Alumnae Anicia Timberlake and Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn started their lifelong friendship when they met in Patricia Skowrup’s Kindergarten class 32 years ago. After graduating from Gateway, their strong friendship continued over the years as they attended the York School and Harvard University together. They even lived together for a year in Berlin after college.
Anicia, Assistant Professor of Musicology at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, uses the “Talk-It-Out” conflict resolution method she learned in Patricia’s Kindergarten class where all students have the opportunity to express their feelings. This has helped her find common ground with colleagues over the years. She is especially grateful for the “Talk-It-Out” method as she navigates different ideas and opinions about how to manage things in her department during the Covid pandemic. Anicia appreciates the musical education she received at Gateway. The Orff Schulwerk method of teaching music that Gateway uses is popular with many of her students at the Peabody Institute. She plays the viola, violin, guitar, piano and the french horn. She even played the viola in the German World Cup with Toni Braxton! The all-Gateway School Sings with former Head of School, Peter Lewis, are some of her favorite memories.
Deirdre is currently the deputy editor at The New Yorker Magazine and over the years she has worked for Harper’s, Paris Review, and California Sunday Magazine. At Gateway she was encouraged to be creative and imaginative, especially in her writing and she wrote several children’s books, survival books, and short stories during her time at Gateway. She was on the editorial staff of Gateway’s Dead Seaweed, a student published magazine. She was taught to believe in herself and this gave her the confidence to pursue a career as an editor. Recently she played an integral part in publishing the stories about Harvey Weinstein.
Anicia and Deirdre have many fond memories of their time at Gateway: Friday nature walks, exploring tide pools, and making sun tea and tinctures in Gateway’s Life Lab. They both recalled the many experiential learning activities while at Gateway. The overnight field trips in Middle School introduced Anicia to camping, and Deirdre remembers grinding acorns into a mash and starting a fire by rubbing sticks together as they embodied the characters they were learning about, as well as panning for gold during their overnight field trip to Sacramento.
Deirdre fondly remembered a 5th-grade class Anthropology assignment. They were tasked with inventing a society, including creating a language using code letters, symbols, and a Rosetta Stone. They then buried the evidence in Lighthouse Field for the students of another school to find. Deirdre and Anicia became fluent in the language they developed and wrote letters to each other in code. They continued to do this when Anicia went to Ireland a year later.
Both women appreciated Discovery Based Learning and collaborative projects and they credit Gateway for their love of learning! Anicia shared how learning at Gateway wasn’t just memorization – “everything was discovery”. History was personal, not the “dry past”. This helped to lay the foundation for Anicia to become a music historian.
The relationships she formed with teachers inspired Anicia to become a professor. Their teachers cared, inspired, loved, and believed in them. They encouraged Deirdre to reach beyond herself and gave her the confidence to pursue a career she loves. Deirdre appreciated “the freedom to explore and not just the pressure to achieve”. She has rarely experienced that again after Gateway.
Anicia and Deirdre are so grateful for their experiences at Gateway. The Social Emotional Learning program at Gateway encouraged them to express themselves and lean into their feelings and not to be discouraged by them. In their adult lives, they are grateful they had the opportunity to learn these skills at a young age.
The fact that Anicia and Deirdre remain close to this day is a testament to Gateway’s core values. Anicia is the godmother to Deirdre’s young daughter. Although Anicia lives in Baltimore and Deirdre in New York, Deirdre said Anicia is the only person she has seen in her home during the quarantine. They joked that they are podding across state lines. Talk about a lasting sense of community!