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A message from Head of School Jeff Bell
Office of Communications

July 1, 2020

Dear Gibbons Family,

Headshot of Jeff Bell

I am honored and blessed to reach out to you today as an official member of the Gibbons community. To say that I have been eagerly awaiting my start day as Head of School of this incredible institution and the opportunity to reach out to you would be an understatement.

In fact, my family and I moved to Raleigh in late April after the schools in the greater Chicago metropolitan area closed their doors for the year, and we have been overwhelmed by the warm welcome we have received by all. Additionally, this "bonus" time allowed me to spend my days getting familiar with Gibbons and many of the people who make it such a special place. It may be my first day, but I'm ready to hit the ground running!

I look forward to every moment we have moving ahead to get to know each other better to develop the rich relationships that the Gibbons community is all about. At this moment, I want to share just a few thoughts, but first, I want to acknowledge and thank Nancy Barkan for her incredible work this past year as Gibbons' Interim Principal. Her vision and efforts have put us on secure footing as we face the upcoming year. Thank you, Mrs. Barkan, for all you have done for Cardinal Gibbons.

During this uncertain time, strong and transparent leadership is essential. We are faced with the challenge of opening our school safely in mid-August while providing an exemplary educational experience to our students. None of this will happen in a vacuum, and I look forward to partnering with you to navigate the year ahead to create a cohesive experience in which students are engaged academically and socially, educators have the tools and training that they need to deliver a first-rate education to our students, and parents feel included in our community and that they are heard and seen. We will accomplish these goals in an environment that prioritizes the health, safety, and mental well-being of all members of our school. 

As you know from our message on June 17, the Board of Directors formed a COVID-19 Task Force in May, and we have been working steadily with a wide range of stakeholders, including current parents, alumni parents, and educators to craft a strategy to return to school safely. We are awaiting guidance from the Governor (who pushed back his announcement about schools reopening late last night) and from the Diocese before we make our plans public. However, we anticipate releasing a comprehensive plan by July 15. 

Additionally, and in light of events across our country and the world, I want you to know that we have been having honest conversations about race with a wide range of constituents and ensuring that Gibbons is a loving and inclusive community. We are in just the beginning stages and there is good work to be done. I will be sending a separate communication in the weeks to come so the whole community is a part of the discussion.

It is my sincere hope to meet as many of you as possible, either in person or virtually. We currently are scheduling times with Class of 2024 students and their parents, and we will be extending opportunities to the rest of the school later this month. In the meantime, I welcome any chance to connect one-on-one with you either by phone, by Zoom, or here on campus. The better we know each other, the more effectively I can serve the Gibbons community. Relationships--with parents, with students, with educators, and with God--are what it's all about. 

Gibbons is a school rooted in faith, service, and leadership and poised to take its next steps as a thriving Catholic school. I will do all that I can to serve its storied past, its vibrant present, and its exciting future. I know that God has sent me here for a reason, and I hope to honor God and the community of Gibbons by the work that we will do together in the months and years ahead. 

Peace,

Jeff Bell
Head of School
Cardinal Gibbons High School

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