What do Portledge School and IKEA have in common?



What do Portledge School and IKEA have in common?
What do Portledge School and IKEA have in common?
by Simon Owen-Williams
Have you ever baked muffins with your child? Repaired a bicycle
with them? Done some gardening together perhaps? Constructed
some IKEA furniture, even? If you have, you will know how much
more meaningful that experience can be than having someone
else do it for you. It is not just the level of pride and the joy you
experience when you work together as a family on a common
task, research shows us that “the hidden effect is that the person
genuinely begins to believe that the product is worth more than
would be justified objectively.”1 This is known as the IKEA effect
and I believe it to be a vital component of 21st Century education!
If you ‘google’ 21st century education, invariably you find yourself
bombarded with a bewildering set of criteria. Your search will produce
everything from knowledge needed in the new world (in what remain
rather traditional subject disciplines), to the themes which must be
woven into curriculum (including, but not limited to, civic literacy,
health literacy, and environmental literacy). Added to these themes
and knowledge are the various skills required for success (usually
listing the four C’s of communication: creativity, critical thinking and
collaboration), a set of information and technology literacy that will
be essential (information, digital and media), as well as “the need
to pay rigorous attention to developing life and career skills” (such
as flexibility, productivity, accountability, leadership, intercultural
skills) and so on.2 This list is just a small taste of what educators are
talking about. There is so much to consider, it can truly make your
head spin!
Behind all the good, albeit rather technical information, is the main
promise of 21st education; that it will ultimately better prepare your
child for college and for the world they will soon inherit. With this
approach to learning, it is hoped that students are much more likely
to be successful. The National Association of Independent Schools
(NAIS–our parent organization) has produced a great deal of
interesting information on this subject, making the case in favor of
forward thinking [For more on this please look at: https://www.
nais.org/articles/documents/naiscoaschools.pdf].3 In many ways,
the case to shift our focus in schools could not be stronger.
Former NAIS President Pat Bassett, has described the times we
are in as “quite simply the most exciting time to be in school…
ever.” Recognizing that things have changed, he says, “learning
communities across the country are having deep conversations
about what is the best way to deliver teaching.” 4 These
conversations are long overdue.
At Portledge, these discussions started in earnest over five years
ago. The simple premise our team began with was that we can
inspire students to be more actively engaged in the learning
process. We knew that we could accomplish this specifically by:
Hiring the best teachers and committing to keeping them
abreast of the latest pedagogical practices through ongoing
professional development.
Incorporating some of the highest ranked programs into our
school such Reggio Emilia, Singapore Math, Project Based
Learning and IB/AP.
Looking at our campus as an educational ecosystem, utilizing
resources outside, as well as inside, the classroom
(e.g. creating a virtual campus).
Exploring pedagogical approaches through curriculum design
and mapping.
As I have said before in this publication and on twitter
(@portledgeschool), Portledge was already doing a host of
wonderful things when I came here in 2012/13. Portledge was,
and still is, a vibrant and terrific place where children grow in
confidence and independence. We need to keep much of what
has historically made this a fine school, yet, for our students to
remain competitive in this increasingly globally interdependent
economy, we need to do even more. Indeed, like Sisyphus, our
work should never truly be complete.
To this end, today the Portledge Experience is clearly focused on:
A blend of student-centered and direct instruction in the classroom.
Building a robust technology infrastructure that supports our
partnerships with other educational institutions.
Maintaining small classrooms, improving facilities, and fully
utilizing our campus as a teaching tool in itself.
Developing strong character education.
Expanding experiential learning through field trips and
international exchanges.
Introducing additional key educational programs such as IB,
Reggio Emilia and Singapore Math.
Instituting practical and advanced classes involving STEAM
(science, technology,engineering, the arts and mathematics)
such as Robotics, Introduction to Engineering, Coding and
Advanced Drama.
Building a community of lifelong learners that includes both
teachers and students alike.
Our Strategic Plan (found on Portledge.org) demonstrates the path
that we have created to accomplish these lofty goals. Our recent
rapid growth clearly shows that Portledge is a school “on the rise.”
We are building a strong identity and taking our rightful place as
one of the best independent schools on Long Island. If we continue
to work hard and stay focused (and get great support from our
constituents) I believe this trend will continue.
Our aim remains to create a school where children will be
academically challenged, encouraged to think, inquire and communicate,
where they will learn to collaborate and be kind, where they will
actually enjoy learning. Schools should not be boring, toxic places.
They should be, as Pat Bassett says again, “electrifyingly interesting.”4
When students are engaged in the learning process by making and
creating, when they are truly part of that experience, it comes to
matter to them much more than if they are simply the passive recipients
of that education. This is the IKEA effect I began with. It is based
upon a relatively simple principle; “Whenever someone takes an
active role in the production of a positive outcome, then he or she
is disposed toward valuing that outcome more positively.”5 Students
and faculty are coming to deeply value our work together. Learning
and teaching in this environment can be difficult and at times
frustrating. To get to a ‘completion point’ you need to make many
difficult and important decisions and sometimes even start again.
You need to make a personal investment into the goal and take
some ownership of your own education. From my perspective, the
efforts and investment of time and energy made by the entire community
are clear to see. It is time to recognize this and build upon it.
isible Learning and the Science of How we Learn by John Hattie
and Gregory Yates 2014
4 Pat Bassett being interviewed by NYSAIS on Youtube:
The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely
How Does Our Middle SchooL
Program Prepare Students
for an Unpredictable Future?
by Susan Edwards-Bourdrez
In the 21 century, with rapid-fire
advances in technology, we must prepare
students for jobs that have not yet been
created, technologies that have not yet
been invented, and problems that have
not yet developed. How do we do that?
Computers can do much of the rote
work, so the 21st century skills (creativity,
collaboration, communication and critical
thinking) are of the utmost importance.
Habits of mind (curiosity, persistence,
reflection and resilience) encourage a
growth mind-set, enable students to adapt
to ever-changing times, and prepare them
to take on new challenges.
How is all this fostered
within the Middle School
The core courses (English,
history, math and science)
are still very important. In the classroom
we are covering less material (since so
much can be instantly googled), and
drilling down more, to solidify essential
understandings and build long-term retention.
We strive to develop deeper reading and
critical analysis, to counteract shorter
attention spans and multi-tasking. We
incorporate time for meaningful reflection
and revision. Opportunities to communicate
effectively in various mediums are built into
our curriculum. In Interdisciplinary Arts,
for example, students create their own
stories and then put them to music. Brain
research shows that making connections
increases retention and understanding,
so that is an integral part of much of our
coursework. Through thematic-based
units in history such as “Innovation and
Technology” students learn about our past
and make meaningful connections to what
is happening in the world today. Students
in English explore works of literature
such as To Kill a Mockingbird that inform
their thinking as they grapple with what
is in the news. Through inquiry, students
investigate local environmental threats and
possible solutions, and then present to their
peers on Earth Day. Our students go to
the DNA Learning Center in Cold Spring
Harbor for hands-on learning. Our campus
itself serves as a resource for the natural
sciences, as well as the arts. Students
pursue passions and explore new interests
in electives like coding and robotics, or
clubs like photography and chess. In this
age of global connectedness, students
study French or Spanish, and can choose
to take an elective in Italian or Mandarin.
Our technology course develops good
digital citizenship in addition to teaching
important skills.
Music, theater, and the visual arts are
also vital components of our program,
effectively developing essential 21st century
skills and habits of mind. Our offerings are
extensive (chorus, band, orchestra,
interdisciplinary arts, a Middle School
play, a theater arts elective, studio arts,
digital photography, and woodworking)
and devised to challenge students at every
level. In the arts, for example, students
study the elements and principles of
design, and have opportunities to work
individually or collaboratively to create
pieces that reflect their learning. (Check
out the masks in our Atrium!) Students
perform musical works from around the
world, sometimes in other languages,
and also have the chance to create their
own compositions.
Our advisor program provides the individual support and guidance that leads students to become more responsible, and to
develop confidence in their ability to make
good decisions. Advisor conversations
offer time for reflection, encouragement
and problem solving. At Middle School
meetings “Good Egg” awards highlight
kindness and thoughtfulness. Our 7th grade
Perspectives course helps develop empathy
and awareness. The two fundamentals of
the Middle School, honesty and respect,
set clear expectations for ethical behavior. To
further promote well-being and a healthy
mind and body, essential at any age, we
offer Health courses, and in 6th grade we
have instituted a mindfulness program.
Our athletic offerings develop teamwork,
sportsmanship and athleticism, and lifelong skills such as yoga, fitness and tennis.
Ultimately, students leave Middle School
with the knowledge and skills that pave
the way for lifelong learning. Most
importantly, they have learned how to
learn. That in itself is perhaps the best
preparation for the future!
21st Century learning At Its Best
by Saralyn Lawn
A beautiful example of 21st Century, student-centered learning
came to me recently in the form of two second graders, Will Rigg
and Griffin Cavrell. Will and Griffin decided they wanted to write
and illustrate a book about zombies during art class. Because
students are afforded choices in art class where they have various
centers from which to work during each class, Will and Griffin
were able to get started with their idea right away.
For several weeks in art, the boys worked collaboratively to write
and illustrate their story. The resulting book is a great example of
what young students can do when given the resources and latitude
to dive into something they are keenly interested in pursuing. Once
they had their book written and illustrated, they decided that they
wanted to take it a step further and used an app called Book
Creator to make a digital version of their book. They carefully
photographed each page of the book and recorded themselves
reading it with great expression. The boys were familiar with
the app, having used it during library class with Mrs. Maguire.
Working independently, the boys figured out how to use the
software effectively and worked to solve the problems they
encountered together.
While their Book Creator video presentation was impressive in its
own right, Will and Griffin decided that they could perhaps truly
animate their story if they made some type of figures to produce
a Stop Motion animation of their zombie story. Working together,
they came up with the idea to create characters out of clay, paper
and paint. Working with a backdrop, they are using the figurines
to produce the next rendition of their book using iMotion, another
app available through Ms. Benter.
problems and challenges they encountered along the way during
this project. They have taken ownership of their own learning
and have gone deeper and further than a teacher might have
imagined. Their process of creating, collaborating, problem-solving
and revising their ideas and work has been delightful to witness
and their end product is an impressive example of 21st Century
Learning at its best.
Ms. Benter has been wowed by their ability to work through the
21st Century Education
Acknowledges The World It Lives In
by Harry Grzelewski
Where I was growing up it was cool to bash school and mock
our alleged education. One of my favorite slams comes in a
rollicking, upbeat song by Paul Simon that my friends and I
crooned at graduation:
“When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all
And though my lack of education
Hasn’t hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall.”
“Kodachrome” by Paul Simon, 1973
I love this song and do not think it is necessarily disrespectful
toward education, but filled with insight. The speaker does not
say he learned nothing in high school. He simply does not value
what he learned, even though he implies he learned a lot. I love
his variation on Mark Twain’s famous line, “I have never let my
schooling interfere with my education.” Whatever the world is
throwing at Kodachrome’s speaker, he sees it coming and he
deals with it. OK, maybe that is a tad disrespectful, but in
1973, when Simon wrote the song, he was not the only voice
complaining about an education and educational system that
were firmly rooted in the Middle Ages, at worst or wedded to an
agrarian economy or mentality at best. As education for the elite
grudgingly took on the masses, it cynically became a vehicle for
delivering a rigid curriculum but, more importantly, inculcated
notions of conformity and obedience. It was the education
many of us inherited in the 60’s and 70’s.
The rhetoric around education changed faster than a chameleon’s
color but the lizard remained. The 21st century brought new ways
of doing business along with new technologies, new discoveries,
a flattened world, and an opportunity to disrupt and adapt.
21st century education is catching up and changing to support
a world that requires creativity, collaboration, communication
and critical thinking.
Education in the 21st century acknowledges the world it lives in.
In my world, Think Different would have been circled in red ink.
Your children have no hope of working at Apple if they are not
creative. Creativity, once thought to be the mysterious requirement
of art and poetry, is encouraged in engineering design and
robotics; it is a part of problem solving in math; and in history,
students grappling with primary texts are often expected to
imagine the implications and consequences of a world that has
not left behind written records.
Two heads were better than one when I was growing up, except
when taking a test. Collaboration reminds us that learning to play
with others is a good thing. All businesses continue to place a
value on individual talent, but as students work together in a lab to
test a hypothesis, or combine their talents to put Andrew Jackson
on trial, they learn to think in ways that tap into multiple points of
views and ways of understanding.
Thinking has always been a good thing, but imagine what
happens when we understand how we think. And just as the space
race seemed to ratchet up anxiety about math and science skills
in America, imagine the importance of communication in a world
where a 140 character tweet can cause a riot within minutes
in any city in the world. Thinking deeply about what we learn,
stepping back to understand how we think and what steps need
to be improved, and then being able to share and explain our
knowledge in multiple ways have become cornerstones in 21st
century learning.
Education is still about information; think of how much more information
there is since the Middle Ages.
Education is still about having skills; whether we use those skills in
solitaire or together, the growth of the world has created a growth
in problems to solve.
Education is still the key to a beautiful, successful, and fulfilling life,
and adaptation continues to insure our survival and ability to flourish.
21st Century Learning in
Early Childhood
About a month ago, I happened to walk by the pre-Kindergarten
class and was drawn inside by the excited voices I heard
coming from the students. As I walked in, I found all thirteen
students and teachers sitting around a large canvas. The canvas
was blank except for a sprinkling of art supplies and various
hardware that included paint, a license plate, and nails. With
direction and careful attention, each child worked to form these
tools into the first initial of their name. This hands-on activity
gave the children not only an opportunity to practice naming
letters, but an engaging kinesthetic experience that I won’t
soon forget.
A common practice of the Reggio Emilia inspired classroom
is to invite experts to share a lesson or activity with a class.
These experts are often parents or family members of students.
Ms. Henry’s pre-Kindergarten class invited a current parent,
who is an artist, to create an interactive, collaborative, large
scale painting of a French flag. This wonderful project was born
from a simple but creative idea his daughter came up with. The
expert guest connected
the project to the work
of famous artist Jackson
Pollack, who is known
for his drip art. The
students were able to
make the connection
that one person’s work
can inspire another.
After all of the hardware was carefully
placed on the canvas,
the students patiently waited their turn as each of them dipped
a yardstick in a can of paint and dripped the paint over the
canvas until their creation was complete. Each child added
their own unique touch, making this canvas come alive with
innovation, creativity, and perspective!
by Leigh Farrell
Ms. Henry and the special guest tied
in the importance of “going with the
flow”; an important social/emotional
lesson about how their work—or
their day—does not always have to
be perfect or look exactly like they
imagined it would. With change, new
possibilities can emerge. Students
learned to look at things with a different
lens and how simple materials can
be transformed into a work of art. A
month after this unique project was
completed, you will still find young
learners gathered around it, conversing about and analyzing
their work. Children are given time to think about and share
their ideas, and understand the importance of respecting different
perspectives. We can all look at the same painting but interpret
it differently.
So why did Ms. Henry devote
an hour of classroom time to this
project? The Reggio Emilia approach
to early childhood education
encourages teachers to provide
opportunities for children to dive
deeply into their interests and ideas.
Collaboration, communication,
creativity, critical thinking and
innovation are at the heart of this
educational philosophy. The French
flag project is simply one example of
how 21st century learning is incorporated into the early childhood
classrooms. At Portledge School, students as young as four years
old are learning necessary skills to be active citizens in the
21st century and beyond.
21st Century Learning in
Seventh Grade English
English is a subject that easily lends itself to
21st Century learning, particularly critical
thinking, communication, and creativity.
There are so many innovative, yet rigorous
ways to stimulate minds and assess
student understanding.
When teaching text annotation, instead of only focusing on
underlining key ideas and important quotes, I ask my students to
make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-history connections. They are
encouraged to question, debate, and rationalize whether or not
they agree with the decisions of the characters. In one assignment,
I had students choose a character with whom they morally disagree
and find a way to defend this same character. This kind of analysis
allows students to take ownership of the books they read in class,
not just remember the plot and important events.
For their independent reading book reports, students had twelve
different options. Some of these choices included: creating zodiac
signs for three of the main characters, writing letters from the
characters in the book to the author, making a fake Facebook/
Instagram/Twitter account for the main characters, and writing
and performing a script for a talk show, based on the characters
in their novel. Traditional book reports require students to recall
information from the book. My approach allows students to show
their understanding of themes and character development in a
unique and personal way.
One of my goals this year is to make my students fall in love with
writing. I put a strong emphasis on creative writing, providing
the students with many different modes of inspiration. They have
BY Janice Taubman
written pieces based on four different movements of the classical
piece Peer Gynt. In learning about figurative language, students
had to describe a picture, using similes, metaphors, and specific
adjectives. More recently, I brought in eight objects. Students had
to choose an object about which to write. The object could be a
part of the story, or the students could write from the perspective
of the object.
Recently, I have put into effect what I call a “tiered challenge”
approach to teaching. Whenever applicable, whether it be for a
Do Now, a journal response, or even a homework assignment, I
provide my students with three options, all challenging, but each
one more challenging than the next. This allows students to choose
the one that they think will push them further.
It is very important for students to be able to
articulate their thoughts and develop the
confidence needed to present these thoughts in
class. For Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, students
will choose a character from the novel and
write a monologue for this character, using the
language, dialect, and slang from the time
period. The monologue will focus on the climax
of the book and how the chosen character feels
about that event. Students will then perform this monologue for
the class.
The middle school age is a time to question, argue, and discover.
In my class, I aim to provide the tools to help students create their
own voices and to express themselves accurately and effectively.
Exchange Program with
THE Grange School in Santiago, Chile
This year, we were happy to inaugurate our exchange with The
Grange School, in Santiago, Chile with a visit from four 10th grade
students and two of their teachers. The initiative for creating this
program came from by Mrs. Caroline Ereshkin, the mother of
Nikolas (‘18), who has family ties to this prestigious institution in
Chile. The Ereshkin family volunteered to host one of the visiting
students and was joined by other very generous and hospitable
Portledge families: the Caviezel family (Nicolás, ‘17), the
Dobler family (Celine, ‘18), the Espinal family (Lauren, ‘18), the
Silverstein family (Lili, ‘19), and the Kalman family (Talya, ‘18).
Our sincere thanks go to these families for hosting and for making
the program such a success. The Chilean group was led by English
and Technology teacher, Nicole Brown and included José Andrés
Marambio, Antonia (Anto) Ríos, María Paz (Pacita) Lyon, and
Valentina (Vale) Gonzalez. They arrived in the afternoon of
January 7th, 2016 and Nicole’s colleague, Alberto Contreras
(6th Grade Spanish Teacher) came to campus the following day
to benefit from what has
been a linguistic, cultural
and very fruitful professional
exchange for the students
and teachers! Both Nicole
and Alberto gave lessons to
Spanish classes in the Middle
and Upper School, and
observed lessons in Lower
School. They also spent
long hours “talking shop”
with the Portledge faculty and administration. What the adults
gained through these interactions, however, must pale in comparison
with the rich experience had by the Chilean and American teenagers
who participated in the program.
The Chilean students picked a program of courses to follow and
diligently attended classes, making attempts to participate when
appropriate. In addition to courses in English, the group worked
with members of the Visual Arts and Performing Arts departments.
José and Antonia loved Mr. Myers’ Graffiti Art class. All three girls
attended classes with Mr. Jerry Krause who reported that, “in my
photo class, the girls were happy and excited to use the cameras,
they volunteered to assist and model with their American counterparts
and displayed considerable photoshop skills. They also enjoyed
working with clay in sculpture creating masks.” Mr. Bill Peek
welcomed Paci, “a fine pianist, [to] sit in with the Jazz Combo.
Although she did not have background in jazz, she took to
improvisation quickly and delighted us with her contributions.”
Vale and Antonia enjoyed the drama class with Mr. Jason Dula,
where theater games were able to completely eliminate any
language barriers.
New York City. For example, last Wednesday, while teachers,
parents, and students were busy with conferences, the Chileans
saw “School of Rock” on Broadway, visited the MoMA, and
delighted in the bright lights of Times Square after dark. The most
meaningful moments, however, were those that bound the students
in friendship with each other—whether during a round of “paintball”
or bouncing on trampolines or simply staying up past bedtime
talking and giggling. The second part of the exchange--during
which the Portledge students will travel to Santiago—is already
in the planning stage. So too are a number of “virtual” joint
projects--internet blogs and video conferences--that will bring
together students of all ages, from both schools. What is already
certain is that the connection between our two schools has been
given a solid foundation. For now, we wish our Chilean friends
un buen viaje de vuelta a su país. ¡Hasta Pronto!
When not in school, the students had the opportunity to tour
both our local area (a field trip to Sagamore Hill) and
Portledge Cares
Haysi, Virginia has a per capita
income of about $18,000 per year
and a median household income of
about $30,000 annually. The economy
is based primarily on coal mining,
and an 80% decline in the price of
metallurgical coal over the last three years has shut down most of
the area mines and devastated the community. Unemployment is
over twenty-five percent, based on last years’ numbers, and rising.
This past December, Portledge families donated an overwhelming
supply of gently used clothing, coats, and toys that were delivered
to the Sandlick Elementary School in Haysi, Virginia by Mr. and
Mrs. Manners on December 17th.
Sandlick School officials, and the students, were incredibly
thankful. The pictures of the students with their new clothing, coats,
and toys visualize just a small sample of their gratitude towards
our community for helping such a poverty-stricken area. Portledge
is considering curricular
connections related
to the history of the
area and/or potential
pen-pal opportunities
for students in some
grades. We are hopeful
that, by donating
directly to another elementary school, our students will be
able to better understand the experience of those in need,
and feel a deeper connection with a philanthropic project
that builds on character development.
Our many thanks go to U-Haul for the generous donation of
the 10 foot truck to transport the donations, and to Mr. and
Mrs. Manners for making the 1400 mile round trip.
Character Development Inside and Outside
of the Language Classroom
Language classes offer a perfect opportunity to develop
the character of our students. Here students open themselves
up both by risk-taking as they communicate using the target
language, and by seeking knowledge about different
ways of being in the world. Students learn to be curious, to
explore the unfamiliar, and to develop a balanced perspective,
as they also reflect on their own language, tradition,
and identity.
Another way the character of our language students grows is
through the contact we offer with members of outside communities.
First, let us consider the growing population of students from China
who attend our school year round. In the Upper School, students
have organized an extracurricular club, the Portledge Cultures
Club. This is a venue that welcomes new-arrivals to the United
States and allows them to share knowledge of their traditions with
their American peers. Portledge’s third annual school-wide
celebration of the Asian New Year (coming up in February) is one
example of this kind of exchange. So are the activities (like the
“World Food Day,” celebrated this October) and outings to local
museums and restaurants that the club plans. Since the Portledge
community is diverse, all our students have a chance to learn
directly from their fellow students not only about China, but also
about Poland, India, Jamaica, Norway, and countless other places. Mutual respect drives these students’ endeavors.
students in the Lower School, where she answered questions that
the 5th graders asked her in French! The open minds and hearts
of members of the Portledge community should be considered a
credit to our school.
For those who may have missed it, please click on the link here
(https:youtu.be/jd3dYC0R9Wg) to see the video created by
Portledge students and sent to our Locust Valley sister city
Sainte-Mère-Eglise in France! In response to the video, we received
several emails from teachers and students from the schools in and
around Sainte-Mere-Eglise, saying how touched they were by this
message.” A big thanks to all video participants including editor
Lauren Espinal (‘18), editorial assistants Sabriya Kahlfan (‘18)
and Kayla Guo (‘18), and French teacher Mrs. Barbara Cope.
Recently, Emma Burel, a senior at the lycée (high school) in Caen,
France and a resident of our sister-city Sainte-Mère-Eglise (visited
by Portledge students in 2014), came to spend two weeks in the
home of Patrice Narasimhan (‘16). This experience was not only
wonderful for Patrice, who displayed tremendous generosity and
caring, but also for all those who had the pleasure of spending
time with Emma, she attended classes, contributing when she
could, and developed friendships with her American counterparts.
Mr. Cappuccio, who included Emma in his class discussions
noted: “our interactions with Emma helped students question their
assumptions and I witnessed them develop a willingness to accept
someone new into their community.” Emma also said “bonjour” to
Portledge Robotics
Portledge School’s Robotics 1 and Robotics 2
classes completed their final tests and redesigns
of their robots for the FIRST Tech Challenge
(FTC) qualifier competition that took place on
January 30th at Syosset High School. This year’s
competition was called Res-Q and consisted of
three periods per round: “Autonomous,”
“Driver Controlled” and “End Game.” During
the 30 second Autonomous period, student
robots executed preprogrammed routines to complete specific
tasks, like parking in a designated area or moving game elements
from one location to another. Things got even more exciting in the
Driver Controlled period when students picked up game controllers
to drive their robots, attempting a number of new tasks. In the End
by Danny Nelson
Game, students could either
continue to score points
available during the Driver
Controlled period, or they
could attempt two new challenges: hang the robot from
a 5’ high pull up bar and/ or
engage the “all clear” signal.
This was Portledge’s third
year participating in the
competition, and the second
year bringing two teams. I am
proud to say that we made it
to the semi-finals, losing by a
close score of 2-1.
FTC Team 7417 is made up of students: Emily Appenzeller’16,
Ethan Axelwitz’12, Ian Bank’12, Sander Davis’17, Stephanie
Goldstein’16, Josh Yoder’18, AnAn Yu’16, and Vincent Zhu’17.
FTC Team 8818 is made up of students: Jordan DeCade’17,
Eli Genzel’16, Nik Ereshkin’19, Josh Flowers’16, Lizzy Jame’16,
Tim Wang’18 and Ke Cheng Yu’18. The teams are coached by
Mr. Coleman and Mr. Nelson.
the college
counseling Curriculum
by Karen Crowley
One of my goals this
year was to work
with the faculty and
administration to create
a developmentally
appropriate, holistic,
four year college counseling curriculum within
the upper school. I believe that a thoughtful,
purposeful, innovative and educational
college counseling curriculum helps students
to feel well-informed, less stressed and overwhelmed, and better organized throughout
high school but especially as they begin the
application process. The college application
process favors students who are strong
critical thinkers, who communicate well
and who are creative. These are skills we
hope to showcase in Portledge applicants.
What does this look like in practice? For 9th
grade it means that we lay the foundation
with an evening event designed to educate
families about college admissions in general
and college counseling at Portledge School
specifically. It includes an open door policy
for all 9th and 10th graders to come in and
ask questions or just chat. For 10th grade it
means that we will begin to encourage a
better understanding of the landscape of
college options. What is a liberal arts
college, a national university, a STEM or
arts based college? Concurrently, students
will begin to explore their strengths via a
Strength Finders tool available in Naviance,
our college counseling and application
management software. A college tour will be
available to 10th and 11th graders looking
to explore different types of schools starting
this June.
In the 11th grade, students begin a more
thorough process of careful self-assessment
that forms the basis of finding “best-fit”
colleges, and learn about the logistical
elements of applying to college. All juniors
attend college counseling classes from
January through June where we address
topics such as college visits, interviews,
resumes and essays through interactive
activities that promote clear communication,
collaboration, and creativity. This summer
I will be offering a series of “Application
Boot Camps” in the last two weeks of
August for all 12th graders who are looking
to accelerate the completion of their
applications before school starts.These
practical, fast-paced, targeted and hands
on workshops will help students to focus
on specific tasks in the college application
process such as completing the Common
Application, brainstorming essay topics,
and writing both the main essay and the
supplemental ones required by many
colleges. In 12th grade, our focus turns
to finalizing college lists and essays both
through college counseling class and
individual meetings.
The college process is an opportunity to
refine and use 21st century skills in practice
and a real-life way. By finding and using
their strengths students learn to manage the
college process in a way that increases the
educational value of the experience. With a
comprehensive approach Portledge students
will understand the elements of the process
that are beyond their control and maximize
those that are within their control, resulting
in a less anxious and more deliberate
approach to making important decisions
about their futures.
REMINDER: All Juniors should schedule their first individual college counseling meeting by the end of February!
by Patricia Baehr
December celebrated Portledge students’ music class
achievements in a series of Winter Concerts including:
The Upper School concert, held December 8, featured the Orchestra,
Concert Band, Chorus, Jazz Combo and Flute Ensemble in a series
of musical numbers that impressed and entertained the audience.
The Middle School 7-8 Concert, on December 15, highlighted
extremely enjoyable performances by the Girls Chorus,
Boys Chorus, Orchestra and Band.
December 14th saw a successful inaugural “bridge” concert linking
music students in the 5th and 6th grades. Showcased on that night
were the entire fifth grade singing together, the Lower School
Chorus, the Grade 6 Band, the Grade 6 Orchestra and the
Grade 6 Chorus.
In January, fifteen middle and upper school students, selected on the
basis of their exemplary NYSSMA scores, represented Portledge in
the All-County Music Festivals. I had the proud pleasure of attending
their concerts, held at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, over
the January 15-17 weekend and can attest to the excellent quality of
the students’ achievements. The honors ensembles were comprised of
Nassau County’s top-achieving musicians, and delighted packed
halls with polished
performances. Hearty
congratulations go to
Division 2‘s Amy Wu
’22 (Orchestra), Stephen
Macchiarulo ’22 (Band),
Katherine Bell ’22 and
Anna Chavez ’22
(Chorus); to Division 3‘s Katherine Wu ’21 (Orchestra), Christian Dam ’20 (Band), Julie Fine ’21 and Christen Luongo ’21
(Chorus); to Division 4‘s Gabriella Rabito ’19 (Orchestra), Nate
Biblowitz ’19 (Band), Max DeMarco ’18, Talya Kalman ’18 and
Cole Mastacciulola ’18 (Chorus); and to Division 5’s Alexander
Horn ’16 (Orchestra) and Diana Lee ’16 (Chorus)!
The NYSSMA Solo Festivals will take place at various locations
this spring including:
Great Neck North High
School (Piano, registration now closed) on
March 18 and 19
Herricks High School
(Vocal and Instrumental
Levels 5-6 and All State,
registration deadline:
February 26) on April 8
and 9
Port Washington
(Vocal and Instrumental
Levels 1-4, registration
deadline: March 8)
on May 4 and 5
Registration forms are available on the Portledge website and from
our music teachers.
A Perfect Score
Serra Sozen ’19 earned the highest possible ACT Composite score
of 36. Nationally, while the actual number of students earning the top
score varies from year to year, on average, less than one-tenth of 1%
of students who take the ACT earns the top score. Among test takers
in the high school graduating class of 2015, only 1,598 of more than
1.92 million students earned an ACT Composite score of 36.
The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics,
reading and science. Each test is scored on a
scale of 1–36, and a student’s composite score is
the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the
optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported
separately and is not included within the ACT Composite score.
In a letter from the ACT chief executive officer recognizing this
exceptional achievement, the CEO stated, “Your achievement on the
ACT is significant and rare. While test scores are just one of multiple
criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions,
your exceptional ACT Composite score should prove helpful as you
pursue your education and career goals.”
Panther Den Update
by Penne Nieporte
A sincere thank you to the entire Portledge community for an
incredibly successful 2015 at the Panther Den! Our success
is certainly a testament to the support provided by our
wonderful community.
As a reminder, many items purchased at the Panther Den
can be personalized with a name or individual sport for a
minimum fee. Additionally, the Panther Den will be hosting
a “theme of the week” sale moving forward, with select
items on sale for 25% off.
Make Me A MatcH
by Leslie Moseley Rioux
Did you know that February is matching gift month?
With many corporations offering matching gift programs
as incentives for their employees to give back to the
community, now is the perfect time to make a personal
donation and have your company match it! Check with
your company’s Human Resources department
today to see just how you can make double the impact!
Please contact Leslie Moseley Rioux at
[email protected] with any questions.
Denim & Diamonds
On Saturday, March 5th we will celebrate the
Portledge School Denim and Diamonds Gala
at the Pine Hollow Country Club. The funds
raised through this event support a variety of
programs here at Portledge. The success of
the Auction depends on the generosity and
dedication of the entire Portledge community.
Here are some ways to get involved in this
year’s Auction:
Donate an item
Take out a Journal Ad
by Betsy Todd
Become a sponsor for the event
Volunteer to set up on the day of the event
Attend the event and have fun!
As a reminder, the deadline for donations,
sponsorship, and Journal Ads is Wednesday,
February 10th. Please bring all forms
and donations to Betsy Todd in the
Advancement Office.
For more information about attending,
donating an auction item or other
volunteer opportunities, call Betsy Todd at
516.750.3244 or email [email protected]
For more Auction Information, head to
www.portledge.org/auction or contact
Betsy Todd at [email protected]
Host Families Needed for the
2016-2017 School Year
by Kim Baratoff
Becoming a host family is a unique opportunity for your family to gain a
valuable cultural experience, while making a lifelong connection to people from
another part of the world! As a host family you will be giving an exceptional
young person from another country the opportunity of a lifetime, as they live
with your family and experience the language, customs and culture of our country.
Portledge School provides host families with a stipend to off-set the cost of room
and board. If you are interested in finding out more information, please contact
Kim Baratoff at [email protected] or by phone at (516) 750-3203.
The Portledge Arts Council is thrilled to
announce this year’s winners of the Winter
Wonderland Portledge Arts Council Raffle:
arrison Kay ’22 won two tickets to the
Broadway Show “Finding Neverland,”
along with two signed cast playbills and a
mini stage/backstage tour after the show.
indy Wittels (P’21) won two tickets to a
Second Stage production of “Smart People”
with Joshua Jackson, Mahershala Ali,
Anne Son and Tessa Thompson.
rika Millet (P’28) won two tickets to the
New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center.
onia Kantu (P’24, P’20) won a Kindle
Fire HD 8 – 8GB Tablet.
Jennifer Gross (P‘18) received a one-year
general membership to the Sands Point
Preserve including brochures, the
membership, a hat and carry bag.
We would like to thank the parents,
grandparents, faculty, staff and
administrators who have supported this
worthwhile event by donating items or
purchasing tickets. Thanks to your generosity,
we will be sponsoring several events
this year including:
Upper and Middle School Town Meetings
where silent film historian Ben Model, will
perform his own original scores and share
his passion for silent film with students.
A Junior Docent Program which gives an
opportunity to the fourth and fifth graders
to go to the Heckscher Museum in
February for a wonderful art and
museum education program. The fifth
grade students take the lead in guiding
students during the museum visit; the
fourth grade students are the visitors
receiving the tour.
Next, as part of our speaker series (which strives to bring
Portledge alums back to school to share details of their
career path and experiences) we will be hosting alumna
Rebecca Resnick Gick ‘95, a well-respected fashion and
accessories editor. Rebecca is one of the top celebrity
stylists and fashion consultants to high profile personalities.
She will be giving a presentation, followed by Q&A to the
upper and middle schoolers during a Town Meeting. We
hope to continue to sponsor more art-related events and
thank the parents, faculty, administrators and P.A.C.
members for their support and guidance.
Alumni Updates
Participants Needed
We are looking for alumni to participate in the Student/
Alumni Externship Program. Current students will accompany
alumni to their workplaces on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.
The program is designed to offer students a one-day
immersion experience in a career field of interest coupled
with the insight and perspective of a Portledge graduate.
For more information, contact Tara Askeland at
(516) 750-3205 or [email protected]
Alumni Accolades
fter an accelerated graduation from Smith College a
semester early, Unsa Malik ‘12 will be attending UPenn
School of Dental Medicine this fall!
ortledge graduate Douglas Murray ‘99 has been
selected as a member of the San Jose Sharks 25th Anniversary
Ice Hockey team. Douglas was drafted by the Sharks
during his senior year at Portledge, and was part of the
San Jose organization from 2005–2013.
Call For Class Parents For
2016-2017 School Year
Become a Class Parent and be the connection between the teacher,
the parents in your child’s class, and the Parents Association.
This is a wonderful opportunity to directly help the students of
Portledge School. Portledge has benefited tremendously from many
wonderful class parents [moms and dads!] through the years.
by mel mooney
If you are interested, please ask your class parent to submit your
name into our nominating committee by March 1st.
Please feel free to contact Betsy Todd with any questions at
[email protected]
upcoming EVENT
Portledge School Invites You To Join Us on
Saturday, February 6 from 11 am to 1 pm
The Reggio Way
Ideal for ages 1 - 8
Come out of the cold for this FREE winter event that will
engage your child in a variety of fun-filled activities, including:
n winter outdoor play (weather permitting) n painting
n creating with clay n light exploration n and more!
Refreshments will be served. Warm or Cold.
For more information, contact Leigh Farrell at (516) 750-3224
or email [email protected]
355 Duck Pond Road, Locust Valley NY 11560 www.portledge.org/dayofplay
Follow us on Twitter @PortledgeSchool
Vice President
L S Assembly
WED (2/3) @ 8:45am
New Year Assembly
WED (2/10) @ 2:00pm
S Parents Coffee
THURS (2/4) @ 8:30am
chool Closed
THURS (2/11) - MON (2/15)
L S Parents Coffee
FRI (2/5) @ 8:30am
chool Resumes
TUES (2/16)
Day of Play
SAT (2/6) @ 11:00am
Docent Field Trip for 4th and 5th Grades
WED (2/17) @ 8:40am
e-enrollment Contracts Due
WED (2/10)
Childhood and 1st Grade
Family Breakfast/Art Fair
THURS (2/18) @ 9:30am
9 and 9A to DNALC
FRI (2/19) @ 8:30am
I SE Chess Tournament
FRI (2/26) @ 4:00pm
Adventures Summer Sampler
SAT (2/27) @ 11:00am

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