The Beauty of the Trees

As a Hyde long-timer, I can get so caught up in pondering the philosophical forest that I miss the beauty of the trees, those daily interactions and occurrences that truly make this such a special community. So, I decided to spend a week making daily note of signature Only @ Hyde moments from my office in Bath. Here’s what I saw, heard, and felt.

#1 Thursday, March 30 – Live & Direct: Teacher Evals
We were visited by an officer of a philanthropic foundation to which we have submitted a grant application.  He happened to attend that afternoon’s school meeting where we were beginning our annual one-of-a-kind faculty evaluations: Teacher sits alone on the stage; Students fire away with live and very direct comments. As has been true for over three decades, these comments are made in response to three questions:

  1. What are the positive aspects of Mr./Ms./Mrs. X’s teaching?
  2. What does he/she need to work on?
  3. Is there anything special that you would like to say to Mr./Ms./Mrs. X?

To the trained Hyde eye, it was a solid session with direct, insightful, public responses offered for each question. However, to our visitor, it was much more than that. He said, “In my role, I observe many, many educational practices. Some I forget. Some I remember for a while. However, I may well remember this one for the rest of my life.”

#2 Friday (3/31) & Saturday (April 1) – Sometimes a Hyde Moment takes a while to unfold.
Day #1 began with the first men’s varsity lacrosse game of the year.  The guys had worked hard, even returning a few days early from March vacation to get a head start on the season. (What’s more, they designed their own themed game jerseys with “Rise as One” emblazoned on the back.)  They took the field sky-high with confidence. So did their (very strong) Berwick opponent.  Somewhere in the 2nd quarter the game began to slip away, taking with it our poise and sportsmanship. As our frustration grew, our class and deportment deserted us, causing us to spend way too much time in the penalty box.  Consequently, we got whupped by a score of 22-7.

Day #2 found the whole school pulled together for an impromptu school meeting in the Student Union. Faculty and students expressed their disappointment in the conduct and attitudes of the team. Team members publicly atoned for their deportment and vowed to do better. Surveying the scene, my chagrin over the team’s performance the day before was replaced by a deep sense of pride. It reminded me that when stuff goes down, it is our tradition to Stop, Drop, and Deal. That’s what makes Hyde Hyde.

#3 Sunday (April 2) – And on the seventh day, Hyde rested….

#4 Monday (April 3) – The Jobs Report
I like to say to our students, “Every one of you is on scholarship. The only difference is who’s paying the bill – The school or your parents?” At some schools, campus jobs are conducted by students on financial aid or on work-study programs. At Hyde, everyone has a job. The students don’t always appreciate this point of distinction, but comments made by some students in community meeting today were inspiring.  Student job captains expressed their appreciation for the daily efforts of our dining and buildings & grounds staff. They called upon their peers to put forth a Happy To Do It (H.T.D.I.) attitude during the spring term. What made this all so special? It was 100% student led.

(Post-Script to Moment #2: While the men’s lacrosse team battled to their first win of the season this afternoon, 3 senior starters watched the game from the bench as penance for their actions and attitudes in their season opener.  Furthermore, the coaches locked away the team’s “Rise as One” jerseys, stipulating that they had to earn them back. Stay tuned…)

Tuesday (April 4) – FLC Letters
Claire Grant and Mary Moore noted some of the deep letters that were written during the previous weekend’s FLC (Family Learning Center). Claire relayed what one mother shared, When my son and I shared our FLC letters, I had the most profoundly honest and mature conversation with my son that I had ever had.  I didn’t really notice his steps of growth until then, but now I think of him as a young man and his own person… It’s pretty cool to be at a school where something like that happens.

Wednesday (April 5) – Women’s lax leads the way
If the guy’s lacrosse team needs any further instruction on how to play and/or how to act, look no further than their sister team. It was great to see them embroiled in heated back-and-forth competition with a game opponent, emerging from a contest of constant lead changes with a sweet victory. Well done ladies!

Thursday (April 6) – Faculty Training
Last fall I was honored to chair the decennial accreditation of Bridgton Academy (BA), a post-graduate boy’s boarding school in Bridgton, ME. During my time there I happened to take in an awesome presentation by BA faculty member Amanda Miller on ADHD with a particular focus on pedagogical remedies that do not involve medication.  I was so impressed that I proposed a home-and-away professional development exchange where she would give her presentation to our faculty and I would offer my College Success Guaranteed presentation to BA’s students. Amanda visited Hyde today and was a huge hit, both informing and inspiring our faculty. So great to have our peer Maine schools engaging in collaborative enrichment! Looking forward to my revisit to BA.

And so, that was the week that was. Onward,  Malcolm