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REsilience

Penny Townsend, Head of School
A colleague shared with me recently a line from Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi that resonates as I look back on this unfathomable year. “If I had really known what I was about to require of my faculties,” a young Twain wrote while struggling to learn the trade of riverboat pilot, “I should not have had the courage to begin.” When I look back on the last 12 months, I appreciate not being fully aware of what was ahead of us when we closed school down and moved everything to a remote platform. Had we known what we were in for, I believe the outcomes would have been different.
Fear, isolation, tragedy, pessimism and loss are some of the words that come to mind when I think about COVID-19’s impact on our world. When I think of COVID-19’s impact on Ransom Everglades, different words come to mind. The theme of this edition of the Log is one: REsilience. I also land on community, connection, grit and courage. 
 
It’s clear that the pandemic brought out the best in our community. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard or that we would want to go through it again. We faced exhausting challenges and excruciating losses, and some teachers and students had to work from home throughout the pandemic. Those on campus managed hybrid learning and endless protocols. As a school, we missed out on many traditional events. No one can say that it has been the same. 
 
Yet in the pages ahead I see optimism. I see creativity. I see ingenuity. And, of course, resilience.
 
As we enter the homestretch of this year, our faculty and staff are eligible for the vaccine, and many have received at least one shot. Our COVID-19 numbers – I’m knocking on wood as I type – have begun to fall. We decided last week to hold an in-person commencement, assuming the positive trends continue. We are feeling hopeful again. The words of parent and former trustee Jason Rubell – who is featured in our story, “Miami’s Art Scene: REinvented” – ring true for many of us as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 devastation: “It’s almost through tragedy that comes some sort of amazing beauty.” 
 
Jason is right, and you will find amazing beauty in the pages of this magazine. I hope you enjoy the personal profiles of faculty and students that begin on page 12, and the photo spread that follows. The photos offer an inside look at our campuses – socially distanced and masked, but also vibrant and active. 

I also hope that the article introducing the Anti-Racism Task Force created in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the reckoning that followed demonstrates to you our commitment to becoming an anti-racist institution. The task force has dedicated an enormous amount of time and energy to making sure that our commitment is visible and actualized throughout the school and that every individual in our school is seen, heard and valued. The painful stories shared by Ransom Everglades Black Alumni (reBa) during two town halls last summer were real and deeply affecting, and the reflection that followed has been both professional and personal. I am aware of the privilege in my own life, and I’ve worked to examine my own practices and unconscious biases. We are growing together as a community, and we have accelerated our progress toward creating a culture that is intolerant of any kind of racial discrimination and harassment.
 
Hope appears again in the article about the Tsialas family and their determination to turn an unspeakable tragedy into a positive force for change. Their endowed program for compassionate leadership will fortify our current programming in health and wellness and keep the memory of Antonio Tsialas ’19 alive at Ransom Everglades. How fitting that the Tsialas article is followed by Dean of Studies Greg Cooper’s article illustrating compassionate leadership in action.
 
We see continued leadership from former board chair Andrew L. Ansin ’81, who with his family offered a $5 million donation match to help us get to the finish line on our REinventing Excellence campaign. Read more here. We are so thankful.
 
As is often the case with these letters, I start with our theme, and then work my way to gratitude. I am so grateful to everyone in this community who supported us through this incomparable year.
 
There is indeed a sense of hope on our campuses.
 
Penny Townsend
Head of School
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Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Middle School2045 South Bayshore DriveTel: 305-250-6850
Upper School3575 Main HighwayTel: 305-460-8800
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.