Head of School Blog "Orchard's 97th Year is Underway: Highlights & Updates"

Sherri Helvie, Ph.D.
Dear Orchard Friends and Families,
Happy fall!  Our students have had an exciting start to Orchard’s 97th school year.  The events and activities of these first few months have highlighted some of our most beloved traditions and innovative learning opportunities, such as the fall festival sponsored by the Parents’ Association; our Founders’ Day celebration led by our third-grade students; the first fourth-grade play of the year, The Wizard of Oz; second-graders soaring in the trees on the high ropes course; eighth-graders touring our nation’s capital on their trip to Washington, D.C.; seventh-graders excavating behind the cabin in order to learn more about the cultures that their classmates have created; and last week’s Halloween parade, a chance for our entire school to come together to celebrate the creativity and playfulness of Orchard.
I’m happy to report that we continue to make excellent progress on the #OrchardMakerspace, which will be completed before we depart for winter break, and ready for our students when they return in January.  With Mr. Weaver as their tour guide, many of our younger students have had a chance to tour the space with their special friends in the upper grades, and their excitement to begin exploring and building in this new addition to our school is palpable.  Our Makerspace is a terrific example of the impact that hands-on, integrated learning has on students; it’s also a testament to the incredible generosity of the Orchard community.  Gifts to Orchard’s capital campaign have funded the Makerspace, one of seven priorities in The Campaign for Orchard, and I’m grateful that so many people have come together to help us plan and build for the next 100 years.

In staffing news, I'm happy to announce that Stephen Sturman has recently joined us as Orchard's new Director of Institutional Advancement.  Steve is an experienced advancement professional, serving most recently as Vice Chancellor for University Advancement at the University of Indiana South Bend.  Steve also understands the advancement landscape in independent schools.  While at the Culver Education Foundation, Steve supported the work of Culver’s "By Design" capital campaign, which remains the most successful campaign in American secondary school history.  For all of Steve's accomplishments in advancement work, what made the Director of Institutional Advancement role at Orchard resonate for him was his own Orchard experience:  Steve went to kindergarten at Orchard, and the opportunity to work in the place where he began his schooling, and to support our mission to develop and educate the whole child is personally meaningful to him. 
Additionally, we will be hiring for a permanent Middle School Director in the upcoming months.  Currently, the middle school is under the capable leadership of interim Middle School Director Angie Brothers.  In keeping with our past practices and strategic initiatives, we will conduct a national search beginning this week.  The job will be posted until the end of the calendar year, and I anticipate bringing the first of our three finalist candidates to campus the last week in January.  I will keep you updated about our progress and the opportunities to meet the finalists in the months ahead.  
Finally, I’d like to share how inspiring it was to hear from Richard Louv on Friday night at Butler University.  Several of our faculty, staff, and families were in attendance, and Orchard was proud to co-sponsor a speaker and an event that highlights how essential it is to connect with the natural world in order to preserve what Louv describes as “the habitat of the heart.”  I encourage you to read more about Louv’s work, including his “Children and Nature Network” blog, and I also hope you will take the opportunity to spend more time in nature with friends and family, including in our woods at The Orchard School.  We’ll be happy to see you.

Have a great week,

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