Weekly Newsletter

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* Head’s Note

What an incredible gathering our community enjoyed last Saturday! A big thank you to Lorna Brittan-Smith and Ben Smith for hosting, to Juliette Madan for organizing the silent auction, Supreet Bauer and other PA volunteers for all their logistical support, Megan Hammond who helped with the auction’s financials, the generous donors who contributed very creative and meaningful auction items, and for the many others who made the First Annual Silent Auction so successful. And of course, a sincere thank you to all those who attended the gathering or bid on auction items remotely. The support of the PA and Crossroads makes a huge difference for our school. While the official results of the auction will be coming later from the PA, on another level, we already know the event was incredibly successful for our community.

We all have heard the adage “It takes a village to raise a child,” and that philosophy can just as easily be applied to schools. Our village, which includes current and former parents, faculty and staff, neighbors and friends in the area, and many others, is so fortunate to have come together over the weekend to enjoy each other’s company and help support our children’s school. And with our collective efforts, enthusiasm, and creativity, the sky is the limit!

Thank you for all making Saturday’s event so successful and also for all you do for Crossroads during the other 364 days of the year!

* Head’s Note

Throughout the year, I have written about the thoughtful and deliberate timing of our Core Virtue Program–how well each of the virtues are synched to yearly holidays and events to foster reflection on certain themes. Our virtues also help to frame transformative learning experiences and natural rights of passage during the school year. So as we move into May and June when we highlight student performances, learn the results of academic competitions, and prepare to advance to the next grade or graduate to high school, students will find ample opportunity to cultivate virtues such as graciousness and humility.

We think of graciousness as “acting kindly, courteously, and making another feel special.” Humility we define as “avoiding the temptation to exaggerate our own abilities and underestimate those of others.” Yet my colleagues would say there is so much more to both of these virtues than these definitions begin to describe. These qualities are not simply about having good manners or being modest, but they also reveal essential qualities in the character and the heart of a person. One might even say they describe a certain state of being. Gracious and humble people do not dwell on themselves…but they are constantly mindful as they model kindness and recognize the best in others. When doing so, these traits bring us to a better place here and now, even as we are performing, competing, and preparing for what may be coming next.

* Head’s Note

I first read Shakespeare as a freshman at boarding school. Even many years later, I can remember our discussions of “Much Ado About Nothing.” I often wonder how Crossroads students, exposed to the Bard’s work at much younger ages, will recall Juliet and Romeo, Puck and Titania. When I first learned of our school’s tradition of teaching Shakespeare in the earliest grades, I was unsure how much of the playwright’s and poet’s genius would be absorbed by students so young. But now that I have lived through two Shakespeare Days, I am a convert to this early introduction. It is a joy to see students transformed by their meaningful engagement in this brilliant work. How does this magic happen? On a simple level, children appreciate great stories that transcend time and culture. And all of Shakespeare’s work contains compelling characters who explore emotions, ideas, and problems that remain relevant today, in spite of language that may be, at first, unfamiliar. But perhaps the single quality I believe students most appreciate is this: When our students understand the stories, become these characters, and speak their language, they are illuminating part of what it means to be human, and in doing so, gain insight into themselves and others through the process: “[s]uch stuff that dreams are made on.”

* Head’s Note

During the winter months, a small group of faculty began to research and discuss a new model for coaching at Crossroads. As spring arrives, we continue to explore a coaching model that will provide teachers with instructional feedback and create positive channels to discuss effective pedagogy. The coaching feedback is meant to be constructive, allowing colleagues to share strategies and goals as we support the professional growth of our teaching team.

As a first step in this coaching initiative, a brave group of six volunteers will be conducting a pilot program next month. This group will visit classes, offer thoughtful feedback, document what we learn through the process, and share our findings with the entire faculty during our opening meetings in August. We hope this will help us jump-start a coaching model that will expand across the faculty next year.

* Head’s Note

I’d like to use this opportunity to express my gratitude to our Board for all their support and for providing me with the chance to serve Crossroads into 2020. It is absolutely thrilling to me to be able to continue to lead our wonderful school into its next exciting phase.

In the two and a half decades since I began my career as an independent-school teacher, I have never been more proud of all that has been accomplished in a school over a short period of time. For those achievements, I extend my thanks to many talented people: the Crossroads Board, my colleagues, parents and grandparents, friends in the community, and, of course, the wonderful Crossroads students. With all of their help, a little bit of magic happens at our school every day!

* Head’s Note

Over the last week, we were able to conclude two additional searches for next year. We have now hired new faculty for first, fourth, and fifth grades as well as our new art teacher and new Lower School Assistant. Currently, we are focusing our efforts on searches for a Middle School Assistant and a Middle School music teacher. Crossroads was fortunate to receive over one hundred-eighty applications for these positions and we conducted interviews with close to fifty applicants, some of whom visited the campus several times as part of their interview process. Our three new homeroom teachers have been invited to return to campus this spring to meet with the parents and students who will be in their classes next year. As the schedules for these visits are finalized, room parents will share the dates and times to welcome these talented educators to our community.

* Head’s Note

Over the last several months, many people have worked hard to nearly complete a full renovation of the ground floor of the Barn. It’s difficult to envision it now, but last year at this time the room was full of odd pieces of furniture, outdated equipment, and piles of old textbooks from floor to ceiling. The space is transforming to a freshly painted multipurpose room with two new bathrooms, a functional kitchen, and an area for tables and chairs. To let in more natural light, we’ve also enlarged the windows and installed double glass doors that lead out to our beautiful new patio. The new space will be open in a few weeks, and I encourage you to stop by and see it.

This spring, as the New Hampshire Academy of Science begins their renovation of the second floor to transform that space to a new classroom laboratory, we will transition student activities normally conducted on that floor to the ground level of the building. We are grateful for the efforts of many of the people who helped with the interior renovations, and in particular, Jolin Salazar-Kish, Peter Faletra, Gene Martin, and Lyle Nichols. We all look forward to using the new space for many years to come.

* Head’s Note

In this spring’s issue of Independent School magazine, visiting journalists described the ambitious goal of the Singapore American School: become a “world leader in education, cultivating exceptional thinkers, prepared for the future.” As part of this goal, teams of educators at this school visited more than 100 schools in seven countries to discover and learn from best practices across the globe. After months of travel and discussions, they boiled their findings into three qualities they hoped to foster at their school in Singapore: a culture of excellence where every student learns at high levels; a culture of care where every student is known and advocated for; and a culture of possibilities where every student has the possibility for personalized learning.

* Head’s Note

A trustee of the school recently shared that one of his favorite songs is “Honesty” by Billy Joel–the perfect song to reflect on the virtue of the month as we study this quality across our curriculum. When this trustee was looking for a school for his daughter, Mary Beth Klee introduced him to the idea of cultivating honesty and many other Core Virtues along with studying the Core Knowledge curriculum. As he recounted, “That led me directly to the question of which virtues should be taught. Mary Beth was very clear; she said that all of them should be taught, because virtues describe how people should conduct themselves all of the time.”

The trustee also reflected that at times, it may be imperative to not be honest when the truth could harm others. Each of these virtues, in the context of our content-rich curriculum, provide guidance for future actions. In certain cases, being compassionate or acting for a just cause may be more important than being honest. This may help to explain why honesty can be “such a lonely word” as reflected in the song’s lyrics. But as students learn these virtues, we hope to provide the thoughtful yet discerning environment to not only understand their meaning but also their context within our Core Virtues curriculum. And this may lead to better decisions that can benefit those around us.

* Head’s Note

In February, the well-known educator Rick DuFour passed away. Rick was known for developing strategies that fostered collaborative teaching environments and wrote numerous articles on this topic and many others since the time he was a classroom teacher in the 1970s. Throughout his forty-year career, Rick was an active proponent of collective inquiry and continuous improvement within educational communities. This quote summarized much of his life’s work: “Developing individual teachers’ knowledge and skills is important but not sufficient. The challenge facing schools is expanding the ability of a team of teachers to achieve goals for all their students and developing the ability of the entire faculty to move the school toward its vision.”

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