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February Head of School Letter: Feeling the Love

Thursday, February 14, 2019

There is so much to love about Glen Urquhart School… The joy of Pre-K students coming in from exploring outside. Upper schoolers whooping it up as they discover a great patch of sliding ice at recess. Guests taking a spin on the student-built rink at Winterfest or breaking out of an escape room with new friends. A basketball game well played. Practicing telling time with an analog clock in second grade. Singing a new song with third grade classmates in music. Kindergarteners drawing 8s and learning a math poem to help remind themselves how to properly write all their numbers. GUS is a joyful place, a happy place, and a wonderful community of children who love to learn.

Every school develops its own ethos. I always think of GUS as a kid-scale village, where the architecture is almost out of a storybook and the scale inviting for children. Our dirt driveways, a bane for some on sloppy days, remind me of the welcoming roads of summer camp. The best schools have something of camp in them, a place where play and exploration and testing one’s limits is a natural part of the day. In some ways, GUS is part camp and part school. Students love it here because of that.

Part of the GUS ethos is intentionally built on balancing freedom and responsibility. We prepare children with the most solid of intellectual and social emotional foundations for later success, but how we do it is different. I often say “many paths to similar outcomes.” If X high school is your child’s goal or Y college, GUS can get her there. But we also talk about “fit,” which is academic shorthand for “knowing oneself.” Socrates was right. GUS kids know themselves. They’re often happier learners and love school because of that self knowledge developed in classrooms, at recess, and on field trips.

If place-based education and our thematic curriculum are about building context for learning, GUS students love school because it is tangible, experience-based… real. It makes sense in the way that building a fort teaches planning and iterating, engineering and economics. It makes sense in the way that eating a salad just harvested from the greenhouse teaches botany and soil science, patience and payoff.

As I wrote this, I overheard a first grade student outside my office say to a classmate, “Without love you wouldn’t be alive.” We all need love. Whether at Valentine's Day or throughout the school year, GUS is a school where I can feel the love. The children feel it. I hope you can, too.

Trust and go forward,

David Liebmann
Head of School