I am beyond a doubt one of the fortunate ones. I work in a place where I am surrounded by caring and passionate individuals, where I am supported and encouraged to continue my love of learning, and where the core values of the organization are in synchronicity with my own core values. This is not a new sentiment for me, as I undoubtedly and unashamedly “drank the Kool-aid” of where I am fortunate enough to work and grow every day.
4 years ago, during Davis Academy’s 22nd year, our school community took part in a reflective process of assessing the values of the school. We engaged many different groups of stakeholders including students, parents, grandparents teachers, and community leaders. We wanted the values that we selected to represent our school to be both a snapshot of who we are and who we aspire to be. The end result of a great process led us to our 5 core values: Wisdom, Spirit, Respect, Community and Righteousness.
The 4 years following this process have shown incredible advancements in the school. We have celebrated growth in our program and school curriculum; the opening of our new state-of-the-art theatre, dining halls, chapel and learning spaces; and the continued successes of our students and alumni. The core values were at the heart of all of these successes, though their presence was in many ways akin to a fish’s appreciation for water. This is not to say that there were not opportunities or lessons where we were intentional about naming them, rather the pervasiveness of their impact was not given a proportional representation in our intentional talk.
And now, I get to start year 18 with all the energy and passion expressed in my first paragraph above, but with the added bonus of a school theme of “Living Our Values.” The first act of our 2018-19 school year was for our teachers to return to school with supplies and well wishes which were donated to teachers in another school in town without the same resources. As it is our goal for our students to aspire to make the world a little bit kinder and a little bit better, it was nice for us to model this behavior right from the start. Rabbi Lapidus and I shared this similar message with our middle school students on the first day of school . It is our goal that these values “Wisdom, Spirit, Respect, Community and Righteousness” are both descriptive of who you are and a directive of who and how you should be. We ended our first gathering with this warm hearted video about the power of kids to “Make the Difference.”
I look forward to the incredible year ahead, which will be intentional with the discussion of, the learning about, and the living of our values.