From The Head of School – May 22, 2024

May 22, 2024

Flint Hill Community, 

Today, I write to share with you some major themes of feedback from our recent Parent Survey, as conducted by Independent School Management. First and foremost, many thanks for the helpful feedback provided by the nearly 60% of Flint Hill households that responded. In addition to useful data and comments for areas of growth, our team and I were very appreciative of the many positive comments provided, the majority of which centered on the outstanding faculty and staff, the overall community and Core Values of the School, and a very high (and improving year-over-year) “net promoter score,” which is survey-speak for the likelihood that a family would recommend Flint Hill to a friend.  

Particular Strengths of Note

Teacher Attention: Strong relationships between students and teachers are at the core of what we do and serve as one of our greatest strengths. Parents observed this as a primary reason for choosing Flint Hill and an area of particular distinction for our school. As one parent put it: “Our child has had such a wonderful experience at FH. I appreciate the small classes and attentive teachers, but mostly the focus on social emotional growth — the many opportunities for leadership in the classroom and school-wide, and the thoughtful ways the school builds community among students.”

Academic Communication: Related to teacher attention, the ways in which our school communicates with families regarding their child(ren)’s progress was a notable strength, as well. Parents called out the impact of parent-teacher conferences, report card comments, direct outreach, Back-to-School Nights, and more as ways in which the School communicates progress of their child’s academic growth in authentic and meaningful ways. Additionally, there was a strong (and significantly improved) perception of a smooth transition between our divisions (Lower to Middle School, and Middle to Upper School) for our students and families. Lastly, I took great pride in the fact that the vast majority of respondents felt supported by the teacher or staff involved when raising a question this year.     

Spring Break: Every now and again, we circle back to existing approaches as a school to ensure they’re meeting our goals and families’ needs. This year, we asked about the length of spring break, and the response was clear: 80% of responding families favor our current two-week spring break in March, as opposed to a one-week alternative. As we’ve shared previously, we recognize some comments hoping that we can align our spring break schedule with local public schools, and while that alignment is not our goal (local public schools’ spring break shifts widely each year depending on religious calendars), there may be years in the future in which they naturally align. For now, continue to plan for two weeks in March for the foreseeable future!

Opportunities to Consider

Lunch: For the second year, we asked families about their perceptions of the lunch program in the Middle and Upper School. 

In the Middle School, about 60% of responding families reported satisfaction with the lunch program, while about 20% reported dissatisfaction. Half of all Middle School respondents answered that they’re willing to pay more for a different lunch program. 

In the Upper School, about 55% of responses reported satisfaction with the lunch program, while 30% reported dissatisfaction. In the Upper School group, 45% of responses said that their family would be willing to pay more for a different lunch program. 

The comments were also understandably mixed — some responses wanted more “kid-friendly foods” like hot dogs, pizza days, etc., while others asked for the elimination of the very same options, deeming them unhealthy or “junk food.” That’s the opportunity and challenge of being a part of a multifaceted community like ours — and Flint Hill’s goal, in working with Fairfax Food, has been to create an array of options to meet the wide range of wants/needs for our students, while also being mindful of facilities and costs to families. 

Fairfax Food has also surveyed Middle and Upper School students this spring and adjusted its menus based on their feedback, with positive response from our students, as well. Notably, there was a very high number of comments regarding the kindness, professionalism, and connections our students have with the Fairfax Food team on campus.      

Parent Programming: The survey gauged interest in a variety of parent programming options, as we continue to seek to engage and support our families in the overall Flint Hill culture and community. The two largest areas of interest were (1) supporting strong study skills at home, and (2) helping your student manage social media. We will be sure to weave these themes into the 2024-25 school year and beyond, much as we have done with current programming informed by prior feedback and current community needs.  

We appreciate our families’ willingness to take time and share feedback in this survey, and also continue to encourage an open dialogue with the School. Never hesitate to reach out to a teacher or advisor, coach or administrator when a question or opportunity may arise. We’re here, grateful for this partnership, and will continue to work to provide the best experience for all of our Huskies, every day.  

Enjoy these last two weeks, Husky community, and I look forward to celebrating our Class of 2024 with you in a special edition of the newsletter to come out next week.

Go Huskies!

Patrick McHonett
Head of School