So at last Friday’s Market Day I had a wonderful moment………one that’s going to stick with me for a long, long time to come. I was eating one of those deliciously fresh bagels that were on sale when I began looking around and reflecting on the journey that we’ve all been on this year together. It’s no secret that the vision that was rolled out at the beginning of the year was an ambitious one, and the effort and commitment that was asked of you all was enormous. We rolled out a few very important initiatives simultaneously as you all know, which were to have a tremendous impact on our school’s culture, our collective morale, and of course, student learning. Just to refresh your memory let’s take a look back………..we began our commitment to C.O.A.R, we rolled out the new report card, we implemented the word press student electronic portfolios, we started learning from each other in our monthly SIPS, we introduced our daily sustained silent reading program, we became a member of the National Junior Honors Society, we ramped up our commitment to service learning with two wildly successful fundraising campaigns, we started a recycling program, we went through our WASC accreditation self study, and we worked hard to align and articulate our curriculum…….all of this was going through my mind on Friday when I sat back and watched and listened and marveled at the school that we’ve become…….
Teachers were out in the courtyard enjoying the sun, as well as each other’s company……….students were smiling and playing and laughing out loud………parents were out and about speaking with friends, teachers and kids, and adding very much to the overall community feel…..and the seniors were celebrating their last day of High School before their IB exams. I got a little emotional honestly, because I know first hand what it took to get us to this point. If someone had asked me at the beginning of August what my idea of a successful year would be, I couldn’t have wished for anything more than where we are right now. Not only have we rolled out these initiatives successfully, we’ve managed to find a common purpose which is so difficult to develop in many schools. We have teachers not only owning what we’re trying to accomplish as a team, but flourishing as individual leaders as well……..with many of you being inspired and empowered to use your passion and expertise for the betterment of us all. We’ve had teachers lead EARCOS electronic portfolio workshops, we’ve had teachers organize a city wide Math Counts competition at our campus, we’ve had many teachers step up and deliver incredible Professional Development presentations to our faculty, we’ve had teachers spearhead wonderful service learning campaigns, we’ve had teachers commit to our growing House System, and advisory program, and NJHS, and student council, we’ve had teachers speak openly and honestly about where we need to focus our attention next, and we’ve had teachers find the educational courage to push back and have the hard conversations with me and each other in a respectful and professional manner………..I could go on and on and on………it’s been amazing.
In my opinion, it’s relatively easy to have an idea or a vision about how to bring a school to life, and it’s not that hard to “talk” about what needs to happen in order to turn a school from good to great………..it’s another thing altogether however (and ridiculously harder) to make the fairly tale come true. I know that we’re not where we ultimately want to be just yet, and I know there’s work left to be done…….but this week, before we all take off for China Trips, I’d like you all to reflect back on what you’ve accomplished this year. Ideas and visions cannot ever be realized unless you have the people who are willing to do the work……and the belief that the journey that you’re on is what’s best for our kids. To say that I’m proud of you all, and what we’ve accomplished this year, would be the world’s biggest understatement and really I cannot put my thanks for who you are into words. This year (as Bret likes to say) we’ve laced up the shoes so to speak. Next year we will take the time to tie the laces tight, and tie them into double knots so that what we’ve introduced this year will truly become the fabric of who we are…..then we can continue to look at the data to see the overall effect on student learning. We’re getting there everyone, and you should feel great about your contributions. I’m off to spend the afternoon with my family on this beautiful spring day and I cannot wipe the smile off my face. I won’t forget that Market Day for a long, long time everyone and I hope you feel that sense of pride like I do. Have a fantastic week and remember to be great for our students and good to each other….
Quote of the Week………
We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
– Frederick Keonig
Article #3 – Essential Attributes and Characteristics of Successful Schools
TED Talk – What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work (Dan Ariely)