At our opening faculty meeting on Monday, before teachers began their professional development activities for the day, I took some time to elaborate on themes that I have been emphasizing since my arrival at MICDS this school year: the essential work of investing in a school culture of respectful and meaningful interpersonal relationships and, by extension, investing in and strengthening our school community. I used the PechaKucha format – 20 slides for 20 seconds each – to share my thoughts with my colleagues, and I will share them with you here in turn.
My remarks were inspired in part by the obituary for past Saint Louis Country Day School Board Chair Charlie Allen, who died on December 20, which included the observation that Charlie “prejudged no person or situation.” What a wonderful way to be remembered! As I continue to lead MICDS, I can think of no more important obligation than to develop in our students the quality of forbearance, which is to say the capacity and patience to withhold judgment – intellectually, socially or otherwise.
I shared Charlie’s obituary with my colleagues, and I reminded them of the encouragement that I gave them at the beginning of the school year not to be guided by assumptions or received categorizations in our work with MICDS students. “Don’t always believe what you think” is how I put it then. I expanded on this encouragement Monday morning by identifying first-person/second-person “I-you” relationships as antidotes to the often antagonistic “I-they” non-relationships in our lives. Referencing the work of theologian Martin Buber, I encouraged our teachers to elevate the “I-you” paradigm even further, to “I-Thou,” and thereby to contribute to a culture of authentic, heartfelt community at our school.
You will find linked here my presentation to the faculty, which I also shared with the Collaboration and Inclusion Committee of the Board of Trustees on Wednesday evening. We have such an extraordinary opportunity to connect with and ennoble one another at MICDS, and thereby to create the conditions for ever more meaningful and durable learning experiences not only for our students but for all of us who belong to this place.
Always reason, always compassion, always courage. I wish you and your families a wonderful weekend.
Head of School