Member School Stories
Teachers Making a Difference Through Innovation
To celebrate boys' schools around the globe and share fellowship, we want to showcase IBSC member school teachers making a difference through innovation. Take a look at the inspiring stories below and consider sharing a story from your school. Thank you for championing boys' education!
The Boys' Latin School of Maryland (United States)
About once a month, Clayton Willets, Boys’ Latin history department chair, arrives on campus in a richly detailed, historically accurate, entirely homemade costume from early American history. Willets is a purist who doesn’t allow himself the use of a sewing machine.
Tailoring is just one of Mr. Willets’ many hobbies: He’s also a woodworker, an ironworker, a gunsmith, and beekeeper. He makes historical artifacts to accompany his costumes. Mr. Willets’ honors military history class studies the 17th century military revolution using replica muskets to mimic training methods employed by the Jamestown colonists. Third graders studying the American Revolution found Mr. Willets dressed as a Queen’s Ranger and got to hold his replica musket.
“He’s so passionate about history, and he’s not afraid to show it to the class,” says one of his former students. Boys’ Latin students are extremely fortunate to have this charismatic teacher who makes history come alive.
Mayo College (India)
In the Mayo College program created by teacher Anurag Pinto Vinayak, Recycled Rhythms: A Symphony of Education and Sustainability, education and music converge, weaving a tapestry of creativity, purpose, and environmental stewardship. It all started with the idea of crafting "trash music" from waste. This was brought to life by enthusiastic grade 6 boys. The magical journey transformed everyday trash into melodious rhythms, instilling wonder and responsibility. In the second phase, senior school boys meticulously crafted over 15 unique instruments from discarded waste, each with its own voice and story. The culmination of our efforts will be a breathtaking performance during the Annual PG Music Concert at school.
Beyond music, our mission is to teach students the importance of recycling and reducing plastic consumption, inspiring them to champion sustainability. This musical odyssey underscores that in the art world, purposeful creation holds a meaningful place, reminding students of their role as stewards of the environment—a harmonious blend of artistic expression and ecological responsibility in the symphony of education.
Sterling Hall School (Canada)
At the Sterling Hall School, grade five students are creating interactive Carbon Footprint Calculators to help educate their friends and family about climate change. Students originally tried a variety of existing online carbon calculators but were disengaged by questions like “How much natural gas is used by your household each month?” They then created user-friendly calculators with questions that are relevant to their peers. With questions ranging from “How often do you charge your Nintendo Switch?” to “Do you buy your sneakers secondhand or brand new?,” these calculators show how a student’s everyday activities affect carbon emissions.
Hilton College (South Africa)
"Learning has to be fun, and boys love to compete," says Hilton College economics teacher Will Donkin. And so Will’s students start their lessons with a game of 30 Seconds: That’s how long boys have to define economic terms like “marginal propensity to consume.” Will says it helps them remember terms, which they understand but need to use to score points in exams. To drive home the point (pun intended), Will also takes the boys down to the golf course where they play 30 Seconds in pairs and then play one hole, subtracting the number of correct answers from the number of shots. “It creates a memory trigger and gets the boys moving; being taught under a tree on the golf course is probably more memorable than a lesson in a classroom.” Unsurprisingly, economics is the most popular subject at Hilton College.
Montgomery Bell Academy (United States)
Congratulations to Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA) faculty members Will Hannon and Ying Zhang, who were both recently recognized for teaching excellence. Chemistry teacher Will Hannon received the Excellence in High School Teaching Award from the southeastern region of the American Chemistry Society. Chinese teacher Ying Zhang received the Outstanding Chinese Teacher Award from the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools. MBA is proud of these two outstanding teachers.
Dr. Challoner's Grammar School (United Kingdom)
At Dr. Challoner's Grammar School, Simon Burn delivers our computer science curriculum for 12- to 14-year-olds. He says, "Programming and problem solving are at the core of our computer science curriculum, engaging students of all abilities with practical coding skills. Even our e-safety modules have hands-on elements: one of my favorite lessons involves students being detectives on a fictional social media platform we built, to learn how cyberstalkers might access your personal data."
"Alongside lessons, students are supported in their personal coding projects with a weekly lunch time drop-in session, and we run a game jam each year that sees students taking their skills to new levels. Our game devs forum aims to provide aspiring developers with useful resources.
"As with subjects like mathematics, rote practice is incredibly important for embedding skills in CS. We have avoided one-off programming projects with no follow-up: Instead we have developed a library of worksheet-style exercises, with plenty of extension material, so that students can regularly revisit difficult concepts, building their confidence."
The Browning School (United States)
At The Browning School one of our favorite weeks of the year is when the Collaborative Learning Cohort meets just before school opens to work on projects small teams of teachers have proposed. This year, we had 10 different groups collaborating to work on projects that stretch across our curriculum, such as building a partnership with a school in Spain, creating a universal note-making and active reading system for our grades three to 12 boys, and designing a grant proposal component for advanced science courses. We had 36 participants from all three of our divisions (kindergarten through grade 12), with a mix of faculty from first years to those who have been at Browning for decades. This annual experience is by far our most productive week of creation that has a lasting impact on our boys' learning.
Crescent School (Canada)
Crescent Teacher Receives Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence
Imagination is a life skill and one of several character traits that Godric Latimer-Kim nurtures in the “brave learning space” of her drama studio. “Building confidence in one's ability to collaborate, problem solve, communicate, and listen to others compassionately are fundamental to being a fully functioning human in our complex world,” she says. Ms. Latimer-Kim, who serves as subject head, The Arts (grades 7-12) at Crescent School in Toronto, was recently recognized with a National Certificate of Excellence, the highest recognition bestowed by the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching. Learn more.
Archbishop Moeller High School (United States)
Students at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, OH, participate in the new molecular biology research course. Not deterred by concerns that the content would be too difficult for high school students, veteran teacher Dan Shannon developed the curriculum for “doggedly persistent and passionate learners.” This guided-inquiry, original research course uses the Biochemistry Authentic Scientific Inquiry Laboratory (BASIL) curriculum. Students use and learn in vitro, in vivo, and in silico techniques to characterize a protein with a solved crystal structure but unknown function—ultimately studying proteins never before characterized. Students use 3D modeling and more traditional experimental methods to create innovative and dynamic scientific knowledge. Christine Brookbank, provost, highlights the molecular biology research course as “a prime example of how we can design innovative learning opportunities for our students, especially ones that support how young men learn: through hands-on exploration, real-world application, and a teacher as their guide on the side.”
Upper Canada College (Canada)
The Design Team at Upper Canada College is innovating and creating with everyone. Paul Miskew and Joe Bush work as a team to teach the Year 9 Design Coding and Year 9 Design Product Streams. In the "Farms to Future" unit (Product Stream), students explore sustainable agriculture through research, conversations, and collaboration. While learning about 3D modelling and physical fabrication, students build products to let others become urban farmers. Miskew secretly hopes the boys will create a new Cricket Farm for the lab. In Year 9 Design Coding, grade three students "hire" the year nines to create games to support their reading. The "clients" make bold demands as they share their vision for Jabari Jumps while the designers learn to ask the right questions. Miskew and Bush are preparing to blend these two distinct streams for a future unit to demonstrate how it takes all types of skills and understandings to tackle the complex problems facing the world today.