Greetings from the Primary and Lower School!

Dear Primary and Lower School Families,

Is there anything more exciting than a new beginning? This time of year, when one can detect the faintest smell of freshly-sharpened pencils (or, perhaps, freshly-charged iPads) in the air, has always given me a distinctive thrill and a feeling that something magical is about to happen. This summer has certainly been a magical time for me, as I was re-introduced to the joy of living on the South Shore after decades away. To be welcomed back by evening walks on the beach with my daughter, Red Sox games with my family, and—most especially—the incredible school community in which I now find myself has surpassed my wildest expectations.

The Derby Academy motto, “Improve Both Mind and Heart,” has come to life for me in myriad ways during my transition this summer… from many of you (and your children!) popping in to introduce yourselves, to the faculty members working hard in their classrooms and meeting with me throughout the summer, to the grade-level parent representatives reaching out to our new families to welcome them to Derby, to the incredible facilities team ensuring that this gorgeous campus will look its best on the first day of school, the community here clearly embraces its mission, even during the quietest time of the year. And it is truly a special mission. It was the equal attention to both a rich, rigorous academic program and the development of each student’s social and emotional acuity that drew me to Derby, both as an educator and as a parent. It is a fairly recent development in the educational space that research and attention have become more keenly focused on the idea that developing students’ character and social and emotional growth is essential; how amazing that the forward-thinking Sarah Derby knew this to be an essential component of a child’s education in 1784.

I am thrilled to welcome you to the 2016-17 school year in the Primary and Lower Schools, where we will live this mission together. During the coming days, you will be inundated with information aimed at ensuring you and your child have a smooth transition back to school. Your one-stop-shop for information is on the Derby website: After logging into the internal website, please click on the Resources tab and then select Back-to-School 2016. Here you will find class lists and other important information; you will receive more grade-specific communication from your child’s classroom teacher very soon. Please note that class lists and teacher assignments are only changed if a new student is joining the class.

In addition to welcoming each of you to the new year, we are also thrilled to welcome the following faculty and staff to the Primary and Lower Schools.

Michele Dodge will be here to welcome you to school each day at the Primary and Lower Schools reception desk. After three years as the receptionist in the front office, Michele is excited to take on her new role as Joanne Butterfield moves to the Upper School as Derby’s secondary school placement officer. Michele may be reached at extension 150.

Ilana Marks Page will be joining the first grade team this year as a head teacher, joining Jenn Huber and Caitlyn McDonnell. Welcome to Derby, Ilana!
While not new to Derby, Susan Butzbach will be joining the kindergarten team as an assistant teacher. As our “go-to substitute teacher,” Susan knows Derby well!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. I look forward to getting to know you and your children in the coming weeks!

With warmest wishes for a wonderful year,

Kathleen Smith
Head of Primary and Lower Schools

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