Mid-Shore Education: Saints Peter and Paul School Rainforest Turns Nineteen Years Old

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It may not be that unusual anymore for school to create a model rainforest as part of an introductory science course but when the Spy learned that the Saints Peter and Paul School rainforest is now going on its 19th year. It got our attention pretty quickly.

Ever since Lisa Morrell started to teach elementary science at the Catholic day school in Easton, the annual building of the rainforest has been one of the great traditions at a  school that already has a significant number of them. In fact, it’s safe to say that while only a handful of students create the rainforest every year, it’s also true that literally, every student at Peter and Paul’s lower school will walk through as well.

The Spy caught up with Lisa and a few of her students this week just before the rainforest was to be dismantled and stored while it waits for its 20th anniversary next year.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Saints Peter and Paul School please go here

WC Announces New Partnership With Georgetown University Medical Center

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Mindy Reynolds (left) co-chair of the Department of Biology and associate professor of biology, works with a student.

Washington College students who are interested in pursuing a master’s degree in a range of biomedical science and research disciplines have a new opportunity thanks to a strategic partnership the College has developed with Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The new partnership enables qualified WC graduates to receive a 15 percent tuition discount for any master’s programs offered through Biomedical Graduate Education (excluding online programs).

“For pre-med students, this partnership provides an opportunity for additional training before applying to medical school,” says Mindy Reynolds, co-chair of the Department of Biology and associate professor of biology, who helped develop the partnership. “But the breadth of the programs also enables our students to launch a career in health-related and biomedical science and research. For instance, earning a master’s in bioinformatics would prepare a student to do high-level data analysis in a research lab.”

“We are thrilled to officially partner with Washington College and offer their students the opportunity to further their studies on our campus,” says Barbara Bayer, Senior Associate Dean of Biomedical Graduate Education and chair and professor of neuroscience. “Over the past few years, WC alums have successfully graduated from our various MS programs in areas such as Biotechnology and Health Physics, and gone on to start their careers in the metropolitan DC area. I am delighted that our institutions have come together to create a pipeline for bright and talented WC graduates to study biomedical sciences at Georgetown University.”

Charlie Kehm, chair of the Department of Physics who has been leading Washington College’s efforts to develop partnerships with institutions offering post-graduate options for students in the Division of Natural Sciences, says GU’s master’s programs provide excellent opportunities for students who are interested in the science and technology side of emerging social health issues. These include programs in Biohazardous Threat Agents & Emerging Infectious Diseases; Biostatistics; Bioinformatics; Biomedical Science Policy & Advocacy; Biotechnology; Complementary & Alternative Medicine; Integrative Neuroscience; and Systems Medicine.

But there are also programs focused on areas more related to the basic sciences and those interested in pursuing medical school, including Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Microbiology & Immunology; Pharmacology; Physiology, the Special Master’s in Physiology; and Tumor Biology.

“We’re very excited about this new partnership with Georgetown because of the diverse possibilities it offers our graduates,” Kehm says. “And, we know that the faculty in these programs work very hard to open doors for their students through their extensive network of contacts and partners in the Washington, D.C., area.”

Washington College students who complete their four years of undergraduate work still must go through the regular application process for the master’s programs at Biomedical Graduate Education. If accepted and enrolled, they will receive a 15 percent tuition discount.

Kehm says he hopes this will be only the beginning of what could become an arrangement similar to dual-degree programs Washington College has developed which enable students to fast-track their way to bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Just last fall, the College announced a new dual-degree program for environmental science and studies students at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and other similar programs include one in engineering with Columbia University, and in nursing and pharmacy with the University of Maryland.

For more information about the master’s programs offered by Biomedical Graduate Education at Georgetown University Medical Center, visit https://biomedicalprograms.georgetown.edu/. For more information about how to apply, visit https://biomedicalprograms.georgetown.edu/academics/partnerships.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

WC Moves Up in Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education Rankings

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Following a trajectory it has been traveling in similar higher education statistics, Washington College has elevated three points in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education college rankings for 2018. The latest rankings, which compare the college alongside all other universities and colleges in the country, list the College at 205, compared with 208 in last year’s ranking. Among liberal arts colleges in the survey, Washington College ranked 75th in the country.

“Moving up at all in these rankings is a difficult task; moving up three points is a terrific achievement,” says Washington College President Kurt Landgraf. “What’s especially gratifying about our performance in this Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education list is that when you break out only liberal arts colleges, we are ranked 75th in the country. That’s an excellent standing, particularly for this survey which relies on real data and student input. We should be extremely proud of what this says about Washington College.”

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings make an effort to quantify how colleges and universities provide a powerful learning environment to students, putting the emphasis on student success. One of the ranking’s most valuable tools is a survey of more than 100,000 current students that examines their opinions on their interaction with teachers, satisfaction with their education, and how engaging their academics and studies are.

Among the survey’s questions were whether students would choose Washington College again, if the College provides an environment where they feel surrounded by exceptional students who inspire and motivate them, and if the College is effective in helping them obtain valuable internships that help them on a career path. On a scale of 0 to 10, 10 representing strongest agreement, students answered between 7.7 and 8.1 for each of these questions.

In specific categories, Washington College ranked 149th in “resources,” which addresses variables including how much the College spends on students and student-to-faculty ratio, and 200th in “outcomes,”which takes into account statistics including graduation rate, salary after graduation, average debt, and the default rate.

“The ranking includes clear performance indicators designed to answer the questions that matter most to students and their families when making one of the most important decisions of their lives—who to trust with their education,” the authors said in describing the survey’s methodology. “These questions include: does the college have sufficient resources to teach me properly? Will I be engaged and challenged by my teacher and classmates? Does the college have a good academic reputation? What type of campus community is there? How likely am I to graduate, pay off my loans and get a good job?”

Washington College’s elevation in the 2018 rankings jibes with its steady climb in other well-known annual examinations of higher education performance. In U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings for 2018, WC is listed 96th among liberal arts colleges across the nation in the 2018 report, up from 99th in 2017, 100th in 2016, and 105th in 2015. And in 2016, for the first time, the College was included in the annual Top 300 Best College Values by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, ranking 232nd among the top 300 institutions out of 1,200 surveyed and 91st among the top 100 liberal arts colleges nationally.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

WC Students Help Kent County High School Students Learn About Green Chemistry

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Gathered around a lab station in a Kent County High School classroom, Washington College senior Alex Riedel and three high school students are busying themselves with an experiment while discussing the future. One of the students says she wants to be a nurse practitioner, and Riedel, a biology major who’s pre-med and taking her MCATs in a month, is telling her about her experience shadowing a nurse who specializes in geriatrics.

“I love her patients!” Riedel says. “But I’m interested in pediatrics too.” While they talk, Riedel helps the students attach small glittery dots to a paper surface until they have completed what is roughly a diamond-shaped pattern. “Are you guys ready to move on?” she says finally, bringing the focus fully back to the reason they’re there—a green chemistry experiment crafted and led by Anne Marteel-Parrish, Professor of Chemistry and Co-Chair of the College’s Department of Chemistry, and six of her students. “OK, next we have to test the different surfaces.”

Anne Marteel-Parrish (right) helps a Kent County High School student set up the experiment.

What they’re testing is how well their creation—a coarse model of a material called Sharklet film—can hold onto a Post-It note as small binder clips are attached to it. The broader technology they are learning about—Sharklet—is a product that mimics on a molecular level the skin of a shark, enabling it to easily repel germs and bacteria from surfaces without the use of chemicals. In this lab, it’s giving Marteel-Parrish and her students a chance to introduce the Kent County students to several concepts related to her fundamental expertise and passion: green chemistry and engineering.

“Green chemistry is all about trying to prevent pollution before it’s formed,” Marteel-Parrish explains to the students during her introduction. While using chemical-based cleaners may purge a surface of germs or bacteria, those chemicals enter humans and the environment, causing all sorts of unintended consequences. Through green chemistry, she says, “We are trying to design everyday products so they don’t harm the environment or people.”

Sharklet technology is an example of biomimicry, Marteel-Parrish explains—when scientists mimic something that occurs in nature. In this case, the inventor realized that the skin of sharks, comprised of denticles in a distinct diamond-shaped pattern, acts as a natural repellent. Sharklet film is now used on all kinds of surfaces, from medical devices to furniture, to repel germs and bacteria. “Nature is a model and mentor to solve human problems,” Marteel-Parrish says.

(L to R) WC senior Simon Belcher oversees Vince Wilson, Matthew Mernaugh, and Jakob Watt in the lab experiment.

Marteel-Parrish, since 2011 the College’s Frank J. Creegan Chair in Green Chemistry, is also the author of Green Chemistry and Engineering: A Pathway to Sustainability (2013, Wiley and Sons). Among many other awards, in 2011 she won the American Chemical Society-Committee on Environmental Improvement (ACS-CEI) Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry.

She’s also a mother of two students in Kent County’s public schools, and while she had devised a variety of special projects for at the elementary school level, she’d never focused on high school students. Last year, she approached the science teachers about introducing their students to green chemistry through a series of four experiments, which she and her undergraduates would present. They gave her an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the idea, and she worked with them to develop four experiments that complemented what their students were already learning.

“I can teach the same concepts they are talking about, but from the perspective of green chemistry,” she says. “We’re trying to incorporate experiments that fit into their curriculum. I’m not here to tell them what to do, I just want to share my passion.”

But it’s clear that the collaboration is doing more than introducing local high school students to green chemistry concepts. It’s a fun, no-pressure opportunity for them to ask the WC students what college is like and what their future might hold, and for Marteel-Parrish’s students to impart some hard-earned advice, and encouragement.

“You guys did awesome!” Riedel says, as she helps her lab students finish up their work. “It was so fun getting to know you!”

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Dear Girls Academy Founder Returns to Shore for Black History Month Luncheon

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Girl advocate, best-selling author and Dear Girls Academy founder and CEO Simeaka Melton is returning to her native Queen Anne’s County as the featured speaker for the annual Black History Month luncheon organized by the Chesapeake College Multicultural Advisory Committee in partnership with the Frederick Douglass Honor Society.

The Feb. 3 event celebrates the 200th birthday anniversary of Douglass, the renowned social reformer and abolitionist from Talbot County.

A graduate of Queen Anne’s County High School, Melton started Dear Girls Academy as a mentoring and creative writing program for girls from diverse and at-risk backgrounds that helps young women achieve and demonstrate the courage, wisdom and strength needed to make good choices and dream big.

The organization runs the Dear Girls annual summit, overnight summer camp and bi-weekly leadership program in Northern Virginia. Dear Girls services — including public and charter school curriculums — are used in 19 states.

“We prepare and inspire girls to live life rising above expectations,” Melton said.

Her talk at the Black History Month event will focus on giving back and the concept of the “village community.”

Melton said she grew up with a village mentality in Grasonville and felt connected to everyone around her.

“We all have something to contribute to our communities at any age or stage in life,” she said.  “If children grow up seeing that and believing in it, then they’ll feel connected to a community throughout their lives.”

One of Melton’s favorite quotes about instilling the power of mentorship in youth comes from Frederick Douglass:  “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Harriette Lowery, a Chesapeake College program assistant, Frederick Douglass Honor Society member and Chair of Talbot County’s 200th Douglass anniversary celebration, said the luncheon and Melton’s talk is one of many upcoming activities to mark the achievements of the Eastern Shore’s native son.

“Our theme for the birthday anniversary is ‘Inspire, Celebrate and Educate.’  We want to inspire diverse audiences to serve, celebrate his birthday and educate on his legacy.”

The Black History Month luncheon will be held Saturday, Feb. 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Chesapeake College’s Caroline Center on the Wye Mills campus. Advance purchase online tickets for the event (including a buffet lunch) are $20 general admission or $10 for students and seniors. Children under 5 are free. Tickets can be purchased. For more information or to purchase tickets by phone, please call Michelle Hall at 410-827-5813.

All proceeds from the event benefit the J.C. Gibson Memorial Book Fund, which helps economically disadvantaged students buy books and supplies.

The Gunston School Launches Chesapeake Watershed Semester Program

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Last week, Gunston’s Board of Trustees formally approved the launch of a new, ambitious, and important educational endeavor: the Chesapeake Watershed Semester. This fully-accredited, semester-long program for high school juniors and seniors will welcome eight to twelve Gunston students in its inaugural pilot year, and will seek to welcome students from around the region and beyond in future years. Utilizing the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed as the foundation for an immersive, rigorous, and interdisciplinary curriculum, and with a strong focus on the domains of environmental science, public policy, and sustainability, the Chesapeake Watershed Semester (CWS) is the only secondary school program of its kind. The inaugural semester will commence this August.

More than two years in the planning, and borrowing from Gunston’s 20-plus years of innovative Chesapeake Bay Studies programming, CWS will offer students extraordinary learning and life experiences. Within the intensive fifteen-week program, students spend nearly a third of their time on various leadership expeditions and field experiences, ranging from a trip to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, to seminars with public policy leaders in Annapolis and Washington, to an extended tour of the energy-producing regions of Pennsylvania, to a multi-day stay on the ecologically fragile Tangier Island, where the impacts of sea level rise can be observed first-hand.  Meanwhile, rigorous classroom, lab, and research project work will deepen each student’s academic foundation, leading to a capstone action project to be publicly presented at the end of the program. We expect that each cohort of CWS students will emerge as reflective and confident scholars and leaders who can support regional and global environmental sustainability through their understanding of scientific, social, cultural, and political systems.

CWS will be directed by Ms. Emily Beck, Gunston’s current Director of Sustainability and Bay Studies, as well as a Biology and Environmental Science teacher. Under Beck’s leadership the program has engaged a diverse group of formal institutional partners, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Sultana Education Foundation, The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Lab, Washington College’s Center for the Environment and Society, Echo Hill Outdoor School, and the Harry Hughes Center for AgroEcology, among others.  To further support the program, CWS has also established an advisory board that includes key community members and a diversity of Chesapeake watershed subject experts, including several members of Gunston’s Board of Trustees and parent community.  Curriculum development retreats have already been held, and the formal educational program is being developed by an innovative group of Gunston faculty and leadership team members.

As Gunston’s Headmaster John Lewis commented, “Without question, there is tremendous urgency for educational programs like the Chesapeake Watershed Semester, and it is designed to prepare students to meet the complex challenges of our era.” Details about the CWS mission, philosophy, and program, as well as admissions information, is comprehensively articulated on the program’s website: www.chesapeakebaywatershedsemester.org

The Gunston School, a co-ed independent college preparatory school, offers an intellectually rigorous, highly personalized, and nurturing college preparatory educational experience. Valuing a healthy balance between mind and body, a strong sense of community, the creative process, and our connection to the Chesapeake Bay, Gunston strives to educate ethically and environmentally minded scholars, citizens, and leaders for our globalized society. To learn more about Gunston visit gunston.org, email dhenry@gunston.org, or call 410.758.0620 ext. 6.

Chesapeake College Foundation Receives Largest Planned Gift

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The Chesapeake College Foundation has received the largest planned gift in its history from the estate of Rev. William L. English, an Episcopal priest from Dorchester County.

As stipulated by the estate, an $892,000 endowment has been established to fund W.L. English Nursing Scholarships for Chesapeake students.  Preference is given to Dorchester County residents pursuing a nursing degree.

“We are honored to receive this extraordinary gift that makes it possible for students to attend Chesapeake College, earn a degree and pursue a rewarding career in nursing,” said Lucie Hughes, the college’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the school’s foundation.  “As one who ministered to others, Father English understood the power of compassionate care and appreciated the collaborative education and training provided by Chesapeake College and Shore Health to bring along our next generation of nursing professionals.”

(L to R) Nurse Bill Shertenlieb with Pat and Richard Gauen outside St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Father English’s former church in East New Market.

Rev. English was a patient at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Dorchester where the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nursing team treated him on several occasions in 2015.

According to Pat and Richard Gauen, close friends from East New Market, he often spoke of the excellent nursing care provided during those hospital stays.

“He said they treated him like a king, but they didn’t know he was going to make this donation,” Pat said.  “I never heard him complain that he received bad care in the hospital…not one time.”

Bill Shertenlieb, a registered nurse from Cambridge and graduate of the Chesapeake College nursing program, was one of Rev. English’s regular ICU caregivers.

“He was very easy to take care of and had the ability to bring out creativity and kindness in the care you delivered,” Schertenlieb said. “He made you happy to be a nurse.”

Nursing is a family profession in the Shertenlieb household. His wife Wendy also graduated from the Chesapeake program and became a nurse in 2013. While she was in school and caring for their children, Bill worked three nursing jobs to support the family.

“Father English and I discussed how hard it was, but I didn’t have the slightest clue about the donation,” he said. “I was stunned. Sometimes you get surprises like this…you don’t always know whose day you’ve made.”

Shertenlieb is now a critical care transport nurse with Shore Health Maryland Express Care. Wendy works for Coastal Hospice in Dorchester County.

Nursing care is a critical need in the Mid-Shore region according to Jon Longest, Chesapeake College Health Professions Chair.

Rev. William L. English

“We are in the midst of a significant nursing shortage in the United States that is even more pronounced in rural areas like the Eastern Shore,” Longest said.  “The English scholarship makes a nursing career more accessible to young adults and even older students who are making a career change or looking to advance within the profession.”

Hughes said the number of annual awards given by the English scholarship fund will depend on need and other financial aid students receive. Initial awards range from $350 to $2,000.  She estimates that as many as 25 students a year could receive grants in the future.

Students interested in the nursing scholarships should complete Chesapeake’s general scholarship application and a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Both are accessible at www.chesapeake.edu/financial-aid.

Donors interested in discussing a planned gift with the college can contact Hughes at 410-827-5879. Online donations can be made at www.chesapeake.edu/chesapeake-college-foundation.

Rev. English was born at Dorchester General Hospital in 1936 and graduated from Cambridge High School in 1954. He was ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1965 by the Bishop of Easton and from 1965-1966, he was the rector for three Mid-Shore parishes:  St. Stephen’s, East New Market; St. Andrew’s, Hurlock; and the Chapel of the Epiphany, Preston.

Following 32 years of ministry on Staten Island in New York City, he retired to Cambridge where he lived in his childhood home on Radiance Drive until his death in 2015.

January 2018 Sky-Watch: Morning Planets, A Blue Moon, and a Lunar Eclipse

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Jupiter

Mars and Jupiter will lead the way and give us the month’s planetary highlight when they pass within just one degree of each other on January 7th.  Mars shines at magnitude +1.5 and Jupiter dazzles at –1.8, when on January 1st, the pair rise four hours before sunrise and stand just 2.5 degrees apart.  The two straddle Libra’s brightest star, Zubenelgenubi, and the will appear to shift eastward relative to the background star during January.

Mars moves faster in its closer, inner orbit, so its position and Jupiter’s position appear to change, bringing them to within one degree of each other by January 7th.  They will almost appear to be touching, and a telescopic view will place both in the same field of view.  Mars will appear much smaller, even though it is closer to us.  Jupiter’s immense size makes it look larger, and Mars is a relatively small planet, only 60% the size of Earth in fact.  Four days after this great conjunction, the waning, crescent Moon will join the two planets for another really stunning sight!

Through the month of January, the distance between the two planets will widen; Jupiter staying among the stars of Libra, while Mars pushes east into Scorpius.  By January 31st, Mars will be close to Antares, the brightest star of Scorpius, and it will brighten to magnitude +1.2.  Antares means “rival of Mars” because it is a red-orange giant star, and thus it mimics the color of the planet Mars.

Mercury will also be visible this month below Mars and Jupiter, until about the 20th.  On January 1st, thirty minutes before sunrise, Mercury will be about 11 degrees above the eastern horizon and to the lower left of Mars and Jupiter at magnitude –0.3.  Mercury will lose altitude as it swings back toward the Sun in its orbit. It will still be 8 degrees up on January 9th, but down to only 4 degrees on January 20th.

On the morning of January 13th if looking for Mercury, look just one degree above it and you will see Saturn.  Since both will be in a bit of twilight then, binoculars will be helpful to see them.  By the end of January, Saturn will have risen higher among the stars of Sagittarius and be a bit easier to see.  Mercury, by then, will be lost in the glare of the Sun.

According to tradition, the first full moon in the northern hemisphere is called the Full Wolf Moon.

January has a somewhat rare event —- two Full Moons.  Because this only happens about every 2 1/2 years, the expression “once in a Blue Moon” has become a part of our conversation, for the 2nd Full Moon in a Calendar year is called a “Blue Moon.”  The first Full Moon is on the 1st, and the 2nd is on January 31st.

The January 31st Full Moon will also be eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow across North America.  It occurs before dawn with totality lasting 76 minutes.  However, the western two-thirds of North America get the best view of it.  East of a line through the Ohio/Indiana border down to the Gulf of Mexico, the eclipse begins after the start of morning twilight, and the Moon will set before totality begins.  So we in Maryland will miss most of it this time.  The Moon enters Earth’s Shadow at 6:48 EST, and within 20 minutes the Moon will look like a cookie with a bite taken from it.

The Sun just below the horizon and about to rise in the East will be opposite the eclipsed Moon setting low in the West.  Unfortunately, we here will miss most of this spectacular event.  But look anyway for the early beginning of the eclipse —- and remember, unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are completely safe to look at.  No eye protection is needed.

Happy New Year to all Sky-watchers!!

 

Gunston Welcomes New Trustee

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Patricia Parkhurst

Gunston School is pleased  to announce the addition of Patricia Parkhurst to the 2017-2018 Board of Trustees. Currently Pat teaches Art at Kent School and has served on several area boards including the Kent School Board of Trustees, and the Gunston Century Capital Campaign committee.

An alumna of Gunston, Pat lives in Centreville with her husband Steve and their three children, two of whom currently attend Gunston. She earned her Bachelor’s from Roanoke College and a Certificate in Fundraising from George Washington University.

Headmaster John Lewis said, “Over the past decade, Mrs. Parkhurst has served on a number of key school committees, and has therefore played an important role in helping to shape Gunston’s institutional identity.  As an alumna and current parent, she cares deeply about Gunston, and we will benefit from her wisdom and experience.”