Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year!
The excitement of a new beginning is palpable on campus. Upper School students are getting in shape for the fall season, and teachers, including more than a dozen new faculty members, have devoted the last weeks to preparations for today, this month, and this year. My own preparations included crafting an opening session for faculty and staff that sets the stage for our collective work. In my presentation, which I titled, “Bless This Unseen Work” (taken from a line of poetry by Joseph P. Shadle), I explored the Quaker testimony of Simplicity, our theme for the year.
Upon your return to school, you will see three street banner designs about Simplicity, each depicting a different nuance of the testimony. In my work with faculty, we discussed that the notion of relationship is critical to our understanding of Simplicity. More specifically, we hope that we might rid ourselves of the elements that interfere with our relationship with the divine or each other. Simplicity is not solely about the possessions we own; rather, it is also about how we use the gifts we have been given and how we strive to be in right relationship with one another.
As the title for my opening faculty and staff address implies, I encouraged our faculty to think about all the unseen work that they do to support our students. This includes our August meetings and planning sessions, all of the summer professional development teachers completed, and the regular updating of lessons in preparation for each new group of learners.
Visiting campus you will also notice some visible signs of our summer work: many physical improvements are well underway or completed. The Lower School Spanish room has been significantly expanded and newly painted. A new IdeaLab, located in the Middle School basement and designed for use by our students, is just weeks away from completion. We are excited about this new resource, which is the best of the “maker lab” concept with a uniquely Penn Charter service component. The new space includes three learning environments: a maker space, a creative lab and a media lab for digital and film work to document the creation process in the other learning areas. The new IdeaLab will add to a network of labs on campus that foster hands-on learning. These include the woodshop in the Lower School building, science labs and art studios throughout each school house, the outdoor learning spaces, including Chigwell Close, and the music lab in the Kurtz Center.
To support our technology initiatives, new Internet access points have been added outside our buildings so learning can be expanded onto the green spaces of our campus. These improvements represent further evolution of our 1:1 laptop program for students and faculty. This year’s implementation of the PC Hub—the online learning management system that will provide a single place for students and parents to access teacher assignments and important PC information—is another advance that will streamline the learning process for students, something they requested in our Strategic Planning focus groups.
The new stadium turf field is completed, and the base for the new, expanded eight-lane track is installed. The installation of the running surface on the track will occur in the next three weeks, and the entire stadium field and track will be up and running for PC/GA Day, which is at Penn Charter this year, on Saturday, Nov. 14.
These are but a few examples of the unseen, and seen, work that has occurred to ready Penn Charter for the 2015-2016 school year. Of course, you, as parents and guardians, also have engaged in much unseen work to ready your children to be their best selves at PC as they engage in our educational programming. As we work to best serve our students and as we approach this new academic year, I thank you for your partnership as we bless this unseen work.
Darryl J. Ford
Head of School