Last week our annual Back to School Night was held on the front green of the Upper School Campus. It was a wonderful opportunity for new parents and new faculty to meet returning community members, share some food, and connect after a restful summer. Chris Suraci, the Board Chair, delivered the opening remarks. Below is the contents of his speech:


“On behalf of the Riverbend Board of Directors, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the “back to school night”. I stand in front of you as board chair but would like to start off by introducing my fellow board members. Sarah Spence Adams (Vice Chair), James McElligott (Treasurer), John Rowe (Clerk), Emeka Iffih, Morgen Peck, Eric Pritchett, Shana Salzano, Karin Woessner and Dave Young. I’ve been coming to “back to school” at Riverbend for 6 years now, my oldest graduated from 8th grade last year and my youngest just started Upper Elementary this year. This is one of my favorite nights because we have ALL​ ​the parents and teachers together, from toddlers to eighth graders.


Some of us are here because we researched the long-term benefits of a Montessori education. Some of us are here because a friend or neighbor pointed us in this direction, and we thought it was cute watching toddlers washing tables, hoping that it would translate to some help around the house. Others are here because they want to TEACH in an environment where EACH student is valued as a learner on her own path. ALL of us are here because we see children smiling and working together, and we love this reminder of the importance of lifelong curiosity and teamwork.


No matter how we each ended up at Riverbend, we are all here together tonight, so welcome! As the weeks, months, and years go by, Riverbend families learn what makes Montessori special, and in particular, what makes Riverbend special. At the very top of this list lies our phenomenal teachers and administrative staff.


Our teachers at every level in every classroom are working, loving, and laughing with our children every day. These dedicated teachers are specially trained to discover the best way to engage each child, whether it is encouraging a toddler to discover a new material, helping a new reader work through the Bob Books, strategizing with a new upper elementary student who is making new friends, or helping an eighth grader polish his graduation speech which is sure to bring the room to tears – our unsurpassed teachers guide our students to develop academically, socially, and emotionally.


Our phenomenal administrative staff not only makes our school work seamlessly on the average day, but they have banded together this year, at a time of change, to welcome in the new academic year with the grandest success. While at the back to school picnic, looking over at the Children’s House, the new Tavern construction project, and our new building next door at 39 Eliot, it was impossible not to be overcome with excitement for this year and gratitude for the dedicated staff who make it all happen. The three senior administrators, Donna, Michele, and Lynn have stepped up in a big way this fall. Thank you, to each and every inspiring teacher and each and every invaluable staff member.


The Board of Directors is primarily responsible for the strategic planning and long-term financial stability of Riverbend. Sometimes, this involves “exciting to some” things like refinancing to save the school money. Sometimes, this involves “exciting to all” things like breaking ground on new buildings so that ALL children can have purpose-built spaces to inspire their projects and dreams.


But through all of these daily duties, the Board recognizes that the most important thing we can do to ensure the long-term success of our school is to be a positive contributor to building a strong community. It is for this reason that the Board spent time this summer planning a new strategic committee centered on community outreach. When we heard that the teachers and staff chose UNITY as this year’s theme, it was as if all of the pieces of the puzzle were coming together – a serendipitous sign that this year is going to be a year of true unity. There is nothing that cannot be done when we have the teachers, staff, Parents’ Association, and the Board working together to accomplish great things.


Please keep your eye out for coffees and other events hosted by the new Liaison Committee, as well as joint events with other Riverbend groups. By working together, like the strength of braided yarn that is stronger than the sum of its parts, Riverbend will weather any storm, climb over every rainbow that the Children’s House children paint, and ensure that Riverbend is led into the rosiest future that we, and more importantly that our children,​ can imagine.


Parents, this is your school. This is where YOU’LL meet lifelong friends while your kids do the same. Get involved in any way you can. Through the Parents’ Association, learn about joining a board committee or ask a teacher what you can do to support his or her work. Teachers tirelessly love, challenge, and support our children. With that being said, We are fortunate to have a Parents Association that has worked extremely hard to roll out a wide array of ways that parents can get involved to directly support the teachers and students. I’m happy to introduce you to this year’s PA President, she is behind these amazing new volunteer opportunities, a parent of two children here at Riverbend, and a tireless volunteer working towards an even more amazing Riverbend School. Please welcome Elissa McGinty.”


-Chris Suraci, Board Chair


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