Educators review 2 departments

Lauren Sonnenberg

As a part of the Review program, a systematic process for promoting growth and improvement in the school, six education professionals visited classes on Feb. 11 and 12, and two more will visit the Foreign Language department on Feb. 25 and 26.

The guests observed classes and met teachers, students and administrators. All departments participate in the Review process, in six-year cycles of internal review, external evaluations and application of criticism.

Prior to the visitors’ arrival, the Foreign Language department had several joint department meetings about their goals, head of Upper School foreign language department Margot Riemer said.

Susana Epstein from Collegiate School in New York City, Rebecca Anderson from Santa Monica College and Dr. Robert Cape from Austin College visited on Feb. 11 and 12. Alison Davee from Lincoln Academy in Maine and Dr. Cecilia Chang from Williams College will come on Feb. 25 and 26.  The visitors will evaluate the specific language programs.

The Foreign Language and English visitors met with Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts, Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas and Director of Studies Liz Resnick. They also met with Dean of Faculty Jacob Hazard. While visiting, they had lunch with students to hear their thoughts on the programs at school, without any faculty present.

Middle School English Department Head Jennifer Dohr and Upper School Department Head Larry Weber, along with former middle school department head Ellen Ehrlich, have overseen the creation of six reflective committees: the senior program, writing, literature, effective paper feedback, technology and classroom teaching.

The English department’s three visitors were chosen for their experience in English. Laura Marion, an English teacher at Polytechnic School in Pasadena and Carol Jaco, author of many books, textbooks and articles regarding the improvement of classroom teaching visited. Weber visited a conference hosted by Dean of Faculty and longtime English teacher Jonathan Howland at the Urban School in San Francisco and decided that he would be a valuable addition to the group of visitors

“Sometimes you can get a little too close to your own department at school, so having that outside evaluation team come in is really interesting,” Dohr said.

The guests spent a full day at each campus and were given a schedule of every English class. English teachers met at the Middle School to listen to the visitors’ feedback.

“The major challenge of our school is the fact that we exist at two locations,” Weber said. “One value [of review] has been to put us in meaningful conversation with our colleagues so that we can make explicit what’s implicit: that we are one program.”

Change has already been implemented since the program began last year, specifically regarding classroom teaching.

The teachers on the committee have been able to ask different questions in class based off of their research of adolescent brain development.New AP and non-AP options will be available to seniors next year.