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The start of the new school year is on the horizon!

July 28, 2022

Dear Country Day Community,

The start of the 2022–23 school year is on the horizon! With that in mind, I wanted to take a few moments to say “hello” and touch upon a couple of key items.

Let me begin by saying “thank you” to everyone who has reached out with a welcoming note or supported my transition to Charlotte and to Country Day. The warmth and caring of the Country Day community are palpable, and it is with great anticipation that I look forward to meeting many of you in the weeks and months ahead. I also want to voice appreciation to Mr. David Mancos, whose exemplary leadership as Interim Head of School in 2021–22 has ensured that the school remains strong and true to its mission during a time of transition.

You might imagine these first weeks in July have been quiet and uneventful. Thankfully, they have not! Supported by Beverley Johnson and her team, our Summer Programs remain in full swing, with over 2,500 students having participated throughout the summer. As you can imagine, we are busy completing summer projects and getting both of our campuses ready to welcome everyone back. Many areas of our Bissell Campus will have new carpets and flooring. In addition to painting and updating work on our Cannon Campus, roads and parking lots will all have been repaved. We are confident that all will be ready to welcome back our students, faculty and staff, and our broader community at the start of school! Special appreciation must go out to our entire Facilities and Plant Operations team for assuring our campuses are good-to-go as we welcome students back to school. We must also acknowledge as we close the summer the extraordinary gesture of Smoky Bissell and Margaret Gragg Bissell, whose gift of land and accompanying resources allows us to patiently imagine new opportunities as we move into a new era of strategic planning. 

Know that we have been monitoring the status of Covid in Charlotte these past months. As the threat level in Mecklenburg County still remains in the “yellow” or moderate zone, we envision opening the school year with a welcome sense of normalcy. Classes and activities will happen on campus as planned; mask-wearing is welcome but optional. However, we will continue to adhere to our CCDS Covid Policy and will update this policy as circumstances dictate that we do so to protect the health and safety of our community. Please review this policy prior to the start of school, so you are familiar with our protocols. Trust that we will inform you promptly should we need to make any adjustments to our expectations.

We also continue to give ongoing and heightened attention to security. We want our school to be warm and welcoming; however, we also want our campuses to be safe and secure. Country Day has a strong security team, many of whom have had prior law enforcement experience, and we also have internal protocols to monitor who comes onto our campuses. However, it is crucial that we continually take stock of our security measures and become aware of reasonable choices we can make to ensure campus safety. To that end, we have contracted with an emergency planning management group to do a complete security audit in August and identify opportunities at hand. We are also planning emergency response training for our faculty and staff. I look forward to communicating more on this topic as we move through the fall.

As I begin my tenure as Head of School, I am excited about the opportunities this year brings. My first goal is to take time to appreciate and understand the Country Day experience: visiting classes, attending events, and dialoguing closely with our administration, our faculty and staff, our parents, and our students. There is much to experience and much to learn, and I look forward to understanding in depth what makes Charlotte Country Day distinctive. I also look forward to beginning to understand what further opportunities present themselves as we look to the future.

Coincidentally, this is an “accreditation year” for Country Day. In anticipation of a site visit by the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) in April, it is an opportunity for us to take stock of all we do in the service of our Mission, Key Values, and Commitments. A special “thank you” to those members of our community who already participated this past spring in surveys designed to help us analyze and reflect upon the Country Day experience. The administrative team will begin the year by reviewing that feedback and drawing initial conclusions and takeaways. I look forward to sharing those learnings in the months ahead as they crystallize.

An exciting year is at hand! If you are new to Country Day, welcome! We are here to support you. If you are a returning family, welcome back! In the weeks ahead, our division heads will be forthcoming with specific information to inform the start of the year for you and your children. May everyone have a wonderful close to their summer.

Sincerely,

Marcel Gauthier
Head of School