From the Desk of the Head of School: Introducing The RE Way

As you return to Ransom Everglades this fall, our hope is that you see The RE Way – our new mission and core values – everywhere you turn. On campus signs. At our events. In our parent and alumni communications. On our website. And, most importantly, in the words and actions of our students and professional community. During the first two weeks of school, The RE Way has been unveiled, unpacked and constantly highlighted. We are delighted and proud to share this exciting path forward with our entire community.
Our mission and values can be found on this handout and in this video, which was sent to you via email on August 25. The RE Way is anchored in the core values of support and community, diversity and inclusion, honor and excellence, joy and wellbeing, and service and outreach. As David Clark '86, COO and Interim Head of the Upper School, and I told our upper school students during our opening assembly last week, we are one community, united in our care for one another, our shared beliefs and vision for the future. Our mission and core values, which were formally adopted in June by the RE Board of Trustees, guide us in everything we do. As I begin my 18th year at Ransom Everglades and first as permanent Head of School, I invite our entire community to learn about and embrace The RE Way.

The journey to The RE Way started with a look back, a review of the artifacts, rituals and values that have grounded RE throughout its 125-year history. When he founded the Adirondack-Florida School (the predecessor to the Ransom School) in 1903, Paul Ransom sought to produce 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.” Marie and Edward Swenson, who in 1955 founded the Everglades School for Girls (which merged with the Ransom School in 1974), urged students “to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best” and “praise the achievements of others and to respect their will to try,” among other aspirations. Those goals remain fundamental to who we are as a community, and the values that we hold dear.

We also asked questions and listened. Last spring, Ransom Everglades administered the Challenge Success-Stanford Survey of School Experiences to parents and students, and we carefully reviewed and then acted on the feedback we received. We learned that our students need more sleep, and we adjusted the schedule so students have later start times on both campuses. We learned that students craved more faculty support and less stress; we expanded our advisory program, opened access to our college counseling office, created blackout dates for homework around holidays and big events, and adjusted the weight of our end-of-semester assessments. We considered the concerns and priorities of our families as we shaped The RE Way. 

I had to smile when I heard my colleague Mr. Clark use the word “kindness” three times as he addressed students during our first student assembly in the Lewis Family Auditorium last week. We are preaching a new message, and we are focused on it. We want our students to internalize it. We want our families to embrace it.

I have to thank our board of trustees, especially board chair Jonathan Fitzpatrick and member Stephanie Dua, for their leadership and work on our mission and core values, which became The RE Way. Their efforts put this critical process in motion, and they  invest time, thoughtfulness, and intention into our community to get it right. What was most impressive was how much they listened. They – and our school leaders – heard from faculty, parents, alumni and students.

Arriving here has been a team effort. Together, we are moving into a future filled with promise and potential. It is a very special time to be a Ransom Everglades Raider.
Rachel Rodriguez
Head of School
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 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.