Welcome from the Head of School
One of the reasons I love my job is that every day, I get to see and experience the raw potential of our girls. I feel this raw potential at Garrison Forest everywhere I look. As we build on the school’s 106-year history, the fabric of the community and what we stand for remains tightly woven. At the same time, the future is beginning to take shape in exciting ways.
There are enduring and precious things about Garrison Forest that will never change. We are an excellent girls’ school with a caring community and an environment that encourages girls to grow, take risks, gain confidence and learn who they are and who they can become. We are a place of relationships—where the relationships among the girls and those between the girls and their teachers are at the center of what we do every day.
Garrison Forest is a beautiful place that is home to many with boarders and faculty families who live and grow together, creating an extended family with our day community. And we are a place with abiding school tradition and school spirit—a place with “Lights” (Light Blue) and “Darks” (Dark Blue)—where the girls embrace what it means to be a Garrison Girl while also embracing the fact that there is not just one prototypical Garrison Girl.
It is rare to have such consistency about what a place is. It is the enduring strength of Garrison Forest that we know so clearly who we are. At the same time, it is essential that we continue to evolve and change in concert with the world around us. Today’s Kindergartners will graduate from college in 2031. It is hard to begin to imagine what their world will look like 16 years from now.
What did the world look like 16 years ago in 1999? The iPhone would not be invented for eight more years. Facebook (and the social media that has followed) was still five years away. If we think about how normalized these things are in our lives now, it is an indication of how rapidly the world changes—and how quickly we all have to adapt. This is true of our students, too.
So, as we think about preparing our youngest students for a world we cannot predict, we cannot rely solely on our old methods of educating students. Yes, we want them to be able to write well and argue persuasively, but we also have to think about the skills they will need to navigate this pace of change. They will need to be nimble. They will need to be flexible. They will need to exist and thrive with a high level of ambiguity. They will need to be globally aware, and they will need to be able to leverage technology, to create with it rather than only consume it. We need to change the way we teach because the main thing we need to teach them is agility.
We want an academic program that is rigorous, yes, but also relevant. One that includes real world experiences, where they are asked to solve real problems, as they do when they participate in a Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) internship or a Jenkins Fellowship, both of which celebrate the 10-year milestone this year. Or when they program and build a robot to accomplish a particular task. Or when they learn about financial literacy through a stock market simulation.
So, this is the primary question we are asking ourselves at Garrison Forest today. What do girls need to feel confident and passionate as they enter an unpredictable world?
If we do our jobs well, they will get the enduring GFS qualities of community, relationship, spirit and caring. And they will embrace the “new” skills and habits of mind: agility; purpose; initiative; and the ability to think critically to direct their own learning. While the needed skills have changed and their world is unpredictable, who they are as Garrison Girls has not.
Head of School