One month ago today, I had the great privilege of experiencing my first day of school as President of Gulliver. That day and every day since then have been filled with many new experiences, meeting new people, and learning more about what makes Gulliver such a great school and a very special community. My short time at Gulliver has already confirmed what I believed to be true about the school when I accepted the role of President. Gulliver is a school relentlessly focused on each individual student and the power of realizing the unique potential that each one of them brings to us. I have seen first-hand the incredible work of our dedicated and talented faculty, coaches, staff, and administration. I have seen and celebrated our student successes in every area imaginable – from Congressional App Challenge winners, to successes in music, drama, and dance, to yearbook and literary magazine awards, to victories on the field and court, to hearing our seventh and eighth grade Girls in Engineering students explain their challenge for an upcoming competition. Clearly, Gulliver students and the faculty and staff who teach, nurture, and support them are doing incredible things that are impacting the world!
I have been overwhelmed by the warm (both literal and figurative) welcome that I have received to the Gulliver community and Miami. I am thoroughly enjoying the rich cultural diversity of Miami! I'm especially grateful to Adriana Martinez-Perry and Karlene Punancy who have made me feel so welcome on behalf of the Parents' Association. Adriana and the other parent leaders who hosted the Academy Parents' Association Social included Mississippi-inspired cuisine. Karlene surprised us all at the Prep Parents' Association meeting by rolling out a Miami red carpet welcome featuring Carnaval-style dancers. My wife, Heather, and our daughters, Alise and Ainsley, are finishing the school year in Jackson, and they cannot wait to join me in Miami at the end of May. We are especially excited to have Alise and Ainsley enroll in Gulliver in the fall in the fifth and eighth grades.
While I am transitioning to a new school and community, Gulliver is also transitioning to a new governance model first envisioned by the Board of Trustees two years ago which now includes both a President and Head of School. I served as President at my previous school which utilized this same governance model. Understandably, I have been asked frequently what the difference is between the two roles and why Gulliver needs both a President and Head of School. As the fifth largest school in the National Association of Independent Schools, Gulliver is a very large, complex organization – larger in fact than many private colleges. Colleges have long utilized a President-Provost or President-Dean of the College model, and increasingly, larger independent schools like Gulliver have shifted to a President-Head model.
As President, I am the sole employee of the board and have total responsibility for the school's success and fulfillment of its mission. I am charged with achieving the strategic priorities of Gulliver, with a focus on planning and implementing major facilities projects; enhancing and elevating marketing, communications, and fundraising efforts; and deepening the school's community, corporate, and foundation relations. While my areas of direct responsibility are external in nature, I cannot be effective as President without being involved in the daily life of the school, and my greatest joy of serving in education is getting to know our students, celebrating our talented faculty and staff, and meeting our wonderful families. The new governance model allows our outstanding Head of School, Frank Steel, to concentrate and focus on leading the academic, arts, athletic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular programs of the school. The new model does not lessen or diminish Frank's leadership and impact on Gulliver. Quite to the contrary, it enlarges and deepens the impact of his leadership as the academic leader of Gulliver. Ultimately, for the new governance model to be successful for the school, there must be a shared partnership of leadership. In just over a month working with Frank, I am happy to report that such a partnership already exists and will continue to strengthen.
For those of you whom I have not had the privilege of meeting, I look forward to meeting you soon. For those I have met, thanks again for the warm welcome!
With Gulliver Pride,