Finally! The weather is warming up, and the promise of spring seems right around the corner. As we make our way towards frisbee season, I’m writing with a preview of some changes that will come this year, and next.

The Upper and Middle schools will see a completely revamped weekly class schedule, which has been designed by teachers, to promote differentiated instruction and variety in lesson delivery. The new schedule is comprised of short and long blocks, which promotes variety and novelty. Short periods are ideal for delivering dense instructional packages and are better for maintaining attention, while extended periods are better suited for project-based learning, cooperative and collaborative group work, labs, and deep-dive independent research. The new schedule reflects our commitment to best practices, as expressed through varying lesson styles and content delivery/discovery approaches. More information about the schedule will be available soon, and we’re confident that students and teachers alike will appreciate the changes.

The teachers, administrators, and I have been reviewing our graduation requirements. Appreciating that each student has unique strengths and learning goals, we would like to promote student choice and specialization. The new graduation requirements, which are being finalized over the next few weeks, will promote student choice and help kids distinguish themselves. This, of course, means that we will need to offer more electives for our middle and upper schoolers. But lower school families, rest assured, these changes will positively impact your children as well.

Over the next few years, we will be expanding our arts, sciences, technology and languages programs. I can’t make any specific promises yet; however, I am working on hiring an Arabic teacher, as well as expanding our art offerings as soon as next fall. As upper division enrollment increases, our natural response will be to develop high-interest electives. Enrollment and student interest will be guiding forces as we consider expansion possibilities.

The Student Council has been working hard to develop a new honor and discipline code. I’ve written about it previously, but you’ll hear about its launch soon.  When it goes into effect, there will be a student-led Conduct and Honor Committee (CHC). Faculty and administrators will be present throughout the process, but the students who sit on this committee will hear cases and make recommendations to the Division Director. The CHC will bring new student leadership opportunities, as well as promote a shared sense of ownership for our community. This initiative is uniquely possible within independent schools, as our public counterparts could never involve students in the disciplinary process. My favorite part about this is that the whole thing has been student driven and led.  Kudos to our student leaders for taking such initiative!

If you are coming across the bridge after dark, look to the hill for a newly lit Bettendorf Mansion! Security cameras are in place, lighting and signage are up, and lights are on. In addition to being a safety measure, they make our beautiful school stand out, for the community to see.

Next week, you will see the Carriage house fenced off. Please talk with your children about staying away from the fences. Of course, we will speak with them about it too.  Rivermont has received tremendously positive press coverage, locally and nationally, for bringing a boarding component back into its upper school. We are already receiving inquiries and applications from the other side of the globe. Interestingly, we are seeing a marked increase in applications from local students, in association with our initiatives. It’s unclear whether it’s the changing political climate for public schools or whether it’s our initiatives, but either way, we welcome the spike in interest.

All of this has had a positive impact on our inquiries and admissions applications. We are hopeful that we will have wait-lists in some grades and be forced to split other grades (particularly 6th) that stand to gain several more students than are currently in the already-large class. Enrollment is far from settled and decisions will need to be made real-time, but for now, things are shaping up very nicely.

Thanks for all of your support and dedication. Our Rivermont is a special place. I am honored to have joined such a wonderful community and deeply touched to see my children thriving amongst such fantastic classmates.