Today we chat with Ryan P. Kelly, who this month became head of school at Carrollwood Day School. Kelly is no newcomer to the private coeducational independent school, however, having joined the administrative staff in August 2008 as principal of the high school.
Kelly previously was upper school head at Riverstone International School in Boise, Idaho. He also has extensive experience in the classroom and has taught honors mathematics, honors chemistry and IB chemistry/mathematics. He is a national board-certified teacher of chemistry.
This past year Kelly worked as assistant head of school alongside Mary Kanter, head of school since 1998. Kanter officially retires Sunday, a date she announced last year to allow ample time to find her replacement. Christopher Ryan, formerly of Alexandria, Va., was hired to fill the vacancy created by Kelly's promotion, the school's board of trustees announced last fall.
The school, with its main campus at 1515 W. Bearss Ave., has an enrollment of about 900.
Q: Starting a new school year in a new position, what are your priorities and goals?
Answer: My priority is to ensure CDS (Carrollwood Day School) continues to provide the very best educational experience for students and parents. Preserving the premiere character and IB education that is the foundation of all we do is paramount. One of my biggest goals is to establish CDS athletic facilities on our property, which will enhance the student and parent experience.
Q: Carrollwood Day School draws from a wide geographical area. How do you reach that diverse group of parents of potential students?
Answer: Word of mouth is our No. 1 marketing tool, so it is critical our students and parents are CDS promoters in their own communities. This ties back to the educational experience I mentioned in the previous question because having CDS promoters in our communities enhances our word-of-mouth marketing. We also advertise, visit schools, etc., in our feeder areas; however, word of mouth is how we obtain the vast majority of our families.
Q: Your students are involved in some unique projects, including fifth-graders in Barbie Monty's class, who researched the perils of distracted driving and lobbied for recent legislation making Florida the 41st state to make it illegal to text while driving. Are you amazed by the achievements of such kids?
Answer: Amazed is an understatement of how I feel about our students' achievements. CDS students, and their families, are incredible. Behind every great student achievement are passionate and dedicated teachers that are supporting and encouraging their students. At CDS we are filled with these dedicated educators and I am proud to call them CDS teachers.
Q: Academics, aside for a minute, what about this: Senior Robert Davis became the first CDS football player to get a full scholarship to a Division I school, also setting a record as the all-time leading single-season and career rusher in Hillsborough County history: 5,576 yards in his senior season alone.
Answer: Robert is a tremendous young man and his accomplishments on the field will be hard to match. I am very proud that Robert was part of Patriot Nation. Robert is more than a talented football player, however, and he proved himself in the IB classroom as well. He put his nose to the grindstone in the IB courses he took and still had the time to work out, practice and train for the sports with which he was involved. I know that he'll be successful on the field and in the classroom at Memphis.
Q: We know you hold a degree in chemistry and have taught math and science courses, but what sports did you play and/or were involved with as a youngster and adult?
Answer: I played the big three growing up: football, basketball and baseball. I excelled at basketball and played through high school. In college I fell in love with triathlon and competed on a national level all through graduate school and into adulthood. I was president of the University of Colorado triathlon team and we won three national championships while I was on the team in graduate school. I completed in this up until two years ago and always placed very high in my age group. I still run and do Orange Theory to stay in shape.