From the Director: Keeping a promise

by Vince Durnan, director

Since you'll hear from me less often in our reconstructed monthly USN Newsletter, I am leaving you with the full text of An Educational Safari.
Welcome to what will now be a monthly K-12 newsletter for USN, successor to the weekly version of recent years. Now the weekly offering comes from the Lower, Middle, and High Schools respectively, with content specific to those grade ranges—and it's all in direct response to what we heard last year in surveys and focus groups hosted by Juanita Traughber, our close-listening communications director.
 
So that leaves me clogging your inbox just a little less, but appreciating this opportunity a little more. And to make up for the summer hiatus, there’s a link to an uncommonly voluminous travelogue from last year’s nationwide school visits. For those of you who are new to USN or otherwise not clued into our storyline, here's the premise:

Emerging from our Centennial celebration year, and with lots of nuts and bolts projects completed, the opportunity opened to think more deeply about USN in its optimum next-generation form. Our Board assented when I asked to create a group for visiting schools coast to coast, in search of educational reform happening right now. That ended up meaning more than three dozen campus visits in a basket full of cities, thanks to the kind hospitality of colleagues.
 
Those visits helped us identify key questions to pose to the entire USN community, in a survey taken by more than a thousand constituents, late last spring. The one-line summary of results, referenced directly in the upcoming issue of 2000 Edgehill, our semi-annual magazine, is that people mostly like what we do, though they are open to us bringing initiatives forward.
 
The Board will spend a full day Monday, Sept. 18 considering the best next steps for our school, and I'm grateful in advance for their wise governance. My guess is we'll spend quality and quantity time this year honing in on priorities, and you'll hear progress reports along the way, with chances to weigh in. We're committed to preserving the heart and soul of our current program, while at the same time invoking the spirit of innovation that put our predecessor Peabody Demonstration School here in the first place.
 
To get a sense of what’s out there nationally in terms of rethinking how best to do school, here’s a link to the summary that July provided me time to write, as I promised I would share results last school year. It's too long for a magazine article and too short for a book, but it captures the basics of what we saw and how that registered with our hard working group of intrepid travelers. Any shortcomings are mine—and impressive elements are the work of the group and of our hosts.
 
If you’d like a hard copy (or two), just let me know or stop by the office. Thanks, as always, for reading. Looking forward to my next turn to write.
 
Bravo new USN Newsletter,
Vince
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