June 14, 2017

Yesterday was a busy day at Willard. I am a bit embarrassed to say that I found myself the center of a great deal of attention and fanfare.

We celebrated our last All School Assembly yesterday afternoon. This assembly was planned and led by grade 5 students and staff. I expected it would be our usual end-of-year assembly when we bring the year to closure by acknowledging the departure of 5th graders as they prepare to transition to Middle School and saying goodbye to students who are moving away or leaving for private school. It’s also the time when we say goodbye to departing staff members. Yesterday, we said goodbye to Willard tutors Ms. Rellstab, Ms. Rogers, Ms. Sharick and to teachers Mrs. Lyons, Mrs. Chafe and Mrs. Shear. What I did not expect was a special acknowledgment of my retirement with special words of thanks and best wishes from a number of 5th graders, a special goodbye song from the Willard Chorus, and the presentation of balloons. I was very moved by this special send-off! Ms. Bethell led us all in an enthusiastic rendition of the song Charlie and MTA and the assembly concluded with the school song, “We’re Willard”.

As if that wasn’t enough, the PTG invited the Willard community, past and present, to attend an Ice Cream Social Reception in my honor yesterday evening. I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the PTG for hosting this wonderful Ice Cream Social. Not only did current Willard students and families attend, but many former Willard students and parents also came by to say hello. I was very moved by the tremendous number of attendees and by the outpouring of kind comments and well wishes that I received. I would like to offer special thanks to PTG Co-Presidents Lindsay Boger and Candace Root for spearheading this celebration and for sharing their kind words of thanks and praise. I also want to extend my gratitude to Polly Meyer and Tina Labadini, current Willard parents and former PTG Co-Presidents, for their lovely comments.

As I close out my professional career, I can say emphatically that my 17 years at Willard School have been the highlight of my career. The combination of a strong staff, cooperative parents, a generous PTG, and enthusiastic, happy, and kind-hearted students make the Willard School Community second to none. I leave with many fond memories that I will treasure for years to come.

Congratulations to the following Willard parents who were voted on to the Willard School Advisory Council: Terri Bono, Shaina Brito, and Tamara Myles. I am sure that they will be good additions to SAC over the course of their two-year terms.

The Willard Leadership Team and I spent a good deal of time analyzing homework research during this school year. This information was shared with the Willard staff during the April and May Faculty Meetings. I plan to send a summary of the conclusions that we reached as a staff regarding homework in the next week. That information will be sent via email.

The PTG hosted 5th Grade Fun Day at the Thoreau Club this year. Fifth grade students, their teachers, a few chaperones, and I traveled to the Thoreau Club for supervised swimming and outdoor games. The weather was perfect; it was sunny and warm. Many children spent time swimming. In addition to two pools, students had plenty of other opportunities to enjoy. They played badminton, soccer, and engaged in craft activities in a shaded tent. The PTG provided pizza and snacks. The students were very well behaved and everyone had a great time. Thank you to the Committee Co-Chairs: Tina Labadini, Beth Athanasoulas, and Lynn Creamer.

The 5th Grade Celebration is scheduled for today at 10:30 AM in the Willard Auditorium. This event marks the end of the elementary school experience for our students. Students have worked hard to plan their brief remarks pertaining to their time at Willard. They will share their comments during the celebration and will view a special 5th grade slideshow. After the celebration, students will receive special certificates and a copy of the 5th grade yearbook. It is sure to be a special day.

Finally, in keeping with a long-standing Willard tradition, all students and staff will gather at dismissal on Friday, June 16th to applaud for our 5th graders as they make their way out of the building for the last time as Willard students. This is a bittersweet event. Students will exit out the back of the building and take the long walk along the perimeter of the building adjacent to the upper fields. Parents are invited to come and join us on the periphery. Dismissal is at 12:30 PM.

As always, thank you for all you do for Willard School.