Parent Newsletter by Franny Shuker-Haines

Dear Buxton Families,

Greetings from an increasingly full campus!

A Few Updates

As you may know, we welcomed our seniors back to school last weekend. They got themselves situated, got their second COVID tests, and started to fill the school with what it had been missing for the last six months: light and laughter and the shared effervescence of living life together once again. 

In the week that followed their arrival, we have welcomed back our returning juniors and sophomores; our new nurse, Kristin Kennedy, has administered still more coronavirus tests; and we have had student/faculty meetings with every cohort. We have also sponsored a whole bunch of on-campus activities for the kids, from croquet on the lawn (with tea and scones) with Timothy, to tie-dying with Kevin and Kathleen, to “shoe golf” with Stuart, to a nighttime movie projected on a screen outside. We had our first Work Program yesterday, run by our intrepid Work Program heads, Karleigh, Isaac, and Jusmaylin (via FaceTime!). The spirit on campus is really good. Kids are wearing their masks, they are embracing sitting outside to eat (even during our first real downpour yesterday), they are taking this opportunity seriously and to heart. 

As some of you heard from Lindsey yesterday, we have received results from the second round of tests for faculty, staff, seniors, juniors, and the students who were quarantining on campus, and all were negative. Hooray! Returning sophomores got their tests yesterday, we will test all of our new students on Saturday after they arrive, and … we hope that we will have all our results back by Monday. We will keep you informed throughout. 

Staff Changes

Last week I told you about some changes in the faculty. This week, I’ll take you through a few changes in staffing. 

Our lovely and amazing director of admissions, Torie Smith, has decided to move on. She and Henry Smith (former faculty) had their second child in May (welcome baby Otis!) and have decided to relocate to Portland, Maine, where Henry is starting a business. As most of you know, Torie was such a warm and welcoming presence, and a wonderful ambassador for the school. She will be missed! That said, I’m sure you will join me in wishing them all the luck in the world. 

The silver lining of that change is that Justina Trova has been promoted to the director of admissions position. Justina has been an invaluable part of our admissions, marketing, and communications team for five years now, and we are really excited to have her take over the reins.

We have also had a change in our Development/Alumni Relations office. Suzy Konecky had an offer she couldn’t refuse from a sustainable farming nonprofit in the Hudson Valley. She wasn’t looking to leave Buxton, but this offer came her way and it proved irresistible. Some of you may know that Suzy ran a dairy farm before coming to Buxton, and her true passion has always been sustainable agriculture, so it made perfect sense for her to seize this opportunity. That said, we will miss her can-do attitude and ability to just dig into projects boldly and cheerfully.

But: we are so lucky in our replacement for Suzy! Deanna Dement Myers is a development professional who has worked at other small progressive schools for years. She is also a Buxton parent: Her daughters Lola and Ivy graduated from Buxton in 2016 and 2019 respectively, so Deanna comes to job already knowing and valuing what Buxton is all about. And, in the few weeks she has been here, has already come up with a hundred good ideas. Welcome Deanna!

Finally, I am so happy to announce that our school counselor, Katelin Roberts, will be continuing in that role. Katelin “retired” this summer and relocated to North Carolina to be closer to family. But, it turns out, she couldn’t leave Buxton. She loves the kids and she loves Buxton and really wanted to keep her hand in. And once we realized that we wouldn’t be able to have a normal counseling setup during COVID anyway (two people in a small office with the doors and windows closed talking intently = not safe) and that the “telehealth” model was going to be our best option … well, it seemed like a no-brainer to keep Katelin in our orbit. So, we are really glad to continue benefiting from her expertise, her light touch, and her dedication to students and families.

A Few Thoughts

In closing, I want to share a few thoughts I’ve been having. I think the pandemic has revealed to many of us what really matters in education: human contact, genuine relationships, shared experiences, creative expression and thought. These are the things that have always defined Buxton. We sometimes have to fight the impression that we are behind the times or don’t offer “enough.” But, I look around at these glowing kids, I listen to how they felt all during last spring, I watch the students and faculty just loving to be in each other’s company, I hear all of the inspiring plans teachers have for their classes, I see students already taking ownership of this extraordinary year, and I think: This is more than enough. This is what matters. This is education at its essential best. We are lucky to be here. 

More next week!

All the best,


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