This past summer, in my role as Head of School, I spent a great deal of time reflecting on the previous school year and planning ahead for this one. I thought about the herculean effort of our faculty and staff to open and sustain in-person learning, the gift of trust our families gave us to educate their children in the middle of a pandemic, and the undying enthusiasm of our students who, in spite of strict protocols, lived and learned joyfully throughout 2020-21. I thought of what it meant to be part of the larger Boulder community, especially in collaboration with local public health officials knowing that supporting their work was critical to the success of ours. I also thought of what we sacrificed and what I hoped we would return to. While lunch service and grade level cohorts were close to the top of the list, I was most looking forward to being together as a community.
Community has been a hallmark of our school for many years, and it’s something we cultivate with intention. While it’s hard to measure, its power is undeniable. The bonds we form when we are with each other are strong, even strong enough to carry us through a pandemic year when togetherness was not an option. The partnerships we create are especially beneficial to our children, who rely on adults to provide nurture, structure, and latitude – three key ingredients child psychiatrist Rob Evans describes as “irreplaceable bedrock necessities required to become a successful adult.”
Most importantly, rich and diverse communities that share their love with and for each other help create a sense of belonging. Belonging is a high bar. Unlike being included, which may come with a seat at the table, folks who feel like they belong can leave that table to get some ice cream from the freezer. They don’t need to ask permission…they feel at home. Belonging also embraces difference and leaves the circle open for others. It takes time and effort to reach this bar, and schools must be committed to investing in the climb.
For BCD, this investment comes in many forms. We are gathering with our new families in late August under our new tent to be followed by similar events for each grade level. Knowing how important it is for families to see their students perform on stage, we’ve purchased equipment to live stream Assemblies. We’ve curated our annual Parent Education Series (free and open to the public) so that we can share a common experience as we raise our children in an increasingly complex world. And, a major initiative for BCD employees is to focus on play. Research has proven that relationships we form during play lead to increased communication, collaboration, and trust across organizations, which will lead to better educational outcomes for our students.
BCD most certainly did not invent the idea that great schools cultivate great communities, but, we sure understand its promise and embrace its possibility. As I think about the 2021-22 school year, I am eager to harness the power of community. I want to learn more about you and us. I want to know your stories. I want to celebrate the different backgrounds from which we come. Mostly, I want you to feel a sense of belonging so that you, too, can get the ice cream from the freezer. So, please join me in investing in us. Reach out to a family in your grade that you don’t already know. Connect with each other. Volunteer for the PTO. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts, and I can’t wait to get started!