In 2001, The Bush School and The Board of Trustees embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign and raised philanthropic support for new facilities, the endowment, enhanced programs, and other proper Board-designated purposes.
Head of School Priorities 2020-2021 School Year
Percy L. Abram, Ph.D.
Head of School | The Bush School
Each year, the Head of School’s Office and the Senior Leadership Team set curricular priorities for the school. In the 2020-2021 school year, we focused on three areas in particular: Experiential programs and the Methow Campus, Performing Arts, and Faculty and Staff professional development. What follows are stories about these foci that were supported by your philanthropy.
Experiential Programs featuring the Bush Methow Campus
The Bush Methow campus is a resource to both The Bush School and the Methow Valley community. We strive to find more ways to connect with the community and to serve the community in that capacity as a resource. Right now, we are really listening and in conversation with members of the community to ensure any progress made with our programs are meaningful and collaborative.
There's a sense of quiet and reflection that you can achieve there that helps to create transformative educational experiences. The campus is in a really special place along the Methow river and among the oldest stands of cedar trees in the state. There are trails and the goat wall (climbing rock) and it's just a place to be contemplative.
In the 2020-2021 school year, programming at the Methow Campus had to be reenvisioned, as was the case with other areas of experiential learning through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Part of our work on the Methow Valley Elementary Family and Community Engagement committee in 2020-2021 was to address equity of access to summer camps and other out-of-school opportunities. With the shift of many organizations to online registration, there was a very real barrier for families who didn’t have reliable internet access, in addition to the cost of these programs. Working with the Counselor and English Language Learner Liaison at Liberty Bell High School, we pre-registered seven students for summer camps at The Bush School. They enrolled in Art in Nature, Fly-fishing, and Orienteering with amazing instructors.
Not only did these seven students have experiences that introduced them to new skills and strengths, the camps was richer due to their presence.
Performing Arts featuring the Theater Program
Upper School Drama Teacher Hilary Moore started working at Bush during the pandemic, but she is not new to the school, she is also an alumna from the class of 2010.
One of her most significant moments with the theater department last year included the production of Twelfth Night. Of the experience she shared, “Pulling together Twelfth Night was a challenging and beautiful feat for everyone involved. The amount of creativity that was brought forth by the whole team of students was so exciting, and together we created a show that had virtual students acting on stage with in-person students (which included six TV screens built into the set), and then live-streamed the whole performance to audiences at home.
In order to put on Twelfth Night, we needed an immense amount of tech which ended up being by far our biggest expense. Cameras, wireless mics, and other AV equipment needed to be rented or bought for the show. Additionally, we commissioned local playwright Hannah Merrill (also a Bush Alum) to write a play for the department last Spring which we will now be performing this Fall. “The Memory Eaters” opens November 10th at 7:00pm.”
Faculty & Staff Professional Development
In the 2020-2021 school year $100,000 was spent on Faculty and Staff Professional Development. While many forms of professional development looked different, there was an added emphasis on the new ways to engage our students while teaching through the pandemic.
In discussing professional development at Bush, Assistant Head of School for Academics Sarah Smith shared, "Professional development happens in areas that are both school-wide priorities and/or topics reflecting a teacher's individual desire for growth. Teachers can apply for funding to help deepen their knowledge or expertise in the areas that impact their classroom practice the most."
Faculty and staff participated in virtual professional development courses including:
- Assessment and grading practices
- Trauma informed responsiveness
- Math and reading literacy
- Anti-racism and anti-bias training
- People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference through the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
- Courses offered through Independent Schools Experiential Education Network (ISEEN) around professional affinity spaces, sustainability initiatives, leadership development, and classroom pedagogy
Providing these opportunities for faculty and staff strengthens their skills and knowledge, supporting them in producing curriculum that keeps pace with the developing needs of students here at Bush.