During my visit as a candidate 13 years ago, I met members of the MICDS Class of 2007. At the time, Tucker (our youngest child and a member of the Class of 2011) was in 8th grade. I remember wondering whether there was any way he would become as confident, articulate and polite as the young men and women with whom I was meeting. What I couldn’t yet know — and now recognize as a singular strength of the MICDS community — is that he would indeed take on the traits so valued in our community: he is curious, respectful and confident; he continues to engage in community service; thanks to teachers like Lynn Mittler, Susan Good, Gabe Ashman and Al Begrowicz, Tucker is both a solid writer and great at math; and he is bound to MICDS by both a strong web of friendships and a powerful professional network.
You might wonder why I have started this, my final letter to the community, with a paragraph about Tucker. First and foremost, as a mother, I am deeply grateful to this community. I am so thankful for the amazing educators and coaches who challenged and supported him, and I am grateful to the many donors who made possible the learning and athletic spaces from which he benefited. And as a professional educator, I know that Tucker’s experience is typical of that of so many generations of students who have been lucky enough to experience the education offered by MICDS. Like so many others, he left MICDS with strong fundamental knowledge and skills that prepared him well for the academic challenges of college. Equally important, he had developed strong social skills, a strong sense of what is good and right and excellent communication skills, all of which serve him today in the workplace and beyond.
When I was invited to lead MICDS, I felt like I’d won the lottery. And I still do. Over the last 12 years, it has been my honor and privilege to serve this fine School. How lucky I was to be here at a time of great change: together, in partnership with a spectacular administrative team and faculty, donors and the board, we have built on the strong foundation of our predecessor schools — Country Day School and Mary Institute — to ensure that our educational programs provide all of our students with the essential knowledge and skills — and habits of heart and mind — to thrive in the world that awaits them.
MICDS has transformed the educational offerings and requirements for graduation. Today, our students may choose to graze broadly and graduate with broad foundational knowledge and skills, or they may choose to gorge more deeply in areas of interest and passion. Their classroom experiences are complemented by a host of co-curricular experiences including many international study and travel opportunities, science competitions and bench research, service programs, plus sports and clubs galore. It is the teachers who make these experiences possible by dedicating the whole of their professional lives to our students. It is in this way they prepare our students to meet the challenges of this world with confidence.
During this same time, our campus has been transformed thanks to the very generous support of alumni, parents and friends of the School. McDonnell Hall and Brauer Hall offer unparalleled teaching and learning spaces for STEM education; Brauer Auditorium allows our community to come together both formally and informally in assembly and social commons.
We have long held that athletic venues represent an extension of our classrooms and now these new facilities demonstrate that commitment as well: the Steward Family Aquatic Center and William R. Orthwein Sr. Pool, Ron Holtman Stadium, O’Hara Field and Holekamp Stadium.
MICDS learning opportunities extend far beyond the physical campus or traditional academic day. Students can often be found out and about in the St. Louis area. Lower Schoolers may create the Ultimate Kids Tour of St. Louis and then take a field trip to realize their plans. Middle Schoolers may visit various faith communities to better understand how their peers worship. Upper Schoolers may conduct field research for their History of St. Louis class, dig deeper at the Saint Louis Art Museum or work at a food pantry with their advisory. Students compete at the Robotics World Championship; travel to Costa Rica to learn about place-based ecology; participate in community service in a medical clinic in Peru and build houses with Habitat for Humanity in Texas; and participate in homestays and school exchanges in China, Argentina and France. In the summer, MICDS students who participate in the highly competitive STARS program outnumber those from any other school in St. Louis. It is in this way that they come to understand what it means to lead lives of purpose and service.
As St. Louis has changed demographically, so has MICDS. Students come to us from all over the metro area, from as far to the east as Troy, Illinois, and as far to the west as Troy, Missouri. Over the past 12 years, MICDS has welcomed many international families. In fact, 16% of our families speak a language other than English at home. Some 36% of our students self-describe as students of color. These many perspectives ensure that each day every student interacts with others whose experiences and viewpoints are different. The curriculum, too, provides important windows and mirrors into a range of experiences and perspectives. While not always easy, these experiences provide essential preparation for the future: whether they remain in St. Louis or pursue jobs around the globe, we can be sure that all students will need the skills and desire to work effectively across cultural differences and to embrace all people with compassion.
As I leave in June to lead Zurich International School, I am so thankful for my time in this community and for sweet Ellie, a wonderful reminder of our years here. My husband, David, and I have loved our time here and are so grateful for the many friendships that will carry us into the future and connect us back to MICDS. And we are excited about what lies ahead for us as we continue to explore the world together.
I have every confidence that Jay Rainey will serve MICDS well and lead the School to new levels of excellence! We wish Jay and Ruth many years of joy in Mr. Beasley’s house.
Head of School