Interim Term expands, including classes that reach beyond the classroom

Interim Term expands, including classes that reach beyond the classroom

Sally Buck

“Let’s Design a School,” taught by Mr. Harlan Howe and Mr. Vinnie Vrotny, is new to the Interim Term Program this year. The goal of the class is to brainstorm about the design ideas and design process for building a new Upper School, and some of the ideas student contribute could possibly be featured in the new Upper School in the distant future. Mr. Howe and Mr. Vrotny “want students to have some intentional thought about what the school should look like.”

As of right now, Mr. Howe and Mr. Vrotny, still in the midst of the planning process, expect the class basics to include walking through design processes, reading excerpts from a book based on design and finally designing a portion of the Upper School virtually or with basic items such as Legos or pipe cleaners. Some other activities may include field trips to other recently-designed schools and guest speakers with an expertise in architecture and the building of educational facilities. Computer experience is not required, making it a class open to anyone.


“Houston Eats”–taught by Ms. Dorian Myers and Ms. Tamasine Ellis–will focus on the development of culture through the culinary food waves. “Houston Eats” was inspired by a two classes previously taught during Interim Term called “Eating History” which was focused on global food history and “Introduction to Anthropology,” a history elective in which students spent time discussing food culture and how it is shaped. Both of these classes were previously led by Ms. Ellis.

 “Houston Eats” revolves around trying new foods while learning how our city became so diverse in food.  Ms. Ellis said, “Food is important. We eat, but we also show connections to home countries or ancestral countries or religion through food.”

The three weeks in Interim Term will be spent on field trips to a variety of restaurants chosen by student input and the process of journaling and reflection upon documents, new experiences and research. The only event set in stone for this year is a cooking class on Southern Foods at Central Market. The cost of the class is the only paid event in this course, students are required to bring money to all meals. The end of course project will be the study and report of a family recipe passed down from generation to generation.


“Slavery Today” is one of the few classes ever led by a student. After completing an independant study on the appalling reality of human trafficking in Houston, a major hub for the industry, Callie Rosenthal (11) and Mrs. Angela Wainwright “wanted to share with the Kinkaid public to become aware of this issue.” This desire to share their new information is what spurred the creation of the class, “Slavery Today.”

Their class time will be spent talking to experts in the field of human trafficking around the Houston area, documentaries about forced labor, seminars/class discussions and hands on simulations or “case studies.”  To end the course, students in small groups will research and strategize on how they would approach a case of human trafficking while using their newfound knowledge of history, sickening present day statistics and their own ideas of steps to terminate slavery in the future.


The first ever service-learning Interim Term class, “Come Hell or High Water,” is introduced this year after the loss that Hurricane Harvey brought to so many Houstonians. Teachers Ms. Tatum Branaman, Dr. Jenny Howell and Ms. Casey Fleming hope that their course will shed a light on the severity of the destruction and the tragedy that so many are still facing, months after the water has receded. “We want to use interim to dig into what happened,” Dr. Howell said. Class time will be spent reading about Harvey in literature and researching the devastation, but the focus will be placed on the field trips to different communities. The three teachers have worked together building contacts with Harvey victims that did not reach the media. Their hope is that Kinkaid students document the stories of different neighborhoods in order to inspire non-stoping help throughout our city.