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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Coming Home

May 11, 2023

The air is warm. The days are long. And everyone is looking forward to those peaceful days of summer. What better time to think about . . . November?

I know, I know. No one is thinking about next fall. However, the months fly by; before we know it, it will be upon us. So, please pull up a pumpkin spice latte and indulge me briefly.

For 21 years, Cary Academy has hosted a vendor market in the fall. Whether it was the pre-COVID Holiday Shoppe, the COVID-years Virtual Shoppe and Spring Shoppe, or this past year’s Main Street Market, these markets offered a welcome opportunity for the CA community to come together socially and in support of the school. And, well, who didn’t like to shop in the convenience of our own gym?

Over the years, we’ve enjoyed building community partnerships with entrepreneurs and local businesses. And we’ve made countless fun memories together—all while supporting CA.

Unfortunately, the smaller crowds, fewer vendors, and decreased sales of recent years reflect a shifting reality. Life just . . . looks different now.

 Online shopping has increased. (Shopping in the gym is fun. Shopping in your pajamas, snug in your bed? Priceless). Crowded, enclosed spaces are often a source of stress rather than comfort. And an increasingly jam-packed fall season makes it hard for vendors and families alike to carve out the time to participate.

Quite simply: the years have brought changes that undermine the community-building and fundraising objectives we set out for our markets all those many years ago.

What to do?

As a learning community, we are constantly listening, learning, and evaluating. And it seems clear that this new reality calls for a revised approach. It begs the question: How can we better and more inclusively build community and highlight the talents of our students and faculty?

As we so often do at CA, we’re thinking outside of the box and leaning into one of our mission superpowers—collaboration—to look for answers.

Over the past few months, my team and I have worked with Glen Matthews, Arts Department Chair, and the entire art department, to re-imagine this fall’s community-building event. I think we’ve landed on something special and unique that effectively re-centers our focus where it belongs—on our students and families.

I am delighted to announce that, this fall, CA will experience our first-ever immersive Dinner Theater. Over the course of a multi-night performance the first week in October, guests will be treated to student performances and visual artworks inspired by our theme of home.

A true community event, alumni who missed out on their opportunities to shine on the CA stage due to COVID restrictions will be invited back to perform. Local businesses with whom we have built partnerships will have access to sponsorship opportunities, and our families can come out to support our Charger artists.

At CA, we pride ourselves on creating learning opportunities for our students that are personalized, relevant, and flexible. And, in many ways, this new approach mirrors a similar aim. Rather than a one-size-fits-all annual event, each year, we will look to our community, students, and parents to consider the best way to bring us together each year.

For this year, as we come together around the arts, we invite everyone home.

Written by Ali Page, Director of Development

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Thank you, CA Employees!

May 12, 2021

Every member of the Charger community is aware of the dedication, flexibility, and compassion our 152 CA employees have shown throughout this year of unexpected challenges. In addition to giving 100% each and every day to our students, 100% of CA employees have also donated to the CA Fund – a clear sign of their commitment to fostering discovery, innovation, collaboration, and excellence on campus.

This year, during Teacher Appreciation Week, we wanted to do something extra to show our CA employees how much they are loved, which is why we asked our community to submit donations and gratitude messages throughout the week. The Development team is thrilled to announce that 157 Charger families made a gift to the CA Fund, raising more than $35,000 in honor of our dedicated CA employees!

Several families also took the time to say “thank you” in their own way – please take a moment to watch the video and photo montage below.

Written by Laura Schoedler, CA Fund Director

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Not Your Typical Blog

September 17, 2020

This year is anything but typical. Therefore, today we are straying from our regularly scheduled writing, and instead, we are re-sharing the video of our first episode of an eight-part series titled, Keeping Chargers Connected. If you missed my email yesterday (or if you saw the email, haven’t had a chance to watch it, and don’t want to go searching back through your email again), here’s the link to watch (or see the bottom of this post). The segment features Dr. Mike Ehrhardt, our Head of School, and Kim Eheman, our PTAA President for the 2020-21 year. 

This is about the time of year when these two would be addressing the community about the year ahead in various coffee meetings. However, in an attempt to give you all a break from Zoom (Turn my video on? Off? Do I stay muted? Where’s the chat?), and to give you some flexibility in your timing to access the information, we pre-recorded our conversation. 

Also, you can click here to access the resource board in Blackbaud. I’ll be updating it shortly with our speakers for October and even a link to a form where you can submit questions in advance to help drive our conversations.

Written by Ali Page, Director of Development

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From hallways to homes: Re-imagining community-building at CA

May 7, 2020

Spring in your Cary Academy Development office is typically the best time of year. From Funfest to the Cary Academy 5K, from our first alumni reunion weekend to Give to Gallop to the Scholars’ Golf Classic, the many opportunities for us to connect with all of you left us reeling with excitement. 

And, just like that: no events, gatherings, or fundraising initiatives. Quickly, our team had to re-imagine how to best maintain and foster those vital connections with our community far away from our beloved campus. 

Development, by definition, is the facilitation of relationships to secure the future of an institution. Over the last 23 years, that facilitation and community-building has taken place in hallways (especially near our infamous chocolate jar), the Dining Hall, Berger Hall, the track, the Center for Math and Science, and numerous other places across our campus and in the community. Today, it takes place in our living rooms, sometimes in pajamas, and perhaps with a child (or cat) curled up in our laps. But wherever or however it takes place, our school has not wavered in our commitment to remain connected with families like yours who trust us to prepare your child for a future of limitless potential.   

And that is what our team has focused on these last few weeks. The emails, phone calls, Zoom invites – they are our way of letting you know that even if you can’t gather in our hallway right now or exchange pleasantries in the carpool line, we are still here. And we want to hear from you.  

Our community has come so far since March, and we continue to move forward together. That doesn’t mean this is easy, though.  

As a Charger, we know that working in silos isn’t normal. For our students and alumni, “normal” looks like interactive learning experiences that transfer classroom knowledge into a nearby nature park, city planning office, or art museum. For our parents and grandparents, “normal” is the opportunity to visit campus for open dialogue, hot coffee, and Chef Sam’s pastries. For our faculty and staff, “normal” is stopping by offices to say “hello” or collective problem-solving.  

Knowing none of this is “normal,” the Development team, alongside incredible partners, has been able to foster opportunities for connection, camaraderie, and community despite our current constraints. We hope these opportunities provide relief, laugher, warmth, and partnership. We know they provide those to us. 

  • Instead of seeing you in our hallways in the afternoons, maybe you’ve been able to drop in for a Wednesday Zoom lunch.  
  • Rather than catch up about T2 break stories out on the baseball field, we caught up on the phone or over an email.  
  • Teacher Appreciation Week celebrations shifted from on-campus to mailboxes, as most employees had tears in our eyes when we read the thank-you cards written from the PTAA (another good reason not to wear make-up).  
  • Saving our cheers for 2021’s Give to Gallop, we chose instead to rally together on #GivingTuesdayNow as a community and secure the funding to ensure CA can meet the needs of our students and teachers in the weeks and months to come.  
  • There aren’t MS dance chaperoning duties this year, but we still had to have the big talk about the 7th to 8th grade transition.   
  • Senior week festivities came in the form of surprise morning signs coupled with CA swag as well as “Zooming” in CA alumni to chat about the transition to college and how to be prepared.  
  • High-fives were reserved for close family at this year’s virtual Cary Academy 5K. But we could still capture our moments of glory, one Instagram or Facebook photo at a time.  

Whatever the specific distance guidelines, we will use the tools necessary to maintain the close connections of our Charger family, past and present. You are what matters. Right now, it may be harder for us to show that on a daily basis, but please know that you remain our priority.  

And remember, this will end. We will, once again, be able to partake in the events, celebrations, and a “normal” routine that brings us joy and closer together. And when that happens, our team will be there waiting, ready to greet you.  

Written by Ali Page and Katie Todd, Director of Development and CA Fund Director

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April 29, 2020

Generosity is trending. 

Since the beginning of this global pandemic, we have heard countless stories of heroism and kindness. The frontline workers in healthcare, retail, and manufacturing who remained on the job, putting themselves in isolation to protect their loved ones. Restaurants and nonprofits partnering to ensure school-aged children and their families continue to receive daily meals. Neighbors using NextDoor and other platforms to coordinate deliveries of groceries, prescriptions, and necessities for fellow neighbors who are considered high-risk for contracting coronavirus.  

Time and energy are two incredible resources that have powered many of these efforts forward. Yet, without financial backing, the organizations that so many of our community members are relying on right now will not be able to meet the ever-increasing demand. 

Giving Tuesday Now - Cary Academy

In honor of our students and in gratitude for our faculty and staff

Giving Tuesday Now - Cary Academy

GivingTuesday organizers recognized this gap and issued a challenge to the entire world: let us embark on another day of global giving. #GivingTuesdayNow is set for Tuesday, May 5. Like GivingTuesday, the intent is to “spark an increase in grassroots generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world.” 

As Dr. Mike Ehrhardt and CA Board President Manju Kankare shared in respective emails, Cary Academy is choosing to participate in #GivingTuesdayNow. Educating the next generation of leaders must go on. While the learning environment looks different these days, our school is committed to providing the rigorous, personalized education that we are known for nationally.

This, in large part, is thanks to our dedicated faculty and staff. Our employees pivoted quickly to re-imagine plans, projects, and programs. And, they did so amid adjustments in their own personal lives. Some are parents to young children whose daycares and schools closed; some care for elderly parents and other loved ones. Not only are many instructing students at CA, but they are also offering educational support to their own children or grandchildren, often in subjects that are not their area of expertise. Some live alone and are navigating the emotional weight of isolation. 

But the resilience we are seeing at Cary Academy extends to our students and their families as well. Disappointment. Loss. Longing. Many of the third trimester traditional and celebratory events are canceled or postponed. This is not only difficult for our students to process but also their parents who anticipate these emotional milestones for years. Instead of wallowing in despair, students have led efforts to infuse our community with spirit, creativity, and fun. From Spirit Week contests to Earth Day activities to tomorrow’s virtual variety show and Saturday’s 5k, CA students offer us a loving reminder of the importance of maintaining connection to each other and the school’s mission. 

On #GivingTuesdayNow, consider making a donation to the CA Fund in honor of our students; in gratitude for faculty and staff; and in reconnection to members of your CA community from years gone by. The flexibility of the unrestricted annual fund is how we have been able to meet specific needs thus far. Your support on #GivingTuesdayNow will ensure that we will continue to fulfill this commitment and remain a responsive, nimble partner for all constituencies. 

Together, we can heal. Together, we can help. Together, we can support our Cary Academy home. 

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Written by Katie Todd, CA Fund Director

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Launch Party

November 29, 2017

Cary Academy held a Launch Party for its new Center for Math and Science on Monday, Nov 27. CA Board Chair Monica Udell welcomed students, employees, alumni, donors, and parents. CA Co-Founder Dr. Jim Goodnight spoke about the importance of community and the school's first shared effort to add a new building to the campus. CA alumni Phil DeSimone ('07), co-founder of SiliconValley startup Carbon3D, talked about the value of interdisciplinary thinking and diverse workforces. His company has entered a contract to mass produce the midsoles of a new shoe from Adidas. You can see the printers in action in this video

Head of School Mike Ehrhardt closed the Launch Party with a video flythrough of the new building that drew enthusiastic response from the students. 

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Holiday Shoppe… Tradition Lives On

November 8, 2017

The Holiday Shoppe… a Cary Academy tradition.  It’s been around for a very long time — 15 years to be exact.  But how much do you know about it?

I’ve been working the Holiday Shoppe since it began.  And just how did it begin?  It was actual Holiday born out of an ice storm.  Back around the turn of the century, CA was brainstorming ways it could creatively raise funds for community outreach.  The one idea that resonated was a holiday home tour.  Plans were made, a catchy name was chosen (Home for the Holidays), volunteers were enlisted, and a number of brave families graciously rolled out the welcome mats at their homes.  And then, on December 4, 2002, the ice storm moved in.  Yes, THAT ICE STORM.  One inch of freezing rain and more than 1.8 million people without power in North Carolina for more than a week.  Everything had to be cancelled, including Home for the Holidays.  Well, almost everything.  During the home tour, we had planned on having a small tent at CA to sell some holiday gift items just to see if we could raise some extra money.  So, with the tent somewhat flattened by ice, we set up shop in the Administration building lobby right after school re-opened and the first Holiday Shoppe took place.

Out of that first Shoppe, that started with a few hundred customers and just $27,000 in sales in one afternoon, has emerged an event that attracts thousands of customers and generates more than $400,000 in sales over four days.  Planning begins in January.  Vendors start calling around the same time, vying for one of the 100 coveted booths.  Cashier volunteer slots fill up within 24 hours, hotter than tickets to a U2 concert (for the younger folk, that would be Ed Sheeran).  It’s the one time a year when the Head of School trades his running shoes for an apron and a tray as he shares all sorts of yummies with our guests at the Wednesday Sip and Shoppe Preview Party.  And Sip and Shoppe?  It’s like the biggest family reunion you’ve ever been to.  If we could power the school with the hugs and smiles, we could save a good bit of money on our power bill.

It’s a hot ticket on the holiday show circuit (yes, as we’ve learned, there’s a circuit) and being invited to be a vendor is a big deal.  We receive hundreds of applications each year from both local and out-of-state vendors.  Our experienced team carefully sifts through them to pick just the right mix of new and returning vendors that will make our shoppers happy and keep them coming back for more.  One of the things we’re proud of?  Our vendors consistently rave about how we’re their favorite show and how well we treat them.   That’s Charger hospitality for you!

Physically pulling together the Holiday Shoppe is like watching an episode of Modern Marvels.  It’s one thing to do something like this in a convention center designed for just such an event.  It’s another to do it in a space that is more accustomed to basketballs and wrestling mats.  It takes the coordination of Campus Logistics, Facilities, Safety and Security, Athletics, Information Services, Advancement and Business Operations to pack away the athletic gear, lay the floor, set up the tables, run the temporary power, hook up the phone lines, backup power, cash registers and credit card machines for the cash register area, set up the PA system, and hang the festive decorations that turn the SEA gym into a shopping wonderland for four days. Being in a meeting where the booth layout takes place is like watching an engineering feat come to life.

And then there’s the human engineering feat-mobilizing, organizing and training an army of several hundred volunteers.  There are aprons to be washed, nametags to be made, cashiers to be trained, and oodles of communication to be sent.  Sign-up Genius has met its match with our event!  There are no finer volunteers in all the world than our Holiday Shoppe volunteers whether they be a current parent or grandparent, alumni parent or grandparent, student or alum.  Like I said, it’s a big reunion, one that some of our volunteers have been attending for all 15 years!

It takes a village to run an event this size.  And it takes food to run a village!  With the support of SAGE, our Dining Services vendor, and donations from some of our food vendors, our tireless hospitality team keeps the food rolling out for our volunteers and vendors all day (and night).  Yummy baked goods, spiced nuts, fresh fruit and bruschetta kebabs (my personal favorite!) — a delightful and delicious assortment of Holiday Shoppe fuel to keep everyone going.

And how do we go from giant pop-up shop on Saturday back to school gym on Monday?  With a small army of students who give up a part of their Saturday to descend upon the gym at 3:55 PM and spring into action to help break down booths and pack up stuff … lots of stuff, all in less than two hours.  One of my most vivid memories is having the tables broken down around me as we closed out the cash registers ‘til all that remained was me, a table, a cash register, and three eager Upper Schoolers patiently waiting for me to finish my work.  Sometimes, I think we should sell tickets to the spectacle that is Holiday Shoppe Breakdown.

Last, but not least, there’s the Monday after the Shoppe.  As everyone else is going back to business as usual, the Business Office kicks into high gear to settle out the Shoppe.  It takes a well-honed Excel spreadsheet, some fast money-counting fingers, and several miles of calculator tape to settle out the thousands of Holiday Shoppe transactions and get checks to our vendors by the end of that week.  And that spreadsheet?  As a nod to the past, it is still called “Home for the Holidays Sales Reconciliation 20XX” all these years later…

And at the end of it all each year, after we have taken off our aprons and soaked our feet, there is the satisfaction of knowing that strong community bonds have been nurtured and that even more funds have been raised to allow the school to continue its community outreach and scholarship efforts – $ 742,281 to date!  Thank you to all of the friends I have made over the years who have given me so many Holiday Shoppe memories to treasure.

Does this sound like fun?  Interested in joining our band of merrymakers as we celebrate another year of the best holiday shopping in Triangle? It’s not too late.

Written by Debby Reichel, Chief Financial Officer

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