GDS Expertise in Demand

Danny Stock

During the 2019-20 school year, GDS faculty and staff have accepted invitations to share their expertise at conferences across the country and globally. Workshop and keynote attendees have benefitted from the mastery and knowledge that GDS families, students, and faculty benefit from daily.

This fall, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Marlo Thomas hosted a delegation from the Czech Republic and Slovakia when they visited Georgetown Day School as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program’s (IVLP) “Social, Educational, Civic and Economic Inclusion for Ethnic Minorities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.” She presented a vision, grounded in the work of GDS, for, not diversity, but full inclusion in educational institutions. Word of her impactful presentation returned to Slovakia, and Marlo was subsequently invited by the Director of the Research Institute for Child Psychology and Pathopsychology to give a keynote address at the International Child at Risk Conference in Bratislava. While abroad, she visited elementary schools and learned about the work of educators there to support marginalized and underrepresented Roma students.

Credit Joann Taylor

Lower/Middle School Arts department chair and music teacher Keith Hudspeth presented “Head Voice: The Highway to Healthy Singing” to 350 music educators during the national conference of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association (AOSA) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Former teacher Joanne Taylor said, “Keith received an enthusiastic response from grateful teachers who were thrilled with his information. As his former colleague, I was so impressed with his presentation and happy that GDS students can continue to benefit from his expertise and knowledge.” Keith’s presentation demonstrated an ongoing commitment not only to the general physical and emotional safety of students, but also specifically to the safe, healthy development of vocal anatomy in young singers.

The GDS Math Task Force, established three years ago, hosts three meetings at GDS each year for educators at DC area schools aimed at initiating positive change for female students and students of color in mathematics. These meetings—called Let's Get It Right: A Collaborative Effort to Ensuring that Females and Students of Color Thrive in Mathematics​—hopes to break down the systemic obstacles to success for female students and students of color. The Let’s Get It Right mission statement says:

As mathematics educators, we know that is not happening for many of our female students and students of color, as evidenced by their low presence in higher-level math courses. ​We hope to unlock why this is happening and to develop clear and consistent strategies to help reverse this trend. Through a collaborative approach, schools have the opportunity to reexamine the systems in place that may be preventing some of our students from excelling. We will work with our peer schools to lead the charge and make sure that all of our students are provided the opportunity to thrive in mathematics. 

Fifth grade math teacher and Lower School Math department chair Luisa Myavec explained, “At this stage of our work, we are most focused on action planning. It’s easy to keep talking about the problems, but we are most interested in turning our attention to enacting solutions.”

Members of the GDS Math Task Force include:
Luisa Myavec (5th grade math, LS Math department chair)
Jana Rupp (MS Math department chair, 7th and 8th grade math, Math club and HS-MS mentoring advisor)
Bryan Williams (5th grade math)
Julia Tomasko (4th grade math)
Susie Loutoo (LS Math specialist, 4th and 2nd grade math, Math club advisor)
Suzy Hamon (HS math, HS math team advisor)
Juan Vidal (HS math, HS-MS mentoring advisor)
Assistant Head of School for Curriculum and Instruction Laura Yee manages the task force and has been instrumental in supporting its goals.

The next meeting of Let’s Get It Right will be held on January 28. Educators can RSVP here.

Lower/Middle School nurse Elizabeth McDermott presented at the annual Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) conference here in DC. Along with a DC Public School colleague, Elizabeth presented "Accommodating Students with Food Allergies in an Age of Increasingly Complex Health Conditions." In addition to discussing examples of when food allergies might be in conflict with other diagnoses or issues within a class/school, they discussed the roles and responsibilities of the school nurse, the parents and the child's physician/NP in allergy management, ways to develop effective partnerships between home, school, and the child's medical home, and current laws and regulations that govern school nursing care. In an environment of increasingly complex and often competing health conditions and disparities, Elizabeth’s expertise in balancing accommodating and advocating for students with food allergies is in demand.

Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Associate Guyton Mathews returned once again as a faculty member to the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), the student portion of the People of Color Conference (POCC). His ongoing work with the conference supports students in their development as practitioners of diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership. Guyton guides them through three days of rigorous activities and workshops that allow them not only to explore all parts of their identity but hone their facilitating skills in continuing these conversations back at their schools. POCC attendees also benefited from GDS faculty and staff who planned activities and facilitated essential conversations during affinity group gatherings: Katie Gibson (HS Principal), Anna Howe (HS Dean and English teacher), Lauren Kinnard (LMS Spanish teacher), and Peg Schultz (LMS P.E. teacher and health department chair) facilitated during a gathering of white anti-racist allies, and Tuan Nguyen (HS Technology Specialist and HS Studio Arts) and Laura Yee (Assistant Head of School for Curriculum and Instruction) facilitated during the Asian Pacific Islander gathering. Tuan, in his fifth year facilitating, said, “This work is important to me because I know that empowering and giving educators tools to grow will reach students. Being a facilitator doesn't mean you have all the answers. It means you cultivate a space where your guests feel safe to have challenging conversations and deep listening.”

Courtesy of Nichelle Dowell

PreK/Kindergarten teacher Nichelle Dowell presented at Free Minds, Free People, a national conference convened by the Education for Liberation Network, which “brings together teachers, young people, researchers, parents, and community-based activists/educators from across the country to build a movement to develop and promote education as a tool for liberation,” according to its mission. Her presentation, entitled Race, Representation, and History in Early Childhood Classrooms: Focus on Children’s Literature for the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, supports educators as they aim to bring issues of race, representation, and history into early childhood classrooms in developmentally appropriate ways, especially regarding positive racial identity development through literature.

Courtesy of Lauren Kinnard

Middle School History and Latin teacher Erika Calson and Lower/Middle School Spanish teacher Lauren Kinnard presented an “Electronic Poster Presentation” at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages' annual conference (ACTFL) in DC. Their presentation promoted the use of mastery-based assessments (MBA) for world language programs, an evaluation system that reflects students’ progress towards language mastery only and excludes subjective participation grades, homework (an obstacle to “practice without penalty” learning space), group work, or timeliness of assignment completion. GDS students benefit from elements of MBAs that Erika and Lauren presented, including clearly defined rubrics (and actionable feedback), affirmation-minded “I can” statements about student performance, and the accommodation of assessment “re-takes” where appropriate.

Lower School P.E. teacher and High School coach Matt Senie presented a paper at the International Reception of Existentialism in Austria entitled “Existential Psychoanalysis in America.”  The paper will be included in a philosophy anthology that will be released at the end of January. Paint, a play Matt has written and will be directing in its debut in February, is a required text in several courses at American University. Catch the play at the Abramson Family Recital Hall of the Katzen Arts Center at American University February 14-16. Learn more about the show here


Human Resources Manager Ayoka Jack and Director of Auxiliary and Extended Learning Programs and Strategic Projects Vinita Ahuja presented on the partnership between Human Resources and Auxiliary Programs at the national conference of the Summer Programs and Auxiliary Revenue Conference (SPARC). Vinita also presented "Data-Informed Auxiliary Programs" at SPARC. 

High School English teacher and past president of the Robert Frost Society Michael Manson was invited to speak about the winter poems of Robert Frost by the Profs & Pints program. He described how Frost uses winter as an image of existential threat but also expresses confidence that we fight back by creating forms that give us comfort, whether those forms are slight things like poems or gardens or larger things like marriages, families, careers, or nations. We hope you find your own forms of comfort this winter.


Staff writer Danny Stock tells the stories of teaching, learning, competing, creating, and performing at Georgetown Day School. He is a former GDS second grade teacher and current parent.


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