Friday Message from Lee – January 8, 2021
Dear Country Day Community,
On Wednesday, an angry mob breached the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to delay the certification of the 2020 election. The attack left several people dead and more wounded, though it did not ultimately deter Congress from completing its Constitutional responsibility.
Despite this shocking event, our talented teachers handled this moment beautifully, responding as history unfolded in real-time during the school day. For younger students that meant carrying on to preserve a sense of normalcy without raising alarm, while for older students, it meant creating age-appropriate, safe and structured spaces to process events of the day or address questions.
As the nation struggles with questions of how to move forward, for me this week’s events underscore the important responsibility Country Day has to prepare children to be future citizens of an increasingly complex world.
The Dalai Lama writes of a wish “that one day formal education will pay attention to what I call ‘education of the heart.’ Just as we take for granted the need to acquire proficiency in the basic academic subjects, I am hopeful that a time will come when we can take it for granted that children will learn, as part of the curriculum, the indispensability of inner values: love, compassion, justice, and forgiveness.”
Country Day’s Mission and Core Values answer that call. Our values emphasize critical thinking as “Our students grapple with complex issues, engage with conflicting points of view, make connections and collaborate.” We do so as an “inclusive community [that] promotes equity and understanding through meaningful conversation that welcomes a variety of voices…” and we do so with “empathy, integrity, and responsibility in a safe and supportive community that values kindness, respect, and civic engagement.”
The foundations of a Country Day education are both social-emotional and intellectual. We teach children starting in PK to use their words to settle differences, to monitor their emotional states, to understand and regulate their thoughts and actions.
Through the teaching of history and discussion of current events, we help students shape the lens through which to understand our place in the larger world. We empower students with the skills to critically examine available information. Science and mathematics equip students with the tools to investigate, understand, and ask questions about the world around us. We seek to understand others through the study of cultures and languages that are not our own.
As educators and members of a community, we have a responsibility to keep hope strong. This will require all of us to access our deepest reserves of resilience and optimism to maintain a spirit of stability amidst the chaos and challenge that the past ten months have placed in our path.
I see that optimism embodied in our community, and I long for better days ahead.
Head of School