March 1, 2017

Dear Parents of Kent School Students,

Although I never like to be away from our Kent School students, I was in Florida on Sunday and Monday to attend the Heads Network annual conference. The Heads Network promotes collaboration, mentoring and professional growth for independent school heads and works to advance women's leadership. It is a group that holds special meaning for me as I was selected several years ago to attend their Strategic Leadership Seminar for Women where it became clear to me that I wanted to pursue a headship. I am honored that an anonymous Head of School donated my conference fee so that I would be sure to attend this year. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to renew old friendships, meet new colleagues and recharge. The conference theme - Leadership: Your Brain's InAction - was compelling and humorous as we explored how to lead successfully when our brain has a mind of its own. Neuro Leadership and Neuro Linguistics sessions were fascinating as we focussed on brain science and being a brain-friendly leader. The most important workshop I attended focussed on the mantra that language matters. While I know this, and believe it wholeheartedly, it is affirming and also challenging to constantly think about how we speak to each other and discover how what we say is sometimes received.  

Tomorrow, I will have the great pleasure of introducing Charles Fadel, thought leader on global education, futurist, author, and inventor, to 5300 educators from around the country gathered in Baltimore for the National Association of Independent Schools 2017 Annual Conference. As a member of the Baltimore Think Tank I have been working for the past year on various aspects of the conference with a team from NAIS. I will be blogging and tweeting during the event. I am looking forward to dinner with the Elementary School Heads Association and to network with the 75 new heads whom I met at the NAIS New Heads Institute this past summer at a reunion reception. I am excited to hear from incredible featured speakers from business, the arts and education, but, I am even more excited that 25 of my Kent School colleagues will join me on Friday for Teacher Day at NAIS. It will be a very special professional development opportunity for us to learn together as a team.

To prepare for meeting and introducing Charles Fadel, the founder and Chairman of the Center for Curriculum Redesign, I have just finished his book Four-Dimensional Education: The Competencies Learners Need to Succeed. I was hooked from the Prologue. In it, Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, wrote:

T oday, schools need to prepare students for more rapid economic and social change than ever before, for jobs that have not yet been created, to use technologies that have not yet been invented, and to solve social problems that we don't yet know will arise.
So, what should students learn to best prepare for the 21st Century? This book gives educators a framework to redesign curriculum for versatility and adaptability so that our students can thrive in our ever-changing and complex world. The framework focuses on knowledge - what students need to know and understand; skills - how to use the knowledge; character - how to behave and engage in the world; and meta-learning - how to reflect on and adapt by continuing to learn and grow.

Four-Dimensional Education is an important work - one that both affirms all that we do at Kent School to encourage lifelong learning, creativity, problem-solving, and curiosity, as well as one that can help us continue to think strategically about what we mean by fostering honorable, responsible citizens for our country and our diverse world who can collaborate and appreciate differing ideas and perspectives. I was especially pleased that environmental literacy is an integral part of this framework, and one that we do so well at Kent School!

This academic year we began the two year process of applying to become a Maryland Green School through the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education. This program allows schools to evaluate their efforts in environmental awareness and sustainability. Although the application is rigorous, the designation of Green School will affirm our students' awareness of environmental literacy and their commitment to the natural world. On March 17 we will be submitting the application for preliminary review. This is a major step in the process and will give us valuable feedback on our progress. Once we have received Green School status, we will share the application via our website. I would like to thank Beth Lenker, Middle School Science, who has chaired the creation of the application and the Middle School Green School Application Explorations group, who have helped collect data and work on the web-based application. Their effort has been outstanding.

Beginning this week you will notice grading and site work being done to create our rain garden adjacent to the playground. Originally conceived to mitigate water runoff from the gym roof, the rain garden will also have native plantings and will provide a beautiful outdoor classroom and teaching garden as well as a reflective space for students and adults to visit. On Osprey Day 2017, March 31, all students will participate in the completion of the rain garden. We cannot think of a better All-School project on this day of service to our School. More details to follow after Spring Break.

When you return to campus after Spring Break, the driveway will have been striped to create a single carpool lane for curb drop off and pick up. This will eliminate any confusion regarding traffic flow around our circle. Please follow the arrows and lane markings. It is imperative that you refrain from allowing your child to exit your car from the driver's side. It is a safety hazard. If your child must depart from the driver's side of your car, please park in the visitor lot and walk your child across the drive. Thank you for your support.

Also over Spring Break we will be donating all of the blue chairs in the gym. With sincere gratitude to the PTF, 250 white folding chairs on storage racks will be delivered to Kent School this month. This will positively impact storage issues in the gym and will be a much needed and much used asset to our campus. We will also be installing new fiber optic telephone and internet lines to improve the speed and performance of our technology.

I am very much looking forward to the annual Talent Show on March 10 as I hear it is incredibly JOYful! I took a pass from performing this year so that I can just watch it unfold, but stay tuned for next year!

Wishing you and your family a wonderful and restful spring break.


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