My first day at The Children’s School was May 1, 2013. I’ve completed five years and I’m about halfway through my sixth year. Last fall, in 2017, I shared with the board’s executive committee that the next five years will be different from the previous five. Looking back, there are many enhancements and new programs of which we can be proud and that will provide a foundation for the next five years:
- The school launched its first eighth grade class in fall 2018.
- We completed the first capital campaign in over a decade, and new construction and renovations on almost half its campus, this past fall.
- We’ve grown our socioeconomic diversity from 6% of the student body to 21%.
- Professional development resources can now support all faculty and staff.
- We approved one strategic plan and launched another process this year to build on the pillars and purpose established in the last one.
- The school’s enrollment has grown in the five years.
- We’ve covered our facilities repairs and replacement fund each year and maintained the discipline to do the small stuff so we are not left with a huge bill years from now.
- The school’s safety and security has improved.
- We introduced the school mascot, created a city-wide athletics league for elementary students, and introduced athletics for grades 3-8.
- We’ve received local, regional and national recognition on a variety of programs and initiatives, especially in curriculum, employee recruitment, inclusion, and institutional culture.
- The school received its first foundation grant for $450,000 from the Goizueta Foundation to expand our STEAM curriculum and financial aid.
- We’ve rebranded and doubled down on our core values and philosophy. Those values are coming to life in our communications – digital, print and on campus.
- The list goes on…
Like any child who makes the transition from childhood to adulthood, The Children’s School is going through its own major transition. Our internals are still the same. We look pretty much the same too on the outside. But there are enough differences in the details that show our readiness for leadership and our courage to innovate. The next five years will build on the foundation of not just the last five but the last 48 years.
I explained this transition to the board in fall 2017 in the following terms: next year is not year six for me; it’s year one all over again. Next year is the start of my second headship. As the school has grown and stretched, as a leader, I too have grown and stretched and must continue to do so to lead this institution. I cannot be the same leader today I was in 2013. I cannot lead the same way I did then and since.
For many reasons, I don’t want to be back in year one. I want to be in year six and the comfort that comes with knowing what’s already behind me and what’s in front. However, there’s also something liberating, if daunting too, as I view this next phase. It’s an opportunity for reinvention for me, to become the leader the school needs now and tomorrow and not be satisfied with the leader I was yesterday and the day before. Like any ship’s captain and crew, we can only see till the horizon. Not knowing what’s beyond can be scary, however this is not a new journey. In forty-eight years of history, the school has bravely and successfully navigated the old and the new, the same and different many times; and, we will do it again.