Dear Flint Hill School Families,

I trust that everyone had a wonderful holiday and that you are enjoying a very exciting New Year! I also hope you are ready to be back for another action-packed semester. The recent drop in temperature reminds us that we are definitely into winter and moving into the second semester of our very full school year.

Today, was an incredible day for our School family as we celebrated our annual Founder’s Day. Each year, we take several opportunities to gather the entire student body, faculty and staff to celebrate being a part of our dynamic, diverse, and energetic community. Founder’s Day always comes at mid-year, serving as a reflection of how the year is going and providing an opportunity to think together about the people and the relationships that make our great School so unique. We have worked to keep you up to date through this newsletter, and it has been a very successful school year so far. Since the beginning of the year, we have had a record turnout of parents and visitors at major events, coffees, concerts, plays, games and special gatherings. Flint Hill was named an Apple Distinguished School for the second time. Our Literary Magazine won national recognition. Students in both the Middle and Upper Schools were invited to participate in All-District Choirs and Orchestras. The Latin program once again excelled as the leader within the State of Virginia. In athletics, we won four Conference Championships and nine titles during the fall season. We have the Coach and Player of the Year in Volleyball for the State of Virginia. And our faculty are being asked to speak at conferences around the country. Adding to the excitement, were the introduction of new Mission and Vision Statements, the new Strategic Plan, and the upcoming introduction of the Campus Master Plan.

While I could go on and on about the strengths and depth of our program and the innovative and entrepreneurial experiences that are such a part of it, Founder’s Day gave us the opportunity to stop and focus on the people who help make this happen.  People who challenge and inspire us. Those who support and truly care about us. People who, in most cases, have embodied our new vision by taking meaningful risks, being themselves and making a difference.

A new tradition was introduced during the 2016 Founder’s Day celebration. Beginning this year, we will honor individuals who have been engaged directly with Flint Hill for 20 years or more. Think of that concept…20 years. There are remarkable people who have made Flint Hill a major aspect of their lives and ours. This service to our students, families, mission, vision and core values is enormous.

As this tradition begins during our 60th year as a School, we went back to the very beginning to make certain that anyone who had reached that milestone was recognized. At this moment in history there are 17 people in total, 10 of whom still teach and work with us today. Photographs of each person, noting their role at school and their length of service, will be hung on both campuses and serve as reminders of how much we value and appreciate their commitment and legacy. Here is the list of the people who received that special recognition today:

Fred Atwood, Science Teacher, 26 years
Abigail McKenzie, Art Teacher, 26 years
Don Niklason, Original Owner and Founder, 26 years
Pat Birkholz, Retired, First Grade Teacher, 24 years
Carlo Grossman, Drama Teacher, 24 years
Dennis Giuliani, Director of Facilities and Coach, 24 years
Maddie Krug, English Teacher, 23 years
Andy Krug, Science Teacher, 22 years
Lincoln Dewar, Former Science Teacher, 20 years
Taylor Johnson, History Teacher, 20 years
Earl Kibler, Retired, Engineer, 20 years
Amy McMurrer, Director of Aftercare, 20 years
Brenda Medvid, Math Teacher, 20 years
Sandy Parker, Retired, Lower School Teacher, 20 years
Susie Ramirez, Former Kindergarten Teacher and Coach, 20 years
Sherri Seeger, Former Kindergarten Teacher, 20 years
Bill VanLear, Math Teacher, 20 years

We also took time to celebrate this year’s Driving Spirit Award winners. This tradition began 10 years ago in honor of two former faculty and staff members: Hank Berg and Cathy Campbell. The original charge was: “The award recognizes current Flint Hill faculty and staff members who have excelled in ethical leadership, diligent intellectual scholarship, and a commitment to teach, coach or mentor others. Someone who is cooperative, leads by example, and inspires all of us to new heights of learning. They embrace our four core values and exemplify the Driving Spirit, which is the passion that is such a part of our School family.” Driving Spirit Award recipients are nominated by students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni, and the selection process is actually one of the hardest decisions to make each year for the Committee. Our faculty and staff is filled with people who are worthy of such recognition. Three individuals were selected this year to receive this honor:

  • Jody Patrick, Physical Education teacher and Head Varsity Girls’ Basketball Coach
  • Derek Ross, Head Athletic Trainer and Director of Internal Transportation
  • Molly Tanner, Upper School Math Teacher and Advisor

Please join me in congratulating these three recipients and thanking them for all that they bring to our campus each and every day. And if you feel that other faculty or staff members are worthy of this award, please do not hesitate to take the time to write us a note outlining why you hope they will be recognized in the future. We take nominations all year round and review them at the end of November.

As we closed the ceremony today, we also took a moment to thank our Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Otis (Skip) Coston, who at the end of this year will finish his sixth year as Chairman of the Board and will rotate off the Board of Trustees. For 13 years, Skip has been a steady source of leadership and wisdom. Skip has a quiet and calm, yet firm approach to leadership. His contributions are heartfelt. He worked closely with Til Hazel, our Founding Chairman Emeritus, for many years and has done a tremendous job in the transition from Til’s leadership to this chapter in our School’s history. It was great to make certain that he knew how much we value his support and engagement.

Everything we do here at School ultimately comes down to the relationships. Please join me in recognizing how fortunate we are to be engaged in such a dynamic and effective

School family. If I can ever be helpful as we move into these winter months, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Best wishes to you and your families for an outstanding New Year! It is exciting to see all that is going on and all that continues to happen on a daily basis here.


John M. Thomas