Grants Spotlight ’15 – ’16

Student Outdoor Sculpture at Northfield

ntef_gaeth_sculpture2Two years ago, Steve Gaeth, New Trier Art Teacher, designed a project for his freshman sculpture students and was pleasantly surprised by the project results. It was at that time that he envisioned having students design outdoor sculptures to adorn the currently unoccupied pedestals in the Northfield campus. These locations previously displayed student-designed sculptures that were transferred to the Winnetka campus when the Northfield campus closed in 1981.

This year’s freshman class (Class of 2019) recently created new designs for an outdoor sculpture. Gaeth has chosen one design to be produced. It will be no more than 8 feet tall by 4 feet wide, and made of a weather resistant material.

The goal of the project is to show the students how artists create work for a desired space, starting from making the grant request to the production. They were taught how to make decisions on material needs for a site-specific installation and how to consider environmental effects on sculptural materials.

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of the sculpture’s production and installation.



Feeding Our Students’ Hunger to Create!

Do you remember some of the sculptures you did for your art class or the “thing” you built for your science project? How much fun was it working with tools and “stuff” to bring out your inner artist or inventor?

With support from the New Trier Educational Foundation, students in Applied Arts have, literally, a warehouse full of materials at their fingertips to explore and develop their creativity. Through its membership in NAEIR since fall 2011, the Educational Foundation helps to maintain an inventory of industrial materials, school and office supplies, and hardware for student projects.

ntef_naeir1The National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (NAEIR) is a nonprofit organization that collects donations of inventory from manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers then distributes those goods to nonprofit organizations all over the United States.

There are over 500 top companies that donate high-quality merchandise to the free supply program including Microsoft, Gateway, Stanley Tools, Reebok, 3M, Rubbermaid, Reader’s Digest Books, Rand McNally, Gillette, Xerox, BRIO and many more.

They ship their donated inventory to NAEIR’s massive warehouse in Galesburg, Illinois where it is sorted, cataloged and stored. Nonprofit members simply look through a catalog and fill out a request form. All items are free and members only pay a small fee to cover the shipping and handling.

Companies give away perfectly good items because they often have more inventory than they can sell due to production overruns, returns, cancelled orders, or discontinued models. A special tax law gives corporations a tax cut for donating new inventory for charitable purposes.

naeir_table“Students use materials for prototyping such as tape, foam core, wood, metal, nails, screws, power tools and sand paper,” says Jason Boumstein, Applied Arts Department Chair. “I order twice a year from the NAEIR catalog for things that would be useful for our students in the engineering, automotive and architecture classes.”

According to Alex Howe, Engineering Teacher and Science Olympiad Sponsor, students are able to apply what they learn and investigate scientific principles more deeply. “The Robotics Club has been benefiting tremendously from such an abundant resource of materials for their projects, “ he adds.

ntef_naeir2Stephanie Moretta is a Freshman Adviser and the Coordinator for the Academic Assistance Center where Northfield students can receive academic support from tutors in Math, Biology, Physics, Writing & English, Spanish and French. According to Moretta, freshman students visited the Center over 4,000 times this past year.

Every year, AAC recognizes the Academic Achiever of the Month. “We wrap notepads and pens that we get from NAIER in a beautiful bow and give them to a student who has demonstrated a growth mindset,” says Moretta. She also gives these as gifts to tutors as a token of thanks for their service.

The AAC also built the “Organization Station” with school and office supplies acquired through NAEIR. “We’ve had a lot of success with it and have students in regularly to get organized and utilize the free resources that are available,” says Moretta.

For more information about NAIER, go to


Students Learn Positive Life Skills through Adaptive Yoga

Students are able to learn only if they are calm and feel safe. This is often a challenge for students with cognitive impairments.

“We want all of our students to know their strengths as individuals and cope with their challenges,” says Annie Kirschbaum, Educational Life Skills Program (ELS) teacher at New Trier. “The goal is for students to become active participants in the community, happy in their personal lives and accomplishments, and able to express their wants and needs.”

“As a teacher, I know I have to help students learn to independently cope in order for them to be as successful as possible,” according to Kirschbaum. “The students have a range of needs and abilities, and my goal for each is to help them become the best version of themselves.”

Many of her students struggle to regulate emotions and actions, often resulting in physical aggression, angry outbursts or refusal to work. Many students are nonverbal, yet have a lot of thoughts, so their inability to communicate effectively causes frustration. Kirschbaum’s class also has students with physical disabilities and emotional concerns that prevent them from moving fluidly throughout the day.

New Trier is a place where teachers are encouraged to be innovative, thoughtful and passionate about learning. This school represents excellence in education, and education does not only mean time in a classroom working on curriculum.

ntef_ELSyoga-picIn spring 2016, the New Trier Educational Foundation provided a grant to the ELS Yoga program. Its structured, weekly practice using breathing and movement helped address the physical, emotional and behavioral concerns of the students. The grant supported the participation of yoga therapist Ann Meara who understands the communicative, regulatory, physical and physiological aspects of yoga practice. This in turn supports classroom teachers, speech language pathologists and adaptive physical educators in their goals for working with our students.

Meara taught adaptive, goal-centered yoga to our students which is showing promising results with our ELS population at New Trier. Unlike yoga in a large studio, a student’s medical history and educational needs are researched, and specific goals are designed. Individualized instruction resulted in a decreased frequency and duration of aggressive behaviors in some of our students. At the end of the year, Meara sent letters to each family outlining progress on goals.

In May 2016, Kirschbaum reported that after a number of sessions, one student was finally able to learn to take a deep breath to help her de-escalate. She learned that this calms her down and she was able to enjoy the benefits of deep breathing for the first time.

Kirschbaum observed a change in another student who resisted learning new information. Meara taught him a strategy of “listen, stop, think, do” which proved to be helpful to the student. After mastering this skill, she then moved on to teach him the strategy, “Is it kind?” and “Is it safe?” both of which are important skills for him to be successful in the community.

Many of the ELS students have vocational experiences in the community. They are interacting with many people in various settings, including the 200 student helpers who volunteer in the classroom and for Special Olympics. Teaching our students to handle all of these life situations in a more positive way is extremely beneficial to them, their teachers, their families and friends, and the community as a whole.


New Trier Choir-Opera Hosts Award-Winning Broadway Artist Liz Callaway ’78

ntef_callaway-laddTony-nominated and Emmy Award-winning actress and singer Liz Callaway returned to her alma mater, New Trier High School, in April 2016 to teach a master class to New Trier students and to perform in their spring revue.

Callaway, a 1978 graduate of New Trier East, is an acclaimed recording artist and Broadway star who made her debut in Merrily We Roll Along, was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Baby, and for five years moved audiences with her rendition of “Memory” as Grizabella in Cats. She also performed in the original casts of Miss Saigon, The Three Musketeers and The Look of Love. She won an Emmy Award as host of a children’s program, “Ready to Go,” and has performed in concert across the globe, from The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall to Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu.

New Trier Choir-Opera students were treated to a master class led by Callaway on Monday, April 25, and then performed with her in New Trier’s Choir-Opera Spring Revue, 1966-1981: Rock and Other Great Modern Musicals on April 26 in the Gaffney Auditorium at the Winnetka campus. As the guest star, Callaway sang selections from Merrily We Roll Along, The Baker’s Wife, Godspell and a medley of songs from Pippin.

“Choir-Opera was my favorite class when I attended New Trier,” said Callaway. “I was a soprano and the musicals we performed were great. I gained so much from New Trier’s strong music and theater program. It had a professional quality to it that set the bar high for what I would come to expect from the business.”

Callaway took a quick trip down memory lane and mentioned a few of her teachers who made a significant impact in her life.

“I distinctly remember Dr. William ‘Doc’ Piederman,” she recalled. “He was a huge force and I was terrified of him! He retired after my junior year. I also remember fondly Suzanne Adams who was my acting teacher in my senior year. She’s currently living in Colorado.”

According to Callaway, there are many opportunities open to young people today for them to pursue a career in the arts. This has also created a very competitive environment.

ntef_callaway-class“My education at New Trier helped me to develop a good work ethic that proved to be a tremendous asset in the New York scene,” Callaway said.

“We were absolutely thrilled and honored to have had such a celebrated performer return to New Trier to share her time and her experiences with our students,” said New Trier Music Department Chair David Ladd. “It was particularly special that Choir-Opera got a chance to sing with Liz on the stage where she once was a student performer herself.”

Callaway’s concert appearance and the master class she conducted with Choir-Opera were made possible by grants from the New Trier Educational Foundation and the New Trier Fine Arts Association.

View all the photos here.



New Trier Chinese Music & Arts Club performs at Navy Pier

ntef_chinesemusicOn February 21, 2016, the New Trier High School Chinese Music & Arts Club had their public debut at the Crystal Gardens of Navy Pier in Chicago. The club was one of several cultural groups that performed live for Neighborhoods of the World, presented by the Chinese Fine Arts Society of Chicago for their Lunar New Year celebration. While dressed in student-designed costumes, the group performed two musical pieces: Etudes for LuoGu (Chinese Percussion Ensemble), and Jasmine Flowers for Silk and Bamboo Ensemble. The event was free and open to the public. View more photos on our Facebook page.

Thanks in part to a grant from the New Trier Educational Foundation and support from New Trier’s Student Alliance, the club was able to purchase a number of traditional Chinese folk music instruments last year and form a unique Chinese music ensemble. Watch the video of their performance.

The New Trier Chinese Music & Arts Club is America’s first high school Chinese music ensemble in the country. Its sponsor Brent Roman is also the Music Director for the Chinese Fine Arts Society of Chicago. On March 29, he was 1 of 17 people in the world who received the 2016 International Gugak Workshop Grant. Roman will be traveling to Seoul, Korea this summer to study at the national center for Korean traditional music.

“The idea is to share the knowledge I gain from the international workshop with the American music community,” says Roman. “I hope to bring back some traditional Korean musical art forms to the NT student body and possibly even start a new music ensemble.” Additionally, Roman serves as the NT Dance Division Accompanist and is K-Pop Dance Club Sponsor.


New Trier Club Promotes STEM to K-8 Students

ntef_sweets_thankyouThe SWEETS Club (Society of Women in Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Science) is an extracurricular activity at New Trier that gives female students the opportunity to explore their interests in engineering, computers and the sciences. Club members, who are from all four class years, can also act as role models to foster the interest of younger girls in STEM fields.

The club’s goal is to increase engagement with elementary school students through direct outreach targeting younger girls. Club members lead STEM-related activities with these young students including events with local Brownie and Girl Scout troops.

For these outreach events to be as hands-on as possible, the Educational Foundation provided funding to this club to purchase a variety of STEM-related kits. These age-appropriate kits allow for pairs or small-group interactions. The kits are reusable and will be a valuable tool for the club to promote STEM in the community. Two events are planned for this semester and at least two events will be planned for each semester moving forward.

The SWEETS Club membership currently comprises 15-20 New Trier students. Through their planned outreach, they expect to engage 20-40 younger girls this spring, and grow this number to 60 in the next school year. This project is targeted primarily, but not exclusively, toward girls.

Come back for an update on this story later in the spring.



speechtherapistCan I Touch Your Face?

Imagine. A student is sitting with his teacher who then reaches out to touch his face. The teacher guides his jaw and lips so he can produce an audible “oh” and “mm” followed by words with the same sound. After much practice, the student can make requests, greet and ask questions with greater independence.

This tactile approach that uses touch cues to the student’s jaw, tongue and lips to manually guide him through a word, phrase or sentence is called PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets). The therapist attempts to “teach” the student’s muscles to produce a phoneme correctly by stimulating all of these through touch. It is a therapy appropriate for a wide range of patients with communication disorders. Most of them have motor speech disorders, articulation problems or are non-verbal. Even some students on the autism spectrum have benefitted from PROMPT therapy.

ntef_PROMPTIn 2013, the Foundation provided a $2,250 grant for three New Trier speech therapists to attend a PROMPT training workshop. In addition to helping students within the school setting, this training also enables New Trier therapists to collaborate with outside providers in reinforcing the right motor skills for students in other therapies.

According to Rachel Rescorl, New Trier Speech-Language Pathologist, the PROMPT training is a holistic technique that utilizes small-step programming, positive reinforcement, and appropriate social and language goals to improve communication. Rescorl has received positive feedback from many parents who feel confident about this technique and see the steady progress in their child’s communication. New Trier’s speech-language pathologists credit their intensive training in PROMPT for having prepared them to help our students with special needs improve their communication skills and, as a result, develop valuable social skills.



Jim-Julia_2013_largerTelling A Teacher’s Story

How many of your teachers do you remember with fondness and gratitude?

The Foundation recently had a conversation with Jim Marran, social science teacher from 1956 to 1993. He was well known for his vast knowledge in geography having helped a team of experts shape national standards in the field. Jim shared stories that showed how New Trier was central to his life after leaving the army.

Jim remembered how the New Trier Centennial Celebration in 2001 sparked the inspiration for the founding of the Educational Foundation. In that same year, Jim led a group in forming the Trevian Association of Retired Persons (TARP). They envisioned a community of former faculty and staff who would build camaraderie by preserving the New Trier identity beyond school life.

“The Foundation’s mission is vital for enriching and enhancing the educational experience of the students,” Jim said. He also expressed a shared belief among the members of TARP that everyone touched by the New Trier experience, past and present, has something to contribute to preserving the school’s legacy of educational excellence. Jim enjoys a personal pride in knowing that four people close to his heart are Trevians – daughter Julia ’78 and sons Jay ’75, David ’83 and Paul ’85 – and two grandsons who are members of the Class of 2017.



JaneAndJimFocus on Health and Wellness

Jane McNamara recently shared some stories with us from her 30 years teaching physical education at New Trier. One of her most memorable moments was when a student said to her, “Ms. Mac, your running class is the best class I’ve ever had!” Today, he is an avid runner. Ms. McNamara pointed out that back when she started, the school had limited equipment for teachers to measure student performance. She is grateful today for the advances in technology that has been made available to help teachers increase the program’s benefits for students.

In 2012, the New Trier Educational Foundation funded a pilot program using Polar Heart Rate’s Cardio GX System with a gift of $5,000 to help Kinetic Wellness teachers collect students’ heart rate data and to educate students about their fitness levels and how they can improve. The program started with five teachers using the equipment in their classes. The increase in teachers’ interest and student engagement became evident, and their success helped to garner a second $5,000 Foundation gift in 2014 to purchase 500 Heart Rate Monitor Straps for the freshman class. As a result, Heart Rate Monitoring is integrated into all KW classes.

The Foundation is grateful to its donors for making this program and other valuable student health initiatives possible. With continued generosity from our alumni, parents and friends, we can help springboard new programs that can potentially benefit the entire New Trier community.




Read more impact stories:

Grants Spotlight 2018-2019

Grants Spotlight 2017-2018

Grants Spotlight 2016-2017