Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Spirit of 1967

Next year, Gaston Day School will be 50 years old. I was there as a 5th grader on the first day of school in 1967 and remember the spirit of optimism and excitement that surrounded the opening of our new school. As I look at Gaston Day School today, I honestly sense a growing excitement and can-do attitude that reminds me of the school's early days. What is it that makes me so enthusiastic about where Gaston Day School is today? First of all, it is the team of teachers and administrators that we have in place. There are so many great teachers throughout this school. Kim Perlman, Head of Middle and Upper School, and I were recently discussing the quality of the teaching here, and "great" was the word that best describes almost all our teachers. We also have a veteran team of administrators who trust each other, work well together, and care deeply about the future of the school. New Director of Admissions Davidson Hobson has made us even stronger with the spirit of innovation and creativity that he brings to Gaston Day.

A second reason for my optimism is the level of student accomplishment we are seeing. College Counselor Carolyn Senter has never witnessed greater success in college acceptances and scholarship awards than we are seeing now. Mary Kate Thompson is the first National Merit Scholarship Finalist in several years. We anticipate hitting an all-time high in the amount of scholarships and grants issued to our graduates. Our class of 40 seniors may well break the $3 million barrier this year. Recently, at my Rotary, a local school much larger than Gaston Day was bragging about all its seniors receiving $1 million in scholarship support!! The quality of our college acceptances and the amount of financial support our graduates are receiving is simply amazing. Truly a Gaston Day education is an investment that returns dividends in higher education. 

A third reason I feel so excited about the school today is that I think we are doing a better job balancing school work, extracurricular activities, recreation, family time, and fun. We have worked really hard as a faculty and administration to keep all these things in the proper perspective and equilibrium. Our students seem to be working hard, but having fun. That's how it should be.

Finally, I don't know if you have noticed, but Gaston Day School's administration and staff is in the midst of a baby boom!! So many of our teachers and administrators are starting families, and it is thrilling to see this happening. It has brought such a feeling of happiness and excitement to our campus. In three years, all these babies are going to be attending Pre-School. They will be here before we know it.
We are planning lots of other cool things to promote the 50th anniversary. The new look on two of our buses is only the beginning of a number of things that will be increasingly visible over the next several years. The Spirit of 1967 is alive and well. We hope you feel it, and we hope you spread it!!
It really is a great time to be a Spartan!! 
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ada Frank's GDS Story

This year all GDS employees are writing about what makes Gaston Day a special place for them. Here is what Kindergarten teacher Ada Frank wrote.

Trying to come up with a significant memory after 23 years of teaching at Gaston Day school is quite challenging. Teaching Kindergarten, First Grade, Learning Academy and back to Kindergarten has been such a significant and positive aspect of my life.  Rather than relating one memory, I’d like to share some thoughts on the impact that Gaston Day has had on me.
To begin, I am grateful that my children, Alisha and Adam, attended Gaston Day.  The education that Alisha received from 7th grade through 12th grade and Adam from 4th grade through 10th grade has impacted their lives in many ways.  GDS well prepared both of my children for life long learning: Adam for the opportunity to attend the North Carolina School of Science and Math and both of them for the needed educational background for pursuing their dreams of becoming doctors.

Teaching at the school my children attended was a privilege. The caliber of the teachers and the rigor of the curriculum were what I wanted for my own children and allowed me to share this information with families looking at Gaston Day.  I can say that both of these areas have influenced me in the ways I interact with the children I teach and their families.  The relationships among staff members are collaborative and caring.  I am pleased to consider many former and current faculty members as friends both inside and outside of Gaston Day.

Many of my close friends are families I met and developed a relationship with from teaching their children.  Watching one of my Kindergartners or First Graders graduate from Gaston Day is so rewarding.  After this many years, I love seeing or hearing updates from former families/students and feel so special that they still keep in contact because they were pleased with what their children experienced in my class.  Some special moments that come to mind are: receiving a copy of an essay on a teacher that was most influential from a former first grader who attended Davidson Day at the time; a call from a parent of a former student who had their son’s Kindergarten Memory Scrapbook (something I have made for each child every year) on display at the rehearsal dinner; receiving a letter and kindergarten photos of her and me from a former Kindergartners written during her third year of college; wedding invitations; birth announcements; and even going on trips with some of these friends.

Over the years, there have been continued positive changes at Gaston Day:  a more rigorous curriculum, highly qualified teachers, more opportunities with the arts and athletics, emphasis on professional development, updated technology, and new facilities.  Gaston Day has certainly stepped up to the goal of becoming the finest private school in the Southeast.

At this stage of my life having grown children and an empty nest, the children I teach become even a more significant part of my life.  Often I consider Gaston Day School as being a sanctuary to me, a place that I come to for filling my heart and sharing my talents.  Daily I am blessed to receive more than I give.  Gaston Day has been so good to me and for me.  I can’t imagine what my life would have been like had I not had the opportunity to teach here.