Head for the Day

It’s a big job, I was told, being a Head of School. “Lot of responsibility,” they said. “Are you ready?” “No doubt,” I replied. “Ready as I’ll ever be.” “24/7/365,” they said. That’s when I corrected them. “More like 364,” I advised.

Today, I got to hang up the tie, kick back, and watch Emmett Plante, Head for the day, take the reins. Now, there are those of you out there reading this thinking, ‘well, isn’t that a bit cavalier?’ I mean, what kind of credentials does Emmett bring to the job?  

Well, prior to July 1, 2016, when I took this post, Emmett had more experience in this job than I did. At our previous auction in 2015, Emmett had the good fortune to win the raffle for Head for the Day back then, too. (Not for nothing, Emmett is unavailable for any Powerball purchases.) So, Emmett has spent the day, his second, as Head of School.

He is a boy imbued with the core values of our school; a respectful, responsible, caring, honest, and joyful leader who is certainly committed to excellence. The evidence of that was on display for him all day long as he visited several classes, dropped in on the musical rehearsal for our seventh and eighth grade students, and starred in the latest video production coming out of the Head’s Office. The truth is, Emmett loves his school—a baseline requirement for a head of school—and told me so at every opportunity.

“Today is going to be the best,” he told me at 8 a.m. when I found him playing basketball with the other Early Birds. Sure enough, after some hand shaking in the entryway (too rainy to be outside), he joined me in his office—formerly mine, and mine again tomorrow—for a Head’s breakfast: croissants, strawberries, and orange juice. With eyes as wide as the saucer before him, Emmett’s prediction was already coming true: today was already off to a pretty special start.

As we looked at his plan for the day, I began to ask him a few questions that might help him to frame his approach to the day. The transcript of our conversation is as follows:

BWL: “So, Emmett, what do you think will be the best part about leading the school?”  

EP: “Probably everything.”

BWL: “You know, you’re onto something. It really is an awesome job to have. Do you think anything might make it challenging?”

EP: “Well, it can be hard to find new things that are fun because everything is so fun here already.”

BWL: “True enough.”   

This is, in many ways, a lower school perspective on why a school leader needs vision. Truly, it is hard to find more fun things when it seems everything is already so fun, just as navigating educational fads and buzzwords can offer ample distraction to a school’s effort to keep its focus on the future clear and unencumbered by anything other than upholding its mission and imagining the ways in which it can be responsive to the changing educational landscape. But I digress. Back to my interview of the second grade HOS…

BWL: “What would you change about BDS if you could change anything?”

EP: (You could probably guess at the answer by now…) “Nothing.”

BWL: “Ok, then what would you make sure no one changed about BDS?”

EP:  “I think, community. And having fun.”

Truer words were never spoken. Emmett’s day through the eyes of his predecessor (and successor) was a true success in every sense of the word. He brought joy to the classrooms he visited, took his responsibility of leadership seriously, and believed deeply in the school and what it stands for. I look forward to seeing if his dalliance in leadership at this young age will manifest in school leadership years from now. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

As we wrapped up the day, I saved one last question for Emmett as dismissal began:” What have you learned today?”

His answer, prescient as he had been all day, was “that I have to write for the Scoop.”

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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