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, LS Birches, Middle School, MS Birches, Pre-Primary School, The Birches, Upper School, US Birches
Learning occurred on multiple levels at TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool on February 3rd. You may already be familiar with TED talks, and TEDx events are local versions of those talks. What makes this TEDx event different from most is that it was planned and produced from start to finish by AC students.
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Tenth Grade, The Birches, Twelfth Grade, Upper School, US Birches
We are delighted to share that the 32 members of the Class of 2017 will attend colleges and universities in 10 different states, the District of Columbia, Scotland, and England! Our seniors’ academic and artistic achievements were recognized with over $2.4 million in merit-based scholarships and invitations into honors and special programs. Click here to see a list of their plans for next year.
Please join us in congratulating the Class of 2017 and wishing them well in their future endeavors!
Posted in: Alumni News, College Advising News, Highlights, Kid Kudos, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade
As a science teacher, builder, designer, tinkerer and innovator at heart, I make several stops down to the Design & Innovation Lab every day, not because I need to, but because what I have seen go on in this room makes me excited to be an educator here.
I’ve seen chairs and tables pushed aside, marshmallows, spaghetti and 2nd graders strewn all over the floor designing arches; drones flying in and outside the large glass doors, the buzz not coming only from motors, but from the 3D printers with work from the Student Rapid Prototyping Club; students feverishly coding an app to solve a real, local problem as they work through the joys and challenges of the collaboration process; dry erase markers on the glass, mapping out ideas, concepts and strategies.
Design and Innovation doesn’t discriminate. It can happen at any age, any time and takes many shapes and forms. It looks different from day to day here at Allendale Columbia, and although this room may appear to be a tangible four walls, it has broken down the walls of mindsets about what it is to be innovative and forward thinking.
There’s a very powerful thing that happens in a space like this from a teacher’s perspective, and that’s student ownership. Students who can dig in, roll up their sleeves and do real work to actually build, create and design are able to grab hold of concepts and skills more deeply and differently than in a traditional classroom setting.
Sometimes the learning is subtle with students seeing something through to completion because it’s their project or design and they have a vested interest in it. It becomes a journey not an end. Their experience is much more meaningful when the learning comes from struggle and failure, whether it be through a design and build or through differences of opinions and ideas.
Parents have told me that their students used to come home saying, “Guess what I learned today”, now say, “Guess what I want to try to do now!” That’s a powerful difference, and for our students here at Allendale Columbia, this new space, has provided a place that defines innovation but doesn’t confine it.
Written by Tina Duver, Assistant Head of Middle School and Science Teacher
Posted in: Highlights
Our International Summer S.T.E.M. Camp brought American and Chinese students together again for another great summer immersion program for middle and high school students. American and Chinese students were teamed together, one-to-one, to experience a culture different from their own. Throughout their very full week, the student teams were provided opportunities to design, innovate, build, and tinker within collaborative learning spaces. During the morning hours, authentic learning experiences were offered in Allendale Columbia’s S.T.R.E.A.M. Program (science, technology, research, engineering, arts, and mathematics). Throughout the afternoon hours, students were immersed in the internationally recognized Vista Teach Summer S.T.E.M. Programs in Robotics and Engineering Education. This hands-on, unscripted week of innovation and design offered a rare opportunity for students to build collaborative skills across cultural differences while also developing global friendships.
This unique venue continues to offer many enriching benefits not only for our participating students but also for our team of S.T.E.M. educators and, each summer, we always look forward to another amazing week teaching Robotics and Engineering Education to our collaborative teams of Chinese and American students!
Click here to view a video all about this exciting program!
Posted in: Highlights