FEATURED TEACHERS: Veronica Ledoux (left) – Teaching at Catlin Gabel since 2008. Bachelor’s in biochemistry, Mercyhurst College. Doctorate in neurobiology, Northwestern University. Isaac Enloe (right) – Teaching at Catlin Gabel since 2011. Bachelor’s in religious studies, Carleton College. Master’s in early childhood and elementary education, Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education & Counseling.
Teachers and the Future
By Tim Bazemore, Head of School
Catlin Gabel is a thriving school today because our mission creates confident and skilled graduates. The teachers who interpret that mission into instruction and relationships are the heart of our educational process. It is common to imagine a future in which technology will render traditional classroom learning less vital—and that may become the case, as learning becomes an anywhere, anytime experience. But the personal presence, guidance, and expertise of a teacher will only become more important as the world changes. As we are seeing the role of librarians expand from curators of books and spaces to teachers and resources who work all around the campus, we will see classroom teachers add new layers of complexity to their role, interacting with colleagues, technology, and self-directed learners in new ways and structures.
The good news is that Catlin Gabel teachers already are stepping into the future. Across the school a team of teacher experts is training peers to design curriculum driven by compelling questions and relevant assessments. In the Upper School, science and arts teachers have developed interdisciplinary courses on structural design and engineering and the chemistry of art. In a Middle School class, students are reading about civil rights, equity, and justice, and writing expository "problem-solution letters" to Portland urban planners. In the Lower School, teachers and tech colleagues are looking at new ways for students to use technology to record and show their understanding of concepts. From northeast Portland to the Oregon coast, teachers across the grades are challenging children to answer political, social, and environmental questions by integrating skills from traditional disciplines.
No one knows what the future holds, including Garry. But we have an obligation to look ahead and decide how we can best enhance the value of a Catlin Gabel education. In the next year, we will renew our commitment to our mission and to curriculum and activities that we know serve children well. We also will begin to identify the most promising directions for our school, pursuing with vigor the charge Ruth Catlin gave us in 1928 to be an "educational laboratory." As we approach the exciting opportunities that lie ahead, we do so knowing that caring, dedicated, and skillful teachers will always be at the center of what makes this school great.
If you are interested in learning more, here are two resources that Garry shared with us: a reading on innovation in education and a compelling video.
Veronica's teaching inspiration: When I initially began studying science, I imagined a finish line of sorts, a distant future in which I’d understand everything. Naïve, right? Now, I know better. As the years passed and my education continued, I learned a great deal, but each insight uncovered new parts of the scientific puzzle. The more I understood, the more I wondered. This complex spiral can go on forever. I now realize that one of the most exciting parts of studying science is the limitlessness of it. In my previous life as a science researcher, I used complicated equipment to ask very minute questions in tremendous depth. While I was fascinated by my work, I had only a relatively small community of fellow scientists with whom I could share my discoveries. The taxpayers funding my work didn’t know what I was doing with their money, as my findings were published in expensive scientific journals with limited circulation and dense, jargon-filled text. There was no easy way for me to share my scientific excitement with the public at large. At times I miss the research lab, but now, as a teacher, I constantly have opportunities to share my curiosity and love of learning with others. Many teachers are the sort of people who would be happy to be eternal students, and our profession lets us get away with this, to a degree. At Catlin Gabel, we have the freedom to innovate, update curriculum, create new courses, and follow the interests of students. This is both exciting and daunting. My colleagues set a high bar for constantly honing their craft, paying attention to individual students, and adapting their approach to better suit the needs of those students. I am privileged to be part of this place, as my own scientific understanding is constantly being challenged, which keeps my enthusiasm high.
Isaac's teaching inspiration: 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.
Diversity & Inclusion at Catlin Gabel
by Jasmine Love, Director of Equity and Outreach
December and January are always amazing months around Catlin Gabel. Every year we take a group of employees and students to the People of Color Conference (PoCC) for adults and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) for students. These conferences happen simultaneously every year and are sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools. This year these conferences were held in Atlanta, GA, and Catlin Gabel took twelve adults and six students where everyone engaged in workshops around building cultural competency, saw amazing speakers, and watched wonderful performances.
Three icons were honored: Hank Aaron, the Major League Baseball player who held the record for career home runs; Congressman John Lewis, one of the first Freedom Riders and civil rights activists; and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s older sister, Christine King Farris.
spoke of her “baby brother’s” work and encouraged the audience to remember that love rules no matter what the differences. The best thing about this conference is that our Upper School students are exposed to iconic speakers and amazing workshops and are then able to bring back information and activities to share with the adults and their fellow students of all ages.
In January these same students will lead a Martin Luther King Jr. assembly as well as create a Diversity Conference and invite schools from the greater Portland area to attend. Today our community is more deeply committed to inclusion and diversity than ever, and our students and faculty are dedicated to social justice, a main tenant of progressive education. At Catlin Gabel we define social justice as full and equal participation of all groups towards a society that is mutually shaped to meet human rights. We honor the humanity in everyone no matter their gender, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, country of origin, language, and other qualities that define a unique and wonderful human being.
From Your Admission Team
How are admission decisions made?
When we talk with prospective families about the timeline for the admission process, which culminates with admission decisions delivered via email on Friday, March 10, we are often asked how admission decisions are made.
Admission committees consisting of faculty and staff engage in a very thorough process that reviews and considers each applicant in a holistic way. There isn't a single portion of the application that determines whether or not a student is offered admission, but rather, each piece is considered as part of a larger picture.
After committee members individually review the applications, they then meet as a group to discuss each candidate and determine which applicants show the strongest potential for success at Catlin Gabel. As the list of those who meet the standards for admission is created, the committee also thinks about the degree to which each student will contribute to the current community of learners. We add this layer to our decision-making process because we believe that each student’s school experience is enriched by engaging with students who represent many different perspectives. This diversity comes in many forms, including racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, gender identity, sexual orientation, family structure, temperament, geographic, and learning style. As a school it is our imperative to help prepare students to be culturally competent world citizens by providing opportunities to engage with many different types of people.=
Prospective parents also ask if Catlin Gabel gives priority in the admission process to applicants who are children of alums, children of faculty and staff, or children of current Catlin Gabel families. While we very much value the special relationships we have with all three of these groups and we do note it in the applicant file, it does not guarantee admission for any student nor does it carry more weight in the admission decision than such factors as academic preparation and leadership potential. We work hard to strike a balance between honoring those relationships with families who are already affiliated with the school and ensuring that new families have access to this community.
And finally, parents who are considering applying for financial aid often wonder if their financial aid status affects their child’s admissibility. At Catlin Gabel the vast majority of admission offers are made without considering an applicant's need for financial assistance. However, with a comprehensive yet finite financial aid budget, financial need is considered as final admission decisions are made simply to ensure that we have enough available funds. Our advice to families in need of financial assistance is to apply to Catlin Gabel with confidence that their admission decision will be based on merit and if admitted, the school is committed to providing an appropriate level of funding to enable their child to attend.
With limited space in each grade and many wonderful applicants, difficult admission decisions are made each year by committees who take their roles very seriously. We are confident that our process is thorough and fair and acknowledges the many ways a child can contribute to our learning community.