AC Students Find Common Ground with Peers from Mexico

Posted on November 15th, 2019 by acsrochester

From October 17th to October 26th, 10 students from The Harkness Institute, located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, were hosted by students at the International House and eight AC families. Their time in Rochester consisted of fun, tourist activities, like the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls, a tour of the University of Rochester, and a bike tour of downtown Rochester. The students also spent time in Lower, Middle, and Upper School Spanish classes, giving AC language students the opportunity to converse in Spanish with native speakers. Harkness students enjoyed being able to act as “assistant teachers” in the Lower School Spanish classes and spending time with their host families learning about traditional American activities, meals, and family traditions.  (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Global Engagement, Highlights, Partnerships, The Birches, US Birches

Allendale Columbia School Hosts Iraqi Students for Summer Leadership Program

Posted on October 16th, 2019 by acsrochester

For the third summer in a row, local Allendale Columbia students participated in the Summer Global Leadership Program, alongside Iraqi students from the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP). IYLEP is a four-week exchange program for promising Iraqi students to visit different U.S. cities and learn about leadership, peace building, and civic engagement. It is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by World Learning. Rochester is the only host city that has American students participate in the IYLEP program for the full two weeks, allowing both American and Iraqi participants to build a strong bond and further break down stereotypes and misconceptions.

AC Program Coordinator Tony Tepedino, shares his reflections on this year’s program:


“For two weeks this summer, I was the Program Coordinator for a summer program called the Iraqi Young Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP).  This is the second year I have been in this role, and I have been very fortunate to be able to be a part of this program. IYLEP is a program that brings a group of Iraqi students to the U.S. for four weeks. The first week is in Vermont, then the next two are in one of four host cities, and then the students travel to Washington D.C. for the last week.

Iraqi teens choose to apply to be part of this program. From what the students have shared with me, it’s a highly selective process, and a spot in the program is very sought after. I wanted to share a few things that have really impressed me about these students (and families) I have worked with over the last two years.

First, as a parent, it’s difficult for me to wrap my brain around how hard it must be to send your child to another country, let alone a country that has been at the center of so much controversy, tension and, simply put, war. I really don’t know how I would react if my teenage child approached me to ask to travel to Iraq. The courage they need to have to travel from their home in Iraq, to the U.S., for four weeks is no small thing. The  students arrive here with an open-mind and an accepting nature. They stay with host families for two weeks, and with that comes getting used to a new home, new people, new foods, new routines, and a language barrier (a few students shared that their primary English teacher was YouTube!). Having New York as a destination brings excitement, until they realize that Rochester, New York and New York City are two very different places and that the famous NYC from movies and television is unreachable for a quick day trip.

As our busy two weeks began, I especially enjoyed observing how quickly the U.S. and Iraqi students bonded and came together as a group. This is something we work on and teach at Allendale Columbia, but the cool part is how this happens genuinely and organically. There is a real sense of connection, love, and caring for each other that occurs during our two weeks together.

During our time together, we covered a lot of ground, through the city and beyond, to immerse ourselves in a variety of different cultural and skill building experiences:

We ended our time together with a day trip to Niagara Falls and an exposition at AC to share our experiences and learnings with the community.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with, and to get to know, the students who have been a part of this program. I applaud their bravery and their willingness to travel so many miles to learn, grow, and share their culture and perspective.

I can only speak for myself, but I know that I am forever changed by this experience, and I hope that it has left a similar mark on each of the individuals who were able to be a part of this unique program.”

Tony Tepedino

Tony Tepedino

Since starting at Allendale Columbia in 1994, Tony has taken on many different roles. He has coached a variety of sports, including Varsity Girls’ Basketball and Varsity Golf. He taught physical education for seven years, kindergarten for seven years, and served as the Director of Curricular Technology for five years. Tony is currently serving as a faculty member in the Center for Entrepreneurship where he teaches electives for both middle and upper school students. He is also the Faculty Professional Learning Coordinator and C0-creator of TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool. Recently, Tony was Co-chair of the NYSAIS Accreditation Steering Committee and is a member of the Upper School Student Success Team responsible for Student Life. During the summer, Tony also works as Program Coordinator for the Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP). He holds a master’s degree in Education from Roberts Wesleyan College. Tony is the proud father of two children, Gabi and Trip. He enjoys hiking, reading, travel, cooking, and learning about new things.

Get Involved!


Allendale Columbia School’s Center for Global Engagement, in partnership with Rochester Global Connections, offers the Summer Global Leadership Program designed for young people in Rochester interested in learning about and engaging in global issues. Students participate in a 2-week, all-day program where they work, eat, and play with highly-selected youth who are part of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP). Together the students receive training and engage in hands-on projects that explore leadership skillscivic educationdiversity and inclusionhuman rights, and peace building. Through cross-cultural collaboration, this program provides all participants with a life-changing experience to help make an impact both locally and globally.

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Global Engagement, Partnerships, The Birches, Upper School, US Birches

Global Scholars Lead Workshops on Empathy, Compassion at Naz

Posted on March 21st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia Global Engagement Scholars participated in the 9th Annual Global Citizenship Conference: The Next Generation Living in a Pluralistic World held at Nazareth College on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019.

This conference for high school students is designed to give the future leaders of our world the tools to respond to intolerance, improve religious literacy, and show the etiquette required to work in a pluralistic world. Participants become more aware of cultural and religious diversity, gain understanding and dispel stereotypes about various religions, and learn effective skills of discourse based on respect, plurality, and conflict resolution. (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

AC’s Younger Students Becoming Global Citizens, Too

Posted on March 1st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Students throughout Allendale Columbia School don’t just learn about other parts of the world, they become global citizens, learning alongside their peers in other parts of the world. That’s just as true in Lower School.

Last year, AC first-graders explored the Amazon rainforest and ran a successful fundraising campaign to become stewards of a section of the rainforest equal to the size of AC’s campus. Building on that experience, AC’s Head of Lower School, Michelle Feiss, brought in Paul Hurteau, Executive Director of OneWorld Classrooms and a former Upstate New York teacher, who thrilled current first- and second-graders with stories of his experiences teaching students in Ecuador, complete with photos of the people and wildlife, poems, and artifacts from that rainforest community.

(more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Practicing What I Teach: Challenges and Rewards in Ecuador

Posted on March 1st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

What do a school psychologist from New York, a boy named Ken from the Dominican Republic, a girl named Jazmin, and a boy named Jared all have in common? During the summer of 2018, they all found themselves at Fundación Niños de María in Quito, Ecuador.

Fundación Niños de María is a private Catholic school in Ecuador. Students who attend come from public schools where they used to experience academic failure and where the ratio was often one teacher to 45 students. Niños provided a safe and often year-round educational experience for some of Quito’s most vulnerable students. For a student like Ken, whose family had recently relocated from the Dominican Republic, much about Niños, and Ecuador in general, was new. Jazmin had gone unnoticed at her last school and was quite shy, and Jared’s teacher shared that, while domestic violence was a part of his home life, he was usually upbeat and talkative.

(more…)

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Posted in: Global Engagement, Highlights

Nicaraguan Partners Visit AC Spanish Classes

Posted on December 20th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

by Kate Western

On Tuesday, visitors from Rochester’s sister city of El Sauce, Nicaragua, met with Middle and Upper School Spanish classes to raise awareness of the existing needs of Nicaraguan children. Marta Rojas and Ashley Sullivan, a Hilton native, both live in El Sauce, and they have dedicated their lives to making an impact on children of need in their community through the Ciudad Hermana (Sister City) Scholarship Project. (more…)

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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Global Engagement, Highlights, Middle School, Upper School

AC Alum Recognized as 2018 CNN Hero

Posted on November 9th, 2018 by cnickels

Veterans Day celebrates our soldiers and marines who served this country or, in some cases, made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. But what about all those people who help our troops? The people who live in the country that is being torn apart by war. The people who risk their lives to help our soldiers communicate, navigate, and survive. What about them?

Matt Zeller, an AC Class of 2000 alum, left our campus with ideas of being a lawyer or a politician and went on to earn degrees from Hamilton College and Syracuse University before joining the U.S. Army.

In 2008 his life, and his future, changed forever. (more…)

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Posted in: AC in the News, Alumni News, Authentic Learning, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Highlights

Is Your Child Starting From Behind? Why Others Look to AC for Early STEM Education

Posted on October 26th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

A delegation of educators from Belarus, seeking ways to boost innovation and economic development and cultivate a competitive workforce, visited Allendale Columbia School because of its reputation as the best school to visit for its “bottom-up” approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), which formally begins in Kindergarten. (more…)

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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School