9.9.16
September 9, 2016
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September 16, 2016
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Alumni News: 9.13.16

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Dear Alumni:

Twelve months ago I had the pleasure of extending my first greetings to our network of more than 2,000 talented graduates spanning the globe, including an Olympian (see the interview with Caylee Watson, CDS ’13, below). As we commence our third week of the 2016-17 school year, I wanted to circle back and share the questions I posed last year that we continue to address:

  • How can we celebrate the two-school history while uniting then embracing the one-school future?
  • How can we develop a financially-sustainable school that can weather the occasional storm and adapt to the new economy of St. Croix?
  • How can we develop rigorous, consistent, aligned curricula and programs benchmarked with schools off-island and internationally to ensure that our graduates are prepared to compete in the global marketplace?
  • How can we communicate more effectively internally among ourselves as well as with other constituencies, including alumni and parents of alumni?
  • How can we better serve the needs our graduates, including providing networking opportunities—and, at the same time, engage our alumni more meaningfully in the life of the School?

As I continue meeting with graduates both on and off-island, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions on these challenges, especially the last one. We have the potential to provide a world-class education to our students here on St. Croix, but that requires us to engage our alumni much more meaningfully in the life of the School.

I also wanted to provide a quick update on my top five goals from 2015-16, which I shared in last April’s Alumni News:

  1. Ensure 3% raise or more for returning faculty (assuming positive performance review) while balancing budget.

Done. I am pleased to report that we offered a 3% increase across the board—the first increase in compensation for faculty members in five years. This was accomplished despite continued uncertainty around enrollment due to the post-Hovensa economic downturn.

  1. Implement low-cost, high-impact facilities improvements and renovations, including admin building and Pavilion, to help School communicate mission.

Done. Over the last six months, we did a make-over to the Pavilion, the key gathering place on campus. Over the summer, we did a major make-over to the main office building, the first stop for all visitors and the most trafficked spot on campus. We encourage you to visit when you can. We think you’ll be impressed! This also represents merely the beginning of a lot of facility improvements.

  1. Begin creating culture of continuous improvement by developing clear administrative job descriptions and implementing evaluation process.

Done. This was a critical step in professionalizing our organization and developing a culture of learning and drive for excellence, which ultimately we want to model for our students. We also expect everyone to adopt growth mindsets vs. fixed mindsets (see slide #4 in the recent Parent Information Session overview).9-12th-parent-info-afternoon-9-8-16

  1. Eliminate or significantly reduce tuition arrears by tightly enforcing collections policy.

On-Going. When I arrived last year, we had $180k in tuition payment arrears—and I had to turn around and cut $300k from our budget. We want to be as generous as we can with our financial aid—nearly 50% of our student body receives financial assistance and we expanded our financial aid by more than $100k this year. But we still need to pay our bills and ensure financial sustainability—and that means tightening up our collections.

  1. Eliminate or significantly reduce the three biggest impediments at GHCDS to student learning and faculty productivity in a cost-effective manner (Power/Room Temp/Mosquitos).

On-Going. We significantly expanded our Buildings & Grounds Committee to be able to outline clear plans and budgets to address these issues. After a summer hiatus, we are now eager to continue this critical work. Eliminating flooding is the fourth priority, which we are also trying to tackle simultaneously.

We look forward to being in touch!

Kind regards,

Kari

Alumni Calendar for 2016-17

  • Alumni Gathering – Philadelphia:  September 13
  • Alumni Gathering – New York City: TBA
  • Alumni Brunch at GHCDS Pavilion: December 22
  • Alumni College Panel at GHCDS: TBA
  • Black and Gold Gala at Carambola : February 26
  • Alumni Soccer Game at GHCDS: May 25
  • Orange, White and Blue Day at GHCDS: May 26
  • Graduation at Island Center: June 2

 

Graduates Wanted: Seeking Top Faculty and Staff

As we strive to provide a world-class education, it is critical that we attract the best and brightest to join our faculty and staff. Graduates of The Good Hope School, Country Day School, and Good Hope Country Day School are a wonderful source of talented candidates. If you are interested in joining our faculty, please email your resume to Ms. Annie Myrvang, amyrvang@ghcds.org. We will definitely contact you should openings arise.

In the meantime, be sure to check the employment page of our website for any openings (click here).  We are currently seeking a Middle School Math Teacher for January 2017 (job-description-middle-school-math-2).

This year we are proud to welcome the following graduates and former St. Croix residents to our ranks:

  • Annie Myrvang, GHS ’09–  Executive Assistant to the Head of School. Annie Myrvang is a graduate of The Good Hope School. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 2013, where she studied Political Science and Mandarin Chinese. Five days after graduation, Annie moved to China to put her Mandarin skills to good use working as an educational travel provider and college admissions consultant. Most recently, Annie lived in Hong Kong, where she worked as an English teacher. Annie is happy to be back in the friendly and sunny Caribbean working at her alma mater. When she’s not supporting faculty and students from her desk in the front office, she’s most likely found open water swimming or with her two dogs, Whim and Russell, playing at the beach.
  • Aimee LaHaye CDS ’05 – Kindergarten. Ms. LaHaye holds a Master’s in Education focused on curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans and she has taught the last six years at St. George’s Episcopal School, a highly collaborative preschool.
  • Malerie Gleason, CDS ’04 – Teacher Assistant, 2nd Mrs. Gleason attended Emerson College where she majored in Media Studies with a focus in film. For the last three years, she has helped with pre-school swimming, Destination Imagination, and other activities around the school. She and her husband, Jay, are proud parents of Kaeden (4th) and Teague (1st).
  • Annaly Guerra, CDS ’97 – Upper School History. Ms. Guerra, who taught previously at CDS, is currently finishing her dissertation for her doctorate in education from the University of Wisconsin. She is the proud parent of Che (5th) and Sabine (2nd). Her husband, Cesar, CDS ’96, also formerly taught middle school math at GHCDS.
  • Maurice Barrant, GHS’81 – Upper School Computer Science/Technology Coordinator. Mr. Barrant holds a Master’s in Education from Harvard University, a Master’s in Computer Science from Northeastern, and a Bachelor’s of Science from MIT. He has spent the last four years teaching math and serving as a database administrator in Boston Public Schools. The prior two decades he worked in the private sector and the Air Force as an engineer, analyst, consultant, and project manager. He is originally from St. Croix and his brother still lives on Island.

 

Internships at GHCDS

Are you interested in teaching or working with students? If so, we welcome the opportunity to have you spend 1+ weeks as an intern (unpaid) at our school while you are back on St. Croix. This can be a wonderful win-win: you get excellent real-world experience and feedback, we get additional great brains and hands! This is not a set program—we would try to create it around your availability and interests. If you would like to participate, please email your resume and a cover letter to Ms. Annie Myrvang (amyrvang@ghcds.org).

Aspiring Writers?

To expand our alumni content, we need great writers! If you would be interested in writing stories about alumni-related topics or interviewing alumni to create interesting profiles, please contact Ms. Linda Stamper-Keularts (lstamperkeularts@ghcds.org). You can collaborate from anywhere, provide you are digitally connected.

Miami and New York City Hosts Needed!

Last year we held GHCDS alumni receptions in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. This year we are seeking to hold a reception in Miami in November-December and in New York City in late January-early February. If you have access in either city to a cool space for an alumni gathering of 20-30 people, please contact Ms. Kiomie Pedrini (kpedrini@ghcds.org).

Klingenstein Fellowship Awarded to GHCDS Head of School

Mr. Kari Loya, Head of the Good Hope Country Day School, has been awarded a fully-funded fellowship to the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership’s 2017 Heads of Schools Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. This distinguished honor, established in 1991, is granted to just twenty heads of schools annually.

The 2017 cohort includes Heads from across the continental United States in addition to participants from China, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Cote D’Ivoire and the US Virgin Islands. In January 2017, these Heads of Schools will gather together at the Columbia University Campus for intensive study to examine educational issues facing independent and international schools. In addition to academic enrichment and actionable research, the award provides school leaders with an opportunity for focused professional enrichment, renewal and reflection.

The Klingenstein Center is dedicated to improving the quality of independent and international school education by developing and strengthening leadership among teachers and administrators from schools in the United States and throughout the world.  The Center attracts and selects educators who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishment or potential for excellence and equips them with the knowledge, skills and values necessary for informed and effective practice. All fellowships and graduate programs focus on instructional leadership, collaboration and teamwork, ethical decision making, reflective practice and a commitment to social justice and diversity.

Drawing upon a record of success that spans more than thirty-five years and the full resources of Teachers College and Columbia University, the Klingenstein Center stands alone in its capacity to develop leaders for independent schools. The Klingenstein Center programs include the fully-funded, two week fellowship for heads of schools, a fully-funded, two-week fellowship for early career teachers, master’s degree programs in private school leadership and an MA/MBA dual degree in cooperation with either Columbia Business School or INSEAD.

Remembering Tina Tobias

remembering-tina

SHE NEVER KNOCKED by Bill Sinfield

I know all too well that words of condolences – while truly appreciated – can never assuage the unbearable grief that family and friends feel when they lose someone they so deeply love.  The news of Tina’s sudden passing was such a sorrowful shock; I knew that I would struggle to find the words to express my appreciation for having such an incredibly kind, strong, loving person in my life, and it would be equally difficult to convey my heart-felt sympathy and support to Toby, Kirra, Noah, and all of Tina’s many friends and colleagues.

What Tina meant to the school and to the community is immeasurable. I know that many people will talk about her unwavering dedication to the students, to the teachers, to the parents, and to all of the many causes she championed. While Tina was a consummate professional with an extraordinary work ethic, she put the humanity of her work first. She demanded of herself that the job be done (as demonstrated in the many, many long nights she spent at the school), but she never let this compromise her kindness and compassion for those with whom she worked.

Today, though, I want to speak about how much Tina did for me and my family.

Tina was always there for both of my girls when they were feeling down. She knew that they often visited her in her office not because they were physically ill or injured (though both girls might have use that excuse to get out of class), but rather because they were struggling with emotional distresses. It is especially true with my daughter Gabby that Tina was her greatest advocate. Lord knows, Gabby spent a great many school hours prone on the cot in Tina’s office. I sometimes thought that Tina was too tolerant of her; however, I learned that, in fact, it was I who was too hard on her, and I needed to learn to better understand my daughter’s struggles. Tina ensured that I paid close attention to the lessons. When I lamented my frustration and fatigue, she would listen patiently, then she would remind me that it was my daughter’s health and well-being that I should be most concerned with – and I should quit my whining and get on with the job of parenting. I will be forever grateful to her for all that she did for Gabby.

As a colleague to me during my tenure at Good Hope Country Day, Tina was the rock upon whom I leaned during difficult times. I always felt like she knew something I didn’t — about the world, about Heaven, about what was truly important.  I loved working with her. She made me a better Headmaster. Tina had a funny habit of bursting into my office, at any time – WITHOUT EVER KNOCKING. It didn’t matter what I was doing or with whom I was meeting, if she had something to tell me, she would erupt through the door with that beautiful intensity. Often times, the first words that came out of her mouth were, “Do you want to hear something funny?” Many times she and I sat chatting about any number of topics, and I delighted in those conversations. It was during those difficult years of my tenure – after the closure of Hovensa and the first year of the merge with Good Hope – that I needed her wisdom and guidance the most, and she was always happy to share them with me. Tina knew that I was under a great deal of stress, but she always helped me to put things in perspective; she always challenged me to do the “right thing”, not the “popular thing”; she always reminded me that the work that we were doing was good and noble, and we should be happy and grateful for the burden.

Though this is an occasion of grief, I have a humorous thought about Tina. I think she probably just burst through the doors of Heaven – WITHOUT KNOCKING – and said to God, “Do you want to hear something funny?”

God bless your beautiful spirit, Tina. I love you. I miss you. I await the day that you will patiently chastise me in Heaven.  Bill

Interview with Olympian Caylee Watson, CDS’13

caylee-watson2What were the highlights of your experience in Rio?

A highlight for me was getting to watch the events – especially swimming.  I got to see some historic swims.  Simone Manuel was the first African-American woman to win a gold in swimming, Anthony Ervin was the oldest man ever to win a gold, and of course, I got to see Michael Phelps win his 23rd gold.   I also really enjoyed being around so many world-class athletes.  I’ve been to three Swimming World Championships, but obviously only aquatic athletes participate there.  At the Olympics, I got to see and meet many different athletes from many different sports.  I even got to sit next to Manu Ginobili at breakfast one day.

 

What was the hardest part of training for Rio?

Training “out of season” is hard.  You don’t have your teammates around to push you like you do during the competitive collegiate season.  Although some of my college teammates were in DC this summer, many of them chose not to go to practice, which left me swimming alone.  In St. Croix, having people to swim with can also be challenging.   The Dolphins are like my family and I can always swim with them, however once their training cycle is done in early June, many of them go to the states for vacation.

What were the most important lessons from your Olympic experience?

I was pretty disappointed that I did not swim a best time.  However, even though my swim did not go the way I planned, I know the work I put in to get to Rio is something I can be proud of. The same can be applied to life I guess, things don’t work out all the time, but you still gain something from trying. Three years ago I didn’t know if I wanted to swim in college.  However, the last couple years of swimming have taught me I am capable of a lot more than I previously had thought. Further, what I have gained from the sport far exceeds the costs of a “normal” high school and college life.

Also, don’t eat the free McDonalds in the village before your races or matches (it didn’t work out for Ryan Lochte!).

What advice do you have for young aspiring USVI Olympians?

Keep with it. If you work hard and it’s something you really want, you are capable of achieving it. When things get rough, trust your training, but also be open to new ideas. Get good grades so you can go off to college and put yourself in a new, different, and challenging environment.  Being a part of a collegiate athletic team is really fun and can help add a new perspective.  Be open to challenging yourself, and pushing yourself to new limits physically, but also cognitively.  Learn new things about your sport.  But more importantly, buy into whatever program you are a part of because even the littlest things like eating healthy or stretching before practice can make you better.

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