Dear Members of the Jemicy Community,
Although it feels like we just opened our doors for the new school year, in reality, we have completed the first trimester, and winter break is already upon us. What a busy fall it has been, and our determination to keep pace with the exciting challenges of providing a 21st century education is obvious. It is our ability to dream big, create a wish list, and make it happen that keeps us moving forward as a school and, most importantly, providing our students with the tools they need to thrive in this new century.
Take for example, the new, progressive, green science classroom, nearly completed, on the Lower and Middle School Campus.
It is unbelievable that just three months after breaking ground, we can realistically say we will be teaching in that space this winter! It has been exciting to watch the building go up before our very eyes, and it has been an experiential learning opportunity for our students, who have voraciously observed and absorbed the entire process – learning how different pieces of equipment function, the specialized roles of the workers, and the sequence of construction. The students are bursting with excitement for completion, anxious to take advantage of all this non-traditional learning environment will be able to offer:
- Renewable energy (students will be able to observe and measure the effects)
- Enhanced physical science opportunities
- Indoor and outdoor gardening
- Outdoor classroom plaza
Our upper school students are thrilled with the changes on their campus.
They love the refreshed, modern look of the lobby and have found the new modular structure that now houses the math and language classrooms to be spacious and comfortable. The design of the new cafeteria space incorporates Cooper’s Corner and creates a café-like setting. The creative reconfiguration of part of the English and Skills Department wing provides additional classrooms to accommodate increased enrollment. And, seniors are enjoying the privilege and comfort of their newly designated lounge.
We are continuously evaluating our technology – updating and enhancing as wisdom and budget allow.
- The feedback from those piloting the use of iPads in the JE Community has been overwhelmingly positive, and the expansion of our laptop program to include all of middle school is proving to be very effective.
- Upper school students now have more options when it comes to assistive software: Word Q combines both text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities, and some English classes are experimenting with Go Animate, which provides an additional means of interactive engagement for our students. Spanish classes have recently started conversational Skyping sessions with Spain, and similar conversations are planned with students in South America.
There is much more to come! As I revealed at Back to School Night, the Board of Trustees continues to look toward the future. Their vision for an expanded Lower/Middle School gym with a multi-purpose room above, as well as an outdoor gathering space and flexible theatre on the Upper School Campus will hopefully become a financial reality within the not too distant future. Those who were able to attend the enormously successful lower school musical, Mary Poppins, could appreciate the immeasurable value the arts component of our program provides our students and how an enhanced setting for productions would benefit students from JE through grade twelve. We have a ways to go, but we are making progress raising the funds we need.
Jemicy is in great financial health. Our endowment of nearly $14 million (and growing) puts us in the 98% percentile of schools our comparable size. As recipients of a $1 million grant from the Samuel G. and Margaret A. Gorn Foundation, we are now able to fund special projects that will enrich student learning and success. Jemicy Fund participation is robust; however we need a 100% participation from all constituencies. I am proud of the level of participation among our faculty and staff – Upper School at 100% and Lower and Middle School at 98%. Remember, it is not the amount of each individual contribution that matters. When applying for grants, corporations and foundations look at the percentage of participation as an indicator of how we are thought of and supported by our own community. It is the overriding factor in their decision-making!
In the pride category, there is much to report!
- Students who have graduated from the Upper School program are experiencing success and thriving! Did you know that 94% of our upper school graduates have completed college in four years and that 100% of the class of 2012 pursued higher education? Phenomenal! In addition, we continue to receive high marks from independent schools in regard to how well our Y Group graduates are prepared for their challenging curricula.
- We are already seeing the benefits from creating a Department of Student Life. With an overall director and a school counselor and dean of students on each campus, there is a cohesive and coordinated effort to address the whole student – his or her well-being and development of social character.
- The International Dyslexia Association Conference and associated school visit were remarkably and resoundingly successful! Nine valuable workshops were presented by our faculty and were rated at the top for excellence by attendees. Professional educators from around the globe spent hours touring both of our campuses, and quite frankly, left in awe! The feedback I have received is astounding – the impression Jemicy made, both at the conference and on our home turf, has been totally positive. I am so very proud, and you should be too, for all you do to support this incredible school and its mission.
Lastly, as you have likely heard, Jemicy was recently recognized as one of the Baltimore Sun’s Top Workplaces for 2012. In addition, Jemicy received a special honor for obtaining the highest ranking in the specific category of “meaningfulness.” This distinction comes as a result of a faculty/staff survey our employees participated in at the beginning of the school year. It is gratifying that our Jemicy family of employees appraised the environment in which they work with such high regard, and that they gain meaning and reward from the work they do. Most importantly, it is evident each day that our employees’ happiness and satisfaction translates into the classroom, and in the end, our students become the beneficiaries of an outstanding workplace!
As busy as the fall has been, I anticipate that the remainder of the school year will be as active and productive. I am thrilled with the reports of student progress I have received thus far and am confident of continued strides. Never content with the status quo, Jemicy will continue to seek innovative ways to enhance its program and maintain its position at the forefront of education for children who learn with a difference. I know you share my joy and excited anticipation for the future.
My best wishes to you and your families for a safe and happy holiday season and for the New Year ahead.