A Message on Kindness from Head of School Jon Bartlett
Over the break, I’ve been reflecting on presentations that Dr.Richard Weisbourd, a psychologist and lecturer from Harvard’s School of Education, delivered at Brookwood a few weeks ago: one for parents, and one for faculty which was entitled “Making Caring Common.” I found his talk and the work he is doing in this area truly enlightening and much-needed food for my soul.
According to Weisbourd’s research, based on the views of thousands of parents and school-aged children, we all want the same thing from education - to prioritize the development of caring individuals over high achievement. I found this really quite heartening, particularly as it is my belief that at schools like Brookwood, we can actually achieve both. Developing well-rounded, confident young people who are equipped to make the most of their talents in an evolving world while being thoughtful and kind citizens, intrinsically motivated by what is right, and not always by what is the easiest or best option for themselves – that’s what we do at Brookwood.
Inspired by Weisbourd’s research, and as we come out of this recent spike of the Omicron variant with warmer weather around the corner, I feel this is a good time for us, as a community, to take stock and refocus our priorities. I would like us to place caring and kindness at the forefront of all that we do at Brookwood, in the way we treat each other, communicate with one another, and expect it from each other and from our children.
Before the break, I spoke to the faculty and all students about how important these values are to me, as the Head of School, and how they are central to Brookwood’s mission. As we move out of the constraints of COVID-19, I would like us all to be mindful of how we treat each other so we can move forward together in a positive and caring focus. These values of kindness and decency are timeless but they seem particularly important now, perhaps more than ever, as we move into a more normal school setting, balance the often-heated national debates around education, and empathize with the terrible events unfolding in Europe.
These past few years have been challenging for all of us so it seems that being overtly thoughtful in how we extend kindness and caring to others must be good for each and every one of us at this time.
None of this is new to Brookwood, indeed in every room in the School, we have posted our Mission in Practice, which every student and employee agrees to uphold. I have included it below so families can join us in making spring not only a time of much-needed freedom and joy but also a time of kindness and caring for all. I have challenged the students and faculty to help make Brookwood known as the kindest school community on the North Shore - I sincerely hope you will join us in seeing it true!
I cannot wait to see all of your smiling faces on Monday morning – Here’s to a restful, joyful, and kindness-infused last few days of break!