Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Annual Meeting Message 8-1-2012

I am very blessed to be beginning my 32nd year at MHS. We are all very busy and excited about the new school year.

Currently we have 592 Students enrolled, up from our final enrollment last year of 561. So far this year we have 106 new students with a 96% retention rate from last year's enrollment.

In May forty-six seniors graduated with 96% of them receiving college scholarship offers in excess of $3.5 million. Seven members of the class scored 29 or above on the ACT, and currently, we have an additional 12 students with a 29 or above on their ACT. We feel that at least one of our seniors has an excellent chance of being named a National Merit Finalist.

Last year, through the generous donations of our Parents' Club, we were able to purchase 25 MacBooks, 25 iPads for the elementary, and 25 Google Chromebooks for the fifth and sixth grade. The devices were used in a variety of ways. The elementary students used the apps on the iPad to supplement their reading, language arts, math and science courses. The seventh and eighth students were required to produce a technology project in each of their classes, and the online personal finance class taught by Coach Coleman kept the MacBooks in use round the clock during the school day. This summer the Parents' Club purchased an additional 25 MacBooks for grades 7-12, and this fall have plans to purchase an additional iPad cart for the elementary.

We talk a lot about technology, but our teachers see it as just one of the tools to use in the classroom, and not as a replacement for good sound teaching. I am very pleased with the job that Allyson Mitchell, the Elementary Principal, and Brooke Howell, the Academic Dean, are doing with the supervision and professional development of the faculty and staff. Our teachers have been very receptive because, after all, they want to be the best they can be for our students and your children.

Part of the busy summer we've had is due to the new strategic technology initiative that we are calling iMHS. Partnering with Apple, this initiative will put an Apple device (MacBook, iPad, or iTouch) in the hands of each MHS student over the next few years. This fall we are rolling out new 13" Apple MacBook Air computers for all our seniors and their teachers. Because of generous corporate and individual donations, there will be no cost to the students other than a case and insurance to protect it from damage or theft. These devices will be used in the classrooms, as well as taken home each night. As an additional part of the initiative, throughout the summer the teachers have participated in several professional development workshops to learn more about Google docs, Google Drive, the Hai-Ku Learning Management System, as well as how to create podcasts and edit videos. 

I think this is going to be a quantum leap for us when the strategic plan is fully implemented. Our graduates are already required to have 21st century skills like creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration once they enter college and the workforce. Our littlest Chiefs will graduate in world that utilizes technology in ways we can't even imagine. To help our students transition to this new paradigm of teaching and learning over the next few years, our faculty will mix our traditional teaching methods with new project and inquiry based learning.

I'm excited that MHS is the first school in the area to rollout this sort of program. We have always been viewed as leaders for not only other independent schools, but also for education in area as a whole. Certainly a project like our 1:1 Technology Initiative not only solidifies our role as an leader, but as an innovator as well. 

We are all looking forward to a great year. I want to urge you to get involved. There are no booster clubs to join because as MHS parents you are already members of the Parents' club and Chiefs' Athletic Booster club. Just look for opportunities to serve and get involved with your child's class or your athlete's team. We always need your help.
Thank you again for the opportunity serve as your head of school.