It is an honor to return to my alma mater as the Interim Head of School for the 2021-2022 academic year. As the former Head of School for seventeen years, I am deeply committed to Dalton as an institution of learning and as a community of families. Several of my own family members and I attended the school. In fact, I recently discovered a relative's Dalton diploma signed by Dalton's founder, Helen Parkhurst!
How proud I am of my alma mater! The Dalton School has played such an important role in twentieth-century American educational history and continues to serve as a model emulated by schools around the world. Parkhurst's unique and clearly articulated philosophy of learning guides our school's educational practices today — both as the cornerstone of our educational approach and a framework for promoting thoughtful innovation, enhancing global perspectives, and actively instilling good values in our students. True to our motto, "Go Forth Unafraid", we regularly re-evaluate the knowledge and skills our students must possess in order to be enlightened, socially conscious, and highly proficient young people. Indeed, Parkhurst's philosophy requires that we fearlessly embrace the challenges of educating students in the dynamic and complex world of the twenty-first century.
It is thrilling to see Dalton brimming with dedicated, highly trained faculty and inquisitive, inspired students. As always, the rigorous academic program emphasizes intellectual curiosity, independence, risk-taking, and open-mindedness, rather than rote learning. The breadth and depth of our programming in the arts, engineering, and athletics reflects Dalton's deep and longstanding commitment to developing the whole child. The extensive service-learning opportunities built into the Dalton experience expand students' understanding of their world and equip them as global citizens. And although Dalton is one of the larger independent schools in New York City with approximately ninety to one hundred and fifteen students in each grade, our student/faculty ratio of seven-to-one facilitates individualization of each student's education and helps provide the close student-teacher relationships often associated with a small school. Our large size also enables our students to interact with a wide variety of children with whom they can foster and sustain friendships over their thirteen-year school trajectory.
I am so proud to say that over the past three decades, Dalton has evolved into a K-12 community that clearly reflects our mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We recognize and value the enrichment that comes from a community of people from diverse races, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual-orientations, and socioeconomic groups. Our anti-racism and other diversity, equity, and inclusion goals are intended to deepen our understanding of different experiences and to provide a broad platform for sharing and appreciating those differences. All community members at Dalton must feel seen, heard, and respected. We also take seriously our responsibility to fully educate our students about the inequities embedded in our complex history and society today and to expand our curriculum to include perspectives of people from a wide cross-section of local, national, and global groups. Armed with a broader context for analysis, our students become better equipped to grapple with the multidimensional questions they will address in their studies and as they go out into the world. While we still have a lot of work to do and we certainly do not profess to have all of the answers, we pledge to continue the hard work of being an educational environment that promotes enlightened connection and conversation, and best preparing young people for the world in which they live.
The pages that follow describe the history, philosophy, and current embodiment of Helen Parkhurst's Dalton Plan. Her vision for our school — a school that I have seen evolve in so many exciting ways from the days when I was a young Dalton student — remains a guidepost for educating and empowering engaged learners and leaders throughout the world. We hope through our website, events, and chats with many of us at Dalton, we will be able to communicate the intellectual excitement and creative spirit that have always existed at Dalton and that continue to be essential to our school today. We hope that you will see for yourself the true magic of Dalton.