Taking Stock at the Beginning of a New Year
by Kitty Gordan, acting head of school
January is the month of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings. It is when we make New Year’s resolutions and consider again how best to serve our students and children. It is a time of reflection, all the more for us at this important moment in Nightingale’s history.
Now is the time to take stock of where we are and to look forward to Paul Burke taking on the mantle of Head of School this summer. In the meantime, it is my privilege to lead Nightingale though a carefully planned transition. My primary responsibility will be to lead the faculty and students through a successful second semester while Paul serves out his term as head of the Upper School. In addition, he and I will have the benefit of being able to work closely to plan for next year.
As always, your daughters’ educational experience is our first priority. They will never again be Kindergarteners, third-graders, fifth-graders, juniors, or seniors. We expect this year to continue to be one of exploration, learning, achievement, and friendship. We take both pride and joy in seeing your daughters grow in understanding and maturity as they develop the independence and confidence that comes with meeting our high standards. Our vision for the Nightingale graduate of 2020 continues to inform our educational decision-making and plays a defining role in our life as a school community.
Our Lower and Middle School students lead very full lives at school between their classroom work and life in the school community. New this year, they are beginning the study of French, Mandarin, or Spanish in Class III. Class V is now comfortable with life on the sixth floor and Class VI has welcomed their new classmates, started Latin, and produced a wonderful performance of The Jungle Book with Allen-Stevenson. Committed science students in Classes VII and VIII will go on a field study trip to Costa Rica over spring vacation. Meanwhile, Class VIII students have thrown themselves with vigor into their last year in the Middle School, working hard and looking forward to their class trip to Washington in May, the culmination of their study of US history as well as their lives in the Middle School.
Life in the Upper School is all about challenges and opportunities, both academic and extracurricular. Class X students are learning to program in Java and to design apps for smartphones and tablets in Foundations in Computer Science, which is a new course developed as part of our updated diploma requirements. Juniors and seniors are taking electives such as Public Health, World Religions, and The Bible as Literature, as well as an array of Advanced Placement courses. When students enter the Upper School, they no longer live within the confines of their grade and learn to see New York and the world as their classroom. Class IX had a very successful trip to London in November and Class X hosted our annual exchange students from Australia. This semester the chorus will go on a singing tour to Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia during spring vacation. Also on the calendar is a service trip to Cambodia in June to visit the "Nightingale School" recently opened with support from funds raised by Nightingale students. These trips are on top of our normal athletic endeavors, dramatic productions, special events like Cultural Night, and, of course, our rigorous academic program. It is a busy time, indeed.
Most of the activities and events in the schoolhouse would not happen without the incredible efforts of parent volunteers—thank you to each of you who have given of your time and energies this year. Having received over 700 applications, we had our 500th admissions tour on the Thursday before winter vacation, all ably led by parent and student tour guides. Our biennial fair was great fun and a financial success thanks to the hard work of parents, faculty, students, and alumnae: over 2,000 people attended and more than $160,000 was raised for the Scholarship Fund. The holiday Trunk Show, most of whose vendors were Nightingale alumnae, facilitated pre-holiday shopping for many teachers, parents, and neighbors; it raised over $20,000, also for financial aid. Your commitment to our school and your daughter's education is a defining characteristic of our mission.
Looking ahead, in January the search committee for our new Upper School head will present its candidates to the school community. Our national search has brought together an incredibly strong pool of applicants and I am confident we will find a wonderful fit for our Upper School. If you have any questions about the search process, or would like to sit on the parents advisory committee, please contact me at email@example.com.
The 2011–2012 school year is a unique flexion point in Nightingale's history. I have had the great fortune to lead our faculty for many years, and I have taken great pleasure from teaching and advising your daughters during that time. As our school moves into its next era, I’m honored and eager to work with you as acting head. Please be in touch anytime that I can be of assistance.