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Stories from the Ridge Podcast

podcast conversation

Welcome to the latest way to connect with McCallie!

Stories from the Ridge brings you insights from faculty, alumni and friends of McCallie. We'll cover a variety of topics, all with a link back to the community and brotherhood that makes our school so special!

You can find Stories from the Ridge on iTunes, Spotify and other podcast platforms.

Do you have an idea for a podcast? We are looking for great new stories to feature and we'd love to hear from you! Submit your ideas and suggestions here

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Episode 36: Championship Week: A Conversation with Lee Burns and Ralph Potter

As the McCallie community prepares for the Blue Tornado football team’s game Thursday, December 2, for the state championship, Head of School Lee Burns ’87 sits down with Coach Ralph Potter ’81 to discuss the upcoming game, the legacy of football at McCallie, and the prospects for the game against Montgomery Bell Academy. Coach Potter shares his coaching philosophy, and the two stress the importance of the McCallie community cheering the team on as they play for the championship in Chattanooga’s Finley stadium.

Episode 35: Bible Department: A Discussion with Dr. David Eastman

A new book (his fourth) by Dr. David Eastman, the Sherril Chair of Bible and head of the Bible Department, is the topic of the latest in a series of podcasts examining the various academic departments of McCallie. In this episode, Dr. Eastman is joined by Dr. Sal Musumeci, one of McCallie’s history teachers, as well as Sumner McCallie, Dean of Faculty and Curriculum, in a discussion of the book, North African Christianity, Turning Points in the Development of the Church. They also talk about the Bible Department, how McCallie teaches Biblical subjects to students of many different faiths, and why teaching about religion, faith, and ethics is an important part of McCallie’s pedagogical philosophy.

This is the fourth in a series of podcasts examining the academic departments at McCallie. Other podcasts in this series will be posted throughout the remainder of 2021.

Episode 34: Languages: More than Immersion

McCallie’s goal is for students to not simply “learn” a second or third language, but to “acquire” it, and by doing so to understand the cultures and personal perspectives of people in other parts of the world. That’s one of the themes touched on in a podcast discussion among four language teachers at McCallie. The discussion is part of McCallie’s Stories from the Ridge podcast series on academic departments.

The latest podcast features Dean of Faculty and Curriculum Sumner McCallie talking with the language teachers about their teaching methods and the importance of language proficiency in today’s global world. Joining Mr. McCallie are Frank Watkins, Spanish teacher and chair of the department, Paul Cudd, German teacher, Jason Jones, Latin teacher, and Carson Murphy, Chinese teacher.

Episode 33: English Department – Grammar and Literature Reexamined

The way in which McCallie students learn to write and to appreciate and understand literature has changed over the years, but the objectives remain the same. That’s the message of three of McCallie’s English teachers in this wide-ranging discussion of many themes related to how English is taught.

The discussion is hosted by Sumner McCallie, Dean of Faculty and Curriculum, and features Sam Currin ’03, Chair of the Department who is in his 11th year at McCallie, Erin Tocknell, in her 14th year and who teaches sophomore-level courses, and legendary teacher Bill Jamieson, in his 40th year teaching eighth graders.

An earlier a podcast featuring the science Department can be found here. Over the next two months, all other academic departments will be featured in this series.

Episode 32: A New Way of Teaching Science

Collaboration, moving around, not expecting teachers to know all the answers, even learning to appreciate failure ... those are some of the characteristics of new methods of teaching science that members of McCallie’s Science Department are using to educate a new generation of scientists and citizens. And they are topics that are discussed in this edition of McCallie’s Stories From the Ridge podcast series.

The Science Department podcast is hosted by Sumner McCallie, Dean of Faculty and Curriculum, and features Michael Lowry, in his 28th year on the Ridge, and who serves as department chair, Dr. Karah Nazor, in her 10th year, and Matt Allen, in his third year. It includes lively discussions of how and why science is taught in both the Upper and Middle Schools and conveys the passion that the teachers bring to their profession.

This is the first of several podcasts featuring the academic departments at McCallie. Other podcasts will be released throughout the fall of 2021.

Episode 31: Squash– What it is, How it's played, and its role in McCallie's varsity athletic offerings

quash, McCallie’s newest varsity sport, is the topic of this edition of Stories from the Ridge. Head of School Lee Burns ’87, who played squash (and tennis) in college, introduces the new head varsity squash coach, Dan Sharplin, who discusses his reasons for coming to Chattanooga to lead this growing part of the school’s athletic offerings. Mr. Sharplin, who comes to the Ridge via his native New Zealand and Boston, shares his vision for McCallie’s squash program and how he sees it as a way to introduce squash to other high schools in the Southeast. He and Mr. Burns also share their vision for a squash facility on McCallie’s campus (the squash currently uses a club squash facility in Downtown Chattanooga).

For the many McCallie alumni and friends who are unfamiliar with squash, Mr. Sharplin gives a brief explanation on how it is played.

Episode 30: The Ed Johnson Project

In this podcast, leaders of The Ed Johnson Project, along with a McCallie history teacher, discuss the story of Ed Johnson, who was lynched on Chattanooga’s Walnut Street Bridge more than a century ago, and the five-year effort by community volunteers that has resulted in a memorial being placed near the bridge to commemorate Mr. Johnson and the attorneys who defended him.

The podcast also discusses the role the Rev. T.H. McCallie, one of the founders of McCallie, played in trying to prevent the lynching and how he offered shelter on the school’s campus to one of the attorney’s families. And it discusses how McCallie history teachers use the Ed Johnson story to inspire McCallie students to be responsible citizens in their communities.

Participating in the podcast are:
Donivan Brown, president of the Ed Johnson Project;
Eleanor McCallie Cooper, great-granddaughter of the Rev. T.H. McCallie, and a member of the Ed Johnson Project;
Mel Cooper, former McCallie Vice President of Development, and a member of the Ed Johnson Project;
Bart Wallin ’99, who, with David Levitt ’94, teaches the Ed Johnson story as part of their 8th grade history classes.

Episode 29: Recollections of 9/11: Students Discuss their AP U.S. History Project and Perspectives of the Attacks that Shook the World

For the past eight years, students in Dr. Duke Richey’s Advanced Placement U.S. History classes have been collecting stories from family members, friends, and acquaintances about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. To mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks, the students have launched a website that will be updated weekly throughout the year. That website can be found here: https://www.mccallie.org/911project

Four of those students sat down with Dr. Richey to discuss the project and share their perspectives of the tragic attacks on America. The students are Vihaal Vellanki '22, a boarder from Minnetonka, Minn., Luke Gilbert '22, a boarder from Charlotte, N.C., and Nathan Smartt '22, a boarder from Austin, Texas. In addition, Nelson Eiselstein, a 2016 graduate of McCallie who participated in the project when he was a student, joined the discussion. Mr. Eiselstein now teaches math at McCallie.

Episode 28: From McCallie to Hollywood: Darren Moorman Discusses his Movies And His Days Teaching At McCallie

Former McCallie teacher Darren Moorman is receiving worldwide acclaim for the latest movie he produced, Blue Miracle, starring Dennis Quaid, and now streaming on Netflix. Mr. Moorman, who taught Bible in the early 1990s under the guidance of John Strang, left the Ridge in the late 90s for Hollywood, where he gained fame as an actor before becoming a successful movie producer, concentrating on faith-based topics.

In June, Mr. Moorman visited McCallie and hammed it up with his old friend John Marcellis ’85, Director of Weekend Activities, talking about their time on campus and Mr. Moorman’s early ventures (at times with Mr. Marcellis in tow) into acting and producing, and about Mr. Moorman’s latest accomplishments, including the highly acclaimed Blue Miracle movie. The two were joined by Steve Hearn ’74, Vice President for Advancement.

Episode 27: It’s spring on the Ridge, and a young McCallie man’s fancy turns to thoughts of ... Quack, Quack.

That’s the sound being heard more across campus often as student anticipation grows for the annual Duck Day, in which students are dismissed from classes to enjoy the campus, the formal opening of the Lake, organized games, and just generally enjoying the springtime.

Duck Day – along with another McCallie springtime tradition, the senior prank – is the topic of this edition of Stories from the Ridge. In early April, 2021, Assistant Head of School Kenny Sholl sat in the Quadrangle with Upper School Principal Hank Hopping, Vice President of Advancement Steve Hearn ’74, and Dean of Admission Jim Daughdrill ’05 to share stories and laughs about Duck Day and senior pranks over the years.

If you have a Duck Day or senior prank story you would like to share, please let us know. We’ll even try to record as many as possible (provided they are fit for a general audience) for a follow-up podcast.

If you have a story to share with fellow alumni and faculty about past Duck Days and senior pranks, all you need to do is give us a call at 423-493-5019, and when prompted, simply record your message, being sure to give your name, class year, and a phone number where we can reach you. Or, if you prefer, simply send us a note at info@mccallie.org and we’ll contact you to arrange a time to record your story.

We’ll save all the stories in our archives and possibly will gather some for a follow-up podcast.

But remember: our attorneys tell us that the statute of limitations does not apply to senior pranks, so you might be required to return to campus to face the Disciplinary Committee. 😉

Episode 26: The Resiliency of Boys

How have boys – specifically McCallie boys – fared during the COVID pandemic and all the social and educational changes that have occurred over the past year? Five McCallie teachers and administrators sat down recently to talk about that question, and the discussion was surprisingly upbeat – and it led to a broader discussion of how McCallie boys have changed over the past couple of decades. Boys, they concluded, are resilient, adaptive, and appreciative. They’ve learned to grow in adversity, and have become nicer . . . and taller. Joining Head of School Lee Burns ’87 and Assistant Head of School Kenny Sholl in this enlightening conversation are English teacher, coach and former dorm head Chet LeSourd ’72, Learning Center Director and science teacher Suzie Howick, and Upper School chaplain, counselor, and coach the Rev. Josh Deitrick.

Episode 25: Three Alumni Share Experiences of Being Gay at McCallie

The “super-formative” high school years are challenging to all teenagers, but for those who are also recognizing an emerging identity of being gay or bisexual, the anxiety can be significantly increased. During a Zoom webinar with faculty and staff in late February 2021,  Alumni Alex Hostetler ’09, of New York, Boyd Jackson ‘09 and Scott Woods ’02, both of Washington, discussed their experiences of being gay at McCallie. They shared their struggles to reconcile their sexual identity with their religious faiths, their families, their fellow McCallie students, and their teachers. This panel discussion was part of McCallie’s “Belonging at McCallie” initiative which is designed to ensure that all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, can experience and participate in the fullness of the McCallie brotherhood. They also offer advice to current students on how to live full, happy, and successful lives at McCallie and beyond.

Episode 24: Diversity at McCallie – A Conversation With Members of the Black Alumni Steering Committee

McCallie School has made a lot of progress in fully embracing and including its students of color, but more work remains. That’s one of the assessments delivered by three members of the school’s newly formed Black Alumni Steering Committee who joined Head of School Lee Burns ’87 for a conversation about the school’s Moving Forward Together As Brothers initiative. The alumni – Johnny Graham ‘95, Charles Green ‘06, and Keenan Hale ‘11 – provide focused perspectives on the issues facing the school. The alumni also speak with pride about the new mentoring program that they all participate in which pairs Black alumni with McCallie students. Also included in this podcast is a short segment of an interview of David Chatman ’75, who was the first Black student to enroll and graduate from McCallie.

Episode 23: Heard at McCallie: Otis Redding, George Clinton, The BoDeans, And Many More!

“I would say there’s no school in the country that has had a musical history that McCallie has had . . . as far as having all these great performers come to campus,” says John Marcellis ’85, Director of Weekend Activities at McCallie. Steve Hearn ’74, Vice President of Advancement, agrees: “When you think about great music venues, places where great musical acts come together, . . . people don’t think of an independent school on Missionary Ridge being such a place where great acts perform. It is pretty amazing when you can go from the Dismembered Tennesseans to Luke Bryan and all the great acts in between.” Mr. Hearn and Mr. Marcellis recently sat down with another longtime faculty member, Dr. Duke Richey ’86, to discuss McCallie’s star-filled history of musical performances, from the early days of big-band dances to the legendary Otis Redding, to more recent performances from of Luke Bryan and George Clinton and the P-funk All-Stars. They share stories, have a lot of laughs, and appreciate “all the stars that glitter all the way” through McCallie’s history.

Episode 22: Finding The Balance: A conversation among three friends about the challenges of being a head of school in today’s changing world

Heads of three of the nation’s top independent schools – Lee Burns, of McCallie School, Kate Windsor, of Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, and Greg O’Melia, of The Buckley School in New York City, discuss the challenges they face as they lead their schools through a period of social and political unrest -- as well as a pandemic that forced the closing of their campuses. They share their insights into how school heads must continuously work to express the mission, values, and traditions of their schools while at the same time adjusting to the realities and demands of the modern world.

Episode 21: How much time should my son spend playing video games?

That seems to be one of the major societal questions today for parents of teenage boys, and it is a question that McCallie teachers and counselors get asked frequently by parents. In this podcast, Head of School Lee Burns '87 talks with Upper School Counselor Will Honeycutt and Middle School Principal Scotty Jones about this question and other questions that it spawns: how to set limits, how to have difficult conversations, how to “enter into their gaming world,” and how to find moderation and balance.

Episode 20: “Listen Eloquently:” A Conversation With Jon Meacham About the Legacy of Senator Howard Baker and Lessons Our Nation Can Learn From Him Today

Pulitzer Prize winning presidential historian Jon Meacham '87 joins McCallie Head of School Lee Burns '87 and McCallie AP History Teacher Duke Richey '86, holder of the Sen. Howard Baker Chair '43 of American History, as they discuss the life of Sen. Baker. Baker graduated from McCallie School in 1943 and he rose to be one of the leaders of the United States Senate during the Watergate impeachment hearings of the 1970s. Meacham, Burns and Richey discuss Baker's role in the Watergate hearings and what he might think about the current impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Episode 19: Let’s Put A MoonPie on the Moon: Wholesome and Irreverent Branding in the Age of Social Media

Developing a whole new generation of eaters for MoonPie, a nostalgic snack treat from Chattanooga Bakery, is a challenge shared by Dooley Tombras ‘00, President of The Tombras Group and Tory Johnston ‘83, Vice President of Marketing for Chattanooga Bakery. In this podcast they share the storied success of the “Out of This World” marketing campaign that has received national attention with Steve Hearn ‘74, McCallie Vice President for Advancement. Wacky and weird social media, as well as no-permission-needed pop culture sponsorships and memes, have resulted in record-breaking sales for MoonPies and national recognition for The Tombras Group’s branding approach. Dooley and Tory reflect upon the success factors they gained from McCallie as well as the immediate trust in their working relationship born from their common McCallie bond and values. Anyone interested in creating more customer engagement, learning relevant social media strategies, or getting an inside look at a favorite snack treat will enjoy this podcast.

Episode 18: Christmas Memories: Lew Cisto and James Harr '92 on the 35th anniversary of Candlelight

James Harr '92, McCallie's director of choral programs, talks with former McCallie Music Department Chair Lew Cisto about Candlelight — McCallie's musical celebration of Christmas and the holiday season. McCallie will be celebrating 35 years of Candlelight in 2019 with performances December 6 and 7 in the McCallie Chapel. Lew and James discuss the origins of Candlelight and how it helped spark the growth of the McCallie music program over the next three decades.

Episode 17: Protecting the Scenic City: Senior Matthew Merritt talks with Allen McCallie '73 and Rick Montague '64 about Chattanooga's environmental history

Matthew Merritt is a senior boarding student and a member of the Class of 2020, and he is passionate about history and environmental issues. Listen in as Matthew hosts a conversation about Chattanooga's industrial history and efforts to clean up in recent years with alumni Allen McCallie '73 and Rick Montague '64, board members with the Southern Environmental Law Center. 

Episode 16: Rethinking education: Hardy Farrow '09 and Ricky Thomas and success through learning

After earning his degree from George Washington University and working as a teacher for Teach for America, Hardy Farrow, a member of the class of 2009, founded the Let’s Innovate through Education program in Memphis. LITE helps Memphis-area minority and low-income students identify their skills and improve their city through entrepreneurial opportunities. Hardy’s work with LITE resulted in his being named to the Forbes magazine 30 Under 30 list in 2017. In this episode, Hardy speaks with Ricky Thomas, McCallie’s Dean of Community and Brotherhood, as they discuss what it takes to help students from all backgrounds learn and succeed.

Episode 15: Making Music: Sam Sims '80 and his career in the music industry

Sam Sims was a day student at McCallie and a member of the Class of 1980. He began performing music at McCallie and as a student at Morehouse College before making the move to build a career in music. Sam has performed for over 20 years with major artists such as Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, the Backstreet Boys, Janet Jackson, Boney James, George Duke and many more. In this episode, Sam and McCallie Director or Instrumental Music Brent Alverson discuss what it takes to build a career in music as well as Sam’s memories of making music at McCallie and throughout his career.

Episode 14: Rivalry Week — Patrick Sholl '04 and John Brock '09 on McCallie football's 11-year run of dominance in the McCallie-Baylor game

Patrick Sholl, member of the Class of 2004, and John Brock, member of the class of 2009 were both part of the Blue Tornado’s epic 11-game winning streak over Baylor, and they will share their memories of that amazing run of success playing for coach Ralph Potter in a conversation with Mark Wiedmer, member of the Class of 1976 and a sports columnist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Episode 13: Rivalry Week — John Green '84, Peter Hunt '84 and Greg McGuire '84 recall the legendary 1983 football season

Three members of the Class of 1984, John Green, Peter Hunt and Greg McGuire recall one of best Blue Tornado teams ever to take the field for legendary coach Pete Potter, in a fun conversation with Mark Wiedmer, member of the Class of 1976 and a sports columnist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Episode 12: Rivalry Week—Mark Brock '79, Ellis Gardner '79 and George Robinson '79 share memories of Blue Tornado football

The McCallie-Baylor football game is a rivalry with more than a century of history and the highlight of Reunion weekend each fall.

In this episode we feature alumni Mark Brock, Ellis Gardner and George Robinson, three former football players from the Class of 1979 as they share their memories of Blue Tornado football and stories from this big rivalry.

Mark Wiedmer, member of the Class of 1976 and a sports columnist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, leads this conversation as these men recall the fun, tradition and lessons learned playing football on the Ridge.

Episode 11: "I Am Amazed"

This episode of Stories from the Ridge features a special conversation between Dean of Faculty and Curriculum Sumner McCallie, and his uncle, former headmaster Spencer McCallie III '55. The former headmaster reflects on his time on the Ridge from his youth through to his time as headmaster. 

Episode 10: "Here's to Good Reading" 

Join McCallie's Dean of Faculty and Curriculum Sumner McCallie and Librarian Margaret Wadley as they discuss McCallie's school-wide summer reading books for 2019! The Upper School is reading “Educated: a Memoir” by Tara Westover, and the Middle School is reading “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba.

Episode 9: Music Brings People Together

In this episode, Jesse Felker, a newly-minted alum from the Class of 2019, talks with Middle School Principal Scotty Jones about the power of music and the ways it builds connections between people. Felker is an accomplished flautist and Jones is an accomplished saxophonist.

Episode 8: "Atticus Finch: The Biography"

McCallie alumnus Joseph Crespino '90 is a noted author and historian who is on the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta. In this episode, he sits down with longtime Middle School English teacher Bill Jamieson to discuss the influence of "To Kill A Mockingbird" on his own life and on society as a whole, as well as his own book, "Atticus Finch: The Biography."

Episode 7: ...And with the Dunk, It's Jim Suddath?!

McCallie's own Caldwell Chair of Christian Ethics, Jim Suddath, talks with Senior (and student broadcaster) Patrick Warren about his time playing basketball at Duke University. Jim played (and scored in) a Final Four and a Championship game, and was part of Coach K's first team at Duke. Get in the March Madness spirit by listening to Jim and Patrick's conversation - complete with some NCAA Tournament predictions! 

Episode 6: College Admission Truth, Myths and Advice

Join McCallie Director of College Counseling Jeff Kurtzman as he talks with Georgia Tech Director of Undergraduate Admission (and former McCallie Admissions team member) Rick Clark. Together, they'll talk about how to successfully navigate college admissions - sharing some truths and debunking some myths.  

Episode 5: Empathy and Teenage Boys

In this episode, Tory Kemp, the executive director of the National Center for the Development of Boys, talks with NCDB board member Alison Lebovitz about the role of empathy in the lives of teenage boys.

Learn about about the NCDB at understandingboys.org.

Episode 4: The Battle of Missionary Ridge

There may be no school in America with a location like McCallie's - directly on the site of one of the Civil War's most famous battles. McCallie Assistant Headmaster Kenny Sholl and Research Coordinator Patrice Glass explore the Battle of Missionary Ridge and how it still speaks to McCallie men today.

Episode 3: The Way to Wellness

In a pressure-packed world, the work of helping boys find wellness is more complicated than ever. In this episode, McCallie Upper School Chaplain Josh Dietrick talks with Director of Counseling Joel Coffman about the ways that McCallie's counseling team works to help boys find wellness in the midst of their hectic lives.

Episode 2: Character Is Destiny - Men of Honor

In this episode, McCallie's Dean of Faculty and Curriculum Sumner McCallie speaks with the Sen. Howard H. Baker Chair of American History, Dr. Duke Richey '86. They discuss teaching history through examining character, using 1917 McCallie alumnus Ralph McGill as an example. Hear from Dr. Richey about teaching AP US History at McCallie. Many thanks to the Landon Lecture Series at Kansas State University for the use of the recording of Ralph McGill from the 1967 lecture he gave as part of the series. For more information about the Landon Lecture Series, please visit https://www.k-state.edu/landon/

Episode 1: "An Intellectual Foundation"

We kick off the podcast with a conversation between McCallie Head of School Lee Burns '87 and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Jon Meacham '87.