Aug 212018
 

John Camardella
Photo by/Zach Miller

 

An article by Caroline Matas published in the Harvard News Gazette entitled “Religious Education Through New Eyes” describes the work of John Camardella ’03, a Prospect, IL high school social studies teacher who recently worked to completely redesign the curriculum of the world religions elective he has taught to high school seniors for the past 15 years.
According to the article, most high school religious courses teach a traditions-based model, with a unit on each of the major faiths’ “DERMS”: doctrines, ethics, rituals, myths, and symbols. Camardella had been using this method for years but was recently exposed to a  “life-changing” method of teaching religious studies he learned from Harvard Divinity School’s Religious Literacy Project (RLP).
Diane L. Moore, senior scholar and the founding director of the RLP at Harvard Divinity School, has pioneered the field of religious literacy. Rejecting “traditions-based” methods of teaching religion, she proposes that religion should be studied through the lens of cultural studies with the following maxims in mind: 1) religions are internally diverse, 2) religions evolve and change, and 3) religions are culturally embedded.
Moore asked Camardella to serve as an education fellow for the RLP and pilot its pedagogical materials in his classroom; he and the Prospect High School administrators jumped at the chance. Members of the RLP team flew out to visit Prospect over the course of the fall 2017 semester in order to help Camardella prepare to overhaul his curriculum.
While Camardella had the support of the RLP team and his principal, pioneering a change of this magnitude involved a leap of faith.
“There are around five or six people who teach religious studies courses in the Chicagoland area, but everyone else does the standard traditions-based teaching,” Camardella said. “I broke with all of them. We still talk all the time, but I broke with all of them to really put all my chips in this cultural studies basket. I’m pretty much betting my career on it.”
Through adapted materials from the RLP, Camardella had students read case studies that delved into religious groups’ understandings of climate change, gender, minority status, and violence and peace. At the end of each unit, students could pick one subtopic to read and would respond to essay questions about their chosen case study.
“So, we have student choice right away: What are you interested in?” Camardella said. “What you have is a way of assessing students in a healthy and authentic way, but you’re allowing kids to come at the study of religion based on their interests. And what we’ve seen is, kids are now hyper-interested in this because they have so much vested in it.”
Read the full article here.
Great work, John! I know your students are going to benefit greatly from this new method of teaching.
 Posted by at 12:16 am
Aug 212018
 

Patrick Spangler ’03 and Kelly Green ’04 had their third child, Greta Enright Spangler, on July 9, 2018. Congratulations on your tiny Titan!

Additionally, Patrick was also recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Public Interest Law Initiative (“PILI”). PILI supports pro bono and public service  programs for current law students and fellowship programs for recent law school graduates.  Patrick served as a PILI Fellow in 2005 and has continued an active pro bono practice, which has included representation of individuals in immigration asylum, family law, and criminal justice reform litigation. Congratulations, Patrick!

 Posted by at 12:06 am
Aug 102018
 

In June 2018, Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D. ’03 was promoted to Director of Training of the Office of Placement and Training for The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago Campus. She was also promoted to Director of Training of the APA accredited Community Internship Consortium at TCSPP.

 

Congratulations, Megan!

 

 Posted by at 9:36 am
May 172018
 

Dr. Chris Silagi has been hired as the new Assistant Superintendent of Student Services of Community Unit School District 200.

The news was announced on Community Unit School District 200’s Facebook page. The post reads as follows:

The Board approved Dr. Chris Silagi as the next Assistant Superintendent of Student Services. He will supervise elementary principals and will oversee Social Emotional Learning implementation district-wide. Additionally he will work collaboratively with the Department of Student Learning, especially in the area of staff development, and he will oversee the District’s Wellness, Before and After School (BASP), 504 and homeless student programming. Dr. Silagi will replace Dr. Joanne Panopoulos who accepted a position in New Trier after seven years of service in District 200.

Dr. Silagi has been the principal at Whittier Elementary for the past eight years. While in District 200, Dr. Silagi has been in several leadership capacities including professional development, especially in the area of Social Emotional Learning and has served on the District’s Collective Bargaining Team, Compensation Study Team, Next Generation Science Standards Adoption Team and District Improvement Team. Prior to joining District 200, Dr. Silagi served as the principal of Bristol Grade School in Yorkville, the assistant principal of Rhodes School in River Grove, taught 5th grade in Indian Prairie 204 and 2nd Grade in Barrington 220.

Dr. Silagi received his B.A. in Elementary Education from Illinois Wesleyan and completed all of his graduate and doctorate work at Northern Illinois University.

While Dr. Silagi will certainly miss the children, staff and parents in the Whittier school community, he is excited for the new opportunity. “I am looking forward to supporting our leadership team and teachers as we continue to grow a culture of learning in our District,” says Silagi.

Congratulations, Chris!

 Posted by at 12:16 am
May 172018
 

We are very sorry to inform you that Professor Elizabeth (Susie) Balser,  faculty member in Biology for more than 20 years, passed away last month following an extended illness. Susie was recognized as an expert on the anatomy of echinoderms. Her passion for invertebrate animals inspired the creation of three new courses at IWU. Both as an instructor and as a research mentor, Susie challenged students to carefully study the natural world and make their own discoveries.

 Posted by at 12:10 am
May 172018
 
Krista (Vogel) Cardona ’03 spoke at a teach-in about the donations she had received to send to Puerto Rico. The country is still recovering from the hurricanes that hit in September.
You can read more about it here
 Posted by at 12:08 am