The Curriculum of Community

I began my teaching career in the fall of 1991. Gail had just gotten hired as the Director of Communications for a school in Virginia, and I was the “follow on” part of the partnership. In other words, the school didn’t really have a position for me, but they figured something out. I ended up starting at the school’s first Technology Coordinator back in the days when the “sneaker network” was the only network and 5 ¼ floppy discs ruled the world. Ann Leibrick was my direct supervisor, and she started off our new teacher orientation by making a point that resonates with me even more today. In the context of school, “everything we do is curriculum.”

I’ve been thinking about this especially since March of 2019 when one of our most important pieces of curriculum – community building – had to took a back seat to health and safety protocols and anything else that allowed us to teach and learn in person. In that process, we sacrificed Gala, new parent parties, grade level gatherings, and even recess among students in the same grade. We know more now than we knew then, but one thing is for certain…community and community building took a hit during the pandemic. In a sense, we lost an important part of a BCD education, one that serves as a hallmark of our school and is central to creating the kind, engaged, confident, and well rounded citizens we seek to graduate. I think it’s time to reprioritize, and this spring we are again moving community to the forefront of the BCD experience.

The power of community is difficult to quantify. Time and time again, from graduating 8th graders to current families, folks mention the strength of the BCD community as a key component of the education we offer. It’s hard to grasp an objective data point or metric when trying to describe what I’ve come to know and love, so I usually rely on experience to tell our story.

Our alumni families often stop me in Boulder to share an update on their former BCD students who are now in high school or college. Without fail they mention the unique qualities of our school and the sense of belonging they felt while here. They tell me that other schools don’t have the same bond we do, and they long to feel that way again.

This thing we call community does not come together by happenstance. It requires forethought and intentional planning, and it asks of all of us – faculty, staff, families, and students – to give up a little bit of ourselves for the greater good. 

So, this spring we are excited to be able to recommit to building community at BCD. We’ve started by inviting families to pick up their children in their classrooms, to gather on the playground after school, and to attend Friday assemblies when their children are performing. On the immediate horizon PTO will be hosting Spring Fling in concert with the Shields Fun Run, a community building event dedicated to raising scholarship funds for our families who receive financial assistance. We’ll also be encouraging less formal gatherings before ending our school year with a rebuilt Commencement, learning from the ceremonies of 2020 and 2021 to leverage new approaches to keep the traditions of yesteryear.

Fundamentally, we are eager to harness the power of the Bulldog Spirit, coming together around our shared sense of belonging to galvanize us in a way that we become greater than the sum of our parts. I can’t wait!

John Suitor, Head of School