Message from the Headmaster
We are wrapping up a really good year and I am definitely looking forward to the slightly more relaxed atmosphere of the summer. At least, I can put the neckties away until late August! We have accomplished a tremendous amount and our enrollment trends are testimony to how well our efforts are being received. I appreciate all of your volunteer labor, financial support, and kind words.
The other day, I was giving an admissions tour to a prospective family and I was running through my usual litany of school improvements and the exciting accomplishments of our students. I was pleased the prospective parent seemed excited but then they turned to me and asked, â€œWhat is next?â€ This is a great question and, fortunately for me, it is one that we ask ourselves frequently. Improvement is not a one-time issue; rather, it is a continuous mindset that requires an institution to always think about the next step.
My answer was that we needed an increased emphasis on technology, and by this, I do not mean more computers in the classroom or increased use of digital texts. I mean actually teaching students how to solve novel problems via the use of computer programming. I mean teaching kids how to write code. Earlier this year, Bill Gates was asked what is the most important thing a student can learn in school and his immediate reply was the ability to write computer programs, or code. For students with a strong interest in mathematics and the sciences, writing code will be the logical extension of the problem solving process.
This skill is rarely taught in secondary schools yet it has been repeatedly identified as one of the most important skills necessary for an increasingly large number of future professions. AMOS (at my old school), we began a four year sequence in the computer sciences designed to place a graduate in the best engineering schools in the nation. Five years after we began, that school was recognized by Microsoft as one of the ten best secondary computer science programs in the country.
We are still a step away from beginning such a computer science program but next year, we will be taking that first critical step. In our middle school, we will be partnering with the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech University to create an elective program designed for select students. This program will teach students the beginning steps necessary to understand novel problems and how to design computer based solutions. Taught by graduate students from Tech, this program will mark the first step in our commitment to creating one of the best secondary school computer science programs in the nation.
You will hear more about this program over the summer and while the initial offering will be limited to a single section of students, it is but the beginning of a robust curricular addition that will enhance the attractiveness of our future graduates. We are fortunate to be partnered with ICAT and I am confident that their unique approach, linking creativity and technology, is cutting edge and well conceived. I couldnâ€™t be more excited.