I have the privilege of a school-wide lens. The following are a few bullet points that capture the variety of my week. Each enables me to understand the unique culture of Tower Hill, the importance of tradition and community, the aspirations of our teachers and students, the challenges of time and schedule, and ultimately the responsibility we have to ensure that each of our students is truly known, supported, stretched and invited to grow while being held to high standards. My week included:
- A visit from PreK students as they came to my office looking for their runaway gingerbread men and women. Luckily we found them!
- Attending an Upper School Forum featuring Rebecca Linda Blachly, who shared a perspective on peace, conflict and religion through her career in foreign policy.
- Eating lunch with our Middle School students, whose energy, kindness and respect during daily announcements were impressive.
- Meeting with our Dean of Students to explore opportunities with the Outward Bound program.
- Attending a Task Force convened by the Longwood Foundation that is made up of colleagues from public, Catholic and private schools. We have been asked to study and determine what education should include by way of international excellence and global competencies.
- Meeting with a student artist who leads our Arts Board to discuss an impressive mural project.
- Meeting with our Board Chair to prepare for our Board meeting this week
- Conversation with the search consultants who are helping us to find our next Athletic Director.
- Discussion with our Admissions Director including a regular update to track inquiries, visits and applications. Right now, our inquiries are up 20% year to date, and we have many prospective students and families on campus daily.
- Attending a DAIS (Delaware Association of Independent Schools) meeting to ensure that Delaware Independent schools are represented well in state issues.
- Speaking with members of the Class of 1966 to discuss their ideas for a gift to the school that would recognize global scholarship within our students.
- Joining colleagues from our alumni/advancement office, Mr. Baetjer and a few other faculty who traveled to Washington, D.C. for a well-attended THS alumni reception, where the energy and loyalty for Tower Hill were palpable.
- Listening to a rich discussion about rigor, balance and our academic schedule.
- Meetings with various faculty and administrators, including weekly meetings with our Division Heads and Administrative team to discuss both pragmatic and strategic issues.
- Enjoying our Vocal Choir Concert, which was simply beautiful.
- And today I will enjoy lunch with my Advisees!
While this is just a snapshot of my week, I have also been focused on the vision forward for Tower Hill. We are making impressive progress, thanks to our terrific Strategic Planning Committee and Co-Chairs, Mr. Ben du Pont and Mrs. Julia Stone. As part of this process, we are examining what we do well, opportunities for growth and improvement, and school culture and program that best prepare our students for the world in which they will work and live. As a foundation for the Strategic Plan, we are using the findings of the market research conducted by Art & Science.
We anticipate that Tower Hill's new Strategic Plan will be bold, creative and thorough in defining school goals. In exploring directions for Tower Hill’s future, the Strategic Planning Committee is taking stock of where we are as a school today and delving into questions and possibilities surrounding three focus areas: curricular innovation, building and expanding a diverse community, and faculty support and development. Sub-committees are researching relevant data and best practices to make informed recommendations, which will be shared with the Board and THS community. Overarching considerations encompass reflection on how we can best blend structure with flexibility, a traditional foundation with innovative components, and challenge without unnecessary pressure.
The committee next meets on Monday, the same day our community convenes for Tree Trim — a tradition that truly represents so much more than a Christmas tree. Our diverse community comes together, yes to trim a tree, but mostly to recognize that music, many ages and generations, spirit, role modeling, anticipation, light, hope, beauty, fun, handmade treasures— and the power of one community — are all aspects of Tower Hill that make a difference in our lives together.