Back to School Night

So last Wednesday’s Middle School back to school night was one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had in education. There was so much to be proud of that I was literally smiling from ear to ear for the entire evening, and that smile hasn’t left me yet. The thing about these back to school nights, at least for me, is that they showcase who we are as a division…..our teachers, our programs, our new facilities, and most importantly, the passion that we have as a faculty for our students and their learning. It essentially lays out the year that’s ahead for our community, and in many ways it sets the tone for the year. Parents come to school wanting to be inspired, and wanting to know that their children are in capable and caring and nurturing hands…..they want to feel good about the decision that they’ve made, and they want to leave knowing that their children are in the best possible place as they meander through the difficult Middle School years. Well, after watching/listening to many of the presentations, and receiving the overwhelmingly positive feedback from dozens and dozens of families, there’s no doubt that we’ve put their minds at ease…..the night was a tremendous success because of who you are as educators and as people, and you should all be extremely proud…..what a magical night!

One of the things that made the night so special was the realization that arriving at this point was the result of three years of hard work, and three years of turning our vision into a reality. The purposeful attempt that we’ve all made over the past few years to create an environment and ethos that inspires our kids to learn, and to grow, and to take risks, and to give of themselves was on full display Wednesday evening, and I’ll never be able to properly thank you for the passion and purpose that you bring to our kids, their learning, and to each other. We’ve come a long way since we began molding this ball of clay…..when we first engaged in the small and simple conversations about how to create a special, specific community and culture for our beautiful Middle School kids. In many ways it seems like a lifetime ago when we designed the template that provided the structure for our fairy tale, and to see how far we’ve come, in such a relatively short period of time is mind blowing. It just shows what can be accomplished when a team works together toward the same goal, and moves forward as a focused tribe of educators with a single end point in mind.

It’s now time, in my opinion, to set another goal……a goal that builds on the trust that we created, and the relationships that we’ve built, and switches our focus from a transformational mind set to a clear student learning mind set. It’s now time to dig deep into our curriculum, and into our assessment practices, and into our collected student achievement data so that all of our professional discourse revolves around what truly drives and effects student learning. We’re finally here…..at a place where we can push back…..at a place where we can have the important and essential hard conversations with clear positive intent…..at a place where we can share our expertise with each other……and at a place where we can “sharpen our saws” so to speak, with the understanding that we’re focused together toward maximizing the potential of each and every one of our kids. The smile hasn’t left me yet everyone, and I hope you’re smiling too. The feeling that I had last Wednesday night was the best feeling that I’ve had as a Principal, and I could see the palpable positive energy being soaked up by our entire Middle School community. I cannot wait to see what this year brings, and now that we’ve come together like this as a faculty, there’s no telling how great we can become as a Middle School. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week………
Most things, even the greatest moments on earth, have their beginnings in something small.
— Lauren Oliver

TED Talk – Ramsey Musallam – 3 Rules to Spark Learning
http://www.ted.com/playlists/125/tv_special_ted_talks_educatio.html
Article #1 – Setting Expectations (National Association of Secondary School Principals)
http://www.nassp.org/tabid/3788/default.aspx?topic=Expectations_Do_You_Have_Them_Do_Students_Get_Them
Article #2 – The First Four weeks of School
http://engagethelearner.net/2011/08/15/focus-for-the-first-couple-school-weeks/
Article #2 (attached) – Nine Ways to Increase Student Engagement (Marshall Memo) Nine Ways to Increase Student Engagement
Article #3 (attached) – Active Student Participation (Marshall Memo) How to Get Active Student Participation In Class Discussions

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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