Nurturing Curiousity

As promised, here begins the first installment of a six-part series inspired by the NAIS annual conference theme of Mission, Vision, and Values.  As a reminder, six themes of mission were showcased throughout the conference – curiosity, diversity, community, wellness, innovation, and changing the world. Each week, I will be commenting on one of the six themes and how they manifest here at Belmont Day.

The courtyard, filled as it is with stones, logs, and lovely shade-giving trees, the split trunk of the birch tree in particular invites something more than adventurousness in our pre-kindergarteners. It stirs something deeper. Touched by wonder, pre-kers no longer see a split trunk—instead a doorway into a world unknown, where those who pass are all wolves in a great wolf family appears; or a galley through which only pirates may pass; a makeshift jungle gym; or a street corner lamppost, à la Gene Kelly, for the latest rendition of the next great (as yet unwritten) musical. Today, remarkably, it is snowing here, some fairy dust, perhaps, to bring more magic to an already magical place. Standing at the very geographical center of our school, this split birch and this courtyard stand as daily symbols of the ways that we strive to nurture curiosity here at Belmont Day.

A quick walk back inside, with cold cheeks and a leaky nose, and I am in Coolidge Hall taking note of the tape people. These life-sized imaginings by our eldest students—one reclining comfortably in a chair, one frozen in salute, another mid-pirouette—hang above our heads in welcome. “How did they get there?” our youngest wonder. “What’s he doing?” another asks. All these hows, whats, and whys resonate with the natural wonder of early childhood.

Down the hall, past the gallery filled with the artwork—imagination made visible—of the kindergarteners, inspired by their perspectives on community (more on that in next week’s installment), and up the stairs to the Kiva level where the usually bustling beehive of the middle school has gone quiet. Dressed in his finest clothes, a lone eighth grader, light years beyond pirates and fairy dust, stands delivering his Capstone dress rehearsal performance. Whether the topic is the stunning power of tsunamis, the future and magic of gene therapy, or the science behind camouflage, the threads of wonder and curiosity that have been nurtured throughout each student’s time at Belmont Day are visible. Indeed, each eighth grader seems to have stepped through that split birch somewhere along the way… researchers born of their passage through this magical BDS gateway.

Nurturing curiosity—an NAIS theme and a vibrant thread here at BDS.  

Next week, a closer look at the ways that we cultivate community: reflections on a powerful board/faculty dinner exercise, a collection of kindergarteners’ artwork in the gallery, and a “Homegrown” look at that BDS pillar.

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