Indian Creek Board Members Inspired through "Shadow Days"

Throughout the month of October, 13 members of the Indian Creek School Board of Trustees deepened their connection to the School even further by accepting an invitation to spend a day “shadowing” a faculty member in order to gain first-hand perspective into the day-to-day world of Indian Creek. As the Indian Creek School Board of Trustees represents a rich diversity of backgrounds, career fields, ages, and connections to Indian Creek, all share a common dedication to Indian Creek School. Many Trustees are either alumni who graduated years ago, or past parents whose children went through Indian Creek in another time, or even former faculty members who haven’t had the chance to experience the ICS of today, this experience enabled this esteemed group to observe our School today. Board members who are current parents were paired with teachers in a different age level from their students in order to learn more about the whole school. The shadow experience was truly rewarding for the 13 Board members who accepted the School’s invitation.

“It was truly a fabulous day,” shared Caroline Miller, who shadowed Upper School teacher Rebecca Derry. “Obviously, my family believes in the value of an Indian Creek education. - We are in our 11th year at the school and our third child is now a junior.  I thought I knew a lot about the school:  I've been a volunteer, attended numerous sporting, arts, and community events as well as attended numerous parent teacher conferences.  The experience of shadowing a teacher however, opened my eyes in a completely new way. 

I had the pleasure of spending one of Ms. Derry's "light" days with her which included two seventh grade science labs, one AP Language and Composition class (comprised of mostly 11th grade students) as well as an eighth grade Literature class.  Very quickly I recognized Ms. Derry's skill at recognizing her audience and adapting her teaching style appropriately accommodating age and material. In each class she delivered information but also encouraged exploration. She orchestrated valuable class discussion, deftly engaging all the students as well as providing time for group work. She truly managed each classroom to maximize learning.  I was truly inspired by her professionalism and warmth.  Her commitment to her students, whether through meetings with support teachers about specific students or her own meetings with students, clearly is 110%.

Equally inspiring to me was seeing the students fully engaged.  They came to class in good moods, ready to do the work she asked of them.  The students asked questions, participated fully and clearly feel valued.  It was incredible to watch. 
If it's possible, my respect for the work that our faculty does daily with our students, has grown due to this experience. Certainly my depth of understanding of the complexities of the school day has increased.  I am grateful to have had this opportunity!”

The talent that Indian Creek faculty exhibit in connecting with students, and shifting their demeanor and techniques several times throughout the day based on their classes, was admired by many of the Trustees who shadowed in all different grade levels of the School.

PTO President Liz Philpott echoed these sentiments after spending the day with Upper School faculty members Dr. Maryellen Polvino-Bodnar and Ms. Anne Engles. “The shadow-day experience gave me a real appreciation for how hard the teachers work. I was so impressed by how they were able to shift from one subject to another and one age group to another and provide expertise in so many different areas.”

Ms. Philpott also highlighted that her visit deepened her understanding of how technology is used to enhance the classroom experience. “I was also very impressed by the use of technology in the classroom and how these tools helped the students learn, but were not abused by them. The devices did not take away from the interactivenature of the classes. I have an increased respect for our teachers and students and how hard they work everyday.”

Board Chair Matt Alsted shared a similar experience after spending the day with first grade teacher Sarah Allen ’01. Mr. Alsted explained that while he thought he understood Indian Creek’s renowned Blended Learning Program (BLinc), having the opportunity to see these tools in action, and observing the level of engagement that it provides our young students gave him a deeper appreciation for how this program is a real differentiator for our School.

Former Faculty member, past parent, and past grandparent Debbie Bostick brought a different perspective to her shadow day. “I already knew what a terrific School we have, and how hard our teachers work. The thing that stuck with me the most was to observe how well the seventh and eighth grades blend into the Upper School community - It felt so natural.” Mrs. Bostick went on to describe the joy that she felt having had the opportunity to see students whom she has known since their elementary years thriving in high school. 

The Indian Creek faculty members who hosted Trustees during their visits appreciated the experience as well. “For 13 Board members who all have their own jobs and lives to dedicate an entire day to learning more about what we do is humbling,” shared Lower School STEM teacher Ab Bear, who hosted Rick Powell. “Plus, it was really cool to be able to share the ins and outs of what I do with another adult.” Second grade teacher Michelle Turner, who hosted Dan Reilly agreed. “It deepened my trust in our leadership even further to have the opportunity to share the work of my students and colleagues with a Trustee. Being able to share the details of the day, like preparing iPads for a lesson or getting coverage to use the restroom, made me feel like the Board has a genuine understanding of what we do.”

Trustee Jay Winer captured the spirit of the shadow days for all who participated, as he admired the “chemistry and choreography” of coordination between students, teachers and administrators. After spending the day with Upper School Humanities teacher Jimmy Monack, Mr. Winer shared, “It was exhausting, yet inspirational, to see how much energy Mr. Monack and his students invest in their work and their relationship to each other. The dedication to the culture of ICS by everyone I encountered was evident to me throughout the day.”

Thank you to all of the Board members who devoted a day to deepening their connection to Indian Creek School.
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