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Creativity—The Commerce of the 21st Century

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From the Summer 2013 Caller

By Nance Leonhardt

When people ask me what my best subject was in school, they don’t expect me to say science. Although I’d always loved making art, when I grew up I’d planned to be a veterinarian or a zoologist. My high school offered an amazing science curriculum that was rich in experiential learning. From raising and training a baby goat in biology to using ballet to explore physics principles, science inspired my imagination.
Later when I began studying art intensively in college, it was the scientific aspects of the field, observation and engineering, that drew me down the rabbit hole. Watching chemistry transform the surface of silver gelatin-laced paper, soldering brass and copper fittings, devising a way to project video inside the pouch of a kangaroo—I love the problem-solving that artmaking requires.
Arts & Sciences: Blame it on Sputnik
In truth, art and science were inextricably linked for eons (#DaVinci). And yet somewhere between the Renaissance and modern times, the two fields diverged—at least in the United States. The sciences became the bailiwick of tomorrow, and the arts were relegated to an indulgent pastime.
I blame it on Sputnik. A lot happened to our country during the period between the industrial revolution and the space race. We outlawed child labor, we created a middle class, we mandated a free public education for all our nation’s children, and our national identity and economic welfare became tied to the outcome of our educational system.
In taking that penultimate step, we opened the dialogue about what the goal of our education should be. Late 19thcentury philosopher John Dewey maintained that schools should prepare students for participation in community and society. Curriculum and pedagogy should be emergent in that the school evolves and innovates around the climate of society. Dewey-based schools are often places where art and science coexist symbiotically and still occupy important real estate in the core curricula. Many independent schools, including Catlin Gabel, are deeply informed by Dewey’s original goals.
By contrast, public schools latched onto educational psychologist Edward Thorndike’s “law of effect.” A contemporary of Dewey with diametrically opposed views regarding the function of schooling, Thorndike believed skills and concepts must be laid out incrementally and mastered over a prescribed timeframe. Thorndike further posited that the function of schooling should be preparation for the workforce and that people should be trained along vocational tracks. Imagination had no place in Thorndike’s mechanized system—how could innovation be standardized or assessed?
STEM, STEAM, and the Teaching of Arts
We’ve all heard of STEM, a movement to improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and math. One of the core pieces of STEM philosophy is that 21st-century thinking will best be done by people who can engineer and research problems in order to develop solutions.
John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, has been a fervent advocate of converting STEM to STEAM—adding arts into the equation. The central tenets of his argument are that any advance is useless unless it can be communicated, and that flexible thinking, risk taking, and problem solving are essential to any kind of innovation. Those attributes are exactly what is nurtured in a rich and rigorous arts curriculum. In essence, Madea’s argument is that creativity will become the commerce of the 21st century.
The mechanics of art production are the methods for expressing ideas. Just as in organic chemistry or calculus, the greater your fluency is with the methods, the more you can bend it to explore ideas and concepts. As a society we have failed to take the fluency and methodology of the arts as seriously as literacy or numeracy. Students have not been given equal time to develop their arts skills so they can feel in command of those skills.
Building Skills, Drawing on Creativity
One of our jobs as arts educators is to give students command of the medium, whether that is playing an instrument, working in theater, controlling lenses and apertures in photography, or drawing. With continued scaffolding and building relationships with students, we can help them build skills over time, so that we see kids who can dig deep and explore huge ideas through these mediums.
A good arts education will help kids unpack the messaging that the culture gives them about societal norms and values. The work of Matt Junn ’13 is a shining example of that. He learned to render early on, but it took nurturing in the studio to get him to apply those skills to analyze a bigger idea (see his self-portrait at left). He’s now digging into his identity as a Korean American, learning to control and appropriate images to unpack what they mean to him and what is expected of him.
Elliot Eisner, a leading researcher in arts education at Stanford, gives strong arguments for the value of arts education that are relevant to our teaching—and the reasons why Catlin Gabel has just built a new Creative Arts Center.
• In the arts you can put together your work in an infinite variety of ways. The artist must make sense of these choices.
• In the arts, you can head in a direction, but when things happen along the way you have to make judgments to adapt. It can send you in a whole new direction. That’s innovation. It’s where you make a discovery (#breadmoldpenicillin).
• How something is said is part and parcel of what it says.
• We can experience things in art that go beyond what we can articulate. It helps us live in a bigger place. A recent exhibit at Mercy Corps featured a mural project where the faces of abused women in Rio de Janiero were phototransferred in giant scale on the buildings of the steeply terraced city by French artist JR. The images bore witness to the atrocities faced by women who had been formerly voiceless in that region, and change began to unfold.
• The arts are a special form of experience because of the intense engagement of the creator with the work. People think this is all art is, but it is just what makes it unique. The material resists you, and you have to get it to perform a task or deliver a message.
• Art must explore through the constraints of its mediums. If we don’t create possibilities for fluency in the range of mediums, we are preventing ourselves from living fully in the realm of big ideas and being able to solve problems creatively.
The Arts are Transformative
Just as babies are born with a scientist’s hunger for inquiry, so too are people are born to be creative. Equipping our students with a rigorous education in the arts teaches them about methodology, purpose, understanding their audience, and communicating that message. We arm them with guitars and hammers, poetry and cameras. We help them give form to ideas, to innovate and to connect. Our students will be the change in the 21st century.
Nance Leonhardt is Catlin Gabel’s Upper School media arts teacher and the head of the arts department.  

The Power of Creativity: Catlin Gabel's New Creative Arts Center

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From the Summer 2013 Caller

The new Creative Arts Center will foster interdisciplinary work in the arts and collaboration among disciplines, teachers, and students in grades 6 through 12. We hope that, ultimately, the creative practices engendered in this building lead to innovative thinking in all disciplines, and our students’ ability to make their way in the world in whatever career they choose, armed by the creative thinking habits they’ve honed here.

The space to create

US visual art, US choir,
US media arts, MS drama,
MS music, MS visual art
Current arts square footage: 6,786
CAC square footage: 20,000
Creative Arts Center Upper Level
Outdoor plaza
Media arts
Theater control room
MS visual arts
US visual arts
Shared print room
3D studio
Art Walk
Lower Level
Black box theater (two levels)
Theater tech space
Drama classroom
Instrumental room
Choir room
Music laboratory
Practice rooms
Instrument storage

“A truly outstanding school excels in all areas of curriculum. A well-balanced course of study allows students to develop the wide variety of skills needed to succeed once they leave school. A robust arts curriculum is crucial in fostering those creative skills that are increasingly in demand in the 21st century workplace.” —Dan Griffiths, Upper School head
“We have often said that we have the teachers, we have the program, but we just have never had the facility to help our children become leaders who can think abstractly and outside the box. Now we will have a first-class building to house this exciting program. It has been a joy to be part of a team that is finally seeing a vision come to life for an amazing school.”—Craig Hartzman, campaign co-chair, parent & donor

“It’s only in retrospect that I truly appreciate how definitive my exposure to the arts at Catlin Gabel was for my career and myself. Honing my artistic side made me more explorative, creative, imaginative, and probably a super-spoiled brat.”—Megan Amram ’06, Harvard College graduate & professional comedy writer



Math teacher Kenny Nguyen and two of his statistics students, Siobhan Furnary ’13 and Lianne Siegel ’13, analyzed data for 422 Upper School students from 2005 to 2013. They found that taking more Upper School arts classes was correlated with higher SAT scores—an expectation of 22 points for every arts class taken.

Did you know?

“John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, has been a fervent advocate of converting STEM to STEAM—adding arts into the equation. The central tenets of his argument are that any advance is useless unless it can be communicated, and that flexible thinking, risk taking, and problem solving are essential to any kind of innovation. Those attributes are exactly what is nurtured in a rich and rigorous arts curriculum. In essence, Maeda’s argument is that creativity will become the commerce of the 21st century.”—Nance Leonhardt, arts department chair  

Good Teachers Are the Core of a Good Education

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Prue Miller's gift of $600,000 established an endowed fund for faculty salaries

From the Summer 2013 Caller

"I gave to Catlin Gabel to support faculty salaries because it makes sense to me,” says Prue Miller ’52. “At the core of all learning is the teacher. Universities raise money for faculty salaries and establish chairs, so why not do something similar for Catlin Gabel?”
“Prue’s gift is unique to most independent school campaigns and yet so thoughtfully placed. Her fund will increase the school’s ability to offer competitive salaries for our teachers and attract new talent as openings occur,” says Miranda Wellman ’91, director of advancement.
Prue admired principal Esther Dayman Strong and many of her teachers at Miss Catlin’s School. In college she studied education, and after graduating from Sarah Lawrence she came back to Portland and taught 1st grade for a year. Her fellow teachers served as role models for her: “They were so great, and so in control of the 30 students in their classrooms,” she says. Prue’s classroom experience further underscored for her the vital role of the teacher at the center of the educational process.
When Prue started her family, she sent two daughters— Catherine ’76 and Sarah ’79—to Catlin Gabel. Her son Andrew’s children—Harry ’05, Maddie ’07, Isabelle ’09, Eloise ’11—were all CG lifers. “My children and grandchildren flourished, and I had the fun of cheering from the sidelines,” says Prue.
“I hope my gift is compelling,” she says. “Teachers make such a difference in children’s lives.”

Supporting the endowment campaign is an incredible way to fund important new initiatives and sustain them over time. The most mature, forward-thinking independent schools maintain endowments that provide critical annual funding for program excellence. Healthy endowments allow great schools to seize new opportunities at the best moment to launch them—and act on their dreams. —Miranda Wellman ’91, director of advancement

• Pledge payments can be made over a period of time up to five years
• Depending on a donor’s age, planned gifts such as bequests, charitable trusts, and annuities can be part of helping the school reach this campaign goal
• Endowed funds (a minimum gift of $25,000) can be a wonderful way to tell your story about what Catlin Gabel means to you and have your hopes represented in future students and their learning opportunities    

"The Learning is in My Hands"

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The Catlin Gabel journey of lifer Qiddist Hammerly '12, now at Northwestern University, was made possible through financial aid

From the Summer 2013 Caller

Catlin Gabel helped me develop skills in organizing, fundraising, and creating projects that were my own, because it gave me the freedom to take an idea and run with it. My projects in Lower School included an Environmental Friends club, a huge potluck and tree planting, and a tsunami relief fund and walkathon—I even had an opportunity to go on the local news to talk about that. I’ve continued to use those skills.
In the Catlin Gabel community there’s a lot of trust and respect, both among peers and between peers and teachers, that inform how students learn and give them the ability to succeed both in school and out in the real world. Teachers hold you accountable for your own learning and give you a lot of responsibility, whether that’s teaching a class or creating a class discussion that engages your peers. The level of trust allows students to take safe risks in the classroom and when they leave the school. I always think back to what my 1st grade teacher Zalika always said: “Your worth is not bound in your performance.” You learn that you’re not always going to do perfectly, but you’ll push yourself to strive for something. You learn that it’s more about the learning and not about the grade.
Going through Catlin Gabel has helped me to not be afraid to try something new at Northwestern University, or tackle something that might be really hard. Catlin Gabel has taught me that if I’m interested in something, I should put my all into it, and that it’s worth the challenge. I’m majoring in social policy; I’m interested in education and education policy, and working with youth in the criminal justice system. I have a job working in a 1st grade classroom, teaching reading and writing skills. I’m also doing a mentorship at a youth detention center in Chicago, with its music program.
Talking to students from other schools, I’ve found that it’s a uniquely Catlin Gabel thing to have such a close and personal relationship with your teachers. That’s something that the school does really well. That connection outside of the classroom has been really beneficial to me.

Catlin Gabel teachers and the school push you and encourage you to make your learning your own, and they give you the ability and the freedom to create your own experiences. If you have an idea, you have the power to turn that idea into a reality. As a kid, for me that was the coolest thing. I have the power to create what I want to do? The learning is in my hands? That’s what made Catlin fun for me, whether it was volunteering in Middle School at Albina Head Start, or a research project as an intern at OHSU, or going on a trip to Botswana.

My parents didn’t really expect to send me to Catlin Gabel: financially, it didn’t seem like an option. Through the combination of the sacrifices that they made throughout my time here and the generous scholarships I received, I was able to stay all the way through. I am grateful to everyone who made it possible for me to stay here, both to the donors and to my parents. I’m also grateful to my teachers, because I was here from such a young age. Catlin Gabel made me who I am.
Excerpts from an interview with Qiddist conducted in February 2013.

Scholars Program Named to Honor Lark Palma

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The first step in a year of celebrating Lark's leadership

From the Summer 2013 Caller

By Steve Gordon, chair of the Catlin Gabel board of trustees 

This is a year for celebration—a celebration of where we’ve been, where we’re going, and Lark Palma’s contribution to our journey. This is Lark’s last year as Catlin Gabel’s head. For nearly two decades, she has completely dedicated herself to guiding the school to the fullest expression of its mission.
Honoring Lark this year begins with a fitting tribute from Phil and Penny Knight—the renaming of the Knight Family Scholars Program to the Palma Scholars Program. The Knights appreciated Lark’s vision for innovating curriculum and broadening our admission reach. In Phil’s own words:
“In celebration and recognition of Lark Palma’s remarkable career at Catlin Gabel and the legacy she leaves, as she embarks on her final year as head of school, the Knight Family Scholars Program will now and forever be referred to as the Palma Scholars Program. To be consistent with future recipients and to not confuse the community, all eight prior recipients will be deemed to be the Palma Scholars. Congratulations to Lark.”
The Palma Scholars Program brings in exceptional 9th graders—excelling in academics, athletics, leadership, and service—and provides all Catlin Gabel Upper School students with new ways to learn based on collaboration and creativity. The program prepares tomorrow’s leaders with an inspired curriculum that we hope will serve as a model for our nation’s high schools.
Lark’s expansive vision for education has also focused on increasing the availability of a great education. From the start of her teaching career she has believed in the importance of financial aid and the necessity for a school community that would represent the wider community. “We could not deliver the kind of education we want to without diverse voices,” she says. “I am confident that through all means possible, including increased financial assistance, the school will continue to incorporate this wide range of voices and cultural values.
”When Lark was told about the honors planned for her, she said, “I’m proud to have my name on the Scholars Program for 9th graders, and to be associated with our general financial aid endowment benefiting students of all ages. All my life I have believed that the best way to provide equality is to provide access to education. This is an irrefutable truth.”
To kick off this celebratory year and acknowledge Lark’s abiding interest in financial aid, the board and I invite you to join us in honoring Lark in one of these ways:
• Make a gift to the Palma Scholars Program to benefit Upper School students
• Make a gift to Catlin Gabel’s general financial aid endowment fund for students of all ages demonstrating need
These are fitting tributes to Lark, who has dedicated her career to attracting excellent students regardless of their ability to pay tuition, and creating an innovative and vibrant curriculum and a secure financial future for Catlin Gabel.
Please join us this year as we continue to recognize Lark’s extraordinary leadership. To make gifts to the Palma Scholars Program or Catlin Gabel’s financial aid endowment in Lark’s honor, please email Miranda Wellman ’91, director of advancement, or call 503-297-1894 ext. 398.

The Allen Neill Schauffler Financial Aid Fund

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Fundraising has begun to honor this longtime teacher

From the Summer 2013 Caller

Allen Schauffler retired this summer after 45 years at Catlin Gabel. Her dedicated service to the school included positions as preschool and kindergarten teacher, Beginning School head, and director of multicultural affairs. She also worked in financial aid, and it holds great meaning for her.

“Those of you who know me well know how passionate I am about the importance of financial aid at Catlin Gabel,” she says. “The Beginning School is unique because the whole Catlin Gabel community trusts us to build the core group of a class that we hope remains together for 14 years. One of the most important pieces we think about when we enter this process is how to make the class as diverse and inclusive as possible.
“Financial aid dollars provide a key ingredient in helping to build a group of students who bring with them a world of culture, race, gender difference, socioeconomic strata, and physical difference. My dream for financial aid at Catlin Gabel is that any child who qualifies for admission in any division be granted the full amount of demonstrated need,” she says.
A new fund for financial aid has been established to honor this beloved teacher, parent, and longtime member of the Catlin Gabel community. For more information or to participate in the fund, please email Marianne Falk.

Financial Aid is Absolutely Critical to Catlin Gabel's Health

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The Campaign for Arts & Minds supports increased endowment, which directly increases the school’s financial aid budget

From the Summer 2013 Caller

By Sara Nordhoff, admission and financial aid director

“An effort shall be made to have students of the school represent a cross-section of American life, having various economic backgrounds and religious beliefs, and chosen for their promise in qualities of character, intelligence, responsibility, and purpose.” —founder Ruth Catlin, 1928  

Catlin Gabel has funds right now to offer financial aid to 26 percent of our students. If we had $250,000 more each year for financial aid, we would have had enough funds to admit the following students—but we could not: Kids from schools in neighborhoods that would add more diversity to Catlin Gabel’s community, kids at the top of their classes with passions they pursue in meaningful ways, competitive athletes, excellent artists and writers, scores of siblings and legacies, kids devoted to service, and many more deserving, wonderful students who would have an enormous impact here and beyond—kids for whom a Catlin Gabel education would change their lives.

Faculty feedback on students we could not admit: “this is one of the best candidates I’ve ever seen,” “I would love to have this student in my classroom,” “admit this incredible student!”

Some examples of students we had to turn away:
A published author at the age of 10
An athlete who would have been a game-changer in our Upper School girls basketball program
A competitive chess player and violinist with one of the highest SSAT scores of the pool
An accomplished ballet dancer
A Parkour champion
A young martial arts master
A brother and sister, both at the top of their class
A three-sport athlete completely devoted to community service
A top gymnast with international living experiences
Catlin Gabel is affordable to only about three to five percent of the greater Portland population. In order to attract the very best and brightest students and live out our mission, we must sustain our commitment to a strong financial aid program. Our goal is to make a Catlin Gabel education accessible to as many qualified students as possible, regardless of socioeconomic status. Our discussion- and team-based learning environment is successful only when disparate voices and viewpoints are heard. We devote a greater percentage of our budget to financial aid than many of our peer schools. Catlin Gabel grows as our commitment to financial aid grows. Reaching out and enrolling a diverse population is a high priority for our enrollment strategy. We think of diversity as having a broad definition, including socioeconomic, ethnic, and geographic diversity. We’ve made strides towards broadening our reach to a larger population of families, in large part due to our stronger commitment to financial aid. Catlin Gabel will flourish, along with its students, with a financial aid budget that allows us to admit all the students we’d like to admit—with mitigated concern for their ability to pay tuition. A successful finish to the Campaign for Arts & Minds will supply the $250,000 per year we need to make this happen and keep Catlin Gabel healthy and relevant.
• The average financial aid award has increased from $14,430 in 2010–11 to $16,200 in 2013-14
• In 2013–14 CG allocated $3.3 million in tuition assistance, out of an entire budget of $17 million
• Families who received awards had annual household incomes ranging from $8,400 to $168,000 (CG uses a national formula to determine aid awards that takes into account income and variables such as the number of children in tuition-charging schools, including colleges. Awards at the higher income levels are smaller and do not include books and laptops.)
• Average grant: $16,200
• Awards range from $1,800 to $25,750
• Tuition ranges from $19,200 to $25,850
• Our ultimate goal is to admit all students without regard for their family’s financial situation, but that would require more than $50 million in new endowment funds. The steps we take today are important in moving us toward that future.
2009–10 (92%)
2010–11 (93%)
2011–12 (92%)
2012–13 (90%)
2009–10 (26.25)
2010–11 (27.8%)
2011–12 (25.7%)
2012–13 (25.8%)
2013–14 (27.4%)
• We create classes that lead to diverse viewpoints in the classroom
• We grow financial aid responsibly, meeting need in a sustainable way
• Relevant independent schools keep financial aid at the forefront

"My story, like the stories of many others who have received financial assistance at Catlin Gabel, is a testament to the power of philanthropy. . . . Without a Catlin Gabel education, my life would have looked drastically different. The growth each student experiences here is indescribable. In fact, without the financial assistance that allowed me to receive such an enriching education, I’d probably still be the same shy child I was seven years ago. But today I can tell you with all sincerity that Catlin Gabel has changed me. It’s given me the opportunity and support to redefine myself in ways I never thought possible. Catlin Gabel equips its students with everything we need to face the future."
—Anthony Lin ’09, graduate of Duke University in neuroscience and computer science

"Running a high-quality, progressive, independent school is an expensive proposition, and thus tuition remains beyond the reach of many. To match reality and idealism, Catlin Gabel must have a robust endowment for financial aid, to open our doors to every deserving, qualified student regardless of her family’s means. Without this, our school’s expressed commitment to our ideals and our community becomes hollow and less meaningful. Catlin Gabel without generous financial aid would not be the Catlin Gabel we chose as the right school for our children. It would become a more homogeneous community, less interesting and vibrant. It would ignore the reality of economic diversity that all of our children must understand and appreciate. It would shield our children from the “real world” in which they will all live and work as adults. It would deny the value and contribution of children from all walks of life, from a wide range of circumstances."
— Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, trustee, parent, donor

The Campaign for Arts & Minds

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What sets Catlin Gabel apart?
Campaign Components
Creative Arts Center
This new building fosters the ability to create and provides the encouragement to be original. It brings multiple disciplines inside one facility for intense, collaborative teaching and learning. Students will experiment in the black box theater, hear each other play instruments, view and critique each other’s work in the school’s first proper gallery, and learn from guest artists.
 Expanding Our Endowment
Launching new programs, admitting more students with financial need, and compensating outstanding teachers requires stable and robust funding. We must pursue these initiatives with the confidence that they can be sustained. The campaign for the endowment is how we’re doing it.


Senior, student body president

"Catlin Gabel gave me confidence in my own thoughts, while not completely blocking out those of others. It taught me that there are often more perspectives to every situation than what one might initially think. The confidence I gained from our small class discussions encouraged me to take part in our school’s student government. This school has given and taught me more than I could possibly repay."

Entering Harvard College

"As my class prepares to leave for college, the mark that Catlin Gabel’s holistic approach to education has left on us shows clearly: our strong academic skills are matched by our strong characters; our passion for learning matched by our passion for life."

MS life skills and PE teacher

"Catlin Gabel takes pride in supplying students with a quality, well-rounded education. Students learn to take ownership of the direction of their passions, as well as to respect and appreciate individual differences." 

Longtime preschool teacher

"Do you wish that you had attended a school where you were asked to examine 60 acres, be stretched to discomfort, navigate the idea of community, have fun with the basics, and use what you know to serve? Imagine a place children come each day, where what they bring with them is treated as the fertile ground of possibility rather than something to correct or change."  


US science teacher and assistant head

"At Catlin Gabel we teach how to sing, how to talk to a crowd, welcome others, disagree, advocate for ourselves, talk to adults, write our congressional representatives, read between the lines, learn what’s not in front of us, include others in play, weave and intersect with other cultures, and find balance in our lives. We learn from our students every day. We educate whole children. We educate ourselves. Every day.

US English teacher

"Whenever visiting writers come to share their work with our students, or parents attend Back-to-School Night, or folks new to the school come to Open House, they always say: ‘Wow!! I wish I could have gone to high school here.’ They see the school’s serious, but freewheeling, intellectual atmosphere, the strong bonds it forges between teachers and students, its deep commitment to building a community of trust and mutual support, and realize what a special place this is to be a teacher or a teenager."

Sophomore, Malone Scholar

"I love Catlin Gabel not only for the friends I have made and the resources it can provide, but also for the atmosphere of support, in-depth curiosity to learn, and a rigorous and beneficial learning experience. It also served me as a second home and support system as my family went through a major move." 

Student at New York University Medical School

"After Catlin Gabel college seemed easy. At Catlin Gabel I didn’t just learn the facts, I learned how to learn and use those facts in novel and creative ways. The biggest lesson I learned, which I always carry with me, is that education and ambition are not accessed passively, but instead actively.

Video: Creative Arts Center from the Ground Up

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Thank you, Ian McClanan '16 for producing the video. Photos by Kitty Katz and Eric Shawn.

On October 4, 2012, we broke ground on a new Creative Arts Center for Middle and Upper School students. Less than one year later, 6th through 12th grade students started the 2013-14 school year with a brand new facility. » Link to more information about the Creative Arts Center.

Join Me in This Campaign

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From the Summer 2013 Caller

By Lark P. Palma PhD, Head of School

Launching a campaign is an exhilarating moment! I still remember that 2008 board meeting when we all debated the troubled economic environment versus the school’s opportunities and greatest needs. We ended with a unanimous vote to unapologetically go for it and raise $20 million for two purposes. Catlin Gabel’s “Campaign for Arts & Minds” is a reflection of those highest priorities.

The power of creativity! Our students must hone their ability to think creatively, to problem solve when there isn’t a formula, and to venture forward where there is no path. Learning and practicing the arts translate into these skills, and will make a lifelong difference for our students. We are building a creative hub for Middle and Upper School students that will inspire people the second they walk into the building, thanks to architect Brad Cloepfil and the Allied Works team. When dreaming of this space, the faculty were asked “How do you want students to feel when they walk through the front doors?” and I’ve never forgotten the answer I heard: “Like they’re entering a creative cathedral.” The 20,000-square-foot “cathedral” will open this fall— and I will be standing in front of those doors, watching the students’ faces light up as they walk through.

Imagine more! A school’s endowment is really about just that: imagining what more we could do and be. A healthy endowment means the difference between incremental change and being able to take leaps and bounds. It means saying yes to more incredibly talented students who cannot pay full tuition. It means a source of income to launch new programs and hire the country’s best faculty with relevant specialties and the desire to experiment in teaching in order to inspire every student. In short, endowment is the freedom to act on dreams.
Today, we face the final stretch of this incredibly successful campaign but we have yet to cross the finish line. We welcome you to join this chapter in Catlin Gabel’s history. Stand with me in honoring the impact our alumni have on the world, and the efforts to prepare our current students for a world that needs them, too.

Ambassador Questionnaire

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Please fill this form out after your day with any visiting students.

Questions about the visit process? Please contact Sara Dier, Admission Associate, at 503.297.1894 ext. 443

Please rate your guests for their overall "fit" as a students at Catlin Gabel based on your visit day. 1 being a poor fit, and 5 being the best fit.

How "into it" were they about all that Catlin offers? 1 being very little interest, and 5 being totally into it.
ex. Interest in clubs? Excited about classes? Socializing?

Ambassador Application

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Please fill this form out so we may better match you up with visiting students.

Questions about the visit process? Please contact Sara Dier, Admission Associate, at 503.297.1894 ext. 443

How would you like me to get in touch with you for an immediate response on your behalf?

Indicate a sport you are involved in, on or off campus.

Indicate a sport you are involved in, on or off campus.

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Invitation to parents to meet the head candidates

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September 3, 2013

Dear parents and guardians,

I am writing on behalf of the head of school search committee to announce that we have identified three finalists. These outstanding candidates will visit campus between September 16 and 24, each for two days of interviewing and presenting. The finalists will meet with a full range of constituents—teachers, staff members, parents, trustees, students, alumni, and friends.

By mutual agreement, we will announce the name two or three days before the visit. The search committee believes this discretion is important to ensure the integrity of the process while addressing, to the degree possible, the needs of the candidates.

We sincerely hope you will make time to meet the candidates and, after having done so, complete a brief confidential survey for the search committee.

Current parents are welcome to attend either an evening or morning session with each candidate. The candidate will present prepared remarks, followed by a Q&A.

Candidate 1
Monday, September 16, 6 -- 7 p.m., in the Barn
Tuesday, September 17, 8:30 -- 9:30 a.m., in the Barn

Candidate 2
Thursday, September 19, 6 -- 7 p.m., in the Barn
Friday, September 20, 8:30 -- 9:30 a.m., in the Barn

Candidate 3
Monday, September 23, 6 -- 7 p.m., in the Barn
Tuesday, September 24, 8:30 -- 9:30 a.m., in the Barn

Peter Steinberger, trustee, parent of alumna, search committee chair

Search committee members
Dave Cannard, Jr. ’76, trustee (1997-07), board chair (2004-07), current parent, parent of alumnus, alumnus
Li-Ling Cheng, Middle School Mandarin teacher, parent of alumna
Clint Darling, interim head of school (1982-83), Upper School head (1973-86), retired Upper School English and French teacher, parent of alumnae
Isaac Enloe, kindergarten teacher
Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93, Upper School assistant head, dean of students, science teacher, current parent, alumna
John Gilleland, trustee, board chair (2009-12), current parent
Alix Meier Goodman ’71, trustee, endowment committee member, board chair (2007-10), parent of alumni, alumna
Vicki Roscoe, assistant head of school and Lower School head
Eric Rosenfeld ’83, vice-chair and treasurer board of trustees, current parent, alumnus
Miranda Wellman ’91, director of advancement, alumna
Jim Wysocki, Upper School math teacher and department chair


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September 2013

Second grader Mahala Lambert won the national championship in color belt poomse at the at the 2013 USA taekwondo national championships in Chicago. She also won silver in board breaking for girls blue belt 6 to 7 years old.

Eighth grader Katie McClanan has been cast as Susanna Walcott in Beaverton Civic Theater’s fall production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” This winter she will reprise her role as Young Mary/Janie in Stumptown Stage’s original musical “It’s A Wonderful Life” at the Portland Center for Performing Arts.

Sophomore Anirudh Jain won the national Stockholm Junior Water Prize. He received a $10,000 college scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to Stockholm, Sweden, in September to represent the United States and compete with students from around the globe for the international Junior Stockholm Water Prize. He was selected for the prize based on his science project “Sulfidation as a Novel Method for Reducing Toxicity of Silver Nanoparticle Pollution.” The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is the world's most prestigious youth award for a water-related science project. » Link to Oregonian article about Anirudh. » Link to Portland Tribune article about Anirudh.

Junior Valerie Ding was named one of 15 global finalists in the 2013 Google Science Fair. The grand-prize winner will be announced in late September after the finalists presents their projects to an international panel of judges. As a finalist, Valerie was invited to a private meeting in the West Wing of the White House. » Read the White House blog. She was also featured in a Washington Post article about female students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Junior Adam Frank traveled to Israel to compete as a fencer in the 19th Maccabiah Games, the Jewish Olympics.

Junior Elli Wiita's National Synchronized Swimming team won gold at the Pan American Age Group Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It's the first time in seven years that the U.S. junior team has placed ahead of Canada.

Senior Ian Fyfield spent two weeks at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, learning the ins and outs of professional theater from every member of the crew. He stayed in the Southern Oregon University dorms with 64 other high school students who are passionate about theater as he is. He said, “I got to see the entire OSF season. It was an incredibly life-changing experience.”

Students in the summer PLACE urban studies program presented their ideas about improving a street in the Pearl District to the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. For their project the students created strategies to make the street work for pedestrians, bikes, and cars--and they impressed the planners!

LS learning specialist Lauren Burns married Adam Figi on August 25. 

In addition to her master's in teaching K-8 from the University of Virginia, 1st grade teacher Erin Porter has now earned a master of arts in international and intercultural communication from Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C.

From thousands of teachers at thousands of private schools across the United States, 6th grade English teacher Carter Latendresse was selected as one of 25 Teachers of the Future by the National Association of Independent Schools. He was selected for his innovation and willingness to re-evaluate content and lessons to help students better connect with the world. »Link to Oregonian article.

MS teachers Len Carr, Ann Fyfield, and Christa Kaainoa attended the Stanley H. King Counseling Institute in Colorado Springs at Fountain Valley School. The intensive weeklong institute offers a model of teaching counseling and listening skills to help educators strengthen and deepen their relationships with students.

MS Mandarin teacher Li-Ling Cheng is co-author of Language through Culture, Culture through Language: A Framework for K-8 Mandarin Curriculum published by Peking University Press this July. In October Li-Ling will attend the 4th annual Chinese Language Education Forum in San Francisco with lead author Sharon Carstens of Portland State University.

US math teacher Kenny Nguyen is a reviewer for the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. He has also been asked to review manuscripts and conference proposals for the Journal for Mathematical Behavior, Cognition and Instruction, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (regular and research sessions), and the International Conference of the Learning Sciences.

US English teacher Leanne Moll was an adjunct professor of education at Portland State University this summer. She also teaches online graduate-level curriculum, instruction, and reading courses for Read Oregon. This summer she taught "Writing Across the Curriculum" and will repeat it next winter. This fall she is teaching "Engaging Readers/Nurturing Writers, 6-12.”

US French teacher Madeleine Giardin Schuback attended a summer conference at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. The conference was held in partnership with French universities, foreign language professors, and the primary publishers of French manuals. The workshops focused on differentiation, collaboration, and how to use French media to develop students’ oral skills.

US history teacher and PLACE director George Zaninovich has been selected for the Portland Art Museum’s teacher advisory council. The 16-member council works with and advises the museum’s education department.

Congratulations to everyone involved with Summer Programs 2013. More than 600 students participated in over 20 different courses.

Don’t be shy. Share your news. Submit “Congrats!” information about student and faculty-staff achievements to Karen Kitty Katz, editor,, 503-297-1894 ext. 305.

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Welcome to new teachers and staff members

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New Beginning School teaching assistant

Meg Schmidt is our new preschool teaching assistant. She has worked with youth in Oregon and Washington. She has a BA in education and is a master’s in education candidate at Portland State University.

Back row, l to r: Ric Fry, Kate Ryan, Pilar Arias, Erin Porter.
Front row, l to r: Meg Schmidt, Suzie Roane, Courtney Plummer '03, Beth Merrill.

New Lower School teachers and teaching assistant

Pilar Arias joins us a Lower School Spanish teacher. She was first attracted to our school after attending a symposium on campus 10 years ago. She has taught Spanish and ESL at schools across the country and abroad. Pilar has a master's in curriculum and instruction from Portland State University, a BA in elementary education from Playa Ancha University of Educational Sciences, and a BA in secondary education/English as foreign language from Catholic University of Chile.

Lower School woodshop teacher Ric Fry joins us after teaching at the Metropolitan Montessori School in New York and the Franciscan Montessori Earth School here in Portland. He has a BA in anthropology from the University of Western Ontario.

Beth Merrill is our Lower School science teacher. She spent her childhood “wading through creeks, climbing boulders, and observing animals” near Yosemite. Beth has an MA in general science from Portland State University and a BA in environmental studies from the University of Oregon.

Kate Ryan is teaching 5th grade this year in a position created by Mariam Higgins's leave of absence. She has most recently taught 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. She has a master’s of education from Bank Street School of Education, a leader in progressive education.

Erin Porter is filling in for Mimi Tang in the 1st grade while Mimi is on maternity leave. Erin filled in last year as a Lower School learning specialist. This summer she completed a master’s degree in international and intercultural communication at Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C. She has an MA in teaching K-8 and a BA in rhetoric and communication studies from the University of Virginia.

Suzie Roane returns to Catlin Gabel as 2nd grade teaching assistant. Last year, she did graduate work in linguistics and German at Portland State University. Before that she had been the 3rd grade TA for five years. Suzie has a BA in social scienes from PSU with an emphasis on international relations.

Alumna Courtney Plummer ’03 returns to Catlin Gabel as 4th grade teaching assistant. She previously served as 5th grade teaching assistant. In the interim, Courtney earned an MA in early childhood and elementary education from Antioch University, and taught preschool and kindergarten in Rotan, Honduras, for six months.

Back row, l to r: Allie Kautz, Marabeth Passannante, Caroll Casbeer.
Front row, to to r: Dennis Christman, Drew Kinney, Rob van Nood

New staff members

Our new after-school care teaching assistant, Allie Kautz, is a recent transplant from California. She has a BS in child and family development, and experience working with children both in and out of the classroom.

Rob van Nood fills the newly created position of academic technology coordinator. As a member of the IT team Rob will work with faculty to assist in the selection and integration of technology that is current, useful and relevant, and meets our student learning objectives.

Dennis Christman joined us midway through last year as Upper School library assistant. His past experience includes serving as research librarian at Chengdu Meishi International School in Sichuan, China. He has a BS in computers and is working on his master’s of library and information science.

The admission office welcomes Marabeth Passannante as the new data coordinator. She comes to Catlin Gabel from Oregon Ballet Theatre, and has also worked for the Oregon Convention Center and the Oregon Symphony. Marabeth has a BS in sociology from Portland State University.

Caroll Casbeer joins the development team as special events and fundraising manager. She has worked in events and fundraising for the Portland Rose Festival Foundation and for Reed College. She has a BA in history from Reed.

New prep cook Drew Kinney is a graduate of the Western Culinary Institute/Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Program. We look forward to Drew’s delicious contributions in our kitchen.

Back row, l to r: Victoria Fennell, Shaina Langley
Front row, l to r: John Hellman, Becky Winard, Andrew Ratzke

Five master’s degree candidates from the University of Portland graduate school of education join the Lower School this year. Each aspiring teacher will spend half a year with one grade level and half a year with another.

Victoria Fennell, 3rd and 5th grades. Victoria has spent time volunteering and working with students on math, reading comprehension, speech skills, and ABA therapy. She has a BS in educational foundations with a minor in special education.

John Hellman, 2nd and 4th grades. John has taught English and pre-literacy courses in Ecuador and Korea. He has a BA in English from Boise State.
Shaina Langley, 5th and 2nd grades. Shaina has been an assistant teacher, camp counselor, and lifestyle adviser. She has a BA in general studies, international studies, and business administration from Western Washington University.

Andrew Ratzke, 1st and 3rd grades. Andrew has been a math intervention specialist at Eastwood Elementary, and served in leadership positions in sustainability and global awareness. He has a BA in psychology and political science from Pacific Lutheran University.

Becky Winard, 4th and 1st grades. Becky has worked with SMART and as a literacy coach at schools throughout Oregon. She has a BA in geography from University of Oregon.

Familiar faces in new places

Sara Dier joins the admission team as admission associate. She was previously half-time development assistant and half-time MS and US learning center assistant.

Half-time receptionist Chris Woodard joins the college counseling team as half-time administrative assistant. She will spend mornings in the Upper School and afternoons in Toad Hall.

Enrique Escolona returns to the Upper School after teaching Spanish in the Lower School for the past six years.

Brendan Clark, who taught preschool – grade 2 PE last year, joins the Beginning School as a preschool teacher.

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New US student rafting trip photo gallery

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Student Pre-Visit Questionnaire for Applicants to Grades 6-12

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Fill out this form a week before your visit.

Questions about the visit process? Please contact Sara Dier, Admission Associate, at 503.297.1894 ext. 443

Student Applicant Information
Emergency Contact Information
Your Visit Experience