This Month

A Message from the Charlie Ablemann

We are having a great winter, making the most of the milder weather for on campus learning and off campus excursions. Our Prep students are preparing for Extended Study Week (which falls during the last week of March), when they will have some remarkable opportunities, locally and abroad. ESW is one of the defining experiences of a Barrie education; you can learn more about it here.

Before they depart, many of our Prep students (with help from some of the Upper Elementary peers) will be performing in the Spring Musical, Beauty and the Beast. Showtimes and a link to purchase tickets are further down in this newsletter.

Our Montessori families have had many opportunities to gather recently, at the division-wide Montessori Morning as well as the Candlelight Dinners. There's always a lot going on at Barrie, and I appreciate the effort our parents make to stay connected and involved.

I hope you all saw the exciting announcement about fully upgrading Rothschild Hall where are Lower Elementary students work (if you missed the announcement, you can find it in the newsletter). The Board has been considering various improvement options for the upper campus and recently finalized a plan and secured the resources to cover the first phase of our modernization efforts. This down-to-the studs project will fully revitalize the space, inside and out. The renovation is scheduled to begin in the late summer of 2017, with completion expected by spring 2018. The renewed Rothschild Hall will be a model environment for Montessori learning and set the standard for further improvements on Barrie's upper campus.

I am excited to working with Jon as the new HOS on a smooth transition. I have been in contact with Jon and am working with him and the Board to ensure he is well informed when he arrives to lead Barrie. We will welcome him back to campus this Spring and let you know when we will host a welcome reception.

Finally, I hope to see you all at the For Love of Barrie event. This year's evening will be an adults night out to foster community and to support the Annual Fund. This is our one major fund raiser of the year and we need your support. Please register on line and plan on joining us. It is a great chance to mix and mingle with other parents, staff and the Board. You can even Uber to and from the event with an additional discount, thanks to the support of an anonymous donor.

Finally, I want to thank Margie and Kristin for all their work leading the divisions. I read weekly notes to you all and meet with them every Friday to discuss what's going on in Montessori and Prep. They are both so dedicated to Barrie and working with our staff to support your children. I hope you read their weekly notes as they contain the key information for you to stay informed.


Charlie Abelmann
Head of Barrie

Upcoming Events

For the Love of Barrie Is Almost Here!

Barrie's annual fundraising event, For the Love of Barrie, is next Friday, February 24 at 7pm.

♥ Wine & Beer (Adults Only!)
♥ Passed Hors d'oeuvres
♥ Silent and Live Auction
♥ Casual Dress

Tickets can be purchased here for $30. This year's event also features a raffle for the Montessori classroom projects.

Bridget & Agnes

Painting on canvas by the students made out of LOVE!

Nong & Allison
Each child threaded glass beads onto string to attach to this wind chime. Don't miss out on this beautiful art work created by the toddlers!

Denise & Jill
A classroom masterpiece on canvas.

Sherita & Ameerah

A 16x20 canvas abstract painting using watercolor and Tempura paint.

Dorothy & Angela

Free Flying Fun Friends!

Sarah & Emmy
Each child individually created a design of him/herself.

Cathy & Kristen
Put your favorite plants up for a show in this jaw dropping garden cart. Both functional and beautiful, this Parisian style garden cart, complete with flower pots, soil, bulbs, and all, will be just the thing to get you back into the garden this spring!

A basket containing two hand painted birdhouses (painted by the students) a suet basket, a ceramic bird, and a book about bird feeding.

Paula & Ronke
This inspirational message was voted on and selected by the students. The letters are created by photos of the students posed in the shape of the letters. This message will be artfully displayed in a handcrafted wall-hanging.

Maati & Maisie
Includes a backpack, head-lamp, compass, first aid kit, and four seasons top 50 trails guidebook, and drybag for electronics to stay dry.

Madison, Shawna, and Alicia
Warm up under this beautiful butterfly quilt that includes the artwork of UE students. The quilt will be accompanied by a student-developed resource guide that corresponds to the butterflies included on the quilt.

Barrie Announces Jon Kidder as Next Head of School

The Barrie Board of Trustees announced their unanimously election of Jonathan Kidder, Ed.D. as the new Head of Barrie School effective July 1, 2017. We want to thank you – parents, students, faculty, staff, alumni, administrators and trustees – for sharing your time, insight and perspectives during the extensive national search process. Your involvement helped to develop a clear picture of what we value now about Barrie, and what we hope Barrie’s future will look like.

Jon brings a remarkable breadth of experience to the Head of School position, including 20 years designing and implementing innovative, progressive curricula at leading independent schools. At Park Day School, where Jon served as Head of School since 2013, he successfully enhanced retention and admissions, grew marketing, collaborated on a multi-tiered model for financial sustainability, nurtured the faculty’s professional growth, and thoughtfully guided the community through a period of leadership transition after the unexpected passing of its long-time Head.

Jon is deeply passionate about education and the transformative power of schools in the lives of children. He began his career at the Polytechnic School (his alma mater), where he co-directed the Skills Enrichment High School Program, a high school summer bridge program for first generation college-bound youth. He also served as a middle school teacher in history and mathematics, coached athletics, ran the Writers’ Center, and directed the Outdoor Education Program. Jon went on to serve as the Assistant Head of the Pilgrim School in Los Angeles and as the Assistant Head at the Drew School in San Francisco. Jon holds a Bachelor's Degree in American Studies from Hampshire College and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from UCLA. His wife, Dr. May Hu, served as Executive Director of the University of California Press Foundation until taking on the recent work of full-time motherhood. Together they enjoy two beautiful sons – Reid (4) and Arden (nearly 1). Jon and May are thrilled to be returning to life on the East Coast, and they look forward to joining the ranks of Barrie parents as Reid and Arden begin classes this Fall.

The Search Committee, assisted by the help of an outside head search consulting firm (RG 175), reviewed a talented pool of candidates after a thorough nation-wide search and interviewed 7 semi-finalist candidates before selecting three candidates for site visits. Following the three site visits, the Search committee carefully reviewed and considered every evaluation form and individual message we received. The Board of Trustees extend their deepest gratitude to our Trustees who served on the Search Committee for their time and thoughtful deliberations: Immediate Board Past Chair Kevin Creamer, Glenn Horenberg, Mariam Mokhtarzada, Bob Roberts, Board Chair Janet Rutledge, Heller An Shapiro, and Daniel Woubishet.

We especially want to thank the members of the Faculty Advisory Committee: Cathy Carpenter, Dorothy Castelino, Beryl Chafin, David Dulaney, Alicia Enright, Shawna Johnson, Paul Leistra, David Weiner, and Maati Wafford. And the members of the Parent Advisory Committee: Dusty Adair, Julie Belgard, Anton Dormer, Bikem Ozturk, Ana Palla-Kane, Janice Pliner, Theresa Taylor, and Theresa Valois.

Head of School-elect Jon will meet members of the Barrie community on campus this spring and details about this visit will be announced soon. We look forward to working with you as we move into the transition phase, which will provide an orientation process and additional opportunities to meet with the new Head of School.

Charlie Abelmann is working with us to ensure a smooth transition. The Board of Trustees thanks Charlie for his leadership and all that he has accomplished during his seven-year tenure as Head of School. Several farewell activities are planned to celebrate Charlie’s invaluable impact on Barrie.

In closing, we want to add how much we look forward to welcoming Jon and his family to Barrie. From our first meeting with him, it was clear that he is deeply committed to the value of progressive education to empower students to engage in deep learning, develop character, and make a positive impact in a changing world. Nothing could be more needed in our world or more resonant with our mission at Barrie.


Janet C. Rutledge
Chair, Board of Trustees

Heller An Shapiro
Trustee, Search Committee Chair

Bigs and Littles Celebrate Chinese Lantern Festival with Guest Musicians

Barrie's guest teachers from China, Xiaoping Wang, Sujuan Meng, and Yiting Wang, have been working with students from across the divisions and grades this year, studying Chinese language, history, and culture. Their work was on display on February 10 in the Strauss Gym, when they hosted a Lantern Festival celebration for the entire school. After introductions by Charlie Abelmann, the assembled crowd enjoyed songs performed by the students and guest musicians Duke Tang (the chairman of the Chinese Music Society of Greater Washington and an accomplished musician) and Yan Qiao (an award-winning violinist from China who studies with Dr. Tang). Xioaping, Sujuan, and Yiting joined Barrie for the 2017-2018 school year through our association with the Confucius Institute at the University of Maryland. Enjoy the gallery and video clips that follow.

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Complete Renovation of Rothschild Hall Scheduled for Next Year

We are excited to announce our plans for a complete renovation of Rothschild Hall, which currently houses our Lower Elementary classes and our Lower School library. Rothschild presents the most urgent need for improvement, and this down-to-the studs project will fully revitalize the space, inside and out. The renovation will begin in August, with completion expected by spring 2018. Our renewed Rothschild Hall will be a model environment for Montessori learning and set the standard for further improvements on Barrie's upper campus.

With this renovation, we take the initial step in an incremental approach to revitalizing the buildings on the upper campus one at a time. This will allow for work to commence quickly and continue throughout the year with minimal interruption to school, as well as actively move us toward our goal of improving the buildings across campus.

The first stage will begin at the close of the Barrie Camp season in mid-August. Using the existing footprint and building frame, our Rothschild renovation will replace exterior and interior walls and floors, install all new windows and doors, upgrade plumbing and fixtures, add new HVAC systems, repair exterior drainage issues, and replace the roof. At the end of the project, Rothschild will be a new learning space designed to better serve students. It will also benefit from efficient use of energy.

This exciting project will have an impact on how we will use our educational spaces next year. Our Lower Elementary students will spend the entire year on our lower campus and be part of an Elementary Cluster with Upper Elementary students in our current Upper Elementary/Institute building. A detailed Q-&-A and Overview will be sent next week to rising first grade families and current Lower and Upper Elementary families.

Prep Students Reach Across Oceans and Continents through Teleconference Technology

On Wednesday, February 8, 2017, students in Humanities 12 at Barrie School and students at the Vidya Devi Jindal School in India connected for a video conference at 5:30 am in Barrie's Learning Studio. For an hour students exchanged their thoughts about culture, politics, and identity. The conference was moderated by Generation Global as a component of the Essential of Dialogue curriculum, which highlights respectful and civil approaches to conversation. Robert Kim and Vann Lassiter contributed to student preparation and technological support, respectively.

Following are two video clips of Barrie Prep students Ninika and Karl during the conference call, as well as their reflections on the experience.


Recently, the Humanities 12 class was given the opportunity to have a videoconference with a class in India. After analyzing essays by Trinidadian-Indian author, V.S. Naipaul, about Indian culture, politics, and the effects of British colonialism on the Indian culture, we were grateful to be able to learn and converse about the Indian culture, politics etc., with students who were just like us. During the conference our discussion focused on identity and how politics, school, and extracurricular activities can shape identity. It is important that we voice who we are and our own understanding and beliefs about our country. This was so powerful because it allowed us to relate to students across the world and also left us curious about our differences. It is essential to understand things from different perspectives and not to just accept what we read in books, or see in the media, or the opinions that we have adopted that can be influenced by so many inaccurate things.

Participating in this conference exemplifies how Barrie values learning through experience and diversity of thought. The majority of the class was willing to sacrifice their sleep and be at school by 5:30 AM to take part in this conference and learn about a different culture through another perspective to break stereotypes and to give an opportunity to the class in India to do the same. This reflects how dedicated Barrie students can be to a cause that they are passionate and curious about. I would like to thank Rabiah for always finding a way for this class to learn about what we study in the books outside of the classroom, from conferences at Georgetown University to videoconferences with classes across the world.

The most striking thing about the video conference was how incredibly similar we were. While that seems a bit cliché and I have heard it a million times, hearing it and experiencing it are two different things. When we were talking, we both seemed a bit nervous at first. We both had shy people, bold people, and people in between. We both laughed at particularly funny responses and questions and gave (not so) subtle nudges to get our friends to talk. There were times where I even forgot that I was talking to a group of students 8,000 miles away in a country where I had never stepped foot in. For nearly a full hour, we were not Indian and American citizens, we didn’t speak different languages, and we didn’t lack understanding for each other; we were just people, talking.

How do you get 18 second-semester seniors to get to school at 5:30? You promise them the opportunity to be able to speak to people across the world. You promise them the opportunity to connect with people they have never met and, in all likelihood, never will meet. The reason we cared about these things is because of the values Barrie has instilled in us. Above all, Barrie values diversity in every way and keeping an open mind. We wanted to learn how other people thought, we wanted to learn what it was like where they lived, we were hungry for knowledge about them and even now most of us still feel unsatisfied, wanting another hour or three or forty. In a few months, most likely, we will either be staying at school late or coming in early to speak with them again. We will again be representatives of Barrie’s commitment to diversity and open minds.

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The cast and crew of the 2017 Barrie Spring Musical invite you to join them for their production of Beauty and the Beast in the Safer Theater on the Barrie campus. A four show run debuts on Thursday, March 16 and runs through the weekend. Click "Read More" on any of the following events to purchase tickets for the shows. Seating is limited to 100 for each show. Adult tickets are $10 and student tickets are $5.

Watch the Latest Edition of Barrie TV

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Register for Spring Riding Lessons at the Barrie Barn

Time to register for the spring session of Riding! Horse enthusiasts in P3 through grade 12 are eligible. Spaces are limited so be sure to return registration forms and payment by March 6. Lessons begin the week of March 13 and run through the end of May. For more details, contact Madelyn Garnett at

Registration form for Primary and Lower Elementary Students
Registration form for Upper Elementary and Prep Students

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