“Academic excellence in a spirit of caring”. More than an aspiration for the future, these words are taken directly from our school’s previous mission statement some twenty years ago. You can still find them printed in old publications and yearbooks, and on stationery – especially in the School’s archival collection in the basement! It’s striking to see that even with the passage of time, some things never change and that the fundamentals continue to shape and guide our work with children.
It is true that any effective school must place academic achievement at or near the top of its priority list. Of course, the placement of academics is wholly dependent on the type of school under consideration – some may have an arts focus or sports niche, while others serve the needs of a variety of learning styles. In all schools, however, the type of learning must be the driver of its curriculum. Its keystone. Its foundation. Its core.
In reflecting this “core” at Matthews Hall, the end of the school year is often one that is swimming in final assignments, culminating activities, field trips, assemblies, and special events. It can sometimes seem like the “essentials” of the classroom are tossed out the window during this busy and noisy time of year! But is that true? Is the pace of June frenetic or necessary?
If the school year has been planned well and executed conscientiously, there is ALWAYS time for fun and spontaneity in the elementary school house. After all, as Einstein said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school!”. I seriously doubt that any one of us could recall what social studies or science units we were learning in Grade 3 or 4 during the last few weeks of term.
Speaking personally (…and I also know it to be true for my own children), the special events and community activities are the experiences that leave the lasting impact. And not just the events themselves, but the way those events have been profiled and planned. I still recall many year-end celebrations during my own elementary school years and I do not have to dig deep for those memories!
If a school undertakes each week of the year intentionally and in a spirit of caring, then the residue (…which is the joy of effort!) will be impossible to overlook. It will make each day a welcome one and allow the students to learn and grow in an environment that is not tedious or tortuous. Instead, the school house will feel like a “home” and the effects will be visible on the faces of the students and teachers.
As we enter this time of year-end festivities and closure, let us not forget the long and desolate walk of the last two years (!) with all the restrictions and uncertainties. And then let us relax and celebrate the children enjoying a year that looks to be ending as it should – together, in community, with smiles, and gratitude!
June 2022 is looking so much better than its 2021 cousin.
See everyone soon at a year-end event near you!
Ric Anderson, Head of School