08 Sep Head’s Fall Welcome 2017
A new school year at Advent signals new opportunities to share and indulge in school traditions. One of the many beloved traditions that kicks off the start to each year is the Head’s Fall Welcome, held at Moseley Hall in The Church of The Advent.
The event is a night of celebration for a new year, and a place for reconnection of friendships within the Advent community.
A highlight from the evening is the Head of School’s welcome address, which is a formal recognition of the years that have passed, as well as an expression of anticipation for the school year that lies ahead.
You can read this year’s full welcome address given by Head of School, Nicole DuFauchard, below.
We are looking forward to a wonderful year, and to continue growing with our students on their journey through Advent!
Head of School Welcome Address
Good evening. Thank you all for joining us for our annual Head’s Fall Welcome. I have grown very fond of this event, a place where we as grownups can meet and greet, hug and catch up on our summer adventures, and even show off our fancy new fall clothes!
As always, I want to take a brief moment and introduce you to a few groups of people that help support Advent every day; folks you don’t always get a chance to interact with on a daily basis, but who support our mission.
The Finance and Operations team, who manage all things finance and facilities. Our Department of Learning Services, which coordinates all faculty, instruction, and student support. The Advent Advancement Team, which houses development, admissions, Next Schools, special events, community partnerships, volunteers, and data. The Enrichment team runs our summer programs, after school, vacation and makerspace Saturdays; and who is also now working hard across the street with child care. And my administrative support team, which coordinates the front desk and my office. A special thank you to Shakira Perry, my Executive Assistant, for coordinating this evening’s program.
I am also proud to introduce the New Parent Association Chairs: Kim McMahon Furmonavicius, Tera Lally, and Katie Gellenbeck, who have been working all summer to plan and coordinate events and supports for parents. And our Class Parents in the room this evening, if you can raise your hands as well. I also am sending regards from Seth Kaufman, our Board of Trustees Chair, who could not be with us tonight; I would love for our Board members in the room to say hello.
I would also like to give a round of applause for our new families here tonight. We welcome you to the Advent Community.
I want to start tonight off with two of my educational heroes.
Loris Malaguzzi and John Dewey. Here is my fan-geek moment. For educators, these two men considered not only what could be different in education, but what should be different. Dewey is one of the most formative thinkers of education.
If you haven’t read anything by him, I am going to give you the ultimate Cliffs Notes version of his theory: Dewey writes about the curriculum and the child. His theory states that without relationship, education is just information. He wrote that education is personal.
And Malaguzzi saw the child as a partner in that relationship. The idea that children have and should be given agency in their learning as a practice was a flip on all that education had previously stood for.
Although these have now become innovative ideas, Advent truly has always been on the forefront of this thought for the past 55 years. Its founding premise was derived from the ideas of democratic and progressive education.
The idea that children were more than vessels to fill, but seeing instead an opportunity to understand where each child is, and how to get them to what is next.
I started the year with our faculty considering perspectives. Perspectives of who we were as a school, who we are as a school, and who we want to be.
As we unpack this year as a faculty and explore our own identities, our diversity, and our understanding of our community’s diversity, I have been thoughtful about the perspectives of all of our constituencies and thought tonight was a good place to share some of the perspectives of the people and the relationships that make Advent so special.
I will premise with this tonight; this may be a little bit of a of a love fest, but as I enter year five, I have never been more proud of our Advent community. Tonight, I want to share that pride with you.
Our Children: Children that come to school every day with a boundless curiosity; who explore themes and academics that allow them to take risks and dig deep.
They take butterflies and turn them into research and theory; they take art and turn it into a different medium to understand fractions and area.
They understand their moods and calculate frequency, and determine the circumference of the group “feels”.
Our students find connections and relationships to content everyday, to lift and expand on difficult calculations and anatomy far beyond their years.
Our ECC students found that base 10 numbers weren’t enough to explain their learning, and decided to move to the 100’s.
Our Fourth Graders found that writing a good letter to their Congressmen wasn’t enough to engage in a discussion about the water crisis in Flint, and that the proof in the facts were in the numbers of children being bombarded with high level of lead, exceeding the limits tested in the lab.
Our Third Grade used a trip to the grocery store to talk about the cost of living in Boston, and asked questions of the sustainability of prices for the average family in the city.
Our children explore the city like a sponge, using every opportunity to test their skills, to question their assumptions, and to engage in the physical understanding of the world around them and the impact they make.
These are our children; engaging in their confidence and their strength as partners in their learning.
This is our faculty. Faculty that show up every day with a sense of possibility. They too are lifelong learners; they are dreamers and connectors. I say this every year and I said it to them on opening day. This faculty is the most collaborative, most open, most intentional group of people I know. They are models in collaboration for our children and for each other.
They assess children not only for what is on paper, but for who they are, where they want to go, and work to understand where they can go.
The teachers and staff in this building represent the heart of our community. They dig deep, they take risks, and they advocate for their children in ways that us as parents can see, and in ways that we cannot even imagine.
Their day is filled with assessment, evaluation, and benchmarking, but not only in a way that is pen to paper and strictly outcome; it is also about the students’ journey. Their reading, their math, their science; it is about their collaboration, their social emotional learning, their connection to the curriculum.
The joy of our daily work is this opportunity. Opportunity to be nimble, to pivot, and to take what we want to teach our students, and understand not only what we want them to know but what they want to know.
Why are we unique? As faculty we can say we know your child. Not just where they are on a test, but how they take the test, how they approach the test, how they engage in the test. The meaning of our work is to connect all that we do with them as individuals and as a community. We are in-relationship with our students and are honored to be in that relationship.
This is all of you! Our families that put their trust, passion, faith, and dreams into The Advent School. You show up, you give, and you engage to help us build a home and community that encompasses all of Boston. I said this yesterday to our newest members of our community.
We have families from Revere and Arlington, Roxbury, Dorchester, and from literally across the street. Each of you add value to our community through your time, your talents, and the generosity of funds to support the playground, to support program, to support faculty research, and to support each other.
You come each day with wonder that rivals your children and the understanding that the preparation your children receive in an urban elementary school is the foundation that will give them the rightful place they deserve when departing Advent in the Sixth Grade to go to the most prestigious private and public schools in the city.
You all have made a commitment that has propelled us to continuously be able to fulfill our School’s mission: Since 1961, The Advent School has stayed true to its founding vision: an urban school whose community reflects the diversity of Boston; a forward thinking curriculum that inspires and engages a child’s passion for learning; a commitment to social justice; and a culture of collaboration where every child has the confidence to take action in a connected world.
These are our alumni and alumni families. Changemakers who are Provosts, State Representatives, Head of Schools, Venture Capitalists, Yoga Instructors, Media moguls, Painters, Advocates, Lawyers, and Scientists, all using their foundations at Advent to lift their communities and their industries into the millennium with pride.
These are the people, the relationships, the connections of our community that continue to make us strong. I started tonight talking about my heroes in education. The educators that helped me find my path. As I look at all of you, I want to recognize my new heroes; our community.
This year we will be filled with possibility. We will walk with each of you in your child’s journey. We have expanded our Upper Grades program to include a new Advisory Program to support pre-adolescent children in preparation for the journey they will take next.
We have solidified our Department of Learning Services team to ensure best practice for our teachers, and continuous assessment and evaluation of our curriculum and students. This will be featured nationally at both the Progressive Educators Network Conference and the Educational Records Bureau Conference, which is the foremost assessment agency in the nation.
We will host John Nimmo at the Advent Collaborative, a renowned social justice educator for early education, and we are proud sponsors of the Wonder of Learning Exhibition, and will host educators from all over the world to learn not only about Reggio Emilia, but about what we do every day.
We will complete our community playspace, and be one of the only private elementary schools in the city with a dedicated playspace that not only reflects our aesthetic, but also brings greenspace to our environment, rivaling the city’s best playgrounds.
I will be reaching out to each of you to understand your perspectives, your passions, and your dreams as we take this journey together.
I will ask you to come in and meet with me to talk about the present and the future of Advent. I will continue to speak nationally on diversity, elementary school education, and social emotional learning through my work with the National Association of Independent Schools and Association of Independent Schools of New England.
Our faculty will research, present, and hone in on their craft. They will expand their perspectives and collaborate on committees that will redefine social justice, diversity, technology, professional development, and theme. They will take our students on an exploration of risks, and enable them to dig deep and understand who they are as learners. And they will hold your hand even when your child is ready to let go of it.
We will ask you to be present, to show up, to give, to advocate, and to represent Advent with the passion and wonder you have every day, as you all enter our building, as you drop off and pick up. Our Annual Fund volunteers will share their stories on why they give to Advent and the importance of a strong Annual Fund and giving program. Our Advancement Team and PA will find opportunities for you to volunteer in big ways, and in small ways that fit into your schedule. We are a community that is personal, and in-relationship.
As I start year five, I am excited for the future of Advent, for the community at Advent, and for the relationship we have. I told you tonight would be a love-fest, but really, tonight is an ode to this amazing community we call Advent.
Thank you for coming tonight, and thank you for taking this journey with us. I would like us to raise our glasses to another amazing year. As we close tonight, I remind you to introduce yourself to someone new and share your joy of Advent and the relationship we all now have with each other.
Thank you again, and have a great rest of the evening and a fantastic year.