May 10, 2012

The Big Picture

As a first year Head of School, I have been very blessed this year to work alongside a wonderful, smart, hard-working, and highly supportive Board of Trustees. As you drop off or pick up your child, as you visit for an AOE (Area of Expertise) presentation or a school celebration, it can be easy to forget how much great work goes on behind the scenes at an independent school.

Among other things, our Community Board oversees and maintains the financial stability and sustainability of the school, develops major school policies, creates processes for long-range planning, reviews the school’s organization and governance, oversees the implementation and maintenance of the school’s values, and supports me in my work as Head. Individual trustees are extremely helpful to me when a tough question arises.

In mid-April, our Board met on a Saturday for our annual retreat.  The Board asked me to reflect on some of my discoveries in my first year at the school. It was easy for me to talk about the amazing people here at Friends’: the quality of the faculty, the professionalism of the staff, the spirit of creativity, the welcoming and nurturing culture, the great learning that happens every day, the strength of our mission and how it is lived daily by everybody at school. I truly believe that Friends’ School provides an educational experience for preschool and elementary age children, and teachers in training, that is unmatched.

I also talked about some of the school’s challenges. Our two most salient issues are that we are restricted in how many students we are permitted to enroll and how we are unable to expand our buildings.

Yet, within these space limitations, I am truly in awe of the incredible things that happen in our school every day.  Rachel Relin’s art program brings out the creative best in our students. We find the space to put on plays and be active indoors. Our preschool parents have built a great community. Dacia Horn produces delicious and healthy lunches. Our students have learned to be flexible and amenable which serves them well.  Our Teacher Preparation Program is on the cutting edge of educational research in 21st Century skills. Our kids are engaged in scientific discovery all the time.  We have sensational outdoor learning environments.

As we are gearing up to celebrate the school’s 25th Anniversary next school year, our Community Board has been thinking about the future of the school, taking the opportunity to imagine what the school may look like in another 25 years.  What will be important to our students, parents, teachers, staff, and community at large?  How do we maintain the relevance for families in our communities who either send their children here, or are touched by our presence in some way, in a world that is constantly evolving and becoming inter-connected at an ever faster pace? How do we remain at the forefront, graduating a steady stream of dedicated, skilled new teachers who are ready to serve the children of Boulder Valley and beyond? We are blessed with a group of leaders who are dedicated to thinking about the big picture.

This is an exciting time in the life of our school community, our students, parents, and staff.  I am excited to begin this process of considering who and what we might become. And through it all, I am dedicated to remaining true to the values and philosophy on which our school was founded and for which we are known.

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