Monday Notes from the Head of School, 6/3

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?” - A.A. Milne from Winnie the Pooh

Dear Firebird Families,

This time of year is always bittersweet for me. While the pride I feel for our students and their accomplishments is great, I also feel an impending sense of loss for what I know the next few months will bring - quiet hallways and a still campus. We say goodbye to our seniors as they transition to the next stage of their adult lives in colleges around the country. This year for our senior families is always full of experiencing a lot of firsts and lasts. This week marks the last week of their K-12 journey, and Thursday night at our Graduation and Promotion ceremony, they will enter as students and leave as alumni. We are so proud of all our students, but this year's crop of graduates will always hold a special place in my heart. They are dynamic, hilarious, intelligent, creative, kind, giving, and just all around great people. We will miss them fiercely, but will follow their accomplishments with pride and hope for what they will bring to the world. I can't wait to watch them soar!

In addition to our annual goodbyes to graduates, we also say sad goodbyes to some Faculty this year. Ms. Andee Steinman let me know early this year that it would be her last at Palm Valley. As she finishes a Doctoral degree at UCLA this spring, Ms. Steinman also finishes her 15th year at Marywood/Palm Valley Schools. Ms. Steinman has been a longtime fixture of our school, having taught everything from lower school technology to her current role as Head of the Upper School. She is an incredible leader and responsible for many of the great things that our US currently accomplishes. She is seeking a role outside of K-12 education, and while we will miss her terribly, we wish her all the best in her new professional adventures! Dr. Kurt McLachlan will be taking over as the Head of Upper School this fall, and we will be returning to a combined role of College Counselor and Upper School Head that we utilized successfully for many years. Ms. Steinman has been working with Dr. McLachlan all year in preparation. We will miss you, Mrs. Steinman!

Our Head of Preschool, Mr. Klausz is leaving us this year to return east with his family. Mr. Klausz has been a great leader in our Preschool this year, and we are grateful for all his perspective and knowledge. Effective June 10th, just in time for Summer Camp, Ms. Kaira Beach will be returning to the role that she held in the interim last year. Ms. Beach has more than 10 years of experience working in Preschools and child care facilities, and holds several certifications, including a CA administrative credential. I do not know anyone more knowledgeable about CA licensing statutes, child development, or best practices for a healthy and high-functioning Preschool. She led our Preschool through an incredible enrollment boom last spring that continued this year, and we are confident that she is the right person to continue leading our Preschool moving forward. Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Ms. Beach back to her role as Head of Preschool!

We are also sad to lose our two incredible Science teachers, Dr. and Mrs. Cuthbertson as they have taken positions in Burbank, CA, moving closer to the coast. They have done a tremendous amount for our Science department this year, and connected so brilliantly with students in positive ways. We are grateful for their contributions. Please join me in welcoming Ms.Tais Castellano and Dr. William Dwyer to Palm Valley School. Ms. Castellano will be teaching MS Sciences and Biology courses. She holds a BS in Ecology from UC, San Diego and an AA in Biology from San Diego Mesa College. She has worked in K-12 private education and as a research Assistant for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and for several wildlife non-profits to rehabilitate animals and serve on a response team for oil spills and other natural disasters. Dr. Dwyer will be our new Chemistry and Physics instructor. He is very excited about bringing an Astronomy elective to Palm Valley as well! Dr. Dwyer holds degrees in Astronomy, Science Education, and Science Reporting. His Ed.D. is in Science and Technology Education from the University of Florida. Dr. Dwyer has taught Physics, AP Physics II and II at the high school level, and is currently an adjunct faculty member at CSU - San Bernardino. Welcome Ms. Castellano and Dr. Dwyer!

We are saying goodbye to Mr. Joyet in our Middle and Upper School French program, but welcoming back Ms. Julie Carter to Palm Valley School! Ms. Carter had left Palm Valley following a shoulder injury and we are so thrilled to have her return to teach French for us full-time next year in the Middle and Upper Schools. Mr. Joyet has been a great colleague and we wish him the best in his future endeavors. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Carter back to our community!

Last, but not least, Mr. Noah Kelly will be leaving us to travel back to New York City to be with his husband and family. Mr. Kelly had hoped that they could make the transition to the valley full-time, but some challenges prevented them from being able to do so. Mr. Kelly assures me that they are keeping the home that they bought here, and he hopes that the future will hold a return to the Palm Valley faculty for him when the circumstances are right. We hope so too, Mr. Kelly! Mr. Kelly has been an incredible asset and family favorite of our Lower School this year, and we will miss him dearly. Mrs. Fisher is still working on finalizing hiring for the fall, and we hope to present our candidate to families very soon.

I am so grateful for all the work that the current Faculty and Staff have done to make this year great. Thank you to those who are transitioning to new assignments in new places, and welcome to those who are joining our Faculty. We are so fortunate to have such a great group of students to teach, colleagues to grow with, and families to work with here. I am looking forward to all the festivities this week of Graduation and Promotion, our Friday Awards ceremony and all the celebrations that come with the end of the year. Thanks for being part of our the community!

With gratitude,

Susan Rice
Head of School