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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Begin With Goodness

Begin with goodness. This is something of a mantra I use at the start of something new—a new morning, a new school year, a new class or faculty meeting, a new encounter with a colleague, student or stranger. Begin with goodness.  Read More »

The Repair Shop

One might say it's a cop-out to just blog about whatever I've been watching on television recently. As the person tasked with editing this blog, I am constantly wowed by our writers' depth of lived experience or vast wealth of highly nuanced texts from which they draw inspiration.. However, these are the times of Covid, creative pickings are slim, and so I will continue doing what most of us have been for the past year or so—making do. Read More »

Jesus of Nazareth Walks Into a School…

One of the most vexing questions in an Episcopal school is how to be authentically Episcopal and welcoming of all. This question is especially vexing when it comes to religious pluralism among and within the school’s many constituents: students, parents, faculty, trustees, alums, and, if your school is associated with a parish or cathedral, parishioners and Episcopal clergy. Read More »

Becoming a Nobody: an Ash Wednesday Reflection

One of the many reasons I have enjoyed being Chaplain in Episcopal Schools is that I probably spend more time than the average parish priest reading, thinking about, and teaching from wisdom traditions other than Christianity. I’m a Jesus guy at heart—and I know where my allegiances are—but my experience teaching the great wisdom traditions of the world has opened my mind to new ways of thinking and approaching problems that arise in life. Occasionally, I learn something from another tradition that feels entirely compatible with my Christian faith, so much so that I have to remind myself it doesn’t appear anywhere in the gospels. Today I’m referencing the Buddhist idea of nirvana. Read More »