On Monday, I welled up in the middle of my speech during the Kindergarten graduation; I was overcome by emotion at the sight of the children that I had first met three years ago when they were in Nursery – they were masked up, and we were all keeping a social distance of one meter. I would have loved for you to have been at the Maternelle Building on Monday and to have seen how wonderful they were on stage.
A lot has happened during my first three years at The École, and because it is the last Friday before summer break, it is quite tempting to look back and reflect on them. And because we have had a very theatrical week, it is also quite tempting to write that reflection as a 3-act play.
Act 1 is dedicated to how we handled the COVID pandemic, how determined we were to keep the school open, and to share all the facts we had with you so you could feel in control of the situation and in a position to make informed decisions for your family. From a pedagogical point of view, we began to imagine life after cohorts, to prepare for the opening of our Pre-Nursery class, and to reinforce our bilingual teaching. It’s at the end of Act 1 that Benoît, Sara, and Ben joined our Academic Leadership Team (ALT), and we began to work together on our vision for the future of the school. It’s also the moment when I realized that I was at the helm of a truly unique school, which leads me to…
Act 2 is when I became convinced of my desire to stay at The École for the long haul; that conviction was incarnated by three important events in my personal and professional life. First, Andria and I bought an apartment in New York; second, we got our Green Cards; and third, Andria joined The École team – reminding me how much I enjoy working with her. Pedagogically speaking, the ALT oversaw the reorganization of the Elementary bilingual program; we accompanied the rapid growth in our student numbers with the recruitment of several new colleagues, who contribute daily to the happiness of our students and their parents, and at the same time, I turned my attention to our Middle School, particularly with the signing of the partnership with Léman, which as you read yesterday, responded to a real need from our Middle School families.
There might not be enough distance yet for me to write Act 3, but I can say for certain that it involved greater involvement on my part in Middle School – I returned to my first love! We also strengthened our After-School offerings thanks to Miriam (and Coach Soden with the Falcons!) and continued reinforcing the bilingual program’s American side. With more students and new colleagues, we proposed more clubs, field trips, and projects – you will spot them all soon in the much-anticipated Yearbook. Thanks to our excellent academic results this year, I hope that this third act will put paid to the notion that a school can only be caring or excellent, not both.
I am proud of all our accomplishments and want to thank my colleagues who so often go above and beyond what is expected of them to make The École the school we love. Act 4 remains to be written, but we can already say that it will continue what we started this year, with initiatives that I have written about in my letters – the flexible learning spaces in Elementary, which will make The École a leader in the field, the transformation of the Middle School schedules, which will modernize our practices and ensure that The École continues to be considered one of the best schools in New York, and me spending more time in Maternelle – giving Ben and the Maternelle team the attention they deserve.
Whatever happens in Act 4, there is one thing you can count on (“…me like 1,2,3” – sorry, I couldn’t resist!) – I will definitely be making a teary-eyed speech at the Kindergarten graduation.