The College School

Good afternoon–my name is Dr. Phil Piercy and I am Interim Director at The College School.  I am finishing my first year at the school—while many things remain the same from at a school from year to year, every year has its own “feel.”  As I was contemplating a theme for today’s event, I was struck by the notion of how unique each person is at TCS while at the same time it is a strong, unified community.  “We Are” many things: active, fun, loud at times, inquisitive, flexible, resilient, athletic, artistic, joyous, spontaneous, courageous, creative and more.  It is the combination of our unique character traits that makes each of us who “We Are “ as individuals and as one TCS community.


  • Actor Howie Mandel
  • TV Personality/Home Improvement Guru Ty Pennington
  • Gymnast Simone Biles
  • Political Commentator James Carville
  • Actor Woody Harrelson
  • Entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates

What do they all have in common?  ADHD.

  • Scientist Albert Einstein
  • Director/Producer Steven Spielberg
  • Artist Pablo Picasso
  • TV Personality Jay Leno
  • Entrepreneur Steve Jobs
  • Legendary singer John Lennon

What do they all have in common?  Dyslexia.

Those sure sound like “Who’s Who” lists from every industry.  People with dyslexia, ADHD, or any type of language-based learning difference can and have succeeded in every area of life.  As you heard, they are actors, athletes, entrepreneurs, scientists, authors, artists, politicians, and much more.  For them, like anyone with a learning difference, different is not less—in fact, it can often be more.  These successful people, all their lives, have had to overcome obstacles, find alternate ways to succeed, and problem-solve.  Most of them will tell you that it was their learning differences, the many struggles they experienced, and hurdling those obstacles which helped to shape them into the successful people that we know today.

Henry Winkler, actor, producer, author, the “Fonz” on Happy Days, is dyslexic—he didn’t read by himself until he was 31 years old.  Today he does a lot to raise awareness about dyslexia.  He has authored a series of books entitled Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever—it’s about a young boy who is dyslexic and it is based on Winkler’s childhood experiences with dyslexia.  I wanted to share a couple quotes with you from interviews with Henry Winkler that I believe sum up why we do what we do at The College School.  In one interview Winkler said:

“This is what I know:  A learning challenge doesn’t have to stop you.  Every child who writes me a letter about Hank Zipzer, I write back.  In every letter I include, ‘your learning challenge will not stop you from meeting your dream. ’

“When I sign autographs for children I write: ‘You have greatness within you.’  When I speak to them, I say: ‘It’s your job to figure out what your gift is, to dig down deep inside yourself, get it, and give it to the world.”

At The College School we have extremely talented students—inside and outside of the classroom.  It is evident to me at during classroom visits, awards ceremonies like this one, Field Day, the field trip to Cherry Crest Adventure Farms, walks to the UD Creamery or Main Street Movies, and more.  I never cease to be impressed by the what our students do and who they are.  When students understand themselves as learners and they are given the opportunity to reach their potential—there is no limit to what they can accomplish.

All of this success is no accident.  It takes hard work and dedication by our students.  It also takes caring, compassionate, and creative educators, like those with us today, to unlock the students’ potential which gives them the confidence to take risks and ultimately, reach their goals.  The teachers at TCS have a profound way of reaching students that is second to none.

I also need to take a moment to thank you, our parents, guardians, and all family members who are so instrumental in the development of these young people.  The values and attitudes that we see when students come to us and that we do our best to develop, started long before they ever arrived at TCS.  As their first and most important role models, it is the lessons they learned from you on a daily basis that began to mold their character.  As a school, we hope to build on the strong foundation you have laid for your sons and daughters.  Together we can help them discover themselves and achieve their goals in life.

Students, whether you are returning to TCS next year or transitioning, I would like to wish each of you a wonderful summer and good luck in all that you do.  It is truly an honor and privilege to be Director at TCS.  Once again thank you all for coming this afternoon to celebrate the students of The College School.

I’ll leave you with two quotes—from famous American author Maya Angelou:

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

“If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.”  So, go, be yourself and let your spirit carry you on to even greater accomplishments and keep inspiring others.

Thank you for joining us today for our Closing Ceremonies!