Head of School Reflects On Her First Year At ASL

Head of School Reflects On Her First Year At ASL

Eli Nilson Staff Writer

Nearly every morning Head of School Robin Appleby stands at the top of Waverley Place entrance, greeting students for the coming day filled with learning, collaboration, innovation, and diversity. Appleby is consistently working to make sure that students and teachers make the most out of their days and to make sure that they leave ASL as better people who will go out into the world and make a difference.

Appleby has enjoyed a successful first year in her position at the helm of the school. “I have had a really great experience this year getting to know the students, parents, faculty, and staff, understanding how everything fits into our community and the ways in which [our community] has built its identity over the years,” she said. “I’ve had the support of the community to spend time listening and learning about the school rather than trying to make any big changes but, along the way, to make adjustments to things that we thought we could do better.”

During the course of Appleby’s first year at ASL, she has had pleasant surprises. Though she had heard about the “wonderful strength of community” across the school, she said it was still a surprise to see just how strong it is. “The teachers and staff, in particular, are so interested in the students and in exploring what best education is,” she said. “It’s been amazing for me to see [the teachers] manage all the work they manage on a daily basis and still want to do more.”

Another aspect of the school that has surprised Mrs. Appleby is the creative makerspace, the Make Innovate Learn Lab (MILL).  “The excitement level of what happens in the MILL really surprised me,” she said. “I’ve seen other schools who have great learning and exploration spaces like [the MILL], but the MILL far exceeds what other schools have.”  

Throughout Appleby’s first year, she has recognized the special features of ASL, noting in particular “the diversity of the people and the experiences that they bring.”

The theme of diversity continued this year through the “hare your Story” initiative, used by the International Community Committee at the Global Festival in March.  “[The theme] has had a strong impact. We made a film about telling your story and coming together as a community. That seems to have been really positively received and people have told me that even friends who have known each other for a really long time have had the chance to tell new and different stories about themselves,” she said. “Hopefully [the theme] really made a difference to people.”

Anticipating the upcoming school year, Appleby has several priorities that she wants to achieve in order to enhance ASL. “[My] number one [priority] from a facilities perspective is that we have to manage the security project that we’ll be building [at Waverley Entrance],” she said.

Another of Appleby’s priorities is the continued work on the curriculum in making sure it is “well articulated and vertical.” “Science is a big priority there and making sure that everybody feels confident and comfortable with the science curriculum because that’s the [subject] with the biggest changes,” she said.

Looking further into the future, Appleby has various priorities in terms of the well being and establishment of ASL, including incorporating wellness theme over the course of a school year. “Wellness, stress, anxiety, and preparation for life for our students is really important. We may have a theme in the future around how do we take care of our whole selves. Students [at ASL] are really great at academics, sports and arts and I want them to be able to have all of those things but also to have balance in their lives and to feel good. I really want to focus on what does [feeling good] mean,” she said. “That might mean looking and helping people make good decisions about their choices when it comes to technology use, exercises, eating, and creating balance in their lives. Taking care means not just taking care of ourselves, but taking care of one another.”  

Appleby has also made the revision of the mission statement and strategic plan a priority in the years to come. “It’s been 11 years since the school thought about its mission and the articulation of its mission statement.  It’s normal for schools to review mission [statements] on a regular basis and I would anticipate that we’ll do a mission review soon. From there we’ll build the school’s next strategic plan which means looking at our campus and looking at our educational needs for the future,” she said.

Appleby feels grateful and happy in her current position. “I get up every single morning and think, ‘I get to go to ASL today.’ I hope that everybody finds a job in the future that makes them feel that way. It’s a wonderful way to work and live not feeling like your job is separate from your life and who you are,” she said. “It’s been a real gift to me to come here, have that real integration, and to feel so comfortable.”

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