Dear Students, Parents, Guardians, Faculty and Trustees,
I wanted to write to you to bring you up to date on some of the work we have been doing over the summer here at Dublin School. To say that I am excited for the 2013-14 school year would be a major understatement! We are very much looking forward to welcoming you to campus in a just a little over two weeks.
As fired up I get about new classes, our students, our faculty, trails and new buildings; the students often seem most interested in laundry machines and bandwidth. So with their interests in mind I am pleased to announce that we have doubled the size of our laundry facilities and more than doubled the bandwidth on the campus, from 20 megabytes to 50 megabytes. So now that we have that settled, here are other some other things to look forward to this year!
We have a full school with our largest freshmen class (32) in the history of the school. We welcome fifty-three new students overall from twelve foreign countries and fourteen states. Twenty-three percent of our total of one hundred and forty-two students are local students, forty-five percent are girls, and twenty percent are from foreign countries. If I could find one thing in common among all of our new students it seems to me that they are all eager to try new things and bring their own diverse experiences to the community. I believe strongly that young people grow when they leave the familiar, try new things, sometimes fail, and then keep trying until they feel the internal reward that comes with a sense of accomplishment.
Today is moving day for our new faculty, and Lisa and I and the entire staff are thrilled to welcome them to campus. Alexandra Bean joins us from Windward Academy in Los Angeles where she worked as an advancement intern after graduating from Wesleyan University. Having grown up on a boarding school campus, Ms. Bean is excited to live in Monadnock Dormitory and work in the Development Office on our school’s all-important Annual Fund. Joanna Smith received her Ph.D in Chemistry from the University of Utah in 2010 after graduating from Hofstra University in 2005. A former division one cross-country runner, Ms. Smith will coach cross-country and teach Chemistry this year. Her husband, Jason Boyle, received a Ph.D in Physical Chemistry from the University of Utah in 2011 and received his undergraduate degree from Eastern Michigan University. Mr. Boyle will teach AP Physics and Chemistry, share his passion for mountain biking and skiing with the students, and live with Ms. Smith and their son in Hoyt-Horner Dormitory.
We are looking forward to welcoming Brad Hoffman back to campus. Mr. Hoffman taught at Dublin for five years before leaving to teach at the Brooks School and the Lovett School. Mr. Hoffman will teach English, help with communications, and live in Corner House with his wife and two daughters. Michael and Nina Silitch join us from Chamonix, France and will move into Monadnock Dormitory with their two sons. Mr. Silitch studied medicine in graduate school after graduating from St. John’s college in Santa Fe. After teaching in boarding school he has spent most of his career earning international recognition as one of our country’s most famous climbing guides. Mr. Silitch will teach math, coach Nordic skiing, and lead us on many exciting journeys to the mountains. I first met Nina Silitch on the cross-country ski team at Dartmouth College, where she was pursuing a degree in art. After receiving a Masters of Education degree at Lesley College Ms. Silitch moved to France where she taught French and went on to become the first American World Cup champion in the European sport of ski mountaineering. Ms. Silitch will teach French and 3D Art, and coach girls’ soccer and Nordic skiing.
Paul Siegel will lead our transition away from a traditional library toward a hybrid library and technologically advanced academic research center. Mr. Siegel is currently studying for a Masters in Educational Technology at Marlboro College Graduate School and received his undergraduate degree from Syracuse University. Last but not least, Joseph Putko will join us as a Physics teacher and astronomer and live in Lehmann House with the freshmen boys. Mr. Putko, who just graduated this spring from Middlebury College will coach JV soccer and pond hockey when he is not taking students up to look through the lens of the scope.
Here is a list of new additions and developments on campus:
- Monadnock Dormitory. This morning we received a certificate of occupancy for our newest girls’ dormitory on campus. This was no small feat considering we began pouring the foundation in May. The dormitory has three faculty apartments, a large common room and eleven, double occupancy rooms for the girls. Every detail of the building was designed to build a sense of family and community in the dorm, and its exterior is meant to reflect the cottage style that is particular to the town’s history and culture. The dormitory’s two Austrian pellet boilers will not only keep the girls warm, but will also heat the entire gymnasium with clean burning and highly efficient wood pellets. This is the second instance in the last two years where we will be able to reduce our overall campus heating costs and dependence on oil despite adding square footage to our campus. With the added living capacity of this dormitory we have been able to add a faculty apartment in Tuttle House where we used to have student rooms. Overall this new construction has enabled us to move five teachers onto campus.
- We are adding courses in AP Government, Mandarin 2, Game Development, along with many new electives. The administrative team will be teaching a freshmen seminar this fall to help these new students prepare for success in high school. Sophomores will take a course this fall that will introduce them to computing, writing code, computer animated design, and HTML. Thanks to a generous gift from an alumnus, each sophomore will receive their very own Raspberry Pi computer. We like these little devices because they allow students to “look under the hood” of their computers and smartphones, learn how to program them, and encourage them to be active rather than passive users of technology.
- We are creating a “maker space” to house our robotics program and allow students to use their hands and brains to build things. The maker space already has a brand new, three-dimensional printer that can print out 3D objects in plastic. Jason Cox has been working with a couple of students this summer to build a small quad-copter run off of a Raspberry Pi computer.
- Erin Bouton and her team, working with our faculty and staff, completed our ten-year re-accreditation self-study that was recently submitted to the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). A NEASC visiting team will visit the campus for three days in late September. We look forward to sharing their findings with you as soon as we receive them.
- Starting this fall we will be using a new internal learning management system (LMS) called Schoology (https://www.schoology.com/home.php). Schoology will provide an online area for students, faculty, tutors and advisors to communicate, see grades, post assignments, and conduct online discussions. We believe that this system will help us further personalize the learning process at Dublin.
- We are beginning a major new health initiative at the school this fall. I have been working with our Business Manager Jen Whitesel, Chef Jay Whitaker, and Shiras School Store supervisor Carrie Glaude to take stock of the food and beverages we have been providing for our students and faculty. While I have been very proud of our food service, Jen, Jay, Carrie and I believe we can take advantage of the latest research on nutrition and health to improve the nutritional quality of what we offer to our community. We will work intentionally to reduce the quantity of sugar in our daily offerings, cut back on fried and processed foods, and increase our offerings of locally sourced foods. We have removed our vending machines and replaced them with healthier, and I believe, tastier offerings. We have increased our food budget and staffing to allow for more entrees at dinner. Our students have become more health conscious and we believe that this initiative ties in well with our overall effort to educate our students to live healthy and meaningful lives.
- Speaking of health, former headmaster Michael Lehmann continues to support our efforts to help students develop an appreciation of the out of doors. We have completed the first five kilometers of the ski and mountain biking course he donated and have begun work on another 2 kilometers of trails. He has also asked us to build a small warming hut on the course that coaches can use to teach skiing. Due to the excitement surrounding these new trails Dublin School was asked to host the 2014 Prep School Cross Country Skiing Championships.
- We are only a few thousand dollars away from completing our effort to raise $100,000 for a new wood floor in the Whitney Gymnasium. The gym was built with a plastic floor and we are hoping to install a real hardwood floor this fall. We believe this floor will not only provide an authentic playing experience for our basketball teams, but will be a beautiful addition to this wonderful space on campus. Last week Colin Sistaire ’13 handed me a check for $1,008.00, a dollar for every point he scored in his Dublin basketball career. Board Chair Peter Imhoff has offered to donate a dollar for every two dollars raised in this home stretch. Please let us know if you would be willing to help and many thanks to all the parents who have already donated!
- We will be adding Ultimate Frisbee as a competitive sport this spring. Coach Nemitz is training hard this summer and looks forward to coaching this exciting new sport.
- Thanks to generous gifts from a past parent and two trustees we have purchased 20 acres of land below our lower playing field. This land will help us protect our beautiful view corridor to the east.
- Next week we begin two weeks of faculty meetings in preparation for the arrival of our students. I am most looking forward to having a group called Visions visit us and train us on how best to take advantage of our school’s wonderful diversity. Our goal is to help our students and faculty pursue deep cross-cultural understanding.
I apologize for the length of this letter! We still have much to work on in our goal of continuous improvement and I have already started a list of initiatives for next summer. I hope to see those parents who can make it at our Summer Gathering on campus on Tuesday, August 20th from 5 to 7 pm. This is a nice opportunity to meet some of our local friends in the community. I look forward to welcoming our students back to campus in two weeks!