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Faculty Newsletter

May Faculty Newsletter

The most recent issue of NAIS’ Independent School magazine focuses on “Reimagining Schools,” and all three of these articles – whether from the magazine itself or simply inspired by the theme – consider change and collaboration. 

On having — and being — a role model,” Harvard Gazette

This interview about new leadership at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, with the first African-American dean of the school, focuses on the power of working together.

How do you shift to telling stories of collective impact? How do you encourage the entrepreneurship that you absolutely want your faculty, staff, and students to have but also help them harness those ideas and implement them not as isolated events but to knit those things together for even greater impact? 

Merlijn Venus, Daan Stam, and Daan van Knippenberg, “Research: To Get People to Embrace Change, Emphasize What Will Stay the Same,” Harvard Business Review

Explaining a vision for change can lead to buy-in, but at the same time it’s also helpful to describe what will remain the same.

A root cause of resistance to change is that employees identify with and care for their organizations. People fear that after the change, the organization will no longer be the organization they value and identify with — and the higher the uncertainty surrounding the change, the more they anticipate such threats to the organizational identity they hold dear. 

Robert Vitalo, “When Waiting for Buy-In Can Be a Roadblock,” Independent School

This piece narrates several different scenarios in which acceptance of change came at a variety of speeds.

For choices with a small number of decision-makers, the best approach is often an old-fashioned one: Give your mind the free time to mull it over. In a sense, the preparation for the choice should involve state-of-the-art strategies: premortems, scenario plans, expert roles, stakeholder charrettes. But once those exercises have widened your perspective and helped you escape your initial gut reactions, the next step is to let it all sink in and let the default network do its magic. Go for long walks, linger in the shower a little longer than usual, let your mind wander. – Steven Johnson 

Summer Workshops

EdTech Teacher Summer Institute, June and July 2019, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago

These two- and three-day seminars aim to expand knowledge and skills relating to technology in the classroom, with topics such as “Design Thinking & 3D Printing: Creative Innovative Learning Environments” and “Digital Storytelling: Creating & Publishing Dynamic Digital Stories.” 

Professional Work Highlights of Visual and Performing Arts Faculty

To finish off our year of recognizing faculty professional growth experiences, we wanted to highlight just some of the outside work done by our visual and performing arts faculty, whose growth is of course not limited to educational conferences! We will focus on more such professional work in the year to come.

  • Choral music teacher Steve Hill recently received a certificate of appreciation and recognition from the organization sponsoring the Grammys, as well as “lifetime member” status in Musician's Union Local #47, in recognition for over 35 years of membership as professional musician. 
  • This month, Performing Arts Department Chair Rob Lewis, along with science teacher Hilary Thomas, co-directed a sold-out run of Pippin (featuring dance teacher Molly Mattei and history teacher Will Bellaimey) at Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena. In June, Mr. Lewis will be directing Beauty and the Beast Jr. with the Bay Area Children’s Theatre and teaching Broadway dance at the theater’s camp. In addition, last summer he played the role of Harry Houdini in Ragtime at the Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito.
  • Drawing and painting teacher Melissa Manfull made a new body of work of agate-inspired abstractions for two exhibits that were shown from September to November 2019. The first was GeoOntological: Artists Contemplating Deep Time at Cerritos College, a group show focusing on artists who use geology in their work. The second was Frequency Response at the Sam Francis Gallery (Crossroads School) in Santa Monica, a four-person exhibit curated by the school’s photography teacher.
  • Instrumental music teacher Ross Margitza had the chance to perform in March with world-famous guitarist Russell Malone at Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis Shop in Palm Desert. Along with his own featured recordings, Malone’s credits include performing and recording with Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall, Ray Brown, and many other well-known musicians. In addition, last summer Dr. Margitza traveled to the Dominican Republic to perform at the Santo Domingo International Jazz Festival with the Zack Varner Quartet
  • The work of photography teacher and 9th Grade Dean Ricardo Rodriguez appeared in two exhibitions this year. The first, at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, was titled “World View/Cosmovisión.” Mr. Rodriguez co-curated and also created a piece for the second show, Puerto Rico: Interior/Exterior, which is up at Glendale Community College through May 31 and attempts to navigate the complicated connections between Puerto Rico and the mainland United States.
Posted by rfeliciano on Monday May 20
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April’s Faculty Newsletter

Each of these articles is weighty and fascinating in its own way, about the meaning of high school, the nature of educational reform and the psychology behind the college scandal. Also, the wide range of professional growth experiences that faculty have done recently continues to be impressive to see.


Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine, “High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring,” New York Times

This piece, based on a seminal new book (In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School), argues that classroom teachers should take a page from the exuberant dedication that extracurriculars can inspire. 

The truly powerful core classes that we found—and at every school there were some—echoed what we saw in extracurriculars. Rather than touring students through the textbook, teachers invited students to participate in the authentic work of the field.  

Michael Brosnan, “The Evolution Is the Revolution,” Well-Schooled

This piece (featured on a new storytelling site for educators) was inspired by the recent passing of legendary educator Pearl Rock Kane, former director of the Klingenstein Program at Teacher’s College. In it, the author distills Kane’s ideas from years of Independent School articles and applies them to educational reform today.

What struck me in re-reading Pearl’s article is that she was describing a kind of leadership I see in more and more schools. Her insight on intraorganizational alliances was particularly timely. Pearl felt that the independent school leaders of the 1990s were too insular. “To be on the forefront of education,” she wrote, “independent school leaders will need to encourage pooling resources to share knowledge of successful practices and to investigate problems and concerns of common interest.” 

Caitlin Flanagan, “They Had It Coming,” The Atlantic 

This is perhaps the best article that has been written about the college admissions scandal.

The new job meant that I had signed myself up to be locked in a small office, appointment after appointment, with hugely powerful parents and their mortified children as I delivered news so grimly received that I began to think of myself less as an administrator than as an oncologist.

Summer Institutes

California Teacher Development Collaborative, a variety of local workshops

If you’re looking for a shot in the arm but don’t want to travel far, the CATDC is holding local summer seminars on a variety of topics, including “Leading and Facilitating Positive Change,” “Sexuality Education Summit” and “Design and Making: Tools, Applications and Strategies to Foster Student-Led Creativity and Innovation.”

Faculty Professional Growth Conferences

  • This month Global Studies Coordinator Ingrid Herskind participated in the Global Education Benchmark Group’s annual Global Educators Conference in Atlanta.
  • This month Assistant Librarian Reggie Ursettie flew to Boston for the Association of Independent School Librarians annual conference, Revolutionary Possibilities.
  • Director of Student Technology Services Sylvie Andrews went to Palm Springs in March for the Spring CUE Conference focusing on technological and educational innovation. 


Posted by rfeliciano on Monday April 15
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March's Faculty Newsletter

In this month’s newsletter, check out three articles investigating different aspects of innovation, a one-day summer seminar aiming for student wellness and the recent travels of many faculty for professional development. 


A.J. Juliani, “3 Mistakes I Made Trying to Be an Innovative Teacher & Leader

A well-respected commentator and author admits that trying to be innovative can sometimes seem overwhelming, and he cautions against common mistakes. 

Don’t get drowned out by the massive amount of information (which is really good) and not make time for creating. Let it be the inspiration for innovative work instead. 

Debbie Freed, “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast,Independent School

An organizational development and leadership consultant applies Peter Drucker’s famous quotation to school culture and change.

How do you seek to ensure that culture doesn’t eat strategy for breakfast? Knowing is the brass ring. It is the essential first step in all successful leadership, in personal development as well, and ultimately forms the foundation for all potential organizational growth and transformation. 

Liz Kolb, “Smart Classroom-Tech Integration,” Educational Leadership

An associate professor of education technologies at the University of Michigan provides a helpful framework of nine questions to guide meaningful tech use, including “Does the technology cause a shift in the behavior of the students, where they move from passive to active social learners?”

Many tools that ask students to use their creation or synthesis skills are not content-specific; rather, they are more general tools that allow students to create or produce something such as a podcast, video, book, or poster. Examples of these types of tools are Seesaw, Google Slides, Padlet, EdPuzzle, Flipgrid, and Book Creator.


Challenge Success Summer Leadership Seminar, one-day workshops around the country

Always striving to enhance student well-being, Challenge Success is hosting three short seminars this summer in Palo Alto, CA; Evanston, IL; and Tarrytown, NY. Goals include “learning research-based strategies to improve student health, motivation and engagement” and “networking with other leaders from across the nation seeking to achieve a climate of care at their schools.”

Faculty Professional Growth Presentations in February

  • STEAM Coordinator and math teacher Nick Ponticello presented a one-hour workshop at the National Association of Independent Schools annual conference in Long Beach. The topic was “Orienting New Faculty: A Snapshot of the Induction and Mentorship Programs at an Independent School,” based on Nick’s capstone research in a master’s program in school leadership at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education last year.
  • History teacher Will Bellaimey and his dad, John Bellaimey, the Chaplain at Breck School in Minneapolis, presented a workshop together at the Minnesota Association of Independent Schools annual conference. Their topic was how the wisdom of different world religions can help with the issue of anxiety in independent schools. 

Faculty Professional Growth Conferences in February


Posted by rfeliciano on Tuesday March 26
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Flintridge Preparatory School
4543 Crown Avenue La Cañada Flintridge CA 91011
Tel: 818-790-1178
Fax: 818-952-6247
Located near Pasadena and Los Angeles in La Cañada, CA, Flintridge Prep is a private independent, coed day school for grades 7-12.
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