Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Truth and beauty in black and white

The award-winning photographer Dorothy Kerper Monnelly ’58 has been called the “Ansel Adams of the wetlands.” Like Adams before her, Monnelly works in black and white and uses a large-format camera to illuminate the majesty of the natural world. Beginning this June, Monnelly will exhibit her work alongside Adams’s in “Fragile Waters,” a traveling exhibition conceived in response to the 2010 BP oil spill.

For more than 35 years, Monnelly has been enthralled by the salt marsh landscape of Boston’s North Shore, and she conveys its ever-changing beauty through her photographs. It was Monnelly’s agent, Barbara Cox, who conceived of the idea of a photography exhibition as a response to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Sarah Alves ’04

Learning full circle

Wheaton and the Norton schools form strong ties around education.

It’s 10:45 on a Friday morning, and third-grade teacher Sarah Alves is trying on shoes. No, she’s not out shopping. She’s teaching language arts.

Sitting in a circle around her, the children giggle as she tries on a men’s hiking shoe, a baby’s cowboy boot and then a ballet slipper. With each one, Alves asks, “Is this shoe a good fit?” And each time the kids call out, “Noooo!” Then she tries on a well-worn bedroom slipper, and they all agree it’s just right.

The exercise is part of a lesson designed to teach kids how to choose a book that fits their interests and comprehension level. It’s a lot like choosing the right shoe, Alves tells them.

“Boys and girls, if I have a shoe on that doesn’t fit me, that’s too tight or too big, I’m going to be very uncomfortable—and if you pick up a book that’s too hard or too easy for you, it’s not going to be a ‘good-fit’ book. When you’re reading a story that you picked, that you like, that is the best way to be a better reader.”

When the activity ends, Alves announces, “The library is open for choosing!” and the children rush to the bookshelves in the corner.

Wheaton Students at Norton Middle School

Wheaton students who went to Tanzania present their experiences in a slide show at Norton Middle School as part of the college’s partnership with the local schools.

It’s only the second week of school at the J.C. Solmonese Elementary School in Norton, but the rapport that Alves already shares with her students bespeaks her skill as a teacher. Her training began at Wheaton, where she majored in psychology and minored in elementary education, graduating summa cum laude in 2004. She completed her student teaching in the Norton school system that year, and she’s been there ever since. Last year, for the first time, she supervised a student teacher of her own—Wheaton student Olivia Ahmadi ’12.

“It was very interesting to be on the ‘other side’ of things,” Alves says, “and it was wonderful to stay connected to Wheaton and see how the Education Department has grown and changed since my graduation. Wheaton is certainly on top of the new trends in education, because Olivia was prepared for the changing classroom and schools.”

This “full-circle” success story illustrates one of the many connections that Wheaton shares with the Norton schools—mutually beneficial partnerships that enrich Wheaton students’ experience while expanding opportunities for Norton’s youngsters. Wheaton students offer tutoring, arts performances, science lessons and more, serving as powerful role models for the younger students. Norton educators open their classrooms to Wheaton students, teach education courses at the college and model current best practices. The two institutions have even collaborated on grant writing and joint program development. [Read more...]

Getting the ball rolling on new turf field

Diane C. Nordin ’80

Diane C. Nordin ’80 playing on Wheaton’s field hockey team in 1977

As an alumna of Wheaton’s field hockey team, Diane C. Nordin ’80 knows that athletics shapes both body and mind.

Trustee Diane C. Nordin ’80

“The feeling of working hard, cheering, competing, succeeding and failing, and doing something with your body, not just your mind—those were important things you didn’t always find in the classroom,” says Nordin, now a Wheaton trustee. Through sports she learned resilience, how to make decisions on the spot, and how to juggle everything she needed to do “in order to succeed athletically, academically and spiritually.”

Nordin was reminded of her field hockey days in the summer of 2010, when she invited local Wheaton families to dinner at her home in Concord, Mass. There she reconnected with a former teammate, Elizabeth Atwood ’80, and met Atwood’s daughter Julia, then a forward on the Wheaton field hockey team. [Read more...]

Projects for Peace winner helps in Cambodia

Pagna Sophal Donlevy ’13Pagna Sophal Donlevy ’13 emigrated to the United States from Cambodia on her own at the age of 16, but she always kept her homeland in mind. This summer she returned there to create opportunities for young people and women as a 2012 winner of a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace award.

She was one of approximately 100 undergraduates nationwide selected to receive a grant. The Projects for Peace program was launched in 2007 by Kathryn Wasserman Davis, a noted philanthropist and the mother of Wheaton Trustee Diana Davis Spencer ’60, to support peace-promoting summer projects developed by college students.

With the funding, Donlevy traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to establish a mathematics education program for teens and a micro-lending initiative for women-owned businesses.

The youngest of six daughters, she came to the United States in 2004, lived with the Donlevy family of Attleboro, Mass., and graduated from Attleboro High School in 2008. After graduating from Bristol Community College on a full scholarship, she transferred to Wheaton, where she is now majoring in mathematics. Donlevy, who changed her surname from Eam in honor of her foster parents, selected Sophal as her middle name in honor of her mother. [Read more...]