- The St. George’s Way
- Teachers coach, coaches teach
- A Hilltop Campus
- Boarding Is Never Boring
- Together on a wide, wide sea
- Enviable Outcomes
- Inquiry Drives Understanding
Cam Jones ’19 remembers gazing longingly down to Second Beach from the boys’ thirds soccer field on some afternoons in the fall of 2016. “My friends and I were always bummed out when the waves were good,” he said, “and having to just watch them from up here.”
Things were different last fall, however, as Cam and seven fellow students — all donning wetsuits — sat on the grass near that same soccer field waxing their boards. Last school year, the eight were given the opportunity to take part in an afternoon-activity pilot called The Surf Leadership Program. The program offered the chance for participants to improve their surfing skills, train for their lifeguard certifications and gain leadership experience.
English teacher Cory Cramer ’00, the program’s advisor, put it this way: “This is not a competitive surfing program. Those programs exist. That’s not what we’re doing. We’re teaching these kids to be lifeguards. We’re teaching these kids to take ownership and planning over their afternoon activity. And we’re teaching these kids to be safe and confident in the water.”
Along with another program focused on marine biology, Surf Leadership was part of a move to expand St. George’s offerings in the afternoon “to provide specific-interest activities to our students,” said Dean of Afternoon Programs John Mackay.
Leading the drive for the surf program were three boys who proposed it to Cramer last year, and who also helped design a program that met the criteria for a valuable extracurricular experience: Cam and his classmates, Colin and Oscar MacGillivray.
“We got a Google Doc going and put all of our ideas in it,” said Oscar, a Middletown native. The boys had the drive and the passion to make it work. “I’ve been surfing for most of my life,” Oscar added, “and I also wanted to be doing it as a sport too.”
On Cramer’s mind was also “to help kids think in a really respectful way about the ocean.” The group spent a good amount of time in thoughtful discussion “reading the water” and talking about weather conditions before they even waded in.
Not all the students in the Surf Leadership program grew up on a board, and so with members of the group having varying degrees of expertise, the leadership aspect of the program was especially important, Cramer said.
“One of the things that we’re doing is having the more experienced kids actually do the teaching of their less-experienced peers,” he added. “One of the first lessons I learned about leadership was that it is generally separate from performance. So your ability to be an experienced sailor — in my case that’s what it was — really had very little bearing on my ability to get a whole bunch of kids who didn’t know how to sail a boat.
“It’s awesome that they can surf really well,” he said of the more veteran surfers, “but what’s transferrable out of here is their ability to work with people.”
Charis Todd ’ 18, an avid sailor from Bermuda who took part in Geronimo’s transatlantic journey two years ago, said surfing was on her St. George’s bucket list. “Coming here as a freshman all my friends were like, we totally want to learn by senior year — and I’m a senior now, so it was my last shot to give it a go,” she said. When we talked to Charis last fall, she was excited to learn — and humbled by what last October were some of the best surfing conditions in years, thanks to a series of strong storms off the coast.
“I got pummeled by a wave the other day and one of the guys sitting next to me on the beach after was like, ‘Yeah, that one took everyone out,’” Todd said. She appreciated the collegiality and getting to talk to people off campus.
Lexi Sinskey ’18 of San Francisco said she comes from a family of water enthusiasts, and before the Surf Leadership program was mainly into body-boarding and body-surfing. “I’ve always been really bad at sports and stuff, but I’ve always really liked the ocean,” she said. “It took me a little bit longer than the rest of my family to start surfing. I guess after I came here I realized I should probably start trying to surf more.”
Seamus Fearons ’19 of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, never surfed before he came to St. George’s. “I started surfing freshman year because my brother [Patrick ’18] went here and he got a surfboard — and I ended up getting into it more than he did,” he said. “The beach close by definitely got me into it.”
Indeed Cramer, who also teaches a course in maritime literature, expressed his passion for “place-based” learning. A former Dragon sailor, he led sea kayaking and sailing trips for Thompson Island Outward Bound and worked in the Maine Coast Semester program at the Chewonki Foundation before returning to St. George’s to teach in 2014. “The reason I love this program, and the reason I love this place, is that there are so many opportunities to combine what we do up here with where we are,” he said.
Learning along with the locals
Of course anyone who regularly drives past Second Beach on their way to St. George’s sees the evidence — the board-topped cars, the wave riders pulling your eyes while you’re ascending the hill — that Aquidneck has a very strong surfing community. “There’s definitely a lot of good, institutional local knowledge kicking around here,” Cramer said.
Part of what he stressed with the students was respecting the rules.
“Surfing safely within a large group of people involves being aware not only of your position relative to the waves, but also to the other people there,” Cramer explained.
“And so it really is important that people be able to communicate, to learn what it means to wait your turn, who gets to go, and to understand your place in the lineup.
I want to help our students be very good stewards of that because that etiquette exists primarily to keep people safe on the water.”
Throughout the fall the surfers made day trips to other beaches in Rhode Island to surf, such as East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown and Goose Wing in Little Compton — definitely a hit with Darien, Connecticut native Spencer McLane ’19. “A highlight for me was when we took the trip to Little Compton and the waves were really nice there and it was just a new break,” he said. “So it was really fun and we were all getting really good waves.”
At the end of the term, the crew went on a camping trip to Montauk — and they all passed their lifeguard certification tests.
“It’s awesome that the school allowed us to do this, to come up with our own thing and to really step out of what they originally had planned,” Cam said. “They allowed us to go for it and give it a shot.
“Surfing is a passion of all of ours,” he added, “and we love surfing whenever we can.”
This article originally appeared in the 2018 Spring Bulletin magazine. You can view the entire magazine online here.
Spencer Warren Dellenbaugh
Zachary Edward Borden
Spencer Warren Dellenbaugh
Lana Noelle Gaige
Amelia Day Jessop
Maizy Jane Nunes
Darcy Elliot Weber
Sarah Yanhong Zhou
Highest Scholarship in The Third Form:
Darcy Elliot Weber
Class Of 1904 Prize – For the Highest Scholarship in the Fourth Form
Zachary Edward Borden
Highest Scholarship in the Fifth Form:
Spencer Warren Dellenbaugh
Yale Prize – Awarded by the Head Of School to a rising sixth-former for excellence In scholarship and character
Charlotte Hadley Maerov
Head of School Alixe Callen addressed students at Convocation in the Chapel on Sept. 6, highlighting the importance of community in her remarks.
To watch a video of Ms. Callen's Convocation Address, click here.
The ceremony also recognized new and emeriti faculty, Cum Laude Society inductees, prize recipients, and the school's top scholars. A full list of inductees and prize recipients can be found here.
Students new and old have arrived on the Hilltop for the start of the new academic year.
The first day of classes was Sept. 7 and a photo gallery of the day can be found here.
However, student leaders such as the prefects and honor board (pictured above) have been on campus all week helping new Dragons settle in and preparing for the 2018-19 school year.
Photos from the first week back to school can be found in our Facebook album here.
A picnic was held for day students the week prior and photos from it can be found in our Flickr gallery here.
Before the first day of classes, new students split into groups (pictured below) to explore notable locations on campus and visit with faculty and staff.
Pictured above (from left to right): Craig Irving, Tiffany Freda, Justin Sellar, Blair Ingraham, Christopher Horn, Dan Leidl, Steve Totin, Leah Dullea, Jedd Whitlock, and Mervan Osborne. Not pictured is John Reardon.
This will be Leah Dullea's first full year as a member of St. George's faculty after serving the school for the past four years in the classroom, in the library, in the dorms, on the athletic fields, and also as a mathematics and science tutor. She will be teaching chemistry and serve as a dorm parent in Twenty House and as head coach for girls' soccer and track.
Her research background includes work at the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Hawaii Pelagic Fisheries Research Program. Leah has developed a college-level curriculum for Duke University’s Talent Identification Program in North Carolina, and served as a tutor for the College of Natural Sciences in Amherst, Massachusetts. Most recently, she worked with local companies to help develop STEM curriculums for public outreach. Leah is a 2014 graduate of the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst, holding a bachelor's degree in environmental science and double minor in biology and marine science.
Tiffany Freda comes to St. George’s with more eight years of classroom experience, teaching K-12 Spanish and ESL in the Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut — and most recently in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. Tiffany holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Fairfield University in addition to a second master's degree in Spanish Literature, Culture and Linguistics from New York University. She will teach Spanish and serve as International Student Advisor and a dorm parent in Astor.
Chris Horn is returning full-time to St. George’s to teach English and history, serve as the head of Wheeler Dorm, and coach JV tennis.
Before SG, Chris worked for 17 years as a teacher, coach, and dorm parent at the Eaglebrook School and, for 20 summers, as a counselor (and now assistant head) at Cape Cod Sea Camps. Chris holds a bachelor's degree from Lynn University and a master's degree from Wesleyan University.
Blair Ingraham will serve as Associate Director of Admission and head coach for field hockey and girls' lacrosse.
After graduating from Wesleyan University in 2014, Blair worked for a sports recruiting tech startup company in New York City, where she assisted high school students and their families through the college recruiting process. She has spent the last two years as the graduate assistant field hockey and lacrosse coach at Wesleyan and is finishing her master's degree this summer in social sciences and writing.
Craig Irving will teach biology and chemistry, coach swimming and sailing, and serve as dorm parent in Wheeler.
Craig spent the last year as a science teacher, dorm parent, and head swim coach at the Canterbury School. He earned his master’s in interdisciplinary neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island and his bachelor's degree in chemistry and neuroscience at Salve University.
Dan Leidl will teach English, work on strategic initiatives, coach soccer, head the boys' varsity lacrosse program, and serve as a dorm parent in East.
Dan earned his bachelor's degree from Drew University, his master's in child development from Tufts University, his master's in counseling, and his Ph.D. in sports psychology from West Virginia University. Dan has “dedicated his professional career to leadership development, the development of teams, and the advancement and maintenance of high achieving cultures ... in both large and small organizations, working with teams ranging from athletic and corporate to nonprofit and governmental.”
Mervan Osborne, a member of the St. George’s class of 1986, began his tenure as Associate Head for Student Life on July 1.
As a founding faculty member and Head of School at Boston’s Beacon Academy, Mervan has helped provide hundreds of Boston-area students with a challenging yearlong academic program in preparation for application to New England independent high schools. For 11 years prior to Beacon, Mervan taught English and drama courses; led diversity initiatives; and coached football, basketball, and baseball at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also served as a resident tutor for “A Better Chance” in Massachusetts and was a member of “Teach for America’s” founding corps in Compton, California. From 2011-2015, he served on the Cambridge School Committee. He holds a master of fine arts degree in film production from Boston University, completed graduate coursework in education at Lesley University, and holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Trinity College.
Justin Sellar joins us a fellow in the Athletic Department.
A May 2017 graduate of Wheaton College, Justin is pursuing his master's degree in sports management with a concentration in athletic administration from Southern New Hampshire University. In addition to his work in the athletic office, Justin will coach football and hockey.
John Reardon joins SG as a part-time instructor in the Theology and Religious Studies Department.
He is currently vicar of St. James Episcopal Church in North Providence, Rhode Island. He also serves as Social Service Network Coordinator for the Diocese of Rhode Island.
He holds degrees from Haverford College, the University of Notre Dame, the Oblate School of Theology, Smith College School for Social Work, and Fordham University. He has taught at Holy Cross College (Indiana), Gilmour Academy (Ohio), King’s College (Pennsylvania), and Johnson and Wales University (Rhode Island).
Steve Totin is an artist and educator coming to the Hilltop from Maryland Institute College of Art, where he earned his master's degree in fine arts in May 2018.
His work focuses on sculpture: woodworking, concrete casting, mold making, ceramics, plaster casting, assemblage, fibers, CNC laser cutting, 3D printing, and 3D modeling. Steve will have the opportunity to teach a variety of courses in the art department as a sabbatical replacement for Mike Hansel. In addition, he will coach soccer and track and serve as a dorm parent in Eccles.
Jedd Whitlock, a member of the St. George's class of 1994, began his tenure as the new Director of Advancement on July 1.
Since 2013, Jedd has been the Director of Development at Hopkins School in New Haven. Prior to that, he was the Director of Advancement at Berwick Academy in Maine. Jedd began his career in development here at SG, working under Joe Gould from 2003 until 2006. He holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of New Hampshire and a bachelor's degree from Hamilton College.
Work continues on our two new artificial turf athletic fields!
Construction began in May north of Auchincloss Dormitory and Memorial Schoolhouse with the fields expected to be ready for play this fall.
In addition to the turf fields, the existing baseball field at Elliott Field will be reconstructed in the northwest corner of campus and will be ready for play in spring 2019.
To view the project’s progress, check out our photo gallery on Flickr.
Meet Our Teachers
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- FriDec07 Lessons and Carols 7:30 PMChapel
- SatSep22 Community Weekend
- FriSep28 Family Weekend Begins
- SatSep29 Open Weekend
- MonOct01 No Classes