MAESA Matters December 2021


Greetings from MAESA!

It's the time of year when the world is busy preparing for Christmas, preparing our homes to be "just right", our holiday cards to actually be "picture perfect" and sometimes even preparing ourselves to project a consummate image of holiday cheer. Some of these routines do bring momentary happiness, but it is really our hearts that need preparing for the little baby who will come to redeem the world.

Keeping a holy Advent is especially valuable given the harried pace of our days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Pausing daily, even if briefly, for a meditation or a family Advent ritual can be a powerful tool to keep Jesus in the forefront of the season. Episcopal schools are especially able to model this behavior in weekly chapel services and chapel talks, in religion classes and in our liturgical celebrations marking the Season of Advent at school. So, as we go through these motions in the remaining weeks, preparing for the Christ Child to enter into our hearts, let's remember to be thankful for our traditions and teachings that actually give us the permission to slow our pace, to prepare ourselves and to joyfully wait the coming of Christ.

This month in our newsletter we hear from a student, the Junior Warden of St. Paul's School for Boys' Student Vestry, Chris Kilduff. As a senior, Chris reflects on the importance of the student vestry, the value it represents in his school life, and the traditions he has enjoyed during his time at St. Paul's School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland.

MAESA Early Childhood Educators' Conference
On November 5th more than 160 early childhood educators came together to learn, share, and celebrate their vocation as teachers of our youngest learners! MAESA and our conference host at Washington Episcopal School were elated to see such a strong attendance at our annual conference after a hiatus in 2020. Our hosts from Washington Episcopal School, pictured above, include Head of School and MAESA Board President, Danny Vogelman, Early Childhood Director, Mary Lee Nickel and first grade teacher, Petie Schuessler.

Keynote speaker, Erica Thompson, Assistant Head of School for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School (pictured above at right), spoke about helping students learn to celebrate self and others. Erica wove stories of her own identity, including images from her childhood, her extended family of relatives and their experiences, and also shared nuggets of how she has raised her children to grow in understanding of their own identities. Through numerous, research-based examples, Erica described that children at ages 3 and 4 understand concepts of fairness, difference and also stereotypes. Teachers left with concrete ideas of lessons, activities and children's literature they could use to support teaching and learning about identity. Fifteen schools sent their early childhood teachers to spend the day together with colleagues choosing amongst 14 workshops presented by peer teachers. Pictured below, St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School presenters Iesha Myhand and Cindy Gunja offered their workshop “Building Foundations for Positive Identity Development during the Foundational Years”. Also pictured below at right, the faculty from St. Paul's Episcopal Preschool in Alexandria, Virginia.

"Why I Attend An Episcopal School"
By Chris Kilduff
Junior Warden and Senior Member of Vestry
St. Paul’s School for Boys
Hi. My name is Chris Kilduff and I am the junior warden of the Vestry at St. Paul’s School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland. Currently, my family and I belong to a Catholic church in the Lutherville area called Church of the Nativity, and I have grown up being raised in Catholic churches. So, at first, I was a little hesitant about joining a Vestry program at St. Paul’s, since it is an Episcopal school. But I was welcomed with open arms by the older members of both the middle school, and upper school vestry programs. This is something I constantly remember and try to replicate with the underclassman that join the Vestry each year. The religious aspect of St. Paul’s also made me feel very at home, and the people I have met have really helped to shape me into the man I am today.
The vestry program at St. Paul’s is something very special to the community, as it is runs from our K-4 lower school, all the way through our 9-12 high school. Each year, our Vestry sends out a form to be filled out by students interested in joining. Once all of the applications have been submitted, the senior and junior wardens lead a meeting of all Vestry members to select the best applicants suited to serve in this way. Anyone can join Vestry, no matter what their religious beliefs are or if they do not practice a religion outside of school. The duty of the Vestry at St. Paul’s is to set an example to the other students during school, and to help organize weekly chapel services with help from our chaplain. We also host a weekly Vestry lunch every Monday, where we pray, eat a simple meal, and hang out with other members of group. These lunches are my favorite because we get to reflect on our week, while having a fun time with members from each grade.
My family has always instilled in me the ability to lean on my faith, and that is evident in the St. Paul’s community as we are taught in our motto to live by faith and compassion. The teachers and administrators at St. Paul’s echo this message and truly want the students to grow and become excellent young gentlemen. The bonds I have been able to make through Vestry are lifelong, and I have grown so much as an individual. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to go to St. Paul’s because I would not have made the friends I have made, and I would not have the memories that Vestry has given me.
Mark Your Calendar
2021-2022 MAESA Event Dates
Upcoming Events:

MAESA Choral Evensong Sunday, February 6, 2022, at Washington National Cathedral at 4:00 p.m. MAESA chorister rehearsals will begin at 1:00 p.m. The opportunity to sing with the MAESA combined choir is open to all upper school choirs who are members of MAESA. Contact maesaschools@gmail.com to be involved.

2022 MAESA Scholars Fair Friday, April 29th at St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School. The fair includes a juried art exhibit, science fair, geography and spelling bees, multimedia presentations and a non-competitive design thinking activity and NEW in 2022 a math competition for students in 4th-8th grade. This one-of-a-kind event brings together more than 150 students from MAESA members schools for one action-packed day. Please mark your calendar and contact maeaschools@gmail.com with any questions. Scholars Fair event guidelines and registration information will be updated shared in January 2022.
Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director