When doctors at CHOP diagnosed Matthew Cramer (above) with “classic” Autism Spectrum Disorder, his mother, Julie, a physician herself, had to excuse herself.
“I was retching,” the Merion Station dermatologist tells SAVVY. “I was absolutely sick to my stomach.”
“It’s not cancer,” her husband, Warren, had reassured her. “It’s not the end of the world.”
“It sort of is,” Julie countered. For a long time, she couldn’t even say the word, autism. “I used the A word instead,” she says.
Ten years later, Julie says the full word without flinching. More than that, she’s eager to share her son’s remarkable journey.
From a nonverbal preschooler to a cuddly and uniquely communicative 13-year-old.
From a kid written off as intellectually impaired to one some are calling gifted.
From a boy no one dreamed could become a bar mitzvah to the toast of his temple, a young man who stood before 230 friends and family at Adath Israel in October and gave his own D’var Torah speech.
Watching Matthew “be fully engaged with his family and friends” at his bar mitzvah “was a highlight of my career,” says his therapist of ten years, Kelly Donohue.
In nearly three decades working with hundreds of local kids with ASD, Donohue – aka the “autism wizard” – says 44 of them “lost their diagnoses” after three or four years of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy. They moved off the spectrum.
Alas, Matthew Cramer is not one of them. He still struggles to understand social cues. And his apraxia, a motor-planning disorder, makes speech – beyond a sentence or two – difficult. (His brain has plenty to say but he gets stuck repeating words and phrases.) Still, his progress has been, in his parents’ words, “miraculous.”
Ask the Cramers and his care team what’s made the difference for Matthew – in addition to intensive ABA and speech therapy and his new “Spelling to Communicate” boards – and they’ll tell you it’s inclusion. A sense of belonging. Matthew feels connected to his school, his neighborhood, his synagogue and his world.
The autism ambassadors program at Belmont Hills Elementary taught classmates how to interact with Matthew and helped him make his first friends. Those lessons and friendships carried over to Welsh Valley Middle School, where he’s able to take science, gym, art and chorus with his neuro-typical peers. When she observed Matthew in a small-group science lab last fall, Donohue says “he was completely indistinguishable.” He wasn’t speaking but he was taking measurements and recording results.
His classmates are “very attentive to him; they’re attuned to him,” adds Julie. “It’s astonishing how protective they are.”
Outside of school, Leah and Ilana, his buddies since kindergarten, have been coming to the Cramers for weekly playdates for six years.
Neighborhood pals Seth and Mia meet Matthew at the park or join in sports-oriented therapy sessions in his basement.
Hadleigh and Elizabeth hang with him when their families ski together at Steamboat. Eager to enrich him with new experiences, his parents take him everywhere – white-water rafting, museums and shows.
The janitors at school and the staffs at local restaurants – Delancey Street Bagels, the Pub of Penn Valley and Aldar Bistro, among others – know him by name.
“When he walks around, people say hello to Matthew and he’s greeting them back,” Donohue says.
The playdates, in particular, have been critical for developing socialization skills. “Peer sessions are like insulin for a diabetic,” according to Donohue.
And while Matthew learns from his peers, he’s teaching them, too – life lessons about tolerance, empathy and respect for diversity.
“His weird vocalizations and behavior” don’t faze his friends, Julie says. “They feel good about being a peer role model and helping him. It’s a win-win.”
After Matthew’s bar mitzvah, a neighbor texted Julie, calling it the “most amazing” service and celebration the family has ever attended. “It’s been an honor to say that our boys have played with Matthew,” she wrote. “In this day and age, you can’t teach empathy easily as parents. And that’s what our connection to Matthew has allowed us to give our boys.”
With autism now diagnosed in one of 68 kids, it’s a disorder we all need to understand better.
And while it’s true that everyone with autism is unique – it’s a spectrum disorder, after all – Matthew’s story debunks the many myths of autism.
He’s connected to his community, not isolated.
He’s empathetic and affectionate, not unfeeling and distant.
He’s tuned into his surroundings, not off in his own world.
He’s bright, imaginative and eager to learn.
To get around his apraxia and put his thoughts into sentences, Matthew began using a spelling board as he prepared for his bar mitzvah, poking out letters with a pencil. His ideas were a revelation. Traditional school tests last spring had judged him cognitively impaired, but the board showed a perceptive mind that’s surprisingly self-aware.
“Then I must once more thank my most loving and kind family … for never having remorse that I was not a typical boy,” he had spelled out for his bar mitzvah speech. “How I am grateful that you welcomed me as your son and brother. I am so happy to tell you I love you so much.” When he spoke those words (backed up by a video screen in case his speech wasn’t clear), there wasn’t a dry eye in the sanctuary, his mother says.
Indeed, Michele Robins, his neuropsychologist at the Bryn Mawr Center for Psychological and Educational Services, believes Matthew “actually has a special social radar, a sense of others that other people don’t possess.” And she’s seen that same radar in other people on the spectrum.
“The notion that people with ASD are socially awkward or isolated needs to be re-examined,” Robins says. “A life of isolation, a life of limitations where you wouldn’t get married or go to work – that’s the old-fashioned view of autism. Now it’s completely different.” With broad-based evaluations, early intervention, inclusion wherever possible, connection to the right resources, people with autism “can blend in the community and have very productive lives and families,” she says.
While his parents are focused on doing everything they can “in the here and now” to help Matthew flourish, Julie, 57, and Warren, 66, are also planning for Matthew’s future without them. Warren Cramer says his son will have a place in his company, Cramer Uniforms. Matthew’s good with money – “he always pays the bill at restaurants” – and “a lot of my accounts have met him already,” his father says. And they expect he’ll live in a familiar place: one of the three units the family owns in Society Hill Towers.
Still, there’s plenty of uncertainty.
“We don’t have all the answers; we’re still struggling,” says Julie. “It’s been a challenging and emotionally charged journey. Hopefully it’s a journey other people can learn from.”
Meanwhile, Robins plans to do a full neuropsychological evaluation of Matthew to “ascertain the full scope of his abilities and how and why his skills seem to have shifted over the years.” Among the “burning questions” she says she’ll try to answer: “Can a child who was initially nonverbal learn to make sophisticated inferences from a Hebrew text?”
Sure he can. Just ask his parents and the rabbi who prepped him for his bar mitzvah.
Neuropsychologist Michele Robins, Ph.D. can be reached at the Bryn Mawr Center for Psychological and Educational Services (formerly The Child Study Center at Bryn Mawr College), 100 Chetwynd Dr., Bryn Mawr, 484-775-0348. Contact ASD therapist Kelly Donahue, Ph.D. at 248-990-7337.
Berwyn’s La Cabra Brewing cooking up new concept for Bryn Mawr
BIGA Pizza + Beer folded in late December in a partnership fallout, leaving regulars crying in their crusts. But the Bryn Mawr building won’t stay dark for long.
The guys behind Berwyn’s La Cabra Brewing are taking over, remaking the joint into Bodega, a “live-fire” kitchen and beer hall.
No pizza but BIGA’s wood-burning oven and a new smoker will turn out “ingredient-driven” foods and smoked meats for eat-in or takeout, La Cabra’s Chuck Golder tells SAVVY.
BBQ seems like a safe bet. Bodega’s chef will be Luke Loomis from nearby barbecue/brewery Tin Lizard.
Bodega will, of course, pour La Cabra brews, along with PA wines and ciders.
We hear partner Vern Burling, who turned a shabby furniture store in Berwyn Village into shabby-chic La Cabra, can’t wait to get his mitts on the BIGA space.
Look for Bodega to open in spring.
Meanwhile, BIGA partner Sean Weinberg tells SAVVY he’s happy to be back full-time in the kitchen at his Malvern restaurant, Alba. (A third venture he co-owned, Imbibe in W. Conshy, also closed late last year.) Alba patrons can look forward to more seasonal dishes and the return of regular Sunday night theme dinners, Weinberg says. A sommelier-led, five-course European wine dinner is already set for Jan. 27.
Furious neighbors up reward for tire slasher
What’s worse than a hangover on New Year’s Day? Waking up to find your tires slashed.
The creep who knifed tires on more than 48 cars in Wayne in the wee hours of January 1st is still out there. And victims in Tredyffrin’s panhandle – on King of Prussia, Kynlyn, Hollow and Weadley roads – are so miffed, they’re kicking in their own money to plump up a $500 reward to $5,000.
The vandal knew what he was doing, Tredyffrin Police Detective Dan McFadden tells SAVVY. “He knew what tool to use. It took a lot of energy to cut 140 tires. It’s hard on the hands.”
So if you know something, say something. Call Tredyffrin PD (610-644-3221). If your tip leads to an arrest, you’ll pocket $5K.
Living large at Bryn Mawr Hospital
Bryn Mawr Hospital’s new Patient Pavilion could almost make us (as our kids would say) fake sick.
All patient rooms have en suite bathrooms, soothing colors, hand-selected artwork and are bathed in natural light. Plus, you can order up room service. Reiki, aromatherapy, music or pet therapy, anyone?
And all are private, so no annoying snorer in the next bed. Plus, they’re roomy. At 310 sq. ft. or so, they’re just a shade smaller than your average 325 sq. ft. hotel room. Shell out a bit more and upgrade to a “concierge suite” for extra privacy and luxury amenities.
All of which beg the question: Is this a hospital or a health resort?
New moms and their babies get the royal treatment, too. The Pavilion includes a 25-room maternity wing, new labor-and-delivery suites and a neonatal intensive care unit.
Officials cut the ribbon on the new eight-story Pavilion last week – the centerpiece of Bryn Mawr Hospital’s master modernization plan. At $250 million, it’s the biggest facility investment in the hospital’s 125-year history.
Worried T/E parents ask: Who decides if a bus stop is safe?
Old Eagle School Road has long been clogged with cars – even more so with Life Time Athletic, Wegmans and the KOP Town Center right around the corner.
So it’s easy to see why some families are fuming that their bus stop was moved off their side street onto that increasingly busy road. What’s perhaps less easy to see is why T/E won’t move it back.
Some background: Several years ago, T/E began moving bus stops out of developments and onto major roads. Fewer stops = shorter routes = cost savings.
In 2011, bus stops along Wallace Drive were streamlined into a single stop on Old Eagle School. But the parents who wait there with their kids each morning say cars routinely speed down the hill and blow by their bus – safety bar, flashing lights and backpacked kids be damned. Their bus stop is an accident waiting to happen, they insist. (Not-so-fun fact: children boarding school buses were killed or injured in five separate accidents in the U.S. in a single week last fall.)
On Oct. 19, an accident did happen. A speeding car rear-ended another car.
“The crash wasn’t near the bus stop or around the bus stop, it was AT the bus stop,” says Susie Geib, one of the parents who’s been begging T/E to move the stop for months. (Others have been asking for years, she says.)
In response to the families’ concerns, T/E had the stop evaluated this fall and deemed it safe. But the parents contend the district’s safety study was cursory at best. They say the inspector, Krapf Bus Co.’s safety officer (a retired state trooper), who was accompanied by T/E Transportation Director Karen Henry, came one morning and left before the bus even arrived.
“How is some ex-cop sitting at the bus stop for 18 minutes acceptable and the expertise of dozens of college-educated, taxpaying parents who are at the stop every single day not credible?” writes Geib in an email to SAVVY.
If the two had stayed longer, they would have seen two cars blow by the stop as kids were trying to board that same day, Geib says. The two also weren’t there to see “our bus driver laying on her horn last week as a car flew down Old Eagle School ignoring the bus’s flashing lights and stop sign,” Geib wrote in an email to Henry.
An email from Henry to the parents admits the road’s dangers. “We are not saying Old Eagle School Rd. is not a hazardous road, but many stops are on and along this road,” she wrote. “We are not able to avoid stop locations on hazardous roads.”
Fired up, Geib took her concerns to the school board meeting Nov. 28. She told the board she did the math and moving the stop .37 miles would cost T/E “nickels and dimes” in gas.
No dice. T/E Business Manager Art McDonnell told the board it would take too much time for the bus to make a stop on Wallace, then turn onto Old Eagle School. Moreover, the Krapf safety officer had ruled such a turn – a big vehicle turning onto a speeding roadway – would in fact be more dangerous than keeping the stop on that speeding roadway. And T/E isn’t “typically in the habit of overruling … a safety officer’s recommendation,” McDonnell said.
Only board VP Michele Burger questioned the wisdom of having kids wait for a bus on a “fast-moving” road with no sidewalks. “If I had a little one, I’d be concerned,” she said. Board President Scott Dorsey said he “understood the parents’ concerns” but “tended to go with our experts.” Case (apparently) closed.
When we asked Dorsey about the board’s non-action last week, he said he “would never put economics before student safety. Our people said it was safe and I went with that.”
When we asked McDonnell why T/E wouldn’t just move the stop, keep folks happy – how hard could it be? – he alluded to costs. (He’s the business manager, after all.) “The District is still experiencing large deficits in operating budgets that prevents us from accommodating these types of requests,” he replied via email. He then referred to “feedback” from Krapf’s safety officer and “local law enforcement.” He also stated that “the residents’ request was evaluated at the Board level.” So, we sat and watched a video of the school board meeting and timed the board’s “evaluation.” Six minutes.
Tredici owner to open in Villanova, Bala and beyond
Here’s one we didn’t see coming: the owner of Enoteca Tredici in Bryn Mawr setting up shop five minutes away.
Villanova U. is partnering with Greg Dodge of Zavino Hospitality Group to open The Refectory, the first, full-service on-campus restaurant – full bar, “elevated” casual cuisine, private dining and chef’s tastings included. And it’s open to the public. (Villanova’s not a dry campus, btw. Even the new hoops arena serves potent potables.)
“We designed this restaurant with students, alumni, faculty, families and neighbors in mind, as a place where they all can gather and linger over a great meal and delicious drink,” said Greg Dodge of Zavino Hospitality Group (ZHG) in Villanova’s announcement statement.
When it opens next summer, The Refectory will be part of The Commons, the plush new student apartment-style dorms starting to take shape on Lancaster Ave. ZHG will also provide the vittles for a grab-and-go café/coffee bar next door.
The Refectory is just one of the goodies on Dodge’s overflowing plate of late.
Locally, he hopes to unveil Zagafen by Zavino in the old Citron + Rose in Bala Cynwyd in April. A kosher trattoria/pizzeria, Zagafen will “by its nature, it will be vegetarian-, vegan- and gluten-free friendly,” Dodge tells SAVVY. His partner at Zagafen will be David Magerman, owner of The Dairy Café, the kosher joint that just closed across the street on Montgomery Ave. A family-run kosher eatery is already on line to take The Dairy Café space, Dodge says.
And, in his most ambitious project to date, ZHG will soon begin work on Enoteca Tredici Downingtown. Dodge paid $2.6 million for the 9,000 sq. ft. former paper mill that housed Firecreek and Milito’s last spring and plans to pour another $1.6 mill into renovations. Look for the same drop-dead décor as Bryn Mawr but lots more elbow room and plenty of creekside dining. Dodge is banking on a big party business in Downingtown – a private room will hold 60 (100 standing). He hopes to have the place up and running by early fall.
Is it against state regs to waive PE classes for student athletes? Conestoga’s been doing it for years
T/E School District has long allowed student athletes to apply for an exemption from gym class. It’s a hugely popular program that T/E calls Extended Experience Physical Education (EEPE).
Well, some parents in Lower Merion want the same option for their teens. The Harriton HSA started circulating a petition asking the school board to adopt an “alternative” to PE policy. Lower Merion High School’s HSA also supports the petition and hundreds have signed it to date.
But when LMSD Director of School and Community Relations Amy Buckman got wind of the campaign, she fired off a letter that’s raising eyebrows – and questions. In it, she all but says that the EEPE program at Conestoga violates state graduation requirements.
LMSD asked the PA Board of Education to weigh in on the PE waiver issue when the topic was first raised to Superintendent Copeland, Buckman writes. Here is state education official Nicholas Slotterback’s rather shocking response, as reprinted in Buckman’s letter: “Schools are not permitted to provide waivers such as sports, band and co-curricular activities in place of health and physical education. If schools permit waivers, the school is not in compliance of the graduation requirements…” Slotterback then says he’s going to “look into the issue at the schools you had mentioned.”
Wait. The PA Dept. of Education is going to investigate Conestoga? Does Slotterback really think a topnotch district like T/E doesn’t know or doesn’t care about state graduation requirements? Really?
Still, Buckman sounds resolute. Her letter states that “it is clear” that any school providing such waivers is “out of compliance.” Then, for good measure, she adds: “And as I tell my kids, ‘Just because your friend is doing something doesn’t make it right.’” And she ends with: “While you are certainly welcome to bring this issue to the attention of the Lower Merion Board of School Directors, I’m not sure they’d vote to violate state graduation requirements. You might consider channeling your efforts to the Pa. Department of Education.”
Meanwhile, Harriton parents aren’t pulling the petition. HSA leaders say a PE waiver for student athletes would give stressed and sleep-deprived teens more time during the school day to get homework done. Defending the petition to Buckman, one HSA president called it “a first step in support of our students and the parents who worry about the well being of their children.”
Dancing with a star in Wynnewood
Priscilla Presley, Lisa Rinna and Kelly Osbourne they weren’t, but 25 Main Line ladies sure felt like celebs when Dancing with the Stars pro trainer Louis Van Amstel (above) took his show on the road last month. The three-time world dance champion led a high-flying, heart-pounding LaBlast Fitness class at Wynnewood’s Movement Rx Studio. After 60 sizzling minutes, there wasn’t a dry tank top in the house.
Van Amstel was a pro coach on DWTS for 10 seasons and a choreographer for So You Think You Can Dance but these days focuses on LaBlast. Movement Rx was a stop on his LaBlast holiday tour.
Why boys are bullish on St. Aloysius Academy (Sponsored)
By Ryan Richards
Sister Margaret Fagan embraces a winning spirit.
No wonder her office is decked out with mementos of her favorite team – the reigning Super Bowl champion (until Feb. 3) Philadelphia Eagles.
The principal of St. Aloysius Academy in Bryn Mawr keeps time with an Eagles scoreboard wall clock. Stuffed bears in tiny Eagles sweaters guard her bookshelf. An Eagles rug covers the floor by her desk. Her school ID hangs from an Eagles lanyard. A football signed by former Coach Andy Reid thanking her for “all the support & prayers” sits on a table.
And just above it, neatly framed in glass, hangs her most special keepsake of all – her ticket stub from last year’s Super Bowl.
“To say the least, I’m a huge fan,” says Sister Margaret.
She’s also a big fan of the school she leads. Like a football coach driving his players, she hopes her enthusiasm for serving God and community – being the best “you” you can be – rubs off on students, staff and faculty.
Founded in 1895 by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), St. Aloysius sits on 42 prime acres in the heart of the Main Line, the only IHM-led private Catholic academy in the
The all-boys environment is key to developing students’ talents, says Sister Margaret. Along with a solid grounding in religion and morality, single- education makes St. Aloysius a judgement-free place to explore and grow. When students choose courses and extra-curriculars, “they’re just able to be themselves,” she explains. “They absolutely, positively love it … just sharing their talent without worrying what someone thinks.”
One of myriad ways St. Aloysius students hone their gifts: the award-winning music program.
“Music is very important here,” points out Sister Margaret. “We have a phenomenal choir. Their voices are angelic.” All students are encouraged to study basic piano and many move on to instrumental lessons, the string or percussion ensemble or the marching or jazz band.
Another academy hallmark is its dedication to selflessness and service. Sister Margaret makes it a point to greet each boy – all 200 of them – by name. The student body gathers each morning to recite the PAWS pledge – committing themselves to Peace, Awareness, Witness and Service. At Christmas, the community “adopted” more than 100 needy families, buying gifts like bikes, sporting equipment, games and electronics. At Halloween, boys amassed 400 pounds of candy for a homeless shelter. “It was the coolest,” says Sister Margaret. “I’ve never seen so much candy in my life.”
To show them that they’re men in the making, boys wear ties and blue blazers to school. PAWS pins on their lapels remind them of their pledge to “recognize and enjoy each other’s differences and talents and to seek out the good qualities” in their fellow students.
Among other proud St. Aloysius traditions: the celebration of IHM Founders’ Day in November (Sister Margaret says the IHM legacy “just radiates through all the boys”) and graduating students’ annual race down the hill to wrap their neckties around the statue of St. Aloysius. “That’s been a tradition here for a long, long time,” she says.
Ask sixth-grade homeroom rep. Ryan Sims what he likes most about his school and he gives you a list: the sports options – he’s on the football, lacrosse and basketball teams; the foreign language offerings (he just notched Distinguished Honors); the spread in the cafeteria; the “huge” library; and talking sports with the sisters. A typical conversation: “Did you see that Sixers game last night?”
“All the teachers are really nice and help you navigate the world,” says 7th-grade homeroom rep and leadership council member Dylan Unruh, who enjoys math and social studies classes and plays basketball and soccer at St. Aloysius.
“I love that this school is like a family,” adds Tricia Goode, a teacher at the academy for eight years. “I love that you teach the brothers; you teach an entire family of boys.”
While the school community is bound by traditions, education is cutting edge. All students get Chromebooks, starting in 5th grade. The laptops encourage collaboration and sustained online interaction between students and teachers, says social studies teacher Katherine Farrell. As a result, students are “producing higher quality work,” she says.
To keep students challenged, the academy continually expands its offerings. Courses in the works include robotics and coding, introduction to drama, and advanced writing and math classes.
This month, students will fill out surveys detailing subjects they’d like to study and activities they’d like to try. “We’re very excited about that,” she says.
In the meantime, Sister Margaret will continue rooting for her boys in green on the field and her boys in blue in the classroom.
“I love being with the boys here,” she says with a warm smile. “I’m really blessed to be the principal of this school.”
St. Aloysius Academy, 401 S. Bryn Mawr Ave., Bryn Mawr, will host an open house on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. Visit staloysiusacademy.org or call 610-525-1670. The Academy also sponsors a co-ed Montessori preschool on campus.
Future of Malvern’s UpHome now up in the air
UpHome owner Linda Ritter just announced she’ll retire in April. She’s selling the business so if foraging for antiques in France sounds magnifique, make her an offer.
Ritter tells SAVVY that she and her husband will split their time between Nashville, where their son lives, and a small town in Provence, where she tells SAVVY she just might scout merch for the next owner of UpHome. She’s also leading customers on two trips to France this year.
This and That
Cerise Craft Steakhouse BYOB in Bryn Mawr called it quits last Saturday. After five years, chef-owner Ben Thomas wanted out of the nightly grind so he could spend more time with his young ’uns, according to Philly Mag. There’s still time to get your last licks in, however. Thomas is planning (at least two) special tasting dinners – Tastes of Italy on Jan. 19 and German Feast Jan. 26. Five courses for $75. Reserve here.
Three years after it moved into the old Superfresh, the Gladwyne Acme is moving out. The supermarket chain announced it will close the under-performing store on Youngsford Road on Feb. 16. There’s some talk – wishful thinking, perhaps – that a boutique food market may take the space. Acme closed its King of Prussia store last spring.
Architects’ plans for that long sought and much disputed new Lower Merion middle school get a first public airing at Jan. 28’s school board meeting. For those not up to date: LMSD now says it will seize land for athletic fields after all – not at Stoneleigh public garden (thankfully) but 13.4 acres right next to it. On Monday, the board greenlit plans to use eminent domain – and $13 million – to swoop in on two parcels adjacent to Stoneleigh before Villanova U. could buy them.
Frankly, our heads are spinning. The school board agreed to buy eight acres off Spring Mill Rd. last month but nixed that plan when it learned the hilly, wet land would cost too much to convert into fields. The new parcels are “larger, flatter and closer to the new middle school site” at 1860 Montgomery Ave., LMSD’s Amy Buckman wrote in a letter to families this week.
A changing of the political guard in Tredyffrin. For the first time in the township’s 311-year history, a Democrat is chairing the board of supervisors. Six-year supervisor Murph Wysocki was unanimously elected board chair Jan. 2. Newly elected vice chair Mark Freed is also a Democrat.
Dems are also ruling the roost in Radnor. With two Republican commissioners voting nay, Lisa Borowski was re-elected president of the board of commissioners and Jack Larkin was elected vice chair.
Dr. Joseph Russino won’t be caring for Main Line moms anymore. The longtime Lankenau and Paoli Hospital ob-gyn is practicing in Pottsville after pleading guilty to cheating his Main Line partners out of tens of thousands of dollars in a Chester County courtroom last month. “I was lazy and I let things get out of hand,” said a tearful Russino during his Dec. 20 plea hearing, according to the Daily Local. “Now, I have to start all over again.” He was sentenced to four years of probation and had to repay $250,000 to his former partners at Paoli Obstetrics/Gynecology – Drs. Jennifer Gilbert, Nancy Hahn, Jennifer Stuck and Alex Anthopoulos – who were sitting in the front row of the courtroom. Now a convicted felon, Russino got the boot from Main Line Health. No word yet on whether the PA Board of Medicine will revoke his license.
For the first time in school history, a Sister of Mercy won’t be leading Merion Mercy Academy. Laura Farrell will become Head of School in July, taking over from Sister Christine McCann, who’s been filling in after Sister Barbara Buckley’s abrupt resignation last spring. Farrell, her husband and two teenagers will move to the area from Richmond, where she’s dean of faculty at an all-girls Episcopal diocesan school. A student-led petition over the treatment of a former Waldron Mercy teacher and other tensions on campus led to Sister Barbara Buckley’s departure last May.
Shipley’s loss will be Woodlynde’s gain. Shipley’s Director of Enrollment Management Amy Clemons will become Woodlynde’s Head of School in July.
Clemons, whose son is a senior at Woodlynde, has also held key leadership roles at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, Renbrook School in West Hartford and The Community School of Naples, FL. Woodlynde is a college-prep school for kids who learn differently in Strafford.
This should be powerful: hearing the widow of a 9/11 pilot whose hijacked plane was flown into the World Trade Center speak about overcoming tragedy. Miriam Horrocks-Isenberg, who’s also a cancer survivor, will tell her inspirational story, “Living in Limitless Potential” on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Penn Valley Elementary, part of a speaker series sponsored by Chabad of the Main Line. Adult tickets are $18. Kids and students are free. Click here to order.
Tis the season for art shows. The horsey set might want to hoof it over to the Academy of Notre Dame show this year where hotshot equine painter Shawn Faust will be the featured artist. If his work looks familiar, his paintings were twice selected as the official posters at the Devon Horse Show.
The 46th Annual Academy of Notre Dame Fine Art Show and Sale is free and open to the public Jan. 26 – Feb. 3. And a few miles west, Malvern Retreat House will showcase 100 artists and 2,000 fine art pieces at its 8th annual juried show Jan. 30 – Feb. 3. Admission is free. The public is invited to a free, meet-the-artists reception 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31.
In this age of division and discord, it sure warms the heart to hear what Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley has planned for Martin Luther King Day. The temple’s members will be joined by 200 neighbors of different faiths and 200 students from assorted schools for a massive “interfaith day of service.” Among the activities on tap: recording books for the blind, making cards for refugee families, creating meals for the hungry and sorting through 50 bags of donated clothes. “It’s one of the most anticipated days of our calendar year,” says Sarah Lefkowitz. Congregants also chip in for donations to local non-profits like Our Closet, Life Center, Laurel House, PAWS and HIAS.
A new reason to visit The Bercy. Main Line master connector Michelle Leonard is teaming up with the French brasserie to launch a monthly “Dine and Dish” series. They’re like Leonard’s “Tasty Talks” at Yang Ming but on Monday nights and in Ardmore. A $50 ticket gets you both fortified and edified with sparkling wine, three courses and a guest speaker. The series kicks off Jan. 28 with Nicole Miller boutiques’ owner Mary Dougherty who’ll dish on her successful fashion biz. The night sold out in two days! We’re going – so if you’re there, be sure to say hi.