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Brendan Largay, Head of School

Sprinting Through the Marathon

Leading into the first marathon that my wife and I had ever run a few weeks ago, I offered up a bit of my pre-race nervousness to a parent in attendance at a recent school event. After empathically sharing the story of his own first marathon, he added, “… and think about the possibilities for the Scoop! Hard to find a better metaphor than actually running a marathon.” True enough, my friend. Let’s see if the months of training paid offÂ…

The old clichĂ© “it’s not a sprint” is something we often hear when asked to take the long view of something. But here’s the thing: sometimes, it sure feels like a sprint. We may all try to avoid answering, “busy,” when those who care about us ask how we are doing. But the truth is, we are busy, and life very often feels like it requires demanding short bursts rather than focused and sustained effort.

In fact, the more consideration I give to the school year analogy, the less marathon I find. Consider, to prepare for this one morning-long marathon involved four months of training. While there are certainly months-long build-ups in the course of a school year–rehearsals for a grade level play, a cumulative math assessment at the end of a trimester, preparation for the Greek Festival, and many more–paradoxically, education can feel like the 100-meter dash. We need to get from here to there quickly because that next sprint is waiting for us.

Perhaps, then, what marathon running has reminded me is that our lives are spent largely mid-sprint. I wonder if we’d be better off taking that long view more often rather than focusing on the finite bite-sized immediacy of our students’ or children’s experiences. Today’s 100-meters, however quickly we travel it, actually succeeds in getting us 100-meters closer to our larger goal—the 26.2-mile course known as a pre-k to eighth grade education.  

Metaphorically-speaking, along the course there will be hills and hardships; these are also a challenging truth of the actual experience. Sometimes, we run at our race pace and sometimes we walk because the path is more challenging than we expected. But always, we are moving towards a goal more significant than the finish line. We are moving towards a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment not marked by medals or times, but instead by navigating joyful, humbling, exhilarating, and sometimes painful moments to arrive at a goal that you once questioned if you would be able to reach.   

Also worthy of note, despite some long quiet runs, we never felt alone, not only because we trained together, but because we ran—and our students learn—with an awareness of a mighty and invisible team of supporters at our side. We had the support of advice-givers, specialists, and more experienced runners who could offer counsel to us. Our family and friends were on the course itself. I invite you to build on the metaphor here: Consider your child’s journey through school. How many of the mighty and invisible are there supporting them?

The marathon metaphor is an ample one, to be sure. It offers a rich point of comparison to school life. Sometimes a day, a month, or a year in the life of your child, or even in your own adult life, can feel like a sprint, not a marathon. But the marathon is there if you’re willing to look for it, and your child is running it and running it well. 

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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