Tag Archives: George School

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Work, Students, The Curious George

Why I Selected George School

by Sophia Guo ’18

I had no idea what a Quaker school would be like when I first came to visit George School. Instead of perceiving Quakerism as a religion, I perceived it as a set of spiritual values that continuously influence this school community. George School left me the impression of being the most open, friendly, and caring among the eighteen schools I visited in the US, and thus I spontaneously attribute the community’s unique aura to the biggest difference it has from other high schools, that is, Quakerism.

I always learn about the environment from people who live in it. Holding firmly to the belief that a school should not be approved until its people are worth trusting and being friends with. I was not committed to George School by its beautiful campus with squirrels running around, its two-floor library filled with natural light and over two thousand paperbacks as well as ten thousand electronic books, or its modernly designed Fitness Athletics Center with a homeothermal swimming pool, wrestling rooms, yoga rooms, and a supervised fitness center.

Instead, I was gradually convinced to select George School as my first choice through my talk with my tour guide and the community I observed in a very short time period. What surprised me was that people called each other by their first name, even a student to a teacher. It was one of the “SPICES” in Quakerism: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and service. “People feel that they are responsible for the community,” explained my tour guide, “because everyone is equal.”

I was impressed by the rigor of courses that George School students take. George School provides over 20 AP courses, as well as a full IB program for students who want to challenge themselves academically. Challenging oneself and trying to achieve a higher academic level seems very normal. Not to mention that students also pursue scores of leadership roles and passions. When I told my tour guide that she was very excellent, she blushed a little and told me that she thought “excellence should be a habit.”

It was not “love at first sight” between me and George School. It was the relationship between the kinds of lovers that the more they find out about each other the deeper their love is. Community, culture, and academics were all great reasons why I selected George School.

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Work, Students

Deciding on George School

by Maisy Cadwallader ‘20

I always heard the love story of my grandparents who met in high school. They talked about it often and I was confused because I knew for sure they didn’t live close to each other during those years. One day I asked my grandpa and he said they had attended George School, a boarding school. He told me as well that my father had attended George School too. So, I knew this “George School” had some sentimental meaning to my family.

I forgot about it for a few years until 2010 when at dinner one night my parents asked my brother if he had any interest in going to a boarding school, the same one my father and grandfather had gone to. This struck me and all I had heard about the school from my grandfather came back to me. Initially, I started to cry because my brother would be gone, leaving me to be the only one in the house. Then I got excited because it dawned on me that if he was asked, maybe I would be too.

A few months later my parents piled my brother and I into the car and we headed down for the first look at George School. I fell asleep waking up a bit later to my dad saying, “Here we are!” I looked out the window and was ecstatic. Driving past the campus I was blown away. My young eyes suddenly became filled with hope that this would be my school one day. Turning onto the campus loop we did a full circle. I remember looking at the view from the corner edge of the girls’ soccer fields, past what I now know as the “stairs to nowhere,” and being overcome with a calm feeling. The bright blue sky was the most beautiful thing my eight-year-old eyes had seen.  During the tour I saw the happiness on my father’s face. The smile was one of the biggest I had ever seen from him. During the car ride home, George School was on my mind.

A short five years later, we were sitting at the same dinner table and my parents asked me the same question, if I was interested in boarding school. My face lit up. A few months later, we were once more headed down for another tour of George School. During my tour, the abundant feeling of happiness I had when I had followed my brother on his tour, came rushing back to me. I looked up at my dad and saw the same big smile that I had before. That March when I received my acceptance letter I was overjoyed. I could start to picture my experience here.

Since I have been here it has been amazing. I am glad I get to experience the trials of high school at George School.

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Work, Students

Why Become a Tour Guide

by Liam Mitchell ’19

Every student should feel proud of their school. Proud of the buildings, the history, the athletic teams, and the opportunities available. When I first came to George School in my application process, my tour guide had a profound impact on me and really helped influence my decision to attend here. He was knowledgeable, confident, and carried himself with a certain amount of pride talking about his school.

While becoming a tour guide does require effort, knowledge, and time, becoming one is worth it. For me personally, giving tours is one of my favorite activities at George School. There’s a certain amount of enjoyment I take out of walking prospective families around, especially when I can answer their questions with confidence.

Being a tour guide is all about being the face of George School. I love my school, and I love to show it off. Not only does becoming a tour guide expand your knowledge of the campus, it allows you to meet new people, and expand your people skills. Every tour I go on, I learn something about the family or the prospective student, whether they are from a place I’ve never met someone from, or they participate in an interesting activity that I might not have heard of before.

Being a tour guide, especially a George School tour guide, unlocks new opportunities to expand your horizons and show off your beautiful campus. One of the best feelings is when a family asks a question, and you know the full answer with complete confidence. When families leave George School, they leave with a feeling of satisfaction that they know more about the school than they did when they came in, which is what being a good tour guide is all about.

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Work, Students

A Special Community

by David Mark ’18

My favorite part of George School is our community. I remember coming here freshman year inexperienced and scared for what would come. As soon as I walked into Campbell I felt welcomed and knew that I would be successful here. I was used to being away from home already as I went to a boarding school before, but George school is a place unlike any I’ve ever known.

The community and people are the part that makes up George School and sets it apart from the rest. The feeling you get when you walk into a room full of strangers is usually anxiety and fear, but here when you walk into a room you can’t wait to meet everyone and share your story. Everyone here makes you feel very welcome and wants to get to know the real you. I was shocked about this because I was used to walking down the streets at home staring straight down or ahead. Now, whenever I’m walking I look up and am greeted with a smile from everyone.

I really appreciate everything about the school because it invites you to be yourself in your truest form. No one judges or criticizes you. If you are sitting by yourself simply reflecting, people will recognize that and acknowledge it. I think that anyone who steps foot on this campus will instantaneously fall in love with everyone and everything here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Work, Students

Why I Love Writing

by Jayde Dieu ‘20

I have always had a passion for writing. From the moment my hands first felt a book to the first time my pencil touched paper, I knew that it would be essential to me. It is through writing that one can experience the past and determine the future. It is humanity’s greatest superpower.

As a young girl, I kept journals of my life as I experienced it. I still own diaries from my six-year-old self, and they are littered with stories of imaginary friends and sandbox antics. I have journals from my thirteen-year-old self as well, and not even a love expert could convince me that I was not in love with the boy whose name I no longer remember. The freedom I got from expressing myself is a feeling that I have only been able to experience through writing.

As I grew, however, I found that it became increasingly difficult for me to be completely honest when sharing aspects of my story through writing. Human beings naturally fear vulnerability. People often shy away from the idea of sharing their true and complete self with a reader. By writing, an author relinquishes the narrative of their being to the judgement of others, and this is quite possibly the most terrifying act imaginable.

I had to overcome the idea that my tribulations were mine alone. As a young adult, it is quite easy to feel lonely among your challenges even if you are not alone. Everyone carries the burden of their own story, but it is through vulnerability that we, as a society, can lighten each other’s load.

Although it will be difficult, I want to make a difference in this world, and I choose to arm myself with pen and paper.

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Work, Students

My Year with Four Female African Presidents

by Liz Grossman ’05

As I struggle to come to terms with the current state of gender politics in my own country, I am looking to Africa for inspiration, where many countries are actually making steps to bring women into positions of public leadership. Seven African countries make the top twenty of Inter-Parliamentary Union’s statistical rankings on the percentage of women in parliament, Rwanda being first globally. Not only this, but four different women from four different African countries have served in the highest office of the land.

This past year, I have had the honor to listen to, shake hands with, meet with, and grow professionally with all four of these women:  Her Excellency Ellen Sirleaf Johnson President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Her Excellency Joyce Banda Former President of Malawi, Her Excellency Catherine Samba Panza President of the Transitional Government of Central African Republic, and Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib President of Mauritius.

My first exposure to these female African heads of state was with Gwen Young, a role model and inspirational leader who runs the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center.  Gwen moderated a panel entitled “Women’s Political Participation: Leadership and the Global Agenda” at the Concordia Summit in New York City, featuring Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, the first African woman president, and Dr. Joyce Banda, the second. Fortunately, I had the chance to sit down with Gwen and Dr. Banda during a break, and my first impression was how down to earth Dr. Banda was. I noticed several young African women come over to her, nervously make small talk and ask for pictures, to which she graciously obliged. I noticed how much she cared about people, especially those with a passion for making change in Africa.

Next in the presidential circuit was Ameenah Gurib, the sitting President of Mauritius. She was a keynote speaker at the MIT Sloan Innovate Africa Conference this past April. President Gurib inspired the audience with her vision for Africa, supporting entrepreneurship, improving access to education, and getting more women into political leadership.

The journey continued in May, when I applied for a consultancy at the Wilson Center, specifically to support Dr. Banda on the research and writing of her policy toolkit entitled “Advancing Women’s Leaders in Africa.”  Alongside Dr. Banda, I attended the launch of the African Women Leaders Network at the United Nations, where some of the continent’s most prominent leaders in government, business, and civil society gathered to figure out how to promote one another and address the issue of gender parity in public service.  Another important attendee was Catherine Samba Panza, former President of the Central African Republic.

Rounding out this year in Accra, Ghana, at the Harvard Africa Alumni Action Forum, came a second opportunity to listen to President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, a Harvard alumna, deliver a keynote speech alongside President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana. Several weeks later, I was flying back to Accra on a plane with my now client Dr. Joyce Banda, honored to accompany her to the UNDP Africa’s High-Level Policy Dialogue on Governance in Africa and support her while she spoke to policymakers about how promoting women’s leadership can end corruption and promote peace.

It has been an inspiring and humbling year, to say the very least. What has encouraged me the most was that four of these women all shared traits of relatability, kindness, and openness. All were receptive to questions, comments, often quite long-winded project partnership pitches, and even seem to genuinely welcomed them. Dr. Joyce Banda was sharing personal life anecdotes and taking selfies.  Catherine Samba Panza was handing out her personal business cards.  Ameenah Gurib was attending a conference dinner to chat with more participants, and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson was delivering an extra session about women’s leadership as a way to engage more with the audience in Accra.  These women all know how to relate to other people, and they all have a knack for making the average Joe and Jane feel like they were worthy of a President’s time.

Politics, particularly in Africa, can be dirty, but these women all showed no outward sign being bothered or upset by it. Each one of them, and most female leaders globally, have been dealing with harassment, reputation tarnishing scandals, and lies. They hold their heads up with poise and grace, remembering the real reason for their existence is for the people they serve, and the future young leaders who need their coaching and example to break the glass ceiling.

Being in proximity to these women leaders, and now counting Dr. Joyce Banda as a role model and mentor, I am energetic as ever to find ways not only to empower young women in Africa to access education and develop as leaders, but also to push my own compatriots to challenge the way we view women’s leadership. Women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves, fight harassment and overcome sexism in the workplace, and these four women in particular are showing that anything really is possible.

Engaging with four African female presidents renewed my certitude about the immense potential of girls and young women across the continent to become leaders of the next generation. Thinking of the students I spent three years teaching in Senegal and the countless entrepreneurs and community leaders I’ve met across the continent and here in the United States, I am confident that I already know many other future presidents.

1 Comment

Filed under Alumni

Music Girl

 

by Michelle Tyson ’18

So I find myself at quite a busy place right now. I have studied music for four years at George School and have become known as THE “Music Girl.” It is not against my will, though, do not get me wrong. I love music. I came into George School loving music and will leave pursuing a musical path.

In my opinion, it would be an absurdity for me to not love music fiercely. You can see it on my transcript: I have taken Instrumental Music and IB Music for every year I could take them. I’m also involved in the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County, a nearby youth orchestra which meets just five minutes off of campus. There, I’m the second chair violist for the symphony orchestra of the advanced division. I am a member with Goldfish ‘n Java, our school’s live music club. I’m pretty entrenched in music. Beyond that, though, believe it or not, I find so many more music-making opportunities.

During my Arizona service trip over the summer, George School’s dance teacher, Barb Kibler, happened to be a faculty sponsor for the trip. It was down time in our busy day, and our group was gathered in one room of our house. I decided to share the music that I produce with the group, playing some songs off of my recent album on my speaker. Long story short, Barb heard, and asked if I would collaborate with the dance program this year. I accepted.

Barb and I will work together to choreograph five dances to five of my songs for Dance Eclectic. It is the first project of its kind that Barb has undertaken, and also a big but fulfilling challenge for me.

I do share my music on my social media, and my George School peers have started to take notice. My friend recently asked me to write a score for her film project, and I’m working on that project as well.

Dave Nolan, the instrumental and voice music teacher, is working with me on a solo piece for the spring instrumental concert. Also, the George School Community Choir, which meets each Sunday, will need a violist to perform Mozart’s Requiem with them.

My point? There is a place for everyone at George School. If you are a music nerd, that’s okay. I am too! And it’s a really, really, fun time. To any potential music-makers reading this who are hesitant about their future, I suggest to them: just go for it. This also goes for anyone with a particular passion—from soccer, to politics.

My music experience at George School has been a direct result of my pushing for my own passions to be fulfilled. And that’s an invaluable opportunity that every student finds here at George School.

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Work, Students

Managing Stress

by Aaron Zhao ‘19

Stress plays a major part of every high school student’s life; however, George School is the ideal place to cope with it. As an international student, I have come a great distance from home and am managing the long separation from my family. In the beginning, both physical and emotional feelings impacted me. Nevertheless, organizations and people are here at George School to ensure everyone’s well-being from consultation sessions with faculty members to simply just talking to one of the student members of SAGE (Students Associated for Greater Empathy). At the same time, stress is not consistently a negative emotion or feeling. Oftentimes, just the right amount of stress encourages me to avoid procrastination and learn self-discipline.

George School stimulates the development of individuality through the freedom of learning, not only for boarding students, but for day students as well. Every night I attend the two-hour study hall in Mollie Dodd Anderson Library to complete assignments and study with other students. In addition, term exams can be overwhelming for some students, but at George School there are people at the Learning Center who are always there to assist students with any problems.

From a personal experience, adapting to the George School environment was difficult at first, but becoming acclimated to the workload I slowly developed time management, collaboration skills with groups, individuality, coping abilities, and adaptability.

Leave a comment

Filed under A Day in the Life, Student Work, Students

You Know You’re a George School Student When:

by Julia Wilson and Grace Clark

1. You get up close and personal with a squirrel.

Rumor has it that one stole a piece of pizza right from a student’s hands.

 

2. You eat Bettye’s cookies more than once a week.

They’re better than your Grandma’s.

 

3. The activity you get most competitive in is playing foursquare.

You are recruited Division 1 foursquare for college.

 

4. You have rolled down South Lawn more than once.

Or maybe you just slid on the Student Council Slip n’ Slide.

 

5. You think some alumni are still students.

They’re always here.

 

6. You religiously follow @GSculinart on Instagram.

Smokin’ Sean can cook up some good fried rice.

 

7. You’re confident that you and your friends are the last people on earth to use a film camera and lab.

But it is so cool, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

8. When you find a “Mind the Light” sticker from 10 years ago on your dorm room light switch.

They are everywhere.

 

9. You don’t “step on the circle” because it’s bad luck.

You also have searched for the steam tunnels and gone ghost hunting in Tate House.

 

10. Either you or one of your friends has dressed up as your teacher for Halloween.

Ralph Lelii and Travis are popular choices.

Leave a comment

Filed under A Day in the Life, Student Work, Students