Severn News

Millard Grant Recipients Take Severn Across the Country and Across the Ocean

This summer, Millard Travel Grant recipients Ms. Vicki Dabrowka and Mr. Frank Donn traveled across the country and across the ocean to bring a new perspective to their classrooms. From all things innovation in Silicon Valley to music that promotes social good in London, both trips inspired our teachers to return energized and ready to share their experiences with our community.

Innovation's Greatest Hits

Lower School Technology Specialist Ms. Vicki Dabrowka spent a week in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay areas of Northern California. Her whirlwind trip was an innovation scavenger hunt including:
  • Visits to the dynamic duo of tech museums: the Tech Museum of Innovation & the Computer History Museum
  • A tour of the NASA Ames Research center and Stanford University
  • Drive-by photo opps at famous tech locations including the storied Apple garage, other “birthplaces of tech," and Apple, Facebook and Google HQ
  • A guided tour of Seesaw Learning Journal’s central office
Throughout her trip, Ms. Dabrowka remarked how technology and our attitudes toward it have changed over time. She observed how San Francisco’s rich technological history with the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and electric trolleys, has evolved to sustain our revolutionary tech giants of today.
Severn School teacher at Facebook HQ.
Ms. Dabrowka at Facebook HQ
While the entire trip was memorable, Ms. Dabrowka notes her visit to Seesaw as a particular highlight. Seesaw is a tool for building, collecting and sharing student digital work that Ms. Dabrowka introduced to Severn two years ago. During her visit to Seesaw, she spoke with co-founder Carl Sjogreen (a student of our very own Head of School Lagarde at his former school!) about entrepreneurship, leadership, the role of technology in the classroom and more.
“We talked in depth about Seesaw and they asked me questions about what is or isn't working for us at school. It's not every day that I get to chat with a leader in edtech! And before I left, I got to take part in one of their favorite brain break activities: a very competitive game of Codenames!” — Ms. Dabrowka
Severn School teachers with the founder of Seesaw
Ms. Dabrowka with Seesaw co-founder Carl Sjogreen
Ms. Dabrowka keeps our Lower School on the cutting edge of what’s new in educational technology. And the unforgettable memories from her trip now inspire her teaching in the classroom. Whether creating new ways for students to showcase their designs with Seesaw or planning the upcoming 2nd and 3rd-grade virtual field trip to the Computer History Museum, Ms. Dabrowka is bringing that good Silicon Valley tech-spiration home to Chesapeake Campus.

Drumming Up Social Good

Upper and Lower School Music Teacher and Director of Instrumental Ensembles Mr. Frank Donn spent a week in the Hackney neighborhood of London visiting and playing with Drum Works, a Samba drumming program. Mr. Donn has worked with Drum Works teachers Sam and Ross through Creative Connections, the organization’s US counterpart, for the past eight years on annual music projects for Baltimore City Schools. He was excited to see his friends and colleagues in action abroad.

During his stay, Mr. Donn attended Drum Works sessions at two high schools and the Barbican Centre, a world-class performing arts complex, where he played drums with the groups and helped support community outreach classes. Drum Works is an inclusive program for students and adults — any community member can take part. Through music education and performance they seek to teach their members that “positive action, hard work and commitment achieve amazing results everyone can be proud of.” (from the Drum Works website) The energy and synergy of this organization are difficult to capture in words. Even as a visitor for a short period of time, Mr. Donn could see the positive impact this program has on the lives of its members.
Drum Works Samba drumming performance outside.
A Drum Works performance
Mr. Donn also visited with the Messengers, a music collective that works with a mixture of students/graduates from the Guildhall School of Music and people who have experienced homelessness and sought support from St. Mungo's homeless charity. Mr. Donn spent the day in the studio with the Messengers and sang with the band during their recording session.

As Mr. Donn reflected on his visit, he commented that each of these projects includes people of varying ability levels, from novice to student expert to expert. He was moved to see people from all walks of life create such incredible music together and inspired to bring this point of view back to his students at Severn.
Teacher takes a selfie with a group of singers.
Mr. Donn and the Messengers in the studio
“Sam and Ross are very active in social justice through music making and creativity. I have done several workshops with them and Creative Connections in conjunction with the Orchkids program in Baltimore, but this was the first time I was able to go to their home base and immerse myself in their projects. ” — Mr. Donn

The Millard Travel Grant

Established in 1997, the Millard Faculty Travel Grant provides professional development for the many responsibilities a faculty member might have at Severn: classroom teaching, coaching, advising extracurricular programs and providing leadership in the school. The grants are awarded to either contribute significantly to a faculty member's professional growth in service to Severn or to contribute to the development of curriculum and programs. The Grant has been awarded to over 38 faculty members. Severn School is grateful to Steve Millard '51.

We are proud and thankful that we are able to support faculty travel endeavors with the Millard Grant. Mr. Donn's reflection says it all, “It was truly an energizing and life-changing trip for me. It was incredible and words can hardly express my gratitude.”

Lower School

Upper School