Volunteer Profile: Angela Nickerson
by Lou Bendrick, Director of Development
Please list volunteer activities at Friends:
I am the Room Parent for the First Grade and also serve on the Marketing Committee.
I grew up in Dallas, Texas, but I have lived in 6 states and more than 10 cities.
Personal: (kids, hub, pets)
My husband, Romano, is a partner with Boulder Associates, an architecture firm on Pearl Street. We have one son, Renzo, who is in first grade. We are currently dog-less, but that situation should change this summer. But we do have two beloved aquatic frogs, Fred and Ralph, who keep us entertained. We live in a Midcentury home in Broomfield where Romano and Renzo built a pirate ship in the backyard last summer.
Education/current or previous employment:
After growing up in Dallas, I went to St. Olaf College in Minnesota – where I met Romano — and then to Washington University in St. Louis for graduate school. I taught in independent schools for more than ten years and then moved into other work with non-profits including communications. Now I am a freelance writer and author of several travel-related books and an annual Christmas planner, The Nice List. I write about travel, especially travel to Italy, and the intersection between travel and art at PiningforRome. I also document our adventures renovating our midcentury home and DIY projects and inspiration at MidModernMama.
Hobbies & passions & talents:
I am an avid photographer and an amateur gardener. This summer I’ll be trying to translate my California gardening skills to Colorado – and missing my citrus trees just a bit! And then there’s travel…
Q: How did you find Friends School & why did you choose it for your children?
We were moving to Colorado from Los Angeles, and I did an extensive search of all of the independent schools in Denver and Boulder. As a former teacher, I was looking for a school that met several criteria: one that was fully accredited and a member of NAIS, a school where the faculty are happy and well-respected, and a school where real relationships are valued. That meant we were looking for a small school with small classes, a healthy faculty, and a school where depth is valued over coverage in the curriculum. That isn’t easy to find!
As a parent who knows and loves my creative child, I was also looking for a school with a devotion to cultivating creativity and individuality in each student, and a place where our child would be able to be active during the day. Movement and activity are critical to a child’s ability to focus, and the fact that students at Friends have so much time outside playing was an important factor in our decision.
We looked for a school that offered quality art and music instruction as well as math and reading. And we were excited about the emphasis on friendship and conflict resolution, too, which is particularly important for an only child.
Q: What motivates you to volunteer?
I have spent my entire career working with non-profits – first in schools and then in very large congregations. I know that organizations like this only work well when everyone comes together. A school of this size can’t function without volunteers. But it is more than that. As new residents of Colorado, we want to make friends, and as parents we want to know our child’s classmates and their families. Volunteering is one of the best ways to get to know the people at Friends!
Q: What books are you reading right now?
I am a serial reader and usually have several books going at once. Right now I am reading Prairie Firesan amazing biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser as well as Parenting Forward: How to Raise Children with Justice, Mercy, and Kindnessby Cindy Wand Brandt and Shame-Lessby Nadia Bolz-Weber.
Q: If we were to open your fridge, what would we find? (send us a photo of the inside of your fridge!)
Right now it is pretty bare! We have had a busy week. But Romano currently has a project in Honolulu, so we just finished off the last of the pineapples he brought from his most recent trip. And I sent Renzo to school with the last of a delicious watermelon. And we always have good Greek yogurt, Italian cheeses, pickles, and olives, and a bottle of prosecco just in case we need to celebrate!
Q: How do you recharge?
I just started a 100 day focus on art journaling which is so good for me. Words are my thing, but it is soooo good for me to flex my creative muscles in other mediums which charges me creatively.
But I also am a beauty-seeker. That comes in many forms – an hour out taking photos on a walk, a trip to an art museum, a cup of tea and a book, travel, gardening… I need beauty. I crave it. And when I am feeling depleted, I know what I have been lacking in my life.Read More
by Erika Norman, Friends School K-5 Math Teacher
Math education has changed drastically in the years since most of us, as parents, were in classrooms, and in that time there has been a wealth of research about best practice as well as brain development around math learning. At Friends, we are constantly researching this best practice. We offer yearly Kindergarten and 1st grade parent math nights, we share updates in classroom newsletters throughout the year, and we spend each day cultivating a growth mindset for our young mathematicians through the work of Stanford’s Dr. Jo Boaler. Jo is one of the world’s leaders in math education and I was fortunate to attend her workshop Mathematical Mindsets at Stanford University last spring. Dr. Boaler dispels the notion of having a math brain or not a math brain. At Friends we believe that all students are mathematicians, writers, readers, scientists, and most importantly thinkers. All of them are capable of success with the right mindset and experiences.
Friends School students are asked more than just how to complete a mathematical procedure, but also how to apply their math knowledge in unique situations. They see math in the world around them, not just on a worksheet page. We strive to make real-life math connections for our students through hands-on opportunities to use their math understanding. A few such examples of this are the 4th and 5th grade coffee cart project, our current Friday fraction cooking projects, creating a 3-D Polyhedraville to augment the 3rd grade curriculum, using Intooba building kits for engineering challenges, and linking a 1st grade bird study to our measurement standards. At Friends, math relates to every day experiences
In March, Friends made the exciting decision to adopt a new math curriculum to augment the good work we are already doing. This past Fall and winter all of the lead elementary teachers, with Mandy and I, spent many hours after school looking at curriculum, meeting with companies, testing out lessons from various curriculum, talking to other educators and diving deeply into what we wanted for our kids and school to meet the needs of our students. We were looking for a curriculum that had a clear scope and sequence and one that met all the standards at every grade level from Kindergarten through 5th grade. We wanted a curriculum that was usable for teachers, had resources for families and students, and contained lots of manipulatives and visual models to help students build that conceptual understanding that research shows is vital for success in higher math. Finally, we wanted to make sure that whatever curriculum we adopted was rigorous in not only problem solving, but also in computational fluency.
After much deliberation, we have decided to adopt Bridges in Mathematics, a K-5 math curriculum from The Math Learning Center. Bridges has been reviewed nationally and ranks highly in all the categories we were seeking: focus and coherence, usability, rigor and mathematical practice. Additionally, we were impressed by the resources for parents and families to help educate and support their child’s math learning, as well as a professional development site for educators to continue to explore best practice for our young learners. Finally, we were excited that the curriculum has built-in curricular components for our math learners that need extension and a well-developed intervention program for our struggling mathematicians.
All the elementary lead teachers, Mandy, and I will be trained in the Bridges curriculum in May and August, with ongoing touch-points throughout the year. Continued professional development will occur throughout next school year to ensure that we are successful with this transition. It is an exciting time and we are thrilled that we were able to adopt this curriculum, which will blend so nicely into the work we have already been doing and make it just that much better for our students.
We look forward to bringing this exciting curriculum into our classrooms and introducing it to our student mathematicians. If you are interested in learning more about Bridges, you can visit https://www.mathlearningcenter.org/ or feel free to reach out to me, Honor, Mandy, or Caroline Long who has piloted Bridges in her classroom for the past year.Read More
Friends School’s first 8th grade class will be graduating in May. As they look towards high school, Honor has 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 Tori School, at Friends School since 3rd grade.
Name: Tori Schell
What grade are you in? 8th.
How old are you? – 15 years old. My birthday is February 17. I have been at Friends School since third grade. Before that I was in a Montessori school, and before that I was in SC at a school called St. Matthews.
Tell me about a person from Friends that stands out and/or inspired you. Diane Bramble inspired me in so many ways. She is the person who taught me to read which is so incredibly special. Diane has been there from the beginning. She will talk with me about absolutely anything and she always listens to me, too. I know that Diane always has my back.
When did you feel like Friends School was the place for you? For me, this happened on my first day of school. I started a couple of days late, because I was on a trip or something. So it was a few days into the school year in Diane’s class and things had already gotten started. Also, many of the kids already knew each other from second grade. So I was a little nervous. I walked in and there was no one in the room. All I saw was Diane sitting there quietly and I was really confused. I walked in and then, to my surprise, everyone jumped out from behind bookcases and couches and surprised me! I felt welcomed and excited and I knew then that this was the place for me.
Share a memory from a ceremony or trip. Tell me about the experience and what it meant to you.
We were just talking about a memory today – when we went rafting. I got teary-eyed – there have been so many fun times. Every memory I have of a trip or ceremony has been special to me in different ways. I can’t really choose a favorite because I loved them all.
One memory that shows how caring everyone is takes me back to Grade 5 when we were coming back from our trip. I had gotten very sick and still wasn’t feeling well on the bus. To make things worse, we had completely run out of tissues. My teacher, Liz, got the bus driver to go to Target and everyone was encouraging her to get the best tissues for me. She returned to the bus with a big box of tissues and I slept in the back of the bus for the rest of the ride feeling supported and cared about by my teachers and friends.
What was it like being a part of starting the middle school
It was really fun, I have to say. There have been times when we’ve had to be flexible and go with the flow, but we are such a connected class and it really feels like we are a part of something special. Whenever we say, “do we have to…?” Kevin always says, “no, you get to…!” After hearing that for three years, I think it’s finally starting to sink in.
Do you know where you will go to High School?
I am going to Monarch. I’m excited and a little bit nervous. Mostly, I’m nervous about getting lost.
What will you take from your experience here into your future? There are a lot of lessons I have learned from being here. Especially in the middle school. I was shy and being here has really brought me out of my shell, and helped me believe in myself. I am still a perfectionist, but being here has taught me that it is okay to be a little less perfect. Learning this has been helpful because I now try new things and feel good about who I am.
Do you have advice for future Friends students? I think the advice I would give is to really connect with the people around you. Knowing that you have a community around you will really lift you up. I can’t say enough how grateful I am for my friends and the friendships I have. Bring your peers up and they will bring you up too.
What question haven’t I asked you that I should have?
What makes this school special? It is the community. It is really special and I am going to miss it a lot.Read More