Yesterday instead of classes we had a school-wide meeting to discuss the future of the school. After roughly 25 years my school has a new headmaster. He is young, energetic, and passionate about schools. I’ve had a chance to get to know him as he teaches a section of U.S. History in my classroom. He proposed and helped organize the two-week interdisciplinary seminar on the Civil Rights Movement which we wrapped up last night.
I’ve sat through a number of these meetings in years past and was not optimistic about this one. Those of you in the teaching profession know what I am talking about. Basically, you sit around, throw out some abstract feel-good/Oprah-esque concepts about the ideal school and what kinds of students you hope to shape. In the end, however, you rarely follow up to put the terms of the mission statement into practice. No wonder that some of us walked in having stuffed ourselves with danish and coffee, anticipating lunch and a chance to head out early.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised by what our new leader had to say. With the help of a committee made up of faculty, parents, students, and former graduates our new headmaster laid down a bold vision that includes goals that will hopefully change the overall atmosphere. First and foremost we hope to make this the greenest school in central Virginia at some point in the near future. We are already making changes related to physical plant issues and major changes are in the works. The other goal that stood out was the intention to mandate that every student spend time overseas on work-related projects in a developing country. What I like about both goals is that they are student-centered. Our students are disciplined and respectful, but very self-centered and privileged. Many of our students are grossly ignorant about current events or issues in their own backyards. Given the quality of education at my school it is inexcusable that students can graduate without having the opportunity of experiencing the rewards and challenges involved in service.