Head’s Blog – Welcome Back!

04 Sep

Head’s Blog – 9/4/2018
Chris Williamson 

It was a pleasure to greet parents and children at our Open House, and even more energizing to wish them “Happy New Year” this morning (We did it in at least ten languages!). We sang the West African song “Funga Alafia” (Welcome and peace to you) that has been a staple at Applewild since Bill Marshall’s last year, and I talked with the students about the concept of “not yet.”

There is such a difference between saying “I can’t do something” or “I’m not good at something” and saying “I’m not good at that yet.” Our eighth graders each introduced themselves and shared a “not yet” with the school. Their comments varied from learning their way around campus (a new student) to breaking the cross country record to speaking in public without stuttering (She did it!), to being organized, to strengthening math or writing skills. Even as we as a community affirmed their goals and appreciated them when they finished, we can take such honesty and willingness to be genuine and vulnerable for granted. Erica Hager told the Upper School later in the morning how extraordinary that example of leadership was on the first day and how the eighth graders have set the tone for the year.

“Not yet” means that we realize we need to work on something and allows us to figure out how to get better. That is the essence of positive, effective education and at the basis of metacognition. Our faculty read Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains over the summer. It generated several thoughtful conversations that will be ongoing as we continue to use the concepts of metacognition to support student development of our Core Competencies: be reflective, think critically (and problem solve), communicate, create, persevere, collaborate. We reinforced our understanding in a day-long meeting with Mike Anderson last week, and we will continue our collaboration with him this fall and winter.

We open with our highest enrollment in our core K – 8 program in six years, and our preschools are fully subscribed. We also tie for our second best retention in 20 years (!). Welcome back to all who are retuning, and welcome to all who are new — we have our largest group of new students in eleven years. For those who are returning, please make an effort to welcome our new families and help them with this transition. I know that our Parents Association will aid those efforts.

Remember that at pick up (and drop off if necessary) cars form two lanes prior to the actual pick up so that cars get off of Prospect Street. Thanks for your cooperation and for supporting this with your fellow parents. If they appear to be trying to pass you in line, they are creating that double line that will merge.

I will discuss the plans for our Head Search for Applewild’s seventh Head of School in my Friday HEADlines. I will also introduce our new Director of Admission, Debbie Maloney. Stay tuned.

Happy New Year – and have a terrific year!