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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Disciplines

 

Our academic program is built around a sequence of requirements in the core subject areas of English; history; science; mathematics; classical and modern languages; religious studies; and the arts. Course curriculums strive to be interdisciplinary: that is, in developing coursework, faculty consider what else a student is learning in that particular school year, and attempt to connect that work across classrooms, putting disciplines and methods in conversation with one another.

In all disciplines, coursework is intensely focused on the teaching of writing, critical reasoning and scientific investigation. Our course offerings reflect our goal of connecting students with contemporary issues, technologies, and innovations of the wider world, and our deep belief in the world's religious, philosophical and artistic traditions as a lasting source of wisdom and hope.

What's Going On In Our Departments?

Introducing Our New Faculty!

 

Head of School Tad Roach and Head-Elect Joy McGrath ’92 announced and welcomed the new faculty who will join St. Andrew's in the 2021-22 school year. The school is grateful to Emily Pressman, Ana Ramirez, Elizabeth Roach, and the many department chairs and faculty members who engaged in the faculty hiring process this year. 


An Alabama native, Victor Cuicahua is a graduate of Pomona College and entering his fourth year of teaching. At Pomona he earned a bachelor’s in history and was awarded the John Hayes Beaver History Prize, and conducted graduate-level research at the University of Illinois focusing on the political attitudes and influence of the Chilean military prior, during, and after the toppling of President Salvador Allende. He subsequently received a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania while teaching ninth grade world history, coaching soccer, and serving as a dormitory parent and advisor at Taft School as part of Penn's Boarding School Teaching Residency. Prior to becoming an educator, he was a nationally-recognized immigrant rights activist and appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 2012. Previously, Victor founded and led the first youth-led immigrant rights group in his home state into an organization affiliated with the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country; this organization was involved in multiple state and national campaigns. At St. Andrew’s, Victor will teach history.


Erin Hanson has a bachelor’s in English and comparative literature from Williams College and is completing a Master of Philosophy in English Studies at Cambridge University. 

At Williams, Erin was a Ruchman Fellow at the Oakley Center for Humanities—where she wrote her senior thesis on debility, embodiment, and ecology in the work of Virginia Woolf and the philosopher Martin Heidegger—and also completed an independent study on literary pedagogy. She was a Williams Roche Research Fellow in the summers of 2016 and 2017. In 2016, she investigated the interarticulation of colonialism and feminism in the west, focusing on the Brontë sisters. The following summer, she immersed herself in the New York Public Library’s collection of literature and documents related to the AIDS crisis. She also acted in and directed the Williams parody Frosh Revue; led freshmen in an outdoor orientation trip; and participated in campus activism around mental health, disabled life, and racial and economic justice. 

This summer, Erin will complete her master’s thesis on queer masculinity and racial capital in the work of Toni Morrison. 

Outside of school and work, Erin sits zazen and enjoys theater, walking, and gardening. At St. Andrew’s, Erin will teach English. She is absolutely delighted to be joining the St. Andrew’s community with her partner, Bertie, and their puppy, Ernest. 


Angelica Huang-Murphy was born and raised in Shanghai, China. She first came to the US for college at the University of Michigan. Coming from a family of educators with a genuine passion for learning languages, she pursued her master’s in teaching foreign language at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. Since then, she has worked with students of all ages and in various capacities at multiple schools and programs, including the Middlebury Institute, Flint Hill School, Berwick Academy, and Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy. She spent the last few years raising her two daughters, who challenge and refine her teaching approach every day.

At St. Andrew’s, Angelica will teach Chinese. She is excited to return to the classroom next year, and her family are thrilled to become part of the St. Andrew’s community as well!


Will Kwon holds a bachelor’s in economics and mathematics from Yale University, and a master’s and doctorate in economics from the University of Southern California. He previously taught mathematics at Bellarmine-Jefferson High School in Burbank, CA;  Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Wilbraham, MA (a boarding school); and Greenhill School in Addison, TX. He also taught economics at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, NV and Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI.

At St. Andrew’s, Will will teach math. He is returning to high school teaching after ten years away, and can’t wait! Will, his wife Audrey, and their son Sam look forward to joining the St. Andrew’s community. 


Bertie Miller is a member of the Class of 2014 at St. Andrew’s. In 2018, Bertie graduated from Williams College with a double major in geosciences and studio art. She specialized in climate science and conceptual art. She has done geoscience research in Alaska, the Bering Sea, Iceland, and Greenland. At Williams, Bertie was a four-year varsity member and captain of the women’s crew team. She was an all-NESCAC rower, a three time NCAA medalist, and won gold in the 2017 NCAA 1V Division 3 championship.

After graduating, Bertie joined the Juneau Icefield Research Program and conducted glacial geophysics research while living on the ice. She trained in crevasse rescue and mountaineering methods. Bertie went on to work as a barista before moving to the UK, where she worked as a Polar Logistics operative for the British Antarctic Survey. She also worked on the Juneau Icefield Research Program’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion steering committee.

At St. Andrew’s, Bertie will teach environmental science and serve as the Sustainability Coordinator. In her free time, Bertie enjoys skateboarding, cooking, making video art, and going on hikes with her partner, Erin, and their dog, Ernie.


Martha Pitts grew up in New Orleans, LA. She attended Princeton University, graduating in 2001 with a bachelor’s in English and creative writing. At Princeton, she studied poetry with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, who also directed her thesis, a poetry collection entitled “Glutton.” At Princeton, she wrote for The Daily Princetonian and published work with the Nassau Literary Review, the second oldest undergraduate literary magazine in the nation.

Martha earned her doctorate in English, as well as a graduate certificate in women’s and gender studies, from Louisiana State University. Since then, she has taught at Georgetown, Howard, Towson, and Fairleigh Dickinson University. She has been selected to participate in two National Endowment for the Humanities summer institutes and has presented papers at several conferences. Her work has appeared in edited collections and publications such as the Washington City Paper and The Times-Picayune

Martha has served as a diversity practitioner at St. Paul’s School for Girls in Maryland, and she is a member of the University of Michigan’s Diversity Scholars Network.

At St. Andrew’s, Martha will teach English. She is the proud mother of Olivia and Abraham Perry and a dog named Bruno.


Elizabeth Preysner is a recent graduate of Yale University Divinity School and will be ordained in the Episcopal Church in early June. She previously taught Spanish at Tilton School in Tilton, NH and English at the University of New Hampshire. During the summers, Liz teaches writing and literature for the Royal Thai Scholars Program at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, NH. She has also taught online critical reading and writing courses for Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. In addition to her Master of Divinity from Yale, Liz has a master’s in English literature from the University of New Hampshire and a bachelor’s in English and Hispanic studies from Trinity College. She has completed coursework abroad in Argentina and Spain.

At St. Andrew’s, Liz will serve as associate chaplain and teach religious studies and Spanish. Liz is an avid runner, and she ran both cross-country and track at Trinity. She also enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeking the divine in nature. Liz plays the flute and piccolo in several community bands. Finally, she is an enthusiastic Postcrosser—she likes sending and receiving postcards from around the world!


Max Shrem has a bachelor’s in French from Washington University in St. Louis and a doctorate in French Literature from New York University, where he also taught undergraduate language courses. During his six years at the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, CA, Max taught all levels of French, led a homestay trip to France, advised the Jewish affinity group, and participated in the annual outdoor education program. During the summer, he taught at Chadwick International in South Korea. At St. Andrew’s, Max will teach French. He looks forward to helping his St. Andrew’s students engage in French outside the classroom, broaden their sense of community, and foster a connection with the environment. 

Max regularly publishes and lectures on the intersection of the fine arts and gastronomy. This summer, he’ll speak about France’s first restaurant critic at the European Institute for the History and Culture of Food, and will give a presentation on culinary maps at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery.

Max also loves cheese. During his graduate studies, he worked at Paris’s renowned Fromagerie Trotté and continues to spend part of his vacation time working on an organic goat cheese farm in France’s Ardèche region. Most recently, he contributed to The Oxford Companion to Cheese.

Max currently lives in West Hollywood with his partner of 17 years, Tom Samiljan. In their spare time, they enjoy hiking, biking, and watching movies.

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Gretchen Hurtt ’90 Named Dean of Teaching & Learning

 

St. Andrew's Head of School Elect Joy McGrath ’92 announced today the appointment of Gretchen Hurtt ’90 as dean of teaching and learning. Hurtt will succeed Elizabeth Roach, who has served in the role since 2016.

In the announcement, McGrath stated, “We all know Gretchen to be a teacher and leader of exceptional skill, with great wisdom, integrity, and passion for education. I feel fortunate, therefore, that she has agreed to serve as dean of teaching and learning.”

As dean of teaching and learning, Hurtt will be responsible for the excellence of all aspects of the school’s academic program. McGrath said, “Our shared aspiration for St. Andrew’s is simply to develop the most excellent, rigorous, and compassionate education to prepare our students for lives of meaning and purpose.” Hurtt will work collaboratively with her team—which includes the dean of studies, registrar, library, and academic support—and colleagues to set, communicate, and achieve aspirational goals for St. Andrew’s academic program. Rigor and innovation are hallmarks of St. Andrew’s academic program; future initiatives will be designed to create greater excellence in teaching pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, and faculty education.

Sharing her thoughts on her appointment, Hurtt said, “I’m constantly inspired by St. Andrew’s teachers and students, who bring energy and vibrancy to our academic culture. Together, we explore challenging, essential questions; we learn and collaborate with openness and empathy. I am honored to work with my colleagues to continually deepen St. Andrew’s commitment to exceptional teaching and learning.”

The announcement noted Elizabeth Roach’s contributions in defining the role of dean of teaching and learning, saying that Elizabeth “has inspired all of us in our pursuit of excellence in the classroom and in our service to St. Andrew’s students.”

Hurtt currently serves as dean of studies, a position she has held since 2016. She will become dean of teaching and learning on July 1, 2021.

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Revisit, Revise, Re-Engage: Reflecting on Hybrid Instruction

U.S. History teacher Melinda Tower wrote the following reflection after a faculty professional development session around pedagogical and technological strategies for hybrid teaching (that is, when some students are present in the classroom and others are remote). In the session, faculty across disciplines workshopped a traditional introductory lesson from her U.S. History course, and collaborated on ways the lesson could be adapted or adjusted for hybrid teaching.

When teaching U.S. History, we must never assume that students have a background in the topics we cover. It is so very easy to forget this, but important to consistently force ourselves to remember. Thus, we must approach any lesson—whether we have taught it for 10 years or for the first time this year—with fresh new eyes. This lesson was a great reminder of this for me. Thanks to Emily Pressman, Matt Edmonds, and the U.S. History teaching team, and knowing that this year would present unique challenges, we realigned our thinking of how to best introduce this course to our students. The first two units of the course address skill over content; while there is room for both, addressing skill puts everyone at a more equal starting point.  

For this lesson, my goal was to continue to promote what it means to think “historically” (a term and an action that is, of course, nuanced and layered). Previous lessons lend themselves beautifully to this moment (using the "5 Cs of historical thinking" as our guide—change over time, context, causality, contingency, and complexity). For this particular lesson, students begin with a homework assignment that addressed the danger of a single story by watching a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Typically, I would  start class with students sharing their observations on the talk. If they get stuck, I might pull a quote from the talk and ask them to reflect. For example:   

“Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
 
And/or I might ask students the following:
 
“What are the single stories you believe about people? And how did you come to these conclusions?” (Students will pair share if time allows.)

When working through this lesson with colleagues outside of my department on Tuesday, I quickly realized that this would be an easy asynchronous activity for remote learners. As Matt Westman suggested in our open faculty meeting, a silent written reflection at the start of class (whether remote or in person) helps solidify a students’ understanding of an assignment, or becomes a clear indicator to the instructor that further instruction is needed. Remote students could pin their reflection in a discussion board posted on Canvas and other students could respond at a later time, or remote students could simply submit their reflection to me for initial feedback.

I will add that I personally think there is a huge value to offering early and even more detailed narrative feedback to remote learners. Typically, without the buzz of campus life, they tend to submit their work early. While not physically present in our classrooms, it is important for them to know that they are seen, valued and just as much a part of class as any other. I have found early and detailed feedback is an easy way to express this. 

Next, I share an image of the Jamestown settlement and give some very basic background information (I will return to this information in a week’s time when they do a more detailed read on Jamestown). As we continue to practice "thinking historically," I ask students to be careful in jumping to conclusions based on what they see or think they understand. Instead, I ask them to practice “I notice” observations first and then, after several minutes, we try our hand at “I wonder” observations. This reinforces previous conversations about how historians frame questions, what they need to continue their inquiry, and why. Again, this is something that students could do asynchronously, and again, I love the discussion board option on Canvas for these reflections. You can, of course, make it so that once a student has submitted to the discussion, they can see and offer feedback to others' points in the same discussion thread. In this way, remote students have the ability to interact and learn with and from their peers.

In working through this lesson plan with colleagues on Tuesday, it became clear to me that the next step in the lesson plan—viewing three images of Pocahontas—was the most critical “takeaway moment.” In the past, I had used only two of these images so I thank Matt Edmonds for sharing the idea to use the third. Collaboration is truly key and so worthwhile! Students explore the images and note changes from one image to the next. They return to this idea/question: why does history change over time? In short, this would/should be the moment I record on camera or on Zoom—not the full 50/60 minute class. This can be an opportunity to capture a rich and deep 10 to 15 minute student-centered discussion, which is when students typically have their best “Aha!” moments not prompted by me. I should note that I did not do this the day before when I actually taught the lesson—I was still intent on using Zoom and making sure everyone was engaged, muted, unmuted, turning volume up, turning volume down, sharing, listening, visible, etc. What I learned when I reflected on this on Tuesday was that I was far too distracted by the technology to be as fully present as I needed to be and wanted to be in the discussion. To include all (and I must say I wrestled with this as they are all new III Formers and do not yet understand, fully, the wonder of the classroom experience at St. Andrew’s) meant sacrificing the very essence of what makes it so special to start our journey as a class together. And while I have not completely come to terms with this, I understand that I must reckon with this realization, and adjust accordingly. Recording a portion or part of the discussion allows the remote learner to see the power of the open share. They, in turn, can record their insights. But, we must then be sure that we share their observations with the class to make the learning circular—them from me, me from them, them from each other.      
      
I have been teaching for well over 20 years now—and always U.S. History. I am fairly certain that I know and understand important moments in my subject matter: when to pause, when to move on, when to go deeper, and how to pivot when things go awry. However, these are extraordinary times that mirror no other. Our meeting on Tuesday reminded me of the value of talking through complex and complicated situations. Terence Gilheany, a fellow humanities teacher, was just as insightful as Erin Ferguson, Dave Myers and Harvey Johnson. I can’t remember much of my studies of calculus and I can only conjugate agricola, but I can be a receptive listener and thinker outside of my discipline. I appreciated their candor, their uncertainty, and the power of walking through it together. I ended my lesson plan with two quotes:


“When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place (or person), we regain a kind of paradise.” (This is a quote from their TED Talk assignment.)
 
And:

“We often hear charges of 'revisionism' when a familiar history seems to be challenged or changed. But revisiting and often revising earlier interpretations is actually at the very core of what historians do. And that’s because the present is continually changing.” (From the National Council of Public History.)

The present IS, as we can all attest, continually changing. There are no obvious answers, no rule books, no directions, no master blueprints. Instead, we should use our support networks to revisit, to revise, and to re-engage.  
 

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