Service to others makes me a better person
-Agnes Irwin student
When our actions become a reflection of our character, we lean more heavily toward moral and generous choices.
-Adam Grant, Professor of Psychology at theWharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (The quotations, except the AIS student’s quotation above, in this newsletter are from a New York Times article by Professor Grant)
As I read Professor Grant’s article in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times, entitled Raising the Moral Child, I couldn’t help but think about our students and the many ways in which they demonstrate their thoughtfulness and generosity. At every turn, they make such caring, kind, and compassionate choices; in words and in action, they define the author’s thesis, and, in the process, they lead us all to envision and create a better world.
Success is not the No.1 priority for most parents. We’re much more concerned about our children becoming kind, compassionate, and helpful.
Our students clearly see the need for sharing the responsibility to help others who are being challenged by tough medical conditions, hunger, poverty, and a host of other difficult situations. From the Empty Bowls initiative to the Blood Drive to last Friday night’s student-faculty dodgeball game in order to raise funds for ovarian cancer research, your daughters not only demonstrate that they understand complex local and global issues, they also work assiduously to help eradicate the sources of these problems. Last Saturday, for instance, our lacrosse team and parents sponsored the Checking for Cancer event and, through a huge effort, they spiritedly raised awareness of and funds for research to eliminate colon and prostate cancer.
For many months, several AIS girls helped to organize last week’s Speak Up event—an evening session that brought students, parents, and educators from Haverford, Agnes Irwin, and Baldwin together and created a safe space for discussions of sensitive, important topics. Through their generosity with their time and talent, your daughters developed and participated in this session, which provided a much-needed venue for open dialogue with these groups, and some life-changing conversations happened in the process.
Surveys reveal that in the United States, parents from European, Asian, Hispanic and African ethnic groups all place far greater importance on caring than achievement.
Within the context of our demanding program and the high expectations that we all hold for our students, they endlessly find time to devote themselves to creating and participating in projects that help others --- opportunities that evidence their generosity and selflessness. They forge paths to save our planet through innovative composting efforts, and they work to enrich lives by serving food in soup kitchens.
Children learn generosity not by listening to what their role models say, but by observing what they do.
To you, parents, I want to extend my thanks for all that you do to participate in this partnership with us --- constantly supporting your daughters’ efforts. The AIS community is one that is filled with the kind of behavior in action that Professor Grant espouses and that our students have made part of their daily routines ----reflecting the kind of character development that becomes an essential measure of our success.
Much of the current educational literature highlights that students need to develop empathy in order to succeed in this rapidly changing world. Your daughters, with their generous hearts and minds, give real meaning to that much-touted quality. In all, I know that we are making Agnes proud.
An interview with one of our new faculty members, PE and Wellness teacher, Lauren Hoopes, by one of our new faculty members, Maketa Navarro, International Program House Parent.
Marketa Navarro: What brought you to AIS?
Lauren Hoopes: I was in search of a teaching job and caught wind of a long- term substitute job opening for the 2012 Fall semester for Janis Whalen in the Wellness and Physical Education Department. I was super excited to get the job and even more excited when the half-year position turned into a full- year substitute position. I fell in love with AIS and wasn’t ready to leave and, when the full time job opened up, for the following school year, I knew I wanted it. It was one of my most exciting moments, when I was informed that I would be the one filling the position, and every day I am so thankful that I accepted it!
MN: Where were you before this year?
LH: I received my undergrad degree in Exercise Science from East Stroudsburg University, and soon realized I was missing something --- that something was teaching. I attended West Chester University, where I received my Health and Physical Education teaching certificate. Before I arrived at AIS, I was substitute teaching in various school districts in the area and coaching volleyball in the West Chester Area School District.
MN: What are you most excited about this school year/time of year/in your classroom?
LH: Our department has been lucky enough to be stationed in the brand new athletic building. It is so great to be able to teach in such a large space, whether we are inside in the gym or outside on the turf; it has definitely benefited the girls in many ways! I also took the time to get certified in Spinning and in Cardio-Kickboxing with Michele Kane, and we have been utilizing our knowledge with the students and faculty and have been getting great positive feedback!
MN: What highlights would you like to share about this year?
LH: The highlight I can definitely say has been teaching in the new athletic building! The girls have utilized and enjoyed this space so much, and watching them grow and improve their skills has been so exhilarating to witness! From using the new squash center, fitness center, gym, and turf, it has been one exciting year!
MN: Why should the girls at AIS love your subject area?
LH: I LOVE how AIS is such a huge supporter of athletics! Our physical education class really allows the girls to try all different kinds of sports and activities, some they would never try on their own or do not have the access to. It gives the girls a chance to step outside of their comfort zone and open their mind to different ways to be active, to develop sportsmanship and leadership skills, and to promote lifelong fitness and health. In the wellness environment, the girls are allowed to open up a bit more and talk about important issues that they may be facing in their lives --- whether it’s about growing up, friendships, eating healthily, or handling peer pressure.
MN: What is your style in the classroom? How has it developed? Why?
LH: Since the gym and being outside are such large spaces to teach in, organization is key, along with having clear instructions. The environment in PE class is very open and allows for students to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new without being afraid to mess up. Sometimes these girls put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect in everything, and the atmosphere in my classroom is to try your best, and if not successful, continue to try again.
In my Wellness classroom, a “safe” environment is very important. I provide an atmosphere where girls can share information with the confidence of knowing that it will not leave the classroom. My style has developed into discussion-type lessons, where the girls can ask questions and answers can be given, while still getting the information across.
MN: Who was your favorite teacher growing up? Why?
LH: My 2nd grade teacher. It was then I realized that I wanted to be a teacher. She made her students feel comfortable in her classroom by having confidence in each and every one of us to succeed. Yes, that was a while ago, but there was just something about her teaching style that stuck with me!
MN: If you could eat dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Why?
LH: So, I’m a huge foodie and restaurant goer! I love to cook and love to try new and unique restaurants! One of my favorite TV channels is the FOOD Network, and over the years I have become a huge Giada De Laurentiis fan! I love her style of cooking and always making sure that family and friends are gathered to enjoy the meal. It would be so great to sit and have a meal with Giada, with her cooking of course, and even cooking with her! I’m getting hungry already!
MN: If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?
LH: The superpower of speed! I feel that there are just not enough hours in the day for everything that I want to accomplish, explore, and see!