June 30, 2022
Dear BVP Families, Partners, and Stakeholders,
Just as Blackstone Valley Prep’s founding kindergarten scholars graduated from high school this spring, I, too, plan to “graduate” from BVP. Last evening I met with BVP’s Board of Directors and offered my resignation, which was accepted, effective October 1, 2022. I am committed to working with the board over the coming weeks and months to ensure a successful transition, and please know that I will always have time, space, and heart for BVP. The board also adopted this succession policy, and I am very confident that the board will hire a tremendous leader.
For the past thirteen years, I have given all that I have to help build and grow a high performing network of excellent, integrated public schools of choice here in Northern Rhode Island. I am incredibly proud of all of BVP’s successes, from the seemingly small celebrations of children learning their letters to the Herculean wins of acceptances to our nation’s most elite colleges and universities, and so many things in between. From Spelling Bee victories, to Recorder Concerts, from Art Shows and 5Ks to chess successes and athletic championships, there is so much to love about this community.
Likewise, I am so grateful to be part of a community that regularly focuses on making the world a better place: from rallying clothing and cash for victims of fires to raising thousands of dollars for the children of Ukraine, BVP is incredible.
While I may be leaving BVP “better than I found it” (I mean, when I got here, it was just an idea on paper), BVP still has really important work to do to meet its greatest potential. I offer these guiding thoughts for BVP’s next chapter:
Stay focused on diversity. As the country continues to be polarized around issues of equity and inclusion, I truly believe that diversity is BVP’s greatest opportunity. Continue to keep issues of race, class, and gender at the center of BVP’s work.
Re-focus on community. The strongest schools have the strongest communities. Community begins in classrooms. While BVPs efforts around Circles and mentoring are a sage beginning, BVP should focus on bringing BVP scholars and families together more and more. As BVP turns a page on what we hope to be the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, helping BVP scholars (and family members) build and sustain “best friends” will be critical to building the BVP community.
Mission is everything. BVP needs to better articulate its mission to ensure that families know what they are signing up for and that BVP is delivering on the promise of that mission. BVP’s current mission is focused on college success, in large part because of a founding belief that college readiness is truly a path to accessing the American dream. Many people in the BVP community, however, want something else entirely. While that may be perfectly fine, BVP’s efforts should be to either find them a school that offers what it is that they are actually seeking, or BVP should revisit its mission and reinvent itself accordingly.
Finalize BVP facilities. As BVP nears the full build-out of its schools, there is important work to do regarding finalizing the facilities footprint. Whether BVP ultimately executes on a fully expanded high school on a single campus or pivots to operate different grade configurations, BVP owes it to its families and staff to complete the planning of the full build-out to 2,360 scholars in grades K-12.
Build Great Teachers. If mission is everything, teachers are the thing that, more than anything else, executes that mission. The labor market is incredibly tight and the “Great Resignation” is real. With the first BVP class of college graduates entering the workforce, and with more than a dozen Teaching Fellows, BVP has the opportunity to re-define how to build its workforce for the next generation.
Continue to innovate. Several years ago, I wrote a blog post claiming that we were not entering our 9th year, rather our 9th first year. The main idea was that we are constantly evolving as individuals and as an organization in pursuit of improvement and excellence. Keep pushing all of the boundaries as we enter our 14th first year.
I leave BVP with a leadership team that is filled with many strengths. Our six schools have many experienced school leaders, and BVP has many promising internal (and external) leadership candidates for various roles. Moreover, we have a growing pipeline of diverse and talented future school leaders.
I am forever thankful to be granted the trust of our tremendous board, families, scholars, and staff in this most important of endeavors.