Volume 2, Number 1 • September 3, 2011
A Warm Welcome to All!
With the final weekend of summer now upon us, let me be the first to welcome each of you to the beginning of what will be a great year at Francis Parker School. A special welcome to our 168 new Lancers — 85 at the Lower School, 47 at the Middle School and 36 at the Upper School, each of whom will certainly add to the talent, richness and strengths of our returning student body.
To Parker’s most recent alumni I send out a message of warm greeting. Just as students will be arriving on our campuses early next week, recent Parker graduates are settling in on college and university campuses across the country. As these recent Parker graduates embark on the next chapter of their academic life, I have every confidence that each will embrace the many new challenges that come their way, seize every opportunity, and find much success in the classrooms and beyond. And to be sure, we look forward to welcoming our recent Parker graduates back to their alma mater on many occasions in the future.
No Limit for Better
Recently, I chanced upon an interview with Harrison Ford in which he shared his thoughts on achieving excellence. Ford recalled a time when he was doing carpentry work and turning to his client noted: “Look, I’m terribly sorry, but I want to change that a half-inch,” to which his client simply responded, “No limit for better.”
Ford went on to comment on how he found this brief but compelling response a worthy credo – not just for carpentry but for all of life’s endeavors. Translated otherwise: Keep working away until you get it as close to near-perfect as possible.
At Parker, we hold fast to the notion that there is no limit for better. In my first year as Head of School, I was humbled to be part of some tremendous growth and success on a variety of levels. As suggested in my year-end report, the finances of the school are in excellent health, our admissions remain strong (we are fully subscribed), our college matriculation index was impressive, and our commitment to academic excellence and student wellness are continuing priorities.
As we enter into this new academic year we celebrate the successes of the past, but we choose not rest on our laurels and accomplishments. Instead, we seek out opportunities to build further consensus, strengthen the general program, and advance our mission of providing every child with the finest education available anywhere.
Summer Program Report
Some new and innovative initiatives were added this past summer, including the CampBrain online registration system, a repositioned Lower School morning academic program, a scholarship-based outreach program that engaged middle school students from historically underserved communities, and the Summer Jazz Workshop, sponsored jointly by Parker and Anthology – all of which together helped grow and enhance the program from the previous summer. Under the leadership of Tim Katzman, approximately 675 students (Parker and non-Parker alike) attended academic classes and sports camps in the mornings, and/or participated in a range of “fun” activities in afternoons.
Lower School Math, Spanish and Ethics
In the second phase of our Lower School Spanish program renovation, we now differentiate at every grade level (SK-5) this year. Students in a given class will attend Spanish at the same time, but be divided among three teachers, depending on skill or proficiency level.
Ethics classes make a return this year, held once a week per grade level. Students will explore many wellness strategies with Dr. Gillingham, learning in the process how to become more effective students and citizens, and more confident, collaborative friends.
Heather Gray, our recently-appointed Math Specialist, will work with students and teachers to strengthen the general program, student achievement and teacher effectiveness.
Upper School Advisory & Student Support
The Upper School is excited to introduce a new faculty/staff advisory program, guiding and supporting students through their years in the Upper School. Students have had the opportunity to provide a list of their potential advisors. They will be assigned to one of their faculty/staff requests along with approximately 12 other students from grades 9 - 12. Students will meet briefly each morning with their advisor group and have a longer meeting time reserved on Fridays. We are confident that this new protocol will help meet our goal to provide an additional resource for the students along with the opportunity to form a meaningful and enriching connection with the members of their advisory group.
This year, we undergo a formal school-wide review (part of the California Association of Independent Schools accreditation) during which we 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. We view this important process as a genuine opportunity for ongoing improvement – a crucial measure of excellence for any organization.
New Faculty & Staff
One of the great sustaining strengths of any school is its faculty and staff. We are indeed fortunate to welcome an extraordinarily talented and diverse cohort of new faculty and staff to Parker.
New Leadership in Finance & Development
Mike Rinehart, the new Head of Finance and Operations, has spent the past 15 years serving as a Chief Financial Officer first for Nuera Communications, a telecommunications equipment manufacturer, and most recently, at University Readers, a publisher of academic materials for colleges and universities. He received his Bachelor's in Business Administration from San Diego State University. Mike and his wife Kathy of 25 years have a son, Ross, who is entering his second year of law school at USC, and a daughter, Nicole, who is entering her third year of undergraduate study at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Jim Zimmerman has a 30-year career in independent school development and administration on both coasts. As Director of Development at the Cate School in Carpinteria, CA he led the “Campaign for the Nineties,” which delivered a number of new campus facilities and buildings, and raised significant endowment funds for the school. Since 1993, Jim has been Director of Development at Middlesex School (Concord, MA) where he oversaw the celebration of the school's centennial in 2001 and shaped a record-breaking campaign to raise $127 million. He joins Parker as the Head of Institutional Advancement, with oversight for development, marketing, communications and the Centennial.
Lower School Teaching Faculty
Amy Belknap comes to us from the San Diego Unified School District, where she spent the past few years teaching in elementary and middle school. She earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees as well as her Multiple Subject and Reading Specialist Credentials at San Diego State University. In addition, Amy is a certified Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) instructor. She will be teaching 4th grade.
Middle School Teaching Faculty
Elise Marinkovich is our new Middle School drama teacher. She relocated to San Diego from the Bay Area, where she served as the Technology Mentor and drama teacher at Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, CA. One of her major accomplishments at Hillbrook was incorporating an iPad program for the school's 7th grade students. Elise earned her BA and MFA in theatre and has been a drama teacher and director for over fourteen years. She has also worked as an associate artist with Peninsula Youth Theatre, a professional children's theatre company located in the Bay Area.
Chris McGrath was born and raised in Miami and attended Tufts University, where he majored in English and minored in Fine Art. In the fifteen years since his graduation from Tufts, he has taught middle school English in Beverly, MA; Miami, FL, and Asheville, NC. Most recently, he taught at Miami Gulliver Academy Middle School. Outside school, Chris says he finds time to sneak in some good waves and pen mediocre poems; yet his main focus and source of enjoyment is spending time with his wife, Jane, and their three children Madeleine, Annie, and Shea. He is teaching 6th grade English.
Upper School Teaching Faculty
Andrew Holbrook, raised in Madison, WI, studied European history and wrote for the student newspaper at Harvard. Upon graduation, he spent a year teaching at Eton College in the UK. Andrew then took a gap year, part of which he spent touring Civil War battlefields throughout the South. For the past six years, he has taught English and advised the yearbook at Campbell Hall in Los Angeles. Andrew will be teaching freshman and sophomore English.
Brodie Kastor, a native San Diegan, received his BA from UCSD in Mathematics in Secondary Education and a minor in Political Science and Dance. For the past year, he has been a substitute teacher in the Upper School. Brodie also taught a pair of courses in our recently-completed Summer Program. Currently, he is working toward his M.Ed. in Digital Technology. Brodie will teach mathematics and science at the Upper School.
Nick Lewis began his teaching career at Western Reserve Academy, a boarding school located outside Cleveland, OH. In his last of six years at WRA, Nick served as the English Department Chair. He taught sophomore and senior English and continues teaching at these grade levels at Parker. In addition, Nick served as the head varsity tennis coach for both the boys and girls and helped supervise a freshman boys' dormitory. He attended Davidson College, where he majored in English and played Division I tennis. Nick recently received his Master's degree from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English.
Karen Marshall joins our Upper School Social Studies department. Since 2007, Karen has been teaching Global Affairs, US History and Government and Politics at Cape Henry Collegiate School in Virginia Beach, VA. She attended the University of Georgia, where she earned her BA in Social Science Education with a minor in History. Karen completed her post-graduate work in International Studies at Old Dominion University.
Sasha Clines, Parker class of 2001, is the new Director of the Annual Fund (also known as the Parker Fund to many). A Parker “lifer,” Sasha received her Bachelor's degree in Marketing and Communications from San Diego State University. Outside school, she performs with Rada Neal, her mother and former a Parker faculty member in a vocal/piano duo. Sasha serves as a mentor for young women at the Jenna Druck Center and as a facilitator, public speaker and fundraiser for Jeans 4 Justice.
As Parker approaches its 100th year, we have earned the right to dream about achieving the School’s fullest potential. As Head of School, I have the privilege to collaborate with a dedicated and accomplished faculty, staff, trustees and volunteers as we set our sights on the next 100 years. With the arrival of Jim Zimmerman, our Head of Institutional Advancement, we are in “full speed ahead” mode planning for Parker’s upcoming Centennial celebration. Our general plan at this point calls for a series of smaller but significant events during the course of the 2012-13 academic year. The grand celebration will come at the conclusion of the academic year in late spring 2013, with all members of the Parker family being a part of the excitement. We expect fully that the current Parker generation will be remembered years from now as the one that laid the foundation of the School to thrive for generations to come.
Until next time…
Parker is at an extraordinary time and place in its history and I am delighted, honored and humbled to be a part of it. I thank you for your continued support and welcome your input and guidance at any point. My door remains open to all of you.
Saturday September, 3, 2011 at 12:19PM