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 …

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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The Beginning of a New Year

Unlike the exuberant celebrators of New Year’s Eve, I am often in the throes of taking stock at the start of the new year: What could I have done better in my life, what do I continue to leave unsaid and undone, what am I most afraid of leaving behind in my life? (A lot of things truthfully). These feelings are the inevitable and unenviable product of an over determined super ego (thanks, Ma and Dad) and living eight years with the vagaries of incurable, Stage 4 breast cancer. You’d think my longevity in the face of my cancer would make me see life in the most positive of terms. …

Posted by in Lorraine Ward on Thursday January 8, 2015
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Going Global: 9th Graders and the World That Awaits Them

On the wall of my 9th grade Global Studies classroom hang two essential questions that guide us each day in the course: first, “How does the past, with all of its complexities, shape the world we live in today?” And second, “What are my responsibilities as a global citizen?” The questions serve to remind us of two intersecting realities—that the problems in our world today sometimes emerge out of nuanced historical processes, and that, once we understand the problems, it is our obligation to do something about them.

This is heady stuff for a 9th grader. Sometimes…

Posted by in John Sharon on Wednesday December 10, 2014
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Video in the classroom

This past June, I had the opportunity to attend an Ed Tech workshop on creating iMovies on the iPad. As a social studies teacher in the sixth and eighth grades, It’s been a goal of mine to incorporate more video into my classroom, so I was excited to head to Cambridge and learn from another humanities teacher. Attending a professional workshop is always a good reminder of what it means to be student again. I try to prepare myself for getting into the zone of learning, which translates to mean that I will be confused before I have the big picture of how my …

Posted by in Elise Mott on Wednesday November 5, 2014
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George Writes His Essay

Why am I the poor schmuck saddled with a teacher who insists on finding meaning and metaphor in everything we read? Like The Odyssey: I mean, the book is full of random everythings. Like just when Odysseus starts to figure something out (and I have a half a clue what is going on) he breaks off into some wild story with a hundred new characters. "Oh," says my teacher, "that is a literary technique used to build the scope and sweep of the poem. It is the hallmark of an epic literary work." If that is the case, then I have a crazy old uncle—a guy who never knows when to …
Posted by in John Fitzsimmons on Sunday October 5, 2014
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Rich Beyond Measure

A Note to my 8 and 9th Grade Students



I've never met a man who was truly awake. I wouldn't know how to look him in the eyes. 

~Henry David Thoreau 

 

Somebody once asked Thoreau if he would give a talk on the evils of alcohol and tobacco. He declined, stating that since he had never tried alcohol or tobacco, he wasn't able to speak about the effects of either tobacco or alcohol from personal experience—and personal experience is what generates our most powerful ideas and motivates our most profound actions. Retelling our experiences inspires readers to look …

Posted by in John Fitzsimmons on Friday August 1, 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 …

None of Us Looks Like His or Her Story

Recently, I attended the annual conference of the National Association of Independent Schools, where I listened to thoughtful and thought-provoking presentations about many aspects of independent school life and the opportunities and challenges before our students. One of the most compelling presentations occurred during the “Independent Matters: Dare to Explore” general session (NAIS’s version of TED Talks) when Steve Pemberton, Chief Diversity Officer and Divisional Vice-President for Walgreens, recounted his experience growing up in the Massachusetts foster care system, a …

Admissions Decisions

On March 10, students from Fenn and from all over the United States opened envelopes and emails from secondary schools and learned the outcome of their applications. The anxiety and anticipation had been building for the past few weeks and reached their apex for many students. The envelopes and emails revealed one of three outcomes: Admit, Wait List, or Deny. Gratification and relief arrived with an Admit; disappointment yet hope arrived with a Wait List; rejection and perhaps anger followed a Deny. The outcomes feel very personal. How can they not? Students have had their academic record …

Posted by in Derek Boonisar on Sunday March 9, 2014 at 01:00AM
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Remember the Time

I don’t always practice what I preach, especially when it comes to the simple, unaffected and ordinary “journal entry.” Much of my reticence towards the casual journal entry is the public nature of posting our journal writing as blogs that are more or less “open” to the public. It is hard for me as a teacher of writing to post an entry that I know is trivial, mundane—and perhaps of no interest to my readers—but that is precisely what I need to do if I am to model the full spectrum of the writing process. Keeping a journal is more than a search for …

Posted by in John Fitzsimmons on Friday January 17, 2014
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Nobody Told Me to Read “The Odyssey”

Nobody ever told me to read The Odyssey—and that was the greatest educational travesty of my life. I first read it after high school while working at Colonial Motors in West Concord. I didn't "get it" any more than the most confused among you, but what I did do is "feel it." I felt its primordial power and emotional bareness; I felt another world, another age, and another human journey come alive inside of me. It made me feel that I was a part of long and unbroken lineage of humanity searching for truth and purpose in a world—especially my world, a world not always blessed with …

Making the Most of the Moment

It may be unexpected to reference a blog post titled “Are You Living Your Eulogy or Resume” when beginning a reflection about the opening of a school year, a time when a teacher’s thoughts typically turn to considering possibilities and aspirations for his students. Yet, I would suggest that this is precisely the time of year to think about the mark we are going to make as teachers (and parents) and for us to encourage our students to think about the mark they want to make as individuals, as members of a class and as members of a community like Fenn. It is in these opening …

Posted by in Steve Farley on Friday October 4, 2013
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