From Competing Color Captains…

to collaborators in the arts!

It was a pleasure to hear from Elizabeth Yohlin Baill ’98 recently. As the Manager of Family Programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Liz is in charge of  a wide range of interactive programs designed for families with children ages 3–12.  On Sunday, March 4, 2018, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is offering Bits & Pieces which is an interactive program that encourages children and families to deconstruct and remix their own art work based on cubist shards, shattered glass, mixed-up mosaics. Movemakers Philly will perform break dancing at this wonderful event.

This is where the Meadowbrook family gets involved. Movemakers Philly is  the premier hip hop dance education program for elementary, middle, and high school students in downtown Philadelphia and was founded by Meadowbrook alumnus, Vince Johnson ’98.

Imagine Liz’s surprise and delight when she and Vince reconnected! They were competitors at Meadowbrook as Color Captains (Liz for Red and Vince for Gray) and now they are professional collaborators in the arts.

All Meadowbrook families are welcome to attend this free event. Please support our alumni in their efforts and consider attending. And be sure to say hello to our fellow alumni.

Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Kristen Haugen

1. What is one item on your bucket list?
I would love to go to Egypt. I would definitely cruise up the Nile, visit the pyramids in the Valley of the Kings, ride a camel, and see Alexandria.

2. What book are you currently reading?
I love to read. I currently have three books sitting on my nightstand- Pendragon Book Five: Black Water by D.J. MacHale, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, and The Titan’s Curse in the Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan.

3. Who is your mentor? Why?
My mentor was Dr. Ruth Reed. She was my biochemistry professor at Juniata College. She taught me to stand up for myself. She also went above and beyond with her support after I left college. She regularly sent me care packages when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Papua New Guinea. I actually brought home two of my favorite books from her care packages: Personal History by Katherine Graham and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. She also transcribed my hand written letters and circulated them via e-mail.

4. What would your superpower be?
My superpower would be the ability to read minds to be able to anticipate how I can be of service.

5. Where is the best place you have traveled to and why?
I travel a lot. During the school year, we have a six time zone rule. We can’t travel anywhere that is more than six time zones away. My husband is always one to push limits so he has found that he can still get us on an 11 hour flight by simply going south. We have traveled through a lot of South and Central America as a result. I loved Argentina. We spent Christmas there a number of years ago. The sun was up until midnight. The country offered so much diversity. We got to swim in the desert, hike on glaciers, and visit penguin rookeries on the windy Trelew peninsula. The food was also amazing. Out at the Trelew peninsula we ate at this little restaurant where they cooked table side on a mini charcoal grill. The lamb was lovely. The seafood on the coast was outstanding, too!

6. If you could do any job for just one day what would it be?
I would work in the kitchen at El Bulli under Ferran Adria. El Bulli is located in Spain and is known as one of the most experimental restaurants in the world. I would need to work on my Spanish and my knife skills!

7. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I swam competitively through college. My specialties were backstroke and distance. I was the crazy one swimming back to back events. Luckily, both my high school and college teams ran concurrent boys’ and girls’ meets so I had a boy’s event in between the 500 free and the 100 back.

8. What is your favorite thing about Meadowbrook?
My favorite thing about Meadowbrook is the people. The students are full of energy. The staff is very caring.

7 Myths About Independent Schools

Seven Myths About Independent Schools

Myth #1: Independent schools are only for the rich.

Fact: While it’s true that independent schools are chosen more often by families from higher income brackets, it’s also true that a significant proportion of independent schools’ population is comprised of the three lowest socioeconomic quintiles (students who often receive financial aid) and the fourth quintile, the middle to upper middle class families who find a way (including grandparent contributions) to afford a quality education for their children, seeing it as the best investment they can make in their children’s future, whatever the cost and sacrifice.

Myth #2: Independent Schools are “not the real world.”

Fact: Of course they are not, thank God. The real world is, sad to say, unsafe, unstructured, and — worse than values-neutral — values bereft. The independent school culture is, ironically, counter-cultural in the sense of establishing a values matrix that runs counter to the child-toxic values of the popular culture and amorality and immorality that surrounds us.

While independent schools are “not the real world” themselves, they prepare students exceedingly well for the real world(s) of college, the workplace, and life in general, as the National Education Longitudinal Study from NCES demonstrates: independent school graduates in disproportionate numbers earn college and graduate degrees, report high career satisfaction, vote and engage in civic activities, exercise, and generally contribute to make the real world a better place.

Myth #3: Independent schools are unaffordable.

Fact: Independent schools are expensive but not unaffordable. It’s expensive to hire and support high quality teachers, maintain relatively small classes, offer intimate advisor/advisee counseling groups, provide a full-range of sports and arts programs and activities (and expect everyone to participate, unlike large public schools where only elite athletes and artists are served). With our Variable Tuition package, the “sticker price” is discounted for a significant proportion of families so that they can afford to send their children to a high quality independent school. Families of even relatively high incomes often qualify for some Financial Aid/ Variable Tuition

Myth #4: Independent schools lack diversity.

Fact: To belong to NAIS, an independent school must agree to abide by “Principles of Good Practice,” one of which is related to “equity and justice” practices to assure that NAIS schools commit resources and energy to advancing inclusivity and diversity of all kinds in our schools. These principles are grounded in the knowledge that all students benefit from more diverse environments and that, once they leave school for college and the workplace thereafter, the comfort students have with diversity will serve them well. Because public schools are tied to specific neighborhoods and independent schools are not, the facts believe this myth: Most independent schools tend to be more, rather than less, diverse than local public schools, since too often residential housing patterns remain largely segregated by race and ethnicity.

Myth #5: Independent schools (especially boarding schools) are for kids with social problems.

Fact: In large urban areas throughout the United States and on the East and West Coasts, there are large concentrations of families that send their children to independent day schools or boarding schools, so the practice is seen as normal. For more suburban areas and throughout the Midwest and Southwest, however, there is far less density of independent schools (though this is changing as new schools emerge). Sometimes those not familiar with independent schools assume “something is wrong” if a family chooses anything other than the local public schools. While there are very good private therapeutic schools for students with very serious problems (schools that serve that specific population well), none of those schools belong to NAIS, because our schools are all “college-prep” (even the elementary schools, since all families see them as the first step in the journey to being well-prepared for college).

Myth #6: Independent schools are only for really smart kids.

Fact: It’s true that “really smart” kids graduate from independent schools, but they don’t all come to us that way, and even the ones that do have much “value added” from their experience. Fundamentally, NAIS schools believe in the “growth mindset” research that indicates that success comes largely from hard work and optimal conditions; and that emphasizing one’s “native intelligence” is often counter-productive. So independent schools create the optimal conditions for what Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, describes as formative for highly successful people: they have the capacity for hard work and find themselves in situations that demand hard work. Truth be known, the typical independent school student has average-to-above-average ability, but becomes exceptional from hard work and opportunities to develop multiple intelligences, not just academic and intellectual ones. Truth be known, there is a segment of students with learning differences in many independent schools (and some independent schools whose mission is to specifically serve LD children): LD kids in independent schools are virtually all college-bound.

Myth #7: Independent schools are not part of the community.

Fact: Independent schools are very conscious of “community impact” issues and opportunities, especially given the commitment as charitable enterprises to demonstrate “the public purpose of private education.” On the most obvious surface level, independent schools have multi-million dollar budgets and employ local citizens, so the multiplier effect is a significant contributor to the local economy. On a programmatic level, virtually every independent school’s programming includes community service, where students and faculty contribute “sweat equity” in the local community, tutoring in schools, assisting at hospitals and nursing homes, cleaning up parks and rivers, and the like. These programs tend to have a “service learning” dimension where the work in the field becomes the subject of classroom research and discussion towards the end of producing lifelong civic engagement. Finally, independent schools are defining being “part of the community” very broadly, seeking to address global challenges by implementing local solutions.