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State of the School: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

Hailey Spaeth

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By Abby Smith ’20, Contributor

“The main purpose of the State of the School is to meet once a year and to talk about where we are and where we’re going” says Mr. Tony Jaccaci, our Head of School. The State of the School meeting was held on Wednesday, January 25th. It began with a dinner provided by our lunch staff, followed by a meeting held by Mr. Jaccaci in Keeler. The meeting was kicked off by a short choir performance, then the floor was handed over to the Head of School. After the meeting, everyone walked over to the new Early Childhood Center for a tour, dessert reception, and a chance to discuss what had been said. At State of the School, Mr. Jaccaci’s goal was to “share a vision for the school… so we’re known all around the world.”

Mr. Jaccaci introduced three pillars which he feels will really enhance our school. I picked up one of the Country Day Forward handouts from State of the School, which lists the pillars. The first is Innovative Teaching and Learning. In the words of the booklet, this means that “we will create the most engaging educational environment by continually examining how students best learn and use that research to continue developing the most effective and pioneering teaching.” The next pillar was Global Engagement, which is summarized: “We will develop responsible global citizens through curricular and co-curricular opportunities that foster the skills, knowledge, and empathy required to engage ethically and successfully in a rapidly changing and interconnected world.” Finally, the environmental commitment pillar is written as this: “We will instill a culture of sustainability and purposeful connection to the natural world through education, partnerships, action, and self-assessment that will empower and inspire our community members to be stewards of our environment.”

Unless you’re an English teacher, you’re probably a bit confused by the vocabulary. So I asked Mr. Jaccaci how he plans to achieve the visions he has for these three pillars. In response, he said: “Giving new opportunities to students here, and not just courses, but also for example in the global pillar, I’m hoping that we might be able to give overseas study opportunities. Or, in our environmental commitment. Giving outdoor learning opportunities as well. So not just courses, but thinking about a student’s experience holistically here, and how we might improve that… but not just what we offer, but how we teach, too, because one of the pillars is called innovation in learning and teaching. So not just what we teach, but how we teach as well.” He seemed to have a lot in mind, so I questioned him on what he thought would be the most challenging aspect to achieve. He replied, “I think they will all be challenging to achieve… I think each pillar will present its own challenge, but within each pillar it’s really the curricular changes and the changes in the courses we offer here. We’re not going to change them all, and I think that’s what people need to understand. We have a great school and we have a great curriculum. This plan is just going to help enhance and improve, and I think that will be the greatest challenge.” To any of you who missed the meeting, that just about sums it up.

Because there were several parts of the meeting, I was wondering which was the most important to him. “The most important part to the meeting was for everyone to come and hear from me kind of the vision and the plan but also for people to have the chance to discuss it as well. So, the nice thing was when we were done with the meeting, we then all went over to our new ECC, and I heard people as they were coming and going discussing what had happened too,” Mr. Jaccaci said. I can agree that the Early Childhood Center tour was effective, as I too heard people commenting on what he had said. The dessert reception at the ECC was a great way to encourage people to come, talk about the meeting, and look at the new building while enjoying dessert. (Shout-out to whoever’s idea the mini cheesecakes were. They were delicious.)

Whether you attended State of the School or missed out, it was more than just a meeting and also an enjoyable school event about the progression of our community. For those of you who didn’t attend this year, I recommend coming next year to this annual event to learn about where we are and where we’re headed, all while enjoying the company of others and a delicious cheesecake.

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State of the School: Where We Are and Where We’re Going