Dear Parker Community,
Gratitude and Citizenship
Celebration and gratitude mark the close of our school year, a year in which we have paid close attention to our core reason for being: to educate students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.
I am grateful to students and adults in our school community, who, through their hard work and generosity of spirit, have inspired growth and learning throughout Parker.
We can all celebrate how their individual and collective efforts stimulated insights and understanding, leading our students to gain knowledge, develop skills and gain self-confidence as young citizens. These achievements empower our students to think for themselves and listen to others, moving them to explore and thrive in their growing commitment to make the world more just, equitable and inclusive.
Same Mission, New Statement
Parker’s mission has remained constant for more a than century. Yet, every seven years, we review the articulation of our central purpose and core values.
Our mission and vision statements name our shared commitments and responsibilities and guide our deliberate approach to educate Parker students. The aspirational language we use in these statements describes our intended goals and informs our daily educational efforts. These public affirmations of Parker’s core values and purpose link us to our past, ground us in the present and open us toward our future. They inspire us to resonate with each of our students in ways that affirm their individual spirits and strengthen their ambitions.
This year, the process to review and improve these important documents was part of the first phase of our upcoming school accreditation process governed by ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States). More than 100 Parker educators, including our Educational Council, participated in the drafting process. Recently, the Board of Trustees endorsed Parker’s newly articulated mission and vision statements. These statements will guide Parker’s work in the coming years.
Click here to read Parker’s new Mission and Vision Statements.
Our Mission in Action
This year’s Francine C. Rosenberg Lecturer, Eric Liu, encouraged all of us to be citizen-leaders in a talk stemming from his book, You Are More Powerful Than You Think. Throughout the year, students in all grade levels engaged in learning how exercise their citizenship. In addition to their daily classroom experiences, students led initiatives such as The Journalism and Society Today symposium and the March 16 National School Walk Out. They learned from visiting thought leaders including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Rami Nashashibi, Rick Stevens, Julie Lythcott-Haims, David Farber, along with Wu Han and other members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, all of which provided additional opportunities for students to reflect on what citizens can accomplish together through collaborative leadership.
In addition to this school year’s news, below are a few examples of that illustrate the imaginative ways Parker students represent our mission.
First grade teacher Bev “Greenie” Greenberg has teamed up with The Peace House, which provides Englewood community members with a space for solace and stress relief through through free yoga and urban farming. Since its inception, The Peace House has become a place where people from the neighborhood have come to learn, create and get to know one another. Read more about Greenie’s work and how the collaboration has grown here.
For many years, our 4th grade students have held the coveted role of “K-Walkers” on campus. As K-Walkers, these students serve as personal chaperons to our youngest students, escorting them from morning drop-off to their classrooms under the watchful eye of Parker veteran employee Peter Hofmann, who trains them for this important work. In their training, K-Walkers learn important safety measures and conversation skills that help ease the transition from home to school for Junior and Senior Kindergarten students.
Intermediate and Middle School years are a time of complex social and emotional growth, and the responsibility of being a K-Walker encourages and exercises that social-emotional intelligence, allowing students to grow in empathy and citizenship. While there are numerous opportunities for students to participate as engaged citizens at school, for Intermediate School students, K-Walking is special. It is a Parker tradition and one of the earliest moments in a child’s time at Parker when they are entrusted with a significant responsibility and actively engage as good stewards of their younger peers in a way visible to the community.
The National School Walkout protests in March brought students across the country together to call for legislation that responds to gun violence and presented the Parker community with an ideal opportunity to cultivate creative citizenship in our student body.
A number of our 8th grade students expressed a desire to organize and lead a student action against gun violence on the day of the walkout. These students demonstrated their solidarity with youth across America on a national day of student action that emerged from the activism of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Read more about the march and rally and see how our students engaged in action here.
This week, Parker held a film festival in the Harris Center where student films from our Creating Historical Documentaries class were shared with an audience of students, teachers, staff and parents. Click here to read more and view the films.
With deep appreciation to all Parker citizens, I wish you a happy and healthy summer.
Daniel B. Frank, Ph.D. ’74