I have spent a lot of time this summer thinking about what inspires me — particularly what truly inspires me about Episcopal Schools. I thought about my call to teach and to serve in education. Then I started thinking about my parents. Both of whom being college graduates, education was always very important to them. They consistently looked for the best schools to enroll my siblings and me in. Throughout my elementary school years I attended a total of four schools. I can’t help but believe that my parents sought out the best education because they felt we deserved the best and they wanted us to reach our full potential. This set the foundation and inspiration for why I am in the education profession.
I got the actual “call” to know what to make life about when I was living in New York City and working at Channel 13/WNET in the education department. I saw what teachers were doing with their students to engage them in their learning and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. It was exciting and innovative, and I longed to support students’ love of learning. I wanted to inspire them the same way I was inspired. One of my early teaching jobs was in an Episcopal school. The experience was transformative. The students were social justice seekers, self-advocacy experts, diverse in every way you can imagine, and some of the kindest people I have ever met. I stayed at that school for 18 years. Then I immediately found my way to another Episcopal school after my tenure there.
I was quickly able to see the tie that binds all Episcopal schools together.
We are a collective of educational institutions who care for the whole child, nurturing them mentally, spiritually, physically and developmentally, inculcating in them skills that last not just through high school or college, but a lifetime. That is a very special kind of education that Episcopal schools offer. I have also witnessed this firsthand, spending nine years as an Episcopal school parent. My daughter graduated and went on to a college preparatory high school (graduating with honors) and then on to a four year university. I witness the Episcopal faith permeate through her as a young adult and I am ever-thankful.
Every year I look forward to watching my students have those inspirational moments, witnessing them and fostering them. I look forward to them being able to have the confidence and platform to take a moment of inspiration and continue it. Our amazing teachers are particularly skilled at fostering these “ah-ha” moments, be it in the art studio, in science, math or writing, on the athletic field, within technology, or in the music room. Episcopal schools are places where children discover who they are, try new things, develop a joy for learning along with lifelong skills, and are encouraged to stretch themselves.
Perhaps most importantly it should be a place to have fun. Inspiration is sometimes inside of you — it can be knowing what you want to do, an experience that you have, or a problem that you want to solve in life.
What will those moments of inspiration be for you this year?
About the Author
Khadija Fredericks is head of school at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School in Saratoga, CA. Khadija brings 23 years of experience as a teacher and administrator to Saint Andrew’s. Prior to that, she served as the Director of Lower School at St. Paul’s Episcopal School, in Oakland. Khadija holds a Master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University and earned her bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University.