Seasonal Strategies

Abbott_ErinBy Erin Abbott, Director of the Learning Center

It’s that time of year again when peppermint mocha fills our cups, holiday tunes get stuck in our heads, and the wonder and joy of the exam season excites us. . . Wait, exams? At Foxcroft, December brings exciting events like our Christmas Pageant, “Christmas in Middleburg” Parade, Lessons and Carols, and various valuable community service opportunities. This is a busy — but beautiful — time of year. In the midst of this season, our students also hunker down in preparation for end-of-semester exams.

I had a New Girl exclaim, “Mrs. Abbott, I’m so stressed out about exams!” My reply was simple and calm: “Remember, you’ve already done much of the work. You’ve prepared for every quiz and test you’ve taken this semester and attended all your classes.” I caution our girls not to fall into the drama of cram sessions and all-nighters, and to refrain from buying into the idea that “I’m so stressed out” is a badge of honor and a motto of the high achiever.

We don’t need to fall into this trap of being victims of our educational or even personal obligations. We all have the option to choose resilience and healthy coping skills. As I shared with our Freshman Class this week, planning, preparation, positivity, and self-care are stronger than the stress monster.

When it comes to exams, I encourage our girls to use their planner and specifically map out what they need to do and when. Label the actual name of the class of the exam taken on a specific day. Our first exam is World Language on Monday, and if that is Spanish 1, be specific and write that down on your planner! Look at the review guide that each teacher has created for their exams. Coding each topic with a green dot (meaning “this topic is known and understood”), yellow dot (“this topic is somewhat understood”), or red dot (“OMG, I need my teacher!!!!”) is a good place to start assessing how much time is needed for each topic and subject.

Compile all the old tests and quizzes from the whole semester and use those as a resource for the review. Does the exam contain many terms? If it does, notecards may be your best friend as the actual act of writing down terms and subvocalizing what is written activates part of the brain that reinforces the storage of the material in long-term memory. Flashcards and websites like Quizlet also promote active recall and help honestly answer, “How well do I understand this topic?” or “Is my answer complete?” Another useful strategy also offers a very honest assessment of the ability to recall information. Cover a page of notes or text and then use a whiteboard or piece of paper to write down all the facts and details that can be recalled. There are numerous strategies and tips for preparing for exams; finding the one that works best for an individual is a valuable and lifelong tool.

Perhaps the most important thing for all of us to remember, regardless of whether we are preparing to face an exam or that difficult relative who always complains about lumpy gravy during the holiday meal, is to take time for self-care. Walk, breathe, feed, and water yourself properly. Prepare for what you can control and be patient with what you can’t. Open your eyes to the kindness and love of the season.

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Why We Come to School: A Reminder to Learn

Varney_KristineBy Kristine Varney, Director of STEM Education

“If we already knew everything, why would we need to come to school?”

So asked my colleague Lindsey Bowser in a Chemistry lesson I observed recently. The students were making clay models of molecules, and one student was concerned that her model wasn’t correct. Ms. Bowser deftly reassured her that, in fact, they were still learning about the different molecular structures and it was fine that she didn’t know how to make it quite yet. “We’re learning,” Ms. Bowser told her. “That’s what school is. If we already knew everything, why would we need to come to school?”

It seems self-evident that school is about learning, and yet academic institutions sometimes lose sight of this fact, focusing more on honing students’ ability to regurgitate facts on standardized tests, which doesn’t really feel like learning, or at least not the kind of learning that will prepare students for college and beyond in the 21st century. In the four months since I joined the Foxcroft faculty, I’ve found that it’s a place where the full range of learning is embraced, and where everyone is encouraged to question, to wonder, to try and fail, and to try again.

This learning isn’t relegated to inside the classroom walls. One of the biggest adjustments for me in moving to a boarding school from an independent day school in Texas (aside from the weather) is the amount of “school” that happens outside the academic day. I was told in my orientation meeting that at Foxcroft, “everything we do is curriculum,” but it took some time for me to fully understand what that means. From the erudite (bringing in guest speakers from a variety of STEM industries as part of a new after-school “STEM Presents” speaker series) to the mundane (laughing with advisees about why it’s a bad, though admittedly funny, idea to decorate cookies to look like laundry pods), there have been opportunities for learning at every turn.

Foxcroft teachers also see ourselves as learners. The implementation of a “pineapple board” this year (see Aug. 23, 2018 blog post, Faculty Conversations Inspire Higher Learning) has allowed us to stretch beyond our own departments to observe and learn from colleagues across all disciplines; I’ve brushed up on my French with Mme. Mueller, written a poem with Mr. McCarty, and even begun to learn Spanish with the help of Sra. Riestra. Each and every time I visit a colleague’s classroom, I walk away with ideas that improve my own physics and math classes. The robust and fascinating conversations about teaching that inevitably follow these visits are an added bonus.

This teacher-as-learner mindset was encapsulated in our faculty and staff in-service day following the Thanksgiving break. While students spent that Monday preparing for the weeks ahead, faculty and staff participated in a series of teacher-led workshops on a variety of professional development topics. In one session, I enjoyed learning about Ms. Burridge’s and Ms. Young’s use of The Innovation Lab for class projects in Literature and World Cultures, respectively. The Innovation Lab has facilitated a reimagining of many class projects, but it can be daunting for teachers to take a class into a space where they themselves don’t feel like experts in all of the ins and outs of the sophisticated equipment there. Ms. Burridge reassured us that this wasn’t necessary in order to make the most of the space, suggesting that teachers and students can, and should, all learn together.

After all, if we already knew everything, why would we need to come to school?

Exploring Unique Voices through Storytelling

From Lindsay O’Connor, Ph.D., English teacher

OConnor_LindseyWhether they know it or not, everyone has a story to share, and at some time or another, we all need someone just to listen to us. These basic human needs are the foundation for a unit on oral storytelling in American Literature class.

A box of conversation cards I found at a thrift store provided a warm up: each student drew a card and answered its question for the whole class to hear. “Would you stop eating sweets if you could live 10 years longer?” “What is the most redeeming quality of the person you most dislike?” With everyone sharing in the mild discomfort of sharing their ideas and feelings, a few jars of superlatives prompted students to narrate the first or last time they were very late for something, the best or worst meal they ever ate, or another outstanding everyday experience. Halfway through class, every student had told a story to at least a few of their classmates, if not the entire class.

My class heard about ill-fated family trips, elite middle-school athletic competitions, and imaginary friends, and I’m sure Steve McCarty’s American Literature classes enjoyed similarly amusing tales. The content of stories creates connections and encourages empathy, and the classroom activity of telling a story is just as important for this goal. Knowing how they feel while sharing with the whole class encourages students to support one another as they share stories from their pasts that might never come up in conversation.

As a Moth Curriculum Partner, I draw on the rich resources of many other educators who teach with storytelling, and the guidelines and goals for this project reflect the collective trial and error of storytellers nationwide. Steve and I want to assess both narrative composition and presentation skills, and we want students to explore techniques for clear, compelling oral storytelling while maintaining a supportive, collaborative classroom. Students will provide feedback as their peers develop, revise, and practice stories in the coming weeks. Each story should have a clear beginning and end and just the right amount of vibrant detail to keep us interested and focused. These are stories of learning and growth, and with the help of a few recordings from the Moth’s high school storytellers, students have seen that experiences as simple as going to a dance or volunteering at a hospital can be transformative and story-worthy. Students learn to mine their own experiences and reflect on their learning and growth in the process. They analyze stories they hear, and they synthesize their own stories to arrive at the best 5-minute version they can.

After months of writing, revising, and editing other written work in American literature and elsewhere, I hope this new focus on orality instead of writing will deepen students’ sense of story: a story is not so much a series of well-composed sentences as it is a constellation of ideas and emotions manifested in images and concrete details. The words we use to convey stories may change from telling to telling, and by adapting to occasions and audiences, we continue to process our experiences and to learn about who we are and how we got that way. Foxcroft promises unique learning experiences and a community of understanding hearts, and this project will “help every girl explore her unique voice” and her unique story as well.

Trail Magic — Pass It On!

From Heide Hotchkiss, Residential Coordinator and Lead Dorm Parent

Hotchkiss_Heide2018We’ve had a busy few days as we begin the month of November. I absolutely love our theme of our School planner, “Trail Magic.” Defined as an unexpected act of kindness, making Trail Magic and generosity a focus of our daily lives together in Reynolds dorm is a most worthy goal.

Early in the week, student leaders wrote and delivered little notes of encouragement and appreciation to each of the freshmen. The hall was filled with “oohs” and “awes” as the girls returned from class and discovered the notes. One student wrote, “Thank you for always being so nice to the other girls in the dorm.” Another note said, “I enjoy seeing you every time in the dorm.”

Thursday was announced as a “Head’s Day,” a favorite tradition granted on occasion by the Head of School to provide a break from classes in order for students to catch up on work, to relax, and to rest.  On that same morning, girls delivered breakfast in bed to our student leaders. Freshmen Chelsie E. and Leah N. were delighted to take the lead in this act of kindness and generosity.

Later that day, we gathered in the Court Conference Room for our class speeches and officers election. Each girl picked one of Foxcroft’s core values — Respect, Integrity, Kindness, and Service — as the topic of a one-minute speech that she prepared and delivered to her peers. Of the forty-three class members, sixteen ladies ran for the five leadership positions. The speeches filled my heart. Here is an example of a lovely speech given by Olivia K.:

OliviaK-election-speech
Olivia K. chose to focus her Freshman Class election speech on the Foxcroft core value of Respect. (Photo by Bella Z. ’20)

Respect plays a key role in our community at Foxcroft. It is something that must be earned and then reciprocated. I chose respect as my value because it is the most prominent and vital part to making Foxcroft a comfortable and safe community. You never know what people have experienced in their lives, which is why you should always be kind and respectful. “Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself,” founding father Thomas Paine once said. As you all probably have realized, Foxcroft’s values are extremely important and must be respected and valued as new girls entering this community.  It is important to always be kind and respectful towards others’ ideas and beliefs as if you would like someone to treat you in that same way. At the end of the day, it’s truly up to you to make others feel welcome and respected in the Foxcroft community.

The evening continued with study hall and then a dorm party that had the dorm’s student leaders giving each freshman a trail name. With grape Kool-Aid raised, a toast was offered: “To the trail ladies! We are ALL on our individual trail but for this moment in time, this academic year, we are sharing the trail with each other in Reynolds dorm at Foxcroft School. Enjoy the time we have together. Make some magic. CHEERS!” The leaders, with walking sticks in hand, then bestowed names to the girls. Names like Tippy Tappy, Sugar Bomb, Fibbles, Zibbles, and ’Lil Miss. (These happen to be the new Freshman Class officers). Names were happily received and we are enjoying relearning what to call our Reynolds family members.

At Morning Meeting on Friday, the seniors were happily surprised by a festive paper bunting hung over the library’s staircase which reads:  We Love our Old Girls. (Compliments of the Class of 2022.)

There is still lots of November left to find ways to spread joy and thoughtfulness. I found myself folding lots of laundry on Saturday morning and leaving a little note on top of the baskets — Trail Magic! Pass it on! The recipients figured out who had done the folding and their appreciation was enthusiastic and genuine.

And that enthusiasm, fun, thankfulness, and kindness is what I hope will become so contagious that it spreads way out of November. Hope you catch the fever, too. Trail Magic! Pass it on!

Blind Spots: Foxcroft Girls Embrace Conversations about Differences

By Emily Johns, Assistant Head of School for Student Life

Johns_Emily2In a time of intense polarization, where people are holding themselves back for fear of offending or of creating conflict, Foxcroft girls are rolling up their sleeves and diving into crucial conversations. In the name of stretching our comfort zones, we have delved into understanding human differences from multiple perspectives, with the collaboration and leadership of three vibrant student clubs: We the People (diversity and inclusion), Global Cultures, and Hand-in-Hand (LGBTQ-straight alliance).

This leadership group’s ultimate goals were to challenge each member of the community to gain a broader understanding of our biases while also preparing all of us for the October 18 campus presentation of The Defamation Experience, “a riveting courtroom drama that explores the highly charged issues of race, class, religion, gender, and the law” — and for the interactions with one another and with the play’s cast that would take place when we were asked to serve as jury, deliberating, discussing, and ultimately deciding the case.

The girls in these clubs planned and facilitated schoolwide diversity conversations in a variety of contexts. Seated lunch conversations explored important vocabulary terms about cultural identifiers and diversity topics. A Silent Movement activity asked us to consider questions about our identities and values, and to stand up to indicate those with which we identify. The students also organized and facilitated “Courageous Conversations” in the dorms, where students shared in a “fishbowl” format their personal experiences with privilege, difference, discrimination, and inclusion at Foxcroft.

Wendy X. ’19, Student Head of School, reported that her participation in these conversations completely shifted her perspective on the ways in which girls experience privilege and difference in our community. Wendy’s goal for her leadership role this year is to actively work to promote and nurture a more inclusive community. These activities are a testament to her commitment — and to Foxcroft’s commitment — towards creating a culture of belonging.

Our girls truly set the tone for how to explore and consider new ideas, and how in doing so, we acknowledge, affirm, and learn from our experiences of living and leading within a diverse community. The Defamation Experience cast was so impressed with the girls’ confidence, courage, and preparedness for these complex conversations and their ability to navigate emotionally charged events with civility and compassion.

Learning how to face the little things — whether trying a new cuisine, making new friends, or communicating our needs with a friend or roommate — will teach girls how to handle more complex situations, such as navigating an open-air market in a different country, networking for a job, or asserting her physical or emotional boundaries in future relationships. These skills will give her the courage to take on the unfamiliar and unknown and the ability to develop positive relationships with friends, family, and employers; and they will teach her how to live with greater ease in a global community. Ultimately, she will learn to live in the world authentically with her values firmly intact. We could all learn from the example our girls are setting and stretch ourselves to share our stories and to “get to know our neighbor,” especially if we think they live or think differently from us.

Draw.java

by STEM teacher Dan Hales

Hales_DanYou there! Yes, you. Grab some paper and a pencil. You’re going to need it. Follow each of the following instructions carefully.

First, I want you to draw a big square. Next, draw an isosceles triangle sitting on top of it. It should stretch across the entire top of your square. Brilliant! Now, draw a rectangle inside your big square. It should be about twice as tall as it is wide, and the bottom edge should touch the bottom edge of your square. Make sure it is centered! Inside this rectangle, draw a small circle about halfway up, on the left, just inside the line. Next, I want you to picture a shape. This shape is a square, which is cut into four smaller squares by vertical and horizontal lines. Maybe try a practice sketch somewhere else, to make sure you know what I mean. Got it? Awesome. Draw two of these shapes inside your big square — one to the left of the rectangle, and one to the right of the rectangle. Use your judgment to make the right size.

My vision for what I wanted you to create is at the bottom of this post. Do they match? Hopefully our pictures wound up in the same neighborhood.

Let’s think about what we just did. I wanted you to draw a picture of a dragon*, but the only means I have to communicate with you in this blog post is a collection of words that we both understand, and I couldn’t assume that you would just know how to draw the final project exactly how I wanted it to turn out. So I wrote a set of very detailed and unambiguous instructions, hoped you had the prerequisite knowledge to use them, and asked you to follow them step-by-step. You may not have known what you were drawing when you started, but hopefully you got the idea by the end. And if not, that’s my fault for writing unclear instructions, and assuming you knew what I meant.

This is the main challenge facing AP Computer Science A students in class. They need to get the computer to perform some kind of a task for them, but they can only communicate with it in a set of words that both humans and the computer understand — in this case, the programming language Java.

First, students ask the computer to allocate the resources they think they will need to complete this task, and they have to be very specific. If I had asked you to grab a banana and a horseshoe instead of a pencil and paper, the rest of the instructions would probably not make sense. Similarly, if a student tells the computer to reserve some memory for a String but tries to perform a mathematical operation on it, the computer will generate an error.

Next, students break down the problem they want to solve into the smallest, most specific steps possible. That is, they develop an algorithm to meet their needs. They know the type of simple things a computer can do and leverage these small tasks into a complex sequence of instructions that complete their goal.

As we move forward in class, we are going to start learning how to take some things for granted. I asked you to create a very specific type of object — a square that had been divided into four smaller squares — and then I asked you to create instances of that object where I needed them. In other words, I explained what I wanted one time, and then I referenced that idea wherever I needed it. This type of thinking is called Object-Oriented Programming, and it is truly the heart of AP Computer Science A. Rather than having to explain every single step each time, you can establish a few steps and reuse the code as often as you need it. In fact, we worked with an object from the very beginning: I assumed you know what a square is, and what an isosceles triangle is. These abstract structures that are predefined before you even begin your program are called classes.

Similarly, students have been getting to know some basic objects in class, such as the String class, the Scanner class, and, more recently, the JOptionPane class. These classes are housed in their own files — for instance, Draw.java. Even though we have not officially introduced and defined classes yet, students have unknowingly been writing them since the very first day of school.

As of writing this blog, our APCSA students are preparing to turn in their first major open-ended project: a text-based, choose-your-own adventure game. I gave them a small list of required features and intentionally left the vast majority of the decisions up to them, and everyone has been going above and beyond in how they choose to implement the concepts we have covered in class. Even better, they are having fun doing it! They are learning that in a structure as rigid and binary as a computer’s memory system, there is a huge amount of room for creativity, personal expression, and fun. I know that as this year marches forward, they will continue to amaze me, and I am excited to see what they create!
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*Just kidding. Here’s the drawing I was hoping for:

mysterydrawing

 

Sportsmanship at Foxcroft School

“We have the will to win and the desire to surpass ourselves.
To be teammates first and friends to all opponents.
To be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
Mens sana corpore sano. Foxcroft can’t be beat.”

Woodruff_MichelleThis is the opening chant that all Foxcroft teams say prior to the start of each game. In reflecting on the subject of sportsmanship, the “Foxcroft Chant” immediately came to mind and questions began to form: Are we surpassing ourselves? Are we truly humble in victory and gracious in defeat? Are we really friends to all opponents? The questions rumbled through my mind.

I decided the first thing I needed to do was to look up the definition of sportsmanship. One source defines it as: fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in sports. Conduct that is gracious, whether winning or losing. This definition led me further down the rabbit hole to discover the words true meaning. I began to consider how we, as coaches, parents, fans, and athletes, react to winning and losing here at Foxcroft.

Are we teaching our girls the very valuable life lesson that good sportsmanship teaches? Are our girls showing respect for themselves, their teammates, officials, their school, and those they compete against? It’s so easy to get caught up in the game, allow emotion to rule, and lose sight of the joy of competition. Parents, coaches, and fans… are we all good role models for our girls? Do we react positively regardless of what is happening on the fields and courts? Are we all uniting to show our athletes that we believe in respect for competitors and that our will to win is balanced by fairness and respect for ourselves and others?

Sports mirror society, and I believe we would all like a society filled with people who are aware of their impact on others. The great classroom of the fields and courts is where we can pursue the values of playing fair; showing grace, respect, and dignity in all circumstances; and giving it your all no matter what – great life lessons that aren’t just for those who are competing.

I think back to all of my years as a coach and the practices and games that I have been involved with, and I chuckle at the number of times I have said to the girls, “And that was a life lesson.” But I realize that good sportsmanship isn’t necessarily automatic. I have to be a very active part in teaching the lesson that I want our students to learn. I look for fire and passion and the will to win in our athletes, but I also know that how I behave during my afternoons with the girls is a very important time for me to model the behavior that exemplifies good sportsmanship.

Each of us will be on both sides of winning and losing at some point . . . Let’s choose the positive side of sports and achieve that desire to surpass ourselves.

Trailblazing My Way

By Courtney Ulmer, Assistant Head of School for Academics

Ulmer_CourtneyFor the 2018-19 school year at Foxcroft School, we have adopted the theme of Trailblazing. In these first few weeks of school, we have been discussing the book Visionary Women, our own role models, and the commonalities among these female trailblazers. Through these conversations, I have begun thinking about my own journey.

Looking back at the life trail that you have created for yourself, or making plans to blaze a new trail, can be as fulfilling as looking to inspiration from others. While at first glance my trail appears to be fairly straight, peeling back some of the layers reveals some of the twists and turns that I have encountered along the way.

While in high school, I decided that I wanted to be a history teacher. I was inspired by my high school history teacher, Ms. Henry. I went on to major in history in college and began my teaching career after graduate school. This part of my trail was pretty straight. However, before I could become a teacher or even read numerous books and write lengthy papers, I first had to learn how to read and write.

By the second grade, it was clear to my parents and teachers by that I was not acquiring the same reading and writing skills as my classmates. Still, it was not until fourth grade that I was given an official diagnosis of dyslexia and dysgraphia. This was the beginning of a new trail for me. With the help of my parents, teachers, and tutors, I began a slow and methodical process of learning to read and write. Since this occurred in the early 1980’s, my journey was enhanced by the personal computer. I learned to type written work and to use proofreaders, and later, the amazing spellcheck feature. I also spent long hours with phonics flash cards, spelling word lists, and books for school.

Each year my skills and confidence grew. Once I mastered reading for context, I just kept reading and reading and reading even more. During college I would email papers home for proofreading and then go to the Kinko’s to pick up the corrected faxes from my parents. I learned how to plan ahead and use my resources and, once in the classroom, how to navigate the inevitable spelling mistakes that I made.

I often see movies based on books, only to discover that the characters’ names are different from the ones I read on the page. Still, I think we all were surprised by the correct pronunciation of Hermione Granger.

What interested me about history was not a love of names, dates, or even storytelling: it was my teacher Ms. Henry and how she challenged me to become a better learner. She looked beyond my dyslexia and challenged me to fulfill my academic potential.

When I reflect on this part of my life trail, I see the fork on the path and the direction I chose to take. Now, as I look forward, I recognize that all the twists and turns I experienced on my journey have prepared me well for what is yet to come.

Faculty Conversations Inspire Higher Learning

By English/History Teacher Steve McCarty; French teacher Annie Mueller, Ph.D.; and Director of International Student Services Rebecca Wise — founders of “Faculty Conversations”

Novelist E.L. Doctorow said in an interview with the Paris Review that “writing is like driving at night in the fog: you will only be able to see a few feet in front of you, but you can make the whole trip that way.” His metaphor applies equally well to teaching. The course of a school year involves many U-turns and dimly lit roads, but eventually teachers arrive in June wondering how we made it through.

Certainly, life as a novelist is largely solitary pursuit, often fueled by coffee and word counts. In contrast, being a teacher requires you to be a social animal, as you interact daily with students, colleagues, administrators, and parents. And while a novelist is trying to solve the problems of fictional characters, a teacher tries to solve the problems, not all of which academic in nature, of actual people. So in our metaphor, it helps to have other people in the car with the teacher, such as a passenger looking at the map or someone in the back seat telling stories. It helps to have guidance.

In short, teachers need other teachers. We benefit by sharing the ride  along the way. This is why we created Faculty Conversations at Foxcroft last year. We meet every other week on whatever blank square of time that we can find to discuss all things teacher, from the philosophical to the practical, from classroom management to ideas for student field trips.

Teaching has a notoriously high rate of attrition. A report by the Learning Policy Institute in 2013 found that the top reasons teachers left their job had less to do with financial issues and more to do with school climate. In the next few weeks, somewhere a first-time teacher will be handed a textbook and a gradebook and told, “Here, go teach.”

The new teacher rarely has a chance to contemplate the year as it is happening. What, exactly, do grades reflect? Are they evidence of a student’s effort or ability to meet a standard?  Do grades demonstrate a level of improvement? How much time should be spent on grading, planning, or prepping? If the new teacher is earnest about the profession, he or she is likely to attempt to pour everything into each aspect, and less likely do a very good job. A year or two later, the teacher will leave that school or the profession altogether.

Our group, Faculty Conversations, was formed not just for the new teacher, but for all teachers since each of us is, more or less, a new teacher on the first day of school. Faculty Conversations challenges us to think bigger when it comes to project-based learning, from self-directed inquiry and creative problem solving in art class to building crime scenes in Forensics. A problem-based mindset of inquiry challenges students on a daily basis, not just when working on a month-long project.

As we enter the new school year, our goal is to make Faculty Conversations as much of an active organization as it is a deliberative one. We plan to launch a “pineapple board” (taken from Jennifer Gonzalez’s Cult of Pedagogy podcast) to get into each other’s classrooms. Using the symbolically welcoming pineapple, the board will list the periods when we are doing something unique, fun, or collaborative in our classes and invite our colleagues to attend the lesson.

This allows Foxcroft faculty to open up our classrooms so that we can learn from each other. And that can inspire us and our teaching, helping to make this a great school year for students and teachers alike.

Animal Science at Foxcroft

From Katie Hergenreder, STEM Teacher

Hergenreder_Katie2Last spring, I was thrilled to be awarded a William R. Kenan, Jr. Fund Grant to grow and develop the new Animal Science Concentration Program, as well as the supporting Animal Science class. The love and care of animals is deeply rooted in Foxcroft’s community values. Everyday, I enjoy conversations with students about their wonderful experiences at the barn, or the extra care they take to provide love to the school ponies. My dog, Khaki, is overjoyed during our walks around campus whenever a student takes a moment from her busy schedule to stop and pet him. The launch of our Animal Science Concentration Program provides a foundation for our students to nurture this passion as part of their education.

In thinking about the structure of the Animal Science class, I was at first challenged with picking just a few topics in this vast and interesting discipline. But my task was made much easier by contemplating the purpose of this class. Middleburg has a vibrant community of local agricultural businesses, and the Animal Science class should both inspire and empower Foxcroft students to contribute to these organizations. Through the lens of community involvement, Animal Science has truly taken shape as a dynamic and hands-on preparation for internships that the girls will participate in as part of this concentration.

We have many exciting opportunities and learning experiences to look forward to in Animal Science this fall. Some of these are close to home, such as Foxcroft’s adored lesson ponies; they will act as teachers of lameness assessment and first aid. In October, we look forward to a visit from Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, which will give a presentation for the entire community to enjoy before joining the Animal Science class for a more targeted discussion. I am particularly excited for our visit to Virginia Tech’s MARE Center (Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension) as part of our nutrition unit. We will tour the facility and talk with some of the researchers to learn about their specific projects. This list continues, but I plan to keep a few surprises up my sleeve.

Many of our girls are already experts in the care of their beloved animals. Animal Science has many exciting lessons coming up and I am equally, if not more, excited for the lessons that the girls have to share with the class.