As many of you know, I have been a competitive runner for many years. One of my favorite aspects of the sport is the camaraderie around celebrating “personal bests.” Since we race against the clock as much as we do against other people, it is fairly easy to compare performances from race to race (and, now that I am getting progressively slower each year, age-graded tables help!) While winning is worthy of celebration, it is often the personal best that gets the most enthusiastic congratulations from fellow runners.
Similarly, in a school, we celebrate our collective achievements or “wins.” For example, we rejoiced when all but one of our sports teams this fall finished with .500 or winning records, including multiple undefeated teams; when 65 of our young alumni returned to campus in November and shared news of the leadership positions they have taken on in their respective high schools; when our first and second graders put on a magical performance during the Lower School Arts Assembly and when our ninth graders led us to reaching our goal of $5,000 raised for Light the Night. More than these successes, it is the personal bests that each and every one of our students attain that are most meaningful. These achievements, small as they may seem individually, build to create the bedrock of a child’s confidence and growth.
So, as we head into the break, I ask you to take a moment and think about your child (or, teachers, think of one of your students) and reflect back on what they knew and what they could do in September. What did they find challenging? What was a goal they had that they had not yet accomplished? Now think about them today. What personal bests have they achieved? Lacing on skates for the first time and stepping a toe out on the ice? Conquering a math concept that gave them so much trouble last year? Perhaps it was making it through a first overnight trip or backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. Maybe it was mustering the courage to reach out and make a new friend or try a new sport or instrument. Maybe your child won Mrs. Stevens’ Lower School library challenge and got to devise the next one. Maybe they led an assembly for the first time or won a mock trial for a book they are reading in English class or gave their first speech in front of an audience. Childhood offers so many opportunities to take risks and learn. At Country School, we strive to create a program that continually helps our students achieve new personal bests in every area. Every step helps build the foundation for their future. For each student, the list of personal bests is long and unique. And, best of all, the list is theirs.
Over the break, I hope you have the chance to reflect with your children about all they have learned this fall, to celebrate their personal bests with them, and to dream about the personal bests yet to come this winter and spring. I also wish you time to rest, be with loved ones, rejuvenate and do whatever else brings you happiness. I look forward to an amazing 2019 filled with wonder, joy, exploration and inspiration — all the hallmarks of a great education. Happy New Year!