Dear Parents, Students, Colleagues,
There are quite a few committees and taskforces in our school that meet regularly to imagine and plan new and better ways of continuing to improve the learning that we are all engaged in. One of these that I have mentioned recently is the Environment and Sustainability Committee. Last year, I chaired the Community Culture Committee, which has for this year been folded into the larger Student, Residential, and Community Life Committee.
The charge, or purpose, of the Community Culture Committee was this:
The Community Culture Committee is charged with the protection, growth, and development of the Keystone community culture. It will monitor and discuss issues such as the balance of different national and ethnic cultures at Keystone, communication in Chinese and English, celebration of religious and other festivals, and the like. Major emphases will be these:
· Affirmation of different cultures in the school;
· Creation of opportunities for individuals and groups to ‘find their voice’;
· Celebration of the value of learning from difference and diversity;
· Development and nurturing of a school-specific Keystone culture;
· Application of our five shared values to our community culture;
· Calendar and event balance and congestion.
These aspects of our community culture are vital to our good health as a society: appreciation of and respect for difference and diversity; allowing all to ‘find their voice’ and speak and act with confidence; valuing and nurturing our distinctive Keystone culture; and deepening our understanding of our five shared values so that we apply them in balanced ways in our daily lives.
In the final meeting of this committee last May, I asked all present, adults and students, to share with the group just one thing that they would like to see more of at Keystone, something that would improve the culture of our community if it became more common. I started with my contribution, which was this: Apologize when you make mistakes.
The students listed these qualities:
· Be willing to take on the lead and responsibilities
· Engage more with everyone
· Transparency in decisions
· Participate in more activities to know more people, appreciate available resources
· Be clear about instructions and criteria
· Be willing to take on challenges
And the adults these:
· Flexibility and openmindedness, talk less, smile more
· Celebrate more
· More flowers
· Be more supportive when students and Mr. McKenzie need support
· More connectedness between people
A very stimulating and productive list, in my opinion. Taken together, these are strong yet gentle messages, and thoughts, from Keystone students and colleagues to take into our one-week break.
I’ll end by passing on to you a short paragraph from a letter that I wrote to the school leaders in early August, and which I then sent a little later to all the teachers. It echoes, in part, my comment about the power of apologizing when we make mistakes:
Please try to remember the following practical advice, which I offered in our meeting last week. Tell colleagues directly when they are doing their leading well. Do not hold back on compliments. Earned praise oils the leadership machine. The opposite, when offered courteously and with humility, does so as well: nurturing the mutual trust that allows us to tell our colleagues politely when we think they may have slipped up in some aspect of leading. As an adjunct to this, please summon the courage when necessary to admit our own mistakes. Every one of us makes them, there is no exception, and saying that we have done so can make such a positive difference.
Have a very fine break, and if we can all celebrate more, and do so with more flowers, so much the better!
With warm regards,
Head of School