Annual Meeting 2023

Head of School Remarks

Good evening, and welcome. We are delighted that you have chosen to join us this evening, for this Annual Meeting; thank you for coming. I would like to begin by thanking our event organizers for making tonight shine, the Parents Association for putting on the Committee Fair during cocktail hour, and our facilities team, events personnel, technology department, advancement and communications offices, and dining hall staff for their extraordinary work today and every day supporting our students, teachers, and community.

While this is a business meeting - more on that in a few moments - it is also a chance to reflect on the past and the present, to celebrate milestones, to award a notable community member, and to look forward. In that way, our agenda tonight reflects a theme of this year, the circle.

Circle as symbol of community, circle as representative of the way we envelop each student in caring adults to best impact their growth, and circle as metaphor for NCCS’s culture. At the suggestion of our kindergarten teachers, the magical Jess McKinney, Tracy Spain, and Darby Webber, we are using this book, The Circles All Around Us, as a community read in each of our classrooms, during our buddy days, and throughout the school to support these notions of the importance of the circle to our community.

There is one more circle I would like to honor and acknowledge right now. NCCS has been blessed with strong, thoughtful, and forward-thinking leadership at the Board level for many years. Much of what we have today is thanks to the vision and leadership of our Trustees. This past summer, our most recent Board President, Sarah Irwin, stepped down after her term expired.

Sarah has made an indelible mark on this school by leading our Board through the pandemic, by overseeing the completion of this incredible building, by ushering in a new articulation of our mission and core values, and by approving our strategic plan, Redefine Childhood Education for the Future. She did this through her incredible depth of empathy, her ability to bring people together and lift all voices, her love of this school, and her deep reverence for and understanding of teachers.

In her honor, we have planted a Yellowwood tree just outside our newly opened Wellness Garden, constructed through the generosity of the Class of 2023 in honor of our faculty and staff for their work in shepherding us through the pandemic and nurturing and cultivating the development and wellbeing of our students. The tree will give shade and screening to the garden, and I am told its spring blossoms are not to be missed. I can think of no better place for a tribute to someone so dedicated to our teachers. Sarah, thank you for your leadership, your humanity, your vision, your partnership and, most of all, your friendship.

As I mentioned, NCCS is very fortunate to have had a string of transformational leaders in charge of its board, and I am delighted to introduce Tucker Golden to continue that trend. Tucker is part of the NCCS class of 1990, father of Oliver class of 2022 and current seventh grader Jim, husband to former PA President Gwen, and he is now President of the Board of Trustees. Yes, Tucker’s whole family has been involved in NCCS, and for that we are truly fortunate. Tucker, I am honored to work alongside you to make NCCS the school of choice for children, and I am delighted to invite you up here to call this meeting officially to order.

Paraphrasing Plato, ‘whatever is honored by a [school] will be cultivated there.’

I firmly believe that anyone who chooses to work in a school, whether in a classroom teaching students all day or supporting them in some other way, is an educator, and it is my distinct pleasure and privilege to continue this evening’s festivities by honoring several faculty and staff.

Please join me in congratulating those in their 10th year at Country School, starting with 
  • Renee Bornstein - Communications Support Manager 
Renee unfortunately could not be here due to illness. That is especially sad because Renee is one of the engines behind this evening, and I wish she could be here to celebrate with us.

I would like to ask the other 10 year honorees to stand to be recognized when I call your name.
  • Lindsay Frey - Middle School Science Teacher and Coach
  • Diane Glover - Plus Program Assistant
  • Byron Reding - Physical Education Teacher and Coach
  • Brenda Siegel - Assistant to Head of Middle and Upper School, Assistant Director, Secondary School Counseling
  • Kathy Steinman - Director of Institutional Research
We also have five members of the faculty and staff celebrating their 20th anniversaries here.  What a meaningful and impactful amount of time. 

First, I would like to recognize Patty DeLuca.  As the school’s staff accountant, Patty is deeply committed to accuracy and holds herself to high standards when overseeing the school’s financial audit, reconciling gifts with the advancement office, and ensuring our bills are paid on time and accounted for appropriately. As one colleague said, “She is a consummate professional and a great source of knowledge and information. Patty really knows her stuff.”
While she works from the second floor of Grace House, her heart is with the students. One way she demonstrated this is through coaching.  She has coached volleyball, girls' basketball, and softball at the Upper School Varsity level. She is knowledgeable, passionate and certainly left her mark when she passed her coaching baton on. Even though she is no longer coaching, she is still the first to volunteer to run the volleyball or basketball scoreboard for games, because she can't fully step away!!!

Patty can often be seen pitching in for the community in other ways, including serving as a member of the Faculty and Staff Annual Fund Committee.

Patty was not able to join us tonight, but let’s give her a round of applause in appreciation.

I would like to continue by recognizing Freddy Gavidia, Co-Director of Technology. Freddy joined us as Technology Support Specialist and, in his time here, has been involved in every level of the school’s technology infrastructure, from initializing new hardware to installing new network switches as he did this past summer. Working behind the scenes every day to make sure that everyone has what they need in order to teach or get their work done, Freddy brings humility, patience, and a can-do attitude to his work. Never have these qualities been more evident than in his desire to ascend to the Director of Technology role along with Aron Back, and he has thrived in the position.

As one colleague said, “Freddy is one of the kindest people I’ve ever worked with. He has a great sense of humor and he brightens everyone’s day.”

Freddy is a consistent, reliable, friendly, and dedicated school leader whose great work in technology can often be invisible (because it means things are working well!) He is always willing to roll up his sleeves in service to his colleagues and the school, jumping in to fix a technology glitch, chaperoning a diversity conference, serving as a buddy and mentor to new colleagues, or scoring wonder goals in the faculty-student soccer game.* In addition to their younger son Luca, Freddy and his wife Nuria are also parents to Jonathan, class of 2023.

Thank you, Freddy, for your tireless efforts, your unwavering dedication, and your continuous pursuit of excellence. Congratulations on reaching this milestone. Will you please stand?

Now I would like to honor Ginny Pracillio, Horizons Office and Development Manager. Ginny is a true connector who brings people together with her humor, her dedication, and her relationships. Ginny will help out anyone at any time with anything. The Pool Guru, Ginny also oversees so many aspects of the Horizons swimming program, from testing the chemical levels in our pool to managing the schedule of neighborhood pools the students swim in each afternoon. You may see her getting her steps in around campus each day, bringing people together over lunch on the patio, or enjoying some laughs at Friday afternoon Happy Hour.

As colleagues shared: “Ginny is truly committed to our entire community here. She has so many friendships because she makes it a priority to get to know people and build relationships, and it’s a huge part of why she’s so good at what she does. She’s always willing to roll up her sleeves and do anything that needs to get done, big or small. She is a Horizons historian with deep relationships across all constituencies. The happiest time of year for Ginny is in the summer when the kids arrive. She works so hard all year for those incredible six weeks.”

All three of her children - Adrienne, Michael, and Kimmy - attended Horizons which makes her very proud, and Adrienne, in between her world travels, has also helped out with Horizons, Plus Program, and as a fill-in receptionist. Congratulations on 20 amazing years, Ginny. See, I took it easy on you! Will you please stand?

Now I would like to honor Lauren Romeo. Lauren started at NCCS in the Apprentice Teacher Training Program after a career in the publishing industry. She was quickly tapped as a Middle School homeroom teacher before moving over to the Upper School, first as a Learning Resources teacher and then as Director of Secondary School Counseling and now also serving as Assistant Head of Upper School. She has also served as English Department Chair and coached numerous sports. As one colleague said, “She can do it all!” She was recognized for her contributions by receiving the Holmes Leadership Chair award in 2012. Lauren’s children, Antonio class of 2021 and Lilah class of 2024 also attended NCCS.

Among her many talents, Lauren’s ability to connect with people really stands out. She is a relationship-builder with students, colleagues, families, and receiving schools. She loves her “kiddos” - all of the students she has taught or counseled through the secondary school process, many of whom stay in touch or come back and visit.

According to her colleagues, “Lauren’s gift is that she really gets to know kids. She connects with them. She’s great at identifying what is important to students - a sport, book, something about their family - and she builds a connection from there. She has such a thorough understanding of adolescents and teens coupled with a great sense of humor. She knows they will do goofy things, but recognizes they are like a piece of clay. She can give warm redirection when needed.” *Others described her as knowledgeable about her craft, a pro, a doer. And truly an incredibly gifted educator. thoroughly organized, a great writer, a patient, loving, endearing human being.”

Congratulations on 20 amazing years, Lauren! Will you please stand?

Next, I would like to recognize Lis Taylor, Early Childhood Learning Resources Teacher. Lis engages her Beginners and Kindergarten students through her kindness, flexibility, patience, understanding and some well-timed jokes. You might walk through the piazza and hear giggling from a small group, as she teases them saying, “There’s too much smiling going on in here!”

She finds great satisfaction in helping children learn to read, even when reading is quite challenging. She is a master at making learning active. *She is also known for her green thumb, as the caretaker of the Thacher Building plants and gardens. In the afternoon, she works in the Connections program, bringing a sense of fun, wonder, and as one colleague said, “always leading with her heart.”

As another colleague said: Lis is a consummate educator—always finding new and creative ways to bring ideas and concepts to students in ways that empower them. She loves nature and infuses her lessons with the patience, unfolding and aesthetics of the natural world. *She’s incredibly kind and loving, being a mother of five, she has the most wonderful and patient demeanor. Not only does she teach me as a colleague but as a parent as well. She makes our building a bright colorful space!”

Thank you, Lis, for all you do for our students. Will you please stand?

And now, for a fantastic 30 years of service, I would like to recognize Chris Lawlor

As one colleague said, “Chris has a VIBE. We feel it, the kids feel it. He's just great to be around.”

Chris is a true Renaissance man. A sailor, a surfer, a craftsman, a countryman, a musician and so much more. *Colleagues describe him as “zen, chill with purpose, an old soul, classic, authentic, talented, fascinating, endearing, and kind”

He has a timeless quality. Whether he is teaching in the woodshop, tapping maple trees, playing fiddle in the faculty band, riding his bicycle around campus, or sharing interesting tidbits over lunch, he is friendly, comfortable, relatable, and endlessly curious.

He connects well with children because of his own lifelong love of learning, his easy way of engaging, his great smile and laugh, and his love of a variety of subject matter. His class is the original Maker space. And inside the woodshop, or out around the campus, he is masterful in building competence and confidence in children. *He trusts them with tools so they learn to trust themselves. He inspires tremendous pride in students as they experience the accomplishment of building something with their own hands

Chis is a Long-time Horizons teacher and lifeguard and a former NCCS parent to Leigh, Class of 2015.

One colleague said: “Through his calming, steady, wise guidance, Chris has brought the joy of building something tangible and important with one's hands to his NCCS students, to his Horizons students in the summer, and to my own children. My fellow faculty members and I also had the opportunity to participate in a woodshop session, and I still am proud to hang my coat each day at my house on the Shaker Peg Coat Rack I made in his shop.

His faculty-staff Maple Sugaring gathering is emblematic of Chris and how he feels about our community. It's seasonal, important to our regional and cultural history, and it brings people together from all divisions and departments. We celebrate the season, share a meal and a drink, taste the syrup, and maybe play some music”

Thank you, Chris, for the very many ways you have touched our community and our students over these past 30 years. Will you please stand?

Next, with an extraordinary 30 years of service, I would like to recognize Jody Sheldon

With Jody at the helm, the Thacher Building is consistently well- steered through both the fairest and the stormiest weather. There is no one more equipped to manage the broad array of parent, student, and teacher needs than Jody. She always has a keen eye out for anything that needs attention. She knows how to rally the troops, and get things accomplished. She is steadfast, dependable, responsive, and supportive. Anyone who has spent time on the sofa in her office would agree!

Through years of assuming many key roles on campus, Jody knows Country School! She worked as a teacher for more than 10 years before taking on administrative roles. But she actually started her career here working in the old Telephone Office, before moving on to an Assistant Beginners Teacher, and then managing the extended day program. She took on her current role as the divisional assistant to Early Childhood in 2002.

In addition to these many important roles, Jody also serves as an Assistant in the Apprentice Teaching Training Program where she is often described by apprentices as their “mom away from home.” One said “She is an honest person, she’s clear and kind, You can trust her and go to her for anything. She gives really clear, tangible advice because she really understands.”

If you know Jody then you know she loves spending time in Cape Cod. She loves to read. She always wears her sunglasses inside. She knows where all the snacks, the backpacks, the ice packs and - most importantly - the children are at any given time. She is very family oriented, spending as much time as possible with her own children and grandchildren. She loves a good book and a good laugh.

A longtime friend and colleague said, “Jody was so much fun to work with. I feel as if we spent the three years I worked in Beginners laughing. She is THE most organized person I know and she is willing to help with any and every project. She is the most loyal friend, and always willing to listen. Her advice is down-to-earth and usually on target. Jody and I have remained friends all these years, and I treasure our friendship. I still remember my years in Beginners as so creative and filled with fun and laughter. Jody is front and center in all of my memories.”

Congratulations on 30 amazing years, Jody. Will you please stand?

O’Herron Award

And finally it is my honor to present the Shirley and Jonathan O’Herron Family Faculty Award, which was established in November 2013 through a bequest from the estate of Jonathan O’Herron and at the direction of the children of Shirley and Jonathan O’Herron: Anne O’Herron Burleigh, Sarah O’Herron Casey ’80 and Jonathan O’Herron Jr. Shirley and Jonathan O’Herron were the proud grandparents of 11 Country School students and one current employee, Daley Avery.

This biennial award honors a faculty or staff member who has shown extraordinary dedication to the school and to the students, and has taught or worked at Country School for at least 10 years.

Tonight it is my honor to award the O’Herron family faculty award to one of the first people I met when I first stepped foot on campus, and likely one of the first you met, too: Charles Bogus.

Whenever a radio call goes out to Charles, he answers with “Talk to me.” Ok, Charles. I will, or rather, I will talk about you.

Charles has been a part of the NCCS facilities department for 36 years, greeting families and students at carline, setting up for events, helping out in classrooms, preparing the campus for the school year, cleaning, fixing, installing, transporting, delivering, plowing, and so much more. But what he has done barely scratches the surface of his impact.

Ask around, and you will likely hear sentiments similar to this sampling of comments colleagues made to describe Charles:
“If you have ever been on campus, then you’ve probably met Charles. He greets everyone with that great big smile and a “How we doing today?!”
“he just makes you feel warm and safe.”
“He has a big heart. He will always go above and beyond for anyone in the community.”
“ Always willing to roll up his sleeves, no task is too big or too small, too late or too early.”
“He showed up at 10 o’clock at night to help me. He does that for anybody.”

“Super positive attitude.”
“He’s fun to hang out with.”

Charles is also Dad to Jennifer class of 2010 and Charlie class of 2013, who he put through college by himself, sometimes by working up to 5 jobs! He stays involved in Norwalk, where he grew up with his many siblings in several ways, one of which is running an arts and crafts program for kids during the summer at the Norwalk Housing Authority. He is involved in so many circles, and he makes sure there is room for everyone.

Talk to him for just a minute, and quickly you will learn that Charles loves sports. He will talk any kind of sports with anyone. Like tiddlywinks? He probably watched the world championships last week and can analyze the strategy and form of the players with you.

Even as he is a rabid fan of his teams, the Raiders, Islanders, Yankees, and Knicks, - yes it’s been a tough last decade - or more, he will get enthusiastic with anyone’s rooting interests. He talked Celtics with me after every playoff game last spring, and he even wore a Bruins hat during the playoffs a couple years ago when the Islanders didn’t qualify.

A cigar aficionado, Charles watches many games with his buddies at his favorite smoke shop. He is probably hoping I will get this speech over with so he can get there in time for the Giants/Niners kickoff in a little bit. Sorry, Charles, I’ve got too much to say about you for that. I hope they are recording the game.

In addition to everything I have shared, Charles has also been Santa Claus for Horizons’ holiday celebrations, is a regular in the faculty chorus, is willing to dress as a hilariously embarrassing character for a skit - I was Peter Pan to his Tinker Bell once-, and is bowling captain for the -um, shall we say veteran team. He has literally done everything imaginable here and has approached all of it with enthusiasm, friendliness, a good sense of humor, and most of all love for the students and the school.

After starting with “Talk to me,” Charles ends his radio calls with “I got you.” Well Charles, you sure have. For 36 years, you have taken care of us, made us laugh, talked sports with us, and been the best face imaginable for this wonderful school. Thank you for your invaluable contributions, and I am so honored to present this award to you. Please come up here to receive the O’Herron Family Faculty Award.

I would like to congratulate all those honored tonight, for through you we cultivate our values.

I would also like to recognize all of the faculty and staff. As educators, I thank you for knowing our children, for guiding them, for loving them, and for inspiring and challenging them to be their best.

Faculty and staff, will you please stand so that we can all express our appreciation?

Thank you all, once again, for being here and for being a part of this extraordinary community. We will now break for a few minutes so everyone can enjoy their meal. During dinner, we invite you to join in something we have been doing as a faculty and staff, and with students in our classrooms. Around your circles at your tables, please share one hope that you have for your child - or students - this year. Please also write it on a post-it note and place that in the centerpiece at your table. Tucker and I will return to the podium shortly.

Thank you for those words Tucker and thank you all for your applause. I feel truly honored to be able to lead this school, to protect and further its mission and values, and to help children grow for as much of their time here as possible. I think that this school has even greater potential to impact children’s lives than it already does, and I think that this moment in history is one where we need to. That’s what drives me, and that’s what I am going to talk about tonight and I am not going to say another word about myself.

We are at an inflection point in education. The pandemic, and all that has emerged from it and the rise of artificial intelligence in addition to the influence of social media demonstrates that we need to fundamentally review and adapt our way of teaching. On top of that, there are a whole host of major problems our world faces that will need our children’s skills, empathy, character, and vision to address. That is why our Strategic Plan is named Redefine Childhood Education for the Future. In order to do that, we need to understand who we are, understand where we came from, and understand the impact of our current work on our students.

We were founded over 100 years ago on the principles of contemporary education philosopher John Dewey, who in the early 20th century wrote prolifically about the need for education to be more than just basic skill building, the so-called 3Rs, more than individual pursuits within a hierarchical system, but to be a place that develops citizens within a community that helps encourage productive involvement in society.

Though somewhat dense, this passage represents the philosophy that inspired our founding parents, and it was also quite forward thinking in an era when technology was changing the economy and our country was defining what its future would be. Sound familiar? Many of these principles remain salient to our work today. Given these foundational beliefs and the current challenges of the world, now is the time for us to invest in our students’ futures by investing in our program and investing in our community. Tonight, I will expand on five such themes.

Number one. The importance of community. In Dewey’s words, the spirit of teaching at NCCS has long been based on relations between pupils and teachers that are closest in spirit to those with a coach or mentor. Today, in our ongoing pursuit to intentionally deepen this sense of community,

We have restructured to maintain the great strengths of each of our four academic buildings while simultaneously addressing some of the challenges inherent in that model. This year, Meaghan Mallin and Kirsten Rosolen are working closely with Jeannie Bean, Cindy Thom, Jarvis Wyche, and Lauren Romeo and other members of the programmatic leadership teams so that there are more leaders supporting students, teachers, and families than have existed before. The oversight by Meaghan of the Thacher and Welles buildings and by Kirsten of the Middle School and Stevens buildings encourages smoother transitions between our buildings and better continuity of relationships and experiences, thereby strengthening our community without sacrificing one of its unique areas of excellence, the manner in which our four buildings are so well tailored in design and culture to the ages they serve.

We are committed to proactively building community in each of our classrooms. Our early childhood and lower school classes have morning meetings in a circle every morning, setting the tone for the day and connecting the class. We are in the process of training and implementing a similar approach in the middle and upper schools to build an even more positive school climate in those areas, and we are pursuing an approach called Restorative practice to develop new systems throughout the school around repairing the community in instances when it is damaged.

And, we need to increase access to NCCS so that we can develop the sort of community, reflective of the realities of a global economy, that affords our students the opportunity to learn from and with those with many different perspectives, backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences.

Number Two. Time and Pace. Henry Welles, Head from 1938-1963, remarked that “Children need time to unfold, much like flowers.” Later, Nick Thacher, Head from 1978-2000, talked about patience and time. For me, it is simply about playing the long game. In a world of immediate gratification, there is no better and more important place to buck that trend and play the long game than in the development and education of our children. That is truly an investment in our future. Within that construct, then, it is incumbent upon us to understand how to ensure that those flowers bloom as fully and beautifully as they can.

More specifically, today, we are ever better understanding the ways that the covid pandemic laid bare some of the changing needs of our children, and we need to address them thoroughly. Mental health and wellness must remain a priority, and we are further formalizing our internal Wellness Team this year to help lead those efforts.

From a learning perspective, our youngest students, in particular, have been impacted more broadly, and we must ensure that we have a program that meets those needs. This year, we have used a grant from the state of Connecticut to pilot a program offering deeper and more proactive levels of support in reading development, in speech and language acquisition, and in fine and gross motor skills, to begin to meet these needs and to give us information as we consider how best to invest in the early years to help place everyone on a path to thrive in the future.

Number Three. Preparation. NCCS has always been committed to providing the very best, without exception, in childhood education. It is a point of pride that more than 90% of our students who are in high schools this year were admitted to their first choice school last year. But, we must not rest.

We need to ensure that our students can learn from the best teachers with the best training in the best facilities with the best materials and, while we have many strengths in those areas, there is always room for improvement.

Programatically, we have implemented a new math program in kindergarten and first grade this year, soon to be K-5 in the next two years, that retains the excellent building blocks of conceptual understanding that our previous program established while ensuring that students’ content acquisition - what they can do - accelerates to match their understanding of why it works that way.

We are also paying attention to AI as a tool to enhance critical thinking. Our 9th grade capstone project is continuing to develop its focus on research and inquiry. As a complement to the inward reflection of the This I believe unit, the Capstone project faces outward, in service of others, and it requires skills in knowing how to engage with questioning truth and fact. In the age of AI, that level of discernment is even more important.

Number Four. Experiential Education. Last winter, Jeff Selingo, author of “Who Gets In and Why” was the keynote speaker at a conference I attended. When asked to identify the major trends in higher education, the number one trend he cited was experiential education. He said that Georgetown law school was the initiator and leader in this quote unquote new approach. Go check out many colleges’ strategic plans; I went to Dartmouth and Williams first, for example, and you will likely find that they have a commitment to experiential education as a major current goal.

Now, this is all a reaction to the valid questions being asked about the value of higher education and the applicability of the lessons learned in college to life. I would submit that our students have been steeped in experiential education for their entire time here. Our students have not learned science, history or art so much as trained like scientists, historians, and artists. Thus, they have the practice to thrive in this “new trend” in higher education and in the world beyond.

Lisa Pike Sheehy, class of 1983, the Senior Environmental and Philanthropic Advisor at Patagonia, emphasized this point when she addressed the middle and upper school as she accepted the alumni award last spring. She spoke about the some of the trips she took while at NCCS, including the 9th grade OAT trip that still exists, as examples of how the challenges she faced, the lessons she learned about nature, and the ways she learned to work with a team during those trips all came together to inspire her and shape her current charge to implement Patagonia’s mission that states “We are in business to save our home planet.”

On a related note, it is interesting that colleges are focusing on experiential education just as there is so much noise to do the opposite - to focus simply on skill building or so-called classical education - in the political rhetoric at the state and local level throughout the country. That brings me to

Number Five. Building citizens. At the heart of Dewey’s philosophy was the notion that our true purpose is to educate citizens who help improve our society. To do that, it is critical to learn all of our history, the triumphant moments, the mistakes, and everything else, including how those influence today’s society. We continue to take this charge very seriously. We have adapted our Upper School history curriculum to include two consecutive years of American History, with a good dollop of civics included, before a year of global studies, in addition to our ever-increasing cultivation of students’ voices through public speaking and through students having a say in their learning and classroom environments.

Together, these examples represent some of what our strategic plan aims to do. In small ways and in larger ones, we believe that NCCS has a voice and a role in the broader conversation around childhood education, and we aim to take that on. And you parents play an active role in that, in your regular involvement in our community, in your commitment to our mission and core values, and in your feedback.

Much of what I have shared tonight reflects what we heard from our parents last year in the parent survey. While you almost universally communicated a high level of satisfaction, particularly in areas of community, academic growth, the quality of our teachers, and the richness of our curriculum, you also asked questions about the challenge inherent in the curriculum, the standards and codes of conduct, the diversity of our community; financial accessibility; mental health/wellness; communication about curriculum; and safety and security. Thank you for your partnership; I hope you have heard your voice and input in something I have shared tonight.

In this critical moment, more than 100 years after our founding, it is again a time to act forward. Investing in our program and in our community will best put our students on the path to, in the words of our mission “ lead lives of impact and purpose.” That is our definition of leadership. No matter the chair our students sit in around the proverbial table, with an education here, they can impact the work of that group and do so with purpose.

And, if we can be successful in instilling those qualities now given the inflection point at which we exist, then we will certainly have fulfilled our founders’ dreams to ensure that the children under our care contribute to society. I know I speak for the incredible members of our faculty and staff when I say that gives us great purpose.

And the reason we do all this is obvious - it is for every one of these 555 young people, so optimistic, so ambitious, so capable, and so energized. I mean, look at those faces even at this distance - we do it so that they can thrive no matter what the world looks like in one or two decades. We do it so that they can lead lives of impact and purpose, contributing to society. And we do it so that, in the words of former Headmaster Nick Thacher, they may grow to become happy, healthy 30 year olds.

That is our goal and that is our purpose and I am so honored to lead a school that has these beliefs at its core, so strong in their foundation even as we adapt their application to a changing world. To tonight’s theme, there is a circle in that, too. We have a lot of work to do, and I cannot wait to get to it. Thank you.

New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.