Start of School 2018: All School
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A Message from Head of School, Dr. Karen E. Eshoo
Dear King community,
I am thrilled to write to you today as the Head of School at King School! It is hard for me to believe that it has been one year and two weeks since I arrived on campus for my first meeting with members of the Search Committee. Happily, that first meeting led to many more conversations with the Committee and with all King constituencies, all of which ultimately resulted in my appointment as the new Head of King. I am humbled to have been chosen to lead this dynamic institution into its next chapter, and I am beyond excited to partner with the Board of Trustees, my colleagues, parents, students, and alumni in our shared work to lift up our school and propel it forward. I would like to thank everyone who already has welcomed me to King - trustees, colleagues, and families - and for reminding me why I resonated so strongly to the school from the beginning. I also would like to extend special gratitude to my predecessor and friend, Tom Main, whose authenticity and generosity over the last year has helped to create an incredibly smooth transition for me; it is an honor to continue the great work he did for King for the last 16 years.
As I have been meeting with members of our school community since I was appointed last fall, I have been struck by the strong appreciation we share for the King mission and virtues, and the seriousness with which we take our individual and collective responsibility for preserving our values. We are a school that values deep academic engagement within a program that is challenging, interesting, and relevant to the lives our students will lead when they go out into the world. We seek to know and understand each student, since our relationships with them are the foundation upon which their academic, social, and emotional development are built. And, we care deeply about fostering a kind, generous, and optimistic culture which is made visible by the ways we communicate with and serve one another. I am so proud to be part of a school that is ahead of the curve in understanding what children need in order to become nimble thinkers; healthy people in mind, body and spirit; and active, respectful, passionate participants in their community – in short, the best versions of themselves.
I am happy that my visits to campus prior to my arrival gave me a window into the King culture, and that I was able to meet with nearly all of my new colleagues as part of my entry process before I took over the Head of School position on July 1. My top priority now is to continue that entry process so that I can get to know parents, students, and alumni to better understand your experiences at King. You will hear more from me in September about opportunities to join me for conversations about King’s past, present, and future, all of which will help shape my understanding of our strengths and challenges so that we might move forward together. These conversations, which will take place during the first 100 days (or so) of school will also provide important data that will inform King’s next strategic plan. The Board and I will develop the strategic plan during the winter and spring of 2019, and we plan to launch it at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. This will be an exciting process that will identify ways that our King community will come together to preserve our values, and to evolve our curricular and co-curricular programs in ways that will position King as a leader in the independent school world.
I recently served as a faculty member for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Institute for New Heads for the third time, a conference that brings together 85 participants from independent schools across the country who are starting their first Headship so that they might learn more about the particulars of the role – governance, finance, marketing, and legal issues, amongst others. We also spend a great deal of time exploring our responsibility as the keeper of our schools’ missions and values, and continuously discuss ways in which that responsibility guides every part of our work. As I always share with the participants in my breakout group, I believe that the Head of School is ultimately charged with preserving and cultivating the soul of the school, the very essence of who we are and are meant to be. Therefore, while I will not be able to articulate my long-term vision for King for much of my first year, I know that I will be sharply focused on ensuring that all of us – Trustees, colleagues, parents, students, and alumni - are united in our pursuit of bringing our mission and values to life in ways that are visible and palpable. This is work that is iterative and never really “complete,” since our changing world requires all of us to think carefully about how best to prepare our students for the evolving nature of all aspects of life. And, truly, I cannot imagine a better school or a more dedicated community in which to do this work.
As busy and productive as these first few weeks have been, I am looking forward so much to the start of the 2018-2019 school year and the action and energy it will bring! I know that the campus will be buzzing when Pre-Season begins on August 20, and that the volume will continue to rise when we welcome new colleagues for their orientation and the entire staffulty (the term I like to use to refer to all colleagues on the staff and faculty as one body) during the last days of August. As we here at King take some breaks in between planning for an excellent school year to come, I hope that all of you will be able to make some time - or perhaps some more time - to decompress and revel in the presence of family and friends. As we know well here at King, nurturing our relationships with those close to us is an absolute necessity for our individual and collective well-being. However you practice this, enjoy and savor it. I know that, in addition to the time I will spend on preparations for the year, I also will continue to spend time with my partner, Mr. Campbell Barbee, as we get settled in our new home and get to know our new city of Stamford. I look forward to seeing you all very soon - Go Vikings!
Dr. Karen E. Eshoo
Head of School
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