Last night we gathered for our annual Parent-Teacher Night to provide parents and teachers with an opportunity to understand some of the learning goals for the coming year. We also shared our expectations regarding classroom and school routines, along with the individual systems and practices teachers have put in place to help students do “their best job”. Thank you for spending the time with us. Your involvement, good will and support reflect the commitment to partnership that is essential in any effective school. As the year proceeds, we welcome your questions and feedback as, together, we strive to serve the needs of all students with creativity, sensitivity and determination.
An underlying theme of Parent-Teacher Night is always an effort to align our mutual understanding about expectations for the “culture” of the learning environment that we seek to create and uphold. Each year this is an important dimension of academic, social and community success. By beginning “with the end in mind”, we are able to envision the kind of student conduct and community attitudes that promote the most enduring forms of achievement – both academic and character.
What do we as teachers want for our students? First and foremost, we want them to develop the skills that will prepare them to succeed in rigorous academic programs in high school and beyond. By focusing on the mastery of foundational skills, integrated with technology, athletics and the arts, we believe our students will be well-prepared. We will achieve this by preparing meaningful lessons of substance and purpose that do not pander to “band wagon” movements or the vagaries of the latest educational fashion. We promise we will always have a good reason for everything we do – the ultimate of which is helping your child be the best version of him or herself.
This, of course, all hinges on our mutual agreement to priorities for learning. Respect and accountability are two big ones. They permeate the themes of our work with your children and are reflected in our commitment to punctuality, reliability, courtesy and responsibility.
We believe very strongly in these values and we are determined that our students will adopt them, too. Pride in the school uniform, a willingness to accept correction and direction without making excuses, being on time and prepared for learning, and setting a good example realizing that rules and boundaries exist for the common good – these are all essential for a positive school year and a happy life.
In working with elementary students, there is a perspective that is often overlooked. We – the parents and teachers – are not primarily in the business of “raising children”; we are really in the business of “raising adults”. The lessons, tough knocks, learning experiences and habits we help them develop today are going to be so important when they take their places in the world.
I have often remarked to colleagues and parents over the years that “the playground and schoolhouse explain the world”. By expecting the best of our students – and respecting them enough to hold them accountable in the small things – we are setting them up for a future of success, confidence and happiness.
Working together, we will do just that!
Ric Anderson, Head of School