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Elevate with Spark! @ Catlin Gabel
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Elevate with Spark! @ Catlin Gabel

Author: Rob van Nood

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Big ideas, little projects and everything in between from Catlin Gabel teachers, students and administrators. Elevate is hosted by Rob van Nood & Matt Woodard.
38 Episodes
While K-12 students are learning from home and interacting with their teachers through Zoom, preschool students at Catlin Gabel come in each day to learn and play in the Beehive and throughout the school's 67 acres. Classroom teachers Diana Post and Jennifer Pitts and Beginning School Woodshop teacher Steve Davee have a unique perspective on what it’s like to teach in-person during a time of remote learning. Rob and Matt sit down with these three new faculty members to learn a little more about them, hear stories about what the Marigolds and Sunflowers have been up to, explore how they manage the health protocols, and understand why they feel so lucky to be teaching on campus this fall. --- Send in a voice message:
In this moment of collective reckoning since the death of George Floyd, Catlin Gabel, like many educational institutions, has had to examine the ways in which racism exists within our school. Black students, families, employees, and other People of Color, made clear that the school must do a better job of fostering a truly inclusive and welcoming culture of belonging for everyone. In addition to the steps being taken by the school, which were recently shared by Head of School Tim Bazemore and Board Chair Indira Nallakrishnan, seven Upper School students came together over the summer to ensure their voices were heard. Today, this group has grown to forty students and are now known as the Antiracism Collective, whose mission is to invite the school’s community to “analyze their privilege, focus attention on antiracism, and understand the experiences of BIPOC on campus.” In this episode of Elevate, Rob sits down for a wide ranging conversation with ARC's leadership team to hear about their personal experiences and goals for their work together: (All of the students are seniors, except one) Anuska Gupta, Emma Lindner, Neha Myneni, Catie Macauley, Nayan Murthy (junior), Divine Niyungeko, and Patina Todd.   Article about ARC in CatlinSpeak: ARC Social Media Links: Twitter: Instagram: --- Send in a voice message:
The Office of Inclusion and Outreach at Catlin Gabel plays a pivotal role in helping the community think about and expand the culture of the school.  In her new full-time role as the Assistant Director of Inclusion and Outreach Erica Babino brings a deep passion for the work of diversity, inclusion, and conflict management.  Rob and Matt sit down with Erica and hear about how she is considering recruitment and retention of people of color at the school, the work she is doing with students, her past legislative actions on adoption, the children’s books she has published, and how finding her birth parents completely altered her life.  Enjoy this third episode of Elevate’s third season. A link to Erica's book: --- Send in a voice message:
Most people know Matt Woodard as a go-to man when dealing with all manner of digital and audio issues.  But as Matt moves into his new role as Media Arts teacher in the Upper School Rob wanted to take the opportunity to chat with him so everyone has a chance to see some of the other great talents and perspectives he has to share with our community.  From his passion for music and art, to his transition from IT staff to teaching faculty,  to his experience of being a Black man at Catlin Gabel and the role and responsibility he sees an art teacher has to support the school's goal of becoming an anti-racist institution, this conversation allows us to get a deeper understanding of this multitalented educator.    --- Send in a voice message:
In the middle of the literal firestorm that is September 2020, we are all looking for ways to feel hope and ways to feel connected to others and our world. In this first episode of Elevate's third season, Rob van Nood and his new co-host Matt Woodard sit down with second-grade teacher and community activist Marcelle Donehower to explore how her experience in the Black Lives Matter movement has allowed her to grow, develop her voice and make powerful connections. Her commitment to social justice and anti-racism through action can give us all hope. Link to Marcelle's Street Roots article: --- Send in a voice message:
Over the past 33 episodes, Elevate has covered a wide variety of topics and people, but there has always been one constant, Rob has always been the voice of the interviewer.  In this 34th episode, we are changing things around by sharing out a student-made podcast.  Not only will this be the first episode with a student interview but it will also be the first podcast that is primarily in  Spanish.  Peter and Cynthia, two Upper School students,  approached me to see if they could use Elevate as a platform to share out their final project from their Spanish 3 class with Jenny Nadaner.  While I figured that many listeners might not be able to understand the episode,  I thought it was a perfect opportunity to share authentic work and support student initiative, and perhaps broaden our listener base.  For those non-Spanish speakers, we have provided an English transcript and we have provided a short explanation in English at the front of the podcast itself.  Enjoy this 20th episode of Season 2.   English transcript of this podcast : --- Send in a voice message:
What does it feel like to be on the threshold of leaving the nest during a worldwide pandemic, an economic recession, and a large scale revolt against police brutality and centuries of systematic racism?  The four graduating seniors I spoke with for this podcast were wary but shared a heartening level of optimism and positivity.  As the Catlin Gabel class of 2020 prepares to graduate today in a ceremony on campus where they will see each other from the safe distance of their cars, I wanted to share the zoom conversation that I had this week with Aarushi, Sophie, Ezra, and Avery.  We covered a wide range of topics:   Missing friends, loving the little things, appreciating family life, improving remote learning, and how to take action in the world as they move forward.   This is just a glimpse into the lives of 4 thoughtful, caring and insightful young adults but its a dedication to all the extraordinary graduates of this class.  Congratulations class of 2020.   --- Send in a voice message:
What happens when you bring together a group of students from the Portland metro area and a group from Josephine County in Southern Oregon for a two-week cultural exchange?  At a time when our country seems more and more factionalized the Exchange for Change program was devised as a way for urban and rural youth to spend a week in each distinct community to share perspectives, explore differences, understand similarities, and more than anything build connections and friendships.  Rob had the opportunity to share a zoom session with students Maia and Ashley, as well as Southern Oregon Exchange for Change leaders Jann Taylor and Adele Garcia and Portland Exchange for Change leaders George Zaninovich, Lindsay Babbitt & Krystal Wu. They shared what the program is all about and how its impact still reverberates a year later. Info for Exchange for Change on the PLACE website: The College Dreams Facebook page: --- Send in a voice message:
We hear over and over how challenging our current situation is.  With work and school disrupted, and all of us feeling isolated in one way or another, issues of mental and emotional health are on everyone's minds.  In this week's two-part episode Rob brings together staff and faculty who play a central role in providing support for kids and families at Catlin Gabel.  In Part 1, Rob speaks with Jasmine Love (Director of Inclusion & Outreach),  George Zaninovich (Director of PLACE), John Harnetiaux (Director of Outdoor and Global Education Programs) and Lindsay Babbitt (Assistant Director of Outdoor Education) about trauma, the support they are offering students and families and what silver linings could come from all of this.  In Part 2 the school's counseling team Stephen Grant (Beginning/Lower School), Kristin Ogard (Middle School), Kate Grant and Casey Mills (Upper School) share how they are helping students and families in need and offer suggestions and tips that we all can take to heart.   --- Send in a voice message:
About a year ago, on May 3rd, 2019,  the inaugural episode of Elevate was launched with a conversation about the treehouse that was built from scratch through the ideas and vision of Beginning School students.  For this 30th episode, Rob wanted to branch out beyond the Catlin Gabel community and talk to an educator whose research, writing, and teaching invites us to think about the current crisis as an opportunity to rebuild learning experiences based on a world in flux and from ideas and visions that put students at the center.  Rob was introduced to the work of Sharon Ravitch, PhD. (Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education) through an article she wrote called FLUX Pedagogy: Transforming Teaching and Leading during Coronavirus.  The idea of Flux Pedagogy and its implications for how we approach learning moving forward takes center stage in this insightful conversation.   While the past 29 episodes have focused on stories from inside the Catlin Gabel community, having a chance to listen to voices beyond our community gives us all the opportunity to step back and remember that we are just a single living branch of a larger educational tree.   The link to Sharon's article: --- Send in a voice message:
As the realities of this long term quarantine set in Rob reached out to students and parents to hear about how they were coping.  In this extended, two chapter episode of Elevate middle school students Erik, Maya, and Mira, upper school students Stella, Lauren Mei, and Benjamin and PFA reps Mimi Sei and Becky Lennon share their thoughts and stories about what it means to be a student and a parent in a world of remote learning and living.   The link to the video that Benjamin mentions in the interview about what students are doing at home. --- Send in a voice message:
In the last episode of Elevate, Rob had the chance to interview 3 teachers about their experiences during the quarantine.  This week he interviewed both students and parents for an upcoming episode,  One thing that was very clear from all those conversations is that people are missing and longing for connection to others.  So for this episode, he wanted to share an older interview that reminds us all of how Catlin Gabel brings people together.  On November 3rd Catlin Gabel hosted a celebration of heritage and culture in the Cabel Center.  It was more than just a festival dedicated to performances, traditional & indigenous fashions, art, and food. It was an opportunity to send the message that all are welcome in our community.  During this in-depth conversation with Haleah Blank (parent & Heritage Day Coordinator) and Mimi Sei (parent & PFA President), Rob explores what it means to feel welcome at Catlin Gabel and how the annual Heritage Day mirrors a growing understanding and need for inclusivity and diversity.   As we are all trying to find ways to stay connected in this time of uncertainty this conversation reminds us why Catlin Gabel is such a special place. --- Send in a voice message:
As Catlin Gabel ends its second full week of remote learning because of the Covid-19 pandemic Rob was curious about what kind of magic teachers were observing in their Zoom classes.  He really wanted to share some examples that might inspire or motivate the community of teachers?  But when he approached Upper School English teacher Krystal Wu, Middle School science teacher Berkeley Gadbaw and 5th-grade teacher Keli Gump none of them felt up to having that conversation.  The conversation that did happen when they spoke remotely was much more raw and realistic about what it feels like to be a teacher at this unprecedented time.   --- Send in a voice message:
As Catlin Gabel was making plans on how to react to the Covid-19 crisis the auction committee, headed by Events Director Gen Kady, had a big choice to make.  With the school moving toward remote learning, and the public being advised to do social distancing, should the school's largest fundraising opportunity be moved to another time, potentially the fall?  The decision to move to an online streamed event gave Gen's team less than 72 hours to pivot.  In this episode of Elevate Rob has the chance to sit down with Gen, as well as Director of Technology Daisy Steele and AV &Tech Support Specialist Matt Woodard to hear about how together with a whole team of Catlin staff, students and parents they made the unthinkable possible.   Auction links:  1.  Live Stream of the Event.  2. Catlin Gabel Events Page 3.  Upcoming Auction events & Raffle    Also, Please submit audio files of your experiences of joy, wonder, and delight to or upload them to  Please include your name in the title of the clip. --- Send in a voice message:
When Rob started this series on collaboration he was really thinking about the idea in the context of teaching and learning at the school. The amazing thing about Catlin Gabel is that there are so many examples of collaborations that extend beyond the school itself. His guests on this episode demonstrate what real-world collaboration can look like in the hands of motivated and inspired students. Benjamin Olshin and Hazel Walrod tell the story of the non-profit Benjamin started two and a half years ago. Babies With Books has a clear and important mission: get books into the hands of parents whose children are in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at local hospitals and in doing so help support the kind of intimate connections that parents need to build with their newborns. Babies With Books Website --- Send in a voice message:
In their freshman year, Britt Masback and Li Lambert both got involved in Founder's Weekend, a three-day entrepreneurial experience for high school students organized by then Catlin Gabel teacher Meredith Goddard.  It was an experience that allowed them to create a non-profit that four years later is still running and has raised over seventy thousand dollars.  Now seniors, the pair took on the heavy-lift this winter of organizing a similar event called Start-Up Camp.   Rob had the chance to sit down with these two accomplished students and hear all about the event, how it has influenced their work in the world, and the role an entrepreneurial spirit plays across the campus. Enjoy this 10th episode on collaboration.    Some links:  1.  GYE Website  2. Startup Camp Youth Portland 2020 Website 3.  DRAFT Start-Up Guide  --- Send in a voice message:
Rebecca Wirth & Brendan Clark are in their 6th year of collaboration as Catlin Gabel's Preschool teachers.  Having had a chance to work in their class on a weekly basis for the past 4 months I really wanted to sit down with them and hear what it takes to work so closely year after year.  At the same time, I wanted to explore how we might all learn from the youngest members of our community.   --- Send in a voice message:
After interviewing Sheri, Peter and Peggy for last week's "Light and Shadow" episode, Rob wanted to sit down with some first graders to hear their perspective of the project.  Sitting down to talk with a group of seven-year-olds presents such a great view of what children remember from their experiences.  Enjoy this eighth episode in the "Collaboration Series". --- Send in a voice message:
After being inspired by visual artist  Olafur Eliasson  Lower School science teacher Sheri Cocquio had a vision for a project with the first-grade class.  She approached Lower School music teacher Peter Musselman and Lower School art teacher Peggy Schauffler to see if they would join her in a world of light and shadow.  For this 7th episode in the "Collaboration Series," Rob sits down with these three teachers to hear about the project,  how they worked together and what they uncovered along the way.   --- Send in a voice message:
16 years ago, in her first year as the drama teacher in Catlin Gabel's Middle School, Deirdre Atkinson approached Middle School music teacher Mark Pritchard to see if he wanted to join forces on a theatrical production.  After 103 productions Rob had the privilege of sitting down with both of them and hearing how they kept such a successful team together for so long.    This is episode 6 in the ongoing collaboration series.    --- Send in a voice message:
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