DPN – Building a Partnership

I attended Deerfield in the 1970’s. Aside from drop-off in the fall and pick-up in the spring, most of us rarely saw our parents on campus. Calls home were limited to the one phone at the end of the dorm corridor. There was usually a waiting line and the switchboard closed at 10:00 pm. There were no Parent-Teacher conferences and, at best, the mailed report cards had a few sentences from each teacher at the end of the school year. Obviously today’s world is vastly different. There are endless texts and tweets and we all want to know everything all the time. It would be interesting to know how much time each teacher spends responding to parent phone calls and emails each day.

Before 2012, there was no parent association at Deerfield. Fortunately, Margarita Curtis and the Trustees saw the need to build a better partnership with the parents. Now in its fourth year, the DPN’s mission is to improve the Deerfield Experience for students and their families through effective communication and community participation. The First Link program eases the transition for new parents and students by assigning a current parent to answer questions and provide advice. The Link, a newsletter published three times a year on the Deerfield website, provides numerous articles written by parents and faculty on academic advancements, extracurricular opportunities, campus initiatives and wise advice from seasoned parents. DPN campus activities include raising donations for the faculty and staff Jingle Mingle Holiday Celebration, staging the Farmer’s Market during Fall Parents Weekend and hosting the annual Friday Night Graduation Senior-Parent Dinner Dance.

This year the DPN focused on improving the dialogue between the Academy and parents. After last fall’s drug-related disciplinary issues, the DPN encouraged the school to provide more timely information to both students and parents. A primary motivation was to dispel hurtful rumors racing through the community. The DPN also urged the administration to consider soliciting more input from students and parents before enacting major changes to dormitory configurations. Additionally, the DPN provided advice on dress code changes, new student orientation, advisor reports, and parents’ activities. We especially look forward to the resurrection of the popular All-School Sing on Saturday night of Spring Parents Weekend.

On Saturday May 9, the DPN will conclude its fourth year by holding its Annual Meeting. We will say good-bye to eight Steering Committee officers and members, as their children will be graduating in June. We are all so grateful for their time and dedication. We also will be electing a number of new members and officers. Karen Wood will be nominated to be our next President. She has been actively involved in a number of initiatives over the last three years and will provide great leadership.

It has been a wonderful privilege for me to serve this parent-driven organization. As it enters its fifth year, the DPN Steering Committee will include parents from eleven states and three countries. It has grown from primarily welcoming new parents to a vibrant organization that provides important information, engaging parent activities and thoughtful advice to the administration. Please contact Karen if you would like to lend a hand and help her new team continue to build a strong parent–school partnership that is vital to today’s Deerfield Experience.

— Marc Johnson, President

Fundraising Update | Reflections on the Deerfield Journey

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