Inside SFS

All School Meeting - Fall 2018

Last week’s All School Meeting brought the pieces of our strategic plan to life!

By Jeanie Chang, Vice Chair, Board of Trustees

Last week, families and staff attended the All School Meeting and Potluck to learn more about how the Strategic Plan (“Fulfilling Our Humanitarian Promise”) is being fulfilled and enjoy a meal together as a community. The Plan’s initiatives came to life through the words, videos, and data presented by board members, faculty, and administration.

The music department shared inspiring multidisciplinary elementary school lessons showing the integration of math, science, and technology into our arts and music education. Music teacher James Harding revealed a Second Grade unit where students created a visual representation of code and executed it through folk dance. Sofía Lopez-Ibor, music teacher and member of the Board of Trustees, described her Third Grade lesson in which students created geometric shapes by manipulating loops of string through dance, then collaborating on photographs of their geometric poses to study radial symmetry and create kaleidoscopic artwork.

Board Chair Anne Hipskind Roberts acknowledged the staff, board, parents, and guardians for their commitment to the school. She spoke of how one year ago, she and her family were blissfully thriving on sabbatical in Costa Rica, and the only thing that could entice them away from la pura vida was SFS’s vision and community, to which she remains steadfastly dedicated. Jeanette Moore, Director of Finance and Operations, reviewed the responsibilities of the Finance Committee and Business Office as well as the state of the school finances during the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Head of School Steve Morris spoke about the true power of the community, a strength of The San Francisco School of which he was well aware during his eleven years’ tenure here, and which has become even more apparent to him and his family this year. He addressed the significant progress SFS has made on the Strategic Plan since its approval by the Board last fall, and provided a few examples, such as the following initiatives:

  • “Deepened Partnership with San Francisco and the Portola District” (e.g., SFS’s creation of a cross-country course in McLaren Park and the Middle School field trip to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater)
  • “Spanish Language & Global Programs” (e.g., increased faculty and new coaching position, creation of a collaborative workspace for the department, examination of academic standards, and incorporation of ACTFL guidelines)
  • “Empathy in the Age of Acceleration” (e.g., new math curricula for K-5 and Middle School, new STEM faculty, and workspace for their collaboration).

Cathy Manshel, Public Purpose Committee Chair, and Rachel Benson, Family Association Chair, introduced the “Families for Families” initiative, which focuses on family poverty and homelessness. Together, they spoke of the events, service learning, and family education that will take place throughout the academic year to empower ourselves and our children in understanding these complicated issues and working together to help.

Nancy Nagramada, Head of the Upper School, led a faculty panel about their summer professional learning experiences. Professional development is a core provision of the Strategic Plan’s “Lifelong Learning Initiative for Staff.” Last year’s professional development budget was increased by 30% to $90,000 to ensure the ongoing learning of our staff and the quality of our curriculum. Representing the many faculty members for whom SFS provided stipends for opportunities around the world, the panel of teachers described their summer workshop experiences and how they are already applying what they learned to their curriculum. These experiences included:

  • Talia Goodkin ’98 (Fifth Grade Humanities Teacher) and Paige Sandoz (4th Grade Humanities Teacher) participated in the Lucy Calkins Writing Institute at Teachers College at Columbia University.
  • Dimitri Barton ’08 (Spanish Teacher) completed his Orff Music Program certification.
  • Maggie Day (Lower School Math Coordinator and Second/Third Grade Math Teacher) led curriculum development and Contexts for Learning Mathematics implementation for SFS Preschool/Kindergarten and Elementary faculty.
  • Araceli Quezada (Eighth Grade Humanities Teacher) attended seminars about September 11 at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of History and about Japanese internment at the National Endowment of the Humanities (Rutgers University).

Finally, Dave Whitelaw, Advancement Committee Chair, and Jenn Keese-Powell, Director of Advancement, reminded the community that these accomplishments were made possible as a result of the generosity of our SFS community. The All School Meeting marked the beginning of this year’s Annual Fund campaign, The Fund for SFS, the most important annual giving opportunity. Each gift, regardless of size, makes a visible impact. Last year, we received 485 gifts totaling $460,000. This year’s goal is to reach at least $450,000, with 100% trustee, parent/guardian, and staff participation.

Posted October 10, 2018