Posted October 2, 2013
A Tribute to Cindy Goldman
By Richard Brady
It was September 1974. Pigtailed Cindy Goldman, fresh from three years at Edmund Burke, arrived at Sidwell Friends to teach mathematics in the Upper School. Her new, much larger school and community at first felt somewhat daunting. Little did Cindy suspect that as a teacher, administrator, and parent she would be a member of the Sidwell Friends community for the next forty years.
Cindy’s first love at Sidwell Friends was teaching math. Over the years, she taught nearly all the math courses the Upper School offered. She had a special fondness for 3-dimensional surfaces, a unit she created and taught with Maria del Carmen Varon. As a teacher, Cindy got to know her students both inside and outside of the classroom. She would go to a basketball game of one of her students and the next day in the department would excitedly tell everyone about how well the student had played. She had a way of connecting with all of her students in the classroom - those who exceled as well as those who struggled with math.
For many years Cindy served on the Admissions Committee and the Upper School Senior Projects Committee, which she also clerked. The latter was a helpful preparation for becoming Academic Dean, a role Cindy assumed in 1998 when the then Dean, Bo Lauder, was appointed Principal. As Academic Dean, Cindy enjoyed observing the workings of the Upper School Administration. She also had the opportunity to support multicultural education through the School Year Abroad program. This was especially close to Cindy’s heart as all three of her children, Dan, Maggie, and Nicky, participated in it. After serving as Dean for several years, she happily returned to the classroom, succeeding Joan Reinthaler as Chair of the Upper School Math Department.
Jon Mormino recalls: “What I benefited most from working with Cindy was her sense of perspective. Whenever we debated a change or issue, she'd be the one to step back and help us see the big picture and the most important effects of a proposed change. She was sensitive to the needs of students across the academic spectrum and reminded us when we neglected an important perspective. Her love of food, fun, and family also helped us keep our work in appropriate perspective...I know many of us learned a lot about hosting and cooking from Cindy over the years -- in addition to what we learned about math and teaching!”
Margaret Black remembers “One year, a few of us teaching 9th graders had a lot of issues with placement in our classes. After many difficult conversations with parents and students, many of which involved Cindy by our sides, we were worn out. Cindy surprised us one Friday and took us out to tea at the Four Seasons. For two hours, we didn't talk about our classes or our students, but just enjoyed each other's company. This thoughtful gesture on her part made it so much easier to come back and face it all on Monday.”
Cindy also pursued a lifelong interest in sports while at Sidwell Friends. After school, when she was not getting tennis lessons from the master, Bill Budke, or playing tennis with Joan Reinthaler or Ann Baker, she could be found working out at the health club across Wisconsin Avenue.
Towards the end of my own career teaching math I remember some much valued support I received from Cindy. I had been practicing meditation for some years when I learned of a summer workshop at Smith College for educators wishing to bring contemplative practice into their teaching. I thought this a good addition for the Math II classes I would teach that fall. To participate in the workshop I needed the approval of my department chair. Imagining how students and parents might react to my taking daily class time for mindfulness activities such as journaling, meditation, or yoga, I was somewhat apprehensive. Cindy had no such worries herself, having recently participated in an 8-week class I taught on mindfulness. I was happy when the students’ response to this innovation affirmed Cindy’s confidence. I am grateful to have had her as a supportive colleague and friend.
With her retirement, Sidwell Friends bids farewell to a well rounded, multitalented, and much-valued member of the community. Cindy touched countless people during her forty-year tenure at Sidwell Friends. I am honored to be expressing our gratitude for her service.
A Tribute to Karen Page
By Teresita Cuesta
It’s August. It’s time to start setting up the classroom. This year, however, there were no phone calls to decide when to start easing back, or to check who had bought what supplies, or to share the latest idea for an activity. Most poignantly, there was no hanging of the peace banner. The first thing Karen and I did every year in our 2nd grade classroom was to put the banner up, and the last thing we always did was to take it down. As teaching partners for eleven years, this was our ritual and a tangible affirmation of our belief.
When I met Karen Page in 2001, just a few months after moving from Guatemala, she had already been at Sidwell Friends for over a decade. She would forever tease me about the formal black dress, nylons, and heels I wore to the interview. Along with a different dress code, Karen introduced me not only to the idiosyncrasy of the Lower School and the SFS community, but to the culture of private education in general and of the Beltway area in particular. She opened my eyes to the complex issues of race and class and the peculiar ways they manifested themselves. Speaking as a “born and raised Washingtonian,” Karen told me stories from being the first student of color at Burgundy Farms, to passing Sidwell Friends on her way to Immaculata as a high school student, to being the first teacher of color at Beauvoir, to finally capitulating to Rich Lodish and joining the SFS faculty.
For over twenty years Karen’s laughter resonated in the Lower School hallways. As a teacher, she was known for her sense of humor, her meticulous attention to detail, her thoughtful crafting of curriculum, her warm embrace of each child, and her high standards. Students in Karen’s class knew not only that they were expected to do their best, but that they would have Mrs. Page at their side to help them achieve success. With song and dance, giggles and jokes, conversation and banter, students worked hard and loved every minute of it. Their reward was an incredible sense of accomplishment. Karen’s reward and joy were seeing her students grow.
Yet, academics were just a slice of what children learned in Karen’s classroom. They also learned about being kind to everyone, working for peace in everyday moments, and having the courage to take a stand. They developed a commitment to social justice, an appreciation of beauty and simplicity, and a sense of the value of community. They became more responsible, independent, and resilient, more aware of their own talents and needs, and more willing to step out of their comfort zones. Karen could go from offering wise words to address a serious issue during our council meetings to dancing with the students to the latest party music!
Beyond teaching, Karen had a crucial role in starting and sustaining many initiatives at Sidwell Friends. One important program she started was the Lower School partnership with Brightwood Elementary School.
Karen was not afraid of disagreements because she believed in the power of having deep discussions, with honesty and respect. Out of these conversations, along with her vision for and love of the school, the Diversity Advisory Group was created.
Many afternoons, long after school had been dismissed, we would be hard at work into the early evening hours. Upon realizing how late it was we would ask each other, “Why are we doing this?” No answer was needed. We knew why, and anyone who has met Karen would know too.