Dear Members of the MICDS Community,
There is just something so special about the first day of school – the smiles, the hugs, and even the high fives in the hallways. It was a true joy to watch our students greet one another and their teachers. Today at MICDS from Lower School to Middle School to Upper School, the day unfolded with great excitement and promise for all. We welcomed members of the Class of 2028 and 2015, and everyone in between!
From a pedestrian standpoint, it is certainly the busiest day of the year on campus, as Lower School and Middle School parents park their cars and walk their children to their classrooms or lockers. Tomorrow, for many, it will be the carpool line, but the first day of school carries its own special traditions and rituals of welcoming old and new friends, and preparing for another successful school year. From the smiling faces in Beasley and the buzz of our Middle Schoolers to the confidence shown by our Upper School students – it truly was a wonderful first day.
The Upper School Assembly began with a ‘cheer-off’ between classes, which the Class of 2015 won, just barely beating out our newest Upper School students, those in the Class of 2018! Upper School students met with each of their classes for 45 minutes and tomorrow will begin with our new modified block schedule. Students in the Middle School will spend the first few days getting to know their advisory, their class and the campus, with activities including scavenger hunts and computer orientation. The Middle School Assembly today included a spectacular musical presentation reminding everyone that ‘this is going to be a fabulous year,” a sentiment shared by all!
Lower School started off smoothly, with no tears (at least that I saw!) and our youngest students enjoyed showing their new P.E. teachers how quickly they can run and their art teachers their handiwork. It was such fun this morning watching students and parents organize new gym shoes and backpacks, and explore new classrooms.
As we begin our new school year and welcome the largest, most diverse group of students in our history, we cherish the opportunity this gives us to make friends and work across differences. At MICDS, ours is a big tent and the learning environment our students enjoy is enriched by our collective diversity, whether geographical, religious, or ethnic. We are looking forward to our International Expo in January, which will allow us all to share our international experiences and explore those of other families within our school community.
Our students come to us from many different neighborhoods around the greater St. Louis area representing 65 different zip codes and 88 different public, private, religious and independent schools and preschools. This year, 29% of our students identify themselves as students of color and 40 different languages and dialects other than English are spoken in our students’ homes. We are proud of these statistics, as the MICDS student population truly reflects the St. Louis metro area, and prepares our students for the global community that awaits them.
In addition to our student body, we welcomed new faculty members to our MICDS community. Some of our new colleagues have been teaching for the better part of three decades and some have recently completed their doctorate. They all represent some of the best and brightest in their fields. I am so excited to welcome these talented educators, as I know they will contribute positively to the learning environment by demonstrating an abiding interest in our students, expertise in their disciplines and a strong commitment to their craft as teachers.
Last summer, the campus was undergoing a major transformation with the construction of McDonnell Hall and Brauer Hall. Through an intense effort from everyone involved, we were able to open our new facility for our students as they returned from Spring Break in March. While this summer’s work is not as immediately noticeable as the new building, it is important work that enables us to deliver a truly transformative learning experience to our students.
In the two short months since school ended, our faculty and staff have worked diligently planning for the coming year, and from special events to professional development to summer enrichment activities, the campus has been alive and busy! Here are a few highlights:
- The state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor learning spaces in and around McDonnell Hall and Brauer Hall were the perfect settings for the Sustainability Institute Workshops in June. MICDS partnered with Webster University to host this annual Institute which draws JK-12 educators from across the region. The workshops focused on the power of water education and the many sustainable features of the new STEM facility provided engaging examples and hands-on learning opportunities.
- All faculty and staff participated in thoughtful and thought-provoking professional development that ranged from understanding cross cultural communication to how to achieve extraordinary productivity.
- Teachers led student trips to Peru, Yellowstone National Park and Washington, D.C.
- Many teachers embarked on professional development trips that took them to the Galapagos Islands, to Dallas, to New York City and many destinations in between to hone their craft, be inspired by new ideas and best practices in their disciplines, and model lifelong learning.
- All faculty and staff participated in our annual Day of Caring – volunteering at 10 different United Way agencies throughout St. Louis.
- The Board of Trustees, along with the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, has worked diligently setting the foundation and framework for the School’s next Strategic Plan. We are interested in hearing everyone’s voice and ask that you save the date for the School’s Jam session on October 9, 2014.
- We were also able to upgrade some other facilities, including structural improvements to the Beasley Cafeteria, the installation of a new state-of-the-art sound system in Mary Eliot Chapel, and the addition of five wireless projectors to Messing Library.
- And, of course, we had many students, campers and visitors on campus participating in the various enriching summer experiences offered by MICDS, including Camp Pegasus, ¡Aventureros!, Eliot Summer Academy, Summer Stock Theater and a plethora of sports camps.
I encourage each of you to join us on Thursday, August 28, for our annual News You Can Use event. This event is for all parents and will give us the opportunity to share important information and resources with you that demonstrate our purposeful approach to the way we work with your children and manage our School. The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Brauer Auditorium. To RSVP.
I look forward to seeing you all on campus. As I reminded students this morning, we are headed into a year filled with infinite possibilities. It is our chance to make it the best year ever! We are delighted you are part of that effort.
Head of School