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.