She looked perplexed. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I am so sad that Bob Murphy and Kitty Drew are retiring; that Ira Dawson is leaving to be the principal of Atlanta Youth Academy; and when I look at Brad Brown, I start crying,” she shared.
“I know just how you feel. I am going to miss them terribly,” I replied.
As I reflected on this brief conversation with a Walker faculty member, it was retiring Upper School Principal Bob Murphy, appropriately, who provided the most poignant observation:
“Walker excels at preparing people for the next level, the next opportunity. That is, in fact, what we do best. We prepare our students to flourish when they leave us; interestingly, we do that with adults as well.”
As the Class of 2016 prepares to graduate this week, there is no more public example of Bob’s comment. Our Promise Statement captures this major transition so well:
At the culmination of this carefully guided, increasingly independent journey, Walker graduates have evolved from curious young learners into critically thinking, individually expressive, confidently collaborative, and admirably honest young adults thoroughly prepared for the intellectual and relational challenges of college and life.
The fact that we excel at preparing young people for the next step is one of the two main reasons why families invest in a Walker education. The other is the quality of our faculty and staff. Walker has always been a place characterized by incredibly talented faculty and staff. I often comment that the most important responsibility I have as Head of School is to hire great people and let them soar as professionals. Ironically, that speaks to the heart of why I find myself sad at this time of every year. When we hire great people like Sherry Walker-Taylor, Sue Rittenberg or Susie Schlich, they may end up staying at Walker until they retire; but in other cases, talented professionals will have opportunities to go on to great things somewhere else…just like our graduates. Regardless, it is hard to let go.
As we celebrate both the Class of 2016 and departing faculty and staff for their amazing contributions to our school community, we do so with a mixture of joy and sadness. Be encouraged by yet another insightful word of wisdom from Bob Murphy: “If I have to leave somewhere, this is a fabulous place from which to be leaving.”