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About the Head of School
Andrew Watson
Ohio State University - B.S.
Yale University - M.S.
Andrew Watson and his family came to the Academy from the Potomac School in McLean, Virginia in 2001. Prior to their ten years in the D.C. area, the Watsons taught and lived at the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs. A native of Ohio, Andy studied at Ohio State University and Yale University before beginning his teaching career at a public school in Dayton, Ohio. His interests include his family, reading, music, and outdoor activities. He and his wife Carol have three daughters, Madeleine '08, Elizabeth '10, and Corinne '10. Along with his Academy work, Andy shares and learns through professional outreach. Over time, this work includes chairing the Harvard Principals' Center National Advisory Board, teaching at the National Association of Independent School's (NAIS) Institute for New School Heads, serving on boards and advisory boards for the New Mexico Community Foundation and its Elev8 initiative, the United Way’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Albuquerque's Tricklock Theatre Company, and New York-based Educational Records Bureau (ERB). In addition, he has chaired Independent School Association of the Southwest evaluation teams for Kinkaid School (Houston, TX), St. Mark’s School (Dallas, TX), and Colegios Peterson (Mexico City).
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Head of School's Blog
Resolutions for the New Year
Happy New Year, Academy Community! May a healthy percentage of your (our) resolutions work out well!

Fighting a nagging cold/flu/something over the break, I've had more than the usual amount of time to read and think about things in life and at the school (along with more time than usual watching football and Netflix). Though I resembled a tree stump at times while sitting on the couch, and while I am annoyed at the fact that I wasn't able to be very physically active, I'm actually grateful for the enforced slowing of time and activity, and the possibility for reflection. One thread of this reflection, of course, was about the Academy and our institutional resolutions.

What should be our resolutions as a school for 2014? It starts, of course, with the idealism of our mission. It is remarkable, this school we've built over 59 years here in Albuquerque. We are as highly regarded as any independent school in the country, while burning with such a sense of public purpose and a deep desire to make a difference for Albuquerque and New Mexico. As our region goes through tough times, both financially and educationally, our mission becomes more difficult, but the urgency we feel climbs as well. This urgency isn't just about the region, either, for if the wonderful children of New Mexico are given a chance to learn at a national level, and then lead at the national level, our country will be a better place. The specifics of achieving our mission come down to maintaining the excellence of our program and the soundness of our financial model. In doing so, we must also hold ourselves accountable to the school of the future, preserving the resources needed to carry on forever.

When it comes to the excellence of our program, we are walking a path that connects the past and future. We need to blend the best of the independent school tradition (high standards; engagement with the biggest ideas and thinkers from throughout the spectrum of history and span of the globe; the highest skills in all forms of expression; character and non-cognitive factors of success; incredible breadth of program; deeply personalized educational environments…) with the skills needed to succeed in the future. If we are successful, our graduates will take a confident can-do attitude into the future as courageous life-long learners. They will be adaptable in the face of whatever may come. We have built the student, family, faculty, staff, and alumni community necessary to be successful, but we all will have to be adaptable as we wisely preserve the best of the past and create the best of the future.

Financially, we need to wean our budget away from deep dependency on endowment spending towards other revenue sources, particularly the philanthropy of our community members. This will take time. Understanding this, some of the financial goals set by the board of trustees at a recent meeting have ten-year time frames in which to be achieved. As we shift away from endowment spending, we also recognize the economic challenges of our region, so while our tuition will continue to go up, we will try to maintain the trend of raising it by a smaller percentage increment each year (absent any inflation shocks in the economy down the road). We need to support excellence through all of our budgetary decisions and we need the revenue to do so, for what use, or future success, would there be in being anything less than excellent?

Urgency surrounds these educational and financial matters, and importance. It is difficult for most folks to see an equal urgency about the situation that will be in place in twenty, fifty, or one hundred years (witness the communication and action challenges faced by those with concerns about our country's budget deficit or the environment, for example). But we do need to think about Albuquerque, Albuquerque Academy, and the world of the future as we act today. We are, indeed, doing the right thing by our current students as we prepare them for the future, but we have to ensure that we can do so, just as well, for their successors. This is where we call upon our community members, particularly our alumni, to play a role in supporting future students, and the future of Albuquerque, through their philanthropic and community support. Our students today will be successful in the future. And some of them are already making contributions to our annual fund, out of gratitude and a love of school. As they join generations of their peers in the workplace and in our successful and expanding alumni community, they ultimately will hold the future of the school in their hands.

There is one sad fact in the background as we carry on: given the financial and educational struggles of Albuquerque these days, and the general educational struggles of our country, it might actually be easier to outperform the norm going forward. But let's face it: we can't be complacent with this outperformance, for the challenges ahead for the world demand more than bettering an unimpressive norm. So let's also resolve to be part of the conversation that will lift all boats in the educational culture around us. Things work well at the Academy; how can we find ways to share this success more broadly, without sounding as though we have all of the answers (which we don't) and appearing arrogant? Why shouldn't the proven models of independent education inform more of the educational debate in our country, especially given the fact that many of the top policy makers around the country, with their own children in independent schools, can bear witness to the success of these models. Evidence of this also resides in the incredible overrepresentation of independent school students in selective colleges; these students are vital in making the rigor of top colleges even possible.

Amidst all of these bigger ideas of the new year, let's also resolve not to lose track of the very smallest moments in our work as educators and parents. The quiet moments of a teacher preparing a class, artistically creating questions and challenges that, while not having easy or quick answers, are ones that our students can master through their efforts. The watchful eye we all employ that causes us to ask "Do you need help?" or "Are you ok?" or state "Great job — I really enjoyed seeing your efforts in that concert, art show, game, etc." The smile we share back when a student says thanks, the message being, "We are in this together, in success and struggle."

All said, let's simply resolve to be the best we can be in 2014. Thanks in advance to everyone in the community for helping us as we strive for the highest ideals of our mission in service to our students, our community, and our country.

I invite you to e-mail me with questions or reactions to these comments or to previous blog posts, or with your thoughts about any of Albuquerque Academy's efforts. Thank you!

6400 Wyoming Blvd NE Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109-3899 ph: 505-828-3200