An Episcopal, co-educational boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Dean of Teaching & Learning Elizabeth Roach



As Christopher demonstrated so powerfully on Wednesday night in his Chapel Talk, written reflection is an important way for us to think about, put into perspective, understand, and learn from our life experiences. 

As I’ve begun to read reflections on the first semester in teaching portfolios, I’m struck by teachers’ thoughtfulness and honesty and focus on how to strengthen student learning, both in classes as a whole as well as for each student individually. With our small classes at St. Andrew’s, we have the privilege of knowing our students well and attending to their particular needs throughout the learning process. Navanjali’s reflection reminds us of the importance of remembering what it’s like to be a student, an experience that some of us have not had explicitly perhaps in a long time.

Her framing of her reflection gives us all an insightful and productive way to think about our own teaching as we move forward this year. Thank you, Navanjali, for allowing me to share a part of your reflection.

Last June, I had the experience of being catapulted from the role of virtual teacher to the role of a student learning virtually. We finished our unanticipated virtual spring at St. Andrew’s and I jumped into being a full-time student in my MFA program. The summer session is normally in person, but due to the pandemic, everything was online. Having freshly finished my stint as a teacher teaching studio art virtually, and with the roles now being reversed as a student, my antennae were up even more so than normal. What was working? What wasn’t? 

I really started to think about: what do I need as a student, in this virtual format, to succeed? 

I need:

  • Prompt, clear, communication from my professors
  • Clear guidelines on what I need to do for assignments
  • Prompt feedback on studio work and my writing
  • Kindness, care, and a sense of my professors wanting me to succeed

I felt very strongly about keeping these four elements at the forefront of the work I did this fall. Having had this summer experience, I am now constantly trying to put myself in my students’ shoes, as I present assignments to them. I am asking questions of myself: Did I present this in the most clear way possible? Is this engaging? How can I best support this student in understanding a technique or concept? And, most importantly—reflecting on how best to reach different students. There are teaching scenarios where some students will absorb something, and others need a different method. Is there a way to break down this concept to a student in an alternative way?

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The Saints Spotlight Podcast | Al Wood P ’21, Director of Athletics
Jacob Myers

“It made me more conscious of the little moments that you have with students and the big impact the small moments have because my kids weren’t necessarily coming home and spending their time talking about these big things we spend most of our time planning. Rather, they talked about the conversations with faculty members or having a breakthrough at practice, a coach noticing their effort and being seen . . . or, when they fell short and were held accountable. That made me realize that the biggest impacts we have (as faculty members) at St. Andrew’s are in those little moments and conversations with students.” (on sharing the SAS experience with his triplets) Al Wood P ’21, Director of Athletics & Director of Sports Medicine

A graduate of Lake Forest High School and the University of Delaware, Al Wood (we call him Mr. Incredible) joined the St. Andrew's School community in the Fall of 1997 as the Head Athletic Trainer. Over the course of the past two decades, Al has continued to add more to his plate as he is now the Director of Athletics and the Director of Sports Medicine (in addition to his duties as Head Athletic Trainer). If you’d like to learn more about Al (and his CRAZY schedule during his first few years at SAS), check out the links below.

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/al-wood-p21-director-of-athletics-head-athletic-trainer/id1541329851?i=1000504048380&fbclid=IwAR0nFj-2-wdA0Sk54YGUvy0y9h0-Yi_opPdp7RnluvjHGG7jF-TSHp4jqKE

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Elizabeth Hall ’21

 
To what extent is Simon & Schuster's decision an "assault on the First Amendment"? 
 

In short, this isn’t an assault on the First Amendment. Things would be different if Simon & Schuster wasn’t a privately owned company. A reverse way to think about it is: this is Simon & Schuster utilizing their First Amendment right. 
 
The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” I would assume Sen. Hawley is thinking of the portion of this section that says “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” But what would (for lack of a better word) trump this, is the publishing companies' right to not publish or partake in what could be considered a criminal action if Senator Hawley’s role in the events at the Capitol are considered a violation of freedoms or safety, or the encouragement of actions that broke President Trump’s executive order “protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues - and combatting recent Criminal Violence.” 
 
This could also be equated to the Supreme Court Case of Masterpiece Bakery vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the Court ruled that Masterpiece Bakery is at liberty to reject and accept customers since it was on the merit of a violation of a personal freedom (religion).
 
No matter what your personal view is on all of the recent events surrounding the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, or the events and rhetoric surrounding the 2020 Presidential Election, Simon & Schuster are at full liberty to decide whether or not they publish Senator Hawley’s book. Senator Hawley probably has some sort of merit when it comes to case law and away from constitutional law, but solely on the terms of his contract.

Tad Roach

 

Head of School Tad Roach gave these remarks to the community following the events in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

 

I appreciate the community gathering together tonight, for this kind of gathering is very much a part of the soul and spirit of this school: coming together to reflect on moments of difficulty, conflict, chaos, and tragedy in our nation.

As you probably know, today as the House of Representatives and the Senate met to certify the election of President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, an angry and aggressive mob, galvanized and encouraged by President Trump, gathered in front of the Capitol and then stormed the building, disrupting this ceremony of democratic succession that lies at the foundation of our democracy. 

After a prolonged period of violence, destruction of property, trespassing, and chaos (including periods of repeated requests for the President to pull his supporters back), a combination of the National Guard, DC Police, and agents of the FBI restored order. During the evening news, NBC reported one death that occurred during the rampage. In addition to the chaos and destruction everywhere, members of the news media were subjected to harassment, insults, and threats—again a direct response to the President’s words earlier in the day, blaming the media for what he called a rigged and fraudulent election. 

What we witnessed today in our nation’s capital and in one of the very buildings that symbolizes the enduring strength and majesty of our democracy will remain as one of the most devastating and destructive days in our nation’s history. We saw a member of the mob carrying a Confederate flag through the Capitol; we saw a man wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Camp Auschwitz" on the front. We saw members of the mob break windows, invade and ransack Congressional offices, and occupy the Senate and House Chambers.

These acts and slogans have built up steadily over the past few years as our leaders have encouraged and refused to confront the existential danger of extremist and white supremacy movements in the country. We remember Charlottesville; we remember Pittsburgh; we remember Charleston; we remember the debate this fall and the President’s refusal to denounce white supremacy groups. He asked them “to stand back and stand by”; today many appeared upon his invitation, responded, and acted on his call. 

But ultimately, the events of January 6, 2021 will serve, I believe, as the beginning of the rebirth and reassertion of democratic values, integrity, and virtues in this divided nation. We will recover, we will awaken, we will strengthen the very foundation of our democracy attacked so outrageously today. 

Something changed today, a recognition among citizens that democracy cannot survive without the careful stewardship, respect, and collaboration of both political parties. It is terrible that it took this day for many to see, recognize or admit the disease, the virus, the poison coursing through our national character, but our day of democratic epiphany has arrived. Many have warned us that this day of disintegration and chaos had already arrived and would ultimately worsen. Others stayed silent, hoping that this move towards violence would go away by itself. Others today find themselves complicit in sacrificing their values either out of fear, intimidation, or hopes of future advancement.

President-Elect Biden declared our democracy is under assault unlike anything we’ve ever seen in modern times. Senator Mitt Romney remarked: “What happened today was an insurrection incited by the President of the United States.” 

One of my heroines, Sherrilyn Ifill, leader of The Legal Defense Fund, wrote the following as she reacted to the sight of the Confederate flag at the Capitol: “This photo was one that made me sit quiet for a moment tonight.” Senator Corey Booker declared: “We must rise from this nadir of shame. We must repair our democracy. We must heal our nation.”

You see, it is the sacred responsibility of leadership to strengthen, inspire, protect, and honor the mission and abiding spirit of the institutions they serve. It is the responsibility of leadership to leave an institution stronger than when they arrived, and ready to soar to new heights in the next administration. In American democracy, the most sacred tradition, performed admirably in every instance up to now, is for a sitting President to accept defeat and welcome their successor. 

In addition, it is the responsibility of leadership to develop the trust, love, admiration, and commitment of their followers not to protect the leader’s ego, interests, or priorities, but to serve the institution or nation they all represent.

A leader can inspire courage, sacrifice, collaboration, and resilience by appealing to the mission of the institution or the democracy or in contrast, a leader can use power to manipulate people, anger them, arouse them, embolden them, and convince them that the best way to rescue the foundation of the state is to destroy the foundation of the state. Any leader can succeed in creating hatred, intolerance, violence, and chaos. History is replete with portraits of leaders who play to the very worst aspects of humanity.

Great leaders, in contrast, seek peace, reconciliation, mercy, understanding. They expand civil rights, equality, dignity, compassion, and love. They see their work as serving a powerful national and public good. They understand how to support and recognize and honor powerful and transformational social reform—the expansion and cultivation of human rights. They understand the vital importance of  condemning, opposing, and eliminating the scourge of domestic terrorism and racism.

The events of today are particularly appalling in the context of what we all witnessed last summer in Washington—when peaceful protesters, responding to the murder of George Floyd, calling for reform, justice, and equality in America, were condemned, tear-gassed, dispersed for a presidential photo in front of an Episcopal Church in Washington.

One of the greatest ironies of this national conversation about a rigged or fraudulent election that the President has talked about both in 2016 and in 2020 is this:

The voting fraud perpetrated on the democracy did not originate in the States, or in voting machines, or in the post office, or in the media, or in the courts, or with a flawed review of the Attorney General’s office, or the ultimate permission or acquiescence of the Vice President’s office. All those groups acted lawfully, in the spirit of service to the democracy. 

The voting fraud scheme originated in the office and the character of a leader who refused to accept the democratic verdict of the American people, a leader who threatened and expected others to sacrifice their integrity in service to his will. 

Tonight, refusing to be intimidated by the mob, Congress returned to their historic chambers to resume counting the electoral votes. The tone, tenor, and culture of the discussions that ensued took on a new measure of dignity, thoughtfulness, and integrity.

We saw today what happens when leadership seeks power, authority, and violence over law, truth, and honor. 

May we never forget the lessons of this day. 
 

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Dean of Teaching & Learning Elizabeth Roach

 

As a gift to all of you, I offer you Wiliam Carlos Williams’ poem “The Gift,” one of my favorite Christmas poems and one that I might talk about again in Chapel when we return in January. In this beautiful and seemingly simple poem, Williams describes the wise men bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Mary and Jesus, the “god of love.” Although these gifts befit the son of God, the gifts are “unsuitable for a child” and a mother who has just given birth.

But as the wise men witness Mary feeding her baby, the poem pivots. Instead of seeing Mary with the son of God, they see a mother feeding her baby, a natural and perhaps even commonplace scene, but here, the wise men understand the miracle of a mother’s ability to give life to, to nourish, to feed her baby, and they kneel in praise and wonder.

Williams asserts the transformative power of love—“hard gold to love”—the miracle of life contained in this one image of a mother feeding her child, an image that casts life in its most fundamental form: “a mother’s needs” and “a child’s appetite.” The wise men (as well as the animals) recognize and are humbled by this simple yet miraculous moment—“this perfection.” The ordinary becomes extraordinary because it is, in fact, ordinary.

And this is where I make the leap to teaching and learning and the extraordinary work that all of you have done this fall.

As teachers, we all know that teaching is challenging, but often others outside of education don’t know that. In fact, how many times have you heard someone say a version of “someday, I’d like to teach” as if anyone could teach, as if it would be fun and interesting to “just” teach (I don’t often hear people say, “ I think that after my current career, I’ll perform surgery”). My point is that people, at times, regard teaching as something anyone can do.

The pandemic has shown the world otherwise. Teachers are now talked about as “heroes.” People express respect for how hard teaching is, how resilient and agile teachers have had to be during this time of online, hybrid, and physically distanced learning, how quickly teachers needed to learn and keep learning, how courageous teachers have been. When trying to teach their own children at home, parents have understood how hard teaching actually is. It’s about time! 

Much like the recognition that the wise men have, people have suddenly seen teachers and teaching differently. They no longer take teachers for granted; they see that what once seemed ordinary is extraordinary, that what once seemed easy or natural is miraculous. In essence, people outside the classroom have recognized what we’ve always known: that teaching is hard and requires diligence, dedication, and creativity in order for it to work and seem easy.

That’s what all of you have done in the classroom this fall. In your flexibility and persistence and artistry, you have demonstrated the necessity of inspired teaching, the importance of the human touch, and the transformative power of what we do every day: teach with passion and love for our students, our course material, and our profession.

Elizabeth

 

The Gift

As the wise men of old brought gifts

   guided by a star

      to the humble birthplace
 

of the god of love,

   the devils

      as an old print shows

retreated in confusion.
 

   What could a baby know

      of gold ornaments

or frankincense and myrrh,

   of priestly robes

      and devout genuflections?
 

But the imagination

   knows all stories

      before they are told

and knows the truth of this one

   past all defection
 

The rich gifts

   so unsuitable for a child

      though devoutly proffered,

stood for all that love can bring.
 

   The men were old

      how could they know

of a mother's needs

   or a child's

      Appetite?
 

But as they kneeled

   the child was fed.
 

      They saw it

and

   gave praise!
 

      A miracle

had taken place,

   hard gold to love,

a mother's milk!

   before

       their wondering eyes.
 

The ass brayed

   the cattle lowed.

  It was their nature.
 

All men by their nature give praise.

   It is all

      they can do.
 

The very devils

   by their flight give praise.

      What is death,

beside this?
 

   Nothing. The wise men

      came with gifts

and bowed down

   to worship

      this perfection.

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