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By Andrea Silvestri

At Purnell, we specialize in creating a safe, rigorous learning environment to ensure the success of students who think differently. We are a day and boarding college preparatory school for girls with learning differences. Our students' learning challenges include ADHD, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyslexia, executive functioning issues, and expressive-receptive language disorder. As a Purnell faculty member, I work alongside my colleagues to design and implement curriculum that appeals to our unique student population. Our goal is to create a community that allows each student to discover her potential and strengths both in and outside of the classroom. I strive to achieve this goal through classes that appeal to my students' individual learning styles. My personal strengths as a science teacher are rooted in environmental, place-based, and experiential education. I work to create curricula that draws from my personal strengths as an educator while catering to my students' unique interests and needs. Most recently, I implemented this strategy while designing a Watershed Management course for Purnell. 

Watershed Management is a half-year elective course during which students learn what a watershed is, how they are affected by human activities, and what can be done to preserve them. The course curriculum uses several strategies to appeal to Purnell's students. The class participates in workshops at a nature preserve in coordination with a local non-profit group. The students use online tools to study the pollution status of the streams around their homes and school. They become familiar with the local flora and fauna. The class engages learners through kinesthetic, hands-on activities. Labs at local streams and ponds allow students to see and apply the concepts they learn in the classroom. Students collect macroinvertebrates, measure pH, oxygen levels, and waterflow at several sites to determine water quality. During the water use unit, the students apply the content of the course to their daily lives. They analyze their water usage while performing daily tasks that include household and consumer choices. They compare and contrast their water use to that of other people around the world and critically analyze how they can lessen their impact on the environment. Watershed Management is an experiential learning course that is highly effective because students learn through hands-on activities. Moreover, all lessons are differentiated. Each lesson can be molded and scaffolded to fit individual students' learning needs. In fact, every class at Purnell is designed and differentiated to meet the needs of our diverse group of learners.

Engaging classes are what make Purnell unique. Our student-centered model utilizes small class sizes and opportunities for one-to-one tutoring and support. Every day, teachers hold office hours and learning specialists provide support in our Learning and Enrichment Center. Purnell values community, and our faculty members advise students individually, facilitate student activity clubs, serve as dorm parents, and coach our athletic activities. We want our students to succeed both in and outside of class. Here, we enable each girl to be herself to explore her passions, discover her strengths, and find the confidence to succeed in the world beyond Purnell. #

Andrea Silvestri is a STEM faculty member at the Purnell School.



By Jason D. Kofinas MD, MSc, FACOG

Fertility Surgery is a group of procedures aimed at removing female and male barriers to natural conception. In an age where In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) has become common and very widely used, it is easy to forget the essential role that fertility surgery can play in the ability of a couple to achieve a pregnancy. There is a big difference between non-surgical fertility treatment options and actual fertility surgery. The former--which you might also hear called "non-surgical" or simply "medical" fertility treatment--can include a wide variety of options that you choose with the guidance of your doctor, and may include ovarian stimulation medications, intrauterine insemination (IUI), or cycle monitoring and stimulation.

Fertility surgery, on the other hand, is more likely to treat more serious conditions that may prevent you from getting or staying pregnant. Some of these conditions for example include uterine fibroids, adhesions, and endometriosis. For men, repair of dilated veins in the scrotum and reversal of vasectomies can overcome anatomic barriers to male fertility. A Human Reproduction article published in 2001 showed that fibroids located in the wall of the uterine body halved the rates of successful pregnancy in assisted conception cycles.Besides decreasing the ability of couples to achieve pregnancy, fibroids are associated with miscarriage and early loss of an otherwise viable pregnancy.

Endometriosis is another reproductive condition that has profound effects on a woman's fertility and reproductive life span. Endometriosis is a condition that can cause severe pain with menses, pain with intercourse and irregular vaginal bleeding. The mechanism of pain is most likely due to significant inflammation in the uterine pelvis leading to the release of substances that can cause severe pain. The presence of endometriosis in some women versus others is a mystery although an anatomic as well as an immunologic based theory of disease is gaining significant traction. The biggest concern we fertility doctors have is how to identify those women who have endometriosis and how to best preserve their fertility and/or assist them in reproducing. A study published in Fertility and Sterility in the summer of 2018 showed that women with stage 3 or 4 endometriosis (severe) defined by the presence of an endometrioma (ovarian cyst) have a significantly higher and rapid reduction in ovarian reserve.This leads to impairment of reproductive potential at a much younger age than a healthy control population.  Endometriosis is a progressively destructive condition and can be treated effectively with fertility surgical intervention. This should restore natural fertility and decrease the progressive decline in reproductive potential.

When used appropriately, fertility surgery can be a safe and effective restoration of a couple's fertile potential. It can completely eliminate the need for IVF which is an expensive and difficult treatment that for the conditions listed above has significantly lower success rates. Proper diagnosis and treatment of a couple leads to better treatment outcomes and fertility surgery continues to play a large role. #

Dr. Jason D. Kofinas is the Director of IVF and Research at Kofinas Fertility Group.



  1. Hart R, Khalaf Y, Yeong CT, Seed P, Taylor A, Braude P. A prospective controlled study of the effect of intramural uterine fibroids on the outcome of assisted conception. Human Reproduction, Volume 16, Issue 11, 1 November 2001, Pages 2411-2417
  2. Kasapoglu I, Ata B, Uyaniklar O, Seyhan A, Orhan A, Oguz SY, Uncu G. Endometrioma-related reduction in ovarian reserve (ERROR): a prospective longitudinal study.  Fertility and Sterility, Volume 110, Issue 1, 1 July 2018, Pages 122-127.

Champions of Compassion and Peace


By Scott T. Nashimoto
I have a 16-month-old daughter. Her ancestors come from all over the world -- she's Asian, Caucasian, Native Hawaiian. She's beautiful and she's starting to show signs that she's strong-willed, caring, persevering, artistic, and much more. And I'm terrified for her because I'm not sure our society is ready to fully accept her and help her to thrive. She'll someday be a young woman of color in a society that doesn't fully respect young women of color. There's a good chance that she'll be paid less than her counterparts, that she'll be a victim of some form of violence, that she'll be bullied, that her home of Hawai`i will be ravaged by climate change or that she'll be priced out by the wealthy, that her culture will fade. I could go on and on. My wife and I have brainstormed how we can give her the utmost freedom to pursue her own interests and passions while still feeling safe and while still developing into a young woman who possesses our two non-negotiable qualities -- to be resilient and kind. And I'm terrified for ourselves because I'm not confident that we have the skills to do so. I'm able to work on both of these fears through my work with Ceeds of Peace. Ceeds of Peace is a Hawai`i-based organization founded by Dr. Kerrie Urosevich and Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng. Over the past five years, Ceeds of Peace has reached over 7,000 community members, equipping them with the skills and inspiration to raise a generation of leaders who will create peaceful, just, and sustainable communities. Our founders define sustainable communities as communities that come together to protect their most vulnerable members, while designing and adapting socioeconomic systems to reflect the unique needs of their people and land. We offer a number of peacebuilding and action planning workshops and presentations for teachers, families, community groups, and youth. We help participants to plant and nurture essential leadership skills, including critical thinking, courage, communication, compassion, conflict resolution, commitment, collaboration, and connection. Hence our name, Ceeds of Peace. We focus on proactive peacebuilding efforts that address underlying causes and risk factors -- for example, efforts that raise compassionate children and prevent bullying rather than efforts that intervene and punish bullies. Some confuse us as a structured social emotional learning curriculum or a cure-all elixir to address bullying or violence. We are not, and this cure-all elixir doesn't exist. Our goal is to bring out the knowledgeable expert and the courageous leader in each of our participants. Our participants leave us more confident to create and implement action plans that work best for their unique selves (peace within), their own families and friends (peace with others), and their own communities (peace in community). This is the approach it'll take to build a community that fully accepts my daughter and other youth and helps them to thrive. At the same time, this is the approach it'll take to empower my wife and I, as well as other adults across the globe, to raise resilient and kind young peacebuilding leaders. #

Scott T. Nashimoto is the Executive Director of Ceeds of Peace. For more information, please visit CeedsOfPeace.org.

By Gillian Granoff

Twelve-year old Adi Altshuler was looking for a way to make a difference in the world when she began volunteering at the age of 12 at ILAN, an Israeli NGO for children with physical disabilities. She became a personal tutor to Kobi Kfir, a three-year-old child with cerebral palsy.

Kfir's mother, Claudia, had watched her son struggle with social isolation as he was unable to speak. He was longing to connect with the outside world. The moment Adi met Kfir, their connection was instantaneous. They quickly learned to understand each other, and the acceptance and love between them transformed both of their lives. Kfir's confidence soared.

Claudia and Adi were so inspired by Kfir's change that they aspired to replicate the experience for others.

In 2002, Adi joined LEAD, a leadership development program. With Claudia and LEAD's support, the amutah (nonprofit in the Hebrew language) Krembo Wings was born. Named after the popular winter Israeli version of the Moon Pie and Mallomar, Krembo Wings is the country's first inclusive youth movement that connects children with and without special needs, in an environment free of fear, stigma, and judgment.

Krembo Wings began humbly with four members in Hod Hasharon, Israel. Nowadays, the organization has dozens of branches and serves thousands of people ages 7-22 from all cultural, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds throughout Israel.

This growth is attributed to the Solomonic leadership of Krembo's management team past and present. Following Adi's departure in 2009, Ofira Roten became CEO. Talia Bejerano, before becoming CEO in 2016, developed and helped implement an intensive counselor training program as well as modernized procedures that allowed Krembo Wings to expand the number of communities it serves. Krembo's Senior VP, Merav Boaz, has spearheaded the aumtah's expansion by working closely with a multitude of municipalities to transform not just the minds and hearts of its members but to change public perception of disability in each community.

Entrusting its members with the responsibility for leading the activities is a critical component of their leadership training. Each branch has a youth manager who oversees activities, matching two members with one with special needs youth. Together they participate in arts projects, musical activities, and educational games, all centered around a theme selected by members of the Krembo staff.

In intensive trainings, members learn to manage challenges of working with the special needs population, in particular how to create activities that will engage them and their strengths. Krembo's members face a range of cognitive impairments including Autism or Asperger's, severe mental and sensory disorders, and physical impairments like cerebral palsy.

For participants the experience has been life changing. Kiara moved to Israel from Brooklyn with her family. "Krembo showed me ... no matter where you are from, or what your gender, background, or (dis)ability is, you can always accept and treat them equally. You shouldn't fear them."

Gali, a 7th grader, says: "The experiences at Krembo have helped (my) self-esteem and taught me to care for others. I have learned to understand and be more accepting of (people with) disabilities."

In a world where special needs are segregated from mainstream communities, Krembo gives people the space to work, play, sing, and dance in seamless interactions. For people with disabilities, the acceptance receives from the Krembo community gives them confidence and normalizes their differences.

Shirelle, 17, is in her 3rd year at Krembo. "We are not here to take care of the special needs kids. We help them, have fun with them, and work with them. The first time I was here, I realized that I had made the greatest decision of my life."

The success of Krembo Wings gained the recognition of UNESCO which, in 2018, honored the organization as a special advisor to the United Nations in matters of disabilities. Its success "as a world leader in the integration of children and youth with and without disabilities is in empowering social activities" regardless of differences in the communities it serves. It doesn't matter if the community is secular or religious; rich or poor; black or white; Druze, Muslim, Christian, Bedouin, or Jewish. Acceptance and inclusion as well as partnership, not patronage, are the guiding principles.

Despite Kfir's passing, his impact lives on. "Kfir was my greatest teacher," remarked Claudia, who continues to sit on Krembo's board of directors. "He taught me to love and accept myself and go beyond my dreams."

Krembo Wings is relentless in its commitment to fulfill Adi and Kfir's dream to create a world that sees only the humanity each person, able-bodied or severely disabled, brings to the world, one in which children of any background or ability can collaborate to fulfill their hopes and dreams. #

Best Practices Based on Brain Science

By Rebecca Mannis, Ph.D.

What makes for best practice in education?  The answer to this question can differ depending on who you ask and whether that person's lens is more 'wide-angle' lens or specialized. Best practice vision can change when considering classroom needs or an individual student. The Educational Opportunity Association (EOA) best practices directory for 2018 offers methods and materials that are 'promising, validated and exemplary.' Fluency, the ability to efficiently access information and skills, impacts learning at various ages and stages and serves as a case study in considering K-12 best practices. 

Recent brain research provides insights about learning as a life-long process. Learning happens against the backdrop of two brain processes. Children's brains grow in the number and size of synapses, or brain cell connections. At the same time, a pruning process nibbles away at those brain cells to create stronger, more efficient pathways. University of Washington researchers reported structural changes in the white matter of school-aged children after eight weeks of intensive reading instruction. 

These neuroscience findings align with our understanding skills development in grade school. Fluency was one of the skills which particular gains and increased brain development. Professor Jeanne Chall discussed these skills in her classic Stages of Reading Development, which just marked its thirty-fifth anniversary of publication. She wrote that systematic, phonics-based instruction fosters accurate and fluent reading, the building blocks for reading comprehension and thinking critically about text. Dr. Chall shaped 1970s and1980s best practices, demonstrating that that 'learning to read' in the early grades enables students to effectively and confidently 'read to learn' new subject matter in middle and upper school. This helps youngsters process and access information for use in new contexts. Karyn Slutsky, Assistant Director of Queens Paidea School notes, 'Fluency of component skills is the basis of a firm foundation of any competency, whereas a shaky foundation leads to instability, insecurity, and anxiety.' 

Fluency is relevant to best practices discussion about 'personalized learning,' the trend toward computer-based delivery of instruction. While technology can play a role in practicing facts, the way that we incorporate digital information differs from how we process print content. UCLA Professor Dr. Maryann Wolf's Reader Come Home reports that college students who read digital content were less able to draw conclusions and connections from digital content than peers who read the same texts in print form. Although the research 'is in' about fluency shaping later learning, popular press decries the lack of consistent reading instruction in public and private schools. 

We can all get on board to address this, with an eye toward the culture of each school and the needs of our diverse students. The EOA notes that best practices can be modified to particular programs, the children in them, and the content being taught. Dyann Kaufman, learning specialist at The Avenues School notes that Avenues teaches fluency in the lower grades by systematically introducing skills in different formats, with individual or group work that brings in various senses. In grades 3-5, Avenues reinforces fluency with selected independent practice and small group 'buddy reading' activities. Other schools pride themselves on high levels of customization per individual learning style and goals rather than adhering to one methodology or one tech tool. To Dr. Manju Banerjee of Landmark College, we start by engaging students to be self-determined and have agency over whichever strategy will work best for them. Skill development is personalized and students feel supported in their learning approach."

We parents and professionals can help our children develop the fluency skills they need to learn and grow. This happens with committed, well-trained teachers who implement systematic techniques. These teachers can be supported to monitor children's growth in varied, consistent ways and to adapt instruction to those findings. Children's fluency grows with consistent independent and guided practice and when students are encouraged to develop insights about using skills across their coursework. Best practices in fluency provide our children the techniques and tools to learn efficiently and effectively as they progress through formal education to ultimately explore their passions beyond the classroom. It enables them to then be well-informed and curious members of society. Let's use what we know about brain science and best practices in learning the basics to help our children become digital citizens and citizens of the world who shape our society for good. #

Dr. Rebecca Mannis is a graduate of Harvard and can be reached at her private practice, rebecca@ivy-prep.com

By Jan Aaron

"My city lies between two rivers -- on a small island. My city is tall and jagged -- with gold + slated towers. My city is cut + re-cut + slashed by hard car-filled streets.

My city chokes on its breath, and sparkles with its false lights -- and sleeps restlessly at night. My city is a lone man walking at night down an empty street watching his shadow grow longer as he passes the last lamp post, seeking no comfort in the blank dark windows, and hearing his footsteps echo against the building + fade away." 

Thus Jerome Robbins, noted dance-choreographer describes New York in "Voice of My City", an extraordinary exhibit at the Performing Arts library, honoring this extraordinary human being. His story is best enjoyed by leisurely strolling and savoring the posters and videos (my favorite: Robbins instructing the young Mikhial Baryshnikov leaping in red tights).

Briefly: Born Jerome Wilson Rabinowitz in New York on October 11, 1918 into a family of Jewish immigrants and a world recovering from the devastation of World War 1, the Rabinowitz family arrived with cash but worked their way to stability. His parents Harry and Lena worked in a Manhattan deli, moving with their two small children across the Hudson to manage a corset factory.

Encouraged by his mother, young Jerry followed in his older sister's footsteps, investigating a range of artistic activities, from music to drawing to dance. By the end of high school, he sensed [that] more choices lay across the Hudson River. Indeed, by the time Jerry died at home on July 29, 1998, he and his enduring accomplishments had been recognized with a National Medal of the Arts in 1988. New York City Ballet staged a Robbins' festival in 1990.

He ferried to New York to attend college for a year (he studied chemistry at NYU), but finding a job was a dim possibility during the Great Depression, and he immersed himself in the Arts. He enrolled at Gluck Sandor's Dance Center, where Sandor and his wife, Felicia Sorel, introduced him to modern dance, character acting, and dramatics. Here he also changed his name to Jerome Robbins, performed on Broadway, choreographed and directed at a Poconos summer camp, and danced with Ballet Theater (now the American Ballet Theater) as well as in roles choreographed by Agnes de Mille, Michel Fokine and Anthony Tudor -- and looked for opportunities to choreograph. Robbins was fascinated by a common sight of the early 1940s sailors on leave in the city, a common site in the midst of war. Finding just the right collaborator in the conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein, Robbins was also searching for his place in the music world by defining American style. Their collaboration? Fancy Free debuted April 18, 1944 and prompted over 20 curtain calls. (Fancy Free's movie version -- my introduction to Robbins --starred Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Vera Ellen.)

Now famous, he was hired as Associate Artistic Director of the New York City Ballet, choreographing such obras maestras as "Age of Anxiety," (1950) and "Afternoon of a Faun" (1953) and hit musicals such as "The King and I" (1951) and "Peter Pan" (1954). Strolling the exhibit is the most satisfying way to experience it. Galleries are filled with marvelous visuals projecting his dancers performing.

We learn and see evidence of his sketching, photography skills, and journal writing. The exhibit is thoroughly engaging for its minutia. But I'm willing to bet that most compelling to visitors will be one of his masterworks, "West Side Story." Choreographer and director Robbins, composer Leonard Bernstein, and playwright Arthur Laurents first conceived a contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet as a conflict between Jews and Catholics at a New York street festival on the Lower East Side as their parents might have experienced it. But when they looked at their New York of the 1950s, their conflict between New York gangs became "West Side Story." See excerpt in the exhibit.

Consider my observations your appetizer to a Robbins banquet at the museum. Stroll to experience film clips of dancers interpreting Robbins choreography, and Robbins instructing dancers. See posters from his Broadway shows, and other memorabilia.

And there's more! 

Another exhibit salutes City Center with "The Peoples Theater", a major dance showcase for 75 years. Savor a trove of memorabilia and especially fine photographs of Melissa Hayden and other beautiful ballerinas and handsome male dancers like Herman Conejo. Dancer Twyla Tharp created her own distinct style. Another City Center innovation "Encores" is dedicated to the revival of beloved long-ago musicals. Vitrines outside the main exhibits are a trove of odd and touching memorabilia, and the Al Hirschfeld exhibit upstairs salutes the Center.

Robbins and City Center exhibits have listening stations where visitors can hear Robbins Voice of My City until March 30 and The Peoples Theater until March 2. #

By President Thomas Bailey, Teachers College

Since being named Teachers College's president this past spring, I've been repeatedly asked two questions.

"Why did you want this job?" and "What are you planning to do?" The answers to the first question are easy:

Because of TC's extraordinary history of inventing new fields and guiding the nation and the world through key periods of change. Because our College has always been a powerful, finely-tuned instrument for creating better lives and life chances for all people.

Because we have the breadth of expertise to tackle the world's most complex problems. And above all, because of the remarkable graduates that we produce. There are countless examples of people who came to the College with a passion to change the world, learned essential skills and made essential contacts here, and have since gone on to fulfill their aspirations. They run the gamut from young to old, and they represent a vast diversity of backgrounds and cultures
To share the stories of just two who have been much on our minds lately:

Samuel Totten (Ed.D. '85), Professor Emeritus at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, is one of the world's leading genocide scholars. He would deserve mention here simply for his groundbreaking scholarship documenting atrocities in some of the world's most afflicted regions. But in "retirement," Dr. Totten, who is 69 years old, has gone a step further: He makes periodic trips to Sudan to personally deliver truckloads of food to villagers in the Nuba Mountains, where the nation's government has been conducting a scorchedearth campaign.

Or take Sayu Bohjwani (Ph.D. '14). She is the founding director of New American Leaders, a nonprofit that recruits and trains first- and second-generation Americans to run for political office. On Election Day this year, 50 candidates recruited by NAL are appearing on ballots nationwide. Dr. Bhojwani, who previously served as New York City's first commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, is also author of the recently published book People Like Us: The New Wave of Candidates Knocking at Democracy's Door (The New Press).

Again, that kind of commitment to creating a more just and equitable world is part of TC's DNA. Like all great universities and colleges, we are home to brilliant people doing fascinating work. But what truly sets us apart is that - from shaping more effective teaching to getting entire communities to embrace healthier lifestyles - we directly apply our knowledge in the here and now.

And that leads to the answer to the second question I'm frequently asked - "So, what are you planning to do?" On one level, the answer is simple: everything I possibly can to increase that impact. In reality, of course, that's a complex challenge. One thing I have learned from my previous work, which has focused on improving America's community colleges, is that advancing ideas for reform is not enough. We need to change institutions so that there is a pathway for each student and each person, at every phase of life. At TC, then, we must ensure that we attract and support the best students, increase our research funding, and assure the coherence of our programs and course offerings. We must take a comprehensive and holistic view of our own students' pathways. And ultimately, we must work with each other and with practitioners to create solutions broad enough to address major societal issues yet sufficiently nuanced to work in different cultures and contexts.

I'm proud to say that we are currently applying just such a comprehensive approach to helping American colleges and universities better serve students from poor, minority and immigrant backgrounds. With the United States on pace to become a majority non-white nation by 2045, these students literally represent the future of our country. "They" are us, and - as visionaries at TC have always understood - if we fail them, we fail ourselves. #

By Robert Atkins, Chief Executive Officer, Gray Associates, Inc.

A labor shortage in science and technology-based fields has led U.S. institutions of higher learning to put greater emphasis on their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs. In some instances, institutions are emphasizing STEM at the expense of their liberal arts programs. This is shortsighted.

While solid technical skills are a must for students looking for careers in high-paying, specialized fields such as health care and technology, they aren't likely to lead to good jobs by themselves. Increasingly, employers are also demanding that candidates have strong business and office "soft skills."

A foundation in the liberal arts helps job seekers acquire these skills and can give them an edge. Schools that produce well-rounded candidates are likely to have higher placement rates, which, in turn, will help them attract more - and better-prepared - students.

For example, the primary work activities that fit best with jobs in computer science are "design data processing systems," "write computer programs or code," and "design data security systems." These work activities are all technical.

But, when speaking with potential employers about the skills gap for computer science grads, they cite weak soft skills as the main reason a candidacy is discontinued. An employer who hires 1,400 computer science grads annually stated that candidates and schools tend to "brush the soft skills aside in pursuit of technical skills...candidates need more of the good old liberal arts."

Our consulting work focuses on helping colleges and universities evaluate their portfolio of academic programs to make decisions about which programs to Start, Stop, Sustain or Grow. Having helped dozens of institutions go through this process, we have found that the most successful schools are those that can provide the right mix of technical and soft skills training.

Even as colleges start and grow technical and career programs, they need to sustain their portfolios of liberal arts and communications courses. Technical training needs to be augmented with a foundation in the liberal arts as well as courses that develop the skills needed for success in the workplace.

Job placement rates influence enrollment. That is why successful schools highlight them on their home pages. They know that if their students are hired soon after graduation for good jobs in fields they have studied, they will attract more - and better qualified - applicants and improve their yield rate (percentage of admitted students who enroll).

Therefore, institutional leaders and faculty need to take a holistic approach to assessing their program and course offerings. A class in philosophy, for example, a program with few majors, could help students develop analytical and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in the physical sciences, engineering or mathematics.

Before applying, prospective students, their parents and guidance counselors should research what skills the student will develop as well as what programs the school offers. They should make sure the school provides adequate preparation in the soft skills in addition to solid technical training. Together, these fields of study make the student more marketable and better prepared to get ahead in the workforce. #

Gray Associates, Inc. (www.grayassociates.com) is a higher education consulting firm.  We help clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies to maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.  Gray uses proprietary analytical techniques and an industry-leading database combining information on inquiry volumes, demographics, competition, and employment, to help faculty and school leadership develop institutional strategies, select programs, pick locations, and prepare curricula.


By Stephen Spahn, Chancellor of Dwight School

I recently had the opportunity to stand center stage in the iconic Stern Auditorium where Tchaikovsky raised his baton to conduct Carnegie Hall's inaugural concert in 1891. The occasion was Dwight Schools' 2018 global concert, bringing together 340 performers from around the world.

While Dwight students have performed in Carnegie Hall for nearly two decades, this was the first time they took to the grand Perelman Stage. The majestic 2,800-seat venue hosted the largest sold-out audience of parents, faculty, staff, and alumni in Dwight's 146-year history. It was a magical event that brought our global community together, which as Chancellor celebrating my 50th year in education, was especially gratifying.

Spark of genius is an interest or passion that is unique to every student -- whatever captures the heart, head, or hand. It is our job as educators to work individually with students to tap into what excites them, opening the door to all other learning. I have dedicated my career to igniting that spark in every student and to utilizing those talents and interests to create a personalized roadmap to a meaningful future for each one. It remains my calling and mission to this day.  

I have also dedicated myself and Dwight, as a frontier IB school, to bridging boundaries and preparing students to be global leaders who can make our world a better place. That is why the cross-campus collaboration and months of extensive preparation for the concert are equally as meaningful to me as the evening itself. It takes a global village.

Last fall, students on every campus auditioned locally and our team of music directors shared audition tapes to select soloists, duettists, and ensembles for an evening's program that ran the gamut from classical, jazz, and pop to traditional Korean and Chinese music, showcasing the unique cultural contributions from each Dwight campus. After several months of preparation at their home schools, all the performers come together in New York for an intensive week-long rehearsal period during which they fine-tuned and blended their individual pieces into one glorious tapestry.

During this immersive experience, students connected with their peers from different continents, embraced each other's cultural traditions, and forged friendships that will last a lifetime, underscoring the benefits of being part of a global family of schools.

When the performers walked into Stern Auditorium on their big night, it brought back a flood of memories -- countless moments when I have been in awe of the talent, gifts, and unique sparks of genius of countless Dwight students over the years. Ultimately, my greatest legacy will be all the students who become heroes of their own journey. My story will be the collection of all of their stories -- my symphony will be the collection of all of their symphonies. #

huntergates.jpg(L-R) Bill Gates, Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, Lin-Manuel Miranda, & Melinda Gates

By Lydia Liebman

Recently, Hunter College hosted an exciting and informative Q&A with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and philanthropist power couple Bill and Melinda Gates. The lively discussion was held at the Kaye Theater at Hunter with a full house of excited students present. Hunter College president Jennifer Raab gave a glowing introduction to the event stating that their work aligns with Hunter's goals. "We believe as you do, Bill and Melinda, that society can level the playing field through education," said Raab. Miranda, a Hunter High School graduate, asked Bill and Melinda an array of questions from Hunter College students, audience members, those watching live on Facebook and even Mark Zuckerberg. Throughout the wide-ranging interview, the Gates' answered questions that ranged from personal to policy.

In the early part of the program, Ms. Gates spoke of the importance of education. She said: "...when you get a good education in the United States, it changes the trajectory of your life. We want to make sure students in this country have a chance." The Gates' focus much of their philanthropic efforts around education. They currently contribute over a half a billion dollars to this cause yearly.

In addition to their work bettering education, the Gates' are passionate about improving global health. When asked what advice he could offer to a future entrepreneur, Mr. Gates stressed the importance and necessity of innovation in science and programming. "We need better tools to cure these diseases," he said, adding that with the rising cost of healthcare, the only solution is innovation. Other questions were more specific; Ms. Gates was asked how to promote sound birth control choices in Africa without being seen as a second-wave colonialist. In her answer, Ms. Gates explained the importance of educating women about their body and choices in cultural and local contexts. She explained that the Gates Foundation works only with local partners in these communities.

Other questions focused on the future of technology. "What do you think will happen to human civilization with further development in Artifical Intelligence technology?" asked Miranda, on behalf of one of the audience members. "AI will bring us immense productivity," Gates responded before elaborating that AI will help fill in the gaps in industries that are experiencing worker shortages.

Perhaps one of the greatest surprises was a question from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. By way of a Facebook live stream, Zuckerberg asked Mr. Gates: "if you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?" Mr. Gates said, "...know that it takes many skill sets on a team to solve some problems. Smartness alone doesn't solve everything."

Bill and Melinda Gates spoke at length about the Trump administration and did not hold back their criticism of the president's proposed budget that slashes foreign aid. Mr. Gates pointed out that the biggest increase in global aid was during another Republican administration; that of President George W. Bush. Now, following a steady increase of global aid during the Obama administation, this kind of aid is, in the words of Mr. Gates, under attack. He went on to explain that even a ten percent cut would mean 5 million deaths over the next decade. Current spending for global aid is less than one percent of the entire US budget. "It makes absolutely no sense to us," said Ms. Gates of the cuts. She went on to say that stability in Africa is indeed an essential part of the America First ideology; the lowered risk of a health crisis is beneficial for Americans (and all people of the world).

The dynamic conversation at Hunter College came on the heels of the release of the Bill and Melinda Gates Annual Letter. In their tenth annual letter, the Gates' answered ten questions that relate to their philanthropic work and ideology.#

The 2018 Annual Letter can be read here: gatesnotes.com/2018-Annual-Letter.

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