05 Apr

From Joe Algrant, US Principal

Dear Upper School Families,

Welcome to springtime. It’s been a busy but fun return to school this week. For some reason everyone looks like they’ve grown and changed over break, and certainly folks are happy to be entering the final quarter of the year, when the weather changes and it stays light out into the early evening.

I write today to let you know that next Friday, April 12, turns out to be a complete day of trips in the Upper School. For those students in the two yearlong physics classes, they will be going to Great Adventure for Physics Day, and will be doing experiments on the rides along with high school students from all around the area. You have no doubt heard about this earlier in the term.

There is also an intrepid group of students who will be at the Model UN Conference at Cornell University, up in Ithaca, NY. That group, as with all Model UN experiences, has been training for weeks for the conference, and will be off for three days of hard work that always makes for a terrific learning experience, both individually and as a group.

For those not going to Great Adventure or the Model UN, we will have the great opportunity to travel to the Lincoln Square IMAX theatre and see the recent documentary Apollo 11. Thanks to a generous gift, we will see the film and also hear from Todd Miller, who is the creator and director of the film. Mr. Miller will speak before the screening and then take questions afterwards. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and has opened to excellent reviews this spring. We are indeed lucky to be able to see this film together and also get some inside information. Knowing the insightful and probing types of questions that our students ask, I will predict that we learn a lot more after the film. Mr. Miller is excited to show us the film and be able to talk about it.

We will leave school at 8:15 AM and return by 12:45 PM for lunch and afternoon classes. Students will all travel by bus to the theatre. Students who live in New York City will be allowed to meet us at the theatre at 9:15 AM, and will travel back to school by bus for the afternoon. We will assume that all New York City students will meet us at the theatre unless we hear otherwise from you. We will expect all students to return to school for classes in the afternoon.

All three trips that day will be exciting, entertaining, and educational. That is a great combination of adjectives that we hope will make for an inspiring day.

Unless you are a Class of 2019 (senior) parent/guardian, by now your child should have the Course of Study 2019-2020 booklet with descriptions of academic offerings for next year. We begin the formal registration process on Monday, and will continue until April 16. During this time students will finish making decisions about courses (and alternates when necessary), and they will sign-up online. Any remaining questions should be directed to the appropriate person(s), and hopefully you can come to final slate of classes during the next two weeks. There has been a lot of fruitful conversation this past week, and I see students coming to closure with this process. The last step to take is that you must sign the registration form, signifying that you have seen and approved of the choices that your child has made. Please remember there are also grade-specific resources that we have provided online on the Parent Resource Board, which is available after you LogIn to MyD-E.

Finally, a quick reminder that your child’s Interim Spring Grades are now (also) available to view on the D-E website (you can follow the directions at the end of this letter if you need a reminder about how to access them).  As you hopefully recall, our approach is that students were shown their grades first, in this case, yesterday. We want them to have time to think about and “own” their reports before engaging in conversation with parents. In some cases you’ve probably already had a conversation, in some your child may have chosen not to speak with you yet. We are taking time during these days for advisors to help students reflect and plan goals in response to the information contained in both the comments and grades. I hope that you will do the same; the combination should feel supportive and help your child use the reports in a productive way.

Sincerely,

Joseph Algrant, US Principal

Instructions to Access Report Cards By following the directions below you will find your way to both the grades and comments for all classes. These steps detail how to access your child’s grades:

  • Go to the My DE area of the Dwight-Englewood School website by visiting www.d-e.org and clicking on My DE at the top-right of the page.
  • Log-in to My DE using your assigned password or the password you established for yourself. If you need help with your password, please call Computer Services at 201-227-3177.
  • Click on your child’s name near the top of the page.
  • Click on Progress (if not already selected), then click on the current grade for your child immediately below that.
  • After selecting the grade, click on the Report Cards link in the Performance area.
  • You will see a link for the Spring Interim: Academic Report Card. The Report Card includes the Comments shared earlier, prior to the Spring Break. When you click on the link, a pdf file that contains your child’s progress information will open in a new window.  This file can be saved to your computer or printed directly from the screen.  These reports will remain viewable while your child is enrolled in the School.
05 Apr

Change in the College Office

After five successful years in the role of Dean of College Counseling, Rosita Fernandez-Rojo has announced that she will retire at the end of this academic year. Rosita arrived at Dwight-Englewood in the fall of 2014 following an assessment that we did about the needs and wishes of the College Counseling Office. At the time we had only three counselors, and as the program and Upper School were growing, we needed a fourth counselor, and a leader for the program. After a nation-wide search we hired Rosita, who came with significant experience at two very strong independent schools and as a college administrator and admissions officer. She began a path forward for the office that has seen important growth and development, both within the School and in our relations with colleges. She has streamlined processes and improved systems; she has helped all of us better understand the college process and work together for the success of students.

It was only after long soul-searching that Rosita has decided to retire. There is never a good time for this type of change, which she pointed out as we discussed the bittersweet nature of her decision. In the days since she alerted us, we have been looking at our options for moving forwards, understanding the importance of this position in the life of the School. We don’t usually write home about personnel changes, but in this case I want to reassure us all that we will have a smooth transition to a new dean. In anticipation of this possibility, we have been quietly reviewing resumes over spring break and we are officially opening a search process today for a new dean. We are able take this step because the pool that we are finding is very rich with experience, quality, energy, and enthusiasm for the position and for being at Dwight-Englewood.

In the next few weeks we will be reviewing and researching, and ultimately bringing candidates to campus for full-day interviews. We will be sure that a full range of people from within the School have opportunity to meet each candidate and provide feedback. It will be sad to see Rosita leave and we wish her the very best in her next chapter, and at the same time it will be very exciting for us to begin our next chapter in the college counseling program, which remains anchored by our three directors. Rosita will of course be crucial in the transition to a new dean, and she has been clear that she will be available for whatever help we need. Certainly she will very carefully transition those juniors with whom she has been working this spring to the new dean. As she has written to that group, she will feel especially sad to leave them in the middle of the process, but she feels totally confident that she will leave them in great shape and ready for the fall.

For present junior families this may feel the most disruptive and it’s natural for there to be some concern over the change, and it’s important to say right now is that the college counseling program is in great shape, ready and able to embrace and thrive from this change. This transition will neither impede nor slow down the work that is so invaluable and critical in supporting students into and through the college application process.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns. We will keep in touch as we move forwards, and look forward to the future.

15 Mar

From Joe Algrant, US Principal

Dear Families,

We reach spring break after an emotional couple of weeks. It has been tremendously uplifting to be part of the Upper School during this time because of the ways in which students responded to the acts of anti-semitic and anti-black racist vandalism. During some tense and emotional days, they were able to engage in difficult conversations and express themselves to each other and to the faculty in mature and open ways.

At our school meeting last Tuesday, we asked students, in a town hall format, just to respond to the original piece of graffiti in the bathroom. What emerged were expressions of pain for some, outrage and anger for others, as students spoke openly about how it felt having our campus violated. Most impressive was the common feeling that we needed to work together to combat this hate, and that there were things we could do to improve our student culture.  Several meetings of student leaders during the following days resulted in four tracks of action to take in response to these events and some of the other, similar, issues that emerged.

We started today with two of the tracks: education and a visible unifying action. One of the commonalities we discovered was that hate was not to be tolerated, and that we needed to understand the history of hate, and the relationship between anti-Jewish hate and anti-Black hate. We started that learning journey today with a short assembly talk that introduced the concept of hate in a historical context, as well as why it’s important to look at the roots and reality of bias. This talk sets up later events this spring that will further develop and deepen our understanding, into a more specific study of hate as it pertains to certain groups. The slides for that presentation earlier today are available for viewing; click here or visit www.d-e.org/USAssemblyMarch2019.

Today we also dressed in school colors and were presented a banner by student leaders that reads “We Stand Together,” in reference to students’ desire to demonstrate unity in the face of hate. During lunch everyone was invited to sign the banner, which will hang in the dining room for the rest of the year. In signing the banner, we hope to begin the third track of student action, which is to begin a campaign to eliminate the offensive and derogatory language that students hear too often on campus. The goal is for students to hold each other accountable for their language, and for the adults to hold students accountable for monitoring each other’s language. We don’t often hear it directly, but we will be more vigilant in general, and also help students to better monitor each other. That is a more long term outcome, but if we can even approach this goal as a result of these awful writings, it will be a proud accomplishment and legacy for the student body.  

This week was also extremely busy academically, as teachers tried to close this part of the semester in a natural place before the break begins. This is the time of year when Interim Comments are once again available for viewing and were discussed by your child(ren) with their Advisor. The instructions for how to access Comments are provided below. 

And a brief note about Academic Scheduling: We have formally begun the process of choosing courses for next year. This past Monday, parent meetings outlined the process and the choices that students have at each grade level. The powerpoint slides that each of the Grade 9, 10, and 11 Deans can be accessed here in this e-newsletter and are also posted on our online Parent Resource Board, which is accessible after you LogIn to MyD-E. Students will be spending the two weeks once we return from break working to finalize their selections, and you will be part of that process and need to sign-off on the final selection form.

Finally there are always lots of assessments this last week. Suffice it to say, students will likely reach today’s dismissal with joy, and now they will be able to relax and enjoy the break.

I hope that you all find that same relaxation and important time with family and friends.

Warmly,

Joseph Algrant, US Principal

15 Mar

2019-20 Academic Scheduling / Curriculum Night Follow-Up

Below are links to each of the Grade 9,10, and 11 Deans’ Presentations from the US curriculum night meetings earlier this week. For planning ahead with regard to academic scheduling for 2019-20, all US students will be provided today with the 2019-20 Course of Study booklets; you can also download/view the booklet PDF online at: www.d-e.org/courseofstudy

Deans’ Presentations from US Curriculum Night:

  • Click here for Grade 9 Dean, Kim Lalli’s Presentation
  • Click here for Grade 10 Dean, Brendan McGrail’s Presentation
  • Click here Grade 11 Dean, Jeremy Meserole’s Presentation

15 Mar

Comments Now Available

Instructions to Access Comments:

  •  Go to the My D-E area of the Dwight-Englewood website (https://d-e.myschoolapp.com/)
  • Log-in to My D-E using your assigned password or the password you established for yourself.  If you need help with your password, please call Computer Services at 201.227.3177
  • Click on your child’s name at the top of the page
  • Click on Progress (if not already selected), then click on the current grade for your child immediately below that.
  • After selecting the grade, click on the Report Cards link in the Performance area.

You will see a link for Upper School Semester 2 Comment form.  When you click on the link, a .pdf that contains your child’s progress information will open in a new window.  This file can be saves to your computer or printed out for your records.  These reports will remain viewable while your child is enrolled at Dwight-Englewood.

21 Dec

Upcoming Parent Ed. Events

2019 welcomes several parent education opportunities from the D-E Parents’ Association (PA) including a “repeat” of a “PEP” talk on resilience, this time in the evening as requested by many D-E parents.

„» Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (Hajjar Auditorium)

“High-Ding in Plain Sight” featuring substance abuse / parent educator Tim Shoemaker. Shoemaker returns to D-E this January (due to popular demand), and reveals the little known secrets of expert drug detection and highlights a rare combination of research proven parenting techniques. This unique seminar empowers parents to competently address the number one threat facing children today- Drug Abuse. Delivered in an engaging style that entertains as it enlightens, this course is guaranteed to have you laughing, learning and loving the choice you made to attend.

„» Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019: 6:30 – 8:30 PM (Hulst House): Resilience and Self-Reliance “PEP” Talk facilitated by D-E Parent Paola Bettelli

The Parents’ Association (PA) Parent Education Committee is offering another “PEP” talk, this time on the topic of “developing our children’s self-reliance and resilience so that they may become the masters of their own destiny.” D-E Lower, Middle, and Upper School parents/ guardians all are invited to join in Hulst House (located in Leggett Hall).

D-E Parent Paolo Bettelli will help to facilitate the conversation, which aims to discuss whether over-parenting may be hindering our children’s ability to rise up to challenges, embrace opportunities and develop their own sense of purpose and self.

In advance of this conversation parents are encouraged to check out resources provided by Ms. Bettelli (click here to view).

During this PEP talk, parents/guardians can expect to discuss strategies proposed by well-known authors on raising self-disciplined and resilient children, capable of meeting life’s challenges and of exercising their rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

„» John Kriger, best-selling author, “Tuned On and Tuned Out”: Date TBD 
Enjoy this presentation on social media and thoughtful insights for parents of children living in today’s “screen” age.

06 Dec

US Awareness Day on Gender Equity: Dec. 11

One of the great things you can do in independent school is to decide to take a day off from class and explore one particular subject in depth. The subject could be about current events, social issues, health and wellness issues, or a particular academic subject. In a very different format than regular classes, we can have the opportunity to engage topics from different perspectives, angles, and lenses. It allows students and adults to explore, and learn together, with sufficient time and space to delve deeply. With opportunity for prolonged dialogue, the subject takes on special meaning and import: having the entire population of 600 in the Upper School talking about the same things on the same day creates a synergy that lives beyond the day. We can experience the value of fruitful and productive conversation, and at the same time build spirit within the School.

We are planning to present these special days at least once a year and the first one is scheduled for next Tuesday, December 11. The subject will be gender equity. Based on some survey work we did last year in the Upper School, talking with students and faculty, and looking at the current cultural state of affairs, we believe that we will all benefit from looking at gender role and modern society. We see ongoing conversations, controversies, and contemplations about gender in the world around us, and we are impacted in school as we try to assist students in their development as young adults. 

Organized by a creative group of students and faculty, the day will include a keynote address by a nationally-renowned expert, Dr. Jackson Katz*, in gender equity and masculinity, followed by different workshops, films, and reflective discussions to process what is being presented. Students will have several choices for both workshops and films, allowing them to explore aspects of gender that are of particular interest to them. The day’s main agenda is to provide information for consideration and conversation, on a subject that impacts everyone.  * Note: To learn more about Dr. Katz, please click here or visit http://www.jacksonkatz.com/

We see this mutual exploration experience as an important day for our students and faculty, and we hope that you will support the idea at home. We will send more information soon about the available workshops and films, and perhaps you’d like to assist your child in making their choices.

20 Nov

Save the Date: “PEP” Parent Ed. Event Dec. 5

The Parents’ Association (PA) Parent Education Committee is offering another “PEP” talk, this time on the topic of  “developing our children’s self-reliance and resilience so that they may become the masters of their own destiny.” All D-E parents/guardians are invited to join in on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 8:15 AM in Hulst House. 

D-E Parent Paolo Bettelli will help to facilitate the conversation, which aims to discuss whether over-parenting may be hindering our children’s ability to rise up to challenges, embrace opportunities and develop their own sense of purpose and self. Parents will discuss strategies proposed by well-known authors on raising self-disciplined and resilient children, capable of meeting life’s challenges and of exercising their rights to  “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Questions may be directed by Email to Parent Ed. Committee Chair Erin Brown at: ehnb2000@gmail.com

20 Nov

Message from Joe

Dear Upper School (US) Parents & Guardians,

A bit of a surprise admittedly (as was last week’s winter weather), but we’re now here, on the eve of our Thanksgiving holiday break. It’s a great time to reflect on the fall thus far, and also look ahead to the coming weeks. I’ve recorded a new JoeCast (my periodic podcast), and below are some photos of recent events as well as timely reminders of upcoming US activities and programs.

Vaping, as you probably know, has become a prevalent activity amongst high school students, and a real cause for concern. Dwight-Englewood is not immune to this trend, and we know that there are many students who have thought about, tried, or are present users of these e-cigarettes, also known as vapes, with the major manufacturer being a company called Juul. The word juuling, then, has become synonymous with this activity, although there are another types of devices. Also, as I am sure you know, there are all sorts of chemicals that can be found in the juices that are vaporized and then inhaled, above and beyond the nicotine that they were created to contain.

In an effort to help our students grapple with this trend, we invited Tim Shoemaker, an expert in this area, to speak with our students and faculty. Tim had been here in May for a presentation to parents, and that was so successful that we had him return to the Upper School, and he will be coming back in January to speak at the Middle School, to meet parents, and do some follow-up work in the Upper School.

Tim’s presentation was dynamic and chock full of information, directed at delivering messages about the contents of those cigarettes, the types of false advertising that takes place and how companies are deliberately marketing these products to adolescents. His goal was definitely to inspire students to stay away from vaping, rather than risk becoming addicted or injured. He used the film Titanic as a double metaphor. On the one hand he asked the question that if you knew the end of the movie, would you have every gotten onboard the Titanic in the first place, and he likened that to the notion that if you knew what could happen to you down the line from vaping, would you ever start in the first place? Of course he picked Titanic because of the type of story it tells, something that looks wonderful and safe at the start turns into something very different later on.

Tim also delivered a lesson about media literacy and false advertising along the way, which was very well tuned to the critical thinking skills we are working on in School.

It was a jam-packed hour, and actually ran over our allotted time, and I let him go long because he was still finalizing the message, and because students were paying close attention to him. I was glad that I did, and had we not been off Friday we would have followed up right away, because there are lots of pieces to continue talking about. In lots of individual conversations after the presentation, Tim learned more about the behaviors in our school, and also how some kids are looking to quit or build the resistance skills to stay away from this behavior. We will come back to this after break, certainly, and I urge you to see Tim’s presentation when he returns in January.

Looking forward to the coming weeks, please note that Winter 2019 Driver’s Ed is once again being offered at the School by D-E 360° in partnership with FNL Driving School.  For details and to register online click here or go to www.d-e.org/driversed

In the event your Thanksgiving holiday weekend gatherings include conversation about summer plans, you may want to consider the outstanding D-E 360° International Summer 2019 trips available. Led by members of our own D-E faculty, this year’s trips include China, Italy, South Africa, and Salamanca (Spain). All the trips have an early December initial deposit deadline so it’s best to confirm plans soon. You can find details including itineraries and cost information here or go to https://de360.d-e.org/d-e-travel/

I also encourage you to ‘save the date’ for an upcoming December 5 “PEP” talk, which is a Parents’ Association-hosted parent ed. event on the topics of resilience and self-reliance. D-E Parent Paola Bettelli is graciously facilitating this conversation scheduled for Wednesday, December 5, at 8:15 AM.

Finally, a note to check out the photos included here from the events of the past week, including last week’s Fall Sports Banquet, US Diwali Assembly, and Stage Band’s Jazz Brunch, plus this morning’s All-School Thanksgiving Assembly. Suffice it to say, all these gatherings showcase just some of the exceptional talent prevalent within our entire student body, and are a tribute to both our families and our faculty/staff and coaches as well.   

I wish you a relaxing holiday weekend and look forward to seeing you all next week, after the break.

Sincerely,

Joe Algrant