Faculty Blog

A Reflection at Year’s End

By nature, the end of the school year, despite its frenetic pace, prompts reflection on raising and educating boys. In the past nine months that we’ve shared with your sons, you as parents have been witness at home to their behind-the-scenes moments of elation, fear, disappointment, and satisfaction as they’ve invested themselves in school life with its challenges, triumphs, achievements, and failures.

Your parental love, support, and encouragement balanced with your clear expectations and wise discipline have served as a firm foundation for your sons’ growth at Fenn this …

A Visit to New York City to see Fenn Alums

It is a Thursday in late April and I am aboard an Acela Express train bound for New York City and a Fenn alumni reception in midtown Manhattan. On my left there is a cup of coffee cooling and on my right is a list of the former-but-always-will-be Fenn boys scheduled to attend the event this evening, many of whom I taught or coached in their years on Monument Street.

Davis Rosborough, class of '02: My advisee in eighth grade. Always thoughtful and upbeat. Helped me coach and referee the intramural football games in seventh grade because he was injured. Became a good quarterback at Deerfield.
Posted by in Derek Boonisar on Thursday May 7, 2015 at 09:15AM
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Measuring what matters

Character. We all know it when we see it, admire those who have it, and strive to achieve it.  At a recent conference I attended, character was mentioned as one of the non-cognitive skills that are in vogue and considered by secondary schools and college institutions to be as important as grades or scores from standardized testing.

We all know that character is a trait that is mentioned as something that matters to educators and to educational institutions. As educators we want to provide the knowledge that will make our students successful, but we also want to provide the tools and …

Posted by in Gisela Hernandez-Skayne on Tuesday May 5, 2015 at 11:46AM
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Tribute to Derek Boonisar on His Twentieth Year of Service at Fenn

*Each year, the faculty gathers to honor those who have served for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30+ years at Fenn. Here is one exerpt from that evening written and delivered by Jerry Ward. 

Filling the shoes of a legend is close to an impossible thing to do. Derek Boonisar arrived one day at Fenn twenty years ago as a twenty-five year old teaching candidate with two years of experience. He was here to interview for a full time position that involved teaching Latin, coaching sports, and advising middle school students. The young man didn’t know that day that the faculty member he would be …

Posted by in Jerry Ward on Thursday April 16, 2015
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Students, Teach Thy Teachers

A few months ago, on a dreary gray morning in mid-January, I experienced one of those moments that many teachers only dream about. In fact, it may well be the high point so far of my 25-year career. It was in my 9th grade Global Studies class, and we had been tackling the various tenets of Buddhism for several weeks. Buddhism is a tricky religion to study, in part because our western eyes have trouble comprehending what is so fundamentally eastern in form and construct, and in part because in its original form, Buddhism steered clear of the religious trappings of the Hindu culture in which it …

Posted by in John Sharon on Tuesday March 31, 2015
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Professional Development

One of the bonuses of working at Fenn is the opportunity to take advantage of professional development. In my six years of working here, I have been given many opportunities to explore interests and pursue professional passions due to the monetary support I receive from Fenn and the collegial support I receive from my colleagues--who are asked to cover my classes and assume my school responsibilities while I am away learning. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to attend national conferences out of state such as the National Council of Teachers of English Conference last year in Boston …

Treasuring the Imperfect Boys Before Us

Last Friday afternoon most of the ninth graders were able to come over for our weekly get-together at the house. The fact that I said “were able to” indicates just how often many of them cannot come because of sports commitments, tutoring, and other academic and extracurricular commitments.  Several of them rued the reality of not being able to take the time out to be here eating cookies and Doritos and relaxing with their classmates even once a week. Life is very busy for them.

I usually start our time together sitting in a circle and asking them to tell me what have been …

Boys Learn Best From Each Other

Whether it's on the sports field, in the classroom, at recess, or somewhere in between, boys often learn best from each other. While this may seem obvious, it often is hard not to get involved when there is an argument, when a situation looks like it is getting out of hand, or when you feel you need to provide some sort of moral support or comfort.  As adults, we are the "frontal lobes" for the boys and we teach and guide them in every way possible, yet it is through their experience and interaction with their peers that boys apply and test out what they have learned. I was reminded of …

Posted by in Jon Byrd on Wednesday October 15, 2014
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Calling All Mothers

Are you one of those mothers like me who is often disappointed by Mother’s Day—a ruse to get our families to feel guilty about and acknowledge all the things we do behind the  scenes to make our children’s lives and family life thrive?  Do you sometimes sit quietly at the end of a wonderful Mother’s Day thinking about the beautiful cards and the dinner or lunch out or the breakfast served in bed and in a  brief moment of resignation think, “And tomorrow the lacrosse sticks will once again be thrown across the entry hall, the Legos will  be …

Posted by in Lorraine Ward on Wednesday July 30, 2014
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An Empty Nest and the Promise of a New Adventures

As we feel the warmth of summer approaching and the excitement of graduation week, for some families this is a time that signals the end of a journey and the start of a new adventure. It is also a time when nature comes alive with vibrant colors and sounds. I can hear birds chirping during the early hours of the morning, and I know that the promise of warmer days drew them back to our beautiful forests after the long winter months.

As I was starting a new week and thinking about nature’s array of activity, one of my students during advisor time at the start of the day–Jalen …

Wintertime at Fenn

Growing up in Mexico City winter mornings meant crisp, cool temperatures, the thermometer somewhere in the sixties, always with the promise of the beautiful southern sun during the day, where a warm fleece would more than suffice to venture the elements. What a surprise for a young Mexican exchange student when in 1978 in Lexington Massachusetts she saw her first snow and became even fearful of it when during the Blizzard of ’78 she had to stay home for almost a week!

A lot has changed since then. Today, for me, winter means so much more than snow and cold days. I live winter through …

Posted by in Gisela Hernandez-Skayne on Saturday February 1, 2014
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The Joy of Boys Learning

I recently attended the annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English.  I was able to take in several informative and useful presentations. I attended an afternoon session titled From Blocks to Social Media:  Boys’ Play Based Composing of Self and Story. The presentation was an examination of case studies of a preschool play model, a high school virtual communication model and college level Role Playing Game model, all intended to help boys construct meaning and establish identity.  The conference itself was quite fascinating – especially to me as …

Posted by in Patricia McCarthy on Monday December 9, 2013
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Allowing Boys Tenderness

I am always grateful for the Friday afternoon sessions at my home with the senior class at Fenn—our Pen to Paper Club.  Started three years ago by a member of the Class of 2011 to answer a longing to do something different in the afternoon, we set up a voluntary ninth grade club to read poetry and to write and draw in response to it.  My offer was guidance and a place to gather away from the school with appealing food and drinks: think salt and sugar.

It quickly became clear that all of the ninth graders wanted to be part of the club and that while poetry was the supposed main…

Posted by in Lorraine Ward on Sunday November 10, 2013
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The Importance of Feeling Connected

In September of 1976 I walked onto Fenn's campus as a new seventh grader. I was coming from a local junior high school, and I was repeating seventh grade. Needless to say, I was feeling shy, vulnerable, and insecure. Before the first day of school, my parents and I read through the parent handbook to get a better understanding of what I needed to bring to Fenn, and I thought I had everything covered. Just like the students of today, however, I did not bring any sports clothes, and I had signed up for football. So I did what any normal Fenn boy would do and just got dressed, which included …

Posted by in Jon Byrd on Wednesday November 6, 2013
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Finding Significance for Boys

In April 2012 I travelled to the Allen-Stevenson School in New York City to hear Dr. Adam Cox share the findings of his global research project for the IBSC on how school boys locate significance in their lives. Two years earlier, The Fenn School, the all-boys school in Concord, Massachusetts where I have spent the past eighteen years, was one of the twenty schools worldwide Dr. Cox visited as he conducted the research that would become central to the findings of his study. As a matter of fact, Fenn was the very first school Dr. Cox visited and one of two schools to which he verbally referred …

Posted by in Derek Boonisar on Monday September 16, 2013
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Teaching Boys

Years ago, when I first began teaching at Fenn, I happened across a tremendous resource developed by the International Boys’ School Coalition (IBSC) titled "Teaching Boys: A Global Study of Effective Practices". The authors of the study, Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley, spent years researching the many ways teachers of boys crafted and delivered lessons, and they also spent years interviewing boys about what parts of that teaching resonated with them. Reichert and Hawley then endeavored to identify patterns within the research that would indicate specific skills or methodologies …

Posted by in George Scott on Friday September 13, 2013
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An Independent Day School
for Boys Grades 4-9

516 Monument Street, Concord, MA 01742

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