Community Support at the Heart of Hill-Murray’s Future

As we approach Thanksgiving break, I’m naturally thinking about all the things I’m grateful for this holiday season. From the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead this wonderful school to the positive and profound impact we’re having on so many young lives, I’m truly blessed to be the President of Hill-Murray. But perhaps the greatest gift is the undying and overwhelming support of our community. 

Photo from the 2021 President’s Dinner

This weekend we’ll host our annual President’s Dinner. For me, the event is a chance to personally thank our most committed donors. The turnout is expected to be tremendous, which isn’t surprising. I say this often, and I’ll say it again: I remain in awe of the depth and breadth of the generosity of the Hill-Murray community. The love for the school and passion for the mission makes everything we do for students possible. 

I’ve talked about the Go Boldly strategic plan many times in the President’s Perspective.  It’s our roadmap that illuminates a vision for the future, a vision rooted in the student experience.  But what do we need to provide students with a bold and transformational learning experience?  

Part of the answer is to expose our students to experts in the field.  This week we had Dr. Barry Kudrowitz, who has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, speak to our students about curiosity, the spirit of innovation and the importance of risk-taking.  He encouraged students to be creative in their thinking, be open to different perspectives and to take thoughtful risks. This framework, in the context of our faith and values, is in many ways the secret sauce to encouraging and educating our students to be the kind of leaders our world needs.  It’s just one small example of how we are trying to light a fire in our student’s, and, at the same time, lay the foundation for their future success.

We know that mindset is important, and we also know that physical space is equally significant as it supports learning and growth.  With the support of our wonderful donors, we’ve been able to remodel and refresh classrooms and communal spaces in our building the past two years, but the lower level science labs remain woefully untouched. We are missing the equipment and space needed to truly keep our students engaged and energized. We don’t want our spaces to limit creativity and innovation; we need them to support both.

Additionally, we need more informal spaces for students to meet, eat, brainstorm, and work together – collaborative spaces similar to what we’re seeing now in many of the biggest and best businesses and universities. This not only fosters creativity, it strengthens a sense of belonging, which we know (and I wrote about two weeks ago) means feeling seen, accepted, respected, included, and supported. 

Through scholarships and financial aid, we have had great success in expanding access to all those who want to come to Hill-Murray, and the interest in our school continues to spread rapidly. For instance, we had more than 400 attendees at our recent Fall Open House and we’re the only private school in our area to grow, year-over-year, for 8 consecutive years. How did we open up the doors of H-M to so many? Simple: through the generosity of our community. Last April, at the Pioneer Premier Auction, we raised a record $1.3 million dollars. I couldn’t be prouder of how we are leading the way in accessibility. That said, we need to maintain this mindset whether it’s by continuing to participate at the Auction, give to the Annual Fund or engage in other means to support our school.

We can’t let up on our philanthropic efforts or our spirit of giving this holiday season. This weekend, at the President’s Dinner, I will thank our most dedicated donors with a well-deserved toast. Five years ago, we began a transformative campaign with a goal of raising $20 million. In the end, due to our entire community’s efforts, we exceeded that mark by an amazing $15 million. 

Finally, the foundation for student success is set. History is on our side. Let’s now begin to turn the Go Boldly vision into reality for all of our students. I hope you’ll join me – and support us – on what will surely be a wonderful ride.