One of my favorite moments at Catlin Gabel is when students, teachers and staff from all over campus come together as a community to reflect on our values and share aspirations for the year ahead.
This was the scene last week as we gathered in Schauff Circle for our fall all-school assembly. Music teachers Peter and Kelly led us in song; student government officers shared ambitious goals for the year; and varsity team captains got us on our feet and cheering, along with our life-sized eagle, who danced and high-fived younger students.
As always, this gathering is an opportunity to lay out a challenge to the school community, whether that is being kinder than necessary, being fearless, or standing up for nature. This year, I felt moved to call our collective attention to Inspired Learning, Responsible Action, which is at the core of the school’s mission.
We are in a particularly dynamic and exciting time in the school’s history. We are implementing new policies and procedures to support a positive student climate and trusting school-parent partnership. Efforts are underway to better align and communicate curriculum, including math, across all grades. Teachers in our Upper School are making learning objectives and student progress more visible so that students can develop greater mastery. The east campus, future home of our Middle School and community programs, will be an important focus in the next 3-5 years. And our enrollment and campus plans point to adding students and building a new athletics and wellness center over the next 5-7 years.
While the energy and anxiety of change may be in the air, it is essential to note that everything we are doing is grounded in the heart of our mission. As I said at the assembly, it is our job to provide inspired learning, for every student. Whether it is algebra equations or recess behavior, we need to offer students instruction, guidance, and encouragement so they can master what matters. And it is the students’ job to take responsible action with the exceptional education that they are privileged to experience. Each day provides students with opportunities to use their academic and character skills to solve real-world problems. We are teaching children to recognize those moments and seize them. Educational rigor is not only about hard work; it also is about challenging students to integrate their knowledge and passion to benefit the world around them.
At our assembly, students from each division inspired us with examples of how they have connected learning and action, setting a standard of selflessness and self-discipline for all of us. Their stories brought to life the mission language on the banner that will hang in Schauff Circle in the months ahead. My hope is that the charge to pursue “inspired learning and responsible action” will spur students to new insights and achievement, and our school to thoughtful and successful change for the future.