New England Association of Schools and Colleges NEASC THE REPORT • winter 2008 “Sustaining the Mission in Challenging Times” NEASC’S 123rd Annual Meeting -December 3-5, 2008 Association president, Ruth J. Simmons, President of Brown University, will preside over the 123rd Annual Meeting and Conference to take place at Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, in December. Its theme, “Sustaining the Mission in Challenging Times” features a powerful and varied program involving a distinguished array of presenters including distinguished educators, policy makers and researchers. Keynote speakers will offer reflections and inspiration as they reflect on the challenges of this theme. Greg Mortenson, co-founder of Central Asia institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting communitybased education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and, more recently, co-author of Three Cups of Tea, will deliver the keynote address on Thursday, December 4th at 1:00 p.m. The remarkable humanitarian campaign he began in 1993 has led to the building of over 64 schools, which provide education for more than 25,000 children. A living hero to rural communities, he has gained the trust of religious leaders, government officials and tribal chiefs for his tireless effort to champion education, especially for girls. His incredible accomplishments are, as Tom Brokaw states, “proof that one ordinary person, with the right combination of character and determination, really can change the world.” Mortenson will be awarded one of two NEASC’s 2008 Eliot Awards at the luncheon. Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, President of Brown University, will deliver the banquet speech Thursday evening, December 5th in the Grand Ballroom at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Simmons has championed universities as a haven of reasoned debate with the responsibility to challenge students intellectually and prepare them to become informed, conscientious citizens. She has spent her career advocating for a leadership role for higher education in the arena of national and global affairs. Recipient of many honors and awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal and the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, she is a featured speaker in many venues. This includes the Greg Mortenson, Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker and Charles Eliot Award Recipient Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Charles Eliot Award Recipient White House, the World Economic Forum, the National Press Club, the American Council on Education and the Phi Beta Kappa Lecture at Harvard University. A graduate of Dillard University, she received a Ph.D. in Romance languages and literatures from Harvard and then served in the administration at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the nation. Launching the first engineering program at an American women’s college was just one of an array of initiatives undertaken during her Smith presidency. The meeting will conclude with an address by a representative for U. S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (MA) at the closing luncheon, Friday, December 5th at 12:00 noon where Senator Kennedy will also be named a recipient of NEASC’s Charles W. Eliot Award. Recipients, like previous awardees Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd (CT), David C. Berliner, Jonathan Kozol and U.S. Senator Jeffords (VT), U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd (CT), are selected by NEASC’s Trustees for consistently demonstrating the deepest commitment to, and keenest insight into the improvement of education for all students. The award is named for Charles W. Eliot, a principal founder of our Association and longest-term president in Harvard University’s history. U.S. Senator M. Kennedy will be recognized for his support for issues that benefit Massachusetts and the nation. His work to make quality health care accessible and affordable to every American is a battle that he has championed with vigor since he was first elected to the Senate in 1962 to finish the final two years of the term of his brother, U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy. Re-elected to seven full terms, Kennedy is now the second most senior member of the Senate. cont. on page 2... 1 New England Association of Schools and Colleges THE REPORT • winter 2008 “Sustaining the Mission in Challenging Times” cont. from page 1 Currently the senior Democrat on the Health, Education and Labor and Pensions Committee, he has led, promoted and guided extraordinary support for resources that modernize the nation’s public education system ‘to give every child in America a fighting chance in today’s economy.’ Kennedy’s promise on the Harvard football field turned successfully to ‘another contact sport, politics,’ where he has succeeded in the challenges of giving all children the educational opportunities they deserve. A notable example, of course, is the passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 which Kennedy stated “sends a clear message that improving college opportunities for the nation’s students and families is again a top priority for Congress. Last year, we passed the largest increase in college aid since the G.I. Bill. Earlier this summer, we made sure that students can get federal loans despite turbulence in the credit markets.” His leadership in achieving this landmark legislation is recognized as one of a lengthy and formidable list of similar successes on behalf of the future of our nation and its citizenry. Senator Kennedy’s work on enhancing sweeping “higher education reform that tackles skyrocketing costs, simplifies college aid, reins in abuses by lenders, helps the troops and gives intellectually disabled students a chance,” is only the latest example of how a policymaker can help “sustain the mission in challenging times.” Wednesday, December 3rd features Assessment Forum speakers and sessions hosted by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) beginning at 8:30 a.m. including: Jamshed Bharucha, Provost and Senior Vice President, Tufts University (MA), Nicholas Lemann, Dean and Henry R. Luce Professor, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University (NY) and Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President, Division of Government and Public Affairs, American Council on Education, (Washington, DC). On-line registration materials for the 123rd Annual meeting & Conference are found on: www.neasc.org (under Annual Meeting). Hotel reservations may be made by contacting hotels directly or linking to on-line reservations at these sites as found on the NEASC Hotel Accommodations section for The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, Westin Copley Place and Sheraton Boston (Prudential Center). 2 CIS Features Sustainability and Economic Impact at Annual Meeting A generally accepted definition of sustainability is to work to meet the needs of the present while not compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. NAIS has further defined this broad definition within five major contexts: financial sustainability, environmental sustainability, global sustainability, programmatic sustainability and demographic sustainability. Educating for sustainability has as a goal to provide learning that will enable our students to not only develop an understanding of the interconnectedness of people, systems and nature but also to enable our students to understand their role and to make decisions that will ensure that future generations will live in a world which is “built to last.” Where does a school begin to address this challenge? Where does a school begin to practice what it teaches? One of the goals of the Annual Meeting this year is to help schools to begin the conversation by seeing what other schools are doing in some of these areas. Our first session on Thursday afternoon will be discussing environmental sustainability as it applies to infrastructure. From architectural design to living off of the land, representative schools from four different Commissions will discuss what can be done to be more green and less wasteful. CIS will be represented by Charles Tierney from Northfield Mount Hermon School. This school has developed numerous initiatives to inspire their students to become better stewards of the earth. At the nine o’clock Friday morning session various commissions will introduce different ways of bringing this concept of sustainability into the classroom. How do schools develop within their students the skills, attitudes, and values that will be required both now and in the future? Torrey McMillan from The White Mountain School will be one of a panel who will present the school’s Sustainability Studies Program the purpose of which is to guide and prepare students to live as active and informed stewards of the natural world and human communities. Through this interdisciplinary and action orientated program, the school hopes that “students will be empowered to enact positive change in their world, will recognize the need for people to maintain dignity and a sense of worth, and will work toward the long-term vitality of the world’s natural systems and human communities.” Immediately following that morning program there will be a session to begin the discussion of how we gather and use the data on a school’s economic impact in a particular community to help sustain the financial viability of that school, and how do we demonstrate our value as a school to the local community our value to them while maintaining our tax exempt status? Part of this program will involve the research done by NEASC regarding the economic impact of K-12 schools. In addition it will provide insight into how some schools such as Choate Rosemary Hall, represented by Ed Griffin, have used this data to build a positive and sustaining relationship with their local community. While we have been able to invite only three schools to share what they are doing, we know that many independent schools have taken tremendous steps in this area. We invite you to come, bring your ideas and share your materials. By dialoging and learning from each other we can help meet the challenge that awaits all schools- to ensure that they prepare students, both through teaching and by example, to build a healthy future for themselves and for coming generations. NEASC 1885-2010 - Celebrating 125 Years Gregory Prince, chair of the 125th Anniversary Committee, and past president of Hampshire College, announced that students from over 40 member institutions, k-university, plan to involve themselves in the student-led initiative, “Listening to Students.” One of a number of events planned to build towards the 125th anniversary year celebration in 2010, students will begin a conversation on what they think education should accomplish and how educational institutions should be assessed. Participating and interested institutions are invited to join the committee at its reporting session, Thursday, December 4th, held at 2:15. Suggested technology to support the varied activities named by students to date will be shared by LookInLearn, an Annual Meeting sponsor. Student-led activities posed include: focusing on education as part of freshman seminar and/or leadership events in higher education, high school social studies or history courses, and as part of an afternoon, semester or year-long conversation held by student council. Plans to secure funding and identify a venue for students as early as spring, 2008 are also in progress. Interested institutions or individuals are welcome to contact the committee via NEASC’s webpage under [email protected] or Dr. E. Kampits ([email protected]) Dr. Prince chaired the first 2007 meeting of the 125th Anniversary Celebration Planning Committee this August. Committee members designated by their commissions are: Carl Stasio, Headmaster, Thornton Academy (ME), Katharine Pence, Principal, Kennebunkport Consolidated Elementary School (ME), Richard Wylie, President, Endicott College (MA), William Burke, Headmaster, St. Sebastian’s School (MA), Charlie Lyons, Superintendent, Shawsheen Valley Technical School (MA) and Katherine Costa of Suffield, CT. The committee is beginning its planning efforts in earnest and welcomes suggestions and other contributions from the NEASC constituency at all stages. Attention is being given to opportunities for member institutions and in particular, their students, to address the issues of insuring the quality of education. The anniversary celebration concluding in December, 2010 should generate a broad based conversation about the purposes of education, whether in 1885 or in our 2nd century. New England Association of Schools and Colleges THE REPORT • winter 2008 CPSS Partners with Teachers21 to Provide Professional Development for Member Schools “Exceptional! The best PD I have attended. It will make a huge impact on learning in my school!” In its continuing efforts to help member schools achieve adherence to the CPSS Standards for Accreditation, CPSS has begun a partnership with Teachers21, an organization with similar beliefs about teaching and learning. One hundred educators from five New England states and 22 secondary schools met in Franklin, Massachusetts for three days of professional development in late July. Joseph Baeta, principal, Holbrook, MA, Junior-Senior High School; Kevin Harrington, principal, Lincoln, RI, HS; and Patrick Larkin, principal, Burlington, MA, High School. “It was a whirlwind three days that re-focused my mind on teaching and learning. I wish school started tomorrow!” said one participant from Hopkinton High School in Massachusetts. Three consultants from Teachers21 – Ted Hall, Elizabeth Keroack, and Anne Steele – provided three days of programming, rooted in best practice and current research, as are the Standards for Accreditation. “Professional with passion empowering professional with passion,” said another participant. “I think this was a powerful workshop that truly supports the need for high schools to gather data, improve instruction, and look at new ways to do business. To meet the needs of our students we must be willing to embrace change. I truly enjoyed this education experience and feel I have the support I need to make a difference (in my community) for all learners.” – a participant from Campbell High School, NH Participants who attended in teams of four had significant action planning time in addition to activities and information sharing on professional learning communities, assessment practices, instructional practices, issues of equity, advisory programs, among other topics. One educator from Scituate High School, MA, said, “It’s possibly the most enriching PD experience I’ve ever had!” Ted Hall, principal, Yarmouth, ME, High School, Teachers21 consultant, member of the CPSS Commission and presenter at the workshop. In addition to the first three days of presentations and team planning, each of the 22 schools will work with a consultant to continue its action planning in fall 2008, and will attend the final day of the program on January 15, 2008. Educators who are interested in learning more about future programs should visit the CPSS website http://cpss.neasc.org or contact associate director, Ann Ashworth at 781.541.5441 for additional information. Connecticut’s Public Member Brings Experience to the Board of Trustees The Report from time to time features a brief biography of the members of the NEASC Board of Trustees. Jennifer Smith Turner is one of six Public Members, each representing on of the New England states, and she represents Connecticut. Jennifer Smith Turner is CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut, the largest organization in the state serving girls with 55,000 members and 21,000 volunteers. Prior to this, she was President/CEO of Smith & Associates LLC, a company that specializes in assisting organizations in achieving their strategic and operational potential by providing management consulting, strategic planning, and executive coaching. She is the former Deputy Commissioner for the State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development, an appointment made by Governor M. Jodi Rell. During her time as Deputy Commissioner, she is credited with reenergizing the state’s industry cluster initiative to enhance the state’s economic competitiveness and for bringing affordable housing to the forefront of the state’s economic agenda. Ms. Turner served as President/CEO of BerkleyCare Network and Vice President of W. R. Berkley Corporation (WRBC) of Greenwich, CT. In this dual capacity she was responsible for growing the occupational managed care business of BerkleyCare and providing managed care leadership to the WRBC property casualty operating businesses. Previous to this role, Ms. Turner was a leading change agent at Aetna Life & Casualty, one of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies, where for ten years she worked in a variety of executive level positions. She was a senior executive in the company’s asset accumulation businesses and focused on developing enhanced services to customers who owned multiple wealth management and retirement products. She served as Vice President, Occupational Managed Care, a joint venture between Aetna’s managed health care and workers’ compensation businesses. Starting up a business was not new to Ms. Turner. In 1993, she was selected to lead the development of Aetna’s initial venture into the direct delivery of health care services. As Chief Operating Officer of HealthWays/Aetna Professional Management Corporation, and Vice President of Aetna Health Plans, she was responsible for all start-up and operational activities of this new, fifty million dollar, primary care and health care subsidiary. Prior to this assignment, she served as Chief of Staff to the CEO of Aetna Health Plans. Ms. Turner worked for Travelers Insurance for ten years and held numerous management positions in their property casualty and financial services operations in the corporate headquarters and field offices. She served as the head of marketing for the company’s MoneyTrac business – a business designed to bring bundled financial and insurance services to major clients and their employees. Ms. Turner interrupted her insurance career in the mid-1980s to serve the City of Hartford as Director of Personnel and then as Assistant City Manager. A native of Boston Massachusetts, she is a graduate of Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and received her Masters degree from Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT and Ms. Turner is very involved in community and civic organizations. She is the Immediate Past President of the Board of The Hartford Stage Company and sits on the Executive Committee. She is a Regent at the University of Hartford where she is on the Strategic Plan and Executive Committees. Appointed by former Governor Lowell P. Weicker, she served for six years as a Trustee of the University of Connecticut and chaired the Health Affairs Committee during most of that tenure. Ms. Turner played a role in crafting the UConn 2000 capital improvement strategy and established two endowments in her name at the University, one for scholarships for African-American students at the medical and dental school, and the other for women’s athletics. She continues to be involved with Uconn as a member of an international board for the University’s African National Congress Partnership with South Africa. She is a former board member of the University of Connecticut Foundation, St Joseph’s College, Hartford College for Women, Union College, Connecticut Public Television and Radio where she chaired the finance and audit committee, Connecticut Golf Foundation, Porrath Cancer Foundation, the Foundation for Mental Health, the American Heart Association, Boys and Girls Club of Hartford, and United Way of the Capital Region. Ms. Turner is a published poet. Her first book, Perennial Secrets, Poetry&Prose was published in 2003 and her most recent book, Lost and Found, Rhyming Verse Honoring African American Heroes, Connecticut River Press, was published in 2006. She resides in Hartford, CT and Martha’s Vineyard, MA with her husband, Eric Turner. Jennifer Smith Turner 3 New England Association of Schools and Colleges THE REPORT • winter 2008 CAISA Workshop Examines the Changing Definition of National Security The definition of national security is changing as globalization and the revolution in communication technology continue to transform the international landscape. While terrorism, energy security, and proliferation have long been recognized as national security issues, non-traditional challenges, such as those arising from the changes taking place in the earth’s climate, have not. But that distinction is disappearing according to Dr. Jim Ludes, executive director of the American Security Project (ASP), who addressed participants during the CAISA summer workshop and challenged them to reconsider how they define national security. the force of our arms, yes, but also the strength of our diplomacy, the might of our economy, and the power of our ideals.” The American Security Project is a bipartisan initiative in Washington, DC, designed to engage thoughtleaders around the country on important national security issues. Ludes’ presentation was based on the work done by ASP and featured objective, data-based assessments of U.S. efforts in the “war on terror,” as well as an analysis of security challenges that may arise from changes in the earth’s climate expected by the scientific community. According to Ludes, ASP’s mission is to raise the level of discussion on national security around the country. “We engage with groups like NEASC because they are world-class educators and leaders in their communities,” continued Ludes. “They are looked to with respect and confidence, they run the best schools in the country, and they can have a major impact on the way we look at these issues as a society. We have to be talking to them.” Dr. James Ludes “It’s changing because we are coming to terms with the magnitude of the challenges we face,” said Ludes. “Gone are the days when a nation’s strength could be measured by the number of battleships or bombers in its arsenal,” he said during the workshop at Endicott College. “The challenges facing the United States today require the coordinated use of all of the elements of America’s power: David Gowell, retired assistant superintendent, Newington, CT, Public Schools enjoys a laugh at the CAISA workshop. Mark Stapleton, Ministry of Education consultant, UAE; Margaret Alvarez, CIS; Malcolm Kay, American Community Schools, England, work together at CAISA breakout session. ASP’s board includes prominent Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, including Senator John Kerry, Senator Chuck Hagel, and General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.). “My bosses are not shy,” said a smiling Ludes. “They expect us to challenge people’s assumptions, to make the public confront difficult questions and offer some hard answers. Not everyone is going to agree with us, but we hope that they leave with their minds stretched a bit by the analysis we offer them.” Ludes and the rest of the American Security Project are available to assist NEASC member institutions with presentations to faculty, students, parents, and community groups. For more information, contact Dr. Ludes at [email protected] Bill Clough is Recipient of the Jack Monbouquette Award At the annual CAISA workshop at Endicott College this past June, Bill Clough was the recipient of the Jack Monbouquette Award for service to international schools. The announcement, made by CAISA Chairperson, Carl Stasio, was met with warm applause and acknowledgement by Bill Clough’s peers in the work of international education. Bill Clough (right) chats with John Kosko at the CAISA workshop at Endicott College 4 William Clough III is the retired head of Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine, and was president of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in 1998-99. At the time of the presentation, Commission Chair Carl Stasio acknowledged Bill Clough, saying, “He has not only served NEASC faithfully, particularly as President of the Association, but he has also been a mainstay of the Commission on American and International Schools Abroad. He serves on the Commission, has helped to write important parts of the current accreditation protocol used by CAISA, has undertaken several special, delicate accreditation visits, and has been a regular Visiting Team Chair and Visitor for CAISA. Bill has been a wonderful ambassador for NEASC and American education. The fact that his wife is Scandinavian and his daughter an Assistant Director of an international school in Africa rounds out his credentials and qualifications for this award!” New England Association of Schools and Colleges THE REPORT • winter 2008 Annual Summer Workshop CPSS visiting committee chairs attended the annual Summer Workshop held at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI on July 24-25. The topic of the program, The Report as a Standards-Based Performance Assessment, engaged participants in reviewing sample reports and discussing processes and protocols to ensure identified concepts in the Standards are appropriately documented in evaluation reports. During the four interactive sessions the chairs focused on the inclusion of impact Marty Gray and Dot Galo examine samples of student work at the CPSS Summer Workshop statements, the importance of connecting concepts in the Teaching and Learning Standards and the Support Standards, increased emphasis on information gleaned from the examination of student work and student shadowing, the writing of clear commendations and recommendations, and the use of the rating guides. The final session provided each of the small groups the opportunity to share their findings and compare those findings which led to a lively and productive discussion. Principal, Tourtellotte Memorial High School, North Grosvenorsdale, CT; and Tom Moore, Principal, Wethersfield High School, CT. The two-day program was designed by Teaching and Learning Solutions, an educational consulting company, under the leadership of Duffy Miller and Bernie Cleland with input from the Commission’s Leadership Council and Commission staff. Programs were facilitated by Elaine Bessette, Retired Principal,. Bloomfield, CT; Kay Costa, Retired Principal, Suffield, CT; Joe Damplo, Media Director, Wayland High School, MA; Marty Gray, Principal, Central Middle School, Corinth, ME; Lynda Green, Superintendent, Waterboro, ME; Gary Gula, Principal, Canton High School, CT; Scott Leslie, Principal, RHAM High School, Hebron, CT; Steve Mitchell, CPSS Summer Workshop Attendees: Bob Littlefield, principal, Portsmouth, RI, High School; Alan Bookman, superintendent, Glastonbury, CT, Public Schools; Elaine Bessette, retired principal, Greenwich, CT, High School; Don Gates, retired principal, Valley Regional High School, Deep River, CT Connecticut’s Michael Savage is RJB Award Winner The 2008 Richard J. Bradley award was presented to Michael Savage, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Schools and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. The presentation was made by Jacob Ludes, III, Chief Executive Officer of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges at the 10th CAS/CAPSS Convocation on September 18, 2008. The event was held at the Aquaturf in Southington, Connecticut. When Richard J. Bradley retired as the Association’s CEO in 1994, his friends established an award in his name. The award, which consists of a monetary prize and a plaque, is given each year to an individual who makes an extraordinary contribution to the work of the Association. The individual is usually selected from the Association’s base of 14,000 trained volunteers. The two most recent recipients have been Francis Clivaz (one of Switzerland’s leading educators) and Father John Brooks (President of the College of the Holy Cross for 24 years and an NEASC volunteer for 38 years). The award for 2008 goes to Michael Savage, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Schools. Mike has been a strong advocate for peer review as practiced by NEASC. He has allocated the resources of his organization to support NEASC’s work and make CAS member schools stronger in the process. He has been a champion for the cause of accreditation for all schools K-12 and he upholds NEASC standards and protocols as the “gold standard” in the field of school evaluation. NEASC has been honored by the support of this universally respected educational leader. At a time when schools face expanding requirements and demands for multiple assessments, Mike Savage and CAS have made it possible for schools to continue to focus on comprehensive assessment and continuous improvement. Mike and CAS contribute greatly to the success of NEASC and the member schools we share. NEASC recognizes that Michael Savage has made and continues to make an important contribution to school improvement. Under his leadership CAS has been a beacon for Connecticut and a model for the six-state region. Michael Savage, Bradley Award Winner 5 New England Association of Schools and Colleges THE REPORT • winter 2008 CIHE News The Commission received a letter from Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings informing it that federal recognition has been extended for a five-year period beginning on the date of the letter, July 1, 2008. Commission staff conducted a series of meetings around the region this fall to talk about several matters of interest to member and candidate institutions, including accreditation-related changes in the re-authorized Higher Education Act, Commission initiatives on assessment and student success, and Commis- This fall the Commission welcomed a new staff member, Sara Hart, Administrative Assistant to the Director; Sara will work closely with Betsy Coldewey on matters supporting the work of the Commission. CPEMS Annual Workshop Sustainability a Focus at White Mountain School CPEMS held its annual workshop for chairs and assistant chairs in August at the Doubletree Hotel in Waltham. Presided over by Commission Chair Celeste Bowler, director of elementary education in West Warwick, Rhode Island, over thirty visiting committee leaders participated in a variety of topics focusing on the writing of the visiting committee report. Editor’s note: Torrey McMillan is the Chair of Sustainable Studies at The White Mountain School in Bethlehem, NH Maryann Minard, curriculum director for the York, ME, Public Schools presented an overview of how content areas must be examined to determine the strengths and needs of each of the teaching and learning standards and how the strengths and needs of the content areas can and should be assimilated into the final report. She told the group that the teaching and learning standards can best be observed and judged through the lenses of the content areas themselves, but, at the same time, those same content areas cannot be the single focus of the report. The presentation was followed by small group activities designed to assist chairs and assistant chairs to develop protocols for use with upcoming teams. Other topics addressed at the workshop included evidence gathering, classroom observation, teacher interviews, parent meetings and the introduction of surveys to the CPEMS protocol. Maryann Minard (Right) works with Martha Borden (Left) on a report. 6 sion support and assistance to institutions in times of increased expectations in an uncertain environment. Seven meetings were scheduled between late September and early November, with one meeting in each state and two in Massachusetts. By Torrey McMillan Sometimes, I think I am among the luckiest teachers around. Why? Because when I am asked what I teach, my answer is complicated by the fact that I don’t teach exclusively in any one of the traditional disciplines. In the past year I have taught in the English, Science, and History and Human Values Departments. Additionally, I instructed Farm and Forest, an alternative option in our sports program, led a community service trip working with a refugee resettlement program, and took students sea kayaking on the coast of Maine to study the Atlantic fisheries. Yet, within the diversity of what I do, there is an underlying theme and a unifying department of study - sustainability. The White Mountain School’s Sustainability Studies Department was founded six years ago to build upon and focus the school’s commitment to environmental stewardship, community service, and social justice. Since then we have expanded our course offerings, redesigned some courses, and instituted graduation requirements in the department. The department’s design builds on two core ideas: 1) learning both the why and the how of active citizenship and 2) providing multiple and diverse points of entry into the principles and practices of sustainability. Learning the why and how of active citizenship In order to graduate from White Mountain, students are required to take both a theory based course addressing sustainability issues and to meet an action requirement. Building upon academic research findings on behavior change and effective environmental education, our department structure and requirements aim to give students foundational understanding of our economic, social, and ecological systems and how they interact with and depend upon each other. These discussions include analysis of what is and what is not working well in our current structures and engage students in envisioning better systems. In these classes, students are developing core understandings of current issues and the habits of mind central to someone seeing the world through the sustainability lens. Unfortunately, it often seems that this is where the lesson ends in school. If we stopped here, however, our mission to educate our students to be active citizens is only partially complete. At this point, students are left with the dilemmas and challenges of our world hanging over them without being given the opportunity to develop the tools needed to make change. One of my graduate school professors once explained that a person might know why she should make compost and, in fact, want to make compost, but if she doesn’t know how to make compost, she’s not going to make compost. Likewise, students may learn why people in developing countries lack clean water and feel compelled to do something about it, but if they don’t have the tools in their toolbox to take action, they aren’t going to do it. This is where the action component of the Sustainability Studies Department comes in. The action requirement can be met either through one of several semester-long classes, through a season of work with our Farm and Forest program, or through an approved internship or independent study. These are the times when students develop skills in how to make change. Like the theory based classes, the options for meeting the action requirement are broad, allowing students to select what kind of action skills they want to develop – political, scientific field work and environmental planning, hands-in-the-dirt farming and construction, or community projects and initiatives. cont. on page 7... New England Association of Schools and Colleges THE REPORT • winter 2008 Sustainability a Focus at White Mountain School cont. from page 6 White Mountain School Sustainability Studies Department Structure Theory Action •Conceptual •Habits of mind •Interdisciplinary •Process oriented •Skills in “doing” •Project based •e.g. Comparative Economic •e.g. Climate and Energy Development, Connecting to class, Field-based Environmental Place literature class, Science, Farm and Forest While we are constantly working to improve the teaching and learning in the Department, the basic structure seems to be functioning well. Shortly before graduating last year, one of our seniors, Chelsea Heath, reflected on her experience in the Department: 20thC Latin America Multiple and Diverse Points of Entry As much as I love compost, not everyone is enthralled with the idea of turning kitchen scraps into a rich soil amendment for our gardens. However, the student who remains neutral about food production on campus might get excited about taking on the challenge of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Or, perhaps he can relate to the teenagers in M. T. Anderson’s Feed who have lost all connection to place and environment and are struggling with defining their own identities. Maybe she gets excited by the design challenges of our times and the idea of using nature as a source of inspiration for time-tested solutions. Leave No Trace principles taught on wilderness trips might make a lot of sense to one person, whereas the ethic of giving back to our school community through caring for the physical place may speak to another. There are so many ways to engage with the big ideas of sustainability. At White Mountain, we offer this multiplicity of entry points. The benefits of doing so are several. First, with so many different avenues and disciplines to explore sustainability, there is likely to be at least one (and likely more) to which each student can relate. Second, by spreading sustainability across the disciplinary spectrum (really making it trans-disciplinary), students are more likely to understand that sustainability is not a particular content area, but rather a lens through which to see the world that can be applied in any field of study or any part of life. Finally, the trans-disciplinary approach helps students make the connections between different elements of sustainability, and build a broader understanding of its core ideas and applications. When they arrive in Comparative Economic Development and can bring their experiences on the farm or working with the refugee resettlement program to the discussion we are having on economic security and environmental integrity, the experience in each setting both reinforces and adds depth and breadth to their understanding of the issues. The sustainability department here at school didn’t teach me to respect the world we live in. It taught me how to respect it. The very structure of the sustainability department has broadened my understanding of how I can help. The action credits allow me to directly make and [sic] impact and see the difference that my work has made while the theory credits allow me to see the big picture. For example, in Environmental Science, our group decided to test the water in the Ammonoosuc River above and below Wal-Mart. We got to see the direct results of our work. As a result of this project, I went on to do water quality testing with White Mountain Summer for the state. It was exciting to teach other students about something that I had really learned to love and to then see the data we collected sent to the state to be put to good use. Imagine the potential force for positive change that could emerge in our world if all students graduating from high school left empowered like Chelsea, knowing something of the challenges we face, able to envision a brighter future, and holding within themselves the confidence and empowerment to know that they can be the agents of change to bring this about. Bob Fitzgerald Honored Bob Fitzgerald, the Commission’s longest serving chair, was honored by all at the CPSS Summer Workshop for his extended years of service to the Commission. Bob who retired from the Winchester Public School System after having served in a number of positions, including several years as superintendent, was recognized for chairing a record-number thirtyfive (35) visiting committees. His years of commitment to and support of the accreditation process has earned him the respect and admiration of educators in all six New England states as well as current and former Commission members and the Commission staff. Congratulations, Bob, for an honor well-deserved. Pam Gray-Bennett, CPSS Director and veteran chair Bob Fitzgerald 7 New England Association of Schools and Colleges THE REPORT • winter 2008 Please Remember to Save The Date for the 123rd Annual Meeting & Conference New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC) December 3-5, 2008 at The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts Please refer to www.neasc.org or to NEASC mailings. o o o o o o o NEASC gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors for their generous support of our 123rd Annual Meeting. Educational Records Bureau The Report is a newsletter published by The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The Association’s offices are located at: pms 187c, red / pms 431c, gray 209 Burlington Road Suite 201 Bedford, MA 01730 Phone: 781-271-0022 Fax: 781-271-0950 www.neasc.org 8 US POSTAGE PAID Burlington, MA Permit No. 96 Non-Profit Org. NEASC is a voluntary, not-for-profit agency serving more than 2,000 member institutions throughout the six-state region and in over sixty countries worldwide.
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