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2018 Woolrich Award Recipients

We are honored to announce this year's Sarah W. Woolrich Fund for Faculty Award recipients. For 14 years, this beloved St. Francis grant program has opened our faculty's eyes, hands, and hearts to the world—affording them adventures that ignite classrooms, inspire curiosity and lifelong learning, and bring far-away facts to the fingertips.

Woolrich Award Recipients 2017-18 | St. Francis Episcopal Private Religious School Houston
2017-28 Woolrich Award Recipients
Back row (left to right): Angela Flowers, Carlo Minotti, Melanie Wallace, Amy Chandler
Front row (left to right): Kimberly Dunn, Lydia Urbanek, Alison Salinas, Julia Traber

Ali Salinas | Literature

How do traditional oral stories like Cinderella, The Frog Prince, and Rapunzel tie in to both the historic German countryside and rich literature lessons at St. Francis? Ali Salinas intends to show us. Our curriculum and instruction specialist will travel to medieval towns including Hamelin, Marburg, and Bremen on a German Fairy Tale and Berlin Rail Circle Tour to visit the very towns and landscapes that inspired the fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm more than 200 years ago. Mrs. Salinas says she's always found traditional tales an incredible source of entertainment and education—as well as valuable life lessons. After journeying through 12 cities home to museums, old-world marketplaces, and the occasional castle, she'll carry her magical moments back into our kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms. There, Mrs. Salinas will incorporate student theater scripts, character exploration, real-world situation reflection, and culture and geography studies drawn from the deep roots of our Western storytelling heritage.

Angela Flowers | History and Travel

Students experiencing history. This is how Head of Curriculum and Instruction Angela Flowers envisions the eye-opening moments our Upper School travel program promises. To kick off planning of tours that will expose our future high schoolers to events that defined the 20th century—and whose ripples can still be felt today—Ms. Flowers will trek through Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary on a trip behind the former Iron Curtain. Along the way, she'll visit politically significant sites influenced by Nazi Germany, including the Reichstag, Topography of Terror, sites of Nazi book burnings, the remnants of the Berlin Wall, and Potsdam, where the Cold War first took shape. By stepping back in time herself, Ms. Flowers hopes to eventually help students better understand the Holocaust and its lasting effects on Eastern Europe. In the meantime, she'll share souvenirs, video clips, photos, and firsthand insight with both the Middle School history department and her fellow Upper School team members as they prepare for an engaging travel program that will bridge classrooms, disciplines, and viewpoints.

Kimberly Dunn | Campus Safety

Based on simple principles and instinctive movements, Krav Maga is a self-defense and martial arts system that serves Israeli Defense Forces as well as the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies. Kimberly Dunn, assistant head of Middle School, will take part in a year's worth of Krav Maga training to learn techniques to help create a safer environment for our students while also reaping the physical and emotional benefits of fitness. Designed around easy-to-learn skills that offer protection in common assault situations, as well as against weapon attack, the method emphasizes quick-mindedness during the stress of a sudden, violent encounter. Armed with this comprehensive and ongoing training, Mrs. Dunn will share tips on handling school crisis situations with our faculty, and plans to teach a student self-defense summer camp in 2019 that will center on basic maneuvers plus lessons on identifying dangerous situations and making behavioral threat assessments—boosting confidence and the likelihood of a positive outcome in case of emergency.

Amy Chandler and Julia Traber | Fine Arts

Middle School fine arts faculty peers Amy Chandler (visual arts) and Julia Traber (performing arts) are setting sail for the Land of the Rising Sun! Actually, they'll be flying, but they expect that the inspiration to be found in experiencing the artistic works of ancient and modern masters will put the billow right into their creative sails. The transformative trip comprises visits to Japan's capital, Tokyo, as well as the ancient city of Kyoto, plus additional adventures en route. In Tokyo, the two will tour a number of renowned museums and the Imperial Palace, visit centuries-old temples and shrines, and drink in the cultural tonic of Japanese theatre and a traditional tea ceremony. The Kyoto leg of the trip will see further immersion in the country's architectural and artistic history, with stops at Nijo Castle and calligraphy and craft workshops. On their return to St. Francis, Mrs. Chandler and Mrs. Traber foresee creative collaboration that will introduce students to new art forms and storytelling styles like woodblock printing, Kabuki and Noh theatre, and manga design.

Melanie Wallace and Lydia Urbanek | Literature

It makes sense that fellow bibliophiles Melanie Wallace and Lydia Urbanek would want to spend a storybook week in grand Paris, since many of the beloved fairy tales they share with our students first found a voice there. It was in the 1600s when Charles Perrault, a French nobleman, began to collect oral tales and publish them—leading to today's tales that psychologists credit with helping children learn critical thinking skills, resiliency, and hope. Our director of library services and library services coordinator, respectively, will visit La Bibliothèque Nationale de France to see volumes of Perrault's work, then check out local landmarks such as the fountains of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame, which are featured in several favorite children's books. Through their travels, our maidens will enrich the stories they bring back to our St. Francis students—well aware of the creativity, sharpened memory, and verbal proficiency that go hand in hand with the gift of reading!

Carlo Minotti | Stage Technology

A "fixer" at heart, Carlo Minotti says wood, wire, and steel have been the building blocks of his life from an early age. In high school, his creativity took the form of woodworking and metalwork classes, and his love for construction today means lots of handcrafted gifts for family and friends. So it's no surprise that his work on the Middle School technology faculty at St. Francis includes his role as stage tech instructor, for which he and his students design and construct stage sets for our fine arts productions. While these props are typically crafted from wood, cardboard, and foam, Mr. Minotti hopes to bypass their limitations in size and strength by incorporating welded metal structures. To this end, he will work toward mastering metal fabrication through a series of welding classes offered by FMW FabLab. With lessons ranging from carbon steel MIG welding to fabrication and practical applications, he aims to share his newfound skills with students to create reusable metal framing for stage productions. An added bonus? He'll also happily help our art and STEAM classes with their 3D project needs.