Formula for Success
Dr. Bill Summerhill, Head of School
In my youth I dreamed of becoming either the Director of the National Zoo in Washington, DC or the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In pursuing this ambition I immersed myself in the world of scientific formulas and jargon, one of which was brought to my attention at last week’s Pantex Science Bowl: P = W/t. In this equation, P is the symbol for power, W for work and t for time. What scientists accept as part of the mathematical blueprint for how the universe operates also underscores the secret to our students’ success at Ascension.
Watching our two middle school science bowl teams compete, I savored what we as administrators, teachers and parents regularly observe in our students. They know a lot about a lot, they can communicate, they act with confidence and maturity. It reminded me how much P = W/t fits our mission and our program. At Ascension we are in the business of Power, of empowering young people. That is more than our business, however. It is our passion and our vocation, energizing us to do what it takes to enhance and unleash the power that each of our students possesses.
What is this power of which I speak? We believe that the most empowering thing we can do for the next generation is to provide them with the knowledge, and the means to acquire it, that makes them informed, capable, and independent men and women. Ours is a belief as old as the wisdom of the great philosophers of antiquity and as current as the academic priorities and expectations of our most prestigious colleges and universities. Knowledge is Power, or K = P.
If I could put Ascension’s distinctive “mission” into a scientific formula it would look like this: K = P = W/t. Translation? The knowledge we impart to our students, both in content and skills mastery, gives them power that elevates their prospects and enhances their opportunities in life. And how do they become powerful women and men, equipped to think, to make good decisions and to step up as leaders? They do it through the discipline of work, not just in fleeting, “learning is fun” moments, but as habits they learn and adopt and make part of their way of living, every day. As physicists well understand, power is a function of work and time.
I believe what distinguishes our school and our academic culture from most others is our understanding that students who know have greater power than those who don’t, and that power solely rests with their commitment to working hard over the course of their school and professional careers. Whether competing in science or math contests, Latin conventions and TAPPS academic championship, our students are living proof that the power of knowledge and the discipline of working hard over time make all the difference for that child, for his or her family, and for the school that plays such an important role in making it happen.