This morning in assembly I shared with our community a letter written by Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States. This letter was written for a book I read while traveling over the break entitled Letters from Leaders: Personal Advice for Tomorrow’s Leaders from the World’s Most Influential People. Carter’s message is entitled “Expanding the Heart and Mind” and says the following:
Remember that no matter what you have as your primary commitment in life, try the ancillary things, the extra things that don’t interfere with your major commitment, but that enhance and expand it. These have a tendency to also expand your hearts and your minds to encompass other people, which adds new dimensions to life. So I would say try new things. Don’t restrict your lives. Don’t live encapsulated in a cocoon just with people like you, who speak the same language, or look the same, or sing the same song, or worship the same way, but constantly explore new ideas and experiences.
As I read Carter’s letter, I reflected on the strategic work that has been accomplished over the last few years at St. Clement’s to provide our students with opportunities to explore new ideas and experiences. While our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan provides many areas of consideration, the following objectives are those that facilitate breaking out of one’s cocoon to see the world beyond:
- To ensure that girls have authentic and real-world learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom and inspire them
- To develop long term global, national and local partnerships that provide academic and service opportunities, cooperative learning opportunities and involve intentional, deeper relationships with community service and non-profit organizations
- To develop a curriculum that reflects a global view and builds and appreciation for diversity of thought and perspectives.
Our Clementines are not only being afforded opportunities for engaging in real-world experiences such as our new student exchange with the Vidya Devi Jindal School for girls in India and our partnerships with the First Nations Public School, Moose Factory Cree Community, and Stanley Park Public School, but they are also now creating opportunities themselves. Last term saw St. Clement’s host a panel on Adolescent Mental Health where TWO (The Word is Out), our student-led initiative in partnership with The Jack Project, shared their mission and their goal of eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health. Our Because I am a Girl Club hosted our International Women’s Day assembly, welcoming Nikunja Nepal of Crossroads International who spoke about the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) to bring the abuse of women and children into the public eye and to the attention of decision-makers, through advocacy, education, and media work. Finally, just this evening during a conversation our Director of Student Life shared information regarding the work this same club is doing to discuss and question how the media portrays women- to consider a variety of student perspectives that foster learning and provocative discussion.
While the School has worked hard to ensure exposure to new ideas and experiences, what is most exciting is seeing our girls breaking out of their proverbial cocoons and creating their own opportunities to grow and learn. This will, most certainly expand their hearts and minds.