by Head of School Kevin Yaley
As we close out the 2018-2019 academic year, I am pleased to report again that our School is in a position of strength and our future holds much promise. And as always, our focus remains on advancing our mission of providing Parker students with an education defined by a commitment to academic excellence, global perspective, and strength of character.
STUDENT LIFE CENTER AND PARKING GARAGE OPEN
Arguably, one of the most anticipated events of the year was the official opening of the Student Life Center and parking garage on April 22. This project would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the support of our entire Parker community. Parents, students, faculty and staff endured significant inconveniences from the very beginning of the project, and I speak on behalf of all involved when saying that I cannot thank everyone enough for your patience, support, and understanding.
These new facilities have truly transformed the experience of all offering two levels of underground parking that increase the number of available on-site parking spaces from 279 to 517 for students, faculty, staff, parents, and guests, and the two-story Student Life Center with three collaborative work spaces, indoor and outdoor commons, indoor cafe, an outdoor dining terrace overlooking Mission Valley, and a state of the art commercial kitchen.
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Parker community and to the leadership and philanthropic commitment of our Board of Trustees, and under the guidance of Robert Gleason and Jeff Silberman ’75 and with the support of Shara Freeman Hoefel and the advancement team, Parker exceeded our goal of raising $6MM for this project.
ACCREDITATION AND SELF-STUDY
In 2013, Parker received the highest status and length of accreditation (seven years) from the California Association of Independent School (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The accreditation entails a comprehensive evaluation process ensuring that the School is meeting its defined goals and objectives based on our mission and philosophy, providing students with an exceptional educational experience.
The accreditation process was in full swing this academic year as we underwent a 12-month internal self-study based on 16 standards that capture the most critical aspects of effective school keeping. Areas of review range from the student learning experience to admissions, and fundraising to governance. In short, the self-study requires us to review and clarify our purpose and goals, demonstrating the degree to which they are being achieved.
In May, the chapter leaders presented the initial finding of the Self-Study to the entire faculty and staff. These findings will be synthesized into the draft report which will be shared out to all our major constituencies this fall in preparation for our final submission to CAIS and WASC on or before December 1, 2019. Early in 2020, a team of California Independent School educators and administrators will conduct a four-day, on-site visit to evaluate our programs and operations and to assess our collective effectiveness in fulfilling our mission and stated goals.
Providing your child(ren) with a comprehensive learning experience – and one that is second to none – is an unwavering commitment on our part and indicates a significant investment on your part. To be sure, we shall not take for granted the financial support you have made and continue to make to Parker.
In January, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the School’s operating budget for the 2019-2020 academic year. We are confident that this budget promotes the highest quality educational experience for your child(ren), facilitates ongoing investment in the professional growth of faculty and staff, increases the budget dedicated to financial assistance, supports a variety of new programs, spurs additional facility enhancements, and fortifies financial reserves.
For the coming year, the tuition increase of 3.3 percent is the lowest in the last five years, yet still guarantees the School can meet its strategic objectives and deliver a superior education to every Parker student, while ensuring that a Parker education remains as accessible as possible by finding the appropriate balance between your budget and ours.
The cost of providing a Parker education does not come from tuition alone. The gap between tuition and the full cost of educating each student is roughly $2,900. The margin of excellence in all facets of School life—academics, arts, athletics, and activities—is provided through philanthropy, through the many generous gifts provided by current members of the Parker community and those who came before us.
Again this year, we received an unqualified audit for both our financials and our 403(b).
Since 2013, following the course set in Parker’s Strategic Plan, the School’s leadership across all three divisions has invested considerable time and resources into the development of program and curriculum (as well as expert staff support) in an effort to support one of our most important strategic goals – student wellness.
Over the course of that same period we have made significant enhancements to all three divisional schedules in an effort to best support student learning while promoting student wellness. For the past two years as we continue to learn more about how students learn best, and the potential benefits of additional enrichment to the daily schedule, we have been working to further revise the daily schedule starting in the 2020-2021 academic year.
Of all the levers a school can pull to ensure it is truly living its mission and supporting its core values, one of the most powerful levers is the deployment and allocation of time. Yet, when we consider the demands of a truly exceptional educational experience—one to which Parker is committed fully—designing a daily schedule becomes one of the most challenging responsibilities of the school. At Parker, we believe that the daily schedule should reflect what we believe to be the core values and essential components of a Parker education. Our schedule must support excellence in academics, arts, and athletics, achieve balance in the student experience, provide opportunities for collaboration among and between students, faculty, and staff, optimize instructional time, honor a healthy pace and appropriate transition and break time, optimize the student sleep cycle (which includes starting no earlier than 8:30 am) and provide appropriate co-curricular time, transition time, and free time. No easy task as time is finite, but one that Parker has invested significant effort and resource into over the past seven years.
The culture of philanthropy continues to advance the School’s mission and strategic initiatives. The Parents Association Day of Giving and Gala event raised over $1.2 million for students and faculty, breaking all previous records. Parent, alumni, and grandparent giving participation are on the rise, signaling a deep and profound commitment to the Parker education and student experience.
Parker’s graduating class of 2019 captured the essence of the Parker college counseling mission of matching top students with the most appropriate and competitive college or university. Our 130 graduates will attend 70 colleges that range in size, location, composition, and area of focus. Of note, fifty of the graduating seniors will be the only Parker Lancer at their respective college or university when they arrive in the fall.
Academic competitions were in full force this year, with Parker students on all three campuses flexing their cerebral muscles. Highlights include 39 students from the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools representing Parker at the California History Day Competition—nine of them moving on to the National Competition this June; 43 of the 69 Spanish 4 and 4 Honors students who took the National Spanish Exam this year earning Gold honors which ranks above the 95th percentile in the nation; and Parker’s robotics team, who won the Engineering Inspiration Award from FIRST Robotics for the fourth time and the esteemed Chairman’s award for the third time.
At Parker, we continue to view the arts (both performing and visual) as an essential and integral component of the Parker experience, with the end result being that our students come to think independently and explore their creative impulses. At each division, gifted faculty inspire students through specialized daily instruction in a variety of arts areas. Highlights in the arts include top ratings from our students performing at music and drama festivals this year and an impressive group of student artwork selected to be shown at art exhibits around San Diego County.
Similarly, we believe that student-athletes benefit not only physically and emotionally by participating and competing in sports; we feel strongly that one of our fundamental responsibilities is to help them develop critical skills (including teamwork, resilience, leadership, tenacity) that promote success in a variety of pursuits, both now and in the future.
Highlights in Upper School Athletics include earning four league titles (Boys Cross Country, Girls Golf, and Boys Lacrosse, Girls Soccer, and Boys Lacrosse) and one CIF title (Boys Cross Country).
In short, our commitment to excellence in the arts and athletics is part of a larger and ongoing commitment to shaping excellence in education and is at the core of our mission.
A FINAL THOUGHT
On behalf of all Parker faculty and staff, thank you for your loyal support of our School, our students, and our mission.
Head of School