Alumni News

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Longtime Faculty Retire

Last Spring, three longtime JTD faculty retired. Chris Bartel (24 years), Sally Bartel (11 years), and Nikki Fernandez (35 years) are already missed! Before they charted off on their new adventures, we asked them a few questions about their time here at JTD.

Chris & Sally Bartel

How has the science program changed during your tenure?
Our goals are still the same: to make students love science and to be successful in the activities. The program has become even more “hands on” with trying to have an age appropriate activity in all classes.

Do you have a favorite teaching moment here at JTD? 
Watching students in the canyon swinging on a rope over the stream and mud. For most of them this was a new adventure and a risk. (We feel all children should feel comfortable getting dirty at times)

What is your favorite JTD tradition?  
The Pledge of Allegiance and Salutation of the Dawn in the morning. Everyone is gathered together as a nation, school, and as a family while standing outside to begin our day of learning.  

What will you miss most about JTD? 
Students and parents. Getting to know each student individually and trying to help them grow.

What are you most proud of in your time here at JTD? 
We taught all classes with the growth of each student being the highest priority. We taught them foundational science concepts and we also taught higher level lessons that are usually not presented until college.
All along we modeled a love for science and for nature. 

Which of The 5 C's will you take with you into your retirement? 
We cannot separate them. They all work together and it is a mistake when one is missing. They all speak towards accepting and helping everyone in life.

Nikki Fernandez

Over the last decade, a fluency in computing has become more important than ever. What were some of the biggest changes you implemented as part of the Technology curriculum during your tenure?
Thirty years ago, there wasn’t any technology curriculum. It was a new field in education, and I had to make my own curriculum based on the resources and research. In each succeeding year I enhanced it based on the changes in the software, hardware, and technology trends. Today, a teacher can find curriculum to use, but the need for change is just as fluid as ever. Technology teachers have to be ever moving forward. I think the biggest change for me was in adding research skills, media literacy and a return to coding. I started out teaching coding, but the skills for practical daily use eased it to the side. I’m glad it’s back! Believe it or not, knowing the puzzle that is code comes to play in the most unexpected places. I find the BASIC code I learned in college still popping up.
What were some of the educational experiences you were most proud of?
The moments I’m most proud of are when students and I were moving like a well-oiled machine learning together and moving forward. When the Google accounts were issued, the curriculum changed to include the skills needed to use Googles’ suite of products. Students’ enthusiasm drove their learning at home as well as school. During class I would teach, and they would share what they discovered at home and we’d all learn that too. I’m also proud that I saw the value of social networking as a resource when for social bookmarking came on the scene in 2003. Grade six students were learning all about tags and the cloud, sparking new concepts for all of us, but we finally got it!
Do you have a favorite teaching moment here at JTD?
My favorite teaching moments were when a student “got it.” The one that stands out the most is a boy who just had the hardest time with class until the day I taught PowerPoint. He was very creative by nature and PowerPoint opened a new world of creating with objects on the computer and then all the other processes we had been learning made sense to him. It makes me smile to this day when I think about it.
What was your biggest surprise in teaching?
Perhaps the biggest surprise was that it is okay to learn from students and let them teach too.
What has been your favorite JTD tradition?
My favorite tradition is candle lighting. A warm glow comes over me when reminiscing about the magical spell of love and belonging that flowed among students, faculty and staff in JTD Hall on this unique day.
What do you miss most about JTD?
Candle lighting, of course, and the sounds of children playing and learning, the conversations with and hugs from the kids, watching kids grow from age 5 to 12, which is a perk of being a specialist, the family of friends, and the view of the LA basin, the big blue Pacific and Catalina. There were many long days when I walked out of the basement into the dark and the twinkle of lights beyond the hill and often a huge golden moon were gifts for a good day’s work.
What are you most proud of in your time here at JTD?
A common thread among the many accomplishments I’m proud of all started with my own learning and required problem solving. At the top of this list is the website. In 1997 Headmaster (Head of School) Ray Michaud, proclaimed that the sixth grade class and I would create the first JTD website. I quickly learned HTML and so did the kids. It was a fun collaborative project and in 1998 (later changed to, went online (you can see the original website here)! In subsequent years I rebuilt the site several times (check out the 2007 version here and the 2010 version here). The last site was the most challenging with multiple opportunities for learning and problem solving! I have to say, I’m also proud of the fact that for many years I wore all the hats where technology was concerned, teacher, help desk, technician, etc., and had time for creative outlets to produce three yearbooks and costume several sixth grade plays.
Which of The 5C's will you take with you into your retirement?
Can you separate them? If I must, common sense is rising to the top. It occurs to me; common sense calls for one to also put the other four C’s in play.

The John Thomas Dye School

11414 Chalon Road
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone: (310) 476-2811

Located In Los Angeles, CA, John Thomas Dye is an independent school for grades K-6. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine arts, competitive athletics,  and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.

The John Thomas Dye School admits students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs.