2018 Head of School Fall Reflection

In the school business, fall is the time of beginnings—the time in which students, teachers and administrators set goals, make plans and wait for the year to unfold. Ideals give way to reality as the shine of the new school year wears off, usually around fall break, and the real work starts. With fall break in the rearview mirror, I thought it would be helpful to reflect a little on our ideals and beginning of the school year—hopefully before the shine wears off! 

Each fall our sixth graders spend time as a class preparing for the year ahead, and I had the privilege to spend some time with them at their retreat at Widjiwagan in August. Dr. Horner and the sixth-grade team do incredible work beforehand as these young people consider what it means to be a leader at Oak Hill and how they will lead as individuals and as a class. Each sixth grader does a leadership audit, which identifies their leadership qualities and ways that they contribute to the group. I can assure you that this leadership training has the diligence and discipline of any training that I have observed or taken part in—age appropriate, of course.

I arrived at Widjiwagan on a steamy Thursday morning. Summer storms threatened, but the group was in high spirits, enjoying a snack on the patio as they readied for their morning session. I chatted with a few of the kids as Mr. Aki wowed his charges, throwing tight spiral passes into a mass of jumping boys. 

The next activity of the morning was drafting the sixth-grade mission statement. Dr. Horner prepped the class with a few examples of company mission statements and ended with Oak Hill’s statement. Next she divided them into groups to reflect on three separate topics—their class’ characteristics, actions that demonstrate their characteristics and their legacy. The combination of the brainstorming eventually led to the following statement:

We are the class of 2019. We are a family who is friendly, supportive, and hardworking. We will draw our circle wide. We will form meaningful relationships by working side by side. By providing comfort, sparking hope, and focusing on growth, we seek to leave a legacy of integrity, service, and faithfulness.

A few wow moments: (1) Sixth graders wrote this! It is a beautiful, simple and inspiring statement. (2) I love the idea of “sparking hope” as one of the catalysts for integrity, service and faithfulness. Sparking hope implies an outward action, picking each other up when we are down and choosing to appeal to our best ideals in moments of trial. (3) This activity comes at a pivotal moment in these young people’s lives. The students are not only thinking about their own strengths, they are thinking about themselves within the context of their larger group. There are a handful of communities in my own life where I felt called to strong connections outside of my own family. Teams were key for me while growing up, as has been my church community and a band of friends that span miles and years. Our children need intentional communities to define themselves, their values and their relationships. As lives begin to twist and turn, community and connection will be centering moments for our children in crisis and celebration. This is a great gift for Oak Hill students that will be revealed year after year. 

Thank you for partnership in our wonderful school. As we approach Thanksgiving in the coming month, we have much for which to be grateful. My family and I are thankful for the Oak Hill community—teachers, parents and students. I look forward to the days, months and years ahead. 

With gratitude, 
Hart

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