Service Learning in Ninth Grade
Episcopal’s mission is to prepare graduates for college and for purposeful lives. The recent ninth grade retreat highlights the commitment to making this mission a reality. Each August members of the freshman class spend a Friday volunteering with local organizations. “It’s important for us to have students realize that service to others is one of the things that we view as important,” says Father Skully.
Students begin retreat day at one of five locations throughout Baton Rouge. This year students volunteered at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Melrose Elementary School, the Knock Knock Children’s Museum, Front Yard Bikes and the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. Students assisted with everything from sorting food and cleaning up, to setting up for an event and painting.
“I want our students to be exposed to people who saw opportunities and made things happen,” says Father Skully. At each volunteer site, Father Skully ensures that an organization representative speaks with students about the organization’s mission and purpose. At the food bank students learned about the reality of Baton Rouge food shortages, the need for volunteers and the importance of food donations. At Front Yard Bikes students learned how the organization began because the founder saw a need and addressed it. Interaction with the representatives helps make the volunteer experience much more meaningful for students. The hope is that students feel empowered to serve others and to address the needs of their community.
The need to act and make a difference is a key component of the Episcopal experience. The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) believes that one of the principal qualities of an Episcopal school, is that the institutions work for social justice through community service and service learning. Through service learning, students connect what they learn in class to real world issues, then explore and work toward solutions, all while reflecting meaningfully on their experiences and efforts.
Focus on Friendship in Sixth Grade
Problem solving and building new friendships outside of the classroom are hallmarks of the annual sixth grade retreat. “Friendship Retreat gives 6th graders an opportunity to begin forging an identity as a group,” says English teacher Martha Guarisco. Guarisco and her fellow teachers will make the day even more exciting this year by setting everything to a Harry Potter theme. (It’s hard to say who loves the book series more, the students or the teachers.) The excitement of the day helps students make friendships and develop the peer support system that will be there for them during the Middle School transition years. “Sixth grade retreat is a chance for students to get to know each other,” says math teacher Nancy Callaway. “They get to enjoy each other’s company in a very relaxed atmosphere.” Such an experience is also good for the teachers. “I think the retreat gives teachers a chance early in the year to see the students in a relaxed, non-academic setting, which is usually fun and enlightening,” says science teacher Stacy Hill. “This is a fun day away from campus that allows us to come together as a sixth grade community,” says social studies teacher Virginia Day.
This year’s sixth grade retreat is slated for Friday, September 13th.
Learning about Leadership in Fifth Grade
“I call on you to imagine what it looks like to be a leader of Lower School.” Bridget Henderson
Episcopal fifth graders recently participated in a retreat day of their own. Lower School Division Head Bridget Henderson advised students that the day would focus on their new role as Lower School leaders. Students self-organized and led group activities. The ten year olds also discussed meaningful topics such as altruism, supporting each other and serving as a role model for their younger Lower School counterparts. “The fifth grade year at Episcopal is special because fifth graders are the leaders of the Lower School,” says Henderson. “We wanted to provide a chance for the students to bond as a class and to prepare themselves for the leadership opportunities ahead.”
The retreat culminated with the traditional fifth grade sweatshirt ceremony in the Chapel. Together, students sang songs reflecting a commitment to servant leadership and gratitude. Amid the Louisiana heat and humidity, students then donned Class of 2027 sweatshirts. By design, the sleeves were too long and the hems fell well below the waist so that they can be worn for multiple years. Father Skully advised the students that the sweatshirts represent their unity as one class working together toward the common goal of completing their education. While the shirts appear large now, the students will quickly grow and one day those sleeves that fell below the hand will barely reach the wrist. As this transformation accelerates, hopefully the students will remember the lessons on leadership and compassion that were imparted to them on fifth grade retreat day.
Episcopal offers numerous retreat opportunities to help students develop a sense of community. The bonds created as a result of these experiences can last a lifetime and will be remembered long after they leave Woodland Ridge Boulevard.
Do you have a favorite retreat memory? Share it in the comments below.
Episcopal eighth graders have the music in them! A recent visit to the VPAC highlighted just a few of the electives Episcopal students can explore. In addition to band, theater and dance, students can also explore choir.
"Go for Excellence" in Band Class
Members of the eighth grade band class practiced notes from the song “Go for Excellence” with new Band Director Doug Gay.
Exploring the Impact of Music in Musical Theater Class
In musical theater class students discussed the soundtrack of their lives with Arts Department Chair Paige Gagliano. Class favorites included a few oldies like Queen, the Beatles and the Steve Miller Band as well as more modern artists such as Drake, Lizzo and Post Malone.
Twisting and Twirling in Dance Class
Meanwhile, in the dance studio eighth grade dancers practiced steps to a Lauryn Hill classic. To break up the practice, Dance Teacher Christine Chrest even had students run races across the practice floor.
Even though the school year has only just begun, Middle School students are already off to a good rhythm. They are sure to continue making great music together throughout the year.
Mark Your Calendar:
Don’t miss your opportunity to catch Middle School performers in action.
Lower/Middle School Play: November 18th - 21st VPAC
Winter Band Concert: December 5th VPAC
Fall Dance Concert: December 10th VPAC
“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.
Duke TIP Results
Congratulations Episcopal seventh graders! The Class of 2024 had great results in the Duke TIP program this year with 13 State High Scorers and two Grand Winners.
Students who score well have the opportunity to earn recognition as a State High Scorer or Grand Winner honoree. According to Duke TIP information, State High Scorers earned scores in line with half of all college-bound seniors. Grand Winners earned scores equal to or better than 90 percent of college-bound seniors. In addition to recognition, Duke University also offers these students accelerated learning opportunities and resources, such as summer camp sessions.
Middle School Project-Based Learning
Sixth and seventh graders tackled tough issues in this year’s project-based lessons. Sixth grade students learned about the importance of literacy and seventh grade students took a closer look at nutrition and local food deserts. To read more about the eighth grade effort, check out a previous blog post here.
Propagating Succulents for Reading Success
This fall, sixth grade students got their hands dirty as they learned more about how to propagate and care for succulents. LSU Master Gardeners and science teacher Stacy Hill helped students get the soil ratios just right to encourage the little transplants to grow. Throughout the school year, the students monitored the plant’s growth and tracked their observations. However, the project was about much more than gardening.
The sixth grade teaching team, including Hill, Nancy Callaway, Virginia Day and Martha Guarisco, used the lesson to reinforce the importance of reading. As they explored the impact of literacy, students also discussed the impact of not having access to books and reading materials. Students participated in the campus-wide book drive to collect books for area children with limited access to books. Over the course of the year, students also learned about supply costs and profits associated with growing and selling succulents. This spring, the plants were sold with the proceeds earmarked for Baton Rouge literacy efforts. In addition, sixth grade students generated more than $300 from field day concession sales to support the efforts.
Calories, Vitamins and Access to Healthy Foods
Seventh graders took a closer look at nutrition this year. In Coach Rhea’s science class, students learned more about the components of a healthy diet. Students took photos of meals served in the cafeteria and conducted research on daily nutritional guidelines and requirements. In other subjects, students learned how to manage a household income and how to reduce food waste. Eventually, the students explored the concept of food deserts and how health can be impacted by where a person lives.
A food desert is defined as a low income area with limited access to a grocery store. Students had the opportunity to do more than simply talk about the concept in a classroom. The seventh grade team, including Rhea, Marian Castille, Katy Riley and Julie Weaver, arranged for a bus tour of Baton Rouge food deserts hosted by District 10 Councilwoman Tara Wicker. Councilwoman Wicker pointed out areas in her own district where residents have limited access to healthy food options and she discussed the implications of these limited choices. After touring the food deserts, students then had the opportunity to volunteer at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. While there, they also donated the proceeds from the seventh grade field day concession sales to the organization.
Project-based learning in Middle School is coordinated, thoughtful and thorough. As students explore all aspects of a topic, they gain a deeper appreciation for what they are learning and they are inspired to take action. Ultimately, these projects seem to reflect the school’s mission to provide challenging academic and co-curricular programs which prepare graduates for college and for purposeful lives, very well.
Sixth Grade Space Museum was Out of this World
Did you know that the sun is 4.6 billion years old? Did you know that the Milky Way moves 552 kilometers per hour? Did you know that you can make astronaut ice cream using dry ice?
Episcopal sixth graders proved that they know a lot about space during their recent space museum exhibition. Science teacher Stacy Hill challenged students to research a space topic of their choice and create a project showcasing what they learned. The students tackled everything from black holes and nebula to space rovers and the life cycle of stars. The occasion was a great way to end the sixth grade with a big bang.
Middle School Sports
Middle School sports in the spring continues to focus on developing skills, sportsmanship, and allowing students to explore various interests. Roughly 85% of students play in at least one sport in Middle School. Being part of this athletics program will enable students to compete as well as develop their skills and knowledge in game situations. Upon finishing Middle School sports, students will be physically and mentally prepared for more competitive and demanding Upper School athletics program.
Here are some highlights from the year:
We all want our children to be “happy”, but what is happiness? This question has been explored by countless universities. In recent years, Yale University founded a course titled “Psychology and the Good Life” and it has become one of their most popular courses. This course explores the keys to happiness and is now available online to the public on Coursera identified as “The Science of Well-Being”. In this course, Professor Laurie Santos links happiness to kindness, social connection, gratitude, mindfulness, and positive health habits such as sleep and nutrition.
As parents, we are often aware of any slight physical changes in our child. We look out for their health and wellness by taking them to the doctor at any sign of illness, for their vaccinations, and we bandage a skinned knee. However, mental health can be a challenge to identify. Focusing on observable behaviors and having daily conversations with our children is critical to understanding their mental well-being. Our young children often wear their emotions on their sleeves and show us through tears or exclamations of excitement how they are feeling. As teens move into middle school, they often become more guarded with their emotions. Adolescents are beginning to pull away from parents and focus more on peer relationships. While this is normal and healthy as they develop their own identity, it’s important to realize they still need parental reassurance, support and nurturance.
How can you identify if your child is in emotional distress? These observable indicators may help you:
Here are some guidelines for starting the conversation with your child about their mental health and well-being:
Episcopal School’s mission statement focuses on developing the “whole child”. We want to partner with you to support your children to grow into successful and happy young adults. This May marks the 70th year that the Mental Health Association of American recognizes “Mental Health Awareness Month” providing an opportunity for us to talk openly about mental health and our children’s happiness. If you have concerns for your child’s mental health, please reach out to your division counselor. We are available to collaborate and provide support.
Yale University Course on “Psychology and the Good Life” https://news.yale.edu/2018/02/20/yales-most-popular-class-ever-be-available-coursera
Coursera offering Yale Course “The Science of Well-Being” https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being
Mental Health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/about-us
NBC News Learn Parent Toolkit: https://www.parenttoolkit.com/health-and-wellness/conversation-starter/mental-health/tough-talks-how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-mental-health
Child Mind Institute: https://childmind.org/article/tips-communicating-with-teen/
Alicia Kelly has served as a School Counselor at Episcopal since 2001. As the Middle School Counselor, she has a passion for helping preadolescents reach their potential, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Alicia holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, Masters in Health Sciences - Rehabilitation Counseling, and is a Certified School Counselor.
Fourteen years ago when Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the current eighth graders were just infants, with no understanding of the chaos and destruction taking place around them. In 2016, these same students endured the Baton Rouge flood and now have a more personal understanding of what a natural disaster can do. This semester, the students delved deeper into the topic as they asked themselves the question - What are resident’s energy needs after a natural disaster?
The eighth grade teachers, including Shyamala Alapati, Rebecca Milligan, James Moroney and Kristina St. George, teamed up with Librarian Tiffany Whitehead and Academic Technology Coordinator Betsy Minton for this cross-curricular, project-based lesson. In addition to exploring the topic of energy needs, the team also incorporated the theme of this year’s Quest for Peace Program – Finding a Place in a Displaced World. The teachers found creative ways in which to incorporate the theme into a variety of lessons. In geography class, as students studied the countries of the world they learned about the energy challenges and needs of that country’s citizens. In science class, students learned about the different types of energy and how they are created. The theme of energy was even studied in English, where teacher Rebecca Milligan introduced literature written about hurricanes Harvey, Katrina and Maria. Milligan says the text focused on the challenges and emotions that coincide with displacement in the midst of these natural disasters. While you might think it’s a challenge to teach students about energy in English class, Milligan says it’s rewarding to find text that is relevant and applicable to current events, while still teaching students the required academic components.
The eighth grade team invited guest speakers with personal and powerful connections to natural disasters to speak with students. Middle School Spanish teacher Giselle Clouatre, who is originally from Puerto Rico, spoke with students about the challenges her own family faced after Hurricane Maria. Her story was real and relatable for the students who are growing up in a state often impacted by hurricanes. “I think seeing a teacher we see almost every day talking about such a horrible experience changed my view on disasters and the lives of the people that experience them,” said Sacha Dernoncourt. “Ms. Clouatre told us about things that happened in her real life, which I think is a lot more helpful when we’re learning because it’s easier to understand and actually comprehend what someone has gone through when you actually know them,” said Haley Wright.
Episcopal graduate and Cajun Army founder, Chris King ’88 discussed the challenges of responding to a natural disaster. He related stories of 11 hour boat rescues and volunteers working tirelessly to organize thousands of meals for displaced residents in the aftermath of the 2016 flood. He challenged students to be the next group of innovators to think of solutions to help citizens fare better in the next natural disaster. What are you going to create? How can you help?
Bringing the Lesson to Life
Students recently had the opportunity to connect everything they’ve learned. While sixth and seventh grade students were testing, eighth grade students were fully immersed in the concepts they had spent so long studying. Students explored multiple ways to create energy. They used potatoes, wind, water and a hand crank to light a tiny LED bulb. Outside of the library, students tried a variety of methods for lighting fire, including magnifying glasses, flint and friction. With each method students saw results, ranging from a wisp of smoke to tiny flames. The reward for their efforts was roasting s’mores over a fire pit. Inside the library, students were tasked with solving a series of disaster-related puzzles to unlock an escape box to gain access to the prize within. As a reminder of the impact a natural disaster can have and to truly reinforce the day’s theme, students watched the documentary Hurricane on the Bayou in St. George’s classroom. All of the activities were engaging and entertaining for students. Milligan says the hope is that the experience helps students make a connection between the impacts a natural disaster can have, such as loss of energy, and how citizens can be displaced as a result.
This is Project-Based Learning in Middle School.
Most of the Episcopal community is familiar with a project-based learning unit. Students explore all aspects of a topic, they make connections about the topic, investigate and research it and eventually share what they have learned. The projects are cross-curricular and include everything from guest speakers and field trips, to hands-on activities designed to generate excitement and enthusiasm for the topic. This year, Middle School teachers worked toward the goal of organizing such a project and the eighth grade energy and displacement project was a success. “I am so impressed with our 8th grade teachers’ work together to support their students with project work focused on energy,” says Middle School Division Head Lucy Smith. “Our students have had a great opportunity to increase their awareness of and empathy for the energy challenges that arise when natural disasters occur. We hope their work on the project will motivate their ideas and leadership for problem-solving in the future.”
Students were, in fact, inspired to take action as a result of the lesson. After learning more about the challenges of natural disasters, they elected to create natural disaster kits in preparation for future events. St. George says students took on leadership roles, with a disaster kit lead designated in each homeroom. She says the student leaders encouraged their peers to donate items on the disaster kit list and an eighth grader even designed the flyer used to promote the effort. With student donations and the $256 generated from eighth grade field day concession sales, 11 complete disaster kits were created. St. George says the kits will be given to Catholic Charities for deployment during the next disaster.
While the eighth grade field day activity was certainly fun and engaging for students, the lesson had a larger purpose and impact. The teaching team is hopeful that the students make a connection between their classroom lessons and the real life applications – after all, isn’t that what learning is all about?
Future Business Professionals
Several Episcopal students spent part of their spring break learning more about investments and the management of public companies at the 23rd Annual Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference hosted by the Tulane University A.B. Freeman School of Business. Such an experience could help them someday continue the Episcopal tradition of entrepreneurship. Read more about that tradition in a previous blog post here here.
Tops in Math!
Episcopal School of Baton Rouge congratulates tenth grader Abhay Basireddy for scoring in the top 2.5% on the American Mathematics Competitions 10 (AMC 10 A) exam. Nationwide, more than 42,000 students from 1,920 schools took the exam, which consists of 25 multiple choice questions covering mathematics curriculum up to the tenth grade. By scoring in the top 2.5%, Basireddy is now qualified to take the American Invitational Mathematics Exam, along with 2,730 other students from across the country.
In addition, three other Episcopal students scored in the top 25% nationally on the AMC 10 A. Episcopal congratulates the following:
Justin Dynes – ninth grade
Alex Nelson – tenth grade
Arya Patel – ninth grade
All four Episcopal students are members of the school’s Mu Alpha Theta math team, which recently placed fifth overall at the Louisiana Mu Alpha Theta state convention.
Toutes nos félicitations
Essay Contest Winner
Episcopal Students Win National Latin Exam Awards
The National Latin Exam, sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League, is a 40 question, multiple choice test, offered to students on seven levels. Students encounter questions on grammar, comprehension, mythology, derivatives, literature, Roman life, history, geography, oral Latin and Latin in use in the modern world.
Of the 44 Episcopal students that took the 2019 National Latin Exam, 20 earned awards. This year over 139,000 students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and 20 foreign countries took the exam. Congratulations to this year’s award winners!
State Literary Rally Success
Episcopal students had a great showing at the recent State Literary Rally held at LSU. Congratulations to the following:
District II Literary Events:
District II State Open Events:
This year’s Youth Legislature team had tremendous success! Congratulations to everyone.
Two Episcopal students were elected officers.
Libbie Kelly – Governor’s Cabinet - Secretary of State/Press Secretary
Riley Ewing – Speaker of the House
The Episcopal team successfully passed ten bills.
Free Prosthetics for Veterans – Ryann Richard, John Luke Boagni
Sports for Disabled Kids – Shreya Kamath and Amelia Pleasant
Solar Installation Tax Incentives – Joey Roth and Jada Crawford
Urea Ammonium Nitrate Control Act – Mia Pulliam and Carter McLean
Weapon Protection for Schools – Sarah Theriot and Suzie Heneghan
Homes for the Homeless – Tori Pierce and Nidhi Sthanki
Diabetic Supplies for the Uninsured – Katherine Fivgas and Claire Kiesel
Online Privacy Act – Hayden Singh and Pearson Spender
Protecting the Marshlands – Jacob Bruser and Jacob Jones
Save the Bees – Sarah Laiche and Alexandra Streuli
Several Episcopal students were selected for the Youth Legislature Hall of Fame.
Laura Jane Kirkpatrick
Congratulations to Anna Katherine Harrell for being named the Outstanding Photojournalist.
State Tournament Success
Episcopal golfers had a great showing at the recent state tournament. The girls finished as the Division II State Runner Up! Riely Heaslip and Caroline Glynn shot a two day score of 324! Riely finished as the third place medalist in the tournament. Freshman Boyd Owens finished as State Runner Up with a two day 36 hole score of 145.
The Episcopal boys tennis team won the 2019 Division III State Championship title!
Episcopal placed fifth overall at the Louisiana Mu Alpha Theta State Convention in Baton Rouge. This is only the second time in eight years that Episcopal has placed in the top five and ties the team's best finish in those eight years! The 37 Episcopal students competed against 753 students from 33 schools. Congratulations on this tremendous accomplishment!
Individual Test Awards –
Theta – 10th Joy Lee
Alpha – 3rd Abhay Basireddy
Mu A – 12th Lara Rende
Mu B – 14th Arohi Gopal
Area Test Awards –
Alpha Advanced Math – 4th James Christian and 16th Shuhei Niwano
Alpha Trigonometry – 13th Justin Dynes and 14th Katie Knight
Open Functions – 1st Abhay Basireddy
Open Statistics - 1st Elaine Gboloo
Mu Integration – 4th Lara Rende
Mu Differentiation – 5th Clay Burton and 12th Mason LaFerney
Mu B – 3rd Arohi Gopal, 4th Nicholas Johannessen, 8th Alex Nelson, and 13th Gautam Mahes
Game/Team Awards –
Descartes Theta – 6th Laura Gboloo
Descartes Alpha – 4th Tochi Mbagwu
Descartes Mu B – 4th Matthew Bickham
Theta Gemini – 3rd Joy Lee and Eugene Jiang
Alpha Math Bowl – 5th Abhay Basireddy, James Christian, Justin Dynes, KC Shimada
Mu A Math Bowl – 5th Ellie Sim, Lara Rende, Mason LaFerney, and Clay Burton
Mu B Math Bowl – 6th Nicholas Johannessen, Adam Reid, Gautam Mahes, and Gracie Veillon
Alpha Top Cipherer - Abhay Basireddy
Overall School Awards –
8th Theta Interschool
2nd Alpha Interschool
5th Mu Interschool
“Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops.”
There was also a favorite high school math teacher who helped Lucy develop a love of numbers and the college English professor who took an interest in her talents. Experiencing the positive influence an educator can have on a young child’s life inspired Lucy to consider a profession involving young people. “I wanted to have that kind of impact,” she says. Speak to members of the Episcopal community and there is no question that she has.
“Lucy has been a great leader and is very well respected, not only in the Middle School division, but also by everyone here on campus,” says Administrative Assistant Dana Heuvel. “Working with Lucy these past 24 years has been great! Lucy is a very caring, understanding, compassionate, dedicated, patient and humble person. These are a few of the many qualities that make people feel so comfortable talking with her and asking her advice. She is wise beyond her years.”
As Lucy looks back on her time at Episcopal, she says she never planned on being an administrator and she credits a series of opportunities with shaping her career trajectory. She looks at these opportunities, and even the challenges along the way, as part of God’s work in her life.
Lucy’s own family and the Episcopal community are forever connected. Both of her sons, Field ’00 and Carter ’05, are Episcopal graduates. Like most parents, Lucy and Bob spent their fair share of time on campus supporting their sons at choir performances, honors programs and school plays. Both Smith boys were active in school life and successful academically. Field played tennis and wowed audiences on the stage as a student thespian; Carter loved football, and his vocals stood out as a member of the select choir. Looking back at photos of the family together, you immediately feel the joy and pride felt by Lucy and Bob. Lucy counts having her sons attend Episcopal while she worked on campus as one of those gifts from God. She says she was fortunate to continue that joy when Carter joined her on campus as the Episcopal Choir Director. “It was a blessing to work with my son,” says Lucy of the experience. Lucy is proud of the men that Field and Carter have become. Field, a gastroenterologist, has three children, Hayden, Linus and Maeve. In another Episcopal twist, Field’s wife, Erin (Hayden), is also an Episcopal graduate. Carter, who served as Episcopal’s Choir Director for five years, moved on to Michigan State this past fall in pursuit of a doctorate in musical arts.
Lucy’s family extends to students, faculty and staff. While students may not remember every detail of every Middle School lesson, they will certainly remember how Lucy made them feel.
“Mrs. Smith is an amazing role model to all of us here at Episcopal,” says seventh grade Class Vice President, John Luke Boagni. “She is kind, sweet, and a very great leader. She works very hard on all of our activities and to make sure the Episcopal Middle School is the best it can be.”
“Mrs. Smith is very impartial and respectful of all students,” says eighth grade Class President Carter McLean. “She is a very kind person and serves as a great leader for Middle School. I also like how Mrs. Smith recognizes and supports extracurriculars.”
As an administrator, Lucy leads by example. Middle School Counselor Alicia Kelly says Lucy never asks anyone to do anything she would not do herself. “Lucy has been the rock for our Middle School,” says Alicia. “She’s always dependable, reliable, compassionate and supportive. I respect her dedication and commitment.” Just one example of Lucy’s servant leadership is duty assignments. When there was an extra time slot to fill, Lucy simply assigned herself twice. In addition to her role as administrator, Lucy also has an advisory group and has always taught sixth grade religion as a way to get to know each student who enters Middle School.
“Empathy and good listening skills are extremely valuable for administrators, especially this age,” says Lucy. To encourage students to become more empathetic, Lucy and her team implemented a Middle School focus on social/emotional learning. Peer Leaders are empowered to recognize the kindness of their classmates, teachers are trained to support students who are struggling and even grade-level trips are opportunities for personal growth. All of this reflects Lucy’s own strength and skill in extending compassion and comfort to others.
In addition to her interpersonal strengths, Lucy also has a remarkable ability to be consistent and flexible. Over the course of her 26 years as Middle School Division Head, the world has certainly transformed. Students are now bringing iPads to class. There are social pressures 24 hours a day. Even with these new challenges and the demands of managing an entire division, Lucy remains steadfast in her focus on student development. Lucy’s ability to connect with others and bring out the best in them, will serve her well as she looks to the transformation ahead in her own life.
Connection. Community. Family. Faith. These are all important components of Lucy’s life. Lucy steps away from her role at Episcopal with hope for more time to volunteer, spend time with family and pursue passions including writing and traveling. There is also a sense of hesitation as she makes such a tremendous adjustment. For so long, she has dedicated her life to serving students and the Episcopal community. Along the way, she has influenced the lives of generations. That influence will continue to resonate and inspire for years to come.
Has Lucy had a positive impact on your life? Leave her a message below in the comment section.
There is nothing quite like the joy and enthusiasm of our younger Knights learning. With their outside voices, they proudly proclaim their answers or eagerly demonstrate their newfound knowledge. Their tiny fingers turn pages and build models. As they transition to Middle School, they make thoughtful observations and conduct innovative experiments. They confidently tackle new technology and use it to improve and explore their world.
The new Episcopal Quest Center will celebrate and reinforce the joy of learning in Lower and Middle School. The center, which will be located within a renovated Foster Hall, will provide room to explore with project and experiential-based spaces equipped with microscopes, digital data collection tools and areas for science experiments, aquaponics and gardening. Quest, or Question • Uncover • Explore • Synthesize • Test, will feature adaptable, flexible spaces designed specifically with Lower and Middle School students in mind.
Making New Discoveries in Lower School
Just imagine the hands-on experiences kindergarten students will have as they learn about the five senses within their own Chemistry Kitchen. This fully-functioning kitchen will provide opportunities for students to explore cooking, baking and other food safe sciences. Spaces such as an Investigation Station, Early Childhood Design Studio and Upper Elementary Design Studio will provide a stimulating environment in which our youngest Knights can participate in activities such as science learning and project-based lessons. Lower School students are certainly not strangers to technology and spaces such as the Virtual Learning Lab will help them continue to explore robotics and coding. The Quest Center is sure to be filled with the excitement of students as they make new discoveries and celebrate success.
Exploring a Larger World in Middle School
As Middle School students learn more about their world, they will be able to simulate a faraway land, explore landforms and travel across the globe without ever leaving the Quest Center. Students will also learn the intricacies of coding and robotics within the Digital Media Lab, a space that is sure to be frequented by members of groups such as the Girls Who Code Club. In the Middle School Design Studio, students will enjoy space for learning about everything from earthquakes to water systems. All of the spaces are designed to be age-appropriate, with room to grow, to meet the needs of the next generation. With the creativity and expertise of Episcopal teachers, it will be exciting to see the lessons and activities that are created within such an inspiring space.
Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders
Today’s schools are charged with preparing students for a rapidly evolving future. Advancements in technology will usher in career options that are not currently available and future generations must be ready to successfully take on these new roles. According to a report by the National Association of Independent Schools, schools must prepare students for the following essential capacities for the 21st century:
The Episcopal Quest Center is just one of numerous developments underway on campus to ensure that the school continues to meet the needs of our students. Upper School students are now learning math, science, engineering and technology in the new Academic Commons. The athletic field house is being built to provide our athletes and students a modern facility dedicated to health and wellness. We invite you to help bring innovative learning spaces to Lower and Middle School through the Quest Center, a major gift initiative of Episcopal School of Baton Rouge.
To learn more about the Quest Center and how you can be a part of this important project contact Katie Thompson, Director of Annual Giving and Stewardship, at 755-2741 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.