Constitution Day 2014: A Lower School Tradition

Each year on Constitution Day, September 17, the fourth grade class leads part of the Lower School Assembly.

They use this time to gather the entire Lower School around the school’s flagpole and read the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

The fourth graders then explain the meaning of different pieces of the Preamble in their own words to the other students.

Wakefield website design recognized by Finalsite

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 8.51.35 AMWakefield School’s new website was recognized by Finalsite this month as one of the company’s six featured recent launches.

Here’s what they had to say about our new home page:

“We love the color scheme, the interactive design treatments, and all the multimedia on this site! And, since they have one of the most creative mega-navigations we’ve ever seen, you’ll enjoy searching for information on lower site pages.

Here’s what we love most: their ability to engage.

With recent news events docked in their homepage photo slideshow, an interactive “Explore Wakefield” section, call-to-action buttons, video content, and social media links, Wakefield School knows how to engage its multiple audiences.”

Wakefield Welcomes New and Talented Faculty

Are you seeing some new faces around campus this year? Wakefield School has added faculty members to three divisions this year.

Upper School

David Button Jr. joined Wakefield as the new Upper School physics teacher. Mr. Button comes from Prince William County public schools where he spent the past 14 years teaching physics and math. He received his B.S. in physics from Bridgewater College. Of special note is the fact that Mr. Button has done extensive work as a robots coach and mentor.

Tom Campbell is teaching AP European History as well as the World History class. He has a B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University and a M.A. from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He has taught at Squaw Valley Academy, the Fletcher School, St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Mississippi, and Collegiate School in Richmond. Mr. Campbell has a particular interest in German history.

Ruth Marshall has also joined the History Department, where she is teaching U.S. History and U.S. Government. In addition to teaching at Wakefield, she is also pursuing a degree in education at George Mason. She has taught at both Foxcroft and Middleburg Academy.

Dr. Niranjan Rao joined the Upper School Math Department and is teaching classes in Geometry, Algebra, and Trigonometry.  Prior to coming to Wakefield, Dr. Rao worked at Boeing as a rocket scientist and was Chief Engineer, Project Manager and a Boeing Fellow.  He received his BA, ME, and Ph.D from the University of Virginia.  In addition, he has studied at MIT, the University of Alabama, and the University of San Diego.

Middle School

Bethlehem Addis has just completed her M.A. in Public Administration from George Mason University and has joined Wakefield as the Middle School Learning Support Teacher. She did her undergraduate work at GMU as well, with a major in Legal Studies and a concentration in Conflict Resolution and Childhood studies. Ms. Addis has spent the past several years as Site Director at the Loudoun County YMCA. She has also been a graduate teaching assistant at George Mason and an intern at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria.

Jennifer Butler is teaching middle school math. Mrs. Butler has her B.A. in Business and Psychology and her M.A. in Industrial & Organizational Psychology and her teaching certificate. She substituted at Wakefield last school year and helped in the Admissions Office during May. She has more than 15 years of experience teaching students at the elementary and middle school level.

Lower School

Danielle Curtis is teaching lower school art for students in the Early Childhood Center through second grades. She has her B.A. in Studio Art from the University of Mary Washington.


Tabitha Ward, a 2006 graduate of Wakefield, joined Wakefield this summer as Assistant Director of Admissions. Ms. Ward received her B.A. from Christopher Newport University and her M.A. from VCU in social work. She has worked with youth in a variety of ways, from teaching kindergarteners to high school students and running student leadership classes.

A Wakefield Tradition: Seniors and First Graders

One of the great traditions at Wakefield takes place at the first and last assemblies of each school year.
At the first assembly, the new class of seniors addresses the new class of first graders, then takes the littlest class by the hands and leads them to their classroom.
This tradition represents a sort of official beginning of the educational journey for the first graders — and the beginning of the end of the seniors’ time at Wakefield.
Poetically, the tradition has another side to it. At the end of the year, at the seniors’ last Wakefield assembly ever, the first graders take them by the hand and lead them to our senior garden. The realization that their time at Wakefield (as students, at least) is nearing its end gradually comes over them.
This is just one of the many unique Wakefield traditions that have marked their time, however long, at the school, and one that they will be sure to take with them on their next journey.

Lower School Teachers Attend ‘Responsive Classroom’ Training

LSintro2 This summer, Wakefield’s Lower School teachers attended Responsive Classroom training from August 11-14 in McLean.

According to Lower School Head Dr. Margo E. Isabel, the Lower School is introducing the Responsive Classroom Approach in order to foster, consistently and throughout each classroom and the division as a whole, a learning environment that encourages students to take full ownership of their learning.

The approach incorporates strategies that encourage students to be active, supportive and caring members of their classroom community. The approach emphasizes the need to address and balance the social, emotional and academic needs of the students.

Fostering this environment helps students to become engaged and confident learners.

Components of this approach include: a daily classroom meeting; student generated classroom rules; academic choice; problem solving; and positive teacher language. To read more about the approach, click here.

Announcing the Wakefield Community Book Club!

Owl-ReadingWe are excited to announce a new activity at Wakefield School beginning this fall: “Ow’l Be Reading–With You! Community Book Club.” The club will be meeting for potluck and discussion every other month in the Dining Hall for fun and a bit of intellectual exercise. Everyone is welcome to join us — parents, alumni, faculty, staff, neighbors, extended family, visitors, parents of alumni, etc., etc. — except current students and school-age children. This is a book club for grown-ups only.

This year we will be reading the following five books that have all won the Booker Prize:

Tuesday, September 16:  The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1997)

Tuesday, November 18: True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (2001)

Tuesday, January 20:  The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (1992)

Tuesday, March 17:  The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer (1974)

Tuesday, May 19: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (2000)

The Man Booker Prize is a prize that is “awarded to the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland.”

We will gather at Wakefield School in the Dining Hall at 6 p.m., share a potluck meal together, tidy up a bit and then dive into some lively chat.  Discussions will be organized and launched by Dr. Dorothy Fontaine.

You don’t need to “join”— you just need to read and come! Participate for only one novel of particular interest or recklessly promise in your heart that you are going to treat yourself and be involved in all five sessions; it is your choice. We look forward to seeing you.

To RSVP or for more information, email

Wakefield’s Eleanor Dunnigan to study in Rennes

Wakefield School junior Eleanor Dunnigan will be studying abroad in Rennes, a Brittany city in the northwest of France, for the 2014-2015 school year. She was selected as one the 60-some students to be enrolled in Student Year Abroad France, a program first opened in 1965 out of Philip Exeter Academy.

While there, she will be taking 7 or 8 classes, only two of which will be taught in English. There, school days last from 7:45-6:15. Some of her classes will include AP French Language and Culture, French History, and Art History, possibly in addition to Globalism/Multiculturalism, French Lit, and Environmental Science.

She will be living with a family during her 10-month stay in Rennes. A host family serves as a major catalyst for language learning and cultural adapting.

Wakefield’s Dr. Fontaine elected to NCTE Committee

Dorothy FontaineWakefield Middle School English teacher Dorothy Fontaine has been elected to the National Council of Teachers of English Middle Level Section Nominating Committee for the academic year 2014-15.

The nominating committee prepares a slate of candidates for openings that occur each year on the Middle Level Section Steering Committee of NCTE.

The National Council of Teachers of English was formed in 1911 to promote excellence in teaching and learning for professional English and literacy educators at all levels. The NCTE has grown to 35,000 members both nationally and internationally. Its annual convention will be held in Washington, D.C. this coming November.