Another exciting school year is in full swing. Students in every grade are already immersed in challenging units of learning as they make connections with teachers and classmates. As we set out on another year together, I find myself thinking about connections, and the many ways they are manifested in Edgemont.
The keynote speaker at our initial Superintendent’s Conference Day in September was Heidi Hayes Jacobs, one of the foremost thinkers in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and school reform in the country and internationally. In her latest book, Bold Moves for Schools: How We Create Remarkable Schools, she draws a useful distinction among curriculum and practices that are “antique”, “classical”, and “contemporary.” The antique represents outdated ways of doing things that have outlived their usefulness. The classical practices are old, but still valuable and worth keeping. The contemporary represents new approaches, technologies, and resources that we seek to accept and integrate into our education program. As Dr. Jacobs explains, the single most important factor in determining which practice to use is how it impacts the learner. Balancing classical and contemporary practices, and connecting these decisions to students, is the time-consuming yet exciting work our teachers do every day.
Jennifer Darger, President of the Edgemont Board of Education, also spoke about connections at Superintendent’s Conference Day. Her mother was an elementary school teacher for many years, and as Mrs. Darger told the audience, it was always her mother’s mission to make her classroom into a castle, and the students the “royalty” who lived there. Each child received a crown, and throughout the school year, the students could acquire jewels for their crown. One of these jewels - perhaps the most important one - was the “Jewel of the Heart”, and it could only be earned through genuine displays of courage, integrity, and kindness. This year, the Board of Education will increase their connection to the student community by recognizing students who display these ideals, in addition to the academic recognitions, at Board of Education meetings.
Lastly, I’m thinking about concrete connections - literally. Although most Edgemont residents are aware of EHS’s unique “California”-style campus and the breezeways that connect its buildings, not everyone knows that beneath those breezeways is an intricate system of tunnels that carry heat, water, and telecommunications data back and forth among the buildings. This past summer, those tunnels and walkways were completely renovated as part of our multi-faceted improvement plan.
As I reflect on these “secret” tunnels, I think about all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into our Focus Forward goals throughout the summer and the school year, and the high-quality educational program that so many Edgemont residents have come to value in our schools. There are many connections on a daily basis that support curriculum, instruction, professional learning, student services and class enrichment. The connections our teachers, administrators, PTA/PTSA and community organizations make as they work together and learn from one another each day, serve as a model for our students.
I look forward to all of the exciting connections I know this school year will hold.