On Friday, May 17 at the final Stanwich School parent and faculty party, Headmaster Charlie Sachs announced the successful completion of fundraising for the newly established "Heart of Stanwich" Endowment at Greenwich Country Day. The endowment will be launched with over $135,000 in donations from alumni families, friends and current families. A special thanks was given to Lynn and Jeffrey Slovin whose matching gift challenge lifted the fund up and over the initial goal of $120,000.
The Pat Young "Heart of Stanwich" Endowment was created by former parents and Trustees, Lorraine Gordon, Eileen Grasso and Liz Oestreich, who were inspired to continue the legacy of our Stanwich Faculty Humanitarian Travel Grants. Each trip that our faculty members have taken over the past decade has been impactful to our students and to the world, from Rwanda to Northern Ireland to Ghana, Peru and beyond. We look forward to hearing about the future faculty charitable endeavors that will continue to shape our school community, and to make God's world a better place!
For more information on the endowment, and to see a video tribute to the many faculty members who took their Stanwich Heart across the world, please visit: https://www.stanwichschool.org/HeartofStanwichEndowment
July 26, 2018
Dear Stanwich Families,
As GCDS continues to build our high school program, with an eye toward a September 2019 opening, one of our highest priorities has been to find the individual with the experience, vision, and values to serve as our first Head of Upper School, grades 9-12. Starting last November, and with the assistance of Spencer Stuart, a premier executive search firm specializing in high priority administrative hires in secondary schools, we started a nationwide search. We reviewed 54 résumés, conducted phone interviews with 23 candidates, and met on campus with 7 outstanding candidates. Following the unanimous agreement of the Search Committee, comprised of trustees, faculty, and parents, the Board of Trustees is excited to announce the appointment of Dr. Christopher Winters to this position.
Since 2009, Chris has been the Headmaster of Greenwich High School (GHS), where his exemplary leadership has been held in high regard both within our local community and among national educational experts. During his tenure, GHS has been ranked among the top 2% of U.S. high schools by U.S. News and World Report and was also awarded Best Athletic Program in FCIAC in 2012, 2015, and 2018. Chris has received numerous fellowships and awards, including being named “Outstanding Principal of the Year” in 2014 and “Teacher of the Year” in 1995. At GHS, he has led a team of 12 administrators, 265 teachers, and 100 support staff members. Respected for his dedication to improving the learning experience for students and his support for fostering a collaborative culture for faculty, Chris is also known for his personal interest in each student. In addition to regularly attending athletic games and every school performance, Chris calls each student in the freshman class on his or her birthday for a one-on-one chat—more than 6,000 calls during his time at GHS. Even when leading a school with over 2,700 students, Chris has been dedicated to knowing and bringing out the best in each student.
Chris graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science from Middlebury College. He received his M.A. and Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University. An active member of our Greenwich community, Chris serves on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, as well as The Greenwich Youth Services Bureau, and recently completed a three-year term as a member of GCDS’s Board of Trustees.
As a former GCDS trustee, Chris has a deep understanding of Country Day’s community and values. He believes that while education is about academic preparation, it is also about enabling children to develop a finely tuned moral compass. He is excited to join the dynamic team that includes Andy Ramirez, Director of College Counseling, and Tim Helstein, Athletic Director. Chris is a thoughtful leader and an inspiring public speaker, and he will be a guiding and motivating voice as we work together to create a high school for the next century.
I know you will join me in welcoming Chris and his wife Leigh to Country Day (please see his letter below). We will hold several receptions this fall so you can get to know Chris better. While you will begin to see Chris around campus immediately, his official start date will be October 1, 2018. We are thrilled that he will have the opportunity in the coming months to continue the significant work accomplished so far in building the high school program, hiring faculty, and working with architects on the design of new spaces.
Adam C. Rohdie
Dear Stanwich Families,
GCDS is a remarkable community, and I am deeply honored to join you as Head of the Upper School, grades 9-12. It is my past experience with GCDS (serving on the Board, working with Adam on different projects, and sharing common goals in educating young people) that drew me to this role. GCDS is about learning, engagement, creativity, and excellence. I share the values and expectations of our community and am thrilled to build on this foundation as we create what will become a nationally renowned high school.
For the past nine years, as the Headmaster of Greenwich High School, I have observed and appreciated the academic preparedness, personal integrity, and social responsibility of the GCDS students who join GHS. In the early stages of planning for the GCDS high school, we will identify the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that contribute to an integrated learning experience. We will lead with rigorous academics organized around courses in humanities, STEM, the arts, athletics, and other disciplines. We will challenge students to realize their highest academic strengths. We will know we are succeeding with each child as he or she demonstrates agency for deeply engaged learning. GCDS high school students will also be active on campus and in the community. Through teams, clubs, internships, and civic engagement, our students will develop an understanding of who they are, monitor their emotional and physical well-being, and contribute to their community.
Leading the new GCDS high school is a great opportunity, but leaving GHS is a difficult decision. I cherish the people there and the community of learning that we nurture. Ultimately, the singular opportunity—to lead the development of a new high school centered on GCDS values and the very best in educational thinking—is immensely compelling. My family is equally thrilled about the exciting opportunities ahead at GCDS. My wife, Leigh Shemitz, who is President of SoundWaters, is already thinking about extending possible seminars in environmental health and ecology. Our sons, Roger and Matthew, share in our family decision-making, and they have noted how genuinely enthusiastic I am for this challenge.
I look forward to meeting all members of the community, learning about your children’s interests, sharing with you my passion for education, and serving this wonderful community with humility, compassion, and unwavering faith in what we can accomplish together.
Christopher S. Winters
GCDS Head of Upper School, grades 9-12
Concluding our 20th Anniversary celebrations, The Stanwich School is pleased to announce that Fabien Cousteau — aquanaut, oceanographic explorer, environmental advocate and founder of Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center, and grandson of famous ocean explorer, Jacques Yves Cousteau — will serve as the school’s keynote speaker at Stanwich’s commencement ceremony on June 1, 2018 at 3:00pm.
Since growing up on his grandfather’s ships, Calypso and Alcyone, Fabien Cousteau has worked to protect our planet’s immense and endangered marine habitats. As a third generation ocean explorer and filmmaker, Mr. Cousteau advances his family legacy.
From his vast experience in the field, coupled with a degree in environmental economics from Boston University, Mr. Cousteau has established public policy initiatives grounded by his belief that environmental discipline creates innovative solutions to balance global environmental challenges with the realities of market economies. Early in 2016, he founded the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center to make a positive change in the world.
“Stanwich has attracted some terrific commencement speakers from Senator Blumenthal to Greenwich YMCA Director Bob DeAngelo. All have connected with Stanwich’s seminal spirit in which character, individuality, diversity, and altruism ground our mission as a school. Our Upper School seized on the opportunity to hear from Mr. Cousteau to reinforce our community commitment to helping to make the world better for all,” said Charlie Sachs, Head of School.
Inspired by his grandfather’s famous 1978 PBS series, Ocean Adventures Mr. Cousteau was part of a successful series for PBS called, Ocean Adventures with his father, Jean-Michel Cousteau and sister, Céline. He is well known for his study of sharks and has provided audiences with a rare view of these mysterious and often misunderstood creatures.
In more recent years as a member of multiple cause-driven and charitable boards, Mr. Cousteau has been working with local communities and children worldwide to restore local water ecosystems. In 2014, he completed a monumental project called Mission 31 in which he and his team lived and worked underwater for 31 days at the Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only undersea marine laboratory, collecting over three years worth of scientific data.
In the fall, two Stanwich faculty members, and senior Henry Hittle, were part of an educational dive to Aquarius Reef Base in Key Largo, Florida. More recently, the senior class traveled to Key Largo where they learned about coral restoration and visited coral nurseries. The seniors also kayaked in the Everglades.
With a marine and environmental science program well integrated into the Stanwich School curriculum — including an annual trip to MarineLab — Mr. Cousteau’s teachings and vision align well within Stanwich’s mission of making God’s world a better place.
He’s a dyslexic writer, speaker, and do-gooder who did not learn to read until 12 years old, and he recently spoke to an audience of Stanwich Upper School students, faculty and parents. Jonathan Mooney faced a number of low expectations growing up — he was told he would flip burgers, be a high school dropped out and end up in jail. But Jonathan beat those odds, graduating from Brown University with an honors degree in English lit.
Jonathan spoke at Stanwich, opening everyone’s eyes to thoughts of re-imaging education for the 21st century, inclusion, neurodiversty, the myth of normalcy, youth empowerment and much more. He talked about the power of student/teacher connections and relationships as the foundation of transformative learning environments. Throughout his presentation, Jonathan celebrated the idea of educators being change agents, and education as a powerful tool for personal and social transformation.
Jonathan was invited to speak by Stanwich Junior Schuyler Dubitsky as the capstone of his Moral Leadership Project aimed to bring awareness to ADHD and learning differences issues.
Click here to view Jonathan’s powerful presentation (Google account required).
December 29, 2017
There will be a service celebrating the life of Kerry Gotschall on Saturday, January 13 at 11:00am.
Second Congregational Church
139 East Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830
Those interested in sending condolences may do so to Caroline Worra at email@example.com or to Second Congregational Church.
For those interested in donating to her memorial, Second Congregational Church is gathering a “Kerry Gotschall Fund.” Checks may be sent to the church, and made out to Second Congregational Church with Kerry Gotschall in the notation.
December 23, 2017
Dear Stanwich School Community,
I write with some shocking and sad news to share. Our beloved music and drama teacher, Kerry Gotschall, has died unexpectedly in her sleep for unknown reasons. As this is a recent occurrence, we will communicate further as appropriate when more information is available.
Those who knew Kerry, particularly her students, will always remember her positive, happy disposition and particularly her shining spirit of love for music and the children with whom she worked. Her passing is a great loss for her family, and for the many communities to which she has contributed in her short, benevolent life.
Please know that we will be supporting our students in dealing with this loss, and we will celebrate Kerry’s life in a fitting way in school at a later date.
We share our sincere condolences with Kreg Gotschall and Caroline Worra during this difficult time.
Head of School
As an exciting step in the integration of the Stanwich and Greenwich Country Day School communities, I am writing to announce that Stanwich Lower School Head Trudy Davis will become the GCDS Lower School Head beginning in July 2018.
We were blessed to hire Trudy in the fall of 2016, and our hopes for her in that role have been more than justified. Her strong background in administration and curriculum development, coupled with her calm, thoughtful demeanor, her creative can-do attitude, and her kind touch with all ages have contributed meaningfully to our community.
GCDS conducted a nationwide search that included over 50 applicants with twelve finalist interviews. Trudy was their unanimous choice for the role. Although we will miss seeing Trudy in the car line and corridors every day next year, we are happy that she will be well established into the Old Church Road campus when our Lower School students begin there in the fall of 2019.
Next year Lindsey Wohl will move from Stanwich Assistant Lower School Head to the Lower School Head role. Lindsey began her teaching career as a Stanwich associate teacher, spent eight years as a Grade 3 head teacher before rising to Intermediate House lead teacher last school year. With a steady focus on fostering best teaching practices in her current role, Lindsey’s knowledge of our program and our families, coupled with her huge Stanwich heart make her a worthy successor to Trudy Davis.
Michelle Boccuzzi next year will move from the third grade classroom to assume the role of Lower School Lead Teacher. In that role Michelle will support Lindsey administratively and continue to work with our Lower School Values curriculum and support differentiated instruction in the classroom. In Michelle’s eight years at Stanwich, she had taught in both Primary and Intermediate Houses and has earned the respect of her colleagues and families as an excellent teacher, always willing to extend herself in the best interests of our students and our school.
We are fortunate to have the new team in place for the next seven months to plan for a successful 2018-2019 and a smooth integration thereafter into the GCDS community. I look forward to working closely with Lindsey and Michelle next year.
When an opportunity arises please congratulate Trudy, Lindsey, and Michelle on their new roles in the on-going evolution of Stanwich School.
Head of School
Dear Stanwich Community,
We write to you with important and historic news for The Stanwich School community.
We are announcing today that The Stanwich School and Greenwich Country Day School (“GCDS”) have entered into a definitive agreement to consolidate students, faculty, operations and facilities into one Nursery to Grade 12 school. This consolidation will take place over the next 20 months, culminating in the September 2019 grand opening of a new Greenwich Country Day High School-Stanwich Campus for combined Grades 9-12 students on Stanwich Road, and a fully integrated Nursery to Grade 8 program at the current GCDS campus on Old Church Road.
Our collaboration with GCDS positions us to fully realize, in an expedited timeframe, Pat Young and our founding families’ original dream of establishing a preeminent Nursery to Grade 12 co-educational independent school in Greenwich. We are excited about this combination, which will create one of the leading college preparatory schools in the country, including a state-of-the-art high school facility on our current campus. Importantly, it ensures the steady continuation of the many tenets of our mission that are shared by GCDS.
For the balance of the 2017-2018 academic year, each school will continue academic and extracurricular operations independently. The 2018-2019 academic year will be a transition year to allow for facilities upgrades and high school curriculum planning. For that transition year, current Stanwich students and their teachers in Grades Pre-K to 12 will remain at the Stanwich campus. GCDS students will remain at their campus on Old Church Road.
In September 2019, GCDS Headmaster, Adam Rohdie, and the Country Day community will warmly welcome Stanwich students up through Grade 8 and their parents at the GCDS Old Church Road campus. Stanwich and GCDS students in Grades 9-12, along with additional students expected to enroll from Greenwich and neighboring communities, will join together at the grand opening of Greenwich Country Day High School-Stanwich Campus.
Over the last twenty years, our path to “building the dream” has been both exciting and challenging. Through the enormous generosity of committed Stanwich families, we were able to purchase our beautiful 40-acre campus on Stanwich Road. We established an ambitious campus plan and successfully won a series of necessary approvals from the Planning & Zoning Commission. Along the way, again thanks to our generous donors, we built out our field and gymnasium, completed facilities upgrades, and consolidated our Pre-K through Grade 12 students on one campus.
In recent years, demographic and economic factors have changed the competitive landscape for independent schools in the Fairchester area. The impact on our enrollment and resources has begun to challenge our long-term ability to sustain our program. When the leadership of GCDS approached our Board to explore the possibility of consolidating our operations, we recognized our like-minded missions and the benefits of aligning ourselves with their educational philosophy, track record, and considerable financial resources. We were also pleased that our Board’s goals of robust enrollment and facilities upgrades — including the West Wing expansion — would be within immediate reach. Following extensive Board discussion and consideration, including consultation with our school’s founder, Pat Young, we have come to this historic agreement to secure the best interests of Stanwich current students, their families and our teachers.
Founded in 1926, Greenwich Country Day School is one of the most highly regarded independent elementary and middle school programs in the United States. In recent years, the GCDS Board has explored the question of expansion through the high school years in order to provide their own students with continuity of program through Grade 12. Stanwich provides the complementary foundation to complete their vision.
Though we feel fortunate for this opportunity, we acknowledge that this development was not anticipated. We understand that change can be both exciting and challenging. The Stanwich Board of Trustees believes the combined Nursery to Grade 12 program will provide an extraordinary opportunity to serve all of our families — offering a rich academic experience, strong athletics, arts and extracurricular programs and first-class facilities at a co-educational, values-based family school.
We believe that this consolidation provides a vibrant future for both the GCDS and Stanwich communities. We welcome your input and support as we embark on this new endeavor together.
Head of School
From Stanwich’s founding days, education and values have always been inextricably linked. Our distinctive school culture fosters an understanding of compassion and commitment to helping others during difficult times. Recently, Grade 7 student Thomas Steel used his Stanwich Heart to help better the lives of the residents of Puerto Rico by starting a collection of items needed in the hurricane-torn Caribbean island.
As Thomas shared in a school-wide email, “As I’m sure you’re aware, Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on many Caribbean islands. Puerto Rico was one of the most badly damaged, and I have taken the initiative to do an item-raiser (not fundraiser) to help those affected by this tragedy.”
For two weeks, members of the Stanwich School community collected cases of bottled water, canned food, flashlights and packages of batteries that were then brought to the Javits Center before being transported to the island.
Pictured are Stanwich students Thomas and William Steel unloading the carload of Stanwich School donations for “Hope for Puerto Rico.”
Phil DiSalvio of Javits Security Team and Lieutenant Harrington of the US Naval Reserve with Stanwich students Thomas and William.
Chris Hughes, an Upper School history and psychology teacher, participated in a five day teacher seminar this summer aboard the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego. The topic was World War II in the Pacific, and thirty teachers from across the country were chosen to take part. Lecture topics included military strategy, the home front, military psychology, and the Roosevelts. Social history sessions related the wartime experiences of Asian Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and women. Some of the most interesting sessions concerned the use of propaganda by all of the combatant nations and the ways in which the war is remembered to this day in different countries.
The lectures and discussions were complemented with three two-hour behind the scenes tours of the aircraft carrier which was in service from 1945 to 1991. Teachers were provided with books, a film and other teaching resources to bring back to their classrooms.
“It was a wonderful experience and I really appreciated the opportunity to have high-level discussions with leading experts and other teachers about so many aspects of World War II in the Pacific, said Chris Hughes. “I learned so much, not just through the formal lectures, but the chance to compare notes with experts and other teachers one-on-one at meals or between sessions. The whole experience was a like a history fantasy camp. It renewed my enthusiasm for teaching history and gave me so many ideas to bring back to my classroom and share with my colleagues.”
Like most schools, Stanwich’s hallways are commonly quiet after the last bell has rung, and students and faculty depart after a full school day. This certainly wasn’t the case on the evening of Wednesday, October 4, when nearly 100 Stanwich parents and Upper School students attended an Evening of IBDP Mini-Lessons. Stanwich is completing a two-year process to become authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) to students in Grades 11 and 12, beginning in the fall of 2018. Presented by Upper School faculty, the mini-lessons allowed participants to experience the excitement of learning in an IBDP classroom.
Participants attended two “mini-lessons” — 20 minute classroom simulations designed to highlight the distinctive IBDP curriculum and approach to learning. Ranging from Art to Biology, from Psychology to Math, the lessons invited participants to witness first-hand how the IBDP encourages students to think critically and independently. Afterwards, the assembled group participated in a “Theory of Knowledge” lesson, a signature element of the IBDP, during which students examine not only why they learn, but also how they learn.
“It was traditional teaching, but the content delved deeper. There was an emphasis on understanding how to learn,” said Mindy Nagorsky Israel, parent of a Grade 5 student.
Echoing the positive feedback from fellow attendees, Michael Estock, parent of students in Grades 12, 8 and 3 said, “It seemed like the teachers were listeners. It wasn’t a one-way lesson, it was conversational.”
Alison Bevan, parent of a Grade 10 student said, “I love the idea of ‘what do you think’ instead of ‘here is the answer.’”
“I have two sons who graduated from Stanwich … and I recognized that the teachers are already teaching this way. This is a really great program,” said Jackie Rivera, parent of a Grade 10 student.
Students who attended the mini-lessons also walked away excited about being enrolled in IBDP classes next school year. “I actually thought the lessons would be more difficult. I liked how it correlated with the regular academic study we already have here. I feel that I’m ready and will really enjoy the program next year,” said Nicole Roldan, Grade 10 student.
Pointing out the important role classroom teachers hold, Grade 10 student Dylan McCormick said, “One thing I noticed, which is already great about Stanwich in general, is where the teacher/student connection in the lessons was deep, which is not like other schools.”
It is widely believed that high student achievement and strong school performance depend heavily on a school’s program and quality teaching. At Stanwich, exemplary faculty deliver focused, individualized attention that challenges students to achieve their personal best. The Stanwich graduating class of 2020 will be the first to graduate with both a Stanwich School diploma but also an opportunity to earn the IB Diploma, recognized as a gold standard of a quality secondary school education around the world.
The IBDP is a curriculum taught in over 2,500 schools worldwide to students in Grades 11 and 12. The IBDP aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are prepared for living and working in a complex, highly interconnected world. The programme is known for its academic rigor and emphasis on students’ personal development. A “holistic” educational approach, it aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically. The principles underlying the IBDP are ideally suited to Stanwich because of their shared emphasis on the essential elements of the Stanwich mission: academic rigor, holistic learning, and improvement of the world.
IB Diploma Program courses place a particular emphasis on independence, creative thinking, and information synthesis. “The program creates an environment that fosters independent learning and an autonomy that is critically important when students progress to higher learning,” said Jerome Murphy. “All of our research and all of the feedback that we have received supports the claim that students who participate in the Diploma Programme are far better prepared to succeed in college than those who do not. The program is highly effective at preparing students not only for college but also for life. ”
The requirements for the IB diploma conform to an international standard and include the completion of seven rigorous classes across a spectrum of subjects. The program also requires two long-form essays and self-selected extracurricular projects that are designed to promote engagement with the larger world.
“Pursuing an International Baccalaureate diploma is an amazing opportunity. With a changing landscape and the uncertainties of the 21st century, more than anything else I believe an International Baccalaureate education for our oldest students is necessary for their success,” said Head of School Charlie Sachs.
Ending the evening with group reflections, Grade 10 parent Robin O’Hara summed up her main takeaway by saying to the attendees, “Our children are always asking us ‘how is this relevant,’ so now I can go home and say (the IBDP) will prepare you for college. That’s how it’s relevant.”