Those were the first words I spoke at the Lower School Town Meeting at the beginning of this school year. That phrase, found on a list of Fourth Grade classroom rules, felt inspiring. Be Brave and Stay Positive. These words embodied the mindset I would be living by this year as part of the Interim Leadership Team, and it is the mindset that we encourage in our students as they encounter new experiences and face challenges.
All the things I’ve been doing (or trying to do) as the Colorado Academy Lower School Principal are things we ask our students to practice every day:
Know how to work independently and how to collaborate successfully
Be responsible for one’s words and actions
Ask for help
Colorado Academy offers many opportunities, on and off campus, for our students to Be Brave and Stay Positive. On any given day, students put this philosophy into practice in their homerooms, specials classes, and at lunch/recess.
The Lower School’s Outdoor Education program offers one-day and overnight excursions for students to experience snowshoeing, camping, hiking, and climbing. Students volunteer for these trips, knowing that they might involve some risk, will be physically and mentally challenging, and that they will also have a lot of fun with their classmates and teachers.
Fifth Grade mentors participate in leadership roles all over campus. They plan and facilitate Lower School Town Meetings every month, assist P.E. teachers during Pre-K and Kindergarten physical education classes, cultivate inclusivity in our community, help with science and technology classes, and so much more. In the mentor roles, Fifth Graders step out of their comfort zones, demonstrating what it means to be brave and stay positive in activities that put them in front of a crowd and on the spot.
At CA’s annual STEAM Night, we invite students to learn about science, technology, engineering, art/design, and mathematics with hands-on activities. These experiences encourage students to challenge themselves to explore different subjects and learn something new in a fun, interactive way.
International Day, another tradition at CA, is an opportunity where Lower School students travel globally, all from the comfort of the Lower School building. Students from Kindergarten to Fifth Grade become experts on a particular country and travel from classroom to classroom, learning about geography; culture and society; government and civics; history; and economics from their schoolmates. It’s all about students teaching other students! As global ambassadors, they are brave and positive, and they see how important kindness and humility can be when traveling to a new place and learning from the local experts.
We encourage our students to be brave, try new things, and to stay positive when things don’t always go the way we expect. I feel fortunate that CA is a community that asks all of us to push the limits of who we think we are and what we can achieve. CA challenges all of us—students, staff, and teachers—to push outside of our comfort zone so we can continue to grow, as individuals and as a community. And the CA community supports us as we succeed and as we fail. As a career librarian, really a librarian since I was about 5 years old, stepping into the role of Interim Principal was (and is) a new experience with many new challenges, successes, and struggles. When things get tough, I remember that list of rules in the Fourth Grade classroom and say to myself: Be Brave and Stay Positive.