Rintintintinnabulation: An actor reflects on “All in the Timing”

By Division 2 student Grace

Da rrrooongplatz? Oop da-doll! Du doppa de rektplatz! Da-meetcha playzeer. Comintern. Police. Plop da chah.

On the first rehearsal of any Meridian theater production, the entire cast gathers around a table. Brand-new scripts are laid out in front of everybody, and actors are teeming with the thrill of new lines and the fresh beginning of the process. The cast reads through the totality of the play – a feat in and of itself – and they get their first glimpse of characters that, over the course of months, they will come to know inside and out.

This spring, 12th graders Arlo and Miles chose to direct a series of short comedic plays. On the day of the read-through, a twenty-page script overflowing with lines just like the one above was placed in my hands. This play is called “The Universal Language,” and like the others, it comes from a collection by David Ives called All in the Timing. As the title suggests, it centers on one man’s attempt to create an entirely new language. Most of it sounds like gibberish.

Suffice to say, I was a bit intimidated. Actually, I was just plain terrified, mostly at the prospect of even beginning to memorize such a daunting script, let alone words such as Natooraltissimississippimentay and Rintintintinnabulation. On a different level, though, I was also frightened that I didn't have the skill or ability to pull off a play of this complexity; I wanted to do the work justice, and I was unsure if I could.    

The plot of “The Universal Language” is anything but simple. A man named Don has invented a language he calls Unamunda. He starts a “School of Unamunda” out of a small office space and places an ad in the paper. One day, a hopeful student actually shows up – a woman coincidentally named Dawn. On the surface, the play is about the characters’ growing bond as Don teaches Dawn Unamunda, and the realization of the beauty and nuance of the “language” although it might seem like nonsense at first. Below the surface, however, there lurks the theme of love as a true “universal language,” as well as the question of how we ever understand each other and communicate our personal experiences at all.

Almost the entirety of the play is spoken in Unamunda, which is essentially gibberish meant to sound vaguely like comedic English. The language has obviously been well thought out by Ives; though at times words may seem random, they never are. Each phrase has been carefully crafted with hidden jokes, and the sounds of the words are completely deliberate. For this reason, my scene partner Tempest and I couldn't just spout whatever nonsensical sentences were on the top of our heads – we both had to retain each word as it was intended. We both put in what felt like endless hours of rehearsal and memorization time.

I cannot count the number of people who approached both me and Tempest after the show asking, “How on Earth did you memorize that?” Quite frankly, I didn't have a good answer. I suppose I simply did it repeatedly so many times that it became seared into my skull. I love rehearsal more than anything, and when you love something, you put your best foot forward.

And I can say with the utmost certainty that all those hours were worth it. The moment I stepped onstage on opening night, I forgot all the struggles and all the blurry-eyed nights spent staring into my script with uncertainty. You could say that everything “fell into place,” but that’s not really true. Because that’s the thing about theatre – things are always different. You find yourself making entirely new choices and feeding off of the audience's responses. And, like everything in life, it’s not permanent. Tech week ended, and then we were done with opening night, and before I had the chance to blink, we were striking the set.

Yes, it’s not permanent, but it sure is indescribably beautiful while it lasts. We can’t control time, or return to certain experiences exactly as they were, but we have memories, and I think that’s what is important. Even if the production had included more stress, work, or memorization, I would have done it all over again. To hear the uproarious laughter at the jokes I had rehearsed so long, and to see how the play made people happy and made them think, is all the convincing I need.

It was also a gigantic gift to be able to see my fellow cast members work. I was consistently impressed with their performances, especially tackling such wildly absurd plots. I was awestruck from the first run-through to closing night, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake that feeling. This production truly could not have been possible without the support of such a delightful cast and wonderful directors. Many, many thanks to all who helped to bring this production to the Meridian community and beyond.  

Students as Teachers: A Senior Reflects on her Final Exhibitions Evening

By Division 4 student Isabel

As wild as it sounds even to me, last Wednesday I attended my very last Exhibitions evening. Although I may not have the 21 Exhibitions under my belt – like some seniors who’ve been at Meridian since 6th grade – I have now completed 12, and it’s safe to say that they have been a staple of my youth.

After all of those Exhibitions – and, of course, with the wisdom of an elder 12th grader – I wasn’t nervous to present our division’s work. As students spend time at Meridian, we quickly get to know the parents and extended family of our classmates. Because of this, our audiences on these nights quickly become a sea of familiar faces. I started the night in my mathematical modeling class, where I talked with visitors about a bicycle insurance policy I created and about how game theory can be used to explore one's commitment to solving climate change. After that, I moved on to Humanities, where I talked with a prospective family about a theatrical model that my friend Jo and I built as part of our playwriting unit.

Later, I spent time in the Art room showing off my work in ceramics and lamenting about how much I’d miss our teacher Emily’s classes. Finally, I went to Spanish. After talking briefly about the ceramic piece I created for a project on Argentina’s Dirty War, I reflected for a moment on how far my Spanish skills had come since 9th grade. Just then, my classmate Ifrah tore me away from my sentimental reflection, telling me that we needed to gather everyone for a senior picture. This was it: the beginning of the good-byes. My heart could barely take it. After finally locating our classmate Piper, we all – yes, our entire graduating class – crammed onto the couch in the hallway, glowing for the paparazzi of teachers and parents.

A dozen Exhibitions have not only gave me the confidence to present my own work. They’ve also demonstrated to me how satisfying it is to teach others about what I’ve learned. As I walked out into the night after that final class picture, I promised myself that this teaching element of my learning would not end here. Thanks to Exhibitions, I want to continue learning and sharing newfound knowledge wherever I go.

From the JP Gazette: Students Complete Grant-Funded Biotechnology Lab at Meridian Academy

By Division 3 student Izzy

Originally published in the JP Gazette.

On a Tuesday morning in January, the father of one of my classmates sat us all down in our science lab to ask us questions that most of us could not answer. We didn’t know at the time that this was the beginning of an engrossing week of experimentation about biotechnology.

Biotechnology is one of the most helpful and impressive advances in science, in which genes can be cloned and proteins expressed for specific purposes. For example, the protein-digesting power of household laundry detergent often comes from proteins called proteases, and patients with diabetes are commonly treated with insulin, both of which are commonly produced through biotechnology.  In our class, we were going to clone the gene found in jellyfish that make them glow green (green fluorescent protein) and the gene found in coral that makes them blue (midorishi cyan fluorescent protein).

I should mention here that I’m in 10th grade. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to clone jellyfish and coral genes as a teenager, but that kind of work isn’t really uncommon at Meridian Academy, where I go to school. Our learning is often based in the surrounding community, and our teachers love including new technologies and resources in their classrooms.

On the first day of the lab, we divided into teams of two, snapped on our safety gloves, and started the long and meticulous process that would last all week. The lab required many complex techniques. We started with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which is a process of denaturing a double-strand of DNA by heating it up, adding a gene-specific primer, and then lowering the temperature to create multiple copies of the DNA sequence. On day two, it was time to test whether our efforts from the previous day had worked. Using a technique called agarose gel electrophoresis, we were able to tell if our DNA sequences had made successful copies. If so, we then moved on to the process of cloning the DNA into a construct known as a plasmid that would express the gene we copied. The next day, we all came in ready for the last day of experimentation, in which we transformed the plasmid into an E. coli bacteria, plated the results and then left them overnight. In the morning, we placed the bacteria under a black light and saw the bright green glow of the protein.

It was a true privilege to be a part of this five-day lab. Thanks to a grant from the Program on Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, we were provided with technology and resources that most teenagers never get a chance to even learn about. Students were able to see their hard work glowing brightly under a blue light at the end of the week, and it felt incredibly rewarding to know that all of the painfully specific pipetting and attention to detail had paid off. I came away with a new appreciation of both what biotechnology makes possible in the world, and how this complex field of science works. I hope that more students get to have this kind of classroom experience in the future.

An Evening of Wild Harmony: Meridian’s 5th Annual Music Night

By Division 3 student Jamie

Every year, the entire Meridian community comes together on one night in March to hear the fruits of all of the hard work that the music department has put in over the second trimester. This year, we got to hear songs performed by the school band – “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, “Animal Spirits” by Vulfpeck, “Breed” by Nirvana, and “Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance – as well as the songs that each of the music classes had prepared. In a grand culmination of all of their efforts, Division 4 ukulele, Division 4 drumming, Division 3 guitar, and Division 3 singing all came together in Meridian’s largest-ever arrangement to perform what we called “Clockshkago,” a medley of Coldplay’s “Clocks” and Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago.” Many thanks, also, to Jesse, Merrick, and Lila who gave a fantastic performance of “Best Friend” by Rex Orange County.

Other pieces included the traditional Irish hymn “Wild Mountain Thyme,” 12th grader Dani’s original song, “As Far as it Will Go,” a traditional African celebratory drumming song called “Bembe,” and a quirky vocal arrangement of “She Said”  by The Beatles. The highlight of the night came when our fabulous music teacher, Laura Grill Jaye, carried out the annual tradition of handing out framed “grill-as” – photographs of the chalk gorilla who presides over Laura’s classroom – to the graduating class. Two teachers who will be leaving next year – Jon Cannon and Kevin Hong – also received the prized work of art. (Owing only to personal restraint, I will keep my personal feelings about the school losing two of the most fantastically talented faculty musicians ever out of this blog-post). The night was topped off by selections from the music Winterim group, which performed selections from Nirvana’s “Nevermind.”

One of my favorite moments in this year’s music night was the performance of a song that I had written for Pay It No Mind, a musical that I am in the process of writing with Laura’s help. The musical follows the life of Marsha P. Johnson, an activist who led the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the 1960s and 70s. This particular song is titled “Welcome to the Stonewall.” It featured faculty musicians Catherine Epstein (vocals), Kevin Hong (keys), and the aforementioned Laura Grill Jaye (drums), as well as 9th grader Rhys Boyd on the bass and sophomore Cameron Smith on vocals. The audience’s participation in the performance made me incredibly happy, and I am endlessly grateful for all of the spectacular musicians who helped me perform this song that I had worked so hard to create.

By the end of the night, everyone was exhausted. But because of all of our efforts Meridian’s 5th music night was a success!

Check out some of the songs on our Vimeo page!

A Wheelchair Dolly and a Bathroom Ladder: DIY Filmmaking at Meridian

It’s the middle of a Friday at Meridian, but instead of being in my normal classes I’m sitting on a toilet in the girls bathroom and staring up at a video camera. For this year’s Winterim – a two-day workshop where students learn a new skill of their choice – I decided to do a filmmaking course led by Nathan. The first thing he told us was that film was a very visual medium. Throughout the next two days, we learned how to use angles, shot lengths, close-ups, and long shots to tell a story visually. On the first day, we watched some short films and discussed them. We read a sample screenplay and learned about formatting dialogue. We learned how to storyboard a script by sketching images of the shots we wanted, and we learned how to use the camera. After learning these steps, we were split into two groups to begin creating our short films. The only requirement was that we had to incorporate a random object picked from a box…  

It is commonly known at Meridian that whenever there is food on the white table – a round table in the middle of the office where “up-for-grabs” snacks are deposited – everyone really wants it. After picking a takeout box as our random item, my group decided to do create a short film about it. We knew we would be able to use the Meridian space to tell the story, and it would be understood easily by our Meridian viewers.

After making our storyboard, we set off on our way through the halls of the school with our takeout box in hand. Our process consisted of finding our next shot in our storyboard, discussing it, adjusting the camera, doing a take, and repeating the cycle as necessary. We laughed a lot during our process as we crowded around the camera to watch our footage.

One of the hardest shots was when Sam and I walked down the hallway to fight each other. (Our rivalry was over the takeout box, of course.) Grace, our camera person for that shot, sat in a wheelchair with the camera focused on my fist. As Nathan rolled the wheelchair down the hallway, we created a low-budget dolly. This same method was used on Sam’s fist, and the two shots were spliced when we edited the footage together.

But no doubt, the most challenging shot was an overhead of me in the bathroom. We moved a ladder into the girls bathroom, situated the tripod on the ladder, and ended up having to do many takes and retakes. However, this was one of the most exciting parts of the process. Everyone was having a good time and working on every detail to make the shot just right.

Having completed this filmmaking Winterim, I have a newfound appreciation for what goes into a film. So many people need to work on a vast array of details to make each shot perfect. Beyond this appreciation for the work, I also understand filmmaking language with more clarity – for instance, I know how a high shot or a low shot can tell two different stories. Making our story clear to our viewers required a lot of extra time, but piecing it all together was incredibly satisfying. Everyone was engaged and working towards an artistic vision. At 3:15pm on Friday, when we huddled around the computer watching our full short film, we laughed as we admired our work. In the end, that bathroom shot looked great.

Check out my group’s film here and the other group’s film here.

Competition and Camaraderie: A Morning of Poetry Out Loud

By Tempest, a Division 4 student

Each year, every Meridian student meticulously memorizes a unique poem and recites it in front of the whole school at Poetry Out Loud. January 23rd, 2019 was no different. The school gathered in the Parish Hall, each student anxiously – or excitedly – awaiting their turn. For some students, it’s a magical (and nerve-wracking!) first-time experience. For others, it’s their seventh and final recitation.

When Poetry Out Loud comes around every year, it’s astounding to sit down for the morning and hear every single distinctive voice at Meridian. Even though some poems were recited by more than one student, each presenter had their own approach to the poem, which was distinctly communicated with their recitation. The poems also represented a range of emotions – some were funny, some were happy, some were sad, and some were reflective – and the audience could experience each of these feelings thanks to the the devoted performances they got from the students.

It might be hard to believe that so many middle school and high school students would actually be committed to reciting a well-memorized, beautifully articulated poem, but there are three reasons why Meridian challenges that idea.

First, Poetry Out Loud is one of the few competitions Meridian hosts. We don’t have traditional sports teams, spelling bees, or debate clubs, and the school’s atmosphere is one that privileges community over contests. This means that when we’ve got the chance to compete, we take it. Each student competes for the best recitation, and those who win first, second, or runner-up each get a prize. The high schooler who places first goes on to a regional competition, then possibly to states or even nationals.

The second reason is that the recitations are assessed by our teachers. We don’t have traditional grades are Meridian, but our teachers evaluate our performances based on areas including articulation, volume, physical presence, and dramatic choices. The day isn’t just a celebration of poetry, but the culmination of many weeks’ preparation.

Lastly, and on a related note, many Humanities teachers incorporate the memorization and development aspect into class time. In Division 4 Humanities, the students got the chance to recite their poems in front of Nathan, who then gave thoughtful and useful feedback for us to think about and incorporate back into our poems.

Poetry Out Loud is an evocative and unique experience. Not only is it fun – despite the nerves and pressure – but it allows the students to strengthen our memorization and public speaking skills. We relish the competition of Poetry Out Loud. But since every one of us does it, we also know we’re in it together.

Check out the winners here!

Monologues, Memories, and Meaning: An Actor Reflects on Her Last Meridian Production

By 12th grader Piper

“This play is called Our Town. It was written by Thornton Wilder, produced by Meridian Academy, and directed by Catherine Epstein. In it, you will see a number of fantastic actors. The name of this town is Grover’s Corners, just off the Massachusetts line: longitude 42 degrees 40 minutes; latitude 70 degrees 37 minutes...”

Those were, more or less, the first words I spoke when I walked onstage as the Stage Manager in this fall’s production of Our Town. I expected to forget all of my lines within the first week after the closing night of the production. Now, I think they are going to be with me for much longer.

I have always adored Meridian’s theater program, known as PAA – or Performing Arts and Activism – because Meridian loves acronyms. I had planned to audition for this play because it would be my last chance to get directed by Catherine before I graduated, and I felt like I was in need of many more theater memories with her. In the end, I got that and so much more.

We had a relatively small cast, so a lot of the actors played more than one part. I was cast as the Stage Manager, who was effectively god, and Simon Stimson, the town choir director who also seems to suffer from depression and alcoholism. I was excited about portraying Simon, but less enthusiastic about memorizing so many pages of monologues for the Stage Manager. However, the longer the process went on, the more I enjoyed playing the Stage Manager, and the more I came to love and appreciate all of my fellow actors. From the rehearsals with countless inside jokes scattered through them — George Gibbs mentioning agriculture school for the billionth time, Mrs. Webb insisting her daughter was “pretty enough for all normal purposes,” and many other references I couldn’t name without making this blog post entirely too long — there was so much we bonded over and so many memories we created.

This play was also hard. It taxed me emotionally and I was exhausted by the end of it, and I wasn’t the only one. My fellow actors poured so much time and energy into this production, and it truly paid off in our performances. I’m proud of each and every one of us, and I keep thinking that I couldn’t have imagined Meridian’s Our Town with any other group.

The small size of our cast meant that we all had a lot to carry, and each of my castmates brought something singular to this production. From Nadia’s emotionally raw performance as Emily; to Mary Alice’s infectious energy; to Grace P.’s wonderfully sweet George; to Mara’s curious Rebecca; to Maya’s caring Mrs. Gibbs (even while dead, one could argue); to Juanzi’s wise Mr. Webb, who prevailed in the face of awkwardness; to Nina’s Mrs. Soames, who loved to gossip; to Ezra’s Wally, who was smart about his stamp collection; to Phoebe’s hardworking Howie, deliverin’ that milk; to last but certainly not least, Tempest’s no-nonsense Doc Gibbs. I list all of these actors because without each individual, this play would not have been what it was.

I’m so thankful to have been a part of this production. PAA has always been an important part of Meridian for me, and it’s arguably one of the main reasons I came to the school in the first place. By this point – my senior year – I’ve acted with a lot of the theater community at Meridian, some of whom I joined again in this production, and I’ve grown alongside them throughout that time. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my time as an actor at Meridian.

This production meant so much to me, and I cannot express enough how thankful I am to have experienced it with each of my fellow actors. Thank you all for being the folks who showed up. This really was our town.

Fitting Functions to a Bear: Trimester 1 Exhibitions

By Division 3 student Mara

Three times a year, Meridian students show the public the work they’ve been doing throughout the trimester. In each class, students present their projects and their peers’ projects to all sorts of visitors. As a new 9th grader at Meridian, I experienced my very first Exhibitions in early December.

In the weeks leading up to Exhibitions, we had a lot of work to finish, and I was specifically excited to present my Functions of Art project. For this project, we needed to create and fit algebraic functions to a work of art, and it was the first time I had ever applied math to a creative piece like that. For my project, I looked at a work of art called “As it Comes to Bear” by Venetia Dale and fit functions to create a bear like the one in the piece.

On the day of Exhibitions, I felt nervous but prepared. I had heard a lot about the event, but I was still not 100% sure about what to expect. It began with a performance from musicians in classes ranging from singing to composition to our school band. I was excited to hear all the original music that students wrote, along with new arrangements of songs that I knew well.

After the music, it was time to go to my classes and present my work. I was worried that I might not have anyone to talk to, but each room included many visitors, and they all wanted to hear from students about what we’d learned. During the evening, I was able to talk to several visitors and families, and it was a completely new experience for me to tell people I didn’t know about my work.

I also talked to other students about their projects, and it was really interesting to see and explore their learning and ideas. When I was in the art room, I talked with Jo, a 12th grader, about a shirt she had made in her Sewing class. Like my Functions of Art project, Jo had to apply practical skills to make this creative piece, and it was neat to see how projects in different classes can use such similar skills.

Exhibitions was really different than other presenting experiences I have participated in, and I’m excited to do it again in March!

The Mathematics of Activism

By Division 4 students Clary and Miles

Last trimester, the Division 4 Mathematics, Science, & Technology class, Mathematical Modeling, took on the creation of our very own ranking functions. A ranking function takes numerical inputs—like test scores or student:faculty ratios to rank colleges—and weights and combines them into a single output. Many ranking functions, instead of actually ranking multiple possible outputs, are designed with a threshold for making a decision, like whether or not you should call in sick to work. Working together, the two of us chose a politically relevant topic to model with our function: should you attend a protest?

Almost everyone has been frustrated about the political climate at some point, and it’s hard to know what to do with that anger besides push it down. However, sometimes it reaches a point when we need our voices heard, and we need a group of people who will yell with us. Once we’ve reached that point, and we hear about a gathering of that sort, we need to make a decision: do we go to the protest, or do we save our energy?

We brainstormed 20 variables that might be included in such a decision. Some were about safety: your race, your citizenship status, and the size of the group with whom you’d be going. Others dealt with convenience, like the weather and the location of the protest. We also considered how important the protest was. This last category we strived to measure quantitatively and objectively, so in the end we included the number of days until or since a relevant political event, along with a subjective measure of personal importance. We chose distance in minutes of travel and mode of transportation to address convenience. Personal safety is a different question for everyone, as we all have different factors that might make us safer or endanger us in an action of civil disobedience. Immigrants and refugees might be more concerned about potential arrest and people of color are likely to be concerned about potential police brutality. Everyone thinks about who they’ll be with at the time – after all, there’s safety in numbers. We decided on two variables: a measure of police brutality based on race, using statistics from the FBI, and group size to deal with safety. Of course there were many other variables that were worth considering, but these were the ones we started working with. With graph paper notebook pages covered in sketches of our functions, we designed and revised ways to weight these variables and the relationships between them.

One question that kept reappearing was how this score could really be effective for potential protesters, since in reality the biggest question is often the expenditure of personal time. Other work can be just as effective in bettering the world than these actions of raising our voices, which can often feel fruitless. Seeking the right combination of activism and anger is a true challenge. We weren’t able to touch on that, so this function is really just part of a larger question.

We created this function largely because it is of great personal importance to us. Both of us are politically active, but we frequently feel as though we aren’t doing quite enough. This function allows self-declared activists the space to step back from this kind of vocal work. We also specified in the paper that in no way should this function be treated as infallible or always correct. But, we think it’s a good place to start, and deliberating over our function gave us a deeper understanding of this all-too-common decision in these troubling times.

Click here and check out another paper on considering one’s role in solving climate change.

On Nerves, Art, and Spanish: Presenting at a conference for the first time

By World Language Teacher Leisa M. Quiñones-Oramas

IMG-20181027-WA0000_1545142273867.jpg

After much planning and anticipation, Saturday morning was finally upon me. I was the first to arrive at the conference room. As I laid out examples of student work on the tables, the sky outside echoed my nerves. Gushes of wind splattered the window with rain drops. Leaves trembled in unison with my shaking hands. As I greeted my co-presenter Nicole, our first attendee quietly arrived and sat in the last row. She was followed by another, and then another. The clock arms inched closer to 8:30am, our starting time. Everything was ready, our materials were all organized, our electronic devices were up and running, and our microphones were plugged in. My heart was beating fast, and my mind was eager. Finally, Nicole addressed our audience. Twenty or so faces looked expectantly at both of us. Nicole turned towards me. It was my cue. I started to talk…

On October 27th, I co-led a three-hour workshop at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA) in Springfield, Massachusetts. After attending more than ten different literature- and education-related conferences over my last eight years in Boston, it was the very first time I was invited to present my own work. I was elated, excited, and nervous for the chance to share my craft with other teachers from across New England.

The opportunity arose earlier in the school year, when I was approached by Nicole Claris, Manager of School Programs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to co-present with her at the event. Our workshop, entitled “Art of the Spanish-speaking World,” had a dual purpose. Nicole would introduce and create connections between works of art from Spain and Latin America available in the MFA’s vast collection, while I would describe how I’ve incorporated some of these artworks into my classes, and guide an in-depth brainstorm session for teachers to develop concrete ways to use the collection in their lessons.

For the last four years, I have worked alongside Nicole and around twenty-five other teachers from New England as a member of the museum’s Educator Advisory Board. The board’s task is to advise and support the museum’s School Programs Department in developing and promoting programs for students and teachers in the Greater Boston area. My involvement with the board and the museum has undoubtedly shaped how I approach and bring art into my Spanish classroom. In many ways, the MFA’s collection of resources has led me to consider visual art as not only a cultural representation of different regions and time periods, but as a central text that enriches my classes and serves as inspiration for the projects that my own students create.

We had Parent-Teacher conferences on Friday the 26th, the day just before my conference, and I had the opportunity to describe to Meridian parents the work their children were doing in Spanish class so far. Parents learned about students’ exploration of México’s rich popular culture while creating alebrije sculptures; their grasp of the complex meaning in Hispanic Caribbean poetry through the use of images and drawing; and their use of art and abstract representation to create ABC picture books about themselves. As we talked, I simultaneously realized how much art I asked the kids to produce in my Spanish classes, and how lucky I was to be able to do so. I knew that in less than 24 hours, I would be standing in front of a group of language teachers interested in enriching their curriculum with the vast collections from the MFA. I also knew that, depending on their schools and districts, many of these educators might not have the same freedom I enjoy to plan their courses creatively.

Back in the conference room, my nerves had completely dissipated. The audience’s eyes scanned an image of three unique sculptures. I was in the middle of explaining how I had collaborated with Emily, Meridian’s art teacher, on a unit about Taíno mythology in which students created small deity-inspired sculptures known as cemí. Suddenly, a man opened the room’s door and asked, “Wasn’t this session over 15 minutes ago?” Our three hours had flown by. Our audience had been welcoming, attentive, and inquisitive. They were blown away by the materials, historical background, and connections that Nicole shared with them. They also asked encouraging questions about my unit planning process, my students’ reactions to and involvement with the materials, and their final projects.

As I left the room, my bag was emptier. All of my copied resources had been left in the hands of eager teachers. However, my mind was full of thoughts and assurances. This experience reminded me of one of the reasons I originally decided to become a teacher: to share and build knowledge through community and collaboration.