“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman
I am so energized by LEAP Week this morning. Other than a sunburn on my nose, the most obvious sign of our week together is a greater sense of ease and comfort for all of you. As your teachers and advisors, we appreciate the chance to get to know you before we begin classes today.
For many of you, the start of classes is what’s on your mind this morning. It’s probably a combination of excitement and nerves, right? Will I get lost? Will I have or find a friend in each of my classes? Will the teacher like me? Will I know and be able to do the work? Will it be too hard? Will I be challenged in the way(s) I want to be? Will others know me as I really am and want to be seen?
These are all questions that your advisors and I have experienced. As a recent student myself at a writing workshop this summer, I thought about all of those questions, even though I have (a) been a student many times and (b) I have worked with students like you, both as a teacher and an administrator, for 23 years.
If you recall nothing else from the blur of the first day, know this: We are all here for one another, and there is no silly question. Sometimes there’s an off-topic question that we are wondering about, but other than that, we want you to share it all with us and let us know how we can help.
Assemblies are a combination of announcements, performances, talks and interactive activities. As the convener of assembly, I am always thinking about the balance. Today, I want to focus on a big idea and a little bit of an assignment that I’d like you to work on between now and the next time we see each other on Wednesday, our regular assembly time each week.
Our Middle School is governed by three values—Curiosity, Care and Courage. They guide what we do, how we interact, and every element of the program. Throughout our assemblies over the next month, the faculty and I will share our thoughts about each of these values. I’m up first, with Curiosity.
Over my years of teaching and living, I have become more and more curious, both about myself and why I do things in certain ways and about other people. I find that the more questions I ask, the more I listen and seek to learn and understand, the more context and insight I have about myself and others. This kind of reflection has gotten me through both exciting and challenging moments in my day and my life!
In our community, we are really focused on relationships and belonging. We want each of you to feel as if this is your school, that you belong here. Part of belonging is feeling safe, secure and like you know others in your school.
I want to start the year by encouraging you to ask me questions as a way of getting to know me.
I am lucky to have a comfortable office across from Carrie’s in the Cook-Hyde-Morrill building, and it’s lined in bookshelves. I have many books and supplies to store, but I also have brought in significant objects that remind me of who I am and the stories I carry within me.
I have chosen three objects from my office. They’re currently in Carrie’s office so that as you come and go between now and assembly on Wednesday, you can take a look at them and plan to ask me a few questions about them. I have assigned one object to each grade level so that it’s a bit easier to focus on just one. Here they are. I tried to connect each object with the theme of LEAP Week—it’s not perfect, but I did my best! (Click here to see the slideshow.)
6: Yellow elephant
7: Numbered dice/timer
8: Personal family photo
Please come back to assembly on Wednesday—and advisors, you have this photo in your email so that you can prompt such questions—ready to ask me a few questions about each object and its significance in my life’s story and way of thinking. I’ll do my best to answer each one. And then, I’ll tell you the story of each one. And we’ll get to know one another that way.
I’m wishing you a great day, full of warmth and connections!