Monday, October 24, 2011

Riff for October 21: A New Brand

The school has officially rebranded—a new logo, a new website and even new magnets.  Before the rebranding, we had a full school assembly where I asked, “What is a logo?”  A fourth grader answered, “It is a symbol that represents a company.”  (Who knew our fourth graders went to Fuqua before matriculating at Duke School?)  After congratulating him for a great answer, I asked what thoughts does the new logo stimulate and the students starting firing off answers—modern, clean, professional and sophisticated.   They got it.  As Duke School works to position itself as the school of choice in Durham, we want our name to be synonymous with modernity and sophistication.  Further we want to send the message that our curriculum and pedagogy represent the best of 21st century education.  I think the logo carries some of that weight. 

We wanted the website to send some of the same messages.  As you know, the website is really divided into two portals—public and private.  We hope you find the private section personalized to your needs.  It should give you the information you want and need.  The public section is designed to help folks new to us to envision the school as we are.  The videos capture our program—its rigor powered by student engagement.  The advantage section touts our graduates’ success as well as the advantage of attending a 3 year-old-8 school.  The whole site speaks to a confident school positioned to help students master an ever-changing world.  It is exciting.

I want to thank the advancement team for their tireless work in getting the new brand ready.  I especially want to thank Danielle who spearheaded the project.

As we move forward remember to put the new sticker on your car, use your magnet and enjoy your cup.  It is an exciting time to be part of the Duke School community as we grow and improve.  As the kids like to remind me:  "We are dragons; we are real."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 6 Riff: Validation

From October 2—October 4, the accreditation team came, they saw and they were conquered.  Within 72 hours they interviewed groups of teachers, students, parents, board members, administrators, visited classes, and reviewed our finances. They trekked around the campus numerous times and were glad they brought comfortable shoes.  At the end, they made recommendations—we need to hire more diverse faculty members, we need to do a better job with marketing and we should think about changing our signs.  Then they started their commendations:

·      They commended the faculty for their outstanding constructivist teaching,
·      They commended the strong overall academic program,
·      They commended our project based curriculum and urged we keep it,
·      They commended the strength of the communication between school and parents,
·      They commended the school’s strong sense of community, and
·      They commended the skill and dedication of the administrative staff. 

I literally chocked up hearing Marcia Spiller, our accreditation chair (and Chair of the National Association of Independent Schools board) sharing the team’s accolades at a school-wide faculty meeting.  The team concluded that Duke School is excellent at doing the most important thing--preparing our children for their future.  One team member said he so enjoyed visiting our classrooms that the three days felt like a vacation.   It is great to have an outside group validate your program; it is even better to know our children are getting the best education has to offer.  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Reflection for September 30: Vibrant and Exciting

Every five years, a team from SAIS (Southern Association of Independent Schools) visits Duke School to determine if the school is worthy of reaccreditation.  That team comes Sunday and stays through Tuesday. They will visit classes, interview parents, faculty, staff, board members, and students.  In a short time, they will learn a lot about us.  While such a visit causes some anxiety, I am confident the team will see a vibrant, exciting school giving its children the skills they need to succeed in high school and beyond.  I cannot wait to get their report.