Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest

Lower School families from The Episcopal School of Dallas donated enough healthy food to fill a record-setting 576 bags for the North Dallas Shared Ministries. Third-grade students helped load the bags onto buses and then stock the shelves at the agency’s food bank on Friday, November 13. ESD’s donation is one of the three largest donations the North Dallas Shared Ministries receive each year. Click here to see more photos from Friday’s donation drop-off.

Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest

Dr. Bonnie Dunbar encourages students to do two things – dream big and fail. A former NASA astronaut and now the M.D. Anderson Professor and Director of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Houston’s science, technology, engineering, and math center and professor in the College of Engineering, Dunbar spoke with the senior class at The Episcopal School of Dallas about not only pursuing their dreams, but also taking risks and developing the persistence required to succeed in college and beyond.

Dunbar was invited to speak to the Class of 2016 as part of the annual Robert H. Dedman Lecture Series for Leadership. “There are few people as accomplished in as many areas as Dr. Dunbar,” Dr. Donna Hull, Head of Upper School said. “As she pointed out in her presentation, no one ever told her that she ‘couldn't’ achieve her dreams. Look at what she has done with her life and she's still going strong! It was truly inspiring for all of us to listen to her and to her story.” 

“I had parents who not only believed in education but also gave me the opportunity to explore the world and take risks,” Dunbar said. “My father taught my siblings and me how to dream. Our parents taught us that it didn’t matter what we did as long as we tried, picked ourselves up from failure, and were good citizens.”

Dunbar recalls laying on a haystack at her family’s ranch in Washington and looking up at the stars, dreaming of the day she could travel to Mars or help build a spaceship. Her first attempt to join the organization’s astronaut program, however, was denied because she lacked the education credentials of her peers. After earning her Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Houston, her childhood dream became a reality in 1980 when she was accepted to NASA’s Astronaut Program. As a NASA mission specialist astronaut, Dunbar recorded more than 50 days in space. 

“Many students haven’t learned how to fail, but it’s really important for everyone to learn how to fail before their first job. In any experiment, there are failures all the time. The important thing is how you recover from these failures and that you maintain persistence,” Dunbar said. 

Dunbar’s persistence continues to pay off. As one of the leaders for the University of Houston’s STEM Center, Dunbar is setting the standards for how colleges and universities recruit students to join STEM programs. She believes that generating more interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will stimulate the U.S. economy, and also help keep the country on a trajectory of success. 

“A great nation’s health and prosperity depend upon its technological innovation, solutions to the problems of supporting life, and inspiration of its youth,” Dunbar explained. “It will depend upon the production and development of its scientists, mathematics, engineers, chemists, and physicists.”

Dunbar hopes to continue to inspire students to pursue degrees and careers in math and science, and even return to space one day to join John Glenn as one of the oldest people to orbit in outer space. She hopes her adventures, as well as those of her peers, will motivate young boys and girls to learn more about STEM programs.

“I have the same advice for young women as I do for young men. If you want to create the modern world, if you want to solve real problems, whether it’s in medicine, engineering, or communications, an engineering degree gives you tools to do that,” Dunbar explained. “It’s no harder for a young woman than it for a young man, but many young women have already put that wall up and said ‘I can’t do it.’ They just need to say “I can do it.’”

Reagan Loftus '16 and Michael Patterson '16 had the opportunity to sit down and learn more about Dr. Dunbar's experiences. Click here to watch their interview.

Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest

Every year across the nation, high school and college students, teachers, alumni, and friends join together to celebrate their school with homecoming festivities and athletic competitions. This year, The Episcopal School of Dallas added a community service project to the Homecoming agenda to give back to the students at the St. Philip’s School and Community Center.

“We wanted to add a community service component to the Booster Club’s agenda while also building on our partnership with St. Philip’s School and Community Center,” Angie Russell, president of ESD’s Booster Club, explained. “We thought Homecoming would be the perfect week because it’s already such a high energy-filled time on campus. We knew there would be a lot of people around to give us more exposure.”

ESD parent Shelly Groves had the initial idea of collecting sports gear. From there, with the help of another ESD mom,Christie Scardino, parent volunteers started marketing the drive and collecting supplies to start packing the bus.

“The drive showed how amazingly responsive the ESD community is to the needs of others!” Russell said. “We want to make this annual event and continue to teach our students the importance of serving others and giving back to the community. I hope that next year more students can get involved and deliver the equipment so they can see their efforts pay off.”

By halftime of the varsity football game, the bus was jam-packed with equipment. In all, 775 items were stuffed onto the bus, including: 196 pairs of athletic socks, 134 soccer balls, 113 basketballs, 90 mouth guards, 53 footballs, 46 pieces of padding equipment, 31 pairs of athletic shows, 27 assorted pieces of lacrosse gear, 24 assorted balls, 23 baseballs, 20 baseball gloves, 15 pairs of shin guards, and three kick balls.

“I can’t stop thinking about all of the kids and how big the smiles on their faces will be when they receive these gifts,” Christie Scardino said.

Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest

Twelve Upper School students from The Episcopal School of Dallas have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program for their high academic achievements on the PSAT.

Three students from The Episcopal School of Dallas Class of 2015 have been named semifinalists in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program. Approximately 1,600 high school seniors nationwide are named Semifinalists, representing the top one percent of PSAT scores taken in 2014-15. These students will compete for National Merit Scholarships. Finalists will be announced in February. ESD National Merit Semifinalists were recognized in a special chapel service held Tuesday, September 22. This year's semifinalists are Evan Marshall, Julius Stener, and Kohl Swift.

Seven students from The Episcopal School of Dallas have been named Commended Students in the 2015-16 National Merit Scholarship Program. The Class of 2016 students qualifying for this honor are: Areeb AfridiMatthew DrossJanie DutterJosiah Hamid-KhaniRachel LathamCampbell Munson, and Pedro Rivera. These students will be honored in chapel on Tuesday, October 6.

Amanda KungPedro Rivera, and Bennett Sessa will also be honored as National Hispanic Scholars at the same chapel service for their participation in the National Hispanic Recognition Program. An invitation to apply for this recognition is extended to students who score in the top 2.5 percent among Hispanic and Latino PSAT/NMSQT test takers.

About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Although they will not continue in the 2016 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2016 competition by taking the 2014 Preliminary PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

“The young men and women being named Commended Students have demonstrated the outstanding potential for academic success,” commented a spokesperson for NMSC. “The students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success.”

Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest

On Friday, September 25, The Episcopal School of Dallas will host the annual Artist as Teacher/Teacher as Artist exhibit, featuring work from more than 50 teaching artists from 20 private schools across the DFW metroplex. The exhibit is an innovative way to showcase the talents of local artists who have chosen to share their artistic expertise and experiences with students through the joy of teaching.

“We wanted to showcase educators who not only teach art, but seriously ‘create art,’” Vikki Martin, an art teacher at The Episcopal School of Dallas and the event’s coordinator, said. “We believe that this event makes the relationship between the student and teacher even more valuable, as it shows the opportunity students have to work alongside practicing and professional artists.” 

This major collaborative art venture works to encourage patrons to consider “how art relates to a school’s curriculum, how art influences culture, and how culture influences what artists create.” It also provides the public with a unique opportunity to see a wide variety of works from all mediums in conversation with one another. 

“This exhibition reflects our passion for the visual arts,” Martin explained. “By collaborating with our peer schools and colleagues, we are not only demonstrating a wide variety of diverse styles, but we are utilizing the event as a learning tool to explore poetry, literature, history, social studies, studio art, and art history.”

With so many different mediums and schools featured, the Artist as Teacher/Teacher as Artist exhibit reflects the commitment on behalf of the Dallas-area independent schools to integrate a faculty of professional artists into their teaching staffs. Participating schools include: Alcuin School, All Saints’ Episcopal School, The Cambridge School of Dallas, Cistercian Preparatory School, Covenant Classical School, The Covenant School, Fort Worth Academy, Fort Worth Country Day, Greenhill School, The Hockaday School, Jesuit College Preparatory School, The Lamplighter School, Parish Episcopal School, Shelton School, St. John’s Episcopal School, St. Mark’s School of Texas, Trinity Christian Academy, Ursuline Academy, and The Winston School.

The opening reception will be on Friday, September 25 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Susan M. Frank Center for Arts & Humanities on the Merrell Road Campus of The Episcopal School of Dallas. For more information, please visit The exhibit runs through Friday, December 4. 

Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest

On any given day, Richard Williams seamlessly transitions from Physics teacher to senior advisor to varsity football coach at The Episcopal School of Dallas. He also tackles the responsibilities that come with being a dad and mentor to his three children, 85 students, and 135 student-athletes, including the Middle School and JV football players. He also monitors the Study Commons every morning beginning at 7:00. After football practice and a quick meeting with his coaching staff, Williams stays behind on campus to wash all of the practice clothes and jerseys for the JV and varsity athletes. Four loads of laundry later, and once the jerseys are folded and put away, Williams crosses Montwood for the final time of the day around 10:30 p.m.

But no matter how hectic his schedule gets, though, Williams also finds time to coach and mentor his students.

“During the summer I had to miss a lot of summer practices because I was traveling for college visits,” Gaetano Sinacola, a senior captain on the football team and Physics student, explains. “Coach Williams was very understanding as to why I wouldn’t be at some practices, and he even came with me on two of my visits. He’s one of the most compassionate people I’ve met, and I couldn’t be happier to have him as my coach and teacher for my last year of high school.” 

A graduate of The Kinkaid School in Houston, Williams was a running back on Rice University’s football team. Captain his senior year, Williams was also a two-time SWC “Offensive Player of the Week” recipient and a four-year Letterman. After graduating from Rice with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, he worked for ExxonMobil for 17 years, serving as the company’s Global Marketing Manager.

When the company wanted him to move to Brussels, he traded his corporate life for the laboratory and a coach’s whistle. Inspired by his oldest son Caleb, who had just started to develop a passion for football, Williams began coaching his son’s youth league. A few years later, he joined the coaching staff at Kinkaid and started teaching Physics alongside his former science teacher, Linda Miller. In addition to his teaching duties, Williams was instrumental in helping lead the Kinkaid football team to back-to-back SPC Division I Championships.

Williams joined the ESD community in 2011 as the assistant coach and offensive coordinator for the varsity football team. A chance meeting between him and ESD’s Head of Upper School, Donna Hull, unveiled Williams’ desire to split his time between the playing field and science lab.

“When Richard came to interview for the football position, I was asked to speak with him in the Dining Commons for a few minutes. Word was that he ‘could teach Physics too.’ It didn't take five minutes to figure out that Richard was a match for ESD,” Dr. Hull says. “He's the full package - the teacher, the coach, the mentor, and the advisor. He gives 110 percent every day.”

The “110 percent” attitude is evident in how the students respect and respond to him as both a teacher and coach. In his classroom, students aren’t afraid to speak up. Rather than calling on a student when they raise their hand, Williams is hit with multiple answers each time he poses a question. He’ll accept any answer, right or wrong, before providing the solution.

“Coach Williams is great about going through each step of the process and is always very helpful when I don’t understand something right away,” Annabel McGill, a senior Physics student, says. “I think him being a coach makes him an excellent teacher because he is used to working on technique.”

Williams refers to his classroom as an “open environment” where no wrong or dumb answers exist. Even if a student misses the answer, Williams uses the opportunity as a teaching moment to relate it to a subject later down the road, or a tangent to another concept to ensure all students feel comfortable speaking out and participating in discussions.

“Coaching and teaching are really similar because when I’m in the classroom I am coaching my students to be confident and how to train and prepare for a big exam,” Williams explains. “It’s the same thing on the football field – I’m teaching the student-athletes the fundamentals needed to build on past successes while also perfecting their technique to keep them healthy and safe.”

The students he teaches and coaches are Williams’ priority, but it doesn’t hurt that he’s managed to rack up a few post-season accolades on the turf, too. In his four years at ESD, Williams has helped lead the football team to two post-season appearances under the new SPC bracket system, and as head coach, a Small School Division II State Championship. 

“To actually go 9-2 and win the championship as my first year as the head coach … no one saw that coming, including myself,” he admits. “It’s a testament to the kids coming together as a team. We were always the underdog heading into a big game, especially against some of the southern-area teams, but we never lost faith. I think that’s what make ESD kids so special – they believe in themselves in everything they do.”

The Eagles won their season-opener in a commanding 53-14 decision over Second Baptist School from Houston at the Brookhill Classic in Tyler. The team’s next game is Friday, September 4 against cross-town rival St. Mark’s.

“It such a pleasure to work with a coach of his caliber,” ESD’s Director of Athletics, Jerry Reese, says. “He's a true teacher-coach who understands the demands placed on student-athletes every day and how to respond to them. His lives out ESD’s values of honor, respect, and integrity in everything he does, it shows whether he’s conducting a lab or calling plays.”

Both professions compliment Williams’ skill set and are a testament to his character, so it is not surprising that he won’t play favorites. 

“When I’m in the classroom, Physics is my favorite part of my job, but then when I’m on the sideline, football is my favorite,” Williams says. “I could go with just one and be completely happy, the fact that I can combine them is awesome.”

Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest

The skills needed to run a successful business cannot be learned overnight. There needs to be a budget, a marketing plan, and a general overview of how the organization will operate. Managers and employees must be trained, and customers need to be recruited if the company expects to turn a profit. So how does a summer camp program with the motto, “a camp run by kids for kids” resemble a real-life business? Ask Bo Baker, Rives Castleman, Holmes Davis, Natalie Groves, and Virginia Tiernan, all juniors at The Episcopal School of Dallas, and they will tell you that working for Camp SPARK this summer taught them much of what they need to know about running a business.

“In the months leading up to the camp, we would all meet to discuss potential dates, finances, and counselor selections,” Davis explained. “Then we had to use our different networks to email parents about signing their kids up and hand out flyers in carpool lines to make sure we had enough registrations.”


Those initial meetings included the students working together to create and organize camp invitations, marketing campaigns, and event logistics. They used their different networks to recruit kids, and also set budgets to place advertisements in local newspapers and on neighboring school websites. When day one rolled around, more than 100 children between the ages of 5 and 13 showed up to participate in Camp SPARK.

“Camp SPARK really helped me understand just how meticulous starting and running a company could be,” Baker said. “It also helped me to become much more patient and skilled working with kids.”

In addition to drafting a formal business plan, every day had to be planned down to the smallest detail to make sure everything ran smoothly.  The students worked together to plan each day’s activities and ensured there were enough counselors for each camper.  Parents were on-hand to help oversee the activities, but it was the students leading the way. It gave the teenagers a chance to mentor and connect with the younger children.

"I learned much more than I thought I would,” Groves said. “I figured out each person has something in common with you no matter the age, so I tried my best to get to know each camper."

For part of the day, the boys and girls would separate to participate in different activities, including arts and sports. Then in the afternoon, the students would all get together to play on the waterslide, fish in the quarry, or compete against the counselors in a pick-up game of basketball or tag. Though the counselors created a schedule for each day, they quickly learned that when working with so many children, plans are bound to change.

“The most valuable lessons I learned were communication and responsibility,” Castleman said. “When you’re in charge of 110 kids, you have to be able to explain clearly when a student needs to line up, or when you need help filling water coolers. Working with the other counselors and the younger kids helped me speak more clearly and with more brevity so I could communicate my message more effectively."

Created by a group of local high school students several years ago, Camp SPARK is a week-long camp for children that builds confidence, sportsmanship skills, and life-long friendships. SPARK itself stands for “strong, powerful, athletic, rockin’ kids” and features activities organized and supervised by trained Upper School students. The counselors are paid, but the experiences they gain from working at the camp are invaluable.

When the camp concluded, the students had to account for every dollar spent and make a spreadsheet that listed every item purchased, including any advertising and printing expenses incurred during the recruiting process. “I think that was the most relevant ‘real-life’ experience because that lesson can be applied to any business model,” Tiernan explained.

But the most important lesson she said she learned came from working with her peers to put on the best camp for the younger students.

“The most significant part about it was not just what we were doing day to day, but the bonding that happened between the counselors and the campers,” Tiernan continued. “Learning how to divide and conquer tasks with the friends we hired was also something we developed over the week. We quickly learned how vital it was to trust everyone with what we assigned and trusted the work we put in ahead of time would ensure everything ran smoothly.”

To register for Discover Summer at ESD, please visit

Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest
ESD Inducts 20 Seniors Into Prestigious Cum Laude

On Tuesday, April 21, in a special afternoon ceremony held in All Saints Chapel, The Episcopal School of Dallas inducted 20 members of the Class of 2015 into the academically-elite Cum Laude Society. New members include: Jonathan Barr, Joseph Cheniae, Tate Curington, Kendall DeSantis, Alexander Eggers, Winston Guillory, Rachel Hersh, Emma Jenevein, Caroline Jones, Connie Lee, Rainey Lynch, Natalie Monger, Charlotte Neuhoff, Claire North, Christina Radford, Joseph Rooney, Charlotte Scott, Sabrina Scott, Victoria Siu, and Sophie Wilson.

Before students were recognized, Colleen Walker, the Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Office of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science spoke to students about being “imperfectly perfect” and living a life that “embraces perfection, play, rest, curiosity, grit, and gratitude.” Awards were presented by Head of School Meredyth Cole and the Head of Upper School, Dr. Donna Hull.

Sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa members of ESD’s faculty and staff, the organization recognizes students who have achieved superior academic achievement and promote excellence (Areté), justice (Diké), and honor (Timé). ESD’s faculty and staff sponsors include Martha Bowden, Dr. Eric Boberg, Dr. Angela Fritsen, Dr. Cara Holmes, Dr. Donna Hull, Peter Lutken, and Sharon Stout.

Founded in 1906, the organization today includes approximately 382 chapters from independent and public schools in the United States, Canada, England, France, Spain, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines; 13 of the selected schools are in Texas. More information about can be found at

Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest

Students from The Episcopal School of Dallas were eager to get a jump on their service learning projects interacted with more than 20 non-profit organizations at this year’s annual Volunteer Fair in the Hart Athletic Center on Thursday, April 16. During the event, Middle and Upper School students rotated around tables to learn about the volunteer opportunities available to them through the different organizations.

This year’s participants included: AIDS Arms, Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, Captain Hope’s Kids, Community Partners of Dallas, Dallas Arboretum, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Dallas Children’s Theater, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Public Library, Genesis Women’s Shelter, Goodwill Industries of Dallas, Hunger Busters, Jubilee Park and Community Center, Mi Escuelita, North Dallas Shared Ministries, Operation Kindness, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Project Transformation, Ronald McDonald House, St. Philip’s School and Community Center, Special Olympics Texas, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, The Gathering, VNA Meals on Wheels, Voice of Hope Ministries, and Wesley Rankin Community Center.

Service to others is a Founding Tenet of ESD and every grade level has a community service requirement. Lower and Middle School students participate in age-appropriate projects with their classes. Upper School students, who must complete predetermined number of hours to graduate, are free to volunteer with organizations and causes interesting to them.

This year, more than 280 Upper School students were awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing a minimum of 100 individual community service hours in a 12-month period. Of the 61 graduating seniors who received this honor, 53 percent of them have received the award for four consecutive years. In the other grades, 75 juniors, 78 sophomores, and 74 freshmen were acknowledged for their community service commitments.

Nicole Jacobsen
Pin on Pinterest
Habitat Dedication

For the second consecutive year, The Episcopal School of Dallas has sponsored a house as part of its continued partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Construction started in January, and over the last four months, members from all corners of the ESD community came out to help complete the home for the Woldemariam and Teckle Family. After months of planning, manual labor, and teamwork, the home was dedicated to the family of three in a special ceremony held on Saturday, April 11.

Several members of the ESD community were in attendance, including faculty and staff members and students, alumni, and parents. The ceremony was officiated by The Reverend Amy Heller, ESD’s senior chaplain.

At Saturday’s dedication ceremony, several gifts were presented to the family, including a toolkit, a Bible, and a set of house keys. A loaf of bread and bottle of wine were also given to the family to symbolize the “many happy meals to be shared together in the home,” and “to celebrate the joy in [their] lives.”  

Service to others is one of ESD’s Founding Tenets, and has led to several local, national, and international partnerships with charitable organizations. The School’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity started eight years ago when Middle School students built flower boxes at Wolf Run. Primer students then gathered in the Quarry and filled the hand-made boxes with colorful flowers to present to new Habitat for Humanity homeowners. That tradition continues today in conjunction with the build.

Lower, Middle, and Upper School students not old enough to assist in the building process still found ways to get involved. Scout troops collected supplies for and distributed snack packs to volunteers during the Saturday shifts; other groups set up water stations and lemonade stands to ensure everyone stayed hydrated. Divisions also collected household items and cleaning supplies for the family.

“Working on the house is an especially rewarding experience because you get to see the immediate results and work alongside other members of the ESD community,” Laura Gomez, ESD’s Habitat for Humanity coordinator said. “We are so thankful to all the families and organizations who helped sponsor and build the home. It is really a special way to bring together different community groups and organizations.”

Construction on the house started in January with the ESD Booster Club, Dads’ Partnership, ESD Board of Directors, Alumni Association, Parents’ Association, Young Men’s Service League, and Upper School faculty and staff supplying volunteers for designated build days. Students and the rest of the community were also encouraged to spend their free Saturdays trussing, decking, roofing, and siding the home. The final weekends were spent painting the exterior and planting flowers in the front yard to prepare the house for the dedication.

To see photos from Saturday's dedication, please click here.