Ethical Education at Rowland Hall
Our actions affect others • Ethics create community • Ethics guide civic engagementIn 1867, our founders built Rowland Hall on ethical and spiritual principles and the clear expectation that every child should strive for personal excellence. Character has been nurtured and expected from our students long before character education became a trend at peer schools, locally and nationally.
No education is complete without a commitment to a worthy purpose and passion for making the world a better place. Therefore, Rowland Hall students are taught in a thoughtful, age-appropriate, sequential thread from preschool through high school to identify ethical themes, recognize actions that build community, practice decision making, and live a meaningful, ethical life. All students learn that character includes the development of self-discipline, drive, and grit, as well as the universal values embodied by the ethical principles of fairness, empathy, integrity, and altruism.
More important than core classes, exams, grades, or graduation requirements, are the people with whom students spend their days. Our teachers are insightful individuals who share their passion and dedication for knowledge, while also serving as role models in their communities.
You'll find few rivals to Rowland Hall’s community-engagement program, in the Intermountain West or nationally. Participation in community engagement, whether expanding on curricular themes or through stellar stand-alone projects, starts in the Beginning School and offers each student through high school a deep sense of personal responsibility and belonging.
Our school-wide chapel program encourages students to reflect on the values of honesty, compassion, altruism, and community engagement, and offers insights into the traditions of varied cultures and beliefs. Whether focusing on a Virtue of the Month in St. Margaret’s Chapel on the McCarthey Campus or hearing from a guest speaker on the Lincoln Street Campus, our students are immersed in concepts that lead to a life of honor and engagement with others to improve the community and larger world.
Since 2016, the schools and families of Utah’s Navajo Nation communities in Bluff and Montezuma Creek have graciously embraced teaching and connecting with Rowland Hall students and faculty during Upper School Interim and beyond.
They’ve invited us into their homes, shared their traditions, and even traveled to our school for race-relations workshops, strengthening our nation-to-nation ties. In the wake of COVID-19, Rowland Hall finally had a chance to give back. Our students, families, and dozens of alumni affiliated with Navajo Nation projects in past years rallied to collect three truckloads of resources for hard-hit Navajo families and schools.
Donations included 68 art kits for elementary-aged kids, enough art supplies to cover curriculum needs for all Whitehorse middle and high schoolers, 52 gift certificates, 200 homemade masks, five donation checks, and various household items—from toilet paper and feminine hygiene products, to cleaning supplies and pet food.
In mid-May, a small-but-mighty contingency of Rowland Hall folks made the trek down to Bluff: Director of Arts Sofa Gorder and her children, Jules Framme (fourth grade) and Solenne Framme (kindergarten); Director of Community Programs Allison Spehar and her daughter, Chiyoko Spehar (eighth grade); and alum Yuan Oliver Jin ’18. The group met administrators from local schools and the executive director of We Are Navajo, and they worked together to sort through every single donation and help get it to the best place. Donations included 68 art kits for elementary-aged kids, enough art supplies to cover curriculum needs for all Whitehorse middle and high schoolers, 52 gift certificates, 200 homemade masks, five donation checks, and various household items—from toilet paper and feminine hygiene products, to cleaning supplies and pet food. In addition to We Are Navajo and the White Horse students, donations went to the Rural Utah Project and to emergency medical technicians volunteering in Bluff.
Junior Elena Barker had been eager to visit the Navajo Nation for Interim this spring—she would’ve worked on art projects with kindergarteners. After the pandemic hit, she and her family sprang into action, donating art supplies for kids and gift cards to help Navajo seniors attend summer programs at a college in Price. “I wanted whatever we did to make kids smile,” Elena said, “or allow kids to explore different aspects of education that they are interested in.”
Sofia and Allison gave a sincere shoutout to the approximately 100 community members like Elena who put hard and fast work into making this happen. “Our effort does not go unnoticed,” Allison said. “There is so much gratitude from our partners on the Navajo Nation. And, in reality, it barely scratches the surface of the kind of support this community deserves as a part of our state and country.” The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and magnified institutional inequities, Sofia explained. “While there is so much more work to be done, this very moment is one that shows the true utility in authentic partnerships between communities that are vastly different, but that share boundaries.”
While there is so much more work to be done, this very moment is one that shows the true utility in authentic partnerships between communities that are vastly different, but that share boundaries.—Director of Arts Sofa Gorder
Junior Katie Kern—who visited the Navajo Nation for Interim in 2019 and would’ve gone again this year—echoed Allison and Sofia’s sentiments. “The people that I met in the Navajo Nation are simply good people who don't deserve what is going on right now,” Katie said, recalling how she loved dancing with the middle schoolers there, and meeting fellow high schoolers. “When good people go through something like this and resources become scarce, people need to come together and do what they can to provide some comfort.”
And we were able to provide some comfort, Sofia reiterated, due to our several years spent building trust and relationships. “Without these relationships, I am almost positive we would have seen less effort from our current and past students, and much less efficiency in getting the collected supplies to the right places and to the right people in a timely manner.”
Allison and Sofia gave a special thanks to the following community members who helped to make this happen through work and donations: Middle School Administrative Assistant Andrea Beckman; Brian, Karey, and Elena Barker; Martin, Krista, and Katie Kern; junior Samantha Paisley; parent Jacqueline Wittmeyer; Upper School Principal Ingrid Gustavson and family; and Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund.
Senior social justice advocate Dulce Maria Horn feels an innate pull to help the Latinx community, and in her stirring words, to ultimately “change the policies which entrap the comunidad I love so dearly.”
This deep passion to spur change has put Dulce on a seemingly unstoppable upward trajectory—and one that’s further bolstered by an impressive series of scholarship awards this spring.
In April, Dulce learned she’d won the Rotary Club of Salt Lake City’s $5,000 scholarship, which Rotarians give to one senior from each Salt Lake City high school. In addition to the Rotary honor, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah announced in May that Dulce (along with senior classmate Ria Agarwal) won a $3,500 Youth Activist Scholarship for 2020. The senior also won a John Greenleaf Whittier Scholarship from Whittier College, where she plans to major in global and cultural studies starting in the fall. Whittier will be a crucial step toward Dulce’s longer-term goal: becoming an immigration lawyer and working with unaccompanied, undocumented minors to provide emotional and legal support.
In the above ACLU Utah video, Dulce explains what being a civil liberties activist means to her: using the power that we have "to fight for all rights, for all humans, regardless of any barriers."
The work that I do helps me to feel that I am actualizing the justice immigrants deserve, due to the fact that we are a historically and continually marginalized community.
Dulce is Latina and bilingual, and her life story is central to her work: she was adopted and came to Salt Lake City from Guatemala at six months old. She grew up in what she called a predominantly White, upper-middle-class world, and from a young age, she’s used her advantages to help others: “Due to my relative privilege and outlook on life, I pressure myself to support my family and community,” Dulce wrote in her Rotary essay. “The work that I do helps me to feel that I am actualizing the justice immigrants deserve, due to the fact that we are a historically and continually marginalized community.”
The Rowland Hall lifer developed an activist mindset early on: she was only eight years old when she started volunteering for Safe Passage, a nonprofit that aids families who are making a living from Guatemala City’s garbage dump. In eighth grade she volunteered as a teacher’s assistant at Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, helping Spanish-speaking adults learn English. And in 2018, she began volunteering for immigrant rights nonprofit Comunidades Unidas (CU), where she’s worked on Latinx community empowerment—including voter registration—and accrued several awards for her efforts. Accolades aside, Dulce finds the greatest rewards in the work itself: in the people she meets, and the progress she makes.
Through her work, Dulce met Vicky Chavez—an undocumented mother entering sanctuary with her two daughters. An unbreakable bond ensued. “Vicky’s daughters are no longer clients or friends; they are my sisters."
One anecdote is particularly emblematic of what drives Dulce. In 2018, through her work on deportation cases with the SLC Sanctuary Network, Dulce met Vicky Chavez—an undocumented mother entering sanctuary with her two daughters. Since Dulce is especially interested in helping children, she opted to work with Vicky’s kids. An unbreakable bond ensued. “Vicky’s daughters are no longer clients or friends; they are my sisters,” Dulce wrote in her Rotary essay. “Immigrants deserve fair and just laws and regulations that uplift rather than harm. No Ban. No Wall. No Remain in Mexico. No Separación.”
Rowland Hall Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund praised Dulce’s breadth of work and, in the case of the Rotary scholarship, explained what gave her an edge in an impressive applicant pool. “Dulce's engagement with the asylum-seeking community in Salt Lake expands the definition of service to include community activism. The Rotarians were so impressed by Dulce embracing an ethic of inclusion and working tirelessly on an issue from many angles,” Ryan said. The senior, he added, embodies a genuine concern for humanity and the conditions faced by the most vulnerable among us. “For those not even recognized legally to request a redress of grievance, Dulce is a powerful and compassionate voice.”
Thanks to Rowland Hall, I am one of the only people (and most certainly the youngest) to have roles in public speaking in my activist circle.
Though Rowland Hall had little to no impact on Dulce’s unique and extensive activism journey, she credits her school for giving her a solid foundation in public speaking. Through her work at CU and beyond, Dulce has made speeches galore, spoken at press conferences and on radio shows, and led workshops and classes. “I have no fear of public speaking, whether it be in front of the press or a tiny workshop. Rowland Hall helped greatly with this,” she said, adding she still remembers reciting poetry in second grade and giving a speech about a famous role model in third grade. “Thanks to Rowland Hall, I am one of the only people (and most certainly the youngest) to have roles in public speaking in my activist circle.”
For now, Dulce looks forward to continuing to fight for immigrant rights during her college years, and she’s happy that her scholarships will help her pay for Whittier. But true to her personality, Dulce is quick to shift the focus off of her as an individual, and onto the greater struggle: activists often work in silence and with little recognition, she said, trying to keep immigrants healthy and their families united. There are many others who are equally worthy: “Thousands of people deserve a scholarship for their hard work to keep immigrants safe.”
By Samantha Paisley, Class of 2021
In October 2019, the Rowland Hall Roots & Shoots club had an incredible opportunity when, through the connections made by biology teacher Rob Wilson, they were invited to a lecture given by Dr. Jane Goodall at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. Samantha Paisley, co-president of the club, and four other members attended this event and met Dr. Goodall. Below, Samantha reflects on the experience and shares how Dr. Goodall inspired her.
We were all so excited for the opportunity to listen to Dr. Jane Goodall. I took notes, trying to capture every bit of knowledge that was being absorbed by the room. Every time I looked around, the audience was captivated, fixated, listening. We learned about her childhood and her lifelong love for animals. We learned that as a young woman she had followed her passions and, once she had saved enough money to get on a boat in England, she went straight to Tanzania.
Dr. Goodall’s research redefined what it means to be human.
As I write this reflection on Mother’s Day, I am looking back at Jane’s origin story and am in awe of the amount of support she got from her mother, Margaret Joseph. Her mother was the one who got her her first animal book when she was little, and her mother encouraged her to hop on a boat with very few plans. It was also her mother who saw Jane’s love for animals. Margaret knew what Jane was capable of, and she did whatever she could to help her daughter follow her dreams. Mind you, this was in the 1960s. And Margaret was onto something, as Dr. Goodall’s research redefined what it means to be human.
After the lecture, our club was led out the back entrance of the room, down a very long hallway, down some stairs, and finally ushered into a waiting room with other small groups. The Rowland Hall Roots & Shoots club was then escorted into a brightly lit conference room. At once, Dr. Goodall walked into the room. The first thing she said was, “Bahh please, you must turn these lights off. There is no need for ceiling lights when we have beautiful natural daylight!” That's all I needed to hear. After that one sentence, I was satisfied. I was standing less than 10 feet away from Dr. Goodall, and she had captivated the room by walking in and noticing that the lights didn't need to be on in the middle of that day. I have never met anyone with such influence. I guess if someone is an icon it doesn't really matter what they do. Nevertheless, I couldn't have been more humbled to meet such a well-known woman who cared more about the lights and conserving energy than she did about fame and popularity.
She sat down right next to me and asked us what we were doing with our club. I told her my co-president Elena Barker and I had designed our chapter of the Roots & Shoots club as an educational platform to teach lower schoolers the importance of the environment. I told her about the learning games we played with the kids at the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center’s aftercare program.
I know Dr. Goodall wouldn’t stop even if the entire world were shut down. Therefore, during this time I have not stopped being conscious of my carbon footprint and I try to minimize how much plastic I use on a daily basis. I have also continued to brainstorm ideas for next year, which will hopefully be the best year the Rowland Hall branch of the Roots & Shoots club has ever seen.
She thought this was good but something told me it wasn't good enough. To put Dr. Goodall’s influence into perspective, at the age of 86, she travels almost every day, all around the world, spreading her message. She must be exhausted, but activism and the education of the youth of the world are most important to her. It's incredible that after she gives a talk, she then takes the time to sit down with a few high schoolers to discuss how to best educate little kids on the importance of protecting the environment. The conversation didn’t feel rushed or artificial either. I sensed she genuinely cared.
Elena and I took her motivation to heart. We needed to be doing more, but it needed to be meaningful. So we decided to continue with our theme of education, with a goal to connect our community, just like Dr. Goodall had connected the world. In addition to the Lower School kids, we set our sights on influencing a tougher crowd—sixth graders. We joined the sixth grade on a snowshoe hike to learn about the watershed, the trees, and the animals in the Wasatch. We had plans to play interactive games similar to the ones we created with Sunnyvale. We were also planning a trail cleanup and maintenance day with them this spring. Unfortunately, everything was canceled due to COVID-19. But I know Dr. Goodall wouldn’t stop even if the entire world were shut down. Therefore, during this time I have not stopped being conscious of my carbon footprint and I try to minimize how much plastic I use on a daily basis. I have also continued to brainstorm ideas for next year, which will hopefully be the best year the Rowland Hall branch of the Roots & Shoots club has ever seen.
Top photo, from left: Rob Wilson, Grace Smith, Katie Kern, Dr. Goodall, Samantha Paisley, and Heidi Paisley.
Every January, Rowland Hall’s Lower School spends the month celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., culminating in a Changemaker Chapel the week of MLK Day.
Changemaker: Someone who recognizes that a positive change is needed and has the courage to say something to make a difference.
In preparation for this year’s Changemaker Chapel on January 21, and in line with Rowland Hall’s focus on inspiring students who make a difference, all Lower School classes read Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds. The book explores the concept of a changemaker: someone who recognizes that a positive change is needed and has the courage to say something to make a difference.
After learning how small changes lead to bigger ones, students were asked to participate in the Changemaker 2020 Challenge, a collection of 20 mini acts of kindness, in the days leading up to chapel. They also created a community art installation made up of messages of changemaking actions, which is displayed outside St. Margaret’s Chapel on the McCarthey Campus.
We invite you to enjoy the above video, which highlights our students’ work and the 2020 Changemaker Chapel.