Corinne Fogg ’99
Director of Curriculum and Professional Development
Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart
“We’ve put children up against impossible standards.”
As the director of curriculum and professional development at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls Catholic school in Bethesda, Maryland, Corinne Fogg is deeply involved in all aspects of her institution, from hiring and mentoring teachers to overseeing the school’s pre-K-to-12 academic programs to advising a group of six seniors. It’s a position that has given the veteran teacher and administrator a rare perspective on what works in our educational system, and what needs attention.
First, what works: recognizing the whole student. At a time when children “are being told why they are not enough and are constantly competing with one another and inundated by images on social media and in the media,” she says, “I think it’s important for kids to have a place where they feel seen for who they are, valued for their individuality, and celebrated for all their beautiful uniqueness.”
Fogg, who earned her B.A. in English and theater arts and M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction at Boston College, has encouraged a holistic, student-focused approach to education in her writing (she co-authored, with Rachel Simmons, the teacher’s guide to Simmons’ Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives.) It informs her philosophy at Stone Ridge, where, she notes, same-sex education gives girls “a place to cultivate confidence, resilience, voice, and agency.” And it’s a value that she herself experienced in her two years at Williston, where, she says, “I felt seen and heard, valued and celebrated for my individuality, and, if this word is appropriate, I really felt loved.”
But as a transferring junior, Fogg didn’t know what to expect when she first arrived on campus, leaving her conservative Boston family for “a very progressive school in a very progressive part of Massachusetts.” Williston’s culture of acceptance and diversity had a lasting effect, one that Fogg later took with her into her classrooms. Teaching in California, she recalls, “it was always the kids who felt that they were quirky or unique or on the fringes who came to my classroom, and I think that was from my time at Williston, where I just saw the world differently.”
As an administrator at Stone Ridge, her focus continues to be creating a welcoming school community, mentoring new teachers, recruiting faculty of color, and being the kind of role model she herself was inspired by at Williston. “There were men and women I looked to and sought to emulate. People like Doc Gow. The students were made better by his energy and his example of what it is to be a thinker and an active engaged citizen, what it is to care for your person, your health, and what it is to be really invested in young people. And I think that’s very important in a single-sex environment in particular.”
Which leads us to what Fogg feels is not working in education today: the college boards, the advanced placement process, and the college admission process. Even before the recent admission scandal, Fogg called the system “broken.” An exceptional student has a 4 percent chance of being accepted at Stanford, she noted, citing the research of Julie Lythcott Haims, and yet thousands apply for that one spot. “Julie says, ‘If I told you there was a 4 percent chance of rain, would that warrant an umbrella?’ We’ve put children up against impossible standards.” She is similarly disheartened by the AP process, which she views as socio-economically divisive and an inaccurate measure of knowledge and learning.
On the other hand, Fogg is encouraged by the level of professionalism she sees in her fellow faculty and administrators. “Educators are getting more savvy with their learning,” she says. “They are taking their learning online, they are reading more, they are engaging across disciplines, they are engaging across age levels. And I’m inspired by that.”