The lifecycle of an international school is rather unique. As I write this post, we are preparing to say goodbye to hundreds of students and their families. Although this happens at the end of each school year, it is still a difficult transition because we are in a business that is not just limited to education; we also endeavor to build and nourish relationships. Those who are leaving have played a significant role in our lives and I know I speak for our entire community when I say that we are grateful for our shared experiences and hope that we stay connected as members of the FIS family.
Some years, we also have departures that are so significant that they serve as milestones in the history of the school. This is one such occasion as our Upper School Principal Rhiannon Wood leaves FIS for retirement. She has been a leader in our community for 30 years and her contributions have given her a legacy that will last the life of our school.
And yet, while this time of year seems like it is focused on closure, there is so much that blossoms within the school each spring as well. Our leadership teams are reviewing the past year to see how our newly implemented Accelerators have impacted learning. How have our learning coaches made a difference? How has the added teaching and counseling staff heightened service to students – and how can we leverage them further as we prepare for the coming year? User groups are meeting to design and purpose a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) facility to be built at the FISW campus, and we are pouring over survey data to learn from students and parents about the past year so we may effectively plan for the next.
With these new plans come new people as well. John Switzer will be joining us from Zurich to lead our Upper School, bringing with him his own unique strengths to establish his mark on the school. New teachers and incoming families are communicating with colleagues and peers through our social media channels to help ensure they have a smooth landing when they arrive in Frankfurt. And many of our teachers will be spending part of their summer with professional development opportunities and reflecting on the past year so that they return in August with fresh ideas.
It is for this reason that I do not see a school year with a beginning and an end so much as a thriving community continually experiencing a healthy cycle of transformation. Those who leave become important members of our FIS alumni community and those who arrive bring new perspectives and enthusiasm to further enrich the life of the school. Our accomplishments of the past year do not become trophies to gather dust, but instead are integrated as building blocks to take us further in the years to come.