Contributed by Head of Upper School Chip Houston

We continue to see collaborations across disciplines and courses, which is awesome! Our students have been off campus at Georgia Supreme Court, Anne Frank Museum, King’s Mural Exhibit and Mount Vernon Village, to name a few.


  • Students off-campus at the Georgia Supreme Court simulating a 4th amendment case.
  • Financial Literacy class not only learned about the stock market, but they are in the process of backward planning their retirement.
  • An external expert spent time in World Religions to share life experiences and perspectives about growing up in Southeast Asia.
  • Contemporary American Literature recently did an affinity map on border camps and detention centers.
  • Cold War students selected an event they considered to be the most influential of the era and created 7 artifacts to showcase multimedia exhibitions about the impact of those events. 
  • Creative Expressions students created photo prompts for a partner to prepare a photo narrative.
  • Death and Disease students engaged in immersive design work for hospice patients after Mrs. Graham invited a bereavement counselor to class.
  • Art, War, and Poetry students spent time creating in the Ceramics studio! After they studied Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn poem, students chose images from their own lives they hoped to immortalize and created a tile with that image.
  • Mount Vernon representatives attended the Mastery Transcript Site Director Symposium. It was so affirming to be surrounded by other schools that are engaged in similar work to define/assess higher-order skills and competencies.


  • Watching the AP Calculus students wrestle through a problem was such a treat. The engagement level was high and the problem-solving muscles firing!
  • Urban Agriculture students started their microgreens experimental growing (have you seen the hot pink lights?!).
  • Ms. Hobson used an inquiry-based approach to introduce inverses, encouraging students to ask questions, come up with strategies to solve inverses and then eventually moved to a KWL chart on the topic of inverses.
  • Dr. Douglas added process portfolios to his Physics classes after reflecting on mod 1. 
  • Mr. Hawkins modeled an inquiry-based approach during his mini-lesson on elements. He gave students manipulatives to make the element bonds without giving any direction other than “just play and figure it out.” From there, the class was able to work in small teams to figure out details about single and multiple covalent bonding.
  • Geometry students journeyed to the football field so students could analyze the angle of elevation and depression of a spike ball.
  • We had our first all-school RDI Late Start, which was a success! Check out some of what teachers learned by reading this article.
  • The American Family Values and Sitcoms class is running for the first time this year, identifying American values of today using sitcoms and media as evidence.
  • Ecological Rhetoric students interviewed users of Lost Corner Preserve using the Define Distiller framework from our Field Guide — way to instill a Design Thinker mindset as students approach this work!

The Advisory program continues to build in an authentic way; several groups have been meeting for lunch and organizing activities together. Flik is providing first-class meals and service each day. Students are taking advantage of “Getting Things Done” with accountability and purpose from teachers. Steve Ray and the Facilities Team have put in countless hours of hard work taking care of our building and our students.

Most seniors have submitted at least one application to college already and many are completely done with their processes. The map is filling up and we will hear more “bell-ringing” later in November when early action decisions are released. Beginning in Mod 3, college counselors will start meeting 1:1 with juniors to jumpstart their journeys. In December, Mount Vernon will host a mock interview night where any high school student can get feedback from external experts during 20-minute interviews.

Maker spaces are hopping! M. Albertie, Mr. Paperno, and Dr. Byrum all used the MDE spaces this module for various projects. Mr. Paperno also had his class in the Virtual Reality Lab to immerse Anatomy students in the musculoskeletal system.

In iProject 3, Aqil Merchant studied the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while Will Moorman focused on “City Beautification” through Graffiti Art. Aqil was mentored by Dr. Srinivasan, MV parent, and CDC Ebola expert, who invited Aqil to attend a national forum on Ebola at Emory. He will be submitting his research paper highlighting the importance of giving attention to this crisis, to a youth science journal. Will reached out to city planning and art organizations including Living Walls, All-City Murals, and Midtown Alliance. He also connected with Ms. Erling’s Urban Art class and watched the documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop. With help from two in-town graffiti artists, Will has created a mural using his moniker that we completed in the Fab Lab.

Sam Baroody has been completing home visits for all families of students going on the French and Spanish Exchange programs. Additionally, Mount Vernon accepted a new International student from China. This winter, Mr. Baroody will travel to China to promote Mount Vernon to a wider audience of prospective families. Collaborating with Julie Crawford and others, Mr. Baroody is developing a broader, more impactful global curriculum for US students.

All students are signed up for an activity for Interim Term 2020 (travel, CORE, or internship). Trip leaders are communicating with groups and chaperones, internship mentors will be assigned mentees, and CORE is planning each day of the retreat. We are in logistics and planning mode.

In Grade 9, Urban Agriculture and Need Finding worked together to host dinner for 17 Civic Leaders from Sandy Springs. Their goal was to set the conditions for conversations around how our community can celebrate diversity. In Grade 10,  “Pathways” was launched; a year-long purpose-driven design brief that focuses on causes, not clients. Grade 10 humanities looked at moments of massive change throughout history, learned how to pitch anything, and explored the future of the past. In Design Briefs, students created proposals for two upcoming partnerships and conducted design research for Reach Records as we create a marketing strategy for new artists. Mrs. Fancher collaborated with Mr. Feng as the “Massive Change” Humanities iD class to make pendulums as they studied how timekeeping changed the way we navigate the world.

CHOA is eagerly awaiting their final product (lots of hoops to jump through in the healthcare field) but should be in the rehab center being used by patients in early December. Also, students have an exciting new project with the Anne Frank museum right down the road in Sandy Springs. Classes like “Death and Disease” are designing for hospice patients. Finally, MV students have been asked to speak at a conference in April. Many students taking advantage of the lab during lunch and enrichment.

Clark Taylor has brought in at least 5 external experts to co-create a premiere of “The Arrival” based on a beautiful graphic novel about being a foreigner in a different country. Vann Thornton has been building a partnership with Kennesaw State where interns are coming to the studio on Fridays to help work on projects. We hosted our first Acoustic Coffeeshop last week with student and faculty performers. We are continuing to explore options and opportunities for Digital Media (video, graphic arts, animation, etc.) for future mods/years. Off-campus, Arts students explored King’s Mural district with external expert Charmaine Minniefield. More US teachers are finding ways to integrate the arts and creativity and the project work is so impressive. Theater students gave Toastmaster speeches. After each presented their current speeches, Mr. Taylor provided clear and targeted feedback to each student — so good!