In a week where we received the tough news that our school has been given a Level 3 probationary designation by the Massachusetts Department of Education because more than ten percent of students “opted out” of standardized testing, and in a time where our community and country are in a dramatic period of redefinition, I find tremendous solace in the wonderful teaming, conversations, and community partnerships that define our school and community.
At the Berkshire Summit for Nonprofit leaders last Sunday at the Mahaiwe, over 150 members of our Berkshire community met together to think and talk about commitment, collaboration, and change. We learned about the term "Kaleidoscopic Thinking", coined to describe practical creativity where problems and projects are turned around and approached from every angle to achieve great successes. Jason Schupbach, Director of Design Programs at the National Endowment for the Arts shared examples of community development efforts across the country where arts project are integrated with wellness initiatives. Check out some examples here - http://www.artplaceamerica.or g/our-work.
Our PTA (that is you!), partners, and staff are working with vision and in ways that are beginning to exemplify kaleidoscopic thinking, and we are building capacity to do even more. An example is the collaboration we’ve developed over the last three summers between our teachers, the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, Fairview Hospital, the Rotary Club, the PTA, Project Connection Staff, the Congregational Church, and volunteers from the community to provide thoughtful summer tutoring and nutritious food for students and families participating in Summer Project Connection. There are so many unsung heroes in this and other efforts that make each of us stronger.
Our students are quick to share their ideas too. Jack, a first grader, let me know today “…what I love about school is that in Mr. Chamberlin’s class you can write stories”.
It turns out that each day we are writing our own story. We will often disagree whether the topic is standardized tests, music instruction, what to do at recess, or homework. It is, however, absolutely wonderful to work in a community where together we imagine and work towards a bright and productive future for all.