Alumna Profile: Kelly Wright Henrion ’92

Kelly WrightBriefly describe your path after leaving St. Francis. 
After leaving St. Francis, I majored in Latin American Studies at Carleton College in Northfield, MN – an extraordinary place, despite the very cold winters! I joined Teach for America upon graduation and was placed as a bilingual (Spanish/English) elementary teacher in a dual language charter school in its first year in Phoenix, AZ. Being part of a school in its founding years was a great experience that afforded lots of leadership opportunities.  

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Students Engage in Special Opportunities

HS Main ImageBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

We have had a number of special opportunities for students this month. Last week, the Biology students experienced the Pulse of Surgery program at the Kentucky Science Center. They viewed a live heart surgery and later were able to explore other interesting cutting-edge medical technology. Biology teacher David Word told the rest of the student body about the surgery the next day because the patient was a heroin user whose heart condition was a result of her drug use. He said that he has been taking students to this program for years, and never seen anything like it – an important caution to the student body as heroin takes an ever-stronger foothold in the Louisville community.

Yesterday, 10 students (our Black Students Association and Diversity Committee leaders among them) and history teacher Ralph Marshall (who is also this year’s Sacred Space Committee Chair) went to the Non-Violence Symposium sponsored by the Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion. Held deliberately on International Day of Peace, the Symposium included a morning component for young leaders and an afternoon session featuring Mayor Greg Fischer and other local civic leaders. At the end of the day, the group launched Nonviolent Compassionate Louisville.

Next Tuesday, 17 juniors and seniors will attend Thrivals, an annual student-oriented component of the IdeaFestival. This year’s Thrivals, subtitled “Finding Your Algorithm for the Future,” was preceded by each student being given copies of Grit by Angela Duckworth and Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil (who was also one of the presenters). Thrivals participants this year “will be challenged to use their imagination to consider not only how humans have used their minds to change the past but how humans might also use their minds to change the future.”

Both the Pulse of Surgery program and Thrivals were downtown, so our students were able to walk from school. As ever, this proximity to events is one of my favorite aspects of being a downtown school!

Exploring Nature Together

PS Garden Art_Main ImageBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

This week, the preschoolers spent time with Garden Coordinator Christine Brinkmann preparing the planter barrels for lettuce seeds. Each group used their hands to move the soil, add seeds, and water. One child excitedly exclaimed, “Now the seeds need sparkling water to grow!” This knowledge of the growth process was shared by many of the children who participated. Our little Wyverns also had an opportunity to make SAGE pasta with ingredients right from our garden, and then they got to sample their culinary creations! The children aren’t just learning about seeds and their growth process; we also are supporting their sense of wonder and curiosity, and they are learning to respect nature.

Here are a few ways families can explore nature together: look for wildflowers and insects at parks or in your own backyard, adopt a tree and watch the changes that unfold throughout the year (take pictures of the tree with your phone and revisit them as the seasons change), and revisit your own sense of wonder about nature. Your child will likely follow!

Rosh Hashanah at Morning Meeting

Katy Roemer MMBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

As anyone who has spoken with me on the subject knows, I am a huge fan of our Morning Meetings and think they are such an important part of our school day. Whether in Lower, Middle, or High School, they allow us to gather together first thing in the morning to talk, listen, and simply share a collective experience. Wednesday was just such a day in Middle School. In addition to the usual “housekeeping” announcements (Picture Day details), routine business (who stays for drama rehearsal), sports scores (the field hockey C team beat Collegiate on Tuesday!), birthdays (Aidan Keegan), and Student Council updates (a Halloween Buddy Day in October!), we also had some special moments. In addition to our usual moment of silence (led off with a quote from Aldous Huxley, courtesy of Shelly Jones), we also took time to talk about the victims of the Mexico City earthquake, as well as Hurricane Maria wreaking havoc in Puerto Rico. It is good for our kids to reflect on what is going on in the world around them in addition to what they face in their daily lives. These moments are provided at Morning Meetings with careful and thoughtful framing.

They often provide amusement as well! On Wednesday, Brandon Doble gave an informational talk about Rosh Hashanah in advance of the the Jewish holiday beginning on Wednesday night. He explained its meaning and some of the traditions associated with it, such as eating apples and honey on those days (in fact, he also treated many of the Middle School kids to this delicacy at snack break!). Explaining the beliefs and customs of others is typical of a topic we might cover at a Morning Meeting. But the highlight occurred when he showed everyone a shofar, a hollowed-out ram’s horn traditionally sounded on Rosh Hashanah. No munchkin, Brandon admitted he couldn’t get the shofar to make a peep. At that point, 8th grader Katy Roemer volunteered to show him how it was done. She bravely came forward and produced a noteworthy blast to thunderous applause! Unscripted moments such as these at Morning Meetings occur all the time! If you’ve never seen one, I encourage you to pay us a visit on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday at 8:40 a.m. in the Middle School Amp, or on Tuesday in the Lower School Amp, to see all the fun!

Preschool Transportation Day!

unnamed (3)By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Today we hosted one of our most highly anticipated events in the Preschool – Transportation Day! The assembly of vehicles mirrored the internal workings of a city. There were vehicles represented ranging in variation from a motorcycle to a city bus.

The Transportation Day committee would like to extend a BIG thank you to the following businesses and friends of the School who participated in our event: North Oldham County Fire Department, TARC, Kroger, Ernst Construction, Waste Management, Oldham County Police Department, and Pro-Lift. We also want to thank our friends from Keystone Learning Academy for spending the day exploring cars and trucks with us.

We could not have accomplished any of this without our fabulous Preschool PA Co-Chairs, Jacquelyn Stack and Renee Reithel, for the volunteer support and coordinating this event. We would also like to thank former Preschool parents, Lillian Brents and Randall Hood, for their continued dedication to Transportation Day (even after their own children have moved on to the Lower School). Thank you to parent volunteers Shari Broecker, Anthony Celasun, and Deena Neimat. And lastly, we want to thank our very own Preschool teacher, Holly Whitaker, for continuing to keep the event special in the eyes of our tiniest students.

Next week we will have Picture Days on the Goshen Campus. Preschool pictures will be taken on Tuesday, September 19th for the following children: 2 Day Twos and Threes,  5 Day Twos and Threes, and Mr. Paul’s group. Wednesday, September 20th, the 3 Day Twos and Threes and Ms. Kelly’s group will have their pictures taken. If you have a student in the Lower or Middle School and you would like a sibling photo taken, please contact your child’s teacher and Rosanne Conlan.

Associates in Pediatric Therapy screened the Preschoolers on Wednesday. Children who attend on Tues/Thurs will be screened on Tuesday of next week.

Please note: Preschool classes will operate on a regular schedule for Wednesday, October 11th when the rest of the school dismisses at noon for faculty professional development.

Supporting New Teachers and Service Learning Fair!

Mr. Spalindg's 5th Graders_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

I thought I would write this week about how St. Francis School supports our new teachers. This year we have four new faculty members: Leonor “Leo” Provan in LS Spanish, Danny Ruano in 2nd grade Language Arts/Social Studies, Billy Spalding in 5th grade, and Maggie Sun in MS Chinese. First, we hold a New Faculty Orientation prior to school starting, at which Jen Griffith and I explain both our school philosophy and mission (which they are always already familiar with due to interviewing and personal research) and the ins and outs and procedures particular to St. Francis (I call this the “Kitchen Sink Meeting!”). Then they have lunch with their assigned mentor teachers. Veteran faculty members are assigned to new teachers to be their personal guides, helping navigate their way through all the aspects of school life a teacher faces, from the mundane (like email and voicemail) to the more involved (progress reporting and parent-teacher conferences). Having a friendly face nearby to answer your questions goes a long way to helping a new teacher become acclimated to St. Francis.

During the first month of the school year, Jen or I observe each of them teaching a lesson and give them feedback and any advice we may have. This will be followed up with another such observation mid-year, as well as an observation by their respective department chair. Then this week, our new teachers all attended a one-day professional development workshop put on by ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States who is our accrediting institution) called the New Teacher Institute. This features informational sessions and conversation pertinent to Independent school life. All four of our teachers reported a great day at this workshop and found it affirming to talk with other new teachers about what their first month of school has been like. Finally, Jen and I had a follow-up lunch with all of them this week to check in and answer questions they may have to date, such as on our upcoming interim progress reports going out next week.

All four of our new teachers are off to a fantastic start this new school year, and we are confident they are “St. Francis people” who will thrive here!

Service Learning Fair_RG ArticleThis week was also time for our annual Service Learning Fair put together with great care by our Service Learning Coordinator and Librarian, Lindsy Serrano. From Lindsy:

Every year, the Goshen Campus hosts a Service Learning fair, which is an opportunity for students to meet with local community service organizations and hear about ways that kids can help the community.  

Organizations participating this year included Creasey Mahan, Kosair, Paws with Purpose, Water Step, Arrow Fund, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Louisville Nature Center, Dare to Care, Neighborhood House, Volunteers for America, and Louisville Grows.

In the next few weeks, each grade will pick a service learning project and build a partnership with a community organization. It is always wonderful to see students get inspired and dream up ways they can help their community. Many of our visitors commented on how impressed they were with our students at SFS!

The Service Learning Fair is always an inspiring and noisy affair in our Main Amp but at the heart of it lies compassion and a desire to help others while also nurturing our students’ personal growth as people and citizens. Congratulations to Lindsy for making it such a success!


Dragon Boat Team Wins Scholastic Division for the Second Year!

Dragon Boat Races 2017_Main Image 4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

It’s been a festive week at the High School! Last Saturday, our Dragon Boat Team repeated as Scholastic Division Champions at the Louisville Dragon Boat Festival. Overall, they finished 6th out of 22 teams (including some that train for the event and travel to it!). Congratulations to teachers David Word and Chris Hutchins for spearheading this year’s event, and to all the other rowers:  students Angela Liu, Sam Yost, Caroline Pepa, Hanna Otto, Kelly Baize, Eden Baize, Justin Strothman, Connor Strothman, Bennett Middendorf, Grayson Razavi, Chris Hammond, Clay Foye, Lily Johnson, and Josh Arnett; parents Chrys and Doug Strothman; High School teacher Ralph Marshall, former High School teacher Bob Jones, and Goshen teachers Billy Spalding and Jason Chlopek.

As the week began, so did the build-up to the Fall Sports Picnic and Bonfire. Tuesday was Pajama Day, Wednesday was “Dress Like a Teacher Day” (with Mike Snyder’s Jenn Buck and Osaz Omoruyi’s Juan Ramirez garnering top honors), and Thursday was “Twin Day” (with Michael Crinot and, again, Osaz Omoruyi winning by a landslide, Parker Smith and Victoria Richardson in second place, and Caroline Pepa and history teacher Ralph Marshall in third). Friday is Wyvern Spirit Wear Day and we’re sending the fall sports teams off at the end of the day with banners and balloons. We’ll enjoy a student-faculty volleyball game, celebrate Senior Night after the games conclude, and then gather for our third annual Bonfire. Because even tradition can be improved upon, this year, by student request, we’re featuring a Watermelon Eating Contest. I watch the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every July 4th, so I feel well qualified to hold this competitive eating event, the first of which I am aware in St. Francis history. Results to come next week! Hope many of you can join us for the games and picnic.  

Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon

PS Luncheon_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

It was wonderful seeing everyone at the Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon! We enjoyed sharing our School and our goals for the year with you, along with the good food. Thank you to our fabulous Parent Association for bringing side dishes and assisting with cleanup.

Next Friday is TRANSPORTATION DAY! This is an exciting day that you don’t want your child to miss. If your child attends Preschool on Tuesday/Thursdays, you are welcome to bring your child and attend Transportation Day with him/her. Please send your little one to school prepared to spend the day outside climbing on and in a variety of cars and trucks. We prefer that they wear closed-toed shoes for this event; sneakers are the best for climbing. Children need to be signed into their classrooms by 9:00 a.m., so we can begin promptly at 9:30 a.m.

Penny Wars

HS Coin Drive_4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Thanks to all the parents who joined us for the Back-to-School program last night! We love getting to show you what happens in our classrooms every day.

We also appreciate parent support of our Penny Wars to raise funds for hurricane relief, in conjunction with the coin drive on the Goshen Campus. The generous spirit of our students has been evident all week, and we look forward to announcing the total raised soon.

Another upcoming event sponsored by the We Act groups on both campuses is our Color Run on Saturday, September 23rd, proceeds from which will support the Offin Children’s Center, an orphanage and education center, in Offinso, Ghana. Regular registration for that ends today, so please register (see information in this newsletter) and come out to have a great time while helping us help others!

Speaking of great times, next Friday is our annual Fall Sports Picnic and Bonfire, all held at the Goshen Campus. We’ll have a bus to and from Goshen, leaving after school and returning downtown about 10:30 p.m. Events include a student-faculty volleyball game, varsity field hockey and soccer games, a grill-out, and a bonfire just for High School students from 8:00 – 10:00. Please join us!

“Lollipop Moments” and Everyday Leadership!

Coin Drive 2017_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus, and Shelly Jones, Middle School Dean of Students

As you may have heard from your children by now, it’s been a truly positive start to the 2017-18 school year! The overall vibe on both sides of the building is one of joy and happiness at being back in school.

However, juxtaposed with our good fortune is the fate of so many in Texas who are enduring the horrible aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. And true to their Wyvern character, our kids were not content with just asking their parents to donate to the Red Cross. So this week we’ve had a coin drive organized by the We Act Club in which everyone has been asked to scour their houses and cars for loose change to bring to school. The We Act kids are rolling the coins and have a grand goal of raising $2,000 together with the High School We Act group (who are sponsoring Penny Wars there) by the end of the week to make their own mark on this terrible situation. Here’s some more from Middle School Dean of Students and We Act Club Sponsor Shelly Jones:

Last week during advisory time, our Middle School students watched a TED-x talk about “Everyday Leadership.” In it, educator Drew Dudley defines what he calls a “lollipop moment,” or a small moment when an everyday person says or does something that fundamentally makes someone else’s life better. (For a deeper appreciation of the lollipop reference and to facilitate a conversation with your middle schooler, feel free to watch the TED talk here.) The point of the talk is that we don’t have to be leaders with a capital “L,” or some grand, extraordinary individuals, to make a difference in someone’s life. Instead, he says we need to redefine leadership as an opportunity to help individual people, in small moments, in our ordinary daily lives. Dudley explains, “We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments – how many of them we create, how many we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward and how many we say thank you for. Because we’ve made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it.”

Our Middle School We Act Club is hard at work, already, leading through such lollipop moments and creating opportunities for individuals to help individuals. As Reed said, in response to the flooding in Texas, our WE Act Groups on both Campuses sponsored a coin drive to donate to disaster relief efforts. Students cleaned out their family vehicles, closets, sofa cushions, and piggy banks to find spare change to donate. Some students, like 5th graders Caroline and Parker McCurry, even sold lemonade over the Labor Day weekend to raise funds.

Another upcoming opportunity for individuals to get involved in helping others is by participating in the My School Color Run on September 23rd. Early bird registration ends today, so please sign up here. Our Middle School We Act group heard from SFS Parent Stephanie Mutchnik about the opportunity to partner with the Offin Children’s Center, an orphanage and education center, in Offinso, Ghana. All proceeds from the My School Color Run will go to support the OCC, and our students will begin the work of creating a cultural exchange with the students and residents at the Center. More lollipop moments, or opportunities for everyday leadership and change-making, this time made possible by a parent in our School community!

What a wonderfully committed group of kids who have their hearts and minds in the right place! Their energy and drive reminded me to dig through my own change piles on Labor Day weekend to bring in a baggie full of coins. And who knows, with Hurricane Irma now looming off the Eastern seaboard, we may need round two next week, sadly. I’m sure our kids will come through and make us proud!