The end of the school year coincides with an intense week of celebrations at school–the Kindergarten, 5th, and (just a few minutes ago) the 8th Grade graduations. This week, we also invaded the recital hall at Baruch once more–it’s almost too small for us at this point–for a very moving end-of-year assembly. Between the joy for the Red House, our House Cup winners this year (well done to House Captain Zohar and her Housemates), the smiles of the students called up on stage to accept an award, and the stirring homage to Benoît, it was an emotional moment!

These are moments that are dear to me. When I witness the incredible solidarity and sense of community between our students as they delight in a classmate receiving a reward, when I hear how proud they are to accept an award themselves, when I see in their eyes how much it means to them to have their families and teachers at their sides, and when I listen to their lucid, funny, touching, sincere speeches, I know we are on the right track and everything we are putting in place at The École is working.

The end of this school year also means it is time for me to renew my promise to the entire community that we will continue to work toward being even better next year.  A few weeks ago, I shared that we would be setting up a STRIVE department that will allow us to increase the number of initiatives and possibilities available to support and bolster our students. By the same token, I have decided that each Elementary grade will have a dedicated teaching assistant going forward. It was the case this year from 1st to 3rd Grade; next year, we will extend that to 4th and 5th. In Maternelle, the creation of the director position, which Ben will occupy, will permit us to better meet student, staff, and family needs. Ben will be a point of contact for Maternelle parents and will work closely with Sophie, our new Elementary Head when it comes to pedagogy. We will also continue to reinforce our American curriculum with the help of Sara Weintraub, who will return to us part-time next year, working outside of the classroom to support our American team. In the fall, Carl Ciaramitaro, our 5th Grade American Teacher, whose speech at yesterday’s graduation touched us all deeply,  will be working with 5th through 8th Grade students on his specialist area of literacy.  Finally, I am delighted to say that our School Counselor, Katie Repman, has accepted a full-time position next year; our Counseling Department plays a vital role in the well-being of our students.

Often, improving our school simply means being ready to listen. It’s asking ourselves why our practices don’t always translate instantaneously into positive changes; it’s remaining curious and avoiding overly dogmatic stances–to the point of being accused of being pragmatic, something I accept as the proud Rortyan I am. Sometimes, it’s meeting someone and having a mundane conversation that ignites a million new ideas. It’s also making decisions that are difficult on a human level and having tough conversations. It’s when a colleague says, “I’m leaving,” and the romantic side of me thinks, “No!” but the head-of-school side of me strives to find the hidden opportunities and rethink the way we do things that previously seemed set in stone.

The end of the year is always an emotional rollercoaster.