The 2020 – 2021 academic year began on September 8 at Kent School, and for me, that signals a Happy New Year! exclamation. For educators and students alike September, more so than January, offers a start to a new life chapter with a clean slate – a story to be developed with blank pages to be filled. I love September!
Just like our students, I have a new hairstyle, some new blue and white clothes, a blank journal, a special pen, and a lot of joy and hope. It definitely feels like the holiday season to me as we safely return to our campus, after being away from our unparalleled environment for learning for six long months.
Some of you may know that it is my custom to select a word to hold before my school community for the academic year. My first year I selected JOY! Joy is my favorite word in the English language. I like it for its impact in just a few letters. I love to play it in Words with Friends or Scrabble because I feel as if I am sharing a little bit of joy with my opponent. And, I challenge you to say it without smiling just a little, even if only on the inside. Joyful learning is a hallmark of the Kent School experience, and although I select a new word each year, joy will always be at the forefront, especially this year as we seek ways to find joy in being together, with responsible distance and face coverings.
For the fifth chapter of my Kent School book, I have chosen CONNECT as my theme. The action verb CONNECT – or join together to provide access and communication is especially important this academic year for so many reasons. CONNECT is derived from the Latin word conectere, to be united physically. I am excited to be united physically with our students today. It seems especially important in this complicated time that we stay connected in meaningful ways at school, even if physical connection is interrupted.
Our Kent School faculty, and those who support teaching and learning were busy in August readying COVID classrooms and diving deeply into technology for distance or hybrid learning, identifying cultural bias and how it relates to the classroom, and continuing our work in mind, brain and education science as part of our founding partnership with the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL) at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Bethesda. We believe that all of this work will help us foster and create tomorrow’s leaders – teaching our students how to think and not what to think.
As I begin this happy new year at Kent School, I am so honored and humbled to serve the Kent School community. I cannot wait to CONNECT with you very soon.