In honor of “National Go to An Art Museum Day” today, check out some of the art created by our Lower, Middle, and Upper School students so far this year!
Lower School Art
Lower School Artists have been hard at work in their classrooms this fall! Our hard work is on display in the Lower School hallways. We have explored the Elements of Art through Color, Line, Texture, Shape, and Value. Each class, Nursery through Fifth Grade, has been excited to explore new ways of creating their art. Nursery and Pre-K classes recently painted with marbles and forks. They also used their “teeny tiny” finger muscles to put a 3D pumpkin together by making loops. The Kindergarten classes experienced the magic of leaf rubbings and then painted the leaves with beautiful watercolors. First Graders have practiced multi-step directions as they painted paper with bright tempera paint and then used the painted paper to create pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. The Second Graders cut black cat silhouettes using symmetry as a strategy. There are black bats hanging out upside down in the Lower School, creatively made by the Third Graders. Fourth and Fifth Graders used yarn to wrap mummies and spiderwebs and these became the finishing touches to a beautiful display in Lower School.
During each art class, the Lower School Artists have the opportunity to learn new techniques and also have time to develop foundational skills for strengthening fine motor muscles, applying problem solving skills, and enjoying the benefits that Art can contribute to their social and emotional well-being. I am so proud of the students I teach. I regularly hear laughter and see the joy on their faces as they create art. Spreading happiness and joy to all who walk the halls each day this year is an added bonus of bringing art to the classrooms. Keep an eye on social media for more wonderful work from my Lower School Artists this year!
Sharon EllmakerShari has been an educator for more than 30 years. During the academic school year, she teaches Lower School art and in the summer, she is a valued member of our AC Summer LEAP faculty. Shari brings with her experience teaching second, third, and fourth grade, in both the public school system and independent schools. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Bluffton University.
Middle School Art
I’ve been so impressed by my Middle School Photojournalism students. These seventh and eighth graders started off the semester learning how to compose photographs. One difference in this class is it is “self-paced.” This means that students work through assignments at their own pace. They are allowed to continue to work on a unit for as long as they need. Some of the units students can progress through are Composition, Motion, and Portraiture. As the quarter began, they learned how to operate a DSLR camera. Learners shoot photos manually by adjusting their shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. They also manually focus their lens. While a DSLR can do a lot of this work for you, it’s vital to learn how to do it yourself so you can have far greater control over the image.
As a result of COVID and new health and safety precautions, students bring home the cameras for longer periods of time. They have the cameras every other week for up to 6 days. This gives them ample time to plan, shoot, and reshoot their ideas and experiences. I have seen a noticeable difference in the quality of their work as they have more time to experiment with photography. On our “off weeks” when we don’t have the cameras, students learn how to use Adobe Photoshop to edit their images and use effects. They also spend time curating their photos into albums, getting feedback from their peers, and creating digital portfolios of their work. All of these skills and techniques are industry standards.
Amy OliveriAmy has been a part of the Allendale Columbia Art Department since the fall of 2010 and serves as Director of the AC Center for Entrepreneurship. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration and a Concentration in ASL as well as a Master of Science Degree for Teachers in Art Education from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
I’ve loved working with my students in the Upper School Drawing and Printmaking class this semester. Members of the class include in-person students and several Upper Schoolers who join the class remotely, including three international students in China.
One of the first concepts we study in drawing is “line,” and for this ink landscape drawing project the class chose locations, then worked from direct observation to identify and draw the lines that they saw. Being able to sit outside and work was a terrific opportunity that allowed us to enjoy the immersive experience of drawing while observing social distancing.
Students at AC created these images on our beautiful campus while simultaneously, the three students in China drew a local church, a city boulevard, and a residential building in their own neighborhoods.
Students recorded reflections about their experiences at the end of the project. Here are some things they said:
“The thing I liked most about this project was going outside to find a good view in the city…since I knew I had a mission of discovering beauty in my city, I walked slowly and paid attention to my surroundings.”
“The thing I liked most about this project was that I think I really enjoy the process of drawing, because when I have a picture in front of me, I just concentrate on my drawing, and I feel pretty relaxed.”
“What did I like most about this project? I think it was really nice to be able to just sit outside, at the end of the day, and just draw.”
“The thing I liked most about this project was that we got to go outside when the weather was nice, and we got to choose what we wanted to draw and got to focus on one specific place.”
Lori WunLori has 18 years of experience as an educator and has been an art teacher at AC for 14 of those years. She has taught grades 9-12, elementary, and middle school students, as well as university undergraduates. Lori is a practicing artist with bachelor's degrees in fine arts and art history from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the College of William and Mary, where she focused on drawing, painting, and modern art history. She earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she concentrated on photography and video.
Posted in: Art, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Nursery, Pre-Primary School, PreKindergarten, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
Today marks the first month that Allendale Columbia has been back in the swing of things, buzzing with in-person learning, five days a week. Within this first month I have seen an abundance of smiling faces, great enthusiasm, joyfulness to be among friends again, and maybe above all else, a willingness to help each other out and to just simply be kind. The beauty of my position here at Allendale Columbia is that I get to pitch in and help out in several different areas of the school, changing directions at any given moment. I am able to witness inspiring interactions between students and teachers, teachers and colleagues, parents and their children, or students and their peers. And no matter who is helping who, I always find myself feeling that happy twinge in my heart.
This year, we have 98 new students on campus, and needless to say, some of our most apprehensive students, particularly on the first day of school, were the littlest ones. One nursery student in particular, was understandably very nervous to walk into school without Mom or Dad. Without hesitation, his two older sisters, a first and a third grader, carefully helped him out of the car and comforted him all the way to the primary doors. The very next day, and each day that has followed, he now happily walks into school as long as he’s holding both of his sisters’ hands. This was adorable to see the first time, and yet even after the fourth week of school, it still makes my heart melt. Other youngsters have struggled with putting their masks on their tiny little ears before hopping out of the car, yet I have seen the gentle touch of my colleague and phenomenal Lower School music teacher, Lynn Grossman, easily take care of that and offer warm reassurance.
As I wandered the halls these past few weeks, I have heard many positive and encouraging words echoing from the classrooms, such as “Great job, Hannah!”, “Can I help you with that?”, or “I’m proud of the way you are all working today!” I see colleagues offering to assist with hand delivering lunches to classrooms, students helping new classmates find their way, and yesterday, the first grade classes handed out random notes of kindness throughout the school to help spark a smile from those who were lucky enough to find one.
Perhaps my favorite demonstration of kindness so far this year was when a ninth grader forgot her musical instrument. Her Dad had already pulled out of campus so she had to call him to come back to the school. After he sat in the morning car line for a second time that morning, she apologized profusely. Her Dad enthusiastically responded, “Don’t be sorry, just be you!”
With all that’s currently going on in the world, I am so grateful that I have Allendale Columbia School as a place to come each day. Having a great sense of community is what we are proudly known for, but the kindness we lend to one another on a daily basis is the key ingredient of what makes this school so very special.
Julie BarrettAs AC’s Welcome Desk Associate, Julie collaborates with several AC departments and ensures that everyone who visits or calls campus feels welcome. Prior to joining AC, she worked for Mattiacio Orthodontics, Rochester Wedding Magazine, and Cardiac Life. She received her Associate’s Degree in Sports Tourism and Marketing from Finger Lakes Community College and is in the process of earning a Certificate in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies from Monroe Community College.
Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Pre-Primary School, Upper School
by Randy Northrup, 5th Grade Teacher
Students from Nursery through Grade 5 gathered in the Curtis Performance Center (CPC) for a Read-A-Thon Kick-off. Mrs. Michelle Feiss, Head of Lower School, noticed all sorts of camping equipment on the stage and, along with the students, figured that AC mascot, Wolfie, was up to something.
Sure enough, Wolfie shared that he was missing all the fun he had at Camp Howl-A-Lot last summer and was trying to recreate the experience. After talking about all of the fun activities he enjoyed at camp, Wolfie asked what students at AC like to do. (more…)
Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Nursery, Pre-Primary School, PreKindergarten, Second Grade, Summer LEAP, Third Grade
What words or images go through your head when you think about school lunches? How about “healthy” and “sustainable?”
At Allendale Columbia, it may start with providing healthy, sustainable, fresh, tasty, and allergy-safe sustenance, Food Service Director, Laura Reynolds-Gorsuch related at Wednesday’s Parents of Allendale Columbia Kids (PACK) Coffee Connection. But healthy and sustainable goes beyond the food. Laura and her team also seek to contribute to students’ overall well-being and develop practices that will sustain students into their adult lives. (more…)
Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, PACK, Pre-Primary School, Upper School
Lower School students in Grades 3-5 delighted the audience on December 18th. The 4th and 5th Grade New Instrumentalists started things off, followed by the Beginner Band, Demonstrations of Music Classroom Learning in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, with the Lower School Chorus wrapping things up.
Posted in: Lower School, Middle School, Pre-Primary School, Upper School
On Fearless Friday, Super Chef Yessy Roman prepares a vegetable for Food Service Director Laura Reynolds-Gorsuch to try, along with a panel of Lower School students. Today, Super Chef prepared Crispy Sunchokes, adapted from Bon Appetit’s Crispy Jerusalem Artichokes with Aged Balsamic. We omitted the butter and roasted them instead of making them in a skillet. We are using organic white sunchokes from Maum Gardens farm.
Posted in: Lower School, Middle School, Pre-Primary School, Upper School
Last year, as AC began the regularly scheduled re-accreditation process through New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS), it became evident that our mission was no longer representative of the impactful work we do everyday and why we exist as a school. Since AC’s last mission statement was launched, our programming and curriculum has expanded and evolved to meet a new set of needs in our ever-changing world. While we continue to take pride in our academic preparation for college, we also focus on helping students develop the skills and experiences needed to make a positive and lasting impact in a technology-driven, global society.
“The mission guides us internally as we evolve and change to meet the needs of the students and families who walk through our doors,” said long-time AC faculty member Tony Tepedino and re-accreditation co-leader. “If [the mission] doesn’t align, then we are not able to provide a clear and unified vision and program for the families who place their trust in us as an institution.”
“We haven’t lost the original mission of the school,” said Head of School Mick Gee.
“In fact, it is because of our dedication to a student-centered education and AC’s core values that we have continued to adapt and evolve as an institution to meet the changing needs of the world and the way we prepare our students for life outside these walls. The lessons our students learn here at AC extend beyond the walls of our classrooms, and it is our responsibility to prepare them for the world they will inherit.
Posted in: Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, Ninth Grade, Nursery, Pre-Primary School, PreKindergarten, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Uncategorized, Upper School, US Birches
Since its founding more than 127 years ago, Allendale Columbia School has been dedicated to the highest standards of teaching and learning in the classroom. More recently, in 1983, the Board of Trustees created the first endowed Chair for teaching excellence. Since then, we have been fortunate to be able to attract, retain, and reward some of the best educators locally and globally.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School, we are pleased to recognize and celebrate three highly respected, talented teachers who embody the mission of Allendale Columbia School in everything they do.
Each of these teachers is dedicated to preparing students for the world that they will inherit, by creating a trusting and responsive environment for their students to grow in confidence and develop scholastic independence. They pursue the highest standard of excellence and strive to give our students opportunities for them to make a positive impact locally and globally, even at the earliest ages.
Jennifer Truong: Virginia and Fred Gordon Chair in Elementary Education
Please join me in congratulating Jennifer Truong as the new Virginia and Fred Gordon Chair in Elementary Education. Given every five years to a recipient who then holds the Chair for the five subsequent years, this award recognizes excellence in teaching in the elementary grades. It is awarded to a teacher whose merit is appreciated both within and outside the school community and who has earned the respect and recognition of peers.
As Mick Gee, Head of School, shared in the meeting where Jenn was installed as the fifth recipient of this Chair, “Jenn is a teacher’s teacher. Her dedication to helping her students grow academically and socially is extraordinary and she has earned the reputation of being one of the strongest teachers in the school. Jenn creates a student-centered learning environment in her classroom where second grade students feel supported and challenged in equal amounts. She is a pedagogical expert, a detailed planner, and quite simply one of the hardest working people in our community.”
If you spend ten minutes in one of Jenn’s classes, you will witness second grade students creating new knowledge, designing websites, recording podcasts, and honing their ability to think critically and communicate effectively. All of this occurs in an environment that is joyful, challenging, and inspiring; she is constantly encouraging students to produce their best work and be the best version of themselves. Read more about Jennifer Truong and the Virginia and Fred Gordon Chair in Elementary Education here.
Rob Doran: James R. Kolster Chair in Mathematics
Please join me in congratulating Rob Doran as the new James R. Kolster Chair in Mathematics. Given every five years to a recipient who holds the Chair for the five subsequent years, this award recognizes excellence in teaching specifically in the area of mathematics. This year we are pleased to recognize and celebrate Rob’s extraordinary presence in the school for eighteen years as both a Middle and Upper School math instructor.
As Mick said when installing Rob as the sixth recipient of this Chair, “Rob is a consummate professional and dedicated teacher who literally lives and breathes math. Most of us know Rob through his tireless work with his students. He is amongst the first people to arrive in the morning and almost certainly one of the last to leave at night, spending many additional hours helping students individually outside of class. Rob has played a pivotal role in helping students to grow in confidence and find their “math legs” as they move through our program, particularly in our Middle School.” He has the ability to empower his students and shift their mindset from math phobic to math loving; this is a rare gift indeed.
Outside of the classroom, Rob is fully immersed in the life of the school and offers many opportunities for students to be successful. He volunteers every year to coach the MathCounts Team, is one of the Middle School’s strongest advisors, chaperones the annual 8th grade trip to Washington DC, coaches Ultimate Frisbee, and as if all that wasn’t enough, Rob also works tirelessly behind the scenes to provide technical expertise for the Middle School show. Read more about Rob Doran and the James R. Kolster Chairin Mathematics here.
Donna Kwiatkowski: Gleason Chair for Teaching Excellence
Finally, please join me in congratulating Donna Kwiatkowski as the new recipient of the Gleason Chair for Teaching Excellence. Given every five years to a recipient who holds the Chair for the five subsequent years, this award recognizes teaching excellence in any grade level, in any subject field, for the highest standards of excellence in independent school teaching. It is with great pride and pleasure that we honor Donna Kwiatkowski as the new Gleason Chair for Teaching Excellence for her long history of outstanding teaching and service to the school as our loyal, talented, and beloved Nursery teacher.
Donna has been teaching at AC for an amazing 31 years. As many of you know firsthand, she is a master teacher dedicated to her craft. She is and has been responsible for developing the hearts and minds of AC’s youngest students for more than three decades. As Mick said at Donna’s installation, “the impact of Donna’s teaching can be seen every day throughout the school. Not only in her classroom and at her lunch table, but in older students at all grade levels who benefited from their early years with Donna. Many of these older students, and even not-so-young adults, have grown into the people they are today because of the lessons learned during the time they spent with her.”
Together with her Pre-Kindergarten teaching partners, Donna has helped to build one of the strongest programs at AC, and anywhere in this region. Her classes are always full — often with a waiting list — and her reputation amongst elementary educators, and parents in the know, is exemplary. Read more about Donna Kwiatkowski and the Gleason Chair for Teaching Excellence.
For more information about any of our named endowed chairs for teaching excellence, please contact Karyn Vella, Assistant Head for External Affairs.
Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Pre-Primary School, Upper School