Ted Talks: Almost Ready, but First a Little More Play Time

Ted Graf
With July winding down and as we return from adventure and play, back-to-school preparation is picking up across our three campuses. Before highlighting some of our summer projects, I hope you have enjoyed your summer and that you have gotten to play.
My summer has been full of epic road trips, expansive novels, lots of swimming in the Atlantic, and often hysterical play with friends and family on the East Coast. 

In order to ensure our campuses are always welcoming and suited to work and play, here's a brief summary of some of the work that happened this summer.
  • On the Springs Campus , we replaced a playscape and swing set, refreshed the playground, and made some modest improvements to the nap room near the Sage Sparrows classroom.
  • On the Creek Campus , we moved a wall to accommodate a full class of Upper Elementary, reconfigured the visual art room, and painted the fences.
  • On the River Campus , we repaired and painted Building 3 (housing Admissions and Photography), moved some offices, repaired many of the classrooms, and installed several external security cameras.
In addition to the work on the campuses, we hosted summer camps across the school, prepared for new faculty/staff orientation, updated and revised our handbooks, revised our administrative structure, and welcomed some new faces to our talented team. The intent behind all of these changes is to simplify how we're organized, so we can focus on the quality of relationships across the school community. If you're curious about the new organizational structure, click here for the organizational chart . And, please rest assured that I'll be introducing and explaining the rationale behind the changes as I meet with faculty, staff, and parents over the next six weeks.

The administrative group has been reorganized into three teams -- Advancement (development, business oversight, and operations), Attainment/Community (admissions, enrollment, parent education and PVC, and marketing), and, of course, Academics/Program. I will work closely with the Academic Team to lead and oversee academics and programs, and, thanks to the organizational shifts, I plan to focus more closely on this area of the school. Amy Nylund will lead and oversee the work in Attainment & Community (along with Krista Phillips, Cait Taylor, Martha Peters, Tina Emer, and Jason Lewiss), and Alexandra Penry will lead and oversee our work in Advancement (along with Keelan Wackman, Gavin Wilson, Katie Fluchel, and Leslie Hirsch). 

Alexandra joined us in early July from Cambridge Friends School in Cambridge, MA. She brings a wealth of experience in development, financial aid, and admissions. We're also lucky as she has served in development offices at Valparaiso University and La Lumiere School and holds business degrees from Valparaiso. As you might imagine, Alexandra is eager to get to know the community, so she'll be attending lots of the back-to-school events. If you want to stop by and introduce yourself, she's sharing an office with Keelan and Gavin on the second floor of Building 5 on the River Campus.

You'll be hearing directly from Susie, Virginia, Roberto, and Dan about staffing changes in their respective programs and on their campuses. Suffice it to say, we're very excited about our small but mighty new class of staff and faculty joining us, and we look forward to welcoming them for an orientation on Tuesday, August 6. But before these new colleagues arrive, and in the spirit of play, many of us will be at an off-campus retreat August 1 and 2 to set personal and collective goals for the year.

Before signing off, a few reminders: 
  • For the Creek and River Campuses, the first day of classes is Tuesday, August 20! See the calendar for other back-to-school dates.
  • The Springs Campus programs will conduct a gradual phase-in opening of school to ensure that our youngest students have the time and support to adjust. You will receive your child's schedule from Susie.
  • And lastly, all of us here at school read Brené Brown's newest book, Dare to Lead , and we'll be exploring its implications for our school when all faculty and staff return on Thursday, August 8. I'm fascinated by her research on empathy and belonging and its impact on leadership. One of the reasons we selected the book is that she's an enthusiastic supporter of teachers and sees teaching as an important expression of leadership. If you're interested in reading the book and participating in a book group about it this fall, send me an email at headofschool@headwaters.org . If there's enough interest, we'll get that organized.
In these waning days of summer (and maybe as introduction to how Brené Brown thinks), I encourage you to consider the questions she and h er family asked of each other to better understand what types of play they shared in common: 
  1. What activity makes you lose track of time?
  2. What makes you feel free and away from the "have-to's?"
  3. What activity allows you to be yourself?  

Springs Campus

18 months to Pre-K
6305 Manchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78745
Phone: 512-443-8843

Creek Campus

Elementary School
9607 Brodie Ln.
Austin, TX 78748
Phone: 512-804-2708
Fax: 512-628-4810

River Campus

Middle & High School
807 Rio Grande St.
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-480-8142
Fax: 512-480-0278