Although the new school year begins in September, Akshay Patel ‘86, P ‘23, ‘25 officially took over as Chair of the Brookwood School Board of Trustees on July 1 and got right to work! Akshay recently shared some reflections as an alumnus and parent as well as his new role as Chair of the Board.
Q. As a Brookwood alumnus and current parent, how do you think Brookwood has evolved over the years? What is the same?
What's evolved? Although the general look of Brookwood with the willowed pond and farmhouse heritage continues to create a comforting home away from home feel like it always has, the facilities and internal spaces today have been much more thoughtfully designed to support programs that promote the creative innovation and collaborative problem-solving skills that our children need to be successful in todays interconnected world.
What's the same? The positive "vibe" that you just can't help but feel when you walk the halls is definitely still there for me. It's hard to put my finger on it, but I'm convinced that it stems from the truly unique ways our amazing faculty interact with our children and the genuine concern for their educational and personal well-being. This has been at the heart of Brookwood from day one and is what truly makes Brookwood...Brookwood. The kids are still smiling with a bounce in their step and an ambitious glimmer in their eyes, except during the occasional (or not-so-occasional) episode of adolescent drama! Oh, and another thing that is still the same is that the locker rooms can have a bit of a "scent" from time to time...or perhaps all of the time just like they did back when I was there...but that builds character ;-)
Q. Time at Brookwood seems to move so quickly. What would you like to share with your children about cherishing their time here?
I would tell (and do tell) Kayuri and Aashika that they are so fortunate to have access to the Brookwood experience. Dive in headfirst and take full advantage of all the opportunities the school presents. Never take it for granted. Also always remember that smiles are contagious and your positive experiences are firmly linked to the experiences you share and enable for all of your classmates and everyone else you interact with at Brookwood.
Q. What would you say are the opportunities for Brookwood in the coming year? How are these challenges shaping the conversation in the Board room and the goals of the Board going forward?There is a very challenging enrollment and economic environment facing independent schools across the country and especially in the North Shore (Brookwood included). As such, it is critical for us to be creative about how we think about mission-appropriate alternative revenue streams and ensuring that dollars are being invested in high impact areas that continue to improve our educational program while carefully scrutinizing costs allocated to lower impact areas. We must look at everything with fresh eyes. I am energized by these challenges because we have an awesome board (with several new additions) and we are fired up and ready to roll up our sleeves as needed. We are thinking a lot about how we can create better mechanisms for drawing upon pockets of expertise and creative thinking that exist throughout our Brookwood community (faculty, parents, alum, and even our students) as well as drawing inspiration from successes at other schools and other industries. Of course, all the ideation in the world is pointless if we can't find ways to turn these into actionable pursuits, so it is very important to strike the right balance between planning and execution. I can assure you that this board is very cognizant of this fact. As such, we feel it will be best to index more towards the way Elvis Presley put it: "A little less conversation, a little more action please!" We really are excited about this year. Stay tuned...