A theme should be pertinent to the school, should be timely, and should be aspirational. (No one wants their school to proclaim that they want to “Stay the Course!” “Seek Mediocrity!” or “Let’s Hope we Make it Through Alive!” as the theme of the school year.)
This past year, in a devotion, I shared the story of Jefferson and encouraged our students to think about the three legs that work, rather than the one that does not. Put differently — focus on your strengths, feel grateful for the gifts that you have, and inspire others with your perseverance.
At Brookwood, we are proponents of instructional technology and relish in the opportunities that technology can bring to the learning environment. We are also proponents of leadership, and know that the value of the face-to-face relationships leadership is paramount.
It struck me, as I hope it did the students in that class, how much possibility each of them has to shape his or her future. Each of our students has the potential to create, innovate, and live lives of purpose and significance. Each one of them is the author of his or her life story, with many open chapters to write.
Adults of my era tend to be skeptical of institutions. As such, their choice to send their children to an independent school comes from thought and examination, rather than out of blind trust. We do seek a strong educational foundation for our children as we know that this plays a key role in success in later life. We seek a balance; we see that whole child development (physical, social, spiritual, as well as academic) are essential ingredients in childhood. We value that independent schools are run by educators and are immune from most governmental intrusions. We seek innovative thinking, characterized in STEAM education, and critical thinking, characterized in a small classroom environment. Finally, we seek community, which we have seen erode in our culture over the course of our lives.
Not all books are good, of course. Much of what I read has to do with education and parenting; there are stacks of books written about these areas that are, at best, useless, and at worst, downright harmful.
For this reason, I would like to share with you a few titles that I have read recently that have influenced my thinking:
As you well know, there is a lot to celebrate with your class. Yours is the largest senior class to graduate from Brookwood. You have impressive college admission stats. You have set academic and athletic records. You have left indelible marks on our memory of theatrical, debate, and musical performances.
Some of you will recall the pre-Spotify days when one had to be very intentional about one’s selection of music. When I was in high school, my friends and I would carry our carefully-curated cassette tape carrying cases around in our cars. The twenty or so tapes that one could transport were emblematic of our tastes, passions, and even identity… and we ALL had our rock guitar heroes.
In the mid-1990s, I attended college and graduate school in central Virginia, which at the time, was a hotbed of touring musical acts that were encapsulated under the title of “jam bands.” Among them was a group of musicians from Charlottesville, known as the “Dave Matthews Band,” “DMB,” or to those of us who believed that we were on more familiar terms with the band, simply “Dave.”
Have you ever wondered what colleges are really seeking in their applicants? I had the opportunity recently to observe a panel of four college presidents in a moderated discussion on the future of education.
At the 2015 Annual Meeting I made the comment that, due to the uncertainty of the future workplace, parents are increasingly overloading their children with activities in the hope that they will somehow find the combination of skills they need to survive as adults.
When we moved into our house in Thomasville, we inherited an aging refrigerator with an external ice dispenser. The ice dispenser worked only upon occasion, delivering one or two cubes as a consolation—always missing the cup underneath—and yielding a loud electronic whine in the process until eventually, all it did was whine unceasingly without producing a single cube.
Located in Thomasville, GA, Brookwood School is a private school for grades JK-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.