Head of School Quarterly Report - June 2011
Dear Members of the Parker Community,
On Saturday, June 4, we graduated 120 seniors in the class of 2011. I was humbled to play a small part in this memorable event. The ceremony was a fitting celebration of our graduating seniors. In many ways, it was also a salute to the entire Parker community - students, faculty, staff, parents, grandparents, alumni and trustees - all of whom make this School truly extraordinary on any number of levels. As we close out this academic year, I am honored to celebrate with you some of our recent successes as well as look forward to the opportunities ahead.
To begin, be assured that the School remains in excellent financial shape as we continue to advance the mission of Francis Parker School. We understand that each of our families makes a considerable financial commitment to send their child(ren) to Parker. We continue to be good stewards of the investment and the charitable giving of our families. Particularly in this year when we experienced some unanticipated expenses, we have doubled our efforts to tighten our internal controls and strengthen the business operations of the School.
Again this year we experienced a strong admissions season, 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 all over San Diego County, our attrition remains low, our yield strong, and our demand at the Upper School is at an all-time high. Looking to next year, we will invest in and strengthen our admissions marketing and outreach efforts, paying special attention to the Lower School process.
By any measure, the college acceptances and matriculation for the members of the class of 2011 were excellent - similar to the class before and in all likelihood, the class to follow. In many ways, this year's class captured the essence of our college counseling mission:
"Given the wide-ranging talents, accomplishments and dreams of
the Parker student body, it is no wonder that their college
destinations are not limited to a certain type or mold. Instead, the
personal goals of the students result in a variety of college
decisions that we celebrate with pride."
This past year we introduced new or enhanced existing programs and student support services that have strengthened our School. In particular, the move to daily Spanish instruction at the Lower School; the addition of Associate Teachers and grade-level Deans for 9th and 10th grades; the augmentation of our Summer and Extended Programs; the expansion of our Middle School Discovery Week and Upper School Interim programs. We have, at the same time, strengthened our daily instruction and our overall curriculum by reviewing and, in many cases, refining policies and practices in athletics, academics and student life; elevating the role and responsibilities of the department chairs; bolstering the faculty evaluation system; increasing communication between the School and all our constituent groups, and initiating a comprehensive study on the health and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff.
It comes as little surprise that our commitment to advancing the academic program will remain vigorous. Throughout the 2012-2013 academic year, we will undergo a formal school-wide review during which we will examine and assess our effectiveness in all aspects of our operations, program and curriculum, identify goals for improvement, and develop plans to accomplish these goals. The review will be completed in the fall of 2012 in preparation for a visiting committee's review and recommendation to take place during the winter of 2013.
Fittingly, 2012-2013 is the year of our Centennial. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary successes of our School, our history, and our people, as well as to anticipate the next chapter in the life of Francis Parker School. While the Centennial is indeed a community effort, we are fortunate to have Jim Zimmermann joining our staff. As Head of Institutional Advancement, Jim will lead our development team and, for that matter, all of us as we enter into this exciting period. Jim will be joined by his wife, Celia, and their son, Parker, who will be a Parker 9th grader in the fall.
We are also fortunate to have a talented and experienced leadership team. And it is a privilege to work with each of them. Bob, Pat, Paul, Judy, Dori, Malcolm, Tim, Cathy, Grant, Heather, and of course, Jan - thanks to each of you for your work and dedication. Mindful of the opportunities and challenges that lie before us, we renew our unflinching commitment to putting the needs and the ambitions of the School first.
We are further privileged to have hundreds of volunteers who unselfishly give of their time, talent and treasure. The commitment of our volunteers is unparalleled and this support of our School does not go unnoticed. On behalf of the entire Parker faculty, staff and administration, please accept my profound and heartfelt thanks.
Looking ahead, I believe we have four major goals:
1. Honor our mission - maintain our commitment to academic
excellence, diversity, balance, wellness and the education of
the whole child.
2. Attract, recruit and retain excellent faculty, administration and
staff, as nothing is more essential to the ongoing health of
our students' education than the quality and commitment of
the people charged with providing that education.
3. Engage and recruit prospective students and families
throughout San Diego County who will bring value and
diversity to our community.
4. Develop a long-term financial model that ensures the health
and sustainability of the School and moves the institution
If we are looking for a marker to note this moment in time, look no further than the timeless image positioned at the top of the Szekely Auditorium on the Mission Hills campus - the Parker window. It is in and through this window that we envision possibilities; it is a portal to the future, a portal to the world. A window through which our students first experience themselves and the world, later understand the world, and ultimately, enter the world. As we look out this window of opportunity, poised to take Parker to the next level and cement our reputation as a nationally recognized institution of academic excellence, we would be well served to reflect on the words of Goethe:
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw
back - concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one
elementary truth - the ignorance of which kills countless ideas
and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits
oneself, then providence moves too. Whatever we can do, or
dream we can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and
magic in it. Begin it now."
In the life of a school, every generation has its challenges and opportunities. Together, let us seize those opportunities, act boldly, and honor our mission, seeking to do what is in the best interests of our students and Francis Parker School.
Head of School
Friday July, 15, 2011 at 11:25AM
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