One of the joys of the work that I do is observing teachers. Sometimes the observations may be in the classroom as they impart knowledge. Some of the best observations, however, take place throughout the course of a day: in the courtyards, in the hallways, in offices, going to and from Chapel, after school, or perhaps in the early morning hours before the bell rings. These observations tell much about our culture at St. Michael’s. For our youngest students, the greetings at the door or a quiet, reassuring presence on the playground gives a feeling of security, of acceptance, of encouragement as they say good-bye to parents and enter into another day with their class community. I see the one-to-one instruction. I see the affirmation that says, “I love you for who you are.” I see hands being held and boundaries defined that make our community a safe place to be.
As our students age and independence grows, teachers become not only cheerleaders but mentors. They provide guidance and a listening ear. They give strategies for study and inspire students to persevere, even through a challenging new concept. I observe them staying after school to help with preparation for a test or to give counsel to a parent who is seeking advice for a student who is anxious and overwhelmed. By middle school, our teachers can be seen not only meeting with students during and after school to explain an assignment, helping with organization, reviewing for a test, or giving strategies for improving relationships, but they may be observed simply chatting and laughing with students as they build trust and friendship. Teachers can be observed at basketball, soccer, flag football, and volleyball games at school, but also at non-school sporting events or other off-campus activities that involve their students. They are present at the performances on stage and at the middle school dances. They might even be observed in a local restaurant, chatting with families who can hardly wait to speak to them.
The instruction that happens in the classrooms is observed on many levels, but what makes St. Michael’s special and helps a student reach success can be attributed in large part to the relationships, the presence, the compassion and care that our teachers have for their students. Good teachers never give up on a student. Good teachers work from sunrise to well beyond sunset to prepare, to plan, to ponder, to pray for the day ahead and for the students they teach. When I observe our teachers, I observe passion, dedication, excellence, and a deep desire to make a difference in the life of each child. And at the end of the day, we imagine the sign that may be above each child’s head…Be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet. In my observations, I come away knowing that we know each child and love each child, and we can go home knowing that we have made a difference that might just last a lifetime. These observations and many more leave me with a sense of gratitude for the work our teachers do. I know our students are richly blessed.
Head of School