Reflecting on God’s Time

As a chaplain, part of my job is to be a calming and peaceful presence in the midst of the chaotic storm that sometimes accurately describes modern education. In my short time as a chaplain, I have... Read More »

Creating a Culture of Inquiry

“You have a question about our math program? We have a curriculum coordinator for that! Diversity in our curriculum? We have a curriculum coordinator for that! What’s an Episcopal school? Talk to the curriculum coordinator!” Four years ago, when I took the position of the first Curriculum Coordinator at St. Matthew’s Parish School, the job felt a bit like remodeling a house. There was a strong foundation as an Episcopal school and, like an old New England farmhouse, additions that had been incorporated over the years. But the rooms and additions were actually different parts of the curriculum, and my job was to examine the structure as a whole and build hallways to make connections and identify priorities for construction. Shortly after I started, St. Matthew’s began a strategic planning process that involved various constituent groups. What emerged from all of the observation, reading, and discussion was unanimity that we were a school fiercely committed to doing intentional work to develop good young people, but were less clear about our academic identity: Who were we academically, and how did certain themes connect our programs? Read More »

Noses In, Fingers Out

Heads of school will recognize immediately the goal of that first meeting: good governance. I think the three biggest areas of concern for schools coming out of the pandemic are student health, faculty retention, and governance. You probably have experienced a critical moment in at least one of those areas. The fast-paced, prolonged, and unpredictable disruption to our schools created existential demands about enrollment and operations. By necessity, the crisis required trustees to work nimbly with heads and administrators in an area of decision-making formerly marked by a clear separation of roles. Many schools may be discovering now that good governance is threatened when the Board or individual trustees linger in that place where they enjoyed being tactical instead of strategic. Coming out of the pandemic, therefore, is an excellent time to review good governance. Read More »

A Fresh Start

I love the start of a new school year! It is invigorating and exciting for me. I remember as a child my excitement about the first day of school. I’d ask myself who was my new teacher? Who was... Read More »

Inquiry as a Core Value

I received a letter the other day—an actual paper letter in an envelope with a stamp and a handwritten address—from a grandparent. The letter was what is becoming a familiar form these days, a rant: multiple, detailed paragraphs not based on firsthand knowledge or fact, just a simple rant. As these things do—as was intended—it upset me, it got under my skin. The writer is an Episcopal priest, his grandchildren attend my school, an Episcopal School, yet, he claimed, they knew nothing about Christian holidays or practices: “my grandchildren can tell me about Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Celebration of Light, they know ‘jack’ about Christmas.” Read More »

Connections Between Chapel, Spirituality, and the Classroom

This is a quote from one 8th-grade boy who offered a homily on “Art and Spirituality” in our middle school chapel. Art has been a way for him to discover the gifts that God has endowed him with and to understand his relationship to God. This connection between spirituality and education is at the heart of Dr. Lisa Miller’s work at the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education based at Columbia Teachers College. Her research has encouraged me to find more ways to bring out the spiritual and religious dimensions of our students. One way in which we have done this at Campbell Hall is through our chapel program, where we are helping our students make connections between the subjects that interest them and their spiritual life. Read More »

God Makes Queer People, and It Is Good

Inspired by the NAES Statement on Inclusion and Episcopal Identity, I would like to describe our school’s vision of how Episcopal schools can play a unique and powerful role in the area of gender inclusivity. Many secular and Christian schools get this one wrong, so Episcopal schools are poised to play a crucial leadership role. Read More »

Thriving Through Interdependence

After we closed our school in March 2020, I did not return to my office in person until late April. After weeks of reinventing school as we know it and bringing a virtual platform to life from my kitchen, I was ready to go to my office to see if my plants were still alive and check in on our building. It was strange and sad to walk through the halls with no children and faculty in place. When in session, our school is normally bubbling with the sounds of joyful students from ages 3 to 11. The now eerie quiet added to my growing melancholy and malaise, feelings that were defining my early days and weeks of the Covid pandemic. After all, children are central to the work we do in leading our schools; in this new context, I was leading our community without their presence to guide me, and it left me hollow and searching. Read More »

Life Has Never Been Normal

I began teaching in the Fall of 2001. I was a 23-year-old graduate student, and with just about a week of training, I was thrown into a freshman English classroom to teach college writing to students not much younger than I was. So I had only been teaching a couple of weeks when the events of September 11, 2001 unfolded. Read More »

Where the Magic Happens!

When last school year commenced, I felt an unusually big relief. At that time it seemed as if we were getting ahead of the COVID 19 pandemic. Most of our school personnel had been vaccinated and many other states were following suit. I assumed that I would walk into the new school year with COVID in the rearview mirror. Read More »