To Infinity... and Beyond

August 06, 2012 by Bill Ivey

"Is algebra necessary?" Andrew Hacker, in a recent op-ed piece for the New York Times, argued that it isn't, provoking a storm of reaction from math teachers in particular and educators in general. To be fair, once you read past the attention-g rabbing headline, Hacker points out that his "... question extends beyond algebra and applies more broadly to the usual mathematics sequence, from geometry through calculus." His main points seemed to be that a misplaced focus on rigor leads to kids dropping out and that math taught in schools has little relation to skills needed for success in the workforce. (Hacker) He closes by stating "I want to end on a positive note" and calling for the creation of exciting new courses such as "Citizen Statistics."

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, Grades 7-12 and PG, gender, Science, Algebra, On Education, Math, Bill Ivey, Boarding and Day, College Prep, All Girls Education, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, The Faculty Perspective, STEM, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Women in Technology, Education, Admissions

Growing Out of Over-Thinking

June 29, 2012 by Guest Faculty Bloggers

The following post was originally published in our Spring 2012 Bulletin. It was written by Bryna Cofrin-Shaw, a graduate of the class of 2010.

Filed Under: women in sports, Alumnae, Grades 7-12 and PG, On Education, Boarding and Day, Girls Schools, college, College Prep, All Girls Education, growth, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Graduation, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education

Room For Change

March 29, 2012 by Bill Ivey

I glance up and notice the little plastic clasp screwed into the underside of the shelf of our TV stand. The pointy part, that stuck into the clasp and prevented the door from being opened without extreme intellectual and physical effort, has long since been removed. Not so the memories of putting it on in the first place, which my wife and I did around the same time we added the gadgets to every cabinet door in our apartment above the library, plugged plastic shields into all the outlets, stuck soft protectors on every furniture corner we owned, and generally ensured everything was as safe as possible for the imminent arrival of the child that turned out to be our son. Long before he thought or even knew about crawling, we had done everything we could think of to protect him from any dangers we could imagine.

As our children grow up, of course, we continually and deliberately work to ensure they can eventually take care of themselves. It may be bittersweet at times, but if our true goal is that our kids grow up to be happy and confident, balancing self-reliance and connectedness, we really have no choice. Yet, the same instinct that leads us to prepare our apartments months ahead of when we really need to is never far from the surface, as my parents periodically remind me whenever my brothers, my sisters, or I are going through hard times in one way or another.

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, Grades 7-12 and PG, On Education, Boarding and Day, Parenting, Girls Schools, On Parenting, College Prep, All Girls Education, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Graduation, College Acceptances, Admissions

Esprit de basket

January 10, 2012 by Bill Ivey

I will never forget the look on Ramses Lonlack’s face when we first walked into the Mullins Center at UMass. Her jaw dropped, her eyes widened, her head tilted back, and as she gazed slowly around the arena, she said softly yet firmly, “Some day, I’m going to play in a place like this.” Along with several other fans from Stoneleigh-Burnham, we sat down near the small but enthusiastic cohort that seemed to be made up mostly of friends, roommates, and family members to cheer on the UMass women’s basketball team, Ramses’s voice rising with many others as she got caught up in her enthusiasm.

Women’s basketball fans are indeed enthusiastic about their sport, and many of us share a bond that goes far deeper than whatever team(s) we happen to support. Liz Feeley is a former women’s basketball coach in Divisions I and III, but although she undoubtedly sees more in five seconds than I see in five games, she loves to discuss the chances of UConn (a team I’ve followed since Rebecca Lobo went there out of Western Massachusetts) vs. Notre Dame (one of her former teams) with me, and a Diet Coke now rides on each match-up. Similarly, when I took Ramses and another girl from Africa to a professional Connecticut Sun game, they discovered the visiting Los Angeles Sparks had a player from Africa and began to root loudly for the opponents. Other fans turned around to gaze at them, but rather than incredulity or irritation, their faces showed a kind of bemused delight.

The following year, I learned a friend of mine (Melissa Sterry, a Sun fan and former WNBA blogger whom I had gotten to know simply by starting an email conversation in reaction to one of her blogs) kept six season tickets for the express purpose of bringing people to Sun games and getting them interested in women’s ball. She invited me to bring a cohort of students whom we took out to dinner after the game so she could talk to them a bit about basketball and about their lives. Ramses was originally supposed to go to that game too, but at the last minute had to cancel because a Division I school had offered her a tryout. She expressed profound disappointment at missing the Sun game, but knew this was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

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Historical Interlude

Women’s basketball began in 1892 when Sendra Berenson of Smith College adapted the rules of the year-old sport for women. Players could only bounce the ball once before passing, and the court was divided into three zones to minimize running. Three players per team were assigned to each zone – guard, center, or forward. The first known women’s basketball game opposed the classes of 1895 and 1896, with the freshmen winning 5-4.

In 1914, just two years after the college opened, West Tennessee State Normal School played their own first women’s basketball game, winning 24-0 over a local high school. The college would undergo a number of name changes through the years, settling on the University of Memphis in 1994. Despite their early advocacy of women’s sports, the college demoted all women’s athletics from varsity status in 1936. They would remain so until the passage of Title IX, and the women’s basketball team was reinstated for the 1972-1973 season.

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Ramses did end up at the University of Memphis, the school she missed the Sun game for, and made her mark quickly. She won the “Rookie of the Week” award her first week in the league, and has won numerous defensive awards. More recently, she approached a major milestone, her 1000th point. She has also grabbed more than 500 rebounds and had over 250 steals, and is only the 6th player in U. Memphis history to achieve at this level. As Ramses approached the milestone, an excited buzz rose up on the Internet in the spirit both of women’s basketball and of Stoneleigh-Burnham, and when she finally made it, friends and fans from all over joined in congratulations. We could not be happier for her or prouder of her, and wish her all the best as she continues through her senior season.

Photo credit: Joe Murphy

-Bill Ivey, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School Dean

Filed Under: Women's Basketball, Alumnae, Ramses Lonlack '08, University of Memphis, athletics, Boarding and Day, On Athletics, College Prep, All Girls Education, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education, Admissions

Your Identity is Not Decided by the Sticker on Your Car's Rear Window: Advice for Parents during the College Admissions Process

December 19, 2011 by Guest Faculty Bloggers

Last Tuesday night, the Parents’ Association was treated to an evening with Deb Shaver, Director of Admissions at Smith College. As the parent of a son who is in the throes of the college application process, I had a personal interest in this event I was organizing for Stoneleigh-Burnham parents. This is the second year we have hosted Deb and each time we ask her to provide the inside story on admissions and then give advice on how to guide their daughters through the process without nagging, controlling, or being too anxious.

With humor and diplomacy, Deb jumped right in, anticipating our questions and yes, some of our pathologies. Telling her own story of trying to help her son with this process when he wanted no help and only wanted to play in a rock band, she regaled us with her frustrations knowing we would feel more open to expressing our own. She articulated six points we were to commit to memory for the sake of our daughters – and I feel like her advice is worth repeating:

Filed Under: Deb Shaver, Smith College, Parenting, On Parenting, College Prep, College Acceptances

Bookends: Volume 2: Allow Me to Burst Your Bubble

September 26, 2011 by alexbogel

By the time students enroll in the IB Diploma Programme they have amassed a great deal of knowledge. My job, as their Theory of Knowledge teacher, is to make them forget it.

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, Grades 7-12 and PG, On Education, Boarding and Day, College Prep, All Girls Education, Bookends, In the Classroom, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, International Baccalaureate, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education, Admissions

Last Act

February 18, 2011 by Bill Ivey

“This is your last act of parenting.” – Michael Thompson

The mother two seats down from me was the picture of nervous tension, with hunched shoulders and lips pressed together, an open spiral notebook and pen resting on her left leg which was tightly crossed over her right. Like many if not all of the 250-300 parents sitting on the edge of pews in the chapel of my son’s school, I could sympathize. We were there for the opening session of “Upper Parent Kickoff” (“Upper” being Andover’s nomenclature for “Junior”), the formal beginning of the college counseling process. I figured my experience with admissions committees at Stoneleigh-Burnham and with my college’s Alumni Admission Program gave me a major advantage, and in some ways they do. But I badly (and inexplicably) underestimated how strongly I wanted everything to work out for my son in the end, and to my surprise kept having to stop my right foot from jiggling up and down.

Filed Under: On Education, On Parenting, College Prep, In the Classroom