Athenian Teachers Have a Lot to Share

Not only do Athenian teachers have a lot to share with their students, they also have a lot to offer the greater educational community.

Athenian invests in and even requires professional development, encouraging employees to widen and/or deepen their craft.  This year, the faculty decided to rearrange the  schedule to allow the entire Upper and Middle School faculty to attend the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Regional Conference, hosted at the nearby Head Royce School. Of the more than 200 presentations by faculty from 90 member schools, the faculty have the opportunity to focus on their individual goals.

Today, Athenians are presenting 11 workshops showcasing the breadth of innovation happening at the School. From institutional shifts (like support networks for students of color and design thinking in the Makers Studio) to class projects (coding a unique computer program or letting students design their own education), Athenian faculty are eager to share the successful outcome of their experiments. Take a look at their workshop topics below.

Institutional Innovation

Making a Makerspace – The Story of the Athenian School’s Makers Studio
Makers studioDavid Otten, Teacher, Science Chair

You’ve heard the buzz: MakerFaire, Make magazine, TechShop, hackerspaces, makerspaces, hack-a-day, Google Summer Maker camp, etc. There are many reasons the “maker movement” is surging beneath us, but how can independent schools capitalize on this energy and use it to enhance learning? In this workshop, we present the history of the Athenian School’s own Makers Studio: how it started, navigating hurdles, where we’re headed, and how your school can start one. We’ll also look at how digital fabrication can be used in the classroom (e.g. air rocket design, line-following robots, general science, etc.) through a number of student projects you’ll get to modify and assemble, time-permitting.

Moving from Diversity Days to Institutional Commitment 
Lizette Dolan, Dean of Equity and Inclusion

Join educators and school leaders in a dialogue that pushes past percentages and performances toward thriving 21st century schools. This workshop will propose some ways schools can foster a diverse, inclusive, and culturally competent school community. You will engage in activities to share best practices, and challenge existing behaviors, policies, and practices related to forwarding diversity initiatives. Activities will create the space to develop mission statements for diversity efforts at your school. You will consider the long-term and short-term goals for the institution, administration, faculty, and staff regarding cultural competency, student admissions and retention, the hiring and retention of historically-unrepresented groups, etc.

Win Win: Parent Library Volunteers
Jim Sternberg, Library Director


Want to do more with your library program but don’t have enough time? Do you have parents who want to help out at school and be more active in the learning community? This workshop will explore the mutual benefits of recruiting, training, managing and celebrating parents in school libraries.

Creative Community: Art and Service Learning
Stacey Goodman, Art Teacher


Community service is a key component in progressive K-12 education. Artists have also seen the value in engaging participants beyond the gallery and museum, creating multiple opportunities for building alliances between art organizations and schools. Teachers will be provided strategies and insights into developing a community service-focused art curriculum. Workshop participants will also be provided with resources for developing their own creative service learning projects for their classes.

Building Support Networks Among People of Color
Lizette Dolan, Dean of Equity and Inclusion

This workshop will offer practical techniques for self-identified people of color who want to foster learning and growing environments that acknowledge, respect, and celebrate the identities of all its community members. It is rooted in the premise that healthy ethnic identities enhance learning and collaboration, leadership and initiative, and personal success. We will examine the emotional and psychological effects of race and racism on historically underrepresented adults within predominantly white institutions. The interactive exploration of our own personal and professional stories will shed light on how internalized oppression impacts our professional lives. Participants will journal, work in small groups, create art work, and strategize ways in which we can build support networks within our schools while encouraging other adults in our communities to continually analyze thought patterns, belief systems, and emotional responses to the world around us.

 Classroom Innovation


Democracy and Relevance — Designing 21st Century Education with Students 
Will Grant, Humanities Teacher

Our students are facing a rapidly changing future that defies easy understanding and challenges fundamental ideas about education and school. The Athenian School has been in a four-year design thinking process with our students to rethink education — to reshape our school and classes to meet the demands of the future. The outcome has been profound student leadership, school wide projects and academically rigorous courses that are also deeply relevant to the students’ lives. In this workshop, we’ll share lessons learned about engaging students to become partners and leaders in designing our schools to meet the future.

Science Without a Textbook?
Genevieve Greene, Science and Math Teacher

The presenter will share how she changed her middle school science classroom from being a textbook-based class to a discovery-based class using the Lawrence Hall of Science Great Explorations in Math and Science. It has allowed her to dramatically reduce the amount of homework she assigns and gives students the opportunity to work in groups analyzing data and making authentic observations about the world around them. Come experience one of the activities and learn how to implement it in your class.

Flip Out! A Flipped Approach to Science and Math 
From Leich and Daizy Asaravala, Science Teachers

Come learn the basics about a flipped classroom, what it looks like, what it feels like and how to begin flipping your class. This session will provide tips and tricks to “flipping” chemistry and math classes. Different models for flipped classrooms will be discussed and concrete details will be provided, including methods to ensure students are getting the appropriate information at home, turning worksheets into activities, and a discussion about videos. While we will focus on high school chemistry and middle school algebra, most of the information is also applicable to other subjects.

Start Scratch-ing: Using MIT’s Scratch to Get Kids Programming

Digital CandyTodd Miller, Math Teacher

While our students are now all digital natives, few are adept at, or even aware of, how to write their own programs. Using MIT’s free Scratch drag-and-drop language, we took kids with no programming experience and had them writing interactive programs by the end of one day. In this session, this surprisingly powerful language will be introduced and we will go through the inductive lessons the presenter did with his students.

Making the Stage a Political Space 
Lizette Dolan, Dean of Equity and Inclusion


The presenter will share her eighteen years of experience fusing dance, drama, history, and education. She will share practical and effective ways to further the missions and visions of our schools through the performing arts. Ms. Dolan is a trained dancer and actor, received a BA in Dance, and a minor in Drama from UC Berkeley, has danced with several Bay Area dance companies, with Harvard Radcliffe, and has choreographed and taught extensively within independent schools and in small Bay Area theaters.

Gay Pride, Gender Outlaws and Radical Love — Teaching GLBTQ History in High SchoolUnity Day
Will Grant, Humanities Teacher

For the past four years, The Athenian School has been offering a gay and lesbian history class as well as integrating GLBTQ history into our core history classes. The class has had a profound, positive impact on our school. We’ll show how teachers can integrate gay and lesbian history into their courses in ways that are relevant for all students, not just students who identify as GLBTQ . We’ll offer our lessons learned about teaching GLBTQ history as well as sources you can use in your classes. The workshop will have an open discussion to develop strategies for teaching GLBTQ history, in your schools.

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