Dimly-lit hallways, stacks of chairs, piles of UPS deliveries yet to be unpacked, bulldozers and construction crews prompting detours, and, everywhere we look, dark, empty, quiet classrooms. Vacant dorm rooms awaiting the electric transformation soon to be provided by their next teenage inhabitant. Deserted parking lots, save for the occasional W.B. Mason truck making yet another late summer delivery. Stepping out of the blistering summer heat, we’re greeted by fans whirring and Heads of School clad in flip-flops and polo shirts. This is what we encountered last month as we made our way around the New York area visiting with school administrators.
Despite the sharp contrast these images hold to the lively, bustling places we visit throughout the school year, the excitement and anticipation about what was just to come was most definitely in the air. This was late August, after all, and the administrators that run these great institutions have had much needed time away with family and friends to refuel and replenish after the exhausting but exhilarating screech to the finish that marks the end of each school year. Professional development opportunities and off-site retreats with peer leaders have infused these hard-working men and women with new ideas and initiatives they can’t wait to put to use. They spoke to us excitedly about strategic plan initiatives, curriculum development, and newly hired faculty whose scrubbed down classrooms await them. But their faces lit up most of all when the topic shifted to the imminent arrival of their school’s most central ingredient: the students.
As the 2013-2014 school year kicks off this month, we wish all our schools well. And to those teachers and staff members who’ve had the summer off, welcome back!