You’d think that schools would naturally nurture deep community bonds. But we live in an era and under a testing regime that emphasizes individual accomplishments, not community cohesion. Even when schools talk about values, they tend to talk about individualistic values, like grit, resilience and executive function, not the empathy, compassion and solidarity that are good for community and the heart.
The above quote is from a New York Times article by David Brooks, Communities of Character. While individual skills and accomplishments should be developed and acknowledged, we need to go deeper as a school. I hope our Monday Morning Meetings and Friday Town Meetings are seen as moving is this direction. The stories we tell and the narratives we use to describe student accomplishments are meant to accentuate positive character and connect us more deeply with one another as community members.
This type of community building has to be worked on and honed over time. Just like all the intricacies of math are not learned in its first lesson, we must continuously come back to character and community and how they relate to and improve one another.
I am reminded of our 6th IAA belief statement, Building Community:
We believe that creating a school culture where each child, family member, and staff
person is a valued and welcomed contributor to our community allows us to practice
hospitality, inclusion, and invitation.
We also have to believe that the skills inherent in this type of focus hold the same value as educating our children around Math and Literacy.
Being bigger than ourselves, connecting to others in meaningful ways are vital to not only the work we do at IAA, but the work we will do in life. As students remember their time at IAA I hope they have two major takeaways in this regard, I was loved for who I was and I was accepted as part of the larger community and I now I have the skills to contribute and improve my community. I think we are well on our way.
Artfully, Mr. Bobby