Cybersecurity and Tech-cellence at Emma

By Director of Academic & Strategic Technology Nick Marchese
Last semester brought with it a variety of wins on the academic technology front at Emma. We’ve had continued success with our cybersecurity awareness training, and we’re seeing innovations in the use of technology across many disciplines on campus.

Cybersecurity Awareness

Raising cybersecurity awareness is important to the safety of our organization. To help combat the ongoing problem of phishing, last year our organization enrolled all of our employees and students in a comprehensive Cybersecurity Awareness Training program. Phishing is a type of cybercrime where hackers try to gain access to sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords, by pretending to be a person or organization they trust. 

In years past, we’ve run baseline tests for students new to the program and then followed up with simulated phishing emails to help students practice identifying and reporting suspicious or phishing emails. Last year, we saw great success and growth with the program where students learned how to spot a phishing email, what red flags to watch for, and how to successfully report these emails so they could be investigated.

This year, to keep things interesting and engaging for students (and employees), we held a contest in the Fall semester where we tracked which group (9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, 12th grade, or employees) clicked the least on the simulated phishing emails and which group successfully reported the simulated phishing emails. This was a very exciting event because we were able to track the numbers over multiple weeks (10+ weeks) and see changes happen based on the school year and school calendar. At the end of the Fall semester, we saw that the Class of 2024 had our lowest average click rates and that the Class of 2026 had the highest reporting rates! What was also great to see was that, as a whole, we continued to improve month after month, making Emma Willard Cyber Strong.

To learn more about spotting red flags in email, watch Nick’s instructional video.


There are many great ways technology is being integrated and woven into the Emma Willard School landscape. Oftentimes, this can be end of semester projects, but sometimes we just get to highlight some tech-cellence going on around campus all year. Here are some examples we want to share from inside and outside of the classroom.

Computer Science

In Chiara Shah’s Advanced Studies Computer Science Explorations course, students use a programming language called Processing/p5js to create art through computer code. Processing/p5js is a JavaScript library for creative coding, with a focus on making coding accessible and inclusive for artists, designers, educators, beginners, and anyone else! In the course, students chose a piece of artwork to replicate (marked as “original”). In addition to straight edges such as rectangles, squares, and lines, the artwork had to have curves to increase the challenge of the project. Students then used code to create shapes and layer them to create artwork. Chiara Shah shared, “What I love about this assignment is that [students] went from knowing no coding to knowing enough to make art in just five lessons…Students always tell me this is their favorite project of the course.”


Just a few months into learning French in French I, taught by Manon Sabatier, French I students worked in pairs to (very creatively) create school brochures for a school of their imagination.  All in French!  It contained the name of the school, its location, its contact info, the weekly schedule, the list of courses, the times of day and days of the week, as well as some interesting facts about their school that could be of particular interest.  Students used various online tools to create their own brochures, such as Canva. View some of those brochures here (pdf).

AS Chinese IV students, taught by Guangyu Hao, did their Fall Semester Project, introducing different subjects at Emma, including insights from teachers and students in math, language, science, history, etc. Students used cell phones to record videos and used video editing software such as iMovie to bring it all together. View some of those videos here.

The Arts

In the Intermediate Media Arts course, taught by Caroline Valites, students had to follow this prompt: “Using the media that you are most comfortable with, create a series of images, video, or digital work that tells a story to the viewer about your identity. This project asks you to think about portraiture beyond the surface image.” To accomplish this, Mitsuki N. '23 used two pieces of software, Blender and Premiere Pro, and shared, “I tried to express the borders between humans and nature. An artificial path and fences play a role as an impurity in the forest, and a gleaming human emphasizes it.” 

Mitsuki's work, titled Borders

Next we make our way into the theatre to make the details of a performance come together. A prop is any inanimate object that an actor carries or interacts with on stage outside of their person while partaking in a theatre production. As a props artisan, you need to have a variety of skill sets at your disposal. Mx. Robison, as technical theatre director and props artisan on the 2023 winter play The Earthling, did just that. This specialty show required even more special props. To accomplish this, they turned to the 3D printer technology found in the Makerspace. With the help of Mr. Bardos, Mx. Robison printed the top of a magical staff, the spindle accents of a walking stick, the head of a pickaxe and a whole shovel spade using the Lulzbot Taz 3d Printer. 

The premade files were obtained through www.thingiverse.com or created using Tinkercad 3D drafting software, then printed to scale of the finished product. 

Combining the 3D printed items with some minor electronics soldering and a few PVC pipes leaves us with the amazing finished product seen on the stage. 

Prop scenes from The Earthling. See SmugMug for more photos from the performance.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that technology is expanding our intellectual curiosity and pushing our students toward creative problem solving. We look forward to seeing how these experiences will be used to serve and shape our world.
    • Emma Genius and the Educational Technology team regularly post tech and cybersecurity tips in key places across campus.

    • An example of the brochures for French I, made using online tech tools

What's Next?

Our Mission

Honoring its founder’s vision, Emma Willard School proudly fosters in each young woman a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world.
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