Dear FA Families,
There are a multitude of ways that good schools can and do measure themselves. Re-enrollment rates that reflect customer satisfaction; the eagerness of students to come to campus every day and engage with enthusiasm and purpose in the learning process and the cultivation of friendships; participation in extracurricular activities; standardized test scores, loyalty of a parent body manifested in volunteerism or attendance at school functions; and robust donor support to name but a few.
The full value of an FA education is, in fact, both as an end in itself and as a means to an end; and it is in that context then, that one of the most credible ways that I measure the end success of an FA education is by the acceptances of our graduates into colleges and, even more importantly, the feelings of fulfillment and worth that our graduates experience throughout their college years. Building a resume that reflects a student’s full engagement in one’s high school years and proves attractive to colleges is but a part of the business of high school. The real goal, I think, is to acquire ways of thinking and behaving that maximize the chances of emerging young adults actually becoming their best selves and experiencing the joy and satisfaction of that state.
Brad Hutcherson, Laura Nevins, John Pope, Helen Rentz, and I met for a couple of hours with thirteen members of our Young Alumni Council on campus this past Wednesday morning. The group included: Roy Boyd ’22, Princeton; Bekah Brooks ’21, UGA; Cason Cavalier ’21, Rhodes College; James Cruikshank ’21, Duke; Erica Daley ‘20, Syracuse; Hannah Dunlap ’22, UGA; Evyn Lundy ’19, Oberlin College; Colton Myers ’20, Stetson; Grant Offner ’22, SMU; Cammie Pope ’22, Mercer; Sarah Sarzier ’21, UVA; Britton Sullivan ’20, UGA; and Zhané Waye ’19, Wake Forest. We listened to them share their college experiences, most specifically focusing on areas of their academic and social lives and the readiness to succeed in those areas as a result of their preparation received in their years at FA. We do this every November, taking advantage of these young alums returning home to their families for Thanksgiving.
As you might imagine, the time together was extremely helpful to the school and will inform us going forward from one important perspective on areas of strength and areas that we might need to revisit and perhaps recommit to with more focus and energy. Asking those who have drunk from the fountain if the water is sufficiently nourishing and if so, in what ways, has proven for us to be a worthwhile exercise over the years. Know that in the days and weeks ahead we will share what we learned with division heads, department heads, and, to some degree, with the faculty at-large as part of our ongoing efforts to improve the school for current and future Knights.
Connecting with alumni is important for all kinds of obvious reasons, and meeting with our young alums in these annual gatherings is particularly worthwhile. First, it allows us as an institution to collect and process insightful perspectives and reset our compass a bit in areas if need be. Second, it serves as a striking moment of affirmation that these young alums were birthed out of FA and that the school played some role in guiding and inspiring these graduates. Sometimes when leaders at an organization are constantly looking through a critical lens at the institution and foraging for those areas ripe for improvement, it is uplifting and heartening to be reminded that we are in large measure fulfilling our mission at a high level and that the result of all of that work is this annual recurring wave of outstanding graduates.
Scott L. Hutchinson
Head of School