From the Board: Fall Board Meeting on the Grounds
The St. Paul’s School Board of Trustees tackled a full agenda when they convened on the grounds (September 27-29). The Audit & Risk, Education & Student Life, and Trustees & Governance Committees met on Thursday afternoon, and trustees then spent the evening with Interim Rector Amy Richards and incoming Rector Kathy Giles. Michelle Chicoine, retiring vice rector for operations and finance, was honored for her years of service. In her Chapel address on Friday, Trustee Jill Avery encouraged students to be curious about different possibilities that may accidentally come their way, and spoke about the role of serendipity in her career, ultimately leading to her faculty position at Harvard Business School.
Goals for the Year
After the board approved the minutes of the Spring 2018 meeting, Interim Rector Richards presented her goals for the year, which are based in part on faculty, student, and staff feedback. Among her priorities are: inserting energy into the initiatives already underway; helping to navigate the School through any remaining legal issues; creating an action plan based on the recent accreditation report by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC); serving as the leadership bridge between former Rector Mike Hirschfeld ’85 and incoming Rector Giles; and supporting the student-led plan to instill the entire community with joy. In addition to the commendations listed in the NEASC report last summer, the accreditation agency has itemized several recommendations to strengthen SPS, and School leadership already has begun to implement an action plan. As part of its commitment, the trustees will engage in a thorough and inclusive review of the mission statement that is anticipated to be completed by the spring 2019 board meeting.
The board also discussed approaches to parent engagement with the School. Updates from the Alumni Association included highlights of recent and planned activities, such as the Service of Repentance Toward Healing to be held on May 4. Alumni Doorways, a group dedicated to helping fellow alumni heal, is planning the service.
Director of Institutional Research Dr. Libby Barlow was introduced to the trustees. Dr. Barlow earned her bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and her master’s from Harvard Divinity School, both in comparative religion, and her doctorate in education from the University of Houston. Most recently, Dr. Barlow worked in higher education, leading the institutional research offices at the University of Houston and Syracuse University, and teaching as an adjunct faculty member. Returning to secondary education in her role at St. Paul’s, she will provide research support for the School’s mission and strategic initiatives. Her responsibilities include measuring the effects of the integrated curriculum on student success.
Policies and Training
The board also reviewed provisions in the School’s housing policies to ensure that its practices reflect its commitment to creating an inclusive community for all of its members. Associate Deans Jen Cotton and Thomas Gregston, who co-chair the Gender Equity Task Force, will continue to research how the School can best support all of its residents. A preliminary training session on trauma-informed response, as stipulated in the School’s agreement with the New Hampshire Attorney General, concluded the day.
On Saturday, the board voted to add Chris Buccini ’90 as a non-trustee member of the Grounds & Buildings Committee and Evonne and Robert Connolly P’21 as non-trustee members of the Development Committee. The board also approved the completion of the arts walk linking the arts buildings to the Schoolhouse lawn as envisioned in the SPS Master Plan. The Financial Sustainability of St. Paul’s School document was approved on the recommendation of the Finance Committee. The next meeting of the board will take place in January 2019 in New York City.