As Joy S. Hurd approaches the first anniversary of being named the new Head of School at Lake Forest Country Day School (LFCDS), the acclaimed educator admits it has been a fast-paced year.
Hurd has spent the majority of his time immersed in the school community visiting faculty and students in their classrooms, connecting with families, and getting familiar with the surrounding communities. He notes that seeing the traditions of the past melding with LFCDS’s present innovations has him thinking about the school’s exciting future.
“I always keep a list of long-term ideas in my head,” confides Hurd, who was appointed to Head of School back in July of 2018 after his tenure at The Buckley School in New York City. “I tend to think less about goals and more about areas of growth, along with habits that we all can have going forward.”
“It’s an exciting time and a gratifying time, and we have so much to celebrate,” Hurd continues. “I have been so impressed by this school from the moment I walked through its doors. The key for any new leader is to listen and learn, and that’s exactly what I have been doing.”
Located on more than 30 acres, LFCDS delivers a diverse educational experience grounded in rigorous academics, arts, athletics, and social-emotional learning to students from age two through eighth grade. Students have access to learning spaces that include expansive outdoor classrooms, a 2,800-square-foot Innovation Center, a recently renovated gymnasium, and a newly revamped Performing Arts Center.
These recent improvements to the physical campus set a solid foundation for providing students with a twenty-first century education.
“It’s not about my vision. It’s about our vision,” says Hurd, who was born and raised just outside Cleveland, Ohio. “One area of interest is how we can take the most comprehensive approach to wellness. Not just the academic rigor we’re known for, but also social-emotional learning and athletics, unstructured play, and education around social media and technology.”
Often, Hurd finds himself inspired just by walking the halls of LFCDS and interacting with students across all grade levels.
“I’ve thought a lot about the role of questions in the classroom, for example,” says Hurd. “Schools often reward the students who have the right answer, but I want to foster a culture where we also reward the students who are asking the questions, especially un-Google-able questions, the hows and the what ifs and the whys of life.”
Hurd’s vision for the future also includes gaining insight and guidance from the community in which the school resides.
“I’m very interested in continuing to strengthen our community partnerships, ” explains Hurd. “Our annual Special Speaker Series that is already in place is the perfect example of our dedication to being a resource for the broader community. We want to be sure that we are leveraging all of the skills of the people that reside in this community.”
No matter what the future holds, it goes without saying that Hurd seems to have the support of the entire school community, including the school’s strong alumni base.
“Very few elementary schools have the kind of loyal alumni base that we are fortunate to have,” explains Hurd. “Our alumni are a huge asset for us. They treasure our history and our future, and you can feel that in everything they do.”
Naturally, with any changes come some growing pains.
“As time goes by, there will be a time for some changes to what we have been doing based on our culture of feedback and our goal to always find ways to improve,” Hurd says.
“It’s all about living up to our mission, and I think we have done that very nicely,” he adds. “ Our plan is to always be growing and striving to be even better at offering our students the very best education possible.”
Lake Forest Country Day School is located at 145 South Green Bay Road in Lake Forest, 847-234-2350, lfcds.org.