Given my charge as head of school, I never miss an opportunity to trumpet all the incredible things that happen at University School. Each year, INDEX, which is a consortium of 54 independent schools that are similar in structure to USM—progressive, coeducational day schools with 750 or more students—holds its national conference, and I was honored to have been asked to present about the value proposition of independent schools at this year’s gathering in October. As a former teacher, I of course worked hard on my presentation. In it, I stressed that one of the most important value-added components of USM is our all-school community closeness. The fact that our students spend so many of their formative years interacting in innumerable ways with the teachers and staff, our parent and alumni communities, and each other provides the opportunity for us to create and build an intentionally positive learning culture based on the tenets of the Common Trust.
Our strong sense of community drives us to create all-school experiences for our students like our opening day ceremonies, homecoming, Masquerade March, and Senior Send-off events, and to invite our school parents, grandparents, alumni, parents of alumni, and other friends to join us for our student performances, productions, presentations, and competitions—and all our celebrations. We strive for our students to see and feel the importance of being an integral part of something bigger than themselves. All of these connections with so many interesting and accomplished people—in the classrooms, around Milwaukee, and around the country and even the world—provide a web of academic, physical, artistic, and emotional support for our students.
This strong sense of community, along with our strong academic reputation we are all charged with maintaining and improving, is also what drives Our Common Bond, our comprehensive campaign in support of the school’s facilities, endowment, and annual fund needs. The campaign continues to make tremendous strides, and the physical transformation that is taking place on campus is impressive! We have already opened the Bruce ’81 and Jennifer Lee Community Room and the Lubar Center for Innovation and Exploration, and it is exciting to watch as construction continues for the Virginia Henes Young Theatre expansion, our new performing arts center’s lobby, music hall, and art gallery, and the Jack Olson ’67 Commons. If you have not been on campus recently, I hope you have been able to follow the progress online.
The reason schools engage in campaigns like Our Common Bond is to enhance all of the opportunities for students to learn and grow, along with the ways we serve them and prepare them for the future. This benefits not only the students but the entire USM community—including those who have come before them, and those who will follow in their footsteps. This truly is our value proposition as a school. Our student’s academic achievements and outcomes are extraordinary, but the experiences we create for them are what drive those great stories, and we create those as a community. I am excited by all of our progress, but what truly excites me is watching our community come together to make it happen.
Editor’s Note: Follow Our Common Bond campaign progress online at www.USMOurCommonBond.org.