Rick Hardy, Head of School
I am pleased to welcome you to Concord Academy, a school that is progressive in its thinking and grounded in its care and guidance of young people. We are a community of learners, a school dedicated to inspiring students to pursue their passions, to find their voices, and to prepare them to make a difference in the world beyond our campus. As our mission states, “Concord Academy engages its students in a community animated by a love of learning, enriched by a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, and guided by a covenant of common trust.”
Over my tenure, I have come to know Concord as a unique place, and a wonderful community in which to live and to learn. CA has local roots and a global perspective; we are a hybrid day and boarding school, which draws students from metropolitan Boston, from sixteen states across the country, and eight countries around the world; we are set in Concord, an historic and beautiful New England village, but with easy access to Boston one of the country’s finest, most cultured cities; we are a place where students and teachers are passionate about learning and supportive of one another — a true community of learners, one that strives to live its mission every day.
CA was founded as a school in 1922. The world may have changed dramatically since then, but our values have not. We foster close working partnerships through small class sizes, and also through our approach to advising. Each student is paired with an adult advisor, often for the student’s entire time here. At most independent schools, advisors meet once or twice weekly with their entire group of advisees, but here at CA every advisor meets one-on-one every week with each student that he/she advises. That’s a big investment in time and energy for adults and for students, but we think it’s important.
One of my own mentors once said that the best schools make an implicit promise to parents — that their children will be known and cared for, and that they will be guided thoughtfully through these critical years. We think that our approach to advising allows us to honor that promise, allows us to help our students, your sons and daughters, to build successful paths here, and allows them to create a foundation for learning and for living, too. This human connection, this focus on mentoring and on collaboration fosters confidence and self-awareness in our students.
Three and sometimes four days a week the entire CA community begins its day in the Chapel with a single senior stepping to the podium and telling his or her story for 15 uninterrupted minutes. I know of no other school that offers that sort of opportunity to or places that degree of trust in its students. I remember the very first Chapel I ever heard at CA, from a young woman who told the story about meeting for the first time a side of her family from the Czech Republic — and in the process discovering another part of herself. It was a remarkable story. (You can learn more about the Chapel elsewhere on our website.)
In the years since I arrived, I have come to see these moments as emblematic of our mission, indeed, as the heart and soul of this school: A community whose members discover and share their passions. A community of mutual respect. A community of achievement, yes, but first and foremost a community centered on human relationships and the stories we share together.
In working with the faculty, and with coaches, I can tell you that they are here because they love the classroom. They love teaching. And they love working with kids. This is not only an enormously talented group of adults, but also a dedicated one. And that makes a big difference. It makes a difference in the ways in which our faculty inspire and enable students to pursue great things, in the classroom, on the stage, or on the athletic field, and in the way our teachers help students find their passion and, once they’ve found it, enable them to pursue it.
A key part of fostering this love of learning is in not doing one thing: giving academic awards. We do not award prizes of any sort. We do not rank students. We do not recognize a valedictorian, and we do not promote an awareness of GPAs or anything like that. Instead of honoring only a select few prize winners, we honor all of our students. That may sound corny, but it’s true. We celebrate each and every one of our students here at Concord Academy, because every one of them contributes something unique to this community.
What this also means is that there is no single path to success at Concord. We allow students to choose their own courses and to pursue their interests, and in doing so, to invest in their own learning and to discover their passions.
These three elements — the Chapel talk, passion for learning, and partnerships with adults — are all part of our common goal: to provide our students with a transformational experience. With an education that is the best that we can possibly provide, and that is among the best you will find anywhere.
I am proud to be part of this community and to serve as Concord Academy’s head of school. I am inspired by the passion and drive of our students, the talent and dedication of our faculty and staff, and the commitment and support of our alumnae/i and parents.
Head of School
Dresden Endowed Chair