Of Dr. Seuss’ many memorable children’s stories, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins falls somewhere behind The Cat in the Hat and ahead of On Beyond Zebra in its acclaim. The 500 Hats is a story of a king who demands that his subjects remove their hats in his presence. For Bartholomew, when his hat is removed, another mysteriously appears in its place. The king insists that Bartholomew remove this second hat, and yet another appears. This continues and each new hat becomes a bit fancier until finally, the 500th hat is replete with the grandeur of royalty, and Bartholomew graciously gives it to the king. In the analogy that follows, there is no one that plays the king character. Thank goodness.
I think of Seuss’ story every time a parent mentions with appreciation that our faculty ‘wear many hats,’ a comment I heard often during parent socials this fall. No one, of course, is demanding that any hats be removed. To the contrary, each hat is a celebrated one. Consider the building manager and the associate director of alumni relations that coach the boys’ interscholastic soccer team; the technology teacher who is also a seventh grade advisor; the after school teacher that teaches health and wellness; the third grade teacher who is also a current parent, an alumna, a coach, a past board member, and a past associate; the visual arts teacher who runs our sustainability program and coaches the fencing team. Belmont Day is filled with educators who take great pride in each of their 500 hats.
Wearing many hats is a critical element of independent school education, and comes with countless ancillary benefits. BDS is a place where we proudly affirm that ‘each teacher is every child’s teacher’ and ‘each child is every teacher’s student.’ A quick look out at Big Blue where business office staff are keeping an eye on the safety of students during recess or in the Erskine Library when any number of folksadministrators, the nurse, tech office staff, and moreare supervising Early Birds, helping students set up dominoes or design an intricate marble maze, provide evidence that a Belmont Day education is about much more than what happens within the walls of one grade’s classroom.
The story of our 500 hats is the story of a community where the values upheld by teachers and students in classrooms are held by everyone in the building, and where each of us will seize a learning opportunity no matter where or how it may manifest.
This culture presents itself in many ways at Belmont Dayfrom yearbook dedications to a buildings and grounds staff member and the school nurse that acknowledge their commitment to our students and community, to coaches who are also math or visual arts teachers that reinforce the values for our athletes and promote good sportsmanship on the fields and courts.
As conferences begin today and carry on into next week, I remind parents, as you sit down to hear about the progress and growth of your children, that you will be met by teachers with a distinct, nuanced, and highly informed understanding of their learning. The knowledge this faculty has is born of 500 hats, each one shaped by myriad interactions with studentslunch table conversations, observations of social relationships at recess, giving a comforting word when needed, or suggesting the perfect book. Just like Bartholomew, beneath each hat is a new, more refined and intricate one, a testament to their understanding of the children who are, each and every one, their students.
Have a great weekend, everyone.