Motivational speaker and former NFL player Joe Ehrmann to speak at Wakefield

joe ehrmannMotivational speaker and former NFL player Joe Ehrmann will speak at Wakefield School on Monday, December 8, at 6:30 p.m.

Ehrmann, a former Baltimore Colt, is coming to Wakefield’s campus to give a keynote to the community on respect and positive mentoring. This event is open to the public.

He is also meeting privately with students in grades 8-12 earlier in the day.

Ehrmann, a minister and motivational speaker, has founded several organizations and initiatives that address societal issues like domestic violence, child advocacy, and more. He has recently been tapped by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to educate team owners and players on the issue of domestic violence.

Ehrmann also works with community organizations to promote growth, teamwork, effectiveness, and individual responsibility.

He has co-founded with his wife a community-based organization called The Door, which addresses issues of poverty, systemic racism, and social justice. They also founded Building Men and Women for Others, which addresses issues of masculinity and femininity; seeks to redefine and reframe the social responsibility of sports, coaches, parent and players; and addresses issues of violence and child advocacy, according to his website.

Ehrmann played professional football for 13 years and was named Colts Man of the Year. Other awards and recognitions include winning the first Ed Block Courage Award; being named one of The 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute for International Sport; and being the subject of the New York Times Bestseller Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx, his website said. He has often been recognized for his revolutionary concepts of team-building, mentoring and coaching.

He has been selected by Baltimore Business Journal as the Renaissance Person of the Decade for his dedication and commitment to Baltimore City’s betterment; co-founded Baltimore’s Ronald McDonald House; won the National Fatherhood Initiative’s Man of the Year award for his work in improving the well being of children by helping fathers become more involved, responsible, and committed to their children; and been named Frederick Douglas National Man of the Year award for empowering youth to prevent rape and other forms of male violence.

To RSVP, email

Wakefield’s Paul Sipes to present on NCAA eligibility rules

Paul SipesWakefield School Athletic Director Paul Sipes will present on the new NCAA eligibility rules at the Fauquier County Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

The library will host The New NCAA and the Rules You Need to Know to Play, on Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the John Barton Payne bldg, 2 Courthouse Square, Warrenton.

Read the library’s announcement here!

Sipes will also speak to a group of about 50 youth league basketball coaches in Ashburn on Saturday, Nov. 15, at Farmwell Station. The girls basketball team will accompany him to demonstrate drills and illustrate teaching concepts for the coaches in this group.

Sipes will be in the company of other speakers Joe Wooten, the boys varsity basketball coach from Bishop O’Connell, and Gary Hall, the boys varsity basketball coach from Herndon High School.

Update from China #2: David Colón Travels to Xuzhou Senior Middle School

Wakefield Head David Colón is currently in China. Here is his second dispatch from his trip.
On October 31, I visited Xuzhou Senior Middle School (which, in Chinese parlance, is actually for grades 10-12). Founded in 1721, the school is recognized as a “key school” – one of the country’s top schools. I was hosted by Headmaster Dr. Wang Zhiyong, an accomplished educational leader who is dedicated to innovating Chinese education to develop students who combine academic excellence with a more well-rounded outlook on life.  Xuzhou students, therefore, are also encouraged to pursue the arts, athletics and extracurricular activities such as Model United Nations and debate. Studying current best practices in teaching is also a priority for his school and his faculty are working hard on learning the latest developments in education. While our schools are in different nations with different cultural and educational systems, Wakefield and Xuzhou #1 Middle School share a common commitment to developing young women and men of exceptional character and educational achievement.

The purpose of my visit was to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with #1 Middle School to establish a partnership between our two institutions. Dr. Wang and I discussed a number of potential partnership activities between Wakefield and his school involving a wide variety of areas from student exchanges to athletics to curriculum collaboration and teacher professional development. Since we are just starting our relationship, however, he and I are going to start with a simple short-term student exchange program this spring and summer wherein Wakefield students will visit Xuzhou and Xuzhou students will visit Wakefield. We are also working on hosting a visit from Dr. Wang and some of his faculty to our campus in the next calendar year. Wakefield’s first interaction with Xuzhou was very successful and holds the promise of even closer ties between our two schools.

Dr. Wang and David Colón signing the MoU.

One of the more interesting parts of the visit was that I was accompanied during my visit by Susan Wyatt, the Principal of Mosman High School in Sydney, Australia.  Her school is also in the process of developing a partnership and during the visit, she and I discussed some possible collaboration in the future as well.

Posts from China: An Update from David Colón


At the Harrow School, David Colón with Lynne Oldfield, Deputy Head and Head of the Upper School and student guides.

An update from Wakefield Head David Colón on his trip to China:

I was at Harrow School’s Beijing campus and visited with their headmaster and the head of their upper school. I had a tour of the school with students and then discussed some possible exchange ideas. One of these includes using Skype to have what they call critical lunches. This is a speaker and discussion series they do with local and global dignitaries on such topics as science, technology, literature, etc.  Another idea included sending a joint delegation to a model United Nations conference.

Harrow also agreed to host our students for a day or so for classroom visits. This wouldn’t be homestays, but instead allowing our students to tour their campus and shadow students for a day.

They are also doing some really interesting stuff with their academic and professional program.  They have something they call leadership in action, which sounds a little bit like the civic engagement idea. They are also working on developing classroom observations which, rather than being long full class period observations, involve a number of shorter observations from senior administrators, department chairs, and colleagues. So on these fronts, we could also have some interesting collaborations among faculty, administrators, and staff.

Tomorrow I’m on my way to Shanghai to meet up with our partner school in Xuzhou.

Wakefield’s Dr. Daryanani to present at mindfulness symposium

Amrit DaryananiWakefield School’s Director of Learning Support Dr. Amrit Kasten-Daryanani will present at the Mind & Life Institute’s International Symposium for Contemplative Studies on Friday, Oct. 31.

Her presentation is titled “Mindfulness as Mortar for the Schoolhouse: Using Mindfulness Meditation to Increase Student Well-Being, Awareness, and Sense of Self-Agency.”

Dr. Daryanani’s work explores whether mindfulness meditation and directed self-compassion help students coping with a learning disability in an intensely academic independent school, and asks if these practices reduce stress, increase task persistence, and provide students with the ability to ‘push back’ against their diagnosis.” Her poster explores “how a six-week mindfulness meditation program is influencing a group of twice-exceptional students at Wakefield. It explains how mindfulness programming supports a key mission of the learning support program, which is to help students accept, understand, and challenge their learning disabilities and differences. Efficacy measures include pre- and post-testing, structured interviews, and teacher feedback.”

The symposium, held in Boston from Oct. 30-Nov. 2, brings together scientists, scholars, artists, and contemplatives to explore clinical science, philosophy, humanities, education, economics, the arts, and other domains. The event seeks to encourage and help shape a cohesive interdisciplinary field of contemplative studies in which basic and applied science, scholarship, education, the arts, and contemplative traditions collaboratively develop an integrated way of knowing.

The program will include keynote addresses by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama; Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita of Wellesley College; Richard Davidson, director of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Amishi Jha, director of contemplative neuroscience, the Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative, at the University of Miami; David Germano, director of the Contemplative Sciences Center, University of Virginia; Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group; and Tania Singer, director of the department of social neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute.

The program will also include master lectures by several distinguished scientists, scholars, artists, and contemplative teachers as well as individuals and groups presenting individual papers, panels, or poster presentations, reflecting the most current contributions to the ever-growing field of contemplative studies. Also featured will be contemplative art performances and exhibits, as well as continuous contemplative practice opportunities.

Wakefield Head David Colón to visit China, establish school partnership

Wakefield School Head David Colón will travel to China in late October 2014 to cement a partnership with a Chinese school and attend a forum focused on international school partnership projects.

Wakefield’s new sister school, the Xuzhou #1 Middle School, is located in Xuzhou in Jiangsu Province. The school is for high school grades 10-12 and can trace its origins back to 1721. It has a focus on international exchanges and cooperation.

Colón will travel to Zhenjiang in the Jiangsu Province and attend the 10th Annual Jiangsu International Forum for School Principals, which is hosted by the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education and the Zhenjiang Municipal Government.

The forum,“School Partnerships: Sharing the Dream,” will feature internationally renowned keynote speakers and workshops focused on school partnership projects, as well as opportunities to interact with Chinese principals and shadow at all different levels of schools. Principals will be attending from a variety of countries all with the objective of sharing experience and forging relationships with Jiangsu schools and each other.

Colón will also visit Beijing to explore partnership possibilities with the Harrow School’s Beijing campus.

In Colón’s previous work in global education, he worked with several Chinese schools and found them to be “willing and eager participants” in school partnerships; in addition, he remarked, students who have visited China have always been impressed with people’s hospitality and friendliness and eagerness to host students.

With this new partnership, Wakefield will be able to accomplish several goals, Colón said.

“One of the most obvious is to create student exchanges, both short and long-term. Not only will our students be able to visit China, but we will be able to host students from China here. This allows us to essentially bring China to Wakefield,” Colón said.

In addition, the partnership brings benefits beyond student exchanges such as collaboration on joint projects in math, science, English, or other subjects through Skype and Google Hangouts. There is the opportunity for joint global travel opportunities as well.

The partnership with the Xuzhou school will serve Wakefield’s students and provide them with the global experience they need to be successful in today’s world.

“It’s clichéd at this point, but nonetheless true: students need to be aware of the world around them. This goes well beyond textbook knowledge. Knowing about the Mughal Empire or the Kingdom of Songhai is important, but with an increasingly globalized economy, there is also a more immediate need for people who are good at cross-cultural communications,” Colón said. “Employers are placing increased importance on young women and men who can interact and work with people from around the world.  While global travel most certainly broadens the mind, one of the main benefits of developing school partnerships is that students interact with one another in sustained and meaningful ways on a personal basis.”

Wakefield junior Evy Edens accepted into National Gallery of Art High School Seminar

EdensWakefield School junior Evy Edens was recently accepted into the prestigious National Gallery of Art High School Seminar, an intense 10-week program that introduces upper-level high school students to the skills necessary to study art history and art-making techniques.

Edens, the daughter of Ed and Natalie Edens of Middleburg, is Wakefield’s sixth student accepted into this program.

According to the program’s website, the seminar draws on the rich collections of the National Gallery of Art as a resource. Creating a community of like-minded students, the program aims to teach the students how to interpret works of art through close observation, in-gallery group discussions, and personal reflection.

“Through art-making activities, they will discover connections between art and life. Students will learn about art and the museum by discussing and responding creatively to original works in the galleries, and by researching themes of their choice. Behind-the-scenes visits with museum professionals introduce career possibilities. The program culminates with both a group project and individual gallery talks by the participants on their chosen themes,” the NGA’s website says.

At Wakefield School, the Visual Arts curriculum introduces students to a wide variety of experiences and encourages students to freely explore media, ideas, and styles. Beginning in Studio Art, the students learn and expand the skills they have learned in the five main disciplines of studio art (drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture/3-D design). Students can take Studio Art up to the demanding AP level.

Students also have the options to take Black and White Photography, Digital Imaging Applications and Film Analysis, and Technical Drawing (drafting), all in dedicated art studio space and with a small teacher-student ratio. The Arts Department also offers music and theatre classes.

The Sandwich Challenge: Learning Team Roles

This month, Middle and Upper School Head Brian Oliver led the “Sandwich Challenge” in Ms. Prahlad’s Composition classes for 6th and 7th grade.

He writes: The objective of the activity was to get students to experience, appreciate, and reflect upon the value of the different roles on any team. Through an interactive and playful activity we designed and activity that would allow them to “fail forward.” The rules for each group pushed them towards failure — one had to agree universally before they could write anything down; one had to work independently and guess what his/her peers were predicting; and the third had fixed roles assigned randomly and therefore with no focus on the strengths of the individuals comprising the team.
Once the procedure was completed and the sandwiches were crafted by “guest stars,” the students gathered as a whole and each student shared his/her experience: the restrictions of their team, how it impacted their productivity and most importantly how it made them feel.
We then introduced and examined Belbin’s team roles which explain the different roles and focus on each roles’ strength and weakness. The “guest stars” were asked to share their self-evaluation with the group and the students were then asked to reflect on the roles and to order them from most authentic fit to least authentic fit. These self-evaluations will then be used as they shape their team and launch their project.
This was a great example of our Plan-Do-Reflect learning model and it was an amazing experience to be a part of – to watch the kids work so hard to play by the rules, even as their project careened towards failure, to observe them trying to find creative solutions to work around the rules that restricted them, to laugh hysterically when the guest stars followed their procedures literally and to reflect so thoughtfully when the project was completed. I am confident they walked away energized by the activity and emboldened that the knowledge they gained will help them work more collaboratively on their anti-bullying PSA.
The great part about the new Middle School classroom design (desks on wheels, whiteboard walls, and standing desks) is that I could group, regroup, and re-order the students throughout the exercise. The flexibility allowed us to use grouping and physical positioning as a tool to aid instruction. One of the groups was forced to be in an outward facing circle, one in a collaborative cluster and the third was a blend of the two.This arrangement reinforced the lesson and students were quickly able to return to the half-moon for the group observation and reflection.The absence of transition issues with this new furniture is incredibly valuable.