January 27, 2023

Dear Brimmer Community,

Last week Mr. Neudel wrote about the open-sourced and free release of ChatGPT, an AI bot that promises to upset the world of teaching and learning. Likewise, history and journalism teacher David Cutler published his views on the topic in Edutopia. This week, I met with dozens of Heads of School from around New England, and our conversations quickly turned to this AI disruptor. Without exception, we are challenged with asking ourselves meaningful questions about how we will navigate this evolving technology. 

We have been here before–some people travel down the dark path of despair when new disruptors arrive; others travel up the path of optimism and hope and seek productive use of the new tool; most educators eagerly read articles; we engage with Higher Ed; we marvel at the potential opportunities that lie ahead; some find possible relief in how time might be freed up at bit. All of this is to say that educators near and far are grappling with this news of the big disruptor. I, for one, am excited about taking on this new challenge, finding the right balance for policy, looking for opportunities for better learning, and hoping for a sensible way to intersect with our students’ views on the subject. 

My husband worked for Thinking Machines back in the early 1990s. The Darwin Data Mining toolkit promised to be the disruptor it came to be. Fascinated with AI, our home conversations often included the work of AI in the daily workings of life. Perhaps, this is why I find ChatGPT to be a bit exciting. I look forward to sharing the progress we make on the subject once we all do some thinking, researching, tinkering, and problem solving.

Judy Guild

Head of School 


From the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

It was so exciting to begin this week with a celebration of the Lunar New Year and the year of the rabbit! Students in all three divisions enjoyed the festivities at our annual Temple Fair on Wednesday, and those who celebrate eagerly shared their traditions with their classmates at school. 

Earlier this month, Middle and Upper School students attended our first Voices Assembly of the year, during which one Upper School student and two faculty members shared their experiences of being part of the LGBTQ+ community. As in years past, our speakers worked with Cindy Rivka Marshall, a professional storytelling coach, for several weeks prior to the event to craft their stories. This is a program that is meant to uplift marginalized voices and to help make connections across identities. Audience members who felt moved shared moments that resonated with them and affirmed the experiences of the speakers. This has become an extremely popular assembly, and we look forward to a Spring Voices Assembly!

Last week, Dr. Dan Siegel gave the second talk in the Critical Conversations virtual speaker series with a talk titled “The Biology of Belonging.” It was an excellent talk, and I encourage you to take some time to listen and read through the supplemental materials. You can access this talk by visiting the Critical Conversations website and using the password: interconnected.

February 1 is the beginning of Black History Month (BHM), and each division is looking forward to continuing last year’s theme of Black Joy! The Lower School kicked off the celebration in Share today with the 5th Grade Diversity Lunch Bunch introducing the concept of Black History Month and then engaging in a buddy activity in which all students shared how they find joy in their own communities. The Middle and Upper Schools will host speaker Justine Medina at a Black History Month Assembly later in February. Keep an eye out for updates from the librarians on excellent BHM book resources to share with your children at home. And if you missed it last week, please click here to access the libraries’ “New Awesome Booklist!”

Finally, we end the week today on January 27, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is a somber day on which we recognize the atrocities of the Holocaust and the 6 million Jewish lives lost. It is also the day on which we commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz-Berkenau. Brimmer remains steadfast in its commitment to speak out against anti-Semitism and all acts of hate and violence.

Please celebrate and acknowledge cultural days of importance with us by following us on social media.

American Mathematics Competition (AMC) 10/12 Results are In!

Congratulations to First Place AMC 10 winner Andrew Flint '26 (pictured top right), Second Place AMC 10 winner Amelia Tymoczko '28 (pictured bottom left), and Third Place AMC winner Sebastian Demeter '25 (pictured bottom right). A big congratulations goes out to James Yu '24 (pictured top left) for earning AMC 12 First Place, Honor Roll Distinction (Top 1% of AMC participants), and Certificate of Distinction (qualifying for the American Invitational Mathematics Exam). 

Brimmer's Model UN Team had an excellent time at Yale's 49th Model UN Conference last weekend practicing their diplomacy skills with students from around the world. Read more from History Department Chair & Director of Global Studies Kelly Neely on our website.

Now Accepting Donations!

Click here for the Auction web page.

Click here for the online Donation Form.

Upcoming Bake Sale for Third Grade African Library Project

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated books for the Third Grade African Library Project book drive. The students and teachers at our partner primary school in Ghana will be so delighted, since we have collected over 1,000 books! In order to help pay the shipping costs for this effort, we will be hosting a bake sale on Friday, February 3 during MS and US lunches. We appreciate the whole Brimmer community’s support for this effort.

Purchasing 2022-2023 Yearbooks

Follow these instructions to purchase a yearbook from Coffee Pond's online store. The price is $55.00/book until March 1; $60/book from March 2 - March 15. Please note: All Upper School students will receive one copy of the yearbook from the School. Upper School families should only purchase online if they would like an additional copy/copies!

Purchasing and Designing Yearbook Ads

Follow these instructions to purchase and design an ad celebrating your student or promoting your local business. Coffee Pond recommends using Google Chrome as your web browser to design your ad for the best results. Ads must be purchased by February 24 and designed by March 3.

Please contact Associate Director of Marketing & Communications Nicky DeCesare (ndecesare@brimmer.org) with any questions.


Dear Upper School Families,

The Dining Commons was abuzz this past Monday when our 9th grade students transformed the space into a medieval village for the Chaucer Exhibition. For this English class exhibition, students read from The Canterbury Tales and dove deeply into the topic while honing their research skills and creating a multidimensional presentation. The culminating project displayed the depth of their research, understanding, and presentation skills. It was a great example of how teachers at Brimmer take a multifaceted approach to learning. 


While the 9th grade completed their first major project, the 12th grade began working on their Capstone Project, the Author Study. Each year, 12th grade students choose an author, playwright, poet, or lyricist on which they do a deep literary dive during the second half of the year. Students read several works by the writer, review literary criticism, and form their own thesis about the author’s comments on a particular theme. They do this in pursuit of answering the question, “What does it mean to be human?” in their paper and then host a thesis defense to share what they learned with a panel comprised of faculty and students. 


This week we also celebrated Lunar New Year with the Temple Fair in the Innovation Space. Upper School students ran games and activities for all grades and spread joy throughout the entire school. It was another reminder of the benefits of being in a PK-12 school and the ways that teenagers and younger students can positively impact each other. 


Next week we welcome Will Slotnick to campus as he begins working with Upper School students during the month of February. Details about the program were sent out via email earlier in the week. We hope to see you at the upcoming virtual parent meeting with Will Slotnick on Thursday, February 2, at 7:00 p.m. We will send an email to families with a Zoom link for the meeting prior to the event. 


Joshua Neudel

Head of Upper School

Dear Upper School Parents and Guardians,

This week we held our first parent informational night (for Hummingbird trips) on Tuesday, and student groups met with their chaperones for the first time on Wednesday. We will continue to share out information in the next six weeks, but please remember to contact your trip leaders and visit your group's Canvas page for more information about your student's trip. 

Please continue to keep these due dates in mind:

Additionally, we will hold the next parent meeting for all EF trips (LA, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, France) on Thursday, February 16

Thank you for everyone's cooperation as we complete our preparation for this exciting upcoming experience!


Kelly Neely

History Department Chair

Director of Global Studies/Winterim Coordinator


11th Grade College Counseling 

On Thursday, we hosted our annual Junior College Night, the official kickoff to the College Counseling process. We went over the philosophy of our approach to college counseling, the timeline for the next year and a half, the importance of college research, and the basics of testing and financial aid. We also attempted to “mythbust” some common misconceptions we hear from students and parents.  

If anyone was unable to attend Junior College Night and wants to know more, please reach out to your college counselor. 

The topics of Junior College Night dovetailed nicely with our work in class with the 11th graders this week. This week, we reviewed the basics of how to start searching for colleges and the importance of developing a balanced list— keeping in mind that any list of colleges at this point should be dynamic and open to change! We also delved into the idea of What Makes a College ‘Good’? debunking how college rankings work, what makes the Ivy League so well-known, and discussing the importance of “fit.” Academic, financial, social, and physical fit are all major factors in making a college “good” for any one student.  

A reminder that 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. 

Based on the parent survey and student surveys, the College Counseling team has been hard at work creating lists of recommended colleges and universities tailored to each student’s preferences, to help them begin the research phase. These lists are intended to be a starting point, with plenty of room for revision and redirection according to each student’s journey.  

Upcoming Events 

  • Friday, February 3 at 7:30 a.m. (virtual): International Parent College Coffee 

  • Monday, February 6 from 5:30-8:00 p.m.: The 18th Annual Teen Summer Expo at Newton South High School – a chance to learn more about a variety of summer programs - please preregister

  • Friday, February 10 at 8:00 a.m.: Parent College Coffee in the Upper Commons 

View the February calendar

of upcoming Upper School events.


Dear Parents and Guardians,

With the new quarter came new units of study across the Middle School. Students in Science 6 have been studying the physics and engineering of bridges. After learning about various types of bridges from around the world, students selected a famous bridge to research. In their research, students explored the design of their bridge, as well as its cultural significance as a landmark. The class also learned how to represent three-dimensional objects in orthographic or blueprint-style drawings in preparation for drafting a design of their own truss bridge next week. After their designs are finalized, students will build their bridges out of pasta and then test how much their bridge can hold before collapsing. This work will be displayed in an exhibition on Thursday, March 2. More details to come!


In English 8, students are reading Internment by Samira Ahmed. Students presented close readings of the book, which is a dystopian novel set in a horrifying near-future United States, where 17-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of others, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s director and his guards. In their close readings, students explored themes of community, communication, being an upstander, and the effects of “othering.”


On Thursday, February 16, we will be hosting an informational meeting for the 7th and 8th grade Washington, D.C. trips at 5:30 p.m.

While the 7th and 8th grade students are in Washington, D.C. and the Upper School is on Winterim, the 6th grade will participate in Exploration Week, a week of experiential and hands-on learning activities. Please click here to see the schedule. Any questions can be directed to Mr. Arndt or Ms. U-C, who are coordinating the week.

Grades and narrative comments were released this week. If you have trouble viewing your student’s grades, please reach out to Mary Gates.

Carl Vallely

Head of Middle School


View the February calendar of

upcoming Middle School events.


Dear Lower School Families, 

Thank you for joining us last Friday for the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Informance. The students’ artwork was spectacular, as were their demonstrations of both drama and music classes. The Informances continue to impress me with the comfort, excitement, and ease with which the students share their class activities on stage, as well as the growth that happens from year to year. What a gift to have such a talented Creative Arts team who know how to bring out the best in the students! The next Informance is February 10. I look forward to seeing what the first and second graders will perform and the artwork they will share.  

The Lower School was abuzz this week with the celebration of the Lunar New Year. We had several parents come in to share presentations about the celebration and their traditions. Children furthered their understanding of the holiday and took part in the celebrations at the Temple Fair; students pinned the tail on the rabbit, had a chopstick competition, made rabbit ear headbands, and had some delicious treats! It is always a pleasure to see our Lower School students interacting with students in the Middle and Upper Schools. It provides younger students with positive, healthy role models to look up to and allows them to see who they can become as they grow older. 

This week our Fourth and Fifth Grade Basketball Teams had their first games. I had the chance to be Mr. B’s assistant coach, which gave me a courtside viewing of the boys’ game! There were some first-game jitters at the start, but the Gators came on strong in the second half and played with great spirit and excitement! Many thanks to Mr. B, Ms. Underhill-Curtain, and Mr. Kelly for their time and enthusiastic coaching. 

February 14: Students are invited to dress in colors or clothing that help to spread love and friendship. Please check with your homeroom teacher regarding Valentine’s Day cards. Please do not send students to school with candy for our Day of Love and Friendship. We ask that they instead focus on a card or gesture of friendship that is simple, thoughtful, and meaningful.  


Have a great weekend. We look forward to seeing you next week.


Kimberly Formisano

Head of Lower School

Are you a current 5th grade family looking to learn more about our Middle School program? Please join us on January 31 for Middle School Exploration Night. Sit in on sample classes, participate in a design challenge, and hear from Brimmer administrators and faculty. Please contact Director of Middle School Admissions Mallorie Nai (mnai@brimmer.org) with questions.


View the February calendar of

upcoming Lower School events.


Please join the Parents Association (PA) for a conversation on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) on Thursday, February 2, at 8:00 a,m. in the Dining Commons. Brimmer’s own Jessica Christian, Director of DEIB, will give an overview of the School’s strategic plan as related to DEIB, and she will be joined by students from the Upper School (pictured here with Brimmer faculty and staff) who will share their recent experiences at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in San Antonio. We welcome all parents and guardians to join us to hear about and discuss this important topic. See you there! 

CALLING ALL COMMUNITY SERVICE VOLUNTEERS: We still have nine spots left for parents to volunteer together at the Greater Boston Food Bank. As community service is such an important part of the Brimmer education for students, the PA wanted to offer similar opportunities for parents. These opportunities are a great way to strengthen our community while providing a vital service to others. We hope you can join us at the Greater Boston Food Bank on the morning of Monday, February 6. Please sign up!

We will continue to do a social walk around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir every Friday, weather permitting. We meet in front of the Hastings Center starting at 8:00 and begin walking at 8:15. Pets and strollers welcome. Please bundle up and join us! These walks are a great opportunity to connect with other Brimmer parents across all grade levels. See you next week!

Other continuing opportunities for engagement include volunteering with the Lower School Library and the Birthday Book Program (contact the Brimmer Parents Association - brimmerparents@brimmer.org - if you are interested).

Your participation is essential to maintain a vibrant school community, so please connect with any of us to answer questions, share ideas, or get involved. Watch for additional information on upcoming events and volunteer opportunities in the Friday Bulletin and from your Class Representatives. Thank you!

Amy Bland P ’28, ’32, ’32

Tenzin Dengkhim P ’27, ’33

Charlotte Dixon P ’25

Stella Rupia P ’26, ’32

Parents Association Co-Chairs


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