After a collective 79 years as educators, Bob and Sally Bullard reflect on the community in which they raised their family and what makes Lake Forest Country Day School so special.
Bob Bullard has been an educator for 44 years, with 41 of them having been at Lake Forest Country Day School (LFCDS). He currently serves as the Assistant Head of School for External and Alumni Relations, Director of Secondary School Placement, eighth grade history teacher, and advisor to nine seventh grade students. In the past, he’s been the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, coach, and the Chair of the History Department. His wife, Sally Bullard, has been with LFCDS for the last 30 years, where she’s served as an Upper School language arts and third grade teacher, and she’s currently the Head of the Lower School (preschool through fourth grade). As important as these two are to the institution, the school has also played a huge role in their lives; their own three children spent their formative years walking these halls before moving on to Lake Forest High School and beyond.
“I’ve always liked the fact that administrators here can teach, and many of them have over the years,” says Bob. “Academics and the teaching of 21st century skills are of prime importance, but the bigger picture is on the whole child. In a nurturing and caring setting, we can support that social, emotional, athletic, artistic growth of each student. Indeed, the mission of our school focuses on inspired teaching, academic rigor, attention to individual needs, a commitment to responsible citizenship, and producing students of strong character with a passion for learning.”
They’ve seen LFCDS change a lot over the years. In the last 12 years alone, the campus has been largely rebuilt, with brand-new classrooms and carpeted hallways filled with framed student artwork leading to a large, cheerful common area in the middle filled with warm natural light and the four House banners.
LFCDS recently adopted a House system to pair Lower School children with Upper School children, grounding the older kids with someone to look out for and the younger ones with someone to look up to. The four Houses are named after founders and important figures of the school, and each House has their own shirt and banner color. It helps foster a sense of community in the kids, a lesson they’re also taught through the school’s commitment to community service and their open lunchroom policy, where parents are free to join and have lunch with their children, and administrators and teachers have lunch tables in the same room. Though community building and communication amongst students from 39 area communities are key areas of focus, finding your individual voice is also a priority, as exemplified in their “This I Believe” statements at the end of eighth grade and their exhilarating public speaking competition.
“When we talk to graduates, they always tell us about the wonderful teachers they’ll never forget, and the skills and confidence they developed through events such as the public speaking contest. Quite often our alums will share with us that the skills they’ve learned through their years at LFCDS have served them so well in their undergraduate and graduate coursework and in their professions,” says Bob. “We get that feedback all the time.”
“When I first came to LFCDS, I found soul mates amongst my colleagues,” Sally says. “They’re truly lifelong learners. The faculty is passionate about what they do—about children and childhood—and they work collaboratively to improve their craft. That’s inspiring! Coming to school has never felt like a job; it’s an avocation. We know empowering students is important work. And I believe that when people feel they’re doing something meaningful, they put their hearts and souls into it.”
That atmosphere of commitment to a common goal wasn’t limited to LFCDS, though. Finding that spirit within the community at large is part of what kept these two Massachusetts natives here to raise their family. “Our friends back East didn’t understand why we’d move to Lake Bluff instead of staying in New England,” says Sally. “But it’s about the people, the children and families we’ve known at LFCDS and our amazing friends. The lake is beautiful, and we were lucky enough to be able to buy a house in Lake Bluff many years ago. To me, this community is a treasure. I love that Lake County is nationally recognized for its dedication to preserving the environment. And I love our bike trails. We live in an area that provides a host of fun and healthy family activities. It doesn’t get better than that.”
The bike trails are great, but perhaps our community’s most valuable resources are educators like Bob and Sally, who dedicate their lives to giving our children a foundation for success by showing them how to communicate, teaching them to value diversity and different viewpoints, and allowing them to teach others. But most of all, they’ve led by example, displaying the fulfillment derived from a life lived with compassion, fascination, and involvement in the community around you.
— Jake Jarvi