Dear Harding Academy Community,
Nashville's warmer weather and Harding’s warm welcome are just two reasons Wendy and I are so excited to join the Harding community this summer. We have relocated before, as you have read, but this is the first time we are returning to a city we know. Nashville has certainly changed much since we last lived there, so we are already enjoying reacquainting ourselves with what is familiar and excited to discover all that is new.
I distinctly remember my first visit to Harding Academy when the concept of having a stream running through a classroom inspired students' curiosity and other schools' interest. Since then, Harding’s legacy of meeting and advancing the educational needs of students has continued. This commitment to the learning and well-being of the students, not only from PreK-8th grade, but the rest of their lives is why I am so excited to join the team of educators and parents supporting, nurturing, and inspiring the children at Harding Academy.
As my resume reads, I am a committed advocate of PreK-8th grade education. Childhood is precious, as is the transition to adolescence. These formative and irreplaceable years set the stage for the remainder of a child’s life and require an educational experience uniquely crafted to meet this age group's developmental, neurological, cognitive, physical, and social needs. The transitions children and their parents undergo during these years present unique and meaningful opportunities for families and the school to partner and, at the optimal time, launch students into the next stage of their lives.
I share these sentiments both as an educator and a parent. My wife, Wendy, and I met as teenagers when we were counselors at a summer camp in Mexico, working with children in this same age group. Since then, our lives have revolved around children, both our own and the children in the schools where we have worked. Wendy, a teacher, counselor, and artist, has already begun reconnecting with her creative community in Nashville. Whereas my marathon days are behind me until we figure out how to replace the meniscus, I am looking forward to reacquainting myself with the hiking and biking trails in Percy Warner Park.
I have known Dave Skeen for several years and appreciate his work and the stage he has set. The board has formed a transition team, and my preparation for the role of Harding's next Head of School has begun. I am eager to meet with faculty, parents, and community members to learn more about Harding's aspirations and plans for the future.
What is already clear to me is the strength, optimism, and goodwill of the Harding community. The bond is the commitment to the experience of the children, fueled by the legacy of Harding's significant role in the lives of generations of families. If there is a theme from my conversations to date, it is gratitude for the special community which Harding embodies. I am honored and inspired to join this community and look forward to the relationships Wendy and I will form. We will be in Nashville for the Harding Art Show in May and look forward to meeting you then.