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When Rowland Hall’s youngest students face academic or social-emotional challenges, Chuck White and Lori Miller are there to lift them up.

What strategies will help a third-grade student stay focused during class? How can a group of children on the playground resolve a conflict? How do you support the emotional needs of a first grader who has just lost a pet? What are the best ways to challenge a nine-year-old reading at a middle school level?
 
If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance you’ve grappled with questions like these. As children develop throughout their preschool and elementary years, unexpected challenges often arise—and those challenges can turn into learning opportunities and positive outcomes for students. In Rowland Hall’s beginning and lower schools, we encourage a growth mindset with an intentionally crafted student-support program to evaluate and nurture each child’s development. If you haven’t already, you should get to know the powerhouse duo leading this effort: Chuck White and Lori Miller.

In Rowland Hall’s beginning and lower schools, we encourage a growth mindset with an intentionally crafted student-support program to evaluate and nurture each child’s development.

Meet Lori

Lori Miller has always loved reading. She grew up in a small town without a public library, so when the bookmobile came by every two weeks, Lori and her sister would check out seven books apiece—the maximum allowed—and each read one book per day until the bookmobile came again. During a visit to her college’s career center, Lori watched a short film of a teacher helping children learn to read and knew immediately: that’s what she wanted to do. Lori recalled thinking, “I love to read so much, and if I can give that gift to other kids, that’s exactly what I want to do.” And for the next 15 years, she taught first grade—the age at which most children learn to read.
 
Throughout her career, Lori has worn a variety of educational hats: elementary school principal, literacy-intervention specialist, and director of curriculum and instruction. She earned a master’s degree in gifted education from Utah State University and an administrative certificate from the University of Utah. When the position of academic support counselor at Rowland Hall opened up in 2007, Lori jumped at the chance to join a community she’d always admired. “I knew it was an amazing place,” Lori said, “and I really felt I could make a difference here.”


Lori spends her days on the McCarthey Campus serving three core constituencies: students, teachers, and parents. She oversees reading assessments and helps teachers ensure that all students are meeting benchmarks in reading, writing, and math. If there are any red flags for learning differences, she can observe the student, offer strategies to differentiate instruction, and develop a support plan, which may include tutoring. “I feel like a shepherd, with my little flock,” Lori said. “I’m just making sure they are all heading in the right direction.”

I feel like a shepherd, with my little flock. I’m just making sure they are all heading in the right direction. —Lori MillerThe joy Lori derives from her job is most evident when she speaks about visiting the kindergarten writer’s workshop. “It’s like a watching a miracle, to see how they’re figuring it out,” she said. “They have something they are excited about, and they want to put their ideas into words, and they have to think: How do I do that?” It’s a vital step in literacy development, Lori explained, since writing and reading work as opposite processes in a young brain: the former involves encoding one’s own thoughts into sounds and symbols, and the latter is a decoding process that starts with symbols on the page. “It’s really awesome,” she said.

Meet Chuck

In Chuck White’s office, one bookshelf is full of small figurines, dolls, and gadgets that, he explains, are part of an engagement strategy. Students can bring in a small toy from home and exchange it for something off his shelves. “It’s about making them feel welcome and comfortable in the counselor’s office,” he said.


Chuck joined the Rowland Hall community in 2008, one year after Lori arrived. School counseling is a second act for him, having spent 25 years working for Information and Referral Center—now 211 Utah—a private nonprofit that connects people who need help with the appropriate programs and agencies. Seeking more face-to-face interaction, and citing his love of education, Chuck earned his master’s degree in school counseling from Utah State University, then spent a few years working in the Salt Lake City School District before landing at Rowland Hall.
 
A significant portion of Chuck’s time is spent in the Lower School classrooms, teaching social-emotional learning (SEL) through the Second Step curriculum. “We teach skills,” Chuck explained, “such as how to look at and understand another person’s feelings, or how to control strong emotions, or how to be an effective problem-solver.” These lessons begin in 4PreK—where they are delivered by assistant teachers, under Chuck’s tutelage—and continue all the way through fifth grade. The language and approach evolve as children age, but the concepts remain the same.
 
Chuck reaches every Lower School student through chapel service as well, where he introduces a virtue of the month such as kindness, service, and respect—all to reinforce core values and encourage good behavior. Those virtues can be individualized, too: “We try and find various ways of helping kids own that virtue, understanding that it may mean something different for one student than another,” Chuck said. He and Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund also recently created the Kindness Club, a voluntary opportunity for Lower School students to practice kind acts, often anonymously.

Like Lori, Chuck is always a resource anytime a student needs individual support. “I can provide a listening ear, help set goals or strategize, or just check in on them,” he said. He loves being able to witness the growth of students during their Lower School years. “It’s a real privilege, and an honor.”

The Whole Child

As the two faculty members devoted full time to student support in the beginning and lower schools, Chuck and Lori think often about a core component of Rowland Hall’s mission: educating the whole child. For Lori, that means considering the social, emotional, and academic components of being part of a learning community, and how they must effectively combine in order for a student to succeed. Chuck agrees: “A child cannot do well academically if they are not doing well emotionally or socially.”

Chuck and Lori often work as a team—along with division principals, teachers, and parents—to support a student in need. Chuck’s SEL curriculum teaches resilience and strategies to deal with academic challenges, too. He gave an example of how he might approach a struggling student: “If you’re at your desk feeling super frustrated because you’re not understanding the math piece in front of you, what do you with that frustration? You can give up, which is one strategy, which is not good learning. Or you can flip the script and say, ‘Yeah, I am feeling frustrated. Maybe I need to get some help.’ That’s controlling your strong emotions. That’s you being in control.”

Chuck and Lori focus on the whole child, for each individual child—which means everything from identifying early signs of dyslexia to running a support group for children of divorced parents to helping classroom teachers recommend books to foster a love of reading.

Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman joined the Rowland Hall community last summer, and she already marvels at the work Chuck and Lori do for students and faculty—particularly how they problem solve. “There’s love and respect for children at the foundation, always,” she said. “It’s really about figuring out what does this individual person need to be his or her best learning self, and how can we match what we're doing with what that learner needs.”
 
Chuck and Lori focus on the whole child, for each individual child—which means everything from identifying early signs of dyslexia to running a support group for children of divorced parents to helping classroom teachers recommend books to foster a love of reading. Working with a diverse group of children with different academic, social, and emotional needs is part of what makes the job so rewarding, though. “Kids with all kinds of learning differences thrive at our school,” Lori said.

The Big Picture

Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund is passionate about SEL, citing the many benefits to student performance and long-term success, including a significant economic impact that extends far beyond the field of education. Furthermore, research has shown that every minute spent on the social-emotional development of children translates to increased instructional time. 
 
Rowland Hall recently solidified its long-term commitment to SEL, adding a bullet point to the strategic plan about integrating social-emotional learning in support of Goal 1, enhancing the student learning experience. For Mr. Hoglund, having the resources to keep children on track when they face inevitable challenges—at any point in their education—is part of what differentiates independent schools. "We’re in an environment where you have these two amazing individuals who get kids off the sidelines and back in the game,” he said.

We’re in an environment where you have these two amazing individuals who get kids off the sidelines and back in the game. —Ryan Hoglund

Chuck said he’s grateful to be in a place where it’s part of the culture to talk about supporting the whole child, and where there’s a robust professional-development program to keep staff and teachers at the top of their game. When it comes down to it, the daily motivation is simple for Chuck, Lori, and most educators: they hope to impact children’s lives for the better.

“We want each of our kids to maximize their potential and their skills,” Lori said, “because that will unlock a lot of doors for them.”

 

People

 

Support Superstars

When Rowland Hall’s youngest students face academic or social-emotional challenges, Chuck White and Lori Miller are there to lift them up.

What strategies will help a third-grade student stay focused during class? How can a group of children on the playground resolve a conflict? How do you support the emotional needs of a first grader who has just lost a pet? What are the best ways to challenge a nine-year-old reading at a middle school level?
 
If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance you’ve grappled with questions like these. As children develop throughout their preschool and elementary years, unexpected challenges often arise—and those challenges can turn into learning opportunities and positive outcomes for students. In Rowland Hall’s beginning and lower schools, we encourage a growth mindset with an intentionally crafted student-support program to evaluate and nurture each child’s development. If you haven’t already, you should get to know the powerhouse duo leading this effort: Chuck White and Lori Miller.

In Rowland Hall’s beginning and lower schools, we encourage a growth mindset with an intentionally crafted student-support program to evaluate and nurture each child’s development.

Meet Lori

Lori Miller has always loved reading. She grew up in a small town without a public library, so when the bookmobile came by every two weeks, Lori and her sister would check out seven books apiece—the maximum allowed—and each read one book per day until the bookmobile came again. During a visit to her college’s career center, Lori watched a short film of a teacher helping children learn to read and knew immediately: that’s what she wanted to do. Lori recalled thinking, “I love to read so much, and if I can give that gift to other kids, that’s exactly what I want to do.” And for the next 15 years, she taught first grade—the age at which most children learn to read.
 
Throughout her career, Lori has worn a variety of educational hats: elementary school principal, literacy-intervention specialist, and director of curriculum and instruction. She earned a master’s degree in gifted education from Utah State University and an administrative certificate from the University of Utah. When the position of academic support counselor at Rowland Hall opened up in 2007, Lori jumped at the chance to join a community she’d always admired. “I knew it was an amazing place,” Lori said, “and I really felt I could make a difference here.”


Lori spends her days on the McCarthey Campus serving three core constituencies: students, teachers, and parents. She oversees reading assessments and helps teachers ensure that all students are meeting benchmarks in reading, writing, and math. If there are any red flags for learning differences, she can observe the student, offer strategies to differentiate instruction, and develop a support plan, which may include tutoring. “I feel like a shepherd, with my little flock,” Lori said. “I’m just making sure they are all heading in the right direction.”

I feel like a shepherd, with my little flock. I’m just making sure they are all heading in the right direction. —Lori MillerThe joy Lori derives from her job is most evident when she speaks about visiting the kindergarten writer’s workshop. “It’s like a watching a miracle, to see how they’re figuring it out,” she said. “They have something they are excited about, and they want to put their ideas into words, and they have to think: How do I do that?” It’s a vital step in literacy development, Lori explained, since writing and reading work as opposite processes in a young brain: the former involves encoding one’s own thoughts into sounds and symbols, and the latter is a decoding process that starts with symbols on the page. “It’s really awesome,” she said.

Meet Chuck

In Chuck White’s office, one bookshelf is full of small figurines, dolls, and gadgets that, he explains, are part of an engagement strategy. Students can bring in a small toy from home and exchange it for something off his shelves. “It’s about making them feel welcome and comfortable in the counselor’s office,” he said.


Chuck joined the Rowland Hall community in 2008, one year after Lori arrived. School counseling is a second act for him, having spent 25 years working for Information and Referral Center—now 211 Utah—a private nonprofit that connects people who need help with the appropriate programs and agencies. Seeking more face-to-face interaction, and citing his love of education, Chuck earned his master’s degree in school counseling from Utah State University, then spent a few years working in the Salt Lake City School District before landing at Rowland Hall.
 
A significant portion of Chuck’s time is spent in the Lower School classrooms, teaching social-emotional learning (SEL) through the Second Step curriculum. “We teach skills,” Chuck explained, “such as how to look at and understand another person’s feelings, or how to control strong emotions, or how to be an effective problem-solver.” These lessons begin in 4PreK—where they are delivered by assistant teachers, under Chuck’s tutelage—and continue all the way through fifth grade. The language and approach evolve as children age, but the concepts remain the same.
 
Chuck reaches every Lower School student through chapel service as well, where he introduces a virtue of the month such as kindness, service, and respect—all to reinforce core values and encourage good behavior. Those virtues can be individualized, too: “We try and find various ways of helping kids own that virtue, understanding that it may mean something different for one student than another,” Chuck said. He and Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund also recently created the Kindness Club, a voluntary opportunity for Lower School students to practice kind acts, often anonymously.

Like Lori, Chuck is always a resource anytime a student needs individual support. “I can provide a listening ear, help set goals or strategize, or just check in on them,” he said. He loves being able to witness the growth of students during their Lower School years. “It’s a real privilege, and an honor.”

The Whole Child

As the two faculty members devoted full time to student support in the beginning and lower schools, Chuck and Lori think often about a core component of Rowland Hall’s mission: educating the whole child. For Lori, that means considering the social, emotional, and academic components of being part of a learning community, and how they must effectively combine in order for a student to succeed. Chuck agrees: “A child cannot do well academically if they are not doing well emotionally or socially.”

Chuck and Lori often work as a team—along with division principals, teachers, and parents—to support a student in need. Chuck’s SEL curriculum teaches resilience and strategies to deal with academic challenges, too. He gave an example of how he might approach a struggling student: “If you’re at your desk feeling super frustrated because you’re not understanding the math piece in front of you, what do you with that frustration? You can give up, which is one strategy, which is not good learning. Or you can flip the script and say, ‘Yeah, I am feeling frustrated. Maybe I need to get some help.’ That’s controlling your strong emotions. That’s you being in control.”

Chuck and Lori focus on the whole child, for each individual child—which means everything from identifying early signs of dyslexia to running a support group for children of divorced parents to helping classroom teachers recommend books to foster a love of reading.

Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman joined the Rowland Hall community last summer, and she already marvels at the work Chuck and Lori do for students and faculty—particularly how they problem solve. “There’s love and respect for children at the foundation, always,” she said. “It’s really about figuring out what does this individual person need to be his or her best learning self, and how can we match what we're doing with what that learner needs.”
 
Chuck and Lori focus on the whole child, for each individual child—which means everything from identifying early signs of dyslexia to running a support group for children of divorced parents to helping classroom teachers recommend books to foster a love of reading. Working with a diverse group of children with different academic, social, and emotional needs is part of what makes the job so rewarding, though. “Kids with all kinds of learning differences thrive at our school,” Lori said.

The Big Picture

Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund is passionate about SEL, citing the many benefits to student performance and long-term success, including a significant economic impact that extends far beyond the field of education. Furthermore, research has shown that every minute spent on the social-emotional development of children translates to increased instructional time. 
 
Rowland Hall recently solidified its long-term commitment to SEL, adding a bullet point to the strategic plan about integrating social-emotional learning in support of Goal 1, enhancing the student learning experience. For Mr. Hoglund, having the resources to keep children on track when they face inevitable challenges—at any point in their education—is part of what differentiates independent schools. "We’re in an environment where you have these two amazing individuals who get kids off the sidelines and back in the game,” he said.

We’re in an environment where you have these two amazing individuals who get kids off the sidelines and back in the game. —Ryan Hoglund

Chuck said he’s grateful to be in a place where it’s part of the culture to talk about supporting the whole child, and where there’s a robust professional-development program to keep staff and teachers at the top of their game. When it comes down to it, the daily motivation is simple for Chuck, Lori, and most educators: they hope to impact children’s lives for the better.

“We want each of our kids to maximize their potential and their skills,” Lori said, “because that will unlock a lot of doors for them.”

 

People

 

Explore More Features

soccer team

What he’s been reading, what he'd do if he weren’t an educator, and why he wants to know what you hope for

In June, Board Chair Jennifer Price-Wallin announced the appointment of Michael “Mick” Gee as Rowland Hall’s next head of school. A native of the UK, Mick has over 20 years of leadership experience in independent schools and currently serves as the head of Allendale Columbia School in Rochester, New York. While Mick won’t begin his headship here until July 1, 2020, his wife, Amy, and daughter, Madeleine, became Salt Lake City residents in August so Madeleine could join Rowland Hall’s class of 2021.
 
We caught up with Mick while he was fishing at the Finger Lakes in New York during the summer. Read on to learn more about what he’s been reading, what work he might do if he weren’t an educator, and why he wants to know what you hope for. 

This Q&A has been edited for length and style.


We know you are an avid soccer player. What role does soccer play in your life?

With soccer, I love the competitive element. I love the team sport. I love the camaraderie, and I love playing the game.

I think if I was asked to describe myself, I would say athlete first rather than teacher. Or, it would be close. I come from a football-mad country, and I’ve been playing since I was eight, competitively. There are two things I do that, when I’m doing them, I don’t think about anything else. Fishing is one, and soccer is the other. 

With soccer, I love the competitive element. I love the team sport. I love the camaraderie, and I love playing the game. I think I got better as I got older, too, even though I played at a pretty high level when I was 18. Now I play with the over-30 and over-40 guys, which keeps the challenge up for me. I’ve played in competitive leagues in Nottingham, London, Pittsburgh, and Rochester, and hopefully next, Salt Lake City. 

If you didn’t work in education, what kind of work would you do?

If I wasn’t going to be a professional soccer player—and I think those days are gone—I like the idea of professional DJing as well. There’s a guy called Pete Tong who runs the BBC Radio 1 dance show, DJing all over the country. That’s a great job. I like the technical, scientific side to it. 

Growing up, I wanted to be a veterinary surgeon—also a technical, scientific career.

Tell us about your funniest memory from your days as a classroom teacher.

This round-bottomed glass flask fell off of the reflux, bounced off the desk and the bench, kicked over the flame and poured right onto me, setting my trousers on fire.

True story: I was teaching chemistry in England when I first started out, in a public school, with classes of 28 students. When you're teaching chemistry, the lab safety requires extra attention. One of the rules was that you couldn’t sit down during labs, so if anything spilled, you could quickly get out of the way.

So with one class of eighth graders—not the most forgiving crowd— I was demonstrating a fractional distillation (separating different alcohols from each other by boiling point). As I was doing it, I asked the class, “What’s one of the rules? Is there anything I’m doing wrong?” And one of the kids said, “Yeah, you’re sitting down. You can’t get out of the way.” As he said it, this round-bottomed glass flask fell off of the reflux, bounced off the desk and the bench, kicked over the flame and poured right onto me, setting my trousers on fire. The kids thought it was set up, like a way of teaching them a lesson. Then when they saw the look of panic on my face, they realized.

I'm lucky because alcohol burns off before the material burns, so I had a few seconds to recover. But I was running around with my trousers on fire because I didn’t do what I told the kids to do. 

It wasn’t really funny at the time, but it’s funny now. 

Gee family

Immediately above: Head-elect Mick Gee and wife Amy Gee with daughter Madeleine, center, a member of Rowland Hall's class of 2021.
Top of page: Mick is still an avid soccer player. Here he is (front row, third from left) with his 1983–1984 sixth form college soccer team, which made it to England’s final four.

I’m interested in giving kids a chance to really flourish in something, and maybe not do as much of the must-do stuff.

What’s the last book you read that impacted you strongly, and why?

The End of Average by Todd Rose. The premise of the book is essentially that we teach to the middle, we teach to the average, and it's a pretty prescriptive curriculum, right? We don't give kids or adults the chance to dive into things because we tell them you have to do four years of that subject and three years of this and two years of that. Every school does it. So what I’ve been trying to do in education in the last few years is explore what we can do instead of what we must do. I’m interested in giving kids a chance to really flourish in something, and maybe not do as much of the must-do stuff. 

What is one piece of great advice you received as an educator? Who gave it to you, and why did it resonate?

One that’s stuck with me came from Tom King, who was the head of school at Sutton Centre, a community-based school near Nottingham. The kids at that school were on top of you, and they were from really disadvantaged backgrounds, and at times, they were dangerous. I once had to disarm a kid who came into my class with a baseball bat. It was an interesting environment.

Tom King always talked about being good on the stairs. And what he meant by that was: you have to be able to deal with the unknown. You can be brilliantly planned, but if you’re not good on the stairs, you’re not going to succeed. And the kids won’t respect you just because you’re the teacher—you have to earn their respect. You have to talk to them on their terms and you have to show them that you care about them. You always have to earn people’s respect: you do it as a teacher, you do it with opposition soccer players, you do it as a coach. 

About one year out from officially becoming the head of Rowland Hall, what is one question you’d like to pose to our community?

Ultimately we’re in the hope business, and we have more control of building that hope at independent schools.

The question I asked the search committee during my semifinalist interview was: what do you hope for? I wonder about that. We have our polished marketing materials and curriculum guides, but, what do we hope for our graduates? I keep thinking about that because I have a daughter who is going to graduate from Rowland Hall, and so I wonder what the people at the school hope for her, and how those hopes match up with her own. 

I think we don’t ask ourselves that enough—we talk about what we’re going to teach, and we look for a good college, and so on. But ultimately we’re in the hope business, and we have more control of building that hope at independent schools. So when our graduates walk out the door of Rowland Hall, what do we hope for? Probably everything, I imagine.

Community

Achievements of the Class of 2019

The graduates in Rowland Hall’s class of 2019 are a diverse and talented group of young people ready to make their mark on the world. During their years at our school, they excelled in the classrooms and laboratories, on the playing field and stage, in service to each other and our greater community, and by living with authenticity, courage, and hope.

This class includes several top-tier debate students, including two winners of the National Speech and Debate Association’s Academic All-American Award and one student who, with her partner, finished third in this year’s Tournament of Champions—the most successful finish in Rowland Hall debate history.

Seniors in this class pushed themselves academically through rigorous coursework during the year supplemented by summer learning at institutions including the University of Utah, Oxford University, Indiana University, and Stanford University. They completed internships with Wasatch Advisors, McNeill Von Maack, Avenues Pet Clinic, and Alliance for a Better Utah, among others, and continued their learning through independent study in subjects including Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and engineering. This class includes several top-tier debate students, including two winners of the National Speech and Debate Association’s Academic All-American Award and one student who, with her partner, finished third in this year’s Tournament of Champions—the most successful finish in Rowland Hall debate history.

The class of 2019 has no shortage of artists, ranging from dancers and musicians to poets and painters. Beyond performing in Rowland Hall productions, they have graced the stage with the University of Utah’s Youth Theatre Conservatory, the Utah Youth Philharmonic, the Salt Lake Dance Company, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Several seniors in our Advanced Chamber Ensemble earned superior ratings year after year in state competitions, and one was named concertmaster for the Utah Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra this past winter. These young artists continued their creative studies during the summer at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and at Carnegie Mellon University, and one recently traveled to Australia to perform with Dance and the Child International. One talented young writer won the Jewish Community Center’s Annual Holocaust Poetry Competition, and another teaches poetry classes to children at the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center.

Six Academic All-State and nine Academic All-Region honorees led seven of our athletic teams to earn the Top 2A Team GPA award for their sport this year, as designated by the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Of the five seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, all competed in the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) Western Region Junior Championships, and two competed in the U.S. Junior National Championships and U.S. National Championships.

Our seniors led our athletics program to top-five finishes in the Deseret News 2A All-Sports Awards each year of their high school careers. They captured 27 Region and nine State titles as teams. Eight of our seniors were named All-State, nine earned All-Region honors, and five were selected to play in the postseason All-Star games of their respective sports this year. Six Academic All-State and nine Academic All-Region honorees led seven of our athletic teams to earn the Top 2A Team GPA award for their sport this year, as designated by the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Of the five seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, all competed in the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) Western Region Junior Championships, and two competed in the U.S. Junior National Championships and U.S. National Championships. Their ski-racing successes include seven race wins the past two seasons, including a first-place in slalom in the FIS Western Region Junior Championship, nine total FIS podium finishes and a third place in the Intermountain Division Cup overall downhill standings. Outside of school, members of the class of 2019 pursued diverse athletics interests: two are avid sailors, one is a competitive CrossFit athlete, one is the winningest wrestler in the history of West High School, and another won the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award for his aptitude and performance as a baseball player.

Every graduating class includes students who have devoted countless hours volunteering throughout the community, and the people and organizations touched by our current students include: the National Ability Center, Women of the World, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Angel Flight West, the Road Home book club, Intermountain Healthcare, Girl Up, the Utah Pride Center, and the International Rescue Committee. These seniors also embraced leadership roles on campus, whether tutoring Middle School students, serving as college counseling ambassadors, or advocating for the work of our Queer-Straight Alliance. One attended the People of Color Conference and subsequently formed a thriving affinity group at Rowland Hall, another has been an active leader in the Salt Lake City chapter of B’nai B’rith Youth International since eighth grade, and two were instrumental in organizing last spring’s local March for Our Lives. 

A significant number of these students have also held down jobs while in school, ranging from hostessing at restaurants to working as mechanics to supporting the office management for their family businesses. Balancing school, service, and work has still not deterred them from passion projects, whether that means backpacking across Wyoming, producing music, or creating and managing a sports website with a staff of 12 writers. 

During their years at our school, they excelled in the classrooms and laboratories, on the playing field and stage, in service to each other and our greater community, and by living with authenticity, courage, and hope.

The 71 seniors in Rowland Hall’s graduating class earned admission to 114 different colleges and universities, and will matriculate to 44 institutions across the United States and Canada this fall. Over half the senior class was offered at least one merit scholarship to attend college. Yet college is far from the destination for these young adults. Rather, it is merely a stepping stone on their journeys to living lives of purpose and impact. 

Congratulations to the class of 2019: you have already achieved many great things in your young lives, and we know the best is yet to come.

Students

Zack Alvidrez and team

Zack Alvidrez aimed to build a strong culture in the boys basketball program this season. What he created took the team to a third-place trophy at the State Tournament, their best-ever finish in 2A.

For Rowland Hall senior Trey Provost, the most memorable moment of the basketball season is precisely what you would expect: his buzzer-beating shot to take down Gunnison in the first round of the State 2A Tournament, which brought all his teammates onto the floor in celebration. It was a finish fit for March Madness—although it took place in February—and set the team on course for their best showing in the tournament in over a decade.

Coach Zack Alvidrez cited several joyous moments in the State Tournament, but one other game really stood out to him. It came during Region play, in a matchup at home against rival Waterford. Rowland Hall’s defense stymied their opponents, holding them to just two points at halftime—and the team’s locker room conversation was about how they could do even better. “That showed me they were ready,” Coach Alvidrez said.

As the new head coach this season, Coach Alvidrez’s primary goal was to build a strong culture in the program, one where hard work, communication, and responsibility were paramount. From their earliest practices, he sought investment from everyone on the team—regardless of grade level or experience—and vowed to match their effort. He made himself available for extra workouts, skill development, and weight-training sessions, and he regularly asked players for input, citing a desire to create shared ownership.

As the new head coach this season, Coach Alvidrez’s primary goal was to build a strong culture in the program, one where hard work, communication, and responsibility were paramount. From their earliest practices, he sought investment from everyone on the team—regardless of grade level or experience—and vowed to match their effort.

Such a strong commitment to the team stems from the love Coach Alvidrez has had for this sport since he was in eighth grade. After playing basketball throughout high school and college, he had a seven-year professional career internationally, which might have continued longer if not for a devastating injury to his Achilles tendon. Although he lamented the situation, Zack soon turned elsewhere, launching a competitive league and running basketball camps for kids, something he’d done periodically since college. He connected with Rowland Hall students through his league games, and three years ago began coaching for our Middle School. In fact, some players in Rowland Hall’s class of 2020 have been learning from Coach Alvidrez—in one forum or another—since they were in sixth grade.

Relationships matter, and as the foundation of what Coach Alvidrez has started to build at Rowland Hall, he taught his players to value their interactions with others. “He made us focus on being respectful to everyone, such as our own teammates, our opponents, our coaches, teachers, bus drivers…basically everyone we encountered,” Trey Provost said. Those high expectations were paired with incredible attention to detail on the court and Coach Alvidrez’s meticulous preparation before every game, watching hours of game film and producing long scouting reports to share with the team.

“I think a lot of our shortcomings can be made up for if I’m prepared, and we’re prepared as a team,” he said.

His approach worked. Rowland Hall went undefeated in Region 17 play, and finished third at the State Tournament, notching a gritty win along the way against the defending State Champions from Beaver High School. The standout play from Trey Provost and junior Isaiah Adams—who subsequently won Larry H. Miller Player of the Week honors—led the team during the playoffs, along with steady contributions from juniors Boston Ballard and Oscar Percy and seniors Maya Royer and Zander Smith. During the third-place game against Kanab, which required a second-half comeback to seal the win, Zander played “the game of his life,” according to Coach Alvidrez, scoring 23 points and playing excellent defense.

 

“All these guys stepped up,” the coach continued. “We had a true definition of a team. We didn’t have one guy to focus on—we had five guys on the floor at all times that needed to be accounted for.”

Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic lauded her new head coach’s performance in building team culture and modeling the high expectations he has for his players. “Zack is one of the best hires we’ve ever made in the boys’ basketball program, not because he knows and can teach the game so well, but because he gets it—he is able to strike a healthy balance between pushing the players on the court and expecting top-notch behavior off the court.” 

Playing a team sport…yes, it’s about wins and losses and championships, but if it’s done right, it should teach you life lessons and prepare you for college. —Coach Zack Alvidrez

Coach Alvidrez is excited for the future of basketball at Rowland Hall, not just because he believes the state championship trophy is within reach, but because he sees this sport as a vehicle for teaching the values and behaviors students need for lifelong success. “Playing a team sport…yes, it’s about wins and losses and championships, but if it’s done right, it should teach you life lessons and prepare you for college.” 

Also exciting to Coach Alvidrez: buzzer beaters, exceptional defense, and the overwhelming support he’s received from everybody in the school community. “It’s a huge blessing,” he said.

Athletics
 

Lori and Chuck reviewing work.

When Rowland Hall’s youngest students face academic or social-emotional challenges, Chuck White and Lori Miller are there to lift them up.

What strategies will help a third-grade student stay focused during class? How can a group of children on the playground resolve a conflict? How do you support the emotional needs of a first grader who has just lost a pet? What are the best ways to challenge a nine-year-old reading at a middle school level?
 
If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance you’ve grappled with questions like these. As children develop throughout their preschool and elementary years, unexpected challenges often arise—and those challenges can turn into learning opportunities and positive outcomes for students. In Rowland Hall’s beginning and lower schools, we encourage a growth mindset with an intentionally crafted student-support program to evaluate and nurture each child’s development. If you haven’t already, you should get to know the powerhouse duo leading this effort: Chuck White and Lori Miller.

In Rowland Hall’s beginning and lower schools, we encourage a growth mindset with an intentionally crafted student-support program to evaluate and nurture each child’s development.

Meet Lori

Lori Miller has always loved reading. She grew up in a small town without a public library, so when the bookmobile came by every two weeks, Lori and her sister would check out seven books apiece—the maximum allowed—and each read one book per day until the bookmobile came again. During a visit to her college’s career center, Lori watched a short film of a teacher helping children learn to read and knew immediately: that’s what she wanted to do. Lori recalled thinking, “I love to read so much, and if I can give that gift to other kids, that’s exactly what I want to do.” And for the next 15 years, she taught first grade—the age at which most children learn to read.
 
Throughout her career, Lori has worn a variety of educational hats: elementary school principal, literacy-intervention specialist, and director of curriculum and instruction. She earned a master’s degree in gifted education from Utah State University and an administrative certificate from the University of Utah. When the position of academic support counselor at Rowland Hall opened up in 2007, Lori jumped at the chance to join a community she’d always admired. “I knew it was an amazing place,” Lori said, “and I really felt I could make a difference here.”


Lori spends her days on the McCarthey Campus serving three core constituencies: students, teachers, and parents. She oversees reading assessments and helps teachers ensure that all students are meeting benchmarks in reading, writing, and math. If there are any red flags for learning differences, she can observe the student, offer strategies to differentiate instruction, and develop a support plan, which may include tutoring. “I feel like a shepherd, with my little flock,” Lori said. “I’m just making sure they are all heading in the right direction.”

I feel like a shepherd, with my little flock. I’m just making sure they are all heading in the right direction. —Lori MillerThe joy Lori derives from her job is most evident when she speaks about visiting the kindergarten writer’s workshop. “It’s like a watching a miracle, to see how they’re figuring it out,” she said. “They have something they are excited about, and they want to put their ideas into words, and they have to think: How do I do that?” It’s a vital step in literacy development, Lori explained, since writing and reading work as opposite processes in a young brain: the former involves encoding one’s own thoughts into sounds and symbols, and the latter is a decoding process that starts with symbols on the page. “It’s really awesome,” she said.

Meet Chuck

In Chuck White’s office, one bookshelf is full of small figurines, dolls, and gadgets that, he explains, are part of an engagement strategy. Students can bring in a small toy from home and exchange it for something off his shelves. “It’s about making them feel welcome and comfortable in the counselor’s office,” he said.


Chuck joined the Rowland Hall community in 2008, one year after Lori arrived. School counseling is a second act for him, having spent 25 years working for Information and Referral Center—now 211 Utah—a private nonprofit that connects people who need help with the appropriate programs and agencies. Seeking more face-to-face interaction, and citing his love of education, Chuck earned his master’s degree in school counseling from Utah State University, then spent a few years working in the Salt Lake City School District before landing at Rowland Hall.
 
A significant portion of Chuck’s time is spent in the Lower School classrooms, teaching social-emotional learning (SEL) through the Second Step curriculum. “We teach skills,” Chuck explained, “such as how to look at and understand another person’s feelings, or how to control strong emotions, or how to be an effective problem-solver.” These lessons begin in 4PreK—where they are delivered by assistant teachers, under Chuck’s tutelage—and continue all the way through fifth grade. The language and approach evolve as children age, but the concepts remain the same.
 
Chuck reaches every Lower School student through chapel service as well, where he introduces a virtue of the month such as kindness, service, and respect—all to reinforce core values and encourage good behavior. Those virtues can be individualized, too: “We try and find various ways of helping kids own that virtue, understanding that it may mean something different for one student than another,” Chuck said. He and Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund also recently created the Kindness Club, a voluntary opportunity for Lower School students to practice kind acts, often anonymously.

Like Lori, Chuck is always a resource anytime a student needs individual support. “I can provide a listening ear, help set goals or strategize, or just check in on them,” he said. He loves being able to witness the growth of students during their Lower School years. “It’s a real privilege, and an honor.”

The Whole Child

As the two faculty members devoted full time to student support in the beginning and lower schools, Chuck and Lori think often about a core component of Rowland Hall’s mission: educating the whole child. For Lori, that means considering the social, emotional, and academic components of being part of a learning community, and how they must effectively combine in order for a student to succeed. Chuck agrees: “A child cannot do well academically if they are not doing well emotionally or socially.”

Chuck and Lori often work as a team—along with division principals, teachers, and parents—to support a student in need. Chuck’s SEL curriculum teaches resilience and strategies to deal with academic challenges, too. He gave an example of how he might approach a struggling student: “If you’re at your desk feeling super frustrated because you’re not understanding the math piece in front of you, what do you with that frustration? You can give up, which is one strategy, which is not good learning. Or you can flip the script and say, ‘Yeah, I am feeling frustrated. Maybe I need to get some help.’ That’s controlling your strong emotions. That’s you being in control.”

Chuck and Lori focus on the whole child, for each individual child—which means everything from identifying early signs of dyslexia to running a support group for children of divorced parents to helping classroom teachers recommend books to foster a love of reading.

Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman joined the Rowland Hall community last summer, and she already marvels at the work Chuck and Lori do for students and faculty—particularly how they problem solve. “There’s love and respect for children at the foundation, always,” she said. “It’s really about figuring out what does this individual person need to be his or her best learning self, and how can we match what we're doing with what that learner needs.”
 
Chuck and Lori focus on the whole child, for each individual child—which means everything from identifying early signs of dyslexia to running a support group for children of divorced parents to helping classroom teachers recommend books to foster a love of reading. Working with a diverse group of children with different academic, social, and emotional needs is part of what makes the job so rewarding, though. “Kids with all kinds of learning differences thrive at our school,” Lori said.

The Big Picture

Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund is passionate about SEL, citing the many benefits to student performance and long-term success, including a significant economic impact that extends far beyond the field of education. Furthermore, research has shown that every minute spent on the social-emotional development of children translates to increased instructional time. 
 
Rowland Hall recently solidified its long-term commitment to SEL, adding a bullet point to the strategic plan about integrating social-emotional learning in support of Goal 1, enhancing the student learning experience. For Mr. Hoglund, having the resources to keep children on track when they face inevitable challenges—at any point in their education—is part of what differentiates independent schools. "We’re in an environment where you have these two amazing individuals who get kids off the sidelines and back in the game,” he said.

We’re in an environment where you have these two amazing individuals who get kids off the sidelines and back in the game. —Ryan Hoglund

Chuck said he’s grateful to be in a place where it’s part of the culture to talk about supporting the whole child, and where there’s a robust professional-development program to keep staff and teachers at the top of their game. When it comes down to it, the daily motivation is simple for Chuck, Lori, and most educators: they hope to impact children’s lives for the better.

“We want each of our kids to maximize their potential and their skills,” Lori said, “because that will unlock a lot of doors for them.”

 

People

 

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