1/17/20 Courage, Connections and Curiosity

Written By Chelle Wabrek Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs
 
This text was the theme of my week.  With the final two LS Principal Candidates visiting Monday through Thursday and the Leadership Team Retreat today, my weekly routines have been wonky! I am so thankful for the surprise visits, like this one, AND the awesome stories that landed in my email in-box about the learning that is exploding from classrooms!

I am so acutely aware of what I am missing when I have a week like this that prevents me from getting into classrooms. There was vibrant class discussion about responses to industrialization in AP World that included conversations about the rise of compulsory education in the mid-1800s (Horace Mann). Students discussed the way schooling was structured in direct response to factory owners' need for better-trained assembly line-style workers.  
This led to the virtual appearance of Sir Ken Robinson and his explanation of “Changing Education Paradigms” and you can bet your boots I won’t miss their continued discussion of schooling next week as it may lend some insight into our understanding of the work we do in Eva Lovett’s tradition. 

I missed TWO, count them, TWO escape rooms designed by Middle School teachers for their students. One in math class requiring students to complete deductive reasoning activities that necessitated accurate computation for a successful escape….
And another in Global Issues, requiring students to enact all they have learned in class, puzzling their way through maps of the regions they have explored, discovering lock combinations after decoding messages using historical knowledge clues, and piecing together images of people from cultures they have investigated.  
Lower School unveiled their new library! The thoughtful work put into its design highlights they way our library staff hopes students will enact knowledge in this space.  There are quirky nooks that encourage a love of reading…...
...soft spots to snuggle up with a good book…..
….and on the wall leading to the InGen lab, stands a light wall (think Lite Brites…..that twist) that allow students to create art from giant pixels and to even program a light formation…...

During my visits to classrooms this year there are three words that consistently stand out to me:  connection, courage and curiosity. Those are the things that draw me into your rooms and I know the things that make our students so special.  

At Lovett, the word “relationships” is used over and over, but what I really see are connections….between teachers and students, between faculty, between students themselves, but also between disciplines, between texts, between skills.  The word “relationships” almost sounds limiting when I think of what you do. Connections were loud and clear in the Upper School Faculty meeting….. 
...as advisors listened to ways they can best support their advisees when doing four year course planning. Patrick Boswell connected the way US courses work in concert with one another to broaden the minds of our students.  The connections between courses and disciplines was clear and meaningful. 

Because schools should be places of inquiry for everyone, not just students, our MS faculty meeting featured the ARC staff responding to the curiosity of teachers who are looking for ways to best support those students with non-traditional learning styles. 
Creating the kind of lessons that we always want to design for students, the ARC staff asked for volunteers to pour water from two distinct pitchers.  From one, water flowed quickly and smoothly, filling a bucket rapidly. From the other, water was impeded by something that blocked the spout and that bucket filled more slowly.  This model created a visual anchor for the information, compensatory strategies and practical tips provided to help students with slower processing soar. The curiosity exhibited by the group in service to their students was inspirational, and symptomatic of that same trait visible in classrooms. Teachers were left wanting more of this practical help and our ARC staff recommended, Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up, as an additional resource. 

And talk about courage…..Lower School faculty, who have attended FOUR afternoon faculty meetings led by the four LS Principal candidates, had a special treat. Alex Guthrie, a contestant from The Voice from our very own Marietta, serenaded the group with Sam Smith’s, “Not the Only One,” and a composition of his own entitled, “Colorado.”  He is the boyfriend of Janet Boner’s daughter and the courage that he demonstrated on The Voice is just one of the ways we want our students to understand that core value. 
Our students show courage as they have new ideas, answer questions, take intellectual risks, but also as they stand up for one another with kind words, when they shut down gossip and when they link arms with one another to do good. 

Thank you for all you do as you create connections, enact courage and demonstrate curiosity in our classrooms.  Those values were loud and clear at Sunday’s Admission Open House as our campus was crawling with visitors. A smaller group of prospective lions gathered in the lower school on Saturday for testing and a special picture in their own lions’ mane (created by who else?  Edi…..who could honestly make ANYTHING!).  

We are so blessed to have such a committed faculty, here on weekends and on evenings, to either cheer on our athletes or watch our musicians, and link arms with admissions staff to attract Atlanta’s most wonderful students!

Thank you!  And I would be remiss to not add another thank you to the very special football coach who left me a present on Tuesday morning…...
I love this poster because I love my tigers AND those sentences represent so much of what we believe at Lovett!

Happy Weekend!

Joyfully, 
Chelle
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