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Potomac Honors Outstanding Teachers

A very meaningful part of Potomac’s Opening Assembly is the presentation of the school’s Bill Cook Excellent Teaching Award. Named in honor of beloved teacher and assistant head of school Bill Cook, who passed away in 2016, the award is presented annually to teachers “who exemplify the commitment to excellence and love of learning that define a Potomac School education.” This year there were two honorees: Nick Hanson and Shefali Sardar.

Mr. Hanson joined Potomac’s Music Department in 2006. Through his efforts, the school’s handbell program has grown to include five ensembles, featuring 139 students in grades 5 through 12. In addition to leading Potomac’s program, he has spoken at music conventions and conducted at handbell festivals throughout the United States and in England, China, and Singapore. Many of his handbell compositions and arrangements have been published. 

Ms. Sardar is the Middle School’s first academic dean, a role she has held since 2016. In nearly 25 years at Potomac, she has held a number of classroom and administrative positions. She began as an MS teaching intern, then served as a sixth grade teacher, a language arts resource teacher, and the Middle School’s language arts and humanities coordinator before being named dean.

Both Mr. Hanson and Ms. Sardar are known for their focus on student success and unwavering commitment to excellence. We thank them for their many contributions to Potomac and congratulate them on receiving this well-deserved honor.

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Sandwich Day Resumes with Heart

Yesterday, our K-12 students relaunched Potomac's 33-year Sandwich Day tradition to support Martha’s Table and Cornerstones, by making 1,058 sandwiches. Our school-wide tradition returns with a focus on learning about and addressing food insecurity and achieving food equity in our local community.

New this year, our students will use compostable sandwich bags, eliminating up to 18,000 plastic bags used for packaging donations each year. This environmental initiative was inspired by a project by Matt Brow '24. This year’s compostable bags were generously provided through a Green Grant from Potomac’s Office of Stewardship, Sustainability, and Outdoor Education.

Watch the kick off video that our K-12 student leaders created and view the schedules for the divisional Sandwich Days from October through May. Thank you to Parent Association Service Learning Committee Co-chairs Gretchen Speigel and Tiffany Butler and our K-12 parent volunteers for spearheading yearlong Sandwich Day logistics, and to Potomac families for donating sandwich-making supplies. We will share more information, including Potomac’s Sandwich Day history, throughout the school year. Enjoy photos!

Speakers Enhance the Classroom Experience
Potomac students benefit from meeting and hearing from a wide array of guest speakers who are industry leaders and subject-matter experts. Learning from distinguished guests enhances the curriculum and gives students opportunities to explore interesting topics in greater depth. These experiences also provide leadership opportunities for students, who may be invited to research and introduce the speakers or moderate Q-and-A sessions following the presentations. While Potomac continues to host virtual speaker programs – bringing in guests from around the world who cannot be here in person – it has been wonderful to be able to welcome more speakers back to campus for in-person programs this fall.
 
Earlier this week, our IS and US chorus students met with Broadway actor and opera singer Jonathan Christopher, who spoke about his experiences as a lead performer in the national tour of Hamilton. (See the article in the IS section below for more details.) Next week, author, actor, and activist Maulik Pancholy will return to Potomac to speak to the Middle School about his second book, Nikhil Out LoudRead more...
Potomac Honors Outstanding Teachers

A very meaningful part of Potomac’s Opening Assembly is the presentation of the school’s Bill Cook Excellent Teaching Award. Named in honor of beloved teacher and assistant head of school Bill Cook, who passed away in 2016, the award is presented annually to teachers “who exemplify the commitment to excellence and love of learning that define a Potomac School education.” This year there were two honorees: Nick Hanson and Shefali Sardar.

Mr. Hanson joined Potomac’s Music Department in 2006. Through his efforts, the school’s handbell program has grown to include five ensembles, featuring 139 students in grades 5 through 12. In addition to leading Potomac’s program, he has spoken at music conventions and conducted at handbell festivals throughout the United States and in England, China, and Singapore. Many of his handbell compositions and arrangements have been published. 

Ms. Sardar is the Middle School’s first academic dean, a role she has held since 2016. In nearly 25 years at Potomac, she has held a number of classroom and administrative positions. She began as an MS teaching intern, then served as a sixth grade teacher, a language arts resource teacher, and the Middle School’s language arts and humanities coordinator before being named dean.

Both Mr. Hanson and Ms. Sardar are known for their focus on student success and unwavering commitment to excellence. We thank them for their many contributions to Potomac and congratulate them on receiving this well-deserved honor.

Sandwich Day

Last week’s Sandwich Day Gathering had a twofold purpose: A group of Potomac community members worked together to make sandwich donations for Martha’s Table, and they also had the opportunity to learn about the 33-year history of Potomac's Sandwich Day. US history teacher Jen Hellman had researched the topic and shared a very interesting presentation. The participants also dug in to the why behind Potomac's commitment to service learning, through facilitated discussions. It was particularly meaningful for this group of K-12 student leaders, faculty, staff, and parents to strengthen their understanding of, and identify ways to improve, our school's Sandwich Day tradition, which will resume as a community-wide initiative in October.

May Day

Last Friday, our connected community celebrated Potomac’s time-honored tradition of May Day, which marks winter’s transition to spring and summer. We hope this year’s full-community blend of music, dance, poetry, and learning will be a model for many May Days to come. It was a beautiful day to be together on campus! Enjoy the colorful photo gallery.

PCCC Women's Hisory

On Monday evening, Potomac’s Parent Cultural Competence Committee (PCCC) hosted a virtual program that featured five female leaders from within the Potomac community. Charlotte Berlin (Potomac School), Marjorie Brennan (Children's National Hospital), Tanya La Force (Mission Focused Consulting), Juna McDaid (Potomac School), and Anu Saxena (Hilton Hotels) spoke about their leadership journeys and shared lessons they have learned along the way. Thanks to all who participated! It was a lively discussion, and there were some great questions. Watch the program here.