I am writing to you fully enjoying the gorgeous weather at the end of the summer. It’s been a real treat! As we all turn our thoughts from summer relaxation to the beginning of a new school year, I wanted to take a moment and share some reflections.
As I begin my sixth year as Principal, I continue to marvel at what an extraordinary place South is. Students and faculty have demonstrated kindness and compassion while holding themselves to high standards of achievement. I am very pleased to hear frequently that our faculty is top-notch and our students are uniquely prepared to face academic challenges ahead.
While the educational strengths of our school make me proud, I also worry that our community focuses so much on goals that we can forget to live in the present. I struggle with how we establish the right balance between academic challenge and the joy of learning and everyday life.
Last year our community experienced profound loss. We also saw the strength of the human spirit through the resilience of our students and faculty. This year we will build upon our commitment to keeping students safe through a series of mental health initiatives aimed at equipping our students and faculty with skills and resources to support one another, including presenting the “Signs of Suicide” training to each student throughout the course of the school year. I will update you with specific dates and procedures as these plans are finalized.
One of the highlights for our administrative team this summer was reading Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, which offers the view that “everyone can change and grow through application and experience.” Specifically, Dweck emphasizes the importance of viewing mistakes not as an indication of ability, but as a critical source of information that leads to further growth. I believe that the concept of growth mindset has important implications for how students and faculty interpret their work and experiences here at South. This will be one of the themes of our staff professional development for the year and we will be thinking of ways to bring this conversation to our classrooms and your homes.
Later this fall, after we settle into the school year, I plan to engage students, faculty, and families in highlighting aspects of our school culture we want to protect and maintain, and identifying areas for development and improvement. Newton South is not merely the bricks and mortar that we walk through, but is instead an amalgamation of the people who walk the halls. It is not an immovable object; Newton South is us, and it changes as we change. I am confident that together we can continue to build a school where every child has the time and space to try new things, and to take the risks needed to develop self-knowledge.
Thank you, as always, for partnering with us to support and educate your children.
I’m looking forward to a great year. Go Lions!