Teacher Blogs

Creative Faculty Learn, Reflect and Lead!
Posted 10/26/2017 05:39PM

By Lisa Vardi, Director of Cross Divisional Curriculum

October 2017

I am so lucky to work and learn with such an incredibly creative and dynamic group of people. For the past month Kelsey Donegan has organized the Bullis Faculty and Staff Art Show, now on display in the Blair lobby. Close to 20 Bullis artists submitted work to enrich the Bullis community. From Matt Zigler's animal prints to Anita Havas' stunning landscape photos, all works displayed a spirit of joy and giving; color and beauty. Students and parents walk through the lobby, stop and take in the creative talents of our faculty, and become surprised and elated at the same time.

Our faculty's creative talents were also on display during Maestro Renzo Maggi's recent visit. The Italian sculptor spent three weeks on the Bullis campus creating an original bas-relief for the Discovery Center. He also worked with students in a variety of classes and led many workshops, including one for students and faculty combined. Maestro began the session with a demonstration of creating the sculpture we would all work on: a bulldog, our school's mascot. Teachers from across disciplines including art, Spanish, math, STEM, dance, the international program, the library and robotics participated in this project. Even our wonderful Parent Association President, Livia Christensen, joined in! She had been serving part-time as Maestro's translator during the three-week visit, but was now ready to join in as a fellow artist-in-resident!

Ms Shih-Kahn, Upper School Art teacher, commented, "This was an enjoyable experience for me to see the teachers use a medium they are not familiar with and try to translate what they were seeing on a two-dimensional surface into a three-dimensional sculpture. Clay is easy to manipulate and with just a few changes, each staff member created a unique bulldog with an individual expression!" Kathleen Pappano, English language learning specialist, proudly submitted her bulldog to the faculty art show!

Bullis is a community of learners and givers who take risks and challenge ourselves to grow. Not only during the school year does our faculty grow, but they find time every summer to recharge, explore and create beautiful art. Bullis teachers may apply for a Summer Renewal Grant that allows faculty to create their own learning experiences. This past summer three faculty members were awarded grants: Renee Berry, Alana Hill, Kira Orr.

Dance teacher, Alana Hill, traveled to Barcelona, Spain to participate in the The Creativity Workshop, a learning experience designed to help participants learn practical strategies to stimulate their imagination and innovative thinking. The workshop used many techniques to guide this process including creative writing memoir, art, photography, storytelling, mapmaking, mindfulness and guided visualization. Ms. Hill wrote and produced a creative video story of her journey, which I encourage you to watch here.

Learning Support Director Renee Berry traveled to Berkeley, California to participate in The Greater Good Science Center's Summer Institute for Educators. When asked why she decided to participate in this experience, she shared that she has observed a recent quantum shift that has been happening in education. She believes that schools are beginning to adopt social-emotional learning, mindfulness, character education, and other non-academic programs due to the rapidly growing body of research on social-emotional learning —or what the Greater Good Science Center calls the "Science of Prosocial Human Development and Education." She further explained that schools are integrating these skills in developmentally and culturally appropriate ways into all areas of education, such as school and classroom climate, teacher-student relationships, adult relationships and well-being, content, and pedagogy. Ms. Berry hopes she might bring these topics to the forefront and generate engaging discussions around how to successfully integrate these social-emotional skills into our Bullis curriculum and community.

Kira Orr, Assistant Principal in the Upper School, participated in Leading the Effective Upper School, a summer institute in Delaware, which helped her prepare for her new role in the Upper School. While in Wilmington, Ms. Orr worked closely with 14 new or aspiring Upper School division heads to understand and further develop their personal management style. Topics they studied included student centeredness, inclusive practices, transgender policies, fostering positive relationships with the administrative team, mission statements and strategic plans, and conducti effective faculty evaluations. The group spent a lot of time grappling with case studies to learn how to approach difficult situations. Ms. Orr received an intense and rich orientation for Upper School life and came home with a great sense of excitement and eagerness to meet new challenges in her work this year. What she most appreciated about the experience was that she met and bonded with talented leaders who can serve as a network for advice, feedback and support. Overall Ms. Orr found the experience collegial, informative and empowering.

Bullis faculty is ever-growing and changing to create an enriching experience not only for students but for their own lives. Learning never ends...

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