Dear Saturday Academy Community,
I am writing to tell you that I am retiring, to thank you for over eight years in the most fun and rewarding job as Executive Director that can be imagined, and to ask you to help Saturday Academy find a fabulous new leader. I will remain on the job until a new leader is in place. Our search firm, Page Two Partners welcomes queries: SAsearch@pagetwopartners.com. See the job announcement here.
I came to this position after many years as a neuroscientist and professor. My research program focused on the brain basis of learning and memory. I knew that learning shaped the brain throughout life but only when I joined Saturday Academy did I understand just how important the opportunity to learn is for curious children. The neuroscience literature shows that curiosity motivates learning and builds permanent memories. What our Saturday Academy students showed me is that kids need an infinite horizon. They revel in the need to know, that there’s more to discover, that learning won’t end, particularly if they have a passionate adult as a guide and mentor. The comments we get from students and parents suggest we succeed. These have been a highlight of my time here:
“I got to learn about super interesting topics that I've always had questions about... in a kind, accepting and open environment that embraced curiosity and fed off of it. That's what I feel like science is at its core.”
“There were a whole bunch of activities that really helped me think about what I wanted to do in the future. It also gave insight on jobs I didn't even knew existed.”
“My 9-year-old not only came home with several creations, he also announced he wants to major in physics in college.”
And there are so many more.
In addition, to witnessing the joy of learning on children’s faces, I have had the joy of meeting the most amazing people in our community, all who care deeply about education. These are our incredibly talented instructors, devoted mentors, parents, foundation officers, and corporate and city leaders. The many times have I sat down to get advice, or ask a favor but always, always got much more from every single conversation.
So now it’s time for new leadership that I hope will bring new ideas and programs to the organization. We, the board and staff, have carefully planned this succession. We have a new strategic plan and financial stability that will carry the organization through many more years. During my tenure, we completely revised our technology infrastructure, brought new expertise to Saturday Academy through the Encore.org program, established a financial reserve to guarantee stability, and made an even deeper commitment to diversity and inclusion so that all children have the opportunity to be inspired. We have remarkably strong program directors and staff who will be a huge asset as a new director get his or her bearings. Finally, we have a very strong and engaged board to help guide the new director.
I didn’t accomplish all that I hoped for Saturday Academy and the children of Oregon and SW Washington. But we did accomplish a lot! I say ‘we” because there is nothing a director can do without the support of the staff, board, and the community.
Thank you so much for enriching my life of learning.
- Jeri Janowsky, Ph.D.