Canterbury’s Classic Men

“A successful father will produce a child greater than himself.” -Troy Vincent

Based on my five years as a Canterbury parent, I am touched by the fathers’ participation at the school. The definition of the word “classic” is “judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.” Canterbury fathers are indeed “classic.” They are engaged, involved and committed in helping shape the direction of the school and of their children’s lives.

When I was growing up my mother worked, attended PTA meetings and found time to chaperone field trips. I don’t recall a time, however, when my dad jumped for excitement to attend field trips or made himself available for parent meetings without being told “you need to go.”

In fact, growing up in the early 80’s, I don’t recall fathers overall volunteering as much as they do now. If I had never become a parent, I think my perception would have continued to be that women bear the sole responsibility of volunteering in schools. Things are different today, however; and Canterbury dads, in particular, seem very engaged. When I view the fathers at Back-to-School Night, Community Dinners, family picnics and committee participation, the men at Canterbury stand out.

Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald

Chip Bristol

Chip Bristol

Albert Som-Pimpong

Albert Som-Pimpong

Stanley Harrison

Stanley Harrison

Bob Buccini

Bob Buccini

I also am impressed by the male faculty at Canterbury. I see the school continuing to increase its numbers of male teachers and staff members, and they serve as wonderful role models for our children. Looking back, the first time I noticed a male teacher in my school was not until I was in 7th grade wood-working class. The presence of male teachers gives young males (and females) a new perspective in their education, and I am glad to see that times have changed.

Unlike Canterbury, many schools face the challenges of male participation in programs. Some seek out resources such as National Center for Fathering, All Pro Dad, PTA, National Fatherhood Initiative and The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. These organizations cite research supporting the idea that children perform better in school when their fathers are involved in the school community.

Canterbury School does a wonderful job bringing dads into the school community to enjoy quality time with their children. Father’s Chapel, Father’s Lunch, and the Father Daughter dance are just a few of the opportunities for engaging dads. This is one of the many things that makes Canterbury and its men outstanding — a “classic” example of the impact they can make at their children’s schools and in their children’s lives.

“We share the same values that Canterbury instills in our children. We do not have to worry when they are in school because it is the same message of inclusiveness and kindness that we want them to hear and perceive.” Bolaji Bakare

“What our children learn at Canterbury goes far beyond academics. They are taught self-confidence, empathy and inclusiveness. Led by loving and invested teachers, their character is shaped in a way that lines up perfectly with the intent Jane and I have in raising our children.” Billie Pope

“Canterbury develops the whole child, not just the academic side. Inclusiveness and growing spiritually are equally important. I also like the fact that the athletic teams have a  ‘no cut’ policy. Every child who wants to compete has the opportunity. These things allow for the development of a well-rounded individual.” Jim McKee
“I see my daughter coming into her own, and I have to think that the Canterbury motto of ‘To Learn, to Love, to Serve: to Live’ has become a part of who she is through every great teacher and every great experience she’s had.”  Kevin Spencer

natellNa’Tell  L. Miller is a Canterbury Parent to Natalya I. Jones (5th – Niegelsky). She values the nurturing environment Canterbury offers students along with the education. When time permits, she enjoys a quiet room watching ESPN Films: 30/30. 

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¿Cómo se dice de “la moda”?

My daughter, McKenna (4th-Hoover), came home the week before last, excited about a project that she says has inspired her. She continued to tell me, detail by detail, what she had experienced in Laura Rehman’s Spanish class that day. There was talk of product apparel design, classroom visitors from VF Jeanswear, and the chance to create her own clothing line.

What does apparel design have to do with learning a foreign language?

Laura brings much more to the Canterbury learning experience than foreign language expertise. She is constantly finding creative ways to engage students and increase their Spanish proficiency.

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Katie and McKenna work on their designs for the “Create Your Clothing Line” project in which students present their fashions in Spanish.

One example is her “Create Your Clothing Line” project, in which she challenges students to come up with original ideas for apparel designs and present their “line” to a panel of judges by speaking only Spanish. Judges for the March 6 competition will be Assistant Director of Admission Libba LaFave, Middle School Spanish Teacher Janet Mintz, Lower School Director Carolyn Morazan and Administrative Assistant and Verger Betsy Raulerson.

Canterbury parent Aaron Duhaime (Griffin-5th,Hollyn 3rd-) helped Laura kick off the project. Aaron works as a national account executive for VF Jeanswear, a division of the world’s largest apparel manufacturer, VF Corporation.

“Last year, Mr. Duhaime was a member of the panel that judges the 4th grade presentations,” Laura says. “He mentioned the possibility of bringing in a ‘real’ designer to speak to the classes this year.” Georgiana “Georgie” Varzarus, a VF colleague and design specialist for Riders Female Denim/Wrangler, joined him.

The presentation was a hit. “The children loved learning about the process of fashion design,” Laura says. “My students asked great questions and saw that creativity and collaboration are very important in the real world.”

Aaron was impressed by the students’ enthusiasm. “At the end, we were overwhelmed when almost every hand shot up in the air to ask a question. Questions and Answers lasted longer than the presentation. We were thrilled that the students were so eager to learn more.”

Aaron Duhaime and Georgiana Varzarus, from VF Jeanswear, visit Señora Rehman's 4th grade class.

Aaron Duhaime and Georgiana Varzarus, from VF Jeanswear, visit Señora Rehman’s 4th grade class.

Aaron guided the students through the “6 Steps of Fashion Design – Steps in Making Clothing” while Georgie shared how her day-to-day work involves the steps: inspiration, trend forecasting, translating to marketplace, sketching, prototyping, and developing focus groups for validation.

“As a former aspiring designer who has made it into a position in my field, it was a pleasure to come speak at Canterbury about my experiences,” Georgie says.

Aaron and Georgie arrived with plenty of visual aids. Trend boards helped the 4th graders identify different details of various trends. When Georgie showed sketches and prototypes and passed around a sample, she took the students through the complete fashion design process, from start to finish. They also passed around a catalog page used to sell the apparel and, finally, a piece of production that will be in Walmart stores this coming spring.

“We completed the visit by having the students show the designs they had come up with as groups, which I, myself, found inspiring,” Georgie says.

Inspiring, that was McKenna’s takeaway as well. “I like how this project lets us be creative and that we get to do what we want, but we learn Spanish at the same time. I listened to Georgie and I learned what you have to do in fashion – how you have to look at the latest trends, think about what colors would be cool, and brainstorm something that will be unique and your own,” she says.unnamed-3

After the students shared their designs, Aaron and Georgie gave them fabric for finishing their projects as well as advice on how to present their posters to the panel.

“It’s wonderful that Señora Rehman creates time to invite guest speakers into her classroom so her students can clearly see how their projects mirror the professional working world. What they are doing at school is real!” Aaron says.

Laura sees projects like these an expression of her value of education. “I believe that education is at its best when we make our community our learning lab and the members of our community our teachers,” she says.

Georgie felt honored to be a teacher that day. “It is so extraordinary to me that a design project would be merged with typical Spanish curriculum. This not only helps students learn Spanish, but gets their creative juices churning and, in turn, inspires their futures. It is very important for schools to partner with businesses in different fields and allow them to come speak about their professions because it shows students they have endless career possibilities.”

 “As young people start to recognize their strengths, passions, and talents, having local business partners in the classroom can really help connect the dots from what they are learning in school to how it’s used every day.” Canterbury parent and volunteer Aaron Duhaime. 

by Andrea Crossley Spencer

Spencer_2014_073Andrea Crossley Spencer is a Canterbury parent to McKenna (4th-Hoover), a freelance writer, and a creative writing instructor in Canterbury’s After School Fine Arts program. Her favorite Canterbury tradition is Chapel Buddies. She loves hiking, chocolate peanut butter shakes and listening to all kinds of music, from Harry Connick, Jr. to David Gray.