Head of School Blog

Early Summer Reflections

Even though we are just a week into the summer, I still find myself reflecting on and mentioning the all-school gathering that took place on the final morning of the school year. I am always touched when the whole school assembles with teachers and students together singing, clapping, cheering -- a community of spirited learners.  

This year we wanted all of the students, lower and upper school, to celebrate together, recognizing that we all play a role in the learning of everyone else in the school. We thanked the student congress, recognized the Model U.N. and robotics teams, gave awards for Spanish and Latin exams, acknowledged the Breakthrough volunteers, appreciated the theater and performance groups, clapped for the upper school students who participated on sports teams, and symbolically transitioned students between grades. The range of learning opportunities and the level of engagement at SF Day are extraordinary.  

The most moving moment of the assembly played out when the kindergarteners stood in front of their 8th-grade buddies and sang the Ivy Leaf song. The mood deepened and the room stilled as the entire school joined in to offer a moving tribute to the soon-to-be graduates. The connection between the two grades, along with everyone in between, was an expression of the essence of our school.

The next morning, the graduation ceremony equally filled the gym with a celebration of all of the learning and growth of the students, academically, musically, and personally. The student speakers were both playful and profound. Mr. Roberts’ comments (pw: 2+2=4) were a masterful tribute to the students and the faculty who guided them for all of their years at SF Day. The musical numbers from 4th graders, upper school choral groups, and the 8th-grade ensembles expressed the soothing sentiments of the day.

As the students headed into the summer, the faculty reconvened Monday and Tuesday to bring closure to the year and to plan for next year. During what were sentimental and productive days, the teachers reviewed and reflected on the school values and organized themselves into "Professional Learning Communities," a distributed leadership model we look forward to talking about next fall. There were robust conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as environmental sustainability, an issue rising to the top of our curricular agenda. The faculty and staff will reconvene in August at the Academy of Sciences and hear from Dr. Elizabeth Bagley, who will be helping us infuse environmental sustainability into the curriculum and systems of the school. 

As the faculty head into summer, their professional development and curricular work will continue. The 4th- and 5th-grade teams have already convened to work on curricular alignment and the 2nd grade spent two days together, as will the science faculty later in the summer. Teachers will attend reading and writing workshops at Columbia University, seminars on equity and inclusion, coding, Responsive Classroom, and math. The robust learning that the faculty will engage in over the summer will result in a host of new learning experiences for the students throughout the next school year. 

This past year we successfully submitted our accreditation report to the California Association of Independent Schools. I have recently received the summary report from the visitation team we hosted in March. This thoughtful and thorough cycle of reflection and analysis will be used to guide and inform the next strategic cycle of the school, something we look forward to engaging the community in next year. 

June is a busy month for me as we wrap up this past school year, and set in motion 2019-20. I am heading off the CAIS annual meeting this week, an opportunity to review data, trends, and issues with fellow heads of school.  Reveta Bowers, who worked with our board in 2016, will be one of the keynote speakers. As I look forward to some travel and time away, I have loaded my Kindle with: Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, Wisdom@ Workby Chip Conley, Loonshots by Safi Bahcall, What School Could Be by Ted Dintersmith, and Find Your Why by Simon Sinek. This is an ambitious list and I do not know that I will get through them all by August, but I am looking forward to some quiet time to try. I have also been encouraged, on more than one occasion, to try reading some fiction. 

In the meantime, I hope you all find sunshine and a few quiet moments over the course of the next few months to rejuvenate, learn, and have time with the people who bring meaning and purpose to your lives.  

Sincerely,

Dr. Mike Walker

Head of School

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