Reading Beyond the Files

Each year we are faced with the extraordinary responsibility of selecting and admitting new students into our community. We meet them at Open House and on visit days, we spend time interviewing them with their families, and we invest countless hours into reviewing their applications. Over and over again, we “read” the applicants to see if they are a good fit for us just as they are reading us to see if MICDS is where they belong. And how do we know if our instincts are correct? How do we know if they have revealed themselves authentically through the process? Of course there are data points and report cards and recommendations that give us a preview. But we also acknowledge that there is always going to be much more to the story.

The true joy (and turmoil at times) then follows as they become part of the Rams family. We work to form community and class identity. Our students grow up, learn their place in the world, and decide who they want to be. They decide how they want others to read them and they shape that story with their clothes, their haircuts, their laptop stickers, their profile pictures, their music playlists. Do they want to be the moody teen who only eats dessert at lunch? Do they want to be the agent for change when they think the school rules are unfair? Do they want to be the star athlete who devotes all their free time to practice so they can help bring home the next state championship? Each student is a rough draft in progress, a chaotic nebula trying to become the shining star. And we, the adults, cautiously and optimistically assume our place in reading and supporting these narratives in motion.

If you have spent any time with a middle school student, you know that what you get at first glance is rarely an accurate read. And what you experience today might not be the same child a week from now. The secret is to take in every clue and try every path to connect and help them find their way through the noise of adolescence. Sometimes it is a single conversation and the door is wide open. For others, the cover of their book may remain shut for quite some time until they secure trust in the relationship. The internal evolution of their development is such a spectacular series of events and it takes a truly masterful adult to understand, to empathize, and to reach them. Lucky for MICDS, we are blessed with skilled practitioners who know how to read the clues and support our students in this magical revelation of their best selves. Is there really any better way to spend your days?