Our Board of Trustees plays a crucial role in Turning Point’s long term stability and vision. One way of thinking about the Board is that its core activity is planning, and its primary constituency is not today’s students but students of the future. Trustees are responsible for developing a strategic plan, for hiring and evaluating the head of school, for approving an annual budget and overseeing financial accountability, and ensuring that we are fulfilling our mission. Many of our Trustees have served on the Turning Point Board for many years, even well past their child’s graduation from eighth grade, because they are committed to the school and to the excellent teaching and learning that transforms children’s lives.
Our Board members, like our faculty and students, value lifelong learning. They are committed to ongoing growth and development. Last weekend, eight Trustees and I traveled to San Francisco for the annual California Association of Independent School (CAIS) Trustee/School Head conference. We had the opportunity to listen to the subjects CAIS inspired us to think about as we plan for the future of Turning Point. In particular, I found the two keynote speakers’ presentations aligned with the strategic thinking we have been doing as a Board and as a school community.
Roberto Suro, Professor of Journalism at USC, discussed the opportunities of “Educating the Next California.” We are experiencing the rise of a “new Second Generation,” as 20-25% of California’s population under 18 years old are second generation, or the children of immigrants. Our pedagogical challenge is teaching our students to succeed in encounters with people who are different from them, and we are able to best meet this challenge by populating our classrooms with children of many different backgrounds, identities, and learning styles.
When encountering people different from us, we have three options: hostility, ignorance, or the only viable option in the 21st century: getting to know and understand them. It takes inner strength, inner security, and intellectual discipline and substance to reach beyond familiar boundaries for experiences that are not merely seeing and understanding, but that are transformative, like learning itself.
Professor Suro emphasized that students who are able to relate to and collaborate with people who are different from themselves are developing incredibly valuable life skills, and colleges and universities are taking note of this. In the years to come, a student’s ability to prosper in diverse environments will be just as valued as test scores and grades—and possibly even more so.
Donna Orem, Executive Director of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), talked about “Tipping Points for Schools Today.” She discussed how the predictions of 2018 trends in localities, technology, consumer behavior, and the workplace can help schools manage and maximize their strategic direction. Considering our recent work on Turning Point’s strategic priorities, this was excellent timing. Turning Point is lucky to be in an emerging neighborhood with public transportation and high quality of life, as younger parents are eschewing the suburbs for livable cities. Demographic changes also require a more nuanced understanding of intersectionality and representations of diversity. We want to continue to think about how to make students’ experiences personalized and individualized, and to ensure that our excellent education is accessible to a broader demographic.
In our sharing economy of collaborative consumption, we want to focus on what will give today’s students the greatest chance to thrive. We know that we need to teach both technological skills and people skills. Jobs in 2030 may look like this: tele-surgeons, able to operate remotely with robotic tools rather than human hands; healthcare navigators, who teach patients about the ins and outs of a complicated medical system; simplicity experts, who specialize in simplifying and streamlining business operations. All of these professions – and there are many more – require not only specific skill sets but also those skills that cannot be automated: individual awareness, social awareness, and self-discovery. At Turning Point, our students learn and practice crucial “human” skills alongside academic skills.
As a school committed to relevance, we constantly consider our mission, our values, our philanthropy, and what distinguishes us in light of these trends. We want to be crystal clear on our mission and direction and intentional about our strategy, balancing an understanding of the market with our uniqueness—always remaining true to who we are.
With direction from the Board of Trustees, the guidance of our dynamic administrative team, and our strong partnership with families, we will lead with intent by identifying what we care about as a school, and as a community. I am excited about the future of education and the opportunity we all have to help raise the next generation to find their roles as intentional leaders in our ever-changing world.
Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School