Carrying the Mantle of Leadership
THE WORRIES of playground scrapes and the pressures of college admission sometimes blind us to the fact that each and every Country Day student is already among society’s most likely to succeed. Which schools in our community are educating tomorrow’s leaders? Country Day heads anyone’s list. That is both an extraordinary endorsement and a grave responsibility.
Our classrooms and athletic fields are the training grounds for future parents leading their own families.
Country Day students will one day fuel our spirits in concert halls and places of worship. They will lead businesses paying wages to scores of employees, and they will be champions in science and medicine, improving the quality of life for countless people.
What does it mean to carry the mantle of leadership?
Visitors to the newly opened Purdy Center for Science and Math and Hance Lower School Learning Center might conclude state-of-the-art facilities are an essential part of the mix. Indeed, those new buildings rank among the best of their kind in the nation. Yet, a visit to our dining hall or older classroom buildings is convincing proof that Country Day is an educational leader despite the handicaps imposed by an aging physical infrastructure. In respect of facilities, the best evidence of our leadership resides in the messy construction underway. Leaders are not perfect; rather, they are always perfecting. Just as we seek always to improve Country Day as an institution, so do we strive to inculcate a passion for advancement through learning in Country Day students. Leaders are learners.
Virtually every aspect of the life awaiting our graduates is undergoing rapid, and quickening, change. Thus, Country Day Ready now requires much more than acquiring advanced subject matter skill or knowledge. Becoming a flexible and lifelong learner, curious and eager to gain new knowledge and develop new skills, is more essential than ever. To cultivate learning passion and excellence, teachers and coaches seek to foster in students two signature leadership qualities: humility and confidence, in balanced measure. Only the confident take risks, whether writing a poem for the first time or stepping onto the field with a tough adversary; only the humble seek unfamiliarity and challenge as pathways to improvement. Leaders are equally confident and humble.
Country Day’s commitment to raising children to be leaders and lifelong learners has been a winning formula. In the past year, Country Day students led the pack yet again. The Class of 2018 included a Morehead-Cain Scholar (our fifth in six years), 12 college athletes, and $10.6 million in scholarship offers. All 22 of our International Baccalaureate graduates were awarded that prestigious, internationally recognized, diploma. Student actors and actresses won state and regional awards, and our state champion Odyssey of the Mind team placed sixth in the world in a global competition. Across all grade levels and by many measures, Country Day ranks at or near the top when compared to peer schools. This year, our educational leadership attracted record-breaking enrollment. Over 96% of prior year’s non-graduating students rejoined us this fall, and our total student population reached 1,686. Leaders deliver exceptional results.
The tallest buildings stand on the deepest foundations. For generations, Country Day families have understood that leadership costs more than tuition alone. Noteworthy examples include extraordinary professional development programs to invest in lifelong learning for teachers, tuition assistance to insure our community comprises a diversity of life experiences from which all gain fresh perspective, and physical spaces designed to foster growth and development, all made possible by financial generosity. In the year just ended, annual gifts to the Country Day Fund neared $2.3 million, our endowment reached over $62 million, and capital gifts toward strategic priorities exceeded $28.6 million, all record-setting figures and a testament to the value we place on investing in our children’s education. To all of those who have made Country Day a philanthropic priority, I offer the thanks of a grateful community.
These are exciting and transformational times for Charlotte Country Day and for education generally. Thank you for entrusting us as a partner in raising the next generation. For our Board of Trustees, faith in this great institution imposes a humbling burden of responsibility. At the same time, our reciprocal trust in the strength of the entire school community makes us confident that Country Day will continue to deliver tomorrow’s leaders.