Tag: garrison forest

The Making of a STEM-Savvy (Female) Student


Emily.jpegThe world needs more girls like Emily Oleisky. Specifically, the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) needs more girls like her.

Emily, a 17-year-old junior at Garrison Forest School, is one of just 35 female high school students (out of 2,700 competing nationwide) to win the prestigious award, “Aspirations in Computing,” from the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Garrison Forest School Offers Stellar Support at the Race for the Cure

Members of the Garrison Forest School community stand in front of the "Tree of Hope".
Members of the Garrison Forest School community stand in front of the “Tree of Hope”.

The wind was whipping on Thursday morning as parent volunteers hung hundreds of yards of pink ribbon through the sturdy limbs of a stately tree on the campus of Garrison Forest School. On the ribbon were messages of hope, courage, and remembrance, scrawled by students at the independent all-girls school in Owings Mills. The symbolic gesture was just part of the school community’s broad support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which culminates with the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure, this Sunday, October 26, 2014 in Hunt Valley.

Big Fish: Garrison Forest School Starts the School Year Under New Leadership for the First Time in 20 Years


Kim Roberts

This fall, for the first time in two decades, the Garrison Forest School community welcomes a change in leadership. Dr. Kim Roberts, a California native with an impressive and varied background in education, will take the place of long-term head Peter O’Neill, who led the independent K-12 girls’ school in Owings Mills for 20 years before retiring at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Replacing the beloved O’Neill, who had become a fixture at the school during his lengthy tenure, will be a challenge. But Roberts, who exudes confidence, youthful energy, and a keen sharpness, appears more than prepared to greet the task head on. Also in her favor, Roberts is a firm believer in single-sex education, of which she herself is a product. Recently, Roberts broke from her busy start-of-the-year schedule to share a bit about herself, what drew her to Garrison Forest, and her vision for the school’s  future.

You were living on the West Coast when you interviewed and accepted the position at Garrison Forest. How did you know this job, on the other side of the country, would be a good fit?

I had spent ten years in Charlottesville, Virginia, so I felt like the Mid-Atlantic was somewhat known to me. My husband is from Virginia. I also lived in Washington, D.C. for a couple years. But more than the city itself, the school felt like a good fit.

Peter O’Neill was head of the school at Garrison for 20 years. What’s it feel like to step into the position after him, given that he was a fixture here for so long?

He was incredibly supportive of me, and continues to be. That helps a lot. It’s a little daunting to follow a veteran. My feeling is that he was adored in the Garrison community, but they’re also excited for change. And, he always felt like a woman should be leading the school.

What’s at the top of your priority list as the new head of Garrison Forest?

This first year, I just need to get to know the people in the community. Schools are all about people anyway. So my top priority is to get to know the students, families, and people who work here. Beyond that, I’m really trying to look closely at our academic program, to make sure we’re delivering the best and most relevant program we can.

Garrison Forest School Head Gets A Retirement Gift Like None Other

Garrison Forest Headmaster G. Peter O'Neill throws the first pitch at the Orioles vs. Redsox game. Photo courtesy of David Stuck.
Garrison Forest Headmaster G. Peter O’Neill, Jr. throws the first        pitch at the Orioles vs. Redsox             game on April 2, 2014.            Photo courtesy of  David Stuck.


Soon after G. Peter O’Neill, Jr. announced that he would be retiring from Garrison Forest School at the end of this academic year, some key folks at the institution began working behind the scenes to create a once-in-a-lifetime send-off for their beloved departing headmaster of twenty years.

Garrison Forest Senior Becomes Science Superstar

K Paseman
Photo courtesy of Anna Schaefer, Garrison Forest, ’14.

While other little kids spent their weekends watching cartoons, Garrison Forest senior Katherine Paseman focused on designing a balsa wood bridge as part of Destination Imagination’s bridge-making competition. She and her fellow teammates placed third—in the globe.

Fast forward about nine years to find Paseman entrenched in another contest measuring young people’s creativity and genius, the Intel Science Talent Search. In this, the most prestigious science research competition in the nation for high school seniors, Paseman was named one of only 21 semi-finalists from Maryland; in all, 1,794 applicants entered the competition. Her project? “A New Model Relating Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and Optical Density.”

“In order for the device to work, we need a mathematical model of how light interacts with whole blood. We create one by extending existing equation-based models using intuitions from 3D geometry,” Paseman said.


Super-teens—those whose achievements reveal an extreme level of intelligence, focus, and perseverance—always make me scratch my head in wonder. Paseman is one of those head-scratching sorts of young women. When she started explaining her research project to me, she spit out the words hemoglobin and hematocrit so fast I had to ask her to slow down. From what I eventually was able to gather, Paseman is developing a special type of hemometer (a device used to measures a blood’s hemoglobin, a protein that offers clues to many medical conditions) by using light, instead of drawing blood. Don’t ask me how.

I may not fully understand how Paseman envisions analyzing patient’s blood by shining light on their skin as opposed to pricking it with a needle. But beyond this incredibly cutting-edge diagnostic methodology that Paseman is developing—the seed of which was planted in her as a young girl when her mother experienced repeated dizzy spells that turned out to be due to low hemoglobin levels, and which she continued to cultivate most recently as she traveled to India in December 2013 with Hopkins engineering researchers to test several models of non-invasive blood analysis—what I really wanted to know was this: How does a seemingly ordinary girl like Paseman, who loves to dance and sing and is prone to giggling, possess such profound intellectual curiosity, when so many girls today continue to underperform in science and math and to enter STEM (science technology engineering math) fields at a depressingly low rate, especially compared to their male peers?

As I probed Paseman about her background, I began to grasp how she has become the confident young budding scientist she is today. Parents of young girls, you may want to lean in.

Find Your Reason and Purpose at GFS


089-05.17.13 GFS Lee_Bill McAllen

Joo Eun Lee’s experience as an international boarder from Korea sparked her love of leadership. In 8th grade, she was elected boarding president, and the list grew from there: Forum, residential life student leader, 11th grade boarding president and vice president of the school. She honed her self-confidence in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) GFS/Johns Hopkins program and as a Jenkins Fellow. “At GFS, I found the courage to become the driver of my life, not a person who takes the backseat,” says Joo Eun ‘13, who is sharing her passion for leading at Smith College.


Local Girl Makes Good — And Takes Home the Top Tony Award

Cricket Hooper Jiranek, at left. Photo by Sam Moore.

Our warm and hearty congratulations go out to local gal Cricket Hooper Jiranek, producer of the hit Broadway play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which just received the Tony Award for Best Play. Nice! (Did we mention that Jiranek is from Baltimore and graduated from Garrison Forest? Yes? Well, we’ll mention it again!)

Baltimore Takes Over Broadway – Photos Included!

Garrison Forest grad Cricket Hooper Jiranek, one of the producers of the play, with star Sigourney Weaver. Photo by Sam Moore.

If you felt an inexplicable shiver of Baltimore pride yesterday morning, I can tell you why:  The Tony Awards nominations were announced, and one of the most-lauded plays — Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, starring Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce — was produced by a Garrison Forest alum (Cricket Hooper Jiranek) and stars a Baltimore School for the Arts grad.

Garrison Forest Senior Competes in World Climbing Championships


Some people go to the Renaissance Festival for the mutton; others for the jousting. But for recent Garrison Forest graduate Nicole Hansen, the Ren Fest was special because it was where she first tried to clamber up a climbing wall. She was 9 years old, and the festival had three walls:  easy, medium, and hard. After zipping her way up the first two, Nicole readied herself for the difficult wall — only to be told by the guy running the show that she was too young, and it was too dangerous. “That kind of made me a little angry,” Nicole remembers. “So I decided to try rock climbing and get good at it.” “Good” is an understatement with Nicole. Last weekend, while many of her former Garrison Forest classmates were moving into their new college dorms and nervously checking their first-week schedules, Nicole was in Singapore, competing at the World Youth Sport Climbing Championship on behalf of Team USA.