Brooklyn private independent school

Dr. Waller's Message for the New School Year

Dr. Waller's Message for the New School Year

Dear Berkeley Carroll Families,

I hope that you are well and have been enjoying the summer vacation. A highlight for me was a week of hiking with family and friends in July. While I do not typically subscribe to such an active holiday, it felt great to push myself; my adventures have left me recharged and excited for the year ahead. Back in Brooklyn, I have amassed my school supplies, giving particular attention to the notebooks (as has been my custom since I was a child). I think that those pristine, wirebound pages suggest possibility, reminding me of all there is to be shared and learned in the many conversations and classes that will commence shortly.

Throughout the summer our campus has been abuzz with preparations for welcoming you back to school. It has been gratifying to see the dedication and professionalism that our faculty and staff have demonstrated in laying the groundwork for this new year. Teachers and administrators have engaged in professional development, honing their skills while also reviewing and refining curriculum. Our facilities team has refreshed rooms in all campus buildings and made several physical improvements, including converting the yellow and red hubs into a large library on Carroll Street and replacing the lower level flooring at Lincoln Place. We have also upgraded security systems at the entrances to all of our school buildings in keeping with current best practices and recommendations.

Concurrently, the first phase of our Lower School campus expansion continued this summer with the ongoing renovation of 703 Carroll Street. There will be more to share about this exciting project going forward but I would like to note here that we anticipate inaugurating this new space in September of 2025. Upon completion, our students will enjoy the use of eight new classrooms, including specialized space for art and music, as well as a science classroom with an outdoor learning terrace. The building will be accessible with an internal elevator as well as a lift from the sidewalk. We are also working to achieve LEED certification in support of BC’s sustainability goals.

One of Berkeley Carroll’s great strengths lies in our commitment to constantly assess what students need to be active, successful agents as they navigate a complex and changing world, both in and out of school. The curiosity and engagement that our young people bring to their endeavors are complemented by the efforts of our skilled, supportive faculty. Our goal of creating a rigorous and challenging learning experience that is also steeped in nurture and joy is constantly front of mind. In the months to come, we will have an opportunity to be even more deliberate about this work through the initiatives highlighted below.

2023-2024 marks the start of Berkeley Carroll’s New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) decennial accreditation cycle. Our work will begin with a period of extensive self-evaluation and the production of a written self-study, employing what NYSAIS describes as “an inclusive community-wide process that centers on the school’s mission.” This work concludes with an on-site visit by a committee of independent school professionals who will review materials, observe classes and activities, and speak with students, teachers, administrators, staff, parents, guardians, and trustees over the course of four days. As a member of the NYSAIS Commission on Accreditation and also as a past Visiting Committee Chair, I can attest to the reflective and generative potential of the accreditation process in allowing school communities to learn from the past, assess the present, and envision the future. More information will be forthcoming about this important undertaking.

This year, we are excited to unveil our Portrait of a Learner, which sets a frame for Berkeley Carroll’s programmatic vision and decision-making. This project engendered extensive work in 2022-2023 by our cross-divisional Portrait of a Learner Committee as well as focus group sessions with faculty and staff, students, alumni, parents, and trustees. These efforts resulted in a visual and textual articulation of the habits of mind that we at Berkeley Carroll intend for our students, along with the skills and performance markers that will guide and inform our work with and assessment of our students. Building on our Mission, we seek to cultivate critical, ethical, and global thinkers who demonstrate curiosity, empathy, resilience, and discernment. Under each of these four categories are the skills and capacities that our teaching and learning experiences should cultivate and reflect. The Portrait will promote critical alignment within and across the grades and Divisions.

Our first PK-12 Curriculum Review will center on Spanish and World Languages. Spanish is a focal point of language instruction and learning at Berkeley Carroll. In order to ensure that our language instruction remains outstanding, it is important to examine the strengths and challenges of the PK-12 Spanish program as well as our 9-12 World Languages program. Last year we began the work of marshaling internal and external expertise in order to assess and refine our program, with an eye toward ensuring that our students have an exemplary and enjoyable Spanish and World Languages experience. This year, we will be working with Global Online Academy (GOA) to develop our school-wide vision for language instruction. Previous collaborations with GOA have been fruitful and, happily, Berkeley Carroll has just become a founding member of the Global Online Academy Center for Professional Learning, which will provide our faculty with an abundance of new opportunities to develop innovative programming and curriculum across all subjects.

As the year unfolds, I look forward to our continued collaboration in support of our wonderful students. Please be on the lookout for messages from our Divisional Directors who have been working with diligence, creativity, and excitement on programming for your children.

Enjoy the remaining weeks of vacation and know that I am looking forward to seeing you soon.

All Best,
Lisa Yvette Waller, Ph.D.
Head of School