The second of our 2016 heads meetings throughout the ISACS region took place in mid-January at The New School, where President and Head of School Dennis Chapman was our host. Located in Fayetteville, the school is tucked away in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Northwest Arkansas, a region that is home to the University of Arkansas and three Fortune 500 companies, Walmart, JB Hunt Transport and Tyson Foods.
Founded in 1971, The New School currently serves 360 students from age one to grade eight. Just a day or two after our meeting, The New School Board of Trustees made the momentous decision to add a high school, with plans to welcome a ninth grade in fall 2016. The school’s mission is to inspire a love of learning and empower students to reach their potential for academic achievement, creativity, and citizenship.
What one aspect of The New School would Dennis Chapman most like to highlight for his ISACS colleagues? He states:
The New School is true to its name as we are constantly renewing our academic program and implementing the latest methods in our classrooms. A great example is our new Tinkering Studio, which has transformed our ability for students to engage in hands-on learning. You can see it in our students’ eyes when the intellectual spark is ignited while they are learning in this new space. The Tinkering Studio has been the latest tool for us to expand upon what has always been at the heart of our school, which is highly engaged teaching and learning.
I have had two opportunities in my now 21-month tenure to visit University School of Milwaukee. The first was a June 2015 visit to welcome new ISACS trustee Rishi Raghunathan, University School history teacher. I returned in early January for the second of ISACS’ 2016 regional heads meetings, hosted by Rishi and Head of School Laura Fuller.
Founded in 1963, today University School serves 1,107 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Its mission states:
University School of Milwaukee provides an exceptional PK-12 independent school education in a supportive, inclusive community built on the foundation of our Common Trust. By igniting a passion for learning, leadership, and service, the School prepares each student – as an individual – for success in higher education and a life of purpose. USM embraces a tradition of superior academic achievement through a commitment to expertise and innovation in our School.
What one aspect of University School would Laura Fuller most like to highlight for her ISACS colleagues? Laura offers:
University School is deeply entrenched in the implementation of our most recently developed Strategic Plan (2013-2020). Organized around three Centers: Professional Leadership and Innovative Teaching, Global Learning and Engagement, and Experiential Learning, the Strategic Plan is USM’s gateway to our future as the leading independent school in the Milwaukee area. Additionally, in the spring of 2015, the Board of Trustees approved a 27 million dollar fund raising initiative to support the structural and functional needs of the Plan. The construction of a new Academic Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Upper School Commons and Performing Arts Center, a Community gathering space for Lower School families, as well as, increased endowment goals to support Strategic Plan initiatives, will provide the ultimate foundation for successful completion of our Strategic Plan cycle.
The fourth and final stop on my Iowa school tour took me to Rivermont Collegiate in Bettendorf just east of Davenport along the Mississippi River. Founded in 1884 as St. Katharine’s School, an Episcopal boarding and day school for girls, today Rivermont offers a co-ed day school program serving 172 students in preschool through grade 12. The school has been set in the Joseph W. Bettendorf Mansion and surrounding buildings since 1973. The school mission statement reads:
Rivermont Collegiate is dedicated to academic excellence and maximizing the potential of each student through a nurturing, stimulating, and structured environment that advances the individual’s intellect, character, and creativity while guiding students on a path of life-long learning, prepared to engage fully in their local, national, and global communities.
My visit included time with Todd Zachary, Curtis Fee, and Bonnie Campbell. Todd was completing his last year as headmaster. Curtis, then dean of students, was soon to be appointed interim head. Bonnie, college counselor, serves on the ISACS Board. So, we had much to talk about!
A highlight was a student-led tour and an introduction to “Imagi-nation,” a collaborative game created by Curtis Fee for the middle school integrating humanities concepts constructed somewhat like the World Peace Game. Imagi-nation is situated in its own dedicated space, making it a special destination on campus.
In addition, I was pleased to have the opportunity during my visit to join ISACS Director of Accreditation Kevin Rooney and the four Iowa heads in a video conference to orient a representative from the Iowa Department of Education to independent school accreditation.
Early in 2015, I visited our ISACS-member schools in Iowa. My first visit was to Maharishi School on the campus of Maharishi International University (now Maharishi University of Management) in Fairfield, Iowa, about 60 miles south of Iowa City.
Maharishi School was founded in 1975 as an elementary school for children of University faculty and staff; a secondary school was added in 1981. Both the University and the School base their programs in Consciousness-based education, following the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi including daily practice of Transcendental Meditation®.
Today, Maharishi School serves 215 students — day students from the Fairfield community and boarding students from over 30 countries throughout the world. In addition to its emphasis on life practice and college preparation, the school has developed a championship tennis program.
Maharishi’s Head of School, Richard Beall, extended the invitation on behalf of the four schools and was my host on campus. During my visit, I asked Richard what aspect of Maharishi School would Richard most like to highlight for his ISACS colleagues. Richard offered that there are aspects of Consciousness-based education that could be beneficial for all schools, given the value to all students of reducing stress and developing intention and habits for a healthful life.
Founded in 1888, Latin School of Chicago was designed to provide students with a rigorous college-preparatory education in the classical tradition, with a curriculum that was heavily influenced by Classical studies and the study of the Greek and Latin languages.
Today, Latin’s mission is to provide its students with a rigorous and innovative educational program in a community that embraces diversity of people, cultures and ideas, inspiring its students to pursue their passions and lead lives of purpose and excellence. The school serves 1100 students in junior kindergarten through grade 12 with a robust college-preparatory curriculum — including Latin in the middle and upper schools.
A tour of Latin’s new Science Center was a special treat. The 15,000 square-foot facility on the top floor of the middle school building provides state-of-the-art instruction space for ninth through twelfth grade science. Included are custom-designed classrooms for physics, chemistry, and biology, innovative lab stations, a lab dedicated to long-term independent research projects, a multi-media commons, and a green roof for environmental learning and data collection with a telescope staging area for astronomy classes.
When asked what aspect of Latin he would most like to highlight for his ISACS colleagues, Randall pointed to their current strategic priority on wellness as a foundation for education — shoulder to shoulder with educational excellence, community engagement, and an inclusive and supportive community. Latin’s wellness goals include:
Build a healthy school climate that promotes student wellness, wise decision making, and reflection. Integrate physical and emotional wellness objectives into curricular decisions, school schedule, and affective education. Partner with families to formulate and implement strategies to enhance student health.
Build a professional community in which each member contributes to Latin’s excellence in a sustainable manner. Acknowledge need for balance in faculty/staff evaluation process. Provide opportunities for reflection, collaboration, planning, and professional development.
The next stop on my first Minnesota visit as ISACS President was Mounds Park Academy. Here, on a snowy day, I had the opportunity to visit and tour with Head of School Bill Hudson. Having met Bill at the ISACS New Heads Network kick-off for the year, it was a treat to see him in his own environment.
Founded in 1982, Mounds Park serves approximately 485 students, pre-kindergarten to grade 12, on a 32-acre campus in St. Paul. Its mission states:
We teach students to think independently, communicate effectively and act with respect and integrity in a diverse community that models intellectual ambition, global responsibility and the joy of learning.
In our campus walk, I enjoyed seeing engaged, collaborative, hands-on learning in an environment striking in its use of space and natural light. (I also got a glimpse of Bill Hudson’s vintage lunchbox collection, a little personal highlight of my tour!)
What aspect of Mounds Park would Bill most like to highlight for his ISACS colleagues? Bill points to the Academy’s emphasis on global responsibility integrating cultural education and service. Here’s a video overview of that aspect of Mounds Park Academy.
Exploration of the independent schools in my new city is always a pleasure. I had the opportunity a while back to visit with new Head of School Mercedes Sheppard at Morgan Park Academy on the south side of Chicago. The visit included a delightful student-led tour and a spirited governance workshop for the Board of Trustees.
Founded in 1873 as Mt. Vernon Military & Classical Academy, Morgan Park Academy is one of the older schools in the ISACS membership. The school had several iterations over the years: as Morgan Park Military Academy, Illinois Military Academy, and Morgan Park Academy of the University of Chicago before becoming Morgan Park Academy. The Academy became an ISACS member in 1964.
Today, Morgan Park Academy is a co-educational, PK-12 day school serving approximately 430 students with a mission to engage the whole child, inspire the independent learner, and prepare the global leader of tomorrow to make a positive difference in the world.