March 31, 2016

The Best Part of the Job!

I am lucky to work in a place full of passionate and talented people. All of our teachers and staff here at Friends’ are excited to be here and they give their all every day. Similar to most modern workplaces, everyone wears multiple hats.

Teachers are in classrooms every day making a difference. They also support our admissions process, serve on our Board or its committees, develop curriculum, market the school, and contribute to school life in countless other ways.  Our non-teaching staff do their day jobs, help in the parking lot and on the playground, serve on hiring committees, physically take care of our campus, interact with teachers to tell the stories of the school, and sometimes even clean up after a bathroom accident!

As head of school, I am directly involved with all departments and aspects of running the school.  Sometimes that means I spend a lot of time with budgets, strategic decision making, and other behind-the-scenes processes that are essential to the overall health and future of the school.

What I enjoy most, however, is spending time with our students and participating in their learning.  On Wednesday, several members of our administrative team, including Ann Reid, Meg Hansen, Melanie Leggett, and Jana Bledsoe, joined me at a wonderful author’s celebration in Beth Huennekens’ first grade class.

Beth’s students have been working hard over the last few weeks writing non-fiction teaching books and have recently published them, complete with illustrations, tables of contents, and dedication pages.

Book titles and topics ranged from dogs and mice, to stories based on The Descendants, SWAT teams, soccer, and mud. (Yes, mud!) The first graders read their books to parents too.

First grade teacher Beth Huennekens
I heard confident readers sharing their writing with pride.  They had all worked extremely hard and were clearly proud of their product.

Beth knows that, as important as the final books are, it is the process of writing that is most important. One of her many goals for her students is to guide them to proficiency in each domain of literacy – expressive and receptive oral language; reading with skill, fluency, and comprehension for information and pleasure; and writing effectively in a variety of genres with craft and mechanics. She knows that all of these literacy skills are developed in synchrony.  A skilled teacher like Beth uses events like this author celebration to give her students impetus and hone their literacy skills.

I got to learn about so many topics, through the eyes and the words of first graders.  One first grade girl was so passionate about her book, that she took Meg Hansen’s face in her hands as she explained her writing.  She was so ardent about Meg truly understanding her

Meg told me later, “It was good to step away from the business end of running the school and be so invested in the important work of why we are all here.”  Ann Reid described her interaction with students as  “the best part of my job!”

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