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Students meet with a faculty member in the library

CA Curious

Recharging through Summer Learning

May 13, 2021

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

Upper School

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