January 22, 2021
This was a busy week at School. We opened Tuesday with the 16th Annual Bissell Grogan Symposium on the year’s theme, and lively classroom discussions followed the event. Then on Wednesday numerous classroom conversations occurred when Kamala Harris marked history as the country’s first woman Vice President. Her rich and varied background as a Black American and South Asian woman of immigrant parents reminded our students that anything is possible. Seeing a woman achieve one of the highest and most powerful positions in our country made me smile all day! 

Later that day we were all treated to youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman's inaugural poem, "The Hill We Climb." To see and hear a young woman appeal to the hearts and minds of the American people inspired me. Middle Schoolers watched a recording of her performance from Wednesday’s ceremony and went on to write their own poems inspired by her work. I am impressed with how our faculty creates immediately relevant lessons and emphasizes the importance of creativity and imagination. 

These are just two examples of how our teachers are passionate about their work, elevate relevant topics, and encourage our students to believe that anything is possible. They are eager to answer their students’ many questions and try to satisfy their curiosity. Robert Fried captures this concept in his book The Passionate Teacher when he writes, “For what is powerful about teaching is that we convey to our students not only the wisdom and experience of the past but also the gift of unending and limitless potential” (p. 276). 

Judith Guild
Head of School
COVID Response Team (CRT) Update
Our first week of student testing went smoothly. We appreciate your cooperation and patience as we launch this massive effort. The results show that our mitigation strategies work, and we appreciate how seriously all of our families are taking them. Moving forward, we will only notify families of positive cases of students or faculty within their own division(s). Thank you for all you are doing to keep Brimmer healthy!

The COVID Response Team
Updates on Equity & Inclusion Work at Brimmer
This week, we kicked off the 16th annual Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium with an outstanding keynote address by Lawrence Alexander. His talk, titled, “Everyday Activism: Moving from Talk to Walk,” was poignant, inspiring, and exactly right for where we are as a community and a country. His direct approach to critical topics--racism, white supremacy, LGBTQIA rights, democracy, responsibility--captured our audience and was an excellent way to begin what promises to be a wonderful speaker series. In attendance were all students in grades 7-12, Middle and Upper School faculty and staff, members of the Board of Trustees, current families, and prospective families. The positive feedback has continued to pour in over the week, and we feel so lucky to be working with someone to help us lead the way in our equity and inclusion efforts this year. A recording of Mr. Alexander’s keynote can be found here.

I announced to the Middle School students last week that AISNE is hosting its annual Middle School Students of Color Conference virtually on Saturday, February 6. It is a full day conference that focuses on the experiences of students of color in independent schools. This year, the conference is open to students who are currently in grades 5-8. Though created for students of color, the conference encourages students who identify as white allies to attend as well. If your child would like to attend, please email me (jchristian@brimmer.org). Brimmer will cover the registration fee for all Brimmer student participants. Attendance may be limited depending on how many Brimmer students express interest. Please read more about the conference here.

On Wednesday, many of us tuned in to witness a historic moment in our country’s history as the first South Asian American, first Black American, and first woman, Kamala Harris, was sworn in as Vice President of the United States. Teachers in all three divisions put party aside and spoke in an intentionally bipartisan way about the importance of this moment for our country. With a focus on representation in leadership, our students, and in particular our female students of color, are now able to see themselves in a position that no other woman in the history of our country has held before, and that, alone, is powerful and inspiring.

Lawrence Alexander and I led an equity and inclusion training with our Extended Day staff this week. Though this staff work only part-time at Brimmer, they spend a great deal of time with our youngest students at a critical age, an age when students notice and comment on difference. If your child participates in Extended Day, you have, no doubt, heard wonderful stories about the teachers and the fun that they have together. We want to be proactive and comprehensive in our professional development so that we can be confident that any adult on campus can manage the tough moments that emerge as students explore identity. This is an exceptional group of young educators who have proven themselves professional and talented. It was a pleasure to work with them.

In the coming weeks, Lawrence and I will continue our work with the Board of Trustees as they establish permanent and ongoing DEI work at the Board level. As I have said before, we are truly lucky as a school community to be led by a Board that fully understands and embraces the DEI work that we have taken on. We inspire and support one another, and that is the only way the work gets accomplished.

Jessica Christian
Director of Equity & Inclusion
Join us for the 16th Annual
Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium 
We invite our Brimmer community to join us for our reimagined Bissell Grogan Speaker Series, which will focus on our school-wide theme of Building an Equitable Community, using the recurring Zoom link below.

From creating works of art for museums with students from the community to publishing books inspired by his childhood experiences, Raúl the Third has always found inspiration from the people around him. Take a journey as he guides you through his many projects and gives you a behind-the-scenes look at his process as he strives to make artwork that is a representation of our diverse communities. This will be the second of four speakers in this year's series, which runs through March 1.

More information about our upcoming speakers can be found here.
Faculty & Staff Appreciation Day - Feb. 5
Although we will miss being together in person, we are looking forward to working together to show our appreciation for the Brimmer faculty and staff who work so hard to educate and keep our children safe. Please see information about our celebrations below, and contact co-chairs Susan Kirwan (susan@metavr.com) and Julie Nijmeh (jnijmeh@gmail.com) with any questions.
Enjoy Dance Academy USA!
Join over 100,000 students around the world who have learned to dance with Dance Academy USA (DAU). DAU On-Demand is for anyone between the ages of 4 to adults. The classes are designed for the entire family.

Use the password below to access the On-Demand library which currently has over 175 classes with new classes filmed weekly. Styles of Dance included; Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Kidz Ballet/Jazz, Jazz/Pom, and Dance Fitness (Zumba Style)

Who is it for? 
Anyone who wants to learn to dance (although, in many cases, an entire family will take classes together). All Levels--these classes are perfect for someone new to dance or a dancer who wants to fine-tune their skills. We’re currently offering three levels: New to Dance, Level 1, and Level 2. We built this program so that every child can dance, exercise, and have fun regardless of their dance experience and/or athleticism.

What’s different about Dance Academy USA On-Demand?
DAU On-Demand is unique because we’ve created a dance program to give you the in-class experience from the comfort and safety of your own home. Our program includes everything you would get as if you were in the studio, including warm-ups, technique training, choreography, cool down, and encouragement from our staff!

The library now has 216 classes in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Hip-Hop, Contemporary, Dance Fitness, Jazz-Pom, and our Kidz Classes.

The entire Brimmer community is welcome to access the on-demand library.
Click here to start dancing! Password: ondemanddance21
Summer Camp is on for summer 2021, and we cannot wait! We missed you last year, but the pandemic has given us a chance to create new offerings to serve a greater swath of students. This year, in addition to our general Day Camp for young children (ages 4 - 11), Eco Extreme, and others, we're offering specific programming for Middle and Upper Schoolers. For details, check out our updated website.

Here are a few highlights:

Upper School students can join David Cutler for a one-week Private School Journalism Symposium, and rising seniors can take advantage of our College Essay Writing Bootcamp, Just Write!

Middle Schoolers: come spend your day at Dungeons and Dragons/Renaissance Camp with Will Menardt, Eco Extreme with Ina Patel and Andrew Beal, or some of your afternoons with Mallorie Nai or Christian Stratter at our Soccer and Lacrosse Clinics for rising 5th - 8th graders.

If you are 16 and older, we're looking for a few GREAT counselors, too; prior experience working with children is a must!

Registration is online. Please direct any questions or inquiries about employment to Director of Summer & Auxiliary Programs Cassie Abodeely (cabodeely@brimmer.org).
Download the Brimmer App

Our School app makes it easy to access key Brimmer information from your phone, including the COVID Screening form each family is required to complete daily before sending their child(ren) to school.

Read more below about the reflective questions posed by keynote speaker Lawrence Alexander as part of this year's Bissell Grogan Symposium Speaker Series. If you were unable to join us, you can watch a recording of his presentation, entitled
“Everyday Activism: Moving from Talk to Walk,” here.
Dear Upper School Families,

This week, we kicked off our Bissell Grogan Symposium Speaker Series with keynote speaker Lawrence Alexander. During his keynote address, he left students with tangible ways to move from “talk to walk” and make a difference. He shared three questions at the end for students to focus on:

What daily conversations can I influence?

What daily habits can I model for social change?

Who’s in my community that I need to be a better friend to?

I encourage you to talk with your student about these questions to come up with tangible ways to make a difference. Not all change needs to solve a global or national problem. The small things that we do in our daily interactions can have a huge impact. As Aesop wrote, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Our Bissell Grogan Symposium Speaker Series continues on Thursday, January 28, when we welcome the internationally recognized muralist and visual artist, Raúl the Third. Click here to join us at 9:10 a.m. via Zoom.

As we finished the first semester, 9th grade students completed their Wellness Research Project with Julia Jennings and Megan Dolan. Students learned about identifying valid and reliable sources, using Brimmer’s library databases, and citing sources properly while exploring a wellness topic of their interest. Students did a wonderful job sharing their research with classmates on a broad range of topics such as nutrition, the positive impact of exercise, anxiety disorders, and how to sit in a chair properly. I was impressed with the information they shared and how they showed the different ways they are thinking about wellness topics.

Grades and comments for Semester I will be posted at the beginning of next week. An email with login instructions will be sent once grades are posted.

Joshua Neudel
Head of Upper School
JANUARY 25 - 29
Advisor Conferences (via Zoom)

Via Zoom - 7:00 p.m.
Attendance is mandatory for 11th grade students.
We strongly recommend attendance for parents and guardians, as well.

Raúl the Third
Community as Inspiration: How to Create Artwork that Reflects our Diverse Communities 
Via Zoom, 9:10 a.m.

Grade 12 Semester I Celebration - On Campus
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

US Wellness Week - Wellness Collaborative

Parents Association Meeting
Via Zoom, 9:30 a.m.

Parent Meeting with Will Slotnick from The Wellness Collaborative
Via Zoom, 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Faculty & Staff Appreciation Day

Progress Reports (Gr. 6-12)

No School - Presidents Day

Bissell Grogan Symposium Speaker Series - Andrea Hailey
Via Zoom, 9:10 a.m.

Mid-Semester II (Gr. 12)
Events subject to change. Please refer to the web calendar for the most up-to-date information
Important Changes from the College Board 

The College Board announced on Tuesday that it is discontinuing Subject Tests (SAT IIs) effective immediately, and the essay option for the SAT will end in June. We believe that this is a great streamlining of an unwieldy testing process with too many varied options. As it was, many colleges had stopped requiring the essay portion or subject tests, and only a few holdouts were still asking for them (before most went test-optional due to COVID).

We still aren’t sure what the future of standardized testing will look like going forward, post-COVID restrictions. Some colleges were already test optional, some are using the pandemic as a reason to pilot a two- or three-year program, and some have made it very clear that they will return to requiring testing. At Brimmer, we are encouraging 11th graders to continue to pursue test prep and have a testing plan as if everything will be “normal,” knowing that they will likely have some test-optional colleges on their list and that will remain a viable option, as well.

11th Grade College Counseling 
This was our very first week of College Counseling class with our 11th graders, and it was a great start! We went over the general outline of the spring semester, made sure every student was registered for SCOIR (our new application management system), and went over a presentation on the types of colleges found in the United States. We discussed the differences between liberal arts colleges and research universities, public versus private schools, and the different ways that those options impact the application process. Many students shared that they found the overview helpful and learned things they hadn’t known before about the types of schools available to them.

For their first assignment, we are asking all 11th graders to complete a College Preferences survey, which will aid us in suggestion schools for them to consider. We have also asked all 11th grade parents/guardians to help us by filling out the Parent Survey, providing us with insight and information as we begin working with our students.

Once again, Brimmer is partnering with Summit Test Prep to offer a Brimmer-specific SAT class beginning in March. More details about the class, cost, and how to register were sent directly to 11th grade parents/guardians last week.

Upcoming Events 

A kick-off event for 11th graders and their parents/guardians to discuss the college process ahead. Attendance is mandatory for students. We strongly recommend attendance for parents and guardians, as well.
Artwork by Max Birnbaum '26, inspired by youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman's "The Hill We Climb." Read more about this lesson from 6th and 7th grade English classes below.
Dear Parents and Guardians,

As a reminder, we hope to have students learning on campus when they are able. While our concurrent learning program is offered for health and safety when needed, we ask that it is not used simply for convenience. We know navigating school and the mitigation strategies can be challenging, which is one of the reasons we have started holding our Remote Wednesdays. If you have any questions about concurrent learning, please feel free to reach out.

This week brought our first Remote Wednesday. While our current plan is to continue these through February, we may elect to go back to a five-day week sooner depending on a variety of factors. Please read my Bulletin each week for the latest announcements regarding this.

Grades and narrative reports will be released on Monday. Advisor-parent conferences will take place beginning on Monday, January 25. Your student’s advisor will reach out to set up these meetings in the coming weeks.

After witnessing the insurrection at the Capitol two weeks ago, Wednesday’s Inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris brought a sense of normalcy and demonstrated what the peaceful transition of power should be. Amanda Gorman stepped into the spotlight on Wednesday as the Youth Poet Laureate to deliver her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Gorman was raised by her mother, an English teacher, and she overcame a speech impediment by writing and reciting poetry. In English classes on Thursday, sixth and seventh grade students read her poem while watching a recording of her performance. Inspired by her passionate words, students then illustrated images and symbols that Gorman crafted, or they wrote their own poems in response to or continuation of “The Hill We Climb.” At our Morning Meeting this morning, I shared some of the highlights of the historic day, and I ended the meeting with these words from Gorman’s poem: “There is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it.”

Carl Vallely
Head of Middle School
JANUARY 25 - 29
Advisor Conferences (via Zoom)

Raúl the Third
Community as Inspiration: How to Create Artwork that Reflects our Diverse Communities 
Via Zoom, 9:10 a.m.

Parents Association Meeting
Via Zoom, 9:30 a.m.

Faculty & Staff Appreciation Day

Progress Reports (Gr. 6-12)

No School - Presidents Day

Bissell Grogan Symposium Speaker Series - Andrea Hailey
Via Zoom, 9:10 a.m.
Events subject to change. Please refer to the web calendar for the most up-to-date information.
Third grade students were surprised with some snow showers during PE on Thursday!
Dear Lower School families,

In August of 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, and it gave women the right to vote. Its ratification did not lead immediately to all women, especially Black women, being able to vote. Now, 100 years later, the United States has elected Kamala Harris as the first-ever woman vice president. Kamala Harris is also the first Black and South Asian American woman to be elected vice president of the United States. Whether one voted for Biden and Harris, this is a historic and significant moment for our students. Let’s not allow this moment to pass without reminding them, and especially our daughters, of all that is possible.

During a parent coffee earlier in the year, Mrs. Robinson, who reads to our Lower School students, talked about some of the books she shares, including books that highlight the life and accomplishments of BIPOC, as well as female historical figures and fictional characters. These books might include Vashti Harrison’s Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History or Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World, Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, Pam Munoz Ryan’s and Brian Selznick’s When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson. Classroom teachers share in this work and in the thoughtful and critical review of the books they bring into the classroom.

The sharing of diverse literature and the election of Kamala Harris as vice president of the United States are opportunities to offer both both windows and mirrors to our students, as well as role models for our female students. In her TedEd talk, award winning children’s author Grace Lin discusses the significance of windows and mirrors and why it’s important for all children to see themselves reflected in the books they read, and why they also need a view into the experiences of people whose lives differ from their own.

In the Forbes article Seeing is Believing: Female Role Models Inspire Girls to Think Bigger, Margie Warrell talks about the benefits of female role models in that they “represent and expand what is possible…inspire women to be more ambitious and aim higher…demonstrate the mindsets and behaviors of how to rise” and the fact that “’it’s hard to be what we cannot see.’”With research that continues to suggest that girls are less likely to see themselves in math and the sciences, as well as in positions of leadership, let’s celebrate our first-ever woman vice president. Colleen Ammerman, director of Gender Initiative at Harvard Business School, shares, “No one can deny the power of seeing somebody who shares an identity, like your gender or your race, which is so salient in American society, certainly, in a position of power.”

On Wednesday, the day of the Inauguration, when one of our Lower School teachers excitedly shared with me that she was “channeling Kamala today,” I too was excited for our students and for the role model they have not only in this wonderful teacher but also in Vice President Kamala Harris who has broken down barriers and achieved a host of firsts, including the highest office ever held by a woman in the United States. Politics aside, this is a momentous occasion. Teaching Tolerance describes, “The election of a biracial, Black, South Asian, daughter of immigrant parents to the vice presidency is a historic moment for all of us – especially for girls and women...It matters that the students we teach see themselves in this historic moment.”

If you and your student are interested in learning more about Vice President Harris, you might enjoy the following books: Meena Harris’ Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea and Ambitious Girl, Nikki Grimes’ Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice, coming soon Kirsten Anderson’s Who is Kamala Harris?, and for older students Kamala Harris’ The Truth We Hold (Young Readers edition).

I hope you enjoyed today’s Informance for Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students. I look forward to sharing more in next week’s Bulletin.

Have a great weekend,

Emily Miller
Head of Lower School
Faculty Work Day - No School

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - No School

12:30 p.m. - via Zoom

Parents Association Meeting
Via Zoom, 9:30 a.m.

Faculty & Staff Appreciation Day

Gr. 1 & 2 Informance
Via Zoom, 12:30 PM

No School - Presidents Day

Bissell Grogan Symposium Speaker Series - Andrea Hailey
Via Zoom, 9:10 a.m.
Events subject to change. Please refer to the web calendar for the most up-to-date information
With only one week left in January, we are looking forward to a celebratory month of February!

Join the Friday PA Lunchtime Clubhouse. Every week, we look forward to this unique opportunity to connect virtually with Brimmer parents from all three divisions. Bring your smiles, joyful conversations, and your lunch to the screen. Our next get together will be on January 29 at noon.

Meeting ID: 997 3445 9294
Passcode: BrimmerPA
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,99734459294#,,,,*801779847# US (Chicago)
+16465588656,,99734459294#,,,,*801779847# US (New York)
Save the date for our February 4 Parents Association Meeting:
From March 2020 to the present day, our community, families, and School have faced unprecedented challenges. Head of School Judy Guild will share what has been learned, how we grew as a learning community, and what we are likely to face in the year ahead. During this same period of time, Brimmer continued to advance its strategic priorities, and Judy will highlight the School’s many accomplishments as well as the work that lies ahead.

Join us via Zoom on February 4 at 9:30 a.m. using the above link or the following meeting information:
Meeting ID: 956 8944 4046
Passcode: PAwithJudy

Join the celebration of our beloved faculty and staff on February 5!
What a school year this has been already, wouldn't you say? We have plans to make Faculty & Staff Appreciation Day especially special. Please see your Class Rep emails for more details. For specific questions, you can contact event Co-Chairs Julie Nijmeh (jnijmeh@gmail.com), Susan Kirwan (susan@metavr.com) or the PA Co-Chairs (brimmerparents@brimmer.org).

If you are fiscally able, please consider making a donation via our PayPal link or
send a check to Brimmer Parents Association, 69 Middlesex Road Chestnut Hill, MA 02467.

Didem Ertan P '28
Jeffrey Lahens P '28, '31
Rossanna Lizama-Soto P '22
Parents Association Co-Chairs
Please note that this email was generated from a "no reply" email box.