Geneva Day School Passes Baton to Usher in a New Era of Excellence

This article is written in partnership with Geneva Day School.

It was said there might be a bouquet of flowers.

There was an entire table’s worth.

It was said there would be entertainment.

There were activities, stations, music, a bubble machine, and a balloon arch. Guests were also welcome to explore the entirety of the sprawling green grounds at Geneva Day School.

It was proposed as a “little get together.”

But proved to be a Baton Passing Festival.

Geneva Day School Geneva Day School Celebrates 30 Years of Service

On Saturday, May 21, Geneva Day School’s spectacular GPA arranged this event in honor of Director Suzanne Funk’s three decades of service to the school and past 15 years at the helm of the ship.

According to GPA President, Mrs. Dory Halbe, “Mrs. Funk has grown the school into one of the best preschools in the DMV area and arguably, one of the best in the country.”

The throngs of attendees agreed. Whether expressions of love and enthusiasm came in the form of bouquets, cards, or mementos, Mrs. Funk was resoundingly referred to as “the reason my child does so well in school today” or “the game changer in the Educational Plan for my son”. She was also described as “the warmest welcome we could have received once we arrived from abroad.”

Passionate about early childhood education, Mrs. Funk sees each child as unique and is known for greeting her littlest fans by kneeling (with lightning speed) to look them straight in the eye, grasping their hands in a firm handshake.

“You are so special. You are a wonderful little boy,” she warmly pronounced to a three-year-old near the cake-cutting table.

The child responded with a wriggle and a smile.

Creating a Top Preschool Program

During her tenure, Mrs. Funk ensured that Geneva Day School became a destination for those aged two to five/six. Spectacular classes and superlative programs channel the “Geneva Method.” This approach promotes student-led discovery of traditional pre-academics. Mrs. Funk advanced a spiraling curriculum that delivers rising students to a splendid perch. She architected the Kindergarten Learning Cottage, a light-filled structure adjacent the school.

Through grant-writing and meticulous planning, she also restructured the school’s grounds. These permit discovery of Nature at its unbridled best (take a stroll through the bamboo forest or follow the tree stump maze!). Yet the grounds are tame where necessary. You can explore the wisteria arbor, the butterfly chime, the bridge, and the flowerbeds.

Today, this Maryland Green School campus hosts a Monarch Butterfly Waystation and inspires student participation in green initiatives. The “outdoor classroom” is an elevated latticework structure with a permeable roof that Mrs. Funk designed to bring students into the heart of nature. She still dreams of installing an amphitheater at the base of the hill.

Of her retirement, she states: “I thought this was a good time to start a new chapter. . . I also thought there was someone waiting in the wings who would be really effective.”

Passing the Baton

Ms. Daisy Lizama, Summer Program Director and Teacher who has been of equal presence in the school these last decades, assumed the position as of June 1. Versed in the Geneva Method, she is known for her kind, gentle demeanor, her superb insights into the individual needs of children, and her vision for tailoring programs.

“It’s an honor to be the new Director of Geneva Day School. Geneva is a place filled with a lot of wonderful students, family, and staff. And they bring joy to everyone around us,” stated Ms. Lizama of what the school means to her.

Readers of Bethesda Magazine have again recognized the school as “number one” within its category of “Best Preschool”. For the first time, its summer program has been awarded  the same. Ms. Lizama’s attunement to what delights her population will be sure to deliver more innovation and fun to the academic year.

“I’m looking forward to continuing Geneva’s legacy of being an outdoor Green School with fun activities for all students. I look forward to continuing to create an environment that is filled with a lifelong love of learning,” she said.

As Mrs. Funk charts her trajectory into a new chapter, Ms. Lizama graciously accepts the baton for Directorship of Geneva Day School, Potomac’s glittering emerald on a hill. A new era of excellence is sure to shine through the school’s many facets. See you outside!

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Applications for Academic Year 2022-23 can be found here.