by Head of School Muddy Waters
Welcome back to another school year. I continue to love my profession because every year presents new possibilities and opportunities. I took it as a good sign that I had my annual week before school year nightmare. This year’s version was about final exams. My history exam was supposed to begin in ten minutes and I realized I had not yet made up my exam. Panic ensued and I woke up in a literal cold sweat. While I never look forward to nightmares, in retrospect, I took it as a good sign that even after forty-three years of teaching, I am still worried in the back of my mind that I am not as ready as I should be. I am not alone in this as many of our faculty report similar experiences in the days before the start of the school year, because they too want to be sure that we are as ready as we can be for the arrival of our students. This year, I am particularly focused on a particular aspect of the education I believe we need to provide the children entrusted to our care.
This fall, the Board and the Administration will be putting the final touches on our next strategic plan. As part of that exercise, we will review our mission statement and our values to ensure that they still accurately reflect who we are as a community. As a quick reminder, our mission statement says, “The Pike School seeks to develop within its community a life-long love of learning, respect for others, the joy of physical activity, and a creative spirit. A Pike education is a journey that prepares its students to be independent learners and responsible citizens.” I am proud that we have been commended for living our mission well in our last two accreditation reports. I know that this mission has been at the heart of my work at Pike, but even I was surprised when the events in Charlottesville this summer brought our mission to mind. Concepts like respect for others and responsible citizenship feel more important than ever today.
Often, I find myself telling the students in my history class that my fondest hope is that their generation is more successful than mine has been in making the world a more peaceful and just place. Our youngest students seem to more easily accept their peers for who they are, and somehow as time passes by, that simple kindness becomes harder to share. In our opening faculty meetings, Michael Eatman introduced the Chicano concept of conocimiento which means “having knowledge of”, to validate each person as a knowledge holder who is valuable to the group. Our best hope to value others is to get to know them and be open to what they are thinking and feeling. Charlottesville made me afraid that many people have written off other groups as being of no value. At Pike, we will continue to strive to live up to our mission statement and values as we prepare our students to be stewards of the world we will inherit. If they learn to be caring and empathetic young people, our world will be the better for it.
Welcome to the 2017-18 school year at Pike and all the amazing possibilities that await!
The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page.