CA Curious

Innovation on Vacation

August 24, 2023

Have you ever wondered what our teachers are up to during their summer breaks? Each year, many CA faculty spend their well-deserved summer vacation on professional development opportunities that translate their interests into incredible learning opportunities for our students—in the classroom and beyond. 

Cary Academy offers two major grant programs to support the professional development of our faculty during the summer months: the Friday Fellowship and the Innovative Curriculum Grant.

So, what exactly did our tireless teachers work on this summer through these grant programs?

Kendall Bell, Heidi Maloy, and Charlotte Kelly, Upper School science teachers, received a collaborative fellowship to interweave DEI work into the chemistry curriculum, incorporating a broader range of scientific, cultural, and professional examples of who contributes to our understanding of chemical concepts, with the goal of giving all students the opportunity to see themselves doing chemistry.

Lauren Bullock, Middle School language arts and social studies teacher, received fellowship funding to participate in the Kundiman summer retreat for Asian American writers.   Participation in the retreat not only helped to sharpen Lauren’s own skills as a writer, but also enabled Lauren to foster connections to the writing world as the language arts team searches for more diverse voices to add to the Cary Academy literary canon and even invite onto campus.

Tamara Friend and Danae Shipp, Middle School science teachers, received a collaborative fellowship to research and develop a plan for creating a dedicated STEM space in the Middle School building.  Tamara and Danae attended the 2023 ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference with a focus on sessions and exhibitions related to Makerspace development, and also conducted site visits to local schools and public libraries with Makerspaces. They used the information they gathered to produce a layout and equipment acquisition plan for a pilot STEM space to be housed in a first-floor science classroom, with the goal of having the space outfitted and ready to use late in the first semester or early in the second semester of the 2023-24 school year.

David Kaufmann, Middle School math teacher, received a fellowship to participate in the 2023 ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference to learn more about supporting student learning through gamification, coding, and technology-enhanced projects that encourage both application and creative expression. David used the conference experience to design three new digital projects for his math classes.

Ty van de Zande, digital arts and coding teacher, received fellowship funding to undertake a visualization project using hand-made glass objects to model fundamental concepts and principles of computer science. Ty produced a set of models built from glass, photos of the glass models, photo documentation of the building process, and a write-up describing the models and how they represent the fundamental processes. Through the photography process, the glass models can be combined and arranged with other glass models to represent a real computer code program. 

Crystal Bozeman, Middle School learning specialist, and Katie Taylor, Middle School language arts teacher, received a collaborative grant to create a “Leaders in Literacy” program to support Middle School students in developing their literacy skills, especially reading and writing. The new program focuses on teaching the science of reading and writing and strategies that will work across texts, emphasizing hands-on activities that give students active and engaging ways to build their literacy skills.

Kara Caccuitto, Upper School English teacher, received grant funding to develop a new English elective for juniors and seniors on Magical Realism. The majority of anchor texts in the new course are of Latin American origin, giving students a chance to explore the art, history, and culture of this part of the world.  Students also have ample opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of the characteristics of magical realism through a variety of creative self-expression activities, including producing a podcast, compiling an electronic cookbook, and developing a poetry or song anthology.

Sam Krieg, Upper School Spanish teacher, received a grant to develop a new Spanish elective focused on Spanish for business use. The course provides opportunities for students to communicate with professionals from throughout the Spanish-speaking world representing a range of commercial endeavors, including hospitality, banking, agriculture, and education. Students also have the chance to learn about, and reflect on, the (in)equalities of business relationships at different levels and to explore the essential roles of immigrants in different commercial contexts.

Kristi Ramey, Upper School math teacher, received grant funding to create a new model for Calculus 1 that expands access to the course content by creating both a regular and an advanced pathway within the same class. Kristi’s work focused on creating appropriately differentiated assignments and assessments to meet the needs of both groups of students, as well as appropriate supplemental materials for those students opting to pursue the AP exam.

Erick Crepsac, Middle School math teacher, was selected to participate in the Teachers Across Borders Program in Southern Africa (TAB-SA). Erick was part of a team of American math and science teachers who traveled to South Africa during the summer to conduct curriculum-specific workshops with their South African colleagues from rural schools, sharing methodology, techniques, and pedagogy in STEM content areas.

Written by Martina Greene, Dean of Faculty

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February 6, 2020


You may not immediately recognize the name of this pleasant German town northwest of Frankfurt, but it is very familiar to our German learners as the location of the Feldbergschule, our partner school for the 10th-grade German exchange program. This past October, however, I had the chance to experience Oberursel in a completely different context: as part of a team of Cary Academy faculty and administrators attending a professional development event hosted by Frankfurt International School.

Despite what the name implies, Frankfurt International School (FIS) is not located directly in Frankfurt, but rather, outside the city in neighboring Oberursel.  So, in a bit of a curious coincidence, Cary Academy has not just one, but two educational partnerships in the same small German community of 47,000 residents.

The relationship between Cary Academy and FIS is tied to the Collaborative for Innovative Education (CIE), a coalition of six forward-thinking schools around the world that also includes Singapore American School, the American International School of Johannesburg, Nueva School, and the American School of Bombay. The heads of these schools each agreed to send a team of teacher-leaders and an accompanying administrator to a series of six four-day collaborative forums to be held twice a year over the course of three years, with each school slated to host one of the forums on its campus. The October forum at FIS was the fifth in the series, and Cary Academy will be hosting the culminating forum at the end of March.

Head of Middle School Marti Jenkins and I had the privilege of accompanying academic department leaders Craig Lazarski, Heidi Maloy, Meredith Stewart, and Katie Taylor, along with ed tech leaders Leslie Williams and Betsy MacDonald, to the CIE event in Oberursel, where we all had the opportunity to see first-hand what FIS is doing to make learning more flexible and relevant for students.

(Fun fact:  Mrs. Jenkins actually attended FIS in first grade!)


We also had the chance to collaborate with the other participating school teams to share ideas, practices, and resources related to personalized learning, as well as hear a presentation by George Couros, author of The Innovator’s Mindset and Innovate Inside the Box.


To get a better feel for the collaborative work of the CIE, check out the 5-minute video from the FIS event.

The CIE has evolved considerably since the initial forums in the Bay Area and Singapore and the second-year forums in Mumbai and Johannesburg.  The Collaborative recently welcomed the International School of Zug and Lucerne (ISZL) as a seventh member school, a connection that led to the opportunity for a group of Cary Academy students to travel to Switzerland in January to participate in the 2020 Global Youth Summit hosted by ISZL.  In another effort to involve students in the CIE, Cary Academy will be piloting a student forum in March that will run concurrently with the teacher forum on our campus.  The CIE is also considering development of a teacher exchange program among member schools–an exciting idea for the future that we hope to flesh out during the upcoming event at CA.

The fall forum at FIS certainly proved to be a great way for Cary Academy colleagues outside of the German program to discover the half-timber charms of Oberursel, and so, too, we hope that the spring forum at Cary Academy will help us to put Cary on the map for our CIE partners as another wonderful place to live and learn.

As for me personally, I have the good fortune to be returning to Oberursel at the end of May, when our 10th-grade German students will visit their friends at the Feldbergschule.  But that’s a topic for another day–and another blog!

Written by Martina Greene, Dean of Faculty

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