Dear Families and Friends of Children’s Day School,
It is with gratitude, appreciation, and a full heart that I am writing to let you know that I will conclude my tenure as Head of Children’s Day School on June 30, 2018. Enrollment is strong, finances are sound, and our beautiful, expanded campus is filled with happy, excited students. The time feels right for me to pass the privilege and opportunity of leading CDS to another person. My years at CDS have been exciting, demanding, unpredictable, and always rewarding. So much has changed since I became Head in 2010, and I am very proud of what we have all accomplished as a community.
Most visible among those accomplishments, of course, is the opening of our middle school campus at 601 Dolores, which we purchased and renovated through the largest capital campaign in the school’s history. The CDS community embraced the planning, fundraising, institutional reorganization, and program development needed to grow into one of the largest K-8 independent schools in the city, while continuing our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice.
Equally meaningful are the many advances we have made to our curriculum and to the compensation and support of our amazing faculty.
During my tenure, we have aligned our curriculum across divisions and grade levels, significantly strengthening the educational experience of our students and reaffirming our commitment to constructivist, progressive, and project-based education. CDS added science labs, an innovation lab, and a TK program. The Food and Agricultural Sciences program partners with Stanford University in a cutting-edge curriculum for our middle school students. Our extraordinary classroom teachers deliver an engaging, hands-on curriculum that motivates and inspires students, and I profoundly appreciate their dedication. In addition, Ginny Spivey became our K-4 Director of Teaching of Learning; Lindsay Hershenhorn became our Literacy Specialist; Anthony Witte became our Director of Inclusion; we increased support services to students and now have two Learning Specialists (Alexsarah Collier in lower school and Trudy Hamm in middle school); and this year, for the first time, we have Counselors in both lower and middle school (Kate Corliss and Wendy Macias Walker). All of them have made the CDS program stronger and better.
I have been a strong advocate for improving faculty compensation, and am proud that over the last seven years we have significantly increased faculty salaries. I am also proud that the community came together at last year’s annual celebration and fundraising event to dedicate $150,000 to faculty professional development. Because of the community’s generosity, our teachers have attended the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference, enrolled in Harvard School of Education Project Zero programs, participated in trainings with Gender Spectrum, and much more.
During the last seven years, we also have weathered our share of storms. The changing demographics and escalating cost of life in San Francisco have presented their own set of challenges, including the loss of families and teachers who found the cost of living in San Francisco or the commute from outside the city to be too much. I am so very proud of our CDS families who have opened their spare bedrooms/in-law apartments/units to faculty who needed housing support.
We as a community weathered the most severe of storms in 2014: the death of Josée Mayette, our Middle School Director, a profound and deep loss. I am so grateful and humbled by the coming together of our community and by the spirit of generosity after Josée’s death that has continued to this day.
Josée was an inspirational leader, and I know she would be proud of our ongoing commitment to equity and social justice. As you probably know, last summer CDS became the Mission site for Aim High, an academic program for under-resourced middle-school students. CDS has continued its long-standing partnerships with The SMART Program and Breakthrough SF, two nonprofits that also provide tutoring, mentorship, and support to under-resourced students. We host monthly affinity gatherings for Our Family Coalition, where LGBTQ parents come together to build community, exchange parenting experiences, and provide support for one another. CDS has been active in the Bay Area chapter of POCIS (People of Color in Independent Schools) for a number of years, and last November we hosted an Equity Roundtable that brought together diversity practitioners to discuss issues facing independent schools today. I know that going forward the CDS community will continue to be a strong voice for equity and social justice.
I must honor the dedication and professionalism of our division directors, Early Childhood Program Director Antonette Greene and her predecessor, Margaret Piskitel, Lower School Director and Assistant Head of School Rebecca Kroll, and Middle School Director Ed Rhee, who believe in the extraordinary vision and faith in humanity that created CDS and that continue to this day. I also appreciate the members of the CDS Board of Trustees, who work tirelessly to ensure that CDS is and remains a uniquely diverse and inclusive community that educates children to become passionate citizens who change the world.
For myself, I am looking forward to my next adventure. I will work on the 2018 election and look for ways to use my skills for social change. I trust that my successor will embrace the new adventures that await while CDS moves forward as an educational leader modeling the best of progressive education and social justice.
Although I will be passing the torch at the end of June 2018, we have much work to accomplish together in the meantime. In the next seventeen months, we must complete our California Association of Independent Schools re-accreditation, raise funds and start the work to make St. Joseph’s Hall ADA accessible, and continue the work of recruiting and retaining our outstanding faculty and making student learning our top priority.
With appreciation for the CDS community and with great affection,
Dear CDS Community,
Molly Huffman agreed to lead Children’s Day School as Head of School seven years ago. Since then, she has brought financial stability and curriculum strength to the school, and she has overseen a 42% growth of our student body. Her professionalism and experience has made CDS the largest preschool through eighth grade independent school in San Francisco, with extremely high admissions demand. With respect and appreciation, I am writing to formally announce that Molly will conclude her tenure with CDS at the end of June 2018. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I offer my deepest appreciation and gratitude to Molly for her years of leadership.
When Molly was asked to lead CDS, the school had several vulnerabilities. Within the course of her tenure, Molly bolstered these areas, and we are now in a position of strength and stability. Molly’s financial acumen quickly placed CDS on solid, significantly improved financial footing. Her focus on curriculum development aligned each grade’s study, significantly strengthening the educational experience for CDS students. Her dedication to the faculty drove greatly improved teacher salaries, putting us on par with other schools in the Bay Area, while simultaneously supporting teacher development. And her strength as a fundraiser enabled us to pay for and open the middle school building at the height of the building boom in San Francisco. Our ability to enroll two full classes in each grade across our two campuses is Molly’s legacy.
The Board of Trustees at CDS is entrusted with hiring the Head of School. As a community, we are in a position to help define CDS’ next chapter, an exciting and important task. The search for a new Head of School will be led by a Search Committee co-chaired by Board Trustees Tracy Kirkham, Angie Jolie, and Lindsay Woollerson. Tracy is one of the founders of CDS and a parent of three CDS alumni, Angie is a Trustee with children in the sixth and third grades, and Lindsay is the PTTA President and the mother of a kindergartener. We recognize that the process through which we identify our new Head of School is critical to the success of the transition, and you will hear much more from the Board and the Head Search Committee about the process and how to become involved over the coming weeks. We believe CDS is one of the most attractive opportunities for Head of School candidates in the Bay Area and beyond, and we expect to select a new leader from an impressive pool of individuals.
In the meantime, the good work of our school continues to move forward. Molly will be leading us until the end of the 2017-2018 school year. She will continue to direct our amazing school as we search for and identify a new Head of School, and she will work to ensure a smooth leadership transition. Please join me in thanking and appreciating Molly for her great contributions to our school and our community.
Chair, Children’s Day School Board of Trustees