We all have that person in our lives—you know the one I’m talking about: she’s the one who sees everything as possibly the next great adventure; he’s the one who always tries to make someone’s life a little better—someone who helps us see things in a new light and get a fresh take on our old issues. It’s a gift to have someone in your life who inspires you toward what’s beautiful, what’s true, what’s good. As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the many people in our Colorado Academy community who inspire me.
Maya Angelou said something she learned from her grandmother was, “When you get, give. When you learn, teach.” Teaching is an act of giving, and during the recent conferences, I saw again how giving, and enthusiastic, and innovative our teachers are. Instead of focusing on the challenges we face this year, though there are many, the teachers talked about new approaches, fresh perspectives, and their passion for teaching kids. It reminded me of when I heard Upper School World Languages Chair Lisa Todd share earlier this year that one of the things she liked best about CA is, “it’s a place where it’s cool to try hard.” This attitude among the faculty spreads to the students. I love that our kids go to a school where adults and children show up each day expecting and wanting to try hard.
It’s “admission season” again—that time of year when prospective parents ask us what makes CA different from other schools. In addition to all of the things that I would list in a normal year, this year I would have to add that we are so lucky to have school administrators who are committed to leading with wisdom and care. Those of us who have been at CA know that our school leadership has a long track record of studying and following best practices. Now that we find ourselves in a reality where there is no playbook, our administrators have continued to learn and lead. In a parent meeting at the start of the school year, Middle School Principal Bill Wolf-Tinsman said that this was, “a time for putting our own discomfort aside for the benefit of the kids.” Thinking about his comment has inspired me as a parent, especially on those days when I’m tempted to focus on my own discomfort.
Even before the current craziness began, I was always bragging about our parents. Our parent community has risen to every challenge it has encountered in the past, and it is rising to meet the challenges that come with this pandemic. When COVID-19 restrictions nixed the traditional potluck meals and snacks for teachers during conferences, Faculty Appreciation Committee members Jenny Gannon, Marni Myers, and Molly Blake, under the leadership of our Community Appreciation Coordinator, Marte Timmers, provided prepackaged snacks for our teachers in all three divisions for all of the conference days. With the generous outpouring of donations from our parent community, the Committee was able to offer a coffee cart on campus for faculty and staff, and they will schedule its return through the year. And parent Alexandra Weeks took on the monumental task of putting together Halloween treat bags for all of our faculty, complete with face masks and, of course, candy.
Another inspiring volunteer is Meghan Geisler, the fearless leader of our parent biking club. Meghan has been organizing bike rides for parents who expressed interest through the Get INvolved Volunteer Form, providing much-needed mental health breaks, chances to connect with other parents, and some great fall colors, while promoting safety.
Although we are not able to give physical tours this year to prospective parents, CA parent Catherine Rollhaus shared a story with some of our parent volunteers, who were learning about the virtual tours and how to host parent Q&A Zoom sessions. Once when Catherine was giving a tour in the Middle School, a student stopped to talk to her group. He was confident, articulate, and kind, as he answered questions from the visitors. She shared with us how proud she was of this student, who could at a moment’s notice represent his school graciously and authentically.
And recently in the Upper School, in addition to running multiple donation drives for HOPE, the students organized their own letter-writing campaign for the entire Upper School to thank their teachers for all that they are doing.
It’s not just top-notch programs that make CA a great place for all of us to be—it’s a community that is full of inspiring people—people who inspire us every day to be better.