The special sauce

At the most recent meeting of the Upper School team, I asked each advisor to tell a brief story that illustrates their happiest moment at work over the past two weeks since the start of the new year. When it came to my turn, I could honestly say that my favorite moment had just happened—listening to their stories. Those stories clearly illustrated the truth of what one advisor had said, which is that “the special sauce of Waynflete is alive and well.”

Based on those stories, the sauce ingredients include:

  • Faculty willing and able to build authentic relationships with students and their families that then allow us to be positive influences on the lives of our students.
  • An appreciation—and even awe—for those moments of true connection.
  • The capacity of teachers to make their subject matter relevant, sparking genuine interest by students in their learning.
  • A deep desire to support colleagues and equal gratitude for the support we receive.
  • Alums who flood us at this time of year and want us to know how we live in their bones months and even years after they graduated.
  • A well-developed sense of humor about it all.

Research is clear that the school culture is more influential than any other factor in determining the quality of learning. That is a sobering reality, given the often paralyzing challenges schools face today as they seek to find their footing in these troubled times of rapid change, social fraying, and stark political divisions, all of which make the teaching and learning enterprise more difficult.

The stories told by the Upper School advisors about their moments of happiness clearly illustrate that we are enduring the storm by doubling down on who we are—a school based on authentic relationships. That is inspiring. I am proud to be a part of it.