I love the Chuck Berry song, “Let It Rock.” It’s classic rock ‘n’ roll. The lyrics tell a story of train workers, who after a long, hot day on the tracks, have set up their tents and are getting ready for bed. Some are gambling when the foreman isn’t looking. Then, all of a sudden, an off-schedule train comes barreling their way. Berry’s lyrics conjure up fantastic images of chaos and the inevitable nature of fate:
“Everybody’s scrambling ‘n’ jumping around
Picking up their money
Tearing the teepee down
Foreman wants to panic a
‘Bout to go insane
Trying to get the workers out the way the train
Engineer blows the whistle long and loud
Can’t stop the train
You have to let it roll on….”
Getting ready for any school year feels a bit like this. The students are coming back next week, and there is a big scramble to get things ready. Campus is a flurry of activity. Construction workers are putting on the final touches for the grand opening of the Leach Center for the Performing Arts. Our operations crew is finishing various summer projects on campus, including the installation of the amazing Lower School playgrounds that will honor the legacy of Kindergarten teacher Leslie Webster. Teachers are getting their classrooms and curriculum prepared. Pre-season is underway for coaches, and we have the joy of seeing student-athletes back on campus. Administrators are responding to ever-evolving COVID-19 protocols and addressing obstacles, as we prioritize in-person learning. Today, we have information sessions in each division, as well as a meet-up for multicultural families. Next week, we begin student orientations and have our All-School Picnic. I’m happy to share that we have received more than 1300 RSVPs—it’s going to be great seeing everyone, as we hold a ribbon-cutting for the Leach Center that same night. Again, you can’t stop the train!
This week, our teachers and staff engaged in a number of professional development workshops. A little more than a year ago, the CA Board of Trustees and administration set the goal of evaluating our curriculum through the lens of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Working with educator Jenna Chandler-Ward, we rolled up our sleeves and looked into where in our teaching we take on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, class, and ability. This work will take several years and will be ongoing. In our Pre-K through 12 curriculum, we need to ensure we are giving our students a full, authentic, and accurate look at our world in age-appropriate ways. We want our students to be prepared to be leaders in a multicultural society. And, we want our students, no matter their background, to see reflections of themselves in the school’s curriculum. In the coming weeks, I will write a blog offering my reflections on the cultural debates about teaching DEI in schools. Colorado Academy’s goal is to promote critical and creative thinking and encourage discourse and debate. The faculty had great sessions talking about when and how we talk about subjects, where we cover issues well, and where we need to do work.
We also brought in lawyer David Wolowitz to talk to all faculty and staff about healthy boundaries in school communities. Every employee, no matter their position, is a role model for students. Wolowitz, who works with many independent schools on a range of matters, talked about professionalism and the value of putting student health and wellness first. He reminded us that to promote healthy child development, we need a healthy and safe culture where our actions reflect our mission and values.
After a year when so much of our professional time was spent on learning to work on Zoom and manage remote learning, it was so refreshing to get back to talking about teaching and learning. All of us at CA are so excited to welcome students back to campus.