School leaders not only shape the educational landscape at area schools, they set the tone for school culture as well. In our new interview series, we’re introducing you to educational leaders at our partner institutions. In the third installment of this series, meet Caroline Blatti, head of school at Roland Park County School.
caroline blatti, roland park country school
This is your first year at Roland Park Country School, so tell us a little about your life before becoming head of school at RPCS. What drew you to the institution?
From my earliest impressions of Roland Park Country School, it was apparent that our students’ love of learning is a direct result of our dedicated faculty creating an environment that is dynamic and individualized. At every step in a child’s development there are tremendous opportunities to learn and lead in a supportive environment. From the Preschool to the Upper School, every teacher pays close attention to the learning processes of each and every child. RPCS students are socially and emotionally connected in their journey through an exceptional curriculum that involves hands-on problem-solving and inquiry based learning.
Another thing that impressed me about RPCS is its unique design. There are countless moments each day when our students of all ages are—quite literally—experiencing life under one roof. This means that our youngest and oldest students cross paths. These moments of proximity lead to wonderful opportunities for direct and indirect mentoring. Our youngest students are inspired by the accomplishments of our older student leaders, and our older students take great care in being role models for younger students.
What is the most challenging thing about your job? The most rewarding?
One of the most challenging things about my job is that I want to be in all places at all times for events, the girls, teachers, parents, alumnae, employees, etc! Given that there are only so many hours in a day or week, I am always thoughtfully considering a balanced approach to seeing all aspects of school life at RPCS. I suppose though that caring so much about a place- and wanting to connect to every member of our community– is also a reflection of how much RPCS means to me. The most rewarding aspect of my job is when I feel I am able to make impact on an individual level. At the same time, I am continuously thinking about the larger goals of our community and the steps forward we need to take. A great day is one where I feel connected to many parts of our community, at all different levels. Examples include dropping in to read to girls in a first-grade classroom, shadowing an Upper School student and being able to partake in challenging classroom debate, brainstorming with my administrative team on new initiatives that will position our students for success, hearing directly from parents and alumnae, and considering strategic board level considerations as we make decisions that will position us for a successful future.
What three words best describe RPCS?
Voice. Passion. Purpose.
Roland Park Country School is a place that empowers students to find and use their voices in any number of important ways. In classes, on the playground, in opportunities for internships, STEM fellowships, athletic and artistic opportunities—our students feel empowered to confidently articulate—and step towards— their dreams. Passionate about their academic learning, our students thrive in classroom environments where master teachers deliver lessons that ignite student learning and result in transformative educational experiences. Anchored in a commitment to find ways to impact the greater good in the world, our students are purposeful leaders who ask questions and take action based on a strong desire to make a difference in local, national and global communities. When I meet with alumnae I am always so impressed with how these three learning themes have shaped generations of women who have graduated from RPCS. I see our current students living out a commitment to these three guiding ideas, and I also see the results of their hard work expressed through the profound work that our alumnae community members are doing in the world of today –and tomorrow.
Take us through a typical ‘day in the life’ (if there is such a thing!).
I have to say – no two days are really the same as a Head of School. But, there are some common moments and themes that bind the days and weeks together. First and foremost most mornings I go for an early morning run. The day then speeds up as my husband and I get Sullivan (our son) ready for school and off to the PS3 program at RPCS. The day is then marked by meetings about daily and weekly considerations as well as long term strategy. I like to attend daily divisional assemblies and pop into classrooms when my schedule allows. I take any opportunity I can to be around students. I meet with teachers, see classes, conference with board members, work with my administrative team. I often pick up Sullivan from school and head to a game or event on campus in the evenings. The days are full, but the work is so meaningful that the time flies by.
How would you describe your leadership style? How do you inspire your staff? Your students?
My leadership style is one that is driven by maximizing the potential of all others. I work to inspire and motivate others to recognize and develop their own leadership skills. Highly functioning teams and communities have a leader who is a motivator and maximizer – someone who catalyzes. A good leader sees potential in all individuals and strives to harness that energy to affect change for the betterment of that particular person as well as their organization as a whole. I want to inspire my staff by recognizing greatness in them.
Personally, I am inspired by leaders who model empathy and I strive, every day, to do the same. I work to always listen to every voice carefully, which is incredibly important in a role where you need to understand the needs of many individuals and sometimes make difficult and/or strategic decisions.
Speaking of leadership, tell us about the Leadership Program you are beginning to putting into place this spring for students and that will develop over time in the 17-18 school year and beyond?
This is a very exciting stage in the evolution of programming for students at RPCS. I am working with a team of administrators and faculty on some exciting new initiatives in three key areas: leadership, design and innovation, and entrepreneurship. These three learning domains will house new ideas and program elements that will range from a formalized internship program to a female leadership speaker and seminar series for our girls as well as a wide range of diverse programming that will cultivate the leadership potential for each and every student at RPCS.
New school, new city! What has been your favorite ‘find’ in Baltimore?
There are too many to mention! I have had such a great time exploring my way through my new neighborhood (Roland Park) on my morning runs (training for the annual RPCS Red Hot Run April 23!). It is such a beautiful and historic neighborhood. Stephan (my husband) and I have also been discovering different neighborhoods in and around Baltimore! We love Hampden; we saw the 34th street lights during the holidays. There are lots of great local restaurants! We recently discovered R. House in Remington which was fun and delicious (and very kid friendly!). We love the Baltimore Museum of Art (we are new members!) and are excited to visit other local museums. Baltimore is so lucky to have all types of gems for kids – Sullivan has loved the National Aquarium, The Maryland Zoo, Science Center, and Irvine Nature Center. It has been so much fun making Baltimore our new home.
What is one book you hope all students would read? Why?
This is such a tough question! As a former English teacher there are so many novels and poems that I love and have enjoyed sharing with students. However, if I had a chance to choose just one book that I hope all students read it is The Giver by Lois Lowry. The main protagonist is 12 years old, which is an age when many students are also starting to grapple with some of the larger, more complex issues of the world. As a novel that explores a seemingly utopian society that is eventually revealed to be dystopian (a society predicated on “sameness”) the book teaches children so many important lessons about following your own instincts, using your talents and gifts for the greater good, practicing empathy, and above all else listening to the ethical and moral questions that start to emerge as a child embarks farther along in his/her journey through life. It is a story that is personal and poetic, profound and simple all at once. Students are often surprised by how much they simultaneously think and feel throughout the course of the book. It challenges you emotionally and intellectually, and I love when students really connect with books on a personal level, as well as engage with the analysis of themes and imagery.
Five years from now, what does education look like at RPCS?
Even though we are constantly looking ahead to the future, it’s hard to predict what education at RPCS will look like in five years because teaching and learning evolves rapidly. Many jobs that will exist in five or ten years don’t even exist today. What we do know is that we are committed to constantly growing and evolving to ensure our programming is relevant and dynamic. An RPCS education will always ensure that our students develop fundamental skills that are forward-thinking (including critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability/agility, intrinsic motivation, resiliency, collaboration, curiosity, and empathy). Today, and in five years, we will remain steadfast in our mission that an RPCS education represents preparedness for the future (whatever that may look like) and a responsibility to lead.
Admissions acceptance day is today! One thing you want all incoming students to know?
We are so thrilled to have you join our community and I can’t wait to meet you! RPCS is a truly special place that is committed to ensuring that each child has a chance to explore her passions. We promise you an adventure of a lifetime here at RPCS! You will love your academic experiences, create friendships that last a lifetime, and cultivate life-changing relationships with teachers and mentors. You will feel known, supported and encouraged at every step of the way. Come find your moment here at RPCS!
Interested in learning more about Roland Park Country School? Join them for their Spring Open House on April 26th.