Farewell and Fare Well

 

I am posting this message on graduation day for the Class of 2011. I commend them for the great year they have had as our student leaders. As with each class at All Saints’, members of this year’s graduating class move on to a world of many exciting possibilities. Our hope is that we have equipped them with the values and skills that will put them in good stead as they consider those possibilities and make choices in the future.

While life is still in its early stages and about new beginnings for our graduates, this day is also about a significant ending. There will be plenty of smiles today but no doubt also a few tears. I prefer to use the word “farewell” rather than “goodbye” on a day like this. This allows me to focus on what is most important–not that our graduates are leaving us but that they “fare well” in school and in life in the days ahead. God bless each member of the All Saints’ Episcopal Day School Class of 2011.

Today is the last day of school for all our students. I hope to check in on this blog a few times this summer as the pace of life at All Saints’ changes until August.

Until next time…

My best,

Leo

The Power of Memory

Gifts for the Class of 2011, decorated with care by Kindergarten students

          Last week we celebrated two great annual All Saints’ chapel traditions: the Head of School recognition chapel and the Memory Chapel created and presented each year by the graduating class. The memories shared by our eighth grade students at their Memory Chapel included some “insider” stuff about which most of the adults in the church were clueless. These were all shared with a light heart and good will. Some of the reminiscences were about their teachers, delivered with affection for their quirks, their methods, and their genuine care for their students. Some of the memories hearkened back to their lower school years, which for 14-year olds is half a lifetime ago. I was most touched by the extended reminiscences from several members of the Class of 2011 that demonstrated that the lessons we hope they learn were imprinted in their memory: the importance of persistence, the power of compassion, the strength of friendships, the joy of learning, the commitment to continuing growth, the value of service, the blessings of both success and failure, and the awareness of the bigger world and depth of reality to which All Saints’ provided developmentally-appropriate glimpses. All in all, a most consoling experience…

            At the Head of School recognition chapel, I had the honor of recognizing faculty and staff members who had reached a milestone of service to All Saints’ Episcopal Day School. The aggregate total recognized was 170 years. Imagine the hundreds of wonderful memories that these dedicated folks have created for our students, present and past, in those years. As I know from my own life experience, these happy memories have incredible staying power.

          Memory is a powerful force in life and in school. At All Saints’ we aspire to create memories in our students that will last a lifetime- a lifetime of growth, gratitude, and generosity.

Until next time…

My best,

Leo

Finding Their Voice

Grade 7 clay faces inspired by Modigliani

          Over the past few weeks there has been an amazing series of events here at All Saints’ that demonstrates the importance of a school providing each student with opportunities to find his or her voice.  This voice can be expressed in a range of media and settings.  Among these events have been the dramatic rendition of the Passion of Christ by a drama elective class, the heartwarming chapel presentation by our Pre-Kindergarten students, the amazing art show that annually dazzles all who experience it, our CrossWorlds event that celebrates the range of cultures and interests in our school family through prose, poetry, technology and food, the course-culminating projects in many grades and academic disciplines, the charming and elaborate spring musical performances by students in grades 1 through 8, and the celebration of the range of community service that lends substance to our commitment to “preparing students to lead fruitful lives and to serve a world in need.”  The list is not exhaustive but illustrative of our focus on helping our students articulate their passions and aspirations eloquently and creatively.

 

           This approach is a departure from the one I experienced when I was in school.  I did not have the opportunities our children have on a daily basis.  In reflecting on my own schooling, I believe that I did not have such opportunity until I was a senior in high school.  Creativity has been identified by many educational theorists and leaders as one of the core competencies essential for 21st century learners.  At All Saints’, enhancing our students’ creativity is at the core of what we do, and it begins in the earliest stages of education. 

 

           Focusing on creativity has required schools and teachers to make a fundamental shift in their approach, and unfortunately many schools have not made that adjustment.  In a Newsweek article published last summer entitled “The Creativity Crisis,” the perils of ignoring or even discouraging student creativity and inquisitiveness are eloquently stated:

                Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day.  Why, why, why- sometimes parents just wish it’d stop.  Tragically, it does stop.  By middle school they’ve pretty much stopped asking.  It’s no coincidence that this same time is when student motivation and engagement plummet.  They didn’t stop asking questions because they lost interest: it’s the other way around.  They lost interest because they stopped asking questions.

Pre-K Apples inspired by Cezanne

           At All Saints’ we expose our students to the full range of human experience and inquiry.  And we are about more than providing answers; we want to encourage our students to learn how to ask the right questions and create meaning that is authentic and in their own voice.

Until next time…

My best,

Leo