The Hartsbrook School

High School Executive Leadership Team

August 30, 2017

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, Staff, and Hartsbrook Community,

In the next few weeks, you will receive many communications from the high school as we finalize the complex working parts in launching a new academic year. In this letter, I would like to address some significant shifts happening in the high school, and within my very office.

In fact, this letter is a follow up to the letter you have recently received from our Conference Co-Steward, Valerie Poplawski, and President of our Board of Trustees, Tupper Brown, concerning my new role in governance at Hartsbrook. As the letter announced, I have accepted the position of Pedagogical Chair for the greater Hartsbrook School, alongside Frances Cameron, who will serve as Administrative Chair. This shift will find me embarking on new territory, as I endeavor to serve the needs of students and parents in the school as a whole, while also staying close to “home” in the high school. The areas where my energies are best directed in the high school involve oversight in two areas: in working with students and families in both the academic and social spheres, and in the ongoing pedagogical development of our curriculum and faculty. As a result, and perhaps in a long-overdue restructuring of resources, I have identified what we will call a high school Executive Leadership Team, who will have specific responsibilities to support my new mandate and to develop the resources of grades 7–12 generally. They will each introduce themselves and their anticipated roles below.

The Team and I met throughout the summer to identify and clarify the roles they will play in this new governance transition. Their main goals are to be a consistent force in enabling the high school to run smoothly, and to support teachers to be as active and fully engaged as possible with our students. They will take a primary role in communications with faculty, students, and parents. Their leadership will strengthen the work of all the faculty, which will support me in looking outward from the high school toward the whole school. They, in turn, will need our support, respect, and good will as they work together, as they have so wonderfully over the summer, to make this a meaningful and effective transition.

Please welcome our high school Executive Leadership Team!

Most warmly and sincerely, Virginia McWilliam

 

Cherrie Latuner ~ Mentoring Coordinator, Grades 7–12

I have been at the high school since its inception in 2002. I was there at the first formative meetings of the high school, when everything had to be decided—what to teach, who to teach it, and, as importantly, how to organize and run a high school. This moment in time feels similar, in that there is a great and necessary reorganization underway, in order to best meet our evolving student body and community. This time, however, I’m on the other end of a long arc of service to the school. I have been a teacher here for going on 15 years, and my retirement years are only a couple more away. I have been blessed to work under Virginia’s guidance during the latest phase (roughly 5 years) of high school leadership, and I am absolutely certain of two things: that she will provide vision and wisdom in shaping governance of the whole school into the future; and that she will remain a vital presence among us in the high school. As a Faculty Conference member, I was assigned to her Review team last year, and it was clear through the review process that Virginia’s qualities are considered an asset by the whole school, and that in order to free her up to give energies to oversight for the whole, she would need bedrock support in the high school.

It is a privilege to have been asked to support Virginia in the crucial governance transition. My work will be to articulate and clarify the role of the Mentoring Coordinator for the upper grades for those who will hold the position in the future. I will be working closely with Catherine Hopkins as she fulfills her vision for mentoring across the whole school. I will be working alongside teachers to strengthen their mentoring relationships, and also to strengthen our advisors systems—mentoring the advisors in their work with students and families, so that student issues, both positive and challenging, are carried most immediately and fully by the circle of advisor, student, and parents. I am asking right now for YOUR support in making this system work to its fullest. Virginia will be there for us when her level of input is needed in student matters. But there’s much we can accomplish together without Virginia’s direct involvement. By the opening of school, we will provide a list of our students’ grade and individual advisors, and I invite you to quickly enter into relationship with your student’s support team. These relationships are SO important to the delivery of education to our students on every level. It is critical that we be united behind and with the students as they move through this place on their way to their future.

Part of my mentoring this year will be to bring our new Humanities teachers into relationship to Main Lesson blocks that I have taught in the past. For instance, the 11th grade year will open, as usual, with Parzival, but this year I will be supporting Liz Bedell, who will be the lead teacher of the block. I have worked with Ms. Bedell over the summer and will continue to be a presence and co-teacher throughout the block. Last year, I worked with Ms. Bedell during the Flowering of English block, in which she shadowed and observed my class and guest taught a significant portion of it. This year she is prepared to carry that block. In the same way, I will hand over the lead teaching of Moby Dick to Ethan Myers, working with him through the year to prepare the block, providing presence and support during the block, and leading the traditional field trips.

I will also provide continuing support in shaping the progress of our Writing and Research curriculum—in other words, how we teachers set goals for writing and research skills and how we collaborate and coordinate across grades and disciplines. With technology and post-secondary expectations evolving and advancing so rapidly, setting goals is like aiming at a moving target. But some things are unchanging: our students’ need for full development of their literacy skills and a healthy relationship to the reality of technology. Throughout the year, I will facilitate the process of teachers making agreements with respect to working together toward these goals, and also on advancing the goals themselves. As we share our agreements with you, we hope it will be in service of you, as parents, taking an active role in supporting your students in moving through our curriculum, and in giving us feedback about your students’ experience and progress.

Finally, I’m happy that my new role will keep me active in the classroom, observing teachers and students at their work, and also that I will continue to teach American Transcendentalists in 12th grade and French in 11th grade. I see all of my work as an opportunity for engaging in enlivening discussions with teachers about how to embody and manifest the rare gifts that Waldorf education is able to offer our children.

 

Caryn Rozgonyi Hesse ~ Educational Support and Guidance Coordinator; Registrar

As many of you know, I have worn many hats at Hartsbrook. Not only have I been available at the front desk to answer your calls and help with both student and parent needs, but I also have also been working as registrar, overseeing the crediting of courses, determining the weight of exchange work or college courses towards Hartsbrook graduation requirements, preparing and overseeing the reports, and creating and maintaining transcripts. I have worked together with Fred Itterly to help you and your students navigate the college application process with greater transparency and ease. I have been the person whom people come to when a room is needed or an event is to be planned. I have been part of the working group responsible for  oversight of the high school budget.

I have also been able to devote some time in recent years to all of the special educational needs of our students. Many students either have an Individualized Education Plan or may be helped by being assessed in order to receive such a plan. Some students need to stretch themselves beyond what we offer in our high school curriculum and may want to take advantage of the possibilities at our local colleges or even an apprenticeship or practical arts experience. I help to make that experience possible for students and compatible with their transcript and schedule. I have been both the 9th and more recently, the 11th grade class advisor and have individual advisees as well.

As the school has been growing and maturing, we are finding that I need to give more time to several of these roles. In my new role, I will have more capacity to expand the college guidance work. Effectively, I want to bring this process into grades 9–12, with information that is pertinent to each. College applications can be a stressful time for students and families, and I will work to ease this stress by having more frequent meetings and information sessions. I will be working more closely with Fred Itterly so that he can pass on to me his encyclopedic knowledge and the connections he has acquired over many years.

In addition, I will now be able to give more time, energy, and oversight to Educational Support. Elyce Perico is the educational support coordinator for Pre-K through Grade 8. She and I will be working more closely together, along with the Educational Support Group, in order to create an efficient transition from middle to high school. We will also work with Leslie Evans, Enrollment Director, to ensure that the application and enrollment process fully perceives all educational needs. I will begin to make classroom observations in order to have a living picture of each student’s needs and successes. Additionally, I will be working more closely with Tina Howard, the school’s consulting psychologist.

In giving over many of the front desk responsibilities to others (a process is underway to fulfill this position), I will be freed up to act in part as a guidance counselor for students. Frequently I have been the person to whom students turn to find support and a safe haven when they are experiencing stress or anxiety. My thirty years of experience in anthroposophic therapies serve me well in helping students. In order to have the appropriate quiet space to do justice to the scope of my new work, I have had my office moved to the “conference room” next door to my previous office. I am endeavoring to create a peaceful and safe space for the many students who seek that, and to meet with students and parents, as needed. Basically, we can say that in my expanded role, my primary goal is to serve the students. I intend to be available and alert to all the various needs of the student population.

 

Rosemary McNaughton ~ Administrative Coordinator

Since I began teaching physics and upper-level math at Hartsbrook seven years ago, I have acquired a reputation as someone not afraid to wield a spreadsheet for parent-teacher conference signups or to organize students into bus and car groups for expeditions. Over time, I became the scheduling guru, the homework site czarina, and for a while midwifed the high school operating budget, all as part of the kinds of non-teaching duties that every carrying faculty member takes on.

In my new role, I will have formalized responsibility for many of the areas I was already attending to on an ad hoc basis. Having joined the Faculty Conference earlier this year, I am also in a position now to align our efforts with the overall goals of the school. For instance, this spring I became part of the “scheduling group” created by the Faculty Conference with a mandate to coordinate the scheduling needs of the upper grades and the high school. We began meeting last spring to create a daily timetable for grades 7–12 that would serve to implement a program for sharing teachers and courses and assuring students’ progress across these grades. Our work included taking into account the intended growth of the music, practical arts, and movement programs in grades 7–12, and envisioning a scheduling structure that would support greater consistency and opportunity for development in all disciplines.  I will continue working to unite our vision for the program with the devilish details of an operational schedule, evaluating the success of our shifts this year as we construct the schedules to come.

Much of my work will be inward-facing as I work with faculty members to fill out duty rosters, assist them in updating their syllabuses and homework on the homework site, and direct faculty to internal references and resources.  In particular, I will take responsibility for communication with adjunct teachers so that they have what they need to be in sync with all the facets of our program. Another important piece of this internal work is to oversee the high school operating budget alongside Caryn. I bring a couple of decades of experience volunteering in community non-profit budgeting and accounting, along with a few years of hands-on experience with our high school budget already. While not everyone wants to get up-close and personal with budgets, I see a well-implemented and well-communicated operating budget as a key sign of the vitality of an organization, and I look forward to returning to this work.

It’s always a pleasure for me when information is organized, clear and “discoverable” by those who need it—by our students, our families, our faculty and staff, and our prospective families, by our wider community in the Pioneer Valley and other Waldorf schools, and even by colleges evaluating applications from our seniors. In my new role, I will have greater responsibility and opportunity to put more effective “systems” in place, whether in scheduling, or in communications. In recent years Hartsbrook has made progress in the digital realm, taking both small and major steps, from the transition to email lists from contact groups and the use of online tools for parent-teacher conference and volunteer sign-ups to the adoption of the BigSIS database and the increasing use of Google Drive to facilitate our intention for greater collaborative work. Going forward, I am committed to helping the high school and the whole school identify the best tools for our purposes, and to use them effectively.

Overall, my endeavor is to have in place smoothly functioning administrative systems and processes that will best support our ultimate goal: the education of the unique individuals we are so privileged to work with at Hartsbrook as we help them build the foundation for the work of their lives.