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Great Minds Monthly Newsletter

Construction site

Earlier this year, through the help of a generous grant from a Chartwell supporter, the opportunity to remove the buildings became a reality. We began the remediation and demolition of all seven buildings over the winter break, and over the last three months, progress has been steady with only two buildings remaining. By early May, the project will be completed and the land will be cleared for potential future use. This is a transformative moment in Chartwell’s history and will position us for the growth and expansion we have long planned for and which our students deserve.

So what’s next? The board and school leadership have been engaged in research and discussion around what it will take to create a campus dedicated to the growing high school. 

“We are at capacity on our current campus,” said Kate Mulligan, head of school. “Our high school continues to grow year after year. The next few years will be exciting for Chartwell as we begin to realize the next phase of the school’s development.” 

A herd of goats will also be visiting the campus this summer to clear the land of poison oak and other vegetation to make the area more accessible for planning.

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The Loss of a Chartwell Pioneer

September 9, 1952 – March 2, 2022

The following obituary was thoughtfully written by Nora Lee, a colleague and friend of Sanford Shapiro's, and the former head of Chartwell.

Long-time resident of Monterey and Carmel, Sanford Shapiro passed away after a short battle with cancer on March 2, 2022, with his beloved wife and best friend, Debbie, by his side. During his life as an educator and consultant, he made an impact and lasting impression on the many students, families and colleagues that he worked with here and around the country.

Sanford was born in Brooklyn, New York to Ruth and Irving Shapiro. After graduating from Keene State College, he traveled to Australia to teach and begin his journey exploring the world. Returning stateside, he visited Monterey in the late 1970s, fell in love with the area and decided to make it his home. In 1983, he answered an ad in the Pine Cone for a teaching position at a new school, The Thomas Allyn School (now known as Chartwell School). Director Jefferey Allyn hired him and together they launched and taught the first school on the peninsula expressly for students with dyslexia. Beginning with a single classroom of 8 students, enrollment quickly increased necessitating hiring more teachers and moving to a larger facility. Today Chartwell’s enrollment is over 140 students, and although many have contributed to its enduring success, much credit is deserved by Jeff Allyn and Sandy Shapiro for providing the foundation and setting the standard in those early fledgling years.

Sanford met Deborah Veerhusen in Halibut Cove, Alaska in 1988, and they married in 1990 at Mission Ranch in Carmel before moving to Connecticut. Over the next 15 years, Sanford dedicated his life to working with students having learning differences in various capacities: teacher, advocate, consultant, Head of School, but he particularly enjoyed speaking and sharing his expertise with other educators and professionals at conferences. In 2005, Sandy and Debbie moved to Bend, Oregon where he began The Bend Learning Center to provide assessments, tutorials, and consultation for students and their families.

Upon retiring in 2017, Sanford and Debbie fulfilled their dream of living abroad by moving to Cuenca, Ecuador and immersing themselves in the culture and community. It was there that Sandy wrote two children’s books that dealt with learning differences and the strengths that often accompany them. A gifted artist, Sean Geddes, who was also a student from that first class at Thomas Allyn School, illustrated both books.

For the many people who knew and loved Sandy, there are no words or comfort for the sense of loss left by his sudden and untimely death. He is survived by his wife, Debbie; his two stepsons, Adam and Brett Veerhusen; his brother Steven Shapiro; his sister Joni Shapiro Fishman (Gary) and many nieces and nephews.

Watch for more about Sanford's contributions to Chartwell in the next issue of The Write Stuff. 

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Project Period 3 Dives Deep into Local Ag Business

PP# Theme: What's your food story? Agriculture in the Salinas Valley.

To kick off the new project period our students worked closely to create a collaborative 6' X 18' mural based on images inspired by the Salinas Valley area. In February, Taylor Farms Vice President of Operations, Mr. Ron Guzman, visited Chartwell and offered students an in-depth look at the inner workings of the Ag Giant from the roots up. Our students have also met with other industry leaders throughout this period from Dole Fresh Foods on product innovation and Duda Farms on Food and Technology.

“I enjoyed the speakers as they explained more about how their operations worked and the challenges of running such a large corporation. They also were kind enough to explain why things sold better than other products they produced, which helped me understand more about the business side of things,” said Max M., a senior looking to continue his studies in the area of agricultural business next year.

Supporting the project period focus, students embarked on their first field experience at MEarth in Carmel, California. This organization is dedicated to connecting and educating people in meaningful ways to the environment and inspiring them to become better environmental stewards. 

Additionally, faculty have led in-class discussions after viewing food documentaries in class, including Kiss the Ground and Dirt.


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High School Robotics Season Comes to a Close

Earlier this month, our three students participating in FIRST Robotics Competition, Paige S., Alexa G., and Matthew B., joined their teammates in Plus Ultra Robotics ( at the Silicon Valley Regional competition at San Jose University. This unique three-day event saw over 50 teams from far away - including international teams - working in alliances to garner points in hopes to compete in the finals on Sunday. 

In preparation for the matches, the team wrote grant proposals, sought sponsors, designed their website and spirit gear, and of course planned, fabricated, wired, and coded their robot, Mary Shelley (named so because the team needed to 'frankenstein' parts from previous robots to create this one). With autonomous code and remote control, the team navigated Mary Shelley through intense matches on a themed game field. 

Although the team did not qualify to continue this year to the championship event in Houston, they are celebrating the success of a well-built robot, new friendships, and a well-rounded team with new knowledge to leverage next year, hopefully with an even greater presence from Chartwell. Great job Bulldogs, congratulations Plus Ultra!

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Campus Beautification Efforts Remove Non-Native Species

Just before Spring Break, students in the lower and middle schools utilized breaks and flex-time to help eradicate the campus of invasive species, such as ice plant. As breaks approach, students tend to get antsy and excitable, so physical projects help channel that extra energy into productive teambuilding experiences. Thank you to all the students who helped prepare the campus for the spring and summer!

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HS Student Receives Honorable Mention at Countywide Competiton

Each year, AIM Youth for Mental Health sponsors an Awareness Design Challenge and invites students to submit an ad that promotes their cause. They invite middle and high school students to imagine they are hired by AIM to design an ad that could be used in magazines or any other media and represent AIM’s movement to promote youth mental health.

The ad should strive to provide hope to someone struggling with mental health and encourage other youth to speak up and seek help, or it might encourage others to be empathetic.

Six students submitted posters and Tyler J. received an Honorable Mention. Tyler will be honored at a reception later this month. Congratulations, Tyler!

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First page of the PDF file: DriverReadiness

Under the patient and encouraging guidance of Ms. Emily Garber, thirteen lower school students have been working weekly on a videotaped production of The Wizard of Oz. With colorful sets, creative costumes, and well-rehearsed scripts, the students have been learning about the fine art of theater, voice projection, staging, and more. 

“It's been so wonderful seeing students learning to work together on a huge production like this! I've been impressed with each of their abilities to put aside any differences they might have personally and get into character and learn how to connect in ways that they don't always have access to,” shared Ms. Garber. “They are all connecting with one another and working cooperatively by sharing their ideas, learning their lines, and stepping up to the challenge of learning how to perform.” 

Even though this play is being filmed versus acted live, the young actors are learning how to have stage presence, to adjust their vocal volume, to empathize with the characters that they are playing and that each other are playing, and to problem-solve when things don't go exactly as planned. 

“They have demonstrated such patience with me as I navigate this challenging but fun project!” Ms. Garber added. “My favorite moment ever was when I presented Ashton O. with his costume (before he wasn't so sure about his role as Tinman) and he was so excited that he put it on immediately and wanted to go show his teachers and friends. Another wonderful moment was when Sydney C. did her lion roar for the first time and shocked us all at how much she could vocalize.” 

Ms. Garber concluded, “Theater gives our students a chance to try on different characters, be silly and share vulnerable parts of themselves in a safe and supportive space, and to unleash their creativity.” 

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Alumni Return to Campus

This year we are fortunate to have several alumni working and collaborating with Chartwell in various capacities. Aaron Goldwasser has joined the technology department as a technology assistant and is supporting students and faculty with a wide variety of needs including, computer and connection issues, software upgrades and installations, and more. Aaron Kanak has contributed in many roles over the last year - flag football coach, Imagineers Club lead, class substitute, and more. Faith Camara, who recently graduated from Seattle University with a degree in graphic design, has been working with the communications department to design advertising materials, brochures, campaign brand identity, and logos. Nadia Ellawendy volunteered during her Spring Break to support the business office with organizational projects and the STEAM department. 

“The atmosphere of the school, the staff, and most of all the students and getting to relate to them, has made it a great working environment and it's fun when you get to wake up everyday and go to work basically where you spent six years of your educational experience,” said Aaron Kanak. “It's pretty amazing when you can enter any classroom on campus and still have those small flashbacks of the days when you were a student sitting in the same desks, not a day goes by where Patti Kirshner and I still laugh about all those youthful moments from the past. Getting to work here is truly magical, there is always something fun and educational to enjoy from the first bell to the last. My favorite class was always history as a student here, and getting to help teach it along with many other subjects has been great so far.”

Thank you to all of our alumni whose experience with Chartwell brings them back to reengage!


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New Bell Sound Inspires Student Strike

A new bell system on the Chartwell campus has been a point of debate - and education - for the community. Earlier this year when a new bell system was installed, Director of Campus Management John Langrill opened up the new bell sound to a student vote. Five bells were shared with the community and then classes Grades 1 - 12 voted. However, when the new bell was revealed, not everyone celebrated the winning choice or agreed that the process had been fair. 

Coincidentally, in Joseph Shannon’s high school literature class, students have been reading and learning about the labor movement and the California Grape Strike. To make the topic more experiential, Mr. Shannon encouraged his class to organize a strike against the new bell citing the fact that less than 50% of the student body participated in the vote. Other classes and students were also invited to participate.

The first planned strike revealed that Chartwell high school students had several issues on their minds, many much more globally focused than campus bells, such as racism in America. Faculty met with students to reschedule the bell strike while also addressing the larger social concerns the students were interested in raising awareness around. 

“Rescheduling the bell strike was important because we wanted to be sure we understood the motivations of the students and that no one in our community would feel threatened,” said Danielle Patterson, director of family engagement and outreach. “We want students to feel heard and free to express their voice and are working on alternative options for further protests, education, and expression around these more serious and complex issues. I’m so proud of our students for coming forward with their desire to address critical topics within our community and we look forward to the important dialogues that will emerge from this experience.”

On Thursday, March 24, the bell strike took place peacefully and without incident as a dozen students picketed the main office. 

“I think the protest went really well and I want to thank all the teachers and administrators that supported us in our cause,” shared Mr. Shannon. “Kate Mulligan, head of school, came out directly and addressed the protesters which was awesome. I was extremely gratified as well that other students formed a counter-protest - it demonstrated a working knowledge of the concepts we've been reading about in Literature and learning about in Humanities.”

The strikers will be submitting a proposal to Ms.Mulligan for a re-vote. Whether the strike will result in the “justice” protesters seek has yet to be determined.

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One Wheel Mania

Faculty member Randy Postadan has long been known for his preferred form of transportation - a Onewheel. Students, watching Mr. Postadan float to and from campus, naturally gravitated towards this fun and strength and balance building activity, and an after-school club was formed. 

A Onewheel is a self-balancing single-wheel electric board-sport, recreational personal transporter, often described as an electric skateboard. Mr. Postadan reviews all safety aspects with students and encourages the students to learn in pairs so they work together to improve their skills. Mr. Postadan calls this “sharing the stoke.” 



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This Matters: Film Series Addresses Important Issues Facing Teens

As part of Chartwell's ongoing SEAD curriculum in the middle school, Chartwell partnered with IndieFlix, “a non-profit that aims to support the making of and distribution of movies that matter.” IndieFlix creates powerful content on important, timely, and relevant topics.

Chartwell purchased the viewing rights and the related content for a series of four movies that are being rolled out to various segments of our community over eight weeks this spring.

Between March 7 and April 21, middle school faculty have been previewing and collaborating on frontloading, viewing, and reflecting on the four films (Angst, Like, Upstanders, and Race to Be Human.) Parents/guardians are also being sent the links to view these films the same day as middle school students view the film (on a Tuesday) and then participate in Parent Discussions with additional prerecorded panels. The discussions focus on their own experience, their families’ experience, and perhaps most importantly, their child’s experience with the issues being addressed. Members from Chartwell’s SEAD team are present to help guide and support the conversation.

The films are Angst (focused on anxiety and teens), Like (focused on the impact of social media), Upstanders (focused on strategies to overcome cyber-bullying), and Race to be Human (a discussion about teaching children about racism). Chartwell faculty are also preparing to use this opportunity to continue our own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work using the film Race to be Human as a foundation for having educational and meaningful discussions around race.

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High School Athletics: Bulldog Pride on Display


Chartwell’s inaugural high school athletics program has highlighted the courage, enthusiasm, and sportsmanship of our athletes and community. Despite an ever-changing schedule and many canceled games due to the pandemic, our teams developed significantly and made the school proud on every level. 

“The inaugural season of Chartwell HS Basketball demonstrated the strength and resilience of our Bulldog athletes,” said Garrett Benjamin, high school athletic director. “They overcame the difficult task of starting a high school team and competing during a global pandemic. The Bulldogs didn’t come up with a win this first year but showed a great deal of growth and easily surpassed all expectations for a first-year program. Congratulations to our coaches Regan Albee, Marisa Vinson, Rory Patterson, and assistant Jack Digby, and to this fine group of basketball players!”

The renovated multi-purpose court, made possible by The John and Jane Olin Family, contributed significantly to our athlete’s ability to practice and develop skills, while also allowing us to host teams on our home court. 

Players Emma B. and Bradley F. were named the Most Valuable Players for their leadership on and off the court. Our high school wrestler, Enzo O., did bring home the first Bulldog victory for the school and had an outstanding season. 

As the basketball and wrestling seasons wrapped up, the golf season began and has been immensely popular with the students. Thirteen students signed up for the sport and practice together during the week, while the top six players participate in matches.

“In our third match, Chartwell played against Palma High School. This is the first full golf team of six players in the history of school that we have been able to compete with. They all did an amazing job competing and showing everyone what Chartwell high school golf is all about,” said Garrett Benjamin, director of high school athletics. 

Next year, we anticipate the high school reaching 70 students which will further enable the athletics program to expand. Congratulations to the coaches and athletes who will go down in Chartwell history for their contributions to our inaugural competitive sports program.

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Bulldog Wrestling Academy Engages Our Youngest Athletes

This year, Coach Reggie Roberts started the Bulldog Wrestling Academy (BWA) for our lower and middle school students. More than 30 students signed-up and have been practicing on the mats in McMahan Hall twice a week. 

“I've genuinely loved seeing how each of the young wrestlers has grown in a multitude of ways. Their increased levels of personal self-confidence have been the most significant aspect that I've witnessed. Each Bulldog wrestler has further developed their ability to focus more consistently, and become distracted by others to a much lesser degree...and all while having FUN!” said Coach Reggie Roberts.

The “season” culminated with T-E-A-M demonstration of learned mat skills, followed by a recognition ceremony for each of the Bulldog grapplers. Each wrestler was honored with a medal for their successful graduation from the two-month development program.


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