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UCDS Jeffersonian Dinner 3.0: The End is the Beginning and Lies Far Ahead


by Elise Ricci, Development Director

This coming Thursday, UCDS is hosting our third Jeffersonian-inspired Dinner. The goal of the dinner is to connect with innovators of different backgrounds and to discuss how leaders recognize and utilize the talents of those around them to elevate their communities.

The Jeffersonian Dinner conversation is always focused around a centralized topic. Past event topics were Think Like a Kid and Be BRAVE: Stir the Pot! Our theme this year is The Intentional Table: Setting a Place for Leadership!

One of the guests attending this year’s dinner is my sister-in-law, Giselle Furlonge, who lives in Delaware. She currently works at St. Andrew’s School, an independent, co-ed boarding school (fun fact: St. Andrew’s School served as the set for the film Dead Poets Society). Giselle is their Associate Dean of Faculty, Dean of Diversity Education, and the Chair of their Classical Languages Department.

Hosting events like our Jeffersonian Dinner builds connections to educators from around the country and deepens our conversations and work inside classrooms.

UCDS Jeffersonian Dinner 3.0: The End is the Beginning and Lies Far Ahead

Giselle sent me this text when she met Patrick, Joey and Cemal at the POCC in Nashville!

Just today, I spoke with UCDS 1-2 teacher Joey Liekweg; he happened to meet Giselle at the People Of Color Conference in Nashville earlier this year. Joey says, “Giselle was actually the first person I met at the conference! I’m always excited for any opportunity to connect and build a relationship with a new person or community. People have so much to offer, and every authentic connection you make allows you to learn something new and think about familiar ideas or topics in completely new ways. I think that’s part of the power of bringing together people from different backgrounds – it’s an exciting opportunity to see the world from a different perspective and to grow in a way that is unique and lasting.”

Thinking about Giselle’s upcoming visit to UCDS, I once again watched her 2018 Convocation address at St. Andrew’s last week. Her opening remarks resonate with me:

The end is the beginning and lies far ahead” This phrase [from Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison] has driven me bonkers for years…the end, whatever that means, can be the end of a story, a relationship and sentence…is intimately connected to the beginning of something else…there is a…thinness in the boundaries between where or how we finish one thing, and where or how we begin another.”        

It reminded me of how UCDS is a place where new beginnings take root, and we have much to celebrate as a community. Even as we head towards the end of another school year, the beginning of the next is already in mind as we brainstorm the new year’s theme and the possibilities of new curriculum for our students. Just this year, we are creating new beginnings for our students and for ourselves by launching our graduate program. We embark on these new beginnings often not knowing exactly where they will lead. The magic is that we are open to testing and trying new ideas, which mark the end some things, and launch us into a future full of possibilities.

For Giselle, her new beginning will bring her right here to Seattle, starting this summer as the Head of Upper School at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences. I’m very excited to have Giselle and her family join our Seattle Community!

The end is the beginning and lies far ahead.

Anyone’s path can lead them down the street, across the country, or around the world. Their beginnings and endings help shape their decisions. On Thursday, UCDS educators and administrators will begin a new conversation, around a new topic, with a group of thought leaders who are all passionate about making a difference in education and in the world.

The very best leaders nurture our personal development and provide bridges to connect us to our next beginning. That’s what the Jeffersonian dinner aims to do: to help UCDS build connections with leaders who will surely inspire us as we take our next steps. And, in turn, dinner guests will hopefully leave feeling excited to blaze their own new trails in educational leadership.


Curious about who our visiting Jeffersonian Dinner guests will be? See below!

  1. Tim Fish: Chief Innovation Officer at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
  2. Giselle Furlonge: Associate Dean of Faculty, Dean of Diversity Education, Chair, Classical Languages Department at St. Andrews School
  3. Jon Snyder: Executive Director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE)
  4. Jennifer Voorhees: Director, Lower School Academic Tech & Lower School Academic Dean at Sidwell Friends School
  5. Susan Etheredge: Dean of the College and Vice President for Campus Life & Professor of, Education and Child Study at Smith College
  6. Kawai Lai: Designer, Facilitator, and Strategic Partner
  7. Jefferson Burnett: Senior Vice President, Education Innovation at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)