Faculty Professional Development

St. Andrew’s faculty stays busy during the summer. Thirty-eight teachers were awarded grants for professional development. Their mission: to improve curricula, gain new insights, pick up new skills or learn more about topics they will be teaching. From Vietnam to Cuba and all over the United States, faculty have explored new ideas, attended training sessions, added new skill sets and created new lessons and curricula to enrich the education of students spanning preschool through grade 12 at St. Andrew’s.

Here is a sampling of professional development activities faculty members are doing this summer. Click on the categories below and learn more about how St. Andrew's teachers continue to get better at their craft.

Travel Projects

Chuck James – Travel to Germany to study Environmental Issues

The preservation of our environment is one of the biggest global challenges of our time. The only way to maintain our habitat over the long term is by working together to balance the needs of nature and humankind. Earth Science contains a large emphasis on environmental studies that systematically study human interactions with the environment. Our studies in Earth Science examine mining, sustainable energy, water resources, the built environment and the relationships between them all.

Just as we want the thinking of our students to be broad and interdisciplinary, so, too, must the instruction around environmental issues be encompass substantive real world models and examples. This summer grant studies Germany as a comprehensive model for a nation’s engagement around environmental issues and uses this example for comparison and contrast with the United States’ own environmental policies.

Mike Davila – Travel to Cuba to study literary works and authors’ inspiration. Research for potential student trip to Cuba

Mike Davila will travel to Cuba this summer in an effort to, “gain first hand knowledge and understanding of Cuba and its influence on American writers and artists, such as Ernest Hemingway and Carmen Agra Deedy.”

Mr. Davila’s courses read works by Hemingway such as “The Old Man and the The Sea,” so this grant will allow him an opportunity to study up-close the old haunts of the late author.

“By visiting these places and gathering on site materials as well as taking relevant photos, I may, with a more personal touch, bring these places and works alive for my students. As I have done with The Odyssey in 9th grade, my SAPA supported grant to Greece and Crete enabled me to create a Powerpoint Presentation on the various historical/mythological sites detailed in Homer’s Epic.”

The trip will also serve as a scouting visit for a potential future student trip to Cuba in March or June of 2012, if there is sufficient student interest.

Ritchie Porter – Travel to New York, Improve St. Andrew’s Theater Productions

In the summer of 2008, Ritchie Porter received a SAPA grant to see theater while visiting London with my family. He also used some of the money to see some shows in Washington, D.C. The exposure to these productions was a huge inspiration, and allowed him to attend some shows he otherwise could not have afforded. This summer, Mr. Porter will visit Manhattan and take in a variety of theatrical offerings – in particular Wicked. Locally, he will also check shows at the annual Capital Fringe Festival in July. With this grant, Mr. Porter hopes to gain continuing renewal and knowledge of his field, and perhaps find future shows for the stages of St. Andrew’s.

Says Porter: “Watching the work of others always informs my own process, and broadens as well as deepens my own work as a director and as a teacher.”


Tracey Goodrich – Smart Board Training Session

Mrs. Goodrich has worked over the past year to make sure that she incorporates a smart board lesson for each and every section of the algebra textbook. This summer she hopes to expand on what she has mastered and what her colleagues have taught her by attending a one-day smart board training session and/or participating in multiple smart board on-line instruction classes. “All of this will enhance my content and help promote better learning,” she said.

Joan Kowalik - Counseling Institute in August

Ms. Kowalik will attend the Stanley H. King Counseling Institute from August 2-7. The program is an intensive and transformative experience through which she hopes to learn to help her and her students navigate the adolescent passage. In her role as health teacher, advisor, coach and athletic director, the program will allow her to deepen her relationships between students and herself.

Natalie Adams – Reshaping Intermediate school’s Language Arts Program

Teacher’s College’s Reading Institute is designed for educators “who are committed to turning classrooms into richly literate reading and writing workshops.” Using the Reading Institute as a foundational shared learning experience, fourth and fifth grade teachers will work as a team to reshape the Intermediate School’s Language Art’s program. Skills that children are developing in fourth grade will be continued and expanded when they move to fifth.

New and Revised Curricula

Scott Corkran & Morgan Evans – Developing the 6th Grade Humanities curriculum

Mr. Evans and Mr. Corkran will be teaching “6th Grade Humanities” next year, which will encompass elements of Language Arts, History, Geography, and Social Studies. Over the summer they will develop the curriculum for this course, and will focus on creating units and lessons that combine the aforementioned disciplines in ways that will reach a variety of learning styles and allow students to practice skills such as reading comprehension, expository and creative writing, critical thinking, and responsive listening. This is an exciting opportunity to help students see and benefit from the myriad connections between Language Arts and History.

Gregg Ponitch – Plan out AP Statistics course, curriculum

St. Andrew’s math department will add AP Statistics to its course offerings starting in the 2011-12 school year. Mr. Ponitch plans to teach, create and plan out this new course. The overview of the course is described below. The purpose of the AP course in statistics is to introduce students to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data. Students are exposed to four broad conceptual themes: exploring data, sampling and experimentation, anticipating patterns and statistical inference. Students who successfully complete the course and exam may receive credit, advanced placement, or both for a one-semester introductory college statistics course.

David Brandt – Revamping “A History of Non-Violent Resistance in the 20th Century”

History Instructor David Brandt was recently awarded a one week SAES grant in order to help revamp the senior elective A History of Non-Violent Resistance in the 20th Century. With the help of the grant, Brandt plans to design a unit on the very fluid changes that are happening in the Middle East and help students have a clearer understanding of an exceedingly important part of the world. In particular, Brandt will focus on the role that non-violence played in Egypt in helping to depose longtime leader Hosni Mubarak while looking at the catalyst that the Tunisian uprising provided to other such movements in the Middle East and North Africa. Brandt also plans to show students how history, religion, language (music, poetry, grafitti, and the written word), art, and the new social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) have all intersected in a major way in the Middle East to make it a place fertile for continued rebellion.

Evan Brooke & Susheela Robinson – Life Long Skills, Art and Public Speaking

This dual-purposed grant intends to teach students life-long skills. By increasing confidence in public speaking, students will be better prepared for a variety of speaking opportunities throughout their academic and professional careers. Additionally, by infusing more art in our units, teachers will be able to reach a wider range of students more effectively.

Chantal Cassan-Moudoud & Maria Diaz – Revamping French and Spanish language curricula

As the College Board (CB) is implementing a new format for the Language Placement Examinations, the French and Spanish Language curricula (Level IV and AP) need to be reviewed and adapted to the new requirements. The College Board  is changing its focus from a mainly grammar driven curriculum to a curriculum aligned with national standards, and with a strong focus on proficiency in the three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive and presentational). Even though several of the changes recommended by the College Board are already integrated in St. Andrew’s programs, the new guidelines, which adopt a thematic approach, require the creation of new material in order to better prepare our students.

The new AP program is quite ambitious and cannot be covered in one year. The CB itself recommends that students be familiarized with the different themes as early as possible. Furthermore, as 10th graders are becoming the main group in level IV, the material and the activities St. Andrew’s language teachers have used until now need to be adapted to their needs and interests. At this point, this grant will allow these two teachers to update the curriculum of the level IV and AP in order to offer our students a well balanced program which would be intellectually stimulating and challenging as well as in full compliance with the new College Board expectations.

Amanda Freeman – AP European History for Sophomores

The Advanced Placement European History course is an exciting opportunity for sophomores who love history and love to read to delve into the sophisticated concepts of European history. Ms. Freeman will spend the grant period not only studying texts and planning out reading assignments, but also finding outside primary and secondary sources to enhance the text (The Making of the West by Lynn Hunt).  She will study her extensive notes on the Norton series on the development of Europe from 1460 to the present. By the end of her two week project, she will have readings and assignments planned out from September to May when the students take the AP exam.


Science, Art and Design

Lauren Cook - Visual Arts on the Web /Freshman Art Studies

Websites and web-based tools are now ubiquitous tools for instruction in schools. Visual Arts department chair Lauren Cook will spend time over the summer assessing the department’s experience over the last two years with several platforms for web-based instruction. This work will result in a restructured and user-friendly interface to web-related services for art faculty, students and St. Andrew’s families.

Mrs. Cook will complete the development of an exciting visual art program for freshmen new to St. Andrew’s. Drawing on curriculum development and instructional experiences in various divisions of our school, Mrs. Cook hopes to develop an empowering gateway course that helps new high school students appreciate the visual arts and that helps inform their choices for future art courses while at St. Andrew’s. Lauren anticipates that this course will include a blog, as well as fun and interesting 2D, 3D and digitally-based art projects that build on one another.

Kris Mohlman, Gary Wyatt, Chuck James, Ian Kelleher, and Lauren Cook – Expanding the role of design in science and visual arts.

Members of the visual arts and science departments will collaborate to blend the existing design work being done in these disciplines as well as to create a unified set of skills for design in all disciplines at St. Andrew’s. Drawing on the best elements of existing curricular work and our knowledge of brain-based teaching we hope to strengthen existing design curriculum and broaden the focus of design learning in our community.

Ritchie Porter, Dan Mellitz, Roxie Thomas – Reorganizing supplies, props and costumes for performing arts program.

Dan Mellitz, Ritchie Porter and Roxie Thomas plan to work during the summer to reorganize the Performing Arts costumes and props. The accomplishment of this goal will make our spaces neater, cleaner and more efficiently used. Costumes and props will be kept more secure and in better condition.

Gary Wyatt – Interdisciplinary Visual Art Program for Incoming Fifth Grade Class .

Drawing on curriculum development and instructional experiences in various divisions of our school, Mr. Wyatt hopes to develop vibrant signature art projects for this new class as well as theme-based units for each trimester that reinforce and expand on the concepts and “big ideas” these students will be exposed to through their visual arts lessons as well as studies in other disciplines.


The Rev. Betsy Gonzalez – Developing Religion Curriculum for Kindergarten through Grade 6

This grant will allow Rev. Gonzalez to work intentionally and with focus on the least-developed grades in St. Andrew’s religion curriculum, namely kindergarten through sixth grade. We will be able to study the entire arc of our religion curriculum and to employ our beloved spiral ideas to these important grades. We will also be able to develop major curricular units inside each grade level in order to put our best foot forward into the new school year.

Troy Dahlke – Travel to Vietnam to study the human impact of adoption and the formative influence of world religions

With the help of SAPA funds, Mr. Dahlke will accompany a friend, Ben Lane, to Vietnam. The ultimate goal is for Ben to meet his biological mother, from whom he has been separated since April1975.  Sharing a long friendship and lives touched by adoption, Mr. Dahlke will have the opportunity to witness a momentous encounter: the reunification of a mother and son separated by the contingencies of war, politics, and blood. The experiences gained will season Mr. Dahlke’s teaching by providing greater insights into the nature of adoption – a theme common to biblical religion – and by witnessing first-hand the formative influence of Buddhism, Catholicism, communism, emerging capitalism.


Lower School

Pre-Kindergarten Team: Peggy Best, Sung Hee Kim, Liz Moses, Sherry Craig, Jody Widrick, Agnes Timbol. Dale Kynoch, and Christine Lewis.

The Preschool team plans to enhance the Language Arts program to transition more fluidly into the Elementary division.

The goal is two-fold: 1) to revise, enhance, and comprehensively describe the Preschool Language Arts program and (2) to better meet the learning needs of individual students in terms of both handwriting and reading readiness. This will give teachers the opportunity to deepen their thinking about how to challenge and support Prekindergarten learners in developmentally appropriate ways. Additionally, it will provide Preschool II teachers the time to reflect and plan with their Prekindergarten colleagues in defining what Language Arts skills and concepts should be implemented at their grade-level. Overall the summer grant will allow Lower School teachers to restructure the Preschool curriculum to more directly prepare a diverse group of learners for the successful Good Habits, Great Readers Program that formally begins in Kindergarten and moves through 3rd grade.

Christine Lewis, Dale Kynoch, Lisa Anzelone, Timika Tyson – Revising Lower School Social Studies Curriculum

A team of Lower School students will revise the social studies curriculum so that it flows more sequentially between grades and meets Social Studies national standards. The team plans to create essential questions based on the social studies department’s theme of citizenship.

The team also plans on writing curriculum programs based around the following geographic areas:

Kindergarten – Me and the Family

First grade – Community

Second grade – Washington, D.C.

Third Grade – Maryland