Harker students weren’t the only ones out and about over the summer. Several teachers and staff were also busy traveling, learning new skills and completing various projects.
Susan Nace, US music teacher, performed in a semi-staged production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe,” alongside the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus and members of the D’Oyly Carte Company. She also completed seven jazz choral arrangements of songs by the respected jazz composer Billy Strayhorn, who wrote many of the songs for which Duke Ellington became famous.
Nace’s colleague, US music teacher Catherine Snider, traveled to China this summer with her choir, the Ohlone Chamber Singers. The group tours every three years, but this was their first trip to Asia, where they performed at music conservatories in Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou and a community center in Dalian. The group highlighted American spirituals and pieces in French, Hebrew, Mandarin and Italian. An alto in the choir, Snider also led a vocal jazz quartet at their performances. A highlight was rehearsing and singing with a choir in Hangzhou, which has an exchange partnership with Ohlone College’s performing arts department. The choir ended their tour with a few days in Hong Kong. When Snider returned she resumed rehearsals for “The Producers,” her 17th outing as musical director for award-winning Foothill Musical Theatre. The show played to critical and popular praise for four weeks in July and August.
One of the busier staff members this summer was Angela Neff, MS assistant director of instructional technology. She worked with a number of MS teachers who were spending their summer learning new skills via Harker’s Tech Grants program. She also traveled to Memphis, Tenn., for the Lausanne Laptop Conference, where she gave presentations on sharing technology-based curricula and one-to-one laptop programs.
Also at the Lausanne Laptop Conference was Dan Hudkins, US director of information systems, who was a keynote speaker on the topic of “Leading From the Trenches,” or “what do we do until we have all the time, talent and resources we need,” he explained.
In late July, Amalia Vasconi, MS dance teacher, went to New York City for the ninth annual Broadway Dance Center /Pulse Teacher Workshop. She spent three days at the workshop in a variety of seminars and dance classes. “I was able to meet and network with dance teachers from all over the United States, and take classes from the amazing BDC/Pulse faculty,” she said. “Aside from all of the fantastic choreography, I was able to bring home a lot of different methods in teaching dance, especially for the younger students.”
US English teacher Brigid Miller went to Oxford, Miss., in July for the 36th annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, held at the University of Mississippi. Every year, the week-long conference is held for the study and appreciation of the works of 20th century writer William Faulkner. “The ‘Teaching Faulkner’ sessions were especially informative, and I came back with wonderful ideas about how to better approach the works of Faulkner that I teach in American Literature, The Study of Short Fiction and especially Southern Fiction,” Miller said.
In late July, US chemistry teacher Mala Raghavan attended a workshop at Stanford University on AP Chemistry, where she learned about different methods of conducting experiments, demonstrations that students may find interesting and how AP teachers grade student papers. “I plan to incorporate all of these into my class,” Raghavan said.
US physics teacher Miriam Allersma accompanied a group of Harker students to the NASA Space Camp at the NASA Ames Research Center in Sunnyvale for two weeks in June. Along with students from several other South Bay schools, the group toured the labs and attended lectures, in addition to conducting biological experiments and creating rockets and robots. All of their work at the center was used to design an expedition to Mars to search for life. “It was amazing,” Allersma said. “We learned so much and can’t wait to bring it back to Harker.”
Nicholas Manjoine, US French teacher, headed across the pond to Avignon, France, for four weeks to attend a seminar held by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The seminar, titled “Theatricality and Reality in Modern French Drama,” examined the relationship between “culture, history and the theater in 20th century French drama,” Manjoine said. “Being in France for the month allowed me to collect up-to-date materials and information on current cultural patterns and linguistic trends. Of course, I hope that my students will like to sample some plays in class this year.”
US librarian Susan Smith went to Chicago for the American Library Association Conference, which was attended by nearly 30,000 people and had more than 6,000 exhibitors, “including authors and publishers, furniture and equipment manufacturers, subscription database providers, and generally all things library!” Smith exclaimed. She kept busy at the conference, attending a workshop on instructional design, taking in a presentation about the limits on access to government information and treating herself to a keynote address by NPR’s Cokie Roberts. She plans to use what she learned at the conference to develop “a more refined and targeted approach to each information literacy lesson,” collect information that will be used to create instruction for research projects and require students to publish what they learned from the projects.
MS fine arts teacher Elizabeth Saltos spent a week at the Mendocino Art Center in an intensive clay sculpture program. “We had no TV, no phones, no interference or distractions,” Saltos said. “Just art!” The program was small (three students and two teachers) but rewarding. “All of us were mature working artists and we just made art all week,” Saltos recalled. “I learned a ton of techniques to make sculptural shapes and vessels using the wheel and tons of applications for underglaze and color.”
US performing arts teacher Laura Lang-Ree spent four days in New York City at the Broadway Teachers Workshop. Held at Lincoln Center, the workshop attracted teachers from other top performing arts schools. “The caliber of the workshops and the leaders was top notch. All of them were working professionals, currently on Broadway in the areas of directing, lighting, sound, theater and musical theater,” said Lang-Ree. “It was engaging to work with them side-by-side on projects that the facilitators created for us.” Lang-Ree returned from the program with new ideas and directing tools for the US musical, and ideas for a touring company that she hopes to work into the US performing arts program.