Highlands Blog

Head of School Update

Kavita VAsil
It is still Day 1 at Highlands.

Yes, school is over and students have headed their separate ways for the summer. Yes, we have already tackled months of school days, projects, events and games. As everyone ventures out to enjoy their well-deserved break, it is impossible for me not to reflect on the impressive “Day 1” year we have had. As a reminder, Day 1 is not a point in time, it is a mindset. It means to never rest on your laurels, never to be satisfied with things the way that they are.

So, how is it still Day 1 at Highlands? In more ways than I can personally recall.

This year has been a year of bold action. We have taken Highlands initiatives to new levels and have critically evaluated where we want to see our school go.

In 2016, as part of our SAIS accreditation self-study, Highlands marked several areas in which we wanted to take major strides. Those areas included arts, technology, health and wellness, global studies and social emotional learning. Our aim in identifying these areas was to evaluate, plan and track progress in these areas toward the ultimate goal of meaningfully improving our school.

The 2017-2018 school year marked major milestones in our school-wide journey in these areas. With the implementation of eNight, we committed to our project based learning initiative, incorporating arts and technology across all subject areas. We implemented the HEAL curriculum-based fitness and nutrition education program to continue our campus Health and Wellness goals. Art was integrated not just into the curriculum but throughout the campus, highlighting the creativity of our community. Our Country of Study gained new authenticity as we focused on India and looked to our Highlands families for inspiration, guidance and resources. Social emotional learning has taken shape. Under Gabe McCool’s leadership, we have defined campus wide philosophies, practices and expectations that will allow us to foster a more caring and thoughtful campus. In this effort, we have also distinguished ourselves as an “Early Leader School” in Harvard University’s Common Good campaign.

This year, we worked to paint the Portrait of a Highlands Graduate with input from our community. In this effort, our goal was to state to our community our steadfast commitment to preparing tomorrow’s leaders by always providing a superlative education—an education that looks beyond curriculum and into a student’s empathy, mindfulness and confidence.

We also took leaps for the future of our school. In April, we announced the public phase of the most ambitious capital campaign in our school’s history. The 60 more years to… campaign celebrates the lasting mission of Highlands while simultaneously looking forward to the next 60 years and what that mission will mean to the future generation of leaders. Highlands’ ability to effectively challenge and motivate students is influenced by the physical landscape of our school. Inspirational environments increase student and teacher engagement, bringing life to academic lessons. As educational methods evolve, the physical space must also evolve.

Aside from these major initiatives, Day 1 has been an observable mentality throughout the year. Faculty and staff have found ways to blast through expectations to best serve students and to best serve one another. Students have shared not just their efforts and talents, but their compassion with one another. Parents have tirelessly contributed their skills and time to make our campus brighter. Throughout this school year, our campus has maintained the Day 1 mindset with bold enthusiasm and a willingness to step outside of our comfort zone and do not the good thing, but the best thing. It is my hope and my commitment that we will have 60 more years to… have Day 1 every day at Highlands.

In the love of learning,

Kavita Vasil
Highlands School, 4901 Old Leeds Road, Birmingham, AL 35213, (205) 956-9731
Highlands School's 'whole child' approach to education and commitment to academic excellence, creative expression, and leadership development prepare and motivate students in grades 4k through 8 to make a positive difference in an ever-changing world. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Highlands School holds dual accrediation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Southern Associations of Independent Schools (SAIS).

For more information, visit www.highlandsschool.org.