Over the last 12 years as head of school at Riverdale, I have come to understand what it means to be part of a school that aspires to be more than a school, that seeks “to change the world for the good” as the mission states. Riverdale is an amazingly complex community comprised of thousands of individuals with an astonishing diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and opinions. We honor our traditions and we foster innovation. We all seek to be changemakers in our own ways. It is not easy to describe an experience that is so multitudinous—an experience that helps people attain their own particular potential and that has a positive impact on the world. Recently we have been working to bring the Riverdale experience into focus, connecting our history with our aspirations and identifying common threads. This new website reflects the evolution of our story as we have built on our founding mission and adapted it to a new age.
When I came to the school in 2007, we embarked on a process of linking the ways we talked, wrote, and showed the school explicitly to the outcomes of a Riverdale education. Over a two-year period, the faculty, administration, and board of trustees worked to enunciate a clear set of school outcomes, which we organized under three headings: mind, character, community. These concepts became the focus of the school’s mission, re-enforcing the vision of our founder, Frank S. Hackett, to create a school that promotes intellectual development together with character and values. This work has been instrumental in making the school more innovative, more interdisciplinary, more supportive of our students, and more holistic. The school has dynamically evolved in the last years into a global learning hub that focuses on self and collective agency and that helps young people develop the capacities to problem solve in sophisticated and creative ways.
Our communications department, which started as a separate department linked to my office, has worked diligently and creatively to find new ways to tell the story of the school through different media whether it be on social media or on video. It has been great to see Lila Locksley, the director of communications, and her team rise to the challenge of finding new and interesting ways to show the world and prospective families what makes Riverdale Riverdale.
During the last year or so, the board of trustees and its leadership, David Westin and Dan Rosen, felt that we needed to continue evolving the way that the school represents itself publicly in text and images that keep up with its ever dynamic spirit. Therefore, we started developing a message that we felt described the present state and future aspirations for the school. We have been working with a wonderful designer, Ellen Sitkin, who originally worked with us while at IDEO on developing the influential Design Thinking for Educators set of resources (www.designthinkingforeducators.com). What you are now seeing is the early beta version of our website that will continue to develop and reflect the community over the next months. We hope that you will enjoy seeing how the Riverdale of today respects the history of the school and how the pioneering vision of Frank Hackett continues to inspire “the Riverdale experience.”