With a 50+ year history, many have long-standing connections to Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. However, not many can trace that connection back to their own living room where the conversations between the founders began. Lower School English teacher Margaret Boudreaux’s father, Mr. G. Allen Penniman Jr., was one of the original supporters of establishing a new, independent school for the Baton Rouge community. Now all these years later, Margaret is set to retire from the place she has called home for so long.
Margaret, who graduated in 1976, began attending Episcopal the first year it was established. Before she ever put on an Episcopal uniform or stepped foot on campus, Margaret was a part of the community. Her father modeled for her what it meant to live with passion and vision as she watched Mr. Penniman and his partners make plans for the school. She says even when her father traveled, Episcopal was on his mind. “He would seek out the private schools and tour them,” she says. “He was always thinking about School and how to make it better. This passion of his was an enormous part of my upbringing, and it influenced me throughout my life,” says Margaret.
Margaret’s own passion for Episcopal grew once she became a student. She remembers her first impression of the Woodland Ridge school. “The campus was so beautiful,” she says. She also remembers the close-knit, family feeling that Episcopal offered and the positive influence of her teachers. “I revered my teachers who loved me but made me toe the line,” she says.
After Episcopal, Margaret studied liberal arts at Rhodes College. She married Emmett, and they had two children. When it was time for Elliott and Anne to attend school, there was no question as to where they would go. Elliott graduated from Episcopal in 2010 and Anne in 2014. Seeing her children attend the school that had played such an important role in her own life provided Margaret another connection to the Episcopal community, this time as a parent and volunteer. Margaret became a certified teacher and joined the faculty in 2006.
In a 2017 article highlighting Episcopal alumni, Margaret spoke of the importance of her work as an educator. “I believe we teach the future leaders of our community,” said Margaret. “I wake up every day happy to teach bright 10 and 11 year olds.” Margaret does this with dedication and passion. “I feel each child has a special lock and I needed to find the right key to open them to embrace learning,” she says.
As Margaret looks toward her next chapter, she will treasure her Episcopal experience. “I’ve had the greatest opportunity to work with an outstanding faculty and I’ve loved seeing my school grow to be a flagship of innovative education while always maintaining the integrity of the individual,” says Margaret. “I love that faith is embedded in our lives.”
Margaret’s own story and the story of Episcopal are forever entwined. She watched her father follow through with his vision for the school, and she and her children benefited from his dedication to a dream. She has even had the unique opportunity to return and ensure that the next generation receives that same educational experience.
Margaret’s legacy as an Episcopal teacher and volunteer will live on. Thank you for your service and passion, Margaret. We will miss you!
Lower School ended the school year with all of the fun and fanfare you would expect. From a virtual Field Day to visits with national authors, students and faculty continued joyful learning. See you next year!
Field Day Family Fun
Episcopal Lower School families were spotted enjoying water balloon fights, sack races and more as part of the recent Lower School Virtual Field Day. Due to Distance Learning requirements, this annual tradition involved families and took place right at home. It was a joyful way to celebrate the end of the school year.
Author Chats and Vocabulary Parades
What’s better than enjoying a good book? Getting a message directly from the author who wrote the story! Episcopal third graders recently had the opportunity to see a special message created just for them from two national authors. This year’s Lower School community read book was “Bob” by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. Before the transition to Distance Learning, students received their books and began reading about the adventures of Bob and Livy. To celebrate the completion of this year’s read, Lower School faculty invited Wendy Mass to record a special video message just for Episcopal students. Mass highlighted the connection the students have to her and others who have read “Bob” as well as the journey she and Stead went on when writing the book.
Always up for a parade, the third grade team also organized a virtual vocabulary parade inspired by the book “Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster” by Debra Frasier. Earlier in the school year, students shared the traditional vocabulary parade in the Greer Center which was filled with proud families and friends. At the end of the year, the students put together a virtual rendition to highlight how even in a time of Distance Learning the parade must go on! Students were given two days to come up with a way to represent a word in Distance Learning to celebrate the end of the school year. Author Debra Frasier, who Episcopal faculty have cultivated a relationship with over the years, also recorded a special message for third graders. In the message, Frasier shares that she has used the recent months to develop new drawing skills. She also reminded students that while they may be separated physically, they can always carry thoughts of their classmates in their hearts.
Project-Based Learning Continues
Ask an Episcopal kindergartener about the Statue of Liberty or the Liberty Bell and they are sure to tell you all about these notable American symbols. Students finished the school year with the annual American symbols project-based unit. The future first graders finished mini projects in which they completed math problems and writing prompts. They also had the opportunity to create their own version of the well-known icons.
What a Way to End the Year!
Each Lower School grade participated in a parade to wrap up the school year. Students and parents stayed in their cars and wished teachers well as families dropped off school items and collected goodies. Lower School teachers also created a special video to help students celebrate the end of a great year. Make it a great summer!
Sometimes a lesson is so much more than what it appears. A perfect example is the fifth grade project-based unit on renewable energy. Students could have simply learned about solar and wind energy in a textbook, but teachers Margaret Boudreaux, Nicole Engstrom and Christy Talbot had much more in mind. The teaching team planned a powerful lesson complementing the concepts in the book “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba.
The book tells the true story of a boy named William Kamkwamba whose ingenuity changes the lives of everyone in his village in Malawi. William used scrap parts to build his own windmill to generate electricity and running water. All he had to inspire his creation was a library book filled with photos of windmills, yet he was able to generate power.
At Episcopal, Mrs. Engstrom introduced students to a dynamo flashlight. Students had to take the gadgets apart and determine how they function. As the students disassembled the flashlights, their natural curiosity was peaked and there was excitement in the room. Later in the lesson, Mrs. Engstrom and the students spent time outdoors harnessing the sun. Students used tiny solar panels to collect solar energy on a bright, sunny December day. The students were rewarded for their efforts when their tiny fans began to spin and their lights began to blink. To round out the lesson, students worked in groups to generate as much energy as possible with their own water wheels and windmills.
The fifth grade renewable energy project showcased the expertise of a variety of experts, including an ExxonMobil chemist and Upper School physics teacher Dr. Xiaoyue Jiang. In addition, Academic Technology Coordinator Betsy Minton assisted with flashlight deconstruction. It was a project-based unit that tapped into the strengths of many.
Throughout each component of the lesson, the teachers found ways to relate the project back to William Kamkwamba’s own experience. As students explored the dynamo flashlight, Mrs. Engstrom reminded them that William used a similar method for generating electricity. As students explored the scientific concepts involving renewable energy, there was an underlying reminder that they can solve problems and make the world a better place. Even if the young students don’t realize it now, the lesson fits well within the framework of an educational institution that encourages students to ask questions, delve deeper and learn more while focusing on the beneficial impacts one person can have on others.
Like William Kamkwamba, Episcopal fifth graders are tomorrow’s leaders. William’s story has become an inspiration for many. Now the boy who couldn’t finish high school because of his family’s lack of funds has graduated from Dartmouth College. He has served as a TED Speaker and a Global Fellow with ideo.org. He is proof that anyone can make a difference. Just imagine what these fifth graders can do!
Episcopal has a tradition of encouraging environmental stewardship. Click here to read more about environmental education efforts. To read about the fifth grade planting project at the Bonnet Carre spillway, click here.
Happy Earth Day!
Transitioning to online learning can present some challenges for everyone. What will be critical early on is setting up a routine, and making adjustments as needed. Coordinate with peers and adults you trust to get ideas for what is working for them.
Strategies to consider:
Apps That Act Like Math and Science Tutors for Homework Help
Free Educational Apps, Games, and Websites
Top Time-Management Apps
As mentioned above, having a daily schedule will be extremely helpful. Remember, that your school day always includes recess/break, lunch, and often P. E. Here is a sample schedule below that can be a guide:
Our counseling team is here to support you during these times. Please email your division counselor, or Robin Talamo (LSS Coordinator) if we can be of assistance.
Robin Talamo, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who has been practicing for over twenty years. She has served as the Episcopal Learning Support Services Coordinator since 2012. With the assistance of the other counselors, she guides the three divisions with support for students with various learning differences. She leads such groups as Parents U-Knighted, the OYES program, and other important campus support activities.
Episcopal second graders completed their study of continents and countries with a travel agency expo in the Greer Center. During the event, students shared everything they learned with family and friends.
Throughout the project-based learning unit, students “visited” places from England to Antarctica. They learned traditional African dance steps and flamenco and salsa twirls. Using virtual reality goggles, they even dove right into the Great Barrier Reef. All of this without leaving Woodland Ridge Boulevard!
Currently, many of us are using our imagination and creativity to travel and explore. Share how you and your students are exploring in the comment section below.
Here is a look at Lower School fun in the great outdoors. Happy spring break!
Good Luck in PreK-4
PreK-4 students tried their luck at finding four leaf clovers in the garden. Others made a wish on a dandelion.
It's a Zoo Out There!
Kindergarten students and their families enjoyed a beautiful spring day at the Baton Rouge Zoo.
First graders took a nature walk to nearby Forest Park. The young explorers identified animals that live in the park and wrote down their observations upon their return to school.
The Cycle Begins Again
Third graders teamed up with Upper School environmental science students to plant cypress seeds for the LSU Coastal Roots project. Next school year, the budding trees will be taken to a wetland area for planting.
The program description on LSU’s website reads, “Wanted: GIRLS who are problem solvers, explorers and hidden gem seekers.” Episcopal Lower School students Lila Awad, Lilianna Latour and Julia Whitney answered the call. The trio recently spent a day at the LSU Museum of Natural Science with girls from across the area and some of LSU’s leading women scientists. From the smiles on their faces as they discuss the experience, it is apparent that the day made an impression on these future scientists.
The two fourth graders and one fifth grader love science. In fact, they are already hoping to have successful science careers of their own. Lila dreams of being a science teacher, Lilianna plans to be a neurologist and Julia wants to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. After spending a day among female mathematicians, zoologists and biochemists, the girls are inspired to make their dreams come true. “I got to see how women scientists make a difference,” says Lilianna. She says it was a great opportunity because it made participants see how important science is to exploring the world.
In the meantime, the students simply had fun with science during this special day. Lila reported that her favorite part of the visit was seeing the “biggest frog.” Talk of the giant amphibian sparked a conversation among the students about the organs and skeleton of the frog. The students’ eyes and faces light up as they talk about touching the taxidermy sloth and river otter. In addition to the animals, there was also the rocket launch. This was Lilianna’s favorite part of the day, especially when her rocket traveled 35 ½ feet.
The students unanimously report that they would participate in the museum day again if given the chance. The 32 museum day participants were chosen based on an essay application in which they had to write about the question they would like to answer as a scientist or mathematician. Julia hopes everyone will apply next application period. All three agree that writing an essay was certainly worth having the experience.
The science teachers also hope that more students will be inspired to apply next year. “This is a great opportunity for girls to get hands-on science experience outside of the classroom,” says fourth grade teacher Ros Won. “In our fourth grade classes we explore topics such as electricity and landforms, but when students can participate in science programs off-campus, they can see how the things we learn at Episcopal can be applied in the real world.”
Fifth grade teacher Nicole Engstrom sees experiences like this as an extension of the classroom. “One of our roles as teachers is to give space and encourage our students to take risks, explore, reflect and find their passion(s),” she says. “The best way to do that is by exposing our students to as many opportunities as possible without limits- breaking stereotypes. It's our job to empower all students to find what best fits them.”
Both teachers appreciate the resources available through LSU and the opportunities the university offers to a range of students. They are also looking forward to using the new QUEST Center next year to offer hands-on experiences for students right here on Episcopal’s campus.
Whether it is a day at the museum or an in-depth project-based learning experience, Episcopal students are exploring their world in preparation for their futures. Students are encouraged to think beyond the ordinary and strive for their goals whatever they may be. Their futures certainly are bright!
Was there a moment or experience that inspired your current career choice? Share your story below in the comments section.
A Book Called "Bob"
Lower School librarian Catherine Word kicked off the 2020 community read by presenting this year’s book selection – “Bob” by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. Third graders will embark on a journey with Bob and 10 year old Livy in this novel that The Wall Street Journal calls “Magical.” As Word introduced this year’s book, she thanked Parents’ Guild for their continued support of the effort and she encouraged the entire Episcopal community to read along.
To read about the first Lower School community read, click the links below.
Third graders may just have the next big idea! Students recently presented their business ideas to parents and visitors as part of a "Shark Tank"-like activity. Pitches included everything from dog walking enterprises to lawn care and cooking services. The presentations were the culmination of the students’ project-based unit on managing a business.
Over the course of the unit, students heard from experts and learned a range of skills. Local business professionals spoke with students about their own entrepreneurial experiences with everything from a stationary business to a jewelry company. Students even had the opportunity to FaceTime with Jen Rosen, Casting Manager of the ABC TV show “Shark Tank.” Rosen gave the Episcopal students suggestions for making their business pitches appealing and compelling for “investors.”
When creating their own business plan, students estimated start-up costs and prepared a budget. They also created promotional flyers and a promotional video to persuade parent “investors” to support their potential endeavor. To make the day more exciting, there were secret shark investors among the crowd. The sharks will compare notes and announce a grand prize winner soon.
Episcopal alumni have a long history of entrepreneurship. Today’s third graders proved they are ready to continue that tradition.
What better way to learn the elements of a story than by retelling a classic fairy tale with your own enchanted twist? First graders recently presented their own fairy tales complete with puppets and props. The event was the culmination of the enchanted engineering project-based learning unit. There was even a sighting of the big bad wolf!
Tooth Fairy Visits Episcopal
How many times do we brush our teeth each day? How many times do we floss? Thanks to a visit from a very special guest, PreK-3 and kindergarten students know the answers to these questions and other important tooth care facts. The tooth fairy read students a story, discussed the importance of eating healthy foods and demonstrated how to brush with the help of her friend Henry the Horse. A special thank you to Episcopal parents Dr. Johnnie Hunt and Dr. Brooke Wood for inviting the tooth fairy to Episcopal!
Congratulations to this year’s Battle of the Books winners!
Middle School - Sixth grade wins!
Lower School - And the top seven teams are!
The Battle of the Books competition is an exciting way to encourage a love of reading among students. After reading the assigned books, students compete in teams to determine the Lower and Middle School division champions. Middle School students participate in a multiple-choice, short answer and puzzle round, while Lower School students compete in a multiple-choice round in the Greer Center.
Battle of the Books has become an annual event at Episcopal. This year, 23 fourth and fifth grade teams participated in the Lower School competition. Lower School librarian Catherine Word says even the younger students are aware of the event and express interest in reading the books. “Kids this age are excited about reading,” she says. “They love reading.” To ensure that the competition has something for everyone, Word chooses books from three different genres that represent different characters and reading levels. She says English teachers Liz Crawford and Margaret Boudreaux keep students motivated throughout the competition by providing time for students to read and encouraging student participation.
The Middle School Battle of the Books competition day is a lively occasion with fist pumping and chest bumping. This year, five teams competed with the sixth grade team coming out on top. Library Director Tiffany Whitehead used the competition to encourage reading and to promote library services. The winning team now has two weeks to prepare for the READgional Battle of the Books event where they will face off against Central Middle School, Denham Springs Junior High School and Runnels.
Looking for a good book recommendation for your little reader? Check out the Battle of the Books reading lists below.
Have you read a great book recently? Share the title in the comments section below.
“Bob” by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
“The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B. White
“Wedgie & Gizmo” by Suzanne Selfors
“Aru Shah and the End of Time” by Roshani Chokshi
“Beyond the Bright Sea” by Lauren Wolk
“Brave” by Svetlana Chmakova
“Clayton Byrd Goes Underground” by Rita Williams-Garcia
“Greetings from Witness Protection” by Jake Burt
“In the Shadow of the Sun” by Anne Sibley O’Brien
“Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus” by Dusti Bowling
“Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe” by Jo Watson Hackl
“Suspect Red” by L.M. Elliott
“The Red Bandana” (Young Readers Edition) by Tom Rinaldi
On Saturday, January 25th Episcopal placed 1st in Division 2 at the Catholic High Mu Alpha Theta math tournament. The tournament was attended by approximately 550 students from 32 schools. Episcopal brought 60 students in grades 5th – 12th that competed in subjects from Pre-Algebra to Calculus BC.
1st Comprehensive Math 0.5 – Luke Stelly, Nate McLean, Autumn Baldridge
1st Comprehensive Math 1 – Hayden Singh, Hayden Willett, Ahebwa Muhumuza, Ayush Patel
2nd Comprehensive Math 1 – Caroline Chick, Lauren McGrath, Shreya Kamath, Joie Lee
2nd Comprehensive Math 1.5 – Joey Roth, Ivy Jiang, Autumn Reynolds, Rebekah Reid
1st Calculus A – Allison Binning, Grace Scott, Sevie Breaux
1st Calculus B – Justin Dynes, Katie Knight, Arya Patel, Ryan Field
2nd Potpourri – Nick Johannessen, Andrea Norwood, Alex Nelson, Elaine Gboloo
2nd Middle School Interschool
1st Lower Interschool
1st Upper Interschool
Joan Moroney began teaching in 2007. She has taught Honors Geometry, Algebra II, and Honors Algebra II at Episcopal and is a co-sponsor of the Mu Alpha Theta math competition team. Before coming to Episcopal in 2014, Joan taught high school credit math courses to gifted students at Glasgow Middle School in Baton Rouge. She has a Bachelor of Science in secondary mathematics education from North Carolina State University and a master’s degree in education from Louisiana State University in gifted education.