Candidates Attracted to Country School

Over the course of the last month, I have had some incredible one-on-one conversations with more than 35 of the 200+ candidates for our open administrative positions. The experience, knowledge and mindsets of the candidates for these positions is impressive, and the list of their accomplishments is long. Perhaps the best part of the hiring process is hearing and reflecting on Country School through their eyes. Continue reading

Choose Love

screen shot 2019-01-25 at 10.26.17 amLast Monday, I had the great fortune of attending an interfaith celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy at the United Methodist Church in New Canaan. The focus of the event, with songs, prayers, reflections and speeches, was Choose Love. Love was a constant theme in Dr. King’s writing and speaking: love as the antithesis of hate, love as the force that connects, love as a sentiment that finds commonality even in the face of difference and destructiveness, and that love, even in small quantities, is more powerful than other emotions. Continue reading

Mission in Action through 6th Grade Speeches

file1Next week, one of the great NCCS traditions will again kick off as the first class of 6th graders – Mr. Randolph’s – will deliver speeches on topics they care about. The other three classes will follow in the months to come.

Students pick a topic that moves them, write a speech about it, and then deliver the memorized speech to an audience of classmates and family members in our auditorium. Throughout the unit, they learn about speech writing and public speaking. They study great speeches, and even hear from some guest speakers (like me!). When I met with the class, we talked about everything from the power of a story in engaging an audience to the fact that, yes, I get nervous before my speeches too. Continue reading

Life Beyond Country School

beyond country school panel bq3a8142Last night, I had the pleasure of attending Life Beyond Country School, a panel discussion featuring two recent alumni and two parents of recent graduates. The event was moderated by Tucker Golden ʼ90, current parent and President of the Alumni Council. Throughout the evening, topics of leadership, relationships, budding passions, and favorite memories of teachers emerged. In addition, the panelists fielded questions about the transition to high school and college — socially, academically and athletically. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

coopers letters from aaronHappy New Year!  I hope that this break and the dawning of 2019 have been great for you and your family and that you have found the time in these past two weeks to rest, rejuvenate, and ready yourselves for a 2019 filled with inspiration, learning, and growth.

After spending the first week here hosting some extended family and enjoying time together in New Canaan, my family and I spent the second week up in the Adirondacks where we also visit in the summer.  Our hope was to ski, snowshoe, ice skate, and generally spend as much time as possible outside enjoying winter. Continue reading

Taking Time to Celebrate Personal Bests

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.

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Beyond Straight As

Over the last week, several of you sent me an opinion piece, “What Straight-A Students Get Wrong,” by the organizational psychologist Adam Grant. Grant writes about some of the sacrifices to other, potentially more valuable learning that many make to get such grades, about the poor correlation between college GPA and career success, and about traits that are valuable for one’s career that are not measured by GPA in college. Continue reading

A Peek Inside the Classroom

DSC_9381It has been so great to see so many of you here today. One of the best parts of my job is that I get to experience every day what you did today. I get to see the ways our teachers inspire our children and instill the joy of lifelong learning. Inspiration comes from being exposed to engaging information in an environment that is psychologically safe. The way that we create such an environment involves knowing every student well, caring for their individual development, and challenging them to be their best in myriad ways. Put another way, students learn best in a culture of high expectations coupled with high levels of support. Our teachers cultivate such an environment in every class at every level here. Continue reading

Lessons from the Ice

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 11.18.03 AMThis winter, my family was fortunate enough to join the New Canaan Winter Club and we had our first moments there Thanksgiving week. My daughter Charlotte, who had only skated a few times, stepped on the ice Tuesday. She took three or four steps—no gliding—and asked me how to actually skate. After a 2-minute lesson about angles and edges, she went off and started skating on her own. She and her sister Julia went down to the ice every day of the holiday weekend, and on Saturday they asked me to come with them. After passing a puck with Julia for a while, Charlotte asked me to play tag with her. Suddenly, she was zooming all over the ice as if she had been skating for years rather than days. Continue reading

Welcome Home Young Alumni


Last Monday afternoon we held our annual young alumni event, a highlight of the Thanksgiving week.  More than 60 members of the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018 descended upon campus for an hour and a half of reconnecting, catching up and reminiscing.  They met with some of our beloved faculty, saw the new Dining Hall, and heard from Holly Donaldson Casella ‘04, our alumni director. Their faces lit up each time a new classmate turned the corner from the Carver Commons into the Dining Hall, and inevitably several students rushed to the door to hug and welcome a newcomer. Continue reading