Parent Night is one of my favorite events of the school year because it is one of the few opportunities we have to all be together, in one space, to engage in a conversation about our shared passion and commitment– our children’s educational journey.

This year I find myself even more excited and energized because I stand with you tonight as a new Ravenscroft parent. Our daughter Simone started Kindergarten this year and my husband Alfie and I couldn’t be happier to be on this journey with all of you as parents.

Like many of you, we chose Ravenscroft for our daughter because we wanted her to be known as an individual, cared for, and challenged to be her very best self intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically.

We believe Ravenscroft is the place that can do all of these things and more.

Simone and I had some interesting conversations this summer in preparation for her starting here at Ravenscroft, and there was one great question that she asked me just before school started that really made me stop and reflect as an educator.

It was simple enough, “Mommy, what does a Head of Lower School do?”

How could I possibly answer that question with a reply that was quick enough to sustain her four year-old attention span and have it still be meaningful and honest?

My response ended up being that my job was to support all the students, teachers, and parents in the Lower School and make sure they had the best possible place to learn and grow.

She seemed satisfied with my answer and moved on to her other questions that revolved around her backpack, lunchbox, and what shoes she could wear to school; obviously the more important questions to her.

I personally thought her question about what I did was pretty important, and I have been thinking about my response a lot lately.

I believe that knowing and understanding your purpose is critical to achieving success and turning hopes and dreams into reality.  My hopes and dreams all relate to our children’s future success, so the answer to the question is of the utmost importance.

As the Head of Lower School, my main role and purpose are exactly the same as every faculty member here at Ravenscroft– we are charged to nurture individual potential and prepare students to thrive in our complex and interdependent world.

Our world is constantly changing and our knowledge about how our brains learn best is expanding. As educators, we know we need to continually reflect on and rethink the way we have always done things in order to align our practices around the skills our children will need to be successful in the future.

It is clear our world needs more innovators that are prepared to ask and answer new questions.  Our children need to possess new skills and new ways of thinking to solve the problems our world is currently facing and be prepared to address the challenges that we don’t even know about yet.

The Lower School faculty has been thinking more specifically about what this looks like in practice. We are engaged in conversations about what we can actually do each day to ensure we are mission aligned in our work and that we are supporting all the diverse learners in our community.

Two of the most important things we agreed on are engaging in new learning every day as adults and modeling what it means to be a citizen leader.

We know the students are watching.

When they see us trying new things and demonstrating our Lead From Here competencies, such as being resilient when faced with a challenge or reflecting on our experiences, our students see what being a lifelong learner and citizen leader look like in action.

When we intentionally put time and energy into these areas, we believe we can all more effectively lead with our heads and our hearts; a combination that captures what many people refer to as a balance of EQ and IQ. Emotional intelligence has proven to be just as vital to success as IQ.

Three books I read this summer that speak to this balance and have influenced some of the goals we will focus on in the Lower School this year are:

 This book discusses the importance of play, passion, and purpose as the forces that drive innovation. It aligns really well with our Citizen Leader framework which focuses on leading self, leading with others, and changing your world. It looks into the lives of successful innovators to see what experiences shaped their career paths and personal journeys.

We have learned so much about how our brains work over the past decade, and this new information is challenging educators to rethink the way we have always done things in favor of a more effective way of teaching that aligns with how the brain naturally learns best.  This book addressing many of the comments and questions I often hear from parents about the school experience being so different from than when they were in school; it is different and should be. The good news is that, at Ravenscroft, we work hard to remain updated on current research about best practices in education and are adapting to this paradigm shift.

Student learning is at the heart of everything we do here at Ravenscroft.  This book discussed how the implementation of adult professional learning communities can improve and enhance student learning.  The central components of the concept include a focus on inquiry, collaboration, reflection, and the use of data to guide decisions, and these areas are exactly what the Lower School faculty will be working on this year to ensure we are best positioned to increase and enhance student learning.

Our faculty is committed to their own professional learning. Since school let out in June, our Lower School faculty has worked with Teachers College to expand our understanding of how to best support developing writers, we had teachers go to the Center for Creative Leadership to learn more about our Lead From Here initiative, we also had teams of teachers working here on campus throughout the summer on grants related to enhancing our math curriculum, integrating social studies and science into our reading and writing workshops, and designing lessons to teach the competencies in our Citizen Leader framework.  I am blessed to work with a team that is constantly in the pursuit of excellence.  Our children are lucky to have these educators as leaders on their journeys.

I ask that each and every one of you join us this year as we continue to embrace all the possibilities that exist for our youngest Ravens as they prepare for a future that we cannot yet see or imagine.

Our Lead From Here movement will intentionally support our efforts to learn more about ourselves, about communicating and collaborating with others, and about dreaming and acting on behalf of a larger community.

Our community is dedicated to learning, leading, and serving, and we truly believe the possibilities are endless when we commit ourselves to do this important work together.

Thank you for the opportunity to partner with you, and most importantly, for the chance to serve your children!

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