childhood cherished – btsn 2019

maryO

*Remarks from the 2019 Trinity School Back to School Night*

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” The words of the late Mary Oliver look at me in my kitchen and beg me the question each day of how I will live my life to the fullest. I think in considering the work of Trinity we can adjust just one word to get to the heart of what we do. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious childhood.”

Childhood is at the center of all things Trinity. It is embedded in our mission and pillars and it is what makes us unique in greater Atlanta, the Southeast and among our independent school peers. We believe in the power of giving children an elongated childhood in a world that encourages them to grow up to fast. We empower our children to develop a deep foundation in character and academics while remaining steadfast in curiosity, creativity, and confidence. We believe this commitment to childhood will solidify these traits and skills as they transition into adolescence and beyond. 

In her book, The Gift of Failure, Jessica Lahey writes “The less we push our kids toward educational success, the more they will learn.  The less we use external or extrinsic rewards on our children, the more they will engage in their education for the sake and love of learning.” Of course, we want our children to achieve academic success as measured by the external world but we know that there is a marked difference between the grade on the page and deep conceptual understanding, active engagement, and a thirst for learning. We have the brilliant opportunity at this age to help our children develop autonomy and independence by fueling their wonder and fascination with learning new things, making connections, and exploring a broad array of interests. 

In the UED, we are working on taking the solid roots planted in the EED and nourishing them to flourish. The groundwork of confidence laid downstairs continues on upstairs. We give our students the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, for we know that it is in these mistakes, both academic and social-emotional that their brains and hearts will stretch and grow. In his newest book, Range, journalist David Epstein reminds us: “The more confident a learner is of their wrong answer, the better the information sticks when they subsequently learn the right answer. Tolerating big mistakes can create the best learning opportunities.” We encourage you, our parents, to see these mistake making places as opportunities to grow and be stronger as academics, athletes, friends, and human beings. 

So how do we do it? How do prepare our children to thrive in a complex and rapidly changing world while protecting their childhood? 

We begin with children’s literature: 

Most of our UED children and all of our UED faculty had the opportunity to see and hear the book, On the Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, during the first few days of school. This book provides the reminder that each of us has something within us that is fabulously not quite like anyone else and by using our brave strong voice to share our fabulous self-we can widen our world and the worlds of others. Peter H. Reynolds newest book, Say Something, encourages us to be confident and to use our voice, our paintbrush, our bodies, our minds, to be courageous and stand up for what we value. The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld reminds us to be good friends, good listeners, and that practicing empathy makes us better humans. We learn that our big ideas, hard work, curiosity, and our gizmos, gadgets, and doohickeys are the best problem solvers, just like in Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty. 

In the Upper Elementary Division, we intentionally and interdependently seek to honor the work of childhood through our vigorous academic program, vetted instructional resources, differentiated support, best practice-based teaching, commitment to play, and high expectations, all in spaces where children are known, loved, and respected. Our roots firmly planted, grow into the strong young trees of our Leadership Class and alumni. We look forward to a partnership with you as we begin anew here at Trinity School.

 

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