Ted Heavenrich - The Taft School



Ted Heavenrich - The Taft School
Winter 2016
In this issue
Winter 2016
Why Financial Aid Matters
By Michael J. Hoffman ’97
An Educator of the
Very Highest Order
Ted Heavenrich Retires
Edited by Debra Meyers
13 14 24 42 84 88 On Main Hall
Taft Trivia
Alumni Spotlight
In Print
Around the Pond
Alumni Notes
From the Archives: Shinny
m Teacher Laura Monti ’89 offers a “Silly Science” class for local visiting students on Community Service Day.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
On Main Hall
Winter 2016
A Word from Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78
Volume 86, Number 2
Linda Hedman Beyus
Director of Marketing and Communications
Kaitlin Thomas Orfitelli
Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications
Debra Meyers
Robert Falcetti
Alumni Notes Assistant
Natascha Schwartz
On the Cover
Math teacher Ted Heavenrich, who retires
this year after 40 years of teaching
and mentoring Taft students.
Heavenrich recently received the
Tien Family Teaching Award.
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Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Faculty Turnover: On Loss, Gain, and Opportunity
I’ve been thinking about faculty turnover at Taft: why it happens and what it means for a school.
Turnover, of course, is an inevitable and necessary part of all organizations: schools, universities, law firms, hospitals, and corporations. It’s how they change and grow. If there is loss, there
is also gain.
A small percentage of Taft’s 125 faculty leave each year. There are many reasons. Teachers just
want a change, switch professions, go to graduate school, move to be closer to an aging parent, take
on a new role at another school, decide to be at a day school, or seek more social life than you find
in Watertown. I’ll have these conversations this year. I always hope that all teachers can find what
they seek professionally and personally at Taft, but I know some—maybe six, maybe a dozen—
will leave. That’s the loss part. The gain part happens when I remind myself that every departure
means a new face in September. Every great teacher you knew in your student days or you see on
campus today? He or she came because someone left. So, turnover is opportunity.
This spring, we will see another part of faculty turnover: retirement. Several great teachers will
end amazing careers. Take Don Padgett. He has “only” been at Taft for 14 years, but he’s been a
math teacher, department chair, curriculum designer, and track coach since 1976, at several great
schools—a true schoolman. They don’t make math teachers much better than Don, and his ability
to challenge and stretch all kinds of students—from BC calculus to lower level algebra—is legendary. Don’s known as a brilliant classroom teacher, with a tough, no-nonsense approach, and if there
was an award given to the teacher who gave the most extra help, it might go to Don. He just won’t
let students fail. He sets a really high bar and then says, “You can reach it, it won’t be easy, and I’ll
help you.” He has also been a revered cross country and track coach: he’s worked with some recordsetting runners and relay teams, and loyalty to him runs incredibly deep in his athletes. I don’t
recall who left in 2002 to open up a place when I interviewed him, but I knew we would be getting a
singularly committed, passionate, and experienced teacher. How lucky we were.
Take math teacher Ted Jewell, who came in 2004. Ted graduated from Harvard, got a law
degree from the University of North Carolina, and spent most of his career practicing in Florida.
He came into teaching almost by accident: he found an old undergraduate math exam he had
taken at Harvard, and almost on a lark he solved a couple problems he had missed decades earlier. That got Ted thinking: “This math stuff is pretty fun.” So he started tutoring and teaching,
picking up a master’s in computer science from Yale on the way. When he interviewed at Taft, I
knew he was a man of rare and fascinating intellect. Ted’s passion for problem solving and for
trying to figure out how each student’s brain works is inspiring. You see this when he gives help
to an AP computer science whiz, or when he talks about why a student struggled with a basic
concept, or when he summarizes data he has gathered from a football game. When Ted left the
law, a lot of Taft students and teachers were really fortunate.
Of course, as many of you know, we will also see three legends retire: Ted Heavenrich, Rusty
Davis, and Linda Saarnijoki. One alumnus said this to me: “Those are some tall trees falling in the
forest.” Indeed. This column hardly offers the space needed to pay tribute to these great figures,
but I’ll give it a try, knowing we will celebrate them in print and person in the months ahead.
Ted seemed a fixture already when I arrived as an upper mid in the fall of 1976. Holder of the
Mary and Robert Stott Chair, he has served as department chair, math teacher, soccer and hockey
coach, dorm head, advisor, outdoor club leader, class dean, and on and on. Ted graduated from
“Every departure
means a new face
in September.
Every great teacher
you knew in your
student days or
you see on campus
today? He or she
came because
someone left.
So, turnover is
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
From the
“When I think of
these amazing
teachers, it is
impossible to
calculate what we
lose. But turnover
is part of every
school—it’s loss
and gain—and
I remind myself
of how lucky we
have been, how
enduring will be
their legacy, and
how important
an opportunity
we have to shake
the hand of a
new teacher in
September and say,
‘Welcome to Taft.’”
Cranbrook School in Michigan, where his father was on the faculty, and he was a math major and
varsity hockey player at Oberlin, a camp counselor during summers. It’s as if he was born to be a
teacher. In my travels, alumni often ask about Ted, or “Heavy Ted”: “I see pictures of him, and he
never changes!” It’s true, at least if you mean that for about 40 years he has brought incredible
warmth, passion, humor, expertise, energy, and intelligence, every day, in and out of the classroom.
When you think “school man,” you think Ted Heavenrich. He’s still at the top of his game, and it’s
impossible to put a number on how many students he inspired and counseled and taught, how
many colleagues he mentored, since the day he arrived in 1975. (For more about Ted’s life, see the
feature on him in this issue.)
As for Rusty and Linda? A place to begin is here: Can a teaching couple do more for a school,
together and individually, than Rusty and Linda? I’m at the front of a long line of teachers who
were mentored by them, blessed with their friendship, and inspired by their dedication. Linda,
a graduate of Middlebury and then Columbia, holder of the William E. Sullivan Chair in English,
deserves a book on her role in the school as a teacher, administrator, and visionary leader. She
has done basically everything at Taft, and all of it incredibly well: teacher, coach, advisor, dorm
head, class dean, department chair, section leader, director of professional education and growth,
dean of faculty, director of the library, chair of too-many-to-count ad hoc committees, and on and
on. She has brought singular professional commitment, depth of compassion, insight into school
culture, and passion for learning. She mentored scores of teachers and inspired a generation of
women leaders. She is the absolute model of what teaching at Taft at its very best can look like.
And what of Rusty, holder of the Donald Oscarson ’47 Master Chair? It’s hard to know where to
begin: one of our greatest coaches ever, a fascinating and riveting physics teacher, class dean and
dean of students with the rarest of perspective on adolescence, and an assistant headmaster with
unique wisdom, humor, and judgment. He led some of our most important ad hoc committees,
including ones that examined our daily schedule, interdorming policies, and student leadership and
elections. He has guided Taft in some of our most challenging moments. A summer camp counselor
at Camp Dudley, Rusty arrived in 1972, a Choate and Princeton graduate, with degrees in aerospace
engineering, not sure how long he would teach. Forty years later he is still at it, teaching physics
and life. Great organizations have a compass that points the way forward, no matter the conditions: Linda and Rusty have been Taft’s compass.
When I think of these amazing teachers, it is impossible to calculate what we lose. But turnover
is part of every school—it’s loss and gain—and I remind myself of how lucky we have been, how
enduring will be their legacy, and how important an opportunity we have to shake the hand of a
new teacher in September and say, “Welcome to Taft. You are joining an incredible faculty.”
Willy MacMullen ’78
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Esty Remembered
Editor’s Note: Because the fall issue was
already at press, we were unable to include
this fine tribute to John Esty by Headmaster
Emeritus Lance Odden in our previous article.
The Bulletin regrets this unfortunate timing
and thanks Mr. Odden for his remembrance.
In the tumultuous decade of the 1960s,
John Esty introduced profound changes
beginning in his first year when he challenged Taft’s well-entrenched faculty to
consider moving from our traditional pedagogy and curriculum to a world where
the excitement of learning might take
hold. His love of John Dewey was palpable
and contrasted so with the Thorndikean
ethos which had held sway under Paul
Cruikshank. John believed that students
should be granted far greater freedom
to explore intellectually, to manage
their lives, and to learn from their mistakes. He challenged the faculty not to
dictate or to tell, but to inspire student
learning by helping them come to their
own understandings, while highlighting their strengths and clarifying their
weaknesses. He opened Taft’s windows
m Former headmasters Lance Odden
and John Esty
and in flew the excitement of change.
However, change did not stop with
the life of the mind. John dramatically
expanded Taft’s racial and socioeconomic
reach. He introduced the process by
which Taft became coeducational, one
of the very first residential schools to
do so. That these dramatic changes were
endorsed by the entire faculty contrasts
markedly with the agonizing experience
of so many of our fellow boarding
schools and is a true testimony to the
power of his vision and leadership.
My own life was profoundly influenced
by John Esty. When he was selected
headmaster, he visited the school, met
with faculty, and, in my case, persuaded
me to stay on through his first years.
continued on page 6—
Taft has an excellent collection of
works of art throughout its buildings,
many of which were donated. Do you
know who did this painting and where
it hangs at the school?
Send your guess to the editor
([email protected]). The winner,
whose name will be randomly chosen,
will win a surprise Taft gift.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
The rest is history. I became one of his
agents of change, beginning with the
Independent Studies Program, which
we created in 1964 and introduced the
next year. John appointed me head of
the History Department at the tender
age of 27, and, three years later, assistant headmaster—what a chance he
was taking! Every day I learned at his
side. Other than my parents, no one had
a greater influence on my early life.
I was also privileged to serve on the
board of the National Association of
Independent Schools while he was president. Again I watched his determination
to change institutions for reasons of social
justice as he built bridges to public education, challenged all schools to be socially
inclusive, and moved NAIS from Boston to
Washington to influence the educational
conversation nationally, while protecting
the freedom of independent schools.
A creative thinker and bold leader,
John Esty would go on to lead throughout his life. However, no institution
was more essentially changed for the
better than was the Taft School
developmental crises would be felt at
Taft as well, and of course as in fact they
did during the upheavals of the ’60s.
The last time I saw John was years
later at an NAIS meeting in Los Angeles,
and we enjoyed a beer and a long talk
about those years at Taft, and I reminded
him about that talk and what it had
meant to me in my own role in education.
—Richard Geldard ’53,
former Taft faculty member
The Real Lesson
Editor’s Note: Here, we have included a letter sent to Headmaster Willy MacMullen
’78 about his column On Main Hall:
Today I reread your “why” column in the
fall issue of the Bulletin, and the reality
came to me and prompted this letter.
Taft meant a great deal to me and by this
I mean both the masters who stretched
my mind and my fellow students who
made me feel important. I learned the
necessary rudiments of subject matter,
but I also learned more about myself,
and that was the real lesson. I had never
been a “leader” and thus I was never a
class president or anything like it, but I
was beginning to feel that I might have
something to offer; I was also beginning
to get involved. By the time I attained
a doctorate, I also had the assurance
necessary to help mold other minds,
and I spent 35 years of my life as a college professor. More importantly, I was
becoming involved in community and
social organizations to the point that in
each instance I soon became the leader
and endeavored to make each group the
best that it could be. In other words,
my Taft experience helped me to realize
my own potential and, by extension, to
benefit others, which meant that I had
truly lived up to the motto, not to be
served but to serve. Thank you for your
message because it was a true awakener;
my life no longer is writ in big strokes,
but still I feel I can make a difference.
—Bill Thompson ’49
—Lance Odden, headmaster emeritus
John Esty and I both came to Taft in the
fall of 1963, he as head and I as a new
member of the English Department. What
I recall so vividly was his opening faculty
meeting, when John chose to highlight
the work of the psychologist Eric Ericson
of Harvard and his work with what he
first coined “the identity crisis,” that often
critical time in the life of adolescents
when they left the familiar world of family and home and became independent
and at liberty to become themselves.
John then posed a challenge to the
faculty to watch carefully for this crisis
or development and to be caring and
informed listeners. I knew right then
that Taft was embarking on a new and
bold path. John’s sensitivity to the
challenges of maturity and assuming
the responsibilities of adulthood came
from his role as freshman advisor at
Amherst, and he knew rightly that these
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
We asked if anyone could tell us more about this photo of the girls’ hockey team
in the last issue’s Alumni Notes section. Here is one response:
The hockey photo in the [fall] Bulletin most likely was the 1979–80 season, based
on the players and coaches in the picture. My guess would be March of 1980.
Alumni Spotlight
Unpacking Advanced Computing
Standing above Base Camp on
Mount Everest a few years ago, Murray
Sargent ’59, had, quite literally, a peak
experience. “Exhilarating and extraordinary,” he says, and those are fitting words
to describe his career. This is a man who
built early computers, who studied and
taught laser physics, who continues to
work with a new generation of engineers
at Microsoft and blog about advanced
computing even though he’s at an age
when most of his peers are retired.
Sargent is a software engineer for
Global Experience Text in Microsoft
Office, developing ways for international
text to be incorporated into the software giant’s word processing programs.
That means helping computers decipher characters used in languages like
Vietnamese and Korean so that users
can employ Microsoft programs. He’s
even looking at ways to include Egyptian
hieroglyphics into Microsoft programs.
He began working with Microsoft
in 1992, devising ways to incorporate
mathematical typography and editing into Microsoft’s various programs.
His blog, Math in Office, (another project that keeps him busy) delves into
the technical side of computing most
laypeople would find bewildering.
The blog features “a lot of technical stuff,” Sargent says. “Some of the
posts are generally relatable; others
are totally far out and technical.”
Making advanced computing accessible
Murray Sargent
’59 hiking in the
Grand Canyon
with a friend.
—Mike Karin ’81
continued on page 11—
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Alumni Spotlight
Alumni Spotlight
Landmark ruling
Magistrate Judge Karen Stevenson ’75 on
the bench with the Honorable George H.
King, chief judge of the Central District of
California. Barnet Photography
Karen Stevenson ’75 doesn’t
need to consult court rulings or transcripts to discover a legal precedent.
She is one in her own right. And
the Los Angeles-based jurist has the
robe to prove it.
Stevenson is the first AfricanAmerican woman to serve as a federal
magistrate judge in the Central District
of California. Her appointment last
August to the bench—the district covers seven counties and nearly 20 million
people—burnished Stevenson’s already
impressive résumé as a trial lawyer.
“The whole thing is very challenging,” Stevenson says. “You just never
know what the next case will bring.”
The career-making opportunity for
Stevenson, who applied to be a judge,
followed an exhaustive vetting process
that took nearly a year. There are 24
full-time magistrate judges and one parttimer for the district. The job comes with
a heavy load of homework and a learning
curve for the Rhodes Scholar. There are
120 active cases on Stevenson’s docket,
a mix of civil and criminal proceedings at various levels of development.
“I have a mountain of filings that come
in from litigants every day,” Stevenson
says, crediting her two clerks for helping her navigate the legal maze.
One of Stevenson’s first cases that
garnered media attention involved a
Peruvian national who was caught by the
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service smuggling
endangered orchids from Australia during
a layover at Los Angeles International
Airport. She sentenced the man, who
stashed the flowers in a pillow and toy
box, to two years of probation and a
$7,500 fine. “The criminal side of it
is all new to me,” Stevenson says.
Another major function of the
job is signing search and arrest warrants, which requires Stevenson to be
on call once every few months. “You
can get a call at any time,” she says.
Her first exposure to criminal matters came as a pro bono prosecutor in
Los Angeles County handling misdemeanor cases. “This was a wonderful
way as a young lawyer to get trial
law experience,” she says.
Stevenson’s area of expertise is civil
litigation, much of it complex and involving major corporations. It has earned her
acclaim from her peers, who nominated
her to the Top 100 Women Litigators
by the Women Lawyers Association
of Los Angeles. In March 2015, Savoy
Magazine named Stevenson one of the
nation’s most influential black lawyers.
Some of her highest-profile cases
came at the height of the housing crisis
of 2008, when financial institutions were
unwinding mortgage-backed securities.
She worked both sides of the legal morass,
representing plaintiffs and defendants.
“I’ve represented investors
suing to recover for alleged securities fraud,” Stevenson says. “I’ve also
defended financial institutions and
shareholders from such claims.”
Stevenson is accustomed to breaking down barriers. As a teenager from
Washington, D.C., she was among the
first group of young women admitted
to Taft when the school became coed.
“When you’re 14 you don’t really
think about it,” Stevenson says. “You
don’t really have the long view.”
Stevenson, who has 22-year-old twin
sons, served as a Taft trustee under current Headmaster William R. MacMullen
’78. “I just marvel at how the school has
continued to be very progressive while
travelers, but locals and investors also
make up our base market,” Britell states.
While Britell has always enjoyed writing—as an undergraduate at Harvard he
contributed to the Crimson and to the
New York Sun newspaper—it was not until
he was on a fellowship to study archaeology in Israel following his graduation
that he realized he wanted to pursue it
more seriously. The Caribbean website
idea gelled after he entered law school.
“I took a class in Caribbean law,
taught by a Jamaican professor, and it
opened up the world of the Caribbean
to me, including its culture and British
Common Law,” explains Britell, who
also had spent many years traveling to the Bahamas with his family.
After the law class, Britell worked
with his professor on a project, the
Caribbean Law Yearbook, while simultaneously writing for a New York real estate
online news platform, The Real Deal.
The two projects helped him conceive
the business opportunity. “I realized
nobody was doing anything digitally on
the Caribbean, so I started Caribbean
Journal during my last semester of law
school, in 2011,” explains Britell.
As with any start-up, Britell’s fledgling
business was not without its hurdles. He
had plenty of writing and editorial experience but less advertising and marketing
expertise, so he had to learn on the job.
The first few years the website evolved
from featuring strictly news content to
including tourism and travel topics in
order to broaden the audience organically through targeted content. Britell
notes that it’s this combination of news
and travel information that differentiates Caribbean Journal from other sites.
At the end of 2012 he brought a partner on board; other employees include
a travel editor, a contributing writer,
and a web designer. Britell’s day-to-day
activities include regular travel from his
home base of Miami to Caribbean destinations to meet with contacts, write
stories, and take photos for the website.
Caribbean Journal continues to
grow: this year, Britell launched Cuba
Journal (www.cubajournal.co) with a
new partner. “There’s so much interest
never retreating from its commitment
to academic excellence,” she says.
Stevenson personifies that excellence,
having earned a Morehead Scholarship to
the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill, where she was track and field captain.
She later attended Oxford University
as a Rhodes Scholar and earned her
law degree from Stanford University.
Stevenson is a trustee for the Rhodes
Trust and district secretary for the
Rhodes Scholarship selection committee in Southern California. She is also a
board member of the Arts and Sciences
Foundation of UNC-Chapel Hill. “I have
really been blessed by the institutions I
have been associated with,” Stevenson says.
When she’s not engrossed in motions
and briefs, Stevenson practices yoga and
is a huge fan of the Stanford Cardinal
sports teams. She’s taking piano lessons
and went to Costa Rica for a monthlong Spanish immersion program. j
—Neil Vigdor ’95
Sunny Skies for Tropical Start-up
The website is a virtual vacation.
Photos of crystalline waters and sugary
white beaches beckon, viscerally pulling
the viewer in, instigating spontaneous
mental calendar clearing and trip planning. The menu tabs are equally enticing:
“Discover,” “Live,” “Experience,” “Taste.”
And while news is a major feature of the
site, there’s also a tab titled “Rum.” Alex
Britell ’03 wouldn’t have it any other way.
As founder, publisher, and editorin-chief of Caribbean Journal, a leading
digital magazine (www.caribjournal.com),
Britell has created a unique and popular
website that delivers original content,
news, and information on the greater
Caribbean—about 20 countries in all,
from Anguilla to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
“We are now the world’s biggest
website on the Caribbean, with over
400,000 unique visitors a month,” says
Britell, who has become a rum expert
in the process of growing his business.
“Our Rum Journal is also among the
most influential sources on rum.”
Need to know about the election
results in Belize? Want to read about the
Caribbean’s conservation efforts and
climate change discussions? Want to
learn how to make the Caribbean’s coolest new rum punch? Caribbean Journal
publishes content on news, travel, trade
news, tourism, politics, and opinion
geared to anyone with an interest in the
islands. “The site continues to transform.
Right now most of our readership is from
and so little information about Cuba.
People want to know how to invest,
how to travel there, and it’s still difficult to do. This site covers all these
topics and more,” he explains. And fear
not—a recent article in Cuba Journal
also discusses the best rum in Cuba. j
—Phoebe Vaughn Outerbridge ’84
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Alumni Spotlight
Alumni Spotlight
Opening Hearts and Minds
Chris Arnold ’65 during the editing
process for TRANS, an award-winning
documentary film he directed.
like Home Alone, Terminator 2, Unforgiven,
Basic Instinct, and Ghostbusters.
“After Total Recall,” Arnold
Schwarzenegger had it put in his contract
that I was to cut the trailer to any movie
he did at any studio,” says Arnold. “After
Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood had a similar clause in his contract at Warner’s.”
In 2001, Arnold sold the business,
bought a ranch in Montana, and returned
to one of his first loves—documentary filmmaking. The O Tapes, which
openly explores female sexuality, aired
on Showtime and the Movie Channel,
and was embraced by the American
Association of Sexuality Educators,
Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).
It was through AASECT that Arnold
met Dr. Christine McGinn, one of the
nation’s leading gender reassignment
surgeons, and one of only two who is,
herself, transgender. McGinn had been
approached by MSNBC to tell her story.
Wary of even well-meaning networks
whom she claims “can’t resist bringing a little circus into any discussion of
transgender issues,” she turned to Arnold
to make a much-needed film about the
transgender experience. That film is called
TRANS; it was released in March 2012.
“It is a film,” notes Arnold, “of
which I am truly proud. It has opened
hearts and minds across America
for a community that is currently
under siege and that I believe to be
the last frontier in civil rights.”
TRANS has been shown in more than
52 film festivals worldwide, winning
prizes at many of them, including Best
Documentary and Best Director. The
film tells “stories of confusion and courage, excitement, and emotion” as brave
individuals journey through “gender
dysphoria” and transition. Featured in
the film is Dr. McGinn, once a lieutenant commander and a flight surgeon for
the Navy and for several NASA space
missions. Also featured are teenagers, older men, and women who were
married with families before finally
coming out, and a seven-year-old child
born male, now living as a female.
“If you know any people who are,
or may be, trans or who have a family member or loved one struggling
with their gender identity,” says
Arnold, “I believe they will thank you
for turning them on to this film.” j
He began work with Microsoft
in 1992 after years teaching at the
University of Arizona and consulting
with Los Alamos National Laboratory,
the White Sands Army Missile Range,
and the Max Planck Institute of
Quantum Optics. His job at Microsoft
involved the display and editing of
mathematical text in Microsoft Word.
“The first half of my career was laser
physics, developing theories on how lasers
work and how to use the laser,” he says.
“My efforts were devoted to trying to
understand the interaction of light with
matter and teaching that to students.
“[But] I was always a computer nut. I
got into computers before any computer
science departments existed,” Sargent
says. “Programming itself is a fabulous
game. You can get seriously hooked on
it. You can go in at the beginning of the
day, and…the time just goes by. It’s a
thing where you sort of wake up a few
hours later—it doesn’t seem to be work.”
That’s how he feels about hiking as
well. He chose to work at the University
of Arizona in part because there were
mountains nearby to explore. His love
of climbing developed when he would
visit his grandmother in Maine. “I
developed a real love of big trees,” he
says. “I feel there’s something missing if I’m not in a mountainous area.”
That love led him and his wife to
Everest, though he didn’t attempt the
summit. It was enough to climb to
18,500 feet—1,000 feet above base
camp—to see the world spread out below
him. He’s not done climbing, though. He
still has Mount Kilimanjaro in his sights.
“To some degree, I am sort of
driven,” he admits. “It’s just fun to do
things rather than sit around. These
mountains are wonderful, and they
keep you in shape.” And, for Sargent,
mathematics does exactly that. j
—Debra Meyers
TRANS is available on iTunes and
Amazon Prime. You can learn more and
view the trailer at transthemovie.com.
—Sargent, continued from page 7
Chris Arnold ’65 was, he says,
“a fish out of water” at Taft. By
senior year he found oxygen through
performing. “Theater and singing became my means of tunneling
out of darkness toward the light.”
Arnold acted and directed “almost
nonstop” throughout his college years.
But theater was changing in the late
1960s, he explains. “People were taking their clothes off onstage and doing
guerrilla theater on street corners, trying to figure out what theater was all
about. I was just coming out of adolescence, and I wasn’t looking to experience
another identity crisis with theater.”
So Arnold turned to film.
“I fell in love with editing, with
documentaries and, of course, rock and
roll,” says Arnold, who learned the craft
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
of film inside and out at the London
Film School. “I filmed the Rolling
Stones in a free concert in Hyde Park.
I was there the day the Beatles played
on the roof of Abbey Road. I was the
cameraman in a tower at a rain-soaked
music festival in the Midlands, where
an unknown piano player named Elton
John played his first live concert.”
Arnold returned to the United States
in 1973, and soon joined Kaleidoscope,
then the largest producer of movie trailers
in Hollywood.
“Trailers were an editor’s dream—
making two-and-a-half to three-minute
mini-movies with amazing footage
and the biggest stars in Hollywood,”
notes Arnold.
The first trailer he worked on was
for Jaws. The film made box-office
history, and Kaleidoscope was in
demand. Trailers for movies like The
Exorcist, Taxi Driver, and Star Wars
soon followed. And so did opportunity:
Arnold was promoted to a trailer and
“featurette” producer at Kaleidoscope.
“I was getting promoted out of
the editing room, where I wanted to
be,” explains Arnold. “I found myself
wanting to get back to editing.”
Arnold left Kaleidoscope and struck
out on his own, hoping to work on feature films. But he was soon persuaded
to help out a friend at Warner Bros. by
producing a trailer on short notice—
then another and another. Warner Bros.
wanted Arnold’s talent, and for the next
20 years, his company, Cimarron, grew. It
became bigger than Kaleidoscope, creating more than 1,000 trailers for movies
has been a passion for Sargent since the
early computing eras of the 1970s. “It’s
always fun to try to explain it to family
members,” Sargent says. “It’s fun to find
the areas that are approachable…to take
some aspect of computing and explain it
in a way that someone can understand.”
Sargent even computerized his home
in the 1970s, much to the amusement
of his neighbors. His children would
type in a code to unlock the door, dispensing with the need for a key.
Pushing his limits, both mental
and physical, keeps Sargent active, he
says. That’s where mountain climbing
and hiking come in. These days, you’re
as likely to find him scaling the peaks
around his home in Tucson, Arizona,
and those near Seattle, Washington. He
divides his time between the two locales,
thanks to his work both for Microsoft
and for the University of Arizona, where
he is an emeritus professor and does
occasional work with other professors.
—Bonnie Blackburn-Penhollow ’84
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Alumni Spotlight
Clinic in the Cloud
In the complicated world of
medicine today, it can sometimes seem
nearly impossible to get an appointment
with a doctor. And even once an appointment is secured, the issue of whether that
provider accepts your insurance can make
an already complex situation even more
difficult. So much so that if you didn’t
have anxiety before, the process of simply
booking an appointment could induce it.
Maven, an app that was launched
by Katherine Ryder ’00, aims to change
that whole process by offering what it
calls “the first digital clinic for women.”
Here’s how it works: a woman downloads the app to her iOS device and
then searches for a provider based on
her medical issue—the choices include
general health, nutrition and physiotherapy, mental health, prenatal and
postpartum, and family medicine. From
there, she sees a list of providers available for online video appointments (often
within the next 10 minutes) and can
read profiles of each and choose one.
Besides the increased convenience
of being able to see a health care provider almost immediately and from
anywhere (on a phone or tablet), the
cost is also often even less than an
insurance co-pay; appointments start
at $18 for a 10-minute video meeting with a nurse practitioner, and go
to $35 for 10 minutes with a doctor.
If the provider determines that
the patient/client needs a prescription, after the call there is a prompt
for her to enter her pharmacy information—and the prescription can be
at her pharmacy within an hour.
So how did Ryder, a former journalist who wrote for The Economist and
The Wall Street Journal in Singapore
and helped former U.S. Treasury
Secretary Hank Paulson write his
memoirs, come to launch this app?
“My dad’s an entrepreneur and
my mom and my aunt started a
small business, so entrepreneurship
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Kate Ryder ’00
speaking at
the 2xinTech
conference for
female founders.
George Washington’s Journey:
The President Forges
a New Nation
Timothy H. Breen ’60
Simon & Schuster
is in my blood,” Ryder says.
After a failed first attempt at launching
a company (a travel website aimed at the
Chinese market), Ryder and her husband
moved to London, where she got a job at
a venture capital firm, Index Ventures.
“One of the reasons I was incredibly
attracted to health care is that it’s an industry that affects women disproportionately
more than men,” she says, pointing out
that women experience the health system
differently than their male counterparts by,
for instance, needing to get prescriptions
for birth control and providing much of
the caregiving once they start a family. In
fact, Ryder notes, 80 percent of health care
decisions in the U.S. are made by women.
Ryder wanted “to create a product
that women would engage with and
trust and would much more practically
support what they wanted but also not
use just primary care physicians.”
After assembling a team and working
on developing the project for six months,
Ryder quit her job at the VC firm—with
the blessing of her first angel investment
of $50,000 from one of the firm’s partners—and launched Maven in April 2015.
The health care industry recognizes
that 70 percent of the time patients don’t
actually need to go into a doctor’s office
for an in-person appointment or may
simply need a low-level prescription,
Ryder says, making Maven an attractive
solution for an array of health care issues.
Since its launch, the app has had
more than 1,500 health care providers
apply, but an advisory committee of 15
practitioners who act as gatekeepers
for the community has accepted only
a select group of them, resulting in an
acceptance rate of about 35 percent.
Additionally, for every appointment purchased on Maven, the Maven
Foundation donates $1 toward care
for women in need. The foundation
supports Maven’s practitioners’ ability to provide their services, free of
cost, to women and children who
lack access to quality health care.
So far, the customer response has been
positive; one out of four users is booking
again and again, sometimes for the same
provider, but often for a different type
of specialist (a woman who first saw a
nurse practitioner for a sinus infection,
for example, might come back to the
app for an appointment with a physical therapist to discuss a yoga injury).
“There’s really no iconic consumer
brand in health care,” says Ryder.
“We want to be the platform that
all women come to for any information or service that they need.” j
—Sam Dangremond ’05
Historian T.H. Breen introduces us to a
George Washington we rarely meet—in
the surprising role of political strategist. During his first term as president,
Washington decided that the only way to
fulfill the Revolution was to take the new
federal government directly to the people.
He organized an extraordinary journey
carrying him to all 13 states, which
transformed American political culture.
The stakes were high. If the nation
fragmented, as it had almost done after the
war, it could never become the strong, independent nation for which he had fought.
In scores of communities, he conveyed a
powerful message—that America was now
a nation, not a loose collection of states.
And the people responded to his invitation
in ways that he could never have predicted.
Breen is currently the James Marsh
Professor At-Large at the University
of Vermont and is the author of a
dozen monographs and collections.
Gumptionade: The Booster for
Your Self-Improvement Plan
Robert B. O’Connor ’74
OKPI Publishing
O’Connor’s book shows readers how to
stay strong when plans come in contact
with reality—the reality of how difficult
it is to make real and lasting change.
As a consultant and philosopher,
the author puts a name on what
needs to be done and when: gumption—courage, resourcefulness, and
common sense working together.
Sixteen chapters and worksheets
spell out how to cultivate what you can
control and show how properly applied
“doses of gumption” can root out fears,
head off destructive responses, and
help do what needs to be done. Advice
in this book is supported by real-life
examples of problem-solving success.
O’Connor states that his book
is essentially about how to be true
to yourself, a characteristic he
unknowingly absorbed from Taft
teachers, “particularly John Small,
Larry Stone, and Dick Cobb.”
Richard Smoley ’74, an awardwinning writer, says of this book,
“Warm, wise, and witty, Gumptionade
carries on the best American tradition
of courage, resourcefulness, and common sense. Highly recommended.”
Digitized Writing Solutions
Richard Arnon Mathews ’51
This remedial book illustrates a 10-yearproven method for teaching English
grammar and multiple writing insights
and techniques to students and writers of all ages and capabilities. Digital
CipherCopy© expands on a radically new
way of writing impressive sentences and
understanding English grammar based on
our computer-age thinking.
Digitized Writing Solutions uses
a unique digitized approach to help
students and all writers understand
every choice faced in both their writing and English grammar. Simply put,
Digital CipherCopy helps analyze all
grammar and writing decisions: first,
as opposite choices in grammar, then
as multiple choices in writing expert
sentences into superb documents.
Mathews taught at high schools and
community and state colleges for 10
years after a 20-year career in advertising as a NYC copywriter. He has authored
several other books, including fiction.
Post Road and
the Putnam Plaque
Jim Ramsey ’80
PathBinder Publishing
Life in a small, affluent town is disrupted
when a cherished historical landmark,
the Putnam plaque, is stolen in the winter
of 1980 in this second of Jim Ramsey’s
Post Road books. The previous summer,
newspaper reporter Steven Rollins helped
the town avert a massive embezzlement
scheme. Now he becomes ensnared in yet
another captivating crime. Just when a
trail of clues becomes clearer, the mayor of
Greenwich, Connecticut, disappears and
his body is found in a most astonishing
place! A stolen plaque and the death of the
mayor—are these two stories too hot for
one reporter to handle? Ramsey, whose
hometown is Greenwich, has spent 30
years writing professionally, for newspapers, magazines, television, and books. j
If you would like your work added to the Hulbert Taft Library’s Alumni Authors Collection and considered for this column, please send a copy to:
Taft Bulletin | The Taft School | 110 Woodbury Road | Watertown, CT 06795-2100
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Around the POND
For more information, visit
Around the Pond
By Debra Meyers
Change Agents: The Voices of Social Justice
The fall of 2015 was a time of renewed and visible social activism at colleges and universities across the country. From large, urban schools
like Yale and the University of Missouri, to smaller, more suburban campuses like Amherst and Dartmouth, issues of race, free speech, and
privilege have shaped the collective narrative and driven students and faculty to push for more open dialogue and meaningful social change.
At Taft, the fall was also a time of heightened social awareness. Through a series of speakers and events, Taft students
gained insight into the issues, emotion, and vocabulary shaping the conversation across the country; were invited to think critically,
consider a broad range of perspectives; and, most important, become informed participants in a national conversation.
. Hillary Jordan,
Closing the Gender Gap: Girls Who Code
Emily Weaver ’17 stood out among
her middle school peers for many reasons.
Among them: She loved to write code.
“I started coding at my old school
as part of a required course,” explained
Emily. “Everyone thought coding was
hard and boring. I really thought it
was interesting and a lot of fun.”
Emily spent her eighth- and ninthgrade summers at coding camp. As a mid,
she took AP Computer Science at Taft. This
year, she started a coding club on campus.
Taft’s Girls Who Code club is an affiliate program of the national nonprofit
organization that shares its name.
Founded in 2012, Girls Who Code works
to close the gender gap in technology
through programs and partnerships
designed to “inspire, educate, and
equip girls with the computing skills
to pursue 21st-century opportunities.”
Those partnerships connect Girls Who
Code with organizations like Adobe,
Amazon, Facebook, GE, Goldman Sachs,
Google, Microsoft, and Twitter.
In just three years, Girls Who Code
has served nearly 4,000 girls in 29
states, using what they describe as “a
new model for computer science education, pairing intensive instruction in
robotics, web design, and mobile development with high-touch mentorship
and exposure led by the industry’s top
female engineers and entrepreneurs.”
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
The Girls Who Code model is built on
two major components: summer immersion programs and Girls Who Code clubs
like the one Emily brought to Taft.
Members of the Girls Who Code clubs
start by working through a 40-hour
curriculum designed to teach a wide
range of skill sets through multilevel
content. Volunteer instructors who are
trained and supported by Girls Who
Code staff implement the curriculum.
Science teacher Theresa Albon is the
Girls Who Code advisor at Taft, with
support from Director of Multicultural
Recruitment Tamara Sinclair ’05.
“Coding can be daunting and hard to
understand,” explained Albon. “If we can
break it down in a highly systematic and
specific way, it will be less daunting and
more interesting. The Girls Who Code
curriculum does that by introducing coding in a fun, project-based, low-risk way.”
For one hour each week, roughly
30 young women gather in the Faculty
Room to work through the Girls Who
Code curriculum. Through web-based
and collaborative instruction, the Taft
students are learning to write code.
“The curriculum is a series of
lessons and tasks that build in complexity,” said Emily. “As we complete our
work, we submit it to Girls Who Code.
The first coding language we learn
is Ruby, which is an object-oriented,
Emily Weaver ’17 brought the
national nonprofit Girls Who
Code to Taft’s campus this year.
general purpose scripting language.”
Emily hopes that club members will
ultimately take on more advanced coding
projects and consider careers in computer science.
“My goal is to inspire students to share
my excitement, to understand some of
the basics of coding, and to see that computer science can be fun,” explained Emily.
Albon agrees. “This is an opportunity
for us to help girls feel connected and
interested in STEM fields. There has
been great interest so far—much greater
than we anticipated—and I expect it
to remain a growing club at Taft.” j
Hillary Jordan is the author of Mudbound,
Taft’s 2015 summer reading selection.
The assignment laid the groundwork
for a continued exploration of issues
surrounding race and social justice.
Mudbound is set on a Mississippi
farm near the end of World War II, and is
told by several narrators. Among them:
Ronsel, a black serviceman just back from
the war, whose sharecropper family lives
and works on that Mississippi farm.
“Once the black characters started
speaking, the nature of the story changed
dramatically,” Jordan told Taft students.
“I decided to move the black characters
to the foreground to answer the ugliness of Jim Crow in their own voices.…I
decided that letting my African-American
characters speak was the only way to
give them a small measure of justice.”
To some, the notion of a white
female author assuming the voice of
a young black sharecropper seemed
arrogant at best, a “theft”—a form of
cultural appropriation—at worst.
“It is my job as a fiction writer
to plunge headlong into the lives of
people who are totally unlike myself,”
noted Jordan. “In my opinion,
nothing is better at breaking down
those barriers and illuminating our
common humanity than literature.”
Extending Jordan’s intent to other art
forms, Taft students considered questions
of social justice through music and dance.
. Hairspray
Hairspray, the ambitious musical
mounted at Taft last fall, is set in 1962
Baltimore. When unconventional teen
Tracy Turnblad wins a role on a television dance program, she becomes a local
celebrity and uses that platform to launch
a campaign to integrate the show.
“I decided on Hairspray before leaving on sabbatical last winter,” explains
director and Taft theater teacher Helena
Fifer. “At that time, Ferguson had
happened, but the Freddie Gray incident
in Baltimore had not.…When we returned
to campus this fall, we struggled with
the decision as a team—Hairspray deals
with important issues in a lighthearted,
idealistic way.…In the wake of such a
tragedy, we wondered whether it would
be seen as an insensitive gesture to present these issues through musical comedy.
We decided that even a funny, irreverent,
upbeat piece of entertainment can shine
a meaningful light on serious issues.”
Fifer notes that while racial injustice is central to the message of the
musical, there are other important messages as well: “It is not just about race,
it is about body image, inclusiveness,
and exclusiveness. We’re all fighting for the same thing. Wouldn’t it be
great if the world was a fair place?”
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Around the POND
. Carolyn Dorfman,
Carolyn Dorfman Dance
“I make dances about the world as it is;
I make dances about the world as I wish
it could be,” said choreographer Carolyn
Dorfman. “Every one of us in this room has
a history, a legacy, foundations, and family
that have made us who we are today. For
me, the single most defining element of
who I am…is being a child of survivors of
the Holocaust...It has shaped every fabric
of who I am—my sense of equality, my
sense of justice, my sense of humanism.”
In her piece Cat’s Cradle, Dorfman
visits Theresienstadt, a ghetto in
Czechoslovakia meant to house 5,000, but
swollen to 50,000 during World War II.
She explains: “You were there because
you were a Jew, a gypsy, a homosexual,
handicapped, of color...it was a concentration camp. And the reward for
surviving Theresienstadt was the gas
chambers of Auschwitz.…Despite it
shaping understanding around the
atrocities of the past through a sense
of shared emotion and common experience. Through it all, she celebrates the
joys of connection. In a piece dedicated
to her father, we see “one who can fall,
endure, and rise again,” Dorfman said it
is “a sense of faith in the broadest sense.”
Dorfman carried the social justice conversation beyond the constructs of race in
America, to consider a broader oppression in
other parts of the world by groups afforded
status through majority and authority, an
imperative embraced by Rwandan students.
. iDebate Rwanda,
Voices of the Post-Genocide
In 1994, more than one million Rwandan
citizens were murdered in 100 days.
Twenty years later, a new generation is
working not only to make sense of the
tragedy, but to prevent it from happening
again. iDebate Rwanda is a nongovernmental organization that teaches and
promotes debate as a means of helping
young Rwandans speak about and process
the 1994 genocide. iDebate members
visited classes and Morning Meeting to
talk to Taft students about the history
of Rwanda, the roots of the genocide,
and the struggles they face as they work
to find their own identities while living
side by side with genocide survivors.
“Perpetrators could do the things
they did because no one would speak
up,” iDebate’s Jean Michel Habineza
said. “Through debate you learn how
to put yourself in others’ shoes. You
learn how to question. You learn how to
speak up. When people don’t speak up,
atrocities happen.…Rwanda stands as
a mirror to every man’s soul. Rwanda is
also a testament not only to how much
evil each one of us can do, but also to
how much good each one of us can do.…
If Rwandans are able to work together
every day to make sure that what happened in Rwanda doesn’t happen again,
then there is no excuse. There is no
excuse for anyone around the world to
say that it is too hard. There is no excuse
for each one of you to say that you can’t
make the world a little bit better.”
Ultimately, and as stated by History
Department Head Greg Hawes ’85, it is
race in America that is the “omnipresent
question,” and that which Taft students
worked to more fully understand through
historical and firsthand perspectives.
being so horrific a place, people continued to create; they did it then, they do
it today. It’s amazing how the human
spirit can rise above its circumstance.
So you will find operas, symphonies,
visual art, plays that were created by
inmates in Theresienstadt.…Most of
this work is just as prevalent today; just
the faces have changed, the culture has
changed, the ethnicity has changed.”
Through her work, Dorfman honors
the legacy of sorrow that belongs to
her family and so many others, while
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
m Quinton Dixie,
Indiana University/
Purdue University
m DeRay Mckesson,
Social Activist
DeRay Mckesson was sitting on his
couch at home in Minnesota on August
9, 2013, when Michael Brown was shot
by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
A sixth-grade math teacher in a school
that serves one of the nation’s largest housing projects, Mckesson felt
compelled to pack up and travel nine
hours to Ferguson, he said, to “bear
witness” to the story that was unfolding there, and that felt so very wrong.
On Mckesson’s second night in
Ferguson, a protestor threw a water bottle
at a police officer. The police responded,
Mckesson says, with tear gas, pepper
spray, sound cannons, and smoke bombs.
He said, “In that moment I became a
protestor. I will never forget what it was
like to be tear-gassed on an American
street because we were saying that the
police shouldn’t kill people.…This just
doesn’t have to be the world that we live
in. So much of this for us is exposing
that and saying, ‘There is another way we
can do this work around safety,’ and also
challenging people to think about safety
differently.…The police are not all over
Taft, and it’s a safe space. What makes
this space safe is that it is resourced differently, that people have come together
around their values of what it means to be
in a safe space like this. We can actually do
this in communities around the country.”
Quinton Dixie is an associate professor and program director of Ethnic and
Cultural Studies at Indiana University/
Purdue University in Fort Wayne,
Indiana. As a child, he traveled by bus
to a school outside of his own neighborhood, where, he said, few of his
classmates looked like him. Throughout
the day, students learned together, sang
together, competed together. But at
the end of the day, there was a retreat;
there was no true sense of community.
Dixie told the story of Howard
Thurman, an influential AfricanAmerican author, philosopher,
theologian, educator, and civil rights
leader. He spent his life living and
working in segregated communities,
longing for shared equality in each,
and always working to make that so.
Thurman believed that the best way to
build community was by not cooperating with evil, by not engaging with
“anything that does not affirm human
dignity. If it destroys rather than
builds up human worth, it is evil.”
“That’s what it means to have
community…we choose to be connected, we share all things good
and bad,” concluded Dixie.
c Greg Hawes ’85,
History Department Head
“Race has become the omnipresent
question in America today,” History
Department Head Greg Hawes ’85 told
Taft students “Of course, race has always
been central to understanding America.”
Hawes walked students through three
centuries of American history, marking
our long record of racial subjugation along
the way. Despite this “cultural programming,” there is hope, Hawes noted.
“The very ideals that motivated
slave owners like Thomas Jefferson and
James Madison, created a system where
change was slow but change was possible. And those changes, once won, would
be very hard to undo.…Our culture
today, both at Taft and more generally, denies the logic of racism. That
doesn’t mean it doesn’t still exist, but it
has difficulty surviving in daylight. We
must understand our history—we must
understand all the complicated, messy
parts of it—but we must not be bound
by it. In fact, only by truly understanding a Thomas Jefferson, a Woodrow
Wilson, a man like my grandfather—
fully and completely understanding
them—can we fully understand the
path we, ourselves must make.…And as
Taft students, that is your obligation to
the world. Know the rocky terrain you
and your ancestors have trod, but take
that perspective and keep your eyes
always fixed on that broad horizon.” j
Around the POND
Around the POND
b “One of the things that
makes this place so special
is the pride we have in each
Tawanda Mulalu ’16 Honored in the
Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Tawanda Mulalu ’16 traveled
to Buckingham Palace in October to be
honored for his prize-winning entry
in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay
Competition, held annually by the Royal
Commonwealth Society (RCS). Tawanda
received his award from the Duchess
of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles.
Tawanda is a native of Botswana,
one of 53 Commonwealth of Nations
(formerly the British Commonwealth)
member states. Now a PG at Taft,
Tawanda was previously a student at
the Maru-a-Pula School in Gaborone,
Botswana, where Andy Taylor ’72
is currently the principal.
The RCS is a nonprofit organization
devoted to youth empowerment, education, support, and advocacy throughout
each of the Commonwealth’s member
states. It has organized the international
schools’ writing contest since 1883,
making it the oldest and largest studentwriting contest in the world. The event
is currently held in partnership with
sponsor Cambridge University Press.
In 2015, the highly regarded essay
competition attracted a record number of
submissions: the Royal Commonwealth
Society received more than 13,000
entries from over 600 schools in 49
Commonwealth countries and territories. A winner and a runner-up are
named in both the Junior and Senior
classes; Tawanda was named Senior
runner-up for his essay detailing his
hopes and dreams for the future. (Read
the full essay online in Taft News.)
“When I entered the essay competition I had little to no expectations of
making it anywhere near to a runner-up.
I entered last year and barely managed a
Silver Award,” recalls Tawanda. “I actually completely forgot about the contest
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
until the last two hours and pieced
together some old writing I’d been using
for school and college application stuff.”
In announcing Tawanda’s honor, RCS
judges wrote, “Tawanda’s entry is a mature
and informed essay which shows a great
awareness of the relationship between the
physical and life sciences and the future
of Africa. Its humble voice is balanced
with a marked confidence, and has great
ambitions.…Tawanda describes himself
as having ‘Small chest. Big dreams.’ In his
essay he dreams big about the scientific
future for Africa and his part in that.
His thoughtful analysis of the power of
those dreams and his arresting descriptions make this a prize-winning entry.”
Beyond thoughtful analysis and arresting descriptions, the essay is both deeply
personal and served as an important
reminder about the value of each day.
“I have to extend my gratitude towards
whatever higher consciousness gifted me
with the opportunity of going to London,”
says Tawanda. “Even if it is an odd collection of vignettes, I still think there was
some sort of purpose in gathering them.
At the end of the day I just wanted to
remind myself that my life is a story that I
want to be the author of. And that’s what
the whole journey was and still is about.”
Tawanda is not only grateful for the
recognition and the opportunity to travel
to London (where he reunited with his
mother for the first time since coming to
Taft), but for the perspective the win brings.
“I just feel really happy to have
something like this happen to me,”
says Tawanda. “Not just as a confidence booster, but also as a reminder
of how ludicrously large the world is,
and how filled it is with adventure.” j
other’s achievement,” Headmaster Willy
MacMullen ’78 said in welcoming the
following scholars to the Cum Laude
Society last fall: Seniors Ai Thi Minh Bui,
Natasha Yasmine Cheung, Lidia Gutu,
Isabelle E. Homberg, Xinran Huang, Kayla
Marie Kim (missing from photo), Audrey
Chi Hei Lam, Jae Hong Lee, Lanting
Lu, Michael Rousseau Molder, Brian
Alexander Tomasco, Leon Alexander
Vortmeyer, Hannah Kathryn Wilczynski,
Alexander Jusuf Yan, Yiwei Zhang.
Taft Students Shine in International Competitions
Six Taft students traveled to
Cambridge, Massachusetts, last fall to
compete against more than 700 students from 130 school and regional
teams in the biannual Harvard-MIT
Math Tournament (HMMT).
First held in 1998, HMMT is considered one of the most prestigious high
school math competitions in the world.
In recent years, teams have represented
more than 20 states and five continents.
Team Red Rhinos was coached by math
teacher Ted Heavenrich and included
Ivory Zhu ’17, Yejin Kim ’18, Steve Le
’19, Sonny An ’17, Daniel Yi ’18, and Ton
Kosolpatanadurong ’16. The team finished
13th overall, second among teams representing schools; Exeter was both the first
school and the overall winner of the tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
In the morning, competitors
took a 50-minute individual general
knowledge test, then a 50-minute individual themed test. Of the more than
700 individual competitors, Ivory
finished 34th on the first test, and
Sonny finished 19th on the second.
After a break, the competition
resumed with a one-hour team test
where all six team members were
allowed to collaborate and, Heavenrich
explained, “divvy up the problems.”
“We finished 11th out of 130 teams on
this portion,” said Heavenrich. “The most
exciting part wraps up the contest in the
afternoon after lunch. It is 80 minutes, and
it is called the Guts round. The team is in a
big lecture hall, and there is live scoring on
the screen at the front of the room. Each
team has one runner who brings a set of
three problems back to the team. You cannot get the next set of three problems until
you turn in answers for the previous set.
The team needs to balance speed, accuracy,
and self-knowledge. The problems get
harder, but are worth more, as you progress through the rounds. A weaker team
should not be in a hurry, because by the
fifth or sixth round (of 12) they will have
little chance of getting any of the problems
correct. On the other hand, a strong team
should push through the early rounds,
even at the risk of making a careless error
or two, in order to get to the higherpoint problems which they can still do.”
At the end of the daylong competition,
Ivory secured the 28th spot overall in the
field of 700, Ton was 59th, and Sonny 62nd.
For Sonny, HMMT was his second
major academic competition of the fall.
Sonny was named a regional finalist
in the 2015 Siemens Competition in
Math, Science & Technology. Launched
by the Siemens Foundation in 1999, the
event is considered the nation’s premier
competition in the STEM arena. Nearly
4,000 students registered for this year’s
competition; 3,162 projects were submitted for consideration, and 466 students
were named semifinalists and 97 were
named regional finalists, Sonny being
among that elite group. The students
presented their research in a closed,
online forum; entries were judged at the
regional level by esteemed scientists at
six leading research universities that
host the regional competitions: Georgia
Institute of Technology, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, California
Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon
University, University of Notre Dame,
and the University of Texas at Austin.
Working under the tutelage of mentor and Hofstra University Mathematics
Professor Dan Ismailescu, Sonny
teamed up with Kobe Ko from Cushing
Academy to present a project based on
the Euclidean Ramsey Theorems. Their
project focused on the cases of 3,4,5 colorings, and their use in explaining natural
phenomena that are constructed in certain patterns, and how they might make
things like designing a subway blueprint
more efficient. Sonny and Kobe “believe
that STEM is intended to understand
the world in simple, logical fashion.” j
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Around the POND
Around the POND
A Shared and Lasting Tribute
Taft’s annual Community
Service Day is an opportunity, notes
Tafties sent their
support to Paris
in December, where
representatives of 195
nations had gathered for a
major summit on climate
change. The international
delegation reached a
landmark accord that
committed them to
lowering planet-warming
greenhouse gas emissions.
Reduce, Recycle, Reuse
According to CarryYourCup.org,
c Taft’s econ mons
introduced the switch
from disposable coffee
cups to reusable plastic
cups in December,
when students were
invited to turn the
plain white cups into
art pieces. Lower
mid Eleanor Streit ’19
submitted a seasonal
design in the Starbucks’
cup challenge.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per
day—the equivalent of 146 billion cups per year—
making the United States the leading consumer of
coffee in the world. If you drink just one cup of coffee or tea in a disposable cup every day, they tell us,
you will create about 23 pounds of trash in a year.
Taft’s servery has traditionally offered beverages in both reusable and disposable cups. But
no more: beginning January 4, disposable cups
were no longer available in the dining hall. Taft
instead offers students, faculty, and staff the
option to borrow and return plastic Starbucks
cups when taking their beverages to go.
“It is asking our community to make a large
behavioral change that was quite controversial
this fall, but one that many believe is essential
to developing good stewards,” says Director of
Environmental Stewardship Carly Borken. “It is not
only about reducing our waste, but also developing
habits and being thoughtful in our actions. The
convenience still exists but hopefully in a much
more resource- and community-conscious way.” j
organizer and Global and Diversity
Education Dean Jamella Lee, for Taft to
both build new partnerships in the community and strengthen relationships
with our existing service partners. In the
case of Children’s Community School
(CCS) in Waterbury, this year’s Service
Day project not only reflected the depth
of the ongoing relationship between
Taft and CCS, but created a lasting and
shared tribute to that partnership.
The “Let It Be a Quilt” project was
created by Taft art teacher Loueta
Chickadaunce. Taft English teacher Kerry
Bracco and eight Taft student volunteers
assisted with the project’s execution.
The team guided CCS students in grades
K-5 through the process of creating their
own personalized paper quilt squares.
Taft students then took the artwork
back to campus, organized it by grade,
and added artistic touches by designing the borders and unifying designs.
The end result: a quilt for each CCS
classroom, with a square crafted by and
representing each member of the class.
“I am most excited about this project because it gave us an opportunity
to bridge art and service at Taft and
in the community,” says Lee. “And
what quilts represent—diversity or
a coming together of unique, individual parts to form a wonderfully
blended and special whole—speaks
so beautifully to our partnership with
Children’s Community School.”
On December 11, the completed
quilts were hung in Potter Gallery for
a special show and celebration benefitting Children’s Community School.
CCS students, board members, parents, and other community partners
attended the reception celebrating
the partnership and the project. j
CCS is a private nonprofit school
educating Waterbury’s underserved children
in pre-K through grade 5. To learn more,
visit www.ccswaterbury.org.
Around the POND
closed out the
fall term with a
spectacular dance
showcase in Bingham
 Rally on Rhinos! One of the
highlights of the fall term at Taft
is always Taft-Hotchkiss Day. Most
athletic competitions took place in
Lakeville this year, but there was no
place like home for the traditional
(and fantastic) Red Rally.
faculty, staff,
and neighbors
gathered in Woodward
Chapel in December
for Taft’s 80th Annual
Service of Lessons and
Carols. First celebrated
in England in 1880, the
venerable tradition
helps mark the start of
the holiday season.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Led by Tennant Maxey ’16 and in the spirit of global citizenship,
Taft and Hotchkiss students expressed their solidarity with the French
people after the Paris bombings in November by pausing during the TaftHotchkiss Day festivities to form a human French flag.
“In honor of the lives lost on Friday night, Taft and Hotchkiss stand
together. Our prayers go out to all those that were affected by this catastrophe, for they will receive eternal life and never perish. Love, Tennant”
 Monks from Tibet’s
Drepung Gomang
Monastery were in residence
at Taft in November. During
their visit the group led chants
at Morning Meeting, visited
classrooms, and held an evening
meditation session. Their primary
work, however, was the creation
of a peace mandala in Potter
Gallery. According to Tibetan
tradition, the creation of a sand
mandala effects purification and
healing. The monks’ visit to Taft
is part of a yearlong Sacred Art
Tour, designed to share prayers of
hope and compassion while spotlighting both Tibetan Buddhist
teachings and practices and the
plight and abuses of the Tibetan
people and culture.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Fall Sports wrap-up
For more on the fall
season, please visit
By Steve Palmer
Photography by Robert Falcetti
Volleyball 11–7
New England Tournament
Tise Ben-Eka ’17 in action
against Andover.
The 2015 varsity volleyball team’s
theme was “You’re either in or you’re
out. Commit.” This year’s team was
focused on making it to the New England
Tournament and they accomplished this
by being the 6th seed. Unfortunately,
they lost to Andover in the quarterfinals
in a very close battle (3–1). Highlights
of the regular season were defeating
Hotchkiss twice and Deerfield (3–0) in
the final home game with an all-senior
starting lineup. The volleyball team also
conducted volleyball clinics for the PAL
Special Olympians, raised funds to support breast cancer research, as well as
supporting research for the assistant
coach’s husband at Hotchkiss with his
cancer battle. The team had great wins
against Greenwich Academy, where
head coach Ginger O’Shea earned her
450th career win. Other victories were
over Convent of the Sacred Heart, Miss
Porter’s, Hopkins, Canterbury, and
Northfield Mount Hermon. New England
All-Stars were Helen Hofelt ’16 Agnes
Wong ’16, Mary Collette ’17, and Tise
Ben-Eka ’17. Founders League honors
went to captains Hofelt and Wong.
Boys’ Soccer 11–4–3
New England Class A
It was a special year for this team that
compiled an impressive record and
qualified for the Class A New England
Tournament. As the No. 6 seed, Taft traveled to Northfield Mount Hermon, where
the Rhinos fell to the eventual runner-up
in the tournament. The Taft team was
characterized by remarkable camaraderie,
toughness in the face of adversity, and
exceptional athleticism. Following hardfought draws against Andover (2–2)
and Suffield (2–2), Taft rattled off a
seven-game win streak, highlighted by
consecutive home wins over Kent (4–2),
Choate (3–1), and Loomis (4–2). As a
team, Taft scored an astonishing 61 goals
this season, led by Matteo Mangiardi ’17,
who tied Taft’s single-season goal-scoring
record of 29 goals. Other key offensive
contributors were Mthabisi Tshuma ’18
(8 goals, 3 assists), Will Dittrich ’16 (5
goals, 5 assists), Jay Lavallee ’17 (3 goals,
5 assists), and Miguel Ridruejo ’17 (2
goals, 7 assists). Alongside Ridruejo, A.J.
Barre ’17 controlled the midfield for Taft,
while the back line of Walani Ndhlovu
’16, Mat Maier ’16, John Nugent ’17,
and Jevaughn Sinclair ’16 was tenacious
on defense and aggressive in attack. Eric
Sodero ’17 was excellent in goal, helping the Big Red to six shutout victories.
b Boys’ varsity
soccer’s Brandon
Reid ’17 in midair
after scoring a
goal against St.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
Fall Sports
for the Rhinos. What followed was an
avalanche of injuries, culminating in the
loss of nine starters. In short, Taft played
the most difficult schedule in all of New
England, facing four Class A New England
Championship teams. Throughout
the difficult season, the squad stayed
together and persevered. Co-captain
Alex Salytchev ’16 was one of the most
dynamic two-way players in New England
and received All-New England accolades
for his play at wide receiver and defensive
back, while co-captain Sam Sweet ’16 was
a steady force at tight end and defensive
end. Postgraduate Pat Ford ’16 steered
the offense and consistently found Aidan
Majury ’16 as one of his favorite targets.
Sam Okpan ’16 led the team in tackles
from his linebacker spot. Jon Jacobs
’16 (All Erickson League, All Founders
League) was a dominant two-way lineman, while Chris Bedigian ’16 and
Alex Hughes ’16 (All Founders League)
were rocks on both sides of the ball.
Juliana Yamin ’18
makes a play
against Kent.
Girls’ Soccer 11–4–2
New England Class A
The 11 regular-season wins is the most
by the program since the early 2000s and
earned the team a playoff berth for the
first time since 2010. Under the leadership of phenomenal captains Madie Leidt
’16 and Steph Houghton ’16 (Founders
League All-Star) and a strong 2016 class
of leaders, including Cecilia Sousa ’16
and Jules Falkow ’16, the team played
better as the season elapsed. Season
highlights include victories against
Deerfield and Hotchkiss, and winning
seven of the final nine games. In arguably the best result for the program in
the past 15 years, Taft beat two-time
defending New England Champions
Nobles (1–0) in the first round of the
New England tournament to earn their
first New England semifinal appearance
since 2001. Taft had breakout seasons
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
from Kristin Manfreda ’18 (8 goals, 6
assists, and a WWNEPSSA All-Star and
a Connecticut All-State team selection),
Sojung Kim ’17 (6 goals, 5 assists), Emilee
Adami ’19 (7 goals, 1 assist), and Grace
Adams ’17 (6 goals, 1 assist, WWNEPSSA
All-Star). Seniors Emma Belak ’16 and
Emma Pottenger ’16 helped lock down
the center of the field. Goalkeeper Leidt
capped her illustrious career with her
finest season to date, earning All-State
team honors as well as her third straight
Boston Globe All-State selection.
Football 0–8
The 2015 season began with promise,
but was fraught with adversity. Taft
lost early close games to Kent (21–20),
Trinity-Pawling (40–34 in overtime),
and Avon Old Farms (43–39) on strange
bounces and missed opportunities, a
start that easily could have been 3–0
John B. Small Cross Country Award
Robert A. Dettmann ’16
Tyler M. Dullinger ’16
Evan A. Miller ’16
Girls’ Cross Country Award
Sophia E. Dawn ’16
Field Hockey Award
Isabella W. Horstmann ’16
Alexandra M. Long ’16
Brooke A. Majewski ’16
Livingston Carroll Soccer Award
Mathew B. Maier ’16
Jevaughn C. Sinclair ’16
1976 Girls’ Soccer Award
Madeline R. Leidt ’16
Black Football Award
Alexander N. Salytchev ’16
Cross Football Award
Samuel B. Sweet ’16
Volleyball Award
Liana B. Hickey ’16
Field Hockey 4–10–2
The season started in mid-August with a
fantastic trip to the Netherlands, Belgium,
and France, where the Rhinos worked
with top international coaches and had
the opportunity to play very talented
Dutch, Belgian, and French club teams.
The trip made for a very strong team
camaraderie throughout this challenging season. Seven of Taft’s 10 losses were
only by one or two goals, and most of the
games could have gone either way. Despite
a lack of goal scoring, the Rhinos stayed
focused and positive, coming through
with key ties against talented teams
from Choate (2–2) and Williston (1–1).
Taft was led by six seniors, including
tri-captains Isabella Horstmann, Brooke
Majewski, and Lexi Long. Majewski and
Long were named WNESPFHA All-Stars,
and Lucy Feidelson ’16 and Horstmann
were our Founders All-Stars. With 12 very
talented returners next year, Taft looks to
rebound behind captains-elect Katherine
Queally ’17 and Emma Vermylen ’17.
Boys’ Cross Country 2–5
The depth of this team was unexpected
and on display in the opening hard-fought
win over Choate (24–31) and TrinityPawling (27–29). With several four-year
runners, several talented former soccer players, and one postgraduate from
Kenya, the 2015 Taft harriers put 11
runners under the 18-minute mark during the season (5K course), an unusual
mark of talent. Led by tri-captains Evan
Miller ’16, Tyler Dullinger ’16, and Robert
Dettmann ’16 all season, the team came
together with an impressive 8th place
finish out of the 15 teams when Taft
hosted 500 runners for the NEPSTA
Division I championships. Miller (16:33),
Dullinger (16:33), and postgrad Alex Kiiru
’16 (16:32) all ran exceptionally fast 5K
times during the season and created a
strong 1–2–3 for Taft. Seniors Dettmann,
Abokor Ismael, Johnny Morgart, Kevin
Molder, and Michael Molder combined
Varsity field hockey’s Bella Horstmann ’16
makes a play in front of the Taft net against
Greenwich Academy.
for the strongest 4th through 10th runners Taft has had in many years. Dullinger
(13th) and Kiiru (15th) earned All-New
England honors for their great races at
the New England Championship race.
Girls’ Cross Country 4–4
Ten girls vied for position in the varsity
top seven throughout the season, and
this depth led the Rhino runners to dual
meet victories against Miss Porter’s,
NMH, Kent, and rival Hotchkiss. The
girls’ cross country team worked hard
throughout the fall to avenge an early
season loss to Choate, and the varsity
group met their goal by finishing second
at the Founders League Championships,
bested only by perennial powerhouse
Loomis. At the same Founders League
race, three of Taft’s varsity runners earned
All-Founders honors: Hanna Murphy ’18
for her 7th place finish, Maggie Swomley
’16 for her 8th place finish, and Sophia
Dawn ’16 for her 10th place finish.
The team was most proud of improving by two places at both the Founders
League and New England Conference
Championships, placing 2nd and 7th
respectively, and they have aspirations of
even higher finishes for the 2016 season.
Next year’s team will be captained by
Caroline Moore ’17, Juste Simanauskaite
’17, and Caroline Winicki ’17. j
mKate Tewksbury ’16, a varsity volleyball
player, has a visit from her Goldendoodle
Kenzie after playing against Hotchkiss.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
“Twilight fell:
The sky turned to a light,
dusky purple littered
with tiny silver stars.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
An inside look at how financial aid
enriches Taft’s entire school community
while creating profound opportunities for
academic, social, and cultural growth.
Financial Aid
By Michael J. Hoffman ’97
Photography by
Robert Falcetti
I am standing in the back corner of the Choral Room
on Parents’ Day trying to hold back tears. Conductor
T.J. Thompson is taking the string section through
“Summer,” part of Vivaldi’s Concerto Number 2 in
G Minor, and as the tempo and tenor of the piece
intensify, a convergence of thoughts floods me
with emotion. Taft’s Chamber Ensemble has never
been stronger, and this group of exceptional young
musicians plays at a level well beyond their years.
Thompson conducts a near-flawless 30-minute program with a group he sees for less than
five hours a week. This group of student musicians has to balance Advanced Placement classes,
varsity sports, student leadership, and the social
landscape of the 21st-century teenager, while
also perfecting 500-plus measures of master-class
music. As financial aid director, I know how many
parts of this exceptional orchestra would be silent
without Taft’s deep commitment to financial
aid. This story repeats itself all around campus
every day: everywhere you see excellence at Taft
there are students who could not contribute without the support of our financial aid program.
If you attended Taft in the 20th century like
me, you probably realize that our campus has
transformed over the past 20 years. The Ivy Kwok
Wu Science Center, Vogelstein Dormitory, Odden
Arena, and the Moorhead Wing have greatly
expanded the physical plant, and our ongoing
commitment to updating our original living and
learning spaces means that the Taft campus is
beautifully equipped for the next 125 years.
Taft’s student body now represents the diverse,
global, interconnected world that our campus
has been created to serve. With students from 33
states and 47 nations on six continents, a Taft
education is known and sought after in places that
would have seemed unthinkable 50 years ago. The
makeup of a 21st-century Taft class can certainly
be attributed to the vision and work of Lance
Odden, former headmaster, and Ferdie Wandelt
’66, former director of admissions, but what may
be overlooked is the role an expanding financial
aid budget has played in our transformation.
Over the past 40 years, the school’s commitment to financial aid has increased 3,850 percent!
Forty years ago our $200,000 financial aid budget
could support only 16 percent of students. During
Headmaster Willy MacMullen’s tenure in particular,
the board of trustees has prioritized increasing the
financial aid budget, so that today 36 percent of Taft
students are supported through need-based financial
aid totaling over $7.5 million. As the Ever Taft, Even
Stronger campaign comes to a successful conclusion, Taft will further expand our allocation of aid.
What does that investment of resources bring
to the school? Our financial aid budget ensures
diversity of all kinds at Taft: geographic, racial,
religious, socioeconomic, of course, but diversity
of thought and experience are also particularly
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
powerful to the Taft education. As MacMullen says,
“Twenty-first-century organizations want students
who have developed the skills you can only get at
places where you must consider daily the opinions
and ideas of diverse groups.” Look today at any
Taft classroom, any sit-down dinner table, any
exceeds the range of our budget. With an expanding commitment to financial aid, we can ensure
that Taft is able to admit and enroll the most
dynamic, diverse class of students possible.
Access, achievement, and affordability are the
three goals of the Taft Financial Aid Office. Although
Financial Aid
awards for domestic students admitted in 2015*
Family Income (Boarding Students)
Average Award
Average Tuition
# of Awards
Family Income (Day Students)
Average Award
Average Tuition
# of Awards
*Family income, family size, and the number of students in tuition-charging schools are all considered in awarding aid.
22 international students were admitted with an average award of $45,159.
advisee “feed,” and you will see real opportunities
for future leaders to learn from the tremendously
varied life experiences of their classmates.
I spend a large part of every fall in cities around
the country speaking to prospective families about
the boarding school experience in general, and Taft
in particular, and for many, receiving financial aid
is critical to their enrollment. But the point I try to
stress to all families is that if you are interested in
highly selective boarding schools (like Taft), the talented, diverse, enthusiastic student population you
seek is a direct result of financial aid commitment.
Put very simply, financial aid allows Taft to
enroll the best student body possible. With 1,700
annual applicants for 180 places, our Admissions
Office has the benefit of great selectivity, but each
spring we must deny admission to a few dozen
highly qualified candidates whose financial need
most students receiving financial aid likely overlap
in multiple categories, the “AAA” definition is the
simplest way to categorize how our office allocates
aid. Access in financial aid means providing enrollment opportunities to talented students for whom
the resources of a Taft education and diploma can
truly be life-changing. As Director of Admissions
Peter Frew ’75 says, “Through long-standing partnerships with organizations like Prep for Prep, A
Better Chance, and Hartford Youth Scholars, we
know we can change the trajectory of lives.”
While every new student brings a strong record
of academic and extracurricular success to Taft,
a robust financial aid budget ensures that high
achievement is found in every corner of campus.
Within every applicant pool exists a handful of
uniquely skilled young people with the potential to
have a disproportionately large impact on the Taft
community but without the financial means to afford
the full cost. Financial aid ensures that we can enroll
these students who will bring their talents while
they also grow and benefit from Taft’s offerings.
Affordability is the broadest and most critical
area of financial aid at Taft. Our school has always
been an expensive investment, but as tuitions continue to rise (faster than the Consumer Price Index)
and wage growth stagnates among the great majority of U.S. households, affording the full cost of Taft
becomes impossible for more and more families each
year. To send two children to Taft and then a private
university now approaches $1 million in total cost.
Forty years ago, Taft tuition represented around
20 percent of household pretax income at the 80th
income percentile (the top of the “middle class”).
Today, Taft tuition represents just under 50 percent
of that same group’s income. With this reality, a
sustained and growing commitment to increasing
financial aid budgets can enable more and more families to consider the possibility of a Taft education.
Every independent school, Taft included, works to
avoid the “barbell effect” of only enrolling full-paying
and high financial need students. Our office strives
to allocate our budget across the income spectrum.
While all families receiving aid at Taft must qualify on
the basis of their income and assets, the divergence
of tuition costs from income growth means more
and more families qualify for financial aid each year.
Nearly every Taft student receiving financial
aid benefits from Taft’s many endowed, named
scholarships. Some of these endowed gifts date
back to Horace Taft’s time and others are newly
created. While more than $80 million of Taft’s
endowment is dedicated to scholarship aid, at least
another $50 million is necessary before our current aid budget could be allocated without being
augmented by other sources like the Annual Fund.
Within every endowed scholarship, however,
exists the perpetual opportunity for education,
personal growth, and a life-changing experience.
One of the joys of my job is assigning students to
named scholarships and then reading the thankyou letters our students write to the scholarship
donors every fall. I could spend another 1,000
words trying to convince you “Why Financial Aid
Matters,” but the words of our students speak
much more powerfully. Here are some excerpts:
“Never have I been around a group of people
who love and care for others as much as Taft
students and faculty do, and the only way I
would be able to experience a community
this compassionate is with your help.”
“The relationships I am building, with people
from all different countries and backgrounds, are
long lasting, and not to be forgotten. I still cannot
believe that there are students from Ecuador,
Nigeria, and Zimbabwe in my math class!”
“For my life, the 15 miles from my house to Taft
were like a whole vast ocean separating two
continents: mediocrity and excellence. When I
traveled those 15 miles every day to school, I was
leaving behind my quiet and secure existence—
stepping outside my comfort zone. After
reflecting on all the ways attending Taft has
transformed my life, I can say with certainty that
your generosity—your gift of a Taft education—
has proven more valuable to me than any other
gift I have ever received.”
“Your generosity has given me nothing less
than life. For the rest of my life I will cherish
my time here with a sigh, somewhere ages
and ages hence. I will cherish my friends, all
that I have learned, and who I have become.
And for this, I am forever grateful.”
These words of gratitude are a small window
into the minds of students whose lives have been
changed by the opportunity of a Taft education. And
for every new scholarship that is endowed and for
every Annual Fund goal we meet, the impact is seen
in over 200 talented young people each year, who are
given the opportunity to experience an exceptional
education. That’s why financial aid matters. j
An educator of the
very highest order
Ted Heavenrich retires
Edited by Debra Meyers
For 40 years, Ted Heavenrich has helped shape
the minds and lives of Taft students not just
in the classroom, but on the hiking trail, the
playing field, and the ice rink; and in dorms,
hallways, and meeting spaces, both on and away
from campus. By all accounts an exceptional
teacher, Heavenrich has also been a most
extraordinary coach, mentor, colleague, and
friend. As Ted prepares to retire at the end of
this academic year, we look back in admiration
and celebration on 40 years of excellence.
hen I see alumni from the 1970s
and 1980s, they often ask about some of
the “old legends,” and when I share that
Ted Heavenrich is still here, and when
I speak of him, or if I show a picture of
him, there is invariably a wonderfully
affectionate exclamation, and often
some version of “He has not changed!”
And he has not changed, if we mean
he is the same friendly, funny, bearded,
woodsy, fit man who came to Taft some
40 years ago. Ted does look the same: a
ready smile, a loud laugh, and endearing way of greeting you, perhaps putting
a hand on your shoulder as you share
a story. I can think of few teachers in
my years who have been so constant in
presence and energy and spirit. Don’t
take for granted how hard it is to be
as good as Ted has been for as long.
That constancy is remarkable when
you reflect on what it really means—in
this case, that for his entire career he has
been one of the best, most respected, and
most loved teachers Taft has known.
Start with his teaching. I lost count
years ago of advisees, players, and others
who share stories of falling in love with
math because of Ted, or getting through
math because of Ted, or advancing in
math because of Ted. Many years ago he
moved into the rarified altitude of “master teacher,” and it is impossible to even
guess at how many students would say
he was their favorite teacher—and note I
have heard that from nervous mids solving for X and high-flying seniors doing
college-level calculus. He never has lost
his love of the classroom, and Ted at his
craft is about as good as it gets. Of course,
if you really want to see something
special, observe him giving one-on-one
extra help, in his office, over lunch in
the dining hall, or at the Math Table.
When you talk to his colleagues,
especially younger teachers who were
mentored by him and modeled their
teaching after him, you hear a level of
respect and affection that is singular.
I like thinking that a lot of teachers
started their careers hoping they might
be one-tenth as good as Ted Heavenrich.
And what is remarkable is that being a
math teacher is only part of what he has
been at Taft. He was a really good coach,
in hockey and in soccer, with boys and
girls: competitive, balanced, humorous,
knowledgeable. He ran our climbing wall
for years, and so that group of students
that did not want to play a team sport but
were drawn to the camaraderie and competition of the wall—well, you would see
them standing next to Ted, climbing harnesses and carabiners dangling off their
waists, peering up at the rope and trying
to figure a way up. For years he was the
face of our outdoor programs, and he led
hikes with students, near and far—and he
seemed to embody a Sierra Club ethos and
passion for the wilderness years before
it became trendy. He was an avid runner,
and lots of faculty and students trained
with him. I certainly did on plenty of occasions when I was younger, and we huffed
and puffed around the neighborhood.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
He was a class dean as well, and a really
good one: caring, firm, wise, calm. For a
lot of men and women faculty skaters, he
was our “commissioner” for our Tuesday
night “Senile Six” hockey sessions. There
he reached out to friends from town
to invite them, and so his popularity
extended well beyond our walls. And what
we should remember with this partial list
is that Ted did all this—and more—with
humor, good will, a can-do team attitude
that is precious in a place as busy as Taft.
It’s hard to measure what he has
meant to Taft. I know you don’t replace a
guy like Ted. You just feel lucky you knew
him and had the privilege of being a colleague of an educator of the very highest
order, of excellence and passion and caring, and every day, for a really long time.
—William R. MacMullen ’78
ed Heavenrich was one of a group
of unusually talented young teachers
who joined the faculty in the early to
mid-1970s. Little did I imagine that
he would go on to be one of Taft’s classic bachelor masters in the tradition of
John Small, Don Oscarson, and Dick
Cobb, to mention just a few. Math teachers are not easy to find and Ted became
one of our best—clear, inclusive, and
always there for extra help. He was a
renaissance school person, founding the
Outdoor Program and Taft’s outstanding Math Team; coach of soccer goalies
for both the boys’ and girls’ programs;
and lead organizer of the “Senile Six,”
Taft’s faculty hockey team. Ever present
at student events, he was a fine advisor and deeply loyal to all whose lives
he touched. His retirement will leave
a real hole in the fabric of Taft life.
—Lance Odden
headmaster emeritus
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
he highest praise I or anyone else
can give Ted Heavenrich is to say that he
is the quintessential schoolmaster. More
than anything, he has valued and found
absolute joy in the opportunity teaching
has given him to guide young people to
become their best selves intellectually,
morally, and emotionally. His method is
always to present his students with a challenge they don’t think they can overcome,
whether it’s a difficult math problem, a
seemingly impossible route on the rock
climbing wall, or a steep trail up a mountain, and then to give them the tools and
encouragement to enable them to succeed and achieve independently. That is
the best learning and the best teaching.
Teaching has always come first for
Ted. While he served with distinction,
characteristic thoroughness, and sensitivity as a class dean and department head,
and friend, a person who in his dedicated work with adolescents and with
his fellow teachers every day has been
the bedrock on which Taft stands.
—Linda Saarnijoki
strophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson
said, “If you ask adults how many teachers…made a singular impression on
who and what they are, it’s never more
than three or four teachers….When
we finally create a cloning machine,
we should clone these teachers.”
Ted should be cloned. From my first
day on campus at preseason varsity soccer
to 30 years later visiting him at his lovely
home in Vermont, Ted has been a teacher
and a mentor to me. The most amazing
“Anyone who knows Ted realizes that
students have always been at the center
of his universe. With his departure, there
will be an enormous void, not just in the
math department, but in the entire school.”
—Al Reiff, Jr. ’80
he was always restless to get back to the
classroom full time. Throughout his career
he has been sought after for committee
assignments, administrative roles, and any
number of other duties, but, while willing
to serve wherever he could be most useful,
he has usually concluded that that is in
the classroom, and his grateful students
can only agree. He has always jealously
guarded his preparation time and his
class time, unwilling to give up a moment
that could help him serve his students.
In the decades we have served together
at Taft, there is no one whom I have
respected more as a teacher, colleague,
thing about this is that I never had Ted as
a teacher in the classroom. He taught me
(and many others) on the soccer field, out
on the ice, and even at eating extravaganzas
at Pizza Hut or Friendly’s. There were so
many interactions that I remember fondly
that helped shape who I am today and that
helped me think about life in a positive way.
Ted exemplifies the impact, both in and
out of the classroom, that Taft strives to
have on all its students. While Taft will miss
him, his positive impact will continue as he
enjoys new adventures in his retirement.
—Kelley Coyne Campoli ’86
Ted Heavenrich, back
row far left, with the Taft
students who went to
China in 1981, the first
high school group to go to
mainland China since 1966
as the Cultural Revolution
(1966–81) was ending. Also
pictured is former faculty
member/alumnus Jim
Mooney ’74, at upper right.
ed has done it all. He has been a class
dean, a corridor head, a department head,
and a longtime soccer coach. Through it
all, he has been a consummate teacher
who strives daily to make adjustments
to improve his teaching. He thinks about
how to improve not just his own teaching,
but also how the department’s presentation of math can better serve students.
Anyone who knows Ted realizes that
students have always been at the center
of his universe. With his departure, there
will be an enormous void, not just in
the Math Department, but in the entire
school. He is driven to find ways to better
serve kids, and for over 40 years, he has
been helping kids in so many ways. We
all remark on how young Ted looks—how
he never seems to age. The youth of his
charges seems to rub off on him daily,
whether it is organizing the Math Team,
which he has done since its inception and
with great success, guiding soccer players, or simply helping kids learn math.
I mention that last, and perhaps that
is grossly unfair. Ted has always been a
phenomenal teacher, and teaching math
is what has driven him for four decades.
—Al Reiff, Jr. ’80
director of the taft educational center
r. Heavenrich? Oh no! Try
to get out of his class,” instructed my
family upon finding out that he would
be my teacher. Both my father and sister dropped his class their freshman
years; I feared my inevitable future
and prepared myself for failure.
While in my head he threw erasers
at us when we answered incorrectly,
in real life Mr. Heavenrich jumps with
excitement that he has stumped us. I
soon learned Mr. Heavenrich is far from
the fearsome teacher I was anticipating. He takes the time to get to know
each of us, not just as students but as
people. He is a tough teacher, but Mr.
Heavenrich pushes us, and we are better
for it. His never-ending devotion, support, and kindness are present every day.
There are no words to describe how
grateful the rest of the students and I are
to have had the opportunity to be in his
class. He has influenced all of his past
students, he is inspiring all of his current
students, and, although he is retiring,
his legacy will impact future students.
—Julia Ordway ’19
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
hen I arrived at Taft School
in the fall of 1985, Ted Heavenrich was
one of the first teachers I encountered.
After 23-years in public schools, I knew
that there were many new aspects of
everyday life at Taft that I did not understand and had to learn very quickly.
Ted was the most open and easy person to converse with, and he willingly
gave of his time and energy to me and to
others. His understanding of life and commitments in a private boarding school was
outstanding. He mentored me through
the grading system, comment writing,
and the advisor-advisee relationship, just
to mention a few. In all my dealings with
Ted, I found him to be professional, ethical, dedicated, and an excellent classroom
teacher. He is the consummate teacher,
coach, and advisor. He always gave freely
of his time to his colleagues, students, and
advisees, and committee responsibilities.
Ted’s intellect is thorough, consistent, and of the highest caliber. His
approach to problem solving was always
unique in dealing with some of the most
abstract concepts of mathematics. He
clearly manifested a deep understanding of the subject matter and was able
to convey these ideas to his students.
I was privileged to be associated
with Ted Heavenrich, and I know
that I grew professionally because he
was my colleague. The essence of this
man is compassion, and I know that
he will be missed at Taft School.
Student rock climbers
in the Outdoor Program
Heavenrich founded.
—Jerry DePolo
faculty emeritus, mathematics
“His method is always to present his students with a challenge they
don’t think they can overcome… and then to give them the tools and
encouragement to enable them to succeed and achieve independently.”
—Linda Saarnijoki
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
never actually sat in his classroom,
but Ted remains among my most important teachers and mentors. Though
some of the mentoring took place
indoors—conversational give-and-take
late afternoons in Main Hall, the shorter
words of a wrestling fan’s encouragement—the better part happened outside
and over time, as he jogged with us on
those green campus hills, led us backpacking on New England’s trails, and taught us
to climb on Woodbury’s trap rock crags.
There were, to be sure, lessons more or
less technical: stretching and good breathing may help with cramps; a down bag is by
weight warmer than synthetic, until it gets
wet; the bowline on a coil can tie you in
securely, hip belays do the job, and one can,
if needed, rappel with rope and body alone.
But through and beyond the technical
played more important stakes: to test, during a run, the subtle balances between pain
and one’s own right pace; to consider, along
the trail, differences between essential
and inessential, or relations between selfreliance and teamwork; to cultivate, on the
climb, the clear-headed poise that might
counter your “sewing-machine leg,” until
the unforeseen hold appears, or the subtle
shift of weight or position, which opens
the face’s line in all of its simple beauty.
Ted’s teaching was very much about
beauty—that of math’s power and
elegance, to be sure, of which he spoke
often even outside the classroom, but also
that of our natural world, which became
the more beautiful insofar as we explored
and enjoyed it together, and because we
learned there about ourselves and others, about persistence and patience, trust
and courage, friendship, and fidelity. But
perhaps most fundamentally, the teaching was about what all of these should
entail: the kind of deep, calm, ever-open
thoughtfulness that Ted taught us by practicing it. It is the kind of thoughtfulness
that cannot be rushed. It takes a lifetime.
It leaves us in admiration and gratitude.
—Tom Carlson ’83
ed Heavenrich has been a trusted
colleague, mentor, and friend for
35 years; it is hard to picture what the
Math Department will look like next
year without him.
When we arrived at Taft in September
1981, Ted was one of the veteran teachers
who reached out to us and helped guide
us through the trials of our adjustment;
he was ready to help in any possible way.
Over the last three and a half decades,
he’s meant a great deal to our family as
a colleague, friend, and teacher [to our
children]. Ted has been a supportive
friend of our family, and our shared
interests in birds, the outdoors, and
UConn Huskies basketball have always
provided hot topics for conversation.
In the classroom, his versatility will be
hard to replace—he is perfectly capable
of teaching any course offered by the
department, from the beginners to the
most challenging. In his interactions with
his students, he has a special knack for
being simultaneously demanding and
compassionate—they always know he
cares and is rooting for them. And he
takes an interest in his students beyond
the classroom. Ted is a frequent spectator
at their sporting events and other extracurricular performances. Dedicated and
involved, Ted embodies all the qualities
that make his presence at Taft so special.
We will miss him, but wish him the
best in his well-earned retirement.
—Sue and Steve McCabe
the beauty and symmetry of open spaces,
and the respect for the outdoors that
is derivative of immersing oneself in
the wilderness. Correspondingly, these
lessons were integral in giving me the
confidence to visit some of the most
beautiful and out-of-the-way corners
of the world, points which I would otherwise not have explored. Through the
Outdoor Program, Ted provided experiences that gave another dimension to
my personality, the product of which
has been a lasting gift that I can now
share with my family. I cannot thank Ted
enough for the difference he has made,
and wish him boundless happiness.
—Rich Possemato ’97
will always cherish the hours spent
working with Ted on Math Olympiad
problems that seemed to increase exponentially in difficulty, and the semester
that Ted devoted to an independent
study course which culminated in pitting his and my calculators (and wits)
against each other to see who could write
a program that could most efficiently
factor large numbers. Ted’s enthusiasm
for teaching and mathematics served
as an invaluable foundation for my
future pursuits, and those of countless
others over the years; it is the common denominator in our successes.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
As an advisor and friend, Ted shared
his wisdom and passion for educating the whole student. Because I was
a particularly bookish teenager whose
self-identity was largely defined by academic ability, what paradoxically made
the most lasting impression on my
life was the time spent with Ted in the
Outdoor Program. Ted taught us the
strategy and calculus required to scale
a natural rock wall and how to wedge
ourselves between two parallel rock
faces to shimmy upwards, bringing the
patience and analysis of the academic
mind to a complex physical activity. On
our weekend camping and hiking, Ted
taught us the basics of outdoor survival,
received a chapter test back and
had earned a lower grade than on previous tests. On the top of my paper Mr.
Heavenrich wrote, “disappointing,”
right next to the score. I was honestly
distraught; Mr. Heavenrich’s opinion
mattered to me....I came to realize
that Mr. Heavenrich put this word at
the top of my paper because he knew
that it would help me want more for
myself…just as he wanted more for me
and knew I could get there—he sincerely believed that I could do better.
I have come to love geometry because
of the endless passion Mr. Heavenrich
radiates in class and in life. His authenticity and straightforward approach make
me feel completely comfortable in sharing
my ideas and taking risks in class. It feels
like we have built a family in the classroom, a safe place for all of us to retreat to
and escape the pressures of high school.
Thank you, Mr. Heavenrich, for creating a class that feels like a family and for
holding me true to my standards. I hope
that I will live up to your expectations
for the rest of my career at Taft, because
if I do, I know I will have succeeded.
—Julia Dawson ’19
ed Heavenrich was my geometry
teacher during his first year at Taft,
but his influence on me and my family literally spans generations. I’m glad
that I had the opportunity to greet Mr.
Heavenrich at the start of his Taft career,
but I’m grateful that his tenure at Taft
has extended long enough for two of
my sons to also have him as a teacher.
Mr. Heavenrich always had that
knack for knowing when to give you the
space to figure things out on your own,
but he also knew when to step in and
offer just enough advice or encouragement to keep you going. His ability to
reframe complex abstract problems in
a simpler and more concrete manner
made solutions seem obvious. In or out
of the classroom, he was always ready
to listen, to cajole, or lighten the mood
with a touch of humor. Thank you, Mr.
Heavenrich, for your years of dedicated
service and for making such a difference in my life and the lives of my kids.
—Steve Molder ’78
or many teachers, it could have
been the moment of greatest humiliation, but for Ted Heavenrich it was a
moment to demonstrate dignity, and to
teach. My roommate, Brad Ring, and I
were coming out of sit-down dinner with
senior swagger. Brad had openly pilfered
a full cream pie that was left behind
on one of the tables. Mr. Heavenrich
spotted Brad with the contraband and
frowned. “Ringo, what are you doing?”
“I’m taking this pie back to my room
for later. It was just sitting there.”
“No, you’re not, Brad. Take it back.”
In a flick of the wild, as if to prove
for all time that the frontal lobe of the
17-year-old male is not fully developed, Brad turned on Mr. Heavenrich
and smooshed the pie in his face.
Brad was as stunned by his actions as
Mr. Heavenrich, whose beard acted like
Velcro for the cream filling. We waited
for the inevitable explosion and outrage.
From our dorm master—from authority.
But Mr. Heavenrich did not oblige. He
made clear that a boundary was crossed
and that he was very disappointed.
And there were concrete consequences
(though Brad and I do not remember
them). But fundamentally, there was
just an adult educating wanna-be adults:
this is not how we treat one another.
Most of what I learned at Taft
occurred outside its classrooms, and Ted
Heavenrich was one of my greatest teachers. As we bowled down the lane of high
school, Mr. Heavenrich was that inflatable
bumper that nudged us reliably, necessarily back on course. A year earlier, when
Brad and I cut down a six-foot pine at the
Watertown Golf Course, lugged it into
our dorm room on HDT2, and decorated
it for Christmas with jock straps and
Taft-issued socks, he came in, offered a
half smile and said, “Not bad. But that
needs to come down in two hours.”
Mr. Heavenrich greeted the everyday
challenge of raising 40 teenage boys with
steadiness, humor, and unimpeachable
integrity. At reunions over the next 30
years, he was always one of the first I
sought out. And he was always there.
Looking exactly the same—the Dick
Clark of the Taft faculty. Once the stories
started, the real reward came when you
earned his iconic laugh; it sounded like
machine-gun fire from within a sudsy bath.
Congrats on an epic career,
Mr. Heavenrich. And thanks for all you
taught me about how to be an educator.
And an adult.
—Derek Pierce ’84
Archival photos courtesy of Taft’s
Leslie D. Manning Archives.
“Most of what I learned at Taft occurred
outside its classrooms, and Ted Heavenrich
was one of my greatest teachers.”
—Derek Pierce ’84
Heavenrich, on the field in 1983, has coached
JV boys,’ varsity girls,’ and JV girls’ soccer.
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
From the
. Roger Alling,
Charles Sherwood, Jr.,
Sam Shepard, Bob Chamberlain,
Walbridge Taft, George Baldwin,
Guy Samson, Jack Doran
A Sustained and Relevant Curriculum:
Securing Taft’s Next 125 Years
 Standing, Clarence E. Winton,
Guy C. Lamson, James Henderson,
Edward J. Mann; sitting,
Henry B. Stoddard, George Lear
Why do we love these old images?
First, there is often that curious mix of dapper gentleman and
scruffy schoolboy. Clad in rumpled wool sweaters, shin pads, and
skates, looking as though they’ve just finished playing a pick-up
game, one group poses in a photographer’s studio before a bowery of palm fronds and potted floral bouquets.
Another group of boys poses on the steps of the old school
building. They are serious and self-consciously casual—the fashion at the time—and covered in a careful dusting of artificial snow.
Note the cravat on the team manager and the houndstooth knickers. (Did the photographer notice the young lad in the doorway?)
Then there is the story. The group on the steps is the first Taft
hockey team of 1900–01. The group in the other photo represents
the precursor sport—ice polo. “Shinny,” as it was then called, had
come down from Canada in the 1880s, more often than not played
with a small block of ice or a frozen animal dropping. Or even a
real ball. Think field hockey on ice, with skates.
In the 1890s, American ice polo had a brief but popular run in
high school and college athletics. Because it was played with a ball
instead of a puck, and with shorter, curved sticks, and no rules
Taft Bulletin / Winter 2016
The close of the 2015 calendar year brought us ever closer to the completion of the Ever Taft, Even Stronger campaign; it also
brought us even closer to our campaign goal: As of December 31, 2015, we have raised $166 million toward our goal of $175 million.
Thousands of donors have supported our campaign initiative to increase financial aid, support faculty, and enhance
facilities. Alumni, parents, and friends of Taft have also shown their support for Taft’s programs. Our challenge is to create a
sustained and relevant curriculum, with staffing to meet our vision of a school that graduates globally literate, intellectually
robust, technically skilled, and ethically principled students. Here’s how we’re making that happen:
forbidding offside play, the game was much looser than hockey.
The first American club formed in 1883 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
It caught on quickly, with Yale, Brown, Harvard, MIT, Boston
College, and Tufts organizing teams in the 1890s. High schools
picked it up and it migrated south to the New York City area.
Taft’s ice polo team formed in 1898, late to the trend. After
two years, the Taft Athletic Association decided to replace polo
with hockey, because, as a student wrote in the Papyrus, “Polo is
no longer a university game.”
There was no Pond then on campus, just wet fields and a
stream. The early ice teams practiced on Lake Winnemaug (south
of town,) Merriman’s Pond (near the Watertown railroad depot),
or on a flooded area on campus.
That first hockey team skated against the New Haven
Clippers and the Yale senior class team and other schools,
finishing undefeated. At the end of the season, the Papyrus staff
proudly displayed this photo of the team on its April 18, 1901
front page.
—Alison Gilchrist, The Leslie D. Manning Archives, Taft School
Global Studies
Science Education and Environmental Initiatives
Taft’s commitment to global issues is stronger than ever.
Through courses in human rights and international relations;
travel experiences that build understanding of global issues;
and talks by visiting artists, writers, scientists, and renowned
figures from a variety of fields, students gain a thoroughly
international perspective.
Premised on the philosophy “think globally, act locally,”
Taft’s Center for Global Leadership and Service also
allows students from Taft and Waterbury Public Schools
to collaboratively explore global issues while developing
leadership skills to address them.
A school relevant to the 21st century must graduate students
who are scientifically literate and good environmental
stewards. We continue to expand our academic offerings in
science so that a Taft graduate will leave with the knowledge
to make informed decisions concerning the rapidly growing
areas of scientific discovery and understand the impact
science will have in the areas of health, medicine, ethics, and
political and fiscal decision-making.
Along with new courses in environmental science and
partnerships with organizations like The New York Botanical
Garden, students are involved in campus efforts to lower the
school’s carbon footprint and to learn from Taft’s new LEEDcertified buildings.
Service Learning
Inspired by the school motto—Not to be served but to serve—
Taft’s commitment to service has never been more vibrant
than it is today, from local efforts that include a school-wide
Community Service Day and thriving year-round partnerships
with nonprofits across the greater Waterbury area, to summer
travel grants and service trips around the world. The catalog
of on- and off-campus service opportunities for students
is truly staggering, and we hope to raise the funds that can
match our vision.
Academic Technology
Academic technology has dramatically changed the way
students learn. It is not merely the “hardware” or “software”
that has proven benefits for teaching; it is that our entire
understanding of how we share information, connect to other
learning communities, develop critical thinking skills, and
collaborate and create has been revolutionized by advances
in technology. Taft believes that continuing to invest in
evolving technologies is key to all future learning.
The Ever Taft, Even Stronger campaign closes June 30, 2016. We hope you will support this important initiative, designed to
sustain Taft and ensure innovation and excellence in programming, financial aid, faculty, and facilities in the next 125 years.
To find out more, visit www.taftschool.org/campaign or contact Director of Development Chris Latham at 860-945-5923
or [email protected]
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