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A Message from the Head of School

THURSDAY - NOVEMBER 2, 2017

 

Dear ECFS Community,


Last year I articulated the necessity for us to create a culture of care at ECFS that honors our mission and ethical underpinnings, while also strengthening the relationships in this large and complex school. As my tenure unfolds, I will continue to focus on this overarching goal in a variety of ways.


Reflecting on the past year and a half (almost!) and the myriad conversations I have had with a wide variety of individuals and groups in our community, I have learned both about the magic and strengths of this school—as well as the challenges we face and want to resolve.


One of the consistent themes has been the need for enhanced, streamlined, clearer, and richer communication, along with a desire for greater transparency about our policies, practices, and programs. Consequently, one of the Administrative Council's primary goals this year is sharing more of the great work that's happening throughout our educational program with our own community and even more broadly in our city and beyond. This initiative is part of a major, year-long effort that the leadership team and I have undertaken to improve and rethink all communications, in every sense, both internally and externally.


We will be evaluating the tools we use to ensure that we're operating as efficiently as possible. Everything from our phone system to our admissions materials to the number of emails we send will be reviewed and adapted as appropriate. We will be working to achieve a cohesive design for our visual identity so that all of our communications are readily recognized as our own. We will tell our school story in all of its richness by highlighting a constellation of individual stories about the work and accomplishments of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. We will also be sharing more news across divisions and offices so everyone can readily see the narrative thread of how we are, indeed, many and one. We will also explore more platforms and venues for sharing news, so that all members of our community can get school information when and where they want it and need it.


The project is extensive, but it is exciting work. Even as we undertake it, I am sobered by George Bernard Shaw's rather curmudgeonly—but all too true—observation: "The single biggest problem with communication is thinking that it has taken place." We are counting on your partnership, patience, and feedback in the process as we experiment a bit with what works best for us and make adjustments in our pursuit of better communication and greater transparency. There will be many opportunities and moments this year when your thinking and suggestions will help us gain clarity and improve.


Right away you will notice that the four divisional principals will send their routine communications on Tuesdays; the lower and middle schools will communicate weekly. We are still considering the best routine communication calendar for upper school. The principals' communications will lead with division-wide information and then transition to grade-specific information. You will notice as well that the P+T will soon begin to send their communications on the same day of the week as well (still being determined), and they will follow the same format as the principals in organizing the information. To reduce school email in your inboxes and encourage the habit of attending to our communication routines and to using the website, we will not send reminder emails anymore. FieldNotes will continue to feature the dynamic daily life of our students and teachers at Ethical Culture and Fieldston. We will begin to develop some features in FieldNotes more robustly than others.


While we expect to fully redesign our website, that undertaking is for next year. In the next few days, you will observe a new homepage at ecfs.org. You will also soon be able to view more fulsome photo galleries along with slideshows. We will also begin to catalog videography of major school events or speakers so that you can watch them at your leisure if you missed them live or livestreamed.


We will be in touch at different junctures to seek feedback about our efforts, and we hope you'll respond. If you have any ideas now that you would like for us to consider, feel free to send them my way or to direct them to Sarah Danzig Simon ('96), Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement, at ssimon@ecfs.org.


Warmest regards,

Jessica

 

 
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Ethical Culture Fieldston School

33 CENTRAL PARK WEST • NEW YORK, NY 10023 • (212) 712-6220 

3901 FIELDSTON ROAD • BRONX, NY 10471 • (718) 329-7300

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