Foundations for Freshmen & Parents

In 9th Grade Foundations, Whitfield freshmen dig into topics and trends that are immediately relevant and critical for growth within and beyond Whitfield classrooms. Over the course of the year, students spend a trimester exploring each of the following three themes: Neuroscience & Self; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; and, Computer Science & Society.

Recently, ninth grade parents had the opportunity to come “back to school” for their own version of the Foundations course: Foundations Lunch & Learn. During the one-hour virtual sessions, held February 11, 18, 25, and March 4 over the lunch hour, attendees participated in mini-lessons, just as their students do, and even completed some homework. Topics included:

  • Discovering why students think, feel, and behave the way they do, grounded in an understanding of teen brain development
  • Building a shared language around diversity, equity, and inclusion and developing cultural competence by exploring stereotypes and implicit bias
  • Considering the importance of understanding what personal data you share in the digital world and how that data is potentially used.

The sessions were taught by Foundations faculty: Director of Health & Wellness Ginny Fendell, Director of Equity & Inclusion Anna Warbelow, and Computer Computer Science Integration Specialist Andrew Asikainen.

“We believe that our 9th Grade Foundations class is really special and unique to Whitfield,” said Dr. Anna Warbelow. “Ginny, Andrew, and I designed the sessions to give parents an opportunity to better understand topics and trends that are immediately relevant to their students’ lives, provide them with language to engage their students in discussions, while building community with other 9th grade parents.”

Foundations Lunch & Learn participants Ellen Amarnek (Robbie Amarnek ’24), Sarah Yoselevsky Kaye (Spencer Kaye ’24), Jerre Parsons (Sammy ’24) and Kathy Mora (Jocelyn Kazmierski '24, Lucas Kazmierski '21) share their perspectives:

“I signed up for the Mini-Foundations course because I am so grateful that these subjects are part of Whitfield’s curriculum and I wanted to know more in-depth about what my son is learning. The sessions were engaging, and I would absolutely recommend this type of experience to other parents. It is always so much more enriching to get involved…we are SO lucky to be at a school like Whitfield. These opportunities give parents a chance to learn, too.” Ellen Amarnek

“I thought the Mini-Foundations course was great! Anna, Ginny, and Andrew were excellent teachers, the content was interesting, and I learned a lot. I didn’t realize it was going to be so interactive; I typically don’t participate much on Zoom but this was so engaging and fun that I did. I loved it and would sign up again!” Sarah Yoselevsky Kaye

“When we toured Whitfield the first time, we learned about this course and I was so impressed with the rationale behind it. So when we were given the opportunity to experience it, I jumped at the chance. From the brain research to the diversity and inclusion exercises to the engaging computer literacy component, all information helped me foster discussion with Sammy about these important topics. Thanks to our devoted teachers for their organization and wonderful presentations.” Jerre Parsons 

“I found all the sessions to be engaging and valuable. It's always a meaningful experience to spend time with experts guiding and facilitating learning opportunities where one (I) can be more informed and raise awareness. Opportunities to learn from others, where ideas and insights can be shared is beneficial, and equally important is having the time to be reflective and introspective about new information. I loved everything about these workshops! I would attend these every week if they were offered.” Kathy Mora

If you would be interested in signing up for a Mini-Foundations course later this spring, please contact Director of Equity & Inclusion Anna Warbelow.