Powerful Opportunities Ahead

Head of School Susan Rice shares a glimpse of the year ahead and reflects on all the effort that brought us to where we are now.

Dear Tarriers,

The Summer of 2022 finds many of us reflecting on all we have accomplished in the past year.

Our core institutional values—perseverance, excellence, compassion, respect, and integrity— continue to be reflected in so much of what we
do every day. Our Mission to provide students with “active, joyful learning” experiences continues to find new ways of coming to fruition—be it through experiences on or off campus. The work that we are doing to examine and ensure that we are living our Inclusion Statement is powerful—we know that everyone does their best work when they know that they belong and when we all have a diverse group to learn from and grow with.

So much lies ahead for our community in 2022-23. I am honored to share a glimpse of the year ahead, and to reflect on all the effort of the past year that brought us here. We are creating new programs and making improvements to existing programs. We are resuming programs halted by COVID that make Charles Wright Academy a vibrant place to learn and grow. Powerful new opportunities for students lie on the horizon, within our grasp.

Many campus improvements took place this summer, including:

  • a necessary expansion of our re-named “Beginning School” to accommodate increased enrollment,
  • a new Lower School art classroom in the Sam and Nathalie Brown Visual Art Center for our youngest Tarriers to explore their artistic pursuits alongside our Upper School Tarriers,
  • a fresh facelift in our Middle School building with plans to build a new space for our fifth graders to join in 2023-24,
  • a major remodel for the Senior Stage area in the Upper School,
  • and our first ever Harkness Table to support the student-focused pedagogical approach of the same name that Dr. David Adams uses and has used for many years.

And even more improvements are in progress right now. New opportunities for gardening and outdoor exploration will benefit all Tarriers with opportunities for hands-on learning. We have secured the new location for the Diane Hunt Outdoor Classroom, which was made possible by generous donors to the 2019 Tarriers at Play Fund-a-Need. This year’s Fund-a-Need donors made the replacement of the Track possible this summer including the accompanying Field areas (Shot Put, Long Jump, Discus). These improvements will benefit all students from Preschool to Grade 12, but also allow us to host more regional events for our competitive Middle and Upper School Athletics.

Students in the Upper School shared that the locker rooms in the Dome needed a refresh and we are responding. New paint and logos inside and out of the Dome will build school spirit across all grade levels, alumni and families. A refresh of the locker rooms will include a new roof, skylights, new paint, and spirit branding. When students engage in athletics, we want them to feel proud to be here. When visiting teams come to compete on our campus— we want them to know that they are in Tarrier Territory!

This work is guided by the revision of our Strategic Vision 2030, recently approved in May 2022 by our Board of Trustees. The revision was led by a committee of administrators and Trustees, and is an update from the original plan adopted by the board in 2018, led by previous Head of School, Matt Culberson.

We began this revision process with discussions at the Board level about the limitations of the existing plan, and the need for some updating four years later. We then hosted a series of Town Halls and Faculty/Staff meetings to gather input from community and stakeholders, and met with student leaders in the Upper School Student Council to discuss. Then, our Senior Leadership team spent time interpreting all that input to create edits to the Plan. We presented those suggestions and rationale to the Board of Trustees in our May 2022 meeting for approval.

In this iteration we looked for ways to make it more actionable and less philosophical by choosing more active verbs to “do”—as Tarriers who value experiential learning and the act of “doing,” we wanted to “create” rather than “consider.” Additionally, we wanted to make some adjustments to the language to include needed campus improvements and to reflect the school’s new Mission Statement that was adopted after the original Strategic Vision 2030.

Lastly, having a strategic plan that carries us through to 2030 is unusual. So, now that we have created more actionable language and clarity of direction, we hope to begin digging into a clear plan to operationalize these initiatives with smaller timelines to ensure we are making progress. A Town Hall this fall will reveal some of those plans that will shape our community in the next 1-3 years that I look forward to sharing. Watch your email for more details coming soon.

While the issues of the world continue to challenge school communities and disrupt previously “normal” operations—Charles Wright Academy continues to evolve and grow. Our resolve to live our value of excellence in all things is stronger than ever. The fruits of our labor in seeking that level of excellence have required us to lean in to our other values of perseverance and integrity, but as Tarriers—our community remains strong and committed to doing the work. The best is yet to come, and we have so much to celebrate and share. Thank you for your continued support and partnership—it’s a great day to be a Tarrier!

With gratitude,

Susan Rice

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