This week, at Tuesday’s assembly, I spoke to our community about the positive impact that stepping away can have, and the perspective it provides. As I said to staff and students, “When we are in the midst of things- absorbed in a busy term, focused on a particular task within a particular discipline or department, or even attached to one idea or view, we run the risk of limiting our perspectives. We are so engrosed that we can tune things out and forget about the bigger picture. This intense focus can, if we aren’t conscious of it, limit growth.”
Growth is a goal for us at St. Clement’s School, and there is nothing more heartwarming than seeing the results of our work in action. Allowing people time to step back, to reflect, and to provide their perspective enables us to continuously improve. At the end of this week, our Grade 12s were afforded such a time, for which I am so thankful.
Each year we gather with our Grade 12s for small group lunches to seek their feedback about all aspects of the School. It is a wonderful opportunity during what is the girls’ last few months at SCS to hear their perspectives on things like timetables, school rules, programming, our community, and everything in between. Every year I am grateful for this time, and for the opportunity to witness our girls’ intellectual curiosity, courage and compassion. While we have only had two lunches thus far, I am so proud of the girls’ growth and perspectives.
Beyond the great ideas and information we have gleaned, what struck me last week was the manner in which our girls are articulating themselves. We have always wished to nurture voice in our girls and young women. They must be confident and capable of speaking up and out. However, it is also important that they are able to listen- and hear- the perspectives of others to best understand diverse ideas, and formulate their position on things.
On Thursday, I watched and listened as one of our grads spoke articulately about an issue that had caused a lot of contention within our community- among staff and students alike. We had, in February, hosted a LINCWell speaker whom many audience members found provocative and controversial. The grad expressed her sense that the students’ conduct and emotion during the presentation had not reflected well on our community. Beyond the great ideas she had for improving things in the future, her explanation of what had contributed to the experience and the balanced and articulate manner in which she communicated were outstanding. I left that lunch with evidence of our girls’ growth and with great gratitude for the work our staff and community are doing to foster growth in our girls.
There are times when we are in the midst of our work that it is very hard to ‘see the forest for the trees.’ However, when we provide times for reflection and perspective gathering, we are so much the better for it. It is also proof-positive of the commitment and effort our staff and school are putting forward to developing outstanding women is ongoing and strong.