A Letter from Head of School Patricia Hayot
March 12, 2019
My sisters and childhood friends will tell you that, at six years old, I established a school in our family’s basement. While my friends’ enrollment may have been non-negotiable, I was assured later that those schoolhouse lessons—and shenanigans—were as fun for them as they were for me. I look back and marvel: this was a beginning, one of many beginnings, that has led to this blessed life and this blessed career dedicated to the teaching of children, to schooling and to the idea of schooling.
Look now to our very real school, whose final steel structures are falling into place, completing not only the outline of Chapin’s bold and thrilling expansion, but more meaningfully, signaling the extraordinary promise of the intellectual engagement that will unfold therein. The important thing is not the building; it is what will happen in it, not just next year, or even in the years in which your children will learn and grow here, but for the next decades of Chapin’s existence and work, for your daughters’ daughters, your sons’ daughters, and the future thousands of scholars that it is our mission to educate.
It is in the full spirit of joy and promise about that future that I write to you today, dear members of the Chapin community, to tell you that in June 2020, I will turn the leadership of our beloved school over to a fortunate new Head of School, as yet unnamed, who—I have every faith and confidence—will cherish and treasure the opportunity to guide our extraordinary learning community, as I have these past 16 indelible years.
I have had the great privilege to follow five remarkable leaders whose accomplishments, passion, generosity of spirit and deep commitment created Chapin’s extraordinary foundation. When appointed Head of School, I was in awe of the magnitude of the gift I had been bestowed.
I remember so clearly the day when, having just arrived at the start of the 2003–2004 school year, I stood waiting at the main elevators with a spirited group of Upper School Dance Club members. After introducing themselves, they quickly moved into inquiry mode, finally asking if I could guarantee that, as the new Head of School, I would double the number of Dance Club performances, of which there were clearly too few. While no deal was made, no agreements signed and no funds exchanged, I appreciated their determination and candor, and assured them that I would certainly learn more.
And learn more I have—each and every hour of every day during these magnificent years at Chapin. (By the way, another dance performance was added to the calendar, thanks to others far outside my realm of influence!)
Deeply embedded in Chapin’s culture is our school’s motto, Fortiter et Recte, which reminds us daily of our shared values: bravery, compassion, respect for self and others and altruism. To all of you who have and will continue to inspire me, through your work, courage, generosity, empathy and example, I extend profound, resounding gratitude.
Among the many indispensable sages and partners who have made our successes possible are our Chapin trustees, whose perseverance and triumphs are unmatched. They serve in countless ways to guide our school and ensure its strength and place of distinction, particularly as we realize our dream of remaining under one roof. Their exceptional leadership, vision and wisdom have ensured that Chapin will continue to represent boldness and intention in all its endeavors.
To our cherished Professional Community members, thank you not only for your devotion and dedication to every once and future Chapin student, but for being my teachers, my teammates and my guides. What I have learned from you is without bounds.
Parents, present and past, for reasons unique to each of you, Chapin was your choice. You have gifted us with your children’s presence and the opportunity to help them develop agency, competence, empathy and confidence. Your partnership and commitment to the school literally and figuratively propel us forward and, more recently, upward!
To our devoted and passionate alumnae: you are scholars, activists and innovators, and you uphold Chapin’s proud legacy in your own lives. You inspire our students and demonstrate how to participate fully in a caring and engaged community, one that shall forever welcome them. In every way, you enrich the tapestry of our beloved school.
Grandparents, friends and treasured peers, I extend my gratitude for your support, your presence, your accessibility and your wisdom. Your generosity has greatly contributed to the diversity and depth of perspectives that inspire our community.
And to our cherished Chapin scholars who, in every way, represent Chapin’s future: I salute you! It has been and continues to be my profound privilege to serve as your Head of School and to witness the flourishing of your talents and the unfolding of your lives. You are members of a learning community that is unswerving in its dedication to ensuring that all of you become your best selves in all dimensions so that you may also support others in their journeys of fully realizing their potential.
With that, dear students, I shall now seize this opportunity to offer you counsel—not from the family basement but from my heart inside 100 East End Avenue—that I hope will resonate with you in the months, years and decades to come.
1. Live Chapin’s motto. Choose Fortiter et Recte—Bravely and Rightly—as a guide for all you do and every decision you make.
2. Speak up in the face of injustice. Be fearless when defending what is right.
3. Strive for unity and understanding: Listen with compassion and act with courage.
4. Put all electronic devices to bed in the kitchen, and don’t sleep there!
5. Share the credit; shoulder the blame.
6. Tell your stories and provide platforms for others to tell theirs.
7. Remember those who came before us at Chapin, allowing us to flourish and to be beacons for those who follow.
8. Express gratitude, early and often, to everyone who touches your life.
9. Find the funny, always. Laughter is a precious balm—universal and contagious.
10. Be the subject of your own life, not the object of someone else’s.Chapin provides the tools you need to tell your own story, be your own person, build your own company, love your own job, create and nurture your own families, support and extend your own communities and work on behalf of your own country and your own planet, to give you, in short, the optimism of will and the strength of mind to make for yourselves a life that matters to you and to those around you. If, as we expect, this happens for you, I urge you to work to extend your luck, your dedication, your privilege and your happiness to all.
I look forward, in these next 15 months, to continuing to walk alongside you, Chapin scholars, while you develop your senses of agency, discover your best selves and, ultimately, soar beyond 100 East End Avenue, greeting the world awaiting. Behind you will always be the Chapin community whose collective pride is profound and whose support endures forever.
With great affection and deep thanks,
Dr. Patricia T. Hayot
Head of School