Dear Members of the BWL Community: Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year! I want to bring you up to date on several important developments at BWL, as well as in the wider independent school community.
The Poetry Initiative
It is my pleasure to introduce BWL’s Poetry Initiative. Before you stop reading because you have never been a reader of poetry, it is important to note that the Poetry Initiative is an undertaking meant to enhance our STEM program. We are not simply endeavoring to expose students to the joys and challenges of reading and writing poetry, which we will do, but we are also looking at the ways in which poetry can be applied to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. According to neuroscientist David Engleman, “Creativity is about refashioning what already exists.” Innovation is the combination of different elements into something new, and with the guidance of our Director of Technology Richard Pan, we have designed educational tools to facilitate innovations that can be accomplished by marrying poetry and technology. The program is versatile and can be used in many different settings, from second grade publishing parties to AP Computer Science classes.
In addition, we have been working with Shared Studios, an organization that connects communities from around the world through a virtual platform called Portals. BWL’s Poetry Festival in April 2020 will feature Portals and will connect students to writing communities around the globe. In conjunction with BWL’s global outreach, our students will have the opportunity to work with students from prestigious international independent schools through the Global Poetry Consortium, which was founded by BWL. In short, we have initiated a STEAM program by adding poetry to our well-established STEM program. The goal is to prepare our students for a global marketplace that increasingly seeks individuals who can think beyond the code, or the poetic form, and find creative ways to combine human elements that might otherwise seem disparate. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to Assistant Headmaster Ryan Clinesmith, who will be collaborating with the BWL community on this exciting initiative.
In order to offer students a more cohesive and comprehensive educational experience, we have decided to merge the Theater Arts Department and the Music Department, to create an overarching Performing Arts Department. We believe strongly that the integration of the two areas will give students an early exposure to exciting interdisciplinary opportunities. At the same time, we believe that this model will foster faculty collaboration and facilitate joint projects. Led by the talented Emily Freilicher, who will be ably assisted by Benjamin Goldsmith, the Performing Arts Department team will coordinate with faculty in all three divisions to support concerts and theatrical performances throughout the year. We will also be adding several new elements to the curriculum, such as allowing Middle School students to choose a music elective, and incorporating more music literacy into the Lower School program.
I am delighted to announce that Nancy Konheim Greene '63, a Lenox alumna, will be joining BWL's Admissions team. A graduate of Pine Manor and New York University, Nancy Greene is the former Director of Placement (Exmissions) at The Episcopal School in the City of New York. She brings decades of experience about admissions and child development to BWL’s program. Mrs. Greene will be assisting me with presentations to parents, offering tours to prospective families, and working with Admissions Director Julianne Kaplan on the review of Kindergarten applicants. In addition, Nancy will be advising me on a variety of institutional public relations matters. As Ms. Kaplan stated: “It will be a privilege and a pleasure for us to have Nancy at BWL. We are grateful for her insights and understanding of the ever-changing admissions dynamic.”
Update on the Substantial Equivalence of Independent Schools
As many of you are aware, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) recently issued new regulations that, if enacted, would give local public school superintendents oversight over independent schools. The New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) challenged these regulations in court. During the public comment period this summer, parents and alumni wrote thousands of emails--over 11,300 as of this writing--urging the Department of Education to understand that independent schools do not need a new accreditation process, as they are already more than “substantially equivalent.” NYSAIS informed us that the emails written by BWL's parents were notably numerous and eloquent. I want to thank you for making your voices heard in support of BWL’s unique mission, and the importance of independent school education throughout New York.
Frank J. Carnabuci III
Mr. Carnabuci has been the Headmaster at The Birch Wathen Lenox School since 1992. In addition to his administrative duties, he has taught a Political Union course, and a course on Protocol. He is currently teaching an Honors English course called The Outsider in Literature. He established the School’s Swimming, Squash and Lacrosse teams, created the STEM Initiative and the Archaeology curriculum, and developed the Overseas Studies and Peer Relations programs. Most recently appointed to the council board of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he has also served on the governing boards of the Rippowam Cisqua School, The Brick Church School and Drew University.