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Glen Shilling: A Legacy of Learning

December 11, 2019

Detroit Country Day School honors Headmaster Glen Shilling and highlights the VIVID campaign, a $33 million fundraising initiative designed to transform DCDS’s educational experience. 

Sponsored by Detroit Country Day

Outgoing DCDS Headmaster Glen Shilling began his tenure with the school in 1978 as an Upper School history teacher and coach. Over the next four-plus decades, he would go on to serve in a number of different roles, among them educator, coach, mentor and leader. He went on to become the Upper School Director in 1982 and Assistant Headmaster in 1989. In 2007, when Shilling took over as administrator for his predecessor, Gerald Hansen, his visionary leadership helped take DCDS in exciting new directions.

Shilling’s time as headmaster (he’s the fifth headmaster in the school’s 105-year history) has been characterized by institutional progress and defining accomplishments designed to position DCDS for sustained success for many years to come.

Shilling’s remarkable story began with an equally remarkable role model. When Shilling first came to DCDS, school founder and Headmaster Emeritus F. Alden Shaw was commuting twice a week from Ann Arbor to teach a class on Emerson and Thoreau. What made such an impression on Shilling was not just the fact that Shaw was making this commute at the age of 93, but that Shilling himself had a connection to Emerson. During his time at Harvard, Shilling had lived immediately adjacent to the space formerly occupied by Emerson himself. The coincidence felt like a good omen, and the inspiring example being set by the venerable former Headmaster helped close the deal. To Shilling, DCDS felt like a place where he belonged, and a place where he could make a lasting difference in the lives of students.

It is a testament to his talents, his commitment, and his dedication that he has done exactly that. Under his guidance, DCDS has emerged as one of the signature educational institutions not just in the state of Michigan, but in the nation.

Courtesy of Detroit Country Day
Courtesy of Detroit Country Day

One of the clear highlights of Shilling’s tenure as Headmaster is the VIVID campaign, an ambitious $33 million fundraising initiative designed to transform DCDS’s educational experience for current and future generations. VIVID has raised funds for a $14 million middle school renovation and expansion, which was completed in Fall 2018, and an $18 million lower school transformation that created a single campus for Pre-K through the fourth grade. Both cutting-edge facilities now feature state-of-the-art instructional spaces that have been reimagined and redesigned in ways that are fully aligned with modern-day learning techniques.

Bold design elements, high-end amenities and inviting spaces allow DCDS educators to engage and inspire students from pre-school through graduation in ways that are vibrant, dynamic and cohesive — complete with collaborative, social and self-directed learning opportunities. VIVID campaign funding has also facilitated the addition of new teaching tools and technologies, upgraded security infrastructure, and a significant expansion of fine arts, physical education and STEAM activities.

It’s an extraordinary leap forward that not only “builds upon our history,” but also “sets up an extraordinary framework for future generations of students.” While Shilling is quick to praise the DCDS Board of Trustees for what he has characterized as the “courage and commitment” to execute a bold, transformative vision for the school, it is abundantly clear that he himself deserves no small degree of credit for putting a capstone on an impressive career as an educator by leaving the institution he loves primed for long-term success.

Shilling is invested in that success in a very personal way. He not only has a son who graduated in 1992, a daughter who graduated in 1996 and a son-in-law who is also a DCDS alumnus, but he also has seven grandchildren currently attending DCDS. That’s why it’s easy to take him seriously when he says that despite the extraordinary resources and world-class facilities, what truly makes DCDS exceptional are the enduring relationships that connect teachers with students and families and strengthen the bonds of an alumni network that stretches around the world. Shilling has had the privilege of seeing the children of his former students walk through the DCDS doors as students themselves, a living testament to a lasting legacy of learning.

To Glen Shilling, it confirms his earliest instincts about this place. To him, and to so many others, DCDS is home. Shilling has worked hard to make that a reality for countless students over the years, and he has not only made a difference in their educations, but in their lives. And as he will be the first to tell you, they, in turn, have made an equally profound difference in his.

If you’d like to learn more about DCDS or attend our Open House on January 28, 2020, please visit www.dcds.edu/openhouse.

Detroit Country Day School

22305 W 13 Mile Rd, Beverly Hills

(248) 646-7717

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