Principal’s Vantage Point — Winter 2018

Dear Parker Community,

I hope you and your families enjoyed a refreshing holiday break. Thanks to the energy, engagement and steady effort of students, teachers, staff and parents, Parker is thriving in its mission to educate for citizenship and character.

Character and Citizenship: Parker’s Primary Focus
This year we have heightened our exploration of citizenship and character throughout the school. Like all educational issues, we approach the responsibility of citizenship as a developmental experience that must resonate with students, and adults, across all age groups. We understand citizenship to be more than the act of each person casting a vote as an expression of voice and interest. We also understand citizenship to be a collective commitment to support the development of character among its citizens, empowering both the individual and the community to nurture the necessary emotional, social and cognitive skills required for courageous empathy and collaborative action.  

Our shared commitment to connect the development of character with the development of citizenship is central to Parker’s strategic vision to create greater and more equitable access for all children to the excellence of a Parker education. This vision is rooted in the teachings of Colonel Parker who believed that education empowers the individual to do “all in his power to the best good of all.”

This message resonates today as our nation prepares to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King showed us through his words and actions how to understand and appreciate the best of our nation’s values and what people can accomplish for the greater good when working together for the sake of all. In their respective ways and times, both Colonel Parker and Dr. King believed that education should enlighten people with knowledge about equity, inclusion and justice and that education should empower people to act freely and with a sense of shared respect and common purpose. In this way, Parker stands as a vital local and national resource dedicated to educate students, and adults, to be responsible, educated citizens and leaders in a democratic society and global community.

Educating for Citizenship
Across the school, students are engaged in projects that connect with different aspects of citizenship. Here are a few examples from this year to date.

  • Intermediate and Middle School faculty and staff began the year thinking about and discussing the types of power that we model for our students across grades four through eight and the types of power we see students exercise at school. Leading up to Eric Liu’s visit to Parker on September 25, their focus was on civic power, in particular. Together they watched and discussed a video on the six sources of civic power. The IS/MS teachers and staff have taken on Liu’s challenge to work with students to build a more inclusive and just school community by seeking opportunities to be useful to one’s community, imagining a better community for all, and circulating power for the greater good when we as individuals acquire it. This message empowered two fourth graders to organize and lead a teach-in in our new library in which they encouraged all to practice responsible composting at school and at home.
  • In the Upper School, members of our junior class have been active in our Civic Lab program which aims to transform the school’s mission into action by promoting active citizenship and civic engagement. The Lab provides space for building relationships and connections, advocating for social justice, and enriching our understanding of how systems of marginalization shape institutions and structures of privilege, advantage and disadvantage in our history and in present-day society. This year, our students are working with groups that focus on women’s rights, creating a sensible drug policy, LGBTQ community rights, students with autism and support of immigrant rights. Students in our Social Entrepreneurship class are currently forming their own start-ups and entrepreneurial endeavors, learning to write a business plan, create a pitch and present it to an audience of local entrepreneurs. The student entrepreneurs are keeping social good in mind as they design their distinctive business models around their product or service. Our photography students have created a compelling exhibit in the Kupcinet Gallery featuring, in both images and words, important statements about citizenship. In addition, we are also excited about two upcoming student-led intellectual forums: a symposium, Journalism and Society Today: News in a Post-Truth Nation, which will bring together Chicago-area students and professional journalists with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to explore the changing landscape of the field of journalism, and a Model UN conference at Parker involving student participants from a range of high schools.

Upcoming Citizen Education Initiatives

School Climate Survey:  Later this month, parents and alumni will receive a confidential school climate survey conducted by our DEI consultant, Dr. Derrick Gay. Faculty and staff and students in grades 6–12 filled out the survey in December. The results of the survey will be used to help set the course for Parker’s future strategic diversity, equity and inclusion program development. Dr. Gay’s consultation included workshops with the administration, board, faculty and staff, and 6–12th grade students. In addition, he met with the Parents’ Association and all parent grade chairs and volunteer committee heads in an effort to reach all parent leaders who are in a position to impact the Parents’ Association’s goal to increase inclusivity and parent engagement.

Upcoming Public Events

Joan W. Harris Visiting Music Scholar in Residence presents

The Chamber Music Society
of Lincoln Center

Monday, January 22 | 7 p.m.>


11th Annual Robert A. Pritzker Visiting Scientist•Inventor•Engineer in Residence Program presents

Professor Rick Stevens on
The Future of Computing and its Impact on Science and Society

Tuesday, January 30 | 7 p.m. >

A full listing of events is available here.

With best wishes for the New Year ahead,


Daniel B. Frank, Ph.D. ’74

Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.