by Janet Durgin, Head of School
Well, Convocation seems as if it were ages ago already. Retreats are over, classes are in full swing, schedules are set (today was the last day of the Add/Drop period), and we are off to a great start to the 2017-18 school year. But, for those who may have missed it, I wanted to provide an excerpt from my Convocation, as I do try to set the tone for the year in these remarks.
"As a school, we are often subject to the pressure of various trends and fads and we feel, so far, we have resisted jumping on any bandwagons. That said, we want to be fearless—unafraid to ask the hard questions and to put ourselves into new situations. And so we continually engage in a process of self-reflection and analysis, looking for ways to improve, to more fully live our mission.
The Grange & Studios building is a result of that self-reflection and analysis about functions that were missing in our physical plant, but when we think about how the new spaces will change our campus, our community, and our curriculum, we do not see it as a “disruption to the established order.” It’s true that times are changing and we must prepare our students to meet, embrace, and even to create change. Our new spaces will create new opportunities--and you will see this in things like new course offerings, Exploratories and Intersessions, as well as in your teachers’ expanded ability to collaborate across disciplines, devise projects that can come to completion in the Studios, and so on. However, you will not see the buildings changing, fundamentally, who we are and how we believe human beings learn best.
You see, we recognize that there are limitations to technology and that fads and gimmicks do not create students who are courageous, wise, creative, and awake. We believe that learning takes place in the context of connection--in relationship with great teachers, in community. And we believe that learning must be liberally seasoned with love, play, humor, and art because theses are the elements that make us human.
Above anything else, we teach critical thinking because it is the foundation of true learning. We relish rigor and deep thought because a deep grasp of concepts, not an app, is what will help us navigate an ever-changing world. Of course, all of those elements of learning I just mentioned become possible in an environment of trust, respect, and a feeling of safety. In essence, this is what we do best at Sonoma Academy, confirmed by both parent and student feedback. This, then, is the established order that is not being disrupted and that you can look forward to enjoying this year. And to put a cherry on top, the good food and animated conversation in the Grange will sustain us through the inevitable moments when we get tired, hungry, or discouraged, and temporarily lose sight of the precious alchemy we create together on a daily basis here at Sonoma Academy.