I came to Orchard in 1997 from New York as the director of the middle school and then became head of school in 2000.
I had no idea in 1997 that I would spend the next sixteen years at Orchard.
These have been the most fulfilling and wonderful years of my professional career.
From my first day Orchard enchanted me.
Orchard pushed and challenged me professionally with deep and robust conversations about program, pedagogy, and what it means to be child-centered.
Prior to coming to Orchard, I taught the way I had been taught--mostly through lecture and direct teacher instruction.
Orchard helped me see the importance of empowering students with voice and choice in their learning.
To me, the essence of a progressive school like Orchard is its understanding that a child brings natural intellectual curiosity to school and that a school's foremost responsibility is to maintain that interest and engagement, a quality unfortunately missing in many schools today. Orchard wants its graduating 8th graders to move to high school with the same excitement and enthusiasm towards learning as when they entered preschool.
Orchard also gave me a deep appreciation for honoring and celebrating each child's uniqueness. Too often other schools narrowly define student success while Orchard encourages each child to find and develop his/her passion.
Since Orchard is such a tight-knit and supportive community, its students practice and develop empathy and inclusion and learn to recognize and strive to overcome injustice at school as well as locally, nationally, and globally.
Orchard's product is a graduate who is self-confident, self-assured, and eager to solve problems and face challenges.
At Orchard's’s core is a deep and unwavering belief in what is right for kids, even when it differs from what other schools offer or from what is currently in fashion in education.
It’s this idealism from its founding in 1922 that influenced me the most.
Here is a link to a recent Ted Talk from educationalist Sir Ken Robinson that to me captures what Orchard strives to do for its students: Click for Link
Among many heads of school, school headship is cynically viewed as a “lonely job", yet for me it has never been lonely. Both the Board of Governors and Trustees know their roles and responsibilities, make decisions in the long-term best interest of the school, and never micromanage. The school administration is comprised of consummate professionals, and the faculty and staff are incredibly creative and dedicated. The parents support the school and its mission with time, talent, and treasure, and, most important, the kids come to school every morning with joy, excitement, and an ever-present infectious smile on their faces!
The most common descriptor people have of Orchard is "It's a happy school", and I couldn't agree more.
I leave Orchard with wonderful memories and lasting friendships.
Indianapolis is the city my kids grew up in and will always call home, and Orchard is where they spent the majority of their school years. Orchard's campus has been my home--and my literal backyard--for the past ten years!
Since coming back to school from Spring Break, I faced the reality of leaving Orchard after sixteen years. As such, I am cherishing each and every one of my final days at Orchard--from OIB to the Spring Pageant to next week's graduation.
I thank all of you—faculty, staff, trustees, governors, and especially the kids (including the nearly 1000 8th graders I've seen graduate)--for making my job as head of school so enjoyable, rewarding, and so much fun!
I will deeply miss you and look forward to following the continued success of Orchard and its graduates.