Dear Park Community,
I’m so excited to be back on campus! Winter Break was great – just the right amount of restorative time – and campus is already bustling with refreshed energy, a spirit of curiosity, and love for learning as we regain daylight day by day. Looking back at all we have accomplished on campus, and looking forward to all that’s ahead, I am thrilled to say that Park is thriving, and that it’s an exciting and dynamic time to be a member of the Park Community!
There is so much good work going on here, and our student outcomes are outstanding. Building on the campus improvements and programmatic enhancements we’ve seen come to life over the past year, we really do see students growing as practiced advocates, joyful learners, compassionate collaborators, skillful communicators, creative problem solvers, and mindful leaders. I believe this success arises through the wonderful alchemy of two essential elements – the excitement, willingness, and curiosity our students bring to their learning, and the skillful, thoughtful leadership their teachers bring to their classrooms. Our teachers believe in what they do, and they do it with fullness of heart and mind.
What excites me most right now is the important programmatic work currently underway, led by Park’s Program Leadership Team (PLT) – Ken Rogers, Tina Fox, Alile Eldridge, and Pamela Penna – in partnership with the entire PreK – 8 faculty. Earlier this academic year, every member of Park’s faculty joined one of six committees devoted to analyzing Park’s programs, exploring parallel offerings at peer schools, and surfacing best practices in the field. The committees, led by cross-divisional faculty partnerships, are reviewing our writing and math programs, considering best practices in professional growth and school-to-home communication, the ways we manage curriculum mapping and change, and how data can most effectively support our decisions and planning. Stemming from this work, the committees developed family surveys, which you received last week as the lead item in Friday Notes. We are eager for your perspectives on the important questions the survey poses.
The work itself is incredibly inspiring, affirming what we know to be excellent at Park even as it inspires us to push forward. The learning that grows from these efforts will provide scaffolding and structure to leverage our current excellence with greater consistency and continuity across all levels. We look forward to sharing our findings as the school year comes to a close.
I’m also excited by the ongoing work of the Vision Task Force, the dedicated group of faculty and staff who are delving into Park’s core values and the ways in which we deliver our mission to more clearly articulate what we mean at Park by “academic excellence,” “social-emotional learning,” and “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” As I noted in Park Perspectives in the fall, at Park these phrases have important, mission-defining meaning that guides what we do every day, and why it matters, and we look forward to sharing our progress with the community throughout the spring.
Finally and critical to our mission and community is our ongoing work on Park’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation Plan (DEIIP). This active, living document seeks to guide ongoing work as the School community strives to meet its values and commitments with action and accountability. While all the priorities are vital to the School’s mission, we have sequenced the work as “Immediate,” “Rising,” and “Future,” and “In Practice,” recognizing priorities that demand the most urgent attention, as well as priorities whose advancement depends on priorities sequenced earlier. Since the plan’s launch in 2020, we are thrilled to note that 21 of the plan’s 37 initiatives are now categorized as “In Practice,” with four “Immediate Priorities” in progress this academic year. We look forward to building continued progress on this work, with forward movement expected on the remaining eight “Rising Priorities” and four “Future Priorities” in subsequent academic years.
It’s sometimes easy to take the everyday excellence Park delivers for granted, and when I reflect on what truly makes Park “Park,” I know that along with the warmth of community we all so appreciate, the hallmark of Park is our deep understanding of the interconnectedness of our three foundational principles: academic excellence, social-emotional learning, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
While many schools emphasize one of these above the others, at Park we know that achieving any one of these depends on an equal commitment to the other two. This may seem like an aspirational notion, but it is, in fact, embodied in the quality of community I see every day at Park. There is always work to be done, improvements to be made, and growth to pursue. But at Park, I see teachers, students, and families who live and breathe the “simple and sincere” ideal that objective achievement, while nice, is only truly valuable when achieved in and through respectful, kind, and compassionate relationships with others.
Reflecting on all these incredible efforts leaves me so very excited about where Park is today and where we are going. From the program-defining work of the PLT to the vision-defining work of the Vision Task Force, Park is bringing shape and definition to all that we currently know and love so that we can all come together in appreciating what we create here at Park, and work together in advancing it in alignment with our community values. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this effort, and part of this particular defining moment at Park, and I look forward to the journey ahead.
Head of School