A Leadership Transition

October 3, 2017

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to inform you that this will be my last year leading The Park School of Buffalo. There are times in one’s life when an opportunity presents itself that is just too compelling to pass up. I have recently been presented with such an opportunity and in July will be embarking on a new professional adventure as Head of School at The Albany Academies (Albany, NY).

It has been ten years since my family and I moved from Boston to Buffalo. Along the way I have been honored to work with a dedicated and passionate board of trustees who support Park in myriad ways. I have also been fortunate to be part of an incredible community of colleagues, students, parents, alumni, and friends of the School who have worked tirelessly to continuously improve Park, with some remarkable results.

Enrollment is up from 236 students in 2008 to 303 students today. Thanks to generous donors, Park raised $1,300,000 to retire the School’s debt in 2012 and nearly $5,000,000 to support Science@Park, culminating in the Knopp-Hailpern Science Building, which will begin construction this November. Support for Park’s Annual Fund has increased from $228,000 in 2008 to $334,000 this year, with substantial increases in participation across constituent groups and leadership giving. Most importantly Park has educated hundreds of students over the last decade, and I know in my bones that each of them developed tremendous academic skills as well as the confidence and self-awareness to live happy, successful lives.

While these might be satisfying metrics, it’s the countless warm memories of the last ten years that truly resonate with me. Of these, I hope you will allow me to share three. The first was looking out upon a ballroom of hundreds of Park friends and alumni celebrating the School’s centennial in 2012, which demonstrated to me what a special place Park has in the history of Buffalo. The second involves cheering at the top of my lungs as the Boys Varsity Basketball Team won the New York State championship, which proved that our school might be small, but it is also mighty. The third was sitting through my daughter’s first student-directed parent-teacher conference and coming to fully realize, both intellectually and emotionally, the incredible quality of a Park School education.

As I reflect on the last decade I am forever grateful for all that we have accomplished together. Enrollment is strong, finances are stable, and Park is in an excellent place for a leadership transition. I am also heartened by the fact that the teams responsible for Park’s continuous improvements will remain at the School long after my departure, and am pleased to report that the Board of Trustees has chosen Jeremy Besch to serve as the leader of these teams as Park’s Interim Head of School next year. He is an exceptional person, educator, and leader who can ably navigate Park through this transition.

As is the curious way of independent schools, this is the beginning of a long goodbye. There is a lot to do between now and July to make sure that my transition has minimal impact on the life of the School and, most importantly, the students we serve. I look forward to working through this and have tremendous faith in our community’s ability to adapt to change, a faith that has been borne out through years of experience.

Park is truly a community like no other, and being part of this community has been a wonderful privilege for me and my family. My children have grown up here, guided by trusted teachers and coaches, spending endless hours exploring the woods and the pond, running up and down the fields, and laughing with friends in hallways and at lunch tables. We will be forever grateful for this opportunity and when Kristin, Josephine, Tristan, and I make the final journey east on I-90 this spring, we will do so with all of you in our hearts.

Sincerely,
Christopher J. Lauricella
Head of School
 
October 3, 2017

Dear Park School Families and Friends,

After serving as Head of School for a decade, during which time Park has experienced significant positive change and transition, Chris Lauricella will be leaving as of July 1, 2018 to become Head of School at the Albany Academies located in Albany NY. Albany Academies is a Preschool-Grade 12 institution with both girls and boys schools that are over 200 years old. As Board of Trustees President, I know that I speak for all in thanking Chris for the past ten years of dedication in service to Park’s mission, culture, and educational progress for all students.

The metrics of The Park School today can be measured as steps of success over the last ten years. The dedication and hard work done by Chris and the faculty and administrative teams he assembled have moved the School forward in many ways. Enrollment is significantly higher than when Chris arrived, Park graduates are attending and succeeding at great colleges, and real progress can be measured by raising $1,300,000 for debt elimination in 2012, close to $5,000,000 secured to support Science@Park and The Knopp-Hailpern Science Center, and a much more robust Annual Fund program.  It’s been my honor to hear from so many families -- current families, alumni and their parents -- about the tremendous positive impact Park has had on them.  The education process and core values of the School and what they do for students does not change when a new Head is appointed and I’m confident we will experience a smooth transition.

The Board has decided to maintain the current path of improvement at Park through the selection of Jeremy Besch as the Interim Head of School. Jeremy has worked at Park since 2003 and is the parent of two Park students. He has worked closely with Chris as the Assistant Head of School and will be able to provide continuity necessary throughout the 2018-2019 school year. Longer term, the Board of Trustees will establish a process for determining the path to a permanent selection of the Head of School.  

We are all extremely thankful to Chris for his time at Park. It can truly be measured in positive, progressive movements that have made the School stronger academically and as an inclusive and diverse environment for real learning.  I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the tremendous contributions Kristin Lauricella made to the School, as well, bringing her graphic design talents to so many projects. The community will miss the Lauricella family and all that they brought to Park, at the same time wish them much success as they travel east to their new home.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss or have any questions. I can be reached at Mberardi@hammermills.com or through the Head of School’s assistant at 716-839-1243x109.
 
Best regards,

Martin J. Berardi
President, Board of Trustees
 
Founded in 1912, The Park School of Buffalo has the distinction of being one the oldest Progressive schools in the country. Park is an independent, co-educational school serving approximately 300 students enrolled in prekindergarten (3 and 4 year olds), lower school (kindergarten through grade 4), middle school (grades 5 through 8), and upper school (grades 9 through 12). Park is uniquely situated on 34 beautiful acres in Amherst, New York. The School’s campus – formerly a farm – includes a pond, marsh, gardens, and a greenhouse while being located just minutes from downtown Buffalo and easily accessible from many communities throughout Western New York. Park’s educational philosophy embraces active, student-centered learning, delivered by exceptional teachers who design and continuously update a robust curriculum. Faculty members approach each student as an individual within the context of a kind and respectful community. From the preschool years through college preparation, The Park School of Buffalo helps learners realize their own unique potentials and prepares them to be confident, successful, life-long learners.

The Park School Of Buffalo

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Snyder, NY 14226
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