A Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 co-educational independent day school in Westchester County, New York

Conversations with the Head: NAIS President Debra Wilson and Head of School Randall Dunn Discuss the Role of Trust in Home-School Partnership

RCDS parents and guardians joined Head of School Randall Dunn and NAIS president Debra Wilson to discuss the role of trust in home-school collaboration. The event was the year’s last installment of the Conversations with the Head series, which invites thought leaders to facilitate an exchange of ideas and perspectives about topics that matter to the RCDS community.

With home and school being the two critical spaces in children’s lives, the conversation delved into the nuances of their natural partnership. Mr. Dunn emphasized, “With the rapidly changing landscape of society, education, and technology, the relationship between educators and parents has become closer and perhaps more necessary than ever.”

Mr. Dunn and Ms. Wilson elaborated on top-of-mind issues for educators and parents, such as social media, health and well-being, the ripple effects of COVID-19, stress around the college application process, and the changing workplace. They concurred that educators and parents must work together in a coordinated collaborative manner to provide children with the support they need to navigate the ever-changing dynamics surrounding these issues–and others they are sure to encounter.

They also offered strategies for partnership and highlighted that transparency can foster trust in school communities and engender the sense of safety and confidence it takes for children to thrive. “As schools explore or develop new programs, they need to keep their parents apprised and engaged; each party has valuable information to contribute,” Mr. Dunn said reflecting on the event. “Our goal is shared,” he continued, “we want the best for our kids, and we know the world isn’t standing still, so we have to keep adapting together. It’s just not wise or realistic for schools to go it alone. We need our families just as much as they need us.”

As part of the conversation, Ms. Wilson shared the work of NAIS to facilitate new opportunities for schools to advance their home-school partnership. She clarified that a great deal of the work involves thoughtful conversations much like the evening’s event. As the largest association of independent schools, NAIS works to shape the future of education through the co-creation that comes from uniting and empowering its 2000+ member schools. 

Ms. Wilson clarified that independent schools are accountable to their communities, making home-school partnership part of their foundational ethos. Both leaders agreed that at a time when exposure to information is happening well beyond the bounds of the school day, home and school have a great deal to offer each other, and independent schools like RCDS are uniquely poised to meet the moment.

“Debra’s deep understanding of the trends among learners, parents, educators, and institutions is extremely valuable as we all work to chart the best path forward for supporting students in a rapidly changing and information-heavy time. Whether the issue is technology, social-emotional well-being, or current events, Debra has seen it at scale and works through NAIS to offer real-world solutions and strategies to make sure that independent schools like RCDS can fulfill their missions, while offering their communities genuine and effective support.” 
– Randall Dunn, Head of School

Thanks to Ms. Wilson for her terrific contributions to an engaging Conversation with the Head.


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