Dr. James Dawson has served as
Head of School since 1995.  He
received his Ph.D. in Behavior and
his B.S. in Biology at the State
University of New York at Albany.
Dr. Dawson is Vice President of the
Board of Trustees of the New
York State Association of
Independent Schools (NYSAIS).
He is a past trustee of The
Brearley School, The Caedmon
School and The Spence
School.  Prior to his appointment
at PCS, Dr. Dawson served as
Head of Upper School at The
Spence School  from 1988-1995.

 

 

 

 


 
 

 

Head's Letters

A Letter to Parents From Dr. James Dawson, Head of School
October 2016

Was it not Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, “The ornament of a house is the people who frequent it.”? Emerson’s take is an interesting way of understanding a place by knowing something about the people and the lives who ultimately define it. Each fall, I feel blessed and graced and privileged to begin the process, anew, of coming to know the fullness of our student body: those who have been with us and remain, as family, markers of continuity and growth; and those who are new, like the first light of day, just awakening us to the majesty of what is to come, filled with the potential that “new” brings with it, and quickly becoming not only the ornament of this place but a part of the overall fabric that defines who we are, what we do, whose lives we are touched by and whose lives – now entrusted to us – we have the great privilege to touch as well.

As we begin a new year, as we see the vibrancy of youth, as we come to cherish the full complement of the extraordinary young people entrusted to us, we begin to define yet another year in our long history; we are pulled along by the ornament of young people in our midst who not only make this “house” a home but whose presence also continues to define and to support our mission – over a century strong – of providing an extraordinary education to a group of extraordinary young people.

The year is just beginning, with a rich tapestry yet to be woven. The horizon still beckons us to a new day; the hopes and dreams in our midst begin to move from the shroud of early morning fog into the light of day. The future awaits. The potential remains nascent and pure. We await what is to come, much like the African proverb that reminds us that “thunder is not yet rain”. Feel the energy of possibility. Enjoy the merging stories of both old and new. Look off toward the distant light of day still in early morning as we await the fullness of that yet to come. Celebrate. Dream. Enjoy, together, our shared role as ornaments defining this house, this community of people bound by a vision and a passion to strive for excellence in school and in life.

For all of us, and certainly even for those who are new, welcome home.

A Letter to Parents From Dr. James Dawson, Head of School
February 2016

One of the most remarkable aspects of working in a school, of living in a school environment, and of participating in the community of a school is the uniquely rare ability to incorporate renewal, rebirth and new beginnings into the fabric of our day-to-day work. Just this week, we welcome nine new students into the PCS community. As the new semester begins, even our ongoing students start fresh, with a clean slate and the potential to excel – anew, in an ongoing manner or in contrast to the past - in every area. Some students begin new elective courses but, even for our continuing courses, everyone starts with an exploration of new material; many continue their studies but do so with the constant march toward expanding on what they have already learned, delving deeper into topics just touched upon previously, continuing to seek answers and patterns and exploring, both in their school work and in their professional and pre-professional training, new topics, new principles, and new rubrics. Our lives are in a continual state of moving forward, marching onward, learning more, doing more, and doing things differently. The cement which glues all of these disparate parts together is our mission – the purpose and explanation of what we do and why we do it – and that points to an affirming, uplifting, re-assuring reminder that this is a place that hinges on hope, that focuses on possibility, that embraces the various gifts we each offer to make us not only better people but to create for all of us a better world.

Is there any place other than schools that can do that so well? Is there another institution that has more of an absolute commitment toward tomorrow than a school does? Are there any other more powerful beacons of light burning as brightly that can guide us forward and out of the darkness? I think not. We – the community of educators and students – who define the fabric of PCS, who espouse our beliefs so clearly in and through our work, who believe in each other, who have faith that tomorrow will be better than today – faith especially embodied in each of the remarkable young people entrusted to us – have a most remarkable role and a huge responsibility in what we do and how we do it. After all, if there is any value in renewal, if there is any purpose in new beginnings, if there is a majestic purpose that comes from the notion of rebirth, than those opportunities must be based on the deep conviction that tomorrow will be better than today. The value of renewal comes with our clear certainty that our work has purpose going forward, that we do what we do because we believe in the endless possibilities that should be evident in any new beginning, and we take the never-ending pledge of marching forward as testament to our unrelenting belief in that special place in our hearts, our minds, and in our community called hope.

Here’s to second semester, filled with a multitude of days to celebrate, as we journey onward toward the endless days to follow, each marked with that special grace embodied in a simple word that carries such a multitude of possibilities: new.     (Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)


A Letter to Parents From Dr. James Dawson, Head of School
May 2015

It is indeed the rite of passage, come spring, that we begin to be energized by the budding of the trees, the quiet but dignified emergence of the flowers, and the lengthening twilight that comes with the sun fading ever more slowly and ever later into the night sky. Particularly by May, and with great joy this year, following a sometimes brutal winter, spring really has come to us, with the blue skies and billowing white clouds catapulting us forward to time at the beach, time to spend in summer’s thrall with our families, time away from school, and allows our imagination to bring us full cycle in the yearly ritual endeavor to end one school year and begin to think, in measured terms, of the arrival of a new one.

"At schools, there is an inexorable pull toward the final days, filled with both a sense of hope and a quiet dignified remembrance of that which passed before us..."

It is also a time of reflection: on the year just passed, on the people who we shared our days with these past ten months, of the students that touched our lives and made us – as a school – whole. In the midst of that comes a certain nostalgia, especially for those leaving and graduating, that keeps us well buffered by our memories and emotions and which, against the grain of all other signs pointing to an ending, bind us to stand in place and embrace the moment – and the moments gone by. At schools, there is an inexorable pull toward the final days, filled with both a sense of hope and a quiet dignified remembrance of that which passed before us and now slips closer to a reality of that which is simply past.

For the Class of 2015, the time is now measured in days, the memories like engrams on our mind’s eye, the immediacy of touch slowly beginning to fade – much like Michelangelo’s hand of God in the Sistine Chapel – until inches will separate our fingers’ grasp, as we settle into this emotionally wrought time of having to continue to say hello day to day while our hearts know that it is soon time to truly say good-bye.

It’s a bit wrenching all around: for the students who fight the inevitable, for their teachers who balance their pride of success with the loss of presence, for their parents who, like all who teach young people, realize the need to let them go. It does not make for an easier departure even if it follows the right course. It does not diminish the attachment that has formed, the bonds that have been strengthened through shared experience, through shared joy, discovery or challenge. It does not free us from the ongoing responsibilities that come with being a teacher or a parent or a friend. It simply reminds us of the extraordinary gift which we have all been blessed with: time with those we care for and care about; time to share, to learn, to discover; time to cherish and hold dear the shared experience which is the basis of any school and any family.

As we move closer to the full acceptance of this final chapter - this fleeting time still with us to cherish, to embrace and to honor - we wish all of our students, and all of their families, a sense of peace, found not only in the reflection of a year soon to end, but evident to each of us as we celebrate the joy which has been ours simply as a result of the presence of these remarkable young people in our midst – entrusted to us – who we will always cherish, always embrace, always remember.

(Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)
 

December 2014

As the last days of the last month of the year slowly fade into the past; as the weather grows colder (with an occasional burst of spring-like balm!), asthe year marking our Centennial comes to a close, we are left with the spirit and sentiment of the season, focused, as a result of many faith and cultural traditions, on the notion of giving, and affirmed by the spirit of giving so evident within the PCS community.

"we are what we repeatedly do," Aristotle

Whether making sandwiches for the homeless and the needy or having a hot-chocolate sale to raise money in support of those in need; whether through the gift of performance so evident in our Choral Concert, our Winter’s Eve Concert or at our Holiday Assembly; whether we salute the success evident in award-winning competitions or affirm the power of the arts through extraordinary and ubiquitous talent so evident and so often shared by our talented artists, this is a community that lives the tradition of giving and, happily, it is not one that restricts that tradition to a limited time of year or derives it solely from a limited number of family, ethnic or national backgrounds.

A community is more clearly defined by what they continually do than by what they occasionally do; Aristotle once stated that when he wrote: “we are what we repeatedly do”, and that adage is evident through ongoing, consistent and continual activity. In our case, as you can clearly determine from this edition of Student News, we find a group of highly talented young people who like to perform; we find a group of highly caring young people who genuinely want to help; we find some of the very best musicians, dancers, and actors in the world.

With all of the gifts that the PCS community can and does offer, may you find, not only in December, but throughout the year, signs and acts of caring that serve as a catalyst toward pressing us all forward to make and sustain a better world. That goal is an ongoing journey that needs nurturing every single day from every single one of us; happily, it is a journey already in progress within this remarkable and special community called Professional Children’s School.

(Reprinted from PCS Student News, the semi-annual publication.)
 

November 2014

It’s the evening of Halloween and the school is finally quiet, the costumed PCS students have departed for their various Trick or Treat events, headed off to the Halloween Parade in the West Village or made their way to their work, their lessons or home. The strange sense of quiet, even more pronounced then on a typical Friday evening, pervades a mostly empty building. A scattering of candy wrappers litter the floor and a building so often filled with energy and life is now eerily still and silent. Tomorrow is the first of November, the NYC Marathon is ready to go on Sunday, the cool autumn weather evident today reminds us of the change of season that came just a few weeks ago, college applications are due momentarily for those applying early, and, Sunday, in the midst of the darkness of night, our clocks will fall back to bring some cherished light to the early morning at the cost of a quickly darkening sky at day’s end. Another school year is at twenty percent complete and, implicit in that reality, 2014 moves inexorably to its final moments in just two months’ time.

"Schools, and life, are about cycles. They give us context and they serve as markers; markers that guide us through the predictable and unpredictable moments..."

In just over a week, we’ll celebrate our Centennial Gala and mark the end of the centennial celebration for this special and graced institution that opened on January 6, 1914; we’ll mark the year with reflections and with memories; we’ll remind ourselves of our commitment to young people and to their dreams. We’ll fondly remember the 20,000 students who have graced our halls in a variety of locations. We’ll be moved by the stunning music of our beloved alumna, Leslie Uggams, and, apparently, at least a few individuals will take a moment to recognize my own twenty years of service. A century gone by, twenty years of leadership - beloved time for me which is nothing short of a cherished gift - slipping into the past, and, implicit in that reality, we head inexorably toward the beginning of a second century, another multitude of years of service, and finally reach our own point of departure as 2015 rings in and our connection to the centennial and my first score of years at PCS becomes but a footnote receding and finally locked into the vanishing reality of what was.

On December 22, the date of the winter solstice, we’ll record, at least in the northern hemisphere, the shortest day of the year; we’ll celebrate a set of holidays that focus on giving and sharing; we’ll sit together for meals as a family, whether by blood or by connection or circumstance, and we’ll travel home, wherever that may be. Our students will scatter to places around the world, stretching the ever growing tether that binds and connects us to each other over time and distance, and they will come to know the real meaning of the season – however they celebrate it – by understanding that the most important gifts are the ones that surround us each and every day, if only we take some time to recognize and embrace them. A short winter day and, implicit in that, the sense of annual renewal that comes with the move toward spring, the lengthening of the days, and the important right of passage that reminds us of rebirth and new growth.

Mid-autumn is always a powerful time for me; the school year is well underway and, for those of us who work at schools, believe it or not, in the midst of what is still the beginning of the current year, we are obliged to begin the first thoughts about how to plan for the next one. The changing colors of the leaves and their eventual abscission, along with colder weather, brisk winds, and the wonder which comes from a warm fire reminds us of the joy of keeping close and the gift that gets captured in a word as simple as cozy.

Schools, and life, are about cycles. They give us context and they serve as markers; markers that guide us through the predictable and unpredictable moments, the defining dates and events, the changing seasons, the passing school year, the special and not so special days that litter our calendar and define our days, be it for the wonder that comes through memory or the simple act of tearing yet another page off our desktop calendar. While time moves on, inexorably, we can choose to see time as either an enemy or a companion, either as a limiting gift or a magical framework through which all things are possible.  As this All Hallows Eve fades, as the demands of life and school are met and then retreat into the distant past, as the seasons come and go, as the first hundred years – or the first twenty – are celebrated and then left behind, I am hoping that we can all see these events as part of the remarkable mosaic of our lives, of a timeline always littered with hope, as events that have faded but which can always be re-gifted to us through memory, and that we see cycles more as an affirmation of continuity rather than as evidence of  limitation regarding the people, places and experiences which define us and give us purpose and meaning.

(Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)


April 2014

Winter in New York has been unrelenting this year: cold, snow and more cold. International news has been filled with unresolved issues ranging from the still uneven global economic news to the mystery of a missing aircraft, to the tension evidenced in a battle pitching national determination against external annexation. We live, and continue to live, in an era of uncertainty and tension and, inasmuch as PCS is truly a global community, we are both aware of and sensitive to the complex global issues of the day as they not only impact us indirectly but, more so, through the direct experience of our own PCS community. The weather in New York matters. The concern about increased levels of particulate matter in Beijing matters. The storms of Europe, the diminishing diversity of Africa’s plains, the fires of Australia all matter. They matter because these and other events around the world directly impact the lives of those at PCS for whom that distant

"we can serve as a model for the global community in the best sense of the word..."

story is not just news from afar but news about home. We have experienced this reality before: when a tsunami devastated parts of Indonesia, we worried about the families of our students who live in that region; when the Fukushima Daiichi power plant was severely damaged by the impact of an offshore earthquake, we worried for the missing grandparents far away from their grandchild studying in New York; when SARS took it’s toll, we worried for those who know first hand the terror of global epidemics; when funds are periodically frozen due to international monetary policy, the impact is real and immediate to at least some of our fellow PCS community members. Certainly, with students from 16 of the states that comprise our own United States, we feel the pinch of drought out west, the tension of political upheaval within a divided America, the devastation of tornadoes in America’s Midwest, the impact of an oil spill in the Gulf, the potential loss from fire or flood or mudslide. We are aware that this is more than just a school filled with people; we are a microcosm of a national and global community, impacted by national and international news and circumstances that press us to realize that we are intimately connected to events, to natural disasters, to political upheaval, to the daily lives that impact not just our tiny dot on the map of New York City but of the whole of planet Earth of which we are representatives, emissaries and ambassadors.

In the midst of that reality, I have always been impressed that we can also serve as a model for the global community in the best sense of the word; we can work toward common goals, share common aspirations, feel the pain of our fellow PCS individuals as we journey through the complex dynamic which is life, here, throughout the nation and around the world. We can rise to help, to offer solace, to support growth, to instill hope, to seek solutions for all the tomorrows to come, wherever we hail from, wherever we settle, wherever we call home. We can support the arts and the myriad endeavors of our young people to affirm a global sense of commitment, to empower a global community of talented, well-educated young people with the potential to not only touch lives but to effect change. We can, working together, see that the roots of our common needs and hopes are stronger than the divisions of global tension; our young people are not only ambassadors of their own hometowns and nations, but ambassadors of PCS, going forward with hope and conviction and with a proud sense of unlimited possibility.

The world will continue to be filled with complicated stories; being at PCS, that is not only a theoretical possibility but a reality for the 213 young people for whom the stories have roots in heritage or nationality or hometown or fate. Together, we can help each other through the barrage of uncertainty and rise above that so that we can continue to educate a remarkable group of young people who can not only touch each other with their talent and knowledge but who can also help each other through the challenges that we each face, who can seek solutions not just for here and not just for now but for wherever and whenever they are needed. Together, we can empower and send forth a group of talented, well-educated and hopeful young people, all interconnected by their time at PCS, with the communal goal to not only have the world’s events impact our lives but, through our lives, to touch, to share and to improve the global community from which we hail.

(Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)


February 2014

For many years I have had a special drawer filled with notes, and they are all cherished possessions. They are notes written from dozens, if not, now, hundreds of students and former students; they are notes filled with news, notes filled with nostalgia, notes filled with distant dreams, notes that speak to the glorious victories – and occasionally the glorious failures – of life at school, life within the professional world that the young people entrusted to us are each a part of, life beyond school, the sweet joy of love, the dreadful pain of separation, the loss of a loved one, the birth of a new child, the joy that comes with a successful career and the frustration that remains a part of any career; these are the notes that tell me, in so many different ways, the stories of lives and, in one way or another, almost universally, they also tell me, in often subtle but deeply contemplative terms, what impact that this special place, PCS, and the special people that work here, and the peers that attended concurrently, had on the individual writer. These notes are a living, ongoing dossier of basic and heartfelt testament to what PCS has meant to the multitudes who have attended and the scores that have shared time with me and who now share their recollections, joys, pains and hopes. Sometimes the note comes from a student who spent only a year with us, others come from students who spent six or more years, but, always, the note that is written to me originates in the heart of the sender.

"There is a growing aknowledgement that the best way to know a place is through the stories of those who were and are a part of it."

As we celebrate our ongoing Centennial, the stories of our students, our alumni, our faculty and staff, both current and former, tell the tale most central to who we are and what we do. In this edition, we have the eloquent recollections and contemplations of two of our current students, Hiu Sing Fan, a senior, and Anna Mor, an eighth grader, who each share with us their sense of what PCS means to them. Their texts are filled with words and phrases like comfortable, balance, true to myself, allows me to be me, bond, nice, kind, home away from home, and memorable.  These are words of connection, of acceptance, of affirmation. These are words that convey for these two cherished students their sense of belonging and they remind us that our strongest aspiration is to empower the young people entrusted to us to feel connected, to share in our collective belief that the best environment for a school is one that binds us together, one that empowers us to move forward, one that leaves a warm feeling of belonging and, without question, one that affirms our belief in the endless possibility that emanates from our combination of supporting the arts and the interests of our passions while celebrating the gifts and unlimited potential of our minds.

There is a growing acknowledgement that the best way to know a place is through the stories of those who were and are a part of it. In our own words, whether in an aging note, a spoken tribute at a Centennial assembly, in the archives capturing our first one hundred years, through the day-to-day workings of the school, each engram captures a part of who we are. Collectively these stories provide the critical history of one small but powerful institution that has, in myriad ways, prompted an endless series of recollections, some forthright and others subtle, of what Professional Children’s School has meant to over 20,000 individuals who have shared this space, and filled this place with hope and with dreams, and left us with an abundant cache of memories.

(Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)


A Letter to Parents From Dr. James Dawson, Head of School

October 2013

It was one hundred years ago this fall that the two founders of Professional Children’s School discovered, according to the folklore of our beginning days, some boys playing cards backstage after a performance of Daddy Long Legs, asked them why they were not in school and were told that no school would admit them. Whether literal or apocryphal, the premise was that there were children of the stage who did not have the ability to attend school and ply their craft at the same time, and, hence, so began Professional Children’s School with two students on January 6, 1914.

"At PCS...dreams were alive and well, even in our first few years."

A century ago, in the fall of 1913, life was filled with uncertainty. Inquiries regarding the sinking of the Titanic were still fresh in the minds of ship builders and seafaring travelers. World War I was on the near horizon, less than a year away. The inexorable move toward an uncertain future was just beginning. President Woodrow Wilson had been in the White House for less than a year. Women could not vote and would not gain that right for nearly seven years, and the notion of personal rights was not yet perceived to be something that everyone deserved by virtue of human dignity; the movement toward cheap manufacturing was still in its early stages and the quality of life, even here in New York, remained a challenging obstacle course of tough economics, uncertain politics, and oppositional group identification filled with tension and apprehension. The City of Dreams was tough to navigate and New York’s harbor, despite all of those difficulties, remained, still, a harbor of dreams to the multitude of immigrants and travelers from around the world who passed by a lady with a torch that asked for the world to give us “their tired, their poor, their huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

At PCS, however, dreams were alive and well even in our first few years. Within nine months of its opening, the population of the school swelled to over 100. The word went out about a new opportunity to mix the magic of the arts and individual artistic passion with the still developing notion of educational opportunity for all. Settled into a house on 46th Street, the beginnings of PCS were modest but the hopes were – even then – unlimited and imbued with possibilities.

A century later, just shy of the exact 100th anniversary of our founding, another school year, in a long line of school years, begins anew. We’ve moved from 46th Street to Broadway and then to West 60th Street; we’ve seen the building go from basic and lacking to one filled with state of the art facilities that enhance the educational experience; we’ve broadened the focus of the dreams but not diminished the passion of the dreamers; we’ve expanded our curriculum without defying the idea that PCS is a place that celebrates the mind while supporting the arts for students of different abilities, talents, origins and languages; we’ve served over 20,000 remarkable young people in a century’s time and we can proudly review our past and present; we can acknowledge our achieved markers of success and our faith in the limitless potential of the young; we move forward, boldly, continuing a long dedication to mission and purpose: we know who we are; we know what we do; we know what we believe.

"we are the guardians of tomorrow; we hold the hope of the future – the future of the arts, and competitive athletics, and entrepreneurial ingenuity, and countless other plans of unimaginable grandeur and power – in our hands."

Indeed for the long line of teachers who have graced these halls, here and in other physical spaces, for the nine heads, including me, who have sought to steer us into an uncertain future with hope and vision, for the extraordinary staff that have always served our goals and our mission, and mostly for the young people entrusted to our care, both today and through a century of days now gone, always filled with effort and dedication and perseverance mixed with laughter and tears, victories and failures, dreams realized and dreams diminished, this remarkable place has not changed as it relates to the most important element of who we are and what we believe. Then, now, and onward into the future, we hold in our midst an incredible gift, a gift of endless possibility, a gift of unbelievable value, a gift that speaks to us as much today as it did in the difficult days of a century ago: we are the guardians of tomorrow; we hold the hope of the future – the future of the arts, and competitive athletics, and entrepreneurial ingenuity, and countless other plans of unimaginable grandeur and power – in our hands. We have a sacred charge to those who we serve, to the dreams that they harbor, to the future that they will own. This year, we renew that charge and that sacred duty focused on the 195 remarkable young people at PCS who lead us, as they have led us for 100 years before, on that most remarkable journey to that most remarkable place in the heart called hope.

Welcome to our 100th year. A century of dreams, a lifetime of possibilities…….

(Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)


June 2013

It is strangely quiet at this hour of this particular morning, as I sit to write some thoughts for this final Glance Online newsletter for the 2012-2013 academic year. Students are in the midst of their final exams; our Seniors are filled with a sense of accomplishment as we close in on Commencement, but their feelings of completion are mixed with sadness about leaving a place that has been much like a home to them for anywhere from one to six years; the Middle School is gearing up for their Closing Exercises at the end of this week; and, much like the parents of our students, those of us who work at PCS must also balance the inexorable move forward with the reality of saying goodbye to some of our most cherished students as they move on. It is the balance implicit to schools that we must accept that part of what we do: we work to prepare students for their future and we must embrace the future as it intersects with the present and feel appropriately affirmed that the young people entrusted to us now know what they need to know in order to move on to college, to high school, to the next grade, and/or to the next professional stage of their careers. It is a rite of passage each and every spring that is both a marker of success and a gentle tug on the heart as we watch young people grow, change and venture forth to their next adventure.

Being in the moment is certainly thick in the air at PCS as we all had the opportunity to witness and be touched by the Advanced Drama class’s production of “On the Town”. For those of you who saw it or remember it, the play is a powerful reminder to live every moment, to cherish every person, to embrace life in its rich kaleidoscope of possibilities so that the most treasured elements of our existence are not lost as we live our lives.  PCS is a place where we strive to celebrate life, to cherish each other’s company, to not let the moments go by without pausing to embrace them. As I mentioned to one senior class in a previous commencement address: we should celebrate single moments, as moments are the companions of our existence. We should salute the hard work of the students, faculty, staff, parents, guardians and friends who make our work and our success possible. We should be filled with profound gratitude to those who support this remarkable school, both in terms of the sacrifice that tuition places upon many of our families, along with the generosity of our many donors who help us to ensure that we can fulfill the mission of this very special institution. We should be delighted with the affirmation that comes from the collective and extraordinary college, conservatory and professional placements that the Class of 2013 can proudly boast about. We are incredibly grateful to our parent volunteers, be it for their service on the Board, the Parents Association, through their work on behalf of the school, or, as featured herein, for single-handedly creating a costume collection that has no equal.

Surely, we can celebrate a year of growth, a year filled with hope, a year that celebrates the ongoing journey of this school as we sit on the cusp of our centennial year in 2014. We are all very excited about the next 18 months, as we are planning numerous events to commemorate and salute our fascinating one hundred year history. We’ll have lots of special moments to come and we’ll celebrate each and every one of them. With much more information to follow under separate cover, I’m delighted to announce that we’re starting the year in September with our first centennial event, with underwriting support from our Board of Trustees: an all-school picnic, away from Manhattan, on Sunday, September 22, with transportation provided for those who need it, so that we can spend a day together, with no agenda other than to share in each other’s company, have fun, engage in plenty of activities, and consume plenty of food. The picnic will be a reminder that this is, above all else, a family, and where, in a camp that will be reserved only for us, we can celebrate each moment, admire the beauty of the natural world, share a day with each other, smile in celebration of our joyful community, and engage each other as we begin a new year’s journey that both acknowledges the road traveled and looks forward – as is always true at PCS - to a future filled with endless possibility.

(Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)


March 2013

As always, PCS at a Glance is filled with remarkable achievements, powerful personal commitments to excellence, and a passion for a chosen field that resonates deeply and is universally acknowledged and affirmed. We are a place where dreams are realized and the quest, as much as the destination, is a huge part of the story that is PCS.

One thing that is perhaps not often enough noted within these pages and among these markers of distinction, achievement, commitment, and affirmation is the work done by our administrators and our specialists. With the imminent retirement of three remarkable individuals, with tenures at PCS ranging from six years to over thirty, it seemed like a good opportunity to sing their praises, inasmuch as it represents the energy and commitment not just of those three but of the entire adult community at PCS whose care for the young people entrusted to us is central to our success.

Carol Kleban, our Associate Head of School, began her PCS tenure in 1979; she served as a member of the history faculty, then as head of the Middle School, then Principal, and finally as Associate Head of School. She has been at PCS long enough to see it evolve and she has been central enough at PCS to be both an agent and catalyst for many of those changes. For a third of the life of the School, Carol has been a champion of students, a source of empowerment, a dedicated educator, a true friend to countless many, and a remarkable woman of delightful humor, candor, warmth and compassion. She has created lasting relationships with alums over the decades and I am delighted that she will be with us part-time next year as our Centennial Alumni Liaison, reconnecting our cherished alumni with us as we celebrate 100 years of PCS. Mostly, Carol Kleban has been a singular source of affirmation and hope. Her legacy will be seen in the literally thousands of young people, many now older and spread around the world, who were held to high standards, bathed in an abiding faith for their inevitable success, embraced and pressed and pushed and supported through their journey here at PCS by this champion who has never lost faith in them or in the power of education. It has been our – and certainly my – great privilege to work with Carol and to share her many gifts, both professionally and personally, over these many years. Brava! on a job well done.

Sherrie Hinkle, our Director of Admissions, now completing her fifteenth year at PCS, has been connected to PCS even longer through her work at The School of American Ballet. Sherrie has the patience we all hope to show, the humility that we all seek to emulate, and the embracing and warm welcome that we all nostalgically remember but so rarely encounter. She has welcomed countless families to talk, to tour, to seek a solution to what often seems like intractable problems, and she has done so, in each and every case, with the same high degree of total commitment and integrity. Her work in Admissions has kept us whole, even in the midst of tough times and despite an ongoing economic assault on the arts and competitive athletics, and she has made people believe that their passions have value, that their pursuits are worthy, and that their hopes for the future are not just about dreams but about possibilities. Our interested families have encountered a humane, embracing and welcoming start to their relationship with PCS through Sherrie Hinkle. Brava, indeed!

Judith Kaplan, our Learning Specialist, has been with us at PCS for six years. To know Judith is to know a living embodiment of endless possibility; she is a fierce advocate for the learning challenged, and hers is often the voice of empowerment, the voice that calls on us to give an extra chance, the voice that tells us that having the School believe in an individual gives that individual the ability to believe in themselves. Judith is extraordinary in reading and assessing the many and myriad assessments that we receive regarding our students, with reports from all over the world, of different styles and tones, of different cultural and societal norms, and she does so with the clear intention to find out if we can serve an individual fairly and effectively. She lives by the philosophy that we do not do things because they are easy or hard, we do them because they are right. Behind the scenes, she is often the voice advocating a closer look; she believes that with the right support almost any student can succeed with at least some degree of both accomplishment and satisfaction; she is also honest when what a student needs is not something that we can truly offer or accomplish. Judith continues a long tradition at PCS of supporting our students’ challenges and, more often than not, she is not only the identifier of problems but one part of the complicated solution necessary to compensate, balance and overcome those challenges in order to achieve and to achieve well. Another Brava! for another dedicated part of the PCS team.

For all that these three women have done, for the work that those who teach and work here do each and every day, for the faith that families place in those who care for their entrusted children, I remain proud of the work that we do, touched by the lives that we impact, impacted by the lives that we touch, and committed to maintain this very special place, filled with very special people – and certainly including those who work here each and every day – that reaffirms, more than anything else, that PCS is a source of boundless hope and endless possibility.

(Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)


November 2012

One of the most remarkable things about the PCS community is our sense of shared experience prompting a collective sense of commitment to the common good. Although our building came through the recent Hurricane Sandy and the following nor’easter without any damage, many of our families were and/or continue to be without power, water and heat following the most recent storms. Families have been challenged by the lack of services, and some have been forced to find temporary quarters or to revise their daily routines and schedules in significant ways. Our commuters have been inconvenienced and some continue to be so. It is with great relief that I can say that life at school is pretty much back to normal, that attendance has been excellent, and that our students were both eager to return and pleased to be at school with their friends and the community of teachers and staff who have always been privileged to have such special young people entrusted to their care.  Unfortunately, overall, life is not nearly as easily defined as “back to normal” in terms of the repercussions from such a difficult challenge as that which we have experienced over the past few weeks.

True to form, our students are reaching out to help; they are pro-actively creating venues and forums by which they can help those devastated by the storms. From the large jar collecting change and currency donations on our first floor, to the scheduling of a special assembly meant to focus on concrete steps to take to help, our students are, as always, highly conscious of the broader world and deeply devoted to the notion that helping others is one of the great gifts that all of us can share, no matter our means, no matter our talents, no matter our age or ability. Helping others remains the centerpiece of our shared commitment to the common good. The desire to help is not just extant among our students: our faculty and staff have been doing community service, donating funds, and even hosting friends and families displaced by Hurricane Sandy. Our Parent Association is on the cusp of reaching out to our parent body to see how they might help make a difference. Alumni have been in touch to see if there is something that they can do, both for the immediate PCS community and beyond.

It goes without saying that the drive to help, the desire to touch lives with good deeds and generous support, the commitment to make a difference for those in need as well as for those doing without, has always been the hallmark of this remarkable community’s dedication to doing the very best that we can to offer assistance – both personally and collectively – and, in doing so, to reinforce our ongoing legacy of generosity as testament to a longstanding offer, in all things, under all circumstances, to speak in but a few words to the core value that we all share and believe: let me help.

(Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)


October 2012

Perhaps this summer, if not at some other moment, there was a morning that came along and you found yourself awake to experience sunrise, that moment when the first wisp of light broke the darkness of night and a new crimson dawn, the start of a new day, showed its majesty and glory. Sunrise, the marker for each and every new day, is a reminder to us about renewal: the promise of a fresh, as yet undefined, canvas upon which the events and moments, hopes, dreams and endless possibilities of our future lies before us. The fact that each and every day begins with that powerful reminder is the basis for hope, the catalyst for progress, the engine of change, the driving force behind the work we all do to make tomorrow better than today and to ensure that the future is filled with more hope than the past, which recedes without exception behind us.

Opening school each year has much in common with the sunrise: new beginnings, new opportunities, mixed with the wonder of an unexplored journey; a new school year accepts the change that comes from the inevitable truth that students graduate and move on while new and returning students revitalize the community; our ongoing students often provide us abundance evidence, lost in the day to day life of the school year, that young people often grow in leaps and bounds, both physically and personally, in the space of the summer months; and the annual PCS cruise expands on the metaphor by reminding us that we set sail each September bound for an as yet unknown destination filled with the joy and adventure of the multitude of twists and turns that ultimately define our days.

The 2012-2013 year has begun: we have welcomed our many new students and embraced our many students returning for another year; we have upgraded systems and added more utility as we serve the community, be it through an expanded calendar or a more broadly useful website; we have a new, stunning piano on site, with thanks to the families of the Class of 2012 who contributed funds last year as the focus of their senior gift to PCS; we have a new and wonderful librarian; we have good news about student accomplishments and accolades over the course of the past few months; and the calendar already is rich with opportunities to meet, mingle, explore and more fully understand the nature of the School and the particulars of our students’ lives.

It is sunrise, and just at the dawn of the new year: a year of enlightenment, a year of opportunity, a year of endless possibility, all elevated by the remarkable young people entrusted to us and reinforced by the efforts of the community of adults who serve them, and their future, with the work and the promise realized each and every day – through each and every dawn – at PCS
.


(Reprinted from PCS at a Glance online, the monthly PCS parent newsletter.)

 


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