Faculty (Winter 2014)

Xantippi Abel, East

Abel Art 1

Artist Sander Goldman

Exploring 3 Dimensional Art

IB Art Year 2 students are working with sculpture materials and exploring the concept of the human figure through clay, Plaster of Paris and tape.

Robert Albis, Latin – East

Latin 2 students have been studying artistic representations of the Europa myth, whose story they have just completed translating from Latin. They enjoy working with images as a break from their more routine grammar assignments and, by comparing comparing and contrasting various depictions of Europa with the story that they know from their text, they are developing some of the skills they will need to complete the IB internal assessment if they continue with Latin next year.

Classics dayRecently, Sturgis Latin students attended Classics Day at Boston University. The event is hosted annually by Massachusetts Junior Classical League (MassJCL) to celebrate the culture and language of Rome and Greece. Why study Classics? “We study the Classics because our world is indebted to the ancients for all the culture they have passed down to us. Ergo, in order to understand our world, we first must venture into the Classics and understand their world.” MassJCL website.

Jim Barrasso, History  – East

Barasso HistoryDuring September, Sturgis East and West History Departments collaborated on ways to improve essay writing across the curriculum.

History classes, like the senior one shown here, have already started implementing ideas and suggestions from both campuses for using technology and google docs to improve their planning and writing of analytical essays. Technology is also being used to deliver feedback to students in more timely and meaningful ways.

The work being done in the coming weeks and months will help teachers develop mid term and final exams designed to improve student outcomes.

Mike Beckner, Cross Country Coach – East

MIAA XC Coach of the Year Award BecknerThe Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association recently selected Mike Beckner as 2014 MIAA Cross Country Coach of the Year. During his eight years of coaching at Sturgis East, the cross country program has grown to include over 30 runners. Coach Beckner runs a highly organized program in which student success is measured over time. He emphasizes hard work, individual commitment to the team and personal responsibility. His favorite phrase, “No excuses….just guts” serves as the team’s mantra.
Coach BecknerThe MIAA award “seeks to recognize and honor “teacher coaches” who have had an impact on the lives of student‐athletes, by encouraging them to succeed and by helping them develop self‐confidence, ambition, a sound work ethic and skills or values helpful for success in their later lives.” Congratulations Coach Beckner and best of luck with current and future cross country teams!

Marca Daley,  ToK – East

Marca MathMarca math 4Fractals, Fibonacci Sequences, Bilateral Symmetry, Phyllotaxis, Golden Spirals, Helices — just a few of the mathematical terms that senior TOK students at East discovered in a short field trip to the Hyannis Green on Friday.   Students went on a “Treasure Hunt” and will put their findings together in PowerPoint Presentations that incorporate different Ways of Knowing (language, sense perception, imagination, reason) to create an Annotated and Illustrated compilation of key mathematical concepts.

Marca math 3Based on a chapter in The Magic of Mathematics:  Discovering the Spell of Mathematics by Theoni Pappas, the assignment is meant to encourage students to consider math from new perspectives, and to make connections to concept of beauty in math as well as in nature.

In Junior TOK classes, students have been mapping the world, and analyzing how values influence our perspectives.   The mapping activities will become a metaphor for approaching TOK concepts and ideas using personal and shared knowledge.

English Orals for All Seniors

All East and West Seniors will be doing English Oral Commentaries between December 15th and January 7th at the First Baptist Church on Main Street, Hyannis. Students will have the opportunity to talk about the poetry, drama and prose they have been studying this semester. It is an extremely challenging and rewarding IB Internal Assessment as each student is recorded in a 10 minute (SL) or 20 minute (HL) conversation about the literature with their English teacher. The recordings are graded by their English teachers and then samples are sent to be moderated by the IB Examiners.

The works studied this semester include Hamlet, Jump and Other Stories, Sula, Essays of E.B. White, and the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney and Robert Frost. East students will walk to the Baptist Church while West students will be shuttled back and forth to the Baptist Church in a school van.

Cindy Gallo, IB Coordinator – East

We have just completed IB registration for the 2015 session and have the following statistics to report:

315 – yes, I said 315- students will be taken an IB exam. Of these, 104 are Juniors sitting an anticipated exam in either business, psychology, ITGS, or an acquired language (Latin, French or Spanish). 139 students have accepted the challenge of attempting to earn the IB Diploma while 79 other Seniors are taking all IB classes, but choosing not to do all the other requirements for the Diploma (CAS plus TOK plus EE). Many of these “Course” students, as they are now called by the IB, have opted to take TOK and several others have chosen to complete CAS. One Course student is even writing an Extended Essay.

Speaking of Extended Essays, students are writing EEs in 23 different subjects!

It is very exciting to see our program grow this much (remind me in May when I am trying to find space for all these students to take their exams in). Overall, 40 more students will be sitting an exam this year than in 2014. This includes 15 more Juniors taking anticipated exams, 5 more Course students and 20 more students attempting the full Diploma. Team IB has our work cut out for us.

Cindy Gallo, Science – East

Building on the series of estuary field trips supported by the NOAA grant, I have altered my course to teach many topics based on this one ecosystem. For example, when the students explore species environmental tolerance, they learned how organisms adapt to the range of salinity and temperature in an estuary. This has made their understanding much deeper (no pun intended). I was able to use this cumulative knowledge to guide the students through their first IA in my class, six months ahead of schedule! Each student asked a question about the Hyannis Harbor system, designed their own investigation, and carefully planned their sampling strategy so that it could be completed in one double block (we ran all the way!). The work I have seen is of high quality and demonstrated much thought as well as mastery of the technology purchased by the grant. I can’t wait until we go back to the estuary at Waquoit in the Spring.

Creighton Hulse, Spanish – East

For our education theme in SL2 Spanish, after reading about various schools around the world and

watching a video about a school in Colombia, my students created websites to showcase a school of their design. They focused on a mission statement, principles of the school, classroom and school environment, and various other aspects of an “innovative” school. An example of one group’s work can be found at http://colegiointernacional.weebly.com/.

IB Americas LogoIB Conference of the Americas

In July, Eric Hieser, Jenn Kirk, Paul Marble and Keith Clarke, Chair of Sturgis Board of Trustees attended the IB Conference of the Americas in Washington, DC. The conference hosted 1,600 attendees from 30 countries. Eric Hieser and Paul Marble presented a workshop entitled “IB for All: Creating and Supporting Inclusive Classrooms in the Diploma Programme.” The presentation focused on the support systems Sturgis employs to assist all students, including students with special needs, to achieve successful results in the rigorous IB Diploma Programme.

Mary Kulhowvick, English – West

Tenth grade English classes at West are continuing to read A Separate Peace and are enjoying their multi-modal presentations on the book which have included twitter accounts, advice columns, collages, and text conversations between the characters. Students are also analyzing Foster motifs in the text and continuing to write free writes on chosen motifs.

Eleventh grade SL1 English classes at West have recently begun reading The Things They Carried. Students are each presenting chapters to the class and facilitating our discussion of the novel. We are also continuing to analyze the author’s use of stylistic devices and the effects of those devices on us as readers. This exploration will lead to an essay later this quarter.

MCAS – Sturgis 2014 MCAS Scores Highest Ever

 Sturgis 2014 grade 10 students achieved the highest MCAS scores in the school’s history! In English Language Arts, 100% of the students scored in the Advanced and Proficient categories on the statewide assessment, ranking them #1 in MA. For Mathematics, 98% of the students scored Advanced or Proficient, resulting in a ranking of #8 in MA. Finally in Science, 97% of the students scored Advanced or Proficient, ranking them #3 in MA. Congratulations to Sturgis faculty and current grade 11 students for this outstanding achievement!!  For more info, see:  Mixed bag with MCAS scores

Sarah Martinez, Science – West

Martinez scienceFreshmen in Ms. Martinez’s and Mrs. Kelly’s classes are learning about the relationship between photosynthesis and cellular respiration. We set up test tubes and used Bromothymol Blue as an indicator to detect levels of carbon dioxide in the water. In one tube was just a Ramshorn Snail; in another, we placed a sprig of Elodea plant; in a third tube, we put both the snail and the plant. We repeated the experiment in the dark as well! The students confirmed the experiment helped reinforce vocab words, like autotroph & heterotroph.


Sturgis ‘IB for All’ is beginning to influence schools far & wide. Denver’s Northfield High School Principal Avi Tropper has visited Sturgis a couple of times. Sturgis Executive Director Eric Hieser is quoted in a recent article about Denver Public Schools.

OECD International  Student Assessment

International Exam

Eric Hieser leads students to OECD Examination

Approximately 75 Sturgis West and East students who were age 15 on February 7, 2014, took the OECD Test Based on PISA at the request of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools. The design of OECD Test is based on the PISA test, which is administered once every three years as a means of comparing students on their skills in Reading, Math, and Science in countries around the world. Sturgis 15 year-olds achieved very strong results, scoring in the top 10% of U.S. schools in all three subjects. If Sturgis results were considered as a country’s results, the school would have ranked #1 in Reading in the world, just ahead of schools in Shanghai, China. Sturgis would have ranked #2 in Science in the world behind schools in Shanghai, China, and #3 in the world in the world in Math behind schools in Shanghai, China and Singapore. In the areas of Student Engagement and Learning Environment, Sturgis ranked in the top 10% of schools for Disciplinary Climate and Teacher-Student Relations, and was one of the very top scoring schools in student Self-Efficacy. Without question, Sturgis is very proud of the results that our students gained when compared to students and schools around the world!!

Katie O’Kara, Lacrosse Coach – West

Team Clare1The West Girls Lacrosse team has become heavily involved in fundraising for the Annual GirlyGirl PARTS 5K for Ovarian Cancer which takes place in Sandwich on 9.27.  They have conducted a bake sale, created pages for the run on instagram and facebook, registered for the run and recruited others to do so.  Collectively we have raised over $1000 so far for Team Clare, which is a race team comprised of Sturgis West Faculty and students from both East and West! I am so proud of this group of young student athletes for their willingness to get involved in the community, and for the energy, enthusiasm and commitment that they bring to their endeavors.

Provincetown Schools Earn International Standing

“Provincetown Middle School has received approval from The International Baccalaureate program to become an IB school, a process that took four years of staff training and reviews by IB educators.” Provincetown primary program (K -4) was approved last year by the IB. Congratulations Provincetown!

Provincetown schools earn international standing

Abby Rhoads, English – West

I invited local Cape Cod fiction writer, Kate Conway,  to all of my senior classes to talk about the college essay and my sophomore classes as an introduction to our short unit. Kate worked in admissions at Mt. Holyoke College and, in addition to being a professional writer, she is a book editor. She has wonderful tips for the seniors, focusing on the importance of keeping their essays simple and true to their own voice.  For the sophomores, we are collaborating on a creative writing project to compliment our short story unit.  The students will work on producing their own creative story over the course of the semester.

Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Market “We Love Our Schools”

Shaws Gift to SturgisOn September 15, Sturgis West Principal Jenn Kirk and members of the student government received a $400 donation from Bernie Lynch, Assistant Manager of Hyannis Star Market. Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Market launched its “We Love Our Schools” campaign on September 11. In keeping with a tradition dating back more than 150 years of serving New England communities, all 155 New England stores will adopt two area schools, each of which will receive a $400 donation. Over 300 schools will receive donations this September, totaling $125,000 back to students. Sturgis greatly appreciates the support of Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Market!

Robin Singer, Mathematics – West

SingerStudents in my algebra 1 class made their first presentations in front of the class in September.  They explained a method of graphing a line and used clear, appropriate math vocabulary.  They have already written a paper describing a film on some of the exciting spiritual aspects of mathematics (the golden ratio, math associated with music, architecture, and nature, using math in games); they are already confidently communicating on math topics so early in the year!

The integrated math 9 classes also wrote papers.  Theirs were on the Golden Ratio and emphasized the mathematical relationship between the sides of the Golden Rectangle (the sum of the side lengths divided by the length of the long side equals the length of the long side divided by the shorter side equals the constant PHI).  They are learning about fractions of circles, including arc length, sector area, and areas of annuli (flat donut-like shapes) and will soon be combining algebra and geometry to find the center of circles using perpendicular bisectors of specified chords.

SL2 math recently did a Geogebra calculus exploration in which they graphically modeled the definition of a derivative by controlling a secant through a curve, using a slider to change it into a tangent to the curve, and evaluating the slope as it changed to a tangent.  They seem to grasp the idea very well – how the complicated looking “first principals” equation can be understood clearly as the slope of a secant becoming the slope of a tangent.

In SL math we are studying vectors and the students got on the floor and let themselves be the vectors – demonstrating adding 2 vectors, subtracting one vector from another, and multiplying a vector by a scalar (we have twins, so doubled the vector by lining up the second twin at the head of the first twin, in the same orientation.  This demonstrated multiplying a vector by a scalar.  One student took pictures and when she sends them to me, I’ll share them with you.

Integrated Math 9 is using the Harmonic Mean to master all the fraction operations they will see later as rational functions and in trigonometry. We discussed that converting all fractions to decimals is like playing music and converting all sharps to flats (not the right thing!).  A well educated student is comfortable with both fractions and decimals – the tool box is better stocked.

singer mathAlgebra 1 is learning about discounts and mark-ups and they soon will be ready for the world of retail.  We are considering having a store in the classroom and calculating our prices based on mark-ups and our discounts to draw in cu

Here are some students being vectors:



Stacy Strong, Math – East

The Integrated Math 9 classes are just starting to learn about vectors.  To help them learn the meaning of component form notation, they were asked to dance according to the x, y and z components…..

Sturgis Parents Association

On October 8th the Sturgis Parents Association presented a check for $20,000 to Sturgis Public Charter School’s Executive Director, Eric Hieser, to fund this year’s “Wish List”. This donation helped fund:

• The Benevolent fund, which funds field trips and activity participation of students who are on
free and reduced lunch
• Purchase of audio books, internal assessment & extended essay materials, and additional
research resources for the Library
• Festival audition music, ensemble music, piano tuning, IB Music Resources, instrument
accessories, acoustic guitars, sound equipment, guitar wall hangers, steel drum kits, and a
choral riser for the Music Department;
• Professional development workshops, learning style inventories, reference books, senior
banner/bookmarks, office conference tables, and computer desk chairs for the Guidance
• Special lab resources and supplies, including electric balances and binocular microscopes for the
Science Department
• MA and International Theatre Memberships, and a color printer

Jen Walts, English – West

English 1- Students are transforming a chapter of The Catcher in the Rye into a script and acting it out. They are responsible for setting the appropriate tone with music, lighting, costumes and props. Their energy for this cross-curricular assignment is truly exciting! Performances start this week, and we will wrap up the text with a Socratic Seminar to explore major ideas prevalent in the text.

IB English SL1- Students are working collaboratively to prepare analytical summary presentations for specific chapters of our new text The Things They Carried. These interactive and student led discussions/presentations are preparing students for their soon to come Individual Oral Presentations. We will also study quite a bit of historical context and focus our energy on the author’s exploration of the story truth vs. the happening truth. The impact of style is prevalent in our class discussions. We will also discover bits of the current culture of Vietnam, and students will receive penpals from Ms. Walts’ sister’s students at International School of Ho Chi Minh City.

Marion Weeks, Community Outreach Coordinator

Philanthropy Day 2014Sturgis was well represented at the 2014 Philanthropy Day on Cape Cod. Samantha Silverbrand and Jacob Tobey from East and Sand J Butter and Alex Longinidis from West attended two workshops for youth: Pass it On – Youth Making a Difference in Our Community and Raising a Philanthropic Next Generation. Congratulations to Junior Katie Curran for winning the 2014 Outstanding Youth Award. The award recognizes Katie’s work as President of Project Next Generation to inspire the rising generation of students to become involved in their communities and develop a global perspective. For more information, see:  Philanthropy Day: Young volunteers show their community spirit

Sue Whalley & Kate Dunigan-AtLee, Multi-Cultural Club – East

The mission of the Multi-Cultural Club is to foster cultural understanding with the intention that cultural understanding is an important first step in bringing peace to the world. To this end, we ask teachers who have lived abroad to share their international experiences with the club. We also enjoy Skype conversations with other IB high school students in the countries we have studied.

In September, Dr. Gilligan spoke to the club about Zambia, where she lived for four years. Club members had the opportunity to ask her questions about her experiences. One student asked, “in what ways did you view the United States differently when you came home?” This thoughtful question sparked an interesting discussion of the ways in which travel changes us and affects our world view. What thoughtful, compassionate, and globally-minded students we have! In two weeks we will chat with IB students at the American International School of Lusaka via Skype and continue our explorations of Zambia.

Multicultural ClubOn November 20th, the Multicultural Club continued their study of Africa by hosting a discussion about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. To help the club understand the history of Ebola and response of scientists to the current outbreak, they interviewed Dr. David Dunigan via Skype. Dr. Dunigan is a Virologist at the Nebraska Center for Virology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Thanks to Kate Dunigan-AtLee for arranging a very informative interview with her Dad.

Tonja Weimer, Science – West

At West, the Bio classes are making use of the new lab renovations, provided by the grant money received, with several lab activities, including microscope work to explore cells.  The teachers and students are super excited to utilize the new lab space.

Chemistry classes are also kicking off the year with reviewing the use of metric measurements with a making metric measurement lab and calculating density of various objects.



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