Head of School Letters

February 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Earlier this month, the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools shared research findings and insights about why students from all-girls schools are more successful in science, technology, education and math (STEM) skills than their counterparts at co-ed schools. According to the article, the key attributes that are abundant in girls’ schools and contribute to this success are: increased confidence, the power of positive female role models and community, a sense of purpose and the encouragement from faculty and peers to speak up and be authentic. Sound familiar?

I am happy (but not surprised!) that these findings reinforce our own school’s core values and validate our comprehensive STEAM (grades K-5) and STEM (grades 6-12) curricula, which spans every grade level and department. We intentionally harness our students’ boundless imaginations and curiosity to give them the confidence, knowledge and tools they need to build a solid foundation and deep understanding of these concepts.

At the beginning of February, Aisha Bryant, the technology integrationist for both the Lower School and the 6th grade, organized the first-ever STEAM immersion week in the Lower School. Every day, students in grades K-5 participated in unique activities, including a ribbon-cutting of our newly dedicated Junior Innovation Space, passion projects led by our Lower School faculty members, a Probability Carnival, and special visits from Upper School members of the RPCS STEM Institute and the University of Maryland at Baltimore County’s (UMBC) Center for Women in Technology. The girls were absolutely thrilled to tackle engineering and coding challenges and channel their creativity in a hands-on way.

In Elisha James’ 8th grade STEM class, the students are involved in the FIRST LEGO League-Into Orbit Challenge, which consists of programming an autonomous robot and identifying and proposing a solution for a human physical or social problem encountered during long space exploration. Throughout the project, the girls intentionally apply the core values specific to the challenge, including discovery, innovation, impact, teamwork and fun. Meanwhile, students in the 6th grade science classes are learning how to build bridges and the 7th graders are creating air-powered dragsters.

In the research cited above, graduates of all-girls schools are more likely to consider STEM careers than their peers at co-ed schools and now we have our own findings to support this as well! In December, the 11 graduates from the first two years of the STEM Institute (2015 and 2016), were surveyed to see what majors they declared now that they are juniors and seniors in college. Of the eight women who responded, 100 percent of them confirmed that they are actively pursuing a college degree in a STEM field! As a national benchmark, currently 44 percent of college graduates who are women earn degrees in STEM-related fields. We are so encouraged by these preliminary results and I truly believe that we will see these numbers continue to increase.

Regardless of our students’ interests and passions, all of us remain committed to helping your daughters build confidence, speak up, find their purpose, be themselves and empower each other. No matter what paths they pursue, I am so excited to see how they will purposefully impact the world.

Warmly,
Caroline Blatti
Head of School

January 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Happy new year! I hope you and your families enjoyed a restorative winter break. Our faculty and students returned to school earlier this month refreshed and recharged for an exciting year ahead. Your daughters have already hit the ground running with the Upper School winter dance concert, the Middle School winter concert, the “Snuggle Up and Read” night for Lower School families, a strong second place finish for our indoor track team at the IAAM B Conference Championship,  and divisional events planned in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy, one of our core values is to encourage all of our students at Roland Park Country School to lead for the greater good. To help them celebrate their strengths and realize what they have to offer the world, we believe strongly that our girls should see themselves reflected in our larger community. As they dream about and plan for their futures, we want to show them what’s possible; and, specifically, how strong women can make positive changes in big ways.

Therefore, we were thrilled to welcome five extraordinary women to speak to the 9th and 10th graders during their RPCS Leadership Seminar sections last month. These guest speakers were part of the Baltimore Women of Consequence series, a unit organized by Peter Metsopoulos, our Director of Leadership and Entrepreneurship. While each woman shared her unique path to vastly different positions of leadership, their messages shared a common, poignant theme: these are women fueled by a desire to purposefully impact the world and lift up others to effect change in our communities. Mr. Metsopoulous’ students created short summaries of their favorite parts of these lectures for the RPCS social media accounts, which you can check out on Instagram.

Each speaker imparted profound advice to our students. Dr. Stephanie Akoumany, the founder of Bloom – an organization that helps schools and businesses create more diverse and healthy communities – encouraged the girls to stay true to themselves and talked about how she balances work, wellness and motherhood. RPCS alumna Susan Radov, 2015, a student at the University of Pennsylvania studying cultural anthropology and Chinese studies, spoke to the girls about her role as an activist. She asked each girl to identify a problem they’d like to fix and explained the specific steps they can take to make those changes.

The students were also intrigued by Joyce Lombardi, a lobbyist with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center lobbyist, who offered insights into how she helps those dealing with very difficult circumstances and how she copes with such a demanding job. Dara Schnee, the vice president of philanthropy at the Baltimore Community Foundation spoke honestly about the challenges of being a woman in a competitive field and making sure her voice is heard. Finally, Damia Thomas, the founding principal of Lillie May Carroll Jackson School, explained how sometimes moving out of one’s comfort zone can make a greater impact in the long run.

The girls were so inspired by each of these incredible women and we are so fortunate to have the opportunities to expose our students to strong role models who demonstrate the many forms true leadership can take.

As one example of leading for the greater good, our school and Lillie May Carroll Jackson School will come together for a joint morning of service on Friday, Feb. 1 in honor of Dr. King. We are holding a book drive to collect multicultural books with social justice themes that we will then gift to Head Start programs in Baltimore City. During their time together, students will work together to write notes to the recipients of the books that encourage reading and promote a sense of community. Please consider donating a book by Jan. 30 to help us with this service project.

Warmly, 
Caroline Blatti
Head of School

 

December 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As 2018 draws to a close, I have been reflecting on some of my most meaningful moments from the past few months of this academic year. What really stands out for me is the joy that comes from spending time with your daughters. Working directly with our students and finding or creating new learning opportunities for them affords me with chances to learn about their interests as we evolve our programming to prepare our young women for the future. Whether it is talking with a student who is working on her 8th grade speech, meeting directly with a Lower School student who is launching a day-long advocacy and awareness project, co-sponsoring the student-run Upper School Philanthropic Literacy Board, or in my time teaching the 11th grade AP Literature seminar, in each interaction I learn about our students’ interests, projects, ideas, high points, and challenges. What I find in my time with our students is that they are so curious to learn and are interested in ways that they can be impactful leaders within RPCS and the larger community.

To that end, I’m so excited to announce our new Capstone Fellowship Program for current 11th graders, which will launch in Summer 2019. Facilitated through the RPCS Leadership Program under the direction of Peter Metsopoulos, our Director of Leadership and Entrepreneurship, the Capstone Fellowship Program offers students who are interested in the RPCS Summer Internship Program a chance to go even deeper in a career field and/or area of study. This program will become another branch of our current RPCS Summer Internship Program, two initiatives that will now fall under our new Leadership Program offerings.  Currently, the internship program connects our rising seniors with professional internship experiences in a wide range of career fields. The growth of this program is a direct result of the incredible work of Melissa Carter-Bey and Meg Miller. Under Melissa Carter-Bey’s guidance during the year and Meg Miller’s support over the summer, a total of 56 students secured internships over the last two summers in fields such as medicine, law, computer science, social work, and finance.  I invite you to peruse a sampling of our past internship placements.

Students who are interested in the fellowship program may apply by creating a proposal that addresses essential learning questions and a plan for combining research and experiential learning. Each Capstone Fellowship will result in an original student project and presentation. Whether a student’s interest is in the arts, architecture, education, communications, engineering, social justice, or global issues — just to name a few possible areas of focus — each young woman will develop a plan for diving deeper into her field of interest and identify learning questions and outcomes that will guide her journey. The options are individualized to each applicant and the learning path for each girl is personalized, dynamic and innovative. In addition to the mentoring that each applicant will access through working directly with Peter Metsopoulos, I will also be available to mentor 1-2 students throughout this process. Read more about potential Capstone Fellowships projects.

Both the Capstone Fellowship and Summer Internship Program support our vision for an RPCS education that connects classrooms to communities and equips our students with the future directed skills that enable their success here at Roland Park Country School — and beyond into their professional journeys. The RPCS Leadership Program also empowers our students to pose questions about the world, embrace new challenges and search for their purpose as they step into real world professions.

And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention as well to please feel free to contact PeterMelissa or Meg if you are interested to help with hosting a student who is working on an internship or fellowship. We love connecting our students with alumnae as well as RPCS parents and extended contacts! 

Thank you for entrusting your daughters to all of us at Roland Park Country School. We take the responsibility seriously and are dedicated to shaping them into young women who will help each other thrive and lead for the greater good.

Best wishes for a happy winter break and I look forward to a wonderful new year ahead.

Warmly,
Caroline Blatti
Head of School

November 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

It’s hard to believe that we are already three months into the school year. This has been such an eventful fall at Roland Park Country School. We are moving through a robust academic calendar, offering dynamic learning and leadership opportunities for our students, and celebrating a historic IAAM B Conference Championship win for our varsity soccer team – the first ever soccer title in school history! (Go REDS!!) On the theatrical front, Beauty and Beast astounded all of us with incredible performances and artistic expression. Thank you again to our young thespians and wonderful performing arts faculty leadership!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am really looking forward to the school break to take a deep breath (or several), step back and reflect on all there is to be grateful for right now.

Gratitude is a powerful force. Taking the time to notice and truly appreciate all of the good things in life, whether they be big moments or small pleasures, can lead to a strong sense of well-being. On a personal note, I have found that when I am aware of—and thankful for— all of the good things in life, I find even more moments to cherish. When our faculty and staff returned to campus this past August, my opening remarks to them focused on my deep appreciation for their dedication and passion in ensuring that every girl at RPCS finds and uses her voice to inform a life of purpose and a pursuit of excellence and integrity.

For a school year that began with the theme of gratitude for our extraordinary faculty and staff, I want to recognize that our students are also at their best when they can make a habit of noticing and feeling grateful for the good things in their lives. The practice of gratitude steers us to look outward and beyond ourselves. It connects us through kindness and compassion and helps us build each other up, a core value here at Roland Park Country School. And gratitude can always be learned, so we can teach it our children – and often, they teach it to us.

Last month, RPCS welcomed Rachel Simmons, an author, educator and girls’ leadership expert as our guest speaker for the ninth annual Robinson Health Colloquium. She also met separately with the 4th and 5th grade classes and the Middle School and Upper School students during her two-day visit. Her most recent book, Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy and Fulfilling Lives, focuses on the challenges young women face today and how to overcome them.

In her presentations to both parents and students, Ms. Simmons spoke about the importance of gratitude, particularly as an antidote to the pressures young women face today. In our society, girls often move from one goal to the next, without pausing to appreciate their own efforts and hard work along the way. When a girl or young woman feels like every success is just about trying to reach the next rung on the ladder, this may cause her to feel like she is not enough. In turn, it becomes impossible for her to be grateful for what she has achieved throughout particular moments in time.

According to Ms. Simmons, it is important for our girls and young women to learn a simple, but profound, habit: to be fully present when acknowledging personal journeys towards growth and authentic confidence. Each day, your daughters set goals and push themselves to try new things, and often they face challenges that may cause them to feel some whispers of doubt. Ms. Simmons believes that to be fully present and engaged in the process of leading a dynamic life means helping our girls work through these fears and doubts. Then, on the other side of these learning moments, our young women will feel a more sustained sense of confidence and will be happier in general.

So, you may ask, how do we cultivate this practice in young women who are striving and pushing themselves so hard every day? Ms. Simmons’ advice is this: encourage them to take a moment and savor their efforts – the risks they have taken, the fears they have overcome, and the learning that has emerged from their brave and earnest lives. It seems simple, but even we as adults are often moving too quickly to the next goal, project, or activity to pause and feel satisfaction for what we have accomplished in the moment. Slowing down to truly acknowledge our feelings when a goal has been reached has a profound ripple effect. It invites empathy and allows our girls to practice another important skill: self-compassion.

You can read more about Rachel Simmons’ visit to Roland Park Country School and the practical advice she imparted to parents to support their daughters as they navigate the ups and downs of adolescence.

During this time of the Thanksgiving season, I encourage you to partner with us in these efforts to help our girls and young women reflect on what they have accomplished so far this year–no matter how big or small the act—and feel thankful for the journey. We want to cultivate in them an attitude of gratitude that allows them to rebound from setbacks and bolsters their confidence. It is in these efforts where the learning really takes off. 

I wish you and your families a very happy and restorative Thanksgiving.

Warmly, 
Caroline Blatti
Head of School

October 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

 
As we settle into the school year, it may feel like a fresh start for many of us. In the spirit of new beginnings, now is the perfect time to ask ourselves some important questions that bridge the important relationship between our academic and leadership work here at RPCS. Specifically, what are the values we stand for as an institution? What does it mean to lead for the greater good? What does it mean to be an inclusive leader? How do we help our students learn to balance individual and community needs?
 
At Roland Park Country School, these questions encompass many of the important considerations we constantly pursue for your children. We embrace a philosophy centered around the education of both the intellectual and ethical development of every child. We believe that leadership is a process of engagement which moves people toward awareness, compassion, and action to impact the world for the better. Encouraging leadership and exploration is an essential part of our mission to prepare your children for a future that cannot yet be imagined.
 
One of the many ways this mission comes to life is through creating an environment that intentionally cultivates this balance between academic excellence and impactful leadership. Starting at our youngest grades in the Lower School, our students learn about key life skills practiced by all effective leaders: self-regulation, listening (with eyes, ears and hearts), empathy, kindness, and gratitude. They practice public speaking and learn about the tools of collaboration that underpin all high performing teams, as well as efforts at true diplomacy in their future careers. Through projects that connect our students with lobbyists in Annapolis and Washington, D.C., our girls are empowered to use their voices at an early age to promote positive change.
 
In the Middle School, leadership opportunities abound. Our girls embrace elected roles in Student Government, Athletics, Visual and Performing Arts and our Community Council Associations. Leadership opportunities also present themselves in the classrooms with collaborative projects and presentations, on the athletic fields working together as a team, and in visual arts, dance or participation in our yearly Middle School musical. Students will often seek out the Middle School Head when they want to lead a community service initiative, such as raising money for disaster victims or collecting gently used toys during the holiday season for hospitalized children. Our Middle School students are so enthusiastic about supporting our surrounding communities and each other.
 
I am also excited to share some news about emerging leadership opportunities in the Upper School. Over the last two years, we have created programs that support and challenge our students’ leadership development over time and work in tandem with an already wide, varied base of leadership opportunities through elected offices, clubs and organizations. Grounded in empathy, character, ethics, personal responsibility and courage, our evolving Leadership Program focuses on direct engagement with a curriculum that emphasizes a deeper awareness of one’s strengths and areas for growth, as well as one’s ability to lead change for the good. The program also emphasizes experiences with creative problem solving, wellness and diversity, equity and inclusion – all of which are integrated and woven into our Upper School leadership curriculum. Learn more about some of our specific program components. 
 
To oversee all of the leadership initiatives at RPCS, I am thrilled to welcome Peter Metsopoulos, our newly appointed Director of Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Before joining RPCS this summer, Peter spent 15 years at the Bryn Mawr School, teaching in and eventually chairing the English department. In addition to his work in the classroom, Peter served as the Director of the Steering Committee and led the re-accreditation self-study for the Association of Maryland Independent Schools. In association with the Bryn Mawr School and Roland Park Country School, he also co-founded the Lillie May Carroll Jackson School, an all-girls public charter middle school in Baltimore City.
 
Peter’s work builds on our strong history of academic excellence and leadership opportunities for young women at RPCS. As we look ahead, we are also excited about how this work is a natural extension of the incredible work of our faculty. Our faculty approach teaching and learning with an innovative eye towards ensuring that our students are prepared for the future beyond RPCS. A teacher at heart himself, Peter will work closely with our faculty at every grade level. The partnership between our academic and leadership programs will result in graduates who know their strengths, are capable of transforming their ideas into realities, and who purposefully seek ways to lead for the greater good.

I look forward to sharing more updates about this program with you over time.

Warmly,
Caroline Blatti
Head of School

September 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,
 
Over the course of any given day I am so lucky to be able to spend time with our students and faculty in ways that enable me to see how our work directly impacts the development of each and every child. None of this would be possible without the choice you have made to send your child to RPCS. As the school year begins I want to start by expressing how thankful I am that you share your children with us — and me — here at Roland Park Country School. 
 
I treasure chances to talk with your children about how their day is going, cheer them on their pursuits, encourage their dreams, honor their voices, and ensure that they are safe, engaged and thriving learners. Whether it is when I am walking through the hallways and greeting students, seeing them in their classes, or applauding their efforts on the sports field or artistic arenas, it is incredibly inspiring to be a part of their fully engaged, dynamic and ever-changing lives.  
 
Our faculty, staff, and administrative teams look closely at our work and how it impacts your children. As individuals and teams that work directly with boys and girls in Little Reds, and with girls and young women across three divisions, not a day goes by when we aren’t thinking deeply about how to best ensure that your children are thriving.
 
What does thriving look like at Roland Park Country School? Our teaching and learning environment is one that intentionally prioritizes academic rigor for your children while also appreciates the full capacity of each human being to develop the social-emotional skills that are critical to long term success in life: resilience, compassion, flexibility, self – regulation—and many more.  Our emphasis on cognitive and affective growth in each and every child is intrinsically and indelibly bound by an incredibly important area of human development: one’s social emotional well-being. 
 
In Paul Tough’s work, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, he offers this for us to consider: “What matters most in a child's development… is not how much information we can stuff into her brain in the first few years. What matters, instead, is whether we are able to help her develop a very different set of qualities, a list that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence.” As a former teacher, division head, and now a Head of School and parent, I have always kept this concept with me.
 
I speak on behalf of your daughters’ teachers, advisors, Division Heads, coaches, and mentors when I say that it is our goal that each girl and young woman at RPCS understands and feels how deeply she is cared for by our community. I want each girl to be successful here, but I also want her to continue on a path towards success and happiness for the long haul. We all know life will throw her a multitude of curves, winding roads, and mis-directions along the way, so it is our job to ensure that she grapples with change, deals with healthy conflict, forges her core values, learns about her strengths, recognizes her areas for growth, and takes responsibility for her choices.
 
I am so proud to be part of a community that understands what true success looks like for children and prioritizes the programs and opportunities that ensure your children are thriving –here, now and in the future.
 
 
Warmly,
Caroline Blatti
Head of School