Dear Awty Family and Friends:
As the Chair of the Board, I am honored to serve Awty at this exciting time in its history. The 2016-2017 school and fiscal year began with the 60th Anniversary kickoff and the Groundbreaking Celebration of the Early Learning Campus, and concluded with a record-breaking Awty Annual Fund, 100% passing rate for the Class of 2017 taking the French Baccalauréat and 99% pass rate on the International Baccalaureate, and a record enrollment set for the current year. In between, we noted these accomplishments:
- We honored CFO Hank Nicodemus upon his retirement, as well as the departing Head of Lower School Cintra Horn, and welcomed their able replacements, John Murphy and Tim Long.
- The Board, after studying comparative data with peer schools, instituted a one-time salary adjustment for teachers that ensures all faculty members are at or above the fiftieth percentile with their peers, based on years of experience.
Thank you, everyone, for your parts in these accomplishments!
In April, Lisa Darling and I updated the community in our “State of the School” presentation, and I wish to present our information again here in relation to the three Strategic Vision goals first developed by the Board in 2014.
1. Strategic Vision - Goal 1: to be one school, richly international, more fully bilingual, yet still culminating in the French Bac or International Baccalaureate.
- During the 2016-2017 school year, the Preschool operated in a fully “harmonized” mode, with immersion in French, Spanish, and English happening seamlessly, and teachers working across language and cultural differences to coordinate the curriculum, grading, and social events. In anticipation of the inclusion of the 1st Grade and CP into the ELC, school leadership prepared plans for continuing their dual-language immersion.
- In the Lower School, the number of classrooms with a bilingual teaching assistant grew from six to nine. In addition, teachers developed a blended Math curriculum for both tracks.
- Middle School and Upper School progress toward operating as one school was marked by the harmonization of pilot classes in Art and Computer Science. Teachers in other academic disciplines such as the Sciences made progress in developing coordinating curricula. The significant reforms being implemented in French schools by the Ministry of Education this year will help with harmonization in the long run, but slowed our progress while we ensured we were fully adopting the reforms.
The Board and I are grateful to the faculty and academic leaders for moving forward on this complicated effort.
2. Strategic Vision – Goal 2: Secure the facilities and the space needed to support our students, teachers, and programs.
During the 2016-2017 year, the obvious focus was on the construction of the ELC, and the fundraising needed for the project. We received $858,000 in new commitments during the year raising the total given to $3,587,000 since 2015. We have relied on the leadership contributions of Awty families to advance our capital fundraising, and will continue to do so as we pursue our $25 million goal. Thank you to those parents who have made, in many cases, the largest charitable gifts in their lives, to help Awty.
While we continue to pursue support from corporations, the core of leadership support for our capital projects must come from parents. Design and planning has begun for the new Campus Center so that when sufficient funds have been raised, we may begin construction on that phase of our Campus Master Plan
3. Strategic Vision – Goal 3: Study Houston’s demographics to assist us in determining coming needs for Awty as the leading school that makes an international life possible in our city.
In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, Awty saw a rise in the number of schools offering a French/English bilingual education at the same time as the relocation of expats by major employers slowed significantly. This created a challenge and opportunity for Awty to strengthen its position as Houston’s premier international school, Houston’s only French Baccalauréat program, and the only PK-12 French program accredited by the French National Ministry of Education. A new strategic marketing plan was designed and implemented, and the school debuted its updated website. With less international movement of employees by major companies and more competition for students, Lisa Darling and senior administrators have continued to engage community and corporate leaders through participation in the French-American Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Houston Partnership, and Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Admissions Department increased communications with feeder schools sending students, and corporate Human Resources officers to better track developments in their companies affecting Awty families.
On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I thank all of you for your financial, emotional, and volunteer support of Awty’s teachers and students. Awty’s impact on Houston and on the world is significant and will only grow greater with our combined efforts to develop more future global citizens and leaders.
Chair, Board of Trustees