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On the State of Our School

Dear BHS Family,

It is hard to believe that I am in my sixth month as your Head of School. I want to thank you all for warmly welcoming me into the BHS community and embracing me as a new family member. 

Along with my Leadership Team, we recently recapped our year at a State of the School presentation and shared important highlights and opportunities for growth within each department. I took the opportunity to focus on Community, Areas of Opportunity, and our Vision, and I’d like to share a summary of my thoughts with you.

With the New Year around the corner, I like to think about the word “intention,'' the process of mentally determining an action or a result. Back in 1911, the Cooper sisters founded BHS with intentionality and their foresight has served us well. Here we are with 2022 around the corner, educating hundreds of students, from ages 3-13, on 66 acres, in one of the most diverse cities in our nation, with one of the most compelling missions among independent schools: To empower children to fulfill their unlimited, God-given potential as fearless scholars and conscientious citizens.

As Head, I have the pleasure of working closely with the Board, the Leadership Team, the educators, the staff, the students, and our families, so we understand our BHS identity and history and set our sights on the BHS of today and tomorrow. Our school has great momentum and it is important we move forward with intention, clarity, and purpose.

Areas of Opportunity/ Challenges

Over the last several months there have been areas of opportunity – and challenges – listed here that are consistent in all schools across the nation:

  • Ongoing pandemic policy adjustments:

  • COVID issues have been front and center during this period. They’ve included:

  • Parent access to campus 

  • Admissions events and tours 

  • Student trips 

  • Academics during quarantine 

  • Vaccination requirements 

  • Contact tracing 

  • Post-break requirements 

  • Mask rules 

  • Spectators at athletic events 

  • Students in cohorts 

Our BHS community works hard every day to put student health and wellness first. We have an amazing track record thanks to our protocols and our partnership with our families. So, thank you and let’s continue to work together.

Managing the cultural shift back to in-person school: 

Coming back into community has been an adjustment. Some challenges we are experiencing and actively working on are: 

  • Increased teacher workloads

  • Increased student discipline issues (at every grade level) 

  • Increased attendance/ truancy issues

  • Working to over-communicate with families to make up for lack of gathering and community events

  • Working to address mental health issues that the pandemic has created

It is clear to us that our educational landscape has changed. We are taking these issues very seriously and are actively working on sustainable solutions not just bandaids.

Please listen to Dean Colmaire’s outline of our academic interventions and teacher support, and Dean Morse’s talk on how Social Emotional Learning is embedded into our curriculum here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Mindfulness around teacher retention: 

Our teachers are our treasure and they are working harder than ever before. How do we support teachers in this time of anxiety and ensure they have what they need in this new landscape? We grapple with these questions daily as we see a nationwide teacher shortage and burnout. 

Our school is only as good as its educators and i

t is important that we work to retain the amazing teachers we have and hire the best and most qualified teachers that we can. To support this, we are taking a close look at our master calendar, schedule, hiring practices, compensation, and self-care provisions for faculty and staff. We invite families to partner with teachers to provide support.

Returning to the topics we used to talk about: 

I’m excited for the opportunity to discuss topics like curriculum resources, compensation and contracts, development tools and strategies, in-person events, cybersecurity, furniture selection, setting calendars for next year, and plans for summer break. We are getting there and are hopeful that these important topics will make their way back into the center of the conversation soon.

Vision/ Strategy

  • We are implementing changes to our strategic plan, leadership structure and other support systems

  • We are working on hiring an Assistant Head of School (who will support DEIB efforts), a School Counselor/ Director of Student Wellness as well as two “Divison Directors” for the lower division (N-3) and upper division (4-8), who will have the role of “principal” for their departments.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you, our community, and our school. I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity and I love learning more every day.

With gratitude,

Nikki Gamrath


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