December Alumni and Faculty Notes

Catch up on news from the SYA alumni and faculty community

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Emery Brown ES’74 ES’16P was named this year’s recipient of Phillip Exeter Academy’s 2020 John and Elizabeth Phillips Award in recognition of lifelong contributions to humankind. Emery is a renowned neuroscientist and was a featured speaker at SYA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration held in Boston in 2015. Read more. Watch his Global Thinker Talk from the 50th.

Cheo Hodari Coker ES’89 is in development with Netflix to write and produce a feature film adaption of Forty Acres, which follows a civil rights attorney who must fight for survival when he’s invited to join an elite Black organization with a mind-blowing secret; the thriller is described as a cross between The Firm and Get Out (a Jason Blum FR’86 production). Read more.

Bill Gladstone ES’67 talks about his near-death experience at a young age in this episode of “Shifting Tides” and how this experience led to his publishing books on topics related to mind, body and spirit with friends who later grew into the personalities we know today: Eckhart, Tolle, and many others. Watch the video here.  (For alumni who may be interested in book publishing internships, check out the College and Career Connect on ConnectSYA.)

Ethan Heard CN'01, cofounder of Heartbeat Opera in NYC, had a production of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” in 2018 told as an American story through the lens of Black Lives Matter. Heartbeat collaborated with 100 incarcerated singers in six Midwest prison choirs to bring their voices, on film, into the intimate opera theatre. Following up to the success of his 2018 production, Ethan brings us in a virtual setting, “Breathing Free.” He invited a score of black artists – singers, dancers, musicians, film makers and others – to collaborate in a song cycle that pairs excerpts from the “Fidelio” prison choruses with spirituals and works by Black composers, manifesting their struggle to breathe free. (See the New Yorker Breathing Free posting here). This visual album is short (45min) followed by panel discussions. Learn more here.

Dylan Kaplan CN’10 was named one of Forbes “30 Under 30” in the food and drink category for Schoolyard Snacks, a company started in his apartment to provide Keto-approved low-carb, low-sugar cereals and cheese puffs. Read more. 

JB Perrette ES’89, President of Discovery Networks International, lets us know that discover+ is coming to the U.S. “With decades of connecting audiences in every corner of the globe to the local voices and stories they love, Discovery drives inspiration, aspiration and loyalty everywhere, like few media brands can.  discovery+ will harness our unique global and local model and strategy to serve fans around the world as we bring the best of real life entertainment to customers in a whole new way.” Read more

Colleen Reid ES’95, assistant professor of geography at the University of Colorado-Boulder, participated in this webinar on the health effects of the recent wildfires, especially during COVID. Watch it here

Duncan Van Dusen FR’87 ESS’17P CN’19P has published When Are We Going to Teach Health?, which helps explain why youth empowerment and skills-based health education techniques drive academic success. The book has reached Amazon’s #1 Hot New Release in both Early Childhood Education and Nutrition, and reached #1 bestseller rank in Children's Health, Education Policy & Reform, and Parenting Nutrition for Kids. Join our webinar on December 16 featuring Duncan.

In Memoriam

Peter Esty FR’77F ES’82P IT’05RD VN’10RD passed away on November 15. Read SYA’s announcement and his family’s announcement. If you would like to send your condolences to the family, please contact Susan McLean, Associate Director of Development and Director of Alumni Relations.


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A key priority of The Campaign for SYA was curricular innovation. One component of SYA’s curriculum that has been developed and implemented in recent years — fieldwork — helps SYA take advantage of our unique locations to create a quality intercultural, place-based, and experiential educational environment abroad. 

School trips

These are the moments that make the SYA experience so magical. When the lessons students have learned in the classroom are brought to life before their eyes. When the student becomes the teacher, introducing people, places and concepts using the knowledge they have gained. When students debate a relevant issue, learning how to engage in perspective taking and critical thinking.

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Giving to the SYA Fund supports SYA’s operational budget each and every year and helps to provide immediate use funds to deliver the SYA experience we know and love. Through The Campaign for SYA, over $7 million dollars were raised for the SYA Fund. We are grateful to these donors for creating a strong foundation of support for our students and educators.