Melissa Soderberg, Head of School

August 3, 2022


Dear Columbus Academy Families,

You have been on my mind. 


I hope this letter finds your family enjoying the last bits of summer as we begin to get the campus, classrooms and ourselves ready for the busyness and energy of the fall. We can’t wait to start this new school year with you and have some exciting things in store for our months together.


Early in June, our Leadership Team traveled to the Newark Earthworks to explore what are believed to be the largest earthen enclosures in the world. The structures reflect a widely traveled people – containing copper from Minnesota, obsidian from Yellowstone and shells from the Gulf of Mexico – and demonstrate an understanding of the moon’s orbit that is twice as precise as Stonehenge. All of this great work was accomplished by the Hopewell between 100 BCE and 400 CE in communities that did not appear to have been motivated by a pharaoh or queen, but instead through a collective recognition of the importance of place and time that lasted hundreds of years and drew people from all over North America to our backyard season after season. Think of the sophistication of ideas that had to be “kept in mind” for centuries of people to work so committedly on, literally, constructing their culture.


In many ways, we begin school each year by our own form of culture-building. We flood the campus every August after a respite away, we reacquaint ourselves with old friends and welcome new ones, and we acknowledge the growth and change in each other as we, together, invest in a school environment that values excellent education and healthy growth for all its members. We may not be moving earth, but when we all work to create a rich and deep culture among children and families in the school, the experience is transformational.


New Resource for Families

To begin to create opportunities to get to know each other and remind us all about our spacious campus and some of our signature traditions and programs, we have gone “old school” by bringing back to life our printed school directory – with some fun twists – for each family. The new School and Field Guide (view cover) is part handbook, part guide to many things CA including Viking Vocab, a directory of families and an introduction to divisional leaders and events. The cover and title are borrowed from a Columbus Academy pamphlet from over a century ago describing our school and its environs, harkening back to its country day school origins.


New Speaker Series

As one component of a broad reorganization of our Student Support Services this year, we have contracted with three very entertaining, nationally popular and highly effective speakers for parents and caregivers on children’s growth and healthy development in our Parent Academy Series. Mark your calendars now for these in-person evening events in the fall, winter and spring when we invest in the best ways to support our community through understanding our children in all their stages of development.

New Ways to Build Great School Culture

All our good intentions to foster and sustain an excellent community culture need to be supported and maintained through research and data. To that end, Columbus Academy has partnered to work with Research Schools International and the Harvard Human Flourishing Program to embark on a two-year examination of student flourishing in grades 4-12 and to initiate best practices based on our school and students. This undertaking is a commitment of resources and time, fits right into our 2016 Strategic Vision Goal III and involves, in the second year, training teachers and student research fellows. We are so excited to get it underway.

Adirondack Chairs photo

Finally, while keeping our students, faculty and staff in mind, we have more outdoor seating for quiet gatherings on our campus than ever. While you’re visiting campus, join us on the quad or courtyard in one of our new Adirondack chairs and help to foster community one conversation at a time.


I look forward to seeing all of you soon!