Read More - Honoring Women's History Month

In honor of Women's History Month, we sat down with four women from St. Anne's: Chef Ann Pierpont, Margaret Mitchell, Rene Reynolds, and Morgan Boaman. Each of them offers unique perspectives on the significance of Women's History Month, challenges traditional gender norms, and celebrates the contributions of women in their respective roles.

What significance does Women's History Month hold for you personally? 

Chef Ann: I was raised by many strong women in my family.  My mother always taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be. When I chose a career in the food service industry, I quickly learned that as a female chef in a predominantly male industry, I would need to prove myself every step of the way.  When I graduated from culinary school, the male-to-female ratio was 5:1.  Now it is 50% which makes me happy.  I had several strong female role models in my 30-year career with Sodexo who helped shape me into the leader I am today.  For me, it is super important to remember and celebrate all of the women who have paved the way for me to be successful in my chosen career...women like Julia Child and Leah Chase, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, Alice Waters, and Lidia Bastianich...they are my heroes. I need to be a role model to these young women becoming chefs, so they do not need to fight their way through the industry like I had to.

Margaret Mitchell: Women's History Month reminds me that many women have worked hard, both publicly and privately, for opportunities. It's a great reminder to pause and reflect on where we are today, how we got here, and where we will go next.

Rene Reynolds: I see this as a time of reflection on the struggles and successes of the women who came before me.  I couldn't be who I am today without their hard work, persistence, and dedication.  I also think about the legacy that I want to leave behind and try to be an example to the young women who are here at St. Anne's.

Morgan Boaman: I appreciate the opportunity to highlight and celebrate women and all the work they have done for different industries and the communities so many of us are a part of. I have loved watching Women’s History Month take more and more of a spotlight over the years, and I think it’s so incredible for our young people to have the opportunity to immerse themselves in learning about the impacts that women have made on the world today.

In what ways do you see your role at St. Anne's as breaking barriers or challenging traditional gender norms?  

Chef Ann: Let's face it...when someone says the word "chef," the image that comes to mind first is Gordon Ramsay or Emeril Lagasse, not Julia Child or Carla Hall.  Why is that when most of us were raised in homes with women in the kitchen? Many people see the leader of a kitchen as being a man, and I want people to know that a woman is just as qualified, skilled, and talented to hold the position of Chef as any man out there.  I love that our kiddos at St. Anne's are learning that, and Mother Irene would be proud.

Margaret Mitchell: St. Anne's was founded by the nuns who cared for children, both as nurses and as educators, so I see myself as carrying on the work they began. I am another woman at another time but in the same place. As Head of Middle School, I feel lucky to carry on the work we've been doing for nearly 75 years. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that being a woman in a position of power is still only sometimes respected or received well by all in our society. I'm grateful to be in a school where women in leadership are part of our founding, and is not uncommon, but it is still something I am constantly aware of. Having said that, I think I bring great strengths to my role because I am a woman, and I hope that all students, especially girls since we are talking about Women's History Month, will see that they, too, can be leaders and define what that means for themselves. 

Rene Reynolds: Working in HR presents me with the unique opportunity to increase the diversity amongst the faculty and staff through recruitment. To a certain extent, the barriers have already been broken in the independent school world because a lot of time and energy is invested in justice, belonging, and love. What makes St. Anne's poised to succeed in this is the fact that we have a supportive and caring community that welcomes everyone with open arms.  Related to gender norms, I commend how many smart and talented women are in leadership positions here.  Organizations that value diversity and women in leadership are more productive and make better decisions.  Business DEI statistics

Morgan Boaman: The field of outdoor / recreation education is heavily male-dominated. It is an honor to model to our students that women can hold leadership roles, particularly within the field of outdoor education. I think so often, young girls don’t see women in adventurous outdoor settings, and I’m excited to challenge that. 

Reflecting on the theme of Women's History Month, how do you honor and celebrate the contributions of women within the context of your work at St. Anne's?  

Chef Ann: It is important for me to not only feature female chefs through creating a special menu for International Women's Day on March 8 but also to highlight the women of both my Sodexo team and our community throughout the month. Educating our students about food history is as important as it is to feed their bellies.

Margaret Mitchell: I’m always trying to think of ways to celebrate many people and identity groups in areas of the middle school, whether it’s inside or outside the classroom. It’s also important that we celebrate the accomplishments of our own students and teachers. 

Rene Reynolds: The impact that I make in my role that celebrates women is forming policies that support women and families. St. Anne’s is proud to offer 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave. Women in the workforce often face difficult decisions about when to return to work postpartum. Still, I hope this policy allows them some time to figure out their new family dynamics and allows them to return to the career that they love.

Morgan Boaman: I think that helping empower our future generations to participate in outdoor activities in a way that is equal and welcoming to all is huge. I value our history as a school and the story of our founding sisters, who were truly women making waves and changes in their community, and I walk through my lessons and activities with their leadership at the core of my actions. When given the opportunity to reference women scientists, park rangers, and adventurers, I expand on those stories with enthusiasm. 

What woman has inspired you in your life, and what do you want our readers to know about Women's History Month, and what it means to you? 

Chef Ann: My mom has always inspired me to be the best I can be.  And my mentor within Sodexo, Helen Hoban, has taught me what it means to lead by example.  Their guidance and support have been instrumental throughout my life.  Their compassion and determined nature have shown me that it is OK to show empathy for your team while still being a strong leader.  And that if you take care of others, they will take care of you.  I plan to pass on my knowledge to the next generation so that one day in the future, during Women's History Month, someone will say that I inspired them.

Margaret Mitchell: There are too many women who have inspired me to name all of them, but certainly my mother, my sister, and my daughter, as well as my two dear friends from high school. But really, I find inspiration in every woman and girl I meet! I love the variety of expressions of womanhood that are unique to every person, and that inspires me. One thing I want our readers to know as they think about Women's History Month is that as we continue to see and value all people for all their uniqueness, the world becomes a more and more beautiful, hopeful place. 

Rene Reynolds: My mother has been a large inspiration in my life. Because of the things I learned from her growing up, I ended up loving the field of human resources.  My mother worked as a union representative for the Local Seven Union, which unionizes our local King Soopers and Safeway stores.  Being a union rep and an HR director are very similar because you are helping to sort out grievances, ensuring people are fairly compensated and being a sounding board for employees. The tools she equipped me with when I was younger (compassion, humor, empathy) help me in my role every day.

Morgan Boaman: There are so many women who have served in the role of “inspiration.” I am forever in awe of the many wonderful women I work with daily; I have friends who challenge gender norms in their chosen fields, and I look to my mother, grandmother, and aunts for inspiration regularly. When I think about a woman in conservation and environmental education who inspires me, Jane Goodall is the first to come to mind. Jane’s incredible scientific work and perseverance in the face of adversity will forever be a powerful story to aspire to.  I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak twice, and I met her after one of those engagements: Meet Your Heroes. She was delighted to meet my friends and me and to hear about our work in conservation education. She reminded us that we all have the ability and responsibility to make a difference.

As we celebrate Women's History Month, it's clear that the women of St. Anne's embody the spirit of resilience, empowerment, and inspiration. From Chef Ann's culinary leadership to Margaret's dedication to education, from Rene's commitment to effective HR practices to Morgan's passion for outdoor education, each woman brings her own unique strengths and perspectives to the table.

Through their stories and contributions, they remind us of the countless women who have shaped history and continue to inspire us today. As we honor the women who have paved the way, let us also recognize the importance of supporting and empowering future generations of women to achieve their dreams and make a difference in the world.

Read More - A Recap of the Impactful Posters at St. Anne's
Celebrating Black History Month: A Recap of the Impactful Posters at St. Anne's

Throughout February, St. Anne's proudly displayed a series of posters honoring individuals and achievements significant to Black history. Each poster was a tribute to remarkable figures and milestones, highlighting their profound impact on society. Let's take a closer look at some of the notable individuals and groups showcased:

John Berry Meachum:
Reverend John Berry Meachum was a pioneering figure in American history. Despite the challenges of his time, including laws prohibiting the education of people of color, Meachum fearlessly established the First African Baptist Church in St. Louis. His dedication to education, demonstrated by operating a school within the church's basement, defied societal norms and paved the way for future generations.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson:
Known as the "Father of Black History," Dr. Carter G. Woodson made immeasurable contributions to the study and recognition of African American history. His establishment of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and the Journal of Negro History provided platforms for documenting and preserving Black heritage. Through initiatives like "Negro History Week," later expanded to Black History Month, Woodson ensured that African American narratives received the attention and respect they deserved.

Bishop Barbara Harris:
Bishop Barbara Harris shattered barriers as the first woman consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Communion. Her pioneering leadership within the Episcopal Church not only challenged gender norms but also inspired countless individuals to pursue their aspirations regardless of societal constraints.

The Full Circle Everest Team:
The historic achievement of the Full Circle Everest team marked a significant milestone in mountaineering history. Comprising nine Black climbers, including men and women, this group made history as the first all-Black team to summit Mount Everest. Their feat not only showcased their courage and determination but also represented a collective triumph over adversity and stereotypes.

Carolyn Finney:
Carolyn Finney, a storyteller, author, and cultural geographer, has dedicated her work to promoting greater cultural competency within environmental discourse. Through her acclaimed book "Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors," Finney challenges prevailing narratives and advocates for inclusive environmental activism.

Cleo Parker Robinson:
As the founder and artistic director of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Cleo Parker Robinson has been a driving force in the world of dance for over five decades. Her commitment to artistic excellence, community engagement, and cultural preservation has established her as a trailblazer in the performing arts.

Each poster at St. Anne's served as a poignant reminder of these remarkable individuals and groups' resilience, creativity, and trailblazing spirit. By celebrating their legacies, we honor Black history and reaffirm our commitment to equity, inclusion, and the pursuit of justice.

Read More - Celebrating Lunar New Year with Hannah, Grade 8
As the Lunar New Year approaches, many families around the world gear up for vibrant celebrations, each with their unique customs and traditions. Today, we have the pleasure of chatting with 8th grader Hannah, who graciously shares insights into her family's preparations and favorite Lunar New Year traditions.

Q: How does your family typically prepare for Lunar New Year celebrations?

Hannah: There are a lot of things we prepare. One of the first things is the food. We usually prepare a rice cake with meat on the inside, banh chung. Another big thing is red envelopes, in Vietnamese we call them "li xi." We use a lot of red, which is for good luck. The red envelopes contain money, which is green, which also means good luck. We also host celebrations during the weekend where we have festival activities and a lot of dragon dancing.

Q: What are some of your favorite traditions or customs associated with the Lunar New Year, and why do you enjoy them?

Hannah: My favorite tradition is receiving the red envelopes. Everyone hopes for them. You get in a line to someone who hands them out, you say in your native language what you wish for them, and they will say something back. The biggest part of that is a deeper connection with my grandma, and it is one moment I get to spend with her just talking.

Q: What do you think your classmates or the St. Anne's community who don't normally celebrate Lunar New Year might find most interesting or surprising about Lunar New Year celebrations?

Hannah: Practically, a lot of people know about this holiday, but every time I take a friend out to the festival, they have such a big reaction. There are a ton of street food and stands, and they actually see live dragon dancers, which they find fascinating.

Q: How do you think celebrating Lunar New Year adds to the diversity and cultural awareness within the St. Anne's community?

Hannah: Just being myself helps bring awareness; it's a part of me. People celebrate it differently from each culture, and I am able to help others understand my culture better by talking about it and just being me, who is Vietnamese.

Hannah's passion for Lunar New Year celebrations is evident as she shares her family's traditions and the happiness they bring her.  As we celebrate diversity, it's vital to embrace and learn from each other's cultural practices, fostering understanding and unity within our communities. 
Read More - Celebrating Black History Month: Uniting in Solidarity and Learning Together

Dear St Anne’s Community,

As we continue building a legacy of humility, love, and justice, we seek moments to honor the vibrancy we find in human beings. Through our heritage months and identity recognition events, we create collaborative engagement with communities, offer growth moments for self-work and reflection, and hold to the founding values that we all commit to. Acknowledging that cultural programming is a powerful tool that establishes creative placemaking for relationships is essential. However, the overarching goal is to inspire you to feed your curiosity about our world. 

Following my New Year Greater Me message from our January All School Chapel, I began to reflect on the joys these moments bring and the importance of ensuring awareness of our efforts. If you do not know, how can you participate? I want to welcome you to enjoy our community involvement with Black History Month. The offerings will center on historical context, better understanding the issues faced by our fellow community members, working towards creating a more inclusive and equitable environment, and, of course, joy.

To highlight just a few, our middle school students will have the opportunity to take a deep dive into the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in an orator contest. “Beyond the Dream” will bring us together beyond the I Have a Dream speech. One St. Anne’s will host a virtual civil rights tour called Good Trouble. The framing for this event will trace the history of the Civil Rights Movement and its impact on who we are today, including an essential look at voting rights, with live-streaming views in neighborhoods important to the Movement. As you can see, we will continue to be intentional in our honoring and learnings. Be sure to check the community communications (FYI, classroom newsletters, etc) for events and resources that center our community in understanding and action, not just for ourselves but for those around us.

With all that said, let us unite as a community in solidarity to celebrate and honor Black History Month. Let us strive to embody these values in our daily lives and actions within our community and beyond.

“We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.”

~Nikki Giovanni

In Encouragement, Joy, and Comradery,

Miriah Royal 

Director of Community, Belonging, and Engagement 

Read More - From St. Anne's to Environmental Advocate: Mandy Helwig '96 Inspires Sustainable Change

In the heart of our alumni community, we find remarkable individuals who have dedicated their lives to making a positive impact on our environment. Mandy (Amanda) Helwig ‘96 has carved an inspiring path as an environmental lawyer and researcher. Her journey from St. Anne's to becoming a catalyst for environmental change is nothing short of impressive.

Mandy's story begins with her transition to the East Coast after her time at St. Anne's. She completed her high school education in New Jersey and subsequently pursued a degree in environmental studies with a policy focus at Middlebury College. It was here that her passion for environmental law began to take shape. She pursued her love for the outdoors, often spending her free time backpacking in the Adirondacks while focusing her academic pursuits on environmental studies. Western water issues, water shortages, and environmental policy became areas of keen interest.

Upon graduation, Mandy continued her educational journey in Boston, attending Northeastern University School of Law, where she gained valuable experience through internships focused on environmental cases and community issues in the Boston area.

After law school, Mandy's career took a pivotal turn as she secured a fellowship with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Her work spanned three years in Boston and three years in Washington, D.C., with a particular focus on litigation, energy issues related to Clean Air Act permitting, hazardous waste cases, and a majority of her time spent on water cases. She spearheaded cases against industrial facilities, municipalities, and mining operations for Clean Water Act violations, furthering her commitment to water conservation and policy.

Following her tenure with the EPA, Mandy joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where she focused on Gulf Coast restoration following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mandy then returned to Boston and transitioned into the nonprofit sector. Her work has spanned a wide array of critical areas, including ocean conservation, fisheries management, Clean Water Act advocacy, and clean energy initiatives.

What sets Mandy apart is her unwavering commitment to creating lasting, sustainable change. Inspired to address environmental issues at their roots, she began visiting farms, ranches, and fisheries across the United States and abroad. These operations implemented regenerative practices that not only protected the environment but enhanced it. For seven and a half years, Mandy dedicated herself to this cause, focusing on regenerative agriculture, oyster farms, and rotational grazing in ranching to sequester carbon and improve the environment.

Mandy's message to our young alumni and the wider school community is profound. She emphasizes that addressing environmental challenges can be overwhelming, but the key is to focus on local impact. By making daily choices that benefit the environment, everyone can play a role in creating a more sustainable future.

Mandy Helwig's journey from St. Anne's Episcopal School to her impactful career in environmental conservation is a testament to her dedication and passion. She serves as a shining example of how one individual's commitment to the environment can lead to meaningful, lasting change. We are immensely proud to count Mandy among our alumni, and her inspiring story continues to motivate us all to work toward a greener, more sustainable future.

Read More - Exploring the Green Beauty of St. Anne's: A Conversation with Horticulturist Jeff Harden
Today, we're delighted to introduce you to Jeff Harden, our exceptionally skilled horticulturist here at St. Anne's. We're thrilled to delve into Jeff's incredible work, both within our enchanting gardens and throughout our beautiful campus. Join us as we explore the wonders of horticulture under Jeff's expert guidance!

Could you lead us on a journey through some of the unique and lesser-known plant species at St. Anne's? How do these additions contribute to our campus' flourishing biodiversity and ecological balance?

The backstory of the fig in our greenhouse holds significance; the nuns initially planted it, and the subsequent construction of the greenhouse was purposefully arranged around it. Similarly, the spruce trees at the front of our campus were initially planted and tended to by the nuns. The existence of the roses, cultivated by and now devoted to Mother Irene, speaks to the school's history, reflecting the nuns' deep respect for nature.

The effects of gardening on mental well-being are well-known. We're keen to hear your thoughts on how horticulture enhances the overall well-being of our students. How do you incorporate this aspect into our school's initiatives?

St. Anne's is more than just buildings and classrooms – we have extensive grounds and a mountain campus that serve as a natural playground, giving our students a great experience. Gardening isn't a mere side hobby; it's ingrained in our approach. It's the hidden gem ensuring a well-rounded student journey, setting St. Anne's apart from the rest.

Your role as a horticulturist brings a captivating and fresh perspective to our school. Can you share some lesser-known benefits that having a skilled professional like yourself on staff provides to our campus? It's a unique position, and we're eager to learn more!

Specializing in campus plants allows for more effective care, as I can dedicate my full time to tending to the plants, trees, lawns, and gardens without needing external assistance. This focused approach ensures regular and attentive maintenance and enables Matt Howard and me to develop a deep understanding of our campus' unique needs.

For all the budding green thumbs out there aspiring to positively impact their communities through gardening and landscaping, what encouraging words do you have for these passionate students wishing to pursue a fulfilling career in horticulture?

If you have a true passion for plants, cultivate them at home. Start with a few plants, establish your own garden, and assess whether the experience interests you. Should you sense a connection and love for plant care and feel it in your heart, allow your aspirations to lead you in that direction.

Jeff, we can't express our gratitude enough for taking the time to chat with us. We truly appreciate the beauty and serenity you bring to St. Anne's with your green-fingered expertise. Keep blooming and growing!
Read More - Las Posadas Reflection: Illuminating Paths of Unity and Compassion

In the spirit of Las Posadas, our Head of Middle School, Margaret Mitchell, delivered a poignant speech to our middle school students. Read the speech below: 

Today is the shortest day of the year. It is the Winter Solstice when the sun is the farthest it will get from Earth this year. The day when there is the least sunlight and the most darkness out of all other days in the year. 

So, I want to talk about the darkness. I know – you’re thinking, “So cheery, Mrs. Mitchell. Thanks a lot.” But I think it’s important to talk about the dark – and the light.

Darkness is quite literally where you cannot see. If you find yourself in the dark in an unfamiliar place, you are lost and disoriented. You might bump into things or step on something. You will definitely go more slowly. You hope that you have a flashlight. You hope that you have a friend.

Darkness can also be an internal state, an emotional place. Pain. Loneliness. Grief. Depression. You don’t know where you are going or why something is happening. You may feel like there is no one there, no one who understands. You may even feel invisible. It’s like the darkness envelops you and makes it so you can’t see, and others can’t see you. 

Darkness is not a fun place to be, but it is part of being human. Most people don’t choose to be in the dark, either physically or emotionally. But the reality is that all of us will find ourselves in darkness at some point. Maybe some of you have felt loneliness, fear, or sadness. 

So, what happens in those dark times? 

First, we get to know ourselves better. Walking through those times and places to get to know yourself takes courage. Just like walking in the dark, you will go slowly. You will probably bump into something (figuratively and literally). You might even be scared. And those are the places where you really get to know who you are and who you want to be. 

Second, you also learn who your true friends are who you can count on in your hardest times. Who is an unexpected companion on the journey? Sometimes, you find someone who has been where you are, who is dealing with the same thing you are. You find a connection in the darkness. And that connection is the light.

Third, you learn that even in the darkest of times, there can be – there is – good. It may not always be good you wanted, and it may take a while to see it, but it is good. 

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the lights on houses and on trees. As the sun sets earlier and earlier, those lights are cheerful and hopeful.

And that is what this season is all about. Light and love break through the darkness through singing, eating good food together, and celebrating family or religious traditions through kind words and hugs. 

In the darkness, we look for the light. On this the shortest day of the year, the time of the most darkness, we have been here together. Today, may you find light, and may you be the light in the darkness for someone else. 

Read More - Parenting Resilience: An Interview on 'Shame-Free Parenting' with Craig Knippenberg, LCSW

In the ever-evolving landscape of education and parenting, having a seasoned professional to guide the way is invaluable. Today, we're thrilled to introduce Craig Knippenberg, LCSW, a distinguished consultant with an impressive 27-year tenure at St. Anne's Episcopal School.

In this exclusive blog interview, we delve into Craig's wealth of experience, exploring his journey at St. Anne's, his motivations behind the impactful book Shame-Free Parenting, and the key principles he advocates for resilient and authentic parenting.

Join us in this insightful conversation with Craig Knippenberg as we uncover valuable lessons and perspectives that can transform how we approach parenting and education. To further enrich this exploration, find a link for Craig's latest interview with CPR News at the bottom of this blog.

Craig, how long have you been associated with St. Anne's, and can you provide a brief overview of your history and involvement with the school?

I've been with St. Anne's for 27 years, initially joining as the first mental health consultant working both in classrooms and individually with students. I owe my entry to Rose Kelly and Ramsay Stabler, who hired me while I was in the process of getting my son enrolled.

What inspired you to write Shame-Free Parenting and delve into the topic of hypervigilant parenting?

Observing families and tracking social media momfluencers prompted me to explore the unrealistic standards imposed on parents. My book addresses the unattainable expectations that often leave parents feeling inadequate, emphasizing that parenting should be grounded in brain science and child development rather than social media trends.

Can you share key principles from the book encouraging parents to navigate parenting with resilience and authenticity?

Acceptance of the fact that hyper-parenting won't shape a child beyond their inherent genetics is crucial. Providing a good enough environment and attachment is key, and tailoring independence based on a child's unique social brain formula is essential. There's also a focus in the book on the lasting impact of parental kindness into adulthood, far more than the pursuit of transgenerational wealth.

Your book highlights managing emotions and setting boundaries. How can parents effectively implement these strategies in their everyday parenting?

Establishing boundaries precedes emotion management. Clearly outlining expectations, be it at a sporting event or in daily chores, helps manage a child's emotions. Consistency in reinforcing these limits is key, acknowledging that perfect parenting is not required; a C or B grade is sufficient. Being open to a child's expression of thoughts while maintaining certain rules fosters healthy communication.

The book covers challenging topics like gaming, TikTok, and school shootings. How do you approach these subjects and guide parents in addressing them with their children?

Open communication with children expressing their concerns is vital. Waiting until 8th or 9th grade for a smartphone is advised due to the darker sides of social media. Tying social media use with a child's brain development is crucial, given the exposure to various societal issues.

One theme is embracing imperfections. How can acknowledging imperfections contribute to a healthier parent-child relationship?

True attachment is built on acknowledging imperfections, having disagreements, and making amends. The emphasis is on forgiveness and moving forward. Introducing a family jar, where warm fuzzies are earned for emotional management, can be a fun way to reinforce positive behavior.

What do you hope readers will take away from Shame-Free Parenting, and how do you envision your book making a positive impact on families?

I hope parents understand that perfection is not required; their child's experiences are part of normal development. The book aims to alleviate the pressure on parents, emphasizing that a single mistake won't alter a child's developmental trajectory. The tips provided are designed to help families build resilience in the face of today's cultural challenges, addressing the prevalent "Pandemic of Fragility" among children and teens.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude for your participation in this enlightening blog interview, Craig. For those intrigued and eager to delve deeper into Craig's wisdom, we highly recommend checking out his book, Shame-Free Parenting. It serves as a profound resource for anyone navigating the intricate journey of parenthood.

Read More - Service Learning at St. Anne’s Episcopal School: Nurturing Compassionate Learners and Enriching Our World

Service Learning at St. Anne’s Episcopal School by Assistant Head of School, Lori Frank

Service has always been at the heart of St. Anne’s Episcopal School. Our Founding Sisters first came to Denver with the goal of taking care of children who were suffering from illnesses such as polio and tuberculosis. Later, they created a school with the purpose of meeting the needs of children who were not being well served by their neighborhood schools. Loving God and loving children was at the heart of everything that the Sisters did. 

Years ago, inspired by the work of the Sisters, St. Anne’s committed to creating opportunities for students to reach out to the Denver community and serve those in need. Middle-school students would pay regular visits to a soup kitchen, a day care center for the elderly, and local public schools. Younger students would make donations to animal shelters, visit nursing homes, and write letters to troops, among other projects. As a school community, with the support of the Outreach Committee of our Parents’ Association, we have collected food, books, clothing, shoes, toiletries, and coins for various organizations. 

Of course, many of our initiatives were stalled or permanently canceled during the pandemic. While we continued to collect donations, opportunities for in-person service were limited. With a return to more “normal” school activities and a strong desire to deepen our commitment to helping others, the school decided to take a new look at how we do service. 

Thus, in the spring of 2023, faculty volunteers met to discuss how service could be made more meaningful for our students and those whom they serve. We brainstormed possible projects and how they might impact people, places, and/or pets. We also discussed the importance of teaching children about service in a sustained, holistic manner. 

What is service learning and how is it different from volunteering or other one-time philanthropic efforts? Primarily, service learning is a pedagogical model that combines critical thinking, social responsibility and civic education to benefit authentic community partnerships. It is a way to practice and express our values, to form thoughtful leaders, and to inspire a heart for positive change. Service learning is at the nexus of theory and “real world” experience, and is intentionally designed in response to the genuine needs within our community be it the classroom, the school, our city, or even the world. Service learning teaches agency, ownership, belonging, and is driven by students’ agency. It does not bypass historical causes of social and economic inequalities, and allows students to develop civic and cultural literacy, enhance personal growth and self-image. At its core, service learning remains about helping and empowering other people. But rather than simply sharing goods or money, service learning focuses on providing opportunities for real engagement with others, guided by the cycles of investigation, planning, action and reflection. In our overhaul of the program, we aspired to embed service learning in our curriculum, integrating math, reading, and writing with projects that support others. Service learning can support the fundamental curriculum as well as be co-curricular! 

When we approach service with dignity, humility, and compassion, we acknowledge the inherent worth of every person we encounter. This means treating individuals with respect, regardless of their background, status, or circumstances. It means recognizing that we are all human beings with unique stories and experiences. By approaching service in this way, we create a culture of empathy and understanding that can help to break down barriers and promote positive change.

Our revamped service learning program has several key features: designated dates for lesson planning and program implementation, teacher-led lessons, integration with the curriculum, and opportunities for student reflection on their experiences. In our August in-service, teachers at each grade level chose topics to explore this year: gratitude (PS/PK), pet care (K), community support (Gr. 1), wildlife (Gr. 2), food insecurity (Gr. 3), wildfire prevention (Gr. 4), literacy (Gr. 5), recycling and composting (Gr. 6), microloans (Gr. 7), and trail building at St. Anne’s in the Hills (Gr. 8). 

While this program is still evolving and developing, early feedback has been quite positive. Teachers have eagerly embraced this opportunity for meaningful conversations with their students, and students have expressed surprise and wonder at the impact they can have on their greater community. As one student shared with her teacher after working in the St. Anne’s vegetable garden, “At first I felt sad that there are people in the world who need this much help. Then I felt happy that I could actually do something about it as a 3rd grader. And at the end, I looked at what we harvested and I was so excited and proud of what we accomplished." 

In the spring, students will have an opportunity to share their service experiences with parents and caregivers, giving everyone a glimpse into how service learning at St. Anne’s has always aligned with the school’s mission: Grounded in our founding values, we cultivate a community of curious and compassionate learners who are inspired to serve and enrich our world.

We are proud of how dedicated St. Anne’s community is to service and are excited to be developing the best ways to bring it to life! 

Read More - A Thanksgiving Reflection: Celebrating Faith and Unity in the St. Anne's Episcopal School Community
Dear St. Anne's Episcopal School Community,

Over the past week, I have spent time pondering one of our founding values: faith. I want to convey my gratitude for the shared faith that binds us together, nurtures resilience, and fosters meaningful connections among us.

Beyond being just a PS - 8 school, St. Anne's is a closely-knit community offering mutual support and encouragement. This collective belief in our community's strength creates an environment where everyone is acknowledged, valued, known, and inspired to thrive.

Our commitment to education is deeply rooted in faith, dating back to the establishment of our school in 1950 by the Sisters of the Order of St. Anne. Their vision crafted a school characterized by compassion and a commitment to education. When Sister Irene sought guidance on how to build the school, the answer that she received from Mother Noel was succinct yet profound: "With faith."

Today, both within classrooms and beyond, I am continually impressed by the potential displayed by our students. Their daily actions consistently emphasize the importance of belief in one’s own ability and trust in each other. Their dedication to educating and mentoring younger students in the community is notable. Moreover, their trust in their teachers becomes a reciprocal lesson, illuminating the impact of strong student/teacher relationships. This is a direct acknowledgment of the strength that comes from having faith in oneself, others, and the community, highlighting the practical dimensions of this value within our educational community.

Our faculty and staff embody this faith through their unwavering commitment to fostering our students' intellectual and emotional growth. Their dedication goes beyond knowledge acquisition. Our educators act as mentors and role models in every classroom and interaction, guiding students academically and cultivating virtues beyond textbooks. They mold students into individuals who not only excel academically but also embody the cherished values of St. Anne's that are dear to us all and live out our motto, “We grow good kids.”

To our alumni, we extend a heartfelt thank you for embodying the values of a St. Anne's education. Your achievements illustrate the inherent value of our educational approach, demonstrating the impact of St. Anne's extends beyond eighth grade and well into adulthood.

We are grateful for our generous donors, whose unwavering support reflects a steadfast belief in the mission and values of St. Anne's. Through your generosity, we can provide valuable opportunities and resources that enrich our students' educational journey, fortifying the school's strength and longevity.

Above all, I want to acknowledge the shared faith within our community. The engagement in the early stages of the strategic plan was truly remarkable, showcasing our community's unity in shaping the future of St. Anne’s. The energy in the room from faculty and staff and parents reminded me that people are genuinely invested in this community and are excited and eager to help shape the future.

As we gather with loved ones to express gratitude over the next week, let us celebrate the faith that defines us. I hope this Thanksgiving is a moment for reflection, appreciation, and the reaffirmation of our commitment to cultivating a community where faith, in all its forms, remains one of our founding values.

I wish you and your families a happy Thanksgiving and a joyful upcoming holiday season.

Go Cyclones,
Chris Cox
Head of School
Read More - Community: A Founding Value at Our School by Theatre Arts Teacher, Stephen Bertles

A reflection from the St. Anne's Middle School Chapel by Theatre Arts Teacher, Stephen Bertles:

Mom, Dad, Carol, Judy, Janet, Mary, Cathy, John, Jeanne, Joe, Ann,  Pat, and me. Growing up, my family was the 1st community I  belonged to. Yes, being the youngest of 11, it was indeed a small community. What we may have lacked in extravagance, we had in an abundance of love. As John wrote in 4:7, ” Let us love one another, for love comes from God.” 

My mom and dad made sure that each and every one of us knew we were loved—and not just by them, but by God. And the reason was they knew God’s love. They were truly able to demonstrate, not just with their words but through their actions, what it meant to be loved and to belong to a community. 

Merriam-Webster says a community is a unified body of individuals, such as a group linked by a common policy. However, the synonym that popped out immediately to me was “family.”  

Family is rooted in connections and love; unconditional love that extends beyond our comprehension. You see, my parents encouraged me to explore and be curious about my path in life, but always to know that no matter the outcome, I was loved.  

Because of this, I found several communities in which I felt loved.  Throughout most of my adult life, I found sanctuary in the theatre where I worked at Opryland in Nashville, TN. I toured the United  States and Canada on the national tour of Cats and performed internationally while working onboard the fleet of Crystal Cruise ships. In each community, I found love. Some of those connections have shaped and led me to one of the best communities anyone could ask for: teaching. You see, in 1st grade, I knew I wanted to be two things when I grew up: a performer and a teacher.  

As Paulo Coelho writes in The Alchemist, “You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love…” Believe me,  I LOVED performing and traveling. But, when I first stepped into the classroom, my heart knew I was where I was meant to be. I found my new community. However, it wasn’t until I stepped onto the grounds of St. Anne’s that I knew this community was more like family.  

I love this community. I love seeing each and every one of you grow and become a part of something bigger than yourself.  

I leave you with one word: Ubuntu. 

“An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe.  He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the fruits. When he signaled, they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat in a circle enjoying their treats. He asked them why they chose to run as a  group when they could have had more fruit individually. One child  said, “Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?” 

Ubuntu in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are.” 

May all of us at St. Anne’s make this community greater, knowing that it is not just about ourselves; no, we are stronger and better because we strive to enrich our world together.

Read More - Alumni Spotlight: Kendall Richardson ‘08 and Ellory (Ellie) Kreidle ‘07

St. Anne’s alums, life-long friends, and now business partners, Kendall and Ellie opened Cherry Creek North’s Bee and Pollen flower shop in July 2022. As students at St. Anne’s, Kendall and Ellie loved being creative together, whether playing on the playground, crafting during art class with Mr. Sigler, or working on a science project.

Their friendship and creativity have flourished through their love of flowers, plants, and simple life moments. Check out our interview with Kendall below as she answers questions about her and Ellie’s new business journey. Also, check out their flower shop if you are ever in the Cherry Creek North area!

How did you and Ellie get started in the flower and home goods business?

“Ellie and I have been friends for almost two decades, and throughout our journey, we have nurtured a mutual dream of running a business together. When the pandemic hit, we decided to take a leap of faith and leave our respective jobs behind, setting sail on this amazing adventure together. With my love for flowers and expertise in floral design and Ellie's unwavering adoration for home goods and gifts, we were well-prepared to transform our shared dream into a reality.”

What are your favorite memories with Ellie as St. Anne’s students?

“During our childhood, Ellie and I would spend our playdates pressing flowers together in books, laying the foundation for our lifelong love of flowers. It was an early introduction to the beauty of nature that left a lasting impression on us both. Being the older one, Ellie became my trusted mentor, teaching me creative skills such as tie-dyeing, sticker collecting, flower pressing, painting, and much more.”

What is the goal or mission at Bee and Pollen? Is your shop known for anything unique?

“At Bee & Pollen, we are dedicated to delivering an unmatched experience to every individual who enters our store. We place immense value on ensuring that we cater to everyone, regardless of their budget, by offering something extraordinary within our shop. Our unwavering commitment rests in providing our amazing customers with exceptional quality and competitive prices. Above all, our ultimate goal is to spread joy and enrich as many lives as possible. One petal at a time!”

What is it like having your shop back in Denver, where you both grew up?

“Embarking on a business venture with your best friend is an extraordinary and, at times, demanding experience. We continually learn and evolve alongside each other, day by day. Not a single day passes without us expressing immense gratitude for embarking on this incredible journey together!”

Read More - Strengthening Community Bonds: A Conversation with Ginny Jaccaud, President of St. Anne's Parents' Association

Today, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Ginny Jaccaud, the dedicated President of the Parents' Association at St. Anne's Episcopal School. Ginny has been an integral part of the St. Anne's community for six years, bringing a wealth of experience and passion to her role as the head of the Parents' Association. Let's dive into our conversation to learn more about Ginny's journey and her vision for strengthening the bond between parents, the school, and the wider community.

Ginny, can you tell us a bit about your role as the Parents' Association President at St. Anne's Episcopal School? What are your main responsibilities and goals?

The Parents’ Association exists to provide volunteers for the school as needed, fundraise to support future PA events and the school as a whole and provide both social and educational opportunities for our parents and the greater school community.  My role is to ensure that in everything we do, we meet these goals and align with St. Anne’s mission and values.  The PA wants to ensure that our volunteers and school have the support they need and that we provide our parents with meaningful opportunities to connect and engage with St. Anne’s.  As the President of the Parents’ Association, my goal is to help provide opportunities for parents to get involved with St. Anne’s in whatever way that speaks to them.  We are stronger as a community when we all feel connected to our school, and so offering as many opportunities to connect in worthwhile, purposeful ways is important.  

Parent involvement is crucial for the success of the Parents' Association. How do you encourage and engage parents to actively participate in the association's initiatives and events that not only foster a sense of togetherness among parents but also contribute positively to the school's atmosphere?

All parents at St. Anne's are automatically members of our Parents’ Association, and all events are open to everyone to attend.  We welcome parent involvement in whatever capacity meets each family’s needs and interests, whether it is just attending the events or assisting in facilitating them.  We support the classrooms and library by coordinating volunteers, we support our teachers with breakfasts and coffees, and we support our parents and our greater school community by providing educational and social opportunities. Parents can choose how involved they would like to be, and many events are just intended for gathering and connecting as a community.  As a board, the Parents’ Association is constantly thinking of the community as a whole and how to plan events that feel accessible and inclusive for all of our parents.  

Building a strong sense of community often involves connecting with the broader community outside of the school. How does the Parents' Association engage with the local community or contribute to causes beyond the school environment?

As a community, we are so fortunate.  When looking at our founding values, we are reminded that we are part of our school community and a greater community.  Many families seek opportunities to show their children that they are part of something bigger than themselves.  The PA’s Outreach Committee allows opportunities for our parents and families to serve our broader community while connecting with our own.  The Outreach Committee partners with local organizations to provide opportunities for our families to volunteer.  These are fun ways to gather together while making an impact and teaching our children about the greater world as a whole.  

Lastly, what advice would you give to parents who are interested in getting more involved in the Parents' Association or taking on a leadership role within the school community?

If you want to get involved with the PA but are unsure how to do so, please contact me or any board member, and we can help you find a place for you!  If you did not sign up for something you would like to be involved in, it is not too late to do so. There is a form on the St. Anne’s website that you can complete to get involved.  We will ensure you get added to the communication for the events and groups that interest you (  Start by getting involved with what interests you, try different things, and grow from there! 

Ginny's dedication to fostering a vibrant and engaged parent community at St. Anne's is truly inspiring. Through her leadership and the collaborative efforts of the Parents' Association, parents are finding meaningful ways to connect with the school, contribute to its success, and extend their impact to the broader community. As we wrap up our conversation, Ginny's words of encouragement to parents interested in getting involved within the school community serve as a reminder that there's a place for everyone to make a difference. We look forward to witnessing the continued growth and positive impact of the Parents' Association under Ginny's guidance. Thank you, Ginny, for your commitment to St. Anne's and its community.

Read More - Empowering Students through Outdoor Education: A Conversation with St. Anne's Director of Outdoor Education, Morgan Boaman

Welcome, readers, to an enlightening interview with St. Anne's new Director of Outdoor Education. In this friendly conversation, we delve into the fascinating journey and vision of a professional deeply committed to enriching the lives of students through outdoor education.

Morgan, can you share a bit about your background and what drew you to the outdoor education field?

I have known I wanted to work with kids in the outdoors from a young age. As my best friend from high school will tell you,  senior year, I declared I would work at camp forever after spending my first full summer as an Assistant Counselor. 

I went on to Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, where I earned my degree in environmental studies with a focus on sociology and anthropology. I was interested in learning more about how people interacted with their environment and why they interacted that way. I began reflecting on my experiences in the outdoors. I determined that the connection I felt to nature and the natural world, and my sense of responsibility for it, was because of the outdoor recreation and educational experiences I had been exposed to throughout my young life. At this time, I read and wrote a paper based on the concept of Nature Deficit Disorder (Last Child in the Woods - Richard Louv). 

I felt drawn to work that connected students to nature, and I worked to develop a sense of belonging and stewardship in young people. I thought the only way to do this was camp. I had never heard the term Outdoor Education-adventure education, experiential education,  sure,  but was I qualified for that? At 21, I had no idea. I then stumbled across a job posting for an environmental educator position on Jekyll Island in Georgia. I had never lived outside of Colorado, and I had never taught anyone about any ecosystem other than the Rockies. I had seen the Atlantic Ocean exactly once in my life, and yet, the team down there took a chance on a girl from a landlocked state and hired me to be an outdoor educator. I fell in love. 

I have since worked as an environmental educator in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Colorado. (Somewhere along the line, Environmental Education got a soft industry rebrand into Outdoor Education). Outdoor Education (as opposed to environmental) focuses more on the growth and development of the whole student versus just the memorization of science information with hands-on practices.

Following my state-hopping as an educator, I returned to school, where I earned my MS in Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University, Fort Collins. Through my master's work, I researched the differences in pedagogies from Environmental Education to Outdoor Education to Conservation Education. While each has an important place in the education model, Outdoor Education spoke to me the most. Upon successfully defending my master's thesis project, I graduated and moved to California. I spent the last 6.5 years working in various roles for the Outdoor Science School at YMCA Camp Campbell. In my final chapter with Camp Campbell, I supervised the Outdoor School program, overseeing large-scale curriculum development, managing a team of educators, and supporting students and teachers in their outdoor learning pursuits. 

I'm drawn to Outdoor Education because of the value it adds to a young person's life. The potential it has to change communities locally and globally in a positive way is unmatched. 

Morgan, your background is incredibly impressive. Could you highlight some key benefits outdoor education brings to students' overall development?

There is tangible evidence, data, and countless studies to support the idea that kids exposed to nature and who spend time outside alongside their peers experience less anxiety, depression, and ADHD symptoms and are more successful at school. Students who spend time outdoors tend to perform better academically and enter society as more well-rounded adults. 

It's important to acknowledge these pieces of student well-being through a lens of science - we have seen it, studied it, and know that exposure to the natural world positively impacts our young people. It also has a positive impact on adults! 

When we incorporate outdoor education into the students' learning model, we allow them a better connection to their peers, and we are helping expand on learning happening in the classroom in unique ways that will enforce certain ideas and topics. The young people we expose to nature grow up to have a sense of responsibility for their community. Cultivation of the natural creativity and investigatory skills that kids have is something Outdoor Education does beautifully. All these elements are important, and together, they come to help us grow more resilient, well-informed, bold students. 

The "St. Anne's in the Hills" campus is fascinating. How do you plan to leverage its 16.5 acres for unique outdoor learning experiences, and what do you love most about this campus?

I am so excited about this space! The campus is beautiful, and its history with the St. Anne's community is powerful. There are so many things about this campus that I'm excited about using for the program. I cannot wait to have students explore and learn on the property. I am eager to explore some Service Learning opportunities throughout the school year and am excited to look at them through a lens of growth potential and legacy. Each grade will have a unique experience when they come to SAITH. We will learn with the seasons as the world around us changes. I am excited to expand the program's team-building, science, and nature observation elements and to look towards the future and infuse more trips, place-based learning, and classroom connections into what we're doing at SAITH.  I love everything about the campus; its potential is unmatched! Walking into the woods, finding my way to one of the small aspen groves on the property, and sitting in the quaking aspens, listening to the forest around me, feels like coming home. 

In today's technology-driven world, how do you intend to balance traditional outdoor activities with modern tools and resources in your programs?

There is a lot of room for using technology in Outdoor Education. I believe in a healthy balance of learning and use. We can participate in many incredible citizen science projects because of technology, such as using apps for plant and animal identification. However, before using those tools, we must learn other ones. Let's practice plant ID with a field guide first. Then we can ask our smartphones. Are their answers the same? Are they different? Which would you trust more? Let's discuss the same ideas with compasses vs. digital GPS tools. Knowing how to use a Garmin GPS is excellent and helpful, but what if you don't have one or it breaks? The life skill of reading a compass and map is so handy. Plus, the compass weighs less on a long hike or backpacking trip. 

Outdoor education can have a lasting impact on students. Are there any particular skills or values you hope students will gain through your programs?

I hope the students I work with feel a stronger connection to the place and their peers. I hope they learn that they can make a difference within their community and that their impact on the world around them is lasting and matters. I hope to spark a sense of wonder and curiosity about the outdoors. I want to help students learn that they don't have to love the dirt or be best friends with spiders to appreciate the outdoors. I want students to build deeper relationships with one another. The outdoors has an incredible way of breaking down barriers between people. I hope the students who participate in programs at SAITH feel more connected in all aspects of life. 

Nature conservation and environmental awareness are crucial topics today. How do you plan to instill a sense of responsibility for the environment in your outdoor education initiatives?

The more we talk about these topics on a large scale (domestically and globally) and a small scale (locally), the easier they become to care about. For so long, these topics have felt like a doom and gloom conversation that young students can't handle, and tiptoeing around them or avoiding them altogether is doing our students a disservice. On the same note, you can't demand that students care about conservation and environmental action overnight. I greatly advocate helping kids find passion in a topic and diving into that idea further. Not every single student is going to care fiercely about invasive species and the impacts that they have on local ecosystems. Only some students will find the history of forest fires and fire ecology fascinating. But some will. For those students, they will likely make an impact in that area. As a society, we must recognize that change doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, skills, passion, and students working together on what they care about. I want to teach students collaboration and that they don't have to have the same desires or dreams, but they can complement and collaborate and make an impact. 

Lastly, could you share a memorable personal experience that highlights the transformative power of outdoor education?

There are so many moments where the transformative power of Outdoor Education stands out to me. I can think about myself as a middle schooler coming home from Eco Camp for the first time, and after spending ten days learning and growing as a person in the woods, I was more myself than I'd ever felt before. I can look back to when I was learning all the curriculum I would teach in Georgia and felt so silly and overwhelmed. Then, as soon as students arrived for their first visit, some of them seeing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, the spark of wonder and amazement they all shared made everything in my life make sense. 

I have worked with thousands of students over the years, and in every state, in every program, every week, there is a student who comes to learn who is branded as "a problem," "difficult in class," or "a behavior to watch." More often than not, those students thrive in the outdoor learning environment and return to school with a new reputation among their peers. At school, adults view them through a lens of success. They have a new sense of confidence in themselves. Outdoor education, immersive learning, and spending time in nature have true moments of magic, and I'm so thankful to bear witness to them. 

Morgan, it has been a pleasure to delve into your background and motivations. Your journey from a passionate camp counselor to a seasoned outdoor educator with a strong academic foundation underscores the transformative power of nature and experiential learning. Welcome, Morgan! We are happy to have you here at St. Anne's!

Read More - Alumni Spotlight: Schuyler Livingston‘04

Working as an industrial designer, Schuyler Livingston ‘04, utilizes his design skills and creativity to bring innovative products to life, including the creation of medical devices, furniture, clocks, toys, outdoor gear, mountain bikes, and more. 

Industrial design is the practice of creating and developing concepts and specifications for products that are intended for everyday use. It's a dynamic field that has undergone significant changes over the years. In the early days, industrial design was primarily focused on aesthetics and creating visually appealing products. Today, the field has evolved to prioritize user experience, functionality, and sustainability.

Schuyler’s passion for design began at a young age. One of his fondest memories at St. Anne’s was in Rick Sigler’s art class crafting a woodworking project with a classmate, Tucker Larson ‘04. “I remember we grabbed some blocks of wood and began engraving them with a dremel tool,” Schuyler recalls. “This evolved into a full on landscape with water features built from hot glue and wood engravings of fishermen and trees. As the classroom filled with the smell of burnt wood, Mr. Sigler wondered what the heck was happening at the far side of the room.” Today, Schuyler and Tucker’s woodworking project (pictured below) is still prominently featured in the middle school building right inside the main atrium doors. “I realized through this project that I had an affinity for designing and building,” Schuyler reflects. 

Throughout high school, Schuyler continued to fuel his passion for design and arts while also excelling in math and science. As college approached, engineering felt like the most obvious next step combining his skills in math, science, and art. However, Schuyler quickly realized that he longed for more creativity that was missing from the engineering world. Instead, he decided to enroll in the Industrial Design program at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU).

“I didn’t fully understand the field of industrial design until I was already a year into the program,” he admits “I just knew I enjoyed working with my hands, being creative, and finding solutions for real-life situations.” As it turns out, industrial design was a perfect fit for Schuyler, launching him into his career working for (with a team of fellow designers and engineers at) Link Product Development, a Denver-based design studio. Schuyler particularly enjoyed the furniture design projects at MSU and continues to pursue this passion in his free time. 

Working remotely while living in Seaside, California, Schuyler designs a wide range of consumer products. “The design process involves extensive research, ideation and sketching, mockup development, and prototyping, all culminating in the final production,” Schuyler explains. “To be successful in this field, you need to study people in everyday life and figure out how to solve the problems they encounter. It's about designing products that are not just aesthetically pleasing, but meaningful, serve a functional need, and meet the expectations of a target market.” 

Industrial designers need a combination of technical and soft skills. They need to be proficient in computer-aided design software, have excellent communication and collaboration skills, and be able to work in a fast-paced, constantly evolving environment.

Schuyler was able to teach himself many of these skills at a young age (which was complemented by his formal education at MSU). Now, all St. Anne’s students will be able to develop these skills in St. Anne’s new Innovation and Design Center. When Schuyler learned about the plans for constructing this new space, he was eager to hear more about a space he would have thrived in as a St. Anne’s student. 

These collaborative and creative workspaces provide students with access to tools, materials, and equipment for designing, prototyping, and building. They offer a supportive environment for students to experiment with new ideas and technologies, and to collaborate with others to develop innovative solutions. “I look forward to the construction of the Innovation and Design Center and would love to come back to campus to work with students once it’s complete!” Schuyler stated.

Overall, Schuyler's success as an industrial designer serves as a testament to the power of a strong foundation in creative freedom and hands-on learning, such as one that St. Anne’s hope to build upon with our new Innovation and Design Lab at St. Anne’s.

Check out Schuyler’s industrial design projects and woodworking creations on his website: You can check out his woodworking projects at!

Read More - Insights from Miriah: Cultivating Belonging at St. Anne's

Insights from Miriah: Cultivating Belonging at St. Anne's

Welcome to our blog interview featuring Miriah Royal, our fantastic new Director of Community Belonging and Engagement at St. Anne's! We're absolutely thrilled to have her on board and can't wait to dive into her inspiring journey, passions, and vision for fostering an inclusive and vibrant school community. With Miriah's expertise and dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we're certain she'll make a profound impact on our school.

Miriah, it's a pleasure to have you here! Please tell us about your background and what inspired you to join the St. Anne’s community.

Thank you! I am beyond excited to be part of the St. Anne’s community.  Well, to label myself a bit, I am an adventure mom, bookworm, mindfulness and wellness advocate, dance like nobody's watching, cheerleader for giving it your all, and lover of corny jokes.  Some of those traits sound silly, but they have allowed me to recognize and welcome others to be themselves.  In turn, I have experienced some unique partnerships.  What inspired me to join St. Anne’s was the community.  We hold space with one another where our individuality is our superpower.  I want every being to have the opportunity to be their best selves, and our mission and values lend themselves to that.  

Being in Colorado, do you enjoy spending much time outdoors, or have you ever lived outside Colorado? 

I am a nomadic person.  I lived and visited various places across the United States during my youth.  From Georgia to California, Arizona to Florida, to Illinois to Texas, there are very few states I have yet to step foot in.  Those moments filled me with curiosity for what and how people exist.  To this day, I make it a point to visit somewhere new at least once a year.    I do not necessarily have a favorite place to live, but Colorado ranks highly. I have only been in Colorado for two years, so this summer, I explored the southern parts of Colorado.  

I LOVE the outdoors!  My journey into being an “outdoorsy” person started with spending time with my grandparents in their gardens, birdwatching, and family reunions at local parks.  Since then, I have jumped into various adventures: white water rafting, backpacking, hiking, skiing, climbing, and repelling(these two do not spark joy for me, but I tried), car camping, SUPing, kayaking, etc.  More and more, I find myself collaborating with various outdoor organizations and individuals to help with equity and accessibility to the outdoors because it is a space where one can truly discover who they are.  When you are getting outside, nature is not concerned about the name brand of the gear you may have or what you look like.  Nature will help you with self-work.  It’s a “challenge by choice.”  You get to pick your activity, level of engagement, etc., all while having to honor(think to leave no trace, land acknowledgments, etc.)  the space you are in.  I hear people saying nature resets your brain all the time, but I firmly believe that nature is role modeling how one should be aware of their impact in a community.  Side note, I am always looking for adventure recommendations, so if you have one, let me know.  

Throughout your journey, who has been the most profound mentor or someone who greatly impacted your life and career?

This is a tough question!  I have several mentors that come to mind.  Hey Mom! Hey Dad! At the moment, I want to shout out Tony and Cassie Stafford.  They are previous coworkers of mine and current friends, but I would also give them the label of Outdoor Mentors.  We started working together when I was at Bucknell University.  They both supported and challenged me to expand my comfort zone in the outdoors.  We have adventured together for years, and there are always heartfelt lessons with every adventure.  They helped me learn the hard skills of being an outdoor leader,  pushed me to finesse the soft skills, and embraced my curiosity for connecting the outdoors to everyday life.  Not only are they allies, but they are accomplices in wanting the world to be a better place.  I know that if we had not met, I would not have been as brave and bold in my career. I hear Tony asking me, “ Well, what are your goals?” and Cassie following up with, “Let me provide some feedback….”. I should reach out to them. We are long overdue for an adventure, and I would love for them to introduce them to our community.  

As a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion, we're eager to hear about your vision for cultivating an environment where everyone feels a genuine sense of belonging at our school.

I just love us!  The pathway I will be taking is to cultivate an environment where every individual feels a genuine sense of belonging.  We always have to do the work assuming everyone is in the room.  And when I say work, I am speaking about digging deeper than knowing the terminology of DEI work.  This is human work; we need to give grace for mistakes, remember our core revolves around inspirational service, and that belonging has various connection points.  I want to inspire every community member to tap into their superpower to fortify our culture of care. 

This reminds me of a few Principles of Peaceful Change from the FAIR organization.  Exercising moral courage, building bridges, defeating injustice, not people, and trusting in justice are grounding factors in our work.  There will always be two guiding questions on my mind as I lead here:

Is XYZ's mission aligned?

Who/What are we centering at this moment?

Those questions will keep me focused and embedded in our values.  Goodness, I am so grateful to be in service of the St. Anne’s community and pour massive amounts of love into everything we do!

Miriah, thank you for taking the time to share your insights with us. We're truly excited to have you as part of our school community and can't wait to see the positive impact you'll make. Welcome once again, and we're thrilled to have you at St. Anne's!



November 17, 2022

Read More - Thanksgiving

Dear St. Anne’s Families, 

Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. I get to sleep in a little, ride my bike in the cool air, eat delicious food, nap, watch sports, and play with my kids all day. . . and that is what you’re supposed to do? Sign me up! Yet, the reality is it is more than just a day to over-eat.

As I drove west on Hampden this morning, I saw mountains with morning sunshine blazing upon them. I thought to myself, Wow, I get to see this every day and work in a school where I can,hopefully, positively impact the lives of so many. My children spend some of their most formative years on top of that hill. A tremendous wave of gratitude came over me. 

During the all-school chapel last week, I spoke with the school community about gratitude and how gratitude is more than just saying thank you for something that someone gives you. It is a mindset that even when we have tough days, weeks, or even years, we have much to be thankful for. Having a home to go to with people who love and care for you is more than so many have in our world, country, state, and city.

Did you know it is scientifically proven that gratitude will make you happier? How? By actively thinking about the things for which you are grateful, you are actively thinking about the things that make you happy. In turn, this act makes you feel happy.

My college lacrosse coach, a member of the Mohawk Nation, used to say to us during early morning practice, “What are you upset about? You woke up today. You’re healthy today. You are living your life today. Be grateful for it.” I used to roll my eyes every time he said that, but now, I get it. I asked the students to write a note to someone about something they are grateful for and either give it to that person or post it in their locker or at home as a reminder to be grateful. I plan on doing the same myself. 

No matter one's faith tradition or other beliefs, I believe gratitude is a big piece of any core value. As we head into the holiday season and I come to know and understand more about this school community and its students, teachers, and parents, I have a tremendous sense of faith in St. Anne’s to know we are all here for the right reasons and will continue to grow our children together as a community. For that, I am grateful.

Have a wonderful and grateful Thanksgiving.

Go Cyclones!


Read More - Celebrating World Polio Day: Why the History of St. Anne’s Profoundly Matters to Me
Celebrating World Polio Day: Why the History of St. Anne’s Profoundly Matters to Me

By: Michelle Provan, Director of Marketing and Communications

St. Anne’s was originally started by three Episcopalian nuns as a convalescent home. In the 1940’s, the polio epidemic spread across the United States and killed thousands of children each summer, and paralyzed many more. St. Anne’s saw a need to help polio children and became a home for them. The Sisters treated the patients and employed rehabilitation practices. But why does that mean so much to me?

Far away in Chicago, my dad, Robert Provan, was one of those children among the thousands who had caught the polio virus. He was diagnosed with the worst type of polio at age 5. The virus affected his entire body, and he was paralyzed from the neck down. My grandparents tried a couple of specialists to no avail. In fact, they were told to institutionalize him, a common practice during this time. They were told, “He is a burden to the family, and he belongs in an institute. Just let him die.” Luckily, my grandparents searched even harder for someone to take on my father’s care, and they found Dr. Charles Pease at Chicago Children’s Memorial (now known as Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital). My father’s condition was grim, but Dr. Pease believed in an approach that had zero tolerance for coddling. His goal for my dad was to make him independent, self-reliant, and gain the ability to walk again. So, the surgeries began.
Read More - Can We Put a Pricetag on the Future?
Can We Put a Pricetag on the Future?

By: Jennie Ruport, Director of Development

As the first administrator to write for the Leadership blog, I come to the St. Anne’s community with more questions than answers (I am sure you all love that!). As we emerge from the COVID era, many folks ask what’s next? What do we need to prepare for the future? As someone who works in development, this question makes my heart beat faster, and I start to breathe a bit heavier. How do we ensure our school is financially equipped for something unknown? Do we have the resources in place to tackle the unknown? Can we put a price tag on the future?
Read More - Doing What is Best for Our Students
When the Sisters of the Order of St. Anne came to Denver over 90 years ago, their focus was children. They came to Denver with the intention of helping young patients who were suffering from a crippling disease. When that work was no longer needed, they turned to educating children who were not being served by the public schools.

Seventy Looks at Seventy

April 15, 2021

Read More - Seventy Looks at Seventy
I am overwhelmed when I consider how much of my life I have devoted to my work as a teacher at St. Anne’s, how many thousands of papers I have graded, how many marvelous students I have known, how many great colleagues have come and gone, how many magical moments inhabit my memory. I would not trade these times for anything.
In a few short days, we will welcome back your children to campus, following an awfully long, very strange hiatus. While the school has done a great job planning and preparing for students’ physical health and safety, we also know it is important to consider their emotional health and well-being....

Creating a Better Future

July 20, 2020

Check out our latest blog post from Mr. Clough. He shares his thoughts on his own education and how St. Anne's is particularly well-suited to care for children. This summer, our faculty and staff are reading Ibram X. Kendi's book, How to be an Anti-Racist. As a school, we are committed to listening, learning, and supporting our communities.
Bells ring in the chapel, and the sound of laughter and an air of anticipation are palpable. Some costumes can be seen among the 150 or so students and the fifteen staff members. Candles are lit. Mary, Joseph, and Innkeepers are present. Songs are sung in English and Spanish.

Portrait of a Great Lady

December 5, 2019

Did you miss Mr. V's story at the last All-school Chapel? Click below to read his words and memories about our dear Mother Irene.
By Katje Falkenstein
Read time 2 mins 20 seconds...

In the Fall of 2018, our program days at SAITH increased significantly. We had six months before we had trash and recycling service at SAITH, which meant that I was transporting our waste back to school. Yes, this was gross. But it also was a great way to learn how much trash we were generating. I quickly became concerned, not only about the permanent smell in my car but also about our impact on the environment.
The STAMP conference last month at the History Colorado Center was an eye-opening and enjoyable experience. STAMP stands for Students Taking Action and Making Progress. One of the numerous eye-opening classes that we participated in was X’ed Out To X-Men. Continue reading the student blog post...

The Effort Behind Success

November 12, 2019

Being in our halls every day, I am grateful to get a window into the time, effort, and perseverance that our students and faculty demonstrate every day to be able to deliver these performances. What I have learned from these windows is that these performances cannot simply be chalked up to unique abilities or happenstance.
When people walk on the St. Anne’s campus, they sense something different here: kids shaking hands, people holding the door for each other, students saying thank you to their teachers. Although we are surrounded by new buildings and new faces, this place still feels the same as when we were students because this school values the notion of humans being good to one another above all else. The spirit of St. Anne’s is a commitment to learning, friendship, empathy, and balance.
As we dive into October, for many of us the feelings and routines of school are familiar - waking up early, getting ready for school, seeing friends and colleagues, and digging into the various, vibrant challenges of the day...

What is Open Session?

September 19, 2019

Matt Krause, middle school Spanish teacher reflects on what "Open Session" means to our students and our community...

Reaching Beyond

May 29, 2019

Given how close we are to the end of the year, I felt it worthwhile to revisit one last time our theme for the year, Reaching Beyond. Since capturing the myriad ways this theme has played out all year would result in a post longer than most research papers, I’ll simply scratch the surface by highlighting how we’ve lived it in just the month of May alone.

Read More - Taking Small Steps to Achieve Growth

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with the first step.”  -Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher.

When I recently came across this quote, I immediately reflected on the journeys of our 8th graders over both their middle school time and their St. Anne’s careers. They have grown as students, athletes, friends, and leaders, and the progress they have made between where they once were and where they are now is a source of pride for our whole community.

Further reflection on this quote reminds us of two important aspects of growth. First, meaningful journeys rarely are completed overnight. And second, journeys don’t begin until you take that first step forward. There are countless obstacles that can either delay or prevent the start of a journey from perseverating about finding the perfect path to being overwhelmed by the prospect of the whole journey itself. These obstacles can easily derail growth before an earnest attempt is even made.   

We’ve all experienced this at some point with ourselves and kids, and I’ve been intrigued by the concept of Kaizen, a mindset and approach used in Japanese businesses to realize growth by overcoming typical barriers to change. Big growth can feel daunting to achieve for a variety of reasons, and sometimes it is actually demotivating.


Consider the following situations as examples. First, imagine a middle schooler who is struggling with organizational skills. For this student, “keeping a clean locker” could seem like a monumental task, particularly if they’ve struggled with it for years or their locker looks like it exploded inside. Now imagine the student who is receiving feedback to participate more in class. It might feel confusing and intimidating thinking about how to go from not participating to being a more active participant. In another situation, we might picture a student going rafting for the first time with a group of people they’ve not gone with before, and the whole thing can feel like a giant leap of faith and cause anxiety.


So, what can we do? Kaizen suggests that instead of spending hours, days, or weeks wondering how to achieve the big growth, identify a small, simple, and concrete step that would represent even the tiniest of growth. 


Cleaning a whole locker or room might be a gigantic undertaking that you don’t think you have time for or really don’t want to deal with right now. However, putting in your planner to use the last minutes at BLOC/study hall every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to just collect loose pens, throw out trash, and recycle old papers is simple, quick and clear. It creates visible (hopefully) value and allows for success to be all but inevitable. Doing that every other day even for a few weeks creates a habit that you can then build on. It also keeps it on your mind in a way that might lead to a habit of not putting random loose papers or storing a half sandwich in your locker in the first place. Moreover, it makes the large undertaking of organizing your locker seem less daunting.


I’ve been trying this with my own desk at school that, admittedly, can have papers pile up (my digital organizational skills are far more advanced fortunately).  Putting in my Google Calendar to spend two minutes every other day cleaning my desk has actually paid dividends. It has also mitigated the situation of me seeing a desk that would take twenty minutes to sort through.  My hope is that it’ll also help me by discouraging me from simply putting a sheet on my desk without a plan.


To close, here are a few other suggestions/applications I came up with that directly relate to how we can use this technique to work for our kids:


1) Instead of trying to just be a regular participant, have a student put one box on the top of their notes every day at the start of class. The student’s responsibility is to check that box before the period is over by participating in asking a question (excluding a bathroom visit request) or making a comment. It’s a simple strategy that is visible, and it is much more likely to be successful long-term than jumping to four or five comments a class.


2) Rafting: Let’s say you’re rafting in Colorado this spring. You’ll want to consider all the possible components for a nervous student that roll into “rafting.” There’s the wet suit, life jacket and giant paddle that might be a new experience. There’s seeing an unfamiliar river and sitting with a group with varying paddle experience. Kaizen would suggest replying to a student who is reluctant to do it by simply asking, “How about we just put on the wet suit and/or life jacket inside and see how it feels?  Could you sit in the raft on the ground and hold the paddle?”  Just having those experiences before jumping in can make all the difference, reducing the number of barriers and worries.


3) Mitigating negative self-talk: For a student who struggles with frequent negative self-talk, try having them write one compliment to themselves every day or every Friday while eating breakfast. Have a jar at the table and a pencil there to lower the barriers to this task, and consider putting words on the jar as triggers (friend, artist, soccer player, brother, daughter). Again, make it simple, concrete, small, and routine.  Start with less frequency to help it be successful, but make it a routine so that the journey can begin.


4) Being more active: Do you have a student who every day goes right to a gaming system when you’d rather see them play outside? Instead of asking for 30 minutes of playing outside, tell them beforehand that they need to be outside for five minutes. Stick with it for a period of time before raising that time request. The first few days might seem like a struggle, but soon they might discover something growing in the garden or a cool bug on the tree, or they kick a soccer ball around. Most likely this will eventually lead to their voluntary staying outside longer than the five minutes you had agreed on together. You may not get to thirty minutes in the short-term, but you can get the student on their way to being outside more often.


Again, these are just a few suggestions of how the principle of Kaizen can be effective. Avoiding the decision paralysis of trying to select the perfect path by instead finding a simple small step that moves you along can make all the difference. In many cases, it makes the bigger change feel more attainable once the first steps have been taken and internalized. In other cases, the first steps can help by getting you some initial information or feedback. This in turn can give you new insights that ultimately lead to steps you couldn’t have imagined at the outset.  Whether it is in school or out of school, there are plenty of opportunities to embrace the technique of Kaizen to grow ourselves or support the growth of others.

-Sumant Bhat 

Head of Middle School

Innovating from Diversity

March 29, 2019

Read More - Innovating from Diversity

Every year the annual National Association of Independent School Conference draws amazing keynote speakers and holds fabulous workshops which inevitably lead to me walking away both with new ideas and perspectives, but also inspiration for our work at St. Anne’s. This year, Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, was among the keynote speakers and his remarks on innovation, prompted me to immediately go out and devour his accompanying text.

In reading his book and listening to his talk, it was encouraging to see several of his essential ideas for fueling innovation be represented in components of the design thinking curriculum we do in innovations to nurture creativity. For example, he noted the effectiveness of using selective constraints around design to actually spark new ideas. I’ve seen this first hand when our sixth graders design circuit games in science with some parameters on materials or while they were creating architecture projects in innovation. Having to design an underwater hotel or ice cream store in a densely populated city requires you consider specific needs of users you wish to engage. Another key point was the importance of the proliferation of a huge volume of ideas in the brainstorming process. Resisting the urge to jump on the first idea and instead produce more ideas can ultimately help you arrive at an even more innovative creation!  

6th graders designing circuit games in science

However, what has most stuck with me from the talk and book has been the specific insights and examples he shared highlighting a direct link between diversity and innovation, two areas that have been passions of mine for many years now. In his talk, Johansson shared memorable anecdotes such as how surgeons were able to improve patient care by reviewing organizational practices of race car pit crews. He relayed the journey of Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s who was born in Ethiopia, adopted and raised by a family in Sweden,  and trained in France, before opening a Michelin star restaurant in NYC with flavor influences drawn from around the world . His willingness to combine flavor combinations in unique ways has led to him pushing the food industry forward. Perhaps my favorite story shared was how architect Mick Pearce in Harare, Zimbabwe found solutions to design the Eastgate Building, a climate-controlled building, by looking at the way termites built housing for themselves in the same climates. It involved using an intricate system of gradients and vents to keep the temperature constant around 30 degrees celsius while the outside temperature fluctuates between 0 to 40 degrees.  What was clear from each of the three cases, innovation and creative solutions occurred at the intersection of seemingly disparate worlds.

As I consider my experiences working with students and teams at various schools I’ve worked at, I’ve seen first hand how a central barrier to creativity is the tendency to fixate on one solution. That tendency is the product of associations our brains develop from the sum total of our experiences and the voices and perspectives that surround us every day. The more homogenous those experiences and voices are, the stronger the associations that get built between ideas. The stronger the association between ideas, the more likely we ignore other alternatives in designing solutions or thinking of possibilities. Yes, strong associations in the mind can be helpful, making for a simpler, more efficient approach for our brains to manage lots of information. However, too often they are inhibitors to innovation.

So how do we mitigate these associative barriers that naturally exist for us all?  Below are a few measures that I’ve been a part of and which are shared by Johansson.

A)Diversity in group composition:  At St. Anne’s I’ve been part of different critical friends groups, taskforces, committees and think tank sessions. I’ve found when you get people together who bring diverse subject expertise, prior school experience, or backgrounds together, the discussions often yield more complex and sometimes even surprising solutions. This is because they bring their own perspectives which helps mitigate associative barriers that would arise from a homogenous group. At Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant Aquavit, his 100 employees come from countless different countries around the world. For our students, this provides a great case for intentionally seeking out and working with different people in classes on projects, rather than just your close friends who might think the same way as you. That goes double for our 8th graders who are heading off to high school and will have opportunities to expand their social circles in their increasingly diverse communities. Yes, some norming and agreements may need to be laid as foundation for successful collaborating, but the different perspectives are likely to yield more creative solutions.

B)  Designing solutions from the perspective of the user, rather than your own- This is a principle that is at the core of design thinking and is an essential stage in creating solutions that actually work for the users for whom you are designing. Over the years we've had sixth graders interview preschoolers and kindergartners as a step before building prototypes for the outdoor classroom. We've done an empathy exercise simulating what it's like to have limited mobility when we were designing everyday solutions for the elderly. As a staff when we’ve been building our program at St. Anne’s in the Hills and trying to iterate the program, curriculum, and logisitcs, we’ve been conscious to interview and survey students and faculty about their experiences. I have also found that by faculty doing training that has put me on the low ropes elements, we all have a greater appreciation for the experience and feelings of our students, thereby better allowing us to scaffold and design our trips.

C) Nurturing divergent and alternative uses for objects to overcome the cognitive bias of functional fixedness - Functional fixedness refers to the mindset of being unable to see other uses for an object beyond its primary use. Alternative use exercises like finding ten different ways to use a paperclip help counteract functional fixedness. For example, a paper clip can be used beyond clipping papers together such as a tie for a bag or screwdriver for a loose screw on glasses to even jewelry! While the practice of generating lots of ideas is important, ultimately what is more important is to simply not have one chain of thinking.

D)Exposure to a variety of experiences:  Part of what is so impactful in our students’ experiences is the breath of classes they get to take at St. Anne’s. Beyond science, social studies, English, and math, are students can take world language, learn about world religions in chapel, support various communities outside St. Anne’s through outreach, and education at St. engage in cultural competency curriculum. Add in the outdoor education and a robust art offering and are students are put into a variety of environments from which to draw inspiration and make connections. When I see the creative content our 8th grade students are producing as artists, musicians or actors on stage, I’m reminded of the role of variety of experiences they are gaining are influential in the creative process.

In a world where content creators are becoming increasingly more valued than content consumers, helping students see the value and role of diversity in innovation is essential to their growth. It is also vital for us as adults to keep in mind as design and provide experiences for our students to nurture their perspective.

-Sumant Bhat
Head of Middle School
Read More - Digital Parenting: Tips and Resources

By Kristyna Yeager

The social, creative, and educational opportunities that come by way of digital technology are limitless and, as we well know, not without peril. The two best resources for keeping children safe are their parents and themselves, but a little technological support can be useful. Staying informed, taking action, and communicating openly will help build positive online experiences that will help foster responsible behavior in your household.

Young people interact with digital media in a variety of ways. According to study conducted by Common Sense Media, American tweens (ages 8-12) spend an average of about 4.5  hours on screen media use a day, while American teens (13-18) spend an average of about 6.5 hours worth of daily screen media use (daily averages do not include time spent at school or for homework). It is difficult to believe this is an accurate snapshot within our small SAES community because of the intentions we have behind our no cell phone policy, the non-academic activities many St. Anne’s students participate in after school, and digital guidelines at home. Regardless, the SAES Digital Life survey given last year indicated that “too much screen time” was what concerned parents most about their child’s online life. Digital media plays a key role in how kids function and develop, staking claims on their time and attention. Consequently, it deserves our continued scrutiny. Keep your kids’ digital world safe, fun, and productive by implementing and evaluating some best digital parenting practices while in your home and about.

Good digital parenting begins with acknowledging risks and reducing harms associated with having digital lives, both in ourselves and our children. Being calm, open, and direct when talking with your kids is the first step. The earlier you open this line of communication, the better. Discussions can include age-appropriate content, with whom we have contact, and how we behave while online. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) recommends that parents never miss a teachable moment where smart technology is concerned: first device, turning 13, getting a driver’s license, or when your child wants to try or buy a new app/game/site. Exploring and learning can be a two-way street when it comes to technology. Take time to enjoy digital media with your child, and you may be surprised at what he or she can teach you. If you start this habit at a young age, it may just become routine. Check out FOSI’s tips and resources to educate yourself on some of the most popular games, apps, and social media sites. Additionally, heed social media age limit restrictions when your child wants to create an account. Most sites have a minimum age requirement of 13 so letting your child know your feelings about honoring those guidelines will help curb the notion to join too early.

Fortunately, with many big-name platforms and companies beginning to address digital well-being, using parental controls and safety settings is more accessible than ever. However, choosing a parental control utility can be a little daunting. You’ll have to do a bit of homework to determine the program that might work for your family, but the payoff will be well worth your time. It’s important to consider all device types and operating systems. Also, you will want to keep in mind the filtering and blocking capabilities, social media tracking options, and ease of installation and usage. PCMag, Tom’s Guide, and Top Ten Reviews have comprehensive reviews to help point your family in the right direction. Don’t forget or ignore the built-in options on your current operating systems and devices. 

Another invaluable consideration for good digital parenting is establishing ground rules, setting boundaries, and applying consequences when necessary. There are multiple tools parents can choose from, including family media agreements or plans, cell phone contracts, or simply making a list of rules to apply to your child’s digital life. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but these tools are all useful in starting a conversation with your family about how to behave online in a positive way and help keep the lines of communication open. Choose one that works well for your family and make adjustments when necessary.

Do you want to wait as long as possible before you open the door to smartphone usage? A recent movement sweeping the country is the Wait Until 8th pledge, a cause that empowers parents to band together in waiting till their child is in 8th grade or beyond before purchasing a smartphone. The organization suggests skipping the smartphone contracts altogether with a long list of reasons to wait until a teenager actually has a purpose for having a smartphone. This pledge might work well in a community such as St. Anne’s. But do keep in mind that, even if you wait until 8th grade to buy a smartphone for your kids, they will begin to have online activity the moment you put any online device in their hands--be it an iPad, family computer, or Roku.

Here at St. Anne’s, the Technology Department does our part to support community-based digital citizenship. We regularly utilize Common Sense Education’s curriculum to teach students how to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in the digital world. In grades K-2, students are learning how to go places safely online, what kinds of information to keep private versus what information is okay to have in your digital footprint, and what to do when you encounter cyberbullying. In grades 3-6, students are learning how to represent themselves, the effects of what they say about others, media literacy, and how their media choices affect their own well-being. In grades 7 and 8, students are learning how to think before they post, practice netiquette (online etiquette), understand their digital footprint and reputation, reduce oversharing, and find a media/life balance.

Because so much of our children’s lives involve communication via computers, smart devices, and gaming systems, cyberbullying remains an important topic to discuss at home. Following good digital parenting practices such as having open communication and media plans, first-hand experiences with applications and digital tools that interest your child, and using parental control features are key to helping prevent and protect against cyberbullying. But another consideration includes device location. Keeping your home computers, laptops, and gaming systems in highly visible or central locations is a great way to keep tabs on digital interactions. A central docking/charging station for everyone’s device is another good idea. In addition, take time to show your kids how to block, flag or report abusive and inappropriate content and encourage socializing with friends in person. Parents can also discuss using anti-cyberbullying technology such as ReThink, a free app that can help detect and prevent hateful language. It gives users the opportunity to think before posting something they may regret.  

One of the most important things you can do to be a good digital parent is to be a good digital role model. Evaluate your own digital habits and curb any bad ones. It is necessary for parents to be aware of their own digital behavior so they can promote positive behavior in their children. You can’t expect your kids not to text and drive if they grew up watching you do it. If you have “no phone zones” or a common docking area, make sure you are following those guidelines as well. Take the lead on setting time to unplug for yourself and your family and find a balance of online and offline activities.  

Keeping our children’s online lives safe, fun, and appropriate is on the minds of teachers and parents everywhere. Thinking about it and doing something about it are two different things. A lot of us get stuck on not knowing what to do, and the task at hand can be challenging. But good digital parenting and community-based digital citizenship are all about taking an active role in minimizing risks and maximizing benefits. Check out the list of resources below to take a step in the right direction.

List of resources

Current Research:

Common Sense Census: Media Use by Teens and Tweens

FOSI: Tech Addiction; Not All Screens Are Created Equal

FOSI: Online Safety Across the Generations

Good Digital Parenting Resources:

Safer Gaming Guide

Apps Guide

Social Media Guide

Social Media Privacy Guide

Tech Education Guide

Cyberbullying Guide

Cyberbullying Conversation Guide

Parental Control Plan

Smartphones: Why Wait?

Parental Monitoring Software Reviews:

TopTen Reviews

Tom’s Guide


A Secure Life

Built-in Safety Features for Devices:

CompariTech (Reviews and detailed instructions for various operating systems)

iOS Devices

macOS Parental Controls

Managing Microsoft Family Group

Xbox Healthy Gaming Guide

Family Link by Google

Family Media Agreements:

AAP’s Family Media Plan & Media Time Calculator

Smartphone Contract by Teen Safe

Family Agreement by ChildNet

Family Media Plan by Common Sense Media

Words of the Month

Middle School Blog

February 1, 2019

Read More - Words of the Month
Click "Learn More" to check out Mr. Bhat's latest post on the Middle School Blog.

Windows Into Our Own World

November 26, 2018

Read More - Windows Into Our Own World

Books allow the opportunity to see a window into another world, as well as a chance to have a deeper understanding of the world we live in. While reading The Outsiders, seventh grade students had the opportunity for both. The Outsiders, acclaimed for its ability to connect to teenagers, focuses on two rival gangs, divided by social class, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as is told through the eyes of fourteen-year old Ponyboy Curtis. After discussions of what it means to be an outsider, and essays on who was the bigger disgrace to society- the Greasers or the Socs, English classes were asked to find a situation in the news and relate it to the themes they identified in the book. They presented these through iMovies, powerpoints, realistic fiction writings, poster presentations, artistic creations and even in song. As students reflected on the lives of their neighbors, friends, family members and even themselves, they discovered that people felt like outsiders due to autism spectrum disorder, race, sexual orientation, divorce, lack of water, and plenty more. The English teachers couldn’t be prouder of the thoughtfulness and empathy the students demonstrated throughout this project, as well as the connections they made to the novel. While some students took the approach of creating awareness of a social situation, others took to expanding on this understanding by walking in another’s shoes or looking at ways in which outsider groups are included in mainstream society. This attempt at connection is not isolated to English alone, as similar conversations have occurred in advisory, Town Hall grade level time, and with Mr. Bhat in the cultural competency curriculum. We embrace these opportunities because we know that such understandings create a deeper understanding, as well as allow our students to be reflective participants in the world we live in.

-Laura Boroughf- 7th Grade English & Social Studies, 7th Grade Coordinator

Throughout this fall, I have found myself immersed in conversations and learning environments that share an unmistakable thread.  Earlier this fall, the National Association of Independent School’s quarterly magazine arrived in my mailbox with a spotlight on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work in independent school communities. On October 12, a group of St. Anne’s 7th and 8th graders attended a full-day diversity and inclusion leadership conference where they participated in honest conversations about stereotypes, the media, bias, racism and more. The next day, I attended the CIRCLE Conference on inclusion and diversity at the Colorado History Center, an event drawing over 100 educators from the Denver area. Less than two weeks later, St. Anne’s administrators and board members invited renowned DEI consultant, Dr. Derrick Gay, to lead them in a half-day workshop on Cultural Competency. October 26, Eli Saslow, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Rising Out of Hatred, and son of a former St. Anne’s teacher, spoke to our community about reporting, and what he learned in the writing of a story about a white supremacist who experienced a change of heart and mind.  Finally, on Halloween, a group from the Colorado Shakespeare Festival performed an abridged version of Macbeth and held workshops for our middle schoolers around the importance of being an upstander.

The frequency and similar theme of these events have reaffirmed in my mind the importance of the added emphasis we’ve been placing on diversity and inclusion work at St. Anne’s over the past several years. But while our recent efforts from the growth of affinity spaces to the normalization of DEI trainings have served us well, we know that this work must be ongoing and unrelenting for us to continue to be an inclusive community.  Nationwide, school communities are realizing this same understanding and are also creating a variety of spaces both in and out of the classroom to have purposeful conversations around race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, identity and more. I firmly believe, though, that those conversations are more successful and valuable for all involved when a tool box of understandings and cultural-competency skills is possessed by those participating.

But what is cultural competency? It is certainly a phrase gaining a lot of attention, and while there are variations in how people define it, I rely on a definition that considers two components. The first is an inward reflection and understanding of our own identities, biases, and privileges, and how that influences our own world view. The second component refers to our ability to communicate and interact with those of cultures and identities similar to and different from our own. I’ll go further and share that I believe cultural competency also should include having a positive respect and appreciation for the differences of people of all backgrounds. With each generation getting increasingly diverse across all social identifiers including race, gender, and religion, it is important to me that as a school we are not only providing a welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, and families, but that we are also empowering our students to go out and create welcoming environments outside our walls as well.

In the middle school this year, both the sixth grade spring curriculum and seventh grade fall curriculum will include a dozen classes focused explicitly on building our students’ cultural competency toolboxes. This includes doing simulations and activities followed by candid conversations around bias, privilege, identity, and allyship.  Prior to beginning each class, we review ground rules around assuming good intentions, respecting differences of experiences, speaking from the “I” perspective, confidentiality, and an understanding that “what’s learned here, leaves here.” Below, is just a sample of the key understandings we hope to instill in our students as part of this curriculum:

1) We all have biases or inclinations that have been formed as a result of experiences or messages from media over time.  Most biases we are unaware of, and without reflection, they can have adverse impacts on relationships and experiences we have and could pursue. Everyday bias includes a boy not pursuing a school club because he feel that “only girls sign up.”  Not exploring a certain school for high school based on a few people you know that you do not like or because of chatter you heard from someone who went is a bias we try to counter in our 8th grade high school support process. Being aware of one’s own biases allows us to take action, which is essential to having inclusive communities and allowing us to pursue diverse experiences. Examples abound in the real world of anti-bias measures that have led to positive impacts. For centuries, orchestras were entirely dominated by men, but once they used blind auditions and had applicants remove their shoes (the heels, they discovered, made noise on stage that preserved gender bias), the orchestras became much more balanced gender-wise.  There are many studies that have shown racial biases can dramatically impact a hiring process, which has led many companies to explore concrete practices aimed at mitigating that bias. Beyond being aware of our own biases, a particularly critical skill today is being able to detect biases from sources of information. Knowing whom the story is coming from is often as important as knowing what story is being told.

2) When it comes to identity, we only see and often only know the tip of the iceberg of other people’s identities. Not only are certain aspects of others’ identities not always visible to the outside world, but sometimes people choose not to share parts of their identities for various reasons. The iceberg analogy proves to be a powerful reminder that what we see is only part of the picture, so taking the time to get to know others’ stories can help us have a greater appreciation for the complexities and intersectionalities of our different identities around race, religion, ability, family structure, gender, sexual orientation, and more. When asked how Eli Saslow gained the trust of those about whom he was writing stories, Eli shared, “When you invest time in people and show them that you are genuinely interested in them, they trust you.”  Building trust can lead to the foundation of a relationship. When we develop relationships with those that share different identities from our own, it can help us counteract hurtful and inaccurate biases in ourselves and others as evidenced in his story. Moreover, it can build empathy for others and encourage us to make better decisions about our behaviors, comments and humor that shape how welcoming an environment we are creating for all.

3) Privilege refers to more than just having greater economic means. It can include unearned benefits that we do not have to think about in certain situations. At 6’7” and with a booming voice, I do not have to worry about whether I’ll be able to see at a concert or if I can get everyone’s attention in a room if I want to speak to a group. As an able-bodied person, I have the privilege of not wondering whether there is a ramp to get to the front door of a party I get invited to attend. For years following the attacks on 9/11, I began to expect to be selected for additional “random” screening at airports while my white friends would pass by and not worry.

Privilege comes in a variety of forms and plays a significant role in how we experience the world, and very often, we are unaware of both our own privilege and that which others may lack.

4) In order to be an ally to someone who lacks privilege, you must first be aware of your own privileges.  The phrase, “Sometimes you’re a caterpillar, sometimes you’re a snail,” has proven to be a “sticky” mantra  from this fabulous video which speaks to how all of us have times where we have privilege and other times when we lack it. When we have privilege, it doesn’t mean we need to feel guilty, but it does mean we should be aware of it.  After all, being aware of our privilege and how not everyone experiences it can allow us to be better allies. Being an ally means being a good listener, a safe space, and not being a bystander. An ally knows that if they are willing to speak up or take action, it can have a positive impact on how others feel about their identities and the sense of belonging they experience.  Allies know that being an ally is an everyday thing, not just when it is convenient.

As mentioned, this is just a sampling of the conversations we’re having as we try to build the toolboxes for ourselves and for our students. We are still learning and have plenty more work ahead for us in our training, our curriculum, and our programming. As a PS-8 school, our students may not leave us with a Master’s Degree level proficiency in cultural competency. However, I do believe the time and space we are providing them will help them have a stronger sense of self, be an ally and supportive space for others, and have an appreciation and respect for differences of all people.

St. Anne's Students attending STAMP Leadership Conference 
-Sumant Bhat
Head of Middle School   

Learning About Food Insecurity

September 29, 2018

Read More - Learning About Food Insecurity

On Thursday September 27, the 7th grade spent the day learning about food insecurity in classes and through various experiences. In all of our classes/subjects, we learned about food insecurity which is where people struggle to find consistent access to healthy food, and they don’t always know where their next meal is going to come from. One specific thing that we learned about is what a food desert is.  A food desert is when people don’t have access to fresh healthy food. They usually don't live within walking distance of a supermarket that has fresh fruit and vegetables. The USDA says that in 2017 about 40 million people suffered from food insecurity, including over 12 million children. In math, we were given a limited amount of money to spend on groceries based on a lower income. The twist was, we also pretended like we were in a food desert so if you wanted to go to the grocery store and get fruit, meat, and vegetables, you would have to take a bus that cost money. So was going to the supermarket worth the extra money, or is it worth saving the money and walking to a convenience store like 7/11? People who are food insecure may be forced to choose to get things like fast food and junk food from the stores. The problem with that is you could be eating very unhealthy. Lots of people don’t just have to feed themselves, they also have to feed their children. And, when people get sick, they have to spend money on medical costs too which hurts their budget. Overall, food insecurity is a serious issue, and has to somehow be stopped.

At lunch on Thursday we also participated in the first ever hunger banquet at St. Anne’s which allows students to get a window into the differences that exist around food access around the world. Each 7th grade student got a card at random which assigned them to a developed country or developing country. I got a card that allowed me to only a serving of rice and beans while sitting on the floor. Others had access to a meat and vegetable and others could eat everything plus got a nice table cloth and other perks. I was fine with the rice and beans, but when I saw the one group eating cake, soda, and other luxurious foods, I started to feel empathy for the people who have to eat this everyday or have limited options. It was also surprising to hear that only a small percentage of the world enjoyed the kinds of meals we get everyday at St. Anne's. Overall this was a truly humbling experience that expanded my horizons and experience what people have to face everyday.

In the afternoon, we divided into different action project groups. Some students worked on making posters to put in the halls to raise awareness about food insecurity. Others wrote over 70 letters to representatives and grocery stores asking for help. One group made 150 lunches that went to the organization Impact Locally that supports both kids and adults who are in need of a meal. Other projects included working on presenting to the middle school at assembly, creating a one page document that highlights foodbanks and soup kitchens for those who would benefit from that information, and writing this blog!

It was clear from the day why it is so important that we and others volunteer to work at the soup kitchen, so that people trying to pay bills and support their family that are in need can get a healthy and nutritious meal which does not cost them anything. 

*This article was contributed to by 7th graders George, Tristan, Ben and Alex as part of their action project to raise awareness about food insecurity.  Special thanks to the Sodexo Dining Staff for all their help running a great day for us!

-Sumant Bhat

Head of Middle School

Your Guides for the Year

August 24, 2018

Read More - Your Guides for the Year

 Since my days in high school, my father and I have talked about taking a father-son trip to Machu Picchu.  Twenty years later, the stars aligned for us to realize that dream this summer and explore a place that is equal parts breathtaking, inspiring and spiritual. It was an unforgettable journey, made more special by the relationship we have with one another. Since returning, I have reflected on countless memories of hiking ruins together, learning about Incan culture, and catching up over conversations at local restaurants.  Part of the joy of the trip came from our experience with those who guided us at different parts of our journey. As I consider the school year ahead, I have found myself drawing many parallels between the care and stewardship provided by our guides, Joel and Martina, and the nurturing support of the amazing faculty and staff who will help guide your children’s journeys in middle school this year.

 Though our time together was short, our guides’ impact on the trip was unmistakable. I was grateful and most impressed by how Joel and Martina balanced their sharing of insights into where we were traveling with taking the time to get to know both my dad and me. When our guide learned that my dad grew up in a small village in rural India, he continued to seek out my dad’s personal stories. This had a particularly powerful impact on my dad, who felt a greater sense of belonging in a foreign country and was able to draw connections to his own experiences growing up in a rainforest in India. Our guides brought plenty of expertise throughout the journey on everything from geography, to restaurant recommendations, to never-ending content knowledge on the Incans. However, they also were very intentional about giving us some time to reflect and pause, taking in the different places and their meaning, especially while in Machu Picchu.  I also appreciated how they considered the different needs and wants of both my dad’s and my experience. From conversing in only Spanish with just me (while speaking English to my dad) to finding an Indian restaurant in Cusco to appease my dad’s withdrawal from Indian culinary spices, the guides were able to differentiate our experiences.

At St. Anne’s, our teachers are far more than providers of content to our students because young people need more than that in their school experience. Our middle school teachers truly love working with middle schoolers, beginning by getting to know their stories so they may have a greater appreciation of them and be able to best challenge and engage them.  With classrooms of students who possess such diverse experiences and backgrounds, I admire the ability of our faculty and middle school staff to support the different journey of each child. Part of that journey will involve being there for the "aha" moments and transformative growth that will happen while performing on stage or writing that first research paper. Also part of that journey this year will be helping your child navigate the inevitable challenge that will await them, be it academic, artistic, social, athletic or emotional in nature. Just as they will be there to celebrate and reflect on the successes, our teachers will be there to listen, process and help empower students to problem-solve or seek out the help they need. Though every child’s journey is unique, our experienced faculty have developed a great perspective and loaded toolbox from which to draw for all students. Middle schoolers crave independence as they develop their decision-making skills, and I admire how our faculty provide the encouragement, listening skills and mentorship to push them in safe ways out of their comfort zone.  

Over the course of the year, our faculty will serve as teachers, yes, but also as coaches, advisors, club leaders, and literal guides on outdoor trips.  As we step into a new era of expanded programming at St. Anne’s in the Hills, our center for outdoor and environmental education, it is such an honor to be a part of a faculty who possess natural skills as guides and understand the importance of how to check in, differentiate, and support a wide variety of students in their growth.

 So, as we wrap up an abbreviated first week, here’s to a great adventure ahead for us all!

-Sumant Bhat

Head of Middle School

During the fall of 2017, the Technology Department conducted a survey (adapted from Common Sense Media) of 4th-8th grade students to measure knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors around their digital lives. The following spring, another similar survey went out to all SAES parents concerning their children’s digital lives. 52% of SAES families responded to the survey, and the major takeaways from the survey were used to make the attached infographic.

The Technology Department looked at data across grade levels to understand media-use trends as children age. We also compared students’ answers with parents’ answers to assess whether students and parents have similar perceptions around media use.

It is clear that SAES parents consider teaching their children to be good digital citizens extremely important. Yet, parents are seeking guidance in finding appropriate ways to address concerns around technology.

Digital Life Survey 2018

There is a link toward the bottom of this infographic that says "Click Here to complete your customizable Family Media Plan recommended by the AAP".  I have included the link here since the link will not work on the image.
Read More - Connecting With Our History

Right before we left for Spring Break, I was so fortunate to join our 8th graders mid-trip in Washington, D.C. It was my first time on this rite of passage trip with the 8th grade, and what an experience it was! Throughout the six days, our students were “device-free,” a quality that was incredibly uncommon amongst the countless other student groups I saw while we were out there. The unplugged week not only led to our students engaging with one another in new and authentic ways, but it also allowed them to better engage with the history that surrounded them at every corner.

For the non-historians, often our connection to historical events is rooted in remembering where we were when the event happened, whom we were with, and how it made us feel. This is so true for me since I recall both events that were both enthralling and emotionally distressing. For me, those events ranged from my hometown Chicago Bulls winning their first title to the Berlin Wall coming down to watching the events of 9/11 unfold from my college common room.  Those events were part of my life experience and bring back feelings of anger, fear, exhilaration, confusion and hope. As I think back to my middle school years, I remember learning about what were relatively recent events like the Civil Rights Movement, which had happened only twenty-five years prior to my learning about it. I had researched it and done a presentation on that period which I remember seemed so foreign and distant from the present-day world I was living in, leading to a more intellectual connection with history for me. No matter your age, I think we have all had experiences like this with both history that we were a part of history and history that we have viewed as a distant observer.


Part of my great enjoyment of the D.C. Trip can be attributed to the frequent opportunities for students and me to foster more than that aforementioned intellectual connection with history.  At the Newseum, we had a chance to walk through a gallery of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs from major events in our history. The ability of these personal photographs and their accompanying captions to capture the raw emotion for events that I was not alive for had a palpable impact on me, bringing me closer to moments which I know carry meaning and have shaped the lives of so many in ways that I can only hope to comprehend. Watching news footage of people covering this event and seeing their reactions also provided new windows into these historical events, which I am grateful for.


On the day we walked on the National Mall up to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we were able to pass the exact location where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream Speech.” I was ableto pull up on my phone pictures of the countless supporters MLK was looking at when he delivered his speech, which struck a chord with the few students who were around me at the time. Given the lack of social media to spread the word, the gathering to fill such a large space spoke volumes of how important it was for people to be there.


War memorials also proved to be powerful experiences for our 8th graders. While you can certainly read and remember a fact about the number of lives lost in a war, seeing the number of names listed on the wall and standing feet away from the relatives looking for a name helps bring those numbers into a human context. We, too, had multiple 8th graders look for relatives at different memorial sites and at Arlington Cemetery, but even those who didn’t seek a relative walked away with a sense of scope for the magnitude of these wars. 


Near the end of the trip we visited the Holocaust Museum. Our 8th graders had already been provided exposure and some key background knowledge to help them in the processing of the experience that would await them.  However, the photos, letters, personalized stories and artifacts provided a glimpse into this painful part of history. Many students who finished somewhat early also took the time to talk with an actual Holocaust survivor who had set up a table in the atrium of the museum to share his stories. The number of survivors is dwindling by the day, but hearing from someone who survived the Holocaust reminds us just how recently it really happened and that it is not a part of ancient history, despite the black and white photos that capture this time period (or how much we wish it to be so). The intensity and forced traffic flow of the museum does leave an indelible mark on a visitor. I felt equal parts solemn and shocked that the Holocaust could go on for so long.

Now that I’ve been on the trip, I can see why our students remember it well beyond their years at St. Anne’s. In fact, at a recent St. Anne’s alumni event, there was no shortage of stories and moments remembered, even amongst those who graduated well over a decade ago. Yes, there will be plenty of stories documenting the chocolate fountain at the Golden Corral, staying up to watch epic March Madness games, or even the souvenirs students picked up at any and all gift shops. However, having been on the trip, I am confident that our students will also take away with them a greater appreciation and connection to our history, therein setting them up to more readily take in the intellectual content that awaits them in their future studies of history.

Coming Together

March 5, 2018

Read More - Coming Together

On Wednesday of last week, our St. Anne’s community witnessed our first ever original musical. To see so many middle school students confidently belting out songs on pitch in front of hundreds of people will be something that neither I, nor anyone who was in attendance, will ever forget.  Less than twelve hours later, we returned to the dining hall on Thursday morning where we had our Middle School Winter Sports Assembly. This provided a forum for us to celebrate two undefeated 8th grade basketball teams, a feat that has never been accomplished in school history. We also celebrated 6th and 7th grade teams. This included our 7th grade boys basketball team who suffered heartbreaking losses all season before putting it all together to win their last game. All of these are noteworthy in my book.  As I’ve reflected back on what I saw on stage Wednesday and in the gym all winter, I found myself marveling at the manner in which groups of kids have come together to accomplish great things, but also considering a few of the factors that it takes for these teams to come together to accomplish what they did.

1) Hard work and effort on the little things: There is no question we have talented students, but without consistent effort, talent is not always realized in full.  So much happens outside of normal class/practice time, from a coach working one-on-one at break to tech crew and cast coming in on weekends and staying after school. What I’ve also noticed is that the effort is not only placed on big things, but also on little things such as where to stand on defense or on stage and reflecting on how to respond when a mistake is made.  The effort and attention to little details often can be the difference between good and great performances!

2) Contagious positive energy:  I am a big believer that energy is contagious, regardless of whether it is positive or negative.  Having members of the group that are relentlessly positive and a coach/teacher who constantly expresses belief in what the group can accomplish is powerful.  It allows them to survive setbacks and move forward. Whenever I see a team huddle or walk by the drama crew’s pre-show pump-up ritual, the positive energy is palpable (and usually loud!). Furthermore, it carries on to the start of the performance.


3) Trust: An environment of trust at any level is so critical, whether it is on the floor or on stage. However, at the middle school level, it’s even more important. It's incumbent on the teacher and coach to get buy-in, and that requires honoring and trusting student voice. It also requires creating a culture where everyone understands that their success is reliant on the success of the others in the group. When someone stumbles on lines or struggles to shoot the ball, sticking with them and continuing to believe in them nurtures a trust that strengthens a group in powerful ways.  I’ve seen so many examples this year of students helping one another with a line or continuing to pass to an open teammate, and it ultimately pays off down the line. Looking back on the musical, clearly there was a safe and trusting environment created by Mr. Lemire in his drama classes to engage in dialogue around bias, stereotypes and differences, which we saw play out on stage so masterfully.


4) The Presence and Overcoming of Obstacles and Conflict, Not the Absence of Them:  All groups go through a series of highs and lows.  It is a natural and inevitable part of the process. This winter we had a rash of injuries and sickness that took its toll on teams and the cast. Differences in opinion also factored in, and at times, the group didn't hit the bar on an individual day. However, the growth continued to happen each day.  Individuals on the teams and cast not only had to take care of themselves and persevere, but they also had to look out for one another.  Often, it is the overcoming of these obstacles that ultimately most helps groups come together faster and more tightly in positive ways.


The impact of the confluence of these factors is unmistakable. It builds enduring connections between students that last beyond the days of St. Anne’s. How else could you explain the number of alumni who come back to watch the play each trimester? Yes, they want to see an awesome show, but it also brings them back to a space where they accomplished something wonderful together. The memories that they form together after putting in time together, trusting one another, and overcoming obstacles are impossible to forget. 

A White Christmas

December 21, 2017

Creak. Thud, thud, thud.

  “Abby, wake up!” Henry said excitedly.

I opened my sleepy eyes just enough to see out of and flinched a little. Henry was so close to my face I could count his eyelashes.

  “What do you want?” I asked him sleepily, still not fully awake.

   “It’s Christmas, come on!” He responded, a hint of desperation in his voice.

I checked my bedside clock. It read in large, red letters, 6:30 a.m.

  “Henry, are you crazy?” I asked, “It’s 6:30!”

Finally, he yanked me out of bed, throwing the warm sheets off of me.

I timidly pushed open my door and looked around.The hallway was quiet, and shadows of furniture fell across the wooden floor in the sitting room. A faint whir could be heard from the heating unit. Outside, I could see snow falling slowly, twisting and twirling like beautiful ballerinas. As we rounded the corner of the hall, I felt my stomach flutter with excitement. Christmas was here!

Finally, we found what we were looking for. Nestled under the tree and piled by the fireplace, on chairs and the coffee table, were presents of all shapes and sizes. Packages with glossy wrapping paper, delicate bows, their silky folds tied into perfect knots, shiny tins promising delicious treats, stiff bags decorated with Christmas trees, fairy lights, and Santa hats, and finally, four knit stockings bulging with tiny treasures.

I looked at Henry. A smile crept across his face, making the edges of his mouth crinkle a little. As I stood, I realized how lucky I was to be there, snow falling outside, a warm house to live in, and presents of all kinds in front of me.

The Season for Giving

December 12, 2017

The Season for Giving

The Lower School has been awhirl with gift giving this season. We started with all-school projects like the canned food drive and mitten collection and then most of the grade levels had their own special projects during this time of year.

Kindergarten students exercised their new writing skills by sending letters to the servicemen and women overseas.  What could be more fun in a far away place away from home than receiving an individual letter in invented spelling from a five year old with a kind message!

First grade stayed closer to home and sent Angel Letters to their first grade friends.  The sentiments were very thoughtful and reflective of the individual students.  What gift could be better than knowing that someone else appreciates who you are!

Second grade has had a flurry of projects.  In November and December they decorated lunch bags for Meals on Wheels and stuffed socks with toiletries and goodies for homeless teenagers. 

The Christmas trees in their classrooms were hand decorated by the students and will be donated to two needy families.  Throughout the rest of the year classes will take turns visiting the Clermont Park Assisted Living Community once a month.  Our community is certainly brightened by second grade kindness!

Third Grade participates in the Jared Project.  Students pack up boxes full of games, toys and other exciting items for children of various ages who must spend the holidays in the hospital.  These gifts send messages of joy and add some happiness to what could otherwise be a "less than fun" experience.

Fifth Grade has been busy over several months with their readathon; collecting money from sponsors to go to books for 1st and 2nd grade students at Bishop Elementary.  With their efforts many of the Bishop students will be able to take home their own books to read over the holidays.  We certainly know how important it is to all students to be able to practice those early reading skills in order to be proficient readers!  I am sure that they appreciate all of our fifth graders for their gift of literacy.

Last, but not least, some of our fifth graders in the Changemakers Club have been collecting new socks and gently used shoes for the homeless.  In 2016 we gave over 300 shoes to Clothes to Kids, a local charity.  This year the goal is 400 or more.  They are collecting new socks for Sock It to 'Em, another local charity that supplies thousands of socks yearly to homeless children and adults.   Changemakers is also making what they call Gallons of Love.  These are handmade packages with a bottle of water, a food bar, hand warmers and a note.  They keep them in their cars and hand them out to people asking for help.  These are the projects Changemakers are involved in for the season, but they sponsor many other projects throughout the year.

As you can see, we take every opportunity to encourage our students to give of themselves to others now and throughout the year.  All of us in the Lower School would like to thank you for the irreplaceable gift you give us everyday; the opportunity to work with your precious children.  What they do and who they are fills our hearts with joy on a daily basis.  Have a very happy holiday filled with special times that stay etched in memories. Sincerely, Dr. T.

As two players on the St. Anne’s basketball team that played during halftime of the Denver University Basketball game on December 5, we wanted to share a recap of the St. Anne’s Night event.  Before the game started, the Denver University coaches gave us a tour of the locker room. We learned a lot about athletics at the college and got to see the cool facilities. A couple of minutes before the game started, the St Anne’s Middle School Choir came onto the court and sang the national anthem! They sounded  really good and had practiced a lot on that really difficult song! Five minutes before halftime a Denver University staff member came and brought us courtside. When the first half was over, we took the court and began to play five on five on the actual court! We were nervous, but when the game started, it all went away. The team made quite a few baskets for the time we were given. It was really exciting when we made two three point baskets. I think that we put on a good show for everyone in the crowd.  It was tiring running up and down the extra long court tons of times, but it was also lots of fun.

We really enjoyed this experience! It was so cool to be on the same court that Division 1 teams play on. Plus Denver University ended up winning the game against San Jose State. Overall it was very fun, and we hope future grades can do this too!

Written by 6th graders Brendan and Alex P
The MS Chorus singing the National Anthem before tip off!
Read More - Student Blog Post: STAMP Conference

STAMP, which stands for Students Taking Action and Making Progress, was a conference this year in Denver, at the History of Colorado Center. The leadership conference was run by high school students, and the conference was for middle schoolers. The conference aimed for creating inclusivity in schools and leadership skills. This year, in 2017, STAMP had close to 200 middle school students at their conference, and they had students from private, public, and charter schools. St. Anne’s had 13 7th and 8th grade students attending this year. STAMP also features a different keynote speaker every year, and this year’s was Stephen Brackett, a musician, motivational speaker, and activist. Each student that attended could choose two workshops prior to the conference, and those workshops were all interesting and provided all different types of discussions and advice. Finally, the keynote speaker from last year, hip-hop artist and activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, made a surprise appearance. He’s a teenager and indigenous activist, as well as a director for a climate change organization. At the end, Xiuhtezcatl performed two songs about both current events and political news.

There were a lot of different workshops for us to choose from that focused on a variety of topics. One workshop was on confidence and self esteem around body image. A key takeaway was that you don’t have to be or look like what others expect of you. Just be your own self and take pride in being different. Another workshop was on standing up for yourself and how to get your point across. We need to not get caught up in stereotypes. A third workshop some of our St. Anne’s middle schoolers went to was on understanding how different people have different perspectives on the same situation. Important to honor different perspectives because it helps our society when we take them all into account.

This conference was a really great way to meet new kids from new schools and make new friends.You always felt included! There was always someone to talk to all day. Another wonderful benefit was that you learned how to handle a variety of different situations that happen so often in life. I think that since the conference was run by high schoolers it helped us understand more because we are so close in age. Plus they have been through many of the experiences that we encounter on a day-to-day basis.Overall, we really enjoyed going and are hopeful to go again next year!

By Abby, Bella and Adie-Morgan

Read More - Using a Frame to Set Up Success

For every middle school student, there are myriad experiences ahead for them both in school and out of school that will be new and push them out of their comfort zone. From going downtown to the Soup Kitchen, to working with a group of people at the Memory Care Center, to selling Holiday Greens for their 8th grade DC trip, these new experiences provide different levels of challenge for our students.  The importance of cultivating risk-taking and courage to be successful in these situations seems to be frequently highlighted, but another critical key is the quality of the framing that occurs prior to that experience.


What do I mean by framing? Framing is the scaffolding you provide prior to an experience to set a student up for success.  A good frame provides basic information about where, what, who and why. Though I prefer to have more time, I’ve found that even a few minutes of discussion, highlighting of key information, and listening to questions from them can make a radical difference for my students.


Framing an experience is so important when working with young people because it provides a focus amidst what can be a new environment with a lot of new faces, surroundings, stimuli and feelings.  As adults who are often providing the frame, we can sometimes forget what it was like to NOT know and to go through something for the first time. As a result, things we think will be challenging for our kids might not be, while things we don’t anticipate to be challenging become real sticking points. When we provide a frame and give a space for asking questions that are actually on the mind of our kids, we can help alleviate stress and anxiety that is often unnecessary but that exists nonetheless. We can help prevent them from getting stuck on certain aspects that make truly immersing themselves in the experience more challenging. Prior to going to the soup kitchen for the first time this year, we shared with kids information about what soup kitchens were and the population they serve. We told them what jobs they might hold, how long it would be, and why we give up time in our school day to participate in this program. However, we also shed light on questions that middle schoolers would be worried about like what they would do for their own lunch since they leave during middle school lunch hour. This, coupled with stressing that our time was about focusing on the people we serve and not on one another or who gets to hand out the dessert, really set the table for the experience.


This afternoon, we had a group of ten 8th graders who chose to give up part of their lunch hour and all of their study hall time to spend time with autistic students from the Joshua House as part of a socialization program to help their kids get ready to enter a more traditional school environment. Our kids were patient, enthusiastic, positive and very supportive.  They deserve kudos for stepping out of their comfort zone and showing courage in this new situation. However, I also know that having faculty from the Joshua House come over twice to share insights about autism, help them gain empathy, show pictures of the kids they would be working with, talk about tips and the kinds of activities we would be doing, and answer questions our students had, played a huge role in the success and enjoyment of the experience.


So, the next time you have the opportunity to frame an experience, here are a few additional suggestions:


1) Find the balance between sharing enough info to give them a frame without getting so granular that the focus gets lost.


2) Be sure to ask them what questions they might have after you share some details. Don’t be surprised though if they ask a question that seems less than essential. It doesn’t mean they are not taking it seriously or are committed to it. Honoring what is on their mind and addressing it can ultimately help them better focus on what is important.


3) If you’ve got another child or a friend’s child who has been through a similar experience, have them share out their experience when appropriate. Whether we like it or not, hearing from another peer the exact same thing as what we would say as adults can prove more impactful. We use this model at school at times, bringing an 8th grader in to talk with sixth graders on a topic like responsible use of technology.


4)You don’t need to say, “Don’t be nervous.”  New situations are bound to lead to nerves, and you can help lower them by honoring the feelings they may have. You can mention how you understand how they might be nervous, but that the value of what they are going to do/the difference they will make is worth that initial butterflies.  Sharing a similar experience where you were nervous too but persevered and were grateful for having done so, also can be effective.


5) Follow up the experience with a reflection, feedback, and a pat on the back. Using the initial conversations about the frame as reflection points can really help shape growth and what they take away from the experience. It doesn’t have to be that day as often middle schoolers might not be ready to have processed it and will resist initial prying. Perhaps the next day over dinner!


I’ve found over the years of working with middle schoolers that they are so capable of reaching the bar, even when it is set quite high. We must not underestimate them, but we must also provide the framing so that they are well-positioned to get the most out of their experiences. Simply saying, “Be on your best behavior,” or “Do you best” does not provide the information they often need to be successful. We cannot only place expectations on our kids. We must scaffold their learning as well.

What could be more fun than fourth and fifth graders enjoying a variety of activities in the out of doors!  Groups participated in rock climbing, canoeing,  kayaking and a group challenge called the Spider Web.   Hear about their adventures in their own words.

Kayaking by Janie McGawn

Splish splash my shorts were soaked already and we had just gotten on the water.  I knew the surprise we were in for.  It was slightly breezy and at first I thought for sure I was jumping in. But now that I felt the water, I wasn't so sure.  We were in kayaks and the surprise, I knew from past experience with Avid, was piano keys.  We rafted up and I waited and waited for my turn.  Finally, it was my turn. I would be the only one to run in my group so I got up and out of my kayak and sprinted across.  On my third step I slipped, and fell in.  Although it wasn't as cold as I had

expected, it was freezing!  As soon as I hit the water, I scrambled into the closest kayak, ran back across, jumped back in, and went back to shore!

Field trip to Bear Creek by Gabriella Brower

It was a super fun day.  We did rock climbing, canoeing and kayaking.  I was good at the rock climbing, but when I tried doing it blindfolded with my legs tied together, it did not go well.  We were the fastest group to make a square in canoeing.  So we got to explore the lake.  The counselor said five minutes, but we only got two.  We called ourselves the Fat Assassins.  We would also slap our bellies.  Whenever our instructor said, "fat," we would say, "assassins."  People also tried bottle flipping of the rock climbing wall.  Nobody made it, but it was a good day!!!!!


Avid Was Very Fun by Tate Ritacco

I had a very fun time at Avid.  I did the spider web.  The spider web was where they tied ropes together up against three posts.  There were slots.  You and your team had to go through one slot each and, if you touched one rope you and your team had to start over.  Finally, we went rock climbing.  It took me a few tried to get to the top.  My counselor really encouraged me to get to the top and, finally, I did it. 


Avid 4 by Brooks Wiley

I loved Avid 4 because my guide was really nice to us.  It was also fun because Mr. Bredar fell in into the lake running across the kayaks.  Canoeing was great because we did a scene from "Pirates of the Carribean."

Avid for Adventure 5th Grade 2017 

by Lucy Nadolink

This year I had a great time at Bear Creek Lake Park. We did team building, rock climbing, kayaking and canoeing. I love the rock wall!  I especially loved rappelling down it.  It felt almost like you were flying as the thing gently lowered you down as you pushed off the rock wall.  I pretended that I was a different thing each time.  One time I was a bird and I flew down.  Another time I was an eagle.  Finally, I was Superman (which I crashed into the rock wall doing).   Canoeing was also really fun.  The couselor said our group did all the challenges in record time.  We even played sharks and minnows in our kayaks.   I loved our counselor, Cyrus.  He was really funny and super nice and helpful.  I had a really great time.  I hope we can go next year.

"The Accidental Fall" by Ryan DiTanna

“Okay everybody, you can get into the kayaks now,” the counselor said. Everyone rushed to the kayaks and got in. Everyone started to paddle off and follow the counselor. “This is gonna be fun!” I say. We paddled for about five minutes and lined up side by side in the kayaks. The counselor told everyone how to turn and stuff like that. “Can we play piano keys?” I ask. Piano keys is where we all line up side by side. One person gets out of the kayak and crawls, walks, or runs across the kayaks. “Well if we're gonna do that then we should move more toward the middle of the lake.” he says. The majority wanted to play, so we paddled toward the middle of the lake. “Now everyone, the water is really cold.” my counselor says. “So if I were you, I wouldn't jump in.” “Okay,” we all said in despair. But I thought to myself, “This is the last time my grade is gonna come here so might as well just jump in.” “Okay, who wants to go first?” she asked. I slowly raised my hand “Okay, how about Ryan?” “Okay,” I replied. I slowly got out of my seat. The kayaks were pretty wobbly so at first I walked but then I ran across them. But at the end when I was turning around I pretended like I fell in. “Whoa, Whoa!” I exclaim. I fall “accidentally” into the water! Wow that water was cold. I swam as fast as I possibly could back to the kayaks. “Is it cold?” everyone was asking me. “Duh” I say. “Its freezing!” “Alright who's next?” the counselor said. “I will,” Julia said. She made it to the end but she actually fell in not “accidentally.” A bunch of other people went but the only other that fell in was Katherine. Ward was next. He made it all the way to me and Julia's kayaks. He was stepping from my kayak to Julia's when she suddenly pushed off my kayak! Ward was slowly going down into the splits! Five seconds later he was doing the complete splits. He tried to jump to my kayak but the  bottom half of him got soaking wet. I was laughing so hard I was pretty much crying it was so funny. That was definitely the funnest thing I did all day.

Dear Parents,

As the world of technology expands and becomes more and more accessible by everyone, we find it to be more and more important to have open conversations on how to manage everything that goes along with it. What device is right for you? What computer is right for your children? When is it appropriate to use a device? These are just some questions that we ask ourselves. One question or topic that comes up in conversations quite often is about ways to monitor, protect and keep children safe while using the Internet. We put together the following findings from our research on this topic. If you have additional resources that should be shared, or if you have found success using any of the monitoring and blocking parental controls listed below, please let us know. In addition, we will continue to BLOG on topics of interest to you, so be sure to email us with suggestions on other topics.


Technology at Home – 10 Considerations

   1.   Define your family’s Technology Principles – What are the main reasons we want to have balance in our lives regarding screen time and other activities?

   2.   Talk weekly with your children about their technology use.

   3.   Designate device-free family time.

   4.   Schedule device-free social activities such as sports, lessons, and volunteering.

   5.   Consider taking devices out of the bedroom during sleeping hours.

   6.   Create a screen time or media contract. (See resources below.)

   7.   Be an educated parent. (See organizations below.)

   8.   Stay abreast of the latest trends through email newsletters. (See recommendations below.)

   9.   Share and connect with other parents.

  10.   Deploy monitoring and blocking strategies in your household.  (See resources below.)


Screen Time Contracts

Screen Time Contracts from Screenagers

Common Sense Media Family Media Agreement and Device Contracts



Common Sense Media - Empowers parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.

Family Online Safety Institute - International, non-profit organization that works to make the online world safer for kids and their families. 

Psychology Today's Parenting in a Digital Age - This blog explores how parents and children might live together meaningfully in a digital age.

Richard Freed, Ph.D. - Child and adolescent psychologist, speaker and author of Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age.


Email Newsletters

Safe Smart Social – Monthly social media tips and updates

Screenagers Tech Talk Tuesdays – Tuesday emails with conversation starters about social media, research, tech tips and much more to incite a dynamic conversation with your kids

Common Sense Media - Age-based movie reviews, app recommendations, and more


Monitoring and Blocking

ARTICLE: Everything You Need to Know About Parental Controls – Great overview of how it all works

Microsoft Family Safety – Block sites, set time limits, and see activity reports

Circle with Disney - Filter content, limit screen time and set a bedtime for every device in the home

OurPact - Mobile guidance for your family, available for iOS and Android
Screen Time - Parental controls for iOS, Android and Kindle devices
Curbi - Parental controls for Android and Apple mobile devices
ParentKit - Control and schedule what is on your child's iPod, iPad or iPhone
NetSanity - Parental controls for iOS
FamilyTime - Parental controls for iOS and Android
Net Nanny - Parental controls for Android and iOS
Mobile Fence - Parental controls and GPS tracking for Android devices
Verizon Family Base - Monitor wireless activity and set usage limits
AT&T Parental Controls - Manage internet and email activity on computers
T-Mobile Family Allowances - Manage minutes, messages and downloads on phones

How to turn on Parental Controls on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch

How to turn on Parental Controls on a Mac with OS Sierra

How to set up Parental Controls for Xfinity Internet


St. Anne’s Technology Department

Glen Worthing

Jennifer Worthing


Gaining Perspective

August 27, 2017

Read More - Gaining Perspective
Over the course of the final days of summer vacation, l have found myself gaining new perspective at seemingly every turn...
Read Middle School Head, Sumant Bhat's latest blog.
Dear St. Anne's Families,

At St. Anne's we currently have Macbooks, iMacs, Chromebooks, and iPads. We often get asked the question: What is the difference between a Macbook and a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is a laptop that runs Google's Chrome OS while a Macbook runs the Mac OS X operating system. Chromebooks are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with most applications and documents living in the cloud. As a result, Chromebooks don't have a lot of onboard storage, and they cost between $150-$350. Macbooks have faster processors, better screen graphics, more memory, and can do more complex tasks like video editing. The cost of a Macbook is between $1,000-$2,000. The lifespan of a Chromebook is estimated to be around three years while the lifespan of a Macbook averages around six years. A Chromebook only allows the user to use the Chrome browser while multiple browsers can be used on a Macbook, such as Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.
Since we use many online tools at St. Anne's such as Google Drive, IXL, WeVideo, and Typing Agent, the Chromebooks have been a great addition to the school. The iMacs and Macbooks have been great for creating iMovie projects, HyperStudio projects, Pages documents and other offline projects. There has been much debate about which device is best: PC or Mac. Now Chromebooks have been added to the mix. If you have any questions about these devices, please do not hesitate to ask.

Common Sense Media is a nonprofit organization that provides education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children

Below are a few links to articles published by Common Sense Media that we thought you might find interesting.

Technology should work for you and work within your family values and parenting style. When technology is used thoughtfully and appropriately, it can enhance daily life. But when used inappropriately or without thought, technology can displace many important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family-time, outdoor-play, exercise, unplugged downtime, and sleep.

3 Places Families Should Make Phone Free - This article is about how technology can interrupt our most treasured family moments. Sure, our devices keep us connected, informed, and engaged. However, meals, bedtime, and even time in the car are the three times when we need to just say no to using devices. Click here to read the article.

Kid's Summer Movies Guide 2017 - Since school's out, that means there are even more movies aimed at kids, tweens, and teens. But how will parents decide what's appropriate for their kids? Common Sense Media has a guide that can help parents choose which summer movies are best for their kids. Click here to read the article.

Last week at Founders’ Day, the whole school gathered in the amphitheater for the bell to be rung sixty-six times, one for every year of the school’s existence. Prior to that moment, Mr. Smiley asked that we all take a time to pause and reflect on our year. Like me, many of you likely feel that reflecting is a practice we do not do nearly enough as we should or would like to do.


As an educator, I believe that cultivating a spirit and habit of reflection in our students is critical to both their academic and personal growth, but also to the nurturing of healthy decision-making skills. Through reflection, students can learn causality between choices they make and the outcomes.


In the classroom, at different points of the year (e.g., the mid-trimester or trimester), after projects, and prior to tests, teachers and advisors often engage in reflective conversations with students. Asking students what study habits they will try or have tried, or what they could have done differently in class discussions, is intended to help nurture metacognitive skills. Recognizing actions that led to success or identifying ones that did not lead to success can help shape future behavior.


Outside of the classroom, being reflective is equally as important, particularly around technology. Frequent meetings and discussions in middle school on digital citizenship are focused on building a habit of reflective self-questioning prior to hitting send. Always asking  Is it kind? Is it necessary? or How will this impact others? can lead to better decision-making on devices. Twenty years ago, adolescents had the luxury of time and countless opportunities to reflect on a poor decision because of how long it would have taken to take a picture on a camera, develop the film and then put it in the mail. Having time to consider the feelings of others and alternative actions was enough to deter a poor instinct. For better and worse, today our world provides our raw emotions and thoughts instantaneous access to an infinite audience for all our tweets, photos and posts.


As adults who are eager to support our kids in becoming more reflective, there are several tools we can employ to counter natural walls or reluctance we get from them. Active listening and holding off problem-solving for them allows kids to talk through their challenge, reflect, and often come up with a solution on their own. Teasing out a student’s intention and then helping that person understand the impact on others and oneself is another powerful approach. Another practice I like to use is asking students to use a numerical scale to quantify feelings like frustration, fatigue, or pain that they felt prior to making a decision. Not only does it give the listener some context, but it also helps the individual have comparison points for the future to put things into perspective. Finally, finding time to identify alternative choices and pondering possible outcomes of those actions can help broaden the kids' minds to a multitude of choices they have in the event they find themselves in a similar situation in the future.


As a middle school, we hope that encouraging reflection provides students a pathway to build scholarship and good habits that will serve them well beyond our walls. Being reflective is also necessary for our kids to overcome the pressures of peers egging one another on while gathered around a device, or the perceived expectations of being active and current in social media. However, just as using a stress ball only in times of crisis proves less than effective, we must practice reflection routinely and on a daily basis. Only then will we be equipped to be reflective when we need it.


Middle school respect

Two weeks ago, I was in Baltimore presenting at the National Association of Independent Schools Conference on the topic of “Making Your Core Values Visible.”  It was a great opportunity to share so many of the ways St. Anne’s makes a concerted effort to holistically inculcate many values, including respect, kindness, integrity, perseverance and honesty, through programming, curriculum and teachable moments.

One part of our approach includes proactively promoting values and finding opportunities to practice them consistently through experiences such as outreach, writing appreciations to staff and one another, and working with younger students through our buddy program. Daily practice of values builds muscle memory that fosters St. Anne’s graduates who are empathic and kind citizens that enrich their next communities. For those that have not read it, I would highly recommend the book Unselfie which amongst other things, speaks to the many ways we can help nurture empathic kids through daily practice.


Perhaps the strength of our approach, though, lies in a community of teachers, advisors, staff, trip leaders and coaches who are all committed to talking about core values in every aspect of school life.  Respect isn’t something that should be limited to advisory or a character education class. It is an essential part of the education that happens on trips, such as the 6th grade end of year trip to St. Anne’s in the Hills, where Mr. Bird teaches respect through trail etiquette, not disturbing nature and leaving places better than when you arrived. Watch a basketball game coached by Ms. Jordan or Mr. Amend and you’ll not only hear an emphasis on defensive schemes, but also lessons on playing with sportsmanship and treating the other team with the respect they deserve. Even in the dining hall you’ll see our staff, led by Ms. Jones, reminding students to say “please” and “thank you.”  At school, at home, or over spring break, we always have opportunities to have conversations with our kids about values, helping build their understanding of these lofty terms through practice and discussion.

Regardless of where the conversations happen, as adults I believe we must be mindful of the way in which we have those conversations. A major tenet of my presentation to other educators was that we must not rely solely on a list of “Do not do’s” to guide and grow adolescent behavior. After all, it is impossible to remind and direct kids of every single thing they should not do. And when we tell them to not do something without proper rationalization and context, the reality is we have merely piqued curiosity of the developing adolescent brain. None of us wants to raise kids who are going through life worrying about all the possible missteps they can make. So, we must cultivate an understanding of values so that our kids may use them as a road map to navigate the many new situations that await them in the world.  

There’s no question that it is much easier to teach from successful demonstrations of values. But when you have a school that brings together over 400 children in the same space for eight hours each day (or a home with one or more kids in your family), the reality is there are going to be instances when our kids fall short of embodying those values.  While we must enforce boundaries, we must also view these instances as invitations to discuss our core values. “Inappropriate uses of technology” is listed in our handbook as a violation of our student expectations, but when a student makes that mistake, how do we help them understand why it is written in our handbook? Empathy and our core values provide the key.

There are several tools that our faculty use frequently in our conversations with our students that help shift the focus from a “don’t do that,” to an opportunity to construct meaning and understanding of values. The first is the use of intention versus impact. Asking a child about what their intention was or to share what factors motivated their choice accomplishes several things, the most important of which is the deferring of judgment and opening a channel for dialogue. Second, whether the response is “I was trying to express that I was mad at them,”, “I was trying to raise my grade,” or “I was looking for attention from my friends,” it leads to an opportunity for us to help them make a connection between their choice and the values that the choice might not live up to, whether it was kindness or honesty. It also can sometimes provide us a window into feelings and emotions the child is really experiencing. Finally, it tees up a couple of natural follow-up questions: “What do you think the impact of your choice was on your peer/friend/teacher/you?”  In most cases, there’s also an opportunity to shine light on how others not considered might be impacted. Considering the impact on others nurtures empathy and helps them realize how their choices impact more than themselves. “What is an alternative choice you could have made that might have addressed what you were feeling and would be respectful/kind/honest?” Asking this question helps students understand that there is almost always more than one option. Considering the likely outcomes of those alternative options can also provide good conversation and a chance to correct misconceptions and coach good decision-making.

Embedded in all of this dialogue is the notion of separating the child from the choice. Rather than saying “you’re a bad kid,” saying that they made a bad choice reminds the that they had control over their decision and that you see they make lots of other choices every day that are good ones. This kind of phrasing supports a growth mindset where a student can make progress other than a fixed mindset of being incapable of making good choices because they are a bad kid. Our children need to know that we believe in their capacity to be good.  

All of these tools require patience, empathy and time, precious resources which, I realize, are not always available to us on a given day.  At the same time, our kids are receiving inconsistent messages from media, the internet, and even travel sports teams, amongst other places, which demand that we spend time talking about values.

While there is certainly a space and need to be brief and direct with kids about what is and is not appropriate behavior, finding the balance is necessary, as is keeping perspective. It is important for our own health that we remember that, despite our modeling, efforts and reminders, adolescents will learn from making both good and bad choices at different points in their lives, just as we have done. They will also ask questions, push boundaries and challenge us.  Values, after all, are ideas we wrestle with still today as adults, and there are definitely circumstances when two important values may come up against one another, such as being kind versus being respectful. Expecting our kids to be masters at this right away is unreasonable, but it is worth our time. Being thoughtful about how we have conversations with our kids not only can help build trust and empathy, but it also provides a means to teach the values we hold dear and hope to pass on to them. 

Middle school respect

Digital Citizenship is a major topic in the St. Anne’s Technology curriculum. The overall goal of this part of the curriculum is to educate the students about the basics of going online and to help them to become safe, responsible, and respectful digital citizens.

At St. Anne’s the students learn about their connections to others through the Internet and to think critically about how they treat others given this great responsibility.

One of the Technology Department's goals this year is to send out frequent articles and suggestions for parents on how to manage their child's use of technology at home. If there are topics you would like for us to cover or questions you have about your child's use of technology, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Common Sense Media is a nonprofit organization that provides education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children

Below are a few links to articles published by Common Sense Media.

As we were researching how other schools educate parents on these topics, we found a strategy for parents to follow when their children are engaging in poor digital citizenship. It's a process called POISE. When your child makes a mistake:
  • Pause: take a moment and remember to breathe... children make mistakes.
  • Open-minded: keep a dialogue going; try to see all sides of the issue.
  • Information collection: take time to collect all relevant information before reacting.
  • Seek that teachable moment: use their mistake as a teachable moment.
  • Empower kids through education: they can’t become responsible without having responsibility.

Digital Citizenship is a major topic in the St. Anne’s Technology curriculum. The overall goal of this part of the curriculum is to educate the students about the basics of going online and to help them to become safe, responsible, and respectful digital citizens.

Digital media and technology are evolving at a dizzying pace, bringing with them extraordinary opportunities as well as real risks for our students. On the positive side, students are using the immense power of the Internet and mobile technology to explore, learn, connect, and create in ways never before imagined. On the negative side, harmful behaviors aided by digital technology, from cyberbullying to copying online materials without citations, are surfacing in schools and in homes across the country.

At St. Anne’s the students learn about their connections to others through the Internet and to think critically about how they treat others given this great responsibility. The topics the students are introduced to are:

Digital Life: Students in grades 1-4 learn that the Internet is like a neighborhood. They reflect on their responsibilities to this community and to the community members, both online and offline. They also learn the importance of being a good digital citizen and how to be safe on the Internet. We discuss always asking for permission before using a computer or going on the Internet, only talking or sending messages to people they know, and only going to websites that are appropriate for kids their age.

Students in grades 5-8 learn the importance of having a positive digital footprint, how to find a balance between technology and unplugged time, and how to maintain appropriate boundaries so devices do not impact sleep or relationships.

Connected Culture: Students in grades 5-8 discuss what happens when children gang up on one another online and what to do if they experience cyberbullying. Group messaging is covered in grades 6-8.

Digital Communication: Students in grades 5-8 learn how to communicate effectively using online tools by thinking before they post (considering permanence, unintended audience, and replicability). MS students in grades 6-8 use social media apps like Edmodo to let students use social networks in their classes and learn by doing. They also discuss the right medium to communicate/resolve conflicts and what kinds of conversations are better had in person than via text or social media.

Digital Etiquette:  Students in grades 6-8 discuss the concept of oversharing and what kinds of posts are considered too personal, bragging, or trolling (making a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them).

Respecting Creative Work: Students in grades 3-8 learn about the basic concepts of copyright and how to create online citations. The issue of plagiarism is framed as a matter of respect.

The curriculum emphasizes a balanced approach and celebrates the positive aspects of digital life while teaching students to avoid its potential threats. The Digital Citizenship curriculum is rooted in a model of ethical thinking that starts with the self and moves outward to encompass the entire community. Through hands-on activities, role-playing, and classroom discussion, the students are asked to reflect on how their digital and online behaviors affect themselves, their friends and family, and the communities of which they are a part.

Lower School Outreach

December 9, 2016


Lower School Outreach

by Deena Tarleton

Although there are projects all year long, several Lower School grade levels are taking the opportunity to reach out to others at this time of the year. Beginning with Veterans Day, second graders made packages of candy and wrote special notes to soldiers overseas.  This also gave them the opportunity to talk to grandparents and relatives that were veterans about what it was like to sacrifice so much for their country.  Many of those experiences were reflected in the kids’ writing that week.  Currently, second graders are decorating a Christmas tree for their classroom with ornaments made by hand.  On the 16th this tree will be donated to a needy family that might otherwise go without a tree this Christmas.

As usual the school wide can drive was very successful.  Some of the preschool and kindergarten children built up their upper body strength dragging in sackfuls of cans and other nonperishables for the food bank.  The food bank workers always bring extra barrels to collect the St. Anne’s contributions.

At the end of December third graders will be making craft projects to contribute to nearby shelters.  In the past we have seen sleds and reindeer made from toiletries or other useful products. What a great way to express their creativity and do something kind for someone else!

Fourth graders fill Christmas stockings with items appropriate for boys, girls or adults.  Every year the stockings make the holidays a little more special for families at Warren Village.   They also walk to Christ Church and sing some carols with some of the older members of the congregation.

As a part of their participation in the new Changemakers Club sponsored by Kelsey Smith and Stephanie Bakken, several girls from 5th grade initiated a Shoe Drive for the organization, Clothes to Kids.  They had been inspired by a presentation from that group and leaped to action by initiating a school-wide shoe drive for children in need.  The response has been very gratifying.  The girls were so excited that so many “like new” shoes that have been outgrown and were sitting in closets are now on their way to children who greatly appreciate and need them.

One of the many things that makes St. Anne’s such an unusual and special place is the excitement all of our students feel when they are a part of helping others.  These projects are happening currently, but many others are a part of the experience of our children throughout the whole year.

Demystifying Creativity

December 2, 2016

Read More - Demystifying Creativity

    If you went back in time and asked the middle school version of myself if he believed he was creative, he would probably have balked at the statement.  No doubt he would respond that creativity was a gene he was not born with and a talent possessed by only those who were artistic. Fortunately, I’ve since learned otherwise and am always seeking ways to pay it forward as an educator, encouraging kids to see creativity as a process which everyone can tap into and access.

    To cultivate creativity in adolescents or people of all ages though, there are often many obstacles. Many share the same perception I held as a kid that a creativity binary exists. People either are or are not creative. When generating ideas, there can be an instinctual desire to fixate on one solution and one right answer, rather than explore a wide ranger of possibilities.  Social pressures and fears can lead to someone filtering their wild and crazy ideas,  undermining a true creative process. A final hurdle is dispelling the notion that creativity is just a spontaneous, unpredictable and individual event, making it unreachable for can be generated through an intentional process.

    Changing our thinking is not easy, but as I wrote last month, I believe fostering a growth mindset is an integral foundational piece for students to understand so they can learn to be creative, rather than requiring a specific gene to be creative.  Flexible thinking can be cultivated in a variety of ways through exercises like the 30 Circles test or simply having to use a variety of everyday materials like buttons and pipecleaners to build prototypes.

    Providing kids tools and an environment for how to brainstorm is also a vital skill in order to ensure that a proliferation of ideas is produced rather than a singular initial solution. Creating ground rules for those brainstorming sessions that defer judgment and encourage unique ideas is critical to overcoming the social fears of looking silly by saying what is on your mind. An important component to that environment is a patience and commitment to providing enough time for multiple ideas to come through as expressed in this fun video. 

    In the middle school innovations program, we do a combination of robotics and design thinking which offer a wide variety of skills that nurture creative and divergent thinking. However, both curricula also teach creativity as a process rather than a spontaneous event. A great example of this came last spring for our sixth graders. The school was in the early stages of exploring the possibility of creating an outdoor classroom for the preschool and kindergarten students. With the Head of School’s blessing, we set forth to dive into a design thinking project to generate some new ideas.

    In the first stage of the design thinking process, our sixth graders spent time observing our youngest students play at recess.Then they had the opportunity to interview and ask questions of them and their teachers which provided empathy and insights about the needs and wants of the primary users of the outdoor classroom space. After a little bit of additional research, they brainstormed ideas to meet the needs and built model prototypes. On the final day of the process, we had our students share their prototypes and explain their ideas to the preschool teachers, maintenance staff, and several administrators.Having participated in this process at every stage including the final presentation, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness and diverse ideas our kids came up with that reflected the ways our youngest students play. There was an empathy and understanding for those needs which is at the heart of the design process. Over the summer, we were able to share some of the ideas that students came up with the actual outdoor classroom designers. While certainly not all of their recommendations were implemented, when the final designs were made, there were elements that you could point to that appeared in some capacity in some of our students’ designs as well.  This fall, when the beautiful outdoor classroom had been built, it was such a treat for those same kids to visit. Now seventh graders, they could see a space that did not exist before and that they had a hand in shaping, a powerful educational experience. Furthermore, they have been involved in changemaking, having a positive impact that would enrich the daily life of other students.

    Though this specific design thinking process happened in innovations, the reality is that many of the design thinking elements occur throughout a kids’ days. It happens everywhere from drama students writing a script and considering the needs and wants of a set of characters, to students designing and executing a lesson plan to teach verbal irony to their classmates in English.  There is no doubt that being content creators and having the opportunity to brainstorm ideas to meet a solution is a powerful experience, but perhaps even more valuable is the opportunity for students to cultivate empathy and thinking about the experience of others. It is the sum of these kinds of experiences that help our students be more comfortable and confident in the creative process in ways that I couldn't imagine when I was there age.


This is my second year of teaching French in a 95%+ immersion classroom with the Organic World Language (O.W.L.) Method.  I credit the success the students and I have experienced thus far in this program to the strong community we have built together, one which encourages risk-taking, making mistakes, and being silly.  Without a strong community, students might fear ridicule or simply not take chances while speaking French.  Each class acts like a "family" with its own distinct personality.  Students are applauded when they try and are consistently reminding one another of the three expectations:  Respect, Participate, and Speak French!

Here are the steps I took to help build these communities:

1.  Remove the furniture.  Before desks and chairs prohibited my students to move freely and pair up with a maximum number of different partners or groups.  By speaking to various people during the class period, students can move outside their comfort zones and use different vocabulary to find out about each other's interests, thoughts, and experiences.  Students write in composition books, on post-its, or on index cards while in the circle which allows for more sharing, and ultimately, growth.

2.  Encourage silly games, touch, and movement.  While silly games encourage students to take risks and see one another in a different light, they also provide an opportunity to take a necessary break from the intensity of an immersion experience while remaining in French.  Touch pushes the students to challenge their comfort level, and movement keeps their minds sharp while encouraging other forms of communication.  Acting out a vocabulary term is one of the three skills taught in the class to stay in the target language, along with drawing and circumlocution.

3.  Present community-building activities and challenges.  Approximately once every two weeks, I will present a community-building activity or challenge.  Examples such as forming a shape with a rope while blindfolded, vocabulary team challenges, passing a hula-hoop around the circle, or lifting a roll of duct tape as a class with only one finger force the students to work together as a team.  They also provide opportunities for learning new vocabulary as students need to negotiate rules or give instructions.  In fact, I don't need to schedule these challenges; the students regularly ask me for these activities or bring new challenges to the class.
4.  Create time for self-reflection.  Providing students with time and opportunities for self-reflection about their language acquisition journeys helps them understand what we are doing as well as inspires new insight into how they learn.  Every two weeks, students write in digital journals responding to prompts about how they contributed to the classroom community, how they overcame a frustration, or what new words they learned and how they remembered them.

Creating a community that applauds mistakes, encourages students to laugh at themselves, and supports a safe risk-taking environment has pushed my students to embrace a growth mindset.  They understand that in order to achieve their language proficiency goals, they have to get messy with the language, ask for help, develop a persistence for understanding, and figure out new strategies to communicate their thoughts and opinions.  The class community is the safety net that supports each student in the process.

Thank you for your continued support.  Merci beaucoup!

Erin Ménard

Read More - Fostering A Growth Mindset, Sumant Bhat

Throughout elementary and middle school, math came very easily to me, and I  excelled in class.  I relished how quickly I could compute answers, delighting in the speed with which I could complete my work. I ended up being accelerated into an Algebra II class in seventh grade where things changed, and the material got hard, fast. I found myself being challenged in ways I had not before in a class where others around me were still thriving.  I remember being fearful of asking for help, questioning my abilities in math and beginning to dislike the subject matter. Math had always come easily, but not anymore. By sophomore year of high school, I had completed AP Statistics in less than stellar form and decided I was done taking math classes in high school or college.


A decade later in graduate school, I remember learning about the research of Carol Dweck around the notion of the growth mindset vs. the fixed mindset. For those unfamiliar with the idea of the growth mindset, I highly recommend this RSA Video by Dweck. In short, Dweck’s research finds that students who possess a fixed mindset, hold the belief that they are born with a set amount of an intellectual trait or talent and that’s that. Others hold a growth mindset where they believe that intelligence and talents can be grown by effort and learning. Looking back on my math experience, I immediately recognized in myself a fixed mindset that limited my growth.


The challenges with having a fixed mindset are many. In my case, I associated having to exert effort, asking for help, and struggling to understand a concept, as a sign that I was not good at math. I figured no one who was bright asked for help, so I didn’t.  I did this in part because I was worried that others might think I was not smart.  For many students, this misguided view of effort and concern about how they might look in the eyes of others are primary reasons they shy away from self-advocating when they need help from a teacher. The fixed mindset also causes students to “rule out” activities and interests because they view themselves as not having ability. Unfortunately this is it based on what is usually limited life experience and preconceived notions, shortchanging kids of opportunities for growth.


This fall in our before school meetings, our middle school faculty spent time as a group delving into the idea of the growth mindset and discussing how we might cultivate it in our students. Not surprisingly, many noted that we must first be sure to model it ourselves. Some ideas included sharing examples of perseverance  in our own lives, embracing our own mistakes when they happen, and being willing to learn new things ourselves no matter how confident we were in our abilities, experience, or curriculum.


In advisory and middle school meetings, we’ve shared this idea with all of our students and teachers and explored examples of each mindset. Teachers have also followed up by having conversations in their own classes. We’re all working hard to correct kids when they say phrases like “I can’t do this…” by responding “You mean, you can’t do this yet.”  This applies in all cases from a student trying to hit an overhand serve in volleyball over the net to nervous students ready to  zipline or a challenging hike to a pesky math problem they can’t quite solve.


Our innovations curriculum in design thinking and robotics is also perfectly suited to cultivate a growth mindset where students learn about the iterative process and how to grow from setbacks. In the arts, it is with intention that we expose students to a trimester of art, music and drama for all three years, ensuring that they do not write themselves off too soon in an area without proper exposure.

In all classes, showcasing multiple approaches to success for a given problem or assignment helps promote an open mind.


With a mid-trimester now under our belts, goal setting can be explored through a new lens. In their reflection of the start of the year, students can look at mistakes and struggles not as a definition of them as individuals, but rather they become places for them to learn from and stretch themselves.  Praising effort over intelligence and pointing to specific strategies and actions helps engender a connection between effort and success.


We are also making an effort to make it visible in our halls. The core value of perseverance you will find on our Middle School Constitution, a copy of which you’ll find in each room. A new display has been put up in the staircase proffering ways to change their mindset by changing what they say and how they respond to challenge. While we do not expect students to walk by, high five and instantly adopt a growth mindset when they see it, we do believe it helps in recalling all our conversations we’ve had. What’s on your walls is a good reflection of what you values I believe.


As parents, you can do several of the same things we’re trying to do as faculty. In particular, modeling a growth mindset and interest in tackling challenging endeavors, praising effort over intellect or talent, and encouraging reflection over the efforts that made students successful all are good measures to consider.


A growth mindset is not fostered overnight, but our hope is that our consistent efforts and conversations in a variety of places will help shape and re-shape our students’ mindsets so that they are poised to enjoy success and make the effort  required to achieve it.


New Outdoor Classroom

October 5, 2016

Our New Outdoor Classroom

By Deena Tarleton


If you have passed by the preschool classroom recently and found it empty, you might not find the kids in specials, but rather “working diligently” in our new outdoor classroom.    This classroom is intended for all students, but preschool has launched it’s early use and developed their first play theme, CAMPING.

We consulted with experts from the Nature Explorer group and received recommendations for various areas.  The water play center is a big hit.  Students experiment with the flow of water as they fill the top areas and watch the water flow through aquaducts down to the “muddy” area.  Often dams are improvised to check the flow.  The play takes considerable cooperation and creative experimentation.

This is only one area.  There is a center for art, for constructing with log and wood pieces, for gathering as a group, and we are in the process of developing others.  Eventually there will be space for a small theater area with a grassy knoll for the audience.  We are anticipating the creative poems and writing that may come from this idllyic place of contemplation.  The possibilities are only limited by the imagination.

Next time you are on campus walk back behind the Preschool/Kindergarten playground and take a look. You might even wish that you were a kid again!

Self-Regulation in Preschool Children

St. Anne's Preschool is adding more strategies to their teaching this year to help their students develop self-regulation through play.  Of course one condition for developing self-regulation is through regulation by adults and others.  Children learn to follow rules and routines.  Adults tell them what to do.  Adults model appropriate interactions and problem solving strategies.  Eventually, these behaviors become internalized. Children learn to follow directions from other peers.  Because there is a bit more choice about doing this, this puts them a bit higher on the developmental continuum.Unfortunately, neither is sufficient to fully develop self-regulation.  Kids also learn by helping others to understand the rules.  Often this appears as tattling.  It is easier for me to tell you what to do than to tell myself.  I may appear a bit bossy, but I understand what to do and am “helping” others understand as well.  Applying the rules to myself requires that I can overcome any negative feelings I may have about complying.  This happens in the third stage of development.In the last stage of development, the child chooses to follow the norms because he/she knows how and wants to.  Make-believe play designed into the thematic centers in preschool encourages self-regulation because children can act out roles and learn to comply with the rules established by the group in a safe environment.For example, if a kid chooses to play “cooking” in the playhouse and decides to bring in horses from another center and play outside of the “rules for kitchen” established by the group, members of the group may remind him/her that “that is not how you play cooking.”  If he/she wants to continue to play with that group, he will have to follow the lead of others.  This naturally occurs when children play and helps develop that third kind of self-regulation.  At its best no adult intervention is necessary.  In a make believe situation kids can practice self-regulation in a safe environment.When you come in as a parent volunteer, notice the situations that support the three stages of self-regulation:

  1. Being regulated by others
  2. Regulating others
  3. Self-regulation

They take lots of time and practice on a child’s part, but it is well worth the effort to set up a classroom so that children can play and have fun while we help them develop these important life skills.  If you have time, take a look at this video about the Marshmallow Test and some of the implications for helping your child delay gratification and become self-regulated.

As many of you know, my wife and I recently started our adventure into parenthood with the arrival of Rowan Leigh Bhat on June 9th.  In the months leading up to his birth, family and friends showered us with well wishes, but also invariably shared the phrase, “Your whole world is about to change.” And change it has.  In the last eleven weeks, my definition of a good night’s sleep has certainly become different. My phone camera roll and social media posts have shifted from panoramic mountain summit shots to a montage of smiles and tummy time from our baby boy that quickly is threatening the storage capacity of my iCloud somehow.

 However, of late, I’ve felt that a more accurate description of my experience post-birth of my son has been that my world has expanded rather than changed. After all, I’ve been put in new situations from middle of the night feedings to learning to navigate the airport while juggling considerably more luggage. I’ve added the title of “Parent,” though I have only begun to scratch the surface on that job description. My perspective and decision-making have expanded to consider the needs of the newest Bhat. I’ve gained new vulnerabilities and could never have guessed the pains I would experience when I had to be away from my son and wife for the first time for a week. My expanded world has brought with it expanded emotions and nerves, but also love and support from family and friends. It has also served as a good reminder of the experiences of our kids.


On Monday, 135 will walk (or perhaps storm) through the doors of the middle school on day one of the year only to discover their world is expanding as well. They will likely feel a similar amalgamation of feelings to the ones I described feeling earlier. For 6th graders, the physical space has grown as the previously rarely used middle school becomes home now, bringing with it their own locker space, a new set of teachers, and routines. Though not new, our 7’s worlds also grow in many ways. Whether it’s the time they spend at the soup kitchen throughout the year, first time experiences rafting on the Arkansas or camping at the Sand Dunes, the exposure to new opportunities will bring with it new discoveries about themselves that they never could have known. Eighth graders return to campus meanwhile to discover that the campus now expects them to steward the community, asking them to lead assemblies, teach character education classes to younger students, give tours to prospective families,and wrestle with complex issues around race and gender in their curriculum. Even our recent graduates can relate, heading off to a new community this fall with a larger network of classmates and opportunities to grow as individuals.

Broadening horizons is part of St. Anne’s mission. So as teachers and parents, how do we then support them as they navigate their expanding worlds that are filled with both opportunities and obstacles?

We can begin by acknowledging and supporting their need and desire for growing independence. While they will still follow us at times and seek approval, they increasingly crave the opportunity to be in front and the autonomy to make decisions that will lead to successes and failures. When we give them those opportunities, it sends the message we trust and believe in their maturing abilities.

This will mean, however, avoiding the urge to swoop in and rescue them at every problem or possible misstep, such as when they forget a homework assignment at home, wrestle with their digital lives, or experience conflict with a classmate.  At times they will need to learn through experience that their actions have consequences both good and bad. When they come to us with problems, we can listen intently. We can lead with questions to clarify how they are feeling, what they feel their hurdles are, and then let them brainstorm solutions to their own problems. Considering possible impacts or outcomes of those decisions helps them think through their plans. Discussing a possible backup plan or agreeing to follow-up in a few days to revisit alternatives if that plan does not work helps cultivate an understanding of causality. This type of planning and reflection will nurture the independent decision-making they require when they are outside of our watch and will help them internalize the lessons they have learned. 

Does this mean we cannot offer tips and insights? Of course not!  But we should know that not all of the pearls of wisdom we impart will stick. My dad, a neonatologist, has undoubtedly experienced that with me as of late.  Since the birth of Rowan, he has tried to offer me every possible best practice needed to raise a baby well. There’s no question I’ve found myself employing much of that advice, but there are days I have called him expressing confusion to which he has surely thought, “I’ve told him that before! Why doesn’t he remember?” My hunch is this will be the case for you at some point this year. Know that there is a lot going on in our children’s every day lives, and despite their efforts, they won’t always recall all of our advice.

Ten weeks with a baby does not an expert make, but I can say with certainty that successes and failures await me in parenthood. The same is true for your middle schooler as they explore their growing worlds this year. Being a good listener, providing opportunities for reflection on choices they make, and encouraging them all will help them gain the most growth.  Thank you in advance for partnering with us each day, and here’s to the amazing growth that awaits them all.