On being back to school...
On being back to school…
What an amazing time of year. Without a doubt, the number one question I’ve been asked over the past two weeks is if I’m ready to have the kids back at school. Often the question comes in a bit of jest from parents worn weary of a summertime full of kids and entertainment. More than perception, often I see the look of comfort in their eyes knowing that their kids are safe, learning, and under our care (and out of their hair). I get it. With two daughters over the age of twenty and an adolescent son, I understand the mixture of exhaustion and enthusiasm parents experience this time of year. But rest assured, there is nothing that makes me happier than to see your children here, back to school, under our care, carrying on the St. Paul’s mission and tradition. Maybe what is most amazing of all is how successful and smooth it all goes. I simply couldn’t be more proud of my faculty and staff and the amazing work that they do realizing this monumental feat. There are so many working parts to the successful launch of a school year, yet the faculty pull it off with grace and ease. We are all truly blessed to be a part of St. Paul’s School.
But outside of welcoming back all of our wonderful students and families, it has been a busy past few weeks here at the school. In an effort to maintain our highest commitment to student safety, we’ve retained the services of Hampel Security Consultants to provide a number of safety services throughout the year. Hampel Security Consultants have already provided a vulnerability assessment, a physical plant security assessment, a risk analysis assessment, campus security training, active shooter training, and a continuity book. They also plan to provide traumatic first aid training to the entire staff at the close of the first quarter. Brian Hampel will continue to work with members of our leadership team to help us create the safest environment possible for our children.
Following a great deal of thought, investigation, and consideration, the St. Paul’s School board and administrative team will be pursuing the development and growth of our advancement department. In a nutshell, St. Paul’s School works tirelessly to be viable and unique in an increasingly competitive educational market, and it is important that we develop and control our image and outreach in the community, as well as to seek and develop sustainable philanthropic giving that aligns with our mission, vision, and Christian values. Certainly this is a monumental task as most independent schools have a full time Director of Advancement or else entire departments devoted to such endeavors. But that’s not us, not just yet. Instead, Jennifer Peltzer and Corinne Ramsey alongside the guidance and support of our board of trustees will begin this venture slowly, but with a steadfast commitment to the long term sustainability of St. Paul’s School.
On the academic side, we have an exciting year planned for our middle school team. In a newer twist on the sixth grade, Kyle Womack and Ana Barba will handling a majority of the educative responsibilities. Our intention is to provide a rigorous academic experience for these kids while building in greater systems of support, accountability, and student responsibility. Both Mr. Womack and Ms. Barba will be working themselves to the proverbial nub this year, but have been commissioned to lay the foundation for a reinvigorated middle school program that simply does not exist anywhere else in our surrounding community. More than sports or exposure or a “social life,” what adolescent kids need most is to be to be known, supported, and loved by their community. St. Paul’s School has the unique ability to provide exactly this, while also providing a top tier academic experience for all of our children. This is who we are, this is what we offer, and this is where we need to hang our hat. I couldn’t be more proud of the work these two are doing, and am excited to see this program flourish.
As for our athletics and physical education program, we have a few exciting changes for the 2019/2020 academic year. Beginning in the middle of September, we will once again field a Cross Country team. Myself, alongside Ms. Barba, will be coaching this fine group of young athletes. We are eager to have both a boys team and a girls team, so any student eager to learn more about the lifelong benefits of long distance running, please come out and participate in Cross Country. Additionally, in an effort to get more of our middle school students involved in more elective offerings, St. Paul’s School is piloting a physical education waiver for students who participate in club sports who feel that their practice and competition schedules will meet the mandatory 350 minute of physical education for every 10 days of school. Interested students should discuss these requirements further with their homeroom teachers.
It should go without saying, but I couldn’t be more pleased that we are all back to school. The cyclical nature of education has once again brought us this new beginning, and my hope is that you and your children find this to be an exceedingly rewarding year.
Seth W. Yocum