August 5, 2016

Dear Stanwich Families, 

If they ever really existed at all, the stereotypic long, lazy days of summer seem to have gone the way of roll-up car windows. Certainly it has been a busy summer at Stanwich. 

My summer began inspirationally in Rwanda observing nineteen of our Upper School students advancing the remarkable growth of Stanwich's Blessing School project. Whether working and playing with Rwandan students (many of whom lived, by US standards, in conditions of extreme poverty) or engaged in hard physical labor, or administering eye exams where eye glasses are rare, our students made a real contribution. The children and families with whom we engaged were overjoyed with shoes and school supplies provided by Stanwich families, but perhaps even more so by their personal interactions with our students.  Moving beyond the preconceived notions of normality informed by the lucky circumstance of our lives here, Stanwich students demonstrated their understanding and altruistic commitment to our Stanwich Seven Values - Commitment, Compassion, Wisdom, Courage, Honesty, Forgiveness and Joy - in a way I have truly never observed elsewhere.  

Meanwhile crews began work on our Stanwich facilities. Hallways are being de-cluttered and painted, a new Lower School assembly room is being prepared, and a new alarm system installed. Tables and chairs have been replaced in Spartan Hallway, a conference room has been created for PA, Board, and academic department meetings adjacent to the new US library area, as well as a new quiet study area for Upper School, and new practice rooms for music instruction. Dead and dying trees that could threaten utilities and student safety have been removed around campus, and fencing has been installed around our two new practice fields. 

Thanks to the Parent Association, student athletics and performing arts will benefit from the new electric shades for the gym windows.  In the reconfigured PH building to the North, a flexible learning Makerspace has been created along with a central Lower School administrative area combining the offices for Trudy Davis, our new Lower School Head, academic support personnel, and the new nurse's office. Thanks to John Ramahlo's connections at Columbia University, twenty four HP 8770 workstation laptops will support digital filmmaking and other sophisticated applications in the new Upper School technology space. 

The Admissions and Head's offices have been relocated to the lower floor of the Main (Upper School) building. In June, we congratulated Lori Murphy on her new opportunity as the Admission Director of a new school in New York City. Therefore June was an eventful month for Keith Radcliffe with the birth of his first child, Addie, and his new responsibility leading Stanwich admissions and enrollment management alongside Associate Director Jessie Drennen. 

Although six weeks remain in summer vacation, August 1 marks the return of school administration, and meetings are well underway discussing schedule and calendar refinements, and programmatic improvements such as our new Public Speaking program led by Morgan Murphy. This letter will initiate a series of communications to parents in the respective grade groups to ensure that everyone is ready and excited to return for the first day of the 2016-2017 school year on Tuesday, September 6. 

As referenced in the June letter from the Board, professional development activities are well underway in both divisions to complement classroom excellence and best pedagogical practice. Bringing with her a wealth of valuable perspectives and experiences, Trudy Davis has been actively engaged over the summer reviewing LS program and schedules.  In addition to Ms. Davis (in the new LS Head's office in the new Lower School building)  Cynthia Hoemann and Lindsey Wohl have begun their new roles as Lead Teachers coordinating faculty and supporting student learning in Primary House (Grades 1-3)  and IH (Grades 4 &5), respectively. In the Upper School Office this year, Rebecca Comizio has expanded her role to focus additionally on social and emotional learning for Junior House (Grade 6-8) students. We are also hopeful that Ms. Winnie Kyomugisha, the new lead teacher for the Blessing School in Rwanda, will join us at Stanwich for the first trimester to support PH.

Among other faculty changes, Alex Fornaciari moves up from his role as a Graduate Associate teacher to Grade 5 Lead Teacher with Olivia Barbieri. Will Colombo moves up as well to cover history for Jo Mineo during her leave of absence this fall. Jen Gilch moves from Grade 6 to Grade 4, and Amy Kerekes makes the transition with Grade 6 from their previous location in the North building to the lower floor of the Main Building. Mr. Colavito will transition as well from Intermediate House to Upper School math. 

I very much appreciate the energetic and thoughtful contributions of our valued returning faculty informing and supporting the many adjustments and advancements underway. In addition, in two weeks we welcome several very capable and enthusiastic new faculty and staff about who you can learn more in the attachment.

The new academic year is shaping up to be one of Stanwich's best yet. More information concerning the school year ahead will follow in the next few weeks from Division Heads, Lead Teachers, and Parent Association leaders. You will also receive information concerning the revised drop-off/pick-up and parking logistics for the new year. 

If you haven't already done so, please make sure that the required medical forms, etc. - all available through students' online "My Backpack" - are completed and submitted by August 30.  Should you have any questions or concerns, please call the administrator closest to the matter, and I am always available if you are unsure as to who to contact. 

I look forward to seeing everyone in a short few weeks; may they be happy and rewarding ones. With all best wishes, 

Charles Sachs
Head of School