KnightLife: 3-2-1 ACTION

New Year, new me. That’s how it is supposed to be, right? Well, I found that to be true, just a little bit earlier than the 2016 “resolutioners.” My new year started when I was asked to WALB Group.jpgstart a Broadcast Journalism program at Deerfield-Windsor. Of course, I was thinking, “I can’t take this on my second year of teaching,” but the teacher part of me demanded we bring this opportunity to life.

Getting started was tough. I searched the web, reached out to schools, and read every book I could find on “getting started.” In the end, I realized every school “started” from a different point which reflected what they had to offer.

On this journey, Deerfield-Windsor supported me in not one, but two development opportunities. In November, I travelled with nine students to the National High School Journalism ConventioIMG_1334.JPGn in Orlando, FL. For three days, our schedule was packed with speakers who were experts in their field. Each one of us came away inspired and ready to try something new.

Upon returning from Orlando, we needed access to local expertise, and WALB was our answer! During our behind the scenes visit on DWS Discover Albany Day, we met anchors, directors and producers who were interested in partnering with us in the future.

Due to the support of DWS, we are now working towards coming at ya live from the Design Lab! Here’s to 2016 and what’s yet to come with the Broadcast Program!

Lindsey Horton, Upper School Humanities

KnightLife: Trading Places

Middle. School. Whenever I utter those two words in succession while describing my job, I almost always get the same reaction – “UGH! That’s a tough age,” and I always come back with “Oh, it’s really not that bad.”

But it’s true: Middle School is not easy. Not in any sense. I experienced IMG_0725some of the hardships of Middle School first hand while a student, and I work with Middle School students daily, so I assumed my understanding of the trials and tribulations of students was quite strong. However, I was recently given the opportunity to revisit this experience as a student. I shadowed eighth-grader Emilee Foy on a November Thursday for an entire school day (lunch, break, P.E., etc) and was reminded of just how trying these days can be.

Now, I’m not by any means saying the day was miserable – Emilee could not have been a kinder, more patient hostess to me. Attending and participating in each of her classes was really enlightening (our teachers are ROCKSTARS!), and having the opportunity to go outside and get active during the day was really refreshing for me (can faculty have P.E.??).

That said, I felt like a complete mess all day. Usually, I consider myself to be a pretty organized person, but keeping up with my materials and belongings through more than ten locations during the day was really challenging, and I didn’t even have any textbooks. What materials I did have kept falling off those tiny, slanted surfaces our students work on. Also, our 45-minute classes seemed to go by so quickly that by the time I got settled and on task in each one, it was time to pack up and leave again. By the end of the day, I left feeling more exhausted than normal, and more compassionate towards our students and their obstacles that, as a teacher, can seem largely trivial.

Of course, our students indeed must learn the skills of organization, time management, and problem solving. The earlier they have functional use of these abilities, the better. But as I rediscovered, being a Middle Schooler, even for a day, is not a breeze. So if you are an educator or a parent, as frustrating as these little humans can be, remember we’ve all been there!

Katie Sullivan, Middle School Spanish Teacher

Déjà Vu All Over Again

As a self-described “recovering college counselor,” I have worked with hundreds of seniors over myLiberal-arts-education1 career, guiding them through the increasingly challenging admission process.  I love the process, although as my older son reminded me, “dad, just so you know, this was a whole lot more fun for you than it was for me.”  He admonished me to abandon my favorite description of the ordeal as “a wonderful process of self-discovery.”

I was certain that my days of seeing the process from the parent side of the desk was over, since my sons are 30 and 33 years old.  But, as one of the baseball heroes of my youth, Yogi Berra, so inimitably put it, “it’s like déjà vu all over again.”

My dear niece is a senior, and I had my first-ever Facetime college admission session with her recently.  Alexandra doesn’t have a dad, and since we grew extremely close in our six years together at my former, and her current school, I’m squarely on the “other side of the desk” in this process.  I will celebrate her acceptances and grieve with her over the denials that the process almost guarantees just as if she were my daughter,

But being back in quasi-parent mode has raised two perennial questions:  (1) is college worth the price tag; and (2) liberal arts or career-track.  Both are a little more philosophical for me this time around since the one part of the process that won’t fall to this “parent” is the tuition statement.

Spoiler alert: my answers are “absolutely” and “absolutely liberal arts.”

I won’t resort to trotting out the annual recitation of total annual income by education level, but the large sample of that survey trumps (is that word still ok to use?) the individual billionaire college dropouts that critics of investing in a four-year degree routinely cite.  In addition to increasing one’s lifetime income, I cannot imagine a more formative, influential four-year period.  Managing relative independence, trying on new personas, being part of a community – it would be difficult to recreate that experience.

I will concede that getting that first job is easier for an aeronautical engineering or accounting graduate.  However, having been on a narrow track for the first two of my four years of college, I am so grateful that things opened up in years three and four.  I did not even know what psychology was before my junior year of college, and after 15 credits, I wished that I had the luxury of doubling my major.  Philosophy, logic, music appreciation – all of these courses have had a positive impact on my life.

My niece was spared all of this.  We were too busy honing her list of 16 colleges to an “almost manageable” list of 11 to which she will apply.  While this process is stressful for students and parents, much to my eldest’s chagrin, I still maintain there is significant opportunity for self-discovery, and more than ever, I value the growth afforded by a liberal arts education.

Dave Davies, Head of School