A Community of Lifelong Learners

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Faculty & Staff Stories in Fine Print, the Magazine of Rowland Hall

Podcasters rescording

Rowland Hall is excited to announce the release of our first podcast: princiPALS.

Featuring Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman and Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus, princiPALS tackles big questions and ideas about how to raise children who thrive, and was created as an educational resource for our community.

When Rowland Hall uses the phrase 'community of learners' to describe our school, we mean it. We strive to offer adults at Rowland Hall, including parents and caretakers, opportunities for growth and development, just as we do for our students.—Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund

“When Rowland Hall uses the phrase community of learners to describe our school, we mean it,” said Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund. “We strive to offer adults at Rowland Hall, including parents and caretakers, opportunities for growth and development, just as we do for our students.” These opportunities—which also include lectures, discussions, readings, student panels, and film screenings—set the stage for school-wide success.

Parent and caretaker education supports lifelong learning, creates a community-wide culture of trust and vulnerability, and strengthens the critical Home & School partnership,” explained Ryan.

Director of Marketing and Communications Stephanie Orfanakis, who helped produce princiPALS, added, “The more tools we can access together, the better the outcome for children.” Stephanie also noted that a podcast is an ideal tool for those whose schedules may not allow much room for in-person gatherings. “Not all caregiving adults are available to attend education events,” she said. “A podcast is another option for engagement—parents can tune in when it’s convenient.”

PrinciPALS host, alumnus Conor Bentley ’01, agreed. "The work Jij and Emma do at Rowland Hall and the resources the school provides to families are important, and a podcast is an effective way to present that,” he said.

Those who listen to princiPALS can expect to not only benefit from Emma’s and Jij’s expertise, but to walk away with ideas they can immediately implement. The podcast’s first episode focuses on how to build children's resilience—a topic, Emma said, chosen for its continual relevance. "The research is clear: resilience is at least as important as talent in terms of long-term success," she explained. "We see the positive impact of helping kids develop resilience from a young age." Knowing this, she and Jij offer proven methods on building resilience that parents and caregivers can try out. This feature of princiPALS is important to the team, who want to use their positions to help make raising children easier. As Jij stated in the podcast’s introduction: “Parenting is hard. Teaching is hard. But both are a little bit easier when done in partnership.”

PrinciPALS episode 1, “Building Resilience in Children,” is now available on Rowland Hall’s website, or you can listen and subscribe on Stitcher or Apple Podcasts.

Top photo, from left: Emma Wellman, Conor Bentley, and Jij de Jesus recording princiPALS.


Married couple smiling at each other.

As our community gathered to celebrate our sesquicentennial last year, we were amazed to see how many Rowland Hall friendships have carried on through the years. So in the spirit of Valentine's Day 2018, we had heart-to-hearts with alumni couples whose relationships have grown into lifelong love stories.

This video wins for originality! The couples were hilarious and very comfortable on film.—InspirEd School Marketers judge

In December, we learned this project—produced by alumni brothers Christopher and Alex Lee of TWIG Media Lab—captured first place in the holiday video category of the InspirEd School Marketers 2018 Brilliance Awards. Congrats to the project team: TWIG, Director of Marketing and Communications Stephanie Orfanakis, Director of Events Mary Anne Wetzel ’01, Director of Alumni Relations Hilary Amoss ’96, and our charismatic alumni couples—the camera loves you and so do we.

Sample Judges' Comments on Our Winning Entry

"Solid gold winner! What a great idea for a video!"

"This video wins for originality! Loved that RH chose a non-traditional holiday (Valentine’s as opposed to Christmas or New Year’s), the couples were hilarious and very comfortable on film. As a school that has quite a few couples as current parents and faculty, I may have to 'borrow' this for 2019."

"What a fun way to showcase an endearing part of a school's history! I'll admit that I groaned when I saw that the video was six minutes long, but I watched to the very end because the stories of each couple were engaging and they revealed a lighter, more personal side of the school."

"So original—I smiled all the way through it! High production values with great editing. Very well done!"

"A really funny, refreshing piece to celebrate alumni romances through 150 years of Rowland Hall."


InspirEd School Marketers 2018 Brilliance Award Winner badge
In Interdisciplinary Ad Unit, Students Reflect On, Pitch Their Own Experiences

During the annual senior celebration chapel in April, Emily Gordon ‘16 addressed the students, faculty, and staff packed into the Larimer Center for Performing Arts. She recalled the new experiences she faced at Rowland Hall, crediting them for helping her become the best version of herself. One of those experiences entailed working in a team to create a print ad for her school and pitch the ad to a panel of experts.

"I remember thinking to myself, this is brilliant,” Emily said with a grin. “You're simultaneously indoctrinating us with Rowland Hall propaganda and getting free advertising ideas.”

Laughter followed her witticism and gave way to louder claps and cheers. Emily—a champion debater who plans to attend Harvard University in the fall—nailed the joke. Her story evoked a fond memory for seniors, and juniors who eight weeks earlier had completed the ad campaign unit in beloved teacher Kody Partridge’s AP English Language and Composition class.

“I loved it,” junior Emma Carlin said of the ad unit. “We just came out of the research project, which was a total grind for three months...The ad project was like a step back, and we got to use more creativity.”

In the preceding research project, each student analyzed a different vintage ad. They each wrote a paper delving into the historical context of ad copy and aesthetics—a total deconstruction, as Emma called it. Unlike the research project, the ad unit relied heavily on collaboration: students created ads in teams, and held a practice-pitch session to receive feedback from classmates. In some cases, they consulted other faculty members such as art teacher Rob Mellor and computer science teacher Ben Smith for graphic design advice and design software tips. 

Emma and her teammates Matt Orford, Steven Pasinsky, and Walker Nasser began with a couple of different visions for their ad, then bounced ideas around for hours.

“We all got on FaceTime,” she said, “and we kind of gently poked holes in each other's ideas.” They came up with two drafts, took a vote, and compromised between the two versions to create their final product (headlined "Prepare Your Student Early").

The Marketing Department kicks off the ad unit by presenting students with Rowland Hall’s brand history and usage guidelines, and providing project requirements. Marketing Director Stephanie Orfanakis tells students to create an ad that targets a specific demographic, communicates emotion to connect with that audience, and communicates a benefit of the Rowland Hall experience.

Kody and the marketing staff give students creative license to focus on what they love about their school. Trumpet player Will Matheson and his teammates—Mia Brickey and Kaela Gilbert, who are heavily involved in dance and creative writing, respectively—focused their ad (headlined "Find Your Voice!") on the school’s "tight community around the arts.”

“When we thought about portraying Rowland Hall and something that’s unique for us,” Will said, “it was the arts department, and how that department has just made our lives so much richer. And we wanted to communicate that to other people.”

Their group talked to Rob and dance teacher Sofia Gorder about how to effectively portray Rowland Hall’s arts programs in an ad. “We tried to take their lessons and see what we could do with them to make our ad work,” Will said.

In addition to providing an opportunity for collaboration, the ad unit poses other benefits for students. In her 14 years at Rowland Hall, Kody said she has seen several AP test questions about the roles of advertising and propaganda. The one-two punch of the vintage ad research project and the ad unit equips students with the tools needed to ace such questions.

Emma also hailed the ad unit’s concise copy as a helpful precursor to writing college essays. Normally, she said, Rowland Hall English assignments revolve around “writing really profound ideas and looking for complexities and nuance.” But in the ad unit, like in college essays, the goal is to write more focused and compelling sentences in fewer words.

Kody agrees. “It moves them to think about the importance of a really clear message, about concise writing, and about that idea of a target audience,” she said.

The ad unit culminates in a presentation to a panel of Rowland Hall’s administrative leaders, including the head of school, assistant head of school, Upper School principal, and the directors of admission, advancement, and marketing. Advertising professional Kelly Hindley, senior vice president of strategic planning at MRM//McCann’s Salt Lake City office, has also spoken to the ad unit students and served on the panel.

Kody commended the ad unit for encouraging students to reflect on their personal experiences at Rowland Hall and the value of their education. Juniors often choose to promote their favorite subjects: a team full of debaters, for instance, advertised the school’s renowned debate program; dancers and musicians often focused on the arts, as Will’s group did.

“I thought that was powerful,” Kody said of the students’ personal investment in the project.

After presenting their ads and receiving feedback from the judges, students are curious to hear about panelists’ behind-the-scenes chitchat.

Kody talked in a hushed voice, imitating a student: “‘Did they like one better than the other? Do you think they might use one of our pitches?’ And it was beyond the grade, you know?”

As Kody and the Marketing Department have fine-tuned the unit over the years, students have taken the project more seriously, the teacher said. And while Rowland Hall students often shine during the presentation portion, there’s still a modicum of nervousness that Kody doesn’t always see from her young scholars. “Maybe because it felt really meaningful to them,” she posited.

Experiential Learning

Susan Koles, Director of Marketing and Communication, to Retire

By Kathy Adams, staff writer

On August 19, 2015, Head of School Alan Sparrow announced that Director of Marketing and Communication Susan Koles would retire in December 2015. Then-Associate Director of Marketing and Communication Stephanie Orfanakis was promoted to the position of director and the department has recently hired Kelly Hermans as marketing and communication assistant. Kelly recently moved to Salt Lake from Atlanta where she held a similar position.

When Mr. Sparrow announced Susan's retirement, he wrote, "It is with great appreciation for all she has done for Rowland Hall, that I announce Susan Koles’ retirement at the end of December. Susan has been our director of marketing and communication since 1993. She is a gifted writer, editor, and strategic thinker who has helped our marketing efforts move forward continually over these past 22 years.

"Susan has always been at the cutting edge of marketing and publicity and has brought tremendous creative energy to her role here. She looked at what the school was currently doing and asked, 'Can we do this better?' This commitment to continuous improvement has led us through various iterations of our publications – The Flying Lion, Friday FACTS, Review, and now Fine Print – each one building on prior successes and incorporating Susan’s vision for the future.

"Susan’s commitment to Rowland Hall has gone well beyond her role as an employee. As the parent of two lifers at Rowland Hall, Asher '06 and Eli '08, she was committed to making our school the best and most successful school it could be. She can see the larger picture and not just through the lens of someone working in marketing and communication. Because of her vision, perspective, and talents, she was instrumental in helping lead the last two strategic planning processes at the school.

"On a personal level, Susan has worked closely with me to make all of my communication with parents as effective and clear as possible. No one has edited and proofed more of my work than Susan!”

According to Susan, “It has been challenging and exciting to spread the good news about our institution, and, in a small way, to elevate Rowland Hall’s reputation as an extraordinary school. Stephanie Orfanakis’ commitment to both our work and the school made it easy for me to decide to retire now. When I leave, I know that the program I built with Stephanie and Kathy Adams and now, with the addition of Kelly, will be in great hands.”


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