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Middle School robotics teams take 1st and 2nd place at regionals, qualify for state

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Way to go!

Congratulations to the RoboSNAILS for their 1st place win in a tough competition against 20 teams. The team members are 8th graders Robin Attey, Matt Maynard, Grace Wong, Liam Wynne, and Sage Yamamoto. They are coached by senior Tucker Gordon. The RoboSNAILS’ research project was designing a website and iOS app to help senior citizens prepare nutritious meals and build community.

Team Sigma came in 2nd with 8th grade members Adolfo Apolloni, Ian Hoyt, Ryan Selden, and 7th grader Roy Stracovsky. Team Sigma had an over-the-top research project with a working model of a walker that senses the user’s location helps guide them. Junior Elyssa Kiva is their coach for the second year in a row.

Our two rookie teams also competed at regionals. Starstruck won the rising star award for the new team with the most promise. They are 6th graders Sujala Chittor, Natalie Dodson, and Amber Merrill. Their research project featured a puppet show presentation of a device that changes light bulbs. Senior Martina Dimitrov was their coach.

Sophomore Rushdi Abualhaija coached team Delta with 6th graders Avi Gupta, Tyler Nguyen, Quinn Okabayashi, Kian Palmer, and Spencer Shoemaker. Their research project was a working model of an Internet-programmed medication dispenser.

The state competition is on January 20. Good luck to the RoboSNAILS and Team Sigma!

Alumni News, Autumn 2012

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From the Autumn 2012 Caller

 On October 4–7, Catlin Gabel welcomed alumni of all graduation years back to the Honey Hollow campus for Alumni & Homecoming Weekend. Alumni and their families enjoyed a full slate of activities, including alumni awards presentations, Homecoming soccer games, and class reunion parties. With students and faculty on campus, the weekend provided alumni an opportunity to see the school in action, but most importantly, a time to visit with classmates, former teachers, and friends. 

The weekend kicked off early on Thursday, October 4, with a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Creative Arts Center for the Middle and Upper School, followed by the Celebration of Leadership and Service event honoring our annual alumni awards recipients.
 
On Friday, the Cabell Center foyer was adorned with memorabilia from our school archive collection, providing an appropriate backdrop for our Reunion Lunch honoring the classes of 1932–1957. With 30 alumni from Catlin, Catlin- Hillside, and Gabel Country Day Schools in attendance, it was a celebratory bunch with much to reminisce about!
 
By early evening, students, alumni, faculty, and their families gathered on campus for Homecoming as the girls and boys varsity soccer teams took on friendly rival OES. After hard-played, highly spirited games, the entire community gathered in and around the Barn for a reception full of school spirit. An inspiring video highlighting athletics led to an announcement of the Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame. The inaugural Hall of Fame induction will take place next fall. Contact the office of alumni relations for complete information on the nomination and selection process.
 
On Saturday morning, the annual alumni soccer game was the big attraction. Alumni turned out in record numbers to play on the perfect pitch, Davis-Gant Field. Each person showed up poised for a great matchup with former teammates. Following the game, the campus was open for Alumni Day, campus tours, and alumni picnic hosted by the alumni association board. For many alumni, this day is the highlight of their weekend. Seeing their children make friends with their former classmates’ children on the beautiful campus, they said, was a special moment.
 
By Saturday evening the weekend was in high gear, with alumni from the classes ending in 2 and 7 reunited at their class reunion parties. Five parties took place on campus and the remainder were at homes in Portland and in Dundee at Sokol Blosser Winery.  
 
Lauren Dully ’91, Associate Director of Development
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Susie Greenebaum ’05, Alumni Relations Officer
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Owen Gabbert ’02, Alumni Board President
 
 
 
 
 

Catlin Gabel News, Autumn 2012

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From the Autumn 2012 Caller

NEWS FROM HONEY HOLLOW

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust granted Catlin Gabel $200,000 for the Campaign for Arts and Minds. The funds will support instructional technology in the Creative Arts Center, including innovations such as energy-saving LED stage lighting. . . . The school completed a comprehensive self-study in preparation for an October visit from a volunteer team from the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools. Visiting team members, including school heads from Lakeside and University Prep in Seattle, Duke School in Durham, North Carolina, and Marin Country Day in Corte Madera, California, will write a report with recommendations for improvement that Catlin Gabel must implement for continued accreditation. . . . The Middle School organic garden is now known as the Tucker Garden, in honor of wood shop teacher Tom Tucker ’66. Tom contributed much to the garden’s utility and beauty, including sheds, gazebos, and artworks. . . . After the April announcement that Catlin Gabel was named a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, the Oregon Department of Education announced the school’s 2nd place award for Oregon Sustainable Schools, as well as the Pillar Award  for minimizing environmental impact.. . . US science teacher Veronica Ledoux spent three weeks with Teachers Across Borders South Africa, helping math and science teachers from rural schools update their skills. The project director praised her for her personableness, professionalism, and passion for her work. . . .  MS Chinese teacher Li-Ling Cheng participated in a summer residential workshop for master teachers in Worcester, Massachusetts, sponsored by the Chinese Language Teachers Association.
 

CATLIN GABEL IN THE NEWS

Catlin Gabel’s FIRST Robotics Team 1540, The Flaming Chickens, demonstrated their robot on KGW-TV’s early morning newscast in September to promote the OMSI Mini Maker Faire in September. They also showed off the program at a summer technology camp hosted by IBM Beaverton. . . .  Associate IT director Daisy Steele spoke on a KATU-TV newscast about internet safety for children.  .  . The school’s Creative Arts Center, now under construction between the Dant House and  Middle School, was featured in articles in the Oregonian and the Daily Journal of Commerce. . . . Julien Leitner ’15 was featured in the Oregonian for sitting in at Portland’s Pickathon with Abigail Washburn and  her band. Julien’s Archimedes Alliance raises funds for charities and nonprofits, asking $2 from each person, from as many people as he can reach.
 

OUR NOTEWORTHY STUDENTS

Freshman Anna Dodson won a Nook tablet as a semifinalist in the America the Beautiful writing contest, sponsored by Rand McNally and USA Today. . . . Senior Marina Dimitrov was an intern this summer in Seattle at the University of Washington’s Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. As part of their inaugural Young Scholars Program, she received a stipend from the National Science Foundation for her work on a small quadrotor helicopter for autonomous flight.
 

SPORTS AND ATHLETICS

Doug Heymann ’18 represented Oregon at the Western zone age-group swimming championships in Grand Junction, Colorado. . . . USA Synchronized Swimming named Elli Wiita ’15 to the 13–15 national team and duet team for 2012. She competed this summer in the Pan American Age Group Championships in Colombia, where she placed 1st in the figure competition and won gold medals in duet and team competitions. During the summer, she trained with Team USA at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and in New Canaan, Connecticut.    

Distinguished Alumni Awards

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From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Every year the alumni association recognizes former Catlin Gabel students for their life work and accomplishments. Through their unique contributions, these alumni embody the school philosophy “in qualities of character, intelligence, responsibility, and purpose.” The 2011–12 honorees were recognized during Alumni Weekend in October.

Philip Hult '88
Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

The Catlin Gabel alumni board honored Philip Hult ’88 with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award for his significant accomplishments in business and education. Philip is the co-CEO of EF Education First, a privately held international education organization founded by his father, Bertil Hult.
 
A 1993 graduate of Brown University, Philip holds a degree in international relations and comparative literature. After graduation from Brown, Philip joined EF, where he has focused primarily on emerging markets and digital learning. From 2001 to 2006 he worked in Hong Kong, where he led EF’s growth in China and expanded its academic products. Globally under Philip’s tenure, EF has started a private high school and built what is today the world’s largest graduate school of business: the Hult International Business School. Together with his brother, Philip oversees the strategy and operations of EF’s 16 business units, which specialize in language training, educational travel, academic degrees, and cultural exchange.
 
Recently, Philip has been instrumental in funding the Hult Prize, a $1 million prize to fund the next wave of social entrepreneurs through a business case competition that crowdsources ideas from top business schools around the world. The 2012 prize was announced by Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. 

Philip lives in London with his wife, Britt, and three children.  

Pippa Arend '90
Distinguished Alumni Service Award

 

The Distinguished Alumni Service Award was presented to Pippa Arend ’90, co-founder and development director of p:ear, a Portland nonprofit dedicated to building positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth for over 10 years.
 
Pippa is a 1995 graduate of Marlboro College with a BA in art history and choreography. After running a metal shop in Poland, Pippa returned to Portland and founded her own metal shop, Tornado Creations, where she designed, fabricated, and installed custom metal furniture. She also worked for Eric Peterson, and studied welding at the Pacific Northwest College of Art with Manuel Izquierdo.
 
In 2002, she co-founded p:ear, a mentor-based program for homeless youth, which strives to develop hope and trust through education, art, and recreation. p:ear’s ultimate goal is to affirm a sense of personal worth in homeless youth as they create more meaningful and healthier lives off the streets.
 
Pippa says that working at p:ear has been the single most challenging yet rewarding adventure of her life. She is thrilled to spread the word about the innovative ways p:ear interacts with post-risk youth by encouraging personal choice while giving youth the role models, guidance, and support they need to both struggle safely and succeed with affirmation. In 2011, p:ear’s program staff of five and 120 volunteers served 1,200 young people ages 15 to 24 for a collective total of 22,000 hours. Youth artwork, made independently or through workshops with guests, is displayed at the p:ear Gallery in Northwest Portland.
 
“As a creative and resourceful problem solver, Pippa has focused her life with unselfish dedication to establishing long-term solutions to the issues surrounding youth homelessness—ensuring that equity and access are embedded in p:ear’s mission.”  —Portland mayor Sam Adams  
 

Michael Mandiberg '96
Distinguished Younger Alumni Award

The alumni board was proud to honor Michael Mandiberg ’96 with the Distinguished Younger Alumni Award for his achievements as an interdisciplinary artist, designer,and scholar. A former senior fellow at Eyebeam, he is currently assistant professor of design and digital media at the College of Staten Island/CUNY.
 
Michael’s work spans web applications about environmental impact, to conceptual performances about subjectivity, to laser-cut lampshades for compact fluorescent light bulbs, to  investigations about how they overlap. He creates conceptual art projects, design objects, and publications that explore themes that include environmentalism, systems of exchange, pedagogy, software art, collaboration, Free Culture, and appropriation. He sold all of his possessions online on Shop Mandiberg, made perfect copies of copies on AfterSherrie Levine.com, and created Firefox plugins that highlight the real environmental costs of a global economy on TheRealCosts.com.
 
Michael is co-author of Digital Foundations and Collaborative Futures. He has received residencies and commissions from Eyebeam, Rhizome.org, and Turbulence.org. His work has been exhibited at the New Museum for Contemporary Art in New York City, Ars Electronica Center in Linz, ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, and Transmediale Festival, Berlin. His work has been featured in such books as Tribe and Jana’s New Media Art, Blais and Ippolito’s At the Edge of Art, and Greene’s Internet Art.
 
Michael lives in, and rides his bicycle around, Brooklyn, New York. This past spring he was a panel participant at Catlin Gabel’s Esther Dayman Strong “Let Creativity Bloom” event.   

 

Joey Day Pope '54 Volunteer Award
Alix Meier Goodman '71

 

The Joey Day Pope ’54 Volunteer Award was established in 1992 to honor its namesake, an outstanding volunteer. This award is given each year to a Catlin Gabel community member who personifies volunteerism within our community.
 
Alix has deep roots at Catlin Gabel: both her father, Roger Meier ’43, and grandmother, Jane Seller Meier ’17, were alumni. She was an active parent with the Portland Public Schools when her eldest son, Andrew ’09, decided he wanted to attend Catlin Gabel’s Middle School. Her younger son, Reid ’11, followed. She says, “I happily rejoined this community of great families and lifelong learners.”
 
Her fundraising efforts on behalf of Catlin Gabel began way back in her sophomore year in high school, when she organized a Christmas tree sale, using trees harvested from Mrs. Henry Biddle’s Columbia River estate. This early fundraising experience was parlayed into a marketing and sales career with Bloomingdales in New York and Pendleton Woolen Mills in Portland. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards in New York, Portland, and Claremont.
 
Alix received an AB in art and French from Mt. Holyoke College in 1975, and brought savoir-faire to her leadership as a Catlin Gabel trustee, serving as board chair from 2007 to 2010. She continues her service as a trustee and is a tenacious campaign fundraising volunteer for the school’s $20 million Campaign for Arts and Minds.
 
Alix lives in Portland with her husband, Tom, a retired radiologist.  
 

 

 
 

 

Health Care Solution? It's All in the Research

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Joel Hay '70 studies the economics of health care and medicine

By Nadine Fiedler

From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Health economist Joel Hay ’70 has seen the crisis in health care costs coming—for a long time. Since his time as a graduate student at Yale in the late 1970s, Joel’s extensive research has focused on the health care market, the value and costs of medications, health insurance reform, and more. While he has worked in theoretical economics, Joel’s passion is doing research that has an effect on the real lives of real people.
 
“What it really comes down to, is how do you trade dollars for lives?” says Joel. “Medicare is a $62 trillion unfunded liability. We have to deal with health costs in this country, or we’ll go bankrupt. The question is, how much can we provide to an 88-year-old needing a bypass, or should the resources go for neonatal screening instead? How do we make it equitable?”
 
Although the present crisis is far from simple, Joel says that the three options for extricating ourselves are clear: we raise taxes, we cut benefits, or we try to make the health care system more efficient. “The first two solutions are inevitable, but they are political solutions based on compromise. To help create the third solution, health economists study the decisions that have been made, provide evidence, and make recommendations. We demonstrate what works, and doctors apply it. We can say with authority that Drug A is better and more cost effective than Drug B or Surgery C.
 
“It’s a win-win. A full 30% of all health care given in this country is unnecessary or harmful. By being more efficient, we could solve the budget deficit and a lot of other problems.”
 
Joel came into his own career serendipitously. He studied economics at Amherst, and continued in the field at Yale. In his PhD research he happened to use data about physicians’ incomes and specialties, and on the strength of that study he was hired at the University of Southern California (USC). Its Health Economics Research Center was the leading institute for the field in the 1970s, but health economics was undervalued and was considered a backwater; the Center eventually folded.
 
Joel left in 1980 to teach and do research at the University of Connecticut, Stanford, and elsewhere, but came back to USC in 1992 to found a graduate program when it revived health economics. The Center has since graduated 120 PhDs from the program and is again one of the best research and teaching institutes of its kind, with burgeoning interest from students, scholars, and policy makers from around the world. He is also proud of his work co-founding the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research and serving as founding editor of their enormously prestigious journal, Value in Health. He has also consulted for many U.S. agencies and several countries, and is often quoted in national media on topics related to health care.
 
Since those early days, health care economists have made enormous contributions to public health. For example, two of Joel’s students did the study that found that the pain medication Vioxx causes heart attacks. Their study caused Merck to pull Vioxx from the market—and that prevented more than 100,000 heart attacks per year.
 
“That’s the research we do,” says Joel. “It can make a tangible difference in the lives of people.” He won’t stop doing his research and teaching any time soon, either. “If I had to pay to do what I do, I still would,” he says. “If I can contribute in a meaningful way, I’ll come in every day and work.”
 

Nadine Fiedler is the editor of the Caller and Catlin Gabel’s publications and public relations director.   

Our Inspired Teachers: Dale Rawls

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Dale Rawls, MS art

Bachelor's in art, Portland State University. Master's in education, Lewis & Clark College. At CGS since 1989.

The summer of 1973 I was studio assistant to Ray Grimm, who was head of ceramics at PSU. One of the pieces I was excited to help make was a pot made with 50 pounds of clay. Ray explained to me that we would center and throw this big, low, wide pot together.
 
Before we began Ray said, “Watch my hands and do what I do.” We dry-centered the big mound of clay until it looked like a low cake about to rise. We used our fists to open up the center and move the clay out to the edges. I still can hear the rhythmic pulse of our fists against the clay as the potter’s wheel turned slowly. Ray reached for his sponge in the water. I was surprised to feel my hand wet with my own sponge rinsing down the clay. Ray then began to compress the giant rim of clay that would soon become the walls of the pot. He began to push in with the heels of his hands. I felt myself inhale and hold my breath at the same time Ray did. The piece grew as we compressed the walls and we shaped the form.
 
We said nothing for quite some time. Ray handed me the end of a long cutting wire. We cut the pot and lifted the finished piece off the wheel. Ray looked up with just a smudge of clay on his forehead and said—matter-of-factly—that now it was time for lunch.
 
I had never had an experience like this before.
 

That summer I realized I wanted to be like Ray: a teacher who continued to make art, and whose work was a reflection of his life. He has continued to be with me when I enter my studio, get on my bike, or work with students making art. His life, his love of problem solving, and his emphasis on process and creativity is a legacy that I hope my students carry into their lives.   

Our Inspired Teachers: Bob Sauer

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Bob Sauer, US science

Bachelor's in physics, Whitman College. At CGS since 2001.

I didn’t set out to be a teacher. I couldn’t see my shy and retiring self standing up in front of a room full of students, and the thought of speaking for a full class period filled me with anxiety and dread. But after starting out in an engineering job in San Diego, my interest waned, and I missed the opportunity to work with young people, which I had done for years as swimming instructor, lifeguard, and summer camp counselor. I went back to school to get my teaching certificate and moved back to the Northwest, which I had quite missed while living in Southern California. I started teaching at Portland’s Cleveland High School and eventually became the diving coach for the entire Portland league. After yearlong teaching exchanges to Cyprus and to Poland and 17 years at Cleveland, I moved to Catlin Gabel.
 

At Catlin Gabel I love the enthusiasm and interest of the students. I am continually amazed and impressed at their commitment and abilities—they’re studying at levels far above where I was working in high school, and pick up even the complex ideas and applications of calculus in advanced physics quickly. That inspires me to carry on even with four different classes to prepare each semester, and to stay actively involved in the myriad other fascinating things that occur at Catlin Gabel—international trips (to Turkey and Peru), the ski bus to Mt Hood, class trips, far-flung Winterim adventures, and as many outdoor program trips as I can talk my way on to. Those initial concerns that kept me from teaching from the outset? I am energized being in front of a classroom of involved students, liberally dispensing puns and other physics humor along with the scientific concepts to a receptive (albeit groaning) audience. And class periods are not long enough!   

Our Inspired Teachers: Nichole Tassoni

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Nichole Tassoni, US English

Bachelor's in English, Wesleyan University. Master's in English education, Columbia University Teachers College. At CGS since 2007.

Once upon a time I was a math whiz. Throughout elementary school, I sat sequestered in the corner of the classroom, working on killer math problems with my math pal Kevin. By 8th grade our advanced math group had grown to eight, so we took a bus to Wilson High School every day for geometry. And on every standardized test I took from 1st grade through 12th, I scored higher on math than on reading comprehension.
 
But even though everyone had me pegged for an engineer, by 10th grade I was convinced I wanted to teach high school English, thanks to Mr. Basaraba, my sophomore English teacher. Although math had always come more easily to me, I loved English class. I loved to read, I loved to write, and most of all, I loved to talk about books. So I majored in English, took a few side turns in my early twenties, and eventually made it to where I am now: working at the best job in the world.
 
There are few things I like more in the world than talking about books. As I discovered when I started teaching, however, one of them is teenagers. It’s true: teenagers are among my favorite people to hang out with. Granted, I have a pretty teenagy sense of humor, so I fit right in. Still, there’s something about the adolescent world that fascinates me. No, I don’t want to head back to high school myself; I’m quite happy being an adult, thank you very much. But I suppose one of the main reasons I’m happy as an adult is that I have the best job in the world, one that keeps me from ever getting bored. Talking about books every day, and with teenagers? What could be better?   

Our Inspired Teachers: Ron Sobel

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Ron Sobel, US Spanish

Bachelor's in political science, San Jose State University. Master's in Spanish, Middlebury College. At CGS since 1977.

 

There was something about schools that caught my eye. It may have been the Merry-Go-Round Pre-School that my parents owned, where I was the oldest child enrolled and considered myself a staff member at 6. Or perhaps it was Thomas Edison Elementary School, located virtually in my backyard, where I would spend 12 months a year in the buildings or on the playground. It could have been my brother’s junior and senior high, places I dreamed about attending one day in order to bustle through the long halls and go to big football games on Friday night. I suspect my keen early interest in schools involved being around many people doing many things in an atmosphere that looked and felt like a beehive. Some years later I figured out that it was the buzzing of everyone involved intensely engaged in work and play that drew me to schools as a career. It did surprise my parents, though, when I announced in 8th grade that I wanted to be a Spanish teacher. And now I teach the language that I had grown up speaking and studying in a school that actually has a Beehive!
 
In my early years at Catlin Gabel, I observed my experienced colleagues carefully, trying to develop the qualities that held them in such high esteem with their students and the community. Many were reminiscent of the fine teachers I had known growing up. I think about those people frequently, and hope that young teachers today have the abundance of positive role models as we did in those days. From them I learned that my teaching subject was simply the vehicle to get to know kids and to help guide them in meaningful and ethically correct directions. What we teach is not nearly as important as the relationships we form.  

 

Our Inspired Teachers: Jennifer Marcus '73

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Jennifer Marcus '73, BS & 1st grade woodshop

Bachelor's in art, Mills College. At CGS since 2004.

Twenty-two years ago, when my oldest daughter was attending preschool in Los Angeles, I responded to a flyer to open up the woodworking shed. I had a degree in fine arts, built my own looms, and had taken child psychology at Mills College. I’d even entertained the idea of becoming a teacher. So, some simple woodworking with a bunch of four-year-olds sounded like fun. It was.

Through those students and all the ones who have come after I have learned to use woodshop as a way to help children build not just wheelbarrows, sailing ships, and airports but pathways for how to think, plan, and empower.
 
Opening that first shed was like discovering a magician’s closet. The tools and materials had great power and had to be used properly. The children and I questioned, tinkered, and embraced the process of investigating wood and what it could do, what it could become. I learned the benefits of patience with their processing as well as patience with myself. I encouraged them to think out loud: “I wonder what would happen if. . . . ”
 
The following year I became the official woodworking teacher at the school. I conducted workshops for teachers and established woodworking programs to share my teaching philosophy: greet every child respectfully with an open mind for their way of thinking, their interpretations, and their strengths, and have confidence in their ability to solve problems in ways that are creative and astonishing.
 
After moving back to Portland, I created “Woodworking with Children,” providing meaningful woodworking experiences to as many children as possible. I am always honored to participate in their journey of invention and resourceful thinking. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the faculty at Catlin Gabel, a place that still values a hands-on, tactile learning-enriched program for young students. 

Our Inspired Teachers: Dave Whitson

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Dave Whitson, US history

Bachelor's in history and comparative literature, master's in curriculum and instruction, University of Washington. At CGS since 2011.

 

My senior year of high school, we were required to teach a session of our English class. I really enjoyed it. I became a teacher. People like windy paths with trees and hills; that’s a flat, paved road.
 
Of course, the real ascent began soon after. The first classes I taught at the University of Washington were disasters. I hadn’t experienced much academic failure in my life, but now I failed spectacularly. Ten minutes into my first hour-long class, I was out of material and had lost the students; paper airplanes whizzed through the air when I turned my back. I couldn’t understand how the formula that had worked so masterfully in high school was DOA in university.
 
Fortunately, I got better. My fifth class was not a crippling embarrassment. My eighth class aspired towards mediocrity—an event worthy of celebration at the time.
 
I had thought it would be easy. I had thought I would walk into the classroom and immediately fill the space with my brilliance and wit. Instead, it was the most difficult thing I had ever taken on. In the midst of those setbacks, I remember a student emailing for help with a paper, at 9 p.m. Over the next few hours, we workshopped the paper, taking some good ideas and fashioning them into an argument. At 12:15 a.m., I received a very excited email; the student had been worried about the essay, but now was really proud of it.
 
I confess that, when I decided to become a teacher, I did so thinking about the life devoted to learning. The thrill of the classroom environment. The summers off. Only after I first helped a student create something she was proud of, though, did I actually experience success as a teacher.
 
My next class went much better.  

 

Our Inspired Teachers: Carol Ponganis

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Carol Ponganis, 6th grade math

Bachelor's in biology, University of California, Santa Cruz. Master's in education, Portland State University. At CGS since 1988.

The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau was in full swing when I was a middle schooler, and it inspired me to want to become a marine biologist. As a senior in high school I did an internship with the Sacramento Science Center, which offered a marine biology outdoor school program on the Mendocino coast for 6th graders. I set up a marine biology research project at the coast, which I monitored while the staff taught the outdoor school. I shadowed the director one day as he introduced the students to various aspects of coastal ecology. He was an amazing model of how to present information in an engaging, interactive style. The Science Center needed another teacher to fill in, and they asked me if I could do this on the side while my research project was running. I got hooked on teaching and ditched my research project. I loved marine biology. But I discovered that when you are able to share your passion with someone else, it makes it twice as good. I knew then that I wanted to become a science teacher. And I know that my teaching style today was directly influenced by the methods I observed from the director of the outdoor program.
 
A veteran teacher once told me that the ideal job was one in which you could keep learning and trying new things. He said: “Do you want to teach for 30 years, or do you want to teach one year, 30 times?” Taking that advice, I have tried to switch my position every four to seven years. I have taught from 6th grade to 12th grade, from astronomy to oceanography to physical science to forensics, and now I am teaching math! The opportunity to be a lifelong learner has been one of the greatest benefits of being a teacher at Catlin Gabel.  

 

Our Inspired Teachers: Rachel Brown

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

 From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Rachel Brown, 1st grade

Bachelor's in Spanish literature, Washington University. Master's in childhood general & special education, Bank Street College of Education. At CGS since 2011.

 

Teaching has had a magnetic pull for me since before I can remember. I was drawn to the idea that, as a teacher, my one small life could garner the power to positively impact the lives of many. One summer when I was in college I found my way to a camp, specifically designed for meeting the needs of children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. That summer I learned to appreciate the inner lives of children and the complicated ways in which they come to understand themselves and their relationship to the world around them. I discovered my own passion for valuing the uniqueness of every child with whom I worked. I loved that I could help them to feel that they were okay, just being themselves, while also empowering them with the belief that they had a capacity to grow and change.
 
Today these experiences remain foundational to my teaching. Working with children, for me, is an entirely hopeful act. It means saying “yes,” each and every day, to the surprising and unique gifts that children offer as they share their experiences and find confidence in being themselves. I am both humbled and invigorated by my interactions with students. Whether I am cheerleading for a student who is on the brink of making a profound mathematical connection or I am encouraging a quiet student to speak in front of her peers, I strive to value students’ individuality and help them feel safe taking risks. As I teacher I am challenged to be my best self, and I laugh more with children then I ever thought possible. At the end of the day I think there is nothing better. 

 

Our Inspired Teachers: Nance Leonhardt

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

 From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Nance Leonhardt, US art

Bachelor's in fine arts, radio, TV, and film, Evergreen State College. Master's in teaching, Seattle University. At CGS since 2007.

 

I became a teacher because of my classmate Steve Parkey. I must have spent more than 75% of my young life with Steve, and the only thing I could say about him was that he wore a lot of brown.
 
Everything changed during my sophomore year when I enrolled in a graphic design class. My teacher was a working artist (known by her last name, Hall), the epitome of cool, who wore chic French clothing and oversized tribal jewelry. One day in class I heard her shriek, “Oh, Mr. Parkey, how MARVELOUS!” She pulled us around to see his illustration—a Boeing commuter heading for work in a series of panels where the vehicle shifted from a pogo stick to a 747. Hall pointed out the clever mutation of lines, the way the drawing seemed to accelerate across the page and come to life. In that moment, she was able to tease out the rare and beautiful in Steve Parkey. He morphed from brown to golden and glittered in our eyes.
 
Under Hall’s tutelage I learned how to silkscreen, solder, and edit video. She fed us a steady diet of new techniques and mind-contorting design prompts. Each person’s solution was cause for celebration in Hall’s studio, and I saw her greatest creative work in those moments.
 
When I reflect on my years in the profession, everything links back to my days with Hall. I teach the same topics, I occasionally wear chic French clothes, etc.—but her imprint is most evident in my relationships with students. I’ve been proud to send students to USC Film School or see them launch creative careers. However, it’s those whose artistic brilliance may be less evident, those who land in careers far afield of what they’ve done in my classes that call me to teach each day. They keep in touch, reminding me that I’ve glimpsed the golden in them, and that is divine. 
 

 

Our Inspired Teachers: Isaac Enloe

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

 From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Isaac Enloe, kindergarten

Bachelor's in religious studies, Carleton College. Master's in early childhood and elementary education, Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. At CGS since 2011.

 

In 1985, while I was a 2nd grader at the Hiroshima International School, people from around the world converged on Hiroshima to mark the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombing. In response to provocative questions from reporters and inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a group of my older schoolmates formed the Thousand Cranes Club with the goal of galvanizing young people around the world to work together for peace. The Thousand Cranes Club wrote a book about Sadako that included a call to become peacemakers and instructions on how to fold a paper crane. It was translated into several languages and sent out to schools around the globe; each one contained a paper crane folded by children at our school. Months later, the first box of a thousand cranes arrived from a school in Europe, followed by others from around the world. As a school, we would take the garlands of cranes down to the Peace Park in Hiroshima to be placed at the Children’s Peace Monument, a tradition that continues to this day.
 
The Thousand Cranes Club experience has stuck with me through all of my years in schools. As a student and then as a teacher, I have always held it as an example of what schooling can be: projects and curricula that engage students of all ages in meaningful inquiry and civic responsibility as they reach across cultures. I will never forget the feeling of knowing that my learning and work at school was truly meaningful.
 
Whether I am working with young children in the Beehive or with middle school students in Leaf Academy, the environmental leadership program I co-founded, I am called to education out of a desire to work alongside young people as they engage in deeply meaningful experiences.