Miquon Welcomes PEL Fellows

By Kristin Sanderson

Miquon is now a part of the Progressive Education Lab (PEL), a consortium—including The Cambridge School of Weston, The Crefeld School, The Putney School—helping to train teachers new to the field of Progressive education. This January Miquon welcomed its first-ever PEL fellows to campus, where they have been working daily in our classrooms and attending weekly after-school seminars on Progressive teaching and learning.

Miquon as a Teaching School

With the addition of the PEL program to our campus, we are so proud that Miquon has returned to the role of a teaching school—one where we are not only teaching children, but also, educators. In this way, we see the impact of Miquon’s program reaching beyond the ridges of our valley and out into the world—affecting many more children’s lives by supporting  teachers who help them become independent, confident young learners invested in their own education.

Hailing from Acton, MA, Matt Linden  graduated from Cornell University in 2017 with a double major in history and linguistics. Outside of the classroom, Matt loves to sing, do stand-up and improv comedy, and cook; he is also a fan of many sports, especially European soccer. Matt is thrilled to be a part of the PEL program and is looking forward to starting a career as an educator by learning from some of the best teachers around. During his time here, Matt has been working with Diane and Mark’s fifth and sixth grade classroom. Regarding Miquon, Matt says, “One aspect of the school culture that has impressed me was the pride that the students take in their work. The students use their voices to make each lesson, each classroom, and each aspect of the school’s identity their own. Miquon really seems to be a place where kids take responsibility for their schooling.”

Arielle Drisko is from Lexington, MA. She graduated from Colorado College in 2016 with a degree in art. She spent most of her art student career working in drawing, oil paint, and printmaking. Recently she has been working as an instructor at the Hulbert Outdoor Center, where days included everything from silly tag games to facilitating team building challenges to belaying on a high ropes course. She is fascinated by science, especially when it pertains to the nature that surrounds her. As an educator she strives to help students discover their strengths and learn about themselves through art and creativity. During her time at Miquon, Arielle has been working with Science Teacher Kate Shapero. “My time at Miquon has been a lovely experience,” says Arielle. “I really enjoyed being in science with Kate, getting to know all of the students, and seeing the developmental stages through working with each grade band.”

Sarah Nelson hails from Chicago by way of Southern California. She graduated from Pitzer College in 2017, where she studied human biology and participated in the Bhutan exchange program; she also tutored peers in the writing center, participated in the campus outdoor leadership program and was an active member of Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault. Sarah spent her final year researching contemplative learning in higher education and exploring the power and efficacy of mindfulness practices in the classroom. Aside from reading and writing, some current passions include attempting to play string instruments, practicing yoga and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. This past summer she led back country trips for adolescents, hiking and kayaking in the North Cascades and the islands of British Columbia. So far during here time at Miquon, Sarah has observed, “I’m so impressed by the outdoor spaces miquon has. We had a really fun science class in the bird blind with the kindergarteners, and it felt like we were going on a field trip!”

Originally from Houston, Ruth Bagley  graduated from Haverford College in 2017 with a major in linguistics and minors in computer science and Chinese. She wants to become a math teacher adept in Progressive teaching techniques because she believes in their efficacy in terms of both fostering students’ curiosity as well as facilitating real understanding rather than memorization of the material. Outside of education, Ruth has a variety of eclectic interests, including learning foreign languages, doing puzzles, playing piano, traveling, knitting, and coding.


Other New Faces

This year we also welcome others who are interested in careers in education and helping children thrive, including Miquon alumna Gabi Herzog ’11, who is completing a gap year helping in our classrooms, and Maria LaVerghetta, a PhD student who is working with children and teachers on the ways occupational therapy techniques can improve learning.

Maria LaVerghetta has recently completed her doctorate work at the University of the Sciences in occupational therapy and neuro/pediatrics. Her clinical experiences include Magee Rehab Hospital specializing in adult brain and spinal chord injury, the Veteran Hospital running PTSD/bipolar/depressive groups, and The ARC Adult Day Center providing cognitive activities and living skills groups. Most recently, she worked at the Children’s hospital in San Diego, specializing in infant positioning, therapeutic listing, infant and young child rhythmic movement training (reflex integration program) and feeding. At Miquon, Maria is finishing research to complete her degree. This role entails working with teachers and sharing tools for children to become more independent and succeed in the classroom. Specifically, Maria is introducing occupational therapy techniques to help children improve on a host of skills—ranging from paying attention in class and concentrating on tasks to cognitive processing and executive functioning.

Following her time as a Miquon student, Gabi Herzog ’11  took a special interest in teaching and working with kids. She helped her synagogue’s religious school as a teacher’s aide for several years, and she was a tutor in the writing center at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School during her senior year. She is currently spending her gap year at Miquon before starting at Macalester College next fall. She chose to spend the year here to give back to the school and its community after recognizing how Miquon fostered her value system and her growth into the person she is today. “I am very grateful and excited for the opportunity to have a new role in the Miquon community this year,” shares Gabi. Planning to study creative writing and political science at Macalester, Gabi hopes to ultimately pursue a career in education, so she can help the next generation of children use their curiosity and creativity to develop a love of learning. During her personal time, Gabi loves cooking and baking; writing poetry, screenplays, and children’s stories; and randomly quoting lines from Scrubs.

Another new (although somewhat familiar) face on campus this spring is Cassandra Orr, who is the sabbatical replacement for Nursery assistant teacher Elisa Rosenwinkel. Having served in various capacities in the Nursery over the past two and a half years, Cassandra brings an international perspective to her work at Miquon. In 2014-2015 she was employed in the Department of Rhone-Alps in France as a middle and high school English language assistant; then spent 3 months in Morocco with Bayti, an association serving street youth. Prior to that time, through non-profit work Cassandra created garden programs, facilitated student and family cooking classes, and helped to develop zero-waste initiatives at several Chicago schools. In her free time you will find her in her garden with the veggies, herbs, and budding insect population; in the kitchen trying her hand at cooking new cuisines; or at her desk with either a book or writing letters to friends near and far. “I am pleased to be spending her this spring in the Nursery,” explains Cassandra. “I look forward to sharing my interests and experiences with the Miquon community.”

We hope you will join us in welcoming all of our new teachers and aspiring teachers to Miquon. Please take a moment to ask them about their experience so far when you see them!