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Winter 2022 Updates from the Head of School

As a Quaker school, we are guided by the belief that there is Light within each person and that, through continuing revelation, as individuals and as a community we can inspire and be inspired to reach our full academic, intellectual, artistic, athletic, and spiritual potential.  

Our individual and collective goals reflect those commitments  through the many ways we encourage our students to learn and grow: to be lifelong learners, to be successful at recognizing and developing their great natural talents, and to create a lasting affinity with the values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equity, and stewardship.

In a recent survey of current families, I heard overwhelmingly positive reviews of their experiences so far this year, as well as meaningful observations for greater support and growing edges. I heard a need for attention in certain areas of curricular consistency and in progression of knowledge and skills through and between units, a continued challenge to a full sense of belonging among parents and guardians, and a desire for increased affordability/accessibility.

While this school year has continued to present challenges related to COVID-19, I am proud to say that we have not only continued to adapt, but to make progress toward completing our strategic vision goals and building our future. 

We have continued our work to ensure that our program ignites interests, hones skills, and prepares students to live and lead in a changing world.

  • We are working to complete our multi-year all-school curriculum review process, looking at curricular progression of knowledge and skills within and across disciplines and units, by this spring
  • We are creating a new Director of Curriculum position for 2022-2023 to support and guide the work of staff in ongoing curriculum review and development and creating an accessible and transparent articulation of our curriculum for families

While our community events have looked different this year, we have sought to maintain the specialness of this place and our connection to each other and our values despite the pandemic.

  • We held welcome events in each of the units in the fall
  • We continued our community tradition of gathering on Thanksgiving for our annual Turkey Trot
  • Our annual all-school celebration in honor of Martin Luther King Day was conducted, virtually
  • We celebrating the dedication of our athletes at Fall Sports Day and look forward to Spring Sports Day
  • The exceptional talents of our Middle and Upper School performing artists were showcased in the fall production, Failure, A Love Story, the Winter Dance Concert. We look forward to upcoming spring theatrical productions.

We have continued to advance our strategic vision goals to become a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive learning environment.

  • We are engaging in consistent professional development on best practices in constructing an equitable learning environment and delivering an inclusive curriculum
  • We've expanding the number of student-driven affinity groups in the Upper School and introducing affinity groups in the Middle School
  • We have (re)launched parent/guardian affinity groups this winter, offering virtual gatherings for Parents/Guardians of Students of Color, LGBTQIA families, and Neurodivergent families
  • We are reviewing our admissions processes to better ensure equitable practices and decisions
  • We will continue to expand our outreach to diverse communities by creating an Assistant Director of Enrollment for Equity and Community Outreach position, beginning in 2022-2023
  • Additional unit support for DEI initiatives has been provided with the identification of unit-DEI coordinators in the Middle and Upper Schools

We have worked to support the social-emotional wellbeing of our students.

  • We permanently expanding our counseling services by hiring a full-time counselor in the Middle School this year
  • We have resumed some of the fundamental components of our social-emotional program previously limited by cohorting, including:
    • Lower School Interest and Discovery Groups and Fourth Year Leadership 
    • Middle School mixed-age advising groups, mentor/mentee pairings, and expanded connections during lunch and recess
    • Upper School full return to in-person learning as well as a full complement of clubs and affinity/ally groups, as well as interscholastic athletics each season

We ask our students to apply their knowledge to seek solutions to real-world challenges and be forces for good, in part by leading and engaging in service opportunities. 

  • Various collections of goods have supported those in need in our greater community, from Campus Early Schoolers collecting dry goods for a local food pantry to a student-led Upper School effort to gather personal hygiene supplies for locally re-settled Afghan refugees
  • We continued our five-year partnership with the Book Harvest organization, collecting more than 2,000 books in January
  • Our Upper School’s Madagascar Club has continued its bake sales, and so far this year has raised $1,200 to donate to the SADABE foundation as they work to complete a secondary school for remote Malagasy students

We are also committed to improving our accessibility and affordability.

  • The Board is committed to deepening our resources for the Adjusted Tuition program. Through philanthropic support, we have been able to continue to increase both the number of families included as well as the amount of need met, and are committed to further increasing our capacity.

We are committed to our amazing, innovative, knowledgeable, caring, and supportive staff.

In each and every role, our staff’s commitment to our students and families, and to their craft and calling, is demonstrated every day and in every action. These professionals cause the tenor of the community, our life blood, to be welcoming, respectful, hopeful, innovative, empathetic, purposeful, and inspiring. Finding ways to ensure that we attract and maintain the strongest possible staff in what has become an increasingly competitive and shrinking educational job market is our highest priority. To accomplish this:

  • The Board of Trustees approved a budget increase that seeks to keep the 2022-2023 staff salary increase in greater alignment with the recent significant increase in the cost of living
  • The Board and Staff have resumed joint work on our compensation study to ensure that we are able to continue to hire and retain highly effective staff

As we approach mid-February, we are seeing remarkably fewer impacts from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, and eagerly look forward to greater community immunity, warmer weather, and increased opportunities to engage the larger community on campus. Our Summer Programs had it's highest first-day registration ever, based on the data we have available, and we are looking ahead to a great nine weeks of camp offerings as well as preparations for the 2022-2023 school year.

With incredible gratitude,

Karen Cumberbatch

Head of School

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