Imagine what the world will be like in the year 2033. Imagine the technology that will be available to us. Imagine how we will interact with each other. Imagine the new discoveries that will be made by today’s young people. 2033 may seem far away, but it is actually the year that our current PreK-4 students will graduate from Upper School.
This year’s Lower School theme is Imagine. For Lower School Division Head Bridget Henderson, this simple, seven letter word has tremendous potential. “Imagine what is possible for our students if we give them fertile ground to grow,” she says. Henderson says the ability to think critically, collaborate and problem solve will be important capabilities for these students as they become adults. Simply put, they must be prepared to imagine new possibilities and imagine solutions to new problems. “The future of education is trying to inspire children and teach them how to not set limits on what they can think,” says Henderson.
Imagine is a fitting theme for a school with such a strong focus on project-based learning. The projects are student driven and student focused. “Project-based learning is not scripted,” says Henderson. “No two projects are ever the same.” Such learning experiences encourage students to explore their world and imagine more. This type of learning fosters the innovative spirit that will be needed for students entering an increasingly more technologically connected and advanced world.
Henderson says Imagine is an empowering message for students of all ages. The idea communicates support and encouragement. “If we can get the students to imagine, then we know that anything is possible,” says Henderson. At Episcopal you can find students imagining everywhere from Lower School art rooms to coding discussions in Middle School and design studio classes in Upper School. Henderson and her team are also excited to imagine the possibilities with the new Episcopal Quest Center.
Nicole says the idea came to her as the team reflected on past themes, which all shared a common thread of peace, unity and kindness. She says as the session continued someone suggested they think of songs. “Of course, the music and religion teachers were able to think of tunes right away,” she says. But for this science teacher, one song kept coming to mind – “Imagine” by John Lennon. Nicole says the song has always represented peace for her and still gives her chills each time she hears it played. Like Henderson, the word Imagine means so much to Engstrom. “Imagine kindness everywhere, imagine what could happen if you send that letter, imagine how world leaders would respond, imagine your impact, imagine the possibilities, just imagine,” she says. Engstrom says it was an honor to be invited to the theme-planning discussion. “It was a team effort,” she says. “I just said a word.”
That one word was confirmed when Lower School Religion Teacher Laura Portwood read: “God has more in store for you than you can ever imagine.”
The 2019/2020 school year is sure to be a memorable and important year for the Episcopal community. It is likely to be better than we can imagine.
Can you imagine what life will be like in 2033? Share your thoughts below.
“Gratitude implies humility- a recognition that we could not be who we are or where we are in life without the contributions of others.” Robert Emmons, professor, researcher, author
My family and I have officially completed our first full week as members of the Episcopal community. The experience has been fulfilling, exciting and inspiring, and we are grateful for the opportunity. In February, my wife, Nicole, and I made the decision to move to Baton Rouge to join this community so that I could serve as the new Middle School Division Head. Starting a new school year is an exciting adventure for most of us, but taking on this new role and finally getting to meet our students has made the start of this year even more so for me. Nicole shares in this feeling as she has also joined Episcopal as the Lower School’s fifth grade science teacher. Our children, Alex, who is a sophomore and Emma, who is an eighth grader, are also happy to be Knights.
Based on our first impression of the Episcopal community, we are ecstatic with our decision to come here. We have encountered wave after wave of nice kids and families, which aligns with the waves of nice faculty, staff and administrators we met over the summer. Nicole and I are also thankful to be back in Louisiana. I was born just down the road in New Orleans and graduated from Ben Franklin High School. I am also a graduate of the University of Kentucky, the University of New Orleans and Framingham State College in Massachusetts – if I could, I would be a full-time student every year of my life! Over the course of my career, I have taught in South Korea, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and was most recently the Middle and Upper School Division Head at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. My heart has always been working closely with Middle School students, faculty and their families so that we can help them through this critical period of their lives. The window to impact young people is smaller than we realize sometimes and I want to capitalize on those moments when we can help build character.
I believe that the foundations of guiding Middle School students are compassion for what is hard about this stage and a celebration of all the opportunities that are presented. Tween and teen children want and need guidance. I hope that our theme of respect and gratitude will add to their family values/faith to help them lead fulfilling lives. Middle School is a time of significant transformation for our students as they discover new things about themselves and the world around them. It is an honor to help them grow and navigate this time in their lives.
As my wife and I navigate the change in our own lives, we are enjoying the opportunity to show our children Louisiana culture. How can we go wrong with some of the best food in the country right here? Already, we have tickets for the Angola rodeo this October and we plan to visit Avery Island once the heat subsides. We’re also looking forward to cheering on the Knights and really getting to know our new school family.
We look forward to next Thursday, August 22nd and the Middle School Parents Night. This fun evening allows us to share all the amazing things that are going on each school day. I hope that parents enjoy the night and walk away with a stronger sense of the amazing learning experiences available to their child each day. I also invite anyone who would like to meet to contact me. I am happy to meet with any parents interested in sharing more so that Episcopal can be a stronger partner in helping their child learn, grow and achieve their dreams.
Thank you again to everyone who has welcomed us to the Episcopal community. I pledge to pay forward the incredible welcome we have felt each day.
Mark Engstrom is Episcopal’s Middle School Division Head. Prior to joining Episcopal he served as the Middle and Upper School Division Head at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. Mark is a Louisiana native and a graduate of Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans. Mark earned degrees from the University of Kentucky, the University of New Orleans and Framingham State College in Massachusetts. He has extensive experience in blended learning and has led multiple professional development opportunities regarding blended learning. Mark has also published articles on personalizing student education. Mark particularly enjoys working with Middle School students as they transition from elementary school students to high school students. Mark is married to Nicole, Episcopal’s fifth grade science teacher. Their children, Alex and Emma, are Episcopal students.
SWATing: to make a false report of an ongoing serious crime in order to elicit a response from law enforcement (such as the dispatch of a SWAT unit) Merriam-Webster
You may have heard national news stories about swat teams arriving to homes of unsuspecting, innocent people because of a call reporting a violent crime at the location. The reported incidents seem to be occurring more frequently, with everyone from celebrities to an international video game champion being targeted. Recently, such an incident occurred much closer to home.
Episcopal School Resource Officer Corporal Kristopher Daniels says SWATing is often motivated by revenge as a result of something that has occurred online, possibly during an online video game. He says typically the goal is “to inconvenience the victim in the worst way possible.” To swat someone, a person must determine the victim’s address and phone number and call in a report of an emergency. Daniels says the reports are typically of extremely dangerous situations that would result in the activation of the local swat team. To make matters more complicated, the person doing the SWATing uses a computer program to make law enforcement officials believe the call is actually coming from the victim’s own phone.
SWATing began as a form of cyberbullying among online gamers. Corporal Daniels advises parents to talk to their kids and be aware of what they are doing online. He also reminds students to be careful with what they are sharing online whether through social media or gaming sites. He says it’s all too easy for someone to get personal information. For example, a gamer’s actual name can be determined through searches and making connections to social media accounts. Once the real identity is discovered, the person SWATing then has the information needed to report a fake emergency.
SWATing is serious. Corporal Daniels says due to the nature of the calls, these scenarios result in a very large law enforcement and emergency responder response to the victim’s home. Such an experience can be frightening for the victims and dangerous for everyone involved. Nationally, there have been instances of victims or law enforcement personnel being injured or killed as a result of a SWATing call. In addition, Corporal Daniels says such incidents waste valuable resources and result in fewer law enforcement personnel available to address other concerns because personnel have been pulled away for the SWATing call.
SWATing has serious consequences. Corporal Daniels says people caught SWATing can be charged with everything from filing a false police report or device fraud to conspiracy to obstruct justice or conspiracy to retaliate against a witness, victim or informant. There has even been a call for such cases to be classified as terrorism. Daniels says there is also an effort underway to establish a federal charge specific to SWATing to ensure that those committing the crime are appropriately charged.
You have likely heard reports of local SWATing incidents in neighborhoods near the school. While Episcopal was not directly impacted by the situation, our administrators monitored the event. Because student safety is a top priority for everyone at Episcopal, SWATing and any other risk to students is something we take very seriously.
In less than two months, Episcopal Upper School students will put on a theater performance in the Black Box. Auditions are this week and once the cast is set rehearsals will get underway. However, the actual play has yet to be determined. Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair Paige Gagliano says such a twist is indicative of the exciting things you can expect from the Episcopal arts department this year.
This will be the first time in several years that an Upper School straight play will be offered as an extracurricular activity. (A straight play is a play with no singing and strictly speaking roles.) Middle and Upper School Drama Teacher Joe Reynolds will direct the production, which is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15th at 7 pm. Gagliano says after auditions, the theater team will determine the play based on the talent that presents itself. Such a fluid and flexible approach allows the teachers to tailor the play to the students. “Our musicals are so popular, but we have students who aren’t comfortable singing,” says Gagliano. Offering a straight play makes theater an option for these students. Additional options for students who are not available to rehearse after school is the Theatre Production class or the Acting Master Seminar. Both classes allow students to rehearse during class and produce a full length play.
In addition to the new theater production, there are also three new faculty members in the arts department this year. As described by Hugh McIntosh, Head of School, “As time allowed during the 2018-2019 school year, several of us worked together on plans that would provide stable leadership for the Arts Department, an exciting broader array of studio art offerings, and provide for additional opportunities for teacher-collaboration within the Arts Department. I know this will usher in a more unified and collaborative approach to the arts at Episcopal. Suffice it to say that students will have quite an array of choices in the arts areas at Episcopal. In discussions in late May with the 2019-2020 arts teachers their sense of excitement about 2019-2020 and the new initiatives was palpable.”
Doug Gay has joined the team as the Middle and Upper School Band Director. Veronica Hallock is teaching Middle and Upper School visual arts courses. In addition to teaching Middle and Upper School visual arts courses, Karen Koprowski-Stout is also serving as the Assistant Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair. Gagliano says all three have jumped right into the Episcopal arts experience and are blending well with returning teachers Christine Chrest, Caroline Hagan, Mary Kannenberg and Joe Reynolds. The new teachers are also offering new courses for students this year, including Middle School Forced Perspective and Optical Illusion Photography and Upper School Introduction to Filmmaking. You can read more about the new faculty below.
Gagliano says true to the Episcopal mission of educating the whole child, members of the arts department strive to meet students where they are in their artistic endeavors. “We care for these students and we want them to be comfortable and confident where they are,” she says. The arts team strives to reach every student in the class and connect and share experiences. Gagliano says art teachers have a unique perspective when it comes to educating students because of the vulnerability, empathy and confidence that art requires. “We are teaching life lessons,” she says of the role of an art teacher.
Episcopal art students have traditionally had tremendous success. Recently, nine members of the Class of 2019 moved on to study dance, music, theater or visual art at the university level. Episcopal AP art students had their work on display at the Baton Rouge Gallery. Choir students were chosen to audition for District IV Honor Choir and Episcopal was represented in the 2018 Louisiana American Choral Director’s Association All-State Choir. Last year, the concert band also earned Sweepstakes at the Louisiana Music Educators Association District IV Large Ensemble Festival. In addition, numerous Lower and Middle School students competed and participated in recitals and theater productions with Episcopal and community organizations.
Gagliano says this type of success is exciting and will continue because of the talent among the students. What will also continue because of the talent and commitment of the faculty is the dedication to the process of learning, growing and developing. “Art may push students a little out of their comfort zone, but the students are smiling and happy and that’s exactly how we want them to feel,” she says.
Mark Your Calendar:
Don’t miss your opportunity to catch the Episcopal artists in action this fall. Here are highlights of the upcoming season.
Introducing the New Arts Faculty:
After earning his bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Northwestern State University, Doug has worked as a professional musician and a music educator for over 20 years. A professional drummer, Doug worked as a high school band director in Baton Rouge for a number of years before starting his own music academy, Baton Rouge Music Studios. Students at BRMS can learn to play various instruments, as well as music theory, composition, recording techniques, and live production - many of the skills necessary for a successful career in the music industry. As a teacher, Doug works to ensure that students, whether they see themselves pursuing a musical career or not, are excited about music and that his class is a bright spot in their day. Doug is eager to return to teaching in a private school and will be teaching band classes in both the Middle School and Upper School.
Since earning her Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts at LSU, Veronica has embodied the artist-teacher philosophy. Over the past four years, she has taught at both the university level and as a talented art teacher at the high school level, all the while showing her own work at over 15 exhibitions in Louisiana and across the country. As an artist, Veronica draws inspiration from literature and challenges her students to develop different perspectives for themselves. She sees art as a positive form of emotional expression that benefits all students. Veronica will be teaching visual art courses in both the Middle School and Upper School next year.
Another graduate of LSU, Karen has her master’s degree in Anthropology, Documentary Filmmaking, and Fine Arts. Karen has had an impressive career working in art restoration, as a professional fine artist, and in the TV and Film industry over the past 20 years. She then discovered her calling as a teacher and has been teaching art both in public schools and with the Arts Council of Baton Rouge, while continuing to work as a professional artist. Karen uses her broad experiences in art in her teaching. She views the various art mediums as the tools to bring ideas to life and uses whatever medium will best express her ideas. She tries to instill this flexibility in her own students. In addition to teaching various visual art courses in the Middle School and Upper School, Karen will be developing two new courses for this coming year: Forced Perspective and Optical Illusion Photography for 8th grade, as well as an Introduction to Filmmaking course in the Upper School. These new course offerings are the first in the development of an expanded digital arts program at Episcopal. In addition, Karen is serving as the Assistant Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair.
What is your favorite Episcopal arts memory? Share it in the comments below.
The start of the 2019-2020 school year officially got underway with the annual Upper School Convocation. There was excitement and anticipation in the air as students, faculty and staff gathered in the Chapel. School officers were sworn in and new members of the Episcopal community signed the school’s Honor Code. Division Head Tom Forti welcomed everyone back to campus. You can read his address below.
Thank you for the opportunity to deliver remarks that signal the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. Recognizing the importance of this occasion, I spent a great deal of time thinking about what to say and how to say it. Should I find a bunch of quotes about education and beginning a new school year? No. How about a powerpoint or presentation that allows you to follow along - word for word - with what I am saying? Nope. What say we put up a bunch of pictures that depict school life here at Episcopal? Not bad, but I feared it would take away from the undivided attention I’m asking you for during the next few minutes. So, I decided to go it alone.
Here at Episcopal, we use the letter E to brand ourselves in a number of ways. The small-cap e represents our e-Fund fundraising efforts. The old English E can be seen on our athletic uniforms, as can the block style E. And they all stand for and represent Episcopal.
What I’m asking you to do, as we dive into this new school year is to think about the E in a slightly more personal way. Think about these words and their meaning - energy, enthusiasm, empathy, effort and earnestness. I ask you to bring these to the table each day.
From my perspective your mere presence on campus gives us energy and enthusiasm. Please let that carry over into all you do. Be empathetic - care for and about one another. Put forth maximum effort - in the classroom, on stage, on the athletic fields and in the community. And be earnest in the things that require you to be. It is this quality that I ask you to pay particular attention to as we celebrate this morning with our Convocation Ceremony.
Episcopal has many beautiful and meaningful traditions, but none may embody who we are as a community more than this one. Signing the book and pledging your willingness and desire to abide by the Episcopal Honor Code is what Convocation is all about. It’s ironic that Convocation has long been associated with graduation - the end of a year, but here at Episcopal it signifies a beginning, a fresh start - one down the path less taken.
I am honored and humbled to be the Head of Upper School here and I sincerely hope that all of you, students and faculty, share my joy in what is sure to be an “E-mazing” year.
The Episcopal Honor Code
Head of Upper School