Observing Our Culture of Caring

Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: September 20th, 2019

On the morning after our Lower School Curriculum Night, I am left reflecting on what I hope everyone saw on display at our school last night: caring. Of course, every aspect of our mission was on display, but what has long distinguished the Belmont Day experience is the simple caring that goes into every teacher’s lesson, every moment of contact between adult and child, every curricular decision, from the moment a child arrives to the moment they leave our care each day.

Last night’s gathering also had me thinking of yesterday morning. As bandwidth has become a bit more available without a Barn to build or major programmatic shifts like a new middle school entry point to navigate, I find myself in more and more classrooms taking a first-hand look at the teaching and learning that happens here every day, and visits yesterday morning showcased a different kind of caring from our older students.

My day began outside of the Barn shaking hands with our Early Bird arrivals. It was a perfect fall morning–crisp enough for a jacket, but still bright enough to remind you that summer isn’t too far gone. At 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday, the Barn welcomes seventh and eighth grade art students to their woodworking, innovation, and visual art classes. I stopped by each and heard about the canoe a handful of eighth graders will be building in woodworking with Mr. Smith, saw a brilliant collection of collages put together in one visual art classroom with Ms. Solomon, and learned how to make a multicolored stencil and float print from Mrs. Armstrong in the other. Beyond that, though, I saw teachers who knew exactly what each of their students needed in order to be successful in their endeavors. An appropriate evolution of the care I would see last night at Curriculum Night for the Lower School.

My stop in the innovation space revealed what that care looks like as we face outward. Together with Mr. Robinson, the students in his “Global Goals” classroom were iterating their designs to help improve our world in various ways. There were so many incredible ideas matched with the energy, creativity, and knowledge to make them real.

One student discussed his design to create a machine that could irrigate barren farming lands autonomously. Another offered using bat houses in a protected forest that could doubly serve as an early warning system against forest fires. Others added their ideas for a system to draw mosquitoes away from illness-ridden populations, and creating a symbiotic system with a plant resting on water that would simultaneously clean the air and the ocean.

What struck me about each of the innovative projects, was the common thread of environmental care that ran through them–all on the eve of a student-organized global strike to bring awareness to climate change. Led by Swedish sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg the global strike (which several BDS students, families, and faculty plan to attend) brings that care to scale. What you saw last night at Curriculum Night–the modeling and nurturing of care between students and their teachers–grows in scope as the students travel through their years at Belmont Day. It shapes them to be caring global citizens capable of affecting meaningful change for generations. For those of you in attendance last night, I hope you saw threads of it. For those of us in the building, we have the opportunity to see it taking shape every day, and then nurture it with some care of our own.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

PS - The answer to last week’s ‘24’ problem:  ((3x5) - 7)*3 = 24

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