Brendan Largay, Head of School

Crafting the BDS Story

Crafting the BDS Story

As I grow more and more comfortable each day at Belmont Day School as its new Head of School, I find myself reflecting often on one of my primary goals for the year: Get to know BDS. It sounds so simple when you read it like that. Get to know BDS. How hard can that be?

Well, consider all that hides within that simple six word imperative. Getting to know BDS means becoming an anthropologist of sorts: seeking out those nuanced details that make this place tick; discovering the means by which our students become great citizens, thoughtful leaders, talented problem-solvers; unearthing the magic of this exemplary faculty; unpacking each of our core values; and, by the way, figuring out how to get from the Kiva to the PAC for an assembly if you can. Thus, I found myself searching for a place to start. And so, I decided to imagine it as my Capstone project and turned it around as a question: What is the BDS Story?

Like any good eighth grader, I started with research. Who would have the answer to such a question? The BDS Story stands on 89 proud years of history, with twelve previous heads of school, hundreds of faculty, and thousands of students, families and alumni. So, I started with the folks I knew best—the faculty. On their first day back from summer, before they had begun settling into their classrooms or had any time to reconnect, I handed them each an index card and I set the scenario: you are at your local Starbucks and you’ve just completed your order. The barista has set to work making it. At that very moment, the person behind you in line has noticed the BDS logo on your jacket/notebook/t-shirt and says, “Excuse me. I’m curious. What’s the Belmont Day School?” You have 90 seconds (approximately the time to make your drink at an efficient Starbucks, like the one in Belmont Center…I actually timed it this summer) to tell the BDS Story, so what do you say?

Consider this answer: Belmont Day School is a Pre-k to grade 8, independent school that puts students at the center of all they do, and the students are guided by six incredible core values of respect, responsibility, caring, joy, honesty, and excellence and are taught by an awesome faculty. If you have a bit of data-based curiosity, I would tell you that by my calculation, there are five distinct answers here: Pre-k to 8, independent, student-centric, core values, and great faculty. I would then tell you that of the 59 teaching and non-teaching faculty at BDS who answered this question, there were 65 distinct answers. To me, that’s a big number. I interpret it to mean that there’s a lot to say about what makes BDS great. I also interpret it to mean that BDS may mean different things to different people, which is great, so long as at least some of them are consistent from one person to the next. It turns out…they were.

To no surprise, what the faculty said consistently—about community, our core values, our pedagogy, and our students—were all enormously helpful for me as I began to unearth the BDS Story for myself. So, now it’s your turn. Go grab that coffee with some visible BDS gear. Hopefully, someone will ask you the question, and you’ll get the chance to offer your own version of the BDS Story. But, if that doesn’t happen, and your caramel macchiato is ordered with minimal fanfare, rest assured that I will be asking you soon. I so look forward to hearing your answer.

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