"She came home with new questions from philosophy that suddenly seemed very interesting and important to her."

Lorraine Mangione, Ph.D.

21 West Parsons Lane

Florence, Massachusetts  01062

lorrainemangione@gmail.com

 

 

April 27, 2008

 

To Whom It May Concern:

 

My daughter recently took part in the 6 week program involving the intensive study of Ancient Greece lead by Mr. Nick Kachulis at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton, Massachusetts.  The program encompassed her English and Social Studies classes.  In both classes the students focused on the many and varied aspects of Ancient Greece, such as literature, drama, mythology, history, government, politics, philosophy, science, mathematics, art, sculpture, archaeology, and architecture, and did so in an active, involved, creative manner.  I attended the culminating event, The Greek Museum, on April 11th, and what I saw was just stunning. 

 

Through the 6 weeks I had watched my own child’s interest and excitement about the topics and the ways in which Mr. Kachulis approached the topics.  She was immersed in hearing, understanding, and then writing her own myths.  She came home with new questions from philosophy that suddenly seemed very interesting and important to her.  We discussed ideas about government, representation, and citizenship that had been sparked by class material.  She started reciting a very beautiful poem by Sophocles while riding in the back seat of the car. And perhaps the most intricate part of this 6 week immersion was when she puzzled through issues of levers and pulleys to create one of Archimedes’ signature inventions, a giant claw that he devised to protect the city of Syracuse in Sicily.

 

Yet when I went to The Greek Museum, I was not prepared for the level of enthusiasm, pride, and pleasure that I saw in the students, including some whom I know to be hard to reach boys who are not typically so interested in school.  The community room was literally transformed into a grand celebration of the many facets of Ancient Greece.  I watched plays and dancing, heard recitations, listened to music, spoke with figures such as Archimedes, the Oracle at Delphi, and Heinrich Schliemann, read through original myths and poetry, looked at mosaics and pottery, studied models of the Acropolis, mused on the values and history of Sparta and Athens, learned about the politics and the athletics involved in the Olympics, saw how the original Marathon runner saved the Greeks in the Persian War, and shared in Greek foods.

 

What did the students learn through this major undertaking?  Let me speculate on a few general lessons.  First of all they learned about Ancient Greece, a culture that provides the basis for so much of Western arts, civics, values, and understanding of the world, in a way that they will carry with them for years.  Secondly, they were challenged to create something of meaning, many times over, from what they learned.  Finally, they were able to appreciate their accomplishments in this marvelous Greek Museum which was enjoyed by so many.  

 

As a clinical psychologist who has studied creativity and understands the importance of the concept of multiple intelligences, I see how critical it is to provide a rich environment for our students to exercise their own sense of creativity and agency.  As a mother who has participated in the Cultural Arts Committee of my daughter’s elementary school, I have been exposed to and have had to evaluate many performers, storytellers, musicians, artists, etc.  Mr. Kachulis was able to bring out the best in his students in so many of the critical areas of learning and creating.  I would strongly recommend him and his programs. 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Lorraine Mangione