When I was little, I often listened to the marine weather forecast on the radio with my grandfather. I was fascinated by the names of these unlikely places that I didn’t know existed: Fisher, Iroise, Cromarty… These mysterious worlds seemed to be continually battered by winds that were so high on the Beaufort scale that my grandpa, safe in his living room, pretended that he had to hang on to his armchair so that he wouldn’t be blown away.

Weathering the Storm

I have to confess that I have often thought about him and those strong winds since my arrival at The École. During my first few weeks, indeed, I had to hold on tight (figuratively) to my desk chair on a regular basis. Taking charge of a new school and a new team in a new country in the time of Covid is no easy feat.

Without the support of Bolek, Rachel, Daphne and Mireille, without the help and goodwill of Philippe and Laurence, without the strength of all of my colleagues and their drive to see the school succeed, without the backing of our families, who have given me such a generous welcome, and finally, without the love of my wife, Andria, I believe that the storm would have swept me away. So, I would like to thank each and every one of you for having lifted me up and for allowing me to do my job in the best possible conditions.

A Time for Reflection

Thanks to all of you, for the past several months, I have been able to work on observing, listening and reflecting, with the goal of best preparing for the 2021 rentrée. I said very early on—and I can confirm it today: The École is blessed with a very high-quality teaching team. The work they do with their students is amazing. This doesn’t mean that we should just be content with that and not try to become even better. The time has come for me to make use of this needed period of reflection. To that end, during our in-service day on January 15th, I was able to let the whole team know that we would be creating three positions of responsibility. These positions would start in September 2021. I am certain that these positions will allow us to take an important qualitative leap.

Changes to Look Forward to

So, starting next year, The École will have an Assistant Head of Elementary. In simple terms (since the job description is lengthy), this role will help to promote a culture of excellence in the classes. Specifically, it will help to ensure that the transition from Maternelle to Elementary and Elementary to Middle School is smooth. They will do this by breathing life into projects and allowing teachers to concentrate on what they do best: teaching!

Secondly, I wanted to give special attention to the American side of our bilingual program by creating a position that is dedicated to developing that curriculum. I have no doubt that, without turning our backs on our identity, we can put a program in place that is even more ambitious. I am confident that we can be inspired by the best of what New York has to offer.

Finally, I would like one of the Maternelle teachers to become a site coordinator. This would be a non-teaching role that is focused more internally but that would allow us to manage both campuses in a more similar way.

The creation of these positions has been well received. Indeed, many colleagues have already applied. I am looking forward to interviewing them and starting to work with those who are selected. Other changes—what am I saying, improvements!—are in the works. I will be happy to share those with you all in the weeks ahead.