Emily Yeager, BCD Class of 2014

Emily is attending Wellesley College. She graduated valedictorian from Williston Northampton School in 2017. Emily also received the Dorothy Bement Prize, honoring a co-founder of The Northampton School for Girls, which is given to the young woman who has exhibited excellence in her academic endeavors and in her contributions to citizenship and the overall life of the School.

How has BCD contributed to your overall success?
I would not be where I am today if it were not for the impact  BCD had on me at a critical stage in my life.  BCD taught me what it means to love learning and how with hard work, passion, and a bit of creativity, anything is possible. I am so grateful to the BCD community  for all it has done for me and for the incredible faculty I met, lessons I learned, and memories I made during my time there.

By |2018-04-19T14:55:35-04:00April 19th, 2018|

Dana Piazza, BCD Class of 2006 2S

When Dana was a student at BCD, he was awarded the Winthrop Campus Janie Goldenberg Studio Art Prize. A decade later, Dana has returned to his roots, only now the student is the teacher. Dana began to teach Conceptual Drawings to BCD’s Upper School students this year. After graduating from BCD’s high school, Dana studied art and graphic design at SUNY Purchase.  Dana worked five years as a Senior Web Designer for Victoria’s Secret, before relocating to the Berkshires. Today, he also works at the Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Lenox, MA, and he has done website design for MASS MoCA and the Elsberg Kelley Foundation. Dana’s recent artwork consists of handmade ink drawings on paper. Dana’s work can be seen at www.danapiazza.art and on Instagram @ danapiazza.

What was your favorite experience at BCD?
My favorite class was with Sasha Sicurella, my former teacher and now my colleague! Sasha organized an Art Trip to New York City where we visited the studios of real working artists. Seeing someone making art professionally, in person, helped prove to me that art can be a career.

What plans do you have for the future?
I’m working on drawings for Art on Paper, an art fair in New York City in March. I’m showing with Muriel Guépin Gallery, who will continue to represent my work in her SoHo gallery.

By |2018-04-23T09:08:23-04:00April 19th, 2018|

Tessa Kelly, BCD Class of 2000

Tessa is forever building and challenging herself and the status quo! Upon graduating  BCD in ninth grade, Tessa attended Williams College and Harvard Graduate School of Design. She and her husband, Chris Parkinson, both architects, returned to the Berkshires to create an ambitious and far-reaching public humanities project and writers’ residency in Pittsfield, The Mastheads. Plus, the architects built a new addition to their family, their daughter Eve!

What brought you back to the Berkshires?
I came back to the Berkshires to create The Mastheads in October 2015 after receiving an Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the city of Pittsfield, my hometown. The mission of The Mastheads is to celebrate Pittsfield’s cultural heritage while providing real opportunities for today’s residents to engage with that heritage. We borrow our motto from George Orwell: “We must add to our heritage or lose it.” To this end, we run a writer-in-residence program that operates out of five mobile writing studios. We provide poetry programming in the Pittsfield Public Schools during the academic year and organize a summer lecture series that brings speakers across the fields of literary scholarship, history, creative writing, architecture, and urban planning to Downtown Pittsfield. Each fall, the Mastheads’ studios move to a cultural institution where they are available for visitors. Last fall they were at MASS MoCA, and this fall they will be at the Hancock Shaker Village. Chris and I initially thought we would move back to the Berkshires just long enough to build the Mastheads’ studios and get the program off the ground, but we soon learned that to keep a project like this alive requires 100% presence and commitment. Also unexpectedly, we started to find the idea of practicing as young architects in a de-invested, largely de-industrialized city an exciting prospect. Increasingly, population, wealth, and resources are aggregating in a few urban centers, which leaves an open question of what will happen to America’s smaller cities. We now see the issues in Pittsfield — the need for considered urban planning in the face of economic challenges, the desire to create walkable downtown centers, the opportunity to embrace new technology in the built environment — as ones that are relevant to a broad array of smaller American cities and that can connect rather than disconnect them from larger national and global conversations.

Who was your favorite teacher at BCD and why?
The teacher who made the most lasting educational impact on me was Jim Fawcett.  I remember a moment in fifth grade writing a paper about The Crucible when I first recognized the feeling of having “an idea” and being able to express it through writing. When the paper came back, that particular paragraph had a series of check marks or exclamation points beside it, and I understood that the purpose of writing was to find your own ideas and present them clearly — not to summarize in pretty language or restate what you had been taught.

The hunt for ideas and struggle to put them into language led me to become an English major at Williams College, and for me, architecture is an extension of this thinking. Every project I do I begin by searching through the historical context, the given program, the building site, to find the idea, and then develop it paragraph by paragraph, or space by space, checking each new move back to the central thesis. I have taught three courses to second-year graduate students at the Yale School of Architecture,  and I always urge them to write constantly while they are figuring out their project, because finding the language for what you are doing helps you figure out why you are doing it, which helps you do it well and explain it to others. Architecture is such a public art — to be successful at it requires getting people’s support, which requires your being able to state clearly what you are trying to do and why.

What plans do you have for the future?
I have become fascinated by the idea of people working in their hometowns at a micro level of what their hopes would be for change on a larger scale. There is something special about the relationship with one’s hometown in the sense that you are inherently an expert on it.  While being a parent makes it feel daunting, I would love to get a Ph.D. in Architectural History and Theory, to become sharper at understanding how places like Pittsfield fit into the big picture of how our cities have developed and where they might go through smart planning.

 

By |2018-04-19T14:46:44-04:00April 19th, 2018|

Joshua Shapiro, BCD Class of 2010

Josh is finishing his final year at New York University, where he received a grant from the Gallatin Student Resource Fund to host a symposium around K-12 education reform. In advance of this Spring’s symposium, Josh is using Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington as a sample test case, when considering the redesign of the architectural model and curriculum of a 21st Century School. He returned to the Brook Farm Campus, to get further inspiration from the School where he spent Grades 1 through 9. He saw the Kevin Hirt Library and Learning Commons and said that the new facility confirmed his findings about the importance of communal spaces, open floor plans, and the use of natural wood and lighting.

What can you share about your symposium?
Our hope is that the symposium will serve as an opportunity for the Gallatin and broader NYU community to have a public conversation on the importance of education reform, specifically in the face of looming global threats facing the next generation, like climate change, accelerating income inequality, and exponentially advancing technology. We’ve organized two spring classes that are working towards producing the program, curriculum, and architectural designs for a future K-12 school. Gallatin professor Mitchell Joachim, former architect under Frank Gehry, will lead the architectural design of the school, and we are working to secure James W. Fraser and Diane Ravitch as panelists to speak. The 3D model and written program descriptions of the school will be exhibited.

By |2018-04-19T14:43:42-04:00April 19th, 2018|

Gwen Miller, BCD Class of 2004 2S

 

The Land Use Director and Town Planner of Lenox got her start learning about nature and landscape in Tim Gore’s class at BCD. After graduating from BCD, Gwen attended the Berkshire School, followed by the Rubenstein School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Vermont. Gwen joined Americorps VISTA in Syracuse and then obtained a Master’s in Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.  She then returned to the Berkshires for what she thought would be a brief time, when she began her work for the town of Lenox.

What was your favorite class at BCD and why?
Tim Gore’s science class presented early opportunities to connect with place and learn about how nature and the landscape work. I have vivid memories of dissecting owl pellets and putting the little mouse skeletons back together, the egg drop, catching crayfish in the pond.

Why give back to BCD?
I hope that my modest gifts to the School help make the opportunity of a BCD education accessible to students of all incomes and backgrounds.

What plans do you have for the future?
I hope to continue serving the Berkshires through public service or private practice. I hope to raise my own family here in the Berkshires. Lenox will be updating its 1999 Master Plan, and I’ll be participating in the American Planning Association’s national conference in New Orleans, discussing affordable housing in multi-million dollar markets.

By |2018-04-19T14:42:07-04:00April 19th, 2018|

Eliza Fairbrother, BCD Class of 2009

with Winston Boney, Bean Crane, and Liz Butler

I spent 11 years at BCD, which at this point is just over half my lifetime. BCD shaped who I am today in ways that I’m still discovering. It’s difficult, even after 7 years away from the school, to reflect upon those years with any clarity—I still feel too close. One reason for this is that my 3 best friends to this day, Winston Boney, Bean Crane and Liz Butler, are BCD classmates of mine.

Though we shared many years together in BCD classrooms, shared cabins during stays at Mr. Gore’s Camp Najerog, and bus rides to Butternut and Bousquet, our friendship really solidified during our 8th grade year when we all participated in a transformative Jesse Howard theater production called Nerds Eye View. The entire play was based on improvisation and brainstorm sessions with the 11-person ensemble cast of 8th and 9th graders. The final product was a beautifully colorful collage made up of pieces of all of us. The premise, a satirical portrayal of the high school social hierarchy, came out of our collective anxiety about moving on from our safe haven at BCD to the intimidating world of high school. Our self-constructed characters displayed our dreams and insecurities. And, the moral of the story—that being a “nerd” means being self-loving and unabashedly passionate about what you do—helped us all recognize the futility of trying to fit into any prescribed notion of being cool or successful. I think this is a lesson that BCD was quietly instilling in us all along. The incredible people who taught us over the years at BCD—Mr. Fawcett, Mr. Ashworth, Mrs. Meyer, and Mr. Douglas, to name a few—always inspired us to think outside the box. They pushed us to create rather than to reproduce; something I still strive to achieve in my academic life at Kenyon College, where I am now a Junior International Studies major.

After 8th grade, all 4 of us took off in different directions: I went to Groton (a boarding school in Eastern MA), Bean went to Hotchkiss, Winston to Millbrook, and Liz to the Opera school at Walnut Hill and then the Berkshire School. Throughout high school and college we’ve remained close friends: managing to get together during any holiday breaks, meeting up whenever we happen to be in the same region or city (most recently Paris), seeing each other perform in talent shows and play productions at our respective schools, and calling each other whenever we’ve needed words of encouragement or just a good laugh. Our paths have taken us to vastly different and faraway places, but our childhood connection has only brought us closer over time. We’ve all embraced our inner “nerd” and I’m proud to say that because of this, we’ve all grown into passionate, interesting, and unique people:

Winston’s passion for art and service has taken her from the Savannah College of Art and Design, to Ghana where she and Bean worked on behalf of a non-profit to raise money for the construction of a Library and IT center in Kumasi, and finally to UC Boulder where she is a sculpture major.

After their trip to Ghana, Bean sprouted an idea for a non-profit organization called ArtXChange, which is an online platform that connects nonprofits with local artists to auction art, the profits of which benefit both parties. She is now in the 2nd stage of funding for this project, working with a startup incubator called DALI, which stands for Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation lab. This year she won the Stamps Scholar Award for $10,000, which will go towards the website’s launch. Somehow, her entrepreneurship has not gotten in the way of her college career at Dartmouth, where she is active in a variety of clubs and intellectual pursuits. She just returned from a semester abroad in Copenhagen where she studied sustainable city development.

Liz, who was voted “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day” in our 8th grade yearbook, is still brightening people’s lives as an improv and sketch comedy star at Denver University. In January she filmed a comedy sketch with film star Warren Miller and professional skier Chris Anthony. She has also continued to improve French language skills as a French and Theater major at DU, and will be studying abroad in France next semester.

Now, I know this piece was meant to be a profile about me, but these 3 women have been an integral part of my life throughout my time at BCD, and ever since. They have inspired me over the years to follow my inner nerd, create rather than reproduce, and love myself as much as the people around me. My passion for knowledge and people has taken me from Ohio, where I worked as a research assistant for my professor this past summer in the John S. Adams Summer Legal Scholars program, to Morocco, where I spent 3 months studying Arabic and migration and 1 month researching the sustainability of women’s argan oil cooperatives in the southern region of the country.  Upon my return from Morocco, I visited BCD with my college a cappella group, the Kenyon College Chasers, as a part of a weeklong national tour. I’ve been singing with them for the past 3 years and have found with them a sense of community reminiscent of the close-knit BCD community that I loved so much. Seeing the new generation of BCD students, who listened attentively and applauded enthusiastically at our performance, reminded me that BCD truly made me, and my best friends, into the kind of people who find joy in all aspects of life, ask questions that push the boundaries of what is known, and are able to follow the nerd in ourselves and love the nerds who surround us. My wish for all current BCD students is that their passions take them to amazing places and bring them into contact with people as nerdy and amazing as my BCD classmates.

By |2019-01-10T13:00:50-04:00February 25th, 2015|

Ken Lefkowitz, BCD Class of 1984

Perhaps my most vivid and abiding memory of BCD is Mme Grad handing back the dictées — if you had any wrong or missing accents, she would slash an accent grave on the back of your hand with her pen and bark accent! in her German-accented French. Since no 8th grader is perfect in such matters, handing back the dictées resulted in an assembly-line reprimand as she made her way along the row of desks: Accent! (slash, grimace) Accent! (slash, grimace) Accent! Accent!… She made even the toughest guy in our class cry over the quality of his homework.

This was admittedly very old school — Mme Grad was a Holocaust survivor and was over 70 when we had her as our teacher. I don’t think you could teach that way these days. But it served a purpose — to wit: my boys are enrolled in the Lycée Français de Sofia since maternelle, thus speak with impeccable native accents. They cringe when I attempt to parle in the Québequois twang picked up, I believe, from our 7th-grade French teacher whose name now eludes me. When it comes to reviewing written homework though, I am the unchallenged master of the accents and deem to brook no nonsense, let alone mistakes, from the little twerps* (as Mr. Fawcett might tag them). *Editors note: Mr. Fawcett says this word is questionable.

No account of BCD days would be complete without a reverential bow to the Fawcetts, Mr. and Mrs. A good part of the reason I’ve stuck it out in the Balkans is down to a love of classics, for which Mrs. Fawcett laid the base. My first impressions of Sofia included the walls of ancient Serdica still visible underneath the central largo, as well as the ruins of the agora in the courtyard of Hotel Balkan. That hooked me. Gibbon wrote that Illyria, more or less Albania and the territories of former Yugoslavia today, was the one province of the Empire that the Romans never really got under full control. Somehow I read that as a challenge, one that continues to keep me hooked, as my work involves integrating some of the same wild territory into the global economy.

That love of the classics has afforded me an appreciation of the region’s languages: I feel right at home with a language such as Bulgarian where sum means “I am.” The verbs go together just like Latin verbs – take a prefix and a root and presto! – you’ve got a new meaning, only the building blocks are Slavic. As I have picked up a smattering of Albanian over the last few years, I’ve understood that the Latin influence is quite strong there, for obvious reasons. Romanian is one of those languages that you can understand intuitively if you’ve had the BCD curriculum of French and Latin plus the basics of a Slavic language. My favorite Romanian word on this point is panificatie – bakery – the bien connu pain plus the Slavic ending connoting a production process.

Mr. Fawcett comes in for the books we read with him. First, no traveler is complete without Huck Finn. For my life in a post-communist country in the shadow of resurgent Putinism, Animal Farm and 1984 are hugely relevant. A word to current students: the Snowden leaks and the abuses of power in the name of protecting us from the putative threat of Islamist terrorism show us just how prophetic Orwell was, not just for the East.

Lermontov’s Hero of our Time and Tolstoy’s Cossacks are my lifelines when dinner-party chatter turns to Russian literature. The ethos of Lermontov’s Caucasian Hero translates well in the Albanian-speaking world, where blood feuds still linger on. My wife Galina, who attended the Russian-language Kalinin High School in Sofia, looks down her nose at the gaps in my knowledge of Russian literature and film, but I can always recover a point for having read Solzhenitsyn, whose works were banned when she was in school, while A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch was required reading for Mr. Fawcett.

Mr. Fawcett’s teaching style was rich in anecdotes. One that has stuck with me concerned a British expat in colonial Africa who kept himself from “going native” by donning full dinner dress in the middle of the bush once a week. I muse on that when I cook my Thanksgiving turkey, and when my values and assumptions clash with local mores. Galina finds it infuriating that Mr. Fawcett encouraged us to underline passages in books and make notes in the margins. From her perspective, books are a scarce and precious resource to be treated with utmost reverence. Even dog-earing the pages is a no-no, but I keep doing it. Another Fawcett-esce tic of mine is to remind my boys, ages 5 and 8, to “keep it down to a dull roar” when they wax vociferous.

In such a short piece I necessarily risk offending many beloved and influential teachers and fellow students by omission – the pantheon includes Mr. Buttenheim, Mrs. Capers, Mrs. New, Mr. Douglas (who taught us about Balkanization), Gary Miller, and the list goes on. I have to give short shrift to a time that burgeons with memories. With another 4 or 5 thousand words I might cover the shoe-throwing incident and other mischief, or the trips to Hulbert, Montreal, or Monument Mountain, and still be short on space. Suffice it to say that the heroes of this story and their quest retain enduring relevance for me half a lifetime and half a world away.

Ken Lefkowitz 84 attended BCD for Grades 7-9, and went on to Hotchkiss and Wesleyan. He moved to Sofia in 1995 to take part in the post-communist transition. He runs a financial advisory boutique, New Europe Corporate Advisory, covering 5 countries in southeast Europe.

By |2019-01-10T13:00:52-04:00February 25th, 2015|

Frannie Johnson Terwilliger, BCD Class of 1969

I graduated from BCD in 1969. The school had recently added the 9th grade, and I was one of the lucky 1st classes to enjoy an extra year at Brook Farm. I began BCD as a first grader at the old house on Walker Street. I can still picture my classrooms and teachers from those years, especially Mrs. Church whom I had in 2nd grade. She was wise and warm and wonderful but also firm. She sent me to Mr. Oakes, my first and only trip to the principal. She said I was talking too much, and I am sure she was right.

At Brook Farm, I had my first male teacher, Mr. Marks. He would swing us around on the playground and made learning and recess magical. I was challenged in middle school English, reading classics like A Tale of Two Cities, Antigone, and The Crucible. Little did I know that I would teach all of these books later in my own classroom. Mrs. Jones taught us to look backwards and forwards in social studies, and Madame Grad made French a true adventure. I remember reading The Little Prince in French, a book of exquisite beauty, and I remember being riveted by her tales of Europe during World War II. So often I have wished I had written her to tell her how much she inspired me in my own teaching of the Holocaust with my own 8th graders. I remember Mrs. Potter who taught us how to run track and play field hockey. She helped us learn to play fairly and how to win and lose with grace, certainly lifelong lessons.

I went on the St. Margaret’s, a boarding school in Waterbury, CT, where my sister had gone, and graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a BA in English. I later earned an MEd from Tennessee State University. My husband and I moved to North Palm Beach, Florida, where he had been offered a job teaching history at The Benjamin School. We were up for a tropical adventure, but the real adventure came when I was offered a job teaching 8th and 9th grade English. I had never intended to teach but saw it as a great opportunity. BCD did not so much influence my choices as it did prepare me for anything. It instilled confidence. I remember how I had learned best at BCD and used those memories in my own classroom. It was a tough 1st year, but I knew I had found a job I loved. Books and kids – what a combination!

After 9 years in Florida, we longed for 4 seasons and a place with a greater sense of community for our 2 boys. We found a wonderful new home in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Ensworth School. As my grandparents were both Nashvillians, I even had cousins there, and the hills reminded us of the Berkshires. My husband became the Assistant Head of School, and I taught 7th and 8th grade English. The school gave me the freedom to choose the books I loved and ones I felt could help my kids navigate the tricky years of adolescence. Much like BCD, it offered a warm and supportive environment, and I felt so lucky to spend my days with 13 and 14-year-olds, with all their heart, their humor, their angst, and their open minds.

Ensworth felt strongly about continuing education and sent its teachers all over the world. I was lucky enough to travel to England, Italy, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic in connection with my teaching. I was able to take photographs at Auschwitz, Mauthausen, and Theresienstadt to share with my students and give them a more personal sense of these places as we read Night by Elie Wiesel, Hitler Youth by Susan Bartoletti, and a great young adult novel, Gentlehands by M.E. Kerr. I was also able to visit many art museums which helped me in our term papers done in conjunction with the art department. Each 8th grader chose a painting at the National Gallery and then wrote a biography of the artist and a critique of the painting. When we would visit the National Gallery on our annual DC visit, the students would find their subjects. My fondest memory is the students running up to me, excitedly saying things like, “Mrs. T, I found my painting and it is huge and beautiful!” The art had become theirs, and I loved that.

After 24 years in Nashville, we have come home. We are living in a small town called New London, NH. It is so heavenly being back in New England, and much like I did when I was at BCD, I pray daily for snow. I am about to teach a class with my husband; we will be teaching adults through the local college in town. It is a little scary, but it will be fun to try something new, and BCD really did teach me that learning is discovery.

At BCD, I learned so many lessons. I learned that laughter plays such a crucial role in the classroom and in daily life. I learned that friendships really can last a lifetime, and that a solid academic foundation is a gift forever. To current students, I would say that BCD is an exceptional school. Revel in it! Ask questions because you will never be in an environment more open to them. Savor your days there because they really will fly by. Take a few risks because you’re in a safe and nurturing place. Look around you and appreciate the incredible beauty of your surroundings. Finally, be grateful for what your teachers and parents are offering you. BCD is something special.

By |2019-01-10T13:00:54-04:00February 25th, 2015|

Noah Elkin, BCD Class of 1984

Noah Elkin

Years and grades at BCD: Preschool-9th grade (1973-84)What are your fondest memories from BCD?
I spent 11 amazing years at BCD, and made friendships and learned lessons that have literally lasted a lifetime, so to fully do this question justice would require a book of its own. Among the many highlights, I remember with great fondness Tracy MacGruer – in my mind, the archetypal kindergarten teacher – who combined just the right mix of fun, guided instruction and sharp wit. Mrs. MacGruer got me and my class off to a flying start at BCD. Mme. Grad may have been diminutive in stature, but she holds an outsized presence in my learning experience. Thanks to her, I learned the rules of French grammar inside and out. In an age before widespread computer use, when good penmanship had greater value, I had the privilege of helping to transcribe Mme. Grad’s famous cahier – her notebook of rules and examples (I was considered to have good handwriting at the time, something that will come as a surprise to anyone who has seen me hand-write anything lately). Mrs. Fawcett’s Latin class was similarly influential for me, from the basics of grammar to Caesar’s Gallic wars to the poems of Catullus, the excellent grounding I got in both Latin and French helped me learn other Romance languages far more easily in high school and college. Mr. Fawcett’s 9th grade English class is still the best literature course I’ve ever had the privilege of taking. Finally, although I myself was never a particularly accomplished athlete, I have great memories of our soccer and baseball teams and the bus trips we took to play neighboring schools. We may not have always won, but regardless of the outcome, we had a lot of fun.

Where did you go once you left BCD?
For 10th grade, I went to Pittsfield High School (PHS), followed by a year abroad in Milan, Italy as an exchange student, where I lived with an Italian family and attended the Liceo Scientifico Elio Vittorini. I returned to PHS for my final year of high school. From there, I attended Columbia University in New York, where I majored in U.S. History.

Along the way, I cultivated an interest in Latin America, and that led me to spend the spring semester of my junior year in Lima, Peru, at the Universidad Católica. I traveled widely throughout Peru during the six months I spent there, despite a raging civil war that effectively closed off large swaths of the country. After my semester abroad ended, I went to Macchu Picchu (the highlight of my trip and still the most amazing place I’ve ever visited) followed by a five-week-long trip by train and bus through Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.

In the year before starting my doctoral program in Latin American History at Rutgers University, I spent 10 months living in São Paulo, Brazil, learning Portuguese, working as an intern at a human rights organization and teaching English on the side. I was fortunate to be able to travel Brazil from top to bottom while I was there. I returned to Brazil in my fourth year of graduate school on a Fulbright fellowship to do my dissertation research, living this time in Rio de Janeiro for over a year. I finished my Ph.D. in January 1999.

Where are you living and what are you doing now?
I live in Columbia County, NY. I work (primarily remotely) for a company in New York City called eMarketer that provides businesses with insights and information about digital marketing trends. I serve as the lead mobile analyst, which means I spend a lot of time helping our clients understand the latest developments in mobile devices, content, commerce and marketing. On the surface, it’s a long way from my academic training, but I actually end up putting many of the same critical thinking skills to work. Although it may sound ironic coming from a trained historian, I think of it as helping people grasp the future rather than delving into the past.

Last year was a particularly busy year. In addition to living temporarily in Austin, Texas, where my wife Barbara was a visiting scholar at the University of Texas, I co-authored Mobile Marketing: An Hour a Day (published by Wiley/Sybex in December 2012). The idea behind the book is to offer insights and practical advice that readers of any experience level can absorb in an hour a day.

I am happy to say that both my children now attend BCD. Max, age 5½, is in Kindergarten in the same classroom where I went to Preschool (later the school’s first computer lab), and Zora, age 3½, is in the Beginner 3s program.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope to write more books and look forward to a role as an active BCD parent.

How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made?
I think often of the School’s motto – discere explorare est (Learning is Discovery). It has shaped a love of both learning and the journey that accompanies it. And it’s a lesson I’ve tried to impart to my own children as they begin their time at BCD, knowing they will share in a similar adventure.

What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for?
The excellent teachers, the inspiring curriculum and the many friendships I developed in the 11 years I was here. Having an entire institution dedicated to encouraging students to indulge their interests and develop and strengthen skills is, in my experience, incredibly important, and creates a vital base for future achievement.

What advice can you offer current students at BCD?
The great thing about BCD is the level of trust teachers put in students and the doors they are willing to open for them. One illustrative example: Long after I graduated, I asked Mr. Fawcett about the advanced reading list for our 9th grade English class, which included works by Mikhail Lermontov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and he simply said something to the effect of, “I thought all of you could handle it.”
My advice: go through as many of those doors as possible. The curriculum alone is terrific, but the combination of creative and talented students, dedicated teachers and the additional learning opportunities they can provide is nothing short of remarkable.

By |2018-04-19T09:39:35-04:00January 12th, 2015|

Suzannah Zeif ’84 Van Schaick, BCD Class of 1984

Upon my family relocating to the Berkshires from New York, I attended BCD from mid-year in 7th grade through 9th grade graduation in 1984. I was terrified to join the class mid-year, but the students and teachers made my transition an easy one. Every class must hear from faculty and parents that they are a ‘special’ group, but we really were! We were the largest graduating class up to that point. By ninth grade the 20 of us were a wonderfully cohesive group. My kids attend BCD now (Toby is in 6th grade, Henry is in 3rd), and I delight in the dynamic I see in both of their grades. BCD is still providing that same sense of community to this generation.After BCD I attended Berkshire School where I met the boy who would become my husband. A failed attempt at a large university taught me that I yearned to return to the community feeling of a small school. I wound up at Antioch College in Ohio and thrived! All through college Pieter and I stayed in touch and began dating after graduation. We married in 1997. We lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia for 16 years where I worked for Pottery Barn. Our 2 boys went to a wonderful school and I quickly became involved in volunteering at school and in our community, though we always dreamt of moving back to New England someday.When the economy exploded Pieter’s company closed. It was evident to us that, rather than waiting for things to return to ‘normal’, we needed to invent a new normal for ourselves and our family. Someday was now. We decided to move to the Berkshires. I was so excited at the prospect of my kids attending BCD. I told them all about MY school and now, three years later, I am thrilled that BCD is truly THEIR school.

Last Spring I opened a business in Lenox called Second Home. It is a home-design shop featuring upcycled home furnishings and accessories. Finally my small business training and design experience have melded together into a satisfying career for myself! This is my new normal. I love living here, raising my kids here and being able to be involved with BCD and the community as a parent! There are so many ways to volunteer and be involved at BCD and by doing so I hope I am teaching my boys the importance of being a part of something.

I hope my kids, as BCD students and beyond, can gather the courage and the confidence to make their own path in life. To realize that it’s never too late to change their course, and that if they’re willing to contribute to a community then they’ll always be able to come home.

By |2018-04-19T09:35:37-04:00January 12th, 2015|