The school has now been in existence for over forty years. Founded in 1976 by a group of pioneers who shared a vision of a civilization based in reason, it now stands on the strength of several generations and decades of hard work.
Last year I attempted to acknowledge the founding staff for their many contributions. While I won’t ask them to come up to the podium again, I do want to say a bit more about what they contributed.
Last week I noticed something that I should have appreciated a long time ago: specifically, that their legacy passes to us not primarily in the form of property or money; rather, in the strength of their idea that this school could, through the generations, contribute to a civilization based in reason.
Obviously their vision will not be accomplished by a single generation. I came to newly appreciate this truth when I noted that a significant part of the founding staff’s legacy is a second generation carrying their work into the future.
I won’t go through all of the names because we’d be here all afternoon, but between our second-generation staff and alumni who have returned to take up the Delphian banner, we’re starting to see today what I like to call a new generation of founding staff—over one hundred in total.
I don’t point this out to distinguish this new generation so much as to ask for your help in acknowledging, once again, the early staff and faculty of the school for their many contributions to the strong culture we enjoy today.
Delphian is a big family in many ways, but it is not only staff members who contribute to carrying the school forward through the generations. You all do.
In honor of the founding staff in particular, and in support of the educational goals of everyone who supports Delphian’s mission, I’m pleased to tell you about the newly established Founders Endowment Fund. Parents David and Joanne Gentile’s generous donations this year allowed us to establish this endowment. Their contribution will not only provide greater security for the school today but also a higher quality of education for future generations of Delphian students.
I spent quite a lot of time this year looking at the business model of independent schools, seeking ways to increase the school’s ability to offer increasingly wonderful educational opportunities to its students. The more I looked, the more I saw the importance of the continued growth of a school’s endowment.
Delphian is doing better than ever, but endowments aren’t only about augmenting today’s offerings; they’re about making tomorrow’s dreams into realities.
I first started looking into endowments because I was interested in a business model that would allow a school to deliver an education that lives up to its perceived value. I started with the idea that perceived value would simply be: Full Tuition x Enrolled Students = Perceived Value
But I quickly discovered this equation isn’t true. Private schools almost universally strive to deliver more value than tuition alone can provide. Likewise, both parents and students increasingly expect more value from an education than what can be funded by tuition.
Virtually every school in the country discounts tuition for a significant number of their students. The National Association of Independent Schools reports that sixty percent of students are receiving discounted tuition of some kind.
This brings about an interesting problem: the business model itself creates a deficit in financial resources available to deliver what has been promised. How is it, then, that the demand for educational services under this model continues to rise? The simplest answer is endowments.
When looking at a potential school, students and parents don’t alter their expectations of delivery based on the school’s endowment. They look at the opportunities the school provides its students and the richness of the educational experience itself.
The truth is that we are doing more with each dollar of tuition than any other school I could find. We’re accomplishing things through education that many of you have described as magical. You see these accomplishments in your children: knowledge, confidence, leadership, integrity, ethics, honor, care, compassion, backbone, and certainty––to name a few.
Building on our strengths, what could we accomplish with additional resources? What are we already doing well that we could be doing even better?
The answers to those questions are what I dream about at night. I hope you will dream about them, too.