2/7/20 Weekly Reflection

Written by Chelle Wabrek, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs
Greetings from Adairsville, where we are at a board retreat! 

But, there is nothing better to do on a chilly day than settle in for a read aloud!  All the more wonderful when it is Mr. Popper’s Penguins on the playlist!
Ears wide open, you could see the gears turning when students were asked, “Can you IMAGINE??” They clearly could!

That same mind’s eye was at work in Botany class, as a master storyteller/teacher wove the origin stories of medicinal plants:  quinine, ephedra, coca.
The science of each plant was deeply enmeshed in the cultural anthropology and folklore of the peoples who first explored its usage. Near the end of yesterday’s strategic design team meeting, a student from this class was coming out of the weight room and we had a brief exchange:

Student:  Did you enjoy botany?
Me:  I learned a TON!
Student:  Yeah.  What I really like is that the straight up science is way easier to learn because he connects it to people and like, the traditions of the people who really discovered it.  And he gets so hyped about it that it makes us hyped.

Enough said.

Eva Lovett challenged parents, when looking at a school for their children, to really think about teachers with great specificity. 
She noted that they should be people of vision and background whom you would be likely to find interesting regardless of their relation to your child.” And the corollary to that admonition is:  How do we create this in kids? How do we allow our passion and purpose in vocation to spread as contagion to students?

As teachers express their investment in their values, students take notice. A MS door decorating competition……
….clearly illustrated the connection between identity and vocation that we hope our own students begin to understand in meaningful ways.

Lower School students, spurred on by their teacher’s passion for basketball, looking for an avenue to express sadness about the passing of Kobe Bryant…..

…..dug into Kobe’s “Mamba Mentality,” joining an intellectual exploration of philosophy with the emotional world of kids.  The board invites them to live differently.

The Middle School African American Affinity Group led this week’s chapel and highlighted why making time for identity exploration matters. Dancers, musicians and public speakers…..
….articulated the importance of identity, of capturing and sharing talents and passions.  The generosity of spirit each of these students demonstrated in this service showed the importance of helping kids live fully and faithfully into their authentic selves..not easy when you are among only a handful of students who look like you. 

That same self-work exploded in chorus this week, as musicologist/cultural worker/Brandeis professor, Jane Sapp landed at Lovett for two and a half weeks!
She pushed our students to think deeply about the history connected to the music she investigated with them. She wove the meaning underpinning songs like, “Ain’t You Got a Right” and “Wade in the Water,” into her work, pushing students to think about how they positively contribute to a culture of dignity at Lovett.  Her energy drove their energy, insisting their historical exploration of music force each of them to advance equity and justice and embrace and honor diversity. (Want to hear them in action? 22 seconds of awesome: RIGHT HERE).

This spirit inhabited New Testament class as well, where close analysis of the gospels reveal the qualities of Jesus that each disciple most needed in their own lives. 
Students noticed, in their comparison that Matthew framed Jesus as the new Moses, the great teacher who gave us the Sermon on the Mount.  John framed Jesus in the most divine light, never showing doubt or worry. While Luke highlighted Jesus as one who was “social justice edgy.” This was the only gospel that mentions Jesus being born in a “manger.” Jesus was poor and Luke wanted us to remember why that was important. 

These experiences remind me of some of the Episcopal roots of the early Lovett School.  Traditions that include long-standing dedication to inclusion, respect for the dignity of all, rigorous practice of inquiry, intentional pluralism, social service and responsibility and uncompromising commitment to self-knowledge. 

These roots shine through as students find quiet time to practice an art…..
….when we give them voice to talk about weighty and important themes, like freedom…...
...and when we allow them to connect deeply with living things (like orang-utans and gorillas).....
...to fully understand the domino effect of even our smallest actions.  When we buy products with palm oil, we contribute to the deforestation of the only natural habitats of Orangutans. Coltan, a key element in production of cell phones, is mined in the Congo, depleting gorilla habitat.  Our responsibility to our world matters. 

And to ensure this responsibility doesn’t overwhelm students, Lovett offers a connection to faith in action.  
We want our students to understand the complexities of an increasingly connected world.  To know themselves in that world and to understand what they can do about it…..from prayer, as these Kindergarteners were discussing, to our purchasing power, to literally building a better world.

Thank you for being the people of passion and purpose that give those same things to students each day.  Your daily generosity of spirit sits at the heart of all we do in service to students and to the transformative power of education!


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