Katherine G. Windsor, Ed.D. Head of School
It is my pleasure to formally welcome you to the new school year and to offer special shoutouts to our New Girls in the class of 2024 and our Seniors, the class of 2021.
I am beginning the year with great anticipation and frankly a bit of trepidation.
After all, it is my job as your head of school to ensure that you are healthy and safe –even during the pandemic, and as we endeavor to keep the promise of the mission to prepare young women to be informed, bold, resourceful, and ethical global citizens, ready to shape a changing world.
We have worked diligently over the summer in preparation for your arrival. You, too have worked hard to adhere to the new routines that are necessary to reduce the risk of bringing the novel coronavirus to campus and I thank you for that.
I expect that because we have worn our masks, maintained physical distance, and sanitized regularly, that we will have good news when the results of our most recent campus wide test results are in hand.
Our ability to keep ourselves healthy is dependent on our individual behaviors and ultimately our willingness to at times, to put what is best for the community above our personal wants and desires.
It is not easy but it is necessary and it is possible! If any community can do it, Porter’s can, after all, Girls Win Here!
This summer I re-read John Palfrey’s book “Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces.” John served as the Vice Dean of the Harvard Law Library before becoming the Head of Phillips Academy Andover and now the Head of the McArthur Foundation.
In his book, which I encourage you to read, John argues that essential democratic values of diversity and free expression can and should exist on campus.
“We should honor the experiences of every student because the act of doing so is itself a form of excellence that every student should have by the time they graduate….
Today’s students need to learn how to live in a society where difference is the norm, not the exception.
This skill to be able to work and live across multiple lines of difference,
to make it a blessing and not a curse,
to find ways that it strengthens democracies, not undercuts them,
is one that will serve students for the rest of their lives.
Parents and students alike should seek out those diverse communities that make this sort of learning possible for our youth, it will serve individuals, economies, and political systems extremely well.“
In 2020, we gather together this year as the most diverse community in our history. In addition to demographic diversity, we have a diversity of cultures and experiences. Some girls will vote in their first election this fall and I expect that there will be votes cast for both the Biden-Harris ticket and the Trump-Pence ticket.
We will have girls who have experience with police brutality and others whose tuition is paid by parents who work in law enforcement. We will have girls who have spent the past four years living and learning in a diverse community and for others, this will be the first time they have experienced these differences.
While it is imperative that you literally wear your mask each and every day, part of the opportunity that comes with joining a diverse community is to figuratively, remove your mask.
To share with others who you are and how it informs the ways in which you think about the world. We must also be prepared to process feedback from others who think differently and in doing so take the steps necessary to fully embrace the learning expected by our mission statement.
The stage is set for us to learn from each other and now we must in the words of Kamala Harris the first woman of color to be nominated for national office by a major political party, “DO THE WORK!”
It is with this in mind that I share our all-school theme of being INFORMED.
In 1938 on the eve of the Second World War, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote:
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.“