Words can't express my delight and excitement about the beginning of this school year. After a summer full of work and preparation, hearing laughter and seeing smiling faces warms my heart. There is a palpable energy around campus. Teachers' rooms look fantastic and students are all dressed up in their new outfits. This is what it's all about!
Each summer our faculty reads a book for study and reflection. I have to admit, when I saw the title of this year's I was skeptical. I've read countless books on teaching, learning, homework, curriculum development, leadership, etc. After you've read enough books on teaching and leadership they seem to recycle key points, using new analogies and examples for already over-used concepts. It's been a long time since I've read one that captured my attention and reshaped - even challenged- how I think, approach my work, and my perceptions of strong parenting. The book is called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck Ph.D. I would like to strongly suggest that each parent in our community give it a read. It's so good that I won't say any more here. Read it and you will see.
Each year faculty grapple with issues that are much like our students, letting go of summer schedules and mustering their energy to reengage the school-year routines. This year, our faculty came back chomping at the bit! The Mindset book has sparked great conversation and even led to us reinstating student orientation that features reflection on how our mindset can quantifiably impact our outcomes. Mr. Knupp's leadership in the Student Life arena has drawn many faculty in support of his initiatives. This year he and the Division Directors will (and have already begun to) focus on character development and school spirit.
In addition to the Student Life initiatives, this year's other initiatives will be many. A faculty committee will examine best teaching practices and examine the weekly class schedule. Faculty will also be given time to collaboratively analyze their curriculum maps with particular attention to vertical alignment (content and skill preparation for the subsequent grades). We have completely restructured the school's budget and will implement processes that promote greater transparency and stewardship. We will be formalizing our fundraising efforts in a concerted effort to raise more and reduce our operational deficit, which is a normal part of nonprofit financial structures (think "PBS Viewers Like You" campaigns). We have officially launched an international homestay program and will be assessing the viability of expanding that program. These are exciting times.
Our new faculty members have immersed themselves and formed strong cohort. They are off to a fantastic start and Ms. Hildebrand has a comprehensive plan to support them during their transition into our community. I'd like to ask everyone in the community to reach out to them, regardless of what grade your child attends, and welcome them. Our school culture can be demanding and overwhelming but I know that your kindness and support will carry them through the most difficult first months. Teacher retention is important. Burnout is real. Please take time to express gratitude and support to all of our faculty and staff throughout the year. Parents' Council is a great place to start - and you are all already members!
Congrats to each of you, parents, for starting your new school year. I am honored and humbled to lead this great school. This will be a year of learning and listening but there is much to do and I'm excited to begin the work with all of you. Please call or visit me if I can be of service.
C. Max Roach