Another welcome to the new school year comes this week from the Co-chairs of the Brooklyn Friends School Board of Trustees, Brad Mulder and Gustav Peebles. In their letter to parents below, Brad (a BFS alumnus and middle school parent) and Gustav (a Quaker and middle school parent) introduce new trustees and describe the Board’s work related to communications, strategic planning, and core functions of financial stewardship, supporting the Head of School, and strengthening ties to the Quaker community.
We hope that everyone had a wonderful summer break and are transitioning smoothly into the new school year. We want to welcome the entire community back to school, and a particularly warm welcome to new families, students, administrators, faculty, and staff as we look forward to a wonderful 2016-2017 school year!
As we wrote at the end of the last academic school year, we, as a Board, intend to be in more regular conversation with the community. It is in this spirit that we write today and we hope to be able to report more on what the Board is engaged in and to continue an ongoing dialogue with you in the months to come. With that in mind, the Board has already met and we would like to share some developments.
We welcomed four new trustees this year: Margaret Trissel, Ed Oliver, Willie Mae Watkins and Bill Morris. We also welcomed our new Co-Chair, Gustav Peebles, who joined the Board in the 2015-2016 school year. Gustav works as the Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at The New School, is a parent of a fifth grader, and is a member of Brooklyn Monthly
Meeting. You can find more information on all of our new and old members on the board section of the website.
The Board is also excited to share with you some of the work we plan to engage in this year:
- We are focused on planning for the School’s 150th Anniversary in 2017-2018 – an exciting milestone for BFS!
- We also plan to begin work on a new Strategic Plan for the future of Brooklyn Friends School building on the progress made to date (more on that below).
- We will continue our work on creating a more systematic and structured communication plan, and to that end the school began working with experts from FTI Consulting, who conducted many in-depth interviews of parents, faculty and students concerning their experiences. These are our first steps toward improving the school’s communications and policies. The results of their work have already been shared with Board leadership, Senior Administration and key employees.
- We are working on the Board’s core functions of financial stewardship, supporting the Head of School, and maintaining and strengthening our ties to the Quaker community. We also very much look forward to completing our Capital Campaign for the new Upper School.
A major, if not the major goal of the School’s current Strategic Plan was to expand the school in order to accommodate enrollment of 900+ students in all grades. We are proud to report that this goal has been achieved as of this school year. Some of the benefits of expansion are: more academic, curricular and social opportunities for our students, the strengthening of the International Baccalaureate program, the increased diversity of our community and the strengthening of our commitment to Quaker values and our relationships with Quaker communities.
In addition, much work was done at BFS over the summer, not just to the physical plant but also in the hiring of new faculty, staff, and administrators. Newly hired administrators, faculty, and staff are already joining with returning employees to forge new relationships and successes. And we anticipate more changes to come. The Administration undertook a comprehensive survey of the community, results of which are already guiding the Administration in its continuing efforts to improve the education of our children and its service to the broader community.
Perhaps most excitingly, we are thrilled to report that the school raised over $1,000,000.00 for the Brooklyn Friends Fund last year—a first in the school’s history. Please join us in congratulating the staff of the Advancement Office, especially, Karen Edelman and Kathryn Collins and their wonderful group of volunteers who worked on the Brooklyn Friends Fund. The success of the Brooklyn Friends Fund over the past few years has allowed the school to award more financial aid, raise faculty salaries to the fiftieth percentile of our peer schools (thereby meeting one of the linchpin goals of our current Strategic Plan), and to hire much needed administrators to assist Division Heads.
None of this would have been possible without such fantastic support—whether financial, emotional, or otherwise—from all of you. Thank you for your continued care of the school community. With the robust extended family of the BFS community, we know that our teachers, staff, and administrators can continue their commitment to providing an excellent academic and enlightening education, based on long-standing Quaker traditions that respect the Light within each of us.
As we wrote in the spring when we celebrated the extraordinary Class of 2016, many of whom earned the prestigious IB Diploma and have gone on to top-tier colleges and universities, we have work to do to ensure that the School is meeting the mission statement for all students. We look forward to engaging in this work.
But most of all we look forward to a fantastic school year, to reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, and to supporting and celebrating our incredibly talented students.
We wish you all a happy and educational 2016-2017 school year. Welcome!
Brad Mulder, ’83 and Gustav Peebles
Co-Chairs, Brooklyn Friends Board of Trustees