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September Head of School Letter: Updates + Additions

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Dear GUS Families,

After a fantastic 40+Forward alumni event with some 300 attendees, followed by graduation in early June, only a few weeks passed before SUMMER@GUS day camp, enthusiastically led by Director of Auxiliary Programs, Nancy Hartmann, opened for a busy season and GAIN@GUS, our public-purpose academic summer program, began with 31 scholars. GAIN staff included Director Pam McCoy, faculty member Katie Blynn, and three college-bound alumnae. It was a whirlwind, successful summer all around!

As we start a busy school year together I am pleased to share the following GUS updates with you:

Campus Updates
At the same time camp was gearing up, new furniture arrived and painters and glaziers went to work on improvements for Pre-K, 1st grade, and lower school Spanish classrooms. It is our plan to successfully upgrade all classrooms in the coming years, especially in lower school, a building now 36 years old, created with the walls of a former carriage house that stood for some 70 years. A new split rail fence also now more safely and distinctly defines the Pre-K, kindergarten and 1st grade shared playground as well. 

Preschool Program
Of course, we are excited to launch our new preschool program! Our young pioneers, age 3 to 5,  joined us for the first day of school. This expansion of the GUS program represents the first significant structural change to the school since the early 1990s when GUS retired its 9th grade. Adding a full-day, five-day-a-week Pre-K represents an opportunity to engage new children and families, set the stage for the dynamic and engaging curriculum that follows, and use the resources and talents of Glen Urquhart School more fully.

Community Playground Build
Mark your calendars: Thursday, October 24 to Sunday, October 28. Volunteers will be critical as we build our new playground, behind Braemar. A start-to-finish effort, we need skilled and unskilled labor in several shifts a day in addition to supplies and tools to borrow. This will be a major administrative focus this fall, so stay tuned for abundant details to follow! Contact Martha Delay, Director of Advancement, to sign up or for more information. Learn more.

New Faculty
Bringing expertise in language arts and literacy, Spanish, early learning, and science, GUS is delighted to welcome new faculty to enrich the educational experience of students. Read more about these talented and experienced educators and the beginning of a GUS partnership with area colleges.

Returning Faculty with New Duties
Gretchen Forsyth now serves as Assistant Head of School, with responsibility for the Pre-K to 8 curriculum, student progress and discipline, and faculty evaluation and professional development. Gretchen has been part of the GUS leadership team since 2010. Gretchen holds a BA from Bowdoin College and an MA in Private School Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. Additionally, she has a MSW from Boston College School of Social Work and is currently a LCSW. Gretchen is thrilled with her expanded duties!

Emily Rabinowitz-Buchanan shifts from Admission to her new role as founding Preschool Director and lead preschool teacher. Emily holds a BA from Vassar College and an MA from Columbia University. She is accustomed to startups, having led the Red Hook Playgroup, a preschool in Brooklyn, New York that continues to thrive thanks to her nine years of leadership there. Emily has spent the summer and much of last winter and spring developing the GUS PK program and is excited to launch this long-awaited GUS program.

Katie Blynn has been teaching at GUS since 2015 and is thrilled to be teaching language arts to the 5th graders in addition to her Upper School teaching. Katie is known for her vibrant energy and enthusiasm for teaching—luckily for students, her exuberance is contagious.  Prior to coming to GUS, Katie taught language arts and social studies for 5th and 6th grades for four years. She graduated from the University of Maine with a BS in elementary education and a minor in English. Many of your children are already familiar with Ms. Blynn, and I know they are excited to work with her next year, and again in 6th grade.

Bre-Anne Brandt is School Counselor. Bre holds a BA from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed from Boston University in counseling. Bre has been a teacher, counselor, and class dean over the last twelve years at GUS, Governor's Academy, and Explo and is excited to continue her work at GUS in this new role. She will work with students across the school.

Emily Hobkirk will continue to teach Spanish while also serving as one of the 5th grade homeroom teachers. “Señorita Emilia” graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in Latin American studies. She also was a 1st and 3rd grade classroom teacher prior to coming to GUS in 2016. Emily’s presence will be a welcome source of continuity for the students.

Jen Mallette, who has spent 11 years teaching at GUS, will teach 5th grade science and upper school Math Lab. Jen attended Phillips Academy, Andover, and matriculated to Middlebury College, where she double majored in biology and environmental studies. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Lesley University. Jen is also a GUS alum. She began teaching at Madison Country Day School in Wisconsin before working at Brookwood and Tower School. Jen is excited to bring her love of science to Lower School.

Shuttle Vans
In August, two new student shuttle vans cruised onto on campus. Affectionately known as “Trust” and “Go Forward,” these are being used to expand morning and afternoon transportation routes and will be available during the school day for place-based trips. All faculty who will be driving took advantage of driver training before the start of school.

The Idea Garage
The "maker space" has moved from the lower school into the Cupola Building in the center of campus and has been creatively renamed "The Idea Garage." Now adjacent to the computer lab, both rooms will now be accessible project spaces for all students, with room for STEM activities, creative thinking, discovery, and invention.

School Theme
Our theme, Pre-K through grade 8, this year will be “Civility,” in the spirit of the Glen Urquhart School motto, “Mean well. Speak well. Do well.” (Or “Meane Weil. Speak Weil. Doe Weil.” for those that prefer the traditional Scots.)

In a time when our intentions, words, and actions matter more than ever to create and maintain a just, equitable, inclusive, and fundamentally kind society, the work of this small, intentional community and our impact on children is vital. The GUS mission asks us to develop children’s intellects and imaginations, their curiosity and problem solving skills, their individual voices and collective actions, their best selves, and do all that with a sense of respect and responsibility. The faculty and I believe that all starts with how we treat each other.

Whether it’s opening a car door at drop off, a morning greeting in a lower school classroom, an Upper School homeroom session, or a handshake or fist bump (or hug!) at the end of a day, we want to treat each student and family with care and respect. We want to develop that sense of caring for others in each student and work on our own small version of a “more perfect union” on these 23 acres. We do that in the hope that what children learn here and experience everyday carries into their adult lives. If the alumni I met and the conversations I had with them in June are any indication, Glen Urquhart School fulfills that joyful mission.

Trust and go forward,

David Liebmann​
Head of School