Head of School

Head of School2016-10-25T15:01:47+00:00

Head of School

A standing-room-only crowd gathered to celebrate and recognize our upper school students at BCD’s 72nd Closing and Awards Ceremony yesterday

A standing-room-only crowd gathered to celebrate and recognize our upper school students at BCD’s 72nd Closing and Awards Ceremony yesterday.  It was meaningful for me to witness the students be so present and supportive of one another – a reflection of the vibrant community our talented teachers do to sustain it every day.

Special thanks goes to everyone who spoke from the heart about each departing eighth grader.  I could hear and feel how powerfully they know about, care for, and love the students. The character of each speaker was an affirming reflection of everyone else who works at BCD.

I offer the following from my remarks to the departing Eighth Graders:

“Eighth graders, the time we have been looking forward to, and the moment we have been sadly anticipating, is upon us.  Anje, Halle, Jamie, Aurora, Symaira, Abbey, Donald, Esme, Alex, Will, Clara, Chase, Sean, Ryan, Henry, and Keely, we are proud of each of you, who you are, your accomplishments, and your many contributions to our school community.  We are excited about what the future has in store for each of you, and it is difficult to imagine what BCD will be like without you here.

You have met with success in the areas we value as a school – as learners, as original and critical thinkers, as members of the community, and in your ability to develop as individuals and express your originality.  You have approached learning with creativity, taken risks, and done your best.  We applaud your accomplishments and are grateful for the ways in which you have had an impact on those around you.

Similarly, we appreciated your earnest participation and teamwork in our athletics program.  With heart, determination, leadership by example, always leaving everything out on the field, you played with sportsmanship, intense effort, and for the good of the team – every day and every game.  Special appreciation goes to departing eighth graders Jamie, Clara, Donald, and Chase, for playing all three seasons this year – your contributions to the culture of our program meant a great deal.

And, this year, my last, we all depart from BCD together.  Chase and Aurora, as you recall, we started at BCD ten years ago. You were so cute then.  My, how you’ve both grown!  Each year, the class grew, with so many great additions over the past nine years, and everyone experienced so much together.  It has been a joy for me to greet all sixteen of you each morning, to observe you in classes, on stages, on our playing fields, and to watch each of you develop and flourish at BCD.

To every one of you, one thing I can imagine we all have in common as we prepare to venture forth on the next leg of our journeys – is that we are each experiencing and feeling a hefty measure of uncertainty.  What lies ahead?  What will be asked of us?  Are we be ready?  Will we make new friends?  Will we be able to weather new storms, celebrate new successes, and realize fulfillment after we move away from the many people here who have supported, encouraged, challenged, and cared for us over so many years.

Perhaps you don’t know this, perhaps you do, these are some of the existential issues and concerns that everyone – regardless of their age – and no matter where they are in their lives – is dealing with –: the search for meaning and purpose, how to live with times of aloneness, how to come to terms with our limitations and mortality, and how to recognize and fan the burning embers of our self-will.

One truth that I have been reflecting upon for the past few months – as I explore the range of feelings that are the result of experiencing uncertainty – is that the antidote for uncertainty is gratitude.  Here’s how it works.  The more we express gratitude, the less doubt, hesitation, and insecurity we feel.  By sharing our appreciation and thanks for the people who have: fortified and inspired us; provided steady hands on the tiller in stormy seas; expressed unconditional love and an unwavering appreciation for who we are; cheered us on to continue being our best version of ourselves; who held us with quiet care when we faltered and made mistakes; and who never settled for less knowing that we could move forward and attain new successes – we reconnect with what makes us individuals.   And, we connect with others and those powerful moments in our memories in ways that both strengthen us and ensure that their mark upon us has been indelible.  We find the courage to move forward, the conviction to continue to grow and succeed, and the humility required to be both self-aware and inter-dependent. The antidote for uncertainty is gratitude.

For many weeks, as I thought about that and prepared for this moment, eighth grade, what kept coming up for me was my sincere and individual gratitude for each of you.  School is a shared endeavor.  Respect goes both ways.  Everyone carries a piece of the truth – each one of you sure does – and we all learn from one another. So, I’d like to take a few moments and express my heartfelt and sincere appreciation for each one of you.

Alex – Thank you for taking risks and for being willing to put yourself out there on the field and on the stage, a model for others.  I also admire the way you look inward and express humility and a sincere sweetness.

Ryan – I appreciated how you humbly discovered the ways in which you are smart, always played with heart, shared your sense of humor, and expressed your steadiness as a friend.

Sean – I was grateful to witness your tested resilience, smarts, and the ability to stride purposefully anew the next day. And, thanks, too, for letting me see your inner charm and twinkle.

Keely – Gratitude alone may fall short in affirming your commitment to excellence, and with courage and daring, how you singularly set and reach for high goals, balancing drive and confidence with being humble.

Halle – I value your steady kindness, your ease with people and maturity, your intelligence, and your concern for, and service toward, others.  I appreciate how you’ve always played your part and shared these gifts with us.

Symaira – I admire you for not tolerating injustice, for fiercely being loyal to friends, for finding that powerful voice and speaking up, and for finding success – able to express the broad palette of emotions and a huge smile.

Chase – It was a source of inspiration to experience your earnest determination and ability to follow your moral compass, and, I do not just mean your height –  for rising above the crowd.  I admire your work ethic and concern for rightness.

Jamie – Thank you for your huge heart, accessible goodness, helping out without being asked, and your proven personhood and perseverance, on and off the field, and for your drive to succeed.

Donald – I am grateful for how you demonstrated that being approachable, positive, polite, and good-humored are rock solid ingredients for success.  I respect your gentleness and kind manner.

Abbey – I celebrate how you realized each day, that by approaching everything with determination and a ready smile, and an accessible sincerity and effort, you found leadership and rose to great heights.

Aurora – I am grateful for your grit, your sense of self, your laugh, and how you engaged with flourish and motivation.  I recall that you knew how to both laugh at and be true to yourself and to focus on the things you care about.

Anje – I appreciate your earnestness and clarity, skills as a friend, and your approach each day with can-do and candor, tools that have served you well as you conquered challenges, found your stride, and came into your own.

Will – Thank you for all of those sleepy morning handshakes, for showing us your gifts of humor and qualities as a friend, and for sticking things out even when the going got tough – I value that as I do you.

Clara – I celebrate your grace, kindness, poise, and assurance, and the special ability you have to lift yourself and others around you. It is easy to see your selflessness and to hold you in high regard.

Henry – I so appreciated your dry wit, poker face and ready smarts each day, and your keen and resolute approach to finding your voice and identity.  It was fun to applaud your successes and engage with you.

Esme – It is a sincere pleasure to affirm the depth of your goodness, all that you are and have accomplished, and the impact your talents and qualities of personhood have had on your friends, our school, and your teachers.

Thank you eighth grade – I am a better person for knowing all of you.

Now, I invite each of you to reflect on what you are grateful for.  You don’t know, or exactly what it’s going to be like, where you are going – but, you do know where you’re coming from and where you’ve been.  So, be appreciative – show your gratitude.

I express thanks to hundreds of community members every year, and I can tell you from experience that you can never say thank you enough.  Today will offer you many opportunities to measure your successes and achievements for years to come.  You will be showered with pride and praise from others, who will congratulate you and express their sincere regard for all that you have achieved.  But, it is important that you seize the opportunity to express your authentic appreciation to the many individuals who have invested so much in your success as a learner and as a person.  They provided for you in countless ways, made great sacrifices for you, and have had an immeasurable impact on you and your life.

I encourage you all – to assess how wonderful all of that was for you, and to measure yourself in these moments by how many individuals you seek out and thank today.  These moments are yours to make, they will be fleeting – no one can create them for you,  Find your teachers, move toward your parents and relatives, search for your friends in the crowd, move in really close and tell them how you really feel.

As you prepare to depart, I wish for each of you so many things.  And, I want to share a special book with you.  You know, some books are about a single wish.  Some books are about three wishes.  This book is about endless good wishes.  (go forward and read I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal)

In closing, may your wishes come true.  Embrace them and only the things that make you better.  Go forward and continue with the work and effort required to succeed and to make a difference – in big and little ways – to the things that matter most to you and our world.  Be generous in all ways, especially in who you are.  Extend yourself and your sincere interest in others, and maintain quality in your relationships with one another and the many new and different people you will encounter along the way.

 

Thanks again goes to the faculty, the staff, our students, trustees, our generous parents, and the many family members and friends in attendance today.  I am so pleased that we could all be together to share in this moment and to recognize and celebrate our students.”

Certificates for completing the course of study through eighth grade were presented to Aurora Benson, Symaira Elliott, Donald Miller, and Will St. John, Pittsfield; Abbey Boyd, West Stockbridge; Anje Capala, Spencertown, NY; Halle Davies, Lenox; Esme Lazar and Ryan Sonsini, Great Barrington; Jamie McDonnell, Old Chatham, NY; Clara Mollerus, Otis; Keely O’Gorman, Lee; Alex Rodriguez-Benjamin and Sean Sylbert, Monterey, and Henry Van Schaick and Chase Vermeulen, South Egremont.

In addition, eighth graders were recognized for academic accomplishments.

Abbey Boyd, Gail Heady Citizenship Award

Anje Capala, Anna Zaffanella French Prize

Halle Davies, Marilyn Orner Cromwell Art Prize

Symaira Elliott, a Steffi Fletcher Creative Writing Prize

Esme Lazar, Eighth Grade Science Prize

Clara Mollerus, Excellence in History Prize, Ned Douglas Mathematics Prize, and Eighth Grade Spanish prize

Keely O’Gorman, Viv Murray Caputo Vocal Music Prize and a Steffi Fletcher Creative Writing Prize

Chase Vermeulen, Marcia V. Jones Latin Prize

Seventh graders were also recognized for academic accomplishments.

Sam C., East Chatham, NY, a Eugénie D. Fawcett Classics Prize

Gus G., Great Barrington, a Seventh Grade English Prize

Miles G., Hudson, NY, Virginia I. Peterson Citizenship Award

Rafi K., Hudson, NY, United States History Prize, a Eugénie D. Fawcett Classics Prize, and Seventh Grade Growth in French Prize

Eli M., Craryville, NY, Theater Ensemble Prize and a Nancy Cowhig Growth in Mathematics Prize

Esme M., Craryville, NY, a Nancy Cowhig Growth in Mathematics Prize

Lilah O’N., Stockbridge, MA, Seventh Grade Growth in Spanish Prize

Petra O., Ghent, NY, Seventh Grade Science Prize

Samantha S., Richmond, a Seventh Grade English Prize

By |June 14th, 2018|Categories: Head of School|

Gratitude – I can’t thank BCD enough

 

I can’t thank BCD enough for what it has done for me.

It has great teachers and an amazing environment to grow up in.

I believe BCD has shaped and created who I am today.

 

James Korenman ’15  (James sent this note last week with a generous gift to the Annual Fund)

By |June 11th, 2018|Categories: Head of School|

Summer reading and read-a-loud suggestions to develop a growth mindset

In a recent article in Literacy Today, Summer Clark and Grace Enriquez (Lesley University) and Jessica Della Calce (Cambridge Public Schools) suggested children’s books that foster the characteristics of a growth mindset: perseverance, flexibility, strategic thinking, multiple perspectives, a sense of personal agency, and a belief that people can become smarter and more skillful, intelligent, thoughtful, and just:

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson

Ish by Peter Reynolds

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

 

          (courtesy of Kim Marshall, The Marshall Memo)

 

By |May 29th, 2018|Categories: Head of School, Uncategorized|

Important last day info – and thoughts about supporting children at the close of a school year

The last day of the 2017-2018 school year is Friday, June 8, and it will be a half-day.  Our End-of-the-year Assembly will be held at 11:00 a.m. in Fitzpatrick Hall, and everyone is invited.  This is our last gathering as a whole school for the year.  Immediately following the End-of-the-year Assembly, the annual Family Picnic (each family packs their own picnic) will begin on the playground.  If your child(ren) will ride the bus that day, they’ll need a lunch, and please note that buses will depart at 1:00 p.m.

As I have shared in the past, it has always been my experience that the end of a school year is a time when children of all ages (that means parents and teachers, too!) may experience and express mixed feelings.  While we think about the accomplishments and learning experiences during the past year(s) and eagerly anticipate summer vacation, the end of a school year can be a time when some children may feel sad and uncertain about the future.  Saying farewell to friends, ending a relationship with a special teacher, and moving on to a new class, middle or upper school, or a new school can provoke feelings of loss and letting go.  It is important to check in and speak with your children during these times.  It is most helpful to acknowledge and affirm their feelings and to discuss ways to express their thoughts about others during this period of transition.

And, as another wonderful school year at BCD nears completion, I would like to re-express my sincere gratitude for the hard work and dedication of Melissa Kruse.  She greets all of us each day with a warm smile, eager to help, and always willing to support the children.  The children really like and trust her, and that’s not because she has small box of stickers on her desk.  She assists with coordinating events, producing mailings, tracking attendance, and attending to injuries – not to mention the countless ways she has made my work go more smoothly for many years.  Everything runs easily as the result of her considerate care for our community members and attention to each one of us and innumerable details.  We have had a fabulous year at Berkshire Country Day School, and I believe she has been an essential piece of that success.

I remain grateful for the many ways that parents participated in the life of the school during the past year, and it was especially meaningful to observe so many new parents getting involved. Everyone enhances the quality and spirit of our community and our work here at school.

Warm regards,

Paul

By |May 24th, 2018|Categories: Head of School|

Soirée 2018 – Down and Derby – Exceeds Expectations!

Our Spring Soirée 2018 – Down and Derby –  was a total success!  I write to extend my sincere and heart-felt gratitude to the scores of current and former community members and friends of BCD that gathered at Crissey Farm on Friday night for a memorable evening of fun, friendship, food, and fundraising.

Special thanks go to Soirée chairs Suzannah and Pieter Van Schaick and Ashley Junod, and Jessica Provenz and Lia Russell-Self, for their leadership and energy all year, and to their creative and hardworking committee.

Underwriters and sponsors, and each and every amazing bidder and paddle raiser, thank you for your generosity and support – our expectations were exceeded.  I am enthusiastic to share that we surpassed our goal for the BCD Financial Aid Fund.

 

CLICK HERE for more photos from our very own Sergio Jurado!

PS And what a joy it was to be there when Jen Capala’s name was chosen as the winner of this year’s raffle.  Jen chaired this event three times over the years.  What a great example that “what goes around comes around.”  (more pics soon)

By |May 14th, 2018|Categories: Head of School|

Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe

The most common way that schools partner with parents to help teens counter their natural propensity to engage in risky behavior is to warn them of the potential consequences. Most drug and alcohol education or sex education programs have the underlying assumption that teenagers underestimate the risks they face. In Born to Be Wild, Dr. Jess Shatkin argues that this approach does not align with current research and neuroscience as he cites evidence that teens actually tend to overestimate the dangers they face from risky behavior. The problems instead lie in primarily peer effects and a lack of rules of thumb for how to handle risky situations since teens do not have a bank of experiences from which to draw. As Dr. Shatkin argues, “the more we debate a decision, like an adolescent does, the more likely we are to rationalize any given risky behavior.” Though the book does not provide quick and easy solutions, the final three chapters focus on the deep and meaningful character education work that parents, schools, and the wider society can utilize to support students as they navigate adolescence.

Review written by: Michael Arjona, The Walker School, Marietta, GA
By |May 10th, 2018|Categories: Head of School|