A Matter of Trust
Dr. Summerhill, Head of School
If things go according to plan, Ascension should be alive with people on Tuesday night. Our fall open house, postponed in October due to the weather, will welcome families who want to find out if it is true what people are saying about our school. They will bring with them their sons and daughters and a bounty of hope that Ascension may be what they are looking for. And they will walk into our classrooms, listen to our teachers, converse with our parents, pay attention to our student ambassadors, and most of all, do a lot of soul searching.
At the end of the night, what will these families have been looking at, and looking for?
Will they be looking for a place that will be easy for their child, where they will be praised for just showing up each day, much like it is in other schools? Will they want a school that pushes and challenges their son or daughter to make them better? Will they be hoping that Ascension can transform a struggling student into a scholar, or nurture an unusual and misunderstood child who has trouble fitting in with peers? Will some of them just be looking for a place where their child can make a new start? Whatever their reasons, I suspect the underlying thing they will be hoping to find can be stated in one word:
TRUST. They will be looking for a school deserving of their trust. Let me explain.
Children are always looking for people whom they can trust. They want to trust that their parents will do what is best for them in sending them to a school that will help them learn and grow. They want to trust that their teachers will care for and about them and give them the best opportunities to discover the many things they need to become independent, responsible people. When they size up their classmates, they want to trust that they will be kind, fun-loving and welcoming people worthy of their friendship.
Parents, in turn, are looking for educators whom they can trust. They want to trust that their child’s teachers not only know their subjects, but understand the emotional and developmental needs of their students. Parents want to trust that the adults in their child’s school know how to manage the needs of each child while somehow handling all of the personalities and temperaments of an entire class.
Not surprisingly, teachers are looking for trust, too. They want to trust that the children assigned to them will be cooperative, polite, eager to learn and ready to join in the programs and activities of the class. They want their students’ parents to trust their judgment in how they teach and how they assess each child’s progress. And they want to trust that the parents of their students realize what a balancing act it is attending to the needs of each individual child while being attuned and responsive to the dynamics of the whole class.
Like any school, Ascension Academy succeeds or fails depending on the degree to which students, parents, and teachers trust each other. In a community where “everybody knows your name,” where parents are invited—indeed, expected—to share in the life of our school, and where teachers and parents are usually on the same page when it comes to values and priorities, trust is a critical—if not the most critical—component that sets us apart from other schools.
I am looking forward to meeting a new set of trusting and trustworthy parents and children at Ascension on Tuesday night. And I hope all of you reading this share my joy in being part of something so good, so important, and so deserving of that trust, as is our school.