The 2016-17 Good News Train

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One week ago, TCS faculty and staff returned for the start of the 2016-17 school year. Like we have done for several years now, everyone gathers in the gym at 9:00 a.m. for our welcome back meeting. We pair up and I give the instructions for a short activity. Each pair will count to three and repeat. After a few repetitions, I add one complication: instead of reciting the number out loud, you must clap. The rest of the game remains the same: Clap, two, three, clap, two, three and so on. Around the room, one can hear the pairs messing up, starting over, laughing, looking around to see how others are doing. After a couple minutes, I introduce one more complication: instead of the number two, you must stomp. Clap, stomp, three, clap, stomp, three. More laughter, nervous giggles, starting over. Finally, I add the last complication: instead of the number three, you must shake your body any way you want. Clap, stomp, shake, clap, stomp, shake. The room is alive now with voices and claps, stomps, laughter everywhere. We finish the game and sit down to debrief the experience: What did you notice about yourself when playing this game? What did you notice about your partner? How did it make you feel when you messed up? How did you and your partner handle those mistakes? The answers pour in:
  • We laughed not at but with one another.
  • We slowed down.
  • We came up with a rhythm to help our focus.
  • We enjoyed each other’s failures.
  • We encouraged each other to remember.

In less than 15 minutes, we created a supportive environment for one another where failure and teamwork were celebrated. Communication and collaboration naturally rose to the forefront; and success was carefully designed by accommodating each other’s strengths and learning styles. I ask everyone in the room: So keeping these same outcomes in mind, how might we start off the year with our students? How might we create that same sense of community and team in our classrooms?

Whenever someone asks me the #1 reason why families choose TCS, I respond with one word: community. It’s our togetherness while authentically celebrating and empowering each other to “always be all you” that draws families and educators to TCS. This diversity and unity are not accidental, however; they are outcomes of a deliberate design that guides every one of us.

This new year, our community has many reasons to celebrate. We will:

  • Plan for the addition of two new grades;
  • Break ground on phase 1 of the campus master plan;
  • Field our first-ever athletics teams (and choose a mascot!);
  • Finish the roll out of our campus security upgrades;
  • Reimagine the design of our library/media/technology centers;
  • Invest in our playgrounds;
  • Complete year 1 of of Vision 2021, our five-year strategic plan;
  • Complete year 2 of our phase-in of Singapore Math in grades K-5;
  • Give out a record amount in financial aid to assist families to attend TCS;
  • And lots more in other curricular improvements and investments in our students, parents and teachers.
We look forward to sharing more details on each initiative in the coming weeks. So welcome aboard the good news train. Hop on, care for each other and enjoy the ride. The 2016-17 school year is leaving the station!
For the children,
Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 9.14.33 PM

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