Skip to content

The Creator and the Story Behind Fluffy the Three-Headed Dog

I first met with Debbie Gantt (Performing Arts Coordinator), Alex Edwards (Lower School Music Teacher) and Andrew Luman (Music Teacher) at the beginning of October, and it was there that Alex showed me her drawings for the set and asked if I would be interested in making Fluffy the Three-Headed dog. In her drawings she had three heads coming out of the wall as well as the front legs. I was intrigued by the idea but asked if perhaps it could be the entire dog. Andrew gave me the parameters, and I went away to stew on the idea. Exactly a month later I presented them a scale model of my proposal. The model, made of pink foam rigid insulation, was exactly to scale and showed a five foot girl walking under the legs. They were sold.

December 6, a month later, I sent them a picture of the first head with my daughter Bimba standing next to it to show them how big it was going to be. My hope was at that time they would call me in and say it was too big and we needed to reconsider the project. Instead all I received was their praises. For the next two months all I did was work on Fluffy.

I used almost 1000 sq. ft. of two-inch rigid foam insulation to create the entire dog. Each head takes about 135 sq. ft. Thirteen cans of spray adhesive, seven bottles of Gorilla Glue, and three gallons of paint were used. The body has a core made of two-by-fours and plywood. The front legs have a steel frame which was then covered with the foam. In my studio I built the top half, the heads and top of the body first. I then took them off raised the body to the ceiling of the studio and built the lower half. After spray painting it a golden yellow, I took it all apart and delivered it to Brookwood in three trailer loads. It was there that Alex brought Fluffy to life with her paints. It took all of Friday and part of Saturday to assemble it on the stage.

The most difficult aspect of building this was figuring out how it was going to stand up and be guaranteed that it would not fall down. The solution was the steel used in the front legs and the triangular support I built behind the wall to carry the hind end. I needed to be sure that the dog could not fall forward or push the wall over backward. The other aspect of the project that required the most thought was the tail and how to make it wag. Debbie was determined that the tail had to wag. It is very simple, but it took me a long time to get there.

The sheer size of this could make it very scary to young children, so to tone it down I made the heads to resemble Mr. Peabody’s and gave the body the playful pose of a puppy about to spring forward. Alex then added to that with soft expression around the mouth.

 – Sebastian Carpenter ’79
and Parent ’13, ’14, ’17

30 Drawings in 30 Days

February is of course the perfect month for fun activities like sledding, skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing. At Brookwood it’s also the time for drawing.

This month, the entire school community – students of all ages, faculty, staff, and parents, and grandparents – is engaged in the 30 Drawings in 30 Days Art Challenge, which runs through March 4. All who are participating take a break from their routine, tap their creative energy, and draw daily in a sketchbook that the Art Department has supplied. It’s an entirely voluntary undertaking – sketching is not assigned.

According to Visual Arts Coordinator and Art Teacher Kathy Stewart, the reasons for the shared community undertaking are many: “It promotes great, creative habits of mind.  It’s good for the soul, helps to calm a chattering, busy mind, and honors the many artists in our community.  It helps us to build observation skills by slowing down and really noticing the world around us, and it’s fun to try something new.”

“The idea comes from a book that I’m reading, Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory,” explains Kathy. “As artists, drawing each day helps us to establish a positive creative habit – practice makes you a better artist.  It is taking time for yourself to do something that you enjoy.”

Need some inspiration? Look to This Week at Brookwood, where Kathy shares weekly thoughts, sketch ideas and prompts. Some of her ideas so far have included:

Do a sketch of the ultimate tree house;
Design a three-tiered birthday cake for your pet;
Create a stylish spacesuit for your first trip to Mars;
Show your little one how to draw something or have them show you how to draw something;
Do a drawing using one continuous line;
Draw with your other hand;
Draw to music with your eyes closed;
Illustrate a poem or book;
Sketch a loved one.

For more inspiration, Kathy suggests these websites and books:
Tangle Art and Drawing Games for Kids, by Jeanette Nyberg
Art Before Breakfast, by Danny Gregory

Be sure to stop and enjoy some of the work that’s being created and displayed on the 30 Drawings bulletin board in the lobby across from the Faculty Room.



Brookwood alumna and her Yale a cappella group perform at School Meeting

Brookwood School alumna Phoebe Gould ’11 returned to campus in mid-January with her Yale University a cappella group Something Extra to perform at School Meeting. The group wowed the audience with their talents and especially with one piece that was a medley of songs from long-time favorite Disney classics.

Thank you to Phoebe and Something Extra for treating us to a great performance!

Middle and Upper School ‘cubers’ compete in Rubik’s tourney

On Saturday, January 21, physical education teacher Bill Schneider and I took two teams to the New England/Concord Rubik’s Cube Challenge. This was the seventh year in a row Brookwood has participated in this competition, and we also hosted it for two years as well.

Beginning in fifth grade, as a part of the math curriculum, every student is schooled in the algorithms in order to solve this internationally acclaimed puzzle. Students who become the fastest at solving it try out for the teams.

There was a team for the Elementary Division made up of fifth graders, and there was a team for the Upper Level, made up of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, most of whom have competed in the past. All team members and alternates also compete in the “Solo Solve” competition. Our grade five solo solvers only had about 60 seconds between our slowest and fastest times … that’s a tight field! Rae H. and Cole P. as well as Jack D. and Lyla S. both had times only two tenths of a second apart. Wow, that’s close!

Al B. and Bobby M. were favored going into the tourney, and then our call-up/walk-on Lila D. stepped up and helped us sweep the Elementary podium, the three getting 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the division respectively. When asked about his win, Al replied, “It was cool.” Second place finisher, Bobby M. added, “I had been looking forward to it for years, since third or fourth grade. It surprised me that I got a 2nd place! It was just such fun to spend Saturday with my friends doing something I like to do.” Our Grade 5 group was up against some stiff competition in the “Team Solve” and ultimately we did better than two other teams full of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders! The fifth graders reflected:

“In my solo solve, I was so close to beating Lila for third place. Even though I was desperate for that spot, I said, ‘Hey, it’s not the end of the world,’ and I moved on…. When I was asked to help the US team, I was excited for the opportunity to shine, but I knew I’d have to step up my game to help the team.”  Kevin M., Grade 5

“I had no idea what to do, but the video helped because it explained [things] well. The rest of the steps were hard to learn, but my friend and I promised each other we would learn the middle layer before breakfast one weekend.”  Helena C., Grade 5

“There is a lot of pressure when you don’t know what the state of the cube will be when you get it, and you have to be very focused on your own cube.”  Vance F., Grade 5

“Even though I was only watching the Team Solve competition, I felt so much anxiety for everyone on the team, and then when they finished, I was so happy for them!”  Ellie W., Grade 5

“On the Solo round, with all of the people watching and the timer, it was a lot of pressure, and I could’ve done better. I feel that I did better in the Team Solve because I had all of my friends around me.” Lyla S., Grade 5

“I thought it was impossible at the beginning, and then it got easier as I learned the algorithms and tricks. It’s satisfying to make it to the competition because you work really hard to get there.” Jack D., Grade 5

Our Upper School Team Solve competitors also persevered. We were only 18 seconds out of second place and our 6th place finish was separated from 5th place by only four seconds!

For the Solo Solve, 8th grader James M., was 7th out of a field of 49 … wow! He reported, “This is my fourth year, and I love the competitions, where everyone is really friendly and supportive.”

Evan B. and Spencer S. were separated by seven one thousandths of a second … that is also so close!  Thanks to Kevin M. for getting “called up” to help them out, it was so much fun to watch.

Seventh grader Remsen D.’s comment on it all, “It’s fun.” Past team member, seventh grader, Mallory R. remembers, “Seriously, I actually didn’t think I’d be able to solve it. I thought it was for people who are really smart, but eventually I read and used the solution guide, and there was some simple logic to it. The algorithms were really cool. I’m generally a nervous person but going to the competition last year really benefitted me. I met a new group of people and enjoyed the atmosphere!”

Other Upper School cubers reflect:

“When I heard my brother was doing it, I had to practice and see if I could make the team. When I made the team, I was surprised.”  Evan B., Grade 6

“Memorizing the steps was hard, because each step was different from the one before.” Maeve G., Grade 6

“It was frustrating when you mess up in the tournament, but it’s also fun.”  Jaden Z., Grade 6

“The Rubik’s Cube has made me look at any situation from lots of different sides and angles, because when you are solving the Rubik’s Cube, you aren’t just solving for one side, but the whole cube. I’m going to miss the competitions, but if my new [secondary] school doesn’t have a team, I might have to start one so we can still go to competitions.”  James M., Grade 8

– Sven Holch,
Grade 5 teacher


Fourth grade French students correspond with peers abroad

The French speaking world is so much larger than France and Canada, and Brookwood’s French program strives to expose students to the many countries and cultures around the world that use the French language.

Beyond European countries such as Belgium and Switzerland, French is used in many African countries including Senegal, Benin, Guinea, Cameroon, Chad and Rwanda just to name a few. Additionally there are francophone areas in the Caribbean (Haiti, Martinique) and the south Pacific (French Polynesia and New Caledonia).  In an effort to engage students in the language and culture of these countries, my French students have been corresponding with students from around the francophone world.

Three years ago the fourth grade class connected with the Fontamara School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  The connection was made through a volunteer connection I have with the Power of Education Foundation, which started the Fontamara School following the earthquake in 2010.  Brookwood fourth graders wrote autobiographies in French to talk about their homes, families, likes and dislikes, and their school.  The students at Fontamara also wrote to our fourth graders following their lead of topics which made it rather easy for Brookwood French students to understand the French.

Two years ago the fourth grade class was paired with a Peace Corps volunteer teaching in a school in Senegal. Our Peace Corps partner, Samantha, kept a blog of her experience, and the Brookwood class was able to follow her adventure in addition to corresponding with her students in French.  They even got to see pictures that Samantha posted on her blog of students in Senegal writing to Brookwood fourth graders.





This year we were able to take advantage of Grade 1 teacher Sarah Dawe’s trip to Rwanda and Brookwood’s relationship with the APAPEC School.  Many of the classes in the school are taught in French and prior to her departure Brookwood fourth graders wrote personal letters that Ms. Dawe presented to the APAPEC students.  Upon her return she brought letters in French from the students in Rwanda.  They are currently on display on the board outside of my classroom in the World Language Center.

These connections between Brookwood French students and students in Haiti, Senegal and Rwanda have been a truly authentic way of engaging the skills of cultural competence.  These skills, which are essentially behaviors and attitudes that enable them to work effectively cross-culturally, are a central part of these classroom connections.  Students are often quick to point out what we all have in common, but we as educators need to push students to look for what is different as well.  This is where we have to put our cultural competency skills to work.  It is easy and somewhat effortless to respect, honor and understand that which we share in common.  The learning and strengthening of skills of cultural competency come from respecting, honoring and understanding that which is different.

– Joshua Cabral,
French and Spanish teacher


First Grade Magic

Reading, writing, arithmetic and a whole lot of magic! That’s what’s going on in first grade at Brookwood.

Thank you to video producers Grade 1 teacher Sarah Dawe and Music teacher Andrew Luman.

Grandparents play an important role at Brookwood

It was a very special day for me as a grandparent when I joined my peers at the annual Grandparent Tea and Lower School Play earlier this month. Even though I had attended this activity for the past five years it continues to be exciting! Meeting so many of the other grandparents who clearly were thrilled about the delightful Tea and show, affirmed my ideas about how important our roles are for our grandchildren.  For some grandparents it was their first experience, others had been involved multiple times, as I had. My grandchildren, Tatum, a sixth grader, Hawk, a third grader, and Boden, a first grader, are all totally involved with Brookwood. “It’s awesome!” is usually their response when asked “How was school today?”

It is such a joy to sit in the audience in the John C. Peterman School Meeting House and watch all the children blossom on stage. Director of Performing Arts Debbie Gantt and her team know how to get the most from the children, who are clearly enjoying every minute of the production.  The children’s pride in the activity shows in the glow of their faces.

The feeling continues afterward when we grandparents congratulate them for a fine job! We are one more layer of a support system that helps each child know how much they are cared for.  Administrators, teachers, parents and grandparents make up a web of love to help the children thrive and grow at Brookwood!

– Pollyann Statom
Grandparent ’19, ’22, ‘24


Lower School Winter Stories Celebrate the Season

The holidays are here and the air is filled with excitement and good cheer. All this was inspiration to our Grade 1 authors who have been busily crafting stories of winter fun. Read and enjoy the enthusiasm they bring to the season. Happy Holidays!

My elf Summer and my cousin’s elf Jack were hiding in my home because my cousins were here. The elves hid in the light. We were watching TV when we found them. The last time we saw Jack was when he and summer hid in the TV. I do not know why they did that.
– Ruby


My Mom and I stopped to climb the pile of snow. My Mama put her foot in the pile of snow. I went in the hole. Me and Mom laughed. I thought it was fun. My Mama did too.
– Isabelle


When we got to the Christmas tree shop to pick the tree, I found the tree. They bagged the tree up in the bag and we brought the Christmas tree home and put the Christmas tree up on the stand.
– Kyle


Farewell Mila! Brookwood will miss you


Though it seems she just arrived at Brookwood, Guatemalan student Emilia “Mila” Calderón’s (above center) eight-week exchange visit is coming to a close. The community said goodbye to Mila at School Meeting with friends Kyra J.(with whom Mila lived during her stay) and Sophia M. reading a special tribute to our friend.

This is for our sister, Mila. We have a message for you on the behalf of our class.

We want you to know that everyone here will miss you, and not a soul in this room hasn’t enjoyed your smile, laugh, and general warmth and comfort.

We all love having you here. Emilia, you have become a member of my family and the Brookwood community forever. Know that we love you and will miss you always.

milafarewellcroppedMila spent the majority of her time at school attending classes as a part of Brookwood’s seventh grade, but she interacted with students and faculty across the community in a variety of ways. For example, Mila regularly worked with Lower School students as well as Music classes.

The School Meeting farewell ended with Kyra, Mila and Avery P. presenting a beautiful rendition of Amy Winehouse’s Valerie.









Gratitude Quilt Captures the Spirit of Thanksgiving


Every Friday PreK meets with our fourth grade buddies, and at our recent gathering we read Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts. This is a story about a little boy who learns about appreciating things that he has (a loving grandmother, a good friend, warm boots) and knowing that those things are more valuable than things that he wants (expensive new black high tops).

The story inspired conversation about things that WE are grateful for – and that was the beginning of the gratitude quilt. The Pre-Kindergartners and fourth graders made drawings, paintings, or collages on white squares that describe something they are grateful for. “I am thankful for my friends.” “I am thankful for my education.” “I am grateful for nature.” “I am grateful for my family.”

We have posted their squares in the Crate Family Town Square and invite the rest of the Brookwood community to add to our beautiful Gratitude Quilt.

– Karen Shorr
Pre-Kindergarten Teacher