On Saturday, June 9, we welcomed more than 350 alumni and their families for Parker Reunions Weekend. It was a joy for me to be a part of this special event. I was particularly touched when a member of the class of 1987 came up to me and reflecting on his first return to Parker in many years remarked, "It is nice to be home again." Parker is, and shall continue to be, a place that we call home – for any number of reasons.
Along with reconnecting with friends, faculty and coaches, sharing stories of the past and catching up on the present (while all along standing in awe of our amazing new campus), the alumni were treated to a beautiful “farm to table” meal highlighting the focus of the reunion - Sustaining What Matters.
State of the School
As we wrap up our 99th year, I am pleased to report that the health of the School remains strong, and our focus, like that of the Alumni Reunion, is about sustaining what our mission reminds us matters most – an exceptional program, a talented faculty, and a diverse and gifted student body.
With the close of the fiscal year just weeks away, we anticipate ending the year on budget. Under the leadership of our Head of Finance and Operations, we begin the next fiscal year with a reinforced organizational structure and a system of articulated internal controls, thereby tightening our financial accountability in the process.
We are in the enviable position of having experienced another impressive year in admissions, both in terms of the overall number and quality of applicants. Thanks to the efforts of our Admissions Office, we continue to attract highly qualified applicants from throughout San Diego County; our attrition remains low (5%), our yield strong (86%). The demand at the Upper School is at an all-time high with nearly five applications for every available place in school.
The graduating class of 2012 experienced one of the most successful college admission seasons in the past decade. The overall matriculation not only highlights the quality and breadth of colleges and universities that our students will be attending next fall, but further reinforces the value of a Parker education. Across the board, our students involved in academic competitions outside Parker had a banner year. Our participation and success in local, regional and national competitions in Robotics, Science Olympiad, History Day, Academic League, and Math Field Day topped all previous years. Finally, Francis Parker School lays claim to the 2012 National Spelling Bee Champion, Snigdha Nandipati.
Ever committed to improving the quality of our educational program, for the fall of 2012 we will introduce several major programmatic enhancements, including:
Much work has taken place over the last year to advance our stated goal of integrating technology into the classroom. Between now and fall 2012, we will launch four (4) key initiatives:
In an effort to increase the safety and security of our students and to mitigate risks associated with operating one of the largest independent day schools in the country, we have implemented a comprehensive enterprise risk assessment and management protocol. To date, we have reviewed and prioritized major proposed changes to controls in all key risk categories, and defined and distributed attendant responsibilities. We are committed to establishing appropriate controls, work plans, timelines, scheduled reviews and status updates on mitigation strategies for all major areas of risk, and establishing mechanisms to ensure compliance.
School Improvement and Strategic Planning
This year we undertook a formal school-wide California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) accreditation review, during which we examined and assessed our effectiveness in all aspects of operations, program and curriculum; identified goals for improvement, and developed strategies to accomplish these goals. This review will be completed in fall 2012 in preparation for a visiting committee’s review and recommendation to follow during winter 2013.
Much of the work of our CAIS accreditation report, along with the results of the biennial school-wide parent survey completed this spring, will inform our strategic planning process next year. We will develop a Parker Strategic Plan that is calculated and visionary in nature through a transparent, collaborative process. We will use research and data to ensure that planning proceeds with sound analysis, rather than anecdotal information; identify and prioritize key strategic issues for the future; create a viable and effective positioning strategy/plan which can serve as a foundation for future institutional advancement and strategic planning efforts, and build internal collaboration and momentum for the future. We have retained the services of Ian Symmonds & Associates (of Portland, OR), one of the top research and strategy firms specializing in independent schools.
100 Years of Parker
As we look to the coming fall, the excitement of our Centennial celebration is already building. It will be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary successes of the School, its history, and our people, as well as to anticipate the next chapter in the life of Francis Parker School. With a few select events planned throughout the academic year, a marquee celebration will follow on June 8, 2013.
When we look to celebrate all that is right and good about Parker, that which truly makes Parker the place alumni will forever call home, a School to which each of us has chosen to send our children, nothing matters more than the people. For it is the people – in particular the students and the faculty – who make Parker great. If we are to continue to honor our mission and provide the best education possible, then we, too, must help Sustain What Matters.
Sustaining What Matters
The reality is that endowment is the lifeblood for fostering the long-term stability and success of independent schools.
To ensure an exceptional Parker education – not just for the students of today but also for those of the future – we must focus our fundraising efforts on building long-term endowment growth. Endowment will:
enable Parker to offset the rising cost of an independent school education by providing a dependable source of income
Thanks to All
Along with the tireless efforts of our parent volunteers and members of the Board of Trustees, under the leadership of an outstanding senior administrative team, with the guidance and support of an exceptionally talented and passionate faculty and staff, and with a student body that is as spirited and talented as any, Francis Parker School will continue to thrive.
On behalf of the faculty and staff, please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your continued and generous support of our School. Together, we can ensure that a Parker education really takes our kids As Far As The Mind Can See.