Head of School Letter — August 2018

Dear Parents,

Looking at the calendar and seeing “August” at the top always quickens my pulse a bit.

I love the cycle of the school year, and the excitement and anticipation of a new year certainly gets the adrenalin going. Summer is a great time for us to pause and catch our breath, and then put the plans and pieces in place for another wonderful year at The Frances Xavier Warde School. That eagerness for another adventure to unfold is, of course, also tempered by a little melancholy as the summer winds down; this is especially true for me this year as my oldest child prepares to head off for her freshman year of college.

While things are certainly quieter here in June, July, and August, there are still many things going on during the summer months. Our teachers and staff are once again engaged in summer reading, choosing from a selection of books, including: The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros; A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger; What School Could Be by Ted Dintersmith; and The Yes Brain by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. A small sampling of our teachers’ professional development includes workshops on neuroscience and “Facing History and Ourselves: Teaching Mockingbird,” as well as attendance at the International Forum on Language Teaching, the International Society for Technology in Education Conference, and the Institute for Social-Emotional Learning, among many, many more. This passion for lifelong learning inspires the same behavior in our students, and the specifics of that learning directly impact and improve the classroom experience. As part of the special attention that we will pay to our academic charism during the coming year, there will be many opportunities for you to learn more about our teachers’ motivation, experience, and wisdom.

Summer is also the time for us to say goodbye to departing faculty and staff members and to welcome the new additions to our team. Katie Gallagher, our HNC principal, was one of the ones to whom we bid farewell. While we will certainly miss Katie, we are very excited that April Greer agreed to serve as our Interim HNC Principal, and I will have more to share about rekindling the Principal Search Process in early October. April will be joined by Ann McCarthy, who is our new Assistant Principal at HNC, and Andrew Miller, who has taken on Ann’s old role as Director of Student Life. April, Ann, and Andrew join our current principals to form a dynamic, thoughtful, and experienced leadership team. We also are thrilled to introduce several new teachers and staff members and ask that you help welcome them to the FXW family; you can read brief bios of each of them here.

In addition to our new faculty and staff, we are also excited to welcome our new Chair of the Board of Trustees, Ms. Mary Pat Burns. Ms. Burns succeeds Mr. Mark Skender, who served as a Board member since 2010 and as Chair for the past four years. Ms. Burns also joined the Board of Trustees in 2010 and has served in a variety of roles on committees over the years. She is the President and Founding Partner of the law firm Burke Burns & Pinelli, Ltd, and also serves as a Judge on the Illinois Court of Claims. As the aunt of an FXW student and as a member of Old St. Patrick’s Church, Ms. Burns has long been engaged in and supportive of the FXW mission and charisms. She has also served and supported many other non-profit and philanthropic organizations in Chicago. Ms. Burns’ many years of experience on the FXW Board, combined with her leadership qualities and legal expertise, will certainly continue to benefit the FXW community. Please join me in thanking Ms. Burns, Mr. Skender, and all of our Board members for their service to the School.

You will receive our electronic “welcome packet” next week, containing a variety of important information to help get you ready for the year, and in the coming weeks will hear more about other upcoming events and activities. I want to make sure you put one date on your calendar as soon as possible – on Tuesday, October 9, we will welcome renowned speaker and author Julie Lythcott-Haims to our campus as part of our Speaker Series. In conjunction with Julie’s visit, we are encouraging everyone to read her book, How to Raise an Adult. Please save the date now and look for more information soon about her talk and the first-ever FXW community read.

I hope you share my excitement about beginning another amazing year at FXW. I know that, working together, the year will be filled with many great memories and milestones; there will, no doubt, also be some hectic, busy, difficult-to-manage days, when the weather or traffic or our schedules seem to conspire against us. I urge us all to keep perspective and maintain our focus on our mission, vision, and values, and remember that through our partnership we are creating an unparalleled educational experience for our children. That partnership, and the common language and conversation around our goals, is what I value most.

Enjoy the remaining weeks of summer. I look forward to seeing all of you soon…


Michael Kennedy