I remember very clearly the “roller coaster” of emotions that accompanied the start of a new school year (both as a student and a teacher). Feelings of eagerness and elation would give way to feelings of doom and despair as each precious day of summer vacation was crossed off of the calendar. The whole roller coaster ride would repeat itself several times a week (sometimes, even more frequently). Although honestly, I was always more excited about the first day of school as an employee as opposed to my days as a student.
As I am preparing for my first full year on the NAES team, I would describe the dominant emotion I am experiencing as excitement. Why am I excited to be working with NAES?
I honestly believe that the Episcopal identity of our schools is our greatest single asset today. NAES exists to help schools and those serving schools to deepen their collective understanding of what it means to be an Episcopal school. I am excited to be part of that mission.
How we come together to worship, how we order our community life together, how we approach religious formation and study, and how we understand our commitment to creating a just society serves as the foundation of what it means to be an Episcopal school. A new year presents new opportunities for reflection on how we are living this core identity in our relationships and in our programs on our campuses.
Further, communicating to others how we understand who we are, what we believe, and what we do can also be challenging. Articulating this dimension of your school in authentic and relevant ways has never been more critical. NAES has the expertise, resources, and best practices to not only help you live into this identity, but also to be able to share it clearly with all the members of your community.
We are coming out of a year and a half of challenges and struggles the likes of which many of us have never experienced before. In light of that reality, I remain excited and encouraged because I know that our Episcopal identity prepares us for whatever challenge we may find ourselves facing today and tomorrow. NAES constantly provides ways for a school to deepen its understanding of Episcopal identity. I am truly excited about working alongside you in this important endeavor.
The Rev. David A. Madison, D.Min. is Executive Director-Elect of the National Association of Episcopal Schools.