From the Interim Rector: A Process of Renewal
There is no better harbinger of spring than revisit days. At independent schools from coast to coast, families are visiting secondary schools, trying them on for size, with a goal of determining the fit. Parents and children are trying to project themselves into the School community and are imagining what it would be like to accept the offer.
For those on the other side of this process, revisit days are exciting. This is because we get invested in those who apply to St. Paul’s. We become acquainted with applicants through essays and interviews, and we collectively hold our breath and hope accepted students will say “yes” to our offer. At St. Paul’s, we host our newly-accepted-but-not-yet-admitted families over two days, punctuated with a bevy of activities designed to give them a sample of our community. We invite them to Chapel and mini classes, provide Q&A panels, stage a talent show, and invite those considering SPS to ask us anything about the School.
The presence of our accepted students on campus reminds us that we are in a constant state of institutional renewal, that our population changes every year, and that with those changes come new challenges and new responsibilities. We already have begun planning for the upcoming school year. Our planning for SY 2019-20 began in July of 2018, with the appointment of Kathy Giles as Fourteenth Rector. In our effort to ensure this upcoming transition in leadership is as seamless as possible, Kathy and I maintain a weekly phone call. I created a Google document last fall – a running blog shared with Kathy – to record my observations and suggestions for next year. She has visited campus several times, and has had her hand in several hires and initiatives.
We also have begun to put into place the structures, people, and programs that will shape the years to come. In addition to admitting a new crop of students and hiring new teachers and administrators, we are thinking about changes to the student experience that will sharpen our focus and enhance those experiences. How can we improve upon the student experience? What new courses should we offer? How do we deepen the meaning in those courses? How do we bring more of the world to SPS and take SPS further into the world? How do we improve the communications between the School, its parent population, and its alumni/alumnae?
Our preparations for another academic year are well underway. Kathy’s arrival as the first permanent female Rector at St. Paul’s School ensures that it will be an auspicious year. We have begun to look forward, map our institutional direction, and contemplate a renewed vision. As St. Paul’s begins the process of renewal, I begin the process of letting go, once again, of St. Paul’s School. I find myself starting to think about next year and what the future holds for me. My return to SPS as Interim Rector was, for me, serendipitous, surprising, and utterly joyful. My departure, therefore, is provoking pangs. I suspect I will miss Millville more as a result of this second set of goodbyes. I find comfort, however, in the knowledge that I leave the School in extraordinarily skilled and knowledgeable hands, that the SPS community is populated by talented and dedicated adults, who are committed to helping our students in their process of becoming adults, informed citizens, empathetic and humble leaders, and good environmental stewards. I will watch the continued evolution of St. Paul’s School from a distance, but it will never be far from my heart.
Amy C. Richards