I hope you and your families are enjoying these last lazy days of summer.

Throughout June and July our many Summer Quest campers kept the energy level high on campus, but we do miss our students. Now the time has come to turn our full attention to the 2015-2016 school year. Our faculty began their work together on August 3, joined by seven new teachers in Spanish, technology, dance, social sciences, math, and science. You’ll learn more in upcoming communication from the divisional heads and a piece in the fall Access newsletter.

Campus changes

In addition to routine painting and repairs, this summer has seen several smaller but significant changes to the campus, including:

  • new student furniture in 11 MS and US classrooms, which is the result of the successful the test project we ran last school year,
  • new brick pavers outside the US building facing the Quad, which is a test of brick that could replace the concrete throughout the internal facing walkways around campus, and
  • a new “community space” across from the US office to support school clubs and service organizations.

Students in the Upper School will notice that faculty members are no longer in their “normal” places. In an effort to increase departmental collaboration and use of classrooms, the Upper School has “rezoned” to create pods for mathematics, English, and social sciences. Teachers will share office spaces, and classrooms will be grouped by department rather than by grade level. Science labs have not been moved, and world languages are still in the SEA. This is a test of some of the concepts that emerged out of our master facilities plan, which will help inform future building remodeling.

The summer also saw many of our faculty members take the opportunity to work on curricular development projects, including: improved grading systems for physics classes, units for robotics and programming in MS science classes, new MS media literacy units, web-based instructional units in US Chinese classes, and the development of blended modules for coursework in architecture, calculus III, and human anatomy and physiology.

On our plate this year

On the heels last year’s upgrades to our Lenovo laptops, Windows 8, and Office365, we are in the process of a significant change to the way we handle school data. At schools, these are called Student Information Systems (SIS), and Cary Academy has been using a system called Blackbaud for many years. That system had reached its “end of life” and was scheduled to be phased out by its developer in the next few years. After an extensive, year-long review, we have begun the switch to a system called Veracross. Like the laptop and cloud migration last year, this change has the potential to be highly disruptive. At minimum, it will change the look and feel of how we all interact with student and family information, such as billing, attendance, grades, schedules, report cards, and transcripts. We believe the overall system will be more reliable and easier for all, but the process of getting comfortable with new procedures will take time. Thank you in advance for your patience.

See you all soon!

On August 12, we will open the school year with 753 students, including 129 new faces. Our employees and seniors will get a chance to personally welcome everybody to the 2015-2016 school year during our Handshake Ceremony held at the end of that first day. Until then, enjoy the last days of summer.