Last week we published a very short synopsis of the agenda for the State of School meeting. It was correct in the broad strokes but did not get into the particulars. One of those particulars (that was not correct) was that we omitted THANKING Jacob Stone for his very precise and well-delivered recitation of Deuteronomy 10:12-13. We appreciate his effort and that of the other children (Drake and Fisher McKinney, Margaret Roeder) who led us in the Lord’s Prayer, helped us all with our Mission Statement, and recited “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
Mrs. Hierholzer opened the evening’s remarks by asking everyone to recall the Mission Statement of Heritage School: “Heritage School provides a distinctive classical, Christ-centered education that prepares students for servant leadership and lives that glorify God.” She recalled that the founders of Heritage wanted more than anything a school that would honor Christ and teach all subjects from a biblical perspective and would be a blend of both classical and Charlotte Mason approaches to learning. She said she would speak to the educational approaches at another time, but wanted to focus on the trinity of key words in the Mission Statement: Christ-centered, servant leadership, glorify God. In both teacher training this year and the first chapel, she stressed the Pauline emphasis to “consider others first.” In a recent chapel, Mrs. Brantley stressed the key word “RESPECT” and both the lower school and upper school have centered their discipline teaching on the concepts of RESPECT for God and His Word, RESPECT for teachers & leaders, and RESPECT for others. These are the two main focuses of the Ten Commandments—the first commandments focus on our relationship with God and the rest on our relationship with Others.
Mrs. Hierholzer then went on to enumerate some of the positive directions we have embraced this year:
The next speaker was Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Kory Keller, who emphasized his pleasure in affirming that things are going really well and that all are feeling stable with Mrs. Hierholzer at the helm. He noted that for the fall, the first priority of the Board of Trustees was to stabilize the leadership and that this goal was realized in appointing Mrs. Hierholzer as Head of School. The Board’s job is to be strategic in planning rather than involving itself in the daily operations of the school. One area that had been lost over the last years was development/advancement. He reiterated that with Chica Greenlee’s advice and hard work and Elizabeth Loggie’s diligent grant writing and donor clarification work, we are back on track with a groundswell of effort. The BOT is updating a strategic plan and has, among other goals, that of matching faculty/staff salaries to market. Mr. Keller, who is also in charge of Eisbahn, noted that the rink was set up in record time. He noted that we are working on the Master Site Plan (more from Andy Bray).
BOT member Andy Bray spoke next as he presented a power point on Where We Were, Where We Are, and Where We Are Going. He opened with architect Daniel Burnham’s inspiring words: "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die; but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency." This same quotation was cited at the dedication of our 39 acres in 2007 and applies no less now. Mr. Bray noted that we first designed a 6th-12th building, Herzog Hall, that opened in January of 2009 and that we also erected the steel structure for the future MPAC building. We were not a united campus, however, since the Grammar School was still housed at the Methodist Church. We then launched the Coming Together campaign to re-unite our campuses and in January 2011 we were reunited on one campus as the portable buildings were established, purchased from OLH. We were together, and the guide was the “master plan” which pointed the way to enclosing the steel structure and creating MPAC which opened in 2015. We now had a venue for hosting Grandparents Day, Shakespeare day, and other gatherings. Earlier this year we updated the Master Plan. We can and do adapt and move as needed!
Projects that lie ahead for Heritage
Entrance enhancement, academic learning centers (outside pavilions), rainwater capturing systems, landscaping, pipe & draping for events in MPAC (such as graduation), locker rooms, coaches offices, catering kitchen, display case, football seating (but not bleachers)… Statistics: We own approximately 40 acres worth about $800K: Herzog Hall pavilion, site was about $4M, Grammar School Village $1M, MPAC $2.3M, football field/lights $ .3M These are all attributable to the “greatness of God” as Mr. Bray noted, and added: “Be encouraged!” The State of the School meeting presentations ended with Leslie McKinney, new BOT Finance Committee Chair who updated everyone on the Gala (the money was applied directly to pay down our debt!), Eisbahn (our major fundraiser which enables us to avoid little fundraisers like selling cookie dough.. and helps our community as well as Heritage), Annual Fund (She noted that the cost of educating a student at Heritage is actually closer to about $15K, so each student –even full-pay—receives tuition assistance. The Annual Fund helps with overall operations including teacher salaries and other bills, and some goes toward Tuition Assistance. We are also in the process of establishing a permanent Tuition Assistance Fund and are looking for folks who want to help. We want to attract more mission appropriate students to join our family! She asked for people to volunteer if they want to help on grant writing or working on the 5-year plan.
The gathering was dismissed, and after a short break, the BOT and Mrs. Hierholzer fielded a few questions from the audience. Lindy Segall asked how he and other “friends of Heritage” could help with enrollment and recruitment. Tate Richburg noted that we are ALL in a state of recruitment and that we can share with others what we love about this place, why our kids go to Heritage, why it is the single greatest educational opportunity for our children, and invite people to attend events like football games and get to know us. Life Trustee John Graham noted that we often hear that people think they cannot afford a Heritage education, but noted that tuition assistance is available! Kory Keller added that marketing is in the process of developing a brand script and an updated website. The question was asked about the timeline for a new Grammar building. Andy Bray commented that enrollment drives buildings. For now, we believe the portables which were purchased in great shape, should last 5-10 years. John Graham added that we are also in the process of working on a Major Gifts campaign and stressed the importance of the development role in maintaining relationships and stewarding donors well.
The final question addressed the Head of School search. Kory Keller said that this is a topic that the BOT is having and though the desire is to respect Mrs. Hierholzer’s commitment to stay for a year, they were glad to hear her willingness to stay longer (including 2019-20) while they carefully consider who to seek. Meanwhile, Mr. Keller said that Mrs. H is modeling good leadership. The suggestion was made to apprentice someone or look inside staff for potential leader. The BOT will continue the conversation. In all, the meeting went well and ended with warm fellowship and a sense of positive direction.