Happy New Year, Stuart Families!
One of my favorite places to sit is on the back deck of Lainie’s House. When I first arrived in the summer, the thick tree cover surrounded the property. When I looked out, all I could see was forest.
As the fall months approached and then flew by, the landscape changed – from green, to red, to orange, and then to brush – and I was gifted with a new perspective. Through the bare trees, I had a site-line to Stuart, and, with each passing day, my vision for its future became clearer.
With the first half of the year as your Head of School now in my rear view, I would like to provide a mid-year update on the exciting actions we are taking, together, for our students:
We are moving our Strategic Plan forward.
The 2022-2023 academic year is the second year of the school’s “Faith in Her Future” strategic plan, whose pillars are to: Accelerate Academic Excellence; Model the Mission; Demonstrate our DEI Commitment; and Activate Her Power to Thrive. With those pillars central to our aspirations, we’re prioritizing the following actions for Year 2:
- Elevate the plan for the Student Wellness Center so that it is holistic and game-changing.
- Accelerate the plan for STEM resources, facilities, and programming to meet the evolving needs of our students.
- Establish a National Center for Girls Leadership 2.0 plan to clarify our core purpose.
- Implement the Board’s Diversity Policy and build a structure for its sustained support.
- Expand external partnerships to broaden and deepen the student experience.
Progress in all areas is underway and on track. As we get closer to the end of the school year, please be on the lookout for more details on each of these action items.
We are building a strong faculty culture.
The foundation of any excellent school is its teaching staff, and Stuart’s faculty are our heart. The ethos of our faculty is built by establishing a relationship of mutual accountability, respect, and connection. This fall, some of my most rewarding moments came while meeting one-to-one with every member of the faculty and staff as we started our relationships. These conversations were an opportunity for me to listen to their thoughts, appreciate their successes, and understand how their work could connect to our mission of educating girls to achieve lives of leadership and service. They were also a joy! With each visit, my confidence was further fueled, affirming for me that the academic culture of Stuart and the commitment to our students are at the core of who we are.
Our work this year will be to build on the faculty’s passion and purpose by supporting their collective appetite for creativity and growth, and more time to connect with what is core to their role as teacher and community member. It will also be to review faculty hiring and retention practices for a rapidly changing workforce landscape.
We are extending our outreach.
I’m thrilled to report that the number of applicants for admission has increased significantly compared to last year’s at this time, and early enrollment indicators have been the strongest they have been in recent years. This is an exciting marker of success for our community. Thank you for sparking great interest with prospective families by communicating your confidence and enthusiasm for Stuart.
In addition to our increased engagement with immediate communities, this winter and spring, we’ve scheduled Stuart meet-ups in cities all over the country, and I’m looking forward to meeting with our alums and other lifelong members of the Stuart community. (Parents/guardians and faculty/staff - we would love you to join us! Check out the schedule of events.) Our school celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and that milestone was made possible because of the enduring support of those who came before us.
As we move into the second half of the year, I hope that we take just a moment to feel pride in all that we have already accomplished as a community this year. Most importantly, I want us to take pride in our children. They are thriving in classrooms, courts, community events, and college outcomes. They are saying “YES” to new experiences and taking risks in academic competitions, art competitions, and athletic competitions. They take time to serve others at Loaves and Fishes and to write thank you notes to others who have served them in their time of need. They are just awesome.
We still have so much we want to do for them, and it is their spirit that fuels us for continuous improvement, because they deserve it all.
Thank you for your partnership and commitment to Stuart, and for walking alongside me as we set the vision for its future.