One of Tower Hill’s institutional goals this year is to examine academic rigor and balance: While investing in our infrastructure and systems to support continued progress with curricular innovation, we will work collaboratively to define school-wide, consistent expectations about rigor, balance and a school culture that fosters student-centered teaching and learning.
I was attracted to Tower Hill because of our commitment to academic excellence at the highest level. I have not been disappointed! Part and parcel of ensuring rigor at its best is to continually discuss, assess and imagine what shape rigor should take as we prepare our students for a vastly changing world. To this end, our faculty-led Rigor and Balance Task Force and Schedule Think Tank studied and posed excellent questions about ways we might enhance our commitment to academic rigor. The committee explored different models and spoke to educators from a variety of schools. One of the findings was that schools offering rigor at the highest level are those that are also deliberate about an investment in balance. This finding is easy to compromise in highly ambitious schools like Tower Hill where many things done well is, and will always be, the bedrock of our mission.
Balance is actually a form of rigor and is a discipline in and of itself; and time is the currency through which schools define their commitment to rigor and balance. As a result, this faculty committee, with the leadership of our Division Heads, has created several schedule enhancements that will be implemented next year. They include slightly longer class periods for Middle and Upper School students, which will facilitate deeper learning and ensure a more balanced pace, an 8:30 a.m. start time for Upper School based on widely held brain research, and a two-week “Tower Term” in May for rigorous interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunities, providing a capstone experience within Tower Hill's academic program. Upper School parents will receive more detail via email this morning from our Upper School Head, and our Middle and Lower School Heads address updates relevant to Middle and Lower School on their division pages in this Weathervane.
I am excited to support these initiatives and am grateful to the thoughtful scholarship of our faculty and administrators as they ensure that the student experience at Tower Hill remains our top priority. Their agility and creativity enabled us to respond directly to the feedback parents provided last spring: serving all Tower Hill students well, leaning into curricular innovation, exploring ways to provide more flexible and individualized learning opportunities — all within the framework of a tried-and-true Tower Hill education — one in which tradition will always be valued. As always, our Division Heads and I stand ready to answer any questions you should have.
Thanks to over 75 individuals, including teachers, parents, trustees, students, former trustees, alumni, staff and administrators, who have taken time over the last month to meet with and provide feedback on our finalists for Upper School Head, Director of College Guidance, Athletic Director and Chief Financial Officer. I look forward to sharing official announcements with you soon and in so doing, will also provide statistics and more background on the strength of our candidate pools. We are fortunate to have received interest from talented candidates from around the country; they have been attracted to Tower Hill because of the strength of our community and academic reputation. I care deeply about who we invite to join this special community and am committed to the highest caliber in both integrity and expertise. I can't wait to share announcements with you very soon!
Later this spring, we will of course take time to thank and celebrate the wonderful careers and contributions of those who are moving on from Tower Hill for new adventures or retirement. Change is both challenging, invigorating and part of the life of schools. Thank you for your patience and support, as we ensure the very best for Tower Hill. I hope you will attend a Strategic Planning Parent Session (see below). Have a wonderful Spring Break!