Securing our Future

In 2005 Birchwood School of Hawken co-founders Chuck and Helene Debelak, together with members of the Birchwood community, thoughtfully and deliberately started plans for making Birchwood School a permanent institution. In essence, the process required transitioning from a founders-run school – one guided and buoyed by the personality, energy, and commitment of the founders – to a school led by a board of directors and constructed to carry the essential mission into the future beyond the tenure of the founders and the founding teachers.

In the video below, Mr. and Mrs. Debelak discuss Birchwoods history as well as where we are today in our transition. They are extending an invitation to the entire Birchwood Community to join them in securing the Birchwood mission and in bringing this special educational opportunity to more students and their families.

It Begins with an Investment

Securing our Future, with the view of building on the school’s academic excellence, begins with an investment in our programs and our people – our Signature Programs and professional development.
Three main factors drive the school’s academic excellence: 1) the quality of instruction and innovation in each classroom driven by trained subject specialists, 2) robust professional development that guides teachers toward excellence in their field, and 3) our Signature Programs – perhaps one of the best collections of academic opportunities found anywhere in the country. How have we managed and sustained this level of excellence? Volunteerism and “sweat equity.” The price of excellence has been the extraordinary commitment and work of those who started Birchwood and those who have dedicated themselves to excellence at Birchwood.
Historically, our Signature Programs are not only recognized regionally, statewide, and across the nation, but more meaningfully have made a lasting impact on Birchwood graduates. Participation in these programs, develop the skills and habits in children that cause them to become confident, forward-thinking, and enthusiastic learners and professionals who are eager to grow to their full potential. 
Yet we must be realistic. Programming that is based upon volunteerism and sweat equity is not sustainable. Even though it works for the founders and founding teachers, a permanent institution cannot expect to hire and retain high quality educators with these expectations.

To learn more about supporting Securing our Future and the Birchwood Fund, contact Tim LaBar in the Development Office at 216-251-2321 or

Our goal is to make Birchwood School of Hawken even better tomorrow than it is today. We invite you to join us in securing our mission and building on Birchwoods academic excellence, beginning with an investment in our programs and our people.
Charles and Helene Debelak