Margaret Edwards ’15 Writes Home

After completing my freshman year at Carleton College, I was ready to take a break from the classroom and start doing. I wanted to test the tools and skills that I had learned and refined over the years, primarily at Waynflete and then at Carleton. Participating in Parkside Fun, from sophomore year until graduation, sparked and materialized my interest in mentoring and advocating for children.

Following that passion has led me to all of the most transformative experiences of my life. First, it led me to be a lifeguard at a camp in Maine for low-income and foster girls from both urban and rural areas, many of whom had never been in a boat, did not know how to swim, and had never been in such an isolated, rural area. Most recently, it has led me to be a child policy intern at the Support Center for Child Advocates (Child Advocates) in Phildelphia, PA.

At Child Advocates, our mission is “To advocate for victims of child abuse and neglect with the goal of securing safety, justice, well-being and a permanent, nurturing environment for every child.” In all of our casework and community outreach, we promote a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach. Each child committed to our care is given a team, compromising of a volunteer lawyer and a social worker; this helps us ensure the well-being, permanency and access to justice of every child client.

Every day, we work to change the story of our clients. I have had the privilege to work with lawyers and social workers directly on cases, witness court proceedings and see the very ways in which each member of these teams is able to improve the outcome of our clients’ lives. My role at Child Advocates varies tremendously day-to-day. Focusing on policy, I do data analysis on the fatalities and near fatalities of children in foster care and in homes with DHS involvement. In Philadelphia, every time abuse is a suspected cause of a child fatality or near-fatality, a team is required to review the case, write a report and make recommendations, both locally and state wide. In order to ensure that these reports are effective, we track them and do analysis. In the future, this will lead us to try and change the policy around foster care and homes with DHS involvement, in the hopes of entirely eliminating such tragedies.

Whether I am in court, editing a brief, researching for a statement of facts, working with our development team or conducting data analysis, I draw on all of the writing skills that I acquired at Waynflete. I vividly remember receiving my first paper back from Lowell the spring of my senior year and quite literally having more comments from him than words I had written. This is the greatest testament to the teachers at Waynflete and their dedication to never cease pushing students to learn. In many ways, it epitomizes the best of my experience at Waynflete. I will always be grateful for every teacher there who took the time to mark up a paper because, no matter what I am doing, I return to those writing skills that I learned at Waynflete.


Izzy Davis ’16 Writes Home: The Master of Photosynthesis

Following is the text of an email sent from Izzy Davis ’16 to her Advanced Biology science teacher Carol Titterton. The email is included here with Izzy’s permission.

Carol…
Just sat through a lecture about photosystems and NADPH and ATP and it was the first time the professor had talked about them at all, and everyone was on the verge of tears but I was sitting there with my beautiful advanced bio notes smirking. He drew the scariest diagram I’ve ever seen. I’ll attach pictures because his drawing was actually an abomination. Just thought you should know that you set me up to get the highest grade (102.5!!) in my whole lecture of 80+ people on my exam. I am the master of photosynthesis.
Thank you, Carol
Isabella Davis


Matt Butler ’11 Writes Home from Beijing

I moved to China two months ago to start working for a Beijing-based tech startup, Yodo1. I biked to work on my first day, armed with a backpack, a laptop, and 10 years’ worth of China studies between my ears. I unpacked my things, set up my desk, and made a few introductions before being ushered into a product meeting with the company’s program development team. My colleagues are predominantly Chinese; naturally, all meetings are conducted entirely in Chinese. My coworkers squabbled back and forth, their words dripping in Beijing accents. I listened to the flow of the conversation, trying to grapple onto any non-tech jargon that I could use to establish some kind of context for the conversation. I was utterly lost. Sweat began beading under my eyes; I couldn’t find a comfortable place for my hands, moving them from my chin to my lap and back again. I wanted to look engaged, nodding when others nodded, knowing my red face betrayed the illusion of my understanding. I was certainly out of my comfort zone; however, I knew that I was not over my head.

Waynflete Chinese teacher Heather Courtice Hart comes to visit!
Waynflete Chinese teacher Heather Courtice Hart comes to visit!

I started studying Chinese ten years ago as a freshman at Waynflete. My first year at Waynflete also marked the inaugural year of Waynflete’s Chinese department. On my first day of class I sat next to Alex Hadiaris and Elias Peirce. Heather Courtice-Hart kicked off the class by introducing herself and the language entirely in Mandarin. She held no punches, speaking at what seemed like a million miles an hour on who-knows what topics. The three of us looked at one another like we’d stepped into the wrong classroom. It was a look of terror and regret. Was it too late to switch into Spanish? I didn’t know it at the time, but this baptism by fire would be the first of many such instances of skin-crawling confusion that would, from that point forward, become an almost daily feeling in my life. In my lifetime of study, this feeling has also proven to be one of the strongest motivators to learn that I have come to know.

IMG_5359
Matt’s Waynflete Chinese Class
IMG_5112
Matt and his former Waynflete teacher Chuchu Cheng.

One of the things that I have come to respect about studying Mandarin is that there is no benefit for being complacent or feigning understanding. I’ve come to learn that language is a subject that we must confront honestly, without fear of looking stupid. Over the course of my relationship with the Chinese language, I cannot begin to describe the number of times that I have felt so extremely inept. With Chinese, as is true with all things, it seems that the more you learn, the more you expose just how much you do not know. What I have found most valuable in my language study is to face this dis-knowledge not as a discouragement, but as an opportunity to learn. Over the course of my studies, I have filled the pages of my learning with thousands and thousands of characters, grammar patterns, and pronunciations. Ten years later, I feel I’ve only just started the prologue of this story. The prospect of filling this never-ending book of language acquisition is a fool’s pursuit, but my pursuit nonetheless. At the heart of this drive have always been these moments of confusion and discomfort; after ten years, this feeling has remained as poignant and frightening as my first day of Chinese class with Heather. This catalyst for curiosity is what makes us students of language and life. Learning of any kind is a process, and it is important to take pride in every step of the process unapologetically.

I still get lost in my product meetings. I can often be found in the corner of the conference room looking up words like “screenshot”, “server” or “user retention” on my phone’s Chinese dictionary. But when the conversation and eyes turn my way, I clear my throat, gather my thoughts and venture an answer. Waitresses, cab drivers, friends, teachers and co-workers will always appreciate an honest try. With each attempt it gets easier and easier, and eventually, it begins to feel comfortable. In this moment of comfort, it is important to find new ways to break the habit and become uncomfortable again. Every moment of comfort is a completed page; to become uncomfortable is to turn the page and continue writing your book of learning.

Waynflete, thank you for the wings to explore my passion, to address my ignorance honestly, and to venture into this world with the skills to become a global citizen.


Mitch Newlin ’12 Writes Home

After graduating from high school in the spring of 2012, I took a gap year and spent the first semester living in Kakamega, Kenya, at the orphanage to which I had become closely connected. I spent the second semester working full time for Gelato Fiasco. In the fall of 2013, I enrolled at Bates College, and stayed closely connected to both Friends of Kakamega and Gelato Fiasco. I am currently a full time student at Bates, majoring in Economics, a part time employee of Gelato Fiasco, and a Board member for Friends of Kakamega, and I’ve had the privilege of visiting the orphanage five times at this point.

More recently, I began a new business called Re-Fridge, a business that recycles college dorm fridges. I have focused on entrepreneurship that emphasizes customer satisfaction and a collaborative work culture, addresses environmental concerns, and is committed to philanthropy. Part of Re-Fridge’s “Giving Back” plan relates to socially responsible entrepreneurship.

I am honored to call myself a Waynflete alumni, and know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and care of the Waynflete teachers and community.  Waynflete still is a place I can call home! Looking back at Waynflete, I see that it was the place where I expanded my ability to think critically, solve problems, write concisely, and understand difference. I was lucky enough to have become close friends with students in the LGTBQ community as well as immigrants from Somalia, Sudan, Congo and other countries who had strong religious backgrounds, both Christian and Muslim. I learned to better acknowledge, appreciate, and understand these differences in identity through my involvement in RAaW, and the respect I was given by teachers and staff was extremely empowering.

I think the ability and support of the Waynflete teachers cannot be credited enough! They care deeply about each and every student and go out of their way to ensure that their students receive what they individually need. The class discussions made school engaging, and I could not have been better prepared for college, which is entirely due to the fantastic teachers. I would argue that in many respects some classes at Waynflete pushed me more than classes at Bates, and in a good way!

I could go on and on! The community is wonderful, and it truly is a SAFE space for all.

An USNOW story on Mitch’s business launch is linked here.


Mitch Newlin ’12, Entrepreneur

During his four years at Waynflete, Mitch Newlin always had a lot on his plate. Whether playing sports, attending meetings and events of RAaW, committing himself to the Kakamega Orphanage, entertaining friends and teachers with his outlandish stories, or just being his enthusiastic self, Mitch was always on the go. College has not slowed him down. He was back at Waynflete a couple of weeks ago to introduce Pastor Ida, the Administrator of the Kakamega Orphan Centre Project, at an Upper School Assembly. He was also busy selling raffle tickets for a prize from Gelato Fiasco, where Mitch works, as a fundraiser for the orphanage. More recently, he was on campus talking to students in the Personal Finance class.

This week news broke in the Maine Sunday Telegram and Lewiston Sun that, although he is just finishing his junior year, Mitch has started a business which, according to the paper, will generate revenues of $70,000 this year. That is impressive enough. What is even more impressive is that the whole idea is inspired by his desire to cut the wasteful habits of his college peers by recycling their used refrigerators. Read the newspaper account to get the full story. Click here for the Press Herald article. Click here for the Sun Journal article.

Part of his business model is selling high school graduation “Care Fridges,” essentially providing high school graduates (rising college students) dorm room mini-fridges, stocked with savory and sweet goodies, delivered to the student’s dorm on the first day of college. The deal could also include a personalized note from a parent, aunt, uncle, or loved one to present to the graduate at graduation time explaining the gift. If you know a college student who might appreciate a “Care Fridge,” email Mitch at gifts@re-fridge.com or call (207)-200-7872.

All of this does not surprise Steve Kautz, who not only taught Mitch in math and businesses classes but also coached him on the baseball team and on Waynflete’s first and only entree in the Federal Reserve Cup competition. The latter was a regional competition for high school students hosted by The Federal Reserve Bank testing the students’ knowledge of finance and economics. The Waynflete team stunned New England financial educators by winning the competition, the first time a team from Maine had even made it to the final round.

Reflecting on Mitch’s time at Waynflete, Steve recalled that “when I first taught him as a ninth grader, I could see that great combination of intelligence, ingenuity, and care for others.  As a baseball player, probably the best center fielder we’ve had in our program, Mitch’s intensity, exemplified by his trademark headlong diving catches, was matched only by his sportsmanship.  He was also a standout in Business & Finance class, which led me to ask him to join the Federal Reserve Cup team.  His work with the orphanage in Kenya could in itself define Mitch, but now he’s added to that through socially responsible entrepreneurship.”

Steve then added, “If anyone can save capitalism, it’s Mitch.”