by Head of Lower School Dr. Bob GillinghamS
everal years ago, Head of School Kevin Yaley began focusing our collective faculty and staff efforts around a theme upon which all of our many and varied educational contributions could build. “Joy” and “gratitude” are among past focal points, and their effect on our collegiality and collaboration was tangible. This year, we’ll think about being “connected” socially, academically, and emotionally in order to strengthen our institution as “three divisions, two campuses, ONE school.”
My perspective on our School’s development as an educational establishment now spans five decades, first as a bus driver, then as a Lower School teacher, next as a Middle School teacher, and finally as a Division Head. And so, it was a special treat for me in this year’s opening faculty/staff events to consider all that I was seeing, hearing, and doing through those lenses.
We carved out two days dedicated to all-school business such as safety training, clarification of school goals, and updates on programming affecting all three divisions, such as our newly-organized summer and extended studies program. During the sessions devoted to such topics, I was struck not only by the professionalism with which information was shared but also by the clear devotion evident in those presenting. To a person, the passion for their Parker responsibilities made me think, over and over again, that our school had come of age. The messages I was hearing and the work being reported were so clearly mission-driven, and everyone seemed to be focused on the same educational vision.
Last year, every Parker faculty and staff member was involved in a self-study as part of our accreditation. Working in mixed-division faculty/staff teams, we researched, interviewed, surveyed, even traveled to other schools to get as much information as we could to inform our reporting. The study process brought us together in great conversation and debate, and it was so very clear to me that we had grown to the point where such dialogue was not only fruitful but also indicative of our institutional health. Ultimately, the groups produced 16 chapters highlighting not only what is working well at the school, but also areas where we can grow and become even more effective.
And so, as we welcome in the new school year, I feel I’m uniquely qualified to report that, as I sat there listening to the reports and plans for this school year, I was proud to think that I was part of an institution that embraces continuous improvement, that does not shy away from a close examination of its practices, program, and policy, and works cohesively as one highly-effective, connected school with a common vision.
Our future is bright and full of promise, and we’re so glad that you’ll be joining us in our best year ever!
Dr. Bob Gillingham
Head of Lower School