On the Journey
news reel: stories of People, places, and learning AT Aspen Country Day School
Monthly update from Head of School Josh Wolman
The faculty and I have just completed a week of meetings, discussions and move in. There is so much excitement and enthusiasm; we are ready to start the school year and look forward to Tuesday.
I would like to introduce Responsibility as the theme for this school year. I hope that you will join me in thinking about how this ACDS core value applies to you personally, and the faculty will do the same with the students. We will also continue with the monthly themes that we introduced last year: September, Inclusiveness; October, Cooperation; November, Gratitude; December, Compassion; January, Patience; February, Courage; March, Integrity; April, Humility; May, Community. These themes will be woven throughout the program and referred to often.
Over the summer I had a chance to think a lot about ACDS and how special a school we have here in Aspen. In particular, the PreK-Eighth Grade advantage that we offer is pedagogically good for children. Here are a few examples:
- ACDS celebrates children and childhood, making it a wonderful place to grow up. We are all lucky to live in this valley! Our students remain younger longer without the influences, challenges, and pressures of high school, and all that comes with big-city busy life.
- ACDS is a comfortable and secure "home base" during the most significant period of growth and development in a student's life. If kids can develop life-long habits and love school at this age, they will keep that forever.
- Unlike K-12 schools, 100% of resources serve students during the all-important elementary and middle school years. Having moved from that kind of environment, I am well aware of how high school can drive the train at larger independent schools.
- ACDS is a child-centered environment. Students can take risks. As they figure out who they are and where they're headed, students can feel safe to try new activities and explore different things.
- Middle School students are school leaders and serve as age-appropriate mentors for younger students. Buddy time is a special part of the program, but it is also on the bus, in the halls, and at lunch where students can be together. This is a good example of why we will have more all-school assemblies this year.
- Our PreK-Eighth journey prepares students for the challenges of high school. We have an outstanding high school placement record with our graduates attending a whole host of different schools. Our alums are excelling at places like the Benjamin School in Florida, St. Paul's in New Hampshire, Aspen High School, Deerfield in Massachusetts, and others. This is a credit to all of our faculty. I am also proud with how well received the Boarding School Fair has been and how well attended. Be on the lookout for this great event on October 13th.
- The connection we have with parents is strong and special. I want to congratulate the PIE Parent Association leadership, which is in a great place with Brandy McAniff as the Chair and Fiona Sada Hagist as Vice Chair. PIE has helped build a warm and loving community. I want to thank Jamie Helzberg for chairing the Welcoming Committee, and Johnanna and Todd Hoeffner for hosting the recent New Family Welcome Dinner.
- Lastly, special programs we offer such as Outdoor Education, the All-School Play, the Peru trip, Sage lunches, and the graduation speeches truly are incredible!
Summer was also a time when I had the chance to think more about my job and being the Head of School. There are things I need to know and do, and I wanted to share some of those with you:
- Keep the school's mission clear and present at all times.
- Remember that there are no quick fixes.
- Hard work and deep thought by everyone in the school community as best we can are needed for real change to occur.
- Hire the best teachers you can and let them teach the way they do best.
- Look for classrooms that are noisy with learning and quiet with reflection.
- Hope that students not only work hard but enjoy their work.
- Loosen the reins for teachers, but tighten them at times as well.
- Let others take credit, even if it was my great idea.
- Be patient and empathize with parents.
- Appreciate differences.
- Accept controversy and occasional hard feelings as part of the job.
- Don't take myself too seriously, but know when to be serious.
- Skin and ski more and don't be afraid to laugh.
I hope you are as excited as we are to start the 2018-2019 school year. Take a minute to remember and celebrate all of the wonderful things about your children and the ACDS community. Whether this is your first year, or you are the parent of an Eighth Grader at the end of the journey, I wish you a great year!
I thank you for trusting us with your children, and know that my door is always open,