to follow the conventions of the workplace. Demonstrates preparation and commitment to the work of the site. Demonstrates the ability to use reflection and feedback to improve performance. Respectfully and responsibly contributes to the work environment. Demonstrates the ability to adapt to and implement practices and norms of the workplace. Demonstrates the ability to communicate honestly, respectfully, and consistently. Demonstrates the ability to complete work in a timely manner. Actively participates in the workplace and takes responsibility for his/her success at the site.

Wildwood parents are also

students need to overcome. One senior currently interns at a startup in downtown Los Angeles and says that one of the biggest challenges is that there are often delays and complications on the train line. Now that’s a real-world challenge: getting to work on time. CONNECTIONS AND NETWORKING The benefits of an internship can extend far beyond a student’s time at Wildwood. Sometimes an internship informs their career path. Sarah kept in touch with her supervisor, Jim O’Gorman, who was instrumental in her procuring her current job at Hulu. (Please see Sarah’s essay in Alumni Reflection on page 33.) Several of our alumni are now supervising current students in the workplace. Because they both experienced a Wildwood education, they share a shorthand of sorts, each having the Habits of Mind and Heart in their toolkits. Junior Nick N. is an intern at Kyoku, a personalized fitness supplement company and lifestyle brand founded by Harry Valner ’16. Nick is supervised and inspired by Harry and says, “This internship has made me realize that anyone with a good idea can start their own business and develop something new.”

a great source of internship opportunities for our students and are eager to expose students to their fields. Current parent Steve Sitkoff is a founding partner in the law offices of Takakjian & Sitkoff and supervises Eli L. ’20. Eli is learning about the inner workings of a law office, and he says the most surprising thing about his internship is, “I didn’t give enough respect to defense attorneys. I went into this internship thinking that it’s just a small part of our justice system, but they are really changing people’s lives for the better.” As in all Wildwood curriculum, reflecting on their learning is a key element of student internships. Discovering how they respond to workplace norms and interacting with adults in a professional setting gives a glimpse into students’ future professional lives. When asked how interning has influenced thoughts about his future, Eli explains: “This internship has shown me that I want to get into a field of work where I am challenged every day. I want my life to be a process of lifelong learning. I have learned something new, even just small things, every day I come to this internship.” W




FEATURE by Herb Higginbotham, Wildwood Parent

Two Athletes, Three Sports

T hey met in the most Wildwood way: trying something new. Lexi K. ’20 wanted to play a sport other than soccer. Asha F. ’19 was new to the school and just wanted to be part of the athletics program. They met on the basketball court. Their bond began while playing girls varsity basketball—Lexi in 9th grade, Asha in 10th. Basketball was common ground for these two stellar athletes but not their areas of expertise. One is a soccer phenom, in cleats since age 5. The other is new to track and field. What they will leave behind at Wildwood is a legacy that reflects the foundation on which the athletics program is built, and together they set a new bar.



FEATURE Two Athletes, Three Sports

The Wildwood 5th-12th grade athletics program creates a culture that stokes passion, builds respect for hard work and healthy competition, and instills teamwork and community among all students, whether they play one sport, many sports, or assist the teams in other ways. It’s a culture that embodies our core Habits of Mind and Heart. LEXI K. ’20 Lexi K.’s soccer career began 12 years ago, first in AYSO and then in club soccer, until something changed—she stopped playing. A Wildwood student since 5th grade, Lexi saw opportunities to grow in other ways as her 8th grade year approached. A year later, renewed and refreshed, Lexi recommitted herself to her passion and the grinding club season. It lasted all of one game. In her first game back, Lexi broke her ankle. She healed and rehabbed, only to return and break her collarbone. Undeterred, with Division 1 college and beyond on her mind, Lexi returned to action, joining the Wildwood team not just to compete but also to lead. Described by coach Jenn Partenheimer as a “mini- coach on the field,” Lexi quarterbacked the team from her center forward position, doing whatever it took to help the girls team finish the 2017-18 season as undefeated league champions. Coach Jenn cites the efforts Lexi took to “raise the level of competition” for every team member, at every practice. Despite her junior status, because of her leadership, hard work, and natural skills, Lexi was offered a commitment to play at the University of San Diego, a Division I soccer program. She accepted the offer at USD because it affords her an opportunity to continue her pursuit of the U.S. women’s national soccer team with a stellar coach, as well as a challenging academic program. She’s well-prepared for both. ASHA F. ’19 While Asha F. loved to compete from a young age, no one sport fueled her passion. When she arrived at Wildwood in 10th grade, she didn’t take seriously her decision to try track until the day a teammate asked if she could jump over a trash can. Intrigued by the challenge, Asha sized up the can, timed her steps on the approach, and leaped it with ease. In that moment, a dream was unleashed and a long

Lexi K. ’20 received a scholarship offer in her junior year to play at the Division 1 level.


jumper was born. “It felt like flying,” she would later say. But flying, it would turn out, was not as easy as it looked. For a newcomer like Asha, overcoming the anxiety and inexperience to jump with confidence, alone against the elements, seemed insurmountable. Asha credits the care and support of coaches Paul Lupi, Ena Leufroy, and Tim Bowman for cultivating both the technique and the mindset to succeed. By the time she landed her winning jump in the 2018 CIF State Track and Field Championships, all 19 feet and 3 inches of it, Asha proved to the crowd—and most importantly herself—that she could reach her dreams. As coach Paul describes it, “A jumper often needs just one good performance to know what is possible inside them.” Asha now takes that confidence into her senior season, reinforced by knowing that the University of California, Berkeley wants her to compete for them next year. For a student who began jumping less than two years ago, newfound Olympic dreams are now within reach. BEYOND THE SCORES It’s unusual to suggest that student athletes take a season off, as Lexi did, or wait to start their sport until 10th grade, as Asha did. Some schools demand a year- round focus on a single sport to gain the skills to advance. However, playing multiple sports is encouraged at Wildwood. “I believe strongly in the value of kids playing multiple sports,” says Athletics Director Billy DuMone. “Kids learn to use their body differently, it helps prevent overuse injuries, and they learn life skills having been taught by various coaches.” For Asha and Lexi, taking time for other interests, or simply for rest, is crucial to their success. It’s part of the recipe that brought them together, on a basketball court no less, where a shared passion for athletics and teamwork drove them to achieve. We celebrate Lexi and Asha for all they have accomplished on the grass of the soccer pitch or the sand of the jumper’s pit. Their successes are well- earned milestones for themselves and a legacy for our program. It’s a legacy measured not in wins and losses or inches and feet but in the long list of students who strive to compete every day with pride and try something new. And that, Lexi and Asha would tell you, is the Wildwood way. W

Asha F. ’19 jumped 19 feet and 3 inches at the CIF State Track and Field Championships, coming in third in the whole state.

Lexi and Asha with Athletics Director Billy DuMone



OH SNAP! Photos from notable Wildwood events






INTENSIVE EXHIBITIONS: Fifth grade scientists used hands-on experiments to learn about Newton’s laws of physics, while 4th grade thespians performed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. COMMUNITY NIGHT: New and old friends gathered for food and conversation at the Annual Giving kickoff. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Upper school students performed a delightful stage adaptation of the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life. STUDENT LEADERSHIP RETREAT: Middle and upper school students were inspired to address school-specific challenges they hope to solve as leaders at the Wildwood Student Leadership Retreat. THANKSGIVING ALL SCHOOL MEETING: Fifth graders showed a video about a surprise act of kindness and its impact on both the givers and the recipients, 3rd graders shared their Kindness Campaign project, and much more at the kindness-themed ASM. JOG-A-THON: Thanks to the entire Wildwood community, elementary students ran more than 6,452 laps (about 460 miles!) and donated more than 400 pairs of shoes at the 32nd annual Jog-a-Thon! WILDWOOD INSTITUTE FOR STEM RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (WISRD) DARK MATTER DAY: Around Halloween, scientists across the globe celebrate the hunt for dark matter, and so did the Wildwood community with hands-on experiments that demonstrated principles of physics, 3D printing, virtual reality, and augmented reality.






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