Good leaders communicate a vision, inspire positive change and lead by example. Exceptional leaders do all those things and also leave a legacy that lives beyond their tenure with an institution. They put in place people, systems and a culture of innovation and excellence that carry their legacy beyond their years with the organization. Lisa Lyle is one of the exceptional ones, and her legacy will live on at MICDS for generations to come.
Ms. Lyle started her MICDS tenure 12 years ago, and her initial charge from the Board was clear and compelling: take this good school and make it a great school. Today, MICDS is that great school!
Under Ms. Lyle’s leadership— boosted by community collaboration, Board support and donor generosity — there have been numerous improvements to the student experience, faculty excellence, academics, arts, athletics, facilities, financial health, global learning opportunities and so much more. Here is a snapshot of some amazing programs, initiatives and accomplishments that the MICDS community has embraced and celebrated over the past 12 years.
The MICDS curriculum and co-curricular offerings have expanded significantly. Students have the opportunity to “graze broadly” with a well-rounded educational program, and they can also “gorge deeply” as they pursue their passion in a particular field of study with opportunities to learn alongside older students.
The JK-12 department chairs have collaborated with faculty to ensure that their curriculum provides carefully scaffolded learning experiences, mapping out course standards to avoid gaps and redundancies, use instructional time well and assess learning effectively.
College matriculation outcomes have improved. In the Class of 2018, 48% of students matriculated to Most Competitive colleges as ranked by Barron’s, compared to 36% in the Class of 2014. Also, over the past five years, we’ve seen a 29% increase in the number of students taking AP exams and in the number of AP exams taken. Since 2009, ACT scores have improved 6% and SAT scores 10%.
Student programs, such as the Upper School Diversity Conference, allow students to develop agency and build their cultural competency skillset to become empathetic leaders, global citizens and upstanders instead of bystanders.
Lower School faculty have fully adopted Responsive Classroom®, an approach that builds community and sets the stage for great learning for every child.
Technology has deepened and extended student learning with the adoption of the one-to-one laptop initiative in 2008. MICDS faculty and staff continue to evolve and innovate in both technology infrastructure and application.
During the Bold Action Campaign, more than 6,000 alumni, parents, grandparents, employees and friends of MICDS collectively donated over $100 million. Their gifts funded campus improvements, general operating support and endowment growth for faculty excellence and student access.
The School completed six major, industry-leading construction projects. We now have academic and athletic facilities that are nearly unmatched nationally. Smaller renovation projects and infrastructure upgrades have also ensured an excellent physical plant.
An impressive $23,759,603 (and counting!) has been donated to the MICDS Fund, formerly the MICDS Annual Fund, over the past 12 years. These contributions support the annual operating budget of the School, including academic programming, sports, arts, faculty salaries and more.
The School’s endowment grew by more than 65% from June 2008 to February 2019. The endowment ensures the long-term financial health of MICDS while also supporting the annual operating budget.
A faculty evaluation system provides shared language about professional practice and serves to guide hiring, performance feedback and professional development for every faculty member.
Every faculty member participates in STLinSTL, a conference for educators held on campus each June. Conference sessions are built around professional development needs and focus areas for the School. Speakers and other attendees from across the nation enhance the experience, and many of our own teachers also present.
The Apprentice Teaching Fellowship program has brought new teachers to MICDS, many of whom are now treasured faculty members. The program provides resources, training, professional development and mentor teachers.
To foster an inclusive community, faculty and staff engage in equity and inclusion learning groups, many of which are also taught and facilitated by faculty and staff members.
Ms. Lyle reinstated the Tuition Benefit program as part of the School’s employee compensation package. In the 2018-19 school year, 50 employees, representing 69 students, received the tuition benefit. This program helps the School recruit and retain master teachers, leading experts and nurturing mentors who are deeply invested in the young people in their classrooms.
The diversity of the student body has deepened intellectual engagement and cultural competency in our learning community. Today, our student body is a thriving multicultural and inclusive community, with 36% of students identifying as students of color, 65 metro zip codes represented, and over 40 languages and dialects spoken in our students’ homes. Diversity of thought, learning styles, passions and strengths are also represented.
Homecoming Weekend is now a full community event, including the Fun Run organized by alumni, the Carnival that offers fun for the whole family and Spirit Week events in each division.
The MICDS Alma Mater was created and is cherished and sung by all students during many school events.
Traditions from Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School have continued and thrived, including May Day, the Homecoming Bonfire, Prize Speaking, the Annual Pond Toss, Lessons and Carols in a new, engaging format and more. Caring alumni curate extensive archives of the two precedent schools.
Reunion Weekend brings together MI, CDS and MICDS alums for several big celebratory events, while also allowing for smaller, more intimate parties for individual classes.
Global learning opportunities have been created and expanded. From language immersion and service learning trips to semester-long study abroad programs, students can pursue world experiences and cultural immersion like never before.
Students don’t have to leave St. Louis to explore global citizenship. Short-term sister school exchanges bring international students to MICDS while our very own community members share their cultures and heritage at the International Expo and Passport Series events.
Older artistic traditions, such as the Troubadours Spring Musicals, and newer annual rituals such as Blue Whale Cafe, Middle School Talent Show and Beasley Art Gallery Night have all showcased amazing student talent in the visual and performing arts, year after year, creating treasured memories for the entire MICDS community.
Athletically, since 2007, MICDS has brought home 30 State Championships in 10 sports and made 73 final-four appearances in 17 sports.
New athletic opportunities launched including Squash, Cycling and Cyclocross while the School has maintained a robust athletic program that currently offers 30 varsity sports.
From upgraded facilities to excellence in academics, athletics and the arts to financial stability and incredible donor generosity, Lisa Lyle has put MICDS on the map asone of the leading independent schools in the nation. Her legacy will indeed live on.
Here are some more fun photos from Ms. Lyle’s twelve years at MICDS that we found in our archives.