Dear CSS Families,
I hope this finds you and your family refreshed and (almost) ready for an outstanding 2018-2019 school year. This summer, in addition to some time on both coasts with friends and family, I had the opportunity to do some DIY experiential education. These experiences (summarized below) were enriching, engaging, and tiring! We ask CSS students to work hard in and out of the classroom and my experiences as a learner this summer increased my level of empathy and respect for what our masterful teachers do.
Receiving expert teaching and coaching: This June I had the good fortune to spend a day with my oldest son floating and fly fishing down a gorgeous section of the San Juan River in Northern New Mexico (upstream from the Walkabout section) and to receive expert coaching from a stellar professional guide. As I fished (a preoccupation I’ve had for 16 years), my vision, my strength, my hand-eye coordination, and my patience was tested again and again with the challenge of presenting small flies to selective brown and rainbow trout deep below the surface in clear water. I struggled with the casts, the drifts on the water and through this challenge, I learned a great deal about insects, trout and the attention to detail that it takes to do challenging things well. I identified with CSS students who benefit from expert teachers and become deeply immersed in the acquisition of new skills during their days (and years at CSS). I was struck by the similarities to the intense basketball and volleyball workouts held during the many open gyms this summer. Whether it’s academics, athletics, fly fishing or anything else in life; expert teaching and coaching helps us get better and improvement takes practice.
Working on a team: Working with high-caliber educators every day is one of the things I love most about my job at CSS. Like CSS students on a sports team or in a dramatic production, the adults at CSS learn the plays and their lines over the summer in order to come together to deliver our amazing programs for students. And, as always, the new hires to the CSS team are stellar, led by new Associate Head of School Sam Gaudet, please click here to read his recent introduction letter if you missed it.
Doing your homework and summer reading: This summer I, like all classroom educators at CSS, worked diligently on my Google Educator level 1 certification. Though I’ve had a strong interest in educational technology for 20 years, sitting down and learning the intricate details of how online platforms can facilitate student organization, participation, collaboration, feedback, and differentiated instruction was both challenging and inspiring. CSS has always represented a blend of traditional and innovative practices and this professional development opportunity will directly benefit our students and further set our school apart from other options in the area.
And, like almost all CSS students, I had summer reading to complete and discuss with my peers. As Laurie Helgoe said, “Reading is like travel, allowing you to exit your own life for a bit, and to come back with a renewed, even inspired, perspective.” This summer, the CSS administrative team read Better Faster Stronger by Charles Duhigg and discussed his insights on how to enhance motivation, improve focus and team dynamics, and set smart and stretch goals. Duhigg’s analysis of successful individuals and teams from airline pilots to the songwriters from Disney’s Frozen inspired us to think about our work and the mission of CSS in new ways. We look forward to sharing our insights with you at some of the upcoming Parent Coffee Connections.
Mentorship: Luckily, learning from others doesn’t stop when formal education does. This summer I had the opportunity to spend some time with several very intelligent and interesting regional thought leaders. Bob Chastain, CEO and President of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, was kind enough to share some of his time and experience with me. The CSS Board of Trustees and I spent a day together to advance our school’s strategic plan at our annual retreat (learn more at the upcoming State of the School presentation on August 28th). And, finally, I attended a fantastic conference with Ross Wehner of World Leadership School with the other heads of Colorado Independent Schools and discussed the so-called “purpose gap” so many young people and adults are experiencing. As I watched Ross present, I was reminded of Anne Taylor’s phenomenal commencement address this year. It is increasingly clear to me that experiential education is the best way to help young people link talents to their passions and purpose.
Getting some exercise: Lastly, I put in some work this summer to improve my fitness (at an all-time low after breaking my kneecap in February in a mountain bike crash) and like our students in the upcoming high-altitude camp or those about to embark in preseason fall Athletics, I stepped away from my laptop and phone screens, broke a sweat and had some fun. Just as it does for our students, getting some exercise improved both my sleep and my focus on long, complicated tasks. After all, the faculty and I need to get ready to beat the 90s/00s alumni in ultimate frisbee during Reunion September 21-23.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you soon.