November 7, 2017
Dear Grymes Memorial School Community,
After considerable thought and conversation with my husband and family, I have made the difficult and exciting decision to retire after thirteen years as head of this wonderful school. I share this decision with a mixture of nostalgia and anticipation as I have loved this season of my life here at Grymes. I feel so fortunate to have become a part of this community. From driving to work towards the morning mist rising from the Rapidan River, watching cars and buses unload their precious cargo and receiving the warm smiles – and often embraces – of your children as they embark on a new day, listening to the happy hum in the halls and classrooms, and the joyful whoops of children liberated for recess, Grymes is my beloved home. It has been my great privilege to work with such a creative group of teachers and administrators, an inspiration to work with such a dedicated Board of Trustees, and a gift to share in the lives and learning of your children. All of you have become my family.
It’s with a deep sense of pride that I take in the beautiful mountain view from my office window, as I have every day for thirteen years. Gardner Hall stands firmly in place as just one example of the many achievements that together, we – the Board, the administrative staff, our wonderful teachers, and our generous community – have accomplished since 2005. We have grown our endowment from $2 million to $8 million. We have built Gardner Hall and added a playing field without incurring debt to the school. We have strengthened the curriculum in science, math, language arts, music, athletics and technology. We have expanded opportunities for outdoor and hands-on learning. We have integrated technology into every aspect of the school, from record-keeping and administrative functions to all levels of classroom learning. We have built an exceptional tradition of professional development for our faculty and staff, enabling them to take advantage of learning opportunities that have invigorated both the teachers and our curriculum. It has truly been a privilege to lead Grymes through this exciting time in the school’s 70-year history.
Grymes is on a path to a bright, sustainable future. Our Board continues to maintain a clear strategic focus for our school, steadily improving facilities, planning for future improvements, and ensuring the vitality of our curriculum. Most importantly, the Board has recognized the importance of growing the endowment so that we can continue to attract and retain excellent teachers while at the same time containing tuition increases. Our anonymous donor’s $3 million matching challenge is an extraordinary expression of confidence in the school’s future. It is my sincerest hope that we will meet this matching challenge and that the endowment will be at $10 million by the time I step away.
I look forward to a new season in my life as my growing flock of grandchildren continues to expand. Peter and I are eager to enjoy more time together, whether actually managing to weed our garden, traveling the world, or spending time with our grandbabies, and I look forward to maintaining a deep connection to this wonderful school community that I hold dear to my heart. Finding a new Head of School is no small task, and I have promised the Board that I will remain Head of School for as long as it takes until a search has identified the perfect new leader to carry the school’s mission forward.
It has truly been a privilege to serve this school in such an exciting time. Thank you for your vision, dedication, and support that have never failed to inspire me!
With love and appreciation,
Elisabeth “Penny” Work
Head of School