This past weekend I learned two things that gave me great joy.  One of them has to do with our “value proposition,” and the other was a way of just dealing with this relentless weather.

In schools today, we are starting to hear more and more words that have dominated the business world for many years. Words like: “measurable outcomes,” “data points,” “value proposition,” “metrics,” etc.  It is clear that the business expectation of schools is being drawn into play on a regular basis.  Much of it has to do with our consumer-oriented culture today that has everyone looking at nearly every experience as an investment. Such an approach naturally leads to questions like: What am I getting for my money? Is it worth my time, my effort, and my investment? What are the outcomes? All are great questions and deserving of answers.

Well, let me be very honest.  I met with a sample of our educational “outcomes” last week and I was blown away.  On Friday night, Director of Alumni Relations, Kavon Akhtar and I, hosted an Alumni gathering in New York City and nearly 40 alumni were in attendance.  I can tell you that the “value proposition” and the evidence of “measurable outcomes” walked through those restaurant doors that night and stayed with us well into the night.  To talk to these remarkable “Huskies,” all of them in their 20’s and 30’s, was absolutely amazing.  And to hear about their jobs, their educational experiences, and their successes made me proud of our great school and the young people who graduate.  They carried a poise and a determination that you just don’t see often.  They took great pride in their Flint Hill connection, and time and time again, they talked about teachers who influenced their career paths, experiences that helped guide them, and their clear desire to keep involved and active with the school.

It is impressive when I think about what they have accomplished and continue to accomplish.  One was waiting to hear where he will do his residency in surgery, having just completed Medical School.   Others are working in marketing firms, in the financial world, public relations, and attending law school.  There were graduates that have become tremendous writers and do that as a key component of their work, and some have even published books. Another young lady in graduate school for Molecular Epidemiology received a grant to study the impact of Hurricane Sandy on asthma in children in the affected areas.  Looking for mold build-up, they hope to determine the effect such storms will have on the long-term health of children.  There were “Analysts,” “Project Managers,” “Associates,” and “Directors.” There were a number of graduates who were musicians and singers. One young lady just won Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater and was able to have her own performance there and will be going back for more.  Another works to promote STEM education in schools in this region of the country.  Above all, we met entrepreneurs, young people with a drive to succeed and a sense of humble confidence that made me proud of who they are today as people. These are young people who have grit, resiliency, and a tenacity that was exciting to see.  We were even able to introduce last year’s commencement speaker to the young lady that we have asked to be this year’s commencement speaker!  All in all, we saw, talked with, and took pride in our “measurable outcomes.”

Education is a people business and it is a hard one to nail down.  Sometimes trying to quantify those metrics is difficult. Great improvement in one youngster will look very differently in another child.  We all know how unique each of our children are and how unique our family is.  How would we ever rank or “measure” our children or rank our family?  It is not as easy as scores on a test or performances on a common task.  The reality is, that in schools, we are really in the business of developing traits and habits, confidence and drive, grit and tenacity, determination and persistence.  Those are tough to measure, but when you see those traits up close and personal, just as we saw them on Friday night, you know they are there, and you know those are the traits that have driven those young people forward. A number of these folks have been so busy on their career path that they have not been back to our campus in years.  Now they really want to return and appreciated our reaching out to them.  Many had no idea that so many Huskies were living and working in New York City. Bottom line please be aware that the outcomes are there.

The second bit of information came from my twin grandchildren of all people.  Emily and I were able to spend Saturday with them.  Reed and Ella will turn two at the end of this month.  They now run everywhere and I mean that happy, go, go kind of run.  They talk unceasingly. Some of it I can’t understand.  I am not sure if that is “twin talk” or I just haven’t figured out exactly how they enunciate things.  We were able to play games, listen to their joy in telling us they know their letters and numbers.  They kindly allowed their Oma and Opa to hold them and read books, but only for short periods of time.

But what I really learned was how that wonderful two-year-old mind works. With all the words in their growing vocabulary, the two most frequently heard words were “no” and “stop.”  And those words were very clear and were meant, I learned, as complete sentences. Reed in particular, was very serious when he said them and he meant it when he used them.  And that is exactly how I feel about this winter… “no” and “stop.”  So hopefully we can all exercise Reed and Ella’s approach to the pressures that are coming before all of us. Join me in looking up to the sky, in a serious and firm voice, and say, “No” and “Stop!” Who knows, it just may help

Have a super week!  Realize that even with all the snow in the fields, our spring teams are hard at work trying to get ready for their seasons. And spring break is just ahead!  If you see any member of our Facilities Team, please also join me in thanking them for all the hard work they did in getting the campuses ready for our return.  They are outstanding and deserve our thanks and praise for their hard work, determination, and relentless “Driving Spirit!”

Best wishes to you!