Head of School Letter

Head of School Letter — September 2017

October 4, 2017

Dear Parents,

It’s all about perspective.

As I begin my third year here at FXW, each day continues to bring something new and special. That freshness and constant sense of growth and discovery are what I have loved the most about my nearly 30 years as an educator. But before you start doing that math, please note it is not the quantity of my time in schools, but rather the quality of experiences that makes this profession so incredibly rewarding. Like so many of my colleagues at FXW, I am a living example of the adage “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That does not mean that there are never any challenges, early mornings, or late nights. But it does mean that, with the proper perspective, the effort is clearly, unquestionably worthwhile.

Our four Charisms help to provide that perspective; they are a roadmap for us as a school and point us toward the big picture. This year we will focus on the Charism “A Community of Faith,” while also remembering that each of our four pillars will remain equally important throughout the year. As we explore and reflect on what it means to be “a community of faith that welcomes and embraces all faith traditions,” we will also build on the good work from last year’s celebration of our diversity and inclusivity. Likewise, we continue to implement academic enhancements while having discussions about near- and long-term programmatic opportunities, and we embrace the great energy and enthusiasm supporting our many service opportunities.

Several other initiatives and activities are shaping our perspective this year and beyond:

  • Mission Day sets the tone for our faculty and staff each year. This year we welcomed author and speaker Eboo Patel, the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core. Because Dr. Patel was the author of two of our five options for faculty summer reading, many of us were familiar with his message and greatly anticipated his presentation. Dr. Patel did not disappoint. His insightful comments about the intersection of faith and inclusivity as well as the importance of dialogue will guide us as we create safe spaces each and every day. His vignettes, drawing on both historical events and his own experiences, captured our attention and reinforced the need for places like FXW. We hope to have Dr. Patel back to FXW this winter; in the meantime, I encourage you to read one or more of his wonderful works.
  • We published the first issue of our new FXW magazine, Charism, this summer. In this debut, we looked with a broad lens at “The FXW Story,” reintroducing Mother Warde and describing the early days of our School through the work of Maggie Daley, Fr. Jack Wall, and Mary Ellen Caron. I was particularly captivated by the accomplishments of our alumni, and I invite you all to visit those pages to see how their FXW experience shaped these remarkable young women and men. Future issues of Charism will highlight particular aspects of FXW and will tell our story through a wide variety of voices and vantage points.
  • In response to suggestions from several parents, we made slight modifications to our Back-to-School Nights, and the changes were very well received. As we embrace and deliver a culture of quality “customer” care, you will see other improvements that incorporate your feedback. In this same vein, the Listen to Learn initiative informed our constructive and considerable work on the strategic planning process this summer.

The recent tragic events across our world are also on our minds, and our prayers remain with the victims of the hurricanes and earthquakes. For these people, sadly, the start of the school year is far down on their list of priorities. Tragedies like these serve as a vivid reminder of how truly fortunate we are. We will continue to think about all those impacted and will communicate how our community might be able to provide further assistance.

Finally, we are so grateful to Cardinal Cupich for presiding at our Opening School Mass. Pointing to the sea of red “Peace Be With You” shirts in the pews, he noted that we are “all one community, one family,” and made clear that our work can only be completed successfully when many hands come together. The Cardinal’s message was powerful and provided some wonderful perspective for our faculty, staff, and students.

From this mindset of faith, inclusivity, empathy, and cooperation, it is easy to see that the year is off to a great start. We must now sustain this positive momentum and morale through our Annual Fund, which will kick off on Monday. This five-week appeal gives us an opportunity to step back and focus on the unique and special nature of this place and then to offer our support of the FXW mission through an investment in our School’s ongoing success.

We have already accomplished a great deal in a brief period. I look forward to sharing a common perspective with all of you as we work together to make this our best year yet at FXW.

Regards,

Michael Kennedy

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Head of School

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