Head of School Blog

Celebrating a Successful Fall

December 19, 2018

As the sun set on December 4th, there was a discernible sigh of relief at 350 Masonic Avenue as Dr. Sokolov hit “send” to submit our school's accreditation self-study to the California Association of Independent Schools. I would like to believe that at that moment, there was a glow in the L.A. skyline as our report hit the CAIS servers. That moment culminated after twelve months of work that involved every constituency of SF Day. We are now preparing for the accreditation team visits on March 3-6, the next step in this highly reflective process. I would like to thank our faculty and Christopher Sokolov, Cathy Aragon, Sylvia Douglass, Loren Moyé, Amanda Elliston, Ruth Bissell, Sue Collentine, Christine Wong, and Joel Young, who we brought out of retirement to help with the report, for their considerable effort and thoughtfulness preparing this substantial report.  

With the report submitted and the holidays approaching, I am looking forward to spending some time to reflect on key moments and achievements from the first half of our year. One highlight that comes to mind is our evening hosting Dr. Yong Zhao at the SPEAK event. His research supported insights into the skill sets we need to cultivate in our students to prepare them for a complex world -- these skills were on full display during the Lego Robotics Competition, which was hosted by SF Day for the first time this year. It was a delight to enter the school on a smoky November morning to find the gym abuzz with the energy of students from schools across the city enthusiastically engaged in sophisticated, complex, team-based problem-solving. Another highlight, and wonderful expression of compassion and care, was our recent “buddy” activity where our students made holiday cards to raise funds to help families devastated by the fires. Last but not least, our "Windows and Mirrors" event for prospective families, which was attended and supported by so many of our current parents and teachers, was yet another demonstration of the values that define and distinguish SF Day.

 

 

With so much to talk about, I am looking forward to engaging with our community in person during a series of Town Hall Meetings scheduled for January 15, 6:30-8:00 pm; January 18, 12:00-1:30 pm and January 23, 8:15-9:45 am. These gatherings are opportunities to talk about the self-study and how the process will inform the strategic initiatives of the school.

As we talk about the initiatives and aspirations of the school, I will reference a strategic model being used by the National Association of Independent Schools ('NAIS'). Tim Fish, NAIS Chief Innovation Officer, shared this model with our board during our September retreat.

The Town Halls are also an opportunity to share thoughts and experiences from the NAIS People of Color Conference, which I attended in December, along with a strong SF Day team. We joined over six thousand educators, predominantly of color, as part of an impassioned call to make independent schools more diverse, inclusive, and equitable. As a white person, what I heard and learned was not always comfortable, and by design not intended to be. The purpose of the conference is to create a space in which people of color, in affiliation with each other, can speak with frankness about their experience in independent schools, in the context of life in our country, both past and present. I returned with a deeper, more personal understanding of historical injustices that have shaped our culture. I also returned optimistic and inspired by the talent, commitment, and resolve for how SF Day can make our school, our community, and perhaps even our country, a more just place of learning and opportunity.  

 

 

We’ve continued to reinforce our school values and brand messaging in this season’s admission tours and events, with positive results. The feedback we have received from parents and pre-school directors about the consistency and clarity of our messaging has been affirming and invigorating. Parents are excited about our school’s educational philosophy, how we guide students to discover connections, and the many ways our students demonstrate “intellect + imagination” throughout each grade level and subject. The Town Hall meetings will be an opportunity to talk about how we are framing the values and educational program of the school. 

Toby and Sally Rosenblatt, a founding family of the school, attended the September board retreat and shared, in a very touching way, the values that inspired the creation of SF Day. The retreat was about setting strategic direction, and their presence reminded us of why the school exists. They affirmed our belief in co-education, commitment to diversity and inclusion, being part of and having a responsibility to our community, high professional standards, and helping every child find their passions and fulfill their potential. It was a moving reminder of how connected we are to every generation that has shaped SF Day and of the opportunity and obligation we have to not only shepherd the school’s future, but to improve it as we do.  

As we were before the Thanksgiving break, we will again be moved by our children's voices raised in song during tomorrow's holiday concert. Their innocence, joy, and preciousness is the ultimate reminder of the purpose of the season, and the work that we do. 

Head of School Blogs - Archive