Get ready to make your mark!

Dear CA Students,

Ready or not, we are starting school next week! I thought I would write this week’s blog to the Colorado Academy student body, and I hope your parents might take time to share it with you.

I can vividly recall when I was a student and that feeling I had the night before school started. It was the nearly the same throughout my student career, from the time that I was in Pre-Kindergarten to my last year as a graduate student. I would be a student—even in college and graduate school—who would get a little nervous. I would wonder about what my teacher was going to be like and if they would like me. I worried about how I would perform. Would the work be easy or would it be hard? Would I make friends? Looking back, these are all natural things to think about and perhaps even get anxious about. But, what I would quickly learn within minutes of the start of the school year was that all these perceived problems were things I probably didn’t need to spend much energy on. In other words, things worked out. It wasn’t always easy, but, if I could go back and do it all over again, I would because I had fun, made amazing friendships, learned so much, and grew as a person.

I can’t say I loved all of my teachers, but every teacher cared about me and about their roles as educators. I found those relationships emerged naturally and positively, and along the way, I developed life-long connections with many of my teachers. Interestingly, my most favorite memories are ones when I was intellectually challenged. In terms of friends, I was a kid who never really had a “bestie” who I hung out with all the time. Rather I floated through different groups. Sometimes, that can be a little lonely, but because I had a diverse set of friends, I nearly always had someone I could have fun with.

I hope all CA students will go into the year with a positive mindset. I hope you can trust that you will have teachers and coaches who are in your corner. I’ve just spent the last week with our teachers doing trainings and preparing for the school year. You could not be in better hands. These are teachers who truly care about you and your well-being. Avail yourself to learning by getting to know them. Know that you will make friends, and know that all relationships require work. It is easy to hang with the same group. It can be harder to reach out and get to know others, but it is worth it. At CA, we have lot of activities and programs that will force you to get to know others. Take advantage of those moments.

As we enter the new school year, I want to share just three simple tips for being successful in school:

1) Be present and involved.
Just showing up and doing what you are asked to do can go a long way. If you do your homework, chances are you will do well on tests, papers, and other assessments. Paying attention and engaging in class will make your learning more interesting and more relevant.

2) Know it’s okay to make mistakes.
It’s so hard to remember this at times, but it is okay to fail. I know this goes against so much of what you have probably been told for most of your life. But, everyone makes mistakes. I will make them this year. Your teachers will make them. Your parents will make them. The unfair part of life is that most adults don’t have to get report cards like you do. But, if you follow the first piece of advice, the mistakes will not impact your life in huge ways. Be sure to forgive yourself. There are few mistakes you can make when you are young that will truly derail your life. It’s important to learn from those mistakes, and sometimes you may face some type of consequence, but this all a natural part of learning and growing.

3) Treat others as you wish to be treated.
This is key. CA is a kind, joyful, and inclusive community. Every student on this campus probably is feeling the same desire to connect, make friends, to be respected and valued. Be willing to reach out to other. And, as you do so, be your best self.

I wish you all luck. Have fun this last weekend. Do something special with your family. Come to the Back-to-School Picnic Monday night, and we’ll see you Opening Day!