by Honor Taft, Friends School Head of School
At this end of the month , I’ll be taking a trip abroad. Normally, a head of school wouldn’t take time away during the busy month of January. This trip, however, is deeply meaningful to me, so I’d like to share why I’m going.
On Saturday, January 26th I will set off to Leiden, Netherlands in honor my great-grandfather, Peter Debye who among many accomplishments, won a Nobel Prize in 1936. He is perhaps most famous for his discovery of the “dipole moment” (Dipole moments occur when a molecule creates temporary charges and builds bonds between atoms) and development of equations to calculate the size of the dipole moment (called a Debye). His discovery contributed immeasurable to our understanding of molecules which is the foundation for so much of what we understand and can accomplish in science today.
Along with some members of my family, including my father, step-mother and my father’s cousins, I will attend an event at the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave. This event will honor and celebrate the handing over of heritage objects, including letters, photos, school diplomas among others items, which will be added to their national science collection. This museum already holds heritage collections of many Dutch Nobel Prize winners, and they are excited add these to their collections.
During this event, a number of people will speak about the importance of my great-grandfather as a Nobel Prize winner. Wiel Rousseau, a Dutch scientist who learned from my great-grandfather and with whom I have kept up a connection, will talk about his discovery of the heritage objects and how he has cared for them through the years. My father will also speak about his life growing up with Peter Debye’s in Ithaca, New York, where Peter served as Professor of Chemistry, Principle of the Chemistry Department and eventually Professor Emeritus at Cornell University (our family donated his Nobel Prize, and some other medals to the University in 2004). These medals had an interesting life of their own, a story I would love to share one day.
Of particular importance for me in the story of Peter’s life is that he was born into a poor family in Maastricht, Netherlands. As such, he was entitled to an education only through grade 5. During his schooling, however, a teacher took note of his potential and lobbied to the state requesting that his education be funded (this letter is among the heritage items that will be presented to the museum). Achieving this funding laid the groundwork for Peter Debye’s rise through academia and ultimately for his contributions to science, which arguable impact how we live today. This story reminds me of what I believe and why I do the work that I do – a teacher, through their belief in a child, can change the course of that child’s life, and even change the world.
I look forward to sharing photos and moments from this trip as I travel, and when I return. You can follow me on twitter @HonorTaft for ongoing updates from my adventure.
Volunteer Profile: Lisa Steinkamp
Parent Council Chair, Advancement Committee, Classroom help (spring fling, class play, field trips)
“I have such warm, fuzzy memories of elementary school, so I love just being in that environment. It’s also great to see my kids’ faces light up when they see me being a part of their school. They think it’s really cool, and I think it sets a good example of giving back and supporting them.”
Hometown: Morris, OK
Personal: I live with my husband, Chris and our two sons, Will (6thgrade at Summit), and Nicholas (3rdGrade at Friends School).
Education/current or previous employment: After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, I moved to Los Angeles and worked in Advertising and Marketing for companies including Disney, Baskin-Robbins and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
Occupation: When we moved to Boulder (2 ½ years ago) I decided to launch my own food business, something I had thought about for many years. Boulder is such a natural foods hub, it was a perfect fit! I started The Campfire Bakery, selling granola and goodies at the area farmer’s markets. Now you can buy our granola at Lucky’s, Alfalfas, and a few other stores in the Denver/Boulder area.
Hobbies & passions & talents: I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s living and breathing horses. I trained and competed in hunter/jumpers, and spent every spare minute at the LA equestrian Center. I still ride whenever I can, and love being around a barn . . .even just smelling one makes me happy! I also love interior design and refinishing furniture. Random, I know.
Q: How did you find Friends School & why did you choose it for your children?
When we decided to move to Boulder, we looked at every school option. I had flown out a couple of times for tours but hadn’t seen Friends yet. Chris had to come out for business and I asked him if he could squeeze in one last tour before we decided. He called me from Friends School and said “I think we’ve found our place!”. He was right. We really value the warm, enriching environment and knew our boys would love it!
Q: What motivates you to volunteer?
The more I give my time and get involved, the more I feel connected to the school, and also the community of Boulder. This year, as the Parent Council chair I’ve been able to get even more engaged and have made some great new friends. I also love planning and organizing so it’s been a good outlet for that!
Q: What books are you reading right now? (Alternate question: If you could have one super power what would it be?)
I just finished the book SPARK by John J. Ratey, about how exercise affects the brain. We read it for our Friends Connect meeting this month and had an awesome discussion on it!
Also, my super power would definitely be that I could convert cupcakes into all the nutrition I needed!
Q: If we were to open your fridge, what would we find? (send us a photo of the inside of your fridge!)
Sadly, no cupcakes. But the labels all facing forward is no accident. That’s my OCD in all its glory!
Q: How do you recharge?
I love walking and hiking with my buddy Charlie, our lab.Read More
Congratulations to Friends AfterCare teacher Rashel Gandhi-Besbes who has been named the outstanding graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences at CU Boulder for fall 2018. Rashel’s honor thesis is about conservation efforts in Tanzania. She is graduating summa cum laude in anthropology from the University of Colorado Boulder. Read more about Rashel’s work and award here.Read More
By Meg Hansen, Director of Marketing and Communications
The Coffee Cart
We all know that Friends School teachers, like their students, are lifelong learners. Constantly honing their craft and looking for new ways to engage their students, 4th grade teacher Emma Thomas and 5th grade teacher Leigh Houser put their skills and expertise together this fall to try something new at Friends School. What resulted was a real-world lesson plan that provided not only a worthwhile hands-on learning experience for our students, but also gave our parents and staff a jolt to start their mornings.
Both Leigh and Emma began the year teaching all subjects to their respective students to establish community, rituals, and routines in their classrooms. They soon realized the benefit of each teacher sharing their own expertise with the other’s students. So began “content specializing” with Leigh teaching math to both 4th and 5th graders, Emma teaching literacy to both groups, and both teachers teaching combined 4th/5th classes in science and social studies. This thoughtful and meaningful approach to teaching gently introduces this age group to how middle school works, and the students get the best of both teachers.
So began the Coffee Cart project.
As part of content specializing as well as project-based learning, Leigh charged her students with coming up with a real-world business that they could set up and run by themselves, integrating all aspects of math. The business needed to anchor within it first unit of study in math, such as operations and numbers sense, addition/subtraction, division/multiplication. The students researched the best items to sell to our community including lemonade and baked goods and finally settled on coffee. Why coffee? What better way for our parents and staff to start their days on chilly autumn mornings than with a steaming cup of coffee. It turns out, it was the perfect product for our coffee-loving customers.
A few goals were set:
- Kids do it all: prep, brew coffee (with adult supervision), grind beans, sell
- All math is done without a calculator
- Adult-only customers (sorry, coffee-loving kids)
- Daily supplies are limited – when it sells out, we close for the morning
Preparation began several weeks in advance of the business’s opening day: Math, math and more math! Leigh worked with the kids on measurements, ratios, costs, and profits. Emma began working with the students on flyer and brochure design and writing persuasive pitches on buying our coffee vs. the other guy’s (focused on advocating for a particular “Be the Change” project that the coffee cart proceeds would support). Oh yeah, the coffee. What kind of coffee should they sell?
The students contacted Josh Crane of The Coffee Ride, a Boulder-based business that roasts and offers weekly bike-delivered coffee beans to local Boulder coffee lovers. Josh was excited to help the kids with their project and taught them everything they needed to know from how to brew coffee using the French Press, the ratio of grounds to water used, the different kinds of coffee beans, how to roast them, and finally what goes in to labeling and packaging the beans. Josh shared some of the real-life problems a business owner faces and of the ways he uses math on a daily basis to solve problems and run a successful business. He and Leigh even created “problems of the week” which the kids worked diligently to solve.
The students also learned about materials cost and calculating profit, based on those costs. Josh sold his beans to the students at cost and will be reimbursed from the profits they make from their weekly sales. Cups and lids were generously donated by EcoCup and school chef Dacia Horn supplied the sugar. After the purchase of four French presses and a supply of milk, they were ready for opening day.
The Coffee Cart opened for business on October 15 and served its final cup of coffee on December 20. For those two months, twice a week before school, rotating groups of 4 students held specific jobs including brewer (with adult supervision and delivery), sales, barista, price calculator (without using a calculator), cashier, and customer service. On those mornings, parents gathered with their cups of delicious steaming coffee while they took a few extra moments to enjoy conversation with each other. Teachers rushed over before the start of class to get their cup of enjoyment. A time or two, a thoughtful parent delivered a piping hot beverage to the staff on parking lot duty. The vibe on the steps of the elementary front porch was the same as a buzzing, happily bustling coffee shop.
The students received weekly accountings of their sales and studied gross and net sales, tips, and even replied to happy customer reviews through their sales app. After weighing all of their options, they decided that proceeds would fund their campaign to Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots project. Roots and Shoots is a youth service program that challenges students to map their community to determine its potential problems and help make a change. Leigh and Emma’s students will focus on homelessness as their community project and their work on the Roots and Shoots project will tie into the 4th/5th grade current social studies “Be The Change” unit.
Leigh already has plans for future hands-on math units anchored in real-life projects including fractions (cooking), geometry (tiny houses, raised garden beds), data and probability (games and surveys). Emma’s upcoming literacy lessons include narrative writing (witness statements and character writing for our upcoming government unit), a book club focusing on different kinds of American experiences, and a deep dive into the following questions: Who has power in the US? How did they get their power? How do we use our power?
Yes, content specializing by our dynamic teaching duo of Leigh and Emma, and projects like The Coffee Cart, prepare our students for middle school and gives them a chance to interact with a larger social group. Perhaps more important are the real-life skills like collaboration, communication, relationship building, and teamwork that, mixed with rich academics, prepare kids to thrive beyond the Friends School walls to become engaging, contributing, life-loving citizens. Just what this world needs right now. Pass the cream and sugar, please.Read More
Friends School’s first 8th grade class will be graduating in May. As they look towards high school, we’ve taken the opportunity to interview each of them to find out about their time at Friends School, whether they are “lifers” (here since Preschool) or brand new to Friends School. Please enjoy this interview of Ali Tenzer, one of Friends School’s lifers.
Name: Ali Tenzer
What grade are in?
How old are you?
Share a memory from a ceremony or trip. Tell me about the experience and what it meant to you.
When we went to South Dakota in sixth grade. The car ride might have been the most fun part – being with my friends and listening to music. Also in South Dakota, we sneaked up on Tanner and he screamed so loudly that everyone thought it was me!
What is a life lesson that you learned here? What will you take from your experience here into your future?
When I was at the elementary school I thought it would be a good idea to climb upside down and I fell on ice and rock. I think I learned that if I know something is not a good idea, I should listen to myself and not do it.
Tell me about a project or class that stands out and/or inspired you.
Doing labs in science stands out for me. One time we did a lab and we caused a gummy bear to explode. Another lab that was interesting was the “liver lab”. I think it was a cow liver and we were testing it in different solutions.
Tell me about a person from Friends that stands out and/or inspired you.
I think all of my friends right now. Everybody in this school teaches me new stuff every day. People expect teachers to teach you new things, but here I learn from everyone.
How has being at Friends School changed your view of the world? (from Charlotte)
If I had not come to this school, I would not know myself as a learner as well as I do now. I am very much a visual learner and the teachers here helped me know this and they help me learn in a way that uses my strengths.
Do you have advice for future Friends students?
I would tell them that school and learning is fun at Friends School. Be yourself if you come here and know that you will be accepted for who you are.
Do you have any advice for me, things to change/things not to change?
All that I would say is for you to observe our sixth graders when they come to the middle school. They don’t fully know each other yet and as they have transitioned from being the oldest to being the youngest in the building, it can be a little hard, I think. It takes time to build trust and, it took until second semester for my class to fully connect in 6th grade. If they really take the time to know one another, they will connect and get through the challenges of middle school.
Do you know where you will go to High School? 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice
First choice is New Vista, then Lyons, then Boulder High.
What are your passions? What makes you, you?
I am passionate about all kinds of nice cars. It gives me something to look forward to and work towards. If I could choose the car to buy right now it would probably be either Bugatti Chiron – looks amazing and the interior is beautiful. The details are unique and nobody actually knows its top speed. Or a Lamborghini Centenario Roadster. The Lamborghini looks amazing and they are known for being comfortable and very fast.
What was it like being a part of starting the middle school
For me it was still a little bit scary to think about going into middle school, but once I started I learned that middle school isn’t scary at all – it is fun!
If you could wave a wand……
I don’t know. From my point of view everything here is great as it is.Read More