How do TASIS teachers spend their summers?
Posted 10/02/2015 12:00PM

With an ideal location in the heart Europe, an incredibly diverse student body, and a number of unique academic programs, TASIS has long attracted lifelong learners who love travel and adventure. Below are some of the exciting things the School’s faculty and staff did over the summer.



Carol Anklan, Elementary School Teacher, completed the Columbia University Teachers College’s Writing Project in New York. She and other educators from across the world studied methods that inspire students to lead rich and literate lives and learned techniques for teaching several genres of writing. Additionally, they acquired knowledge for how to encourage independence as young students are learning to write, revise, and elaborate upon their work.

Michelle Arslanian, Assistant Webmaster, and her family represented Switzerland in the Pan-Armenian Games, which were held in Yerevan, Armenia, in August. Her 15-year-old son Nikohos won a Bronze medal in the 50-meter backstroke.

Charlotte Berking Zanecchia, Learning Resource Center Office Administrator, co-led her third “Politics of Sustainable Agriculture” trip to Africa for university students.

Valerie Bijur Carlson, High School Theater Director, was the production stage manager for five workshops of new plays for Berkshire Playwrights Lab (BPL) at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where she also mentored college students and recent college graduates in the BPL Theater Intern Program. In addition, Valerie stage managed film screenings and post-show discussions/panels for the American Film Institute’s annual, week-long AFIDOCS Film Festival at the historic Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Greg Birk, Director of College Counseling, competed in the 60th Pikes Peak Marathon. Despite not having his best race, he still finished eighth in his age group (out of 40) and 297th overall. Greg (pictured below) previously ran the 25th and 50th Pikes Peak ascents, and he has now completed 38 marathons in all.

Greg and his wife Carroll Birk, a College Counselor at TASIS, attended the annual conference for the Overseas Association for College Admissions Counseling at the University of Oregon from July 7-10. The conference brings together more than 1,000 college counselors and college admissions officers from around the world for tremendous learning and networking opportunities.

Greg and Carroll were also invited to a counselor visit program at High Point University in North Carolina in late July. During the three-day visit, they toured the campus; attended sessions on academics, admissions, and student life; and shared meals with faculty, administrators, and students. Two members of the TASIS Class of 2015 have enrolled at High Point this fall.

Amy Bloodworth, High School IB Biology Teacher and Middle School Science Teacher, received a TASIS summer grant to attend a professional development course at the National STEM Centre in the UK. The course focused on using the Raspberry Pi to enhance Middle School Science. She has since received a Lighthouse Project Grant to implement some of the activities into the 6th grade Science curriculum.

MJ Breton, Middle School Dean of Student Affairs, spent four weeks in St. Petersburg for an immersion course in Russian. She lived with a Russian family and took more than 150 hours of lessons–the equivalent of a year-long university course–learning how to write, read, and speak a little. She will take another language course this year and then return to Russia for a repeat experience next summer.

Dr. Bo Green, Middle School Mathematics Teacher and Department Chair, built upon his completed doctoral work in student self-assessment and developing self-efficacy as lifelong learners by conducting research into the field of Mindfulness, where students can learn and use simple practices that bring greater focus, attention, and presence to current endeavors. This can lead to greater student success in a wide variety of engagements across academics, performance arts, and athletics.

Gigi Diane Guarnieri Rosso, Middle School English as an Additional Language Teacher, recently completed a Just Words online course, received a certificate in the teaching of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model, and completed an intensive 40-hour course on Swiss Civics.

Carolyn Heard, High School EAL Teacher and Department Chair, took an intensive Spanish course in Palma de Majorca in June. Since coming to TASIS in 2000, she has been studying Spanish every year in various locations in Spain as well as in Salamanca with TASIS students each spring as part of the Academic Travel program.

In July, Carolyn was enrolled for the second summer in an intensive course in Modern Greek on the Cycladic islands of Syros and Andros. Thanks to those courses, interactions with Greeks in their native land, and continued study of the Greek language here in Lugano, she has reached the low intermediate level and plans to press on for as long as it takes to become proficient in the language.

Kent Hercules, Elementary School Dean of Students, was one of several ES teachers to attend a four-day session of Responsive Classroom training over the summer. He went in search of ways to build a more positive community of learners and was delighted with the results, calling the experience the best professional development he’s had in a very long time.

Elementary School Teacher Greg Lemoine (pictured above) led the first TASIS Lego Robotics course this summer. ES students, MS students, and some staff learned to build and are looking forward to competing in FIRST LEGO Leagues in the future.

Peter Locke, High School English Teacher and 11th/12th Grade Dean, started his graduate program in Private School Leadership at Teacher's College in New York City. He’ll complete the program in May 2017.

Olymar Marco Brown, Lab Technician, took a summer course in Barcelona, where she learned how art can enhance creativity, bring about catharsis, and improve emotional intelligence. She looks forward to putting these techniques to use as the leader of a 6th grade Service Learning group that will use art to engage and teach a variety of people in need about the joy of creativity.

Chiara Maspero and Sissi Stolz, Elementary School Teachers in the Italian Section, attended a Responsive Classroom course in Rome in June. They have begun to implement the Responsive Classroom approach in their lessons this fall and have found that it helps their students build a sense of community while limiting discipline issues.

Dr. Kelly Merritt, Middle School EAL Teacher and Department Chair, had her Ph.D. conferred this summer in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education at Michigan State University. She'll be going by "Dr. Kelly" on campus so as not to add another "Dr. Merritt" into the mix! Kelly’s husband, Brett, is the Middle School Science Department Chair, and he earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education from Michigan State University in 2013.

Jess Mittelman, Elementary School Teacher, returned to an NGO in Uganda where she used to work and painted murals for schools and rehabilitation programs. She also went to a Responsive Classroom workshop in Colorado and did some amazing hikes after each session.

Julie Plantecoste, Middle School Intern, completed her teaching certification in K-12 English as an Additional Language at The College of New Jersey's Mallorca campus.

Ali Raymond, Middle School Math Teacher, completed her 19th summer in the TASIS summer programs.

Helen Roowalla, Assistant Director of Admissions, is also a professional artist working under the alias HERO. This summer she exhibited near Milan and attended the Parallax Art Fair in London, where she showed more of her work. She also worked on new paintings to exhibit in Torino at the end of October and started a Youtube channel that chronicles her journey as an artist.

Perri Sartorelli, Middle School EAL Teacher and Service Learning Leader, spent three weeks in Honolulu visiting family and did a recertification for her NAUI Open Water Diving Certificate.

Danny Schiff, High School Math Teacher and Service Learning Leader, circumnavigated the globe as he led a variety of service and outdoor trips. Danny (pictured at top) took a group of TASIS students to Cambodia and Bangkok to start the summer, led a service/outdoor leadership trip to Alaska and Hawaii, and finished by leading an outdoor trip in California and the Canyons before returning to TASIS.

Melody Tibbits, Elementary School Music Teacher and Middle School Service Learning Teacher, and Milo Zanecchia ’08, Global Service Assistant and School Videographer, spent 12 weeks on an incredible journey, Latitude 45, that took them from Switzerland to Mongolia. After driving their Toyota Land Cruiser through Switzerland and Italy, they ferried the car to Greece before continuing through Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. They then ferried to Kazakhstan and made their way through Kyrgyzstan and Russia. They were joined by friends Robin Gili ’08 and Anita-Maria Maugg, who drove a Land Rover Defender.

Melody had to return to TASIS on August 20 to prepare for the start of the school year, but the rest of the group carried on and reached Mongolia on September 7. Along the way, Milo documented the highlights and struggles of life on the road and plans to release a short film about the trip later this year. The journey was also chronicled on both Facebook and Instagram.

Zuleika Tipismana, Alumni and Development Officer, is capitalizing on her passions for travel and community through social media by developing a project that caters to accessible travel for the disabled community. She has started a blog called Z-Travel, which chronicles her travel experiences as a person with impaired mobility. Someday in the near future, she hopes to switch to the broadcasting medium and become a disabled travel correspondent. Watch this short video to learn more about Zuleika’s remarkable story.

Eric Walser, AP Biology teacher, earned a continuing education unit by completing an online AP Biology course.

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