A Letter to All New Yorkers
By John Kerney
John Kerney, Head of School, The Winchendon School
Why would anyone want to start a new high school in NYC?
• Because navigating the red tape and bureaucracy builds character?
• Because listening to the naysayers and a doubting “establishment” is rewarding?
• Because trying to keep track of a whole bunch of teenagers on multiple campuses is fun?
• Because explaining why the academic day shouldn’t start until 10:00 AM or that our students will be using world class libraries, studios, and labs as their classrooms is interesting?
• Because the fact that it takes at least twice as long to do almost anything, from enrolling a student to hiring a teacher to getting a DOE or city approval builds resilience?
• Because explaining to board members that the investment of millions of dollars of capital and sustaining ongoing operating losses through the start-up phase makes us stronger?
• Because having us away from home while we have lived out of coffee shops and hotels for over a year while we have makes our spouses, partners and colleagues happy?
• Because getting told “no” or “can’t be done” is rewarding?
There are lots of good reasons why few people try to open a new high school in NYC - which is probably why there are so few new schools being started.
But there are hundreds of thousands of reasons why we should … the students and their parents. There are many great schools and wonderful teachers already in the City, but there are also way too many kids who don’t love school, aren’t fully engaged in their learning, or don’t feel well supported and appreciated by their teachers. And, THAT is why we fight the battles and take on the dragons … and why we need to keep encouraging others to do so too.
I can’t promise that we will ultimately be successful, but it gives our entire team in New York and Massachusetts great pride that more deserving students will be better served than last year — and if we and others can keep doing a bit better each year — ultimately everybody benefits. Dramatic improvement and transformation rarely if ever occur from within existing systems and programs. Just as we do in technology and healthcare, industry and communications, and any of the other segments that are propelling society forward, we all need to work to create a culture and climate that celebrates the idealists who are willing to take on the hard work of trying to come up with really innovative ways to better serve our students. #
John A. Kerney is the CEO of The Winchendon School. The campuses are located at 172 Ash Street, Winchendon, MA 01475 and at 352-8 Classon Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238. For more information, please call (978) 297-1223 or visit www.winchendon.org or brooklyn.winchendon.org.
The Winchendon School, a MA-based boarding (not-for-profit) school serving grades 9-12 & PG since 1926, opened its first day school campus to serve high school students in NYC on September 4, 2018. The School provides community-based and individualized learning experiences at a cost that is about 30% less than other leading private day schools in the region.
The Winchendon School provides students a dynamic and forward thinking environment in which to develop strong character, essential study skills, and learning strategies that propel each student to achieve academic and personal success.