January HEADlines

Happy New Year! 2019 will be an especially exciting year for Applewild as we welcome our seventh Head of School, Amy Jolly. It is serendipitous that our seventh Head will join us to lead Applewild to our celebration of our seventieth anniversary in 2027. Amy is going to be consulting with me on some specific projects this winter and spring as she begins the transition, and she is also eager to learn as much as she can about Applewild and the people who make us such a great place for children – and teachers! We will be announcing opportunities to meet her in the months to come.

New Web Site

It is a pleasure to introduce you to our new web site. Thanks to Jen Raterman and Henry Barker, together with Kelly Jennison, Julie Marabello, and Emily Bodkin, for shepherding this project through to completion.  It should be much more user friendly on various devices, in addition to being easier for us internally to make edits. The parent portal is now found top right – and the password is the same marshall2018. We have not yet archived past news and menus. As new weekly messages (such as this one) are published, they will be posted; and we may archive some of the past weekly messages. Do take a look at the public facing part (Admissions [“Why Applewild” video is terrific!], About Us, Alumni, etc). Please let Jen, Henry or Kelly know if you have any difficulties finding something. And feel free to share the link with friends and family!

Open House January 26

Speaking of sharing Applewild news, our major winter Admission Open House is coming up Saturday January 26 (11:00 – 1:00). It will include a band performance; conversations with Deb Maloney, Kelly, Jen, and Tally Lent and Erica Hager; tours; and a family style lunch. This is a great way for families to experience Applewild. Please encourage those whose students would be good additions to join us!

“Job Theory”

Authors Clayton Christensen et. al., in Competing Against Luck (2016), talk about the importance of figuring out what “job” it is that the “customer” wants to be done – what is the job that the customer is “hiring”? They call it “The Theory of Jobs to Be Done” or “Job Theory.” In other words, we don’t want to buy a ¼ inch drill bit, we want to create a ¼ inch hole. That’s “the job.” In that context, and in his earlier book Disrupting Class, Christensen (with Michael Horn in the latter case) notes about school:

“Going to school isn’t a job that students are trying to do. The job in every student’s life is ‘I want to feel successful every day.’ And they need friends every day. School might be one of the things that children might hire to do the job. (Luck, 228) And frankly, most schools are not designed to do that job well. In fact, kids often come home at the end of a school day feeling intellectually beat up – that they have failed.” (Luck, 93 – originally in Disrupting Class) – “most children feel failure when they go to class.” Athletics are hired by some students, extra-curriculars by others, and so on; but for many, none of these ‘hires’ accomplish the intended result (fulfill the “job to be done”) so students languish or turn to unhealthy choices.

In contrast, students at Applewild feel success at least in some aspect of her/his life here every day. Simply watching how they come into our buildings in the morning (even when a bit sleepy) is clear evidence! We talk frequently about this as a strength, and we know that it is empowering. Christensen provides another lens through which we can understand why our emphasis matters so much – and is not to be taken for granted. It is the social/emotional curriculum, knowing our students well and them knowing that adults value them, and providing them with authentic reasons to feel successful even when the work can be (and is supposed to be!) challenging.

What is the “job” you “hired” Applewild to accomplish in the lives of your children – and perhaps in your lives as parents? Was it to provide a climate of community with shared values? An academically challenging environment? An atmosphere encouraging success (academic/social)? A place where your student could broaden and deepen interests and talents? A place where students feel successful and valued and are willing to try their best? An environment that is safe and empowering? These may be among the reasons Applewild is “hired” – and “re-hired.” That raises the interesting corollary, too -- does that “job” change over the years, and if so, how?  

I would welcome hearing from any parents who would like to share your thoughts. Feel free to call me (x116) or email me. Christensen says that a few detailed personal stories are more important to understand than collecting wide data samples that don’t go very deep.

We are delighted to have the wonderful gifts of your children every day. As we come to the end of first semester and prepare for reports and parent conferences, the partnership with parents continues to assure the best outcomes for your children. Thank you for “hiring” Applewild, whatever your reasons.

P.S. A joke heard at Lower School lunch this week: What is an alligator’s favorite photograph?    

Answer: A snapshot.

The joke didn’t work very well because most of the children had no idea what a “snapshot” is – snapchat perhaps (or a selfie), but what’s a snapshot?!!

Taylor Poucel