infrastructure Dr. Brett Jacobsen Head of School
In the winter edition of The Mount Vernon Magazine, I informed the Mount Vernon Presbyterian School community of the 13 different initiatives launched during the 2009-2010 school year. Teachers, parents, students, administrators, and Trustees have played an integral role in the research, development, collaboration and success of each initiative. In addition, participating in 27 parent coffees and 17 Middle School and Upper School student lunches throughout the school year allowed me the privilege of becoming more acquainted with our parent community and student body as well as receiving important feedback for the future of our beloved school. Culminating to this point, I want to take the opportunity to provide an executive summary to the committee work as well communicate some important innovative changes impacting every facet of the Mount Vernon community.
Innovation 101: Consumers vs. Producers The Mount Vernon Center for Design Thinking will launch in August 2010. In its inception, the scope of The Center will focus on one or two grade-levels in the Lower School grades. Eventually, its reach will impact every grade-level at Mount Vernon. What is design thinking? Based on a model developed by Stanford Universityâ€™s Institute of Design, better known as d.school, Mount Vernon students will identify real world issues, collaborate through research, test their results, and produce prototypes to impact the world rather than simply consuming information, recalling facts, and never applying them to the relevant, applicable global marketplace
confronting their future. Mary Cantwell, Lower School science teacher, will assist the School in starting this innovative program unique to Atlanta independent schools.
Top Academic Priority During the fall and spring semesters, a writing committee consisting of faculty members in Preschool through Upper School developed a vertical writing program within the curriculum framework of the 21st century learner-centered model addressing critical thinking/ problem-solving, collaboration and leading with influence, adaptability and agility, initiative and entrepreneurship, effective communication, gathering and analyzing information, and curiosity and imagination. Researching best practices and innovative models within in this framework, they explored the components of writing, vocabulary, grammar, research, and reading/literature. As a result, the committee was able to identify strengths, gaps, overlaps, and areas the School needs to reprioritize for the future. In summary, the committee made the following recommendations to the School: â€˘ Writing is not limited to language arts; rather it is a shared responsibility, and learning to write with clarity and correctness is a process that occurs when students have multiple opportunities and venues to practice writing and receive feedback. Therefore, writing must occur in all subject areas.
• A consistency in the teaching of writing at all grade levels must exist. Mount Vernon teachers will collaborate and work together in all subject areas in order to create consistent expectations, plans, rubrics, and assessments.
They addressed key areas of collegial responsibility, instructional skills, professional growth, and personal qualities. Along with feedback from the entire faculty and staff, the committee painted the following portrait of a MVPS teacher:
• Mount Vernon must be very active in providing in-depth, consistent professional training of the writing program for all faculty and staff. Members of the writing committee will be available for on-going support to ensure success with implementing writing ac ross the curriculum. A parent workshop should be offered to provide home strategies so that parents can be an effective partner in his or her child’s writing experience and growth.
Mount Vernon Presbyterian School faculty…
• are dedicated to cooperate and collaborate with stakeholders in every aspect of school life. • utilize research-based best practices and 21st century skills in ongoing design and implementation of teaching, and assessment of learning in order to maximize student achievement. • are committed to a growth mindset modeling for students how to learn, to grow, and to expand one’s own practice.
• Each teacher is required to provide an environment so that students can master specific skills outlined in the program for their grade-level. The process is crucial for students to be prepared for the next grade-level and/or divisionlevel.
• exhibit personal qualities consistent with relationship building grounded in Christian values and moral integrity.
• Grade-level teams will meet at the end of each academic year to re-evaluate progress and to share ideas for the upcoming school year.
In addition to the stated standards for every teacher and staff member to embody, the committee developed a learner-center evaluation/observation process based on a rapidly changing educational landscape to recognize teacher contributions to the total life of the School and to provide professional improvement in order to create leaders of the 21st century. The implementation of the standards of professional excellence and observation/evaluation system will commence in August 2010.
The purpose of the writing focus as a top academic priority at Mount Vernon is to develop creative and sophisticated thinkers for the 21st century who have higher order reasoning skills, aptitude in both oral and written communication, ability necessary for national performance assessments in all subject areas, and future academic success in college and beyond. All students must strive to produce written work that exhibits an understanding of purpose, incisive reasoning, and grammatical precision. Whether an art critique, a lab report, an analytical essay, a poem, or a traditional research paper, student writing improves with continual, rigorous practice, and constructive feedback. As the top academic priority permeating throughout all disciplines, this skill will last a lifetime.
Early Learning Center and Lower School Administrative Restructure During the spring, I have been discussing with Reverend Joe B. Martin of Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church the possibility of incorporating the “Mother’s Morning Out” program into the School. As a result, Mount Vernon is seeking a license from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning in order to serve infants to age 3. If the School is able to obtain a license in the appropriate timeframe, the program will be made available to MVPS staff first, school and church families, and the broader Atlanta community if space allows. More information about this program expansion will be forthcoming in the very near future. Kandy Lau has been named the Director of the Early Learning Center and will
Portrait of a MVPS Teacher During the fall and spring semesters, a committee comprised of administrators and faculty members representing the Preschool, Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School developed characteristics of professional excellence at Mount Vernon. 2
and engage corporate partners, foundation leaders and donors. She has a reputation for a strong work ethic, high energy level, approachability and a commitment to the success of the cause. She will work closely with Martha Moore, Associate Director of Development. Please welcome Lauren, her husband, Brad, and their two children, who will be attending Mount Vernon in the fall.
complete her responsibilities as Head of Lower School K-2 at end of school year. Effective June 5, 2010, Kelly Hilton-Green will become the Head of the Lower School (Grades K-6). In his 6th year at Mount Vernon, Kelly has been extremely visible, approachable, and accessible. He has proven to be a collaborative leader amongst the faculty, parents, and students and is a strong advocate for vertical re-alignment of curriculum, progressive professional development opportunities, and innovation in the classroom. In advance, thank you for supporting and encouraging Kelly as he takes on the awesome responsibility of leading the Lower School.
2. M arketing/Communications. As you know, Nancy Eder joined
MVPS in December from the Marcus Institute as the Marketing and Communications Director. She has been an invaluable resource this semester conducting a full assessment of our internal communications process, branding, media relationships, and external market. Her discussions with staff members, parents, and students have been extremely beneficial for bringing greater exposure to the School in Atlanta in the future. In addition to her duties as Media Specialist and Interim Term Director for the Glenn Campus, Molly Christian will join Nancy as the Communications Coordinator as well as keeping our alumni base well informed of all things Mount Vernon.
Advancement Restructure Commensurate with an advancement model found in some independent schools and many colleges and universities, MVPS will restructure the Department of Institutional Advancement beginning June 2010. As Head of School, I will serve as Chief Advancement Officer and three major interdependent divisions â€“ development, marketing and communications, and admissions â€“ will collaborate under the advancement umbrella rather than functioning as three separate entities.
3. Admissions. Mount Vernon is in search of a new Director of Admissions for the 2010-2011 school year. As a key partner
in the interdependent Institutional Advancement Division, this leadership position plays an integral role in cultivating relationships within and beyond the MVPS community. Specifically, the Director of Admissions oversees the program of admissions of new students from PS-12; leads a staff of admission counselors at each division-level; manages a strategic and systematic handling of inquiries, applications, and communication with prospective students and families; works closely with the Marketing and Communications Department in developing appropriate admissions materials; oversees the network of parents, students, and teachers to assist in the admissions program; and keeps relevant statistics on all aspects of the admission and re-enrollment program. Strong oral and written communication skills, strategic and innovative thinking, and servant-leadership qualities are important components in our search for the next Director of Admissions.
1. D evelopment. The School is pleased to announce the
appointment of Lauren Koontz as the new Director of Development beginning June 14, 2010. Lauren comes to Mount Vernon as a highly accomplished senior campaign and development manager directing local and national campaigns for Coxe, Currey & Associates, Atlantaâ€™s oldest and largest consulting agency for not-for-profit. In addition, she has served as the Director of Development for Emory University, Woodruff Health Sciences in the School of Medicine as well as the National Campaign Development Manager for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Lauren received her Bachelor of Business Administration, Management from the University of Georgia and her Master of Business Administration from Georgia State University. As a MBA-educated professional with broad-based experiences, she has the ability to create and cultivate valuable personal and professional relationships including strong skills to influence 3
The Big 4
beyond the current support base of parents to a Mount Vernon event. In turn, the events will increase school visibility, highlight the great things taking place, and provide additional resources to meet the short-term and long-term needs of the School. Recently, The Benefit raised a record of over $130,000. Proceeds from the event will equip our faculty with innovative tools and support them in pursuit of professional development opportunities including the Mount Vernon Fellowship. With these experiences, they will make a profound difference in the lives of Mount Vernon students in the 21st century.
The Fundraising Task Force, consisting of Board members, administrators, faculty and staff representatives, and parent volunteers, began in the fall reviewing all activities currently utilized to raise incremental funds outside annual tuition. They assessed existing activities, evaluated potential new venues, and developed a comprehensive strategy aimed at maximizing fundraising from diverse sources with the least impact on volunteer/staff resources. As MVPS continues to grow and expand curriculum, athletic and arts programs, the need to develop a cohesive strategy for developing alternative sources of funding will become increasingly critical. As a result, the committee recommended the following major fund raising priorities for the School:
Beyond the Walls During the spring semester, a committee of teachers, administrators, and parents were involved in one of the most important initiatives for the School. The Community Service and Outreach Committee examined the current structure of service projects from Preschool through the Upper School and began to develop a plan that engages MVPS students in a more outward service program beyond the walls of Mount Vernon in a consistent, continuous, and systematic way. The committee recommended for each grade-level to adopt an organization that students will corporately commit to throughout the school year. Also, the committee recommended that each division-level initiate four service days throughout the year. September 11, 2010, the annual Helping Hands Day, would kick-off the School’s service and outreach program for the year while the other service days would take place in November, January, and April. Many, if not all, of the current service projects, canned-food drives, Toys for Tots, etc. will remain as an important part of the program. However, Middle School and Upper School students will be required to complete additional service hours beyond the four major schoolplanned projects each year.
1. The Annual Fund has the highest priority of all the fund raising
events and must be viewed by all constituencies as the primary source of funds that make a diverse array of MVPS studentenriching programs possible. To maximize results, the Annual Fund needs clear delineation from all other fund raising activities. An acceptance that philanthropic giving to MVPS through the Annual Fund is an important part of every family’s relationship to the School needs to be developed and nourished. This is not only critical for fundraising, but also an indication of participation and commitment when pursuing grants from foundations, corporations, etc. 2. G eorgia Education Credit Allowance, created by the Georgia
Legislature in 2008, provides millions of dollars annually for private schools to use to assist qualified public school students who would like to attend private school but lack the financial capability to do so. This is not giving to the School like giving to the Annual Fund, but rather it is a prepayment of an individual’s Georgia state tax that happens to benefit MVPS. A video addressing the simple process as well as the tremendous impact of this program on Mount Vernon will be released soon.
Middle School Village Announced at the meeting for parents of rising 7th and 8th grade students, an enclosed modular building will be built on the east end of the gravel parking lot on the Glenn Campus. Completion of project in August 2010, this building will include ten classrooms fully integrated with technology, lockers, administrative offices, and restrooms for Middle School students. Providing additional classrooms to the Glenn Campus addresses five important components: (1) reduces the number of conflicts in scheduling students in grades 7-12; (2) allows the School to make additional courses available for students; (3) separates students in the Middle School and Upper School allowing each division to develop its unique culture while fitting in to the overall scheme of a PS-12 school; (4) plans for future growth as the School commences to progress through our building campaigns; and (5) reflects a strong need for funding from foundations in Atlanta.
3. The “All School Event” will be an exciting day where all students
in Preschool through Grade 12 will participate to strengthen school spirit, increase campus unity, and create pride in individual and group achievement. Ingredients for the day could include an all student parade, field day races, Upper School “powder puff” competitions, faculty/student competitions, family picnic with student entertainers, carnival-type rides, etc. As a PS-12 institution, this will become a significant tradition in the life of our school. 4. The major components of the “Community Outreach Event”
include The Benefit and Mustang Golf Tournament. Alternating every other year, the focus of these two events is to attract even more families and corporate sponsors in the greater Atlanta area 4
administrators, and parents about student performance in key areas of school achievement.” Over the next several years, the School will phase in the CTP 4 where all students in Grades 1-8 will take this important testing component.
As a way to broaden the responsibility of students in the Upper School, the School is proud to announce a new leadership program, The MVPS Prefect System, for the 2010-2011 school year. Prefects are student leaders selected by a committee from the junior class and senior class who possess a high degree of commitment to the School’s values and ideals. Their influence within the School community is based on their character demonstrated through service to the School. Prefects create impact within the community through servant leadership, deliberately avoiding special privileges. Prefects assume significant responsibilities in the daily life of the School. The following reflect the MVPS Prefects for the upcoming school year: Head Prefect, Ambassador Prefect,
As you can tell, this has been a very busy school year, but this is only the beginning. Rather than emulating an established educational model, Mount Vernon has a unique opportunity to set the standard for 21st century education preparing our students not to be college prep ready but to be life ready. We emerge from this extraordinary time to redirect our efforts, with every ounce of energy and passion we have, for the sustainability of this School. As you are, I am extremely proud of our accomplishments this year, but I look forward to a very bright future ahead.
Outreach Prefect, Student Life Prefect, Spiritual Life Prefect,
Have a blessed end of the school year.
Environmental Prefect, and Unity Prefect. All Prefects are
responsible for school spirit and shaping student perception about what it means to be a student at MVPS and maximizing student participation in the life of the School. Students in the junior and senior classes will be given the opportunity to apply for a prefect position and will be required to interview in front of a panel of a faculty committee.
ITBS vs. CTP 4 Historically, Mount Vernon has utilized the Iowa Tests for Basic Skills (ITBS) that includes, as a comparison to MVPS students, a large pool of mainly public and private school students across the country. In conjunction with the vertical re-alignment of the curricular standards, it will become important to assess our students using a higher standard such as the CTP 4 in comparing MVPS students against like independent schools. “Developed for ERB by Educational Testing Service to serve the needs of high achieving students and schools that aspire to higher standards, CTP 4 is a rigorous test battery designed to collect basic information about student achievement. When used in conjunction with comprehensive and accessible score reporting systems, data are organized to answer the important questions of teachers, 5