Trustees Attend Classes During Trustees Weekend; Discuss “Connected Learning,” Isham Renovations

Members of the Board of Trustees engaged in new, interactive programs related to the theme of “Connected Learning” in addition to their formal meeting agenda during this fall’s Trustees’ Weekend.

On Friday, trustees joined students in classes such as “Law and Morality,” “Macroeconomics” and “The Story of Literature.”

“We kicked [the trustees] out of the board room and said, ‘Go to class!’” said Head of School John Palfrey.

Nineteen classes were open to trustees during fourth and fifth periods on Friday, including “Music Theory and Composition,” “AP Chinese” and “AP Calculus,” according to an Andover press release.

Last Thursday night, faculty members hosted dinners in their homes for trustees, who were able to “hear directly from faculty about issues most critical to [faculty members],” according to the press release.

“We wanted the trustees to do some things that they haven’t done so much in the past,” said Palfrey. “One was to spend a lot of time with faculty,” he added.

Approximately 50 of the 230 members of the Andover Development Board (ADB) also returned to campus during Trustees’ Weekend. The ADB, an alumni organization, was recently relaunched and is comprised of young alumni from the classes of 1980 to 2005, according to Palfrey.

“We brought [ADB members] back to talk about engaging in the life of the school. Some of that is to engage people who will end up being leaders of a various kind on campus, but it is also a chance for trustees to connect with potential future colleagues,” said Palfrey.

Members of the ADB and trustees attended a question-and-answer panel session on “Connected Learning,” featuring student panelists MJ Engel ’13, Gregory Hosono ’14, Eric Ouyang ’13 and Gabbi Fisher ’13, as well as Palfrey as moderator. Fisher participated via Skype.

“‘Connected Learning’ is a theme or theory that says we can do more than we do today in isolated classrooms to enhance learning. The idea is [that we can] build connections between the ways in which you are learning,” said Palfrey.

The student panelists discussed the pros and cons of the influence of technology on students’ academic and social lives.

They said that “digital literacy” is a core requirement of students’ generation, according to the press release.

Trustees and ADB members also participated during the session and raised questions about the risks of technology, specifically in relation to academic dishonesty, privacy and security, according to the press release.

“The interest the trustees had in [‘Connected Learning’] tells me that they are extremely interested in staying ahead of the oncoming wave of technology so we can use it to our benefit rather than allowing it to overwhelm us,” said Engel.

“The panel made very clear to me that the kids are well ahead of the adults in understanding and addressing the issues around virtual world learning,” said Louis Elson ’80, Charter Trustee.

During the panel, audience members also discussed topics ranging from sleep deprivation to schedule overload.

The Board also addressed student health and wellness in the context of Isham Health Center during their meetings. As Bulfinch renovations are expected to be completed in December, the meeting included preliminary discussions on future renovations for Isham Health Center.

Palfrey suggested transforming Isham from an infirmary into a wellness center. While an infirmary focuses on physical well-being, a wellness center would also include emotional well-being and health education on topics like stress and sleep.

“If we had a more appealing facility and a really good program that focused on student health and wellness, I’d love us to be as proficient and as caring in that domain as we are in others,” said Palfrey.

Victor Svec, Instructor and Chair in Russian, discussed the use of technology in the classroom with trustees, demonstrating “Connected Learning” in his paperless approach to teaching. In his Russian classes, students submit their homework via iPads so Svec is able to provide quick and comprehensive feedback to students, which is an example of “Connected Learning,” according to Palfrey.

Donald Slater, Museum Educator at the Robert S. Peabody Museum, also presented on how museum visits can be integrated into classes and curriculum at the Academy, including Spanish, history and art.

On Friday night, trustees and many faculty members attended a celebratory dinner in the Smith Center. The dinner honored Oscar Tang ’56, former President of the Board of Trustees, and his service to Andover, according to the press release.

Tang joined the Board of Trustees in 1995 and was succeeded by Peter Currie ’74 as President of the Board this summer.

“Between being a student and being involved as an alum, I’m not sure that, in the history of the school, there’s been anyone who has done more for the school than [Tang] has,” said Palfrey. Tang has contributed more than $40 million to the Academy.

Five faculty members were also named recipients of teaching foundations during Friday’s dinner for their outstanding work in the classroom, continuous service to Andover and achievement in their individual disciplines, according to the press release. Teaching foundations are annual awards given to extraordinary teachers.

Peter Cirelli, Instructor and Chair in Music, Peter Drench, Instructor in History, Kevin Heelan, Instructor in Theatre and Dance, Mary Mulligan, Instructor in History and Social Science and Therese Zemlin, Instructor in Art, were honored and received foundations.

Steve Sherrill ’71, Chair of the Academy Resources Committee, announced that the Campaign for Andover has raised $298.8 million towards its $300 million goal. The campaign, started July 2005, will conclude on December 31 this year and has raised more than $91 million for financial aid.

Michael Reist, Chief Investment Officer, reported that the fiscal year 2012 operating results included a surplus of $39,000. The fiscal year 2012 also yielded a 0.2 percent endowment return, a better result than those of other colleges and independent schools which yielded returns of -0.7 percent and -0.3 percent, respectively, according to Reist.

This was Palfrey’s first trustee weekend. “It was extremely helpful,” he said. “I got a lot of feedback from trustees that was constructive and will help me to determine where to put my effort as the organization’s leader.”