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Baseball Buzz at Portledge

The Portledge Baseball program is thriving in 2015, with an impressive record of 11-1, and currently ranked 3rd overall in preparatory schools in the Northeast, according to High School sports website, MaxPreps. The Panthers are led by six tremendous seniors that made a major impact in the victory against a solid St. Ann’s team from Brooklyn, NY, during the ACIS Division I semi-finals game on May 9. The Panthers are ranked #1 in the ACIS Division I League as they prepare to take on Berkeley Carroll, the defending champions, in the championship game at MCU Park on Tuesday, May 12 at 4pm. 

Since Coach Frank Battaglia took over the helm in 2011-2012, he has produced some of the top preparatory school players and teams in the Northeast. Coach Battaglia has brought experience and wisdom, through eleven years of college coaching, to the Portledge Varsity Baseball Program. In his first year with the program, he developed two of the top hitters in the preparatory school league and, in his second year, Portledge won the PSAA Division II Championship title leading to the first Varsity Baseball Championship in the school’s history. In 2015, Coach Battaglia’s impressive coaching methods have led to several of Portledge's top hitters and pitchers receiving regional recognition on MaxPreps. 

Zack Kleinwaks '15, leads the preparatory school division in five categories: batting average .645, slugging percentage 1.096, on base percentage .700, 23 runs batted in and 1 home run on the season. Other Portledge offensive standouts include: Nick Reda '15, ranked 2nd in batting average .516 and slugging percentage .645, and Bradley Stewart '15, ranked top five in six different categories. Stewart, the Panther’s ace, boasts a .30 ERA and holds the MaxPreps #1 ranking in preparatory schools. Matt Butler '15, another notable senior, is leading the team with six wins on the season, #1 in MaxPreps among preparatory schools in Batter Strike Outs with 33, and is #2 in ERA with .82. Anthony Porrino '17, the phenomenal closer in the ACIS semi-finals game, is also ranked in the top five in five different categories on MaxPreps.

Portledge Hockey Alumni Competing at the Highest Levels

Frozen Four

Now that the “March Madness” of college basketball has come to an end, the only NCAA Division I winter sport that has yet to crown a National Champion is Men’s Ice Hockey. That will be accomplished this Saturday night, in Boston, Massachusetts, when the Frozen Four Championship game takes place (ESPN @ 7:30pm). Portledge is very proud to be represented in the final game of the college hockey season by two alumni.  Providence College junior, Thomas Parisi, Portledge Class of 2011, will be a leading figure for the Friars, and Boston University freshman, Brandon Fortunato, Portledge Class of 2014, will be logging serious ice time on defense for the Terriers.

Parisi, who scored the game winning goal for Providence in the Regional Final, was a senior captain at Portledge in 2010-2011 season. While wearing a Panthers uniform for 4 years, Parisi scored 124 total points. When discussing Parisi’s contributions to the Portledge program, the Panthers Head Coach, Jon Sandos, commented, “...his leadership, especially during his senior season, was second to none. The attitude he displayed both on and off the ice helped us have one of our best seasons ever. He is a very talented and skilled player who has a high hockey IQ which helps him be an impact player on every shift”.

Fortunato attended Portledge in 9th and 10th grade before being selected to participate in the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Despite his diminutive stature, Fortunato is a smooth skating and highly effective puck moving defenseman. Before becoming a highly decorated international player, Fortunato scored 52 points for Portledge during his two seasons on the Varsity.  Coach Sandos added, “Brandon’s skating ability allows him to make plays most other players cannot make. His hands are impressive and he always provides an offensive spark from the back end.”

In addition to these two players, who are both playing at the pinnacle of the collegiate level, another Portledge alumnus, Jeremy Bracco, Class of 2015, is in Switzerland competing at the Under 18 World Championships for Team USA. Bracco attended Portledge for 3 years prior to also being selected to join the National Team Development Program. Bracco is projected to potentially be a late first round draft pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. “Jeremy has the best vision of any player I have ever coached. His ability to see options and plays before they happen is nothing short of impressive, and when combined with his exceptional skating skill, separates him from most other players” said Sandos.

Parisi, Fortunato and Bracco are just a few from a long and impressive list of Portledge hockey players that have gone on to be successful at the collegiate and professional levels. Portledge continues to provide Long Island student athletes with the opportunity to receive an exceptional college preparatory education combined with a highly competitive prep school hockey program.

Portledge Boys' Ice Hockey Wins MAHL Championship

The Portledge Panthers Varsity Boys’ Ice Hockey team captured the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League crown in exhilarating fashion defeating the top-seeded Hill School Blues 8-6 at Eccleston Rink in Pottstown, PA. The title is the first in Portledge’s rich hockey history that boasts current and former National Hockey League and National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I players. 

“The never quit attitude displayed by these players all year was clearly illustrated throughout the game, especially in the third period. No matter what adversity this group faced this year, they bonded as a team and pulled each other along. This was an incredible experience for our school, our players, and their families,” said alumnus and Portledge Head Coach Jon Sandos ’03. 

Portledge senior Selbern Narby added, “We stuck to our game plan and always believed in each other. We knew we had a very talented offense and could score in bunches. I could not have asked for a better way to finish my four-year Portledge hockey career. This has been the most fun I have had playing hockey and I could not have dreamed of a more fitting ending. It is sad to be leaving the school and to be no longer putting on the blue and white, but it is great to go out on top. We won the MAHL!” 

After battling back from an early 2-0 deficit, Portledge took a 4-3 lead late in the second period. A Hill power play goal with 3:29 left in the second period tied the score at 4 apiece. With a chance to go into the locker room tied 4-4 as the period was winding down, a bad bounce saw the puck enter the Portledge net. Now down by a goal at the end of the middle stanza, once again the team had to regroup and find a way to rebound. 

Senior Joseph Duszak, the team’s leading scorer (15GP 28G 26A 54P) and Mercyhurst University commit, talked about his role in the locker room following the second period. “It was a tough ending to the second period, but we picked each other up in the locker room during the intermission. I told the team that if we would have known we would be down by a goal on the road in the rowdy environment created by the Hill students in the stands, with a chance to win a championship, we all would have signed up for that. We just 
needed to leave absolutely everything on the ice for the next 16 minutes.” 

The period would start with Hill scoring to take a 6-4 lead, but Portledge continued to press. With 6:29 left, junior Samuel Sternschein, a Cornell University commit, began to turn the momentum in Portledge’s favor as he buried a slap shot from the top of the circle to the left of the Hill goaltender. This was Sternschein’s second of four goals on the evening. Following the Sternschein goal, the offensive floodgates opened for Portledge as they tallied four goals in the final 6:29 of the game. This outburst included the game-tying goal and game-winning goals coming just 40 seconds apart. Hill pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker but could not capitalize. The Panthers added an empty net insurance goal with 44 seconds left to secure the victory.

Sandos reflected on the championship and the ups and downs of this season. “The players on this team deserve this championship. They did not let anything deter them along this journey. They battled hard and never gave up. We have some very high-end players who make tremendous sacrifices to be able to play and compete at that high level. I am absolutely thrilled they are rewarded with this.” 

Following the championship game, the MAHL announced its All-League selections for the 2014-2015 campaign. Portledge students Duszak, Sternschein, and Narby were all First Team All-League selections. 

Curriculum Matters

By Simon Owen-Williams
Head of School

Curricular work is vitally important to any independent school, perhaps today more than ever before. Led by Coordinator of Personalized Learning Trish Rigg and the Curriculum Committee, Portledge is currently engaged in an exhaustive review of what, when and how we teach. An excellent and dynamic curriculum forges life-long learning competencies reflecting and reinforcing the wisdom of the school.

In 2013, we began the difficult task of auditing our current curriculum in preparation for an accreditation visit by the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) in 2013. As a result of this work, we were able to identify major trends, areas of duplication, as well as gaps.

Curricular work mirrors the comprehensive analysis of the knowledge, attitudes and stakes acquired by all students in all grades in every subject through organic learning experiences. To create an aligned curriculum throughout the grades is a major task that is continuous.

Once the initial audit was completed, we were then able to develop the standards and benchmarks. These provide a framework used to reference and measure work done at a more granular level. Think of these standards and benchmarks as very broad curricular, big picture goals arranging significant questions such as "to what extent are students able to adequately comprehend reading?" into manageable categories.

While in the middle of developing these standards, many parents wanted to delve deeper into the Portledge curriculum. In response, we published a curriculum guide to better educate about our academic offerings. It is a living document that will be updated regularly.

Currently, we are developing a scope and sequence of what is taught and when it is taught, starting with mathematics and language arts will follow. This process involves discussion at the whole school level centered largely upon department chairs who serve on the curriculum committee. Once completed, this work will be the platform for curriculum mapping. The map is simply a very detailed look at each unit of study, content, skills, attitude, etc. that is taught by individual teachers in any of their classes throughout the year.

Why is curricular work important? A huge benefit of curricular work is that it encourages collaboration between all three divisions and we think about the whole school. This continuity ensures that a child in pre-K is more likely to have a continuous and consistent educational experience as the child moves through each grade. In addition, collaboration enhances stability because teaching more consistently reflects the life-long learning competencies as well as personal characteristics espoused in the school’s mission.

Beyond these basics, however, curricular work also helps support the development of thinking skills and the acquisition of relevant knowledge learners can then use later in their daily lives. In this sense, curriculum serves as a backbone for teachers around which ideas about best pedagogical practice can be framed. Without this framework, the emerging challenges to educators (such as technology, intercultural awareness, sustainable development, mindfulness, etc.) become increasingly obtuse and ephemeral.

In addition, a well articulated curriculum that is constantly reviewed actually increases the quality of the teaching practice. With an agreed upon curriculum in hand -- developed and implemented by the teachers -- the likelihood of better strategies, clearer teaching objectives, shared notions of levels of rigor and student engagement is enhanced. Even learning materials needed and types of assessments are honed as faculty now have a frame of reference in terms of the applicability and relevance of what is being taught.

With a thoughtfully constructed, aligned and mapped curriculum in place, we create the platform for educational innovation. Innovation is of paramount importance to the educational future of our students at Portledge. We must be sure that the curriculum we have in place allows us to share the competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes that are underpinned by our mission) enabling our students to thrive in the 21st century. We know that the educational landscape is changing quickly, but this does not imply the future preparation for college our children need is a total mystery. Thorough and careful curricular work provides us all with a basis for understanding the nature of these needs.

To be prepared for college and prepared for life students will need to be critical thinkers, good communicators, collaborators, problem solvers, and creators who are infused with the moral courage necessary to make the right choices.

This is a dynamic and ongoing process requiring ongoing monitoring, reflection and tweaking. As I said earlier, curricular work is never truly “finished.” It is constantly in need of being reassessed. At the end of the day, the importance of curricular work, therefore, is that it directly relates to the quality of education your child receives at our wonderful school and that of paramount importance to all. 

As with all articles of this nature, many of the ideas and comments expressed herein have been gleaned from a variety of sources. In acknowledgement of those sources and for further information, please see: Heidi Jacobs/Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping, UNESCO/On Education: A Quality Framework, Allen Omstein/Curriculum Foundations, Principles and Issues, Tina Barseghian/ Five Ways to Bring Innovation into the Classroom.


Character Education in the Middle School

By Susan Edwards-Bourdrez
Middle School Division Head

“My mother will be so proud…I never thought this would happen so soon,” the student said as he accepted the “Good Egg” Award in front of the Middle School at a morning assembly, grasping the little Styrofoam oval on the makeshift plastic pedestal. I smiled, he beamed; it was quite a touching moment, a microcosm of what we were hoping for when we initiated the “Good Egg” Award years ago. It is one way of recognizing individuals who are making good choices and helping others, and celebrating our bonds as a community.

Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” As educators, we are concerned with facilitating the acquisition of knowledge and developing 21st century skills: communication (both written and oral), critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. At Portledge, we feel strongly that character needs to be developed as well, so that our students are ethical, compassionate individuals, who are good citizens and use their education to better themselves and society as they grow and mature.

Middle School is a critical time for character development. Adolescents are beginning to question who they are and who they want to be. In order to develop and thrive they need to have increasing independence, and to realize that with independence comes responsibility. They need the freedom to question the status quo, to be listened to and to be taken seriously. As our students explore and create with the goal of becoming passionate, purposeful individuals, who conduct themselves respectfully and with honor, they still need clear guidelines as to how to behave. Much is in transition during adolescence, but the need for ethical behavior remains a constant. We will listen carefully, discuss the issues and explain why we have the expectations that we do, but never accept behavior that is dishonest or demeans oneself or anyone else, no matter what the circumstances.

In his book Building Resilience in Children and Teens, Kenneth Ginsburg makes the point that character development responds to feedback and direction. He reports that youth will live up or down to community expectations. In the Middle School, we have two fundamentals: honesty and respect. We recognize that none of us is perfect, and make clear that if students are honest, we can work through any problem together. We frequently refer to the expectation of respect for adults, for classmates, and for our building (we state that the custodians’ job is to keep our building clean, but it is our job to pick up after ourselves). We “catch” students doing the right thing and praise them for it. We create leadership opportunities that develop moral courage. We set clear expectations (“you need to throw out your garbage after you eat”) and follow up with logical consequences (“or the hallways will be off limits to food”). We respond to impulsive, negative behavior, but clarify that the action was bad, not the student. (I recently had to convince a very repentant offender that he was not “a bad person” as he insisted, but rather had made a bad decision!) We talk through how to prevent being in similar situations again. We help students understand that they are in control, and as such, can make good choices and feel proud of their actions. We explore ethical issues through our curriculum, we teach that you can learn as much from making mistakes as you can from being right, and always, always we encourage – we encourage students to work hard, to celebrate successes large and small, to be good to others and themselves, and to know that we believe in them.

The result? An environment where students feel secure and appreciated, where they know what the expectations are and how to meet them, and where they can build the confidence needed to excel. In this kind of environment, students engage in true learning and develop strong character.

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