We knew--in 1998--that we were ahead of the curve by commiting to electronic communications. It was as if the stars were aligned: we had the talent in the office (and a connection to the start-up Internet Service Provider Whipplehill), permission from administration and the Board, and--by redirecting monies spent on magazines, newsletters and the Annual Report--the resources to become the first school (anywhere) to "push" customized webpages to specific constituencies. Today, fifteen years later, our communications model remains a prototype. Earlier this week, I spoke at the annual CASE/NAIS Conference about our methods and their success. The conference was in sunny Orlando, Florida. I returned to January in New Hampshire, with its ice, puddles, sanded walks and old snow.
Don't get me wrong. I like it here. In fact, I prefer being here.
Central Florida is a wonderful place to visit in January: a boomtown of resorts, malls and fabricated communities where--only a few decades ago--wetlands stretched for hundreds and hundreds of miles, crossed by a few two-lane highways. Today it is a land of spotlessly clean, new automobiles and limousines on straight, four-lane highways; manicured lawns and golf courses shaded by palmettos; and billion-dollar tourist attractions. Central New Hampshire, by contrast, is a land of pine and hardwood forests; ancient, weathered mountains and natural lakes; and winding roads that connect scattered villages and a few post-industrial brick cities.
The sun hangs low on the horizon; shadows are long and blue. The polished faux-marble floors of a hotel a thousand miles to the south are replaced by linoleum and worn oak.
In recent decades, our campus has been shaped by "master planning," yet it retains the look and feel of the village that it was one hundred and thirty-five years ago, when John Proctor invested his fortune in his home town.
Millions come to the Orlando area to experience things remarkable for their fabrication: trained killer whales; a microcosm of global cultures; a magic kingdom. Hundreds come to Andover, New Hampshire to experience things remarkable for their authenticity: stable, healthy relationships; positive, challenging expectations; support that enables us to anticipate success.