Wow!  What an unexpected start to the week! The weather, while beautiful at times, can certainly interrupt our “planned” and structured lives. But in many aspects, it was a gift of time and we always talk about how precious that is for everyone. I hope you are well, electricity on full power, and your children were ready to get back to school.

The weekend prior to the storms was again filled with tremendous activity. The TEDx Youth Day was a powerful afternoon and the students who presented were just incredible. Their passion, thoughtfulness, and poise sparked the thinking and lives of everyone there. Thank you to faculty members Melissa Scott, Joey Starnes, and their team of current and former faculty and staff members who made this annual event possible.

The Tip Off Classic was also a huge happening with both, our boys and girls teams, making it to the finals. The boys ended up tournament champions after a very exciting, final game. And our robotic teams (we have 4 of them) competed against 44 other teams in Richmond at the Virginia Central Qualifier. Only 10 awards were given at the competition and Flint Hill earned four of them. Each team was recognized, which is very impressive. They compete this weekend in a Northern Virginia Qualifier. Go Huskies!

All of these activities are outgrowths of our sense of vision of what a Flint Hill education should look like. We have always had a tremendous mission statement. Simply put it is: “Our commitment is to develop in a caring community an individual who seeks excellence and embraces the Driving Spirit of Flint Hill School.” I have always loved that mission statement. It talks about commitment, development, caring community, the individual seeking excellence, and above all, our driving spirit that is so uniquely Flint Hill. It is the how of what we are doing what we accomplish.

At the same time, particularly in the last few years, as we charged ahead into looking at education in the future and the development of skills, we were all working on a vision of our educational experience, but it was a hard one to spell out for everyone. How do we determine the content needed? How do we balance that content, the skills, the arts, the athletics, and the ethical leadership into one experience? Is it possible to do that?  Why are we doing all we are doing? And what are we after educationally? All are great questions. I’ve tried to write constantly about the various steps we have taken as we go forward. Faculty members blog and share insights. There is a constant flow of articles and Ted Talks made available to get us all thinking about teaching in new and exciting ways. Ultimately, it always comes back to that one word…vision. The famous Helen Keller, who was blind from birth, once made the statement, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” After years of listening to people, challenging ourselves, focusing on professional development and the key question “what is in the best interest of our students,” we have finally crafted a Vision Statement that we want to share with you.

A Flint Hill education focuses on the learner. Within a context of strong relationships, we create developmental experiences that embrace the best practices of traditional and contemporary education. As we strive for continuous growth, we actively and thoughtfully implement the ideas and resources that help each student investigate, create, and communicate collaboratively and effectively in a rapidly changing, interconnected world.

You will notice some of the words are in bold. The focus is to look at the learner and the relationships, the developmental experience that our learning provides, the best practices of both traditional and contemporary education, and then clearly the continuous growth that has each student investigating, creating and communicating in an environment that is collaborative and effective, and all of it is occurring in a very rapidly changing interconnected. Assistant Head for Academics Bill Ennist and many others helped guide us in this process also had some key reflective points for faculty. Here is a link for your information. The questions noted will help us all strive for this vision.

It is an exciting time at Flint Hill. It is an exciting time in education. We hope that working to articulate what we are doing gives us all a much-needed sense of structure. Whether it is the blend between traditional and contemporary learning or whether it is the ability to create those healthy relationships, all of it comes down to the fact that we are learning and growing. We are having to change and grow even stronger as a school and as an educational program.

Even with this framework in place, I do respect the fact that some may still say, “Why all the change? What’s wrong with the way we are doing it?  That worked!” And I agree that it did work. But I also reflect sometimes that a rotary phone worked and we eventually went to a touch-tone phone and then to cell phones that really are just walking mini computers. Our cars worked fine years ago. Now, we have the capability to show movies in the back seat and have a GPS screen in the front panel. Or I read with wonder about the work being done to have cars that will pretty much drive for us or at least parallel park for us. Lots of things worked just fine, until one day we woke up and realized they really could be better and more efficient.

Here at Flint Hill I don’t ever want us to wake up one day realizing that we should have been preparing our children in a very different way for the lives that they are all going to lead. I know we are on the right path. I think our vision is clear and part of that vision is the commitment that we will continue to develop and evolve as we look for those best practices, and as we create the environment here at school that cherishes that learning. That takes us right back to the mission statement of the driving spirit, our caring community, our belief in the individual who is seeking excellence, and above all our commitment to education.

I look forward to continuing to share all that goes on here in a very direct and open way. We have a very vibrant school family and we look forward to keeping it that way!

Best wishes to you!