Why I Came, Why I Stay

November 13, 2014 by Bill Ivey

The other day at Open House, one of the attendees, a public school teacher, asked each of us present on a faculty panel to talk about how we ended up at Stoneleigh-Burnham, and why we stay. Our stories were as individual as we are. My own begins the summer I was getting married…

It was the summer of 2004, and my fiancée and I had just graduated from the M.A.T. program in the French and Italian Department of the University of Massachusetts. Each of us had completed all the requirements for Massachusetts State certification except for the French proficiency exam. My fiancée called up to find out details, and was told that there was a non-refundable fee of $75 and it would be given on one of three possible Saturdays in August, one of which was to be our wedding day. The exact date, she was told, would not be given out until no more than three weeks ahead of time, “for security reasons.” We were about to spend a year living in France anyway, so we elected not to register for the exam. That meant, when it came time to apply for teaching positions, we had no choice but to apply at independent schools. And that’s how I ended up at Stoneleigh-Burnham.

Filed Under: Teaching, gender, All-Girls, On Education, Girls Schools, All Girls Education, Feminism, The Faculty Perspective, girls' school, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education, Admissions

"Are you in or out?"

October 15, 2014 by Bill Ivey

(title credit from a song in the Disney movie Aladdin and the King of Thieves)

Filed Under: gender, LGBT Support, Gay-Straight Alliance, community, Acceptance, diversity, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Current Events, Anti-Bullying

A Conversation with Spanish Teacher Jess Durfey

September 23, 2014 by Guest Faculty Bloggers

(A conversation between Shawn Durrett, Dean of Faculty, and Spanish teacher Jessica Durfey)

Filed Under: faculty, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Guest Post: "Believe the Bird" Commencement Address by Anna Schuleit Haber

June 19, 2014 by Guest Faculty Bloggers

This year's Commencement speaker, chosen by the graduating class of 2014, was visual artist and MacArthur Felllow Anna Schuleit Haber. Ms. Haber has graciously given us permission to post her full speech here. "Believe the Bird" was delivered at Stoneleigh-Burnham School's 2014 Commencement Ceremony on Friday, June 6th in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Filed Under: School Happenings, graduation speech, class of 2014, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, anna schuleit haber, Graduation, commencement address, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Quite a Way to Go

October 28, 2013 by Bill Ivey

"That Rock Band," a parent said, shaking his head. Clearly searching for words, he added, "Wow." It was not an uncommon reaction, and when I emailed my usual post-concert congratulations to the group, I told them about the moment and noted, "Yes, you performed that well; you literally left people speechless." It's true, from the first notes pounded out on the piano as they slammed through "Yoü and I" by Lady Gaga, through the last, sweet harmonies held over a cymbal roll and an echoing piano chord as they ended "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars et al, they were amazing, all of them: Bonnie, Charlotte, Heather, Jin, Joy, Joyce, McKim, Molly, Natalie, Olivia, and Susan. And when I pointed out that the vocalists wrote all the harmonies themselves, the speechless factor among audience members rose even higher.

This is just our first performance, just a few weeks into the year. While six members of last year's group returned and one moved up from the middle school band, four were brand new, and one of those was a complete beginner to her instrument. Yet, they came together so thoroughly and so rapidly that we chose and began working on our next two songs even before the first performance, something we have only rarely been able to do in the past.

Filed Under: gender, find your voice, girls' education, Lady Gaga, Rock Band, Performing Arts, girls' school, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Not Long Enough

May 28, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Spearth Day was born of a series of compromises, but has become one of the key dates in the waning weeks of our school year. Many years ago, the students asked for a special day to celebrate the mailman who played such an important role in their lives (today's students, for whom email is old-fashioned and texting is routine, would probably find this odd). We called it "M and M Day" for "Mail Man Day," and besides presenting him with a card and gifts when he finally showed, we played an all-school game of Capture the Flag and found other ways to celebrate. Over time, M and M Day evolved and became more organized - for one thing, the tradition of the talent show was begun. Meanwhile, earlier in the spring, Earth Day remained a day off for service - cleaning up local parks and rivers, clearing trails, and so on. The two days were eventually combined into one, and the name "Spearth Day" comes from "Spring-Earth Day." We spend the morning doing various service projects on- and off-campus, have the Talent Show after lunch, follow that with games and booths organized by classes and clubs, dedicate the yearbook and pass out copies, and end with a barbecue. This year, for a special treat, there will be a dance performance by the Senior IB dancers.

Filed Under: Spearth Day, Teaching, Alumnae, School Happenings, On Education, Bill Ivey, Celebrating Holidays, Beautifully different, On Parenting, community, In the Classroom, Performing Arts, performing, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Graduation, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

A Moment of Peace

May 22, 2013 by Bill Ivey

132 - Kristin. 134 - Kim and Francie. 136 - Donna and Jenny. 138 - Amanda and Hillary. And so on.

Filed Under: Middle School, Alumnae, Houseparenting, Bill Ivey, Beautifully different, community, Boarding School, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

How Far We've Come

May 20, 2013 by Bill Ivey

I was arriving a little later for school than I usually do, but I was nonetheless pretty sure it wasn't typical for a large group of students to be walking down the driveway. Maybe something special was going on at the barn? Or perhaps a science class was doing a lab by the pond? Suddenly, it hit me - it was our very first group of IB diploma candidates, walking down to Sally and Hank's house to take the first-ever IB exam in our school's history. I smiled and waved encouragingly, trying to make eye contact with as many students as possible, and wondered to myself at how so many truly significant moments appear so normal at the same time.

Filed Under: Teaching, School Happenings, exams, Bill Ivey, invigilation, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Graduation, International Baccalaureate, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education

... Like We're People

April 29, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Every August, my hometown hosts one of the great 10K races in New England, the Bridge of Flowers Classic. Hundreds of runners, from local kids to world-class elite racers, line up on the Iron Bridge while seemingly half the town lines up to watch them or goes to take their stations to volunteer and help out. On several oocasions, Greg Snedeker (our jazz and classical music teacher) and friends set up out on the course to provide musical support. It's always fun and festive, and a wonderful way to spend the morning.

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, On Education, Bill Ivey, Beautifully different, community, Acceptance, All Girls Education, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education

Echoes of Silence

April 19, 2013 by Bill Ivey

In the echoing silence, I thought I could hear closet doors that had opened a crack softly but quickly shutting again. We were at a faculty professional development session on supporting lesbian and bisexual students, and an earnest young houseparent had just explained to the facilitator that we didn't have any issues around sexuality among the faculty and staff because no one was gay. Seriously? I thought to myself. How could we even know? Just because no one has dared come out?

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, gender, day of silence, LGBT Support, On Education, Bill Ivey, Gay-Straight Alliance, diversity, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Anti-Bullying, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education