Faculty Explorations

Have you ever wanted to take a class from one of your children's teachers? Have you ever wanted to get back into the classroom simply to learn (and not for a grade)? Join us on Tuesdays in January and February for FACULTY EXPLORATIONS, a faculty speaker series featuring Upper School teachers who will explore different topics—based on their areas of expertise—with parents, alumni, and others in our community. All seminars are free and open to the public. See you back in the classroom...

For detailed descriptions of each seminar and the faculty presenter, please see below. TO REGISTER FOR A SEMINAR, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, January 17: Einstein and Light? How Albert Einstein Helped Validate the Dual Nature of Light
7:00 - 8:00pm in Mingledorff Hall (212 Physics Room)

In Adam Weber’s last Faculty Exploration he discussed how human beings developed their process of thinking and analyzing. He ended his presentation with the conundrum that plagued scientists for years; what is the nature of light? In this presentation he will carefully analyze two of Einstein’s thought experiments that helped move the theory of light into realms never thought of before.  Join Adam as he tries to explain the Photoelectric Effect and the Special Theory of Relativity.

Instructor: Adam has been teaching Physics at SCDS for over 30 years. He grew up in Milwaukee, WI but lived in many places before moving to Savannah. Adam has a BS in Physics & Math from UW-Whitewater and an MEd from UMass-Amherst. His teaching career began with the Peace Corps teaching Physics and Chemistry at a government boarding school in Thyolo, Malawi.  Adam is passionate about student learning as he uses Physics as a means to teach students to think, analyze and problem-solve.  Prominently displayed in the back of the classroom is the line, “I don’t know what I don’t know” which perfectly sums up his desire to teach students to question and analyze. Adam is married and has one son who is serving in the US Navy.  He spends his summers working on a Little House he built in Western NY.


Tuesday, January 24: American Voices: Songs and Citizenship in the USA
7:00 - 8:30pm in Johnson Choral Room
What makes American music extraordinarily rich? What do the songs and music you listen to say about you? What does a musical artist’s music say about themselves?  In this program we explore American song throughout the 20th century,  and how songwriters have used their music to foster social change or promote American cultural and national identity, within the backdrop of major political and cultural movements of the 20th Century, including the Gilded Age, Progressivism, WWII, the Civil Rights Era, and Globalism. Live and historic performances ranging from Bel Canto Opera,  New Orleans Jazz, Gospel, and Pop Music will be presented in this exploration of American culture as seen through the lens of history and music.

Instructor: Scott Joiner has performed more than 40 roles from Carnegie Hall to the San Francisco Opera, New York International Fringe Festival to Italy’s Teatro Magnani. He starred in, and wrote the score to the short film, Connection Lost, which won Best Score at the Kerry (Ireland) Film Festival, and he was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered in 2017. An evening of his music was produced at the National Arts Club in NYC in 2018 and his works have been presented from London to Vienna.  Scott has written five one-act crossover musicals, numerous art songs, pop songs, a podcast intro jingle, choral music and instrumental works. He earned his doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music where he has been a Distance Learning teaching artist since 2013.  He is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in Music Education at Columbia University. At Country Day, he hopes to inspire students to bring passion and curiosity to every aspect of life.


Tuesday, January 31: "Let me be clear...": The Art of Rhetoric & Argument
7:00 - 8:30pm Livingston 15
Do you ever feel like you have something to say, but you’re not being heard? Would you like to share your ideas more effectively? Whether it’s in the office or at home with an aloof teenager, communication is critical, especially today when we are often reduced to a headline or Tweet to make our points clear. To get your message across, you have to consider not just what you want to say, but how you will say it so that your intended audience will be compelled to hear and respond. Join us to learn about rhetoric, how to understand the whole rhetorical situation, and what makes a convincing argument. Not only will you hear about strong argument techniques, but you’ll also practice them by analyzing a short text and even writing a little of your own while imitating famous authors. 

Instructor: Jen Glisson is a former Class Dean and is in her 10th year of teaching English at SCDS. She earned her BA in English and Secondary Education from Elon University and MEd from Harvard University. She began her teaching career in North Carolina public schools but then taught at a university in Argentina for a year through a Fulbright before attending graduate school. After, she taught for 3 years in Jordan at an international school before relocating back to the US to join SCDS. Jen is passionate about student learning, especially helping students apply rhetoric to make cogent arguments and think critically about the messages they read or hear on a daily basis. Jen is married and has a 2-year old son, who she chases around in her free time.


Tuesday, February 7: Memory and Lost Causes:  A Tale of Two Monuments
7:00 - 8:30pm in Mingledorff Hall (Room 212)

We are in a period of genuine historical reckoning over how we remember the Civil War and honor its participants.  Prominent Confederate statuary has been removed in many cities including New Orleans, Memphis and even the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia.  Further, southern military bases named for Confederate generals are now in the process of being re-named.  Within this wider context, Georgians are grappling with two prominent relics from their Confederate past, the monument to the Confederate Dead in Forsyth Park in Savannah and, to a greater extent, the large relief carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on the north face of Stone Mountain near Atlanta.  While both of these monuments celebrate the Confederate experience, they are very different in terms of when they were created, why they were created and the messages they hoped to convey.  A comparative examination of these artifacts yields a deeper understanding of the intersection of memory, race and power in our state from the end of the Civil War to our not-too-distant past.

Instructor: Chris Beckmann is in the seventh year of his second tour of duty at SCDS; he is also a Savannah native and Country Day “Lifer” who graduated in 1979.  Chris earned a BA in History from the University of Georgia before continuing his education at the University of Florida where he studied with renowned Southern historian Bertram Wyatt-Brown.  His Masters Thesis “Forbidden Thoughts:  The Metamorphosis of Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin,” traced the evolution of this daughter of a Confederate veteran through her childhood Lost Cause indoctrination and later adult transformation into a progressive New Deal-inspired sociologist.  Chris taught several courses across the history curriculum in his 30 years at Oak Hall School in Gainesville, Florida in addition to his college counseling duties before returning to Savannah and Country Day in 2016 to assume the Director of College Counseling post.  Chris is married to former SCDS Middle School instructor, Mary; he has two daughters and he enjoys live music, cycling, swimming at Tybee, southern literature and listening to Atlanta Braves games on the radio.


Tuesday, February 14: Biology: It's Always More Complicated Than You Think
7:00 - 8:00pm in Mingledorff Hall (Room 206)

It’s simple biology” is a phrase you hear in popular speech over and over again, but biology is anything but straightforward.  As living organisms evolved over millions of years as collections of chemicals made of primarily 6 different elements, the processes that sustain life have developed to impressive levels of complications throughout many series of mutations and selections.  A common refrain in my biology classes is, “it’s always more complicated that it seems,” and in this hour, we will dive into some of the biological “facts” that are taught as absolute and explore the ways in which there’s always more to the biological story and see that nothing found in “myriad forms wonderful and beautiful” is simple and straightforward as it might seem.

Instructor: Ariane Wright has been teaching for 15 years, 10 of which have been at SCDS.  She has taught science from 8th grade through 12th grade; covering subjects from physical science to AP Environmental, AP Biology, and AP Chemistry; her current course load.  She hails from Irmo, South Carolina, went to college in Atlanta where she graduated from Agnes Scott College, earned her masters in Education at American College of Education,  and has split her teaching career between Savannah and New Orleans.  She is married with a son in 2nd grade at SCDS and a daughter in The Little School.