Friday, September 9, 2016

The Start of School and a Fond Farewell

The new school year is almost two weeks old, and it is wonderful to be back. There are already highlights for me. The Junior-Senior Retreat at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly outside Black
Mountain was fun, informative, and full of school spirit. Activities included completing a high ropes course and the annual Juniors-versus-Seniors kickball game. The Seniors prevailed in a hard-fought, close match. We have such a strong group of Juniors and Seniors who are responsible, energetic and full of life. It makes me so proud to spend time with them.

Back at school, classes are falling into a rhythm. We have already had Lower School , Middle School and Upper School Parents Nights. Athletics are underway for all our teams. The new Girls Golf team with twelve members is one of the exciting new developments in GDS sports. They had their first match at the Gaston Country Club the other day. The team is young, and it will be great fun to watch them mature and improve. 

Thursday, September 1, we held the annual Gaston Day School Board Retreat. Again, my dominant emotion was pride as various GDS administrators presented their plans for the year. Lower School has adopted a flexible seating style that is so conducive to different student learning styles. They also have adopted a new math curriculum because the one we used in the past has been watered down recently to match the public school's common core curriculum. In Upper School, Mrs. Perlman is using the math department to pioneer a new classroom usage plan that has the math department sharing an office and, thus, freeing up instructional space. This change also paves the way for a new schedule next year that creates classes that are 70 minutes long for optimal teaching and student learning. Dean Lutkus presented excellent research on different disciplinary models practiced at other local independent schools. This information will allow us to improve our own disciplinary plan, making it less punitive and more educational. 

We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated Board of Trustees. Under the leadership of Board Chair Doug Meyer-Cuno (former parent and GDS alumnus), the GDS Board is working so hard to set the right strategic direction for the school. It is such a pleasure to work with such a great Board of Trustees. 

My final observation about the start of school is the sad loss of beloved Officer Jack Brown, who died just before school opened this year. Jack Brown was a remarkable person and an amazing school servant. He kept us safe, and he loved each and every one of us. He also was an incredibly courageous example as he battled cancer for the last seven years. Jack never stopped living or performing his duties here, although he had regular, difficult treatments and operations. He was truly and example of grace under pressure. We will always remember him with gratitude and affection. 

Gaston Day School is a living, breathing community. At times, beloved members of this community depart. New members are constantly joining us. The spirit of the community endures, and the traditions that give form to that community are passed on and upheld. 

It is a new year at a place with a rich history and a vibrant exciting mission. We especially welcome our new students and teachers!! Everyone else, we welcome back to Gaston Day School!! You belong to something special here!!