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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

2020 Cary Jones and Sumner Family Faculty Awards

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

Explore Our Most Recent Stories

Lower School student working on class project

In the newest episode of Rowland Hall’s award-winning princiPALS podcast, Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman and Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus discuss some of the most inspiring things they’ve learned (so far) while educating preschool- and elementary-aged children during the pandemic.

During the first months of in-person instruction since March, the princiPALS have learned a lot about the capability of children, the power of good teaching, and the strength of community.

Recorded during the 14th week of Rowland Hall’s 2020–2021 school year, Emma and Jij reflect on leading their divisions during the first months of in-person instruction since the school moved to full distance learning in March. During that time, they said, they’ve learned a lot about the capability of children, the power of good teaching, and the strength of community. And though they’re aware that schools across the country are dealing with different learning models and regional challenges, they believe that their perspectives on in-person learning during the pandemic may help other educators—as well as answer some of the many questions parents and caregivers have as schools readjust learning models in 2021.

“Our hope is that these important things we’ve learned are helpful to anyone out there,” said Jij.

The princiPALS also draw on their top lessons to create tips that will help parents and caregivers continue to support children (and themselves) at this time, with an emphasis on making intentional choices rather than, as Emma noted, “letting the world wash over you.”

Listen to “What We’re Learning about Learning during a Pandemic,” along with other episodes of princiPALS, on Rowland Hall's website, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

Podcast

PrinciPALS Jij de Jesus and Emma Wellman on Rowland Hall's McCarthey Campus

Rowland Hall is pleased to announce that “How to Talk to Kids about Race,” the third episode of the school’s princiPALS podcast, won silver for a single podcast episode in the 2020 InspirED Brilliance Awards. This is Rowland Hall’s fifth Brilliance Award since 2017.

2020 InspirED Brilliance Award Winner badge


The InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Awards is the only international competition that recognizes excellence in private and independent school marketing and communications exclusively. Entries, divided into 30 categories, were judged by a volunteer panel of 69 marketing experts from around the world who are professionals in private schools or businesses that specialize in school marketing, and were scored on creativity, persuasiveness, design, copy, photography, and overall appeal. The judges chose “How to Talk to Kids about Race” for the timeliness of the subject, the strong advice presented to listeners, and the overall branding.

"The topic is timely and I appreciated hearing about the research and action items to take,” said one judge. Another commented, “Really smart advice, well-presented.”

PrinciPALS launched in October 2019 as a resource for parents and caregivers navigating common questions and concerns about the preschool and elementary school years. The podcast features Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman and Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus, and is hosted by alumnus Conor Bentley ’01. All episodes of princiPALS are available on Rowland Hall's website, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

Podcast

Anna Shott receiving her high school diploma at graduation.

Alum Anna Shott ’16 sent the following email to middle and upper school computer science (CS) teacher Ben Smith ’89 on December 3, 2020. Anna graciously agreed to let us republish it here. We last interviewed Anna in 2016 when she was a senior taking her first CS class with Ben and enjoying the collaborative, problem-solving aspects of the field, which often gets falsely stereotyped as an antisocial and rote career choice. Ben has worked hard over nearly a decade to show his students—especially young women, who are underrepresented in the field—the reality: that programmers typically work together in teams to solve real-world problems and ultimately help people. This year, Ben is even weaving in social justice as a theme, using the Algorithmic Justice League as one of his teaching resources. We're grateful for Ben's dedication to CS education and can't wait to see what he and his former students like Anna do in the future. If you're an alum with a story about how a Rowland Hall teacher helped to inspire your career choice, let us know.


Dear Mr. Smith,

Hope you are doing well and enjoying a nice holiday season! I am reaching out with an update and to say thank you. 

After graduating from Rowland Hall in 2016 I took a gap year where I worked at my family's company and traveled. In 2017 I enrolled as a freshman at the University of Southern California studying computer science and business. The last two summers I interned at Microsoft, first as an Explore intern and then as a program management intern. I am now a senior finishing up my last few classes before graduation in May. Next fall I’m heading to Seattle to join Microsoft full-time as a program manager.

I would not have even thought to try out programming, let alone make computer science my undergraduate major and career priority, if it weren’t for the very first computer programming class you taught at Rowland Hall during my 2015–16 senior year.

I’ve spent much of my last four years participating in startup incubators, building companies, and exploring Los Angeles. I've stayed involved in the engineering community as a counselor for an on-campus computer science camp for K–12 students and as a teacher's assistant for one of USC's core software engineering classes. I would not have even thought to try out programming, let alone make computer science my undergraduate major and career priority, if it weren’t for the very first computer programming class you taught at Rowland Hall during my 2015–16 senior year. Your class truly influenced the path I chose, and I cannot thank you enough for sparking my interest in computer science.

I've had so much fun reading the various articles on the Rowland Hall website regarding the incredible computer science program you have built. Congratulations on the numerous accolades you and your students have earned over the years. I hope the program continues to grow and expose students to computer science and engineering, and ultimately inspire many to pursue a career path in those disciplines. 

I wish you and your family all the best and hope you are staying happy and healthy during this time.

Many thanks again, and happy holidays!

Sincerely,
Anna Shott
Class of 2016


Top: Anna Shott ’16 at her graduation, receiving her diploma from now-retired head of school Alan Sparrow.

Alumni

Sixth graders recording the original radio play "The Awakening."
 
Like all educators across the country, Rowland Hall theatre teacher Matt Sincell had to rethink his lesson plans after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed in-person learning in March.
With traditional classes and a spring production off the table, Matt found himself looking for ways to provide theatre experiences for students during quarantine. He decided to introduce them to radio plays, a completely acoustic type of theatre, which could be produced from their homes.

While the term radio play might bring to mind radio series from the 1930s and 1940s, this type of production still attracts audiences today—podcasts, for instance, are “sort of the modern-day version of a radio play,” Matt said. Stories told as radio plays also have lasting power: "The War of the Worlds," a Mercury Theatre on the Air radio episode based on the 1898 H.G. Wells novel of the same name, dramatized a Martian invasion and is remembered because of the fear it stirred when it aired in 1938. “It caused a nationwide panic when it was first performed. People actually thought we were being invaded by aliens,” said Matt.

In the early months of distance learning, Rowland Hall students began exploring this theatre form, ultimately creating an adaptation of the popular children’s book The Gruffalo (which was edited by seventh- and eighth-grade Arts & Ensembles theatre teacher Meighan Smith). Their work was shared with families and friends—and, thanks to Salt Lake City’s Plan-B Theatre Company, the wider community when it was featured on The City Library’s BiblioBoard. And as Matt planned for the 2020–2021 year—which he knew would still include distance learning in some form—he decided to continue the study of radio plays. “With students at home, in class, and, for some, distance learning only, it seemed the most likely class project to be able to complete,” he explained.

This fall, Matt assigned his sixth-grade Arts & Ensembles class the task of creating an original radio play. The result, The Awakening, is a 16-minute production written and performed by students Sebby Bamberger, Lila Bates, Josie Fonarow, Elayna Hoglund, Paulina Ize-Cedillo, Emery Lieberman, Elle Prasthofer, Morgan Schmutz, Sophie Smith, Izzy Utgaard, and Kate Weissman. The play, which took about two months to complete, was written in both the horror and comedy genres, explained Elayna.

“The inspiration for it was the story of ‘The Ghost with the Bloody Finger,’” she said, referencing a well-known campfire ghost story designed to make listeners laugh. Elayna said the sixth graders wanted to incorporate humor into their radio play because they knew their audience would be mostly made up of listeners who were middle-school-aged and younger. “We knew that it’d be more fun to have some funny in it.”

All 11 students were invested in the project, getting involved in the brainstorming, writing, and script editing required of a radio play. Although they weren’t able to do the close-contact acting techniques of a stage production, they did get to experience voice acting, with distance learners applying best practices to capture the cleanest sound possible by recording with blankets over their heads or by sitting inside a closet, and in-person learners utilizing a handmade, COVID-approved sound booth made of two stacked desks wrapped with a thick, padded moving blanket. (Blankets were changed and desks and equipment were sanitized between each recording session.)

“There was never a time that a student was directly interacting with another student, but we were able to create the illusion that they were indeed responding to each other,” said Matt, who edited The Awakening.

The students also learned the importance of sound effects in radio plays, which are key to bringing this art form to life. “The tricky thing about a radio play is that there, of course, is no visual to accompany it,” Matt explained, “so it's even more necessary to rely on our sense of sound to tell the story.” He had students experiment with Foley, a sound-making technique pioneered in the 1920s and still used today—Elayna captured the sound of a refrigerator door closing, a microwave beeping, and a candy wrapper crackling, while classmate Sophie recorded a door slamming, feet running on concrete, and her interpretation of a leprechaun laughing. Sophie said it felt good knowing that her sound effects helped make a difference in the finished recording. “It was pretty nice because you knew it was your work,” she said.

Art will find a way, even in the most challenging times.—Matt Sincell, theatre teacher

And that finished recording is impressive indeed. It’s a strong reminder of student creativity and ingenuity, even within a pandemic. “What they have been able to accomplish in the face of such adversity is really quite unique and wonderful,” said Matt.

The theatre teacher is hopeful that the radio play will also bring smiles to the larger community: on December 14, Matt announced that Jerry Rapier, Plan-B Theatre’s artistic director and a dedicated supporter of theatre education in Utah, had offered to again promote the Rowland Hall students’ work by linking The Awakening to The City Library’s BiblioBoard and to Plan-B’s mobile app.

“It's super exciting to once again have Plan-B Theatre support our students' work,” said Matt. “It’s nice to think that they are able to provide a 16-minute gift of joy to other students outside of the Rowland Hall community. It's proof that art will find a way, even in the most challenging times.”


Banner photo: Rowland Hall middle schoolers Lila Bates and Kate Weissman preparing to record lines of The Awakening.

Theatre

You Belong at Rowland Hall