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Few chairs, no whiteboards or desks, and a dirt hole the size of an auditorium were just a few of the challenges that students, teachers, and parents faced on the very first day of Weilenmann School of Discovery nearly 10 years ago. But teachers taught and students learned – even on that first day – and parents assured us that things would get better if we all worked together. What saved the new school, ensured its survival, and supported its progress toward excellence was the collaborative effort of the WSD community – its strong belief that together we could create something very special for our students. The goodwill and perseverance of this community has continued to help us achieve much of our school’s vision and mission during these first 10 years of operation.

In celebration of our tenth school year — ten years of students, teachers, and parents working together to create a unique school, WSD’s Theme Committee[1], chaired by Natalie Morgan, has chosen a quote from Helen Keller for the 2019-2020 school year: “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” Helen Keller asserted this truth on multiple occasions, but frequently while on circuit tour with her teacher, Anne Sullivan:

My Teacher has told you how a word from her hand touched the darkness of my mind and I awoke to the gladness of life. I was dumb; now I speak. I owe this to the hands and hearts of others. Through their love I found my soul and God and happiness. Don’t you see what it means? We live by each other and for each other. Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much. Only love can break down the walls that stand between us and our happiness.[2] …. Thus it is that my friends have made the story of my life. In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by my deprivation.[3]

As Ms. Morgan explains, this year’s theme “captures the bond of student and teacher and the trust and progress that happens when students and teachers work together. Also, this theme captures the growth of our school from its conception to where we are now. It looks to the future because we as teachers, students, parents, and administrators will continue to grow and help our students develop, just as Anne Sullivan helped Helen Keller to reach her potential.”

This tenth school year promises to be splendid in every way, as we enjoy what has been accomplished and reach for future successes. We have refined core academic and specialty programs in preparation for our best school year ever – including systemic, internal support for customized student learning. Our own WSD teachers are assuming leadership roles that promise to have a positive effect on our school culture and student learning. WSD has improved its property and grounds for added safety and accessibility.

Most exciting of all, the WSD Board of Directors has obligated funds from USDA Rural Development to finance a possible expansion of WSD’s building into the school’s existing east courtyard. The intended build-out of that space would allow WSD to serve its existing students and program better, as well as accommodate future growth. The new wing of the school would provide science labs, art rooms, flex spaces for discovery learning, and areas for teacher collaboration. Construction on this possible expansion could begin as early as Spring 2020.

On behalf of WSD’s teachers and staff, I thank you for the trust and confidence that you have placed in us to teach and care for your precious children. I invite you to join with us throughout the school year in celebrating the first ten years of Weilenmann School of Discovery.

Cindy Phillips, Executive Director

[1] Members of WSD’s Theme Committee include: Natalie Morgan, Chair, Susannah Barnes, Kathleen Fisher, Jessica Hunsaker, Jo Jones, Roni Ottley, Cindy Phillips, Shelley Turner, Kacey Warburton, and Steve Williams.
[2] Joseph P. Lash, Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy, New York: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence,1980, 487-489.
[3] Helen Keller, The Story of My Life, New York: Bantam Classic, 1988; rpt. 2005, 101.

Our thanks to Robert Neubecker, award winning author and illustrator, former WSD parent, and lifelong friend, for creating the artwork for this year’s theme.