Ms. Carol Anklan, Elementary School Teacher, rode her bike from Oslo to Cape Nord, Norway, with Bike-Dreams. In 29 riding days she covered 1,875 miles and climbed 22 miles of elevation gain. “The weather, however, was actually more challenging than the terrain,” said Ms. Anklan. “It was quite cool and rained frequently, so at times it was mentally hard to ride an average of 65 miles a day.” (On one particularly difficult day in which the temperature was only 7 °C, she rode in the rain for 104 miles.) Ms. Anklan reports that sunny days, impressive bridges, amazing wildflowers, magnificent fjords and mountains, and stunning waterfalls kept her spirits high and that the most impressive parts of riding to North Cape were being in the Arctic Circle, where the sun never set from June 17–July 22, and traversing a tunnel that was 4.5 miles long—and 721 feet under the sea.
Ms. Mara Bernasconi, High School Italian and History Teacher and IB/CAS Coordinator, completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training in Thailand and became a certified yoga teacher in Ashtanga Vinyasa. Her days started at 7:00 AM and ended at 6:00 PM six days a week, and the course was very challenging both physically (3½ hours of practice each day) and mentally (taking Yoga Philosophy classes, studying Sanskrit words, completing assignments and assessments, learning breathing techniques, etc.). “I always find it refreshing as a teacher to be reminded of what it is to be a student!” said Ms. Bernasconi. “As an IB/CAS Coordinator, I could be teaching this activity to IB students in future years as a CAS activity. This year I will finally be able to teach yoga in the afternoon to DAY faculty and staff members and raise money for our Serving Southern Africa Global Service Program group: they go hand in hand!”
Ms. Amy Bloodworth, High School and Middle School Science Teacher, worked as a Teacher Mentor on a professional development course for teachers entitled “Teaching Computing.” Run in collaboration with the University of East Anglia and the National STEM Learning Centre, the course offered skills and advice on planning, teaching, assessment, and policy within the computing curriculum. As in previous years, Ms. Bloodworth also ran the Friday afternoon Science Club for the second session of the TASIS Summer Programs (Middle School Program).
Ms. Valerie Bijur Carlson, High School Theater Director, engaged in a variety of professional development events and opportunities, some of which were supported financially by TASIS Summer Grants. Her account of the summer:
I started the summer by stage managing—with my husband (David Peters, also at TASIS)—the AFI Docs Film Festival near Washington, DC. Our son, just entering high school, was able to come with us and volunteer, which was a lovely way to show him what we do and get to have him work alongside us. Next, to enhance my theater teaching and directing in the high school, I attended two events in New York City. The first was a two-day teachers' workshop at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, a well-respected, accredited college of acting (both theater and film). We took workshops in American acting methods, vocal techniques, and movement-for-theater; learned more about AADA's degree programs; and had the chance to talk with our fellow high school colleagues about pedagogy, challenges, and successes.
Second, I participated in the three-day Broadway Teachers Workshop, which includes 2½ days of workshops with industry professionals in choreography, directing, design, and licensing. We also got to tour a historic Broadway theater and see four shows—complete with post-show discussions with the actors. Finally, here we also got the chance to have conversations with other theater teachers—a rare gift for many of us. In addition to my education-focused studies, I also worked (for the eighth year) as the Production Stage Manager for a small professional theater company in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts staging workshop productions of new plays. Staying active in the other professional part of my life in theater is not only rejuvenating, soul-satisfying, and keeps me "in the game," but it also allows me to bring back real-life experiences in theater to my students. Seeing professionally produced plays and musicals throughout the summer aids with that as well, and I saw a total of ten shows!
Aside from my work and play in theater over the summer, I also got to spend some time with family visiting cities familiar and new to us on the East Coast of the USA: Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City.
Mr. Paul Cawthorne, High School History and Economics Teacher, walked the Camino de Santiago from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela. He covered the 800-km distance in 30 days, an average of 25 kilometers per day.
Mr. Martyn Dukes, Chair of the Fine Arts Department, plunged back into the world of professional Fine Art exhibitions at the beginning of the summer after a number of years absence. His summary of the experience:
Oddly enough, my IB teaching was partly responsible for getting me back into exhibiting: A change of syllabus saw young artists having to write a rationale for their final show, and in effect curating their own shows. As their teacher, this got me thinking about how I used to do the very same thing, as a painter, and little by little, this rekindled my desire to exhibit.
The international art fair in Basel in June was an exciting and hectic week and attracted galleries, artists, and buyers from all over the world. Rhy Art Fair Basel, one of a number of fringe events, was the setting for my showing of paintings from a long running series called Icons. These reflect a fascination with the world of the consumer and explore the enduring and idolized symbols that have grown out of it.
This was a tiring and sometimes stressful return to what is also sometimes a capricious and volatile business. In addition, as one of the warmest Junes on record, there was no air conditioning in the exhibition halls and temperatures were close to 40 °C. There were other changes too, with social media having become the indispensable tool for promoting the artist and their artworks; my clients would more likely buy my work if they felt connected to me in others ways—for example, if they knew which coffee brand I drink...There was, however, good company, with fellow artists from all over the globe spending many hours sitting around in our respective areas, willing the visitors to turn into interested, potential, and then real buyers. There were plenty of jokes and shared commiseration when they didn't.
Was it worth it? Well, yes, it was a great experience. And I’m going to do it again.
Mr. Dukes’ artworks in this show (Icons) can be seen catalogued with other works at www.martyndukes.squarespace.com.
Ms. Carolyn Heard, Chair of the English as an Additional Language Department, spent six weeks taking intensive courses in Modern Greek on the islands of Syros and Ikaria.
Mr. Keith Izsa, High School History and Economics Teacher, completed the proposal for his research study: "A Comparative Case Study: Exploring the Impact of Professional Development on International Baccalaureate Exam Results." He conducted research on effective professional development strategies that are being used to strengthen pedagogy and raise student achievement. Mr. Isza also collected large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data on the effects of professional development, how professional development impacts teaching and learning, and how professional development is affecting IB results.
Mr. Dan Kirsch, High School History Teacher and Extended Essay Coordinator, was selected by the College Board to be a Reader for the Advanced Placement (AP) European History Test. He marked Long Essay Questions the first week of June with university professors and other high school AP European History teachers in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
Ms. Luisella Govoni Latini, Elementary School Italian Section Teacher, explored the small Greek island of Folegandros, which lies on the southern edge of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea.
Dr. Brett Merritt, Chair of the Middle School Science Department, presented papers at the conferences of two different European organizations for educational research. In June, he gave a talk at the 3rd European Conference for Curriculum Studies (ECCS) at the University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland. In August, he gave a talk at the 12th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) at Dublin City University in Dublin, Ireland. Dr. Merritt’s presentation at the former conference was supported by a TASIS Summer Study grant while his presentation at the latter conference was supported by TASIS Middle School Professional Development funds.
Dr. Kelly Merritt, Chair of the Middle School EAL Department, also presented at two European educational research conferences: the 3rd European Conference on Curriculum Studies (ECCS) in Stirling, Scotland, and the European Council of Educational Research (ECER) in Copenhagen, Denmark. While the first focused on curriculum studies, the second involved lots of thoughtful conversation with other philosophers of education across Europe. “The variety of perspectives that these educational philosophers bring to theorizing pedagogy never ceases to humble me,” said Dr. Merritt. “I have TASIS to thank for offering professional development funds to help make the first happen, and a TASIS Summer Grant partially supported the second.”
Ms. Lyn Paquin, School Nurse, spent seven amazing weeks traveling in Europe, a journey she described as follows:
Week 1: Romania with the Global Service Program
A great experience traveling with a wonderful group of students and two teachers. For me, it confirmed that we can all do something to be a better person by helping others along our journey. Whether it's big or small is of no matter, it's whether we do that counts. We traveled in Baia Mare, Sighet, and Cluj. We learned a lot about the children and staff of Hope and Homes for Children, the country of Romania, and each other. The love that poured out of each and every one of us on this trip was a memory I will always cherish.
Weeks 2–3: Italy on my own
This was an emotional roller coaster full of satisfaction with abundant and turbulent feelings. Even though at times I felt fear while traveling alone, I also felt brave for not letting anything stop me from living my dream. My senses were reeling with joy at such beautiful sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Meeting people from all over the world was such a pleasure.
I felt at home in Caldana and then spread myself to Milan, Genoa, and Rapallo, where I walked the 8.5-km Red Carpet Walk in the sweltering mid-30s to Portofino. La Spezia was my home base while I explored Cinque Terre to its fullest, discovered Portovenere, and made a side trip to Pisa. Next stops: Bologna, Florence, Siena, and finally Rome, where my experience as a lone traveler ended.
Weeks 4–7: Traveling with my college friend
A long-lasting friendship is a blessing, and to spend a month traveling with such a friend is a true blessing. Our average stay was three nights in most places, and our days were filled exploring, enjoying, and savoring everything we could in a day.
Our destinations included Rome, Geneva, Montreux, Paris, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, London, and Stratford-upon-Avon. There is so much incredible history and so many amazing traditions and beautiful sights in Europe. I anticipate many more memorable times.
After such a treasured experience, I flew back to Canada to share my precious stories with family and friends. It was invigorating for me, like finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Wishing you all as glorious a feeling. This journey was my lifetime dream coming to fruition...so my friends and colleagues, never give up on your dreams.
Ms. Helen Roowalla, Assistant Director of Admissions, continued exhibiting her artwork over the summer under her alias hERO. In June, she exhibited her work at Art Shopping in Paris and at the Carrousel du Louvre, and during Art Basel week, her work was shown on a digital showcase at EuroAirport Basel. For the rest of the summer, Ms. Roowalla worked on her new collection, Unique&United, which will be exhibited at an art gallery in Lugano at the end of September. A preview of the collection was shown at CollinArte, a presentation of artwork created by local artists residing in Collina d'Oro, on September 3.
Mr. Daniel Schwartz, High School Math Teacher, and Ms. Anna Kavalauskas, High School English Teacher, were married at historic Chiesa Sant'Abbondio in Gentilino, just down the road from TASIS, on the afternoon of Saturday, June 24. The wedding was followed by a cruise on Lake Lugano and a reception at Ristorante La Sorgente in Vico Morcote.
Ms. Kavalauskas also attended an Advanced Placement Summer Institute workshop for teachers of AP English Language and Composition. This week-long workshop was hosted at Manhattan College, and each day she rode the metro from Brooklyn to the Bronx to meet with fellow AP teachers. “We reviewed past exams and sample syllabi, identified the skills and materials that would best prepare our students, and shared our best classroom practices,” said Ms. Kavalauskas. “It was an informative and enjoyable week!”
Ms. Paloma Simona, High School Spanish and Italian Teacher, spent two weeks in England taking a one-to-one English course. Her trip was funded by a TASIS Summer Grant.
Ms. Sissi Stolz, Elementary School Teacher, was able to attend the Writing Institute at Columbia University after patiently spending three years on the waitlist. “The Institute was inspiring,” said Ms. Stolz. “Teachers came to New York from all over the world, all driven by the same desire: to learn how to turn every student into a writer.”
Ms. Kerry Venchus, High School Math Teacher and Technology Academy Leader, took an online course entitled "Making Math Meaningful, Maybe Marvelous." She hopes to share her knowledge with her colleagues in the Math Department during professional development and department time.
Ms. Kat Walser, Yoga Teacher, attended an advanced aerial yoga teacher training through the Unnata Aerial Yoga Method in the UK in July. She then rented out a local studio in Breganzona for the entire month of August, offering the first-ever aerial yoga classes and intensives in Ticino, many of which were enjoyed by TASIS faculty and staff members (as pictured above). Ms. Walser continues to teach aerial yoga classes and workshops in Breganzona and in her home studio in Montagnola. See katwalseryoga.com for more details.
Ms. Cristina Wyss, Executive Assistant to the Headmaster, studied human resources, marketing, and employment law.
Recaps from previous summers