Custom Class: post-landing-hero

Sophomore Katy Dark’s family immigrated to Salt Lake City from Argentina when she was a toddler, but the bilingual student still seamlessly slides into her first language on a dime—like when she greets her abuela visiting Rowland Hall for Grandparents Day, or when she volunteers for the after-school coding club she founded at Dual Immersion Academy (DIA).

In February, Katy won a President's Volunteer Service Award for her work at DIA, among other efforts. The sophomore earned the gold-level award for 2018, meaning she volunteered over 250 hours in one year. She’s the first Rowland Hall student to win this national award in over a decade, according to Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund.

Katy was surprised by the distinction but grateful to Rowland Hall—her invaluable experiences here inspired her to help DIA after they lost funding for computer science this school year. “Rowland Hall opened up a lot of possibilities for me,” Katy said, “and I know that coding can give DIA students new opportunities.”

Katy has accomplished much in the past few years, with help from the Rowland Hall community. That's part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” she said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.”

Katy, a Patricia C. Brim Memorial Scholar who’s been here since sixth grade, has had an especially remarkable few years. In March, she won an Aspirations in Computing regional honorable mention. She’s only a sophomore, and she said she already has a scholarship offer from a local college. Also this year, she traveled to Costa Rica for interim and to Southern Utah, Nashville, and Portland for student diversity and leadership retreats. Last summer, she interned with the National Security Agency, and the summer before that she studied criminology and computer science at the University of Cambridge in England. She did all these things, she said, with help from the Rowland Hall community, which is part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” Katy said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.” The DIA coding club has taken a lot of work, she said, but she’s invested in the community and up for the challenge.

The sophomore has remained fluent in Spanish thanks in part to attending DIA for elementary school. Her mom, Patricia Dark—one of DIA’s co-founders—enrolled Katy and older sister Elli (now a Rowland Hall senior) in the bilingual academy to keep their language skills sharp. When Katy left DIA she kept close ties, volunteering after school and on weekdays when Rowland Hall wasn’t in session.

DIA has about 500 students total in kindergarten through eighth grade, and they take classes in English and Spanish: the academy prepares students to become “bilingual, bi-literate, and bicultural while developing the tools to be successful in higher education, the workforce and in life,” according to their mission. It’s a Title One school where about 98% of students (compared to about 57% of Salt Lake City School District students) come from economically disadvantaged families and qualify for free or discounted school lunch.

After hearing about DIA’s funding cuts, Katy—a passionate computer science student who’s already laser-focused on pursuing a career in the field—sprang into action and started the coding club. She spends her weekends planning lessons, which she delivers Tuesdays from 3 to 5:30 pm—except in spring when she golfs for Rowland Hall and friend Alex Armknecht, a junior, subs for her. Katy has taught her 22 club members about programming basics using kid-friendly sources such as Hour of Code and Scratch. She’s also gotten to know the kids, tailored her approach based on their levels of comfort with the material, invited them to community coding events, helped them with non-computing schoolwork, and served as a mentor. “These kids are incredible,” Katy wrote in an essay about her volunteerism, “and they can do so much more than most people realize.” She said she hopes the club encourages DIA students to take computer science in high school, and ultimately, college.

Katy is self-motivated and didn’t necessarily expect recognition for her service, but teachers agree the national distinction is deserved. “Katy is incredibly dedicated to computer science,” said Ben Smith, her AP Computer Science teacher. The coding club was entirely her idea, he added. “I gave her some advice, but she really took off on her own.”

Katy also runs Rowland Hall’s Latinx affinity group, has volunteered with the Rotary Club, and has been “a tireless contributor to her community,” according to Ryan. “Katy sets a clear bar amongst her peers about the importance of giving back,” the ethical education director said, “and not waiting for an opportunity to arise, but instead creating those opportunities where she sees them.”

Volunteerism

Sophomore Fills Computing Gap at Bilingual Charter School, Wins National Service Award

Sophomore Katy Dark’s family immigrated to Salt Lake City from Argentina when she was a toddler, but the bilingual student still seamlessly slides into her first language on a dime—like when she greets her abuela visiting Rowland Hall for Grandparents Day, or when she volunteers for the after-school coding club she founded at Dual Immersion Academy (DIA).

In February, Katy won a President's Volunteer Service Award for her work at DIA, among other efforts. The sophomore earned the gold-level award for 2018, meaning she volunteered over 250 hours in one year. She’s the first Rowland Hall student to win this national award in over a decade, according to Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund.

Katy was surprised by the distinction but grateful to Rowland Hall—her invaluable experiences here inspired her to help DIA after they lost funding for computer science this school year. “Rowland Hall opened up a lot of possibilities for me,” Katy said, “and I know that coding can give DIA students new opportunities.”

Katy has accomplished much in the past few years, with help from the Rowland Hall community. That's part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” she said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.”

Katy, a Patricia C. Brim Memorial Scholar who’s been here since sixth grade, has had an especially remarkable few years. In March, she won an Aspirations in Computing regional honorable mention. She’s only a sophomore, and she said she already has a scholarship offer from a local college. Also this year, she traveled to Costa Rica for interim and to Southern Utah, Nashville, and Portland for student diversity and leadership retreats. Last summer, she interned with the National Security Agency, and the summer before that she studied criminology and computer science at the University of Cambridge in England. She did all these things, she said, with help from the Rowland Hall community, which is part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” Katy said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.” The DIA coding club has taken a lot of work, she said, but she’s invested in the community and up for the challenge.

The sophomore has remained fluent in Spanish thanks in part to attending DIA for elementary school. Her mom, Patricia Dark—one of DIA’s co-founders—enrolled Katy and older sister Elli (now a Rowland Hall senior) in the bilingual academy to keep their language skills sharp. When Katy left DIA she kept close ties, volunteering after school and on weekdays when Rowland Hall wasn’t in session.

DIA has about 500 students total in kindergarten through eighth grade, and they take classes in English and Spanish: the academy prepares students to become “bilingual, bi-literate, and bicultural while developing the tools to be successful in higher education, the workforce and in life,” according to their mission. It’s a Title One school where about 98% of students (compared to about 57% of Salt Lake City School District students) come from economically disadvantaged families and qualify for free or discounted school lunch.

After hearing about DIA’s funding cuts, Katy—a passionate computer science student who’s already laser-focused on pursuing a career in the field—sprang into action and started the coding club. She spends her weekends planning lessons, which she delivers Tuesdays from 3 to 5:30 pm—except in spring when she golfs for Rowland Hall and friend Alex Armknecht, a junior, subs for her. Katy has taught her 22 club members about programming basics using kid-friendly sources such as Hour of Code and Scratch. She’s also gotten to know the kids, tailored her approach based on their levels of comfort with the material, invited them to community coding events, helped them with non-computing schoolwork, and served as a mentor. “These kids are incredible,” Katy wrote in an essay about her volunteerism, “and they can do so much more than most people realize.” She said she hopes the club encourages DIA students to take computer science in high school, and ultimately, college.

Katy is self-motivated and didn’t necessarily expect recognition for her service, but teachers agree the national distinction is deserved. “Katy is incredibly dedicated to computer science,” said Ben Smith, her AP Computer Science teacher. The coding club was entirely her idea, he added. “I gave her some advice, but she really took off on her own.”

Katy also runs Rowland Hall’s Latinx affinity group, has volunteered with the Rotary Club, and has been “a tireless contributor to her community,” according to Ryan. “Katy sets a clear bar amongst her peers about the importance of giving back,” the ethical education director said, “and not waiting for an opportunity to arise, but instead creating those opportunities where she sees them.”

Volunteerism

Explore More Faculty Stories

Upper School history teacher Nate Kogan in his classroom.

Each year at division commencement ceremonies, Rowland Hall proudly honors faculty who have demonstrated exceptional teaching and mentoring.

Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award 2020

The Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award is presented to one faculty member at Rowland Hall each year who demonstrates excellence in teaching, serves as a mentor to others, and contributes to the Rowland Hall community. This award was established through an anonymous gift to the school in honor of Mr. Jones' dedication to the faculty when he was the chair of the Board of Trustees.

Kate Taylor with a student.

Upper School English teacher Dr. Kate Taylor cares—about her students, her peers, and her community. Kate has been called a quiet encourager, who is aware of all of her students and who shows a specific sensitivity to those who feel they are on the margins. She is devoted to representing a variety of voices in her curriculum, helping students see themselves and learn about diverse perspectives through texts; she also gives students opportunities to better understand the lived experiences of characters, as well as to connect with the Salt Lake community, through service and engagement. Kate has further served Rowland Hall as faculty advisor to the Gay-Straight Alliance, and she led the faculty and staff Inclusion and Equity Committee, spearheading school-wide initiatives like the highly successful Dinner and Dialogue series and advocating for curriculum review schoolwide. After stepping down as co-chair of the committee, this year Kate took on the role of mentor to the new Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) student group, helping them develop curriculum for their peers. One of her colleagues summed up Kate’s work by writing, “Kate's passion for a more just and inclusive world inspires me daily.” 

For her dedication to making our school a more just, inclusive, and thoughtful community, Rowland Hall proudly honors Kate Taylor with the Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award.

Sumner Family Faculty Awards

The Sumner Family Faculty Award is given each year to an outstanding faculty member in each division who has demonstrated a love for teaching and excellence in their field. The award symbolizes the Sumner family's high regard for Rowland Hall's faculty and unparalleled commitment to the school for three generations. Congratulations to the following 2019–2020 recipients.

Beginning School: Mary Swaminathan, 3PreK assistant teacher

Mary Swaminathan in her classroom.

Mary is a deeply kind and caring human who loves, respects, and enjoys young children. She works hard to know each student and their family, and she has a particular talent for connecting with the quietest learners. She is also a wonderful teammate, sharing all classroom work with her teaching partner and lending an extra helping hand to her colleagues. But it is perhaps Mary’s authenticity, sincerity, and willingness to be vulnerable that is most remarkable about her. She helps the Beginning School team stay connected with the magnitude of their work with very young children. This spring she sent a thank-you note to a student that included eight short sentences describing the child. The parent wrote to the school, “I cannot express to you how meaningful this gesture is to our family. For her to take the time to reflect on my son’s positive qualities and to know him so well is such a gift to his development and self-worth as a child.”

Lower School: Kathryn Czarnecki, art teacher

Kathryn Czarnecki with students.

Kathryn is a creative, compassionate, and supportive teacher who welcomes students into a happy, inclusive, and lively classroom where they are free to explore, innovate, and make mistakes. She has a natural enthusiasm with children, respecting and honoring each of them as learners, and does an excellent job keeping them excited and engaged—for example, by playing music (typically in line with the themes covered in class) to inspire creativity. Students love spending time with her so much that they frequently ask if they can have lunch in her classroom. Kathryn is also a wonderful colleague and teammate. She collaborates well with grade-level teachers and is always open to their ideas, helps to provide a cordial and collegial team relationship, and is a great listener. Anyone who has taught with her will tell you that she is fun, patient, creative, and extremely humble.

Middle School: Tyler Tanner, Mandarin Chinese and publications teacher

Tyler Tanner in his classroom.

Tyler is a respected teacher within the Middle School community, where he has taught a multitude of classes, including this year’s entrepreneurship class, the first of its kind in the division. Modeling continued professional learning and growth, Tyler started the year by flipping his classroom in a way that allowed students to become more self-directed in their learning. (Who knew this would be so beneficial with the closure of campus?) Tyler also stepped up this year to coach sixth-grade basketball, and even managed to complete the yearbook from afar—while still capturing the essence of school life. Tyler loves to share his passions and skill set with students, and he is not one to shy away from a challenge. He believes strongly that success comes from hard work, a value he looks to instill in his students.

Upper School: Dr. Nate Kogan ’00, history teacher and History Department chair

Nate Kogan in his classroom.

Nate has willingly and gracefully served Rowland Hall in countless ways. In the past two years alone, he’s served as department chair, Self-Study Committee chair, Hiring Committee lead, new faculty mentor, jazz band member, and US History teacher. Nate is a model of lifelong learning. The pursuit of his PhD while teaching is a distinguishing example, but his constant pursuit of knowledge is noticeable every day. He's genuinely curious about students’ research questions and quick to adopt new technology (a skill that’s been a boon during distance learning). Nate is a natural leader, stepping into the role of department chair as if he had been doing it for years and immediately advocating for colleagues and looking for ways to elevate their strengths. One said of him, “Nate supports his colleagues the way he supports his students; offering clear guidance while also respecting one's autonomy.” Another said, “I can't underestimate how much I've benefited from his support, guidance, and motivation this year.”

People

Lower School music teacher Cindy Hall in the classroom.

Kate Nevins, 4PreK lead teacher, retires after 23 years of incredible service to the Rowland Hall community. Kate is an educator of the highest quality, and she will be remembered for her strong commitment to young children and their families. Kate was also instrumental in developing Rowland Hall’s 4PreK program, utilizing her strong Montessori background and training to create the excellent program in place today. “I am flooded with wonderful memories as I reflect back on the hard work and joy that went into building the Beginning School,” Kate said. “I have watched the Beginning School transform and flourish into a top-notch preschool. It is an institution that I am so proud of and for which I have so much respect and love.”

It has been a privilege to teach my passion, to have the lifelong friendships I have made, and to be part of the lives of the amazing young adults we have here at Rowland Hall.—Christine Thomas, Upper School Spanish teacher

Mike Roberts, Middle School English teacher, is embarking on a new opportunity after 21 years of teaching, advising, coaching, and supporting Rowland Hall students, families, and colleagues. Mike’s passion for middle school and his subject matter, his creativity and innovation, and his generosity will be greatly missed.

Christine Thomas, Upper School Spanish teacher, retires after 21 years at Rowland Hall. Christine will be remembered for her kindness, patience, energy, impeccable professionalism, and humility. She has a special gift for treating each student and colleague as an individual to be seen, supported, and appreciated. “It has been a privilege to teach my passion, to have the lifelong friendships I have made, and to be part of the lives of the amazing young adults we have here at Rowland Hall,” Christine said. “I look forward to seeing former students and colleagues in the years to come.”

Sarah Button, fifth-grade teacher, is retiring from teaching and moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, after 19 years at Rowland Hall. Sarah also taught second and third grade during her time in the Lower School and has been a pillar in our community. She was on the forefront of many impactful initiatives and further served the school in numerous capacities, including as leader of the Strategic Planning Implementation Committee and as an ombudsperson.

Stuart McCandless, fifth-grade teacher, retires after 19 years at Rowland Hall. Stuart always worked to improve as an educator—he focused on reaching even the most reticent students, increasing engagement and building community in the classroom, and mentoring new teachers. He expertly and patiently guided students through explorer reports, Colonial Day, the American Revolution, and, importantly, the transition to sixth grade. His passion for nature and environmental education, his high expectations, and his ability to foster independence in students produced countless changemakers.

Cindy Hall, Lower School music teacher, retires after 18 years of service. Cindy taught Rowland Hall first through fifth graders in the Orff Schulwerk tradition and was essential in bringing about annual events like the Lower School holiday program. She also led the Lower School Chorus and was a member of the Caring Committee. Cindy combined her musical expertise with an innate knack for understanding each child, helping all students develop their unique voices as musicians. The joy, creativity, and community she inspired transcended the music classroom, touching not only students, but also faculty and staff. As she looked back at her time at Rowland Hall, Cindy reflected, “I treasure my friendships; the many bright-eyed, talented, and creative students I have taught; and the encouragement and trust that allowed me to develop as a music educator.”

Dave Kerwynn, Rowmark Ski Academy coach, is leaving the school after 16 years. Ker made a profound impact on each of his athletes, and his global experience, vast knowledge and passion for ski racing, and straightforward, no-nonsense coaching style have been the hallmarks of his Rowmark career.

Margaret Chapman, kindergarten lead teacher, retires after 15 years at Rowland Hall. She leaves behind a substantial legacy, having supported nearly 300 kindergartners and their families as well as mentored more than half the current division (and at least as many former team members). She will be remembered for her constant encouragement, her good humor and warmth, and her desire to deeply understand and celebrate each of her students. “I can honestly say that I have spent the last 15 years in my dream job,” Margaret said. “The Rowland Hall community is a part of my family. I have always felt supported and encouraged by the administration and the families with whom I have worked, and it has been a joy and a privilege to be entrusted with the early education of their children.”

Jazmin Adamson, third-grade teacher, is moving on to a new opportunity in real estate after 13 years at Rowland Hall. A compassionate, patient educator, Jazmin shepherded countless students through their first year upstairs (a rite of passage for eight- and nine-year-olds as they move to the second floor of the Lower School building), Rube Goldberg machines, and biography reports.

Linda Tatomer, Lower School specialty principal, is leaving Rowland Hall after eight years to spend time with family. In addition to her role as specialty principal, Linda also taught in the Middle School and served as Lower School assistant principal. She has made countless contributions to Rowland Hall, and her dedication, care, selflessness, and desire to help and support others will be missed dearly.

Mary Swaminathan, 3PreK assistant teacher, is leaving Rowland Hall after six years to care for family members. The Beginning School's most recent recipient of the Sumner Family Faculty Award, Mary is a deeply kind and caring human who has steadfastly supported young learners during her time at the school. She has a special way with quiet children—but also enjoys and connects with those who are decidedly less quiet! We will miss Mary's humor, kindness, and team spirit.

Thank you for the rich opportunities and lifelong friendships you have provided!—Anni Schneider, science consultant

Anni Schneider, science consultant, retires after five years at Rowland Hall, where she taught environmental science and physics in the upper and middle schools. Anni will be remembered for her love of science and the outdoors, her dedication to collaborating with students and energizing them about local environment and community issues, and her role as a positive, supportive, and collaborative faculty member. Anni has been grateful for the chance to watch her students grow: “My seniors this year were eighth graders in 2015 when I accepted a long-term sub position that turned into a post-retirement dream job,” she said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the dedicated, creative, and caring teachers, staff, and administration at Rowland Hall. Thank you for the rich opportunities and lifelong friendships you have provided!”

Hadley Smith ’05, director of financial aid and assistant director of admission, will be moving to Joshua Tree, California, to embark on a career in home design and building after five years at Rowland Hall. Hadley has been an invaluable member of the admission team, offering equitable and compassionate guidance to families seeking tuition assistance, supporting all aspects of the admission process, and furthering socioeconomic diversity.

Makayla Hall, associate director of admission for the McCarthey Campus, will be moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her family after two years at Rowland Hall. Makayla was essential in developing relationships with prospective and current families and played an important role in furthering diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Krista Kern, Middle School mixed media arts and ensemble teacher, is leaving Rowland Hall for a new opportunity after two years at the school. We will miss her, but we are excited for her as she starts this new chapter.

Brian McCloud, Middle School physical education and wellness teacher, is leaving Rowland Hall after two years to complete his clinical mental health counseling and sport psychology degrees at the University of Utah. Brian has positively impacted our community through his dedication to building relationships with students and colleagues, and his support of our programs.

Lauren Samuels ’11, Rowmark Ski Academy FIS assistant coach and academic liaison, left Rowland Hall after one year to attend graduate school at the University of Oregon Portland. Lauren’s intellect, thoughtfulness, and experience as both a Rowmark/Rowland Hall and US Ski Team alumna made a strong impact on Rowmark’s U19 team, both on and off the hill.

Bill Tatomer will be transitioning to a part-time role teaching Middle School aviation and coaching Upper School basketball in the 2020–2021 school year. During his time at Rowland Hall, Bill has worn many hats: serving as assistant principal, teaching math and US History, designing numerous aviation courses, and chaperoning eighth graders on their annual Washington, DC, trip. He has much to offer our community, so we are excited he is staying on.

People

Sarah Button with students

The annual Marquardt Award enables one or more members of Rowland Hall's faculty to pursue an in-depth professional development experience. The Marquardt Award was established in 2011 through a generous gift from Bob Marquardt, father of three Rowland Hall alumni and a former long-time trustee and board chair. This annual gift funds extraordinary professional development opportunities or learning experiences, proposed by faculty members, that will benefit the school as a whole. Recipients are chosen by school administrators.

Last summer, fifth-grade teacher Sarah Button was granted the Marquardt Award to attend Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators: An Intensive Residential Institute with Elena Aguilar. In the fall of 2018, Sarah began to lead a professional-development group based on Aguilar’s book Onward, and thus attending the retreat was a prime opportunity for her to advance her ongoing work in this area, which benefits our entire learning community. Read on to learn about how the experience impacted and inspired her.


2019 Marquardt Award Reflection
By Sarah Button

My four days at Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators: An Intensive Residential Institute were, in a word, transformative. Our time was made more intimate by grouping us into what they called home groups. My group consisted of three additional educators: an administrator, an instructional coach, and a specialist. Having home groups allowed the 46 participants—from all over the country—to know each other more deeply, and it enabled all to be vulnerable as we each shared stories, perspectives, and insights.

Building psychological safety happens when people listen, stay curious, are honest, and uphold confidentiality with one another.

I was prepared to be inundated with information, research, findings, and time to plan for the 2019–2020 school year. What I wasn’t prepared for was the gift of time to write, reflect, and truly practice how to bring resilience into daily routines—more specifically, learning and practicing the importance of sharing stories with others. When we build time for storytelling into our faculty meetings (a practice Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus has let me lead for each of our monthly meetings so far), we lay the foundation for building effective teams that contribute to psychological safety. Building psychological safety happens when people listen, stay curious, are honest, and uphold confidentiality with one another. We also learned to understand how the cycle of an emotion can be interrupted, and how when you understand emotions you have empathy for others and it is much less likely for you to oppress another. Lastly, as a participant, we practiced coaching for resilience using several frameworks. 
 
     ACE: a framework for coaching for yourself or others
     A: Acknowledge and accept emotions.
     C: Cultivate compassion.
     E: Expand the story.
 
     RAIN: for dealing with difficult emotions
     R: Recognize what’s going on; name the emotions.
     A: Allow the experience to be there, just as it is.
     I: Investigate with kindness.
     N: Non-identify with whatever is going on. You are not your thoughts, stories, emotions.
 
     REI: for addressing cognitive distortions
     R: Recognize.
     E: Explore the impact.
     I: Interrupt: Is there any other way to look at this? Is there any evidence to suggest that this way
     of thinking isn’t entirely true?
 
Each day at the retreat started with a choice of yoga or meditation under the redwoods. To begin, we each set an intention—a practice I’ve begun this school year with my students—and after each activity, we took time to envision how each practice/idea could be used in our individual places of work. Each day also consisted of must-dos—things we were encouraged to do no matter what during our stay, such as sitting by the fire pit with at least one other person. We were also presented with may-dos each day, such as watching the sunrise through the trees.

The work on how to cultivate emotional resilience in educators was the primary purpose of our time together. Most attendees had not led Onward professional-development sessions at their home institutions, and thus, I was called upon to share how we at Rowland Hall created our group last school year. People were appreciative of how we approached the work.

Ultimately, our hope is that increasing emotional resilience among adults at Rowland Hall will create a stronger learning environment for students, and we can model the skills and behaviors we hope to see from everyone in our community.

The retreat was also an opportunity for me to collaborate with colleague Lori Miller, who was a participant in our Onward professional-development work last year and my fellow ombudsperson for the Lower School faculty. As ombudspersons, we have served in the way the role has been written to be a neutral third party between faculty and/or administration when a problem has risen to a level that needs intervention. Over the years, our work has morphed into serving as a sounding board for faculty to see if they need a formal ombudsperson to sit in on a meeting. As a result, the majority of our work is now facilitating communication between colleagues. When a colleague approaches me regarding an issue, I ask if they just need to vent, want to practice what to say to a colleague, or if they need to have a formal ombudsperson meeting. This is why this retreat was so critical to our work: it gave us the tools to practice facilitating communication and coaching our colleagues around emotions and resilience.

At the conclusion of the retreat, I felt renewed in all aspects of life and prepared to bring this work back to our faculty and staff. Lori and I have collaborated with our third Onward co-leader, Jodi Spiro, to facilitate work during our three professional growth days this school year. In addition, Lori and I are participating in monthly Onward video conference calls with the other participants of the institute to share ideas, strategies, and questions as we each try to transform school culture at our respective places. Ultimately, our hope is that increasing emotional resilience among adults at Rowland Hall will create a stronger learning environment for students, and we can model the skills and behaviors we hope to see from everyone in our community.

People

Rowland Hall teacher with award-winning women computer-science students.

After several years of success in the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing (AiC) awards program, 2020 marks Rowland Hall’s winningest year yet—the capstone of which is our first national winner, junior Katy Dark.

Katy is one of 40 high schoolers tapped from a pool of 4,700 applicants to receive the highest AiC honor this year. She and the other winners will receive cash, prizes, and a trip to the Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, to celebrate and network in early March.

“I’m ecstatic that I’ve gotten the privilege to win the national award,” Katy said, adding the recognition for pursuing her passion has left her stunned. Katy has applied for the AiC awards three times; in 2019, she won an honorable mention from the NCWIT Northern Utah Affiliate.

In addition to Katy’s national win, the NCWIT Northern Utah Affiliate gave senior Ellie Nichols and juniors Maddy Eatchel and Yuchen Yang AiC honorable mentions. Teacher and alum Ben Smith ’89 earned the Educator Award.

In addition to Katy’s distinction, our local affiliate gave senior Ellie Nichols and juniors Maddy Eatchel and Yuchen Yang AiC honorable mentions. And after an honorable mention last year, computer science (CS) teacher and alumnus Ben Smith ’89 secured our affiliate’s Educator Award for his steadfast support of young women in computing.

NCWIT’s Award for AiC honors women, genderqueer, or non-binary high schoolers for their computing-related achievements and interests. Winners are picked for their aptitude and aspirations in tech and CS—as demonstrated by their computing and leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access, and plans for college.

Not only is Katy committed to pursuing a computing career, she’s already using her knack for the subject to make a difference in her community. She’s been teaching coding to students—primary at-risk Latinx youth—at Salt Lake City’s Dual Immersion Academy since the school lost funding for CS in 2018. Read our story on her President’s Volunteer Service Award. Now, Katy hopes to make her program permanent through a combination of grants and fundraising.

“I’m honored to have Katy as one of my students,” Ben said. “She is deserving of the NCWIT national award because she has taken her interest in and passion for technology, cybersecurity, coding, and computer science and found ways to bring that passion to students who would not ordinarily have the opportunities that she has had. She is selfless and dedicated to making the world a better place.”

Ben started encouraging his students to enter the AiC awards in 2014. Since then, 13 Winged Lions have earned a collective 18 awards, including one win and two honorable mentions at the national level. On top of that, Ben won two educator honors at the affiliate level. Under Ben’s leadership, Rowland Hall has been committed to ensuring all students—especially young women, who are underrepresented in computing careers—feel welcomed and supported in CS. That effort shows in our classes: in January, Rowland Hall earned the College Board's 2019 Advanced Placement (AP) CS Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in our AP CS Principles class. Out of 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 818 won the award. We're one of only two in Utah.

Update, May 29, 2020: After the initial round of awards, senior Violette Truong also won an AiC National Certificate of Distinction (CoD). From NCWIT: "National CoDs represent approximately 10% of the application pool. These students are selected from all applicants who were not selected for another award designation. CoDs are selected on the basis of score and experience that indicates that they would benefit from being part of the AiC Community. Most CoD recipients have experience and achievements comparable to Affiliate Honorable Mentions but in many cases were not selected due to capacity limits for the Affiliates that cap the number of recipients that can be selected. This Award is designated by NCWIT." Congrats, Violette!


Top photo: from left, Yuchen Yang, Ben Smith, Maddy Eatchel, and Katy Dark at the NCWIT Utah Affiliate Award Luncheon on March 7.

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