This letter from Head of School Leanne Reynolds originally appeared in the 2022 issue of River Oaks Baptist School’s Vine & Branch magazine. Leanne Reynolds reflects on the past 10-years she has spent as Head of School at ROBS, which coincides with the School’s 10-year ISAS accreditation cycle.
From the Head of School
August 2022 marks my 10-year anniversary of joining ROBS as head of school, which happens to coincide with the School’s 10-year ISAS accreditation cycle. As a part of the accreditation process, the School conducts an in-depth “self-study” as an intense reflection on what we do accompanied by data that speaks to how well we do it. This timing strikes me as providential: The gift of an obligatory pause to reflect on God’s goodness at work over the last decade.
The busyness of the day-to-day has a way of obscuring the big picture: carpool, schedules, learning plans, and the emotional needs of over 900 children! In this article, I offer you a glimpse into the excitement of and joy of daily school life as we look at the big picture (or at least, the last 10 years of it).
- Curriculum realignment: Working with an internationally renowned authority on 21st Century Learning, our academic leaders, curriculum coordinators, and teachers conducted a 5-year, deep dive into every content unit to ensure continuity between grade levels and curricular relevance applying what are called the 6 C’s of learning (collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication, cross-cultural competency, and character). The resulting framework – completed in 2018 – serves as the foundation from which we continue to refine our curriculum.
- Safety and security over haul: Our security infrastructure has increased from 34 security cameras and four security officers to a 27-person team led by a full-time director of safety &security. The team monitors 175+ interior and exterior cameras.
- The ethnoracial diversity of our population has almost doubled, from 17% to 33% who identify as persons of color.
- Completion of a $65 million capital campaign, the largest in the country at the time for a school ending in eighth grade. Giving way to …
- Immense physical growth: The size of our physical plant has increased more than 120%, from 168,000 to 372,000 square feet, creating more learning space (and parking!).
- More students, smaller classes: In 2019 the School initiated a five-year growth plan to increase Lower School and Middle School grades by 10 students and add a class section to each grade level, allowing us to decrease the number of students in each class.
- Enhancement of STEAM programming: Theatre, makerspace, music, art, and additional science labs have been woven into a full complement of fine arts and innovation programming in Lower School, with a progression toward the nearly 30 elective options available in Middle School.
- A second library: A new Middle School library is now dedicated entirely to adolescent readers. The original library was redesigned for our Preschool and Lower School learners, with reading nooks, learning coves, and age-appropriate texts. Fun fact: the ROBS libraries house37 books per student, exceeding the national recommendation of 20 books per student.
- National recognition from the U.S. Department of Education as a model of best practices for schools across the country (2019 National Blue Ribbon Award).
- Endowment size: Assets have grown to$ 45 million from $21 million–a much closer resemblance to the industry recommendation of an endowment size at least two times the annual operating budget.
Once known as “that sweet little school” with two teachers and 30 children, ROBS has matured over the years. Yet the mission is unwavering: to provide children a superior academic education, supported by faith in Jesus Christ and Christian principles. Not a day goes by without students hearing about God’s abundant love for them and the example Jesus gives us for how to live. That’s the essence of ROBS: our mission manifested through thousands of everyday moments.
My cup runneth over with gratitude for the teachers, parents, grandparents, administrators, volunteers, security officers, food service workers, maintenance and custodial staff, and so many others who worked every day to realize these accomplishments. When people work very hard for a purpose that glorifies God, He joins them. Yes, indeed.
By His grace alone,
Leanne B. Reynolds
Head of School