I want to begin by acknowledging all those, most notably Ronni McCaffrey, who facilitated the school’s purposeful and thoughtful leadership transition over the past several years. By effectively managing a head transition, the school maintained the momentum established over the last decade of Ronni’s leadership and thereby spearheaded the numerous successes detailed in this report. The recently adopted 2017-22 Strategic Plan intentionally directed the school forward to attain its mission to achieve intellectual excellence and build strong character. Within that plan, three themes—innovation, inspiration, and inclusivity—also guided our work, resulting in the following accomplishments.
Martin Twarogowski, the Charles C. Gates Director of Innovative Learning, and his team established Tinker Time, activities that challenged Lower School students to apply and acquire innovation skills, such as critical thinking, perseverance, and collaboration. By introducing students to these traits at a younger age, we expect to see them thrive as innovators by the time they reach Middle School and the Gates Invention and Innovation Program, which also enjoyed great success in its first full year in the Corkins Center.
Inspiring student growth would not be possible without the dedication and expertise of our faculty. Throughout the year, we continued to provide our educators opportunities to grow and excel. In addition to this professional learning, the Faculty Evaluation Task Force, led by Associate Head Gail Sonnesyn, redesigned the evaluation system to incorporate more feedback from more sources and renamed it the Faculty Growth Model. This year, that process as well as the Peer Cohort groupings will emphasize innovation and collaboration to propel faculty growth.
Director of Equity and Inclusivity Oscar Gonzalez’s leadership helped refine our inclusivity goals by focusing on enhancing the sense of belonging of our entire Graland community. Now in its second year the School Climate Advisory Committee (SCAC) partnered with Oscar to study diversity, inclusivity, multiculturalism, and equity (DIME), explore how those DIME issues arise at Graland, and share ideas on how to build an even more inclusive community. Finally, in order to assess our progress in this endeavor, we administered the National Association of Independent Schools’ Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM), whose results will help guide our future initiatives.
To accomplish the many strategic objectives of the school, we continued to rely on the incredible generosity of our community. With thanks to the efforts of the Development Office and the Development Committee, including numerous volunteers, we raised more than $1.2 million for the annual fund and reached 85 percent parent participation, both high water marks for the school. The resources provided by this community are a clear differentiator for this school, sustaining our excellence for over ninety years and counting.
In addition to this financial generosity, many also gave much of their time and talent. Specifically, I would like to recognize John Gowen, President of the Board, who helped the transition of both a new Head of School and a President-elect of the Board, Bernie Dvorak. Aside from providing mentorship during this leadership transition, he also led the Board in enhancing transparency within the Graland community and fostering generative thinking via a newly instituted board retreat. Overall, thanks to John’s leadership and the entire Board’s dedication, the collaboration between the school and the Board is supportive, effective, and forward-thinking.
In addition to the Board, I am so grateful to this entire community of faculty/staff, families, and students for supporting me throughout my first year as Head. Each group did its part to bolster me in my new role. Without that encouragement, I wouldn’t have been able to build on the legacy of Ronni McCaffrey and lead the school forward with confidence and purpose.