My youngest son, Ben, will tell you that having his father as the Headmaster has a few advantages, but mostly disadvantages.
One of the advantages is that he can count on having the Headmaster’s (somewhat) undivided attention in the evenings to provide feedback about his Brookwood experience.
One of the key disadvantages is that he knows that he may get an abrupt “No,” followed by a “Because I said so,” and finished with a “Now, go to bed.”
Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, with more time on our hands, Ben took the opportunity to bend my ear about what new policies he thought might have a positive impact on the Brookwood experience.
A few of Ben’s suggestions have included instituting a longer recess and providing dessert every day at lunch — not just Wednesday and Friday. Ben thinks Mr. Landetta should teach hard rock in music class, and that sometimes we should all have the day off. (“You can do that, right, Dad?!”)
Candidly, I was not immediately swayed to implement any of these suggestions. However, I appreciated the thought behind them. Further, I suspected that there were some very good ideas amongst his 4th grade peers.
I decided to dig further into the 4th grade perspective of schools rules and asked our 4th grade students to provide a response to the question “If I could make a new school rule… .”
Here is a selection of their answers:
“We could wear pajamas every Friday. I want this because we work hard and we deserve a pajama break.” -— Anna
“We would have basketball goals over our locker so that we could shoot our backpacks into it.” — Emery
“We would have ziplines to get from class to class.” — Will
“We would have any kind of ice cream after every test.” — Abby
“We could have a pool and have diving lessons.” — Maclay
“We could have recess for the whole day. I would want to have that rule because I like to play football with my friends.” — Shep
“We would have art two times per week. I like that rule because I like art and it is really fun.” — Walker
“We would have morning assembly every day. It would make Mrs. Newcombe very happy.” — Morgan
“We could have homework passes, and they could count for all of the homework you have.” — Clark
“Make a playground for each of the grades, I think we need a spot to play capture the flag. Once, the fifth graders took our spot. This is a serious problem that we need to fix.” — Waverly
“There would be no homework. If we had no homework, we could have more study time.” — Kent
“We could wear any type of clothes every day except for Monday.” — Byrdie
“We could go into the gym during recess to play basketball.” — Julian
“You could bring your dog to school for half of the day.” — Hannah
“We would have no school during Halloween week! The reason is that kids could enjoy the holiday with no worries. Another reason is so kids can sleep in.” — Jacob
“Everyone could be a little bit sweeter!” — Caroline
Great ideas can come from many places. As you can see, some of our 4th graders provided pragmatic and thoughtful solutions to everyday concerns. Others dreamed big and proposed visionary and even outlandish thoughts. Each one took the task seriously and presented their thoughts clearly and with passion.
Over the course of any given week, I may hear a dozen or more suggestions about what we could do at Brookwood. While not every idea is feasible, and not every vision can take off, what I love about this community is that we are willing to dream big. We are willing to chances. We want to give bold ideas legs.
If it were not leaders who dared to have big dreams, we would not have Brookwood.
This year, we have encouraged our students to adopt a leadership mindset. A small sample of student dreams that have turned into realities this year include: the fundraiser for Baby Alex; the Empty Bowls, Full Hearts charitable event; articles written in the Thomasville Times Enterprise by a student; and the Middle School tribes.
I am thankful to know that we have the next generation of young dreamers at Brookwood today who will become tomorrow’s leaders.