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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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Swimming pools, barbecues, a day at the beach, professional development…

That last part may not be something we typically associate with summer break, but many of our teachers find the relaxed pace of summer an ideal time to learn and grow!

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.  The Friday Fellowship program was created in 2002 in honor of Mr. William C. Friday, President Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a founding member of the Cary Academy Board of Directors.  The Innovative Curriculum Grant was launched in 2017 to support projects tied specifically to the school’s strategic goals. 

So what exactly will our tireless teacher-learners be working on this summer through these grant programs? 

Naomi Barlaz and Patrick Lasseter, Upper School History Teachers, received a Friday Fellowship to develop a four-week simulation on the 1956 Suez Crisis for the Conflict and Compromise course in World History.  Based on the Model United Nations Program, the simulation will allow students to explore the conflict from a variety of governmental and organizational perspectives, experience how the U.N. works, and consider the human side of international relations and diplomacy.  

Andrew Chiaraviglio and Pat Martin, Middle School Math Teachers, received an Innovative Curriculum Grant (deferred from Summer 2020) to incorporate programmable robots (the Sphero and the Tello drone) into 8th grade algebra classes.    Andrew and Pat will use their grant funding to explore the features of the robots and prepare to implement a series of engaging activities with them supporting the algebra curriculum.

Robert Coven, Upper School History Teacher, received a Friday Fellowship for a research project on the use of computational thinking in the social sciences.  Robert will develop a skills map and a heuristic framework to be used by students in the Measuring the Past/Rise of the Cities course in World History and in the Advanced Modes of Inquiry class.

Lucy Dawson and Alicia Morris, Middle School Social Studies Teachers, received an Innovative Curriculum Grant to reimagine the Latin American component of the 7th grade World History curriculum.  Their redevelopment work will focus on decentering European voices, investigating the racism and oppression which grew out of colonization, highlighting social justice changemakers in the Americas, and connecting students with local Latinx and Indigenous advocacy groups in North Carolina.

Donna Eason, Upper School English Teacher and Dean of Students, received a Friday Fellowship to complete the online Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program at Cornell University.    Donna hopes that completion of this certificate will strengthen her leadership skills as she steps into the role of Assistant Head of Upper School next year, as well as help her to support the ongoing work of the Center for Community Engagement.

Tyler Gaviria, Middle School Spanish Teacher, and Matt Koerner, Middle School Language Arts Teacher, received an Innovative Curriculum Grant to develop a weeklong experiential learning trip for Middle School students to the Dominican Republic, tentatively set for Spring 2022.  Tyler and Matt will not only plan the trip itself, but also design a series of pre-travel experiences leading into the trip and begin to envision how to extend the experience for participants after the trip through advocacy and Flex Day share-backs.

Betsy MacDonald, Upper School Design and Programming Teacher, received an Innovative Curriculum Grant (deferred from Summer 2020) to develop her proficiency in Unity 3-D to support elective courses in 3-D Animation and 3-D Game Design.    Betsy will use her learning to provide students with a base for creating VR, and then have them self-select a problem within the CA community that could be addressed through a VR project, like 3-D storytelling or creation of a 3-D training video or game.

Paige Meszaros, Upper School History Teacher, received an Innovative Curriculum Grant to develop the curriculum for a new course on African American History.    Paige will work over the summer to create a course syllabus, project modules, and experiential learning opportunities for this elective to be offered in the Spring 2022 semester.

Les Turner, Band Director, received a Friday Fellowship to develop three new units in music production, as well as a field experience in music production culture in Nashville, Tennessee.   This project will give CA students an opportunity to explore another aspect of the musical world that is already of great interest to many, and to do so through hands-on and expeditionary learning.

Congratulations to all of our spirited summer grant recipients as they pursue these exciting professional growth endeavors!

Written by Martina Greene, Dean of Faculty

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