Tag Archives: faculty and staff

Erin’s Corner: Nutrition for Immune Health

Erin Sheridan

by Erin Sheridan, MS, RD, LDN, George School’s registered dietitian

We’ve all heard that good nutrition is essential to strengthening our immune system, but what exactly does “good nutrition” mean? Here’s some information about the key nutrients your body needs to fight off infection. Keep in mind, there are many vitamins and minerals that play a role in immunity, so it is important to eat a variety of healthy foods every day.

Protein plays a role in many functions in the body, including our immune system functions. Find protein in foods such as lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, and some soy products. These foods also tend to be a good source of zinc, which helps the immune system work properly, and aids in skin health and wound healing, keeping bacteria out of our bodies, literally.

Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system. It also acts as an antioxidant that eliminates free radicals, which can damage your immune system cells. Get vitamin A from sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, apricots, and eggs. Vitamin E is another antioxidant that eliminates free radicals, so your immune cells can focus on doing their job to keep us healthy. The best sources of vitamin E are nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils (like sunflower oil).

Vitamin C plays a role in the formation of antibodies, thus boosting immunity and speeding up the recovery process if you do get sick. Find vitamin C in foods like oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, and bell peppers.

While good nutrition can certainly strengthen your immune system, it is not the only factor that impacts our ability to fight off illness. So, be sure to reflect on your sleep patterns, exercise routine, hand washing, and stress management tactics for a happy healthy fall season.

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Colleen Crowley: A Woman of Many Hats

This is the first in a series of articles in which Curious George staff writer Julia Carrigan interviews some of the behind-the-scenes people at George School–dining room staff, grounds crew workers, environmental services, and plant personnel; the people who keep us up and running day-by-day, year-by-year.

by Julia Carrigan ‘20

“Steady. Quiet. Good.”

These are the three words Colleen Crowley uses to describe her life.

Working at George School for over seventeen years, Colleen has served as barn manager, emergency services officer, assistant self-defense teacher, and Culinart team member in the Dining Room. Though often overlooked, down through the years Colleen has made extraordinary contributions to the George School community. And George School is all the richer for her hard work, her friendliness, and her playful sense of humor.

“I grew up in Vermont,” Colleen replied when asked about her early roots. “My parents divorced when I was five. I did see my dad during my childhood, but it was my mom who raised us. I went to college in Pennsylvania and was really surprised to find out that spring break was actually spring break, instead of freezing my butt off. I enjoyed it down here—so my first job out of college was in Pennsylvania as well, in Allentown, and then George School had a position open and they wanted me to give it a shot. So I did.”

Ever open to new experiences, Colleen helped teach a self-defense class last year. “It was learning for me, as well as helping [Doug] out,” she noted. “I would tease him and say that I was his test dummy, but at no time was I harmed, hurt, or anything. It was learning for both the students and myself.”

She felt the importance of knowing self-defense tactics lay in the fact that we are all vulnerable. “Anybody can get attacked, anybody. So it’s important for us to be able to get out, get away, be willing to put them down, and run like crazy.” She added that some of the more physical techniques can be especially useful for people who are not naturally loud or fast. “I don’t have a good scream; that part of my defense doesn’t work,” she said.

Additionally, Colleen added, learning self-defense is fun. “It’s good to know and it’s fun to do. I would have loved to see more kids do it.”

Teaching self-defense, though, was just the latest of a long list of jobs Colleen has performed at George School through the years. “Basically, I’ve had three hats. My first and my longest stint, was down at the barn teaching horseback riding lessons. I was the community lesson person, and my title ‘Barn Manager’ was just a fancy title for getting the crap done that has to get done—the non-glamourous stuff. So I did that for sixteen years here. Then I got tired of dealing with the horses, and it just wasn’t any fun anymore.”

Colleen is always trying to re-invent her “place” at George School. “George School has been good to me,” she noted. “Doug [Walters] was the first person who said to me, ‘Are you interested in working security? Do you want to try it?’ and I said, ‘Sure!’ and I do like it. I do. I pray we never have an incident, but I do enjoy it. I like hanging out. I like wandering around helping out the kids as needed.”

Unfortunately, Colleen noted, the security position is part-time. “I had to find something else, and again through somebody who knew me. I knew him [Joe Ducati, Food Service Director] through his wife Kate, because she worked down in the garden. We were all the earth girls down there. The dirty girls, all covered in dirt and never paying attention to it. And Kate said, ‘Do you want to try this? They need some help,’ and I said, ‘Okay.’”

So, Colleen started working a second job with the Dining Room staff, and she likes that position, too. “I do like talking with the kids and visiting with the kids and stuff like that. I like that interaction. I don’t enjoy the messes. It’s not bad, though—it’s good.”

Colleen Crowley at The Renaissance Faire.

All of Colleen’s memories seem positive—happy memories that may explain why she is such an upbeat and optimistic person. “My family has always been supportive,” Colleen said when asked about her childhood. “When we were younger, I think I was thirteen, my dad took us on a cross country trip. I don’t know how we didn’t kill each other. The whole summer, we drove along the exterior states, you know, exploring things.”

Colleen’s tightest bonds, though, are with her sister and her mom. “I’ve always had good memories with my mom. It’s my sister, my mom and I. We’ve always been pretty close. We harass each other constantly. I have a nephew who looks like me so my sister can’t say I’m adopted anymore.” She laughed. “You know, the sibling thing.”

Teaching for Colleen is all about long-term rewards, and not the material kind. “I love it when I’ve taught a kid, then they go on with life, then they see me again, and it’s like—huge hug! ‘Oh my god. Thank you.’”

“For most people, you affect people, you help people, but in the back of your mind, you don’t see yourself as a huge part of their life. You don’t see yourself as a huge factor. I’ve had parents come back and they say, ‘Thank you for believing in my child.’ That hits me here [gestures towards heart]. I’m not a big, crazy, out-there-in-the-world person, but I like to know that I’ve had some influence, some effect on someone in a positive way.”

Asked if she would change anything about George School, Colleen waxed philosophical, in a down-to-earth way. “The big thing that I would love to change about George School,” she said, “is that it’s a bubble. It’s this community, it’s different from the real world. There’s this mentality that ‘it’s not going to happen to us,’ and that scares me.”

As anybody can tell from just talking to Colleen, respect is a big part of her life, and she would like everyone to show more respect for themselves and others. “We should be respectful of each other,” she says. “Be respectful of property. Respectful in every way you can look at it. Respectful towards the earth, towards people, towards animals, towards everything. I’m a big proponent of animals. Senseless violence makes me angry.”

For George School students in particular, Colleen has pointed words of wisdom. “There is no such thing as being entitled—no one’s entitled to anything. The world is not fair—it doesn’t give you things because you did this the right way. You want to try to make it as fair as possible. Do right, do good, no matter who’s watching, but at the same time I know that not everybody is going to do that. You want to try to change that, but you can’t expect everybody to do that.”

Although she claims that her life “hasn’t been as adventuresome as some other people’s,” and although she may never have climbed Mt. Everest, or starred in a Broadway musical, or worked as an FBI agent, Colleen has led her own uniquely individual life that is exciting in its own ways. She dares to be an earth girl and dress like a pirate at the Renaissance Faire. She dares to tame horses and she dares to learn to defend herself. She even dares, when exam week comes around, to stop a hungry high-schooler from grabbing six chicken fingers instead of the allowed five.

Although Colleen’s life may be summed up as “steady, quiet, and good”—that sounds pretty adventuresome to me.

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A Miracle of Sorts

by Ralph Lelii

I want to share a wonderful class experience I had today with the community. My students presented their Shakespearean recitations in my HL English class. Students had to don the Shakespearean hat, stand on an ersatz stage, and recite from memory. With one exception, these were not theater kids. Only two had ever memorized and recited from memory before, and none a passage of 65-70 lines.

Most of them chose the St. Crispian’s Day speech from Henry the V. For me, it is a most extraordinary passage, one which reveals Shakespeare’s unerring comprehension of human consciousness and the vagaries of the human heart.

King Harry has brought along an army to France to fight a war so he can marry a woman and thus earn him more land. The soldiers in the fight have no personal stake in it, nothing to gain in any material sense, as is the case for millions of men who have fought and died in wars across all cultures and all times. The passage rouses them to an existential epiphany, where they come to see their death as a form of honor, of transcendence.

Watching scared 17 year olds, having spent hours taking this beautiful, complex and archaic language deep into their memories and then reciting it, making it into a kind of spoken music—what literature has been since the times of Homer—is a wondrous thing. To do something hard, really hard, is to gain self-esteem, I believe, an enduring sense that one has agency in this life, that they can make a life by facing down whatever challenges are presented to them.

This was a challenge; George School provides them many challenges; it is not the only one they had today, perhaps not even the hardest one, but it was something they could not fake or avoid or BS their way through; it was a challenge they had to face or go home, and they all did it, the shy, the diffident, the lost, the confident and the haughty. It makes me so proud of them.

Here is the miracle. Scientists have charted a map of the brain’s somatosensory cortex for specific facial and oral body parts. The resulting brain activity is like a carefully tuned orchestra; each instrument section generates a specific sound, and those sounds are coordinated to produce the overall symphony. The time from a word’s identification to its travel to the mouth is 1/600 of a millisecond. What miracles these young people are—this speech, the mystery of memorization, the confrontation of the emotional lability of anticipation–wonders all. I find it astonishingly beautiful.

 

Henry the V: St. Crispian’s Day

 

WESTMORLAND. O that we now had here

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do no work to-day!

 

KING. What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin, Westmorland? No, my fair cousin;

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires.

But if it be a sin to covet honour,

I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.

God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour

As one man more methinks would share from me

For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

And crowns for convoy put into his purse;

We would not die in that man’s company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,

And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

But he’ll remember, with advantages,

What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,

Familiar in his mouth as household words—

Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—

Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be rememberèd-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

 

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Our Final Day in Beijing, and China

Our last day in Beijing and our last day in China. We woke up and headed out for breakfast outside. Given the choice between Chinese breakfast and a bakery, almost everyone chose the bakery. After breakfast, we rode over to Coal Hill, a small hill strategically located just south of the Forbidden City. The hill is just high enough to give a wonderful overview of the Forbidden City, a view afforded nowhere else. After going up and down the hill, we headed out to 798. This old factory was turned into artist studio and gallery space several years ago and offers a wonderful viewing and selection of modern Chinese art. After wandering around there for several hours we headed back into the city to meet a number of Chinese George School families for dinner; typical Beijing cuisine. Since we had to get up so early the next morning to catch our flight, we called it a night around 8 o’clock.

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Beijing Day 3

Another beautiful day in Beijing; quite seriously, blue skies and sunny, hot weather. We set off this morning by subway to have dim sum, Cantonese brunch, consisting of various steamed buns and dumplings, chicken’s feet, and other delicacies. After breakfast, we walked about 15 minutes to Yonghegong, or Lama Temple, a temple of Tibetan Buddhism. After another 15 minute walk and a brief stop for green tea ice cream, we arrived at the Confucius Temple. Temple is perhaps the wrong term for this complex, which was a place of learning and the place for the Imperial examinations, which determined who would become the highest-ranked officials. We next walked through the winding hutongs, or alleys, to arrive at a wonderful vegetarian restaurant.

The interesting thing about Chinese vegetarian restaurants is that the foods are made to appear and even taste like meat and fish. After lunch, we got on a bus and headed south to Tiantan 天坛, or the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is where the emperor used to communicate with heaven, and is now a large, beautiful park. Across the street from the east gate is the Hongqiao Pearl Market. Everyone enjoyed shopping in this very Chinese market, full of clothes and shoes and accessories and electronics and bags, and where you can bargain until you get the deal you want. Above back of the hotel where everyone put their stuff away and got a quick shower before heading out again for a dinner of Beijing duck. This is a specialty not to be missed when visiting Beijing, and we were not disappointed.

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Beijing Days 1 and 2

We arrived in Beijing after a ten-hour overnight train ride from Yangzhou. Fresh from a good night’s sleep for some and a not so good night’s sleep for others, we boarded the bus for a short ride to the hotel where we dropped our bags before heading out to do a full day of sightseeing. We drove over to the south side of Tiananmen Square, where we marveled at the sheer size and scale of the square. We looked north toward Mao’s portrait and then headed to walk underneath it on our way into the Forbidden City. Continue reading

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Thoughts on our First Day at the Yangzhou Orphanage

by Savio ’17

We started off the day as usual, with a short rendezvous at Yangzhou high school. We were all refreshed off of our weekends with our host families, and ready for a good day of service at Yangzhou Orphanage. The bus ride was thirty minutes, but it ended up being about an hour because the staff made us wait while they organized. Upon finally entering, we were all surprised about the condition of the orphanage. There was a clean lobby with a front desk, multiple couches, and best of all, air conditioning. After touring the building, we split up into three groups. The first group was to mop the hallways and wipe all the surfaces of the 2nd floor. The second group was to feed some of the disabled babies. And the third group was to play with some of the physically disabled children.

I was in the first group, so we ended up mopping and wiping for roughly an hour and a half. Since we finished fairly fast given the amount of time, we got to hang out with a few staff members in their office. When all the groups were finished, we walked over to their cafeteria, which was in a different building. It had the set up of a restaurant, but the food was on a tray, and of similar quality to the food at the other schools we visited. After lunch, we went to a zoo and many of us were excited to see the pandas. Most of the animals were lying down and panting because of the heat, and rightfully so, as the temperature was about 96 Fahrenheit.

After an exciting couple of hours, we walked back to the orphanage to finish our service for the day. My group rotated to feeding the babies, which was difficult to say the least. One of the staff briefed us on some of the conditions that the kids suffered, and told us to not be too rattled by their appearances. The babies were lined up in the hallway and as we entered a few started to cry. Everybody chose a baby and we got to work. Although some of the babies were relatively cooperative, others were crying continually and not eating. Luckily, my baby began to eat after a bit of coaxing and patience. I used the “here comes the airplane!” tactic, which quite surprisingly works well. Many of the babies had cleft lips, which was off putting in terms of feeding them, but we managed and eventually the job was done.

After the feeding, we went into a room on the same floor, which served as their playroom. Some of the older toddlers that could walk and run were in a large pen that had a bunch of toys, and since so many GS students were with the babies, I decided to play in the pen. It ended up being a blast and I got a game of keep away going with a foam basketball, and they loved it.

My experience at the orphanage was notably different than the special needs school because of the disabilities of the children as well as their age difference. The feeding was a very straightforward job, but it put us in the uncomfortable position of being face to face with a child that looks very different than what we’re used to. At first, it really put me off, but after a few minutes I realized the baby girl I was feeding was no different than me, simply another human trying to survive in a world that can be harsh. If anything, I wanted to give these children the one on one attention and love they deserve and clearly yearn for. It was so fulfilling to see the smile on their faces as we played, or as they hung on my arms and climbed my back. They clearly had suffered from not only physical disabilities, but a lack of human touch. This is clearly some of the biggest areas of impact I, and my classmates, have accomplished during our time here, and I hope that impact lasts.

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Destiny is interviewed by a reporter from Yangzhou Evening News (扬州晚报)

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by | June 26, 2016 · 9:52 am

Last Day of Service at the Special Education School

Today was our last day at the school for the deaf and mentally disabled. After arriving on the campus, we took photos with some of the students and teachers in the school’s dining hall. We then went to the building where the administrators work and we had an arts and crafts class with some of the students. I worked with a nineteen-year-old that was quite intelligent, despite the physical and mental challenges she faced, and her knowledge of music and love for singing sort of surprised me. After doing arts and crafts, we wiped down all the chairs in the dining hall along with most of the walls. After eating lunch, we worked with two groups of deaf students. We were tasked with providing them help with making father’s day cards, which proved to be more challenging for the George School students who worked with the younger group of kids. Earlier in the day during one of our short breaks, we spent time learning sign language that was specific to China so that we could be of more help and better at communicating. Continue reading

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Service Trip Participants Highlighted in Local Chinese Paper

Picture

       The above article appeared in the local newspaper, after we spent two days at the Jiangdu Special Education School.

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